Monday, May 08, 2006

The Weekend in Review

A few quick stories from this year's Lorain Sports Hall of Fame Enshrinement banquet.
  • Keynote speaker Bob DiBiasio (Indians director of public relations, and no I didn't think to bring a resume) shared a story of Bill Clinton throwing out the first pitch at the opening of Jacobs Field in 1994. One of Clinton's representatives was talking to DiBiasio about the agenda for the day. "Well," DiBiasio started, "a young woman in a blue suit will walk President Clinton out to the mound, and then he'll throw a pitch to Sandy Alomar." The representative replied, "There will be no young woman in a blue suit walking the President to the mound. You will walk the President to the pitcher's mound."
    Later, DiBiasio was giving President Clinton a tour of the facilities. When they got to the batting cages behind the dugout, President Clinton confided that he was a little nervous about bouncing the ball into home plate. So, DiBiasio suggested using the batting cages to warm up. He spotted 15-year-old Andy Hargrove, Mike's son, and asked young Andy if he wanted to play catch with the president. Now, Mike Hargrove is a staunch republican and devoted Rush Limbaugh follower. Knowing his dad's political views, Andy declined the offer to play catch with the president. Bob DiBiasio asked two more times, and two more times Andy said no. Finally, DiBiasio spotted third base coach Jeff Newman's son, and got him to warm up President Clinton.
    It came time for the President come out, and as they were standing on the top of the step, Bob DiBiasio asked Clinton how he was feeling. "Well, I'm still nervous. I'm afraid I'll throw the ball over the catcher's head." "Don't worry," DiBiasio replied, "Sandy Alomar is 6'5. You're not going to throw it over his head."
    When they got to the mound, DiBiasio again asked the President how he was feeling. "I'm nervous. I'm afraid I'm going to bounce the ball into home plate." Trying to lighten the mood, DiBiasio thought about where Clinton would be going next. "Mr. President, this must be some sports day for you. You're throwing out the first pitch in this beautiful new ballpark, and afterwards you're flying to Philadelphia to watch your Arkansas Razorbacks play in the NCAA basketball finals. Hey, do you think there's any room on Air Force One for me?" "Not a chance." At that point, DiBiasio was very tempted to reply, "Well, here's the ball Mr. President. Good luck and don't bounce it in."

  • Raymont Harris was very fired up to be there. He told the story of when, as a third string running back in eigth grade, he was told he would never be as good as the previous eigth grade team's star running back. Harris rushed home, pulled out a sheet of paper, and titled it "Lorain's Greatest Athlete." He started listing every Lorain sports great he could think of - grade school stars, high school stars, family members... and ended the list with his name. Well, long story short, he proved he was good enough for his 8th grade team, and eventually good enough for a 1000 yard season with the Chicago Bears. He ended his speech by sharing that he always tells everyone how proud he is to be from Lorain, Ohio.

  • One of the inductees was Army Colonel Virgil Williams. He spoke not in a Lorainite accent - generic midwest with a splash of hoser - but in the closed tooth, protruded-jaw, drill sargent draaawl that they obviously teach you in boot camp.

  • How fitting is it that this year's class included a bowler? Lou Facsko bowled two lifetime 300 games at a time when 300s were very few and far between. One person at my table commented that bowling was the perfect sport: You throw the ball, and it comes back to you! If you get thirsty, you push a button and someone brings you a beer! If you do happen to get tired or sweaty, there's a little air vent to cool your hand!