Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Train Derailed: A Nightmare in New Orleans

I keep hearing Arlo Guthrie singing in my head: “I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans…”.

For the second straight day this single line from this old song just keeps on running through my mind.

The train is derailed, nearly obliterated, certainly damaged beyond recognition by what in many ways will go down as the worst natural disaster in American history, a behemoth of a hurricane named Katrina.

The last time that Katrina and the Waves hit New Orleans, everyone was “Walking on Sunshine”. The one-hit wonder singer and band from the late 1980’s brought their sound, led by a bouncy, upbeat, sunny song, to the Bayou.

Today, even when the sun is shining, few people are singing, and even fewer can even utter the name of Katrina without prefacing it with the worst of profanities.

Friday, August 5, 2005

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

The date was August 5th, 1985, “8-5-85” as it would easily be remembered, and would become forever known in team lore.

It was a typically warm, sunny summer evening on the softball field at Archbishop Ryan High School in the Northeast section of Philadelphia.

On this night, the Brewers softball team was trying to nail down our first DVFL modified-pitch championship.

We led the best-of-three playoff final series by a two games to none margin over the dangerous FPS Snakes, a squad that had handed us a 16-5 defeat earlier in the season.

The Brewers were a huge part of my life as a young man, and our journey from a makeshift band of loveable losers to champions is unforgettable to me and the others who lived through it.

I had joined the core group of players that would become the Brewers just three years earlier. I was working for First Pennsylvania Bank in Philly, long since swallowed up in the numerous mergers that changed the face of the banking industry during the 1980’s and 90’s.

First Penn had an intra-mural softball league back then made up of about eight teams. After playing for another team as a 19-year old kid in the 1981 season, I was recruited by a guy named Ed Markowski to play for his Pennamco team in 1982.

Ed was the kind of guy that every successful sports entity needs at the helm. He was a baseball lifer, a guy who loved the game with a passion, and loved his team just as much. But he had come to the realization that his team was getting older, and if they were going to be able to compete in the coming years they needed an infusion of young blood.

So for that 1982 season, Ed made some additions. Pennamco brought in a large contingent of young guys in their 20’s, and yours truly joined as a 20-year old catcher.