Europe/Sports Blog

BASKETBALL TRADITION IN EUROPE
SOPOT, Poland, June 10 - It is repeated over and over after nearly every pro game in European basketball: players from the visiting team, win or lose, will seek out their most ardent supporters who made the trek - usually by car or bus - to watch their team on the road. That was the case here Monday night, as players from King of Szczecin in northwest Poland clapped hands with their fans above a media section at Ergo Arena in Sopot - which opened in 2010 with Lady Gaga as the first main event. King had a chance to win the league title and almost did after trailing by 15 points late in the game. But Sopot held on for the four-point win. Game 6 is Thursday in Szczecin, a city of about 390,000 people that is more than 150 miles from Sopot, with a possible game 7 on Sunday in Sopot. One of the Americans for King is Mo Udeze, who ended his college career last year in New Mexico with the Lobos. What would a title mean as a rookie pro? "It would be a dream come true," he told me, after greetings fans of King.

KING HOOPS LOOKS TO REPEAT
SOPOT, Poland, June 7 - King of Szczecin in northwest Poland will host Game 4 tonight in the best-of-seven finals series against Sopot in the title series for the top league in the country. Among the Americans for Sopot is Geoffrey Groselle, who starred at Plano West High in Texas. One of the best guards in the league is Andrzej Mazurczak, who was born in Illinois and played at Wisconsin-Parkside. He has played overseas in Spain, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands since 2012. King won the title last season in the top hoop league in Poland. Other former NCAA players with King, which could win the title on Monday in Sopot in Game 5, includes Matt Mobley (Saint Bonaventure), Avery Woodson (Memphis, Butler), Morris Udeze (New Mexico), Michale Kyser (La. Tech), Zac Cuthbertson (Coastal Carolina) and Tony Meier, who played at Milwaukee. Cuthbertson is from New Bern, North Carolina. King leads the series 2-1. Auston Barnes of Sopot is from Michigan and played at Bradley; Paul Scruggs is from Indiana and played at Xavier.
HOOP FINALS IN POLAND
May 28, WARSAW - Sopot won last night so the finals are set in Poland - Sopot will host game 1 on Friday in northern Poland against King. One of the Americans in the finals is Auston Barnes, who ended his career at Bradley and is from Lansing, Michigan. He plays for Sopot. A key late addition this season for King is Matt Mobley, who ended his college career with the Bonnies in upstate New York in the Atlantic 10 with St. Bonaventure. He is from Worcester, Mass. The best-of-five series continues with game 2 Sunday in Sopot, then King will host Game 3.

SPORTS IN SWEDEN
May 19 - Gothenburg, SWEDEN - Tennis star Bjorn Borg was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1956. There are several National Hockey League players from Gothenburg, the second-largest city in the country. On Saturday, the city hosted the largest half marathon in the world, with 40,000 runners at all levels. Many city streets were blocked off and live music was held at many spots along the course. On Sunday, we took a ferry that passed by some of the islands just off the coast - the weather was perfect.

BASEBALL JOURNEY FROM BOSTON TO THE BUNDESLIGA
May 2, HOOFDDORP, The Netherlands - "Once I wasn't going to make the majors, I figured I would see the world," says Eddie Aucoin, a native of Newton, Mass., who graduated from nearby Needham High in the Boston suburbs. He will turn 49 on October 15 - he was born the day the Red Sox won Game 4 of the 1975 World Series in Cincinnati - but that didn't stop the right-handed pitcher from throwing seven shutout innings here Wednesday night in The Netherlands League, the top baseball circuit in the country.

He had arrived just hours earlier on a flight from Florida, where he lives with his family. Aucoin has a job with company offices in England, though he can work remotely from wherever. A former pitcher at Flagler College in Florida, for years he has spent time in Europe playing in various leagues, from Sweden to Germany to The Netherlands. He has also played in Colombia and a tournament in Bulgaria.

According to baseballreference.com, he has won at least 150 games overseas, but Aucoin doesn't know the exact amount. He posted a record of 17-1 in indy leagues in the USA and was invited to Spring Training by the Blue Jays in 2006 but an injury led to his release. Aucoin has also been a mentor to younger European pitchers, such as the young hard throwers who finished up the win here Wednesday night.

The Boston-area product threw a no-hitter in Germany in 2009 and two years later posted a mark of 11-1 with an ERA of 1.98 in the Dutch league - completing all 14 starts. He remembers that classic 1986 World Series with the Red Sox - but the pitcher has created his kind of baseball memories in countries not normally associated with the game. This while working for Geeplus, a manufacturer in the UK.

BODE IN BERLIN
May 9, BERLIN - If you are a fan of Italian artist Donatello then forget Rome or Florence and come to Berlin. The Bode Museum, on an island in Berlin, houses many of his works. That is because Wilhelm von Bode, a former curator for which the museum is named, was an expert on Donatello. Bode died in 1929 and the museum was named in his honor in 1956. There are hundreds of works of art depicting Christ, as well.

FROM BALTIMORE TO SOUTHERN HUNGARY
April 10 - One of the American ballers winding up his first pro hoop season overseas is Noah Locke, 24, who grew up in the Baltimore area and played in college at Florida, Louisville and Providence. The shooting guard had his eyes on the G League and NBA route, but decided it was best to get his pro career started in Europe, so he joined a team in Szeged in the top league in Hungary. He is averaging 23.4 points per contest and recently scored 41 points in back-to-back contests.

"I felt I had a pretty good (idea) of it because my older brother Kayel played overseas for about six years," the younger Locke said. "He actually played in Hungary a little while; it was good for him to tell me some things. Obviously, he could tell me, but I had to experience it for myself. It was definitely a culture shock. I was nervous coming over there, but people live the same, people have the same things going on."

The elder Locke played in college at North Carolina Greensboro; Noah played at the McDonogh School in Baltimore and grew up in Randallstown, not far from the training facility of the Baltimore Ravens. Big brother was a big help. "It was good to have him help me out" with what to expect in Europe, said Noah Locke, whose has been one of the top scorers in the Hungarian League this season. Szeged lost in the title game of the Hungarian Cup on Sunday in Budapest. Located near the Serbian border in a town of about 200,000, Szeged - which placed out of the top eight - begins the playoffs later this week.

Locke is provided an apartment in New Szeged, just a walk of about 10 minutes to the arena where his team plays and practices. Szeged is a university town with about 5,000 international students out of about 22,000 total. But in the outlying neighborhoods one hardly hears English spoken among older residents, and Hungarian is considered one of the most difficult languages for an American to learn.
Kyle Locke, the father of the two hoopsters, played in college at Coppin State and also coached there before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Washington.

A.J. ENGLISH, IONA STAR
WARSAW, April 3 - A.J. English, the son of an NBA veteran, has played around the world since his college career ended at Iona in New York State. The native of Delaware has played in Italy, France, and Germany, among other stops, and he recently joined a team here in Poland. He is averaging nearly 13 points per game in the five contests since arriving in Poland. English will face several Americans with the Warsaw team, including Dominic Green - who played at the University of Washington - in a game Thursday in the Polish capital.
AKRON TO POLAND
WARSAW, March 16 - Three former University of Akron basketball standouts are playing in the top pro league in Poland - and two of them will face off on Friday night here as the regular season is winding down. Loren Jackson, class of 2021, has played this season in Italy and France before joining the storied Legia club of Warsaw. He is averaging 11.8 points per game for his new team, which hosts Xeyrius Williams (class of 2020) and MKS on Friday. Williams is averaging 13.6 points per contest. The third Akron product is Tyler Cheese, who is averaging 21.2 points per outing. He had 40 points in one game earlier this season and was the player of the week. Other former Zips are playing in Sweden, Greece, and Mexico. Cheese is with Lancut, Poland. His last college year was 2020.
AMERICAN ATHLETES IN POLAND
WARSAW, March 1 - There are dozens of American men and women playing in pro basketball leagues in Poland - not so much for volleyball and baseball players from the USA. There are a handful of men playing in the Polish volleyball league - considered one of the best in the world. One of them is Taylor Averill, who is from California and is playing with a team in Warsaw. He was born in Portland - he turns 32 next week - and played in college at Hawaii and Cal Irvine. An American baseball player in Poland is Phil Richmond, who played in college at Coe in his native Iowa and at Judson, near Chicago. He also played Indy baseball for several years in New Mexico and California.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL BOOK SIGNING IN HARRISONBURG FEBRUARY 17
Feb. 7 - Excited to announce that I will join co-author and friend Lacy Lusk at the Barnes & Noble in Harrisonburg Crossing on Saturday, Feb. 17 from 10 am to noon to sign copies of our book "From Tidewater to the Shenandoah: Snapshots From Virginia's Rich Baseball Legacy." Also expected to attend are three former Major Leaguers who were born in Harrisonburg: former Red Sox pitcher Daryl Irvine; catcher-first baseman Alan Knicely, who played for the Astros, Reds, Cardinals, and Phillies; and Brian Bocock, an infielder for the Giants and Phillies. Copies can be bought that day and also on the B&N website or this site. Come out and have your book also signed by TA grads Knicely and Bococok and Irvine, a graduate of nearby Spotswood High.

WILLIAM & MARY DAYS AIDED EURO HOOPSTER
WARSAW, Jan. 16 - Andy Van Vliet has no question that his tenure with the basketball team at William & Mary aided his pro career. Indeed, the 7-foot center transferred to the school in Williamsburg after seeing little action with the Badgers. "It helped me immensely. I was kind of stuck at Wisconsin and not playing. The whole goal of going over to college in the States was to develop. William & Mary gave me a unique and amazing opportunity to play, get experience under my belt and play for a good coach in Dane Fischer. I got to play with some amazing teammates," he said in an interview in Poland. "That prepared me to go pro. To play at William & Mary was amazing."

A native of Belgium, he is now playing for a pro team in Sopot, a resort town near the Baltic Sea on the northern coast of Poland. He had played in Israel and Lithuania before coming to Poland. Van Vliet says the Europe game is more about tactics and strategy than the NBA and even some high-level Division I leagues. "It is not about who is the most athletic," he says. He ended his career in 2020 with the Tribe, a member of the CAA since the 1980s.

Strategy is important in Europe, where nearly every country has a pro league. Some of the top ones are in Spain, Italy and France. The Polish league is solid with Power 5 alums playing, including Norfolk native and former University of Texas guard Matt Coleman III.

“I think in Europe you must be way better at reading the game. You need to know tactical things. In college, I feel it has the strongest players, who have the fastest players, and the most athletic players and stuff like that. In Europe, it is more like technique and tactical even though you have a lot of strong players that come over from college. I would say that is one of the biggest differences – you have to be smart and read the game. In officiating, I do not see a huge difference," says the Tribe product.

He was in Lithuania during the lockdown and fans were eventually allowed to attend at a reduced level. The former Tribe player was in Israel before coming to Poland. "It is tough" to watch the events going on in the Middle East, he says. "My girlfriend is Jewish, and her sister is there in Israel."

The inside player is one of several former William & Mary players overseas. That includes Omar Prewitt, who played in Poland in 2019 and is now in Turkey, and Marcus Thornton, the former guard who was drafted by Boston in 2015 and had a 10-day contract three years later with Cleveland; the former CAA Player of the Year from suburban Maryland has played in Greece this season. American teammates with Van Vliet at Sopot played at Bradley, Creighton, and Xavier. After sitting out a year, the native of Belgium averaged 13.2 points per contest for the Tribe in 2019-20. He is at 13.6 ppg now with Sopot, and nearly six boards per contest. He lives in nearby Gdansk, one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the country.

FROM WARSAW TO WARSAW
WARSAW, WHERE ELSE, Jan. 11 - Mike Moore went to high school in Warsaw, North Carolina. Here on Wednesday, the former standout at Mount Olive played in Warsaw, Poland. He plays for the famed Sporting Club of Lisbon in Portugal, with a starting lineup made up almost entirely of Americans. Another Euro veteran with Sporting is Ron Curry, who played at JMU. Moore hit several key shots but host Legia won by 93-84 despite a game-high 20 points for the North Carolina native.
FROM MAC HOOPS TO POLAND
WARSAW, Jan. 7 - Akron hoop product Tyler Cheese has scored at least 30 points in each of his last four games, with a high of 40, in Poland. The country has become home for three former MAC standouts who are now playing in the top hoop league here: Cheese, the recent player of the week; Trey Diggs, the ex-Bowling Green hoopster; and Ball State's Tayler Persons, who has played in several countries since 2019.

Persons had 27 points in his last game while Diggs had 21 on Thursday. All three players are averaging in double figures, with Cheese at 22.9. Since leaving Akron in 2020, Cheese has played in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, North Macedonia and now Poland.

Meanwhile, after helping Kent State win the 2023 title and punch its March Madness ticket, Nate Johnson is hooping it up in Portugal while Cleveland native Miryne Thomas, a 6-8 forward from Central Catholic, just began his odyssey with a team in historic England.

Other rookie pros, less than a year removed from the MAC tourney, are Ohio's Dwight Wilson III in Spain, one of the top leagues in Europe; Toledo's JT Shumate, now in Romania; Buffalo's Armoni Foster, brave enough to play in war-torn Ukraine; and EMU's Emoni Bates, the Ann Arbor native and 49th overall pick in the NBA draft by Cleveland. Toledo's Jayda Jansen is playing in Finland on the women's side just months after playing in the NCAA tourney for the MAC champions.
AUSTIN NATIVE HAS NO CITY LIMITS
WARSAW, Dec. 30 - "Those are my guys," Liam O'Reilly, a globetrotting native of Austin, Texas, says of head coach Tim Craft and his staff at Gardner-Webb of the Big South Conference. In the ever-changing revolving door that is Division I coaching, Craft remains at Gardner-Webb as former star guard O'Reilly has seen the world since his college career ended in 2018. A graduate of Bowie High in Texas, O'Reilly began his overseas hoop sojourn in Slovakia and has also played in Cyprus, Germany, hoop-crazy Lithuania, Sweden, and Hungary. He now finds himself playing for Lublin, just west of Ukraine, in the top Polish league. O'Reilly is averaging nearly 19 points per game as a shooting guard and helped his team beat host Legia of Warsaw here on Saturday night as he had 19 points in a 92-75 victory.

"There were a couple of teams in our conference, the Big South, that had this type of environment," O'Reilly told me after the win before a loud, sellout crowd. "The difference is when you come to Europe, it is a little bit more intense" since relegation is always on the mind of club owners and fans.

Start improved to 9-6 while Legia fell to 8-7.

O'Reilly wasn't heavily recruited coming out of Bowie High but landed a spot at Gardner-Webb in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Other Americans with Start of Lublin include former Southern Illinois standout Barret Benson; Jabril Durham, from DeSoto High in Texas and the University of Arkansas; and Trey Wade from suburban Atlanta and also college ball at Arkansas. Benson, with his father in the stands, had 20 points and 13 rebounds. He also played in Bulgaria, the second-best league in Germany, Kosovo, and Georgia. But he told a Polish journalist his current league is the best competition he has faced. Craft is now in his 11th season at Gardner-Webb.

O'Reilly, 27, still has family in Austin. And his girlfriend, also from Austin, was on hand in the Polish capital for the win over Legia - which had knocked off the top team in the Polish league on Tuesday. O'Reilly played two seasons of junior college ball at Collin County before landing a Division I gig.

Other Gardner-Webb alums playing pro hoops overseas include Tyrell Nelson in Russia, David Efianayi in Turkey, Kareem Reid in Poland, Ludovic Dufeal in France, and Daniel Laster in Japan. Savannah Plentovich, from Clearwater, Florida, was in Hungary earlier this season.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL DECEMBER 29
2004: Gus Niarhos, a native of Alabama who played in the majors from 1946 to 1955, died in Harrisonburg. He was a three-sport athlete in Birmingham and attended Auburn University; a backup catcher in the majors and veteran of the minors, Niarhos was a backup to Yogi Berra with the Yankees. He also played for the White Sox, Red Sox and Phillies and hit just one homer in 691 at-bats in the majors. His son, James, in a story by SABR, said his parents moved from Pennsylvania to Harrisonburg in 1980 and that his father enjoyed going to JMU games, including baseball and womens basketball. Niarhos managed in the minors in Wytheville and Hampton before moving to Harrisonburg.
DREXEL STAR IN POLAND
WARSAW, Dec. 28 - Keishana Washington, in her first season as a pro basketball player, appeared in all 40 minutes on Wednesday here in Warsaw and had a team-high 18 points with five assists, three blocks and three rebounds for Torun, a city in north-central Poland. But her effort wasn't enough as host Polonia won 86-73. Another American for Torun is former Syracuse star Asia Strong, who is from South Bend, Indiana. She had 10 points in Warsaw in the top hoop league for women in the country.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL: DEC. 28
1960: RHP Carl Willis was born in Danville; starred at UNC Wilmington, pitched in the majors and has worked with several Cy Young winners as a pitching coach. He was part of 1991 Twins title team and was the pitching coach for Cleveland in 2023.
1982: Orioles' general manager Mike Elias was born in Alexandria; he went to Thomas Jefferson in Fairfax County and playd at Yale.
1994: After being with San Diego, OF Steve Finley is traded to Houston as part of one of the biggest trades in MLB since 1957. Finley played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL FOR Dec. 24
1964: Former Woodbridge/Prince William pitcher Tim Drummond was born on this day in La Plata in southern Maryland. A graduate of Thomas Stone High, he was drafted out of college by the Pirates and pitched for Single-A Prince William in 1986. He made his debut with Pittsburgh and also pitched for the Twins. He ended his career in the minors with the Orioles; pitched in 49 games with four starts and two saves in the majors.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL Dec. 23 - David Eckstein
2004: The Angels signed Eckstein to a three-year deal after he had been with the Cardinals. A walk-on at the University of Florida, he played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League. The Florida native was the World Series MVP while with the Cardinals.
1943: Dave May was born in Delaware; he was an outfielder with the Orioles and other teams. Before he passed away in Bear, Delaware, in 2012, among those that called him were Dusty Baker and Willie Horton, according to baseballreference.com. Horton was born in Arno, Va. and hit 325 homers in the majors and was friends with May, whose son also played in the majors. Dave May was an all-star with the Brewers in 1973 and led the league in total bases that year. He broke in with the Orioles in 1967 and ended his career with the Pirates in 1978. May was teammates in Pittsburgh with Jim Bibby, a long-time resident of Lynchburg before he passed away. The 1967 Orioles included catcher Larry Haney, who grew up in Orange County, Va.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL DEC. 22: ANDY ALLANSON
1961: Catcher Andy Allanson was born in Richmond; Varina High and Richmond Spider alum was in the majors from 1986 to 1985. He broke in with Cleveland and played in 512 games with several teams.
1996: Nate Eaton was born; the Chester product was a two-way player at VMI and saw action with the Royals in 2022 and 2023.
1987: The Yankees get former Liberty University pitcher Lee Gutterman and others in a trade with Seattle.
2011: The Nationals get LHP Gio Gonazlez in a trade with Oakland for four prospects who would all make the majors. Gonzalez began his pro career in the minors with Bristol. A.J. Cole, Tom Milone, Derek Norris and Brad Peacock went to the A's.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL Dec. 21: SEAN MARSHALL
2011: On this day, the Reds get lefty reliever Sean Marshall in a trade with the Cubs. Marshall went to Manchester High and played at VCU. Other lefties and Va. natives to pitch for the Reds include Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey and Andrew Abbott, a native of Lynchburg who made his MLB debut in 2023. Richmond native Marshall pitched in 396 games in the majors, with 59 starts and 16 saves - his ERA was under 4.00 for his career. As a rookie with the Cubs in 2006, he was teammates with Danville native Tony Womack. His last season was 2014 with the Reds - another pitcher that year for the Reds was Mat Latos, who was born in Alexandria.
SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR
WARSAW, Dec. 20 - Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year - or actually the day with the least amount of sunlight. There is not much sunlight this time of year in Warsaw, no matter what. The sun will set today at 3:24 p.m. - and a few minutes earlier on Thursday. So, it starts getting better on Friday!
VIRGINIA BASEBALL - DECEMBER 20
1902: LHP Carl Yowell was born in Madison; he pitched parts of two years with Cleveland in the 1920s. He is the only native of the town of Madison to make the majors, according to sources. Yowell died in Texas in 1985.
1934: Former Va. Tech coach Chuck Hartman was born. He passed in Blacksburg in 2020. Hartman is a member of several Halls of Fame, including the Va. Baseball Coaches Association.
1982: Former Mets' all-star third baseman David Wright was born in Norfolk. He is among the all-time leaders in homers and other categories among Va. natives and players for the Mets.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL: DECEMBER 19
2022: LHP Tom Browning died in Union, Ky. He was born in Wyoming in 1960 and pitched for New Market in the Valley League. He threw a perfect game while with the Reds. Other lefties to pitch with the Reds with Va. ties include Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey and Andrew Abbott, the Virginia product who made his MLB debut this year.
2014: The Padres acquire Norfolk native Justin Upton from the Braves in a deal for four prospects. Upton ended his career with Seattle in 2022 and had 325 homers in the MLB.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL DECEMBER 18:
2014: Catcher Derek Norris is traded by Oakland to the Padres. Norris played for Single-A Potomac in the Washington system and hit 12 homers in 2010 while in Woodbridge. His last transaction was in March of 2018 when he was released by Triple A Toledo, the top farm club of the Tigers. Harrisonburg native Brendan Hanifee pitched for Toledo in 2023 before making his MLB debut with Detroit. Norris had been released by Tampa Bay in the summer of 2017.
2021: Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Mets. He has family ties to southwest Virginia.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: CURTIS PRIDE.
Dec. 17, 1968: OF Curtis Pride was born in D.C. He went to Kennedy High in Silver Spring, Md., and was a baseball and hoop star at William & Mary in Williamsburg and an all-CAA standout in basketball. He played in the majors from 1993 to 2006. Pride has been the head coach at Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., and will enter year 15 in 2024. There is a chapter on him in our Va. baseball book. His best season was in 1996 with the Tigers, with a career-best 10 homers and a career-high 11 steals while hitting .300. Va. native Mike Christopher was a pitcher for the Tigers that year.
Dec. 17, 1986: LHP Josh Edgin was born in Lewiston, Pa. He played for the Norfolk Tides toward the end of his career; and made his MLB debut with the Mets out of Francis Marion in South Carolina.
Dec. 17, 1993: RHP Josh Sborz was born in D.C. McLean High and Virginia Cav product was a key part of Texas bullpen this year as World Series champs.
Dec. 17, 1954: Red Proctor died in Richmond; a Williamsburg native pitched in the majors. He pitched in two games with the White Sox in 1923.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL: JOSH HALL
Dec. 16, 1980: Pitcher Josh Hall was born on this day. He went to E.C. Glass High and made his MLB debut with the Reds in 2003, pitching in six games with five starts. He is one of at least 15 natives of Lynchburg to play in the majors. That includes Andrew Abbott, who pitched for the Reds in 2023. Other Va. natives to pitch for the Reds include Eppa Rixey, a Hall of Famer who was born in Culpeper.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL: DECEMBER 15
1967: Slugger Mo Vaughn was born in CT. He played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League while at Seton Hall.
2003: Garvin Hamner died in his native Richmond. He played for the Phils in 1945.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL DECEMBER 14: AL HOLLAND
1982: The Giants trade LHP and Roanoke native Al Holland along with future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan to the Phillies. Both helped the Phillies advance to the World Series in 1983. Holland is third among Va. natives in saves, back of Billy Wagner and Mike Williams - all three went to high school in southwest Virginia.
2000: Pitcher Steve Kline is part of a deal as he goes from Montreal to the Cardinals. Kline was later the pitching coach for Double-A Richmond in the Giants' farm system. He was named coach of Indiana of Pa. in 2022. According to the school, he is the only pitcher to appear in a game seven straight days and the only one to record a save in five straight days in the majors.
GRIM ANNIVERSARY IN POLAND
Dec. 13, WARSAW - Today marks the 42nd anniversary of when the Communists installed martial law in the country, according to the English version website of a Polish radio station. Martial law began Dec. 13, 1981, and lasted until July of 1983. The website said that residents are encouraged to light candles today to note the people that were victims of Communist oppression. Martial law began one year and five days after John Lennon was killed in New York City, for comparison.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL DEC. 13
1936: Catcher J.C. Martin is born in Axton. He was part of the World Series champion Mets in 1969. He is the former coach at Wheaton College near Chicago; played in the majors from 1959-72.
1999: Arizona gets Stuart native and Va. Tech product Brad Clontz from the Pirates for a player to be named. He was a reliever in the majors.
2001: Quantico native RHP John Wasdin was traded by the Orioles to the Phillies.
VA BASEBALL DEC. 12
2007: Luke Scott was part of the deal as he was traded by the Astros to Baltimore; he played for Staunton in the Valley League.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN POLAND
Dec. 11, LODZ, Poland - We have been told some of the best Christmas markets in Poland are not in Warsaw, the capital. The best certainly is not in Lodz - we made a day trip there Saturday and the Christmas Market downtown wasn't that extensive. So, we will keep trying other cities; the market in Old Town Warsaw is not that bad.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: Dec. 11
1962: Coeburn High grad Tracy Stallard was traded by the Red Sox to the Mets.
1970: Royals' GM J.J. Picollo was born, according to Baseballreference.com; he played and coached at George Mason in Fairfax and began his pro career as a scout for the Braves. Among the players that he signed was LHP Dan Meyer, drafted by the Braves out of JMU.
2014: The Cardinals signed University of Virginia product Mark Reynolds.
Va. BASEBALL TODAY: JIMMY KEY
Dec. 8, 1996: LHP Jimmy Key signed with the Orioles; he played for Winchester in the Valley League while at Clemson.
Dec. 8, 2005: Former Richmond Spider Sean Casey was traded by the Reds to the Pirates.
Dec. 8, 1981: Kory Casto was born in Oregon; he played in Woodbridge with Single-A Potomac while in the Washington system. He was the top player in the minors with Washington in 2005 and played in the majors in 2007 and 2008.

Va. BASEBALL TODAY: JUAN PIERRE
Dec. 7, 2003: The Giants signed free agent OF Michael Tucker, a South Boston native and former star at Longwood.
Dec. 7, 2005: The Marlins trade OF Juan Pierre the Cubs. He played in the Valley League for Harrisonburg.
Dec. 7, 1998: Arizona signs OF Steve Finley to four-year contract as a free agent. He also played outfield for the Turks of Harrisonburg.
Va. BASEBALL TODAY: LARRY SHEETS
Dec. 6, 1959: Larry Sheets was born in Staunton. The former Staunton High and EMU basketball star was the MVP of the Orioles in 1987 when he hit a career high 31 homers. He played for American Legion Post 27 in Harrisonburg for coach Ray Heatwole, the former TA, Bridgewater and JMU coach who will be inducted Dec. 15 into the VBCA Hall of Fame in Fairfax.
Dec. 6, 2017: RHP Tracy Stallard died in Kingsport, Tenn. The native of Coeburn pitched several years in the majors and allowed homer 61 to Rogers Maris in 1961 when Stallard was with the Red Sox.
PICASSO IN WARSAW
WARSAW, Dec. 5 - The National Museum in Warsaw has a diverse display of paintings - some on permanent display, some part of an exhibition. The latter is the case for a wing dedicated to Picasso, who was born in Spain and died in France in 1973 at the age of 91. There is a Polish connection - he gave a coat to a lady friend of his and there is a photo of her with the coat on at the National Museum.
Va. BASEBALL TODAY: MOYER, WILKERSON
Dec. 5, 1966: Tony Beasley was born in Fredericksburg. The Bowling Green product played at Liberty, and in the minors for the Pirates and Orioles; was a coach for the Nationals, and was a coach for World Series champ Texas this year.
Dec. 5, 1983: Former William & Mary star Chris Rahl was born in New Jersey. He played in the minors for Arizona.
Dec. 5, 1988: The Cubs and Rangers made a big trade and it involved two former players with ties to the state. LHP Jamie Moyer, who played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League, was among those who went from the Cubs to Texas. Among the Rangers heading to Chicago was infielder and Petersburg native Curtis Wilkerson, who went to Dinwiddie High.
Dec. 5, 2022: The Mets sign RHP Justin Verlander.
Va. BASEBALL TODAY: JAKE CAVE
Dec. 4, 1992: Outfielder Jake Cave was born in Hampton; he was part of the playoff team with the Phillies in 2023. Cave hit 13 homers as a rookie with the Twins in 2018 but his batting average fell each of the next three seasons. He hit .212 with five homers in the regular season for the Phillies this past year.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: STEVE CARTER
Dec. 3, 1964: OF Steve Carter was born in Charlottesville. The Albemarle High grad played in the minors in Salem and part of two years with the Pirates. He was teammates at Pittsburgh with former Liberty University stars Sid Bream and Randy Tomlin.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RANDY HUNDLEY
Dec. 2, 1965: Martinsville native Randy Hundley was part of a large trade as he went from the Giants to the Cubs - became an all-star in Chicago and perhaps the best catcher in Major League history born in Virginia.
Dec. 2, 1970: Staunton native Jerry May, also a catcher, was part of a trade from the Pirates to the Royals.
Dec. 2, 1982: Catcher Wyatt Toregas was born in Fairfax; played for South Lakes High, Va. Tech and briefly in the majors for Cleveland.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: DECEMBER 1
1905: Buddy Dear born in Norfolk; played for Senators, passed in Radford in 1989.
1998: Martinsville native Todd Hundley was traded by Mets to Dodgers.
2009: Marion native Billy Wagner signs a one-year deal with the Braves.
FROM MISSOURI VALLEY TO POLAND
WARSAW, December 1 - Nick McGlynn, a 6-foot-9 forward who starred in college at Drake of the Missouri Valley Conference, has been out of school for just over four years. But the native of Milwaukee has seen a good part of Europe, as he has played pro basketball in Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and now Poland. This season he is playing for a team in Warsaw that moved up to the first division after winning the title last spring in the second-best league. His team won at home 86-71 here Thursday night as he had 11 boards and eight points in a victory over a team from Lublin, Poland. McGlynn greeted fans young and old after the win and was in good spirits when I spoke with him at courtside. He is averaging 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest for 5-6 Dziki this season. The point guard for his team is Matt Coleman III, a native of Norfolk, Virginia. McGlynn had European experience even before his pro career began: before his freshman year at Drake, the team made a hoop trip to Italy and Denmark. Under NCAA rules, schools are allowed to make one foreign trip every four years if they so desire. A graduate of Stoughton High in Wisconsin, McGlynn graduated with a double major in Digital Media Production and English.
AUSTIN NATIVE IN POLAND
WARSAW, Nov. 30 - Liam O'Reilly, a native of Austin, Texas, was a standout at Gardner-Webb of the Big South Conference after he played two seasons at a junior college in Texas. Since ending his college career in 2018, the guard has played in several countries and is now in the top league in Poland. He is playing with Start and averages nearly 18 points a game - his team plays on the road in Warsaw today.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN TO POLAND
WARSAW, NOV. 28 - One of the newcomers to pro basketball in Poland is Isaiah Crawley, who played in college at Georgia Southern. Since then, he has played in Germany, Finland, and Hungary and a few weeks ago arrived in Warsaw to play in the top league here. He played at GSU for Mark Byington, now the coach at JMU. Crawley averaged more than 11 points per game in both college seasons in Statesboro. He helped Ga. Southern to the Sun Belt finals in 2020. The power forward is from Ripley, Tenn.
VA. BASEBALL TODAY: MO VAUGHN
Nov. 25, 1998: Mo Vaughn signs a six-year deal with Angels after the Red Sox were only willing to offer five, per baseballreference.com. He played for the Harrisonburg Turks in the Valley League while at Seton Hall in New Jersey.
Nov. 25, 1987: RHP Nate Karns was born in Franklin, Pa. He played in Woodbridge for Single-A Potomac and later pitched in the majors for the Nationals, Rays, Royals, Mariners, and Orioles. Karns was 16-12 with one career save, mostly as a starter.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: Nov. 24
1995: Megan Baltzell was born. She went to high school in Stafford and played on the national baseball team for USA women. She set several home run records at Longwood in Farmville.
1902: Cloy Mattox was born in Leesville. The former Major Leaguer died in 1985; he made his debut with the Philadelphia A's in 1929; they made the World Series that season though Mattox didn't see any action.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BRANDON SNYDER
Nov. 23: Today is the birthday of former MLB players Brandon Snyder and Rich Saueveur, both of whom went to high school in Northern Va.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: JUSTIN VERLANDER
Nov. 21, 2011: ODU product Justin Verlander is named the MVP of the AL.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: DAVE HILLMAN
Nov. 20, 2022: RHP Dave Hillman, a native of southwest Virginia, passed on this day in Kingsport, Tenn. The graduate of Dungannon High pitched in the majors from 1955-62. He pitched in 188 games with 64 starts and three saves. He ended his career with the Mets in 1962, the first season for that club.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: LARRY HANEY
Nov. 19, 1942: Catcher Larry Haney was born in Charlottesville. He starred at Orange County High and broke into the majors with the Orioles in 1966. He also played for Oakland and he caught several Cy Young winners, including Jim Palmer and Rollie Fingers. His son pitched in the majors and his grandson pitched in college for William & Mary.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BIRTHDAYS GALORE!
Nov. 18 - Today is the birthday for former big leaguers Jamie Moyer, Tim Hummel, Shawn Camp and Darrell Whitmore. Moyer played in the Valley League for Harrisonburg, Hummel was a star at ODU, Camp went to Robinson High and George Mason and Whitmore played at Warren County High and at West Virginia.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: JUAN PIERRE
Nov. 17, 2012: Juan Pierre signs a one-year deal with the Marlins. He played for the Harrisonburg Turks in the Valley League while in college.
1996: Pitcher Daniel Lynch was born in Richmond; starred at Douglas Freeman and at the University of Virginia and made debut in 2021 with the Royals.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: DARYL IRVINE BIRTHDAY
Nov. 15, 1964: RHP Daryl Irvine was born in Harrisonburg; starred at nearby Spotswood High then played at Ferrum. He was drafted by the Red Sox and pitched in 41 games for Boston from 1990-92. His last MLB game came in Baltimore against the Orioles and the last hit he allowed in The Show was to Cal Ripken, Jr. Irvine grew up in Grottoes, and his son, Cam, played for the Grottoes Cardinals and at the Division I level. The daughter of Irvine, Casey, played basketball at JMU.
Nov. 15, 1979: Justin Lord was born in Alabama; pitcher played in Lynchburg while in the minors with the Pirates. He was the pitching coach for Turner Ashby product Brenan Hanifee at Frederick in 2019. Lord was the pitching coach in 2023 in the Washington system for Fredericksburg.
Nov. 15, 2019: RHP Jim Coates died in Lancaster, Va. on this day. He was born in Farnham and was an All-Star pitcher for the Yankees in 1960 and had a strong showing in the 1961 World Series against the Reds as he took over for Whitey Ford in Game 4.
MUSIC, CHOPIN AND WARSAW
WARSAW, Nov. 14 - The Chopin Museum is less than 15 minutes from our apartment in Warsaw. The museum, of course, honors the Polish composer and pianist who was born near Warsaw in 1810 and died in Paris in 1849. One side benefit of living here is that the music school is near the museum and last night we attended a student recital which included 15 different performances over about two hours. Some of the performers, I am told, are ready for a bigger stage - a few still need more work. The recital cost us less than one US dollar to attend.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
Nov. 14, 2012: David Price of Tampa Bay wins the Cy Young Award in the American League, beating out Goochland and ODU product Justin Verlander. The 2012 roster for Tampa Bay also included Norfolk native B.J. Upton, Herndon High and Virginia star Brandon Guyer, former William & Mary infielder Will Rhymes and outfielder Rich Thompson, a speedster from JMU.
MALTA ART IN POLAND
WARSAW, Nov. 12 - Mattia Preti was an artist who was born in Italy - but he gained fame and plenty of work, in Malta, in the last four decades of his life. Works by Preti are in museums around the world, from Sarasota, Florida to the capital cities of Europe. There is an exhibit of his work in Warsaw through March 3, 2024. The Italian Baroque artist died in Malta in 1699 at the age of 65. The exhibit in Warsaw has plenty of English signage and is free for the rest of this month.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RICHMOND TIES
Nov. 13, 1941: RHP Mel Stottlemyre was born in Hazleton, Missouri. He was the minor league player of the year in 1964 with Richmond, then the top farm team of the Yankees. He was a five-time All-Star with the Yankees and led the AL in complete games twice - and losses twice. He was 164-139 in his career with an ERA of 2.97. The righty died in Washington state in 2019 and is buried in Bellevue, Washington.
Nov. 13, 2002 - Felipe Alou replaced Dusty Baker as manager of the Giants. Baker played for the Richmond Braves in the 1960s. Alou made trips to Richmond on behalf of the Giants after he was done managing in San Fran and early on when Richmond became a farm team of the Giants.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WOODBRIDGE TIES
Nov. 12, 1968: Former Major League catcher Randy Knorr was born in California. He was the manager for two seasons and part of a third in Woodbridge with Single-A Potomac in the Washington system. He ended his playing career with the Expos in 2001 and one of his teammates was Curtis Pride, a former hoop and baseball star at William and Mary. Knorr broke in with the Jays in 1991 and another player on the team that year was lefty pitcher Jimmy Key, who played for Winchester in the Valley League while at Clemson.
MAJOR HOLIDAY IN POLAND
WARSAW, Nov. 11 - World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918. And when it did, Poland was back on the map after 123 years - something I didn't know until a few months ago. So today is a major independence holiday in Poland, and nearly every store is closed. It is July 4 for Poles.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BIRTHDAY FOR JEFF WARE
Nov. 11, 1970: Pitcher Jeff Ware was born in Norfolk. The First Colonial grad played for the Blue Jays in 1995-96 and has been a coach for several years. He was the assistant pitching coach/bullpen for Toronto this season. The first-base coach for the Blue Jays was Mark Budzinski, a former standout at the University of Richmond.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MICHAEL TUCKER IS TRADED BY REDS
Nov. 10, 1998: The Atlanta Braves traded pitchers Denny Neagle and Rob Bell and outfielder Michael Tucker to the Cincinnati Reds for second baseman Bret Boone and P Mike Remlinger, per baseballreference.com. Tucker is a native of South Boston, played at Bluestone, and was the top Division II player in the country at Longwood in 1992. He took part in the Olympics in 1992 in Spain and had a long career in the majors as an outfielder.
FROM GARDNER-WEBB TO POLAND
WARSAW, Nov. 9 - There is not one but two products of the basketball program at Gardner-Webb in North Carolina playing pro hoops this season in Poland. One of them is Liam O'Reilly, who is averaging nearly 19 points per contest early on in Poland. Another GW alum in Poland is rookie pro player Kareem Reid, a 6-foot-9 forward who posted a double-double recently. He will play a road game here on Nov. 10. The native of Queens in New York averaged 10 points per contest last college season and was an All-Big South honorable mention player.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MICHAEL TUCKER IS TRADED BY REDS
Nov. 10, 1998: The Atlanta Braves traded pitchers Denny Neagle and Rob Bell and outfielder Michael Tucker to the Cincinnati Reds for second baseman Bret Boone and P Mike Remlinger, per baseballreference.com. Tucker is a native of South Boston, played at Bluestone, and was the top Division II player in the country at Longwood in 1992. He took part in the Olympics in 1992 in Spain and had a long career in the majors as an outfielder.
THE DARKNESS OF EASTERN EUROPE
WARSAW, Nov. 9 - Most of Europe changed its clocks - fall forward - two weeks before the USA. So on cloudy days in Warsaw, it begins to feel dark at about 3:30 p.m. It is important to be aware of this for one's overall health. That may mean getting up earlier than normal - hard for a night owl - to take advantage of sunlight. It is also good to remind yourself that things get better once Dec. 21 arrives. The sun sets today at 3:53 p.m. in Warsaw. Yikes.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY - JON NUNNALLY
Nov. 9, 1971: Jon Nunnally was born in Pelham, NC. He went to Hargrave in Chatham and then played in the majors from 1995 to 2000; hit a homer in his first at-bat in the majors with Kansas City against the Yankees. He coached with Double-A Altoona this past season in the Pittsburgh farm system.
Nov. 9, 2018: RHP Ken Howell died on this day in Michigan. He attended Wakefield High in Arlington briefly and pitched in the majors from 1984 to 1990 with the Dodgers and Phillies. His teammates on the 1988 Dodgers included Richmond native Tracy Woodson and Franklin Stubbs, a star first baseman at Va. Tech. Teammates with the Phils in 1990 included two former Valley League players - John Kruk and Lou Meadows.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: NOVEMBER 8
2012: Former Potomac Single-A player Ian Desmond, who spent part of his time in Woodbridge while in the minors, won the Silver Slugger Award with Washington. On the same day, South Boston native Jeremy Jeffress headed to Toronto from the Royals. Jeffress ended his career in Spring Training with the Nationals in 2021.

A PLACE OF PEACE IN SW POLAND
Krzyżowa, Poland, Nov. 4 - There is an international conference center here in Poland that is near where a Reconciliation Mass was held in 1989 between church leaders from Germany and Poland. Also near the center, where we stayed a few days for a conference on non-violence, there is a House on the Hill that was used for secret meetings for a diverse group of Polish leaders during World War II as they planned for what their world would look like after the conflict. There are also Churches of Peace located in the towns of Jawor and Świdnica in the Silesia region here in the southwest part of Poland. We were able to visit one of them this week for the second time; it was made of wood in the 1600s and has withstood the test of time.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WOMACK IS CHAMP
Nov. 4, 2001: Danville native Tony Womack went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI as Arizona beat the Yankees 3-2 to win Game 7 of the World Series. He drove in a run to tie the game in the ninth off Mariano Rivera and two batters later Luis Gonzalez had the game-winning hit for the series win. Womack went to Gretna High and then played at Guilford before drafted by the Pirates.
Nov. 4, 1983: Pitcher Clarence Pickrel, who played two years in the majors, died in Rocky Mount on this day. He was born in Gretna and played for the Boston Braves and the Phillies.
Nov. 4, 2004: Charlie Manuel, who grew up in Buena Vista, was named manager of the Phillies. He led the Phillies to a title in 2008.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MIKE CHRISTOPHER
Nov. 3, 1963: RHP Mike Christopher was born in Petersburg; Dinwiddie High grad played at East Carolina and appeared in 71 games out of the pen, with one save, for Cleveland, the Dodgers and Detroit.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: CHUCK HARTMAN
Nov. 2, 2020: Former Va. Tech coach Chuck Hartman passed away on this day in Blacksburg. A former coach at High Point, two of his players with the Hokies were future Major Leaguers Franklin Stubbs and Brad Clontz, of Stuart. Hartman was in the first class of Hall of Fame coaches with the Virginia Baseball Coaches Association with ceremonies last December in Fairfax. He won 941 games with the Hokies.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WORLD CHAMPS
Nov. 1, 2015: Dayton Moore, a former player at George Mason and in the Valley Baseball League, capped a remarkable run as Kansas City beat the Mets in Game 5 on this day to capture the World Series title. Moore was the general manager of the club as the Royals beat a team that included hitting stars David Wright, a native of Norfolk, and Daniel Murphy, who played for Luray in the Valley Baseball League for manager Mike Bocock. One of the teammates on Luray with Murphy was Brian Bocock, who later played in the majors for the Giants and Phillies. Moore is in the Valley League Hall of Fame.
Nov. 1, 1974: RHP Ryan Glynn was born in Portsmouth. The Churchland High and VMI product was drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round out of the Lexington school and pitched in the majors from 1999 to 2005. He played for Texas, Toronto and Oakland and had an overall record of 9-20 with an ERA of 6.24 in 52 games with 40 starts.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: OCTOBER 31
2015: Daniel Murphy of the Mets makes a key error and the Royals beat New York 5-3 as Kansas City gets within one win of the title. Murphy spent part of two summers in the Valley League with Luray. The KC general manager in 2015 was Dayton Moore, who played at George Mason and in the Valley League. The KC front office had several other staffers from Va. schools such as George Mason and Mary Washington.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: HALL OF FAMER LEON DAY
Oct. 30, 1916: Hall of Famer Leon Day was born in Alexandria. He moved to Baltimore at a young age with his family, then became a star in the Negro Leagues. Day went into the Hall of Fame in 1995, a few months after his passing in March of that year. His widow spoke at his Cooperstown honor. Day is buried at Arbutus Memorial Park in Baltimore County. He is featured in our book about baseball in Virginia, with comments from his widow. Day is one of five natives of Virginia in the Hall of Fame and four of them played in the Negro Leagues.
Oct. 30, 2019: Lynchburg native Daniel Hudson fired a pitch, there was a swing and miss and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, a product of the 757, threw his arms in the arm that night in Houston. With that, the Nationals won the World Series for the first time as ODU product Hudson set down the Astros in the ninth in Game 7. Another member of that Washington team was Sean Doolittle, who like Zimmerman played at Virginia. The Houston roster included ODU product Justin Verlander and Will Harris, who played in the Valley League for Staunton while at LSU. Zimmerman was 1-for-3 with a walk in Game 7 - the last of his 35 playoff games. He hit five homers in the playoffs in his career. Harris gave up the key homer to Howie Kendrick in Game 7.
Oct. 30, 1897: Negro League player Johnny Spencer was born in Lynchburg. He died in New York in 1984 and is buried at Albany Rural Cemetery near there. He was an outfielder and played in 1922 and hit .179.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: NATS FORCE GAME 7
October 29, 2019: Stephen Strasburg pitches a gem as the Nationals beat host Houston in Game 6 to force a Game 7 in the World Series. ODU product Justin Verlander started for the Astros while Will Harris, a Valley League alum, came out of the pen for Houston. Ryan Zimmerman of the Nats was 0-for-3 with a walk. Former Va. Cav Sean Doolittle got the last two outs for Washington out of the pen.
1944: Jim Bibby was born in North Carolina. The RHP lived for several years in Lynchburg before he passed away in 2010. Bibby was an All-Star and pitched in the World Series with the Pirates. He coached for several years in the minors in Lynchburg; his brother, Henry, and nephew, Mike, both played in the NBA.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WORLD SERIES CHAMP
Oct. 28, 2018: Richmond native and Prince George product Jackie Bradley, Jr. was a sub as the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in Game 5 for the World Series title. Frank Cox and Virginia Cavalier alum Chris Taylor started in left for the Dodgers.
2001: Randy Johnson of Arizona beats the Yankees 4-0 in Game 2 of the World Series. Danville native Tony Womack was a key infielder for Arizona, and he was 0-for-4 in the Game 2 victory.
1989: Tyler Bream was born. The former minor league infielder is the son of Sid Bream, a former standout at Liberty University and in the majors. Tyler played at Liberty and in the minors for Arizona. The younger Bream was drafted out of Liberty by the D-backs and played in the minors in 2011-12. He went to Seneca Valley High in Maryland.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RED PROCTOR
Oct. 27, 1900: RHP Red Proctor was born in Williamsburg; he played in the minors for several years - but just pitched in two games with the White Sox in 1923 for his only Major League showing. He died in Richmond in 1954 and is buried at Cedar Grove in Williamsburg.
2002: The Angels beat the Giants 4-1 in Game 7 to win the World Series for the first time. The leadoff hitter for the Angels was shortstop David Eckstein, who was 1-for-3. He played for Harrisonburg in the Valley Baseball League.
2019: The Astros beat the Nats to take a 3-2 lead in the World Series. Washington's roster includes Ryan Zimmerman, Sean Doolittle, and Daniel Hudson.
2020: The Dodgers win the World Series and a key player is Chris Taylor, the 757 product who starred at the University of Virginia. The Cox High product was 1-for-3 in the Game 6 win for the Dodgers in the win over Tampa Bay. He has nine career playoff homers.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: October 26
2019: The Astros win 8-1 in D.C. to tie the World Series at 2-2 as former Virginia Cavalier Ryan Zimmerman goes 0-for-4. Will Harris gets a hold for Houston - he played in the Valley League for Staunton.
2018: The Dodgers beat the Red Sox in 18 innings in the World Series despite a homer by Richmond native Jackie Bradley, Jr. of Boston.
1996: The Yankees beat the Braves 3-2 to win the World Series. The starting and winning pitcher is Clemson product Jimmy Key, who played for Winchester in the Valley League. Braves star Andruw Jones is one of several Atlanta players who spent time at Triple-A Richmond while in the minors. It is the fifth and last postseason win for Key, who appeared in 14 playoff games with Toronto, the Yankees and the Orioles.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: Oct. 25
2019: The Nationals lose to the Astros in the first World Series home game for the franchise. The roster includes Lynchburg native and ODU product Daniel Hudson and former Virginia Cavs Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman. Washington leads the series 2-1 after the loss. Zimmerman had a hit and scored a run. Will Harris, who pitched for Staunton in the Valley League, had a hold for Houston.
2016: Cleveland wins World Series game 1 over the Cubs. Herndon High and Virginia product Brandon Guyer was a member of the Cleveland team. In this game, he was 0-for-2 but drove in a run and also scored a run in the 6-0 win.
1998: All-Star outfielder Juan Soto was born. He played briefly in Woodbridge for Potomac on his way up the Washington ladder, with seven homers in 15 games at the high Single-A level in 2018.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: Oct. 24
1997: Pitcher Colin Selby was born in Chesapeake. The Randolph-Macon product made his MLB debut in August with the Pirates and appeared in 21 games with a 9.00 ERA.
1973: Mike Matthews was born in Fredericksburg. The Woodbridge High grad played in the majors from 2000 to 2005 and appeared in a career-high 77 games out of the pen with the Padres in 2003, and he finished 20 of them. He had his only one career save with the Cardinals, and he also played for the Brewers, Reds, and Mets. He was a teammate on the Mets for part of 2005 with Norfolk native David Wright. Matthews was teammates on the Padres with outfielder Brian Buchanan, a product of Fairfax High and Virginia. In 2004 with the Reds, the lefty was a teammate of former University of Richmond slugger Sean Casey.

TRIP TO KATOWICE, POLAND
KATOWICE, Oct. 23 - It isn't the capital like Warsaw, and it doesn't have the historic connections like Krakow. But Katowice, in southern Poland, is worth a visit. It has nearly 300,000 people and is the 11th-largest city in Poland. It is a sports hub with a large basketball arena and the city has hosted all sorts of major athletic events over the years. We made a quick weekend trip to watch a junior level figure skating event. But we also had a chance to see a very good Silesian Museum, which describes the history of this region by the same name. Nearly every major museum in Poland has a section on World War II. That can become draining after so many visits but the stories need to be told; one highlight of the Silesian Museum was display of replicas of 1960s and 1970s apartments during that time in Poland, and the TV played a central role.
Va. baseball: October 23
2019: The Nationals take a 2-0 lead in the World Series with a win in the Houston. The Washington roster includes three Va. college products: Daniel Hudson of ODU and Ryan Zimmerman and Sean Doolittle of Virginia. Zimmerman had two hits in the 12-3 win.
1993: Joe Carter hits a walk off homer as the Jays win the World Series over the Phillies. Former Valley League player John Kruk was 0-for-3 with two walks in the game for the Phillies.
Va. BASEBALL: October 22
1919: Phelbert Lawson was born in the town of Washington, Va. Records show that he played in the Negro Leagues in 1945. He died in Canton, Ohio in 2001 and is buried there.
1991: In first World Series game in Atlanta, former Liberty star Sid Bream gets a hit for the Braves while Danville native Carl Willis pitched out of the pen for the Twins. The Braves win, 5-4.
2013: Bryan Price is named manager of the Reds; he takes over for Dusty Baker, who played for the Triple-A Richmond Braves.
2019: In first World Series game in franchise history, the Nationals beat the Astros in Houston as former Virginia star Sean Doolittle gets the save.
Va. BASEBALL: October 21
1960: Franklin Stubbs is born in North Carolina; starred at Va. Tech, hit 114 homers in The Show and won a World Series ring with the Dodgers.
1925: Gordonsville High product Marv Goodwin died a few days after a plane crash in Houston; first Major Leaguer to perish in plane crash. He pitched for the Senators, Cardinals and Reds and is buried in Gordonsville, Orange County per baseballreference.com
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BRYCE ELDRIDGE
Oct. 20, 2004: Bryce Eldridge was born on this day in Fairfax. A two-way star, he led James Madison High to the state title in 2023 and then was a first-round pick of the Giants. He hit .294 with five homers in 31 games across two levels in his pro debut this year in the minors.
Oct. 20, 1988: Va. Tech product Franklin Stubbs went 2-for-4 and scored a run as the Dodgers beat the A's to win the World Series. Another member of that title team was Richmond native Tracy Woodson, the former coach for the Spiders of Richmond. Woodson played at North Carolina State.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: STEVE FINLEY
Oct. 19, 2001: Steve Finley drives in three runs as Arizona beats Atlanta in the playoffs. He played for Harrisonburg for parts of two seasons in the Valley League. Finley played in 52 postseason games but hit just one homer in 165 at-bats - it came against the Yankees in the World Series on November 1, 2001. Finley hit 304 homers in regular season play.
Oct. 19, 2007: The Royals hired Trey Hillman as manager, taking over for Buddy Bell. Hillman managed in Woodbridge in Single-A in the Yankees' system before managing overseas.
Oct. 19, 2006: Hickory High product David Wright drove in the only run but the Mets lost Game 7 to the Cardinals in the NLCS. He hit. 198 in 91 total at-bats in the playoffs in his career.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WILLIE HORTON
Oct. 18, 1942: Willie Horton was born on this day in Arno, a coal community in southwest Virginia. One of 14 children, he was 5 when his family moved to Detroit and he grew up in the projects near Briggs Stadium, according to SABR. He broke into the majors with the Tigers in 1963 against Washington - and his last game would be against the Texas Rangers in 1980. An outfielder, he helped the Tigers win the World Series in 1968. Horton hit his last homer, No. 325, with Seattle in 1980. Along with Justin Upton, he is tied for the most homers hit by a native of Virginia. He is featured in our Va. baseball book - the link is above if you want a copy.
Oct. 18, 2015: Norfolk native David Wright and Daniel Murphy, who played for Luray in the Valley League, had big hits for the Mets in playoff win over the Cubs. Murphy had a homer and Wright had a double.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: KEN DIXON
Oct. 17, 1960: Ken Dixon was born in Monroe. He is one of only four players drafted out of Amherst High, according to baseballreference.com, and the only one to make the majors. He pitched in 105 games, with 68 starts, for the Orioles from 1984-87.
Oct. 17, 1961: Dan Pasqua was born in New Jersey. He played in the Valley League for New Market while in college. In the majors, he hit a homer in his first game and 117 in his career. He broke in with the Yankees and had a career-high 20 homers in 1988 with the White Sox.
Oct. 17, 1993: Pitcher Brody Koerner was born in Winchester. He went to Robinson High in Fairfax and made his MLB debut in 2021 with the Yankees. He is a product of Clemson University.
Oct. 17, 1947: Outfielder Jim Hutto was born in Norfolk. He played for the Phillies in 1970 and the Orioles in 1975 after attending high school in Florida. His MLB career consisted of just 97 at-bats.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BUMBRY AIDS WORLD SERIES TITLE
Oct. 16, 1983: Fredericksburg native Al Bumbry, from King George, started in center and led off as the Orioles beat the Phillies in Game 5 in Philly to win the World Series - the last time Baltimore has done that. Bumbry was 0-for-2 and drove in a run. The former Va. State hoop star played for the Orioles in 1984 then ended his career with the Padres in 1985. His son, Steve, played baseball at Va. Tech.
Oct. 16, 1969: The Mets beat the Orioles to win the World Series in five games. A backup catcher for the Mets was J.C. Martin, a native of southern Va.
Oct. 16, 1999: Former Richmond Spider star Brian Jordan hits a playoff homer for the Braves in a loss to the Mets.
VOTING DAY IN POLAND
Oct. 15, WARSAW - National voting took place in Poland on Sunday. To encourage people to vote, the metro was free in Warsaw on Sunday. According to published reports, 72.9 percent of those eligible to vote exercised that right on Sunday. Final results will be made available Oct. 17. Per usafacts.com, more than 60 percent of Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: ORIOLES TITLE
Oct. 15, 1969: Backup catcher J.C. Martin, born in Axton in southern Virginia, is ruled safe as he bunts in controversial play for the Mets in World Series win in Game 4 over the Orioles. Baltimore native Ron Swoboda, outfielder for the Mets, makes a great catch to rob Brooks Robinson of a key hit as Mets take 3-1 series lead.
Oct. 15, 1970: The Orioles beat the Reds in Game 5 to win the World Series on this day, with Brooks Robinson the MVP. A reserve catcher that year for the Orioles was Johnny Oates, who would one day manage the Birds. He was a star at Virginia Tech and in the Valley Baseball League.
Oct. 15, 2019: Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals beat the Cardinals to sweep the series and earn the first World Series berth for the franchise. Zim went 1-for-4 with a run in the 7-4 win at Nationals Park. Other members of NL champs include Lynchburg native and ODU product Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle, a product of the Cavs like Zimmerman. Doo got the hold and Hudson the save in Game 4.
BASEBALL BOOK REVIEW ON ORIOLES
I was late to the party but just finished "100 Things Orioles Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die," by Dan Connolly with a foreword by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. The book came out in 2015 but is still very relevant. It was nice to see several Virginia connections, including the mention of former Baltimore outfielders Al Bumbry and Larry Sheets. Also noted is Joe Saunders, a former pitcher who played at West Springfield High School. Dan also notes that three Negro League players from Virginia who made the Hall of Fame played for the Baltimore Black Sox: Pete Hill, Jud Wilson and long-time Baltimore resident Leon Day. The fourth Negro League Hall of Famer from Virginia is Ray Dandridge, a native of Richmond.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: TIGERS WIN TITLE
Oct. 14, 1984: Kirk Gibson hits two homers and the Tigers win the World Series in five games over the Padres. The second baseman for the Tigers was Lou Whitaker, a product of Martinsville. Other key players for the Tigers: Richmond native and outfielder Johnny Grubb and infielder Tom Brookens, who played in the Valley League. Northampton's Bobby Brown was an outfielder for the Padres and Bruce Bochy, who grew up in Falls Church for part of his youth, was a catcher for San Diego that year.
Oct. 14, 1988: Former William & Mary star Vic Raschi died on this day. Born in Massachusetts in 1919, he was an all-star pitcher for the Yankees and he was in the World Series with the Bronx Bombers six times. He won 132 games in regular-season play.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: JEFFRESS/TOMLIN
Oct. 13, 1991: Lefty Randy Tomlin, who grew up in Madison Heights and starred at Liberty under Al Worthington, made the only postseason start of his MLB career and it was a good one. He allowed two earned runs in six innings but didn't figure in the decision as the Pirates beat the Braves 3-2 in game 4 of the NLCS. The Braves won the series to advance to the World Series. Tomlin led LCA to a state title in 2022; his son Quade played in the minors for the Nationals.
Oct. 13, 2018: South Boston native Jeremy Jeffress allowed a homer to Justin Turner as the Dodgers beat the Brewers in this NLCS playoff game. Former Valley League and EMU catcher Erik Kratz was also a member of the Brewers in 2018.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: HALL OF FAMER/BUMBRY
Oct. 12, 1882: Pete Hill, an outfielder and Negro League star, was born on this day in Culpeper. He is one of four Virginia natives who played in the Negro Leagues and is in the Hall of Fame. Hill played from 1904 to 1925 in the Negro Leagues. Hill was born in the hamlet of Buena, according to the Society of American Baseball Research, and he moved to Pittsburgh with his mother at a young age. He died in 1951 in Buffalo, and he is buried in Illinois, according to SABR. Hill is considered, regardless of color, one of the greatest outfielders of his era. The Va. native went into the Hall of Fame in 2006. The other natives of the state in Cooperstown who played in the Negro Leagues are Leon Day, Ray Dandridge and Jud Wilson. The first Hall of Famer from Va. was lefty Eppa Rixey, who pitched for the Reds and Phillies.
Oct. 12, 2018: Former EMU catcher Erik Kratz was hitless in one at-bat as the Brewers beat the Dodgers on this day in the playoffs in Game 1 of the NLCS.
Oct. 12, 1979: Fredericksburg native Al Bumbry had a hit and scored a run as the Orioles beat the Pirates in Game 3 of the World Series.
Oct. 12, 1983: Bumbry started in center on this day for the Orioles, who won game two of the World Series against the Phillies. He was hitless in two at-bats.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
Oct. 11, 2019: Former University of Virginia star Sean Doolittle records the last four outs while starter Anibal Sanchez allows just one hit as the Nationals beat the host Cardinals in the playoffs.
Oct. 11, 1996: Jacob Allen Bukauskas was born on this day in Ashburn. The RHP went to Stone Bridge then starred in college at North Carolina. He made his MLB debut in 2021 with Arizona.
On the same day, fellow RHP Josh Winder was born in Richmond. He went to James River High then was drafted out of VMI in Lexington by the Twins in 2018. Winder made his MLB debut in 15 games with the Twins last year and appeared in 19 games this season with Minnesota.
Oct. 11, 1991: RHP Clay Kirby, a native of D.C., died on this day at the too early age of 43 of a heart attack in Arlington. He was a star at then Washington & Lee High in Arlington and broke in with the Padres in 1969. He was a spot starter for a Reds team that won the World Series in 1975. Kirby ended his career with Montreal. He was teammates on the Padres with RHP Jay Franklin, who pitched at Madison High in Vienna. Kirby did not appear in the 1975 World Series against the Red Sox.
Oct. 11, 1974: Mike Duvall, another RHP, was born on this day in Warrenton. He went to Potomac State in West Virginia and pitched in the majors from 1998 to 2001 with Tampa Bay and, yes, Minnesota.
THE SIGHTS OF LUBLIN, POLAND
LUBLIN, October 9, 2023 - This city in southeast Poland will take you by surprise. And don't judge a city by its outdoor bus station. About 300 yards from that station is an impressive castle with some amazing artwork in the chapel that dates to the 15th century. Fortunately, there is plenty of information in both Polish and English on the murals that adorn all four sides of the upstairs chapel. Less than a mile away, in the cobblestone streets of Old Town, there are some nice outdoor restaurants which were used by some brave tourists as the temperatures went into the 40s on Sunday night. There are also several quality hotels with Old Europe charm in the Old Town section of the city. Lublin is less than two hours by train south of capital Warsaw. One of the 10 largest cities in Poland, Lublin has a population of more than 330,000.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: FLOYD BAKER
Oct. 10, 1997: Vince Pasquantino was born in Richmond. The former ODU standout broke into the majors with the Royals last year with 10 homers in 72 games.
Oct. 10, 1916: Floyd Baker was born in Luray. The infielder played in the majors from 1943 to 1955 for several teams. He hit just one homer in 2280 at-bats - among the few players with just one homer in that many trips to the plate. He died in Ohio in 2004 and is buried in Boardman, Ohio.
Oct. 10, 1972: Pitcher Mike Holtz was born in Arlington; went to high school in Pennsylvania and then to Clemson. He pitched for three West Coast teams - Angels, Padres and Oakland - before ending his career with the Red Sox.
Oct. 10, 1991: Randy Tomlin of Madison Heights pitched for the Pirates in the playoffs out of the bullpen on this day. He retired four batters and gave up two earned runs as the Pirates lost to the Braves in Game 4. Tomlin has been the high school coach at LCA in Lynchburg the past few years and won a state title in 2022.
Oct. 10, 1987: Former Single-A Potomac pitcher and Nationals prospect Daniel Rosenbaum was born in Ohio; played in college at Xavier and drafted by Washington in 2009.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BILL PULSIPHER
Oct. 9, 1973: Lefty Bill Pulsipher was born in Fort Benning, Ga. He was drafted in the second round of Fairfax High by the Mets and spent nearly a decade in the majors with several teams.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BOB MABE
Oct. 8, 1985: RHP Cody Eppley, who pitched at VCU, was born on this day in Dillsburg, PA. He pitched in the majors for Texas and the Yankees.
Oct. 8, 1929: RHP Bob Mabe was born on this day in Danville. He pitched for the Cardinals in 1958, the Reds in 1959 and the Orioles in 1960. Mabe had a record of 7-11 with an ERA of 4.82 in 51 games with 14 starts. In his last game in May of 1960, he gave up a single to the only batter he faced - Jimmy Piersall of Cleveland. Mabe died in 2005 in Danville and is buried there at Highland Burial Park. He worked for K-mart as a district manager in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina after his playing days, according to baseballreference.com.
Oct. 8, 1910: Negro League player Ossie Stewart was born on this day in Herndon. There is no other information on Stewart according to baseballreference.com, only that he played in 1943 as a pitcher with an 0-2 record.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RYAN ZIMMERMAN
Oct. 7, 2019: Ryan Zimmerman hits a homer as the Nationals beat the Dodgers in the playoffs.
Oct. 7, 2017: Former Virginia star Zimmerman hit a homer as the Nationals came back to beat the Cubs in the playoffs. Former Single-A Potomac player Anthony Rendon also went deep for Washington.
Oct. 7, 2016: Herndon High graduate Brandon Guyer, who also played at the University of Virginia, had three hits in a playoff game for Cleveland. He scored two runs and drove in a run against Boston in a 6-0 win.
Oct. 7, 1992: Randy Tomlin, who grew up in Madison Heights and pitched for nearby Liberty University, pitched 1.1 innings out of the pen and didn't allow a run for the Pirates in a playoff game with Atlanta. The Braves won 13-5 in game 2 of the NLDS.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MICHAEL CUDDYER
Oct. 6, 2021: Chris Taylor hits a homer for the Dodgers in a win over the Cardinals in the wild card game. He played at the University of Virginia.
Oct. 6, 2010: Great Bridge grad and Norfolk native Michael Cuddyer had two hits, including a homer, but the Twins lost to the Yankees in a playoff game on this day 6-4. Cuddyer drove in two runs in the loss.
Oct. 6, 2012: Va. native and ODU product Justin Verlander posts a win in the playoff the Tigers, as he beats Oakland 3-1.
Oct. 6, 1979: Fredericksburg native Al Bumbry was 0-for-3 but scored a run and walked twice as the Orioles beat the Angels in the ALCS 8-0 and win the series. The Orioles advanced to the World Series against the Pirates.
Oct. 6, 1949: RHP Vic Raschi, a star at the College of William and Mary, allowed just one run in eight innings for the Yankees in the World Series game but he suffered a 1-0 loss to the New York Giants. He pitched in the World Series in six different years with the Yankees from 1947-53.
Oct. 6, 1903: Rural Retreat native Deacon Phillippe improved to 3-0 in this World Series with a win for the Pirates over the Red Sox.
PRO HOOPS IN POLAND: MARIST'S KEMP
WARSAW, Oct. 5 - Among the American basketball players in Poland this season is Adam Kemp, who ended his college career in upstate New York at Marist in 2014. The 6-foot-10 forward from Sherrill, New York has played in several countries overseas, including a stop in Hungary - where my family lived for three years. Kemp is now with Sokol, and they play in the top Polish league on Sunday at Lublin in southeast Poland, not far from the border with Ukraine. He is averaging 8.5 points per contest in the first two outings this season in Poland. One of his American teammates is Corey Sanders, who played in college at Rutgers and is from Lakeland, Florida.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: TRACY WOODSON
Oct. 5, 1962: Tracy Woodson was born in Richmond. The Benedictine and North Carolina State product won a World Series ring with the Dodgers. He played in the majors from 1987 to 1993 with the Dodgers and Cardinals and is the former head coach at the University of Richmond.
Oct. 5, 1968: Shenandoah native Wayne Comer had a pinch-hit single for the Tigers in Game 3 of the World Series against the Cardinals. The former Spotswood and Page County High baseball coach passed away earlier this week; his brother, Buddy, who played in the minors with the Senators, passed in 2021. Wayne Comer also played for the Washington Senators and Seattle Pilots.
Oct. 5, 1985: Va. natives and outfielders Al Bumbry and Bobby Brown both played in their last MLB game on this day, for the Padres. Brown won a World Series with the Yankees in 1981 and Bumbry did the same with the Orioles in 1983.
Oct. 5, 1875: First baseman Davey Crockett was born in Roanoke. He played in 28 games with the Tigers in 1901; he passed away in 1961 in Charlottesville and is buried in Roanoke at Evergreen Burial Park. Reports say he was named after pioneer Davey Crockett.
ELECTION NEARS IN POLAND
WARSAW, Oct. 3, 2023 - There was a march here on Sunday that was attended by more than one million people, according to the English-language page of a Polish radio station. The group consisted of those hoping to oust the current Polish leadership when national elections are held October 15. Those marchers we saw on the Metro seemed to be very reserved and well behaved and quiet - even on normal days, it is amazing how quiet riders are on the Warsaw metro system when compared to those in New York and Washington.



VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WORLD SERIES HISTORY
October 1, 1903: RHP Deacon Phillippe, a native of Rural Retreat in southwest Virginia, was the starter and winner in the first World Series game. He got the nod for the Pittsburgh Pirates and got the best of Cy Young, who would win 511 games in his career. Phillippe won 189 games - that is third among Va. natives back of Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey and Justin Verlander. Phillippe was voted the top RHP history of Pittsburgh by the fans of the Pirates. He gave up two earned runs and went nine innings in that first World Series game in Boston.
October 1, 1993: Staunton native Larry Sheets, who played basketball at EMU, played in his last major league game on this day. Playing for Seattle, he had a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning that scored Jay Buhner. Randy Johnson got his 19th win of the season that day as Seattle won 8-2 over the Twins. Ken Griffey, Jr. started in center for the Mariners. Starters for the Twins included Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield. The hit by Sheets came against Brett Merriman, who appeared in just 34 games with the Twins over two years.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MICHAEL TUCKER
Sept. 30, 1998: South Boston native and Longwood product Micheal Tucker hits a homer in the playoffs as the Braves down the Cubs. Tucker was the top small college player in the nation at Longwood and a first-round pick of the Royals. He played in 24 post season games for the Braves and Mets and hit three homers with an average of .256. Tucker never made it to the World Series.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: CUDDYER WINS BATTING TITLE
Sept. 29, 2013: Great Bridge grad Michael Cuddyer goes 1-for-5 against the Dodgers for the Rockies. But that is enough to nail down the NL batting title at .331 for the Norfolk native, who was an All-Star for Twins and Rockies in his career.
Sept. 29, 1953: Gene Richards was born in South Carolina. A first-round pick by the Padres out of South Carolina State, he played for the Harrisonburg Turks of the Valley League while in college. He led the NL in triples in 1981 with 13 and he played for San Diego from 1977-84, with 247 steals and more than 1,000 hits.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RYAN ZIMMERMAN
Sept. 28, 1984: Former Washington star Ryan Zimmerman was born on this day in Washington, North Carolina. He was part of great 757 class of players from the Tidewater region; played at Kellam High then took off at the University of Virginia. He broke in with the Nationals in 2005 and aided World Series run in 2019. He was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.
Sept. 28, 1992: Harrisonburg native and Spotswood High and Ferrum product Daryl Irvine pitched in his last game on this day, for the Red Sox in Baltimore. He broke in with Boston in 1990. The last hit he allowed in The Show was to Cal Ripken, Jr.
Sept. 28, 1924: Norfolk native Buddy Crump broke into the majors on this day with the New York Giants; it was the only game he played in MLB. He died in North Carolina in 1976.
Sept. 28, 1903: Lefty pitcher Jim Brillheart was born on this day in Dublin. He pitched in 86 games with Washington, the Cubs and Red Sox. He died in 1972 in Radford and is buried in Dublin.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RANDY HUNDLEY
Sept. 27, 1983: Jim Beattie, a native of Hampton, threw the first one-hitter in Seattle history on this day as he beat the Royals. A former general manager in the majors, Beattie went to college at Dartmouth in New Hampshire after attending high school in Maine. He was teammates on the Yankees with pitcher Ken Clay, a native of Lynchburg. Beattie won 52 games and his last year as a player was in 1986 with the Mariners.
Sept. 27, 1964: Martinsville native Randy Hundley made his debut on this day for the Giants against the Cubs - a team he would star for later in his career. He played in more than 1,000 games through the 1977 season and may have been the best MLB catcher to be born in Virginia. Hundley was an all-star with the Cubs in 1969. One of his teammates in his career was fellow catcher J.C. Martin, who was also from Virginia. Both are members of the Hall of Fame in the Martinsville area.
Sept. 27, 1901: Outfielder George Browne, a native of Richmond, made his debut on this day for Philadelphia of the National League. Among Va. natives, he ranks among the leaders in steals, average and hits. He led the league in runs scored with 99 in 1904 with the Giants. He also played for the Washington Senators during his career. Browne died in New York in 1920 in Hyde Park and is buried at St. Peter's in Poughkeepsie, New York.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: SEAN DOOLITTLE
Sept. 26, 1950: Pitcher Bill Moran was born in Portsmouth; went to Woodrow Wilson High in his hometown and then played at Louisburg in North Carolina. He pitched in 15 games with starts in 1974 for the White Sox - in his only MLB appearances. His last pro year was 1982 in Mexico.
Sept. 26, 1930: Tazewell native Johnny Watson broke into the majors on this day with the Detroit Tigers. He played in just four MLB games - all that season. He died in 1965 and is buried at Woodmere Memorial Park in Huntington, West Virginia.
Sept. 26, 1986: Lefty pitcher Sean Doolittle was born in Rapid City, SD. The University of Virginia product broke into the majors with Oakland, helped Washington win the World Series in 2019 and retired last week.

BASEBALL CULTURE IN CENTRAL EUROPE
PRAGUE, Sept. 24 - The 2023 Euro baseball Championships began today in four cities in Czechia, which used to be known as the Czech Republic. And the Czechs like more than just beer - the Eagles' Nest facility here about 30 minutes by car south of downtown Prague would make any midsize city in the USA envious. There are several fields for baseball and softball and a young girls' teams was finishing up a day on one field as the adult men teams of Germany and Belgium faced off at the main stadium before several hundred fans with small hills and mountains doting the landscape as the sun set in central Europe. The Germans won 15-4 by the mercy rule with a few scouts in attendance, including one from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sitting back of home for the second game of the day in Prague was Alex Jacobs, who is from the Philadelphia area and has been with Team Israel since 2016. He was the bench coach in the 2020 Olympics for Israel, which won by a mercy rule in the first game here Sunday 14-1 over Switzerland.

Earlier in the day, about 100 miles to the east in the small town of Trebic, pool B began there as Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, the manager of Italy, led his team to a mercy rule 15-2 win over Hungary. According to a source with the Italian team, Piazza now lives in Italy since, for one, he would like his boys to attend school there for part of their education.

One of the coaches for Hungary is American Johnstone Hobbs, who spent this summer coaching Kokomo in the Northwoods League. He graduated from high school in Greensboro, NC and has extensive coaching experience in the USA and overseas. "Doing something like this, especially since it's baseball, is a lifetime experience," according to Hobbs, a former consultant to the Turkish Olympic Committee. "And the fact I get to talk baseball/coach against a Hall of Famer and class act like Mike is icing on the cake."

The Hungarian roster includes players with past or future USA college experience at the University of Michigan, Oakland of Michigan, Division II Rollins in Florida and a junior college in California. Brothers Robert and Alex Ogg are on the Hungarian team. They have roots in Tampa, Florida.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
Sept. 25, 1969: Tony Womack was born in Danville on this day. The Gretna High product played in college at Guilford in North Carolina, broke into the majors with the Pirates in 1993 and helped Arizona win the World Series in 2001. His 363 steals are the most of any Virginia native.
Sept. 25, 1982: Pitcher Justin Jones was born; the lefty from Kellam High was drafted in the second round by the Cubs and Billy Swoope in 2002. He played in the minors for the Cubs, Twins and Nationals and reached the Double-A level. Jones played at Double-A Harrisburg in 2009 then ended his career in the Atlantic League the following year.
Sept. 25, 1989: Pitcher Tyler Wilson was born in Lynchburg. The graduate of Midlothian High near Richmond was drafted out of the University of Virginia by the Orioles, and he later broke into the majors with Baltimore in 2015. Wilson also pitched overseas in Korea after his MLB season in 2017. He was 8-10 in 42 games with 19 starts in the majors with ERA of 5.02.
Sept. 25, 1945: Lefty pitcher Bill Hepler was born in Covington. He played for the Mets in 1966.
Sept. 25, 1889: Lefty pitcher Dave Robertson was born in Portsmouth. He was the first player out of North Carolina State to make the majors and he led the NL in homers in 1916-17; he died in Va. Beach in 1970.
Sept. 25, 1897: Robert Poindexter was born; died in Washington, D.C. in 1930.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: LEFTY WILLIAMS
Sept. 24, 1894: Lefty Williams was a native of Tanners in Madison County. The Negro League player was born on this day, and he was a pitcher and outfielder; in 1932 he had a record of 7-0 as a pitcher for two teams. Williams died in 1952 and is buried at Homestead Cemetery near Pittsburgh.
Sept. 24, 2009: Justin Verlander fanned 11 batters in seven innings as the Tigers beat Cleveland.
Sept. 24, 2001: Seattle pitcher Jamie Moyer won his 19th game of the year and his 11th in a row; he played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MICHAEL CUDDYER DEBUT
Sept. 23, 2001: Michael Cuddyer of Great Bridge High made his debut on this day with the Twins, as he went 1-for-2 against Cleveland. He ended his career with 197 homers in the majors, 1522 hits and an average of .277. His first hit in the majors in 2001 was a double off Chuck Finley in the seventh inning. The Norfolk native lead the NL in hitting with Colorado in 2013 and he was an All-Star with the Twins and Rockies.
Sept. 23, 1951: Infielder Al Richter, a native of Norfolk, broke into the majors with the Boston Red Sox on this day against the Yankees. He played five games that year with the Red Sox and in one more in 1953. He died in Va. Beach in 2017 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk. He served in the military in Germany after World War II.
Sept. 23, 1923: Bedford native Ted Wingfield, 100 years ago today, made his pitching debut for the Senators against Cleveland. He ended his career with Red Sox, died in 1975 in Johnson City, Tenn. and is buried at Happy Valley Memorial Park in Elizabethton, Tenn. He fought in World War I.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: KEN DIXON DEBUT
Sept. 22, 1984: Amherst County product Ken Dixon made his debut on this day, as the pitcher started for the Orioles at old Memorial Stadium againt the Red Sox.
Sept. 22, 1998: Warrenton native and LHP Mike Duvall made his debut on this day as he pitched for Tampa Bay out of the pen. He appeared in three games that year for the team, 40 the next season and two in 2000. He ended his career with Minnesota in 2001. He appeared in 53 total games out of the pen with an ERA of 4.76.
HANIFEE MAKES DEBUT; THIRD FROM TA PROGRAM
Sept. 22, 2023 - The first time a graduate of Turner Ashby High, near Harrisonburg, played in a Major League game was August 12, 1979, when catcher Alan Knicely broke in with Houston. The last time a TA product stepped foot on an MLB field as an active player was October 3, 2010, when infielder Brian Bocock was with the Phillies and faced the Braves in the last of his six games that year.

Pitcher Brenan Hanifee has changed history. He pitched two innings for Detroit on Thursday night in his MLB debut, becoming the first pitcher from TA to appear in The Show. The Harrisonburg native becomes the eighth native of that city to play in the majors and he is also the eighth Va. native to make his MLB debut this season.

Hanifee is one of three TA grads to reach Triple-A as pitchers, along with Va. Tech product Ian Ostlund and Ferrum lefty Jimmy Hamilton. Ostlund also spent time with Toledo while Hanifee and Hamilton both pitched for Double-A Bowie in the Baltimore system. Ferrum product Billy Wagner got the save for the Braves in the last MLB game in which Bocock played, as a pinch-runner for Jimmy Rollins.

Va. natives who have made their MLB debut this season are pitchers Andrew Abbott, Nick Robertson, Kevin Kelly, Cody Bolton, Colin Selby, Evan Justice and outfielder Brenton Doyle. Robertson and Kelly both played at JMU while Colton and Selby both broke in with the Pirates. Selby is the lone D3 product of the bunch, from Randolph-Macon.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: JEREMY JEFFRESS
Sept. 21, 1987: RHP Jeremey Jeffress was born on this day in South Boston; he was a first-round pick of the Brewers out of high school and ended his career with the Cubs in 2020, though he was in spring training with the Nationals the next year.
Sept. 21, 1977: RHP Roy Thomas, who was born in Quantico, made his MLB debut on this day. He was a first-round pick out of his California high school and pitched in the majors until 1987.
Sept. 21, 1965: D.J. Dozier was born on this day in Norfolk. He played at Kempsville High and in 25 games with the Mets in 1992, when he was teammates with Pete Schourek of Falls Church.
Sept. 21, 1956: RHP Jim Coates of Lively High on the Eastern Shore made his MLB debut on this day for the Yankees. He pitched in 247 games in the majors and died in Lancaster in 2019 and is buried in Lively. Coates was an All-Star in 1960 with the Yankees and pitched in the World Series with New York in 1960-62, winning a World Series ring the last of those two years.
Sept. 21, 1895: Tunstall Station nation King Bailey pitched in his first and last game in the majors on this day, for the Reds. He was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Macon, GA in 1917.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RANDY TOMLIN
Sept. 20, 1992: Randy Tomlin, who grew up in Madison Heights and pitched at Liberty, won a career-high 14th game of the season on this day for the Pirates as he beat the Mets. He gave up one earned run in seven innings; a few weeks later he started in the playoffs against the Braves.
Sept. 20, 1978: Kempsville High product and Norfolk native Bill Paschall made his debut as a pitcher for the Royals on this day. The University of North Carolina product pitched in 11 games for KC through the 1981 season. His debut was interesting: he came in with two outs in the first for starter Rich Gale, whose son later played at the University of Virginia. Paschall went seven innings out of the pen and allowed three runs and was charged with the loss against the powerful Brewers. The first batter he faced was Paul Molitor, who fanned. The Milwaukee lineup also included Robin Yount. A reserve catcher in that game for the Brewers was Larry Haney, who grew up in Orange County, Virginia and broke into the majors with the Orioles.
Sept. 20, 1914: Infielder and outfielder Charlie Pick, born in Brookneal, made his debut for the Washington Senators on this day. He played through the 1920 season; he died in Lynchburg in 1954 and is buried there at Spring Hill Cemetery.
Sept. 20, 1985: Former Washington shortstop Ian Desmond was born in Sarasota, Florida. He played in Woodbridge with Potomac while in the minors with the Nationals for parts of three seasons, 2005-07. He last played in the majors for the Rockies in 2019.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BILL DEITRICK
Sept. 19, 1927: Hanover County native Bill Deitrick made his MLB debut on this day for Philadelphia of the National League. He played infield and outfield and appeared in five games in 1927 and also played in 52 games in 1928 for Philadelphia. The University of Virginia product died in Bethesda, Maryland in 1946 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and took part in occupations of Japan during World War II, according to baseballreferene.com. He hit .198 in the majors in 57 games. Interestingly, a Philadelphia native named Bill Dietrich pitched for Philadelphia of the American League in the 1930s. He also pitched for the Washington Senators in 1936.
Sept. 19, 1964: Mark Baca, the scout for the Nationals that helped sign Stephen Strasburg, Danny Espinosa and others, was born on this day in California. He is a former minor league player; Espinosa played in Woodbridge while in the Washington system in 2009. Baca played at Cal State.
Sept. 19, 1906: Veteran Negro League player Joe Wiggins - known as Jumping Joe - was born in Dinwiddie County. He died in Cleveland in 1984; he was a third baseman, just like Richmond native and Hall of Famer Ray Dandridge.
Sept. 19, 1926: Negro League veteran Stanley Green was born in Wachapreague on the Eastern Shore on this day. He went to high school in Philadelphia and died in Pa. in 2011. He wrote a book about his life and was president of the Negro League Baseball Players Association. Like many Negro League players, Green was versatile and played many positions, according to baseballreference.com.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: JOE HICKS
Sept. 18, 1959: OF Joe Hicks broke into MLB on this day for the White Sox against Detroit. He also played for the Senators and Mets. He was born in Ivy in 1933 and turned 90 in April. Hicks went to high school in Charlottesville and played at the University of Virginia. The White Sox lost in the World Series to the Dodgers in 1959 but Hicks did not see action; he ended his career with the Senators and Mets teams that didn't win more than 61 games in a season. He was with Washington in 1961-62 and with the Mets in 1963.
Sept. 18, 1998: Quantico native Mike Metcalfe, an infielder/outfielder, broke into the majors with the Dodgers against the Giants. He played in four games that year for the Dodgers and four more in 2000. He went to high school and college in Florida.
Sept. 18, 1975: Infielder Chuck Scrivener made his MLB debut for Detroit, against Cleveland. He played in high school and college in Baltimore after he was born in Alexandria. The last game of his career came against the Orioles in 1977, while with the Tigers in Baltimore. Va. native Al Bumbry saw action in that game for the Orioles.

JEWISH MUSEUM IN WARSAW
Sept. 17, 2023 - There is certainly a lot of tragedy in the stories told at the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, with the events of World War II and the Holocaust among the most obvious examples. But the presentation of the centuries of Jewish history in Poland is done very well; four of us spent 2.5 hours there on Saturday and we could have stayed longer. I enjoyed how the exhibit ended with recently taped interviews with Jewish people of different ages as they reflected on what it is like to be Jewish today in Poland. This is a must-do while visiting Warsaw or Poland.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WAYNE COMER DEBUT
Sept. 17, 1967: Shenandoah native Wayne Comer, a star at Page County High, made his MLB debut on this day for the Detroit Tigers, against Washington. A year later, the outfielder was part of a World Series champ with the Tigers along with another Va. native: Willie Horton. After his playing career, Comer worked at Valley Sports in Harrisonburg, was as an umpire and then the baseball coach at Spotswood High. He recently retired as the baseball coach at Page County, his alma mater. His last MLB season was with the Tigers in 1972, after he played for the Senators in 1970.
Sept. 17, 1995: Lefty pitcher and Winchester native Doug Creek made his debut on this day for the Cardinals. The Ga. Tech product appeared in 279 MLB games with all but one of the pen. He went to high school in Martinsburg, West Va.
Sept. 17, 1991: Hampton native Wayne Housie made his debut for the Red Sox. He played in 11 games that year for Boston and played in 18 games for the Mets two years later. He went to high school and college in California.
Sept. 17, 1985: Pitcher B.J. Rosenberg was born in Newport News; went to high school in Kentucky and pitched for the Phillies from 2012-14.
Sept. 17, 1887: Pitcher Nick Cullop was born in Chilhowie. He died in Tazewell in 1961. Hall of Fame candidate Billy Wagner played high school ball in Tazewell.
Sept. 17, 1917: Al Gettel was born in Norfolk; he went to Kempsville High, and the pitcher died in 2005 in Norfolk. He pitched in 184 games in the majors for several teams, including the Senators and Yankees.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: NEGRO LEAGUE STAR
Sept. 16, 1896: On this day, Mack Eggleston was born in Roanoke. He had a long career in the Negro Leagues and played several positions. He died in Baltimore in 1980 and is buried at Williams Memorial Park in Roanoke, according to baseballreference.com.
Sept. 16, 2000: Lefty Jamie Moyer, who played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League, beat the Orioles for the 11th straight time while with Seattle.
Sept. 16, 2009: Norfolk native Justin Upton had five hits for Arizona but it wasn't enough as the D-backs lost to San Diego. Teammate Mark Reynolds, a University of Virginia product from the 757, fanned four times to reach 200 for the season.
Sept. 16, 2005: Pitcher and Portsmouth native Josh Rupe made MLB debut with Texas. He ended his career with the Orioles in 2011; pitched at Greenbrier Christian in high school and Louisburg College in North Carolina.
Sept. 16, 1996: Former Harrisonburg Turk Steve Finley hits homer in the 11th as Padres beat the Giants. On the same day, Moyer of Seattle pitches eight innings of no-hit ball. Also on the same day, former Winchester Valley League pitcher Jimmy Key gets the win over Toronto while with the Yankees. Key won 186 games in his career.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: SHORT STINT
Sept. 15, 2015: Fort Belvoir native Randy Wiles died of cancer in New Orleans at the age of 64, according to baseballreference.com. He went to high school in New Orleans, was a star pitcher at LSU and pitched in five games for the White Sox in 1977. He was the loser in a game that year against the Yankees in which Lynchburg native Ken Clay came out of the bullpen for New York.
Sept. 15, 1970: Clifton Forge native Denny Riddleberger made his MLB debut on this day for the Washington Senators, pitching against the Orioles. He went to Churchland High and ODU and pitched in 103 games in the majors for Washington in 1970-71 and for Cleveland in 1972. He had an ERA of 2.77 in the majors.
Sept. 15, 1935: Spring Garden native Buck Rogers made his debut for Washington, pitching against Cleveland. He pitched in just two games that year for the Senators. He went to Spring Garden High in Danville and the University of Virginia. Rogers died in 1999 in North Carolina and is buried at Highland Burial Park in Danville.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: SOUTHWEST VIBES
Sept. 14, 1927: RHP Dave Hillman was born in Dungannon in southwest part of the state. He pitched in the majors from 1955 to 1962 and was 21-37 with 3.87 ERA. He broke in with the Cubs, pitched for Boston then ended up with Reds and Mets in 1962. He died in Kingsport, TN in 2022 and is buried there at Oak Hill Memorial Park.
Sept. 14, 1931: RHP Don Williams was born in Floyd in southwest part of the state. He pitched for Pittsburgh in 1958-59 and ended up with Kansas City in 1962. He died in Floyd in 2011.
Sept. 14, 1966: Mike Draper was born in Hagerstown, MD. He pitched at George Mason University in Fairfax and in 29 games with the Mets in 1993.
Sept. 14, 1960: Coeburn native and RHP Tracy Stallard made his MLB debut. He pitched in 183 games with 104 starts in his career through 1966. He gave up homer 61 to Roger Maris in 1961 while with Boston. He died in 2017 in Kingsport and is buried in Powell Valley Memorial Gardens in Big Stone Gap.
ELECTIONS IN POLAND
Sept. 13, 2023 WARSAW - The national elections are just a few weeks away and will be held in Poland next month, on October 15. But there is something missing for a person used to USA elections - there are no campaigns bumper stickers or posters around the city. Turns out, according to the Polish couple that own our apartment, signs and posters are limited to just the last few weeks of a campaign. That sounds like a great idea.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BILLY WAGNER DEBUT
Sept. 13, 1995: Marion native and former Ferrum star Billy Wagner made his MLB debut on this day - he pitched to one batter, Rico Brogna, and retired him on a flyball for the Astros against the Mets. Wagner would be an all-star for the first time with Houston four years later and the Tazewell High product ended up with 422 saves in his career. His last season was 2010 with the Braves. For the past few years, he has been the baseball coach at The Miller School in Albemarle County. His 422 saves are the most, by far, of a Virginia native. Next is Va. Tech product Mike Williams with 144 and third on the list is Al Holland with 78. All three played with the Phillies at some point. And all three of them made at least one All-Star team: Holland in 1984 with the Phillies. All of them played high school baseball in the southwest part of the state. The 422 saves by Wagner are more combined that the next 10 closers on the Va. list of those with career saves. His son, Will, is a promising infielder in the Houston farm system. The younger Wagner played in college at Liberty and the Rockingham County League in 2020. Will is at the Double-A level as of today with Houston.
Sept. 13, 2015: Great Bridge High grad Michael Cuddyer had two hits for the Rockies. He would go on to win the NL batting title that year at .331.
Sept. 13, 2006: Robinson High product Shawn Camp, now the coach at George Mason, gave up two hits while retiring a batter out of the bullpen this day for Tampa Bay in a loss at the Yankees.
Sept. 13, 2007: Herndon High and Virginia product Brandon Guyer was hitless in one at bat on this day for Cleveland against Detroit.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: JOHN MONTAGUE BIRTHDAY
Sept. 12, 1947: Pitcher John Montague was born on this day in Newport News. He was drafted out of Newport News High by the White Sox but didn't sign; he was later drafted and signed by the Orioles and began his pro career in the minors with Baltimore but never pitched in the majors for the Birds. He pitched in 223 games in the majors with 17 starts, 24 wins and 21 saves. He began his MLB career with Montreal in 1973 and ended up with the Angels in 1980. He pitched two innings in one game against the Orioles in the 1979 playoffs with the Angels as he allowed a game-winning homer to John Lowenstein in the first game of the series. He posted the first save in Mariner's history but gave up six runs out of the pen in his last appearance, in 1980 against the Orioles.
Sept. 12, 1993: Granny Hamner died on this day in Philadelphia. The Richmond native played in the majors for several teams, mostly the Phillies, and had 104 homers as an infielder from 1944-62. He went to Richmond Community High School.
Sept. 12, 1931: Don Williams was born on this day in Floyd. He went to the University of Tennessee and pitched in 11 games in the majors with Pittsburgh and Kansas City. He died in Floyd in 2011.
Sept. 12, 1978: Pitcher Mark Bomback made his debut for Milwaukee against Seattle on this day. He was born in Portsmouth and went to high school in Fall River, Mass. He also pitched for the Mets and the Blue Jays.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RARE EVENT
Sept. 11, 1918: Pitcher Randy Heflin was born in Fredericksburg, the same day the Red Sox won the World Series. He pitched for Boston in the 1940s - the first player to be born on the day his future team won the World Series. He died in 1999 in Hickory, NC.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: MIKE CUDDYER MILESTONE
Sept. 10, 2013: Norfolk native Michael Cuddyer, on this day in 2013, had three hits, including two homers, as the Rockies won at the Giants 9-8. His solo homer in the top of the ninth was the winning run. The Great Bridge High grad was an All-Star that year and ended the season with an average of .331, the best in the National League. The Twins draft pick has been a coach with USA national teams since his playing days ended and he remains based in Virginia.
Sept. 10, 1993: Pitcher Brian Anderson made his MLB debut on this day. He was born in Portsmouth but went to high school and college in Ohio. On the same day, Danville native and Gretna High product Tony Womack made his debut for the Pirates. He had 363 steals in his career, the most of a Virginia native.
Sept. 10, 1991: Pitcher Mike Christopher broke into The Show on this date. He was born in Petersburg and went to Dinwiddie High - just like the next player.
Sept. 10, 1983: Petersburg native and infielder Curtis Wilkerson played in his first game in the majors on this day, for the Texas Rangers. He was drafted out of Dinwiddie County High by the Rangers. His last game was in 1993.
Sept. 10, 1972: Richmond native John Grubb, a long-time outfielder, broke into the majors on this day with the Texas Rangers. He was part of the 1984 Detroit Tigers team that won the World Series. His last season was in 1987.
Sept. 10, 1959: Catcher J.C. Martin played in his first game, with the White Sox, on this day. He was later a teammate on the Cubs with Randy Hundley, who was born in Martinsville. Martin played a key role in the 1969 World Series with the Mets when his bunt was thrown away by the Orioles on a controversial call, aiding a New York win. He was born in Axton, near the North Carolina line.
Sept. 10, 1954: Joe Durham, on this day, played in his first game in the majors with the Orioles against the Senators. He was born in Newport News and died in Maryland in 2016; buried at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery.
Sept. 10, 1863: Louis Pelouze was born in Fort Monroe. He played in one Major League game and died in New York in 1939.
A DAY TRIP IN POLAND
Sept. 9, 2023: Łowicz, Poland - This town was a big deal during the days of the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth. It was also the scene of a major battle after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. These days, especially on a warm Saturday afternoon, it is pretty quiet as stores and shops close down around 3 p.m. We made the quick trip by train (about 45 minutes) west of Warsaw today to take a look around. Even though there are just about 28,000 residents, there is a large and stunning cathedral in the center of town.
There is also a museum in the center of the town that is worth at least one or two hours - I could have stayed longer if there was more English used in the translation of artifacts. My estimate is about 20 to 30 percent of the exhibits have translation into English. There is a nice pastry shop in the town square plus a hotel - but this is an easy day trip from Warsaw that doesn't need an overnight stay.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: THE PINDER FAMILY
Sept. 9, 1965: Chris Pinder was born on this day. He played in the minors for the Orioles and is the father of Chad, who had a nice career with Oakland after playing at Va. Tech.
Sept. 9, 2012: Norfolk native B.J. Upton hit three homers in back of pitcher James Shields as Tampa Bay blanked the Texas Rangers.
Sept. 9, 1973: RHP John Montague made his debut on this day, for the Expos against the Mets. He went to Newport News High and was drafted at one point by the Orioles. He pitched in 223 games in his career and had 24 wins and 21 saves. Montague retired all three batters he faced on this day against the Mets - Rusty Staub, Jerry Grote and Don Hahn, all of flyballs.
Sept. 9, 1913: Doc Ayers made his debut on this day, pitching for the Washington Senators against Cleveland. He was born in Snake Creek in 1891 near Hillsville in southwest Virginia and died in Pulaski in 1968; buried at Grantham Cemetery in Draper.
Sept. 9, 2013: Former Bristol minor league pitcher Gio Gonzalez threw a one-hitter for the Washington Nationals in a win over the Mets. Ryan Zimmerman hit a homer for Washington.
Sept. 9, 1927: Infielder Buddy Dear made his debut on this day for the Senators. The Norfolk native died in Radford in 1989 and is buried in Christiansburg.
Sept. 9, 1910: Pitcher Bud Thomas was born in Faber on this day. He began his career with the Washington Senators and also pitched for Philadelphia and Detroit. He died in North Garden in 2001 and is buried in Esmont in Albemarle County

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: STEVE FINLEY OF THE TURKS
Sept. 8, 1999: Steve Finley hits three homers and drives in six as Arizona beats the Brewers. Finley played two seasons for the Harrisonburg Turks of the Valley Baseball League while in college.
Sept. 8, 1962: Bob Humphreys made his MLB debut on this day with Detroit against the White Sox. He was born in Covington, went to school at Hampden-Sydney and pitched in 319 games in the majors, with four starts.
Sept. 8, 1951: Fredericksburg native Russ Sullivan made his debut on this day as an outfielder for Detroit, against the White Sox. He played three seasons for the Tigers. He went to Falmouth High and died in Fredericksburg in 2013 and is buried there at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Sept. 8, 1908: Negro League player Jimmy Shields was born in Petersburg. The pitcher and infielder played two years in the 1920s; he died in Petersburg in 1963 and is buried there at Blandford Cemetery, per baseballreference.com. He went to Peabody High in Petersburg.

POLISH SOCCER COMES TO WARSAW
Sept. 8, 2023
WARSAW - Our neighborhood along the Vistula River was jumping last night. Just across the river at National Stadium, the national team of Poland hosted Faroe Islands in a 2024 Euro qualifying match. There were men selling red and white scarfs and other souvenirs outside the metro station just two blocks from our apartment. We watched on TV as host Poland won 2-0 with both goals coming from star player Robert Lewandowski in the second half.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: BRIAN MCNICHOL
Sept. 7, 1999: Fairfax native and Gar-Field High grad Brian McNichol pitched in just four MLB games, all coming in 1999. The first was on this day as he pitched for the Cubs against Wrigley Field against the Reds and he gave up eight hits and six runs in four innings. He was drafted in the second round in 1995 out of JMU by the Cubs.
Sept. 7, 1916: Another Va. native to make his pitching debut on this day was Marv Goodwin, who was born in Gordonsville. He pitched for the Senators in 1916 and went one inning against the Yankees. For his career, he pitched in 102 games with 48 starts and had an ERA of 3.30. He became the first Major Leaguer/pro athlete to die in a plane crash, in Texas in 1925, according to published stories. He is buried in Gordonsville, where he went to high school. He also pitched for the Reds and Cardinals. Other Va. natives to pitch for the Reds include Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey, current lefty Andrew Abbott, Josh Hall, Harry Perkowski, Buck Hooker, Rufus Meadows and Woody Williams.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: CHRIS HOILES HISTORY
Sept. 6, 1995: While in college, Chris Hoiles played for the Harrisonburg Turks of the Valley Baseball League. On this day in 1995, he was part of history as he started at catcher for the Orioles on the night that Cal Ripken, Jr. played in a record 2131st straight game to break the record of Lou Gehrig. Hoiles had one hit in four trips to the plate against the Angels at Camden Yards in 4-2 win.
Sept. 6, 1922: Harry Perkowski was born on this day in Dante in southwest Va. The lefty pitched in the majors from 1947 to 1955, with all but the last season coming with the Reds. His last season was with the Cubs, and he posted a record of 33-40 as he pitched in 184 games with 76 starts. He died in Beckley, West Va. in 2016 and he is buried in Prosperity, West Va.
Sept. 6, 1922: On this day, Lou Ciola was born in Norfolk. He went to the University of Richmond and pitched in 12 games with three starts in 1943 with Philadelphia. The Norfolk native died in 1981 in Minnesota, and he is buried in Cavalry Cemetery in Austin, Minnesota.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: AL BUMBRY DEBUT
Sept. 5, 1972: Fredericksburg native and Va. State baseball/hoop star Al Bumbry made his debut on this day, for the Orioles against the Yankees. He was retired as a pinch-hitter against Lindy McDaniel in a game won by the Yanks at old Memorial Stadium. The starting catcher for the Orioles was Johnny Oates, a Va. Tech product. Bumbry ended his career with 254 steals, fifth among state natives. Tony Womack is first and BJ Upton is second in that category.
Sept. 5, 1970: Pulaski native and Fries High grad Ed Goodson made his debut for the Giants on this day, going 1-for-3 against the Braves. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey pinch-hit for him late in the game. Other Hall of Famers in the game included Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Goodson fanned in his first AB against Mike McQueen.
Sept. 5, 1902: Righty pitcher Buck Hooker, born in Richmond, made his MLB debut on this day for the Reds. He pitched eight innings and allowed 11 hits in his only MLB game of the year. He also pitched one game for the Reds in 1903. He died in Richmond in 1929.
Sept. 5, 1924: Carl Yowell made his debut on this day as a pitcher for Cleveland, against the White Sox. He appeared in 16 games with six starts in two seasons with the team. He is the only native of Madison, Va. to play in the majors. He died in Texas in 1985.
Sept. 5, 1938: Woody Williams made his debut on this day for Brooklyn against St. Louis; the infielder was 0-for-3. He was born in Pamplin and died in 1995 in Appomattox.


VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: RANDY TOMLIN GEM
Sept. 4, 1992: Lefty Randy Tomlin, who grew up in Madison Heights and pitched in college at Liberty, went eight innings and allowed no earned runs on this day for the Pirates against the Dodgers. A few weeks later, he appeared in two games out of the pen in the playoffs against the Braves. A former coach in the minors for Washington, he led LCA to a state baseball title as a coach at the high school level in 2022. Tomlin made his only playoff start in 1991, also against Atlanta. The Pirates scored three runs in the last of the ninth to win 6-5 in that game with the Dodgers in 1992. The Dodgers had scored four runs in the top of the ninth.
Sept. 4, 1971: Righty Jay Franklin made his big-league debut for the Padres on this day against the Braves, allowing no runs in two innings. He had been drafted in early June in the first round out of James Madison High in Vienna. Franklin pitched in three games for the Padres in 1971 - his only time in The Show. He had several personal challenges after his playing career, according to baseballreference.com.
Sept. 4, 1963: Richmond native Gene Alley, an infielder, made his debut with the Pirates on this day. He went to Hermitage High and played in the majors through 1973.
Sept. 4, 1978: Roanoke native Mike Ramsey made his debut on this day for the Cardinals, against the Phillies. He went to high school in Georgia and played in college at Appy State.
Sept. 4, 1926: Norfolk native Mike Smith made his debut on this day for the New York Giants against Boston. He made just four at-bats that year in his only Major League experience. The William & Mary product died in 1981 in Chesapeake and is buried in Norfolk at Riverside Memorial Park.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY: WILLIE ROYSTER
Sept. 3, 1981: Willie Royster, a native of Clarksville in southern Virginia, made his Major League debut on this day with the Baltimore Orioles, against Oakland, at old Memorial Stadium. The catcher went 0-for-2 off the bench in place of starter Rick Dempsey as pitcher Jim Palmer started for the Orioles. The starter for Oakland was Steve McCatty, who later became the pitching coach for the Nationals. The A's won 10-0 as McCatty went the distance. Royster played in just four games and was hitless in four at-bats that season with the Orioles - his only time in The Show. He played at Triple-A in the Detroit system in 1983 to end his playing career.

He was drafted in 1972 out of Spingarn High in Washington, D.C. He was the last product of a D.C. public school to make the majors until infielder Emmanuel Burriss was called up by the Giants in 2008; he played for the Nationals late in his career.
Royster died in 2015 in New Jersey and is buried there.



A SOMBER DAY IN POLAND
Sept. 2, 2023, WARSAW - There were more red and white Polish flags flying from apartment buildings on our block yesterday and today than normal. That is because on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and set into motion the start of World War II. Depending on the source, Poland in its various forms has been invaded dozens if not hundreds of times over the centuries. It's still hard to fathom Poland wasn't on any maps for 123 years, returning early in the 20th century.



VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
Sept. 1, 2010: South Boston native RHP Jeremy Jeffress made his MLB debut with the Brewers. He allowed a hit to the first batter he faced, then got a double play grounder and then retired the third batter of the Reds he faced. He was a first-round draft pick by the Brewers out of high school - one of the few Va. natives to do that. He ended his career with the Washington Nationals.
Sept. 1, 2002: Danville native Tony Womack hits two homers and his key bunt hit in the 9th leads to a key rally as Arizona wins over the Giants.
Sept. 1, 1929: Catcher Cloy Mattox played in his first game in the majors, for Philadelphia against the Washington Senators. He died in 1985 in Danville and is buried in Martinsville, according to baseballreference.com - which also notes he attended Va. Tech. He was born in Leesville.
Sept. 1, 1918: Jim Mallory was born in Lawrenceville. He broke in with the Washington Senators in 1940 and later played for the Giants and Cardinals. The outfielder died in 2001 in North Carolina.
Sept. 1, 1868: Mike O'Rourke was born in Richmond. He pitched in six games in 1890 for Baltimore; he died in Richmond in 1934 and is buried there.

FROM NATIONAL D2 CHAMP TO TOP POLISH HOOP LEAGUE
August 29, 2023
WARSAW - American basketball player Will Yoakum, late last March, scored 31 points and pulled down eight rebounds to help Nova Southeastern University of Florida cap a perfect season to win the Division II national title over West Liberty, his former school. Yoakum, from Delaware, Ohio, started all 36 games and set a school record for points in a season and led the nation in 3-point shooting.

Fast forward a few months and now Yoakum has begun his pro career in the top league in Poland, playing for Gdynia - located along the Baltic Sea in the northern part of the country. "I've wanted to play professional basketball since I can remember," he wrote to me this week. "I was able to play in the NBA summer league with the Chicago Bulls. An experience I will never forget, as I had a short stint with the team I knew it would open many doors for me to play overseas."

He got his undergrad degree in Sport Management and Business Marketing and master's in business marketing. Yoakum, besides a salary, is provided a car and apartment by his team in Poland. "My agent, Duncan Lloyd of Philadelphia, and I were talking back and forth about overseas options for me," the Ohio product added. "He mentioned that a few teams in the first league in Poland were interested. I was not very familiar with the league, but I quickly did some research and found out the league is very strong and well respected. I love the city and can't wait for the season to begin."

The Polish league begins in late September. Yoakum was one of two seniors with Nova Southeastern last season; the other four transferred up to Division I schools. He had never been to Europe until he arrived in Poland earlier this month.

"Yoakum has some good professional potential. His simple offensive repertoire of cuts, curls, spot-ups and an awful lot of transition play is a simple and efficient offensive diet, and although he takes next to no dribbles in traffic, nor really should he with that jumper in tow," according to an article earlier this month at forbes.com, speculating Yoakum has a shot at being a rare Division II player to one day make the NBA. "The defensive end will be what makes or breaks him, as the step-up from where he has been is particularly enormous. Untested against high-level athletes, not one himself, and prone to playing defence more with his hands than his feet, Yoakum will determine his own immediate professional future with how well he can compete on that end against premium physical specimens. The occasional pick-six will be forthcoming, but he needs to show he can stay in front."

He averaged just over 20 points per contest in his last college season. According to eurobasket.com, he is the only American on the Arka roster as of this week.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
August 29, 1989: Buddy Dear died in Radford; born in Norfolk, he attended Va. Tech and played for the Washington Senators in 1927. He played in two games with Washington and was hitless in one at-bat. Reports have him involved with Penn State and VMI as well.
August 29, 1990: Chris Taylor was born in Virginia Beach. The Frank Cox and University of Virginia product has been an All-Star with the Dodgers. He began his career with Seattle.
August 29, 2015: John Hicks, from Goochland High and the University of Virginia, made his MLB debut on this day with Seattle. The catcher also played for Detroit and Texas and last played in the majors in 2021 with the Rangers.


VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY:
August 28: Three baseball coaches from the ODAC 2023 season have birthdays today - Kevin Anderson, Ray Hedrick and Lucas Jones. Anderson, a former coach at JMU, is the head coach at Division III Shenandoah in Winchester. Hedrick, who grew up in Northern Virginia and once worked for the Double A Bowie Baysox, guides the Yellow Jackets of Randolph-Macon in Ashland. Jones led Lynchburg to the Division III national title this past season then stepped down as Travis Beazley, his former pitching coach, has taken over. Beazley pitched at Randolph-Macon and in the minors with the Red Sox. Also today in history:
BASKETBALL COMEBACK FOR XAVIER PRODUCT
August 27, 2023
SOPOT, POLAND - In the last game of his college hoop career, guard Paul Scruggs was injured while playing for Division I Xavier of Ohio on March 20, 2022. His road to recovery has led to Poland, where he arrived on Tuesday to play in the top pro league for Sopot. "I was on physical therapy and rehab and all of that," he said.

He saw action on Saturday in a preseason home match against Dziki of Warsaw near the Baltic Sea. "It's a culture shock," Scruggs, 25, told me as he began his pro career overseas. "I got an offer to come here, and I came here and have just been working hard. Back in America, it is very physical; I am not saying it is not physical here. Here you have to know when to be physical and when not to be physical" in terms of style of play.

The native of Indianapolis, a top high school recruit who played for Prolific Prep of Napa, California as a senior, was an all-Big East player in 2021; Xavier won the NIT title in 2022 weeks after he was injured against Florida. His only previous overseas experience was a trip to Spain with Xavier while in college.

"It's a mind-blowing experience," he said of playing overseas. "It is a blessing, but it also like, wow, I am here now." The Polish league regular season begins in about three weeks. Another American with Sopot is Auston Barnes, who played at Bradley. He did not play Saturday due to a birth in his family. Playing in TBT earlier this year was part of the recovery for Scruggs, who had 1631 career points at Xavier with 510 assists, among the all-time leaders at the school in both categories.

Among the Americans he faced on Saturday was fellow guard Matt Coleman III, who is from Norfolk, Virginia and played in college at Texas for Shaka Smart. Another North American who played for Sopot is Aaron Best, a guard from Canada. Scruggs had eight points and four assists as Xavier won at home over Georgetown by 22 points in March of 2022 - just days before he was injured.

ANOTHER MUSIAL IN SPORTS
August 25, 2023
Stan Musial was born in western Pennsylvania to parents with Polish roots. Stan The Man was a Baseball Hall of Famer with the St. Louis Cardinals who died in 2013. There is at least one pro athlete here in Poland with the surname Musial: that would be Jakub Musial, listed on the roster of pro basketball team in Sopot in the north part of the country. The guard was born in Wroclaw, Poland in 1998.

POLAND-BELARUS BORDER
August 25, 2023
There was a good article in the New York Times earlier this week with on-the-scene reports from northeast Poland, near the border with Belarus. The story came out just hours after the US State Department advised American residents to leave Belarus. Those who rely on the tourism trade in the lake district of northeast Poland told The Times that they fear the news from Belarus will take a toll on businesses. We were at a nice bed-and-breakfast near a lake in northeast Poland in June - it was lovely and we felt totally safe. And I would feel safe there now.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
August 25, 1907: Lefty pitcher Rufus Meadows was born in Chase City. He pitched in just one game for the Reds in 1926; died in Wichita in 1970. Meadows faced just one batter in the majors and got the out; he played 14 years in the minors and is the only Major Leaguer born in Chase City through 2019, according to baseballreference.com.
August 25, 1953: Lefty pitcher Bob Lacey was born in Fredericksburg. He went to high school in Arizona and broke in with the Oakland A's; he led the American League in games pitched with 74 in 1978.
August 25, 1987: Justin Upton was born in Norfolk. He hit 325 career homers, with the last coming in 2022 with Seattle. He is tied with Willie Horton with most career homers by a Virginia native; Horton hit his last with Seattle in 1980.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY:
August 24, 2015: Va. natives David Wright and Mike Cuddyer each hit homers as Mets went deep eight times to crush the Phillies. Another homer for the Mets was hit by Daniel Murphy, who played for Luray in the Valley Baseball League.

AMERICAN HOOPSTERS IN POLAND
August 23, 2023
WARSAW - There are at least three American basketball players on current rosters in Poland with ties to Virginia. One of them is Matt Coleman III, the former player of the year in the state at Oak Hill who is from Norfolk. Another one is Lovell Cabbil, who ended his college career in 2019 at Liberty in Lynchburg. The third player is Stephen Brown, Jr., who is from Mansassas and played in college at Bucknell.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY:
August 23, 2004: Norfolk native David Wright, in his rookie season, hits a homer in a loss to the San Diego Padres. It was the sixth homer in the young career of Wright, a graduate of Hickory High. The third baseman for the Mets made his Major League debut on July 21, 2004, against the Expos. He was 0-for-4 in that game and the first pitcher he faced was John Patterson, who would later play for the Washington Nationals.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY:
August 22, 1945: Righty pitcher Bill Connelly made his Major League debut for the A's. He was born in Alberta, Virginia in 1925 and last played in the majors in 1953; the former Hampden-Sydney student died in Richmond in 1980 at the age of 55. He pitched in 25 games with seven starts and had a nice record of 6-2 - even though his career ERA was 6.92. He also pitched several seasons in the minors. Alberta is a small town in Brunswick County, southwest of Richmond. Connelly is listed on Wikipedia as the only notable person to come from Alberta.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
August 21, 1919: Infielder Woody Williams was born in Pamplin, a small town near the Appomattox and Prince Edward County lines. He broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938 and led the NL in at-bats while with the Reds in 1944. Williams died in 1995 and is buried in his hometown.
August 21, 1994: B.J. Upton was born in Norfolk. A first-round draft pick, he had 164 homers and 300 steals in the majors. He ranks second in steals among Virginia natives back of Tony Womack, who had 363.

FROM VIRGINIA TO POLAND BASKETBALL
August 19, 2023
WARSAW - Matt Coleman III, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, walked gingerly off the basketball court here Saturday night in the northwest corner of the Polish capital. A guard who played two years of high school ball at famed Oak Hill in southwest Virginia, Coleman arrived in Warsaw on Tuesday to join Dziki Warszawa, just a few months after that club won the championship in the second-best pro league in Poland.

Dziki has moved up to the top division - and with it has come an influx of American imports. One of them is Coleman, who told me today he played last season in Greece and Turkey after the point guard ended his college career at Texas in 2021. Dziki had an exhibition match today with Legia, which made a deep playoff run last season in the top league in Poland. Legia prevailed 90-78 over Dziki as Coleman got a chance to learn more about his new teammates as he saw time in both halves.

Coleman played at Maury High in the Tidewater region before ending his prep career at Oak Hill. He has also played as a pro in Canada. Coleman did some stretching with his teammates after the exhibition match and then walked slowly to the dressing room on a night a few dozen lucky fans gained access to the contest between two Warsaw pro teams, with at least three Americans on each club.

Coleman was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia in 2017 while at Oak Hill and was a four-year starter at Texas under Shaka Smart, the former coach at VCU in Richmond. He was with Sacramento in the NBA Summer League in 2021. His brother, Chase, played at the University of Virginia.

ARMED FORCES DAY IN POLAND
August 17, 2023
WARSAW - There was plenty of military fire power on display on the banks of the Vistula River here on Tuesday as Poland marked Armed Forces Day and to celebrate a huge military victory over Russia in 1920 in the Battle of Warsaw.

"The day was first celebrated as a holiday from 1923 to 1947, and then restored as Armed Forces Day in 1992 after decades of Soviet-imposed communism," according to the website (in English) of a Polish radio station.

This week, there were more than 90 airplanes/helicopters, 200 military vehicles and more than 2,000 troops on hand as politicians made speeches on an afternoon when the temperature reached at least 95 degrees in the Polish capital. The holiday comes as Poland, according to published reports, has sent military equipment and personnel near its border with Belarus due to concerns over the Russian military invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

HOOP TIME IN EUROPE
August 14, 2023
It's that time of year/summer again - American basketball players are on planes to Europe. Many of the pro leagues around Europe have started practice, and August is a time when many American men and women get on the jet and head to their next gig. That is certainly the case of Raymond Cowels III, who was born in Chicago, played high school hoops in Minnesota and in college in California at Santa Clara.

It's been 10 years since his college career ended and the 6-foot-3 guard will play this season for Legia in Warsaw, the Polish capital. The team filmed his arrival at the airport a few days ago, as he said hello in Polish and then gave an upbeat view on "unfinished" business in Poland.

Cowels has played all over the place - last season he was with a team in western Hungary and now he is back in Poland, where he played in 2021-22. His team has a friendly match on Saturday against Dziki Warsawa, which won the title last season in the second-best league and moves up a notch for the 2023-24 campaign.

Other Americans listed with Warsaw teams this season include forward Dominic Green, a native of Seattle who played at the University of Washington, and Emmanuel Little, a native of Indiana who played at Nicholls State. They are both with Dziki. Aric Holman, a post player from Mississippi State, returns for Legia.


LITTLE FROG: The 7-11 of Poland
August 13, 2023
WARSAW - Little frog is everywhere here. Actually, it is the Polish word Żabka, the name of a convenience store that is omnipresent all over Poland. Żabka means little frog and according to Wikipedia, there are at least 500 such stores in Warsaw - which has a population of about 1.8 million. There are 9,000 manned and unmanned stores in Poland and others in the Czech Republic.

Żabka is the American answer to 7-11 - only better. The size of Żabka stores is smaller than 7-11s but healthier - sure there are the coffee, milk, egg, and snack food options, but there are also fruits, yogurt, vegetables and pre-made salads, and a few pasta dishes. And the prices are less than those in the USA, but the cost of living is less in Poland as well.

There is a little frog on our street near central Warsaw, one two blocks away and another three blocks away. There are a few other competitors, but none of them have such a footprint over the city or country. Little frog rules in a big way.

HOOPS: FROM ROANOKE TO POLAND
August 9, 2023
WARSAW - Not many American basketball players have written a book about their career overseas. One of them that has is Kevin Owens, a 6-foot-10 post player from New Jersey who stayed in-state to play Division I at Monmouth. He once faced Duke in the first round of the NCAA tourney, then began his pro career in the D-League in Roanoke, Virginia.

After that, he played for a time in Poland, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Kosovo. Owens is upfront about his struggles on and off the court in the book that came out in 2021. "Overseas Famous" is an honest look at the challenges of playing overseas.

BASEBALL CENTRAL IN THE VALLEY
August 6, 2023
HARRISONBURG, Va. - It should be no surprise that a lot of baseball was being played in the central Shenandoah Valley this past weekend. A youth showcase was held at the home of the JMU Dukes while the Harrisonburg Turks, on the same field, claimed the Valley League title on Friday night with a 2-0 sweep over Charlottesville. It was the first title for manager Bob Wease since 2012 and gave the Turks a 13th title - tying Winchester for the all-time lead in the league.

At the same time, the Rockingham County Baseball League playoffs were going strong last week with semifinals series between the Shockers and Clover Hill and another series between Grottoes and Bridgewater. On Wednesday night, both Clover Hill and Bridgewater were at home about seven miles apart in Rockingham County.

The Shockers will meet the Reds in the finals; Bridgewater won the title last year while the Shockers won in 2021. The Reds have won the RCBL title 19 times. The series is slated to begin Tuesday night at Ray Heatwole Field - the home of Turner Ashby High baseball - in Bridgewater.

VIRGINIA TIES IN READING, PA
July 27, 2023
READING, PA - The starting pitcher here tonight for the host Reading Phillies was Mick Abel, a first-round pick in 2020. He once again struggled with command issues; that hasn't been such a big problem for former University of Virginia standout Griff McGarry, who is slated to start here on Friday against Binghamton, a farm team of the Mets. The San Fran native is 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA this year in 12 starts for Reading after dealing with an injury earlier this year. Another member of the Reading staff is David Parkinson, from suburban Richmond and a product of Mills Godwin High.

Reading lost 6-3 on Thursday as Abel's ERA jumped to 4.61.

Former JMU standout Rich Thompson is a native of Reading. He was drafted out of JMU by Toronto and played in 23 games in the Majors with Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

FATHER-SON BASEBALL TOUR
July 26, 2023
HARRISBURG, PA - Among the fans here Tuesday night at City Island were Matt Burns and his father Tom. From the Bay Area in California, Matt is a former journalist who has made baseball trips in the past - one in the Pacific Northwest and one to minor league games in North Carolina. He and his father were here Tuesday to see the Double-A Harrisburg Senators come back and beat the Altoona Curve in the Eastern League. They were in Reading, Pa. tonight after seeing Double-A Bowie and the Washington Nationals earlier in the week. The trip of 20 games will include two stops in Virginia - to see the Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals and the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. They will also take in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

NATIONALS PARK REUNION
July 24, 2023
WASHINGTON - In 2014, the Giants beat the Nationals in the playoffs - and some Washington fans still don't forgive manager Matt Williams for pulling Jordan Zimmermann in the ninth inning in a key game the Nats lost here at Nats Park in the 18th inning. A World Series title, of course, five years later helped Washington fans forget about that 2014 train wreck. The Giants, with Double-A Richmond as a farm team, won the World Series in 2014 - the third title in a stretch of five years under former Manager Bruce Bochy, a former Falls Church resident now with Texas.

These days, both the Nats and Giants are struggling, rebuilding - call it what you want. On Sunday, the Nationals beat San Fran once again to sweep the series. With the trade deadline about a week away, the Nats get to play the role of spoiler the rest of the way. I spoke earlier this week to a member of the Washington front office. "Things will get better," he said. How soon is another question, but there are some bright spots and most of them are in the middle of the field for the Nats at shortstop, second base, catcher and center field.

DIAMOND JEWEL IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA
July 22, 2012
MCLEAN, VIRGINIA - These are heady times for amateur baseball in Northern Virgnia. And no wonder local coaches have big smiles on their faces. A pair of first-round draft picks have recently signed: Bryce Eldridge of James Madison High with the Giants and Jonny Farmelo of Westfield with the Mariners. They most likely will never play here at Capitol One Park, a $10 million gem near Tysons Corner just a foul ball from the Beltway and under the Metro that leads to Dulles Airport.

I was here Tuesday night with friend and co-author Lacy Lusk to see parts of both games in The Potomac League, a summer circuit for college players - most with roots in the area. Most of the players are from Division III schools, but there were players from William & Mary, Davidson, JMU and Grambling in the lineups on Tuesday. The playoffs start in a few days so be sure and get to a game. There is a chance in the fall that the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia could play a game here, according to sources.

Today, on a warm but pleasant afternoon, the second game of the day began around 12:45 p.m. Saturday. In the first game, the Chili Dogs lost but they have been one of the top teams in the league this summer. The head of that program is coach Pudge Gjormand, who this spring led James Madison High of Vienna to another state title.

Both of his sons, Josh and Trevor, are playing in The Potomac League. Josh was part of a national title team at Lynchburg this spring while Trevor was a senior at James Madison High and will head to EMU in the fall in Harrisonburg. His daughter, Sam, is part of the coaching staff at The College of Charleston in South Carolina.

There are several other players from the EMU program in The Potomac League, including Fairfax High products Jason Dwyer and Erik Wilkinson, whose father is a veteran youth coach in the area. The elder Gjormand was on hand today before taking off to Italy for another trip with MVP International.
Here is the website for the Potomac League:
https://www.potomacleague.org/

VIRGINIA BASEBALL: GLORY DAYS
July 14, 2023
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - The last two years have been memorable for amateur baseball in Virginia. Last year Va. Tech made the Super Regional. This year, Virginia made the College World Series again while Lynchburg of the ODAC won the Division III national title. This week, six of the top 60 players taken in the draft were from Virginia schools - and for the second year in a row there were two Va. players taken in the first round. Overall, 20 players from state schools were selected in the 20 rounds. And it is not just the Power 5 schools that made the state proud. Players taken in the MLB draft came from Virginia, Va. Tech, JMU, ODU, William & Mary, Liberty and even Division III Randolph Macon, another ODAC power. High schools that saw players selected were from James Madison, Westfield, Colonial Forge, Ocean Lakes and Freedom.

Norfolk Catholic grad and former minor league player Billy Swoope, the former coach at Va. Wesleyan, has been a long-time scout for the Chicago Cubs and once again the draft had state ties to Wrigley field. The Cubs took pitcher Sam Armstrong out of ODU in the 13th round while outfielder Zyhir Hope of Colonial Forge went in the 11th round. For good measure, just across the river, the Cubs took Matt Shaw out of the University of Maryland in the first round. The new coach for Maryland is Matt Swope and his new pitching coach is Jimmy Jackson, who had been at JMU. Two former pitchers for the Dukes under Jackson have made MLB debuts this year - Roanoke native Nick Robertston (Franklin County High) with the Dodgers and Springfield's Kevin Kelly (Paul VI in Fairfax County) with the Rays here in Tampa Bay.

Seattle also has a strong Virginia presence. The Mariners took three players from the state in the draft this year: Jonny Farmelo out of Westfield in the first round, William & Mary infielder Ben Williamson with pick 57, and outfielder Carson Jones in the 15th from the Hokies. The Mariners took Nick Zona out of JMU last year in the 20th round while VCU slugger Tyler Locklear went in the second round to the M's. And the all-time MLB home run leaders from Virginia both ended their careers with Seattle: Willie Horton in 1980 and Justin Upton, most likely, last year. Both hit HR 325 with Seattle. Harrisonburg native Cal Raleigh is currently a catcher with the M's. Former JMU infielder Rob Mummau has been a long-time scout for Seattle and is based here in Florida.

CITY STREET IN WARSAW
July 12, 2023
WARSAW - The city street we live on near downtown Warsaw was the scene of bloody fighting with the Nazis in 1944 - as a marker reminds us on a building just outside of our front door. These days, on one-way street two blocks from the Vistula River, the main noises are the sounds of young children playing, the daily pickup of trash and recycled products (one for each weekday) and 20-somethings heading to drinking spots along the river on nice summer nights. It is peaceful, though tensions remain to the east - the border with Ukraine is about 100 miles away and the city of Brest, Belarus is less than three hours by car. The world is not peaceful in parts of Eastern Europe, though our slice of a Warsaw is, thankfully.

VIRGINIA BASEBALL BONANZA
July 10, 2023
Last year, state of Virginia schools had two of the first 16 picks in the MLB draft as Gavin Cross of Va. Tech and Chase DeLauter of JMU went to the Royals and Cleveland, respectively. The state did even better this year, as Bryce Eldridge of James Madison High, Kyle Teel of the University of Virginia and Jonny Farmelo of Westfield High all went in the first 29 picks: Teel to the Red Sox, Eldridge to the Giants and Farmelo to Seattle. In 2005, the state also had two high school players taken in the first round: Justin Upton was the top pick while Brandon Snyder, another Westfield High alum, went 13th overall to the Orioles. Seattle also picked a state player last year, as Nick Zona of JMU went in the 20th round to the Mariners. In 1996, McLean High grad Seth Greisinger was the sixth pick overall out of the University of Virginia while infielder Matt Halloran of Chancellor High was taken in the first round by San Diego. Greisinger made the majors - Halloran never got beyond Double-A in the Texas system. Eldridge is the highest pick straight out of Madison High since pitcher Jay Franklin went No. 2 overall to the Padres in 1971.

ON THE BORDER
July 6, 2023
PRZEMYSL, POLAND - Przemysl is a small town in southeast Poland. But the train station here has seen a lot of action in the past 17 months/500 days since the border with Ukraine is just about 10 miles to the east. There have been displaced people from the war in Ukraine streaming through Przemysl as they make their way west. This city is home to about 50,000 people and has seen its fair share of notable politicians, such as President Biden, come through on the way to Ukraine in the past few months. Our young waitress spoke very good English at a nice restaurant in town and she noted some of the elected folks who have been through town of late; we picked up the voice of a fellow patron who was also from the USA on the Sunday night we ate there.

CATCHING ON IN VIRGINIA
July 5, 2023
Our book on Virginia baseball featured chapters on several Major League catchers, including Johnny Oates, Larry Haney and Alan Knicely. Going further, Virginia has had several catchers in the big leagues since at least the late 1950s. Here are some of them:
*John Hicks (2015-21) - The Goochland High product also starred at Virginia.
*Erik Kratz (2010-20 in majors) - A native of Pennsylvania, he played at EMU and in the Valley Baseball League for Harrisonburg and Waynesboro.
*Brandon Inge (2001-13) - From Lynchburg, he was used as a catcher in 2004 and 2008 but played mostly infield while with the Tigers.
*Chris Widger (1995-2006) - From New Jersey, the George Mason product has been a minor league manager.
*Todd Hundley (1990-2003) - Like his father, he was born in Martinsville and also spent some time with the Cubs.
*Mike Hubbard (1995-2001) - The JMU product is from Lynchburg.
*Bruce Benedict (1975-89) - He played in the Valley League and was a coach with the Norfolk Tides while working in the Mets system in 1996.
*Andy Allanson (1986-95) - The Richmond native broke in with Cleveland.
*Alan Knicley (1979-86) - The Harrisonburg native was the first big leaguer from Turner Ashby High.
*Kirt Manwaring (1987-93) - The New York native played in the Valley League while at Coastal Carolina.
*Jim McNamara (1992-93) - The James Madison High grad played in the Valley League.
*Alan Knicley (1979-86) - The Harrisonburg native was the first big leaguer from Turner Ashby High.
*Ron Hodges (1973-84) - The Rocky Mount native played for Harrisonburg in the Valley League and spent his MLB career with the Mets.
*Steve Swisher (1974-1982) - From Parkersburg, West Virginia, he also played in the Valley League.
*Bill Hayes (1980-81) - The Maryland native also played for the Turks in the Valley League.
*Johnny Oates (1970-81) - Born in North Carolina, he was Hall of Famer at Va. Tech and also played in the Valley League.
*Willie Royster (1981) - The native of Clarksville played one year for the Orioles.
*Larry Haney (1966-78) - The Charlottesville native grew up in Orange County and broke in with the Orioles.
*Randy Hundley (1964-77) - The Martinsville native is the only one on this list who was an All-Star as a catcher in the majors.
*Charlie Sands (1967-75) - He was born in Newport News, drafted by the Orioles, broke in with the Yankees and also played with the Pirates, Angels and A's. He died in Florida in 2016.
*Jerry May (1964-73) - The Staunton native died on June 30, 1996, in a farm accident in Augusta County. He broke into the majors with the Pirates and also played for the Royals and Mets.
*J.C. Martin (1959-72) - He born in Axton, just north of the North Carolina border.
That means at least one Virginia native/catcher or college product of the state has been in the majors every year since 1959, starting with Martin and through Kratz in 2020 and Hicks in 2021. Only missing years, it appears, are 2007 and 2009 since Inge didn't see action those years back of the dish. But if you want to call Inge a catcher for all of his career, that gives the state a backstop every year from 1959 through 2021. Feel to drop me an email if I am missing something or have something wrong. Would love to know of any Virginia catcher in the majors in 2022 or 2023 or before 1959. And who is the best catcher to come out of the Tidewater region? And if we included the minor leagues, this list would grow with ties to the Giants in Richmond, the Braves in Richmond, the Mets in Tidewater and the Orioles in Norfolk - can you say Adley?

GEOGRAPHY AND POLITICS
June 29, 2023
WARSAW - Tim Marshall is a brilliant writer. And the Brit has covered conflicts in many parts of the world. He used that knowledge to write "The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future Of Our World." The book came out in 2021 and he focuses on 10 countries/regions and the last one is space. The west European countries that get entire chapters are England and Spain, with Greece and Turkey also getting a chapter each. He does a great job of explaining how geography can work for and against several countries. For example, if a country is landlocked (such as Ethiopia) it is hard to invade - but also hard for that country to get export supplies.

THE POLISH OFFICER
June 28, 2023
WARSAW - There are only a few novels I have read twice, and they are some of the classics. One is "The Great Gatsby" and another is "A Summons to Memphis," which won Peter Taylor the Pulitzer (Hungarian, by the way) Prize in 1987. The most recent book that I have read more than once is the novel "The Polish Officer," by Alan Furst, the king of the Cold War era genre. He has written other books with the same theme, but changes the countries, lead character, etc.

In "The Polish Officer," the main character gets out of Warsaw just before the Nazis arrive and then lands in one European country after another, cheating death and aiding the resistance along the way. This time I read it while in Poland, which bright it to life in a new way as the first few chapters are set not far from our current neighborhood in Warsaw.

FROM POLAND TO CHICAGO
June 27, 2023
GDYNIA, POLAND - This industrial city in northern Poland is part of the Tri-City region, along with large and historic Gdansk and tourist-mecca Sopot, with a nice pier that rivals the one in Santa Monica. But Gdynia has something the other two cities don't - The Museum of Emigration, right along the water near a major industrial port. The museum is detailed and charts the path of those that have left Poland the past several hundred years, including those forced to do so during World War II.

As many people know, Chicago has the largest number of Poles of any city except for Warsaw. Chicago is featured in the museum, as well as notable Polish Americans. That includes Hall of Fame baseball player Stan Musial, whose father was a Polish immigrant who settled in western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is also noted in the museum, which notes nearly 10 percent of that city claims people with Polish roots.

Hollywood stars Ted Knight, who passed away in 1986, and Stefanie Powers are included in a video shot in California about actors with Polish roots. Both of them had parents from Poland.

THE BALTIC SEA
June 26, 2023
SOPOT, POLAND - Many schools let out for the year on Friday in Warsaw. So it seems like hundreds of Polish teenagers were on the train Saturday to the Baltic Sea coast, a trip of about four hours if you are on the slow train, which we were. Sopot is a tourist spot for many Polish people, but we have heard a few American accents plus Europeans speaking English. A large track and field event is taking place this week in Poland and Sopot is one of the venues. There was an outdoor pole vault exhibition Saturday near the boardwalk here and many tourists lined up to watch.

POLAND TO ORIOLES
June 23, 2023
WARSAW - Moe Drabowsky is one of four natives of Poland to play in the Major Leagues. Of the four, he is the only to play two seasons and the only one to appear in a World Series. The right-hander came out of the bullpen to win Game 1 of the 1966 World Series for the Orioles against the Dodgers. Baltimore swept LA 4-0.

It was 60 years ago, on June 23, 1963, that Drabowsky was the starting pitcher for Kansas City in a home game with Detroit. He was charged with the loss despite giving up just two earned runs in 6.1 innings of work. A native of a small village in southeast Poland, Drabowsky was also part of the 1970 Orioles who also won a World Series. He pitched in two games in that World Series for a total of 3.1 innings.

STAN MUSIAL, POLISH ROOTS
June 22, 2023
WARSAW - It has been 10 years since Stan Musial passed away. And it has been 60 years since the Hall of Fame outfielder last played in the Major Leagues. The son of a Polish immigrant father, Musial was born in Donora, Pa. in 1920. He broke into the majors in 1941 and played for the Cardinals through the 1963 season. Musial is one of several baseball stars honored in the Polish American Sports Hall of Fame, based in Michigan. Musial and Ken Griffey, Jr. both share the same birthdate - November 21 - and the same birthplace.

ULTIMATE FRISBEE
June 17, 2023
WARSAW - A drive of about 65 minutes south of downtown Warsaw will take you to a center for refugees, where citizens from several countries live. This includes men, women, and children. Some are from Ukraine, yes, but not all of them - there are others from other border countries in Eastern Europe. I went to the center today with another organization that is trying to aid these refugees by helping them find jobs and a permanent place to live. This organization has a group of volunteers that show up on Saturday mornings and one focus is to play sports with the refugees. We had a spirited game of ultimate frisbee today with volunteers and refugees representing nearly 10 countries.

AMERICAN FOOTBALL IN POLAND
June 11, 2023
WARSAW - Yes, it does exist. There is a league for American football in Poland with just a few Americans on most teams. The rest of the rosters are made up mostly of those from Poland - many of them surely played soccer when they were younger.

One of the few Americans with a team in Poland is Torrin Campbell, who is from Toledo, Ohio. He is a former quarterback at the college level at Shaw in North Carolina and before that at Kentucky State.

His team, the Warsaw Mets (yes, Mets), had a game on Sunday afternoon here in Warsaw and his play-making ability, both in the air and on the ground, paced his team to a 55-25 win over the Lakers - yes, Lakers - of Olsztyn, a city in northern Poland.

With Campbell back of center, the Mets scored three early touchdowns before a crowd of a couple of hundred fans. The game was played on a soccer pitch at a sports complex in the northwest part of Warsaw. The Mets are 4-1 this season - which lasts until July - while the Lakers fell to 0-5. There are Americans on the coaching staff of both teams.

FROM OKLAHOMA TO POLAND
June 3, 2023
WARSAW - Kyle Foster ended his college baseball career last year at East Central University in his native Oklahoma. But he didn't want that to be the very end of his playing career - so he checked out baseballjobsoverseas.com.

"Annually our players and coaches sign over 300 contracts around the world. There are a variety of levels overseas that present opportunities for both college graduates and established professionals," according to that website.

Foster, from the tiny town of Rush Springs, is part of that global reach. Baseball Jobs Overseas helped him land a spot with an adult baseball league in Poland and his team is based in the northern part of the country, near the Baltic Sea.

Between games of a doubleheader near Warsaw on Saturday, he told me his team plays in a Polish league and also in a Baltic league. Games are played on the weekend and his Polish teammates, most of them in their 20s, have jobs during the week. Foster said many of them didn't begin playing baseball until their late teens or early 20s.

Foster is the only American on his team though at least one teammate has spent time in the USA. There is very little time for practice, so Foster has been writing about experiences when is not at practice or games. He started at first base in both games of a doubleheader on the road against the Warsaw Dragons. The right-handed hitter, who has pitched some this spring, had several run-scoring hits and made a nice scoop of a ball in the grass (the field is normally used for soccer) as his team won by scores of 21-4 and 12-1.

Foster is slated to return to Oklahoma in July and hopes to put his degree in Mass Communications to use; there is also the chance, perhaps, to be an assistant high school football coach.

LITHUANIA: SMALL WORLD IN TOURISM
May 29, 2023
KLAIPEDA, LITHUANIA - At 11 a.m. this morning, my wife and I were sitting in a cafe in the capital of Vilnius. There was a family of four next to us speaking Spanish, with a couple about our age and another couple about the age of our daughters.

We left soon after for a drive west to visit one of our MCC colleagues. We made a stop at a beautiful tourist spot with a castle from the 1400s situated in the middle of a lake in central Lithuania.

We then finished the drive to here in Klaipeda - about 3.5 hours west of the capital - and quickly checked into our hotel. With only a few minutes before our scheduled time to meet our colleague, we quickly walked down the streets of Klaipeda - and walked right past the four Spanish-speaking tourists we saw in the cafe earlier this morning about 180 miles away.

It was a total coincidence - and don't think they recognized us.

PS And the next morning, Tuesday, we ran into the same family at another coffee shop, this time in Klaipeda.

TRANQUIL SLICE OF RURAL POLAND
May 27, 2023
AUGUSTOW, POLAND - In this slice of rural northeast Poland, just a few miles from the border of Belarus to the east, Lithuania to the north, and a sliver of Russia to the northwest, the early-morning quiet is punctuated by birds chirping.

This is the Lake District of Poland, about three hours northeast of Warsaw by car. A beautiful canal runs through Augustow, and we found a very nice bed and breakfast north of the town for Friday night.

There were about 10 rooms and most of the other guests were from Poland, though there was a family from Austria. We had a wonderful meal Friday night at the restaurant on site and breakfast as well on Saturday morning - while it appeared the staff was getting ready to host a wedding. (There is a lot that we miss since our Polish is very limited). After checking out, we hiked a few miles at a nearby national park and enjoyed seeing several small lakes, one filled with thousands of tadpoles.

FROM VIRGINIA TO POLAND
May 25, 2023
WARSAW - Since leaving Blacksburg, former Virginia Tech basketball standout Justin Bibbs has played in the G-League, had 10-day contracts with the Celtics and Clippers, and made his first trip overseas to New Zealand to continue his hoop career.

Now the product of Dayton, Ohio is in the championship round of the top men's league in Poland. But that doesn't make things easier for Bibbs. "It takes a lot to get used to - the language, the culture. This is my second year (in Poland) and I still don't know Polish," Bibbs, 27, told me tonight.

Bibbs helped his team, Slask in southwestern Poland, post the best record in regular-season play. His team won the first two games of the semifinals series against Legia, but the team from Warsaw staved off elimination with a 78-55 win here on Thursday. (Note: corrected from earlier where I wrote finals). Slask won the series 3-1, then Slask lost 4-2 in the title series to King.

After the first quarter, Bibbs and Slask trailed 30-8. They spent the rest of the night trying to make it close, but Legia and its rabid home fans were too much to overcome. "We should feel embarrassed as a team," Jeremiah Martin, a teammate with Bibbs, said after the game in the Polish capital. "They protected the homecourt like we did" in the first two games of the best-of-five series.

Bibbs played in Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia after his college career; he is the nephew of football Hall of Famer Mike Haynes. Bibbs played in high school in Florida and ended his Va. Tech career in 2018.

Martin, a guard, played in college for his hometown Memphis. His college career ended in 2019 and since then his pro stops have included Germany.

HOOP TITLE IN POLAND
May 21, 2023
WARSAW - Last spring, Marcus Azor wound up his college basketball career by scoring a team-best 17.5 points per game as he started all 31 contests for Division III UMass-Dartmouth.

His team was 26-5 and ended the season with a loss in Virginia to host Randolph-Macon, which went on to win the Division III national title. Nearly one year later, Azor of Brockton, Mass., ended his first year as a pro hoopster by helping his team win the title in Liga 1 in the second-best league in Poland. Playing at home on Saturday night, Dziki of Warsaw beat Gornik of southwest Poland 66-62 to sweep the series 3-0.

"It feels great," said 6-foot-2 guard Azor, standing on the court during the post-game celebration in the northwest corner of Warsaw. "I can't describe how I am feeling right now. My first year (as a pro) to win a championship, it is amazing. I just want to be a sign to all of the D3 hoopers back home to just keep working and make your dreams come true."

The title was even more special as his brother and sister surprised him by attending the game. They arrived in Warsaw around 1 a.m. Saturday after a flight from Boston via London.

His sister had been in Poland earlier in the season it was the first trip for his brother, Irving. Azor came off the bench Saturday and made a big 3-pointer in the second quarter as Gornik trimmed a large lead by the Razorbacks. A few minutes later, Azor made a layup to stave off the rally by the visitors.

He had seven points, two rebounds, and one assist while Arinze Chidom, the only American for Gornik, had nine points and 10 rebounds. He played in college at Cal-Riverside and is from the Oakland area.

A TRIP TO JORDAN
May 18, 2023
WADI RUM, JORDAN - The Arabian desert of Wadi Rum in the southern part of Jordan is easily the most amazing landscape I have ever seen. No, it's not in Europe, but some recent work meetings in the Middle East allowed my wife and me the opportunity to spend two nights under the stars in a modern tent that protected us from the wind and some 85-degree days.

We had a wonderful local guide who took four of us Americans in his pickup truck for a pair of three-hour trips between mountains that are out of this world. Our last session one evening this week ended as we watched the sunset while our guide brought us local tea he warmed up with a small fire with very little growing in an area frequented by camels and their handlers.

Wadi Rum was one of the places used in the filming in 1961-62 of "Lawrence of Arabia," considered one of the greatest movies of all time. More recently, the desert landscape - with Saudia Arabia just a few miles away to the east and south - was also a backdrop for "The Martian," which starred Matt Damon.

Also on our trip to Jordan, we swam in the Dead Sea and saw the ancient city of Petra, one sight used for the filming of the movie "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade." You can google "Movies filmed in Jordan" and find at least 10 of them. We stayed at the Wadi Rum Quiet Village Camp for two nights and it was wonderful as we mingled among other guests - a few from the USA and most from Western Europe - and looked at the stars. Interesting that a flight path from northwest to southeast had jets going over our heads at night - about 30,000 feet up and they could barely be heard, with no other sounds in the land.

SHENANDOAH POEM
I wrote this 30 years ago and never let anyone else see it - until now:
There may be taller mountains,
there may be larger trees.
But take me home to the Shenandoah,
take me back, Lord, one time, please.

Towns roll on like rivers,
with names like Woodstock, Staunton, and Rawley Springs.
Take me home to the Shenandoah,
take me back, Lord, one time, please.

Sometimes people are called sheltered,
and maybe even small.
But isn't there a place to call home for one and all?

Sure, there are higher mountains
and there are taller trees
But take me home to the Shenandoah,
Take me back, Lord, one time more, please.

SPRING IN POLAND
April 30, 2023
WARSAW - The weather has been great this weekend in the Polish capital - and it was a good weekend for sports. My wife and I attended our first big Polish league football/soccer match, with host Legia winning 1-0 at home Friday night. We sat near our new English friend, who has season tickets, and he introduced us to his friends from France and California, as well as Warsaw, who are also fans of Legia. The French fan still doesn't understand why Americans changed the name of his favorite game from football to soccer.

On Saturday, we were able to catch a playoff basketball game in the second-best men's league in Poland. A new rule this year allows one foreigner per team (in the past none were allowed) and each team has an American. Marcus Azor, from Brockton, Mass. and D3 UMass-Dartmouth, had seven points and seven assists to lead host Dziki to a comeback 80-74 win over Radom, which was paced by Kaheem Ransom with 21 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Ransom is from Wichita and played at Sam Houston State.

To cap the weekend, we did a hike of about six miles today with an American friend. She told us about a national park northwest of downtown Warsaw and we were able to get there via the metro and a bus ride of about 20 minutes. There are several trials and this area of Poland is very flat, so it was a fairly easy hike.

POLISH BASEBALL: COMEDIAN MOE
April 27, 2023
WARSAW - The National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in Troy, Michigan, according to its website, honors athletes of Polish descent. Baseball players who have been recognized include former Major League stars such as Stan Musial, Phil Niekro, Bill Mazerowski, and Carl Yastrzemski.
All of them are in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown - but none of them were born in Poland. The only four MLB players born in Poland were pitcher Moe Drabowsky (who played 1956-72), outfielder Nap Kloza (1931-32), third baseman Henry Peploski (1929), and infielder Johnny Reder (1932). Skel Roach, who played in one Major League game, was born in Gdansk when it was part of Germany - the city is now in Poland, on the northern Baltic coast.
Drabowsky, by far, was the best of the four natives. He was one of the first pitchers to be effective solely out of the bullpen, and he won 88 games with 54 saves. The native of Ozanna, Poland had the biggest moment of his career in Game 1 of the 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles against the Dodgers. He came on in the third inning for struggling starter Dave McNally; Moe struck out 11 batters to set a World Series mark for relievers, the Orioles won the game and swept the series.
Drabowsky also played for the Orioles in 1970, when the Birds again won the Fall Classic. He was a coach after his playing career and in 1987, along with Musial, he put on a baseball clinic in Kutno, not far from his birthplace. Drabowsky was inducted into the Polish-American Hall in Michigan in 1999.
“We lived on a farm,” Moe recalled in a 1966 interview, according to the Society of American Baseball Research. “I remember a stream I fished in. I remember a barn and some of the animals.”
One of his best pranks came with the Orioles in 1966.
"During this season, Moe pulled off one of his best-known pranks. On May 27, in the second inning of a game against his former teammates in Kansas City, Drabowsky called the Athletics bullpen, imitated KC manager Alvin Dark, and ordered that Lew Krausse begin warming up. A few minutes later, Drabowsky called again and ordered Krausse to sit down again. Finally, on the third call, Drabowsky’s voice was recognized," according to SABR.
He was born in 1935 and as Hitler began to annex Poland, his family left in 1938 and they eventually settled in Connecticut. Drabowsky died in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2006.
Here is my all-Polish roots team:
Outfield: Stan Musial, Greg Luzinski, Carl Yastrzemski
Infield: Ted Kluszewski, Tony Kubek, Bill Mazeroski, Whitey Kurowski
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
Pitchers: Phil and Joe Niekro, Ron Perranoski, Moe Drabowsky, Mark Gubicza

AMERICAN TV, POLISH TIES
April 25, 2023
Actor George Peppard, who later starred on The A-Team, played the lead role in "Banacek," a USA TV series that lasted just from 1972-74. The Peppard character in Banacek was a Polish-American free-lance investigator who took on cases in the Boston area, usually for insurance companies. It was a rare mystery series in the 1970s that didn't involve murder on a weekly basis.

One feature of the show was Polish proverbs, which the Peppard character delivered at just the right time with just the right touch. Actor Murray Matheson, who also appeared in Perry Mason, Banacek, and many other shows, died on this day in 1985 in California at the age of 72; he was born in Australia. Another regular on Banacek was Christine Belford, who was born on Long Island and went to college at Hofstra.

OAKLAND TO POLAND
April 22, 2023
WARSAW - Arinze Chidom stood just outside the hallway leading to the dressing room at a basketball arena here Thursday night, having just scored 14 points as his team clinched a first-round playoff series win over host Polonia. A 6-foot-9 forward from Oakland, Chidom played in college at Washington State and UC Riverside after a prep career at Bishop O'Dowd in his hometown. After trying to catch on with the G-League, he began his pro career earlier this season in Eastern Europe. "I didn't even know where Poland was," he told me. Despite challenges on and off the court, the California native was named MVP in the second-best league in Poland. He is averaging about 15 points and 7 rebounds per game as his team, based in southwest Poland near the Czech border, will advance to the next round of the playoffs as the top seed.

SOMBER DAY IN WARSAW
April 19, 2023
WARSAW - There were many people wearing yellow daffodils on the streets and in the Metro today in and around Warsaw. It was the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, as the Jewish community took up arms against German occupiers on this day in 1943. Leaders of Poland, Germany, and Israel were on hand in Warsaw while, according to reports, 450,000 paper daffodils were handed out by volunteers in several cities across Poland. When we first moved to Warsaw a few weeks ago, our apartment was just a block from one of the last standing pieces of the Ghetto wall near the main train station.

THE PRIDE OF PARMA
April 17, 2023
PARMA, ITALY - Parma, a city of about 322,000 people in northern Italy, claims composer Verdi has one of its own. He grew up about 20 miles from the city, was known for his operas and he died in 1901. The city is also known for its architecture, art, and culinary skills - a lunch here today confirmed that a little off the tourist track. I had a wonderful insalata di Pollo (chicken salad) while Liz had some of the famous pasta known well in the region.

But Parma is also home to fact and fiction in the sports world. It was the setting for "Playing For Pizza," a novel by American bestseller John Grisham that came out in 2007. The storyline is of an American football quarterback who can't get a job in the NFL and is forced to head to Italy to play for a team there.

Parma, a true story, is home to one of the top baseball clubs and stadiums in the country. Parma and nearby Bologna host many top baseball games for the Italian national team, and Italy will be in a pool with England in the Euro championships in the Czech Republic in late September. We saw one smaller baseball field on our trip here today - the biggest one in Parma is named after Ned Cavalli. It can hold about 3,000 fans and it opened in 2009. Not sure if Ned is related to Cade Cavalli, the pitcher for the Washington Nationals.

BASKETBALL IN BOLOGNA
April 16, 2023
BOLOGNA, ITALY - The highlight of our quick trip to northern Italy was the hike up several hundred feet to a Basilica in the hills north of the city. Once there, the view of 360 degrees was stunning - including a look to the north and some snow-capped mountains in the direction of Austria. During a break, we watched an elderly couple walk out of their mansion (which made me think of Beverly Hillbillies) and wait for a taxi. One could imagine the husband was once a famous movie producer or something, or maybe his wife was a screen star.

The hills were just north of the Bologna football stadium, home of a club that was founded in 1909. Also on the trip, we saw Virtus play a home men's basketball game at a temporary arena that sits about 9700. The home team won with several former USA college stars, including Daniel Hackett. The visiting team included Darion Atkins, who is from Maryland and was the Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC while at the University of Virginia. Hackett played at the University of Southern California.

If the NBA is the Major Leagues (it is), I would rate Italy's Serie league at the Triple-A level. It was high-level basketball with some passionate fans who watched the action on the court and not on their phones.

GOOD READING WEATHER
April 14, 2023
WARSAW - The long Polish winters do have an upside: the chance to be indoors and do some serious reading. Here are some of the books I was able to finish in the past few weeks:
* "Ukraine: What Everyone Needs To Know," by Serhy Yekelchyk, Professor of History and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria; came out before Feb. 24, 2022, but it was like he had a crystal ball for what could - and did - happen.
* "The Essential Guide To Being Polish: 50 Facts and Facets of Nationhood," written by two women born in Poland, raised in the USA, and moved back to Poland as working professional adults.
* "The Terra-Cotta Dog," a murder mystery, the best kind, set in Italy. Think Peter Sellers but with an Italian accent.
* "Death at La Fenice," a murder mystery, also set in Italy, but by a different author - Donna Leon. A German conductor dies during intermission and his Hungarian wife - I hate when this happens - is a prime suspect.
* "Lessons From the Edge: A Memoir," by Marie Yovanovitch, the former US Ambassador to Ukraine; a fascinating read, no matter your political bent - my first look into the world of the State Department from someone that lived it in several countries.
* "In War Time: Stories From Ukraine," by Tim Judah; he was there in 2014 and 2015.
* "Hotel Pastis," by Peter Mayle; the novel has autobiographical elements as the lead character is a British guy who gives up the riches of a high-intensity PR firm in England to buy a hotel in the south of France. He didn't count on a muck-racking journalist and some second-rate robbers to be among his potential clients.
*My Mercedes Is (Not) For Sale," by Jeroen Van Bergeijk; a Dutch writer who drives his car from Europe through several countries on the west coast of Africa, looking for the right price before he looks to sell it.
*The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham; life, death, and relationships, both traditional and non, in a novel set in the sometimes trendy world of early 21st century Brooklyn, with the supernatural, drugs, and Manhattan never too far from the surface.
* "Give Unto Others," by Donna Leon. The 31st in the series of the Brunetti Mysteries set in Venice, Italy; Leon comes through again - one of the best series of its kind ever, per sources, and she makes a mystery work without a dead body. Was it personal or professional? Brunetti takes on a case from a childhood friend that ends up with corruption and some injured animals - and hurt family feelings.
* "Hot Money," another classic by Dick Francis. The former British jockey became one of the best novelists in his genre, and this mystery includes a rich man who had been married five times and has plenty of family issues to deal with - along with murder attempts.
* "The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared," by Jonas Jonasson. The title says it all, I think. Took me less than 72 hours to read this novel of 385 pages - one of the funniest books I ever read.
* "The Polish Officer," by Alan Furst, the best of the Cold War era novelists.
* "The Power of Geography," by Tim Marshall. A great look at how geography can work for and against countries - a plus can be protection while a downside is the challenge of getting products to ocean passages for export.
*"The Wounded Healer," by Henri Nouwen. A classic doesn't have to be complicated and this one is not - great advice to anyone who wants to try and make a small difference in this world.
*"The Little Book of Trauma Healing."
*"Friends In High Places," by Donna Leon. She is such a great mystery writer, with her stories set in Venice and the likeable police commissioner Guido Brunetti as the main character each time. This time a home inspector makes an appearance at the apartment of Guido, who fears he may lose the flat due to lost paperwork. But that visit later takes on greater meaning for Guido, with a string of bodies left before he solves what happens.
"A Question of Belief," by Donna Leon. The mother of an associate appears to be wasting her money by paying for fortune tellers. That leads our hero Brunetti on a chase which shows some judges appear to delay trials in Venice. A murder, of course, happens and ties the main plots together - but not before a vacation in the cooler mountains with his family for the inspector is mostly ruined.
"Murder She Wrote," one of several in the series inspired by the TV show. That one is also set in Cabot Cove and revolves around a Halloween party murder - one year after another unfortunate event in the tiny Maine town.
"Chopin in Paris," by Ted Szluc; there are many books out there on Chopin, from what I hear. This one focuses on the years after Chopin left his native Poland for France, and also doesn't get into the inside baseball details of music. This book focuses on his life and relationships with many people, some of them famous, during his years of exile in Paris and Nohant, the region in Berry, and his relationship with George Sand - perhaps the most famous woman in France in the 1830s.
"Pilgrim Paths to Assisi: 300 miles on the Way of Saint Francis," by Russ Eanes of Harrisonburg. In his second book on hiking as a pilgrim, Eanes breaks down his 300 miles into three sections. In our frantic, frantic world, Eanes shows us the value of slowing down and the spiritual gains by seeing things from the ground instead of a car, plane, or train. His journey takes us around central Italy and the very paths St. Francis walked centuries ago.
"A Winter in Majorca," by George Sand - she didn't have many nice things to say about the place from her trip around 1830. And she didn't once mention by name a notable person who was part of her travel group - Chopin, the composer from Poland. But she is a very good travel writer and makes the mundane seem important. But she was really mad the natives didn't sell them any food.
"So Shall You Reap," by Donna Leon. One of the latest in the series from the master, the Inspector goes back to his college days to explore radical writing that may have led to the death of a gardner in Venice who came from Sri Lanka.
"Assault and Beret," by Jenn McKinlay. A lot of people love this series - good for them. They say a writer should show and not tell. This one tells - Leon shows, and the latter is preferred.
"Tulipomania," by Mike Dash. Who would have thought a flower would have brought so much craziness to Holland in the 1600s - and driven rulers in Turkish to flights of fancy for centuries?
"A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian," by Marina Lewycka. A story of two sisters with Ukrainian roots who grew up in 1970s England, and then have to deal with their father after he remarries (to a much younger woman) after the death of their mother. A funny and serious book at the same time.