Tag Archives: baseball

Coach

This coming Saturday the life of John Stevenson, Coach Stevenson, will be remembered and celebrated.

I grew up in a sleepy little town in Southern California.  A town called El Segundo.  A town sort of lost in time, a regular Mayberry.  The main street through town is called Main Street.  Flanked by the Pacific Ocean on the west, LAX on the north, aerospace industry on the east, and a Chevron refinery on the south, El Segundo is an enclave of relative safety just miles from Los Angeles.  When I lived there the population was somewhere around 12,000.  There is still only one high school and when I attended El Segundo High School it had less than a thousand students.  Not the kind of town that you’d expect would routinely turn out brilliant baseball players and winning baseball teams.  But that’s exactly what has happened there…and it happened for decades.  And that was because of the leadership of one man who loved the game…Coach John Stevenson.

Coach Stevenson dedicated his life to the youth of El Segundo for 50 years.  He was never my coach, but he was my teacher.  I took freshman social studies/history from him.  However, the biggest lesson I learned from him wasn’t learned in the classroom.  Have you ever heard of Scott McGregor?  George Brett?  They are just two of the Gundo boys who went on to play professional baseball.  There have been six of Coach’s players who have gone on to play in the major leagues.  Many more played in the minors.  The lesson I learned because of these players was that if I worked hard, and played well, I could be as successful as anyone else…that being from a small town and not being particularly privileged was not something that should hold me back.  This lesson was one of two great gifts he gave to me.

I’m not gonna lie…Coach kinda scared me.  He was intense out on the field and he wanted his players to play good baseball.  I don’t know if it’s true to say this or not, but it seemed to me that he’d rather his players play good baseball and lose than to play lousy baseball and win.  The game mattered to him.  Sometimes I would cringe when he would yell at the players that made mistakes.  Everyone in the stands knew when Coach wasn’t happy.  But if he felt that his players were on the receiving end of bad baseball, like a bad call from an umpire, he was out there in the face of the offender to make sure that the same standards applied to everyone on the field, not just to his players.  Coach is California’s winningest baseball coach of all time.  A record that is likely to stand for a long time.

The other great gift that Coach gave to me was the gift of baseball itself.  My favorite high school memories revolve around baseball.  I loved going to those Friday night games at rec park.  I still love a really good game of baseball.  I don’t even care who is playing.  To me, the sound of a wooden bat squarely contacting a baseball is one of the most thrilling sounds in sportsdom.  I was privileged to have two brothers play Eagle baseball for Coach.  To this day I am proud of the kind of ball they both played.

Thank you Coach, for investing your life into the lives of other people’s children and for helping them, helping me, learn that in life, as in baseball, you get out of it what you put into it.

El Segundo, and baseball, will miss you…

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Dodger Blue!

Yesterday my niece Alaska got out the hair dye.  Her subject?  My niece Avalon.  Avie has dark hair so Alaska gave her some deep red highlights.  My nephew, their cousin, Mitchell, wanted in on the action.  He has blonde blonde blonde hair and wanted it blue.  His mom, my sister Whitney, okayed the color change…

First of all, look at the face.  Isn’t it perfection?  He is about the most gorgeous child I’ve ever seen.  Whitney took this picture with her cell phone and texted it to me.  I e-mailed her text from MY phone to my e-mail and then downloaded the picture.  Then I uploaded it on Flickr as I had to share it all with you.  (Don’t you just love technology and the internet???) 

Mitchell is six.  The hair color is semi-permanent!!  He plays baseball and is on the Dodger’s.  He has a game tomorrow where his new hair will be revealed.  Whitney warned him that it’s possible that some won’t find this new “do” as delightful as we do, but he was willing to take the chance!  🙂

Whitney says this picture doesn’t really do the blue justice.  Better pictures with a “real” camera have been promised. 

I wish they would have done this when I was visiting!  I would have loved to see this in real life and in technicolor!

I wonder if his school has any rules about this sort of thing.  I know some schools do.  If his does, I see a buzz cut in this boy’s future!  🙂


A Day in LoDo

A couple of weeks ago I met my friend Abner up in Denver to spend the afternoon.  It was a lovely day.  We’d been threatened with snow, but there was barely a cloud in the sky and it was warm in the sun.  We decided to meet at the Breckenridge Brewery.  It’s one of the local microbreweries and I’ve heard they have some good offerings.  I tried the Agave Wheat.  It was a murky looking glass of darkish amber stuff.  But it tasted awesome! 

The area of town that is host to the Breckenridge Brewery is known as “LoDo”, or Lower Downtown.  It’s an historical district, also known as the ballpark district.  The brewery is right down the street from Coors Field where the Colorado Rockies play.  I love baseball (I believe I have mentioned this before).  I used to adore the Dodgers, but fell out of adoration with them in the 90’s.  I tried to fall in love with the Anaheim Angels, and things were going sort of okay, but then they became the Los Angeles Angels, which, even removing the absolute redundancy of the name from the equation, was just wrong.  End of that fledgling relationship!  And then I moved to Colorado.  I wondered if I could become a Rockies fan.  Well, after seeing the Rockies “house”, I think I could very well do so.  I drove past Coors Field the last time I was up in Denver and I wanted to explore it further by walking all the way around the stadium.  Of course that took us into a couple of restricted access areas, but despite passing a number of empty security vehicles, we were successful without even being approached.

What a great stadium and wonderful location for it.  On the 20th street side there was a pedestrian walkway which brought you through an archway of sorts.  The supports had a collection of “ball” tiles on the fronts and backs.  Here’s one of the panels:

One day I’ll go back and try to individually photograph each and every tile in these columns.  Some are mighty clever.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

Through the archway and a there’s a perfect “out in left field” gate upon which to take a foot picture, which of course, we did.

In the process of meandering around town, and laughing hysterically at this and that, we passed by a number of buildings which had either been, or were being converted into lofts and condos.  Of course, with my love of 1)  cities, 2)  buildings, and 3)  real estate, my heart was pretty much palpitating.  There was one small row of loft-type spaces in particular that caught both of our attentions.  The units were three stories tall, and on the backsides there were balconies off the second and third floor.  Rising from the third floor balcony was a spiral staircase leading to rooftop terraces.  From those rooftops I bet you could see the entire downtown skyline as well as Coor’s Field.  And I bet you could easily hear the roar of a baseball crowd from there, too.  I was imagining being up there on a hot and sticky summer day basking in the fierce high altitude sun and BBQ’ing with friends while hearing the crack of bat on ball.  Perfection.

I have longed to buy a property in a city center for decades now.  Chicago has always been my city of choice for this, and Dublin would be pretty amazing, too, as would London.  An apartment in Syracuse, Sicily or Kinsale, Ireland has been a dream floating around my head.  I even looked at lofts in Los Angeles which were pretty spectacular, but after being in this area of Denver, I think Denver could suit me nicely!  Pipe dreams!!  🙂

Near the end of our LoDo traipse, we crossed a street only to be faced with the biggest set of doors I’ve ever seen that weren’t at the front of an old European church!  Here’s Abner being dwarfed by the doors:

Thanks for another fun day just hanging around, Abner!  Let’s do it again soon.


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