Since I was a kid, I have liked the game of baseball. Our parents, Allen and Collene Spencer, figured that with five girls, they had enough for a makeshift game of baseball whenever we went camping, and we all usually liked to play. That was really my first experience with baseball and with sports of any kind, I guess. I was not destined to become some great player, nor did I have any big aspirations in that area, because my interests went a different direction as I grew up. Nevertheless, I still enjoy watching a good game of baseball, and my favorite team is the Colorado Rockies. I suppose my dad…a Yankees fan to the core…probably wondered what I saw in the Colorado Rockies. Still, that was and is my team, and the team of my husband, Bob Schulenberg too. To many baseball fans, I suppose I would not be considered a die hard fan, because I don’t watch every game the Rockies play, but I watch enough to know who I like.
The really die hard fans have their heroes I’m sure, and that makes sense. Every sport has the spectacular players that people follow no matter what team they move to. They are just that good. I suppose that is what originally made baseball fans or the heads of the MLB decide that baseball needed a place to recognize their great players. The idea of a Baseball Hall of Fame began gathering steam in 1935, when members of the Clark Foundation in Cooperstown sought to revive business and tourism after the Depression. The idea took hold, and as most people know, every year new and amazing players are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While the Clark Foundation told a “white lie” to get things started, by saying that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story was a phony, and they had a hard time living down the lie. The baseball officials were eager turn the idea into a reality. They backed it…so we have the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Of all those people who have entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s my guess that none were more exciting than the first ones. In fact, on January 29, 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson. In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939 which many people thought was the centennial of baseball, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted. Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history. Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game. Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion. Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history. And, Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers ever to have taken the mound. Today, there are 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires, and 28 executives and pioneers who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it hosts 350,000 visitors per year. It’s all about baseball.
Connecting with cousins in the town of my birth has been such a great experience. Some we have met in person, and others we only know through Facebook. I suppose that to many people that might seem like not really knowing them at all, but they would be wrong. I’m sure that often it’s harder to get to know cousins who are separated by so many miles, but my cousin Elizabeth Schumacher Nordquist has made it so easy to get to know her and her family, that I feel like I have known her family for years. Elizabeth is a photographer, and that shows in the pictures she takes of her family, and her niece and nephew. But, with Elizabeth, there is more. She tells of the personalities of her kids too. I feel like I know the girls, even though we haven’t met.
Both of the Nordquist girls, Addilayde and Meadow are just as sweet as they can be. Their mother homeschools the girls, and so often babysits her sister, Angel Pallas’ daughter, Hazel, and her sister Grace Oltman’s son, Hosea. Addi and Meadow are great little babysitters in their own right. They love their cousins, and are quick to help their mama with all the details of the babies’ needs. Of course, the biggest need the babies have is to play, so that is what the girls do best, and it’s the part the babies like best too. I’m sure that Elizabeth has to fight for time spent with the babies.
The girls have very different personalities, as I said. While Addi is very much a Girly Girl, and is not interested in the tomboy things, Meadow is very much her Daddy’s girl. She loves to help him with the things he is doing, and doesn’t mind getting dirty. She loves to see the game that her dad brings home from a hunting trip, and doesn’t mind sitting right on its back. Addi doesn’t want to be anywhere near it. Elizabeth says that Addi is her mini-me, and I would have to agree. They look alike, and both have a keen sense of fashion. Not that Meadow doesn’t like her fashions too, because she does…she just loves being where her dad is, and doing the things he likes to do.
One of these days, I hope to meet these sweet little girls, their parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I already love this family. They are very special to me, and I can see that their parents have brought them all up to be very special people. They certainly didn’t fail there. All of these people are very special to me. Every day I look forward to the latest pictures taken by Elizabeth, that give me a little peek into their lives.
Bob and I went to the Wyoming Cavalry indoor football game last night, and there are media events at different times in the game, with things like a three person in one triple bag sack race, and kids on a bouncy ball. They asked the fans if these things took them back a few years, and that started me thinking about the things I did as a kid. One thing that came to mind was the skateboard. It was my generation who had the privilege of riding the skateboard first, and while we were first, we certainly didn’t take that ride to the skill level of the subsequent generations. I was thrilled when I could stand on the thing and ride. The thought of taking it on a railing, or up a ramp, or flipping it in the air and landing back on it, never crossed my mind…or the minds of the rest of my generation for that matter.
Nevertheless, at some point in time, some kid who thought that the old style tame skateboarding was way too tame for them, decided to step it up a bit, and something new and exciting was created from a fad that probably would have died a miserably quick death otherwise. Soon the kids were doing all kinds of tricks, and spending hours each day trying to perfect something that would let them outshine their friends. Of course, there were the normal, and not so normal injuries that went along with such endeavors, but that didn’t stop the kids from working hard to create the next big thing on a skateboard. They flew along curbs and railings, flipped their boards several times in the air and managed to land right back on the board. They held competitions…just for fun, at first, but these days they compete for money, titles, trophies. Every skateboarder wants to be dubbed the King of Skateboarding. They even came out with video games on skateboarding, which my grandsons absolutely loved.
Even the boards have changed from the clunky ones we had when I was a kid, that were really just skates with a board attached, and had very little maneuverability, to one that had just one wheel on each end, and twisted in the middle, to the long board that my grandsons liked, which probably mimics a surf board without the water, to many more that I have no clue about, much less how they work. I suppose that as long as we have kids who are willing to push the envelope in the world of skateboarding, we will have manufacturers who will make the designs they need to accomplish their unique skill set, thereby continuing to take skateboarding to the next level and beyond. While I enjoy watching the amazing tricks these people can perform, I think I will just stay on my own two feet, because at least that way, I won’t kill myself.
As we start football season, I recalled a picture that I had seen among my mom’s old family pictures. It was a football practice session most likely at a local school. That reminded me of something I had read a while back about the changes in football gear over the years. As we all know, football can be a dangerous game. Sometimes, the players are hurt slightly and sometimes, quite badly. Unfortunately, it was those injuries that have founded the need for better protection, and therefore, better gear. When American football appeared on college campuses in the 1870’s little was known about the brain damage that could occur from some of the impacts that are a natural part of the game.
In those early years, head protection was rarely worn. As far back as the 1900’s, they had the “head harness” which was a soft leather version of today’s helmet, but it was mainly to protect the ears. I suppose it did, but it also made it difficult to hear, so not many players wore them. Newer versions of the helmet appeared as the years went by, featuring holes for the ears, so they could hear the plays and movement around them. They were made out of plastic, and featured a suspension system to keep the helmet from sitting directly on the player’s head. This also provided a little bit of cushion for their head. Of course, we now know that those older versions did not provide enough protection from concussion, and the newer versions probably don’t do enough either, but they are much better than their predecessors.
In the early years, players were subjected to ridicule for putting padding in all the necessary areas that we now know need protection. It was treated as…well, wimpy back then. Now plastic is a part of shoulder pads and pants. It isn’t a perfect solution, but the key here is to keep the players in the game, if possible, because we all know that one of the best things about fall is football…to some people anyway.
For years, my son-in-law, Travis liked to play a game with his wife, my daughter Amy and their kids. They got pretty good at the game as well. I don’t really know how it got started, but I always seemed to be the sucker who fell for the whole thing. The way it is played is this. The person who randomly decides to play, simply makes the ok sign with their hand, and then says your name. When you look at the ok sign, it is as if you had flinched. At first Shai and Caalab weren’t very good at it, and they got the good ole double punch in the shoulder, but after a few of those, they decided to figure this thing out. I don’t know how often they managed to catch their dad on it, but my guess is that it wasn’t much…Travis is really good at it.
Their grandma…was another story. I think I must have been their best practice session provider. It wasn’t my fault really, because I mean…after all, your grandma is supposed to pay attention to you when you are talking, and look at the things you show her. I mean that is understood, isn’t it? Whether that is how it is supposed to go or not…that is how it went with me. Call me gullible if you want. They caught me 90% of the time…at least!! And I wasn’t trying to be nice and let them either, it’s just that when my grandchildren ask me to look at something, or even just call my name, I have a hard time thinking they have diabolical plans for me…again, call me gullible.
The kids had a great time with the flinching game, for a number of years, but as with any of these types of games, you outgrow them after a while…at least for now anyway. If I know my grandchildren, this particular game could be resurrected at any give point, if one of them decided that they could get away with putting one over on grandma again. To avoid these surprise attacks, I would need to be alert and vigilant. I would need to avoid being too trusting. Right…that’s gonna happen!!
Today was my grandson’s first football game of the year. Chris is a Offensive Guard and Defensive End. This is the sport Chris lives for. He eats, sleeps, breathes and dreams it. His favorite thing to do in the game is to take out the Quarterback. Chris has an amazing way of knowing exactly where the other teams Quarterback is. I suppose that doesn’t sound so odd to a football player, but to those of us who do not play, it is amazing. He may not always be able to sack the Quarterback, but he will always try.
The football players are looked up to in school, which is another thing I never understood, but I’m sure it all has to do with the warrior syndrome. We always seem to notice the super hero. And that is what these boys are, and deserve to be. They work very hard to get where they are, and even harder at game time. They are the heroes of the school when they win, and they are shredded when they lose. It’s kind of a thankless job, but someone has to do it right.
So why do they do it? I think part of it is the adrenalin rush they get when a play comes together just as you had planned, or when a player makes a save that seemed impossible. It’s the love of the game…the tactical planning, and then the ability to bring the plan together. I’m sure it also has to do with the cheering crowds and knowing that they like what you just accomplished. It would be something that would give you a kind of high that you can’t get anywhere else.
Now, don’t get me wrong when I say that there are things about this game that I don’t get, because I love football…especially when my grandson is playing. I look up to those boys as much as anyone. I feel pride because to me they are the school heroes. They charge out there into battle and give it their all, trying to win. They are the boys who choke back their feelings of disappointment over a blown play, or a lost game, and come back the next game and try again. Boys who go home filled with aches and pains, whether they won or lost. Boys who earned the glory they get from fighting the battle…win or lose, The Boys of Fall. My grandson is one of them…and I am very proud of them and him.
I met Bob when I was still in high school, though not in the way you might expect. We didn’t meet in school or at a game. We met at Kmart. We didn’t just casually meet there, I was working there, as was his sister, Debbie. I worked in the Millenary department…handbags, belts, sunglasses, accessories, and wigs, and I had a display near the delicatessen where Debbie worked. In fact, my display of winter gloves and hats was how I met my future sister-in-law. Every evening when I worked, I had to go over an straighten that display, and believe me it needed it after a day or even an hour of people going through it. When people would look for glove and hats, they would dig clear to the bottom to see if there was a set they liked more, nearer to the bottom. The display usually needed to be straightened twice in a shift. When I went to straighten the display, my future sister-in-law, Debbie and I would talk if it wasn’t too busy.
One day, Bob came in to take his sister on her break, and I happened to be there straightening the display at the time. She introduced us, and then they went to take her break. Bob took to coming by for Debbie’s breaks more often after that, but I didn’t know that it was because he wanted to get to know me…not right away anyway. Bob was a little bit shy, and didn’t know exactly how to approach me, so he and his friend, Paul would come in, dig to the bottom of my glove display and flip the whole stack of gloves upward, messing them up. I, of course, had just straightened them, not two seconds earlier. They would only do that if I was there straightening them. It was his way of being playful…and it was cute, after all.
Finally, he got up the nerve to ask me out…and wouldn’t you know it…I couldn’t that night. Being shy, as I said, Bob thought that was my polite way of saying I didn’t want to go out with him. That, of course, couldn’t have been further from the truth. Nevertheless, the guys decided to see if I would go out with Paul. When Paul asked, I did turn him down, because I wanted to go out with Bob. They thought that I didn’t like either of them, and pretty much dropped the subject…but, not coming up to mess up my display. I couldn’t believe that Bob didn’t ask me again. Debbie and I talked about it, and she told me that he was shy. It was a big dilemma.
Finally, I had to solicit Debbie’s help. She kept talking to Bob to tell him that I did like him and I wanted to go out with him. It was no easy task. Bob had convinced himself that I didn’t. Eventually though, Debbie talked him into asking me out one more time. Of course, I said yes, and the rest is history…with a little bit of a twist. While I’m sure a lot of people have met their spouses at work, I still think ours is a unique situation. When people ask me how I met my husband, I still say that I met him at Kmart, but I playfully add that he was my Blue Light Special. I don’t think I could have found a better deal anywhere.
Ah, the Super Bowl. The day when even non-football-fans and those who watch just the occassional game, gather together with the die hard fans, pick a team to support, even if it isn’t the one they would normally go for, stuff their faces with Thanksgiving Day sized feasts made up of mostly snacks, and scream like they know what is going on. Those who really don’t want to watch the game, come to the party anyway, for the food and socializing with the other people who really don’t want to watch the game, and laugh every time a “fight” breaks out over a play.
I used to be in the non-football-fan category, but my Dad always liked the Broncos and my husband and I love to go to Denver, so we became the die hard Bronco fans, that like to kind of know how their team is doing, and watch an occasional game, especially if they have a chance at going to the Super Bowl. But, when it comes to the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter who is playing, we are watching. That all started one year when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl. I believe it was 1987. And we have not missed a Super Bowl since. We get on the game boards, hoping for a win, which has eluded us so far, but we are, never the less, hopeful for this year. We yell and scream at the refs, and of course when our team get a touchdown, you might not want to be too close, or plugging your ears would also be good, because we will be screaming.
Yes, the Super Bowl brings friends and football enemies together to fight it out for the championship. It is a very unique day in our year…or maybe, just the mid-Winter, un-holiday party opportunity!! And since my team isn’t playing, my daughter loves the Packers, and my grandson loves the Steelers, all I can say is…”Go Broncos!!”