Friday, October 27, 2017

The Skinny on Anderson Carnegie Public Library

Anderson Carnegie Public Library

Anderson, Indiana, is a town in the center of the state that has had a vivid commercial and entrepreneurial history. The city of Anderson was named after the peaceful leader of the Delaware tribe, Chief Anderson who lived in the area for a while before treaties beckoned him to move on.  His father, was of Swedish ancestry, John Anderson, and his mother was Indian. 

Natural gas was discovered in Anderson and that helped attract new industry temporarily while the gas supply was good. Anderson had an interurban (electric) railway and companies such as Delco Remy, Guide Lamp and Ward-Stilson were among the companies that resided in the city.

In 1902, Andrew Carnegie granted Anderson $50,000 to build a library. Richards, McCarty and Bulford of Columbus, Ohio was the architect and Thompson and Millspaugh the builder. Richards, McCarty and Bulford designed the Union Building in Anderson, the Athletic Club of Columbus and many other notable buildings. The Library was completed in 1905 at 32 West 10th Street, Anderson, Indiana, 46016.

The Anderson Carnegie Public Library was constructed of limestone in the Greco Roman architectural style. Stone lion’s heads guarded the entrance staircase as patrons walked through 15-foot high oak doors to a vaulted ceiling front entry with marbled walls and Scaglione pillars. A rotunda features a porcelain tile floor with a 35 foot high ceiling and stained glass dome. Off the rotunda are three large rooms--east, west and north. Marble fireplaces serve the east and west room and many other architectural features are found throughout.

New Anderson Library

The Anderson Public Library moved out in 1987 and the old Carnegie building was re-purposed as the Anderson Center for the Arts in 1998. The Library Board selected a Sears & Roebuck building with 95,000 square feet for a new library and following extensive renovation and construction a new Anderson Public Library opened at 111 East 12th Street in Anderson, Indiana. The new library was designed by krM Architecture located in Anderson. It would be difficult to identify the old Sears & Roebuck Building from the new library in which all departments are visible from the entry atrium.

The new image of the new library above comes from the krM Architecture site.

Lawrence Norris is a power library user and lover, and the publisher of the new book called Pilgrimage by Patrick McCaskey and he is the author of The Brown and White

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sports as an Evangelical Tool and Sporting Chance Press

Many people overlook the effect of sports as a educational and evangelical tool--something that brings "stickiness" or "sticks" to those who hear it. When I go back to visit at my former schools, it is often those who were involved in athletics that have the strongest ties. It seems to be that often the biggest strongest athletes of the day, can hit their knees more often than most everyone else.  That's not to say they are saints, it just says something about how they held onto their faith. I think sports as part of Catholic culture was a strong influence. 

Today, I think it is more difficult, because sports today can be used to enforce selfishness just as easily as teamwork and sacrifice. A high school player who is told often what a great athlete he is, can let it go to his head and start to discount the efforts of coaches as well as teachers and administrators who have had his best interest in mind.  In college, students who are sophomores and juniors can often leave school to pursue a professional career. Many sports writers and fans buy into the notion that the athlete has to look out for number 1. Others suggest that college students need to be paid. Some college programs also take up so much time for many students, the student barely holds on with a minimum of course work and is likely never to graduate.  These are all negative aspects of sports that need to be routed out. These are as messy and controversial as politics, but they still need attention. 

But at Sporting Chance Press, we cover sports as a positive influence in life (and faith). Those athletes who lead exemplary lives provide more of the kind of "stickiness" that leads to greater and long lasting faith. Some in our society want to ruin everything that is good, but you can find many good things in sports if you are looking for them. And so our Sports and Faith series includes stories of interesting athletes who have made a difference and whose lives have helped to build a better world. 

Our latest Sports and Faith book is called Pilgrimage and it is written by Patrick McCaskey. It is available on Amazon and its mix of sports and faith includes stories of important pilgrimage sites and their history--along with athletes who inspire us by what they do.

All these things helped provide a "stickiness" in Faith.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pillars of the NFL by Patrick McCaskey of the Chicago Bears is a Football Lovers Bible on the Great Coaches

Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships is a football-lovers bible that offers biographies of the football lives of the greatest coaches in NFL history. 

And Amazon has it on sale now! ($12 off as of 10/17/17)

These are the game's 10 greatest legends who outsmarted the field, time and time again. It is a book about the greatest coaches and their players. It a priceless book for those closest to the game.

Patrick McCaskey
Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships is published by Sporting Chance Press and written by Chicago Bears Vice President Patrick McCaskey.  The Pillars themselves are the greatest coaches in NFL history--determined by their number of championships.  Ten coaches have won three or more championships: George Halas, Guy Chamberlin, Curly Lambeau, Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Belichick.

1. George Halas was a great man and great coach, but every once in a while he recharged his batteries and stepped back and watched others coach. He was a master at so many things, but he never felt like he knew everything and was always learning. He would bring college coaches into his camp and would pay attention to their ideas. He was very competitive and made it through some very tough times by tightening his belt. 

2. Curly Lambeau was a fine judge of character and he was able to recruit players to his club. His training and demands were tough. He saw  the passing game as something to be developed even before the rules were created that would allow for much of it in the league. He kept in touch with his former coach at Notre Dame, Knute Rockne, and they shared ideas and discussed players. 

3. Guy Chamberlin was a Nebraska farmer, but he knew the way the game was played. He played both defense and offense.  He saw football as great escape for a few years from the farm and the dry spells that happened. He loved the game and he would have expected his players to show the same passion. 

4. Paul Brown father was a "railroad man with a watch"--he learned to use his time wisely. Brown scripted his practices and made the most of the time he spent on the field. His players were skilled and he had classroom sessions and playbooks. He wanted smart players who were focused on learning and bringing discipline to the game. The color of a man's skin was irrelevant to Brown.

5. Weeb Ewbank was a small man who loved working with men. He never let his ego get in the way of creating a winning environment. Whether teaching players, handling salary relations, or negotiating a player's return, he kept his wits and his sense of humor. He succeeded in different played with different teams and he was at his best building a team. 

6. Vince Lombardi has been hailed as a disciplinarian. His methods were considered old fashioned and not workable for the modern player until he made them work for championship after championship. He learned high school and college coaching before the pro game. He was middle aged before he led the Packers. He grilled his players on plays until they became perfect at executing them.  He came very close to pushing them too hard and having a revolt, but he learned to back off at just the right time.  Once his methods were successful on the football field his team was practically invincible. 

7. Chuck Noll brought in critical players who would act as change-makers on his Steelers. These players would not accept poor play from their teammates. He started with Mean Joe Greene and was often working with black schools recruiting players that most teams would  have over looked. He created a mindset with his team that only exceptional hard-nosed play would be present. They all worked to win championships and to make their teammates Hall of Fame players. 

8. Bill Walsh was primed to be a head coach, but didn't get his chance until long after he thought it was due. And Walsh perhaps more than any other of the greatest coaches, had times where he suffered from a personal humiliation because of failure. Other times where he could walk out on a field and the opposing coach would worry so much about what Walsh's moves were going to be, he could not execute his own. Walsh seemed like he was a couple steps away from the abyss and a short leap to glory. He was hard to please and spend endless hour in preparation.  While he looked like a Physics teacher or a golf pro, he was a pugilist at heart--a former boxer with a passion for social justice. 

9. Joe Gibbs learned from every coach he worked with in football. He had a tough life as a child and then achieved a level of financial success that was almost unheard in both coaching and owning Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs was also a coach who played his hand as it came. He had certain ambitions when he started his NFL career, but he decided to create game plans to match his personnel not his own wishes.  He relied on a core group of coaches who he retained and he was considered especially brilliant at making half time adjustments. Like facing Bill Walsh, opposing coaches knew they had to be at their best to win against Gibbs. 

10. Today's football fans know Bill Belichick's mantra: "just do your job." And that goes for everyone connected to the team. Players are better prepared, they are trained in multiple positions, teammates and coaches are constantly reviewing their performance, everyone is expected to "man-up" and accept criticism. Players on the practice field get coached on their play under a myriad of game situations. The Patriots are a proud organization and each year the rest of the NFL can never take them for granted. Rarely are they not at the best at season end. Rarely does Bill Belichick get out-coached. 

Pillars of the NFL is a coaching tool, a football researchers handbook, and an NFL fan's guide to the history of the game. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rome and Our Book Pilgrimage

Dome of St. Peter's Basilica, Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.,  Flicker, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
When were working on the Pilgrimage book by Patrick McCaskey, I knew that the book would serve as a survey of holy places for people who might make the trips, as well as a book for people like myself who are pilgrim-wannabes. 

Historically, one of the big shakers and movers in pilgrimage travel was the Emperor Constantine--who was responsible for not only making Christianity  legal, but building great churches in both the Holy Land and Rome.  Constantine made Christianity the church of choice for the Roman Empire. Some churches replaced  Pagan temples and buildings--some people have a problem with that, but replacing one church with something completely different has been done in many places. Of course, we live in a world where people want to reinvent history in ways that are contrary to past renderings, but Rome actually did feed the Christians to the Lions and killing Christians had been a sport for the Romans during many periods before Constantine. 

Constantine started building churches in the 4th century. His mother, Saint Helena, traveled to the Holy Land and visited historic Christian sites and also brought back some relics to Rome. In time, many of Constantine's churches have been replaced by more elaborate buildings, but his presence is still strong. 

At times, a trip to the Holy Land was not safe. The churches in Rome would often get extra attention during these times. Today, pilgrims love the Holy Land, but they love Rome and all it offers as well. The Holy Land remains a special place for three major religions (Jews/Christians/Moslems), but Rome is a special second home to Christians. Because of the multiple cultures in charge of the Holy Land and to some extent its churches, the buildings could never get the extraordinary attention and exacting detail that the Church in Rome applied to its surroundings. 

Many people don't realize it, but a lot of the effort, fund-raising and expense involved in building the new St. Peter's (1506-1614) took place during the Protestant Reformation. The decay of the original St. Peter's took place during the time of the French Popes and the anti-popes--much of the time when Rome was not the center of the Church. The new St. Peter's is called by many "the greatest thing in the universe" and few will argue the point after a first hand view of the Basilica.  

As European kings squabbled among themselves and fought over church property and church control of property in their own kingdoms, church leadership was challenged. Some might suggest that the Church was too active in various national affairs, while others point out that the kings and royal families often exerted influence on the church. Royal families and their progeny sometimes had a role in Church leadership. 

Pilgrimage covers the history of the pilgrimage sites concisely for readers. It also includes stories of athletes who in some cases were influenced by their visits to the sites. Also included are the author's observations and inspired writings on all things McCaskey. Pilgrimage is the Third Book in the popular Sports and Faith Series. It's a great study for those who will appreciate some church history offered concisely and simply.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ora et Labora

The following passage is from Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey, Copyright 2015, Sporting Chance Press.

The Rule of  Saint Benedict has been a fundamental guide for monastic life for many centuries.   Saint Benedict lived around 500 AD and  Saint Benedict’s Rule has since served as a guide for those who wanted to live in community and in faith.  The term “ora et labora” (prayer and work) describes the Benedictine way in a nutshell.   Saint Benedict’s  Rule encourages community members to avoid idleness and directs them to spend their time in prayer, labor, and sacred reading.  The “Rule” advocates a balance in life that keeps people on task. 

Of course, many Christians keep busy outside of monasteries.  We are not all meant to be monks, ministers, or other Religious, but we can forge a kind of life of prayer and labor.  Many of the best in sport have done just that.

Bob Cousy Wakes Up Boston to Basketball in Sports and Faith II by McCaskey

McCaskey Sports and Faith II
The following passage is from Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey, Copyright 2015, Sporting Chance Press.

The Boston Celtics were not a very good basketball team before Bob Cousy arrived from Holy Cross in 1950.  Cousy became the most beloved athlete in Boston.  The “Houdini of the Hardwood” was a great ball-handler, passer, and shooter.  He was only 6-foot-1, but he had speed and quickness, great peripheral vision, big hands, and long arms.  He played for the Celtics from 1950-1963 and during that time he led the league in assists for eight years in a row and played in 6 championship seasons. His record breaking 28 assists in a single game that he set in 1959 held until 1978 when Kevin Porter got 29.  He scored 16, 960 points in his career—an average of 18.4 per game.  He had 6,959 assists—an average of 7.5 per game.  He averaged 5.2 rebounds per game and he held a .803 foul shooting percentage.

Cousy was an NBA All-Star every season he played and was named the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player in 1954 and 1957. He was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1957.
His play excited the Boston fans and the city developed a taste for the game.  His 50 point performance in a playoff win against Syracuse in 1953 made an impression on fans that they simply never forgot.  He went 30-32 at the free throw line and scored 12 points in the game’s fourth overtime period.[1]  Playing for the great coach Red Auerbach, Cousy was always passionate and driven to succeed.  His behind-the-back dribbling and passing punctuated his approach that was part showman, part street ball, but all explosive.  His passes were so quick and disguised that in the early days they bounced off his teammates’ bodies and heads.  When Cousy had the ball, everyone on the court was challenged to “stay in” the game every second.  When Bill Russell came to Boston in the 1956 draft, the Celtics’ championships seasons began.  They won 6 out of 7 championships with Cousy and Russell. Then Russell and the Celtics won 5 out of 6 championships after Cousy’s retirement.

In the “Vision Books” series for children, Bob Cousy is portrayed in the first book called Champions in Sports and Spirit by Ed Fitzgerald.  Cousy came from a French immigrant family of limited means and he never forgot those who struggled around him.  His faith was fundamental.  In Champions in Sports and Spirit, Cousy is quoted:
“While I was at Holy Cross, I received Holy Communion on an average of three times a week for the whole four years, and I feel that any success I may have had at school and since my graduation can be attributed to the religious foundation I was able to build there.”

Cousy’s family home is in Worchester, Massachusetts, where he and his wife Marie raised their two daughters, Marie Colette and Mary Patricia.  Bob and Marie brought their daughters up with a strong sense of social justice that included attending civil rights rallies.  Cousy called his wife “Missy,” and while he was frequently away due to his demanding playing and coaching career, he was absolutely devoted to her. Missy began suffering from dementia about the year 2000 after 50 years of marriage.  Cousy put his husband skills in overdrive and did everything he could to care for his wife and see that her remaining years were comfortable—helping her maintain a healthy routine, fixing her medication, reading the newspaper with her, and taking care of her needs for over 12 years of decline.  She passed away in 2013.      

Boston fans who were around during Cousy’s playing career will remember Cousy’s Celtics farewell ceremony on  Saint Patrick’s Day of 1963 his final regular-season game at home in Boston on the way to another championship.  As Cousy was choking back tears during his goodbye speech, a fan shouted out, “We love ya, Cooz.” Tears flowed and applause followed for one of Boston most beloved athletes. 

Cousy received an honorary doctorate of human letters from Boston College in 2014.  In honor of the great guard, the Bob Cousy Award is given to the top collegiate male basketball point guard annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

[1] Jeff Greenfield, The World’s Greatest Team: A Portrait of the Boston Celtics from 1957-1969. 

A Little on Notre Dame and Catholic History

McCaskey's Sports and Faith II
The following passage is from Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey, Copyright 2015, Sporting Chance Press.

Catholics were once thought of as scruffy superstitious people by many other Americans and at many schools they were not welcome.  Benjamin Franklin and others of the colonial period referred to Catholics as “Romans.”  Franklin would sometimes attend mass and sit in the back of church as if he was studying a primitive culture and its practices. 

A little college in South Bend, Indiana, grew into a great source of Catholic pride on the football field in the 1920s.  The school was actually quite ecumenical with its players and coaches—you didn’t have to be Catholic to play or coach the Irish.  The great Knute Rockne did not become a Catholic until just before his son was to receive his First Communion when the coach had been at the school for several years.  Rockne himself was impressed by his players who he saw wake up very early on game day to attend Mass.  On the road one day, Rockne could not sleep and went down to the hotel lobby where he saw player after player head out to church.  He followed and he was impressed by his players’ piety when he saw them receiving Communion.  The players also seemed stronger and Rockne sought the same experience.[1] Many of the fighting Irish are not Irish or Catholic, but it is wonderful to watch the singing of the “Alma Mater” after home games.  Addressed to Our Lady, the patroness of the school, the song was composed by ND graduate Joseph Casasanta with lyrics written by ND President Father Charles O’Donnell.  It was first performed at Knute Rockne’s funeral in 1931. When singing the alma mater, students of all nationalities and faiths put their arms over each other's shoulders and sway as they sing.  Some smile and think nothing of the song’s lyrics while others are obviously in prayer. 

Many sports historians believe that it was Notre Dame under the great Knute Rockne that became the first “national team” in the college ranks.  Rockne himself was so beloved and respected that when he died in a tragic plane crash in 1931, the entire nation mourned.  Condolences came in to his widow from all over the world.  Movies followed the Rockne legend and then more movies were made after more legends took shape.  Notre Dame Football won national acclaim.

[1] Severin and Stephen Lamping (translation, arrangement, and foreword), Through Hundred Gates: By Noted Converts from Twenty-Two Lands (Milwaukee:  Bruce Publishing Company, 1939) 41-42.