Touching on some good news and a bit of bad news.
Starting with the good news.
Whitey Herzog’s Hall of Fame Selection. I am thrilled for the “White Rat.” In my career, there has never been as much fun as my work with the Kansas City Royals in the late 70s. I was granted total access in a rare time just before baseball salaries took off and a sizable gap grew between media and players. Many of those great players remain good friends today. Whenever I see any of them, it always seems as though we pick up right where we left off.
Without Herzog as manager of the Royals, none of this would have been possible. Herzog was as open as any man I have ever known. So open, some stories are not permissible for repeat even in this forum. I’ve attached a photo from spring training in Ft. Myers, Florida in 1977. I plan a big look back at those times when spring training begins again in the February.
Big Waves in Hawaii. Storms have generated some of the biggest waves ever in Hawaii. Big name surfers and tow-in crews have been arriving for weeks. Attached is a photo of two daring men riding what is said to be a 50-foot wave.
I had the opportunity to watch surfers at the famed Banzai Pipeline on the day before Christmas in 1992. Big waves roll into the north shore of Oahu in the winter. KU was to play BYU in the Aloha Bowl the next day. I rented a car and headed north with Wichita photographer Jeff Tuttle and his wife. To watch the power of the giant waves and the daring of the surfers was something never forgotten by this land-locked Kansan. The day after Christmas, I tackled the much smaller waves of Waikiki beach with some limited success. Unfortunately, there were no photographers present.
The Beatles. Recently the entire Beatles catalog was re-mastered. Rolling Stone has hailed the release of both the stereo and mono recordings for their clarity and richness of sound. Original transfers to CD years ago muddled the fabulous music that has now been brought back to life.
A friend of Kelly’s bought the 16-CD set and copied it for her to load onto her iPhone. Bless him and bless Kelly’s little heart as she also shared it with her father. Playing my favorite song, In My Life from Rubber Soul from the new recordings and then from my old CD revealed a remarkable change for the better. Even though listening to compressed tracks on an iPhone isn’t as good as the CD, the sound overall is still drastically improved.
Curtis Granderson and Andy Pettitte. A new power hitting centerfielder and great clubhouse guy added through trade and the resigning of clutch starter Andy Pettitte made it a good week to be a huge Yankees’ fan. That would be a great team if the Yankees do no more. But, you know they will. Can’t wait for spring.
Now some bad news.
Topekan Steve Tilford announced he would not be competing at the United States National CycloCross Championships in Bend, Oregon this weekend. The winner the past five years in master’s races, Tilford’s success on the bike is amazing. Throughout his long career, Tilford has ridden alongside some of the greatest riders in history and was the United States first mountain biking national champion. Unfortunately, little of that is really known in this area.
Tilford is arguably the greatest athlete Topeka has ever produced and deserves to recognized more in this community. Rick Dean and I did a few stories on Tilford in my Capital-Journal days and have always found him to be a truly interesting character. I made a seemingly shocking photograph of Tilford shaving his legs in his bathtub for one story. That’s not a shocker for cyclists, but I did have a hard time convincing the moral censures at the paper to allow it to run.
He will be missed I’m sure on the starting line in Oregon.
An After Thought: Maybe Mike Torrez is the top Topeka athlete when I think about it though. He did win two games for the Yankees in the 1977 World Series. Then after signing as a free agent with the hated Red Sox, he gave up the famed three-run Bucky Dent home run in the one-game playoff in 1978. The good he did for the Yankees in those two years has to count for a lot.
Snow. If I lived somewhere where I could consistently cross country ski, then maybe snow would be good. Since I don’t, this white stuff makes me miserable. I miss being able to ride and run with ease. Good thing I got a long ride in on Monday before the snow hit. I just need to come up with a way to keep my water bottles from freezing on those rides. I hear a little bit of Irish whiskey mixed with the water will do the trick, but even that would likely knock me off my bike.
Lost Negatives: I shot lots of rich Kodachrome slides at the Banzai Pipeline that beautiful day in 1992. Unfortunately, as I was repacking all my camera gear, I sat those rolls of film on the bumper of the rental car. You can guess the rest. Hope someone found them, processed them and enjoyed them as much as I did shooting them.