Monday, May 6, 2013
On deck with Ferndale baseball coach Annis Joseph
The European Theater.
Definitely not a venue full of popcorn, Jujubees and soda
The European Theater is where Annis Joseph spent a
handful of years following his graduation from St. James High School in
Joseph was in the United States Army during World War II.
He was a forward scout for the artillery. That is definitely a parade you don’t
usually want to lead.
“One time, we were 20 miles beyond our front lines and we
didn’t even realize it. That was way too far ahead of anyone. I couldn’t even
read a map until I joined the Army,” said Joseph, chuckling.
Joseph’s direction has been pretty certain ever since he
was discharged. He came back home to Ferndale and started coaching baseball
with the city’s American Legion Post team. He was 23 and did not relinquish
space in either the dugout or the coach’s box for more than a half-century.
“I have just always loved baseball,” said Joseph, 89. “I
loved working with kids and I loved the competition. As long as my players
never quit, it was all right. I never mattered what the score was in that
regard; I just wanted them to never give up.”
Longtime Ferndale coach Annis Joseph has traded in his baseball cleats for golf cleats. He spends the winters in Florida these days.
Joseph will be honored during the fourth annual Ferndale
High Alumni Games that will be held Saturday, May 11, at the high school. He was inducted into the Michigan High School
Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998.
The event gets underway at noon and will feature
baseball, softball and co-ed games. There will also be a barbecue and concessions
will be sold. For anyone taking a test drive of a Dodge vehicle that day, the
automotive company will donate $20 to the school’s athletic booster clubs.
Coach John Sibula’s varsity boys’ baseball team will take
on an alumni team at 1 p.m. The varsity softball team will face the same
challenge in a game also scheduled at 1 p.m. Following at 3 p.m., will be the
alumni vs. the alumni in a co-ed softball game. The entire event should
conclude about 5.
The Ferndale High event is free for spectators. The fee
to participate in the games is $25 with a T-shirt, or $50 with a T-shirt and cap.
“Dad was always coaching,” said his son, David. “He
started with the American Legion team right when he got out of the Army in
World War II.”
It just continued from there. Among his coaching stops
were St. James, Bishop Foley, Macomb Community College, Avondale and Ferndale
High. Joseph spent nearly 30 years coaching American Legion ball.
His career concluded following his stint as the Ferndale
High School varsity baseball coach. He was 76 years old when he stepped down.
That was 13 years ago. He will turn 90 in November.
“I still watch baseball whenever I can,” said Joseph. “I
just love it.”
Annis and Josephine Joseph had seven children; three
girls and four boys. The girls are Janice, Kathy and Paulette. The boys are
Michael, David, Raymond and Matthew.
The boys have continued the coaching lineage. Michael is
currently the girls’ varsity coach at Hartland High School. He used to coach
girls basketball there, too. David is the girls’ basketball coach at Bishop
Foley. He formerly coached at Oakland Catholic and Notre Dame Prep. David’s
brother, Raymond, who likewise coached at Oakland Catholic and Notre Dame Prep,
is also at Bishop Foley. Matthew is coaching at Ford High School in Utica.
Mattew Joseph was inducted into the Macomb County Coaches
Hall of Fame several days ago. David is in the Catholic League Hall of Fame.
“Dad always enjoyed coaching. It was a huge part of his life. With it being
such a large part of his life, it was also huge in our lives as kids. He
coached all of us. Dad certainly inspired us to make coaching a part of our
lives, too. Coaching helped us learn how to be a family, and we all try to take
that aspect into coaching,” said David Joseph.
The family owned the Annis Party Store at 9 Mile and Hilton for years
before selling it in the late 70’s. Many of the store’s employees were young
men who played for Annis Joseph.
Prior to his time with the Army, Joseph had a tryout for the Detroit Tigers
in Beaumont, Texas.
“I could hit the ball, but they said I was too slow,” he recalled.
Hundreds, if not thousands of young men eventually benefitted from that
decision by the major league baseball team. All of us eventually find our
niche. For Annis Joseph, it came much sooner than later. Imagine the number of baseball
players he impacted. How many did he wave home from the third base coach’s box?
How many did he drive home after practice? He left plenty of indelible
fingerprints on countless lives, and none of those came from pine tar.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Running for the health of it
It was three years ago when Stephanie Kauffman
learned about the Mind Over Matter (MOM) 5k run/walk.
Honestly, it was not the distance that made her sprint
toward the starting line.
No, it was rationale behind the event.
On Saturday, May 4, the eighth annual MOM race
will be held in Starr-Jaycee Park in Royal Oak. The park is on 13 Mile Road
between Crooks and Main Street. The cost is $30 for those 18 and older, and $25
for participants younger than that. Runners 12 and under are free if
accompanied by a registered adult. Same-day registration and packet pick up for
pre-registered participants will begin at 8 a.m. on race day. The 5k is
scheduled to start at 10.
Since the event’s inception, more than $90,000
has been raised for mental health research and suicide prevention.
The race evolved out of enveloping grief. Royal
Oak resident Gail Boledovich, a loving mother of four, took her life on May 1,
2005 after a struggle with schizophrenia. By way of dealing with the pain, guilt
and confusion surrounding suicide, the kids realized a way to both honor their
mother and help others. The next year, the MOM 5k debuted.
According to the www.mindovermatterrace.org,
over 30,000 people die each year
from suicide, making it the 11th leading cause of death in America. Among
teenagers and young adults ages 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of
death. Over 90 percent deaths from suicide are attributed to mental health
conditions such as depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. These
statistics are staggering yet, due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and
suicide, many victims and families are forced to fight their painful battles in
Kauffman will not
only participate in the event, she will also be the featured speaker.
“I was diagnosed with depression when I was
seven. My parents had gotten divorced, and my school work was suffering. I was
having a hard time concentrating. My mom thought I should see a counselor.
“When I was 16, I started to have serious mental
health issues myself,” said Kauffman.
Here’s an entry from Kauffman’s own website:
“My name is Stephanie and I have
suffered with depression, anxiety, and mental illness since I was very young. I
struggled for a very long time and spent a lot of time in psychiatric hospitals
and treatment centers ... Someone once told me the saying, “Once you realize
that what you are doing is causing you more harm than good, that is when you
will stop doing it.” It took me many years, and I finally realized it. I was
not happy and that was not how I wanted to live. I punished myself by doing
self-destructive behaviors and spent much time contemplating suicide ...I spent
my teens and 20′s giving into my mental illness, and finally now, at age 29, I
have taken my life back. Obstacles often come my way, however I am able to deal
with them now. I am so happy to be alive! I don’t do destructive behaviors. I
don’t think about suicide.”
Kauffman has already written one book, “Living
on the Border.” She is in the process of writing another. She will be at
Starr-Jaycee Park on Saturday. So will upwards of 1,000 others. They will be
from Oakland County. They will be from Macomb County. They will be from beyond
They will be there to support the Boledovich
family; Paul, Lisa, Trisha and Julie. They will be there for all sorts of
reasons. To support their own family members; to support friends; to support
those they have never met before.
They will gather at Starr-Jaycee Park to try to
take a couple of swipes with the eraser at the stigma that still exists for the
“There are so many people struggling with
physical illnesses. You want to support their causes. My own mother died of
leukemia. I am always involved in walks and runs to benefit cancer research,”
“But there is still that stigma about mental
illnesses, and there are countless people struggling with it. One of the worst
things about mental illness is the feeling there’s nobody you can talk to.”
That won’t be the case Saturday. It is a 5k. It
is conversation. How many steps does it take to cover 3.1 miles? Even the
smallest steps count for something.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
In Boston, terror came at 26.2 miles
Elation intersects with devastation.
That was a nagging thought as I watched the
horror from Boston on Monday.
Completing a marathon is not like finishing a one-mile
fun run. It's not a 5K or a 10K or even a half marathon.
Not to diminish any of those distances, but completing
a marathon entails embracing an entire lifestyle.
It's a wife who says it is all right to be gone
for hours at a time to train. It's a husband who is willing to watch the kids
while you put in your weekly long runs. It is chewing on Power Bars and not
chips and Doritos; swigging energy drinks and not Mountain Dew.
It’s dedication and on Patriots Day in Boston,
it became devastation.
Distance runners talk about hitting the wall.
That’s not something constructed of bricks and mortar, but it carries the same
impact. The wall usually looms about 20 miles out, when all of a sudden your
body and brain rebel. It’s that moment when a runner goes from feeling pretty
good to feeling pretty darn awful. It’s also a time when a decision has to be
made; should I pull off the road and put myself up on blocks, or should I tough
my way through the remaining 6.2 miles?
Mostly, runners tough it out. That is why the
elation of the finish line looms so large. You’ve arm wrestled with
introspection, and won. It is a feeling you’ll never forget.
That recollection became decidedly different in
Boston on Monday. Two bombs near the finish line, detonated about 12 seconds
apart, killed three people and injured 176 others. Those injured included 17
who were still in critical condition as of Monday afternoon, according to the
Only two of the three people who died have been
identified. Both were there to cheer on the runners. Eight-year-old Martin
Richard was near the finish line with his mom, dad, brother and sister. While
his father, Bill, is a runner, he was not entered in the marathon. His mother
and sister were seriously injured in the blast. His brother was unharmed.
A second victim, Krystle Campbell, 29, was
called “the most lovable girl,” by her father, William. “She helped everybody,
and I’m just so shocked right now. We’re just devastated,” according to NBC
It’s tragically appropriate that those two were
there to support the runners. There’s a camaraderie in the running community
that is unique.
I’ve run several marathons, and I have done all
of them with friends and training partners. The pact we made going in was to never
leave anyone behind. Judging by the clock, that doesn’t always work to your
advantage. During one marathon, a pal hit the wall at about 18 miles. The rest
of us turned around and saw him walking.
“Joe has the hood up,” we said. We didn’t leave
him in the rearview mirror. We just slowed down and towed him along for the
final eight miles. Who cares what our finishing time was? We were in this
Another time, Jeff was nursing an injury. He
thought he’d hold up through the marathon, but that turned out to be wildly optimistic.
At about the midway point of the race, he broke down. So we started setting
small goes. Let’s get to that light pole. Then let’s get to the next light
pole. We did not set any speed records, but we finished.
There’s something mildly heroic about finishing
any marathon. You’ve got to have a certain mental toughness to deal with the
doubt that you undoubtedly will encounter. That’s why all these tales of
heroism coming out of Boston don’t surprise me. The runners who kept jogging
right to the hospital to donate blood. Others who tore off parts of their
clothing so they could make tourniquets for the badly wounded.
The photograph of the man in the cowboy hat
comforting a man whose legs appeared mangled. The photograph of former New
England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi carrying a female victim to a
The story of race volunteer John Gannon, who
drove down Charles Street, calling out to ask if stranded runners needed a ride
or a phone to borrow. He took two carloads to Harvard Square and a third to the
Newton Marriott hotel.
From elation to devastation. Sure that is part
of the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon. So is the toll of three dead and 176
injured. But there is more to that equation. Tally the number of marathon finishers.
Tally the number of impromptu heroes. Tally the action of all the
first-responders; the doctors and nurses.
I prefer to embrace that total.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Turning a cold shoulder to high school spring sports
Spring sports are fickle.
That is because the Michigan weather is, too.
We start out the high school season wearing three layers of
We wind up in shorts and T-shirts.
Wool caps and mittens are the stuff of April. Hawaiian Tropic
concludes things in early June.
There’s nothing greater than bringing a folding chair and loitering
behind a chain link fence along one of the foul lines while a baseball game or
softball game is being played.
There’s nothing worse than bringing a folding chair and loitering
behind a chain link fence along one of the foul lines while a baseball or
softball game is being played.
It all depends on the weather.
The Boys of Summer have goosebumps. The Girls of Summer are in
mittens. Such is the plight of a high school athlete. Thus is the life of a devoted
mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, girlfriend or boyfriend. All can be found
huddled in the bleachers. Their loyalty comes with sniffles and Kleenex.
Cotchety sports writers are hardly immune.
The older I get, the more cold blooded I become. These days, I
have a space heater under my desk at work. It blasts about nine months of the
year. Even when the thermostat in the office is set at a balmy 68.
I used to laugh at my grandparents. Get them out of the 85
degree temperatures in West Palm, and they used to start shivering. I’d look at
my visiting grandpa and he’d be wearing a sweater in mid-summer. Next to him would be
my grandma wrapped in a knitted shawl.
My juvenile derision serves me right. It was 50 degrees today. I
am working inside wearing a shirt and sweater and am contemplating yanking on my
Play ball! cries the umpire. Postpone the game! cries the sports
The ump is wearing a chest protector. I have on thermal
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Play ball! Tigers open at Comerica Park
remember an Opening Day story I did years ago.
talked to a blind woman who was a huge fan of the Tigers. She absolutely adored
meant she also loved broadcasters Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey. They were her conduit
to the game.
been sightless her entire life, so she had never actually seen a Tigers’ game. She
had never walked into the stadium from the drab concrete jungle of Michigan and
Trumbull that surrounded it and been immediately bedazzled by the lush greenery
she had seen plenty of baseball in her mind’s eye. She had heard the crack of
the bat on her transistor radio and envisioned that feverish activity that
ensued. The batter racing to first and the shortstop scooping up the grounder
on the second hop.
Day was the beginning of the best time of year for her. She’d sit in her living
room and listen to the radio and cringe when Norm Cash struck out and laugh when
Willie Horton sent a ball soaring into the left field seats. She marveled when
Denny McLain struck another batter out, and jumped up in joy when Kirk Gibson
sent another ball into the upper deck seats in right.
been years, and I have no idea where that woman is today. She might not even be
alive. She might be listening to Ernie Harwell do games, though. He’s
broadcasting for the angels, you know. Not those that reside in Anaheim,
Day stories don’t all sit in the box seats at Tiger Stadium or Comerica Park.
fans don’t always get their seats through the box office or on Stub Hub.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Opening Day and other memories
a picture tacked up in my cubicle.
of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey. It is autographed by Ernie.
am not much for autographs. They are nothing more than signatures as far as I
this is a little different. I love the photo. It’s Ernie and Paul in the
broadcast booth at Tiger Stadium. They are looking toward the photographer and
the field occupies the background.
like it because it brings back memories. Not just of Ernie and Paul, but of
baseball at the old stadium. Now I am not the nostalgic type. Tiger Stadium’s
time had come. In its later manifestation, it was peeling and flaking and
walking in the dank concourse was like traversing a dungeon. Also, how many
poles can you find yourself behind as you watch a game?
my affection for the place came mainly because it was part of my growing up. The
first time I walked into Tiger Stadium, I was wearing a little league uniform and
a Rawlings mitt on my right hand. The last time I walked in, I had kids of my
own. In between, there was plenty of time spent in the stadium; from box seats
to the center field bleachers to the press box. I saw Mark Fidrych and Ron
LeFlore and Al Kaline and Norm Cash. I saw Carl Yaztrzemski, Mickey Mantle, Rod
Carew and Reggie Jackson. I ripped out some sod in ’68 and was in the press box
when Kirk Gibson launched those home runs in ’84. I was on a bus heading back
to the Renaissance Center when the car was overturned and in flames with Bubba hefting
the bottle of Jack Daniels or whatever he was drinking in that infamous photo.
there you go. There were peanuts bought from the guy who used to hawk them at
Michigan and Trumbull and cheeseburgers scarfed down at Nemos. There were beers
downed at Hoot Robinson’s place both before and after the game.
am not sure I loved Tiger Stadium as much as what it represented. It was summer
and it was growing up and it was being a grown up.
is why I love the photo of Ernie and Paul. It represents so much more. The
Tigers will play their home opener against the Yankees Friday at Comerica Park.
memories will be made. You can put your signature on that.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Joey Zerafa receives Atherton Heart Award Scholarship
Atherton would have definitely approved of the 2013 scholarship winner.
one, both Robby and Joey Zerafa attended Eisenhower High School. For another,
both were or will be Michigan State Spartans.
also played both multiple sports and were outstanding in each.
Robby Atherton was not able to present Zerafa with the $1,200 Heart Award
Scholarship during The Macomb Daily’s annual all-county basketball awards
banquet Tuesday at the Mirage.
was just nine years ago when Robby Atherton was named the county Player of the
years ago, his life ended.
an effort to make sure that the profound impact Robby had on his teammates,
coaches, student body and others never ends, the Robby Atherton Foundation was
founded. To date, over $180,000 has been distributed as part of its mission to
support children and families in need, provide community assistance and
scholarships to student-athletes.
Robby Atherton Heart Award Scholarship is awarded annually to an All-County
player who strives to obtain the highest level of performance – on and off the
court – through dedication, perseverance, sportsmanship, leadership, teamwork
the son of Don and Mary Zerafa, was voted All-County Class A Defensive Team. A
three-year starter, Zerafa was the captain of the basketball team. He was also
quarterback and captain of Ike’s football team. Even though he was honored as
one of the top five defenders in the county, he was also a huge contributor
offensively; hitting 44 three-pointers, scoring 182 points and dishing 48
assists to go along with his 57 steals.
has a competitive spirit and ability to make others better that you just can’t
teach. He drew the assignment of covering the other team’s best player every
night and caused fits for our opponents,” said coach Dave Schwesinger. “As
impressive as his stats seem his biggest effect on the team can’t be seen in
stats. Kids flock to Joey and look to him for leadership.”
has a 3.66 grade point average and is also a member of the National Honor
Society. He will attend Michigan State University this fall.
received his Bachelor of Arts in Finance in May of 2008.
work of the Robby Atherton Foundation never ceases. On Sunday, May 5, the Robby
Atherton Foundation will sponsor the Special Dreams Farm 5th annual
Walk/Run. There will be a 5k and 10k run and a 5k walk at Stony Creek Metropark’s
Eastwood Beach. The Special Dreams Farm was established to supply the special
needs community with opportunities to work, learn and live. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
on Saturday, May 18, the fourth annual Robby Atherton Memorial Softball
Tournament and Tailgate will be held at Mae Stecker Park on 24 Mile just east
of Van Dyke. A limited number of team openings are available, so register
early. Even if you’re not playing, it should be a great day at the park. There will be hot dogs, chips and pop. People
are asked to bring a dish to pass, some chairs and blankets, and their “A”
game. For more information, call 586.781.8290.