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Like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, those of us who grew up on the north side of Chicago waited for the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series. The Cubs last won a World Series in 1908, four years before Arizona and New Mexico became states! Every summer we went to that pumpkin patch called the “Friendly Confines”. My father first took me there in the late 50s. I saw the ivy-covered outfield walls, the big scoreboard in center field and I saw the players I watched on TV. Back then we watched Jack (“Hey! Hey! Ernie!) Brickhouse (who lived about a mile and a half from me in Wilmette – I used to ride my bicycle out past his house hoping to see him) and Vince Lloyd on our black-and-white TVs (and raced to Walgreens to test the tubes in the TV when the TV stopped working) and we listened to Jack Quinlan and Lou Boudreau on our new transistor radios. Anyone remember this song?
Boys have heroes. My father was (and will always be) my first hero. Ernie Banks, Number 14, was number two. It wasn’t so much because of baseball, though I was fixed on the TV screen when Ernie came to bat, knowing that this was the best chance we had to see a long fly ball sail through the humid, summer air over the left field wall and out onto Waveland Avenue. It was because Ernie was (and will always be remembered as) “Mr. Sunshine”. Ernie loved his job…I mean LOVED his job. He loved baseball and he loved the Cubs.
Ernie was an amazing athlete. He earned high school letters in baseball, football and track and was also a good swimmer. He was one of twelve kids, growing up in Dallas, Texas. His father bribed him with nickels to play catch. He was signed by the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League after high school, but was drafted during the Korean War and served in Germany. He also served at Fort Bliss and played some games with the Harlem Globetrotters. He came back and played for the Monarchs briefly, but they sold him to the Cubs (Banks was hitting .347 at the time). Ernie played his first game with the Cubs in Sept. 1953.
That was back in the days where you were likely to play for the same team during your entire career. Ernie played baseball with the Cubs for 19 seasons before moving to the front office. He played in 2,528 games, had 9,421 at bats and 1009 extra base hits, including 512 home runs (in the pre-steroid era). He played shortstop, then a brief stint in left field (committing only one error there) then first base. He was the N.L. most valuable player in 1958 and 1959 and played in 11 All-Star games. He learned early on a good sports physics lesson – not to swing a bat that is too heavy. He tried many different bats and decided he hit better with a lighter bat that he could swing faster (Force = mass x velocity squared).
Despite having one of the best players in baseball (and many other good players), the Cubs not only didn’t get to the World Series, they had quite a run of losing seasons. From 1947-1966 (20 seasons), the Cubs had only one winning season (and that was 82-80). In contrast to the higher ticket prices and filled stadiums today…back in 1966, the Cubs drew only 635,891 fans to the ballpark all season. Compare that to the West Michigan Whitecaps (who stop playing around Labor Day) that drew 391,653 last year. As late as 1981, the Cubs drew only 10,672 to their home opener. The Cubs lost money in many of those years. Ernie was paid $50,000 in 1959. However, Ernie saved his money and invested wisely and by the time he was 55, he was worth over 4 million dollars.
What drew me to Ernie was his relentless positive optimism. More than once when the TV announcers interviewed him he talked about the sunshine, the fresh air, his teammates and the signature “Let’s play two (games today)!” I remember as a kid thinking…when I grow up…I want to be as happy as Ernie Banks. I want to be that happy to get up in the morning…that happy to go to my job.
I occasionally drive past a baseball diamond in a park. There’s hardly ever anyone there playing baseball. Back when I was a kid, you had Little League and Boys Scouts and that was about it. Now we have computers, cell-phones and video games. When I was a kid and had a nickel, I’d head to the drug store to buy a pack of baseball cards – a nickel – and you got a piece of bubble gum, too! I remember I was so excited when I got one of the Cubs! When I started caddying (13 years old). I’d try and be the first one there at the caddyshack at 6 am – get the first “loop”, so I could leave by 11 am or noon. I’d get my pay (you were paid cash, that very day), bicycle 2 miles to the “L” stop in Wilmette and take the train to Addison St. I remember getting a bleacher seat for a buck – buying a frosty malt in the 7th inning from a guy with one tooth. We started throwing home runs from opposing teams back on the field (there were quite a few of those back in those days) and late in the game we spelled out players’ names in the fence behind the bleachers with empty beer cups.
Mr Cub passed away yesterday, a week shy of his 84th birthday. In the midst of this cloudy, dreary middle of winter, the world has lost a little bit of sunshine. Several years ago, my daughter got me a real autographed picture of Ernie Banks. A put it in the side crack of the mirror in my bedroom. It’s one of the first things I see when I wake up in the morning, a reminder to try to appreciate the wonderful life I have and to spread some sunshine in day that lies ahead. Ernie Banks, R.I.P.
Game Called. Across the field of play
the dusk has come, the hour is late.
The fight is done and lost or won,
the player files out through the gate.
The tumult dies, the cheer is hushed,
the stands are bare, the park is still.
But through the night there shines the light,
home beyond the silent hill.
Game Called. Where in the golden light
the bugle rolled the reveille.
The shadows creep where night falls deep,
and taps has called the end of play.
The game is done, the score is in,
the final cheer and jeer have passed.
But in the night, beyond the fight,
the player finds his rest at last.
Game Called. Upon the field of life
the darkness gathers far and wide,
the dream is done, the score is spun
that stands forever in the guide.
Nor victory, nor yet defeat
is chalked against the players name.
But down the roll, the final scroll,
shows only how he played the game.
Click on the image to enlarge. This is a screen grab from a skycam (from WBAY) in Green Bay showing Lambeau Field at the start of the Green Bay/Dallas playoff game. It was 24 deg. in Green Bay and mostly cloudy. The wind was only 6 mph and the wind chill is 18. Green Bay wins! Daughter 2 is happy - Cowboys 9-0 on the road this season. Check out V.P. candidate Paul Ryan at the Packer game with his kids. It was in the low-mid 40s with a chance of a light rain or snow shower during the game late this PM. At 1 pm Sunday, it was up to 27 in Grand Rapids, warmer than we’ve been in over a week. It was an even-freezin’ 32 at S. Haven, Holland and Muskegon. Here’s the latest satellite loop (daytime). Here’s a summary of the Thursday snowstorm from G.R. NWS. More local weather in the threads below this one.
Sunday AM snow cover: 36″ Grand Marais, 26″ Munising, 22″ Marquette (airport), 18″ S. Ste. Marie, 17″ Hart, 16″ Ironwood, 15″ Muskegon, Fremont and Traverse City, 13″ Scottville, 12″ west of Hastings, Walker, 11″ Holland and Grandville, 10″ Grand Rapids, East G.R., Kalamazoo and Gaylord, 9″ Big Rapids, Reed City, Middleville, W. Cloud, Manistique, 7″ Houghton Lake, E side of Belmont and Paw Paw, 6″ east of Hastings, Plainwell and Saranac, 5″ Lansing, Grand Ledge and Ann Arbor, 4″ Flint, Saginaw and Alpena. 45.2% of the Continental U.S. has a snow cover this morning, compared to 40.3% last year on this date.
Model update: Snowfall forecasts for tonight from the NAM (car): 0.5″ Grand Rapids, 2.0″ Kalamazoo, 1.4″ Lansing…from the GFS (car.): 0.5″ Grand Rapids, 1.2″ Kalamazoo, 0.8″ Lansing. Low temps. Tues. and Weds. AM: NAM (car) – for Grand Rapids -11.3, -10.0…from the GFS (car) -6.3, -15.1. Two pretty cold mornings this week. No big storms this week. There could be flurries and it’s not impossible there could be a touch of freezing mist late Weds. night/Thurs. AM. Schools should be open all week at this point. EPO index and NAO index are negative at the end of the month, hinting at a trough in the Eastern U.S. and a relatively cool pattern for the Great Lakes.
We’ve had the last regular season games today. Green Bay wins 30-20. Green Bay wins the division for the 4th year in a row. Detroit has a tough road game at Dallas to start the playoffs. Rodgers had a Q.B. rating of 139.6 today. I’m doing the weather on the 10 pm news (WXSP and after the NBC game around 11:30 pm news. Sunday Night Football on WOOD/NBC is Cincinnati (10-4-1) at Pittsburgh (10-5). That should be an offensive dual and the winner of that game gets a home game in the Playoffs. No touchdowns for the Bears today. Wonder what happens to Trestman and Cutler (who is promised over 15 million dollars next year). He’s had 18 interceptions and 24 turnovers this season. Harbaugh comes to Michigan – probably “announced” at the b-ball game Tue.
Weatherwise, At 7 PM, it’s partly cloudy and 29° in G.R., 26° and 32° at Muskegon. It’s snowing lightly at S. Ste. Marie, Newberry, Pellston, Harbor Springs and Alpena. It’s going to get colder. The NAM (car). has a mid-pm temperature for G.R. of 30° Monday and just 23° on Tues. The GFS-plot has a mid-pm temp. of 33° Sunday, 27° Monday, 22° Tues., 21° Weds., 27° Thurs. 31° Fri. and mid 30s with rain/snow next Saturday. The coldest air on the GFS-plot is the 7th/8th. The models are overall dry, but cold air will generate some lake-effect snow showers and (mostly) light accumulations this week. The overnight MOS high temps. for G.R. are remarkably similar (36°/30°/23° for the GFS and 36°/30°/22° for the NAM) for Sun. Mon. Tue. I’d be tempted to add a couple degrees to that because of no snow on the ground and an open Lake Michigan. GFS snowfall for the next 120-hours: Not much for G.R. (though maybe a bit underdone for midweek)…up to 8″ for the U.P. (also probably a tad underdone). The European has some pretty cold air over us Jan. 4-7. Las Vegas NV may end up with more snow in Dec. than G.R.
Also: “Massive” snowstorm traps 15,000 in the Alps…Tropical Depression moving through the Philippines will produce heavy rain, but little wind damage. AirAsia: Flight “was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost”. Closed – Both directions US 24 @ Minturn in Colorado b/c of land slide; No est. time of reopening. Highest in U.S. Sat. was 83° in Sanford, FL – coldest was -19 in Laramie WY, most rain was 2.56″ in Montecello AR. Fairbanks AK reached -20 for the first time this winter. Barrow AK reached -28° and Deadhorse AK dropped to -32°. Sunset at the Pacific Ocean in Cambria CA. It was a White Christmas for the high mountains of Hawaii. 3.5″ of snow Saturday in Oklahoma City. The beautiful Colorado Rockies after a 6-12″ snowfall. Heavy snow in the Pyrenees Mts. between France and Spain. Heavy snow in Meribel, France. Parts of Alabama have had 10″ of rain this month.
The 0.67 of an inch of precipitation measured yesterday at the National Weather Service in Negaunee Township broke a record for December 27th. The 7.8 inches of snowfall was just short of the record for the day of 8.1 inches which was set in 1971. The 2014 precipitation total thus far of 44.83 inches places fifth on the list of all-time wettest years on record here at NWS Marquette. 1-4″ of snow for NW Lower Michigan.
I’m a little late with the sports thread. The Lions beat the Bears. We turned off the TV for dinner when it was 14-3 Bears and after dinner the Lions were ahead for good. The Bears sure have some problems…I know it’s Detroit, but only 13 yards rushing? And the defense has certainly come down a couple notches since the Urlacher/Lovie Smith days. Looks like the Lions are on the road to the playoffs, probably not a Super Bowl team yet, but for all the years we’ve watched them, 8-4 is pretty good. They may end up 11-5 for the season. I can’t get Western Michigan (vs. N. Illinois) on my Comcast at home (ESPNU), so I’m watching Iowa and Nebraska on WOTV4. There are 16 college games on today. WOTV4′s second game at 3:30 pm is Stanford at UCLA (where it’ll be sunny and 80°). Saturday, WOTV4 is the place to watch football, with Michigan at Ohio St. at noon and Michigan St. at Penn St. at 3:30 pm – both on WOTV4. Notre Dame is at USC at 3:30 pm Sat. and the evening game on WOTV4 is #2 Oregon at Oregon St. where they are getting a steady rain today and could catch or rain or snow shower Sat. evening. Ferris St. is in the playoffs and they play in Big Rapids against Ohio Dominican at Noon tomorrow (Sat.). Of course, we have Michigan high school playoffs going on today and tomorrow. Muskegon Catholic, Mona Shores and G.R. South Christian all play today. The high school playoffs are televised on Fox Sports, which for me is Channel 48 on Comcast. We’ll have the highlights on 24-Hour News 8.
On Nov. 25, 1950 Michigan and Ohio State met for what has been called the “Blizzard Bowl” or the “Snow Bowl“. Check out the film of the storm here and here. Michigan won the game 9-3 despite gaining only 27 yards of offense in 46 plays. They had no first downs, didn’t complete a pass and punted 24 times. In fact, there were 45 punts in the game. Both teams mostly tried two runs then punted on 3rd down, so in case the punter slipped, they could try again on fourth down. Only 2 of the 45 punts were returned (for a total of 8 yards). That was mostly because the return man couldn’t find the ball. Most just hit the snow and stopped without bouncing. There were only 10 fumbles in the game. The temperature at the start of the game was +10° and the wind was howling out of the north-northeast. One Ohio St. player remarked that he was supposed to go down and block a linebacker, but when he ran downfield he could find him! All the points were scored after blocked kicks in the first half. Several hundred Boy Scouts were on the sidelines helping to sweep snow off the field so the officials and players could find the yard markers. Most of the state of Ohio got 10″ or more of snow, with reports up to 33″ and drifts up to 25 feet! The temperature in Grand Rapids that morning reached -10°F, the coldest temperature ever recorded here in the month of November. (photo – OSU library)
Football starts at noon on WOTV4 with Ohio State at Minnesota. Minnesota’s not bad – hope they keep it close. Iowa at Illinois is on the Big Ten Network at Noon. Miami (of Ohio) is at Central Michigan at 1 pm. Eastern visits a significantly improved WMU Bronco Team. That game is at 2 pm – plenty of time to head there after the parade. Nebraska at Wisconsin should be a good game – that’s at 3:30 pm on ESPN3. Northwestern is at Notre Dame (they’ve had to remove snow from the field there, too – the South Bend Airport had a record (lake-effect) snow of 12.2″). That game is on WOOD-TV at 3:30 pm. Michigan State plays at Maryland at 8 pm on the Big Ten Network. Michigan has a bye week – 2 games left with Maryland and Ohio State. Ferris State’s next victim is Walsh – that game is at Noon and GVSU heads to Saginaw Valley for a 1 pm game. The Lions are at Arizona for what could and should be the game of the day. That game is at 4:25 pm. Minnesota and the Bears tangle in snowy Soldier Field Sunday at 1 pm. Chicago will only get an inch or two of snow Saturday night, but they’ll have to clear things off Sun. am. We’ve got high school playoff games today as well…join us for the Frenzy on 24-Hour News 8 today.
Michigan State hosts Ohio State at East Lansing Saturday evening. There will be a few light showers in the am and a chance of a lingering light shower/sprinkle in the pm. It should be dry for most of the game, but I can’t rule out a stray rain or even snow shower. Temperatures during the game will be in the upper 30s to around 40, not real warm. It’s a nationally televised game on WOTV4 at 8 pm. The Michigan/Northwestern game in Evanston should be a good one. That’s at 3:30 on ESPN2. I was born about a mile and a half from the NW stadium. Over on WOTV4 at 3:30 pm you can see Notre Dame and Arizona St. That’s out in Tempe, AZ. I believe both of those teams are 7-1. Ferris State hosts Northern Michigan at noon. Ferris is 9-0 and averaging an amazing 49.4 points per game! I went up for a Ferris game about 10 years ago and it was a lot of fun. You can park close by, concessions are reasonable and this year, you’re going to see some championship football. Tiffin is at Grand Valley for a 4 pm game. The Detroit Lions are home for a 1 pm game with Miami. The Sunday night game on WOOD-TV/NBC is Chicago at Green Bay. The Red Wings have a Sunday game at 6 pm with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nascar is in Phoenix.
The local GRR National Weather Service is hosting a seminar for media meteorologists, so I’ll be out at the airport during the day. I’ll let you know a little of what I learn. I’m sure we’ll be discussing the winter forecast and the coming Arctic air. Have a good weekend.
Michigan and Michigan St. – 3:30 pm on WOTV4. Michigan St. is a 17-point favorite. The weather looks very good…partly cloudy and low 60s. There will be a cross wind, west at about 15 mph. Almost all football stadiums run north and south. Another big match-up is Ferris St. at Michigan Tech. Both schools are 6-0 in the conference. That game is at 1 pm. GVSU has been coming back and they are now back to .500. They head to Findlay, Ohio for a noon game. Central Michigan is at Buffalo (3:30 pm – ESPN3). It’s Homecoming at Western Michigan where they host the Ohio at 2 pm. The evening game on WOTV4 (8 pm) is Ohio St. at Penn St. If you really can’t get enough football and don’t need the sleep, the Nevada/Hawaii game in Honolulu starts at midnight EDT. Then get up early for the Lions/Atlanta match – starting at 9:30 am EDT in London, England. The Sunday evening game on NBC (WOOD-TV) is Green Bay at New Orleans. Monday night is Washington and Kirk Cousins against Dallas. The weather looks good for pretty much all of the games. That may not be the case next weekend.
Michigan is idle this week. Michigan St. is at Indiana. That game is on ESPN at 3:30 pm. Western plays at Bowling Green at 2 pm and Central hosts Ball St. at 3:30 pm. The big game of the day is #5 Notre Dame at #2 Florida St. You can see that game at 8 pm on WOTV4. I’ll throw this in for Jack Doles…Nebraska at Northwestern at 7:30 pm on the Big Ten Network. Ferris is at Ohio Dominican at 1 pm. Let’s see if they can keep the streak going. GVSU is up at Michigan Tech at 1 pm. The Wings host Toronto at 7 pm. The Lions host New Orleans at 1 pm on Sunday – that could be a good game.
It’s do or die for the Tigers. Price takes the mound at 3:45 pm today (Sunday) in Detroit. Low 50s and a chance of a few light showers/sprinkles, but I think they get the game in. The Lions host Buffalo and should win that game…that’s another 1 pm start. The Sunday night game is Cincinnati at New England. That’s on WOOD-TV. I stayed up to watch the exciting end of the MSU/Nebraska game. Wow, way too close. The speculation about Brady Hoke will continue after the 3rd loss in a row. With away games at MSU, Northwestern and Ohio St., they may not get to a bowl game this year. Would Harbaugh want to come back to Ann Arbor? Exciting end to the Notre Dame game. N.D. has a pretty tough schedule. If by chance they run the table or maybe had one close loss, you’ve got to figure that Kelly & Co. make it to the playoffs. Grand Valley and Ferris St. both got big wins. Ferris St. is 4-0 and leading the GLIAC. We have early football on WOTV4 at noon. There were 3 MAC games that were decided by one point, including a tough loss for Western in overtime to Toledo. Central beat Ohio 28-10.