Honoring 100th anniversary of Negro Leagues

While it is not likely to be a season where many fans will be able to cheer on their favorite baseball teams from the stands, there are other opportunities to celebration the great history of baseball.

The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues with a wonderful exhibit. The museum has limited hours at the moment and if you want to view the exhibits it’s best call the hall at its website athttps://www.mlb.com/reds/hall-of-fame   or by calling 866-800-1275.

Ronald Hawkins made the 2-1/2 hour trip from Bedford, Indiana, to the Hall and took  a few pictures:

Remembering Westley Unseld

The memories of cherished childhood moments were awakened when I learned recently of the death of Westley Unseld, one of my true heroes.

Why would I call a basketball player a hero? That is because he was much more than a great basketball player to me.

Growing up, there were no blacks at either of the elementary schools I attended, neither at Beechmont Elementary nor Indian Trail Elementary, where I finished the sixth grade after our family moved to what was considered suburban Louisville at the time.

Westley Unseld Seneca

That summer, however, that changed. At Indian Trail, a recreation program was available for youth and since it was free and within easy walking distance it filled many hours for me.

The most important moment for me was the arrival of Wes Unseld, who had just led Seneca High School to its second straight state basketball championship and been named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball. He would be attending the University of Louisville beginning in the fall. And that was the school I cheered for and, occasionally when I got lucky, was able attend Cardinals games at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds’ Freedom Hall.

When I first met Mr. Unseld, I didn’t know what to expect since I had never met a black man before. It was a pleasant learning experience that has shaped my thinking ever since.

One day, I pedaled to the  school with my current Cincinnati Reds yearbook in hand. Wes took an interest and asked to look at it. On another day, Westley hit a softball too far on the outdoor playground and uttered a mild profanity.

Mr. Unseld didn’t hesitate to apologize.

It turned out to be one of the best summers I ever had.

Later, I found out we had the same orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rudy Ellis, and I would see Mr. Unseld occasionally in the waiting room. Westley’s great career was complicated by knee injuries and since birth I had been plagued with knee and hip problems. Westley always had a friendly word when I saw him at the doctor’s office in downtown Louisville.

At the University of Louisville, Westley was renowned for his great outlet passes, exceptional rebounding and also was a 20-point plus scorer. Those impressive skills for the relatively short 6-foot 7-inch basketball player made him an All-American player and after that a great NBA player. One list named him one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all-time.

One year when Louisville basketball tickets were easy to get and a lot less expensive, my parents gave me the fabulous gift of a season ticket for the Louisville Cardinals’ home games during Wes’ senior year. That was a thrill watching that team that also included Butch Beard, another former Mr. Basketball; Jerry King, Fred Holden, and other outstanding players.

The connection continued at my high school, Thomas Jefferson High School.

Wes’ younger brothers, Robert and Isaac attended my high school. Ike was in my graduating class. Unfortunately, TJ was a fairly new high school and was opened after Wes started attending Seneca.

TJ was the best integrated public high school in Jefferson County and yet was still divided in many ways. You would see whites on one side of the classroom and blacks on another side. The only ones sitting together were white and black athletes.

In my senior year at TJ, I was the editor of The Declaration, the school newspaper. I was inspired to write a column by what I had learned beginning with meeting Westley and the words of a black classmate.

The words of the classmate stayed with me and were part of the column. He said, “There’s only one race: the human race.” I know many, unfortunately, would disagree with that sentiment, but if more people lived with that belief it would make for a much better world. It is a good companion thought to the golden rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As the years went by, I ran into Ike Unseld from time-to-time, but I didn’t see Westley again until after his playing career was over.

It was quite a career as Wes was voted the NBA’s rookie of the year and MVP in his first year with the Bullets. Later, he along with Elvin Hayes led the Bullets to their only NBA title.

In 1983, I was a reporter at the Prince George’s (Maryland) Journal when I encountered  him (I can’t say I ran into him because he was a still a formidable presence for my 5-11 frame) at a Bullets’ event in Landover, Md.

I reminded Wes of that time decades earlier when I met him at Indian Trail Elementary School. He gave me a big smile and was delighted to see anyone remembered those days.

Who could have ever forgotten having met Wes Unseld? I was working as a “sheriff” at a polling place in Lawrence County, Ind., last week when I learned of his death. I could hardly hold back tears, but let out a big sorrowful “Oh my!”

I was asked by another poll worker what had happened. I explained by sharing my story of Big Wes, one of my lifelong heroes, and how he was someone who helped me realize the brotherhood of all humans.

About RDH Great Stories

 

Ronald Hawkins is the founder of the RDH Great Stories business. He has been an award-winning reporter, writer, editor, columnist, interviewer, videographer and more for newspapers, trade publications and others in New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Mr. Hawkins also has given presentations on science fiction, the Beatles and other subjects at libraries and science fiction conventions. Most recently, he has written for Radius Indiana and Ready Set Quit Tobacco. He also has volunteered as a literacy coalition tutor.

RDH Great Stories can be hired for a variety of projects. If interested, he may be contacted at ronaldwritera1@gmail.com or by sending a written inquiry to:

Ronald Hawkins

c/o RDH Great Stories

1617 N Street

Bedford, IN 47421

‘Get Back’ documentary film release set for September

After more than 50 years, “Get Back” will finally be released as a documentary film in September.

When the Beatles began their work on what was intended to be “Get Back,” the complicated sessions and band member relationships led to the band throwing its hands up in the air. Eventually a “Let It Be” album and film were released, chieflyderived from the Get Back sessions. Very few were happy with the record produced by Phil Spector and the movie.


“Let it Be” hasn’t been available to the public since the early days of commercial VHS tape.


On Thursday, Walt Disney Studios and Apple announced that a Peter Jackson-created documentary called “Get Back” would be released around the world.

According to the announcement, The Walt Disney Studios officials stated they had acquired the worldwide distribution rights to “acclaimed filmmaker Peter Jackson’s previously announced Beatles documentary. The film will showcase the warmth, camaraderie and humor of the making of the legendary band’s studio album, “Let It Be,” and their final live concert as a group, the iconic rooftop performance on London’s Savile Row.

 

The Beatles: Get Back” will be released by The Walt Disney Studios in the United States and Canada on September 4, 2020, with additional details and dates for the film’s global release to follow. The announcement was made earlier today by Robert A. Iger, executive chairman, The Walt Disney Company, at Disney’s annual meeting of shareholders. 


“No band has had the kind of impact on the world that The Beatles have had, and ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ is a front-row seat to the inner workings of these genius creators at a seminal moment in music history, with spectacularly restored footage that looks like it was shot yesterday,” says Iger of the announcement. “I’m a huge fan myself, so I could not be happier that Disney is able to share Peter Jackson’s stunning documentary with global audiences in September.” 

“The Beatles: Get Back,” presented by The Walt Disney Studios in association with Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd., is an exciting new collaboration between The Beatles, the most influential band of all time, and three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy). Compiled from over 55 hours of unseen footage, filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and 140 hours of mostly unheard audio recordings from the “Let It Be” album sessions, “The Beatles: Get Back” is directed by Jackson and produced by Jackson, Clare Olssen (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) and Jonathan Clyde, with Ken Kamins and Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones serving as executive producers. 
 
The footage has been restored by Park Road Post Production of Wellington, New Zealand, and is being edited by Jabez Olssen, who collaborated with Jackson on 2018’s “They Shall Not Grow Old,” the groundbreaking film which featured restored and colorized World War I archival footage. The music in the film will be mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios in London. With this pristine restoration behind it, “The Beatles: Get Back” will create a vivid, joyful and immersive experience for audiences.   

Peter Jackson says, “Working on this project has been a joyous discovery. I’ve been privileged to be a fly on the wall while the greatest band of all time works, plays and creates masterpieces. I’m thrilled that Disney have stepped up as our distributor. There’s no one better to have our movie seen by the greatest number of people.”
 
Paul McCartney says, “I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about The Beatles recording together. The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had.”

Ringo Starr says, “I’m really looking forward to this film. Peter is great and it was so cool looking at all this footage. There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the version that came out. There was a lot of joy and I think Peter will show that. I think this version will be a lot more peace and loving, like we really were.”

“The Beatles: Get Back” is also being made with the enthusiastic support of Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

Although the original “Let It Be” film, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and the accompanying album were filmed and recorded in January 1969, they were not released until May 1970, three weeks after The Beatles had officially broken up. The response to the film at the time by audiences and critics alike was strongly associated with that announcement. During the 15-month gap between the filming of “Let It Be” and its launch, The Beatles recorded and released their final studio album, “Abbey Road,” which came out in September 1969.

Shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, the 80-minute “Let It Be” movie was built around the three weeks of filming, including an edited version of the rooftop concert. The GRAMMY-winning “Let It Be” album topped the charts in the U.S. and the U.K.

The new documentary brings to light much more of the band’s intimate recording sessions for “Let It Be” and their entire 42-minute performance on the rooftop of Apple’s Savile Row London office. While there is no shortage of material of The Beatles’ extensive touring earlier in their careers, “The Beatles: Get Back” features the only notable footage of the band at work in the studio, capturing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they create their now-classic songs from scratch, laughing, bantering and playing to the camera. 

Shot on January 30, 1969, The Beatles’ surprise rooftop concert marked the band’s first live performance in over two years and their final live set together. The footage captures interactions between the band members, reactions from fans and employees from nearby businesses, and comical attempts to stop the concert by two young London policemen responding to noise complaints. 

A fully restored version of the original “Let It Be” film will be made available at a later date.

 

MLB acts to suspend Astros manager, g.m.

Kudos to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred for the suspension of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for their involvement in electronic sign stealing during the team’s 2017 World Series winning season.

Those weren’t the only penalty for the team and the manager and the g.m. The team was fined $5 million and lost its 2020 and 2021 first and second round draft choices.

The Astros fired Hinch and Luhnow.

Here’s a link to the MLB statement:

Click to access cglrhmlrwwbkacty27l7.pdf

Photos by Ronald Hawkins.

AFI names top 2019 films, tv shows

The American Film Institute has announced its selections for top American made films and television shows of 2019.

Here are the lists:

Films of the Year

1917

THE FAREWELL

THE IRISHMAN

JOJO RABBIT

JOKER

KNIVES OUT

LITTLE WOMEN

MARRIAGE STORY

ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

RICHARD JEWELL

AFI TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

CHERNOBYL

THE CROWN

FOSSE/VERDON

GAME OF THRONES

POSE

SUCCESSION

UNBELIEVABLE

VEEP

WATCHMEN

WHEN THEY SEE US

Honorees will gather on January 3, 2020, for recognition at the annual AFI Awards private luncheon in Los Angeles.

Library of Congress names 25 more films to registry

One of our favorite things about the holiday season is that each December the Library of Congress announces the addition of 25 films to the National Film Registry.

In its announcement this year, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden stated that the film were selected because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage. The films in the class of 2019 range from Prince’s 1984 autobiographical hit “Purple Rain” and Spike Lee’s 1986 breakout movie “She’s Gotta Have It” to Disney’s 1959 timeless fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” and this year’s biggest public vote getter, Kevin Smith’s 1994 “Clerks.”

“The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity,” said Hayden. “Unlike many other honors, the registry is not restricted to a time, place or genre. It encompasses 130 years of the full American cinematic experience – a virtual Olympiad of motion pictures. With the support of Congress, the studios and other archives, we are ensuring that the nation’s cinematic history will be around for generations to come.”

A musical biopic, a heartwarming tale about man’s best friend, early black cinema, a notorious real-life crime drama and the anatomy of war represent the diversity of the 2019 registry. They include blockbusters, documentaries, silent movies, animation and independent films. The 2019 selections bring the number of films in the registry to 775, which is a small fraction of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of more than 1.6 million items.

The list of 25 includes:

  1. Amadeus (1984)
  2. Becky Sharp (1935)
  3. Before Stonewall (1984)
  4. Body and Soul (1925)
  5. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
  6. Clerks (1994)
  7. Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
  8. Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
  9. Employees Entrance (1933)
  10. Fog of War (2003)
  11. Gaslight (1944)
  12. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
  13. Girlfriends (1978)
  14. I Am Somebody (1970)
  15. Last Waltz, The (1978)
  16. My Name Is Oona (1969)
  17. A New Leaf (1971)
  18. Old Yeller (1957)
  19. The Phenix City Story (1955)
  20. Platoon (1986)
  21. Purple Rain (1984)
  22. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
  23. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
  24. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  25. Zoot Suit (1981)

Baseball’s reality, dreams, history make it special

One of the great things about baseball is that in many ways it is a time machine. It is about the game today, future stars and special moments of the past. In these photos by Ronald Hawkins, we see images of today, the future stars and Hall of Famers.

Cincinnati Reds All Star pitcher Luis Castillo allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates just one run in the seven-plus innings he pitched July 31, 2019, as the Reds won 4-1.
Luis Castillo fires.
Red Tucker Barnhart is hit by a pitch July 31, 2019, as the Reds went on to defeat the Pirates 4-1.
The legendary Joey Votto swings away July 31, 2019, against a Pirates pitcher’s offerings.

Prospects

The 2019 season has been a good season for Reds prospects to make it to the major leagues. Below are pictures of two of the successful prospects while playing for the Louisville Bats. They did well initially after advancing, but the MLB season is a long one and these prospects faded after hot starts. advancing.

Nick Senzel, who was the Reds top prospect, has battled back from injuries and vertigo to advance to the majors where he has been one of the top rookies of the year even while playing a new position for him. Unfortunately, the injury bug got him again.
Nick Senzel in center field for the Bats, who were calling themselves the Derby City Mint Juleps in this game in the week before the Kentucky Derby.
Nick Senzel.

Josh VanMeter
earned a trip to the Reds roster by hitting an unexpected, early season 14 home runs for the Bats. He wasn’t even on the Reds 40-man roster, but was hitting over .300 early in his debut for the Reds, but his numbers faded as pitchers caught on to his weaknesses.

Later in the 2019 season, the Reds Aristides “The Destroyer” Aquino emerged with a record-setting August by hitting more than adozen home runs in that month. And like the others, his numbers faded in September. in his first 10 games has tied the Major League record for most home runs in a player’s first 10 games.
Aquino’s Louisville Bats official picture.

Memories

The Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals have impressive halls of fame and figures around their stadiums commemorating the great moments of their past. The Reds are celebrating the 150-year anniversary of establishment of the first all professional team in professional baseball, which was based in Cincinnati. That team was disbanded after the 1870 season.

In the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum an exhibit includes figures representing the 1869 team, which went undefeated and traveled from coast to coast. Check the great, fact-based fictional book on that 1869 team by Darryl Brock called, “If I Never Get Back.”
This statue of Johnny Bench in the Reds hall shows the all-time great baseball catcher in his catching gear.
The Cincinnati Reds isn’t he only team celebrating their history. The St. Louis Cardinals, who have won more World Series titles than the Reds, have an impressive museum adjacent to their park. The shirt is of great Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, who was a holy terror on the mound and one of baseball’s all-time great pitchers.
Stan “the Man” Musial was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He held the National League record for most career hits until Pete Rose broke the record.
One trade Cubs fans have been trying to forget for more than half a century was the trade of Lou Brock to the Cardinals. When Brock retired he held multiple stolen base records and had more than 3,000 hits in his career.
The Rockford Peaches, one of the great women’s baseball teams in the 1940 war years and shortly thereafter, are commemorated in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
And, of course, the Reds have several mascots including Mr. Redlegs. Here, Kim Hawkins cuddles with a figure of the mascot across the road from the Great American Ballpark.

EAS shares startling report on west Antarctica glacier

From the EAS comes this scary report based on a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters:

By combining 25 years of ESA satellite data, scientists have discovered that warming ocean waters have caused the ice to thin so rapidly that 24 percent of the glacier ice in West Antarctica is now affected.

A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters describes how the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) used over 800 million measurements of Antarctic ice sheet height recorded by radar altimeter instruments on ESA’s ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and CryoSat satellite missions between 1992 and 2017.

The study also used simulations of snowfall over the same period produced by the RACMO regional climate model. Together, these measurements allow changes in ice-sheet height to be separated into those caused by meteorological events, which affect snow, and those caused by longer-term changes in climate, which affect ice.

The ice sheet has thinned by up to 122 metres in places, with the most rapid changes occurring in West Antarctica where ocean melting has triggered glacier imbalance. CPOM Director, Andy Shepherd, explained, “Parts of Antarctica have thinned by extraordinary amounts. So we set out to show how much was down to changes in climate and how much was instead due to weather.”

CryoSat

To do this, the team compared measurements of surface-height change with the simulated changes in snowfall. Where the signal was greater they attributed its origin to glacier imbalance.

They found that fluctuations in snowfall tend to drive small changes in height over large areas for a few years at a time, whereas the most pronounced changes in ice thickness coincide with signals of glacier imbalance that have persisted for decades.

Prof. Shepherd added, “Knowing how much snow has fallen has really helped us to isolate the glacier imbalance within the satellite record. We can see clearly now that a wave of thinning has spread rapidly across some of Antarctica’s most vulnerable glaciers, and their losses are driving up sea levelsaround the planet.

“After 25 years, the pattern of glacier thinning has spread across 24% of West Antarctica, and its largest ice streams – the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers – are now losing ice five times faster than they were in the 1990s.

“Altogether, ice losses from East and West Antarctica have added 4.6 mm of water to global sea level since 1992.”

ESA’s Marcus Engdahl, noted, “This is a fantastic demonstration of how satellite missions can help us to understand how our planet is changing. The polar regions are hostile environments and are extremely difficult to access from the ground. Because of this, the view from space is an essential tool for tracking the effects of climate change.”

Scientific results such as this are key to understanding how our planet works and how natural processes are being affected by climate change – and ice is a hot topic at ESA’s Living Planet Symposium, which is currently in full swing in Milan. This study demonstrates that the changing climate is causing real changes in the far reaches of the Antarctic.

(An unrelated note regarding this site: You will see below that this site is advertiser supported. Maybe someday, but in the three years of this site it hasn’t received a single penny from the ads you see on this site. If you click on the ads, there is a possibility we may eventually earn some money that this retiree could use, but we’re glad you’re reading this post regardless of whether you click on the ads. Thank you.)

Swiatek-Hawkins picks contest continues

For nearly 40 years, writer Jeff Swiatek and Ronald Hawkins have shared competing picks regarding the upcoming Major League Baseball season. The person with the most correct picks is the beneficiary of a dinner from his opponent.

An opening day in Cincinnati. Photo by Ronald Hawkins.

This tradition began when the writers were working at a daily newspaper in Carlisle, Pa. Hawkins has moved many times and Swiatek a few times with both somehow ending up in Indiana. Despite the moves, the competition has continued unabated.

Hawkins has completed his 2019 predictions and has agreed to post them here. He confesses to being a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan, but isn’t blinded to the challenges the team faces in the 150 anniversary of Cincinnati claiming the first all-professional team.

The predictions:

2019 Major League Baseball Predictions

Division/Pennant/world series winners

National League

East: Philadelphia Phillies

Central: Milwaukee Brewers

West: Los Angeles Dodgers

Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals

Wild Card: Atlanta Braves

Playoffs

National League

Braves over Cardinals

Dodgers over Braves

Phillies over Brewers

Phillies over Dodgers

American League

East: New York Yankees

Central: Cleveland Indians

West: Houston Astros

Wild Card: Boston Red Sox

Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

Playoffs

Red Sox over Rays

Houston over Red Sox

Yankees over Cleveland

Houston over Yankees

World Series

Phillies over Astros

Individual Honors

National League

Average: Jesse Winker

Home Runs: Christian Yelich

Wins: Max Scherzer

American League

Average: Mookie Betts

Home Runs: Aaron Judge

Wins: Corey Kluber

ODDITIES

Reds win 87 games and barely miss the playoffs

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado each miss 26 games

Machado benched for failing to hustle.

Christian Yelich hits for the cycle again, the third time in two years, but this time it isn’t against the Reds.

Winker has a six hit game.

Harper hits six homers over two games.

Ten games are showed out in March and the first week of April

Reds beat the Pirates in a snowball fight