It’s strange how moments that seem inconsequential at the time can be remembered forever.When I was 8 years old, there was a book fair in the library at Murray Avenue Elementary School. My parents gave me money to buy a book. An enthusiastic baseball fan, I came home with a copy of “Mystery at the Ball Park.” In truth, there were times when I got a bit bored rereading “Mystery at the Ball Park” and “Pitchers’ Duel.” Some passions of our youth — like Hostess Sno Balls and Twinkies — seem less attractive as we age. After finishing the books, I had no desire to immerse myself in all of the other Mel Martin and Chip Hilton epics as I’d done decades ago. What was once high drama seems simplistic to me now.But as I reread “Mystery at the Ball Park” and “Pitchers’ Duel,” literary characters who had been lost for decades emerged from the shadows of my mind. Plot twists brought back fond memories as I read them. And I gave thanks to Andrew Svenson and Clair Bee for bringing Mel Martin and Chip Hilton into my life and inspiring a young boy’s love of reading.Thomas Hauser’s new email address is [email protected] His most recent book – Protect Yourself at All Times – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. I didn’t know it but my life was about to change.“Mystery at the Ball Park” was the first of six “Mel Martin baseball stories” written by John R. Cooper and published between 1947 and 1953. Each of the books combined baseball with amateur detective work. Subsequent titles in the series included “The Southpaw’s Secret,” “The Phantom Homer,” “First Base Jinx,” “The Fighting Shortstop” and “The College League Mystery.”The books were originally published in hardcover. I read them all in paperback. They were the first books that I recall reading on my own initiative and marked the start of reading on my own for pleasure. They led me from “The Taxi That Hurried” and “Horton Hatches the Egg” to young adult reading.A year or two later, I turned to Chip Hilton.The Chip Hilton series includes 23 books written by Clair Bee that were published between 1948 and 1966. Bee died in 1983 at age 87. A 24th book based on a partial manuscript he left behind was published in 2002.HAUSER: A history of the mouthpiece in boxingIn the early Chip Hilton books, Chip stars in baseball, football and basketball for Valley Falls High School. Then he goes to college. One of the books — “Hoop Crazy,” published in 1950 — was forward-looking for its time in that it centered on the issue of a black player who wants to join the school’s all-white basketball team.An article written by Jack McCallum for Sports Illustrated in 1980 celebrated Chip Hilton with the observation, “The Hilton series was the last of its kind, the final representative of what might be called the Frank Merriwell genre. Gilbert Patten began writing Merriwell stories in 1896 for a publisher of dime novels and nickel magazines. During the first twenty years of [the twentieth] century, his stories were more widely read than any others for boys, and ‘Merriwell finish’ entered the language as a stock description for a dramatic ending to a game.”I have a clear recollection of giving an oral book report on “Pitchers’ Duel” (the sixth book in the Chip Hilton series) to my class in sixth grade.Here I should add that Chip Hilton was so popular that the NCAA created and, from 1997 through 2011, gave out a “Chip Hilton Player of the Year Award” to the Division I men’s basketball player who best demonstrated outstanding personal character on and off the court. The first recipient of the award was Tim Duncan. Think about that for a moment. A major award named after — not John Wooden, Vince Lombardi or Walter Payton, but — a literary creation.Recently, I decided to revisit Mel Martin and Chip Hilton. As a first step, I thought I should learn a bit about the authors.Surprise! There was no “John R. Cooper.” That author credit was one of many pseudonyms used by Andrew Svenson, who wrote the first two books in the Mel Martin series and then turned writing duties over to a successor. The reason for Svenson’s departure was that he received an offer from the Stratemeyer Syndicate (which packaged the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins) to become one of several authors writing Hardy Boys mysteries under the pen-name Franklin W. Dixon. Svenson also wrote all of the books in “The Happy Hollisters” series under the pseudonym Jerry West.I still have my original copy of “Mystery at the Ball Park.” When I took it off a shelf and opened the brittle yellowing pages, I was surprised by its length: 208 pages. I began to read.Mel Martin is 16 years old and a junior at Westwood High School, located in a little town situated along a peaceful river. Mel’s father died several years earlier, so Mel and his younger brother live with their mother and paternal grandmother. Robbie Smith, Mel’s uncle, was a big league pitcher in his younger days and is now a sporting goods salesman.Mel is Westwood High School’s best pitcher. Other characters include the Wright twins (first baseman Lefty Wright and catcher Righty Wright), outfielder Hobart “Speed” Ball and coach Frederick “Pop” Korn.As the plot unfolds, Coach Korn is ill with an undisclosed ailment. A mystery man named Mister McCloud filters in an out of the story and seems like a really bad guy. Mister McCloud has a sallow complexion and a scar that cuts across his brow above unfriendly close-set eyes. There’s another bad guy who’s “a greasy looking fellow with a big bulb-like nose.” Then Coach Korn is hospitalized, and Mr. Wilbur (the school principle) announces that the mysterious Mr. McCloud will coach the team.HAUSER: Key moments that changed the ring walk in boxingMcCloud is openly hostile toward Mel and seeks to undermine the team through blatantly poor strategic decisions. At one point, Mel gets an anonymous threatening telephone call as he seeks to unravel the mystery of what turns out to be a series of home robberies and a real estate swindle. The call is particularly troubling since, soon after Mel receives it, he and his dog are knocked unconscious by a club-wielding thug. The book’s climactic moment comes in the championship game with Westwood trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, a man on base, and Mel Martin at the plate.”He rubbed his sweaty hands with dust and looked toward the pitcher,” Svenson a/k/a Cooper wrote. “The deep shadow from his cap covered the intense expression on his face. He waited out the pitches. Two balls and then a strike. The next pitch came perfectly. The ball spun fast but the curve broke too late. Mel lashed out. When the bat connected, the boy snapped with his wrists and followed through with tremendous power. Over the leftfield wall sailed the ball.”Unlike Svenson, Clair Bee wrote under his own name. And for good reason. From 1931 through 1951, Bee was head basketball coach at Long Island University. During that time, his teams won two National Invitational Tournament championships (at a time when the NIT was a big deal) and once reeled off 43 victories in a row. He later coached the Baltimore Bullets in the fledgling National Basketball Association for two seasons.The Chip Hilton books are written at a more sophisticated level than the Mel Martin series. In “Pitchers’ Duel,” William “Chip” Hilton is the star pitcher and best hitter for Valley Falls High School. Mary Hilton is Chip’s mother. Chip’s father died a long time ago under circumstances that I assume were explained earlier in the series (this is book No. 7).Chip and first baseman Biggie Cohen have big league potential. Coach Hank Rockwell is a wise steadying influence. But he has passed retirement age and unscrupulous forces are trying to force him out of his job. The team also includes Chip’s best friends: shortstop Speed Morris, catcher Soapy Smith and outfielder Red Schwartz. Mayor Mark Condon, chief of police Boiler Cowles and Sheriff Early Birks are corrupt local politicians. Peck Weaver and Buck Adams are illicit gamblers in league with the corrupt politicians. Muddy Waters is an ill-intentioned sportswriter for the local newspaper and frequently attacks both Chip and Coach Rockwell in his columns.Led by Hilton, the Big Reds of Valley High School battle back from midseason adversity to qualify for the state championship tournament. Then, shortly before the championship game, Chip signs an autograph for a man who says it’s for his sick son. However, in reality, the folded-over piece of paper Chip has signed is a contract that purports to bind him to a minor league baseball team. It’s a dastardly plot concocted by the gamblers to render Chip ineligible for the big game.Chip misses the first 8 1/2 innings of the championship game while things are being sorted out. During that time, Valley Falls falls behind 7-0 but rallies with four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score at nine runs apiece. Salem High then loads the bases in the bottom of the ninth. There are two outs with a 3-balls-2-strikes count on the batter when the newly-vindicated Chip races onto the field, takes over on the mound, and picks the runner off second base to send the game into extra innings.Now the pitchers’ duel begins. Neither team scores again through the 18th inning. Then, in the bottom of the 19th, a wind-blown pop-up puts a Salem runner on third base. But that quirk of fate is nothing compared to the tragedy that follows.Spoiler Alert: One of the things that separated Chip Hilton from most young-adult literary sports stars of his era was that Chip’s team sometimes lost the big game. With a runner on third, Salem opts for a squeeze play that succeeds when the bunt goes into foul territory, hits a pebble, careens crazily into fair territory, and spins slowly to a stop allowing the winning run to score.After the game, Coach Rockwell consoles his team with the words, “It’s all right, kids. You were great. You can’t win all the time. Someone has to lose. And since it had to be us, let’s be good sports about it and take it with our heads and our chins up. Right now, I want to shake hands with every one of you. I’m proud to have been your coach.”And Chip’s mother tells him, “It was just a game, Chip. One of many you’ve been through and one of many more you’ll go through when you go to college. You can’t expect to win all the time. The other team likes to win a championship too once in a while.”
Share on: WhatsApp Los Angeles, United States | AFP | Tennis great Serena Williams hinted Wednesday that she’s expecting her first child, posting a photo of herself on Snapchat captioned “20 weeks”.The photo, captured by US media, shows Williams in a yellow swimsuit with what appears to be a baby bump.The SI Swimsuit model indicated she’s pregnant in a post on Snapchat, but deleted the Snapchat a few minutes after it went up. The world-renowned athlete got engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexi Ohanian in December.The timing means that the 35-year-old American would have been pregnant when she won her record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January — where she beat her sister Venus in the final.“The GOAT herself @serenawilliams took to Snapchat to announce she’s 20 weeks pregnant! Congratulations Serena!” the US Tennis Association, organizers of the US Open, tweeted.Fans, too, reacted with astonishment on social media.“Serena Williams was pregnant when she won her 23rd grand slam tournament at the Australian Open. And did not drop ONE SET. Let that sink in,” tweeted @noelleharmony.Williams cited a knee injury in pulling out of tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in March. Her inactivity saw her drop to second in the world rankings, but she is poised to return to regain the top spot from Germany’s Angelique Kerber on Monday. In December, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, first sharing that news on the Reddit social media site.While pregnancy may spell the end of Williams’s season, it doesn’t mean she won’t be back on court.Belgium’s Kim Clijsters came out of retirement at the age of 26 after having a child and won three Grand Slam titles.Australians Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court also won Grand Slam titles after having children.Former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 27, won the Indian Wells and Miami titles in March of last year before missing the rest of the season after announcing she was expecting a baby in December.Since the birth of son Leo, Azarenka has returned to training and plans to return to competition at the WTA tournament in Stanford, California, in July.
by Tim DahlbergAP Sports ColumnistLAS VEGAS (AP) – Tommy Morrison was just a few hours away from a comeback bout that was supposed to lead him to Mike Tyson when he got the news inside the crowded casino at the MGM Grand hotel.Chances are he already knew what was coming. A few days earlier he had refused to take a blood test mandated by Nevada boxing authorities, citing religious objections. He took it only after being told that without it he would not fight.Morrison had tested positive for the HIV virus. Instead of fighting for the heavyweight title, he would now be in for the fight of his life.It seemed impossible. The blonde Adonis who had beaten the fearsome George Foreman for the heavyweight title and starred with Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky V” was too fit, too strong, to carry the dreaded virus. Magic Johnson testing positive a few years earlier was shocking enough, but now a heavyweight contender with HIV, too?Morrison quickly got on a plane back to his native Oklahoma. The fights that night went on without him, and the crowd booed when told he wasn’t fighting for undisclosed medical reasons.Morrison would end up living another 17 years before he died Sunday night in a Nebraska hospital at the age of 44. But life as he knew it was over.There would be no Tyson fight. No more multimillion dollar paydays. No more movies with Stallone.“This is not a death sentence, by any means,” he insisted a few months later.But for the troubled Morrison, it was. He spent much of the remainder of his life in a fog of drugs and denial. Occasionally he would resurface, like he did in 2007 when he tried to resurrect his boxing career at the age of 38 in a fight for a few hundred dollars at a racetrack in West Virginia.He had once blamed his HIV diagnosis on a fast and reckless lifestyle. Now he made an even more outlandish claim – that he never had the virus.“The bottom line is we passed every test on the market, even one they don’t have on the market,” Morrison told me a few days before the fight in West Virginia. “That tells me it was never there.”Drugs and denial. They combined to kill Morrison just as surely as the HIV he claimed he never had.A few weeks ago, his mother told an ESPN.com writer that Morrison still believed he never had the virus. But she said he had full-blown AIDS and she was hoping that he would die peacefully.He had long since blown through the estimated $16 million he made in the ring, long since given up on the idea of fighting again. Life wasn’t a Rocky movie, and there would be no miracle saving him at the end.Twenty years earlier, his future seemed to have no limit. With flowing blonde hair, a chiseled body and a powerful left hook, he was a star in the heavyweight division, carefully guided by promoter Bob Arum into a title fight with George Foreman.“If I don’t win,” Morrison says, “people will throw me in the heap with Duane Bobick, Jerry Quarry and Gerry Cooney. As a white fighter, you get twice as much criticism. You have more to prove than black or Hispanic fighters.”But on June 7, 1993 he did win, outboxing Foreman with a smart and disciplined game plan that took Foreman’s vaunted power away. Boxing had a fresh young star, and he was welcomed back to his hometown of Jay, Okla., with a huge sign near the country store proclaiming the town the birthplace of the heavyweight champ.But “The Duke” – he claimed a distant kinship with John Wayne – would get knocked out in the first a few months later by Michael Bentt in a homecoming bout in Tulsa. He took a bloody beating from Lennox Lewis two years later, but signed with Don King and was being groomed for a fight with Tyson when he was given a tuneup fight against journeyman Art Weathers in February 1996.Nevada was one of the few states testing for HIV at the time, and Morrison was sent to a doctor for a prefight physical and blood test. State boxing officials weren’t sure why he didn’t want his blood taken, only that he would not be allowed to fight unless it was.The positive test stunned boxing, a sport that was especially vulnerable to HIV transmission because of close proximity of fighters to each other and the very real possibility of cuts and blood mixing. Mills Lane, who refereed Morrison’s bloody fight with Lewis a few months earlier, got himself tested the day after Morrison’s result was announced to make sure he hadn’t gotten the virus from Morrison’s blood.Magic Johnson called Morrison a few days later, urging him to stay upbeat and fight the disease. Johnson said Morrison was listening, but he wasn’t sure he had heard.The folks in Jay, meanwhile, took the big sign down. Morrison didn’t blame them, saying most people thought HIV was “a loser’s virus.”His hometown had deserted him. His career was over.The long downward spiral had begun.____Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg In this June 7, 1993 file photo, newly crowned WBO heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison receives his championship belt after defeating George Foreman in Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
The Mount Sentinel Wildcats concluded the BC High School A Girl’s Volleyball Championships at Selkirk College in Castlegar on a winning note to finish seventh overall in the 16-team field.The Wildcats outlasted Duncan Christian 2-1 (22-25, 25-19, 11-15) in the best-of-three match to capture the match Saturday afternoon in Castlegar.Earlier in the day, Mount Sentinel lost 2-1 (22-25, 25-19, 15-9) to Kelowna Christian, a team the Cats defeated during the round robin draw.“Seventh sometimes is great, but our performance was very inconsistent,” said Mount Sentinel coach Joe Moreira, who once again dodged rumours of retirement.“For example on Thursday, I thought our performance mirrored our preparation — play your role, trust your teammates, compete to score points.“We repeated the same performance on Friday in the quarterfinal against White Rock Christian,” Moreira added. “The loss was disappointing but the effort and energy we displayed was not.”“Saturday was not the finish I had hoped for. In the match against Kelowna Christian we played to avoid losing and of course we lost. In the 7/8th match although we won it was not an inspiring win; we limped to the finish line.”Immaculata of Kelowna defeated Richmond Christian in four games to repeat as provincial champions Saturday evening.Immaculata won the best-of-five final by scores of 25-17, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23. “It’s the second straight title with a few seconds and third in the last five years for (Immaculata),” Moreira explained.“They have had a great run.”“Immaculata has a very special player (MOP – Natalie Livingston),” he added.“In athletic terms she really has the total package; great personal skills and a huge capacity to bring out the best I her teammates.”White Rock Christian Academy defeated Credo Christian of Langley 22-25, 25-19, 11-15 to capture the bronze medal.Mount Sentinel has won the provincial title four times in school history — the last time in 2007 when the school boasted both the provincial volleyball and basketball titles.The last time Mount Sentinel hosted the tournament was in 2012 when the Wildcats edged out White Rock Christian for the bronze medal.The Wildcats finished third last season in Kelowna — the school’s tenth bronze medal.As for those retirement rumours, Moreira, who has been at the helm of the varsity girl’s volleyball team at Mount Sentinel for decades, said he likes his job so why would he want to leave.“I keep on being retired, yet I have no plans to retire,” he said.“I love what I do at Mt Sentinel, including teaching and coaching. My plans currently include going to school on Monday and caring on and returning next season.”Kootenay Champ Fernie Falcons placed sixth overall.See full results at Mount Sentinel School website.
Mallard’s Source for sports would like to honour the winners with Team of the Week accolades. Granite Pointe Ladies Golf Club recently held its annual Tournament of Roses event at the Rosemont Course.The tournament was once again a great success as players from throughout the zone attended.The Low Gross winners was the team of Diony McArthur and Loretta Bulfone while two Granite Pointe players Tammy Avis and Sherry McIvor took home the Low Net title.
Previous winners of the award are Churchill Downs (1997), Turfway Park (1998), Penn National (1999), Santa Anita Park (2000-01, 2015), Hollywood Park (2002), Keeneland (2003, 2008-9, 2011-4), Los Alamitos (2007), Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (2005), and Woodbine Entertainment Group (2004, 2006-7, 2010, 2012). The judges cited Santa Anita’s readable display which makes the most of available screen space without resorting to flashy or jittery moving elements, along with a smooth, unobtrusive scrolling tempo. One judge said: “Their graphics package is clear, bright and easy to read…the best graphics package in North America in my view”, while another noted that the post-race screen is great for including everything – order of finish, fractions and payouts. Shiva Scanlon is the Pegasus Production Manager at Santa Anita, while Amy Zimmerman, Santa Anita’s VP-Business Coordination & Director of Broadcasting, has been the Executive Producer of all four of the track’s Simulcast Award-winning entries. NEW ORLEANS, LA– Santa Anita Park was declared the winner of this year’s Simulcast Award at the 24th annual International Simulcast Conference in New Orleans, La. The venerable Southern California track previously won the award in 2000, 2001 and 2015. The 10 track entries were the actual simulcast audio and video transmission of a single race sent to wagering outlets. Each entry included the pre-race features, odds, will-pays, commentaries, the actual running of the race, the results, and post-race features. The Simulcast Award, sponsored by American Teletimer Corp. and ONTrack Media and Entertainment, honors excellence in the presentation of a racetrack’s live race product to its simulcast outlets. A panel of five judges selected the winner as best among the 10 North American and international racetracks entered for consideration. “We are honored to receive this prestigious award for the fourth time,” said Keith Brackpool, Chairman of Santa Anita Park. “The landscape of producing a simulcast signal is an ever evolving one and we strive to be on the leading edge. We are very proud to win in consecutive years as we are constantly seeking to improve our signal for our customers by adding camera angles and fine-tuning the graphic look. We also thank our production company, Pegasus Communications, for their partnership in producing Santa Anita’s simulcast signal.” The International Simulcast Conference is hosted by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and Harness Tracks of America. The winner had noteworthy competition in this very close race from Keeneland and Addington Raceway in New Zealand, with Del Mar, Saratoga and Woodbine also receiving votes. Each received first, second or third-place votes on several ballots.
Los Molinos >> The Los Molinos Lady Bulldogs volley ball team continued its winning ways Tuesday evening with a 3-0 win over the Oroville Tigers at home, 25-21, 25-13, 25-20.Liset Castillo was named player of the match for the Bulldogs, with 13 kills, 7 aces, 16 digs and an assist.Other leading players included Rachel Rogers with 11 kills, 2 aces, a block and 5 digs; Henna Acevedo with 2 kills, 2 aces and 8 digs; Heather Rodriguez with 7 aces, a dig and 8 assists and Kendall Williams with 7 …
SAN JOSE — Doug Wilson might take a different approach to the trade deadline this winter.Over the last few years, the Sharks general manager has scoffed at the idea of pursuing high-profile rentals at the deadline, insisting he would only look for deals that work “for now and into the future.” But with the Sharks in clear win-now mode, Wilson acknowledged that he’s more inclined to add an impact player before the Feb. 25 trade deadline if his team needs an extra push down the stretch.“The …
Flowers and signs are seen at a memorial site for victims of the mosque shootings, at the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand on 18 March.Photo: ReutersTightening New Zealand’s gun laws is at the top of prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s agenda as she meets with her cabinet on Monday for the first time since the mass shooting in Christchurch that killed dozens of Muslim worshippers.The death toll from the massacre stands at 50, with another 50 people injured, after a gunman burst into a mosque and opened fire on worshippers with a semi-automatic rifle and high-capacity magazines, and then attacked a second mosque.Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on 5 April where police said he was likely to face more charges.Ardern was the first signatory of a national condolence book for the worst peacetime mass killing in New Zealand that she opened in the capital Wellington on Monday.”On behalf of all New Zealanders, we grieve together. We are one. They are us,” she wrote in the book.The shock of the attacks has led to calls for an immediate tightening of laws to restrict access to some firearms, particularly semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 rifle used by the shooter in Christchurch.”What the public rightly are asking right now is why is it and how is it that you are currently able to buy military style semi-automatic weapons in New Zealand, and that’s the right question to ask,” Ardern told TVNZ earlier on Monday.”There are ways we can bring in affective regulation of firearms that actually target those we need to target and that is our focus.”New Zealand, a country of only 5 million people, has an estimated 1.5 million firearms.A Radio New Zealand report said more than 99 percent of people who applied for a firearms licence in 2017 were successful.The report was based on police data secured through an Official Information Act request, although it was not clear who made the request as those details had been redacted.In 2017, there were 43,509 firearm licence applications, and only 188 applications were declined, the data showed.After Ardern vowed at the weekend to change the gun laws, there were media reports that people were rushing to buy guns before any ban was implemented.New Zealand’s top online marketplace Trade Me Group said it was halting the sale of semi-automatic weapons in the wake of Friday’s attack.Police were out in force on Monday to assure Christchurch residents of their safety as they returned to their weekday lives, after a lockdown affected parts of the city on Friday after the shootings.Police said the airport in the southern city of Dunedin, had been reopened early on Monday after a suspicious item found on the airfield turned out to be a hoax object.And Australian police executed two search warrants in towns on the New South Wales mid-north coast related to the investigation.Burial FrustrationsFrustration was building among the families of victims as under Islam it is custom to conduct burials within 24 hours, but bodies will not be released until post mortems are carried out.The burial process, which usually involves washing with three kinds of water, salving wounds and scrubbing skin, would be complicated, volunteers in Christchurch said.Mo, a volunteer who had flown in from Brisbane to wash the bodies, said the people who died in the mosques were classified as martyrs. That meant there were different views as to whether they would be washed or not because he said Islamic jurisprudence said martyrs are not to be washed as their blood was witness to their martyrdom.”But some people have said because it was not a battlefield it is okay to wash the body. But it is at the discretion of the family,” said Mo. He asked to be identified by just one name.
Despite the roaring popularity of pop and Bollywood music in India, there is no dearth of art lovers who yearn to listen to the traditional, folk and classical genres in music. The upcoming music festival Traditional Music of Punjab is set to offer a cultural treat for those music lovers.If one talks about the cultural heritage of Punjab, the mellifluous