Beyond The Box Score
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by Chuck Bednar
Description: How did the loss of the beloved Browns impact the city of Cleveland? Who is Venuste Niyongabo, and what made was his seemingly insignificant 5000-meters victory in the 1996 Olympics special? Why was the age-discrimination trial of former Notre Dame assistant football coach Joe Moore being called the darkest incident in Fighting Irish history? The answers to poignant questions such as these lie within the pages of BEYOND THE BOX SCORE, a collection of 50 essays investigating sports, their impact on society, and the key individuals who make athletic competition the social phenomenon it is today. BEYOND THE BOX SCORE offers insight, depth, and occasionally even humor while examining all types and levels of sporting competition -- from high school to professional and football to golf.
eBook Publisher: DiskUs Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: September 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [179 KB]
Reading time: 97-136 min.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE is a must for every sports fan. If you like sports, you'll love this book. --Joyce McLaughlin, Editor ----------------------------------------------------- Chuck Bednar's views on sports has made for an interesting and educational read. You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy this book. ~~~Marilyn Nesbitt, Editor, DiskUs Publishing ------------------------------------------------------- Chuck Bednar takes you beyond the hype and headlines and puts sports' golden (and tarnished) moments into perspective with clear insights. His love of athletics for its own sake is readily apparent. You'll see the action and feel the tension as he recreates exciting plays or describes the hard fight to win the game. Sports fans will recognize his anguish and frustration when Chuck rallies against those who have reduced athletic competition to a race for the almighty dollar. They'll celebrate as he finds the real sports heroes - athletes who play for the love of the game, not for themselves. Baseball, football, college sports and more?Chuck Bednar speaks as a true fan of sports. Jamie Engle for eBook Connections http://www.ebookconnections.com
THE GREATEST COMEBACK YOU'VE NEVER SEEN
Never give up.
It is one of the most valuable lessons that high school sports can teach, and there is no better example of true athletic grit than the 1997 Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) Class AAA baseball championships.
The Barnesville (OH) Shamrocks squad had battled through a difficult schedule in 1997, and had reached the Class AAA finals with an 18-6 record. There, they came face-to-face with the 20-3 Red Devils of St. Clairsville (OH) -- a perennial OVAC powerhouse. While clearly the underdog, playing in the championship contest was nonetheless a dream come true for the Shamrocks.
It soon turned into a nightmare.
St. Clairsville struck quickly and fiercely in the first inning. Craig Lipniskis ripped a two-run double to kick off the scoring, then added a thunderous grand slam later in the inning. When all was said and done, more than 20 Red Devils came to the plate in the first, and St. Clairsville had seized an 11-0 lead.
Then, the nightmare went from bad to worse.
St. Clairsville added another run in the second inning and seven more in the third. The juggernaut had the game well in hand, boasting a 19-run advantage after just three frames.
It would have been easy for the Shamrocks to crawl into a hole and hide for the final four innings. No one in attendance at Vaccaro Field, in Steubenville, Ohio would have blamed them if they decided to throw in the towel and conceded the championship. They could very well have.
But they didn't.
Instead, Barnesville rallied together, and somehow found the courage to continue and the mental toughness to start clawing back.
The Shamrocks scored five runs on as many hits in the fourth. Suddenly, they were on the scoreboard.
Closer and closer they crept. An inning later, they took advantage of four unearned runs en route to an eight-run fifth. 19-13.
A low murmur started in the stands, and it soon grew into a loud buzz as the fans realized that they might have the distinction of witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime comeback.
Barnesville added four more runs in the sixth. The deficit was now, shockingly, 19-18.
The fans were now solidly behind the underdog Shamrocks. They wanted to see the miracle occur. The stadium was alive with chants and cheers.
St. Clairsville silenced the rally, at least temporarily, in the bottom of the sixth, when the Red Devils added an insurance run to push the score to 20-18.
The Shamrocks needed a lot of hard work and a little luck.
In the top of the seventh, with a pair of runners on and St. Clairsville's lead now 20-19, Barnesville's Nick Myer stepped to the plate. Myer battled off pitched Brian Richardson several times before finally blooping a fly ball to center. Jim Ressler scored on the sac fly, and the score was knotted at 20 apiece.
Then Matt Willis came to the plate. Willis had a pair of singles thus far, and had driven in a run earlier in the game. Willis caught hold of a Richardson offering and drove it down the left-field line. Kraig Wells crossed the plate for the go-ahead run.
The crowd erupted and gave their newfound heroes a standing ovation.
Barnesville added three more runs for good measure in the seventh, and pitcher Ben Johnson shut down the Red Devils in the bottom of the inning. Barnesville had captured an impossible 23-20 comeback victory.
After the contest, the Shamrocks dashed onto the field and gathered in a highly emotional and well-deserved celebration. They refused to quit. They found the heart and desire to keep fighting, and they battled and battled until they finally took the lead. They held on, amazingly overcoming all odds. With their spirited effort and "never-say-die" attitude, the Barnesville Shamrocks had triumphed when victory seemed impossible.
And now, they were champions -- in more ways than one -- and an inspiration both to the fans at Vaccaro Field and scholastic athletes everywhere.
It was truly the most magnificent sports moment I have ever had the privilege to cover.
* * * *
THE LEGACY OF JACKIE ROBINSON
Spring 1946. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey meets with a young baseball player from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League. He invites the player into his office to negotiate a contract.
Before he could make an offer, however, there was something Rickey needed to know. Could the youngster keep from retaliating if ballplayers pelted him with profanities? Could he keep his temper if they kicked him with their spikes or threw baseballs at him?
"Mr. Rickey," the player asked angrily. "Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?"
"No," responded Rickey. "I'm looking for a player with enough guts not to fight back."
I grew up as a young baseball fan listening to the stories and legends of the great Brooklyn Dodgers. None stood out more than that of Jackie Robinson. Robinson needed the courage of a lion and the discipline of a soldier to break the color barrier in baseball. Lest we forget, without his courage, his valor, and his integrity, the road might never have been paved for modern-day minority superstars such as Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.
Robinson's accomplishments as a ballplayer were extraordinary. It was on July 5, 1947, that Jack Roosevelt Robinson became the first African-American man to play Major League Baseball in the modern era (Moses Fleetwood Walker was actually the first in 1884). He struck out his first time at the plate, but went on to become the 1947 Rookie of the Year with a .297 average, 12 home runs, and 29 stolen bases. Two years later, in 1949, he was named the National League MVP.
Robinson separated himself from the rest of the league not just because of talent, but because he had the inner-strength to withstand the hellacious wind of prejudice. Rickey had not lied when he told Jackie about the conviction he would need. "Hey, boy, why don't you go back to the cornfields where you belong!" players would shout at him. Teams like the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals had threatened not to take the field against the Dodgers if he played. And players did throw at his head, and kicked at him when he slid into a base.
But he took their threats. He took their insults. He took their outright acts of violence. And he emerged an American icon.
Today, Robinson's legacy still lasts. It covers not only the sports world, but our entire American culture. African-American superstars like Woods, Jordan and Ken Griffey Jr. all dominate their respective sports. Robinson himself, prior to his death, was extremely proud of the progress his race had made in the realm of athletics.
"From a time when we were considered playthings," he said, "we have progressed to the point where a great many of the best athletes are black - and are so acknowledged in our country."
His influence reaches beyond the sports world as well. The Jackie Robinson Foundation, designed to assist promising young African-Americans succeed, had given out nearly 500 scholarships to students across the country as of last year.
On Thursday, April 15, the sport of baseball decreed that no one will ever wear Robinson's number 42, in any uniform, ever again. Retired with the number is the talent, the courage, the pride, the tenacity, the suffering, the victory and the legacy that is Jackie Robinson.
"All I ask," Robinson once said, "is that you respect me as a human being."
Well, Jackie, we respect you.