Baseball’s knight of olde

August 31st, 2010 by John Morris

Today, I read an old Sports Illustrated with one of my childhood baseball idols on the cover: Stan the Man Musial.

Back in the 1950s, my idols list was topped by Richie Ashburn mostly because he was a small man who played against larger men  and often came out on top.

Musial was my favorite non-Phillie. While my friends differed on their favorites, I learned most of them listed him as I did. When the Phillies played the Cardinals, we’d want the Phillies to win and Musial to do well.

There was something about “the man” that evoked the qualities of national pastime during its golden era. No pitcher wanted to face him with the game in dispute. He was always listed among the leaders in the hitting categories. Above it all, there was never a sharp word or an embarrassing story written about him. He seemed almost to live in a higher state than the other mere mortals who played a boy’s game for a living.

Stan the Man Musial was the guest speaker at a business convention I attended.  At the end of his seminar, the MC said Musial had autographed a baseball and a bat for two lucky attendees. The ball was given to the oldest woman there. Round of applause as the ball changed hands with a thank you kiss causing Musial to mug playfully to the audience.

Then it was announced the bat would go to the person in the room whose birthday came closest to Stan’s. Those of us who celebrated November birthdays were asked to stand. The MC announced Musial’s birthday in a slow, deliberate manner, “Stan was born on . . . .  November . . . . . .twenty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . one”.

My hopes soared with the possibility I could win this trophy and meet a genuine larger than life idol. I even knew where I’d put the bat in my home.

As I looked around at the others standing, the MC played out the suspense by asking one of us for his birthday. His shout of “14th” started yelps of other dates from the others. It turned out my 29th lost to someone born on the 26th. So close. It wasn’t my day for a meeting my younger self could only dream about.

Read the following article, and I believe you’ll agree we would all welcome someone writing such an article about us.

It would be a much better world if we all deserved such tributes.

Constitutional updates required?

August 21st, 2010 by John Morris

Two current topics have collided in my mind and dislodged two small points loose.

First up: some Americans believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. Why would this matter? We have the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1 detailing exactly who can be our President. The movement afoot back then was to prevent Englishmen from rising to national leadership. Could it have been their intention to prevent someone born outside of our boundaries with only one American parent from being our President over 235 years later? How could they have imagined such a situation? 

So I suggest an update to the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1. to set aside birth location limitations. To wit: anyone can ascend to the Presidency as long as they are natural born citizens. In this way, a future Barack Obama can be born in Kenya to American moms and be elected President. Do we still need to ace out the Brits?

The second issue is our 14th amendment and its provision to allow all babies born in America to be American citizens. What floated that boat? The 1868 amendment wanted to secure a place in America for former slaves and prevent them from forced deportation because of legal chicanery. It worked but again it had far reaching affects centuries later. Could the lawmakers of the day imagine the flood of illegal immigrants giving birth so they and their children have the legal right to stay here?

What to do about this “anchor baby” issue? The 14th amendment is the law of the land; no one born in the USA can be forcibly deported just because we would want to do so. I have no clear way out of this situation. We could write a convoluted amendment to identify the intent of aliens wishing to birth their children here for the bennies. I would imagine an amendment that would be as unable to avoid future problems any more than its first effort.

My unifying point is that in at least two situations our lawmakers made proper laws that had unimagined affects long after their enactment. We should have a monitoring method to adjust when intent go awry.

Songs to aging children*: Tom Tegler

August 19th, 2010 by John Morris

* song title by Joni Mitchell

The event was an Irish wake for a man I’ve met but didn’t know. He was my co-worker/boss’ father, and he’d recently lost his battle with cancer. I felt honored to be included in the celebration of his life.

I knew a small number of people at the wake and counted on my salesman’s skills to survive. Maybe the only person who knew fewer people there was my always supportive wife, Lyn.

Great food and drink was a given since the location was Molly McGuire’s Pub. It was the other, smaller details of the celebration that made for a memorial time.

They had an Irish string trio playing unfamiliar but pleasing ethnic music. A much better than average video of the recently departed and his family flashed on a large screen. There was a spirited buzz all around us. All good stuff, but it was the people who made the day. Folks we didn’t know engaged us. We found them interesting and hope they found us the same. Lyn and I entered a room filled with strangers, but we quickly felt at ease.

If our lives are measured by the people who loved us, then Thomas Tegler lived a good one. I’m grateful I know the people who remember the man he was.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.