Dad's Birthday Tribute

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about when you were a kid?  I did today while sorting through some of my mom and dad’s mementos.  Dad has been gone since 1985 and mom went to join him in heaven last September.  It’s been hard to enjoy the first few major holidays, especially now that both my parents are gone. I’m very thankful for my immediate family to lean on when I feel a little blue.

Reading old letters and gazing at family pictures of when I was a child triggered some really fond memories of growing up in the sixties and seventies in the Hoosier state.  I’ll share a few about dad with you now.

One vivid recollection I have is when dad tossed us all in the back seat of the Buick and we headed to the Indiana Dunes!  Every single window was down and our unrestrained bodies bounced wildly as he pressed the pedal to the floor.  A half-smoked cigarette hung from his mouth. The car radio blasted a current top hit.  My hair was a tangled mess from hanging out the window in fervid a…

Memories of Mom

I lost my mom, Virginia Coppinger (Harding), a week ago at the age of 89.  This blog will be a memorial to her memory and the influence she has had on my life and other family members.  I'm going to reach back into my mind to capture some events that have remained with me throughout the years. Grab a cup of coffee, kick your feet up and take a trip down memory lane with me.  It might be a memoir similar to yours....

Mom was born in Greentown, IN, in 1928, during an out-of-town trip.  Although that was her birthplace, her family's residence was in Gary, IN. She was the youngest of two daughters. Her father, John Harding, was a real estate developer and an accomplished artist.  Her mom was a teacher and at one time had Virginia as a student at Lew Wallace High School.  It must have been hard to be in your own mother's classroom.  Georgia Harding had to act impartial to the fact that she was teaching her own child.  Absolutely no family privilege was granted or exhibited. Gr…

Retired and Admired

Forty years of hard work on the job has come to an end for my husband.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.  It takes a special kind of man to get up and go to work day in and day out for that many years.  His support of our family has never wavered and I’m very thankful that our two daughters have the best father in the world.  His retirement is well-deserved and I’m excited because he can finally enjoy the things that he has toiled so hard for.
How does this tribute tie into a baseball blog?  I’ll tell you.  I got to thinking about who my favorite retired Cubs player is.  One name immediately jumped into my mind.  Mark Grace.  Consistency is an apt word to describe not only my husband’s employment record but also Grace’s accomplishments on the baseball field.  Let’s look at just how consistent he was.
Grace debuted for the Cubs in May of 1988, replacing the struggling Leon Durham at first base.  His 2,500 hits and 500 doubles over a 16-year career, (13 years with the Cubs and 3 years …


My husband and I were really excited as we counted down the days before our trip up to Wrigleyville.  Game 4 of the World Series was going to be played, pitting the Chicago Cubs against the Cleveland Indians.  Both teams have long droughts of non-appearance in the Fall Classic hanging over their heads.  The night before we drove up, we called our friends to ask what time to meet.  New developments with the area bars in Wrigleyville were going to affect our arrival time.  Why?  Because the majority of bar owners had taken it upon themselves to jack up their cover charges to unprecedented amounts.  Some establishments planned on gouging loyal fans thousands of dollars to reserve tables and then, on top of that, charging astronomical cover charge fees.  What a horrendous way to treat the most loyal fans in baseball.  Murphy’s Bleachers, a well-known bar, was promising to not have a cover charge but warned fans about long lines.  This is why we wanted to meet up as soon as possible. Well,…

Chapman Watch vs. Watch Chapman

Albertín Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz, the latest closer to be signed by the Chicago Cubs, has been under the spotlight since he first stepped onto American soil in 2009, after successfully defecting from his home country of Cuba. To put it mildly, Chapman’s fastball is akin to Halley’s comet.  It can streak across the plate at up to 105.1 mph, the current confirmed MLB record. Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen was batting at Great American Ballpark in 2011 when Chapman supposedly threw a pitch clocked at 106 mph per the scoreboard. Unlike the famous comet, however, we get to witness this trajectory path of brilliance over and over again.  The control issues Aroldis experienced at the beginning of his career have greatly diminished.  At least with his fastball.  More on that later…
Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2010, Aroldis has been setting pitching radars on fire and sending batters to the bench wondering if they ever saw the flash of white that just exploded in catchers’ mi…

Remembering a Legend on the Fourth of July

In 1927, the year my dad was born, there were two baseball players who dominated the headlines in their quest to hit the most homers in a single season.  One of them was Babe Ruth, who would finish with 60. The other player, who ended the year with 47 and whose life would come to a tragic end fourteen years later, was my favorite player of all time.  Yes, The Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, stands atop my shrine of beloved baseball legends.  My admiration for this man even exceeds that which I hold toward my favorite Cubs players;  Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Kerry Wood .  These three players did/do share several characteristics with the legend who represented the New York Yankees for seventeen years.  Heart, humility, and honor.  But it was Larrupin’ Lou who set the tone.  Allow me to tell you a little something about each of the traits that he possessed and how his influence continues to mold the game today.
Heart.  Lou hit his very first grand slam when his high school team traveled to Ch…

Spanish Class With Mrs. Chaw-I Mean, Mrs. Shaw

Attending high school in Houston on a daily basis was hard for me as a teenager.  I wanted to hang with my friends down on the bayou and smoke cigarettes instead.  My grades never suffered but my interest in school did.  So, every once in awhile, I would "hop" class (this is what ditching was called by the kids) and play the rebel.

My favorite teacher at Sharpstown High School was Mr. Wizenand.  We called him Mr. Wiz for short. He taught biology and it was my best subject.  There were only two kids who aced his year-end final, myself and another boy.  I stayed up late the night before the test, studying from a legal-sized paper full of diagrams and notes.  Being the pack rat I am, I found it in a box of high school mementos not too long ago and proudly remembered the effort I put into the class and the satisfaction I felt when I was handed the graded result.  I never hopped Mr. Wiz's class.

Spanish was another subject I took for a few years in school.  The first year I…