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.
Sept. 3, 2016: Pitcher Joe Mantiply of Dry Fork High and Va. Tech made his MLB debut on this day, pitching for Detroit against the Royals. The Danville native was an All-Star last season with Arizona.
Sept. 3, 2019: Ryan McBroom, a native of Fredericksburg, made his debut on this day for the Royals. He last played in the majors in 2021; he played in college at West Virginia.
Sept. 3, 1997: Carter Kieboom was born in Georgia; Nationals' infielder played in Woodbridge for Single-A Potomac.
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: BILLY SAMPLE DEBUT
Sept. 2, 1978: Salem native and former JMU star Billy Sample made his Major League debut on this day with the Texas Rangers. He led off the game with a single against Jerry Augustine of the Brewers, then was replaced by Bump Wills. Sample went to Andrew Lewis High and was the first product of coach Brad Babcock at JMU to make the majors. Sample was named to several all-rookie teams in 1979 as he hit .292 in his first full season. The outfielder had a successful career as a broadcaster and writer after his playing days ended in 1986 with the Braves.
Sept. 2, 1995: Norfolk native and First Colonial High grad Jeff Ware, a righty pitcher, made his MLB debut on this day with Toronto as he threw 1.1 innings against the White Sox. The ODU product pitched in 18 games with nine starts in 1995-96 for Toronto for his only MLB action.
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:
August 28, 1880: Buck Hooker was born in Richmond; pitched in two games in the Major Leagues with the Reds in 1902-03 and died in Richmond in 1929.
August 28, 1958: Scott Lovekamp was born in Illinois. He was the former pitching coach at Single-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League when the team was part of the Pittsburgh farm system.
August 28, 1984: Will Harris was born in Houston. While a two-way player in college at LSU, he played for the Staunton Braves in the Valley Baseball League. He last pitched in the majors in 2021 for Washington; he gave up the deciding homer to Howie Kendrick in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series while with Houston against the Nationals.
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.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
August 27, 2011: ODU product Justin Verlander of Goochland has a rough outing. But he still gets credit for the win - his 20th of the season - as the Tigers beat the Twins 6-4. He becomes first pitcher to get his 20th win in the month of August since 2002 when Curt Schilling did the trick.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL TODAY
August 26, 1973: Outfielder Mark Budzinski was born in Baltimore. He played at the University of Richmond and in a few games for the Reds in 2003 and had seven at-bats. He has been a coach in the majors for Toronto.
August 26, 1980: Infielder Brendan Harris was born in New York. He was a standout at William and Mary and was drafted by the Cubs with the work of scout Billy Swoope, a long-time resident of Virginia. Harris played for several teams, including the Nationals.
August 26, 2012: Lefty Joe Saunders was acquired by the Orioles in a trade with Arizona. He played at West Springfield High and Va. Tech and broke into the majors with the Angels.
August 26, 2015: ODU product Justin Verlander just misses third no-hitter but gets a shutout in a win over the Angels while with Detroit.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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: When Violence Strikes and Community Security is Threatened," by Carolyn Yoder. This was published in 2005 and was a team effort by Church World Services and an agency at Eastern Mennonite University as a response to the 9-11 attacks on the USA.
*"Peggy's War," by Karl Rhodes, a classmate of mine at Turner Ashby High. Karl writes of his relative, Peggy Rhodes, and her upside-down world on a farm near Harrisonburg during the Civil War - a farm next to the one I grew up on.
*"Clubbie," by Greg Larson, about his two baseball seasons as the clubhouse attendant for the Aberdeen minor league team in Maryland that is run by Cal Ripken, Jr. and is part of the Baltimore Orioles farm system.
*"Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics," by Tim Marshall. A gem by the British journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. For instance, a mountain range can protect a country from invasion but also limited the flow of goods.
"Home and Dry in Normandy," by George East. The Brit writer says there are dozens of books on this topic - Brits who buy a home in France, especially in the northern part. But his book, while filled with everyday experiences, is not boring and is a good slice of what it is like to be a foreigner and try to adapt in a new land.
ANOTHER CHALLENGING LANGUAGE
April 12, 2023
WARSAW - We have now lived in two European countries that just happen to have a very challenging language to learn as a foreigner: the countries are Hungary and now Poland. My first class, basic Polish, began yesterday and my class consisted of five other students in person and two more checking in online. The class lasts for 1.5 hours per session and there are two lessons per week. There were two other Americans in the class; one of those online was in The Netherlands, but he said he will be back in Warsaw next week to attend in person.
My goals for the class are not very lofty: would love to just be able to count to 10 in Polish, know the days of the week, and be able to say hello, goodbye, and thank you. Anything after that would be a bonus!
EASTER IN POLAND
April 9, 2023
WARSAW - The percentage of the Polish population that identifies as Catholic, according to various websites, runs around 90 percent. So it was no surprise to see plenty of Easter baskets on the street Saturday. And to show the reach of the Church, nearly every store was closed in Warsaw today - and that includes McDonald's and Starbucks, staples of Western culture and influence.
We enjoyed services at an English-language church and then spent the afternoon with some American folks who are also living in Warsaw.
USA HEROES IN WARSAW
April 8, 2023
WARSAW, POLAND - On the west side of the Vistula River, there is a plaque dedicated to World War II American military leader General George Patton. A boulevard dedication to Patton took place here in 2017 with U.S. embassy personnel taking part. Patton, according to one website, remarked in the 1940s that Polish troops were very professional and "superior to American or British military" at that time. No wonder there is a plaque that honors Patton in the Polish capital.
At least one other American leader is recognized in another part of Warsaw: a statue of former President Reagan is just off a main boulevard several miles south of Patton Boulevard, in an area of the city that is home to many embassies.
AMERICANS IN WARSAW
April 2, 2023
WARSAW, POLAND - After the 1Liga basketball game was over here Sunday night, a group of three American players huddled courtside and compared mental notes on life overseas. Ajay Sanders and Artur Labinowicz, North Carolina natives and former teammates at Coastal Carolina, are teammates this season with a team in northwest Poland. After a win here in Warsaw, they chatted with Phoenix native Sammy Barnes-Thompkins - the only American on his pro team based in the capital.
Sanders had 17 points and seven rebounds as Koszalin beat Polonia 87-75. The game was typical in that it showed what American ballers have to deal with overseas: Labinowicz, a Charlotte native with Polish roots, was ejected; his second transgression came when he was called for flopping, a soccer term, after he pretended to be fouled while driving to the basket with the ball. Barnes-Thompkins had a foul called on him in the first half in which it appeared he never touched the player he was guarding. Welcome to Europe, guys.
HOMETOWN HERO IN POLAND
April 2, 2023
TORUN, POLAND - It was just over 550 years ago that a star was born here in central Poland. But these days, the city that is about 2.5 hours northwest of Warsaw is a haven for indoor track and field. Copernicus, who came up with the heliocentric view of the solar system, was born here in February 1573. We toured the museum here this weekend where he may or may not have been born. The interactive museum is very well done and won an award last year from the European Union for making the most out of a limited budget and staff.
On the way back to Warsaw by train, we met several track and field master athletes from around the world who competed this week in an annual event in Torun. Next year the master championships will be held outdoors, in Sweden. Torun also happens to have pro basketball and Kirby Burkholder, the daughter of my first cousin, played hoops here a few seasons ago. She played at Turner Ashby High and at JMU, in Virginia.
VOLLEYBALL IN WARSAW
March 27, 2023
WARSAW - Pro volleyball for men is a big deal in Poland. We went on Sunday night - the match began at 8:30 p.m. - to see a match between host Warsaw and a team from a small city about 200 miles southwest of Warsaw. Cheerleaders, energetic fans, and a five-set win by the hosts provided for a fun time. They even played "Country Roads" by John Denver during one timeout and nearly every fan sang along.
COFFEE SHOPS IN POLAND
March 26, 2023
WARSAW - The coffee shop culture in Warsaw is alive but it seems to be the big chains that dominate the market.
It is harder to find the smaller, non-corporate ones in a city of more than one million people.
Hungary, where we lived for three years, seems to have more non-chain coffee shops than Poland. That was true during a recent visit to Budapest and certainly was the case in Szeged, a city of fewer than 200,000 people near the Serbian border.
PRO HOOPS IN WARSAW
March 24, 2023
WARSAW - It cost us $13.76 for two tickets to see a pro basketball game in the top Polish men's league on a Friday night about a 30-minute metro ride north of downtown Warsaw.
That allowed us seats just 30 feet from a baseline in an arena that holds about 2,000 fans. There were several American players for both teams with natives from Baltimore - Cleveland Melvin of visiting Lublin - and North Carolina. Host Legia won as it scored 108 points in a rare high-scoring game in the Euro leagues.
SUNDAY IN THE PARK IN BUDAPEST
March 19, 2023
BUDAPEST - This was the first nice weather weekend in central Europe after a winter in which, while devoid of major snow, still had the annual grey skies that are more common north of Hungary.
So on this Sunday afternoon, as I visited with a spokesman for the Hungarian Basketball Federation at a museum coffee shop, many strollers took to the park near the Budapest Zoo and enjoyed the nice weather.
Feb. 7, 2023
BEIRUT - Never in a million years thought I would ever come to Lebanon - but some meetings with colleagues brought us to this beautiful country with a checkered past. After a few days here, it on to Jordan to meet other colleagues.
UR SPIDERS AT GEORGE MASON
Dec. 27, 2022
WASHINGTON - The Atlantic 10 Conference schedule begins with a good in-state battle on Saturday as George Mason hosts Richmond in Fairfax at 2 p.m. The Patriots won easily at home Friday over Coppin State, which faces Richmond on Wednesday.
VIRGINIA BASEBALL - COACHES HALL OF FAME
Dec. 4, 2022
WASHINGTON - The Virginia Baseball Coaches Association will honor its first Hall of Fame class of former high school and college coaches on Friday night, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Fairfax Marriott. The 10-member group includes two with ties to Northern Virginia: Bill Brown, who recently retired from George Mason University, and Ron Tugwell, the former coach at West Springfield High. Other college coaches to be honored include the late Chuck Hartman from Va. Tech; the late Paul Keyes, who was at VCU; Marty Miller, from Norfolk State; and Ron Atkins, who was at J.R. Tucker High and at the University of Richmond.
High school coaches to be noted will be Jim Cutler of Bedford, Va.; Tom Harding from Honaker, Va.; Mack Shupe, who won eight Va. prep state titles; and Norbie Wilson, from First Colonial in Va. Beach.
VIRGINIA HOOPS - SCANNING THE DIAL
Dec. 3, 2022
WASHINGTON - Today was a good one for Virginia hoops on TV. At one point, it was possible to watch VCU, George Mason, and Virginia all playing at the same time on various stations.
George Mason won at home over Toledo, the Cavs won in ACC play in Charlottesville against Florida State while VCU lost on the road at Temple - the same Temple team that looked pretty awful in a loss in Brooklyn last week to Richmond.
TERPS KNOCK OFF ILLINOIS
Dec. 3, 2022
WASHINGTON - There was a lot of excitement in nearby College Park last night, as host Maryland improved to 8-0 this year with a 71-66 win over Illinois.
"I thought the crowd was off the charts, the student section was off the charts. I thought that was a big difference for us," Maryland coach Kevin Willard told reporters after the game. The Terps are ranked No. 22 in the country.
BIG NIGHT IN COLLEGE PARK
Dec. 2, 2022
WASHINGTON - Tonight should be a great atmosphere in nearby College Park as the Terps host Illinois in college hoops.
As per Maryland sports information, first-year coach Kevin Willard has won his first seven games - all by at least 15 points. And the fanbase is in a frenzy with conference play right around the corner.
A GOOD NIGHT FOR GEORGES
Dec. 1, 2022
WASHINGTON - It was a good day on Wednesday for the Atlantic 10 Conference schools in the D.C. area. George Mason won at home in overtime against Hofstra while George Washington, a few miles away, destroyed Power 5 school South Carolina 79-55 in Foggy Bottom. It was the first visit from a Power 5 school to GW in five years. South Carolina shot just 32 percent from the floor while the Colonials used balancing scoring in the win.
In Fairfax, former CAA school Mason knocked off current CAA member Hofstra; I enjoyed catching the end of the game on TV, and the broadcast team of Bill Rohland and Craig Esherick, the former Georgetown coach, did a great job explaining the wild ending as the top player for the Pride dealt with an ankle injury in the final minutes of play.
JMU FOOTBALL ENDS HISTORIC YEAR
Nov. 26, 2022
HARRISONBURG, Va. - They converged just outside of the stadium on the east side of JMU's home field - parents, fans, and players still in pads and uniforms.
The Dukes of JMU had just crushed Coastal Carolina - which began the day ranked No. 23 in the nation - by a score of 47-7 in the Sun Belt Conference showdown Saturday.
JMU had been ranked in the top 25 earlier in the season and on a glorious fall day in the Shenandoah Valley had the rare chance to host a ranked team at the highest level of the college game. The Dukes rolled on offense with quick scores - JMU had the ball for less than 20 minutes of the game clock Saturday.
The Dukes, while moving up a level, are not eligible for post-season play so JMU treated the game against Coastal Carolina as a personal playoff contest. And it showed.
Veteran safety Sam Kidd, who was injured in October against Marshall and was in street clothes Saturday, saw his JMU career come to an end after he played key roles through the years. He went to James Madison High in Vienna.
RICHMOND WITH THE BIG BOYS
Nov. 22, 2022
BROOKLYN - The University of Richmond got an early start for the Atlantic 10 Conference tourney when the Spiders played two games here at the Barclays Center in the Empire Classic. The Spiders lost in overtime to Syracuse on Monday, then had a 15-0 run late in the first half and disposed of Temple tonight.
"We didn't treat it like a consolation game," Richmond coach Chris Mooney, standing outside of the team lockerroom, told me after the win over the Owls.
Mooney noted it was good to be part of a two-day event with three storied programs - the other team in the field was St. John's, which knocked off Syracuse in the title game. Richmond won the Atlantic 10 tourney in D.C. back in March and the 2023 event will be back in Brooklyn.
TERPS FACE PASSING FANCY
Nov. 18, 2022
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland is 3-0 under new coach Kevin Willard and will face a big test on Saturday in Connecticut against Saint Louis out of the Atlantic 10.
The point guard for the Billikens is Yuri Collins, who has 36 assists in his first three games this season.
"He's such a willing passer," Willard, speaking to local media here on Thursday, said of Collins, leading the nation at 12.0 assists per contest. "He reads picks and rolls extremely well. He's just controlling the game; he's an old-school player - he really enjoys passing the ball."
CAPUTO OFF TO FAST START
Nov. 14, 2022
WASHINGTON - The George Washington men are at Hofstra tonight in the first road game under Chris Caputo. The Colonials won their first two games at home, downing Va. State and Howard by 10 points on Friday.
April 1, 2022
WASHINGTON - Several outlets are reporting that Chris Caputo will be the new coach at George Washington. He would replace Virginia native Jamion Christian, who was let go after three years. I guessed that GW would not be able to attract a current head coach since GW has sent the past two coaches packing after just three years. Caputo is the long-time assistant at Miami and was a key part of the staff at George Mason as the Patriots made a Final Four run in 2006. Now he will be facing Mason as a rival in the Atlantic 10.
CAVS KEEP PLAYING
March 21, 2022
WASHINGTON - About 10 days ago, St. Bonaventure was knocked out of the Atlantic 10 Conference tourney here in the nation's capital by Saint Louis. The Bonnies will be back in the DMV on Tuesday as they play at Virginia in the NIT. The game is at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.
The VCU women are on the road today playing at Princeton in the WNIT. And at the Division III level, the Randolph-Macon men won a national title for the first time on Saturday over Elmhurst in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
ROUGH DAY FOR HOKIES
March 19, 2022
WASHINGTON - It is unique when both basketball programs from the same school make the NCAA tournament. It is crushing when both lose on the same day, as the Virginia Tech clubs both lost on Friday.
The women, led by Waynesboro, Virginia native Kenny Brooks, fell at the nearby University of Maryland to a 3-point barrage by upstart Florida Gulf Coast. The Va. Tech men fell to Texas 81-73 in Milwaukee. The Maryland women, who knocked off CAA champ Delaware, will face Florida Gulf Coast on its home floor Sunday. The Delaware men lost to Villanova.
ROUGH WEEKEND FOR COACHES
March 15, 2022
WASHINGTON - The Atlantic 10 Conference wasn't kind to coaches. Three of the coaches in the 14-team league, for now, coached their last game with their 2022 team in the tourney - David Cox of Rhode Island, Jamion Christian of George Washington, and Mike McCall of UMass.
Cox is from Landover, Maryland, and is a former Georgetown assistant while Christian is the former head man at Mount St. Mary's and is from southeast Virginia. Cox and Christian were both let go in the days that their team was eliminated while UMass announced earlier this month that McCall wouldn't return.
HOKIES, SPIDERS ADVANCE
March 12, 2022
WASHINGTON - Virginia Tech and Richmond will play today after knocking off traditional powers in their respective leagues. Playing here at the Capital One Arena in D.C. the Spiders beat city rival VCU 75-64 late Friday and will face Dayton today in the semifinals. Va. Tech knocked off UNC and will face Duke today in Brooklyn in the ACC title event.
In other Atlantic 10 news, Rhode Island fired coach David Cox. A former Georgetown assistant, Cox grew up in Landover, Maryland, and played in college at William & Mary. The Rams lost Thursday in D.C. in the conference event.
March 11, 2022
WASHINGTON - At least Richmond and Va. Tech won. It was a rough day for the DMV on Thursday, as Maryland, Virginia, George Mason and George Washington all lost in college basketball tournaments.
Richmond knocked off Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 tourney here in D.C. and will face rival VCU in the last of four games today. The Hokies beat Notre Dame to improve its NCAA shot and will face North Carolina today after the Tar Heels crushed the Cavaliers at the ACC tourney in New York.
The season ended for Mason and GW at the Atlantic 10 event on Thursday.
DELAWARE WILL DANCE
March 9, 2022
WASHINGTON - The winning culture at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville has made its way to Newark, Delaware.
The No. 5 seed Blue Hens upset No. 2 seed UNC Wilmington last night in D.C. to win the CAA title for the second time and for the first time since 2014 when Delaware won in Baltimore.
DeMatha product Ryan Allen had 10 points for the Blue Hens while Reggie Gardner, also from the Hyattsville school, played less than a minute. An assistant coach for Delaware is Corey McRae, who played and coached at DeMatha and played in college at Fordham.
ALLEN AIMS FOR TITLE
March 8, 2022
WASHINGTON - Delaware fifth-year guard Ryan Allen was teammates at DeMatha Catholic High with Markelle Fultz, the top pick of the 2017 NBA draft. And tonight Allen can head to March Madness - just a few minutes from his home in Bowie, Maryland.
The No. 5 seed Blue Hens will face No. 2 UNC Wilmington here in Washington in the CAA title contest. Allen is averaging 11.8 points per contest though he has come off the bench in the first two games of the tourney.
"He is a competitor, he wants the ball in his hands. I know he is excited in this last go-round to get back to D.C. in his hometown, where he played in the bright lights in high school and was part of a great tradition at DeMatha. He wants to go down there and play for a championship,” Delaware Coach Martin Ingelsby told me last week about Allen before the CAA event.
Allen was one of several players who decided to come back for another year, just for the very chance the Blue Hens have tonight in D.C.
WATCH OUT FOR CHARLESTON
March 7, 2022
WASHINGTON - The College of Charleston, which plays tonight in the CAA semifinals, certainly didn't look like a No. 6 seed Sunday.
"We lost a lot of close games," said an ardent fan of the Cougars, sitting across from the Hofstra bench in the quarterfinals Sunday.
Indeed, Charleston lost twice to Hofstra by a total of eight points in regular-season action. Some other losses by the Cougars came by two, two (OT), two, one, one, and three points this season.
So perhaps No. 2 seed UNC Wilmington isn't a lock to win over the Cougars tonight here in Washington in a game slated to start at about 8:30 p.m.
In the first game, No. 1 seed Towson will face No. 5 Delaware at 6 p.m.
John Meeks of Charleston had 22 of his 31 points in the first half Sunday as the Cougars ran up 55 points in the first stanza.
“John willed us to the win. John was sensational tonight,” Coach Pat Kelsey said. “I am glad we don’t have to see them again.”
The attendance for the game against Hofstra was 1,578 in southeast Washington at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, the home of the Mystics and the G-League team of the Wizards.
Former NBA star Speedy Claxton, the Hofstra coach, said toughness was the key for the Cougars. “This generation tends to relax when you beat a team twice; he is a tough guard,” Claxton said of Meeks. “They