HK's Athletics Beyond Coronavirus
By Hillel Kuttler
HK's Athletics Beyond CoronavirusApr 04, 2022
pandemic prompts a soccer ref to reassess
Katja Koroleva is a world-class referee -- so good that she officiated in the 2019 Women's World Cup and could be selected again in 2023. Professionally, Koroleva works as a physician assistant. But she couldn't balance those two passions, and something had to give. The pandemic spurred her to change jobs in health care to better accommodate her soccer aspirations.
remembering sportswriter JEFF SEIDEL
JEFF SEIDEL passed away from colon cancer on Aug. 28 at age 59. He was a sportswriter who made his living in journalism's tundra, as a freelancer. Seidel covered Baltimore's Orioles and Ravens and all of Washington's pro teams, but he specialized in high school and collegiate sports -- and always did it with a smile. His daughter KARA SEIDEL, Ravens executive/consultant KEVIN BYRNE and recently-retired AP sportswriter DAVE GINSBURG remember a nice man and a solid professional.
1996 Atlanta Olympics, 25 years later
MANNY UPTON, Father's Day for the dad of two veteran major leaguers
Virginia mortgage broker MANNY UPTON has spent parts of the past 18 baseball seasons flying across North America to watch his sons Justin (now with the Angels) and B.J. (now retired) play in the major leagues. He evinces parental pride, especially when recalling them playing for the same clubs in Atlanta and San Diego. This Father's Day, he also discusses their ballplaying buddies from youth who, too, enjoyed long careers: David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds.
THE COOKIE LADY of the Texas Rangers, a pandemic fatality
On May 13, coronavirus took Shirley Kost, 82, a Texas Rangers fan dubbed The Cookie Lady. For decades, Shirley also dispensed hugs and smiles and brought joy to the ballpark. She bonded with players in a way that today's lifestyle and rules, even pre-pandemic, don't allow. Ex-Rangers FERGUSON JENKINS and KEVIN MENCH and Shirley's husband CAL KOST and daughter DONNA VERNON discuss her legacy. (Photo shows Shirley, Jenkins and Mench.)
lacrosse players go abroad, salvaging a pandemic-crossed year
MIKE "DOC" EMRICK sounds the horn
KELLY HRUDEY, on mental health
Retired NHL goaltender KELLY HRUDEY is up-front about mental-health challenges and how therapy helps him. The popular Calgary Flames broadcaster says he's inspired by his daughter Kaitlin's dealing with anxiety and OECD starting in 2013. Kelly identifies with Kaitlin's phrase, "more good days than bad." (In this photo he's holding a shirt her husband designed.) ANTONIA BAUM, a psychiatrist specializing in treating athletes, joins us for an important talk.
White Sox coach JERRY NARRON, on La Russa and getting vaccinated
JERRY NARRON coaches for the Chicago White Sox, his third team in the past three seasons -- and 11th team in a more-than-40-year baseball career as a player, coach and manager. He discusses getting the coronavirus vaccine, working now for Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa and his excitement about having fans back attending games. It's quite a change from last April's podcast interview, when he spoke from home after the pandemic shuttered the game.
Red Ruffing, a window into my late father
Norman Kuttler occasionally mentioned N.Y. Yankees pitcher Red Ruffing's being his favorite player. I didn't ask him why or whether he'd seen him play. Dad would've turned 90 today, April 9, so I considered how learning about Ruffing beyond his Hall of Fame career might honor Dad's memory. CHARLES RUFFING JR. fills in some of the blanks, one man's son to another’s.
hi-tech tour of stadium ghosts
teaching (and reciting) baseball
ALI-FRAZIER, 50 years later
JOE FRAZIER and MUHAMMAD ALI, two undefeated heavyweight champions, fought an epic championship bout at New York's Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971. Frazier won in a unanimous decision. Boxing historian DON MAJESKI was there. He plots the men's paths to that fight and conveys the arena's electric atmosphere. "It was the best investment I ever made," he says of his $35 ticket. WEATTA FRAZIER COLLINS and JOE FRAZIER JR. speak lovingly of their late father and say that defeating Ali meant a lot to him. Their foundation aiding at-risk youth advances Frazier's legacy. "I believe," she says, "that our father is smiling down on us."
BOB CARPENTER, Nationals broadcaster (part 2 of 2)
Washington Nationals broadcaster BOB CARPENTER looks back at his start in the business, working with Jack Buck (r., shown with Carpenter), devising a scorebook now used throughout the industry, attending his first game as a child and working for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals with his sister Judy. "Baseball," he says, "was always my first love."
BOB CARPENTER, Nationals broadcaster (part 1 of 2)
Veteran broadcaster BOB CARPENTER remains in Tulsa, unsure when/if the Washington Nationals will summon him to spring training. Much remains unclear about the 2021 regular season due to the continued pandemic. Here, he discusses the challenges of broadcasting in 2020 (it was "comical, strange, weird," he says), the team's run to the 2019 World Series title and its '21 prospects.
stadiums host coronavirus vaccinations
suicide fatality DYLAN BUCKNER, a h.s. quarterback
DYLAN BUCKNER, 18 -- a star athlete and a top student at his Chicago-area high school -- ended his life on Jan. 7. His parents attribute his suicide, indirectly, to coronavirus for ending in-person classes and cancelling the football season, because Dylan couldn't overcome the resulting social isolation and upheaval of his daily regimen. CHRIS and KAREN BUCKNER advise: Communicate with your children. Love them. Be there for them. They and Dylan's friend-teammate JACKSON CARSELLO share their insights. Says Chris: "It's important to me to talk about it and help others."
the late, great HANK AARON
Today would have been the 87th birthday of HANK AARON, a Hall of Fame outfielder who set the record for most career home runs. He died on Jan. 22. Atlanta Braves teammate RALPH GARR recalls a helpful man, someone who "was like a quiet Martin Luther King to me." MARK ANTHONY NEAL, a Duke University professor, calls Aaron a consequential figure in American history for his dignified pursuit of greatness in the face of racism and hate. Join us for insight on a national hero and a legendary ballplayer.
coronavirus hits hockey, baseball ecosystems
football book (RON SNYDER, MIKE PRINGLE) and hockey film (LISA MELMED)
HARVEY ARATON, FRED CLAIRE discuss their books
BOB LILLY, on Thanksgiving and football
Hall of Fame defensive lineman BOB LILLY discusses his Dallas Cowboys playing nationally-televised games on Thanksgiving, celebrating the holiday as a child with his grandparents in rural Texas and scaling back this Thanksgiving due to coronavirus concerns. He also talks about the legendary 1967 Ice Bowl game in Green Bay, Tom Landry suspecting the Redskins of spying, his passion for photography, his caring third-grade teacher and his old team's contending for a division title despite a 3-7 record.
STEVE LARGENT and TOM McMILLEN, on Election Day
Ahead of Election Day, two superb athletes discuss having served in Congress: NFL Hall of Famer STEVE LARGENT, a Republican from Oklahoma, and NBA veteran TOM McMILLEN, a Democrat from Maryland. They speak about their close races for the House of Representatives, the lessons they brought from pro ball to Capitol Hill, being friends with political opponents and, above all, why Americans should vote.
TOOTIE ROBBINS, coronavirus victim mourned by his teammates
TOOTIE ROBBINS played 12 years in the NFL as an offensive lineman, almost all with the Cardinals. He died of coronavirus on Aug. 2 at age 62. Fellow lineman LUIS SHARPE and wide receiver KENNY THOMPSON recall a quiet teammate from rural North Carolina who enjoyed playing dominoes and listening to music and leaves behind his wife of 36 years. She was a Cardinals cheerleader. Like them, he met her through football.
50 years since CONNIE MACK STADIUM's closing
BYRON BROWNE played centerfield on Oct. 1, 1970, in the Philadelphia Phillies' last game at Connie Mack Stadium. History professor BRUCE KUKLICK wrote a book about the ballpark (it opened in 1909 and was razed in 1976) and its neighborhood. As a visitor, Browne says, fans pelted him with bricks and oranges. Once, he hit a long homer to leftfield. Kuklick recalls wiggling around posts to see the action on the field, witnessing Bobby Shantz's 20th win for the 1952 A's and being stunned when A's fans booed their own player who broke his leg chasing a fly ball.
BRIAN TAYLOR, ex-ABA/NBA player and educator, on schools' reopening
Not many star athletes work in education. BRIAN TAYLOR did, as a teacher, principal and administrator, before retiring recently. We discuss how he'd have prepared for the new school term to keep his schools and their sports safe from coronavirus. We speak, too, about his ABA and NBA career, including playing with the great Julius Erving, when their N.Y. Nets won two championships.
TOM SEAVER's legacy, deep in his admirerers' souls
Fans mourning TOM SEAVER's death last week at age 75 don't tout his glowing statistics, big games won or record Hall of Fame vote count. Rather: his consistent excellence, leadership of the rags-to-riches 1969 N.Y. Mets and hearty laugh in TV interviews. More so: how we felt discovering a hero, and how our later-in-life selves retain the warm feelings he inspired. The insights people express here are as sincere as any I've heard on a hero's impact.
referee/umpire KENNY DICKERSON, on amateur sports' reopening under coronavirus guidelines
North Carolina high school terms have begun. The schools' sports are back, too, under new restrictions. KENNY DICKERSON (in photo) discusses working his first event, a volleyball match, while two of his autumn sports, football and basketball, remain on hold. He talks, too, about his dedication to officiating and to performing sports-charity work in less-well-off countries.
cancer, hernia, a wedding, coronavirus and baseball: father-in-law TOM GAMBOA and son-in-law TODD ZEILE
What a year 2020 has been for retired baseball coach TOM GAMBOA. He underwent a hernia operation in February while recovering from cancer. In June, he married off his daughter, Kristin, to ex-major leaguer TODD ZEILE. Two weeks later, Gamboa contracted coronavirus. I speak with Gamboa and Zeile about their long-time acquaintance, their blended families and this challenging year.
Toronto Blue Jays’ CEO/president MARK SHAPIRO, on his vagabond club
The Toronto Blue Jays are playing all of their home games in this abridged baseball season 100 miles and one country away: in Buffalo, N.Y. The franchise’s top executive, MARK SHAPIRO, discusses this oddity within an already bizarre season. He also shares some of the skills he’s called upon to create the team’s new reality.
my first game 50 years ago, and a guy who played that day: Cubs pitcher PHIL REGAN
Today marks 50 years since my father's ideal birthday present: my first baseball game. Gift No. 2 was the N.Y. Mets' 4-0 win. PHIL REGAN, who pitched the last two innings for the Chicago Cubs, tells me of his early impressions of the Mets' starting pitcher that day, Nolan Ryan; his first game as a boy in Michigan; taking his children to their first games; and his long career in baseball, which continues at age 83.
2020 HALL OF FAMERS' inductions delayed by the coronavirus crisis: BARBARA STEVENS, DONNIE SHELL and KEVIN LOWE
Before and during the coronavirus crisis, sports halls of fame announced their Class of 2020 honorees. The shutdown has delayed their induction ceremonies by up to a year, however. KEVIN LOWE (hockey), BARBARA STEVENS (basketball) and DONNIE SHELL (football) speak about being selected and the people they'll thank once the big day arrives.
L.A. CLIPPERS: a view from inside the NBA's Orlando bubble
The coronavirus pandemic is worsening, even as the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball are poised to reopen. Three members of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers (guard RODNEY McGRUDER, head trainer JASEN POWELL and strength-conditioning coach DANIEL SHAPIRO) speak from inside the Orlando, Fla., "bubble" about health-care precautions and returning to play
RON ROSS, boxing chronicler and coronavirus fatality
GERALD BOSTOCK: victor in a landmark Supreme Court case for LGBTQ rights, softball player and sports fan
On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that social worker GERALD BOSTOCK was wrongly fired for being gay. His employer had learned of Bostock's sexual orientation because he played in an LGBTQ softball league. Bostock discusses what he likes about the sport, including how it helped him in recovering from cancer. "It's a human thing to want to be social and be part of something," Bostock (standing, second from left, in this Havoc softball team photo) says of the camaraderie he enjoys in sports. He's a fan of the Atlanta Braves -- as a kid, he was a Junior Brave -- and the University of Georgia Bulldogs. He warmly speaks of taking children in foster care to games. Some, he says, had never been.
PHIL CHENIER, on the late WES UNSELD, his Bullets teammate and an NBA Hall of Famer
PHIL CHENIER and WES UNSELD were teammates and friends for nearly a half-century until Unseld's death on June 2 at age 74. Chenier shares his unique perspective on Unseld, calling him a leader, "the ultimate team player," well-respected, always "calm and confident" before critical games. He poignantly tells of Unseld's year-long hospitalization and his dying alone because of coronavirus restrictions. "I will miss his laugh," Chenier says. "I will miss his smile."
Pirates pitcher STEVE BLASS, on a half-century since Pittsburgh's Forbes Field closed
STEVE BLASS pitched 10 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was there for Forbes Field's last game, on June 28, 1970. "It was my first major-league ballpark, and you never forget your first love," Blass says. He adds, as only a pitcher can: "I love the fact that it was 457 feet to centerfield and ... 365 feet down the leftfield line." Blass discusses his memorable games there: his debut in 1964, no-hitting the Dodgers for 6 2/3 innings in 1968 and (also in '68) playing leftfield for one batter. He worked for the team for SIXTY years, the last 34 coming as a broadcaster.
Reds pitcher WAYNE GRANGER, who 50 years ago threw the final pitch at Cincinnati's Crosley Field
Fifty years ago today, the Reds played their last game ever at Crosley Field. WAYNE GRANGER discusses the experience of being on the mound at the end; even a half-century later, it "brings tears to my eyes," he says. He speaks of the team at the dawn of the Big Red Machine era, including his pitching nine innings of scoreless relief (to earn a save and a win) in a Sept. 1969 doubleheader sweep of the Giants and mouthing off to manager Sparky Anderson in 1970. And he pokes fun at himself for yielding in 1970 the only grand-slam homer ever hit by a pitcher (Baltimore's Dave McNally) in the World Series.
JOHN BROCKINGTON, Green Bay Packers runner and transplant recipient
JOHN BROCKINGTON's greatest feat might not be setting an NFL record with three straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his career. How about living 18+ years after receiving a kidney transplant -- and his marrying the donor? We dive into that at length. On other topics, he criticizes the “heinous, cruel, nasty and disgusting” killing of George Floyd and calls out the rioting that followed. Brockington also tells me of his Brooklyn youth, his Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, life as a Packer and being ripped off by his financial advisor.
1918 GEORGIA TECH FOOTBALL PHOTO, starkly relevant to today's pandemic
SHAUN CLANCY, forced by coronavirus to close Foley's, his baseball pub
SHAUN CLANCY conceded to the coronavirus's devastation and closed Foley's on May 29. We speak about the pub's popularity among baseball-industry folks and fans, and also its fall, joined by some special guests: MLB executive TYRONE BROOKS; Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster DAVE WILLS; retired N.Y. Times columnist GEORGE VECSEY; and Daily News reporter KRISTIE ACKERT, Clancy's significant other.
sports artist JEROME WHITE
The ongoing marches haven’t yet inspired JEROME WHITE on how best to memorialize George Floyd, but some White-designed coronavirus face masks, showing Muhammad Ali and ex-President Obama, were worn at a Cleveland march. (They can be purchased.) He painted a mural for the city’s League Park project; has painted Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Johnson and Jim Brown; and now is painting the late John Mackey, a Hall of Fame tight end, for Mackey’s daughter. He’d like to paint his former art student … Travis Kelce, star tight end for the Super Bowl champion K.C. Chiefs.
OAKWOOD H.S. ATHLETES: making face masks ... and making a difference
LILY McCLOSKEY (tennis and lacrosse) and BECKER KASH and CALEB DUNN (both cross-country) compete on their Ohio school's teams. This spring, they and several classmates were winners. Using 3-D printers, they produced face masks for hospitals, homeless shelters and dentistry practices, thereby helping to alleviate a national shortage during this coronavirus crisis.
GARY THORNE, baseball/hockey broadcaster
CHRIS EPTING and TERRY CANNON, attuned to baseball's past
BOBBY NYSTROM, N.Y. Islanders' Stanley Cup hero
BOBBY NYSTROM relives what he calls the "magical moment" on May 24, 1980, when his goal in overtime won the Stanley Cup for his Islanders, the first of their four consecutive championships. On the 40th anniversary, Nystrom discusses the play and its aftermath, such as this: He has no idea what became of his stick and the puck from that famous goal. During the coronavirus crisis, Nystrom said, he and his wife Michelle have been very careful about cleaning all groceries and take-out food they bring into their house.
U. of Vermont's CLODAGH FERRY and DADI HALLDORSSON
GEORGE McPHEE, Vegas Golden Knights president
Saying, "I miss our team, I miss our guys, I miss the game," GEORGE McPHEE tells me how his team and the NHL are preparing for an eventual resumption. He also discusses the club's stunning run to the Stanley Cup final in its first year; a humbling bicycle ride with his Capitals' rookie star, Alexander Ovechkin; owning a Manhattan restaurant while playing; and attending law school.
TIM MEAD, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's president
TIM MEAD tells me that cancelling this summer's induction weekend was difficult but sensible, and promises to host "a very special ceremony" in 2021. He speaks of attending the 2019 ceremony, his first as the Hall's president; being punked, early in his long career with the Angels, by Rod Carew; octogenarian/nonagenarian coach Jimmie Reese's mastery of the fungo bat; absorbing the moment of the Angels' 2002 World Series title; and putting his championship ring on other people's fingers.
BOB KENDRICK, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's president
BOB KENDRICK's enthusiasm for the Negro Leagues' history will leap through your speakers and into your soul. Our conversation covers this year's centennial of the leagues, their founding by Rube Foster ("one of the most influential" people in U.S. baseball history, Bob says), the museum's exhibitions, the museum's coronavirus-caused closing and more.
Minnesota Vikings owner MARK WILF
MARK WILF discusses the NFL draft, conducted virtually; checking in on players and other employees during the shutdown ("It's like an extended family," he said); his and players' charitable efforts now; and how his mother, a Holocaust survivor, is faring.
broadcaster BOB COSTAS
On the 89th birthday (May 6) of the great Willie Mays, BOB COSTAS tells me why he considers Mays "the greatest all-around baseball player I've ever seen" and about having interviewed Mays and Hank Aaron together. We also discuss Costas's trying to be helpful during this coronavirus shutdown and what leagues he thinks are likely to return to action first.
pitching coach SAM NARRON in Washington Nationals system
SAM NARRON, of the Washington Nationals' AA Harrisburg Senators farm club, is enjoying cooking dinners and being with his wife and young children during the coronavirus-caused shutdown. Even if the baseball season is played, he said, his pitchers "almost have to start from zero" to be ready. At least he got to attend last year's World Series and see the winning Nationals' trophy at spring training. We also discuss his joy in reaching the majors in 2004. He pitched in one game -- and that was it. Narron has no regrets.
Boston Red Sox coach JERRY NARRON
JERRY NARRON, Boston's bench coach, discusses how he and his colleagues are preparing for a hoped-for 2020 season; his family's deep roots in baseball; twice falling excruciatingly short of the World Series; and memories of late Yankees teammate Thurman Munson.
musician/fan LENNY SOLOMON
Singer-keyboardist LENNY SOLOMON attends sports events wherever he performs worldwide, including in all 50 U.S. states. Australian rules football? South African rugby? British soccer? Israeli basketball? Yes, yes, yes and yes -- and plenty of American hockey, football, baseball and basketball. A sports fan of the first order, Lenny explains why the coronavirus-induced shutdown affects his fandom so deeply. He tells ample stories, too, of running on the field in two New York stadiums, shlepping by train just to watch a televised game and enjoying Rod Carew at bat. Need some joy during these crazy times? Have a listen.
hockey broadcaster and raconteur STAN FISCHLER
STAN FISCHLER discusses the NHL's suspended season, his date with Suzanne Pleshette, watching his grandchildren play hockey in Israel pre-lockdown, his late wife Shirley's being a sports pioneer, attending triple-headers as a kid, the 1918 Spanish flu, the "disgraceful" boiled hot dogs at Ebbets Field, the NYC subway system and, for good measure, Borrah Minnevitch and His Harmonica Rascals.
baseball journalist MEL ANTONEN, recovering from coronavirus
MEL ANTONEN is a noted baseball reporter and analyst. He recently came down with coronavirus and is recovering well at home in Washington, D.C. Mel and I discuss his health, whether the Major League Baseball season will be played, Hall of Fame voting and politicians he's interviewed about sports.
CARL ERSKINE (part 2), on Jackie Robinson
In Part 2, CARL ERSKINE discusses Robinson, their great teams, how Erskine came to sign with the Dodgers -- twice, and his in-season neighbors in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. He speaks insightfully about a parallel involving his son Jimmy, 60, who was born with Down syndrome, and Robinson.
CARL ERSKINE (part 1), on Jackie Robinson
In Part 1, CARL ERSKINE, 93, discusses Robinson’s support for him; his childhood exposure to racial tolerance; his son, born with Down syndrome, who’s just turned 60; and how he and his wife, in their retirement community, stay in touch with their family during the coronavirus shutdown.
Olympics historian and physician BILL MALLON
BILL MALLON places the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the historical context of three cancelled Olympics. He also weighs in on whether he’d attend sports events once the coronavirus crisis passes, and relates favorite moments from the Olympics — including a deeply personal one.