Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Final Basball Blog - At Least For Now

A few weeks ago a couple of my old Little League ballplayers paid us a surprise visit. The Miller brothers, Gary and Greg, had changed a bit because they played back in the 1950s. Gary started right off by telling Jackie that I had changed his name, which was true, and ever since that time a lot of people have called him by the one I gave him, Mike. We already had a Gary on the team when Mike arrived and two Garys would have been one too many.
The Miller boys found themselves in big trouble one day because they didn't show up for a game. It rained most of the day in the north end of town where they lived, but not a drop at the ball field a mile or so away. No excuse, I told them. That's the way I was back then.
At a practice session when I felt the team had been a little listless in the last game I lectured them for 10 or 15 minutes on the need for enthusiasm, a word I used at least a dozen times. Mike raised his hand when I finished so I asked him what he wanted and he said, "Dick, what's enthusiasm?" That's the way it used to go.
Greg was a catcher and like all catchers he was tough. Used to block the plate when a runner was coming in to score and he didn't care if the ball was still somewhere out in left field. A few years earlier we had another tough catcher named Jerry Jeter. One day I gave another of my lectures, this one on the need for parents to quit riding the umpires because they were volunteers and it wasn't easy to find people like that. At the next game Jerry's dad was riding the umpire. He took off his mask, walked over to the backstop and called, Dad, be quiet. These umpires are hard to find." It not only hushed up dad but everyone else in the grandstand.
We had another tough catcher named Dave Good. He broke a finger in a game so we put a sewing thimble on it, taped it up, and he didn't miss a single game. When he was younger and still a substitute it turned out an older player had been giving him a rough time without me being aware of what was going on. In the dugout one day, Dave walked up to the other kid and said, "If you ever say another word to me I'll bust your nose." Problem solved without me even having been aware it existed.
Mike, who used to play first base, named every other player, position by position. One was Kenny Payne, the shortest boy in the league but hard as nails and a real competitor. While on first base one day he decided to steal second and his legs were really churning as he raced down the line, then made a picture perfect slide. The problem was, he was still fifteen feet short of the base. He got up, ran some more and slid again. He was safe, too.
So now Mike is a retired school teacher. Retired - boy, does that make me feel old. Sometimes Mike helps out Greg, who is a trainer of race horses that run at Thistledown in Cleveland. If you happen to run across the Miller boys some day make sure you call Gary by his real name, which is Mike.

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