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’ve done well after 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.
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 now is hitting over .300 for the Reds..
And more recently, we’ve seen the emergence of Aristides “The Destroyer” Aquino’s who by hitting seven homers 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.
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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

Baseball exhibit open through March 31

The “Baseball Dreams and Memories” exhibit at the Martinsville main branch of the Morgan County Public Library is now open and is scheduled to there through March 31. The library is open seven days per week, but the hours vary depending on the day of the week. For more information about the library, http://morgancountylibrary.info/

Here’s a taste of what of what the exhibit looks like:

1963-1967: Social issues, musicals, earthy comedy films win top honors

(Editor’s note: This is the eighth part in a multi-part series on the winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture. They are being presented in chronological order with “Wings,” the first winner, included among the movies reviewed and/or described in the first part.)

The five years from 1963-1967 were years of great diversity and competition for the Academy Award for Best Picture. They were in a variety of genres. The stories happened in the United States Deep South, England, and Austria.

 

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“Tom Jones,” 1963, directed by Tony Richardson.

The young, hilarious and clever Albert Finney as Tom Jones helps make the somewhat bawdy “Tom Jones” comedy a delight to watch. It’s based on the novel by Henry Fielding about the wild life of a playboy in 18th century rural England.

When the film premiered in October 1963, The New York Times critic wrote, “Prepare yourself for what is surely one of the wildest, bawdiest and funniest comedies that a refreshingly agile filmmaker has ever brought to the screen. …They have whipped up a roaring entertainment that develops its own energy (not just from the massive book) as much as from its cinematic gusto as from the racy material it presents.”

In addition to Finney, the cast includes Susannah York, Hugh Griffith,and Dame Edith Evans.

The others seeking the 1963 Best Picture award included “Cleopatra,” “How the West Was Won,” and “Lilies of the Field.”

“My Fair Lady,” 1964, directed by George Cukor

“My Fair Lady,” which won the 1964 Best Picture Award is one of this writer’s favorite musicals, but there may have been better films that were nominated for the 1964 honor.

In my childhood home, I grew up hearing my father play over and over the Original Broadway Cast soundtrack of “My Fair Lady,” which featured Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle. Andrews was replaced in the movie by Audrey Hepburn. The songs are permanently ingrained in my head.

“My Fair Lady” is based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” The tale is about pompous phonetics professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) who is so sure of his abilities that he takes it upon himself to transform a Cockney working-class girl into someone who can pass for a cultured member of “high society.” His subject turns out to be the lovely Eliza Doolittle, who agrees to speech lessons to improve her job prospects. Higgins and Eliza clash, then form an unlikely bond — one that is threatened by an aristocratic suitor.

Even though this is a great musical that I love, my preference for the 1964 best picture might have been (if I wasn’t in my early teen years at the time) “Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Peter Sellers is magnificent playing three characters in this Stanley Kubrick classic satire.

Other contenders for best picture included “Becket,” “Mary Poppins.” and “Zorba the Greek.” By the way, Julie Andrews, although not cast in the Best Picture-winning “My Fair Lady,” was compensated with a Best Actress award for her dazzling performance in the title role of “Mary Poppins.”

“The Sound of Music,” 1965, directed by Robert Wise

The Academy Award Best Picture winning “The Sound of Music”was based on the true story of the von Trapp family. It was loved by many, but not all.

Star Christopher Plummer wasn’t a fan of the movie. He said in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview, “Because it was so awful and sentimental and gooey. You had to work terribly hard to try to infuse some miniscule bit of humor into it.”

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Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”

in the Hawkins family, my mother and sister went to see the movie in a downtown Louisville movie theater while my father and I headed to Crosley Field in Cincinnati to see the Reds play (it was a much better team then) that same day

It took me decades to get past this masculine bias against the movie, but when I finally viewed it I enjoyed it and realized that it wasn’t a threat to my masculinity.

The songs such as “Maria,” “My Favorite Things,””Climb Every Mountain” and “Do Re Mi” are memorable, if a bit saccharine for some tastes. The story of the family’s music and its escape from the threat of the Nazis is a worthy story for the Best Picture Oscar.

Other contenders for the 1965 Best Picture honor included “Doctor Zhivago.” Ship of Fools,” and “A Thousand Clowns.”

 

A Man for All Seasons, 1966, directed by Fred Zinnemann

“A Man for All Seasons, the 1966 Best Picture winner, was another winner based on a great Broadway play.

This winner is about ethics in addition to being an excellent historic drama. It is the story of the heroic Sir Thomas More resisting King Henry VIII’s demands that More give in and sanction his marriage to Anne Boleyn.

The New York Times reviewer stated, “‘A Man for All Seasons’ is a picture that inspires admiration, courage, and thought.”

The great cast includes Paul Scofield as More, Robert Shaw as the king, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Orson Welles, Susannah York, John Hurt, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Other nominees for the 1966 Best Picture honor included “Alfie,” “The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

In the Heat of the Night, 1967, directed by Norman Jewison

“In the Heat of the Night,” the 1967 Best Picture winner, was true to the dangerous times of the 1960s. It’s about a black detective from Philadelphia who is in the Deep South when a murder takes place and he is picked up as a suspect.

Sidney Poitier delivers a spot-on performance as Detective Virgil Tibbs and Rod Steiger delivers a stinging performance as Police Chief Bill Gillespie. Tibbs ultimately helps solve the murder. The confrontations between Tibbs and Gillespie during the course of events is fascinating.

When Tibbs is asked by the racist southerners what people call him back home, Poitier delivers masterfully the “They call me Mr. Tibbs” line, one of the great lines in movie history.

Others in the cast include Warren Oates and Lee Grant.

Other nominees for the 1967 honor included “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Graduate,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

 

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From  left, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) and Police Chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) argue about a murder case in “In the Heat of the Night.”