In the fall of 1982, while attending a Red Wings game I spotted Harold Ballard, the outspoken owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the press box. So I climbed the flight of steps to get his autograph. I greeted him with, “You have a very interesting team, Mr. Ballard. May I have your autograph?” He smiled and took out a photo of himself with his facsimile autograph with the inscription: “Have fun, it’s later than you think.” No one will confuse Ballard with Plato or Aristotle, but these words are great advice to pass along. (read more…)
The Trenton Trib is a monthly publication, so I try to focus on a variety of topics and this month I tried not to write about baseball because I’ve written a number of them lately.
But I couldn’t avoid it with the tremendous success of our Trenton natives in professional baseball — not only here but around the world.
In 2016 the Land of the Rising Sun witnessed a rising star, 2005 Trenton High School graduate Anthony Bass. During this time I asked Anthony’s mother, Linda, what is the name of the team Anthony plays for in Japan? Her answer was the Hokkaido Nippon “Ham Fighters.”
With that reply I laughed hysterically and thought, “What’s a Ham Fighter?” Is it a Wild Boar with a machete? Is it a Warthog trained in Martial Arts? Later I discovered it was the nickname from a major Japanese food processing company. (read more…)
This past November, Joe Porreca, Jerry Brown and George Mans, two former Trenton mayors and one former mayor pro-tem, were inducted into the Trenton Educational Foundation Hall of Fame. All three rose to prominence within our community.
Jerry Brown served as a police officer and reached the rank of police chief before he was elected mayor. Joe Porreca and George Mans served in the Michigan Legislature after being in Trenton government. The three inductees spoke of their experiences of public life in Trenton and beyond, and they acknowledged the great honor bestowed upon them.
When they were finished speaking, retired educator Jack Doyle turned to me and said, “These three have one thing in common — integrity.” (read more…)
A massive group from the family Cervidae have settled and are quite visible all over the Downriver area. In other words, there are a lot of deer around here. Their presence has garnered emotions ranging from the likes of wonder, annoyance, dislike and appreciation — quite a variation of opinion.
A group of deer are commonly referred to as a herd of deer, and sometimes a mob of deer. I guess you might call a group of male deer a stag party. In these parts nothing begs our attention as much as these four legged creatures — certainly their larger frames stand out compared to the smaller animals in this habitat.
No one ever says, “Hey, look at those three squirrels!” But when deer are sighted you often hear, “Quiet, look at those three deer!” If you’re driving through a neighborhood, you might pull over just to watch them in action.
There are some areas deer seem to prefer Downriver; they love all the local golf courses, not because they’re enthusiasts of the sport, but for the abundance of grass and foliage that attracts their appetites. A lovely sight on the golf course is watching them chowing down, or gliding gracefully across a wide fairway, and then disappearing into the brush. I once saw a doe and her two fawns in the distance before teeing off. I paused and waited. I know it is proper golf etiquette to yell, “Fore,” but the deer wouldn’t understand, because there were only three of them. (read more…)
Watching a Tigers game with family recently, it was noticed some of the players’ batting helmets have been reinforced with an additional piece that extends over the jaw area.
Historically, safety features added to any sport have sometimes been met with ridicule when first introduced, but in time they were accepted and became accustomed to.
The first baseball helmets were the 1952 innovation of Charlie Muse, a Pittsburgh Pirates executive. “The players called them minor hats (coal miners), laughed at them, called players sissies for wearing them,” Muse said.
By the 1960s it became mandatory for all teams to protect the batter from an errant pitch ball. A decade later it was extended for the base runner as well. There have been suggestions for pitchers to wear helmets, too. (read more…)
Area native one of the oldest living major leaguers
The New York Yankees are history’s greatest professional sports franchise. I loved reading about those who wore the pin stripes, their feats and their personalities. I was born less than a mile from Yankee Stadium, which probably added to my interest. My first baseball game was the Yanks and the Tigers when I was 8 years old. I’ll never forget walking up the ramp at Tiger Stadium and reaching the grandstand and peering at the entire well-manicured green field — it was the best thing next to heaven.
Television broadcasts do an injustice to the sport of baseball. Unlike football where you can see both teams line up, or basketball where you can see all 10 players in action, baseball cameras focus on the pitcher, batter, and catcher. When you are actually at a game you get a greater perspective by being able to see the entire field of play, all the fielders in positions, and if there are base runners you see their every motion. (read more…)
Playing “hooky,” or “hookey,” can be defined as “being absent from school without an excuse.” There are many theories and explanations of this term. I tend to believe that dating back to the one-room schoolhouse days, it was the bait and the “hook,” thus the term “playing hooky” was derived.
In 1848 the theme of playing hooky was adopted in Mark Twain’s masterpiece “Tom Sawyer.” The playing hooky term has been used for missing work as well. Harry Truman once said, “I played hookey from the appropriations committee this morning.” A modern day comedy film with a playing hooky theme was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris Bueller played a rascal who outfoxed the school Dean, Ed Rooney, by pretending to be ill. The Dean was completely humiliated in the end, trying to catch Ferris in the act of skipping school.
One individual a student couldn’t humiliate at Trenton High School in the 1960s and 70s was a truant officer named Harold Schmidt, for he was always one step ahead of any rascal. I was introduced to the legend of Harold Schmidt coming off the school bus in my freshman year. As I was walking toward the school a companion educated me on the determination of truant officer Harold Schmidt to catch kids skipping school, “Mr. Schmidt posts himself on the roof of the school with a giant telescope.” (read more…)
Independence Day was approaching and the little girl raised her hand and asked the teacher, “Do they have a Fourth of July in England?” The teacher responded, “Of course. They just don’t celebrate there, as we do.”
The historical tradition of the Fourth of July was set in motion when future President John Adams wrote on July 3rd, 1776, “I am apt to believe that Independence Day will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival it ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”
Adams was quite prophetic on this subject. The past couple of centuries, fireworks have been the principle method used to celebrate the holiday. Fireworks history goes back to 12th century China, when they were used to scare away evil spirits. China is still the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. The largest firework display was in Norway, which incorporated 540,382 individual effects in 90 minutes as confirmed by the Guinness World Record adjudicators. (read more…)
This department store was a treasure in our city. It was like having J.L. Hudson or Lord and Taylor in the midst of a town of 20,000. The complex was formed in 1908 and over the years had several structural changes, including the front with a large overhang with a blue-ish background and Mulias and Elias written quite eloquently in script. Those who shopped there remember the experience quite vividly. M and E’s was the store where one could purchase the hard-to-find apparel or gift that no other store in the area carried.
During the 1990s I knew an old local named Earl Bain. He was an entrepreneur and the life of the party — most of all, Earl loved pulling friends’ legs. On one occasion, a group of Earl’s acquaintances were dining and drinking when Earl casually announced that his birthday was coming up the next week. (read more…)