30 September 2011


Not six hours after the announcement that the US had killed Anwar al-Awlaki and one of his key staff, Samir Khan, the sniping begins. The ACLU, which woud be one of the first organizations to be banned and persecuted under an Islamic government, is concerned that these terrorist commanders who have actually waged war on the United States, were not afforded due process of law before the attack. [Yeah, I know Ron Paul spoke up, too, and he is as wrong as the loony left. He ought to know better.]

If killing one enemy commander who happens to have US citizenship is a denial of constitutional rights, the hundreds of thousands of American citizens killed on the order of Abraham Lincoln were grossly violated when they took up arms on behalf of the Confederate States of America. Sadly for them, the ACLU wasn’t around to take up their claim. Or perhaps the ACLU, with its selective “hate America first agenda”, is only interested if the citizen they are worrying about is from a group which the American left likes.

Still, I’ll bet Isoroku Yamamoto wishes this rule had applied in 1943.

29 September 2011


“In our sun-down perambulations, of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing ‘base’, a certain game of ball...Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms...the game of ball is glorious.” Brooklyn Eagle, July 23, 1846

I grew up in Missouri (pre-A’s) and Illinois. As someone wrote in SI circa 1966, “St. Louis is a town where a kid grows up with a Budweiser in one hand and a score card in the other.” Cardinals fans are the greatest fans in American sport.

The collapse of the Phillies in 1964 was an answered prayer for me, something I had waited for for as long as I could understand baseball. [For those who are culturally illiterate, the Phils led the league by 6 1⁄2 games with 12 to go. Then came a ten-game losing streak that ended the year for the Phils, although they ended the season tied for second with the Reds.]

The Cards went on to beat the Yanks in seven, only the second time that the Yanks had lost back-to-back World Series. My hero was, in Harry Caray’s words, “Barney Schultz, the Cards’ ace knuckle-baller.”

After I retired from the Marine Corps, I moved to the Philadelphia area, but it was that loveable band of misfits, the 1993 Phils, that captured my heart. Led by Dutch Daulton, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, and Curt Schilling, the day-to-day roster also included Pete “Inky” Incaviglia, rookie Mickey Morandini, Jim Eisenreich--a real "big leaguer", RubĂ©n Amaro, Jr. (now the Phils’ GM), Larry Anderson (now one of the Phils’ broadcasters and my candidate for the Joe Garragiola award for best color commentator), and Mitch “The Wild Thing” Williams. In a classic “worst-to-first” season, the “Phighting Phils” took the lead in the NL East on opening day, and never relinquished the lead.

A rain-delayed double-header in July lasted just shy of 12 hours. Folks who left the game at midnight came back in the wee hours to see Mitch Williams win the second game on an RBI single at 4:41 AM.

In the NL championship series, the Phils beat the Braves (then in the West) 4 games to 2. The Series against the Blue Jays went to 6 games, but the Jays won the series on Joe Carter’s walk-off homer off Mitch Williams. [I have never seen that home run. I had a pillow case over my head for the actual hit, and I still cannot bear to see it when it is re-run. At the Hall of Fame in 1998, I turned away from a film clip of the homer. Another visitor looked at me and said, “My God, you’re a Phillies fan!” That was my epiphany.]

Then came the glorious years at the end of the first decade of a new century. 2007 marked the Phils return to post-season play, followed by the World Series win in 2008, which a merciful God allowed Harry Kalas to call just before he was called up to join the broadcast team of Mel Allen, Harry Caray, and others following the Heavenly Choir Nine.

There was a return to the series in 2009, won by the Yanks, a loss to the Rockies in the 2010 LCS, and now, another post season following the best year in Phillies history (102-60). That the 102d win came in an extra-innings win over the hapless, choke-prone Braves (which gave the Cards a thrilling come from behind wild card win) was icing on the cake.

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Carlos Ruiz, and the pitchers, Roy “Doc” Halladay, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Vance Worley, Brad Lidge, and Ryan Madson, led by the skipper, Charlie Manuel will push the Eagles off the front page for awhile. I’ll be in agony while the Cards and Phils duke it out. Ironically, I'll be in Tampa which staged its own come-from-behind wild card run, for all of those games.

Still, it is the post season, the best days of the year.

01 September 2011


Chief Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, U.S. Navy, was a son of the mid-West. From the landlocked heartland, like so many men before him, he joined the Navy. Two weeks ago, this warrior was one of the men who were killed in action when his SEAL Team was shot down in Afghanistan. He was returned to his hometown in Rockford, Iowa to rest eternally until the Lord returns.

At his funeral, one of his cousins, Lisa Pembleton, took a photograph of CPO Tumilson’s dog, Hawkeye, laying beside the flag-draped casket.

I hope that Chief Tumlison, a son of Iowa and Senator George Graham Vest (1830-1904), a son of Missouri, get a chance to be together in Heaven. Both know the truth about dogs.

Senator vest was justly famous for a closing argument he made in a case tried in Warrenton, Missouri, in which he represented the owner of a dog, Old Drum, who had been shot by a sheep herder. So powerful was his closing that the it is said that the jury returned a verdict for the owner of $500, ten times the jurisdictional maximum of $50. A statue of Old Drum now stands in front of the Courthouse in Warrensburg.

In his closing, Mr. Vest said

Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

Gentlemen of the jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

So here’s to Chief Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, loyal son of Iowa, squared away North American bluejacket, and Hawkeye’s shipmate.