Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A true Tigers' fan turns 100 years old

Vivian Cameron and her son, Dean

Happy birthday, Vivian Cameron.
One hundred years old Wednesday, and guess where she spent that very special day?
At Comerica Park watching the Tigers take on the Seattle Mariners with her son, Dean.
They were in Section 117 A. Terrace Row A, seats 1 and 2. Those are Dean’s season tickets.
Who needs cake when you can have hot dogs and peanuts? Who needs candles when it is a night game?
Such is the remarkable adhesion of baseball. It bonds a mother, her son and an entire century
“I got married in 1939,” said Vivian Cameron. “We used to go with another couple to Tiger Stadium.”
Vivian Cameron was born and raised in Detroit. She moved with her husband, Lester, to Royal Oak in 1952 and still resides in the area of 11 Mile and Campbell.
Lester Campbell was a salesman for the Mead Corporation before retiring in 1976. He suffered from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It is a progressive, neurodegenerative condition.
Their son, Dean, attended Bishop Foley High School and graduated in 1976.
“When the Lou Gehrig’s disease started to really affect dad, he could not take care of himself,” said his son, Dean. “He could not feed himself. He could not go to the bathroom himself. He was homebound in a wheelchair. He started watching a lot of Tigers’ games on television.”
Baseball became a passion, one shared by his mother.
That passion reached remarkable levels. After Lester Cameron succumbed to ALS in August of 1993, Dean and Vivian Cameron embarked on a series of trips to visit all of the major league ballparks.
The journey began in Kansas City where they saw the Tigers take on the Royals. Eventually, it concluded in San Francisco with a game matching the Giants and Rockies.
Mom was 91 years old at the time.
“It was not always easy,” said Dean. “Mom was using a cane then, but not a walker. We had to use wheelchairs through guest services at times. But all and all, she loved it.
“When we were planning the trips, I told mom that it was time for her. I did not want her to give up like some people who lose a loved one like dad. I told mom that she’d given all those years to dad, and it was time for her to have some fun,” said her son.
There was fun to be had at the Century Banquet Center in Sterling Heights Saturday. That is where friends and family gathered to celebrate Vivian’s milestone.
A couple of hours before the party began, Vivian and Dean went to St. Justin Catholic Church in Hazel Park for the 4 p.m., mass.
“When I was growing up, dad took me to a few games at Tiger Stadium. I remember he wrote a poem about the 1983 Tigers. Ernie Harwell read it over the air. After that, we became friends with Ernie. We would have lunch or dinner with him every so often. He came to my mom’s 90th birthday party. He made mention of my dad’s passing on the air when the Tigers were playing in California,” said Dean.
“My mom is my best friend,” he continued. “Mom and dad adopted me when I was just a couple of months old. I am blessed to have her around at this age. She is remarkably healthy. She has issues, but nothing that is life-threatening. She has two knees that need to be replaced, but they will not do it because of her age. She can take care of herself. She can get up, make herself a meal, and enjoy the day.”
He savors the days they can enjoy together. Often, they center around Tigers’ baseball.
“I fell in love with the game,” said Dean Cameron. “I love baseball. My mom and I both attended the last game at Tiger Stadium and the first game at Comerica Park. “Baseball is very relaxing to me. It’s a summer sport.
“I remember watching Willie Horton hit that inside-the-park home run. I remember having tears in my eyes when they played the last game at Tiger Stadium. It was just very, very touching.”
There’s something very touching about a son’s love for his mother, too. Happy birthday, Vivian. Here is wishing for many more birthdays …and many more games at Comerica Park.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saying goodbye to legendary Clawson coach Judy Hacker

How do you properly mourn a beloved high school coach?
Tearfully go through a box or two of Kleenex.
Solemnly huddle up with former teammates.
But mostly make a toast, uncork some memories of games and practices gone by, and tell stories.
Here’s the obituary for Coach Judy Hacker.

Judy Rae Hacker, 72, a resident of Ortonville for 40 years, died April 22, 2011, at home.
A 1961 graduate of Bowling Green State University she taught for one year in Colrain, OH, before becoming a physical education teacher in Clawson  from 1962 until her retirement in 1995.
She was also well-known for her love of coaching basketball, softball and field hockey.
Judy is survived by her sister Sally Pummill, niece Robyn (Ron) Buckle, Josh and Kate Buckle, nephew Scott (Gabriela) Pummill and daughter Julia.
She is survived by many, many close friends.
Judy was preceded in death by her parents Raymond and Bernice Hacker.
Funeral Service will be held 4 p.m., Saturday, April 30, at Gramer Funeral Home, 705 North Main Street (Livernois, north of 14) Clawson.
Visitation Saturday from noon until 4 p.m.
Burial will take place in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.
Memorials may be made to McLaren Hospice, Michigan Humane Society and the Rose Center.
Visit to read and sign the guest book.

“I have so many great memories and I am only one person,” said Betty Wroubel, who played for Coach Hacker and later coached with her at Clawson High School.
“She made each and every one of us feel so special. She was a great teacher, coach, mentor, role model and probably a surrogate parent to us. I know that I would not be where I am without her in each of these roles.”
Wroubel is a 1971 graduate of Clawson High School. She is a teacher, coach and administrator at Notre Dame Prep High School in Pontiac. As a coach, she has won state championships in softball and volleyball. She has been named Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, and was inducted into the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association and Detroit Catholic League High School Leagues Halls of Fame.
“If you had a problem, Judy was someone you would go to for an honest, straight forward answer. She was a very direct person with tremendous wisdom; I do not think that Webster has come up with the appropriate words to describe such an influential person in the lives of so many. I certainly cannot do her justice,” continued Wroubel.
After graduating from Clawson High, Wroubel went on the play volleyball, tennis and field hockey at Central Michigan University.
Veronica “Ronnie” Hall was another one of Coach Hacker’s players. A pitcher, Hall went on to play softball at Lake Superior State. She also later coached with Judy Hacker.
Hall is now the chief operating officer at the Henry Ford Hospital and the chief nursing officer at the Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network. She is responsible for the management of patient care services, leading daily operations and personnel as she collaborates with medical staff and hospital leadership to ensure continued quality and efficiency.
“Judy had a tremendous influence on me,” said Hall. “I use the same skills today in my job that she used. She was masterful at assessing skills sets. She wanted to make sure everyone felt a part of the team.”
It was a team that Hall joined as a seventh grader at what was then Clawson Junior High. She distinctly remembers the welcoming environment that Coach Hacker created.
“Judy was my gym teacher in the seventh grade,” said Hall. “She told all of us that all who were interested should come out once a week after school to do other activities; depending on the season it could’ve been volleyball, basketball or badminton.
“I’d never touched a basketball before in my life, but I must’ve spent half of my life in that old gym,” continued Hall, a 1979 graduate of Clawson High School.
It was Coach Hacker who turned her into a fastpitch softball pitcher.
“I was not that good of a softball player my freshman year, but I made the team,” said Hall. “Judy told me that I was going to be a pitcher. I pitched batting practice. She had me warming up every game, but I never got in.
“It was the 13th game of the season, and she sent me to warm up again. I threw three pitches, and told her I was ready. Well, she put me in the game and my first pitch went over the backstop and onto the roof of the cafeteria. We played on the field behind the middle school then. Judy looked at me, and left me in to pitch. All I could see was that ball sitting on top of the school roof. From then on, when Judy told me to warm up, I warmed up.”
With Coach Hacker, it was about preparation. It was about commitment and dedication and teamwork. It was about opportunity at a time when there really were not that many opportunities for girls in high school sports.
Coach Hacker put out the Welcome Mat. Many, many benefited from that effort.
It’s time to say goodbye. Bring Kleenex, memories and a whole bunch of stories to the Gramer Funeral Home in Clawson Saturday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jim Myers' deep-seated appreciation for his hometown of Madison Heights

The family purchased a desk.
Nothing from Broyhill or Henredon. Not something they’d hawk in Art Van’s and beckon customers in with the promise of a high definition television set.
A wood desk; one that bore a strong resemblance to a school desk.
Young Jim Myers would sit in that desk for hours after school working on lessons.
He grew to despise it. He had to finish his homework. All the while, he could watch his pals playing in the park across the street.
Only he could not go out and play. He had to complete his assignments.
Myers was plagued by dyslexia. He was befuddled by it. The alphabet that stretched like crown molding in grade school classrooms mocked him. The letters were often confusing hieroglyphics.
There is no confusing the outstanding accomplishments of Myers, who is among those who will be honored at Tuesday’s Madison Heights Sports Heroes Celebration.
“My dad was a hard working man who never had an opportunity to have an education. Dad believed there was nothing more important than education. He was a volunteer fireman in the years before the area had a paid fire fighting force,” said Myers. “My mother graduated from Lincoln of Van Dyke High School.  Mom was always involved in helping young people. Mom was a member of the Madison School Board for 29 years. She was on the first Little League football board.  She managed a 12-to-18 year-old men’s baseball team. She always believed in doing what was best for young people.
“Both brother Jack and I were given every opportunity to succeed.  Coach Don Scott had a big influence on Jack and me. Jack assisted me in both football and wrestling before moving into administration. He retired as Madison District's superintendent.
“I am most proud of the fact that 37 of the young men that I coached went on to become coaches.  I was also blessed to coach both of my sons at Madison. Both my wife and my daughter also became educators,” continued Myers.
Jim Myers became a long-time teacher and coach at his alma mater, Madison High School. He successfully battled his learning disability to earn advanced degrees at Michigan State University.
He also battled many of the top professional wrestlers to gain fame as one of the most recognizable characters in the sport. He was known as George “The Animal” Steele. He is now living in Florida, but will be back in his hometown next week.
“When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone in the neighborhoods and in the school district cared about kids. Each neighborhood had a play area that was always in use. It was anything from scrub ball, tag, hide and go seek, football, Red Rover Red Rover, etc. Also, all school activities were supported by most of the teachers and stuff and they were not paid to be there,” continued Myers.
Myers will be honored at the Madison Heights Sports Heroes Celebration which will take place at the Madison Heights Heritage Room’s Museum at Schoenhals School, 27107 Hales, located north of 11 Mile between Dequindre and John R.
An open house will be held from noon until 8 p.m., Tuesday, with a special presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free, and light snacks will be served.
Other sports heroes in attendance include Madison High graduate Ken Dallafior, a former offensive lineman at the University of Minnesota who went on to play with the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions.
Berney Gonzales, the wrestling coach at Bishop Foley High School, will also be honored. He was a two-time state champion in high school, and a world Greco-Roman wrestling champion.
Also slated to be recognized is Jerry Binkley, a Madison High graduate who played for Myers. Binkley is a long-time youth football coach with the Madison Heights Wolverines.
There will be representatives from the Madison Heights Little Baseball organization. That outstanding group is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season.
Among those also invited to attend are Madison High grad Grady Alderman, who played for the Minnesota Vikings; Lamphere grad Pat Peake, a first-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals; and former professional hockey player Shawn Penn, a Lamphere grad.
The local sports heroes in attendance will be available to pose for photos and sign autographs.
The sports heroes’ exhibits will also include sports memorabilia, team photos and awards. The exhibits will remain in place until November.
The event is sponsored by the Madison Heights Historical Commission. For more information, call the library at (248) 837-2852 or email

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No manager, no team

HELP WANTED: Youth baseball manager in Madison Heights needed. Someone 21 years old or older. Experience is preferred.That’s a classified advertisement from Earl Stone, president of Madison Heights Little Baseball.
It is also a 911 call.
If a volunteer manager does not step forward soon, the nearly dozen 13-and 14-year-old players who have already signed up to play for the Rangers in the Maverick Division will not have a team.
“This has never happened,” said Stone. “We’ve always been able to find managers. If we do not find one, we are going to have to cut the kids.”
Madison Heights Little Baseball is celebrating its 50th season.  The outstanding organization is home to 27 teams in five divisions for players ranging in age from seven to 16. Those divisions are Midget, Pee Wee, Farm, Mustang and Pony.
There is also a Varsity Division.
An individual who was slated to manage the Rangers works in the defense industry and had a job change requiring much more travel.
“We picked up four new teams for this season. We have had a real good turnout,” said Stone.
Among those who could be left standing on the wrong side of the chain link fence if a manager is not found is Jake Lutz, 13, a student at Page Middle School in Madison Heights.
This would be Jake’s fifth year playing Madison Heights Little Baseball. He spent two years with the Tigers in the Pee Wee Division and two more with the Rockies in the Farm Division.
A left-handed catcher, he cherishes his summers playing baseball.
“I love it,” said Jake. “I like the fact that you get to go to practice, do some drills which are fun, and play games.
“I like to win, but honestly I have not been on a lot of winning teams. I’m a catcher; I bought all my own catcher’s gear.
“If I can’t play, I’d be upset. I like baseball and I really like playing it. I really want to be on a team.”
The time commitment for a manager is minimal.
Mustang Division teams are limited in the amount of time they can practice due to Michigan High School Athletic Association rules.
The Madison Heights Little Baseball season kicks off the first week of June and concludes by the third week of July. Games are played twice a week.
“I usually make the All-Star team,” said Jake. “The game is always played on the Fourth of July, so I skip stuff like picnics and things to play. It’s always fun.”
Let’s hope he has that same opportunity this season.

If you’re interested in managing the Rangers, visit

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Check out these future stars

A Welcome Mat.
That should be the logo of the Ferndale Eagles Wrestling Club.
Nothing too fancy. Not a lot of curly cues or garnishments.
Just a Welcome Mat. The same kind that most folks have sitting outside the front door.
A Welcome Mat sets both the tone and tells the story of coach John Olson’s youth wrestling organization.
“The club is not as cheap as it was,” said Olson.
He is apologetic, but Olson has to be kidding. It was a $6 membership fee for years. Inflation has turned it into a 10 spot. No similar club is so ridiculously cheap to join.
“We have quite a few kids in the area who are not from wealthy beginnings. I wanted to keep more people interested and hopefully it is not a burden on their pockets,” said Olson.
“I think it is a good way for kids to get their exercise and to teach them wrestling moves. Kids learn to handle both the wins and losses. That is not always easy.”
This is Olson’s 16th year with the club. Prior to that, he was active with the Webster Gray Wolves in Hazel Park.
The club attracts a growing cadre of talented young wrestlers. Among them is eight-year-old Joshua Edmond. Edmond finished second at 65 pounds at the MYWA (Michigan Youth Wrestling Association) state finals.
The Ferndale Eagles Wrestling Club sent 11 to the state championships held at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. They were Matt Ballard, Daniel Collins, Joshua Edmond, Chevez Farris, Drake Landry, Jonah Poole, Eli Smith, Kye Smith, Thomas Smith Jr., Brendan Stamper, and Joshua Young.
Two of the Eagles placed; Edmond was second and Farris finished first at 174 pounds in the 11th-12th grade division.
Farris also finished third at 171 pounds in the state at the Michigan High School Athletic Association state championship meet at The Palace. He is a junior at Ferndale High School.
This is Joshua Edmond’s third season with the club.
“Joshua got started because of a friend he played football with,” said his dad, Anthony Edmond. “He took to it immediately. He likes the full contact.”
Joshua’s brother, Caleb, 11, also wrestles with the club.
At the MYWA championships, each age and weight division began with a 32-man bracket. The event lasted two days. If a wrestler won his first three matches Saturday, he advanced to Sunday’s competition. That’s what Redmond did. He also won his first match Sunday, automatically qualifying him for the championship bout.
“The Ferndale Eagles Wrestling Club, and coach John Olson, create a very open, welcoming environment,” said Anthony Redmond.
That Welcome Mat extends to everyone, said Tim Collins, an assistant coach on the staff. His son, Daniel, is an eighth grader in Ferndale and will wrestle at the high school next year.
“The club really is John Olson,” said Collins, the chief of police in Ferndale. “He’s been doing this for 34 years. I got involved when my youngest, Daniel, decided to try wrestling.  John’s theory has always been to get as many kids as possible involved. The last several years he’s really built the membership up.”
The wrestlers who gather in the wrestling room at Ferndale High come from Ferndale, Detroit, Highland Park, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Royal Oak Township.
Mentoring is a natural instinct for Olson. When he was in his 20s, both his mom and dad died. The eldest of 11 children, it was up to him to keep the family together.
“I dealt with it,” he said simply. “It was just something that happened. It was not easy. There was lots to deal with, but we got through it.
“In wrestling, you not only try to build a better wrestler, but a better person. Dan Gable once said that after you have wrestled, everything else is life is easy. I think there is some truth to that.”
The cost of membership of the Ferndale Eagles Wrestling Club? Ten bucks. The value of a man like John Olson? Invaluable.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OPEC and high school sports

I’m driving a subcompact.
It is so small that I can reach from the driver’s side seat to roll the passenger window up or down depending upon the weather.
It is hardly a luxury model. But it gets me to where I want to go, and that is fine.
What is not so fine is that even in my tin can I’m spending a lot of money for gas lately. With prices nudging $4 a gallon, we are getting squeezed by OPEC.
If my subcompact is sucking a lot of gas, can you imagine what school buses are going through these days?
So why do we still have these massive, logistically challenged, high school sports conferences?
Tell me why Madison in south Oakland County boards the bus to play in New Haven or beyond? Or why Lamphere travels to Romeo or Anchor Bay High School for a soccer match? How about Clawson going to Grosse Pointe South or Port Huron High for softball?
All of those Oakland County teams compete in the Macomb Area Conference.
The Oakland Activities Association is not much better. All of the teams in the south end of the county are always headed north or west, it seems. There’s Hazel Park playing softball at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and Royal Oak playing tennis at Lake Orion.
In a lot of districts, buses are provided only one way. Teams will be transported to an event, but are on their own to find a way back. It might not save on gas, but is saves on the cost of a bus driver is getting paid as he or she sits idly for hours waiting for the games to end.
The last I checked, our public schools were not exactly enjoying a surplus of funds. Things have got to change.
Sorry, I’ve got to go to the gas station now. I just hope I am not waiting behind a school bus at the pumps.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hurt feelings and worse in the NHL playoffs

I love playoff hockey.
I despise playoff hockey.
I love the intensity.
I hate the way the rules change.
Suddenly, once the regular season is over, it is all right to turn guys into steak tartare. Or Maypo. Or is that chunky Jiffy peanut butter?
Crush and mash and smash and geez, boys will be boys.
That is playoff hockey, they say.
I worry about the Red Wings.
They are a superior team, but they are not a physical team.
How many hits do you think Lidstrom can take? What about Rafalski? That is what opposing teams do; they start pounding the Red Wings.
If you’re taking volunteers, who on the Red Wings’ roster is going to respond to the physical challenge? I see Todd Bertuzzi, even at his advanced age, and that is about it.
Not saying players like Darren Helm and Dan Cleary are not gritty players.
But grit comes in bushels, not handfuls, in the playoffs.
The Wings could win the Cup. They are that good. The Wings could lose early. They are that vulnerable to injury.
I love the playoffs. I hate the playoffs.
Sorry, I have to go; the puck is dropping in Phoenix.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's time to zap on back to the Karmanos Cancer Institute

I was always one of those guys who never got sick.
Honest to chicken noodle soup and a Blue Cross card, I did not even have a primary physician.
I always felt good. That, plus I always believed that once the hood went up, something would be wrong with the engine.
That is exactly what happened.
A visit to the emergency ward some 16 months or so ago became kidney cancer that had spread just a bit to the bones.
Subsequent peeks revealed a small spot in the lung and another in the brain.
But honest to orange juice, I still felt good.
It’s been quite a haul through the world of modern medicine since. I’ve had a tumor sliced from a kidney, another tumor zapped from my brain with something called a gamma knife, and generally had most of the other spots taken care of through chemotherapy.
A scan a week or so ago revealed another small spot in the brain. So it’s back for the gamma ray treatment at Karmanos Friday morning.
It is no big deal. They stick a metal frame on my head, line things up, and fire away. Fashionably speaking, it is look that Lady Gaga would appreciate.
It is also out-patient surgery. Worst case scenario is a night in the hospital. Other than ice on the four spots where they bolt the contraption to your head, there is no pain at all.
The doctors, nurses and staff at Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit are amazing. Modern medicine is a marvel. I still feel great, and hope to stay that way. I have a great family, an outstanding wife, a job I love and a prayer network that extends from my cubicle here at work to the right hand of God.
At least I am guessing God is right-handed.
I might be off for a couple of days later this week. I’ll try to keep in touch, though. If you need me during the day Friday, I’ll be down at Karmanos. Just look for the guy in the metal framed hat trying to stuff a turkey and cheese through the bars.
Or maybe something else will be on the lunch menu downtown.
Silence of the Lamb Chops? Eat your heart out, Anthony Hopkins. You, too, Lady Gaga.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A runner's stirring story of will power, weight loss and redemption

What: The Let’s Move Festival of Races
Where: Mount Clemens
When: Saturday, April 30
Why: Inspired by the National “Let’s Move” Campaign to combat childhood obesity in America, the Let’s Move Festival presents health and fitness programs.
What’s Going On: Half marathon, 9 a.m.; 2-person relay, 9 a.m.; 5K race-walk 9:15 a.m.; River Walk, 9:30 a.m.; Let’s Move Children’s Last Mile, 2 p.m.; Post Race Party, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

A Friendly's restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Nothing against the fine eatery, but the name on the sign out front was mocking on at least this occasion.
Kristine M. Jahn was inside, enjoying a peanut butter sundae.
That enjoyment had an expiration date stamped on it.
Catching a glimpse of herself in the restaurant’s mirrors at nearly 400 pounds, Jahn put down her spoon and vowed to lose weight.
She was on a trip to the East Coast with a fellow student celebrating the
conclusion of their first year in law school at Wayne State University.
She weighed 380 pounds.
"What do you do as a first-year law student?" she asked rhetorically. "You drink all night. You stay up and party and eat. I was sleeping all day except when I had classes. It was probably the lowest point in my life.”
She worked through the William Beaumont Hospital Weight Control Center in Royal Oak. The non-surgical weight-loss programs included the expertise of dieticians, psychologists, exercise physiologists and doctors.
In the fall of her third year of law school, Jahn managed her first road race, a 2.2 miler around the Wayne State campus called the Ambulance Chase.
“I was the last runner to finish. All of my classmates were there cheering me on,” said Jahn.
A year later, she joined Rick’s Runners, a loosely knit group who met at the Bally’s in Sterling Heights. That led to the Roseville Big Bird 10K around Thanksgiving, and plans to start training for her first marathon in Chicago.
Really, she has not stopped running since. Her athletic resume has gotten much more extensive since then.
She has run 32 marathons in 10 years after losing 225 pounds.
"I was always heavy as a child," said Jahn, who does human resources work and is in-house counsel for an automotive supplier. She is married to Tim Jahn, and they have two children; Gabriel, 6, and Lauren, who is 2 ½. They live in Macomb Township.
She recalls attending the 10-year class reunion at Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights. She graduated in 1983. During the evening, Jahn remarked to a classmate how much some people had changed.
The incredulous classmate's reply? "Everybody is talking about you,"
It would be difficult not to talk about the remarkable will it takes to
completely change a life. The easiest thing would’ve been to settle into
another peanut butter sundae and then another.
It would also be difficult not to talk about the impressive running schedule Jahn kept from December of 2009 through January of the following year.
In the first week of December, she ran back-to-back marathons; on Saturday, she covered 26.2 miles in Death Valley and on the very next day, she did a marathon in Las Vegas.
In January of 2010 Jahn ran the Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix. February meant the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans; and in March there was a marathon to deal with in Atlanta.
April brought the Glass City Marathon in Toledo; and later, the Lake Wobegone Trail Marathon in Minnesota.
In May she covered the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, and in mid-June was back in northern Michigan for 26.2 miles in Charlevoix.
There was a marathon in Carrollton in July with a course that included a stretch below the Zilwaukee Bridge, and to celebrate her 35th birthday on August 11, 2010, Jahn ran 35 miles.
The Air Force Marathon took her to Dayton in September, and she was back in Macomb County the very next day for the Romeo to Richmond Half Marathon.
Another doubleheader loomed in October; the Community Mental Health
Marathon in Indianapolis on Saturday, and the Detroit Free Press Marathon the very next day.
Three weeks later it was back to Indy for another marathon and the next day, she ran 26.2 miles in Huntington, West Virginia.
"People always ask me ‘how did you lose the weight?’" she said. "They ask me what can they do. Well, a person has to make the decision for themselves. I'm 180 degrees different than I used to be, obviously."

Flunking a screen test

Not that anyone cares, but the Evans family picked up a 50-inch Panasonic television the other day.
Honest to conspicuous consumption, we have something that size in a living room that is hardly bigger than the box the set came in.
So there we are; everybody bug eyed watching a plasma television that is probably six or seven inches away from our corneas.
Why did you get that large a television, you ask?
Let me try to explain it. I guess it’s for the same reason I went into the gas station after church Sunday fully intending to get a 16-ounce coffee and instead came out with a  44-ounce Styrofoam cup of Mountain Dew.
“Why’d you get that?” my wife, Kim, asked incredulously.
“Because this was 79 cents for any size, and the coffee was 99 cents for 16 ounces. It just made fiscal sense.”
Kim snorted, and rightfully so. Fiscal sense, but probably not common sense.
I am not sure the 50-inch plasma makes much sense in a 55-inch room, but the price was right.
The next time we bump into one another at a game, we’ll probably literally be bumping into one another at a game. I’ll be the guy with the Leader Dog, the red cane and the 50-inch plasma television at home.
Kim, where is the remote?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome home, Tom Gores

I don’t know Tom Gores.
I don’t know what his company, Platinum Equity, does. I just know he’s from Flint, lives in California, and is worth $2.4  billion.
What I also know is that Gores is the new owner of the Pistons, and that has to be a good news for the
Face it, the organization has atrophied since William Davidson died, leaving control to his widow, Karen.
There have been front office defections. There have been lawsuits prompted by those defections. All in all, it’s been uglier than a Gilbert Gottfried lookalike contest.
The ugliest thing, though, has been a seriously flawed basketball team playing seriously uninspired basketball.
The team’s slide has been precipitous. Just several years ago, the Pistons were one of the more dominating forces in the NBA.
These days, they are a non-entity.
Coach John Kuester has to go. Joe Dumars is probably on his way out, too. Let’s hope there is a shuttle bus waiting for many of the players, too.
It’s time to start over at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Welcome back to Michigan, Tom. We are all pulling for you.
Now about those Jimmy Buffett tickets.

Longtime Shrine hoops coach steps down

“Regrets? I've had a few,
But then again, too few to mention.”
ROYAL OAK - Mike Massucci tips his hat to Frank Sinatra.
Not to blatantly plagiarize Ol’ Blue Eyes, but Sinatra’s sentiments are exactly the way Massucci feels, too.
Massucci has decided to step down after 16 years as the boys’ varsity basketball coach at Royal Oak Shrine High School.
“It was time. I always said I wanted to be the hardest-working, most excited, most passionate coach in the gym,” said Massucci.
“But after the season, when it got down to scheduling and planning the summer league and all the logistics, I just did not feel that same energy and passion. I am sure it’s something I’ll get back at some point.”
Massucci’s teams have won the Catholic League Division four times, and finished undefeated in league play three of those years. His teams have advanced to the Catholic League semifinals eight times, and have played in four Catholic League Finals.
During the off-season, he regularly holds camps at Shrine and works camps for coach Greg Kampe at Oakland University. He also established a Leadership Camp at Shrine.
Massucci has always been one of the top coaches in the area. His teams were very well prepared. The Shrine Knights played hard, regardless of competition.
Few knew that better than Marc West, the coach at Catholic League rival Bishop Foley.
“I have a lot of respect for Mike and I learned a thing or two through the years from coaching against him,” said West. “In terms of his teams, they were always prepared to play. They played the full 32 minutes. You never felt comfortable with a lead in the fourth (quarter) until the game was over. They were always one of the smallest schools in our division and they always competed very well with the class B schools and bigger class C schools.  He got his kids to believe they could play against bigger schools and gave them a mindset they could compete with anyone,” said West.
“His teams always had the ability to play a multiple number of defenses, which made it very difficult to prepare for a game against Shrine. You never knew if you would be playing against one of the presses, 1/2 court zones, or man to man, so you had to try and prepare for everything.  Offensively, his teams did a great job of controlling tempo.  Then they would find and expose the opposing team's defensive weaknesses.
“As the coach at one of our rival schools, he set a great example for everyone involved in the game.  He was an intense competitor during the games and a great man before and after the game. The Bishop Foley-Shrine rivalry will miss Coach Massucci as will the Catholic League.  I wish Coach Massucci and his family nothing but the best in their future endeavors,” continued West.
After 16 years coaching the kids of others, Massucci believes it is now time for more time with his own children.
Mike and Karen Massucci have three son; A.J., who is 10; Anthony is nine; and Jake is seven. All are students at the Shrine grade school.
“Somebody told me once that there are only a few years when your kids are young that they still really look up to you and admire you; that is before they are teenagers and I have to embrace those years right now,” said Massucci, laughing.
There’s no doubt that Massucci is a family man. His family extends way past the confines of his own return address, though.
He has a deep affection for the entire Shrine community. He not only has coached at Shrine, but it is also where his own kids go to school. It is also the school he attended.
His brother, Marty, and his sister, Amy, also went to Shrine. Marty has been Shrine’s junior varsity coach for the past decade. His sister, Amy has kept the scorebook every year since Mike Massucci became the head coach. She has also tutored many of his players.
His mom and dad, Art and Mimi, are constant fixtures at games. Art Massucci coached the fifth and sixth grade basketball teams at Shrine Elementary for years. He was also the eighth grade football coach.
“When I decided to step down at Shrine there were a lot of emotional phone calls that had to be made. Probably the most emotional call was to Mr. Kirkwood, the principal who hired me at Shrine who was also the principal when I went to Shrine. He gave me a great opportunity and I wanted to make sure I thanked him for that.”
Massucci was 24 when he was hired as the head coach at Shrine. He’s 40 years old today.
He will continue teaching history at East Hills Middle School in Bloomfield Hills. He’s long had a hankering to write children’s books.
Massucci has long proven he has the Right Stuff as a basketball coach. How about the Write Stuff as an author? Only time will tell.  He penned quite a legacy at Shrine.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Evans is still high on grass

Back when I was in junior high, I swiped a couple of pounds of grass.
This was not a medical marijuana situation and there weren’t a couple of dudes named Cheech and Chong on my tail.
Nope, this was bluegrass and it came from the edge of the infield at Tiger Stadium.
Just when does the statute of limitations run out on agricultural products?
I’m hoping it does not extend past 40 years.
It was during the Tigers’ magical ’68 season.
A couple of buddies, Art and Rick, and myself, hustled down onto the field with the adoring throngs and did some impromptu landscaping work.
That chunk of sod is still solidly laced into the back corner of Rick’s yard in Walled Lake. Even though Rick is long-since married to Sandy and living in Ohio, his father remains in the house.
That famous turf served as the cornerstone of plenty of Wiffle Ball games that erupted at Rick’s house over the years.
Now I do not condone either thievery or vandalism, but I certainly condone World Series championships. You wonder what the Tigers have in store for us this season?
They certainly have the talent to keep them in the hunt, despite 2010’s disappointing 81-81 third place finish in the American League Central.
Free agents Victor Martinez, a catcher/designated hitter, and relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit are quality acquisitions. Martinez is a dangerous hitter, and he will loiter in the vicinity of Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera in a dangerous batting order.
If Cabrera can keep his own priorities in order, he undoubtedly will once again be among the top players in the major leagues. Last year, he finished with an outstanding .328 average, 38 homers and 126 RBI.
Centerfielder Austin Jackson came in the Curtis Granderson trade with the Yankees, and he promptly made people forget about the popular ex-Tiger. He hit .293, scored 103 runs and swiped 27 bases. Most importantly, he showed plenty of signs of being the leadoff hitter this team has so sorely needed.
There are others who simply have to show up and play solid baseball; people like Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Rayburn, Brandon Inge and young catcher Alex Avila.
The starting pitching staff led by Justin Verlander can be much better than adequate. Max Scherzer won 12 games last year. Rick Porcello went 10-12 but suffered from an inflated ERA that hovered just south of 5.00. If veteran Brad Penny can stay healthy, he’ll be a welcome addition.
So what does a couple of pounds of grass cost these days? I’m talking bluegrass, not medical marijuana.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Find those idiots who beat the Giants' fan!

Make them run the gauntlet.
Have everybody in line smack the idiots silly with Louisville Sluggers.
A bat with decent heft; preferably solid white ash and not maple. Maple splinters a little too much, and no sense wasting a solid cut.
Find the guys who beat a San Francisco Giants fan outside of Dodger Stadium after last week’s opening game. The victim is Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old paramedic and father of two, who shows signs of brain damage and remains in critical condition, a doctor said Tuesday. Stow suffered a severe skull fracture and bad bruising to his brain’s front lobes.
Stow was in the parking lot after the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory on March 31 when two young punks with shaved heads in Dodgers’ clothing began taunting and swearing at him and two others in Giants’ gear.
Stow was punched in the back of the head. He fell down, bashing his head on the pavement, and was kicked before the attackers ran off.
They fled in a four-door sedan driven by a woman who had a boy with her, police said.
Composite sketches of the men have been released.
The City Council on Tuesday voted to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrests. With previous offers from the Dodgers, Giants and others, that brings the total to $100,000.
Investigators also were looking into unconfirmed reports that Stow's attackers punched three or four young men in Giants gear only minutes before Stow was assaulted, Carrillo said.
Stow, an enthusiastic Giants fan, was attending his first game at Dodgers Stadium and had looked forward to the game all year, his first cousin, John Stow, said.
However, he may have had some worries after arriving.
''During the game, my wife received a text message from him ... He basically said he was scared inside the stadium,'' John Stow said, adding that his cousin did not usually make such comments lightly.
The punishment should not come lightly, either. Nobody in that gauntlet line had better choke up. No slap singles or drag bunts. Aim for the fences, please.