Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bruce vs. Bruce, the encore

image source: Bruce Lee Foundation
Last week, on July 20, martial arts legend Bruce Lee would have been 74 years old.

Almost 2 years ago (September 4, 2012), the San Francisco Giants honored the San Francisco native with Bruce Lee Tribute night at AT&T Park.

In my opinion, this was one of the best tribute ideas the Giants organization has ever had. My absolute favorite part of the tribute was the promotional video, "Bruce vs. Bruce" (the other Bruce, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy).

I've watched the video at least a dozen times. Thrilling, brilliant, ultra cool and very funny. See it again here:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend practice

Lincoln High School, San Francisco
Gym Entrance, Lincoln High School
On my way home from errands this morning, I drove past a familiar spot I haven't visited in 20+ years, San Francisco's Abraham Lincoln High School. I stopped, rolled down my car window, shot the above photos, smiled and gave pause to remember my time there.

Lincoln High was where my first organized sports activity in San Francisco began. I played basketball in Lincoln's gym every Saturday morning, from 9 to 12, for about 3 years (1984-1987). Brenda, a former Sharper Image co-worker/fellow hoopster invited me to join her.

After a few months, Brenda stopped coming. I didn't. I became close friends with several of the girls. When the program ended, my friendship with Alice, Ada, Karen and Karyee exceeded well past the years we played basketball together.

Every few months for the next 10 years or so, the five of us would go out to dinner on a Saturday night. We'd pick up dessert, and hangout at one of our places until midnight or so. I'd often come home with a hoarse voice from laughing so hard. The gatherings eventually ended when Alice, Karen and Karyee got married and Ada moved to San Jose.

When my basketball playing days ended, I got back into playing softball. Again, Brenda, now a former co-worker, made the introduction. This resulted in an activity that lasted off and on for about 15 years, much longer than basketball.

My first co-ed team held Saturday morning practices for about 3 years at various softball fields such as Rossi, Glen Park, West Sunset, Jackson, Rolph or McAteer High School. My second co-ed team, Sunday morning practice at Potrero for about 5 years. Then lunch. Always.

Tomorrow, I'll have bowling practice at Classic Bowl with friends from my Wednesday night league. I can't describe it exactly, but I find it serene and comforting to see the same groups of people every week practicing a sport they love as much, if not more, than I do.

The classic NBC-TV series Cheers describes it best:
Music and Lyrics by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

25th Anniversary of Dave Dravecky's comeback

Yesterday's San Francisco Giants game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrated the 25th anniversary of former left-handed pitcher Dave Dravecky.

In October 1988, a year after Dravecky was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Giants, he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his throwing arm.

As detailed in his Wikipedia biography, doctors had advised Dravecky not to pitch until the 1990 season. However, by July 1989, Dravecky was pitching in the minors. The next month, on August 10, Dravecky started against the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched 8 innings and won the game, 4-3.

It was Dravecky's next start against the Montreal Expos in the 5th inning he experienced tingling in his arm. In the 6th inning, he gave up a home run. He hit the next batter, Andres Galarraga. After Galarraga, Dravecky then pitched to Tim Raines. His humerus bone snapped.

Upon review of x-rays, it was found another malignant tumor had formed. The cancer returned. Two more surgeries would follow, and in 1991, Dravecky had his left arm and shoulder amputated. Dravecky went on to become a motivational speaker, which he still does today.

A San Francisco Giants/MLB short video on last year's anniversary can be found at Dave Dravecky's website. You can also view it here. Below is a short YouTube video summarizing his life after baseball:

Friday, July 04, 2014

75th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech

Reposting my blog entry from July 4, 2009, 70th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech.

image source: Society for American Baseball Research
As we celebrate our nation's anniversary, I am moved to find out that today is the seventy-year anniversary of Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech. Reprinted from Lou Gehrig's website:
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.

"When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.

"So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."
While the video does not broadcast the entire speech, I cannot watch the video with dry eyes. The speech is being commemorated today at 15 Major League ballparks.