ALS the Lou Gehrig’s Disease

I think the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a great way to spread awareness for ALS . Visit the Ice Bucket Challenge website http://icebucketchallenge.org/about

The challenge has gone viral on social media and is all over the internet, hopefully one day there will be a cure, because no one person or family should ever have to endure this horrible disease. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one to ALS as my mother fought it for 5-years before it took her life….

ALS and My Mother

An amazing, strong and vibrant person who touched the lives of hundreds of people and was passionate about life passed away after a 5 year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). She was a school teacher and loved teaching kids, it was her passion, until one day she had a difficult time writing on the white board. So we took her to the hospital and had a bunch of tests done, which later diagnosed her with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The doctors said she had 3-years to live and there is no cure for the disease she carries. I remember my mom sat my brother and I down at the kitchen table and told us a she is dying and that she doesn’t have much time left. She told us that she is sorry and that she really wanted to be around when we had kids but the disease will take her life before that happens….and she was right.

The next few years took a massive toll on my family as my step-dad, brother, sister-in-law and I did our best to be care takers and make my mothers last years as good as they can be. My sister-in-law spent hours with my mom, sitting and reading, feeding and copping with the illness. We watched as she went from walking and talking to needing a cane in the first year, then a walker and later a wheelchair. She was able to talk for a few years after the diagnoses, but that too became difficult and soon she could not speak. Her ability to eat soon became difficult, she would choke on her food, and later she would choke on her own saliva and gasp for air as her eye’s watered. In the end she couldn’t move a muscle in her body, and her head would bobble around in her wheelchair when we went outside. I remember sitting with her in the backyard soaking up the rays thinking to myself, I wish I could talk with my mom and have a conversation like we used to….but that favorite past time was long gone. The last few years of my moms life was the most difficult, the care she needed became more intense, her breathing became more difficult and each holiday that came around could be the last one we have together. It was the most helpless feeling any one person could have watching a loved one who was once so vibrant and full of life become the exact opposite because of a deadly disease that has no cure.

Watching my mother accept her condition and sustain a mostly positive attitude through it all has taught me so much about life and people and the short time we have with each other. I remember my mom telling me she was scared and that she missed her mother. There were times when I would lay my head down in her lap and lift her hand and put it on my head so I could feel her touch. The worst part about ALS is that while the body is deteriorating from the inside out, the mind is still complete and in tact. Though she could not move and had a difficult time swallowing her mind was completely healthy and functioned normal.

I was there when she took her last breath, she was calm & ready for her life to be over. I don’t think she wanted to live with the ALS disease any longer and stress and difficulties it brought to her family. The room was filled with family and we had football on the TV, I sat on the couch in front of her, my step-dad by her side holding her hand. She took her last breath ever so quietly as if she wanted to sneak out of the room without anybody noticing And just like that, the greatest person to ever be  in my life was gone. I think about her everyday, her smile, her laugh, the lessons she taught me & I can’t help but wonder what she would be doing today. But I know she is proud of me and that is enough – because one day…someday – I will see her again.

The official ALS can be reached in MA at http://www.als-ma.org – and nationally at http://www.alsa.org

Lou Gehrig

A first baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees (1923–1939). Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, he played in  2,130 consecutive games which earned him his nickname “The Iron Horse.” Lou was a seven-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion, Gehrig won the Triple Crown in 1934 and was twice named theAmerican League’s (AL) Most Valuable Player. When the Yankees began their 1939 spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was clear that Gehrig no longer possessed his once-formidable power. Even Gehrig’s base running was affected, and at one point he collapsed at Al Lang Field, then the Yankees’ spring training park. By the end of spring training, Gehrig had not hit a home run. Throughout his career, Gehrig was considered an excellent baserunner, but as the 1939 season got under way, his coordination and speed had deteriorated significantly

After six days of extensive testing at Mayo Clinic, the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was confirmed on June 19, Gehrig’s 36th birthday.

Gehrig was the first MLB player to have his uniform number retired, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 and on July 4, 1939 Gehrig delivered what has been called “baseball’s Gettysburg Address” to a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium:

Fans,  for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift—that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies—that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter—that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body—it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed—that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.

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9-innings of zeros

A shutout is officially defined by Major League Baseball rule 10.18:
“A shutout is a statistic credited to a pitcher who allows no runs in a game. No pitcher shall be credited with pitching a shutout unless he pitches the complete game, or unless he enters the game with none out before the opposing team has scored in the first inning, puts out the side without a run scoring and pitches the rest of the game without allowing a run. When two or more pitchers combine to pitch a shutout, the league statistician shall make a notation to that effect in the league’s official pitching records”

9-innings of zeros on the scoreboard as the team congratulated me on the infield for pitching a shutout. What can I say…I was on, Not to say that I didn’t make any mistakes, I made a few mental errors and missed a few spots- but my teammates behind me made all the right plays.
Can a pitcher still get a shutout if he doesn’t start? Surprisingly, Yes! He won’t be be credited with a game started or complete game. If the starting pitcher is removed from the game prior to the first recorded out by the opposing team, the pitcher that replaces him can still be eligible for a shutout if the game ends with the opposing team failing to score a run. On June 23, 1917, Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox walked the first batter of the Washington Senators, Ray Morgan, in the bottom of the first inning. Ruth engaged in an argument with home plate umpire Brick Owens, and Ruth was ejected and escorted off the field. Ruth’s replacement, Ernie Shore, proceeded to finish the game without allowing the Senators to score retiring the next 26 batters in a row to complete a perfect game. The game was regarded as a perfect game for many years until it was officially downgraded to a no-hitter since another pitcher took part in the game. Shore and Ruth were credited with a combined no-hitter, even though Ruth pitched unsuccessfully to only one batter in the game. Shore was credited with a shutout for his effort, despite not starting the game or pitching a complete game. This bizarre scenario has occurred only once in baseball history.
Many pitchers in the major leagues throw double digit shutouts in their career even college and high School pitchers throw multiple shutouts.
There was a mystique on the field that night, the only runs scored was by 2-walked batters and a base hit. The team I pitch for was going for their 75th all time win, and we were playing on an old minor league baseball field built in the early 1940’s.
I play on a team called the California Knickerbockers (www.californiaknickerbockers.com) it is a junior college level wood-bat team in northern California. I have played baseball my whole life and love everything about the game, the thinking, the throwing, the great plays and solid hits. The tricks and the trade, to many baseball is just a game, but to me, it is a way of life.

Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing - Warren Spahn

The game of baseball and all it’s glory

The early games of the 1920’2-1950’s was the purist form of the game in all aspects, the battle that goes on between the lines from each pitch to every at bat. The symmetry of 3, 3 bases, 3 outs, 3 strikes, 3-outfielders, 9-innings which is divisible by three and is split up in 3 sections of three on a 9 inning scoreboard. How it all fits, I don’t think there is a true explanation, but that in it is art, and that is what makes the game so beautiful.

However, there is no way in hell you can compare the stats and accomplishments of the early game to the one played today! I’m not saying that there should be an asterisk next to the new records, but if you are reading a baseball record book, you have to appreciate how the records where originally set and the way the game was managed, the equipment and the fields. Back in the 1950’s, the Fields were bigger, the bat’s didn’t have a lot of pop, the balls where not as tight, players were smaller and the salary’s where not making them rich! Baseball Players played the game because they had a true passion and a love for the sport.
I’m not saying that great players today do not have a passion for the sport, but you have to understand that over the last 25 years, The stadiums have become smaller, the balls have been wound tighter, the bat has more pop and the players have doubled in size! The fans that notice whether or not a pitcher is tipping off his pitches, or if a batter dipped on a curve ball, the people who pay attention to every stat like it is the bible never even blinked when the fields shrank and the players grew.
What did that do to the sport? It changed the dynamics, probabilities and scores. Then the steroid issue came about, hall of fame players were singled out and baseball was tainted because a lot of the super stars were cheaters in a game that all of us hold so dear to our heart. We were so upset & furious! This beautiful symmetrical game of three’s started to crumble…but games still went on, and families still went to the ballpark…why? Because baseball is America’s Favorite Pastime! It’s as American as hot apple pie, Baseball was around during WWI and WWII and it gave American’s something to believe in during a horrible time, it was around during the depression, during the attacks on September 11 and it is still around today. Only today, is a little different…. it’s a little more balanced again. I think the game needed to have that hit from the steroid issue to regain its symmetry and balance within American culture.

Over the last 5 years there hasn’t been one team that has over dominated every year in the World Series…Since the fall of the New York Yankee Dynasty after the Red Sox overcame their curse and beat them repeatedly, there has been a different team every year: Phillies, Angels, White Sox, Giants…and it’s shown it’s true side that it truly is anybody’s game until the last out in the last inning.
This game, The game of baseball that we American’s love so much is part of our heritage, some of us play, some of us watch, some of us listen…but we all appreciate the wonderful game of baseball!

When it was just Grass, Dirt, Leather & Lace

The early morning smell of the fresh cut grass, the feel of a freshly rolled infield beneath your cleats, the smell of your glove, the pop of the ball against your hand. This is what baseball was founded on. A good bat between your hands, the smell of pine tar, the feel of a hard hit ball off the sweet spot is what a real baseball player lives for. Digging in, tapping the plate, focusing on the pitch, watching the ball dance, drop, slide, cut, split & move all over the place. Hearing the sizzle of the seams cut through the air, watching the ball zip around…the feel of a solid hard hit ball off the sweet spot of the bat, the thrill of beating the pitcher…the pitcher who was….Digging in, tapping the rubber, focusing on the next pitch, making the ball dance, drop, slide, cut, split & move all over the zone….2-2, 3-2, Whiz, snap…”Strike Three!” the thrill of confusing the batter, making them guess, keeping them off balance & off first base. The feeling of beating the batter. Then there were lights…the thrill of playing baseball after the sun goes down, the challenge of picking up the ball under the lights, the damp dirt in your face as you slide into second, the thrill of watching a baseball disappear over the fence into the dark sky, never to be scene again…


Good Pitching will beat Good Hitting any given day. Both are challenging…both will succeed & fail multiple times in the game. A successful batter is only good 30% of the time.

“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good           performer.”

Ted Williams quotes (American Baseball Player, 1918-2002)