BECAUSE I AM the undisputed #1 Fair Weather Fan of Arkansas Razorback sports I am struggling to rebound from the team’s worst football season ever, and from our usual mediocre basketball season. Other than women’s track there have been few athletic endeavors worth cheering over.
Except for baseball. The Hogs were one routine catch of a popup from winning the national championship last year, and the Diamond Hogs have started out nicely this year.
So, my other Fair Weather Gripers and I have been doing a lot of coffeebreak talking about baseball.
That topic eventually led us to the story of Kelley Owens, a phenom from Junction City who was actually interviewed on “Good Morning America” because he was the alltime winningest high school baseball pitcher.
In high school back in the early 80s, Owens had the most career wins; most career shutouts; and most shutouts in a single season, among other national records.
He threw hard, and he had a good curveball, Johnny Wilson remembers. Johnny was the Scrapper baseball coach at the time. Johnny also notes that no one knew how hard Owens threw because this was before the days of radar behind the plate. At least in high school.
Owens’s hometown hosted the regional baseball championship, and the Dragons were favored to win because of their fabulous thrower.
In his entire high school career he lost only 4 games. Two of those were games he came in as a reliever. He never lost a start at home —- until his last high school game.
Yep, in the tournament championship game the Junction City Dragons and Kelley Owens finally lost.
Their opponent was the Nashville Scrappers.
Days later he went to New York for his television appearance.
Then he went to Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship. Tore his rotator cuff in his third game. And while still recuperating from that, he hurt his knee while water skiing.
Then he hurt the shoulder again. Never pitched another game.
I have no idea where he is or what he’s doing today, but he was the real deal in his youth.
And a tip of the cap (if I wore one) to the Scrapper baseball program.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. The first snake of the season. On a Sunday afternoon drive on the gravel part of Mt. Carmel Road near Dierks, a fat, arm-length copperhead enjoying the sun at the edge of a ditch.
He or she had obviously recently eaten. Snakes, like me, tend to take a brief nap after a good meal.
Did I mention that I hate snakes?
ALSO, the presence of many bunnies in the neighborhood is likely to lure Louise Fox out of her seclusion for a meal.
Did I mention that I hate snakes?
THE GOOD EARTH. Please drive by my house, 1001 Park, Nashville, and gaze lovingly at the Japanese Cherry Blossom Tree which is now in full splendor in my front yard. The faint pink blooms don’t normally last more than a few days, so hurry. The tree, a gift from daughter Julie, is a cutting from one of the original Cherry Blossom Trees given to the people of America by the emperor of Japan after World War I. The city of Washington, D.C., in fact has an annual Cherry Blossom Festival about this time of year. Their trees can’t be any prettier than mine.
YOU’D RECOGNIZE the Hagia Sophia if you saw a picture of it. It is one of the world’s most iconic buildings. It is now a museum in Byzantium, once known as Constantinople.
The majestic building was built in the 6th century, and it was the seat of the Byzantine Orthodox Church for almost a thousand years.
But in 1453 the Ottoman Turks conquered the city and converted the building to a mosque complete with four minarets.
Since 1935 it has been a museum, attracting visitors from around the world. But in recent years, more and more Islamic religious activities have been held there, and now Turkey’s president says that it might become a mosque again.
As a museum, the Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If any of you have visited it, I’d like to hear your experience.
THE INCREDIBLE and Mostly Unbelievable Adventures of my distant kin, Uncle Parry Normal:
He holds the world record for competing in a marathon while wearing an ankle monitor. His speed may have been due to pursuing officers.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: “Many animals probably need glasses, but nobody knows it.“
WORD GAMES. Another set of twins: Pomp and Circumstance. Might be a swell gathering at the palace, or might be graduation music. They get along nicely.
HE SAID: “The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” Ulysses S. Grant, general of the U.S. Army and 18th president of the United States.
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SHE SAID: “From time to time, I’ll look back through the personal journals I’ve scribbled in throughout my life, the keepers of my raw thoughts and emotions. The words poured forth after my dad died, when I went through a divorce, and after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There are so many what-ifs scribbled on those pages.” Hota Kotb, broadcast journalist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby