1949 St. Louis Cardinals

I saw a bunch of Facebook postings saying that today was opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals. That got me digging in the back of my sock drawer for a souvenir bat and pennant Dad gave me when we went to a ball game.

I didn’t even notice that he had put my name on it in his distinctive handwriting until the scan was compete. It was just luck that the name side was down.

1949 Cardinals souvenir program

This program was stuck inside the scrapbook my folks made of my early years. It’s possible that the bat dates back to this game, but I don’t know that for sure.

Cardinal Program Chicago lineup

Not being an avid baseball fan, particularly when I was two years old, I don’t recognize the Chicago players. Click on the image to make it larger. I scanned it at a little higher resolution than usual so you can read all the type.

St. Louis Cardinals lineup

HERE are names I grew up hearing. I shot a picture of Red Schoendiest at the Spring Training Opener this year. How could any kid in SE Missouri NOT know Stan the Man?

You have to snack at a ball game

It doesn’t say how much these snacks cost in 1949, but two hot dogs and two bottles of water set me back 20 bucks at the spring training opener.

Birthday bat, ball and cap

I’m guessing this is my sixth or 7th birthday. I’m holding a bat, softball and wearing a St. Louis Cardinals cap in front of my grandparents’ home in Advance. It’s obvious from my body language that these are alien tools.

Actually, I spent many hours playing pitch and catch with Dad in the backyard or just throwing the ball up in the air to play catch with myself. I never got good enough to be picked first, but, at least, I wasn’t always picked last when it was time to grab the end of the bat to chose up teams.

Dad impressed upon me that you always hold the bat with the label up to keep from cracking it. Unfortunately, one of my classmates either didn’t know or didn’t remember that when he grabbed my bat and stepped to the plate. I’ll never forget the sound of my birthday bat breaking. I was devastated.

Son Adam was the baseball player

Son Adam was the ballplayer of the family. When he was about 12, he was a catcher who could nail a runner at second from his knees. Everybody learned not to steal on him. The only problem was that he couldn’t hit. He could only bunt. But, boy, could he ever bunt. The other teams KNEW he was going to bunt, but he’d always lay one down in the hole.

He hates for me to tell this story, but what good are kids if you can’t embarrass them?

The pitchers must have left their arms at home one night, because they quickly gave up walk after walk and hit after hit. Coach cycled through every player on the team until he came to Adam. Now, you’d think that a catcher who can hit second dead on should be able to put a pitch across the plate, right?

“The NEXT one would have been a strike”

Wrong. Not only could he not hit the plate, he couldn’t hit the backstop. Finally, with his mother and me sinking lower and lower in the stands – “Gee, I wonder who that kid is who’s pitching?” – the coach finally walked out to the mound and demanded the ball.

Adam walked off the field, kicking dirt all the way to the dugout.

“What’s the matter, kid?” I asked. “You were stinking the place up. Why are you mad about being yanked?”

“The NEXT one would have been a strike,” he said.

And, that’s why he’s become a good businessman. When he doesn’t get the deal or something goes wrong, he always thinks, “The NEXT one is going to be a strike.”

 

Lila Perry Survives Triathlon

We Steinhoffs are an athletic bunch. Son Matt (left) is a cyclist. Lila Perry Steinhoff, CHS Class of 1966, has been a swimmer since she was a tadpole. She still swims one to two miles a couple of times a week or more. Adam (right) is a triathlete, who does cycling, running and swimming. I ride a bike and jump to conclusions for exercise.

Adam asked Matt and his mother if they’d like to do a family Olympic distance relay at the 19th Annual Huntington’s Disease Triathlon in Miami on August 1, 2010. Each would do a leg of their specialty: Matt would ride his bike 40 kilometers, Lila would swim 1.5K and Adam would run 10K.

I would photograph the event and jump to the conclusion that they were nuts for doing this in August in Florida.

The Triathlon started at Dark O’Clock

These things start long before the rooster even turns over to smack the snooze alarm for the first time. We decided to stay in a Miami hotel to keep from having to get up even before we went to bed to be there in the pre-dawn hours. The hotel was upscale enough that they provided a couple of bottles of water (if you wanted to pay $6.50 a bottle). If we were hungry, room service would be happy to bring up a $4 Three Musketeer bar for a $3 delivery charge, plus a 21% gratuity.

I didn’t hear anyone snoring

Lila complained that she didn’t get any sleep because someone in the room was snoring very loudly. I didn’t hear him, and he didn’t keep ME awake, so I think she was imagining it.

They must be afraid of sharks

One of the first things they had to do was to check in and get race numbers attached to Matt’s bike and for Adam to display while he ran. Because swimming was involved, everyone had to have their race number written on their arms and legs in waterproof marker. When I saw them scrawling a big R on the back of Lila’s leg, I thought, “Man, they must be concerned about sharks out in Virgina Key Bay if they want to be able to tell which were the Left and Right legs of the swimmers.”

I found out later that I was getting my jumping to conclusions exercise. “R” stood for relay, meaning that it was a team, and not an individual entry. (I like my original theory better.)

Lila is NOT under house arrest

Lila is wearing an electronic device around her ankle, but she’s not under house arrest, nor has she been palling around with Lindsay Lohan.

The ankle straps contain timing chips that tell how long each athlete takes to cover a particular leg and how long they take in the “transition area” to switch to the next specialty. Swimmers, for example, have to make it out of the water, find their bicycles, put on cycling shoes and a helmet and hit the bike course.

Lila’s chip said she finished her swim in 47 minutes, 53 seconds. When she got to the bike transition area, she handed off the timing chip to Matt and was done for the day. She was lucky that her timing chip stayed on. Right after one of the elite groups took off, a timing anklet was seen floating about 40 feet offshore. Losing the chip can mean disqualification and having to pay $35 to replace it.

The wonders of digital cameras

When the swimmers went to check out the Swim Start area, it was so dark that about all you could see was the Miami skyline in the distance. I was amazed at how much detail the Nikon D40 will pick up with almost no light.

Lila tests the waters

Lila has had few experiences doing long swims in salt water. When the kids were younger, she was in the water shepherding a bunch of Boy Scouts qualifying for their Mile Swim badge. All of a sudden, this huge, dark object rolled over right in their path. She could just see herself writing a packet of “I regret to inform you that your son was eaten by an alligator while in my charge” letters.

Fortunately, the large object turned out to be a harmless manatee.

You can see that the sun was just beginning to think about waking up when she waded into the 87.9 degree water.

Danger: Spilled Testosterone

Before the races start, there’s a lot of kidding around and socializing. Don’t think for a moment, though, that these folks don’t take the event seriously. There was so much testosterone oozing out that the course was slippery.

Starts are controlled chaos

When the starter says “GO!!!” there’s a mad dash to get into the water and start churning. The guy on the right looks like he’s figured out a way to run on top of the water.

Lila’s a Diesel engine

Lila opted for a more sedate water entry, which put her at the back of the pack. She had no illusions about winning her first triathlon; her goal was to finish, hopefully in under an hour. I had no doubt that she’d make it, but some of the lifeguards may not have been so sure.

“As I passed the guys on the paddle boards,  some asked how I was doing?  I told them I have a Diesel engine. I’m not fast, but I can go all day.  They could see that I wasn’t winded or struggling, so all was good. The only problem I had was that, without my glasses, unlike the bright orange buoys at the beginning of the course, the yellow buoys were hard to see against the green along the  shore  in the early morning light. As I went around the last two buoys, I had to ask the guys on the paddle boards to point me to the next buoy.'”

How Did Team DedicatedIT do?

You can see the course here.

Adam’s goal was to do his run in an hour. His last best time was 1:30. He was disappointed that his final time was 1:09:46. He said that the heat had pushed his heart rate above what he could sustain.

Matt, who was doing this for the first time, didn’t know what his goal was other than not being last. He completed his 24.8-mile bike ride in 1:26:03, an average of a little over 17 mph. Considering the heat and that the course involved climbing the Key Biscayne Bridge four times, that’s pretty good. Another consideration was that he was riding a bike handed down by his uncle, Mark, instead of the specialty bikes favored by the hard-core racers. Some of those bikes are worth more than Matt’s car.

Lila’s swim time for 1.5K (just a hair under a mile), as mentioned before, was 47:53, beating her goal of an hour.

They WERE a little disappointed to find that their gold medals weren’t REAL gold.

 

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Three Wars, Three Men

January 15, 1969, I shot this photo in Athens, Ohio. I ran it  7-3/4 inches wide by 12-1/4 inches deep with the following caption, reflecting the self-absorption of a 22-year old:

three wars, three men: With most of our attention focused on Vietnam, it is easy to forget that other men of other years had their wars, too. Fate has placed three veterans in the same room at Sheltering Arms Hospital. They are Bill Howell, World War I, Jim Gates, World War II, and Clyde Edmundson, the Spanish-American War.

No Spanish-American War vets left

The last Spanish-American War veteran died in 1992 or 1993, depending on which account you read. The Last Veterans website has fascinating information for history buffs.

Frank Buckles of Bethany, MO, was born Feb. 1, 1901. When he was 16, he told an Army he he was 18. The recruiter told him to go home to his mommy. Frank decided a big lie might work better than a small one, so he told the next recruiter he was 21. As of this writing, he is America’s last surviving veteran of World War I. You can learn more about him at his website.

It’s hard to believe that our generation’s Vietnam vets are getting as gray as these fellows I shot in 1969.

Cape’s Freedom Corner

In mid-summer 1942, America was rejoicing in the defeat of the Imperial Japanese fleet in the battles of Midway and the Coral Sea. Cape Girardeans, a Missourian story reported, gathered at the corner of Capaha Park to dedicate four brick pillars holding two honor roll boards listing the names of 1,295 men and women serving in the armed forces.

Feb. 3, 1943, two large eagles from the salon of the steamer Bald Eagle were mounted atop the middle pillars. By 1944, the Honor Roll had grown to more than 3,700 names, with 60 gold stars alongside those who had died in the war.

The honor roll was taken down after the war ended. It was replaced in 1950 by the first memorial plaques to honor Cape Girardeau County servicemen killed or missing in action during World War II. Since then, plaques have been added honoring those from the county who died in World War I, Korea and Vietnam.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty was presented to the city by the Boy Scouts in 1950 and the corner became known as Freedom Corner. By 1997, the pillars had deteriorated to the point of collapse. The American Legion spearheaded an effort to get them rebuilt.

Homemade Memorial for Gulf War

I was riding my bike up Flagler Blvd. in West Palm Beach on a March day in 2007 when I saw a field of hand-lettered Corafoam tombstones in a city park. It was a homemade traveling memorial to the men and women who had died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I pushed my bike along every row, reading every name, sometimes with eyes brimming with tears at the waste of a generation. One name was missing.

Elizabeth Jacobson

Liz, as we called her, was my son Adam’s former girlfriend. She lived with us briefly before she joined the Air Force. When she came back from boot camp, she was one squared-away young woman who seemed to have her life figured out.

On Sept. 28, 2005, she was providing security on a convoy when the vehicle she was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. Liz and Army Sgt. Steve Morin, Jr., of Arlington, TX, were killed; a third solider was injured, but survived.

She was 21 years old.

She has the dubious honor of being the first female airman killed in the line of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We’re only on earth for a little while”

I called Adam. He got permission from the organizers to add her “stone” to the memorial. On it, he wrote some lines that she had sent him: “We’re only on this earth for a little while, so live life to the fullest and carry a smile.”

Here is a website dedicated to Airman First Class Elizabeth Jacobson.

 

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.