Monday, June 22, 2015

Dayton Dragons v. Lake County Captains Recalls Fred Merkle in Father's Day

The Dayton Dragons are a Class A Minor League Baseball Team in the Midwest League that is affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds.  The team is famous for its fans that regularly sell-out Fifth Third Field where they play and have routinely exceeded 500,000 plus attendance.

On Father's Day, the Dragons played out a game scenario that has been repeated occasionally in much the same way for well over a hundred years. The Dragons were playing the Lake County Captains from Eastlake, Ohio, a team affiliated with the Cleveland Indians.


Back on September 23, 1908, the New York Giants played the Chicago Cubs in a critical game that had great importance in the Pennant race.  The game was tied at 1-1 in the last of the ninth inning and Moose McCormick was on first base for the Giants.  Young second baseman, Fred Merkle came up next and drove  one into right field along the line.  Moose lumbered to third and Merkle played it safe and stayed at first. Shortstop  Al Bridwell was  next and he managed to line one into the center field giving McCormick more than enough time to tag home for the winning run. 

Merkle was a young rookie, in fact the 19-year old was said to be the youngest player in major league baseball.  He had been riding the bench for most of the season and he knew the drill at the end of the game when the Giants played in the Polo Grounds.  In the Polo Grounds, the second a game ended, the players scurried on out to the clubhouse before the crowd flooded onto the field to make their exit through the field.  And Fred did just that.  

The only problem was that the Cubs second baseman, Johnny Evers has been making noise to home umpire Hank O'Day that a runner on base in those circumstances was  supposed to follow to the next base and safely tag the base even when the runner ahead scores.  If the runner does not tag the next base, by Rule, Rule 59 in fact, the runner could be forced out and the run negated.

Technically, Merkle should have tagged second, but the rule was rarely enforced particularly when the ball made its way out of the infield.  In the Giants-Cubs game, the play was appealed. Witnesses suggested that the actual game ball had been tossed into the stands by one of the Giants and "a ball" perhaps not the actual game ball, had been eventually thrown to second to force Merkle was called out some time after the play had ended for most everyone.   Because the fans were swarming all over the field, once the appeal was made and Hank O'Day had called Merkle out, the game could not continue. 

In 1908, baseball was truly the National Pastime and since it was before radio,  the newspapers took the story to the nation.  According to one scribe, young Fred Merle was a "Bonehead"  and in New York especially, he was raked over the fires in print.  The storm might have dissipated had the National Baseball Commissioner Harry Pulliam ruled on Merkle's behalf after the Giants appealed the ruling.  But Pulliam collected witness accounts and gave the "case" even more media attention as he "held court" and decided the issue.  

Public Bonehead, Private Hero

When the season wound down and the Giants and Cubs were tied for the Pennant at the end, it was decided that the September 23rd game was ruled a tie and would be replayed on October 8 for the Pennant.  Although Merkle did not play that day, the Giants lost the contest and the Cubs moved on.  The ridicule went on for Merkle and tragically followed him throughout his remaining career and even after his death in some cases. The whole episode and the 1908 year and baseball season is explored in Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle.



And yet what happened yesterday, suggests that in baseball, even painful lessons are sometimes forgotten.  The Dayton Dragons were facing the Lake County Captains.  Jose Ortiz singled to left field to score Gavin LaValley from third base for the 5-4 win in the 11th. In this case, Dayton first baseman Paul Kronenfeld played Merkle's role and headed down the tunnel at the end of the game along with his other teammates and the umpires.  The Lake County Team and their manager, apparently felt that Kronenfeld had not touched the base and an appeal was made.  At this point, the Dragons manager Jose Nieves believed that since the umpires had left the field, the game was effectively over and the call should have quickly confirmed the 5-4 win.  But for some reason, a call was made to the umpires' supervisor resulting in a 33 minute wait.  Eventully, the game was ruled a 5-4 victory for Dayton.

The Captains final Tweet for the game:

 The call will stand, Captains lose and officially protest the game as well. Captains fall without actually allowing the winning run, 5-4.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mike Sanford and Indiana State Football Program

Mike Sanford

Mike Sanford, a former quarterback for the USC Trojans of the 1970s, is in his third season as head coach of the Indiana State Football program and he is making strides to turn the program around. 

Last year, the Sycamores finished with an 8-6 overall record with its first trip to the playoffs since 1984.  Sanford was named the AFCA Regional Coach Of The Year.

The Sycamores were led by quarterback Mike Perish who ended his career with school record for pass completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns.  Last year he also set a season record for touchdown pass receptions at 21. Perish graduated from Marist High School in Chicago.

The Sycamore's defensive squad was led by Connor Underwood a First Team All-MVFC performer who finished the season with 94 tackles, a school record 13.5 quarterback sacks, and 25 tackles for a loss.  Underwood is starting his senior season. Underwood lettered in football, basketball, and track at Washington Community High School.  He played for Coach Darrell Crouch.

Coming on staff with Sanford, was linebacker guru, Brian Cabral, who came over from a long coaching career from the University of Colorado. Cabral is the Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator. Cabral has been one of the nations top recruiters and player developers of Polynesian players for decades. 
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, and Sports and Faith Book 2: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fr. Ted Schmitt Receives Sporting Honor Posthumously

Father Ted Schmitt
The Fr. John P. Smyth Award was given to Fr. Ted Schmitt (posthumously) at the Sports Faith International Awards Ceremony at the Marriott Lincolnshire on May 24, 2015.  The Smyth Award is given annually to an outstanding Catholic athlete or coach who has chosen a  religious vocation. Fr. Ted Schmitt passed away suddenly in December of 2014.

Father Theodore (Ted) Schmitt, was ordained at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in 2002 at age 57. He grew up in Chicago, the son of a Chicago Police Officer. He was an altar boy at St. Genevieve Grammar School and he attended DePaul Academy. He played several sports as a boy. He was inspired to consider a religious vocation by his Irish Catholic mother and parish priests. He went to St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, Indiana.

After graduation, Schmitt taught and coached football at Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison, Illinois. After studying film at Northwestern, he was employed by Universal Studios in Chicago and a vocation to the priesthood seemed millions of miles away. He worked for Universal in Chicago, New York and at Universal City, California. He was a friend to many Hollywood celebrities. He became very successful, but found that he had become a “lousy human being.” A priest helped him sort things out and he enrolled at Mundelein Seminary in his 50s. 

As a priest one of his goals was to use athletics as an evangelical tool for Catholic grammar schools, high schools and non-Catholic ones. "Athletics, done right, can be a wonderful way to grow closer to Jesus Christ.”

Father Schmitt was football chaplain at St. Patrick High School in Chicago and Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Nazareth head coach Tim Racki reported Schmitt “said Masses or held prayer services before every game. We considered him part of the team." Schmitt saw Nazareth Academy recently win the Illinois 6A State Football Championship. Many said Father Schmitt played an important role in that accomplishment. He was also chaplain to the Streamwood Police and Fire Departments. He was an avid amateur boxer.

In his last assignment at St. John the Evangelist in Streamwood, he was credited with "re-energizing" the parish and was present in Washington DC as the school received the coveted Blue Ribbon Award. School officials state that with Fr. Schmitt's and other positive influences, the enrollment at the school has increased by 100.   

In December of 2014, the energetic and enthusiastic priest died unexpectedly.

For more information on the remarkable life of Father Ted Schmitt see Dolores Madlener's feature "Five Minutes with Father" in the Catholic New World.

The Fr. John P. Smyth Award is awarded by Sports Faith International that is Chaired by Sporting Chance Press Author and Chicago Bears Director, Patrick McCaskey

Monday, June 8, 2015

Bear Wosnick Enshrined in the Sports Faith Hall of Fame

Bear Woznick was enshrined in the Sports Faith Hall of Fame on Sunday, May 24, 2015, at Marriott Lincolnshire Resort. 

Bear Woznick
Bear Woznick, like his name, is a "big surf dude, with muscles to back it up." As Masters Tandem Surfing World Champion, he has developed tandem teams and events around the world. In tandem surfing, he lifts a women over his head while he is riding on the surfboard--sometimes the woman stands his hand.

Bear's Book: Deep in the Wave
As an author Woznick shares his love for surfing and for life in Deep in the Wave. For Bear, surfing is a metaphor for life, extreme sport is an expression of living life to the fullest, living life in faith. Woznick says living recklessly is living uninspired in mediocrity. According to Bear, in tandem surfing, "the man is lifting and carving, slicing through sometimes heavy water and he is holding his partner, a woman who trusts in him athletically holding her form in perfect stillness and calmness." 

As an extreme athlete, Woznick has "Run with the Bulls" twice in Pamplona, surfed world class waves, and earned a ninja black belt. Bear says: "the wildest thing you can do is abandon yourself to God will." He encourages men to think of God's plan for their lives as one of action, he encourages men to be active for the faith and they will be more engaged in life, seeing and experiencing the beauty that God has created. 

Woznick is a popular speaker, author, and radio host. Woznick's Deep Adventure Radio show is aired on 300 stations. A rare combination of serious adventure seeker, husband, father and devout Catholic, Bear’s creed, “the most radical thing you can do in life is to abandon yourself to the wild adventure of God’s will,” dynamites an opening in men’s souls to the possibilities that God has for them. A rare combination of serious adventure seeker, husband, father and devout Catholic, Bear’s creed, “the most radical thing you can do in life is to abandon yourself to the wild adventure of God’s will,” dynamites an opening in men’s souls to the possibilities that God has for them. 

Sporting Chance Press author Patrick McCaskey is chairman of Sports Faith International, an initiative that honors athletes who live exemplary lives. Sports Faith International looks to inspire and transform the current sports culture though media initiatives that feature and encourage faith based living. McCaskey is Senior Director of the Chicago Bears.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Painless Father's Day Shopping at the Christian Shop

Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey will be signing his new book, Sports and Faith Book 2 just in time for Father's Day at the Christian Shop tomorrow, Saturday June 6, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The Christian Shop is located at 325 E. Dundee Rd. in Palatine, IL. McCaskey will also be signing Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships, his encyclopedic look at the great coaches in NFL history. So if you are looking for a great Father's Day gift, here's you chance!

Sports and Faith 2
Sports and Faith Book: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout includes stories of current professionals like Jeremy Lin and Josh McCown, and legends like Stan “the Man” Musial and Bob Cousy.  Spotlighted are teams such as Bob Ladouceur’s De La Salle squad portrayed in the motion picture “When the Game Stands Tall.”  The author spends time with benevolent Tom Monaghan and faith-based institutions like Notre Dame, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College. The author dives into a few Bible stories and he reveals some McCaskey history.  Humorous poems, which the author is famous for delivering, are included.  

Sports and Faith Book: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout takes on some sad developments—the recent tragedy in Kabul where Dr. Jerry Umanos and John and Gary Gabel were killed in cold blood. Also examined is the Washington Illinois tornado and the people who remediated the suffering. Burke Masters (featured on cover), Matthew Lightner, and Grant Desme—three promising athletes who decided on a role of lifetime service are spotlighted. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strove to make the cut on and off the field. 

Pillars of the NFL

Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships is an encyclopedic story of the NFL and it's greatest coaches, written at just a level of detail that makes it readable and enjoyable, but not overwhelming.  Dan can pick and chose the coaches he wants to read about or he can read the book cover-to-cover.  The 10 greatest coaches of the NFL are Halas, Lombardi, Noll, Belichick, Walsh, Gibbs, Chamberlin, Brown, Ewbank, and Lambeau.  

Now's your chance to get these books signed by Patrick McCaskey of the Chicago Bears. And if you can't make it on Saturday, call and order your signed copy for pickup later:

 (847) 991-8994

Sports and Faith Book 2 is the second in the Sports and Faith Series which began in 2011 with publication of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout published by Sporting Chance Press.  Patrick McCaskey is a Senior Director with the Chicago Bears and Chairman of Sports Faith International, an initiative that recognizes athletes, coaches, and administrators who lead exemplary lives.  McCaskey is also Chairman of WSFI Catholic Radio 98.5 FM which airs in portions of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin and can also be found online.