Saturday, August 1, 2015

On the Beat with Tammy Williams of the Chicago Bandits 2015

Today, the Johngy's Beat and Justin's World of Softball joint coverage of the 2015 Chicago Bandits features shortstop Tammy Williams.  The 6rh year veteran is a double threat as a defensive stalwart and an excellent hitter, too.
Tammy started every game at shortstop during her stellar career at Northwestern.  She holds several Northwestern records and received many awards and honors.  The  Bandits drafted Tammy in the second round in 2009.
In her six seasons with the Bandits, Tammy has been a joy to watch.  She is a star on the field and a fan favorite.  As of this writing, she is hitting .265 with 1 home run, 15 rbi's and 6 stolen bases, while making only one error.
In our interview, we talked to Tammy about her sports idol, her coaching career and her future with the Bandits.  Tammy was uncertain about playing next year, but she did state that if she returned, next season would be her last.
Whenever Tammy does decide to retire, it will be a sad day for the Bandits and the NPF.  It has been my pleasure to watch her up close over the last two seasons.  Tammy and Danielle Zymkowitz (2nd base) are so smooth as a combo.  It is beautiful watching them out there.  At least Bandit Nation has been able to call Tammy one of our own for her entire career.  Still, I vote for one more year!
After you watch the video, head to ChicagoBandits.com for more info and updates.  Then, be sure to check out the Bandits in person, on television or on YouTube.  There are still a few home games left!  Get to a game before the season ends!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Flashback Weekend with Traci Lords and More!

Flashback Weekend isn't the largest convention around, but it is one of the best.  It always has quality celebrity guests, interesting events and it is extremely well run.  It might be the first convention I ever attended and is a "can't miss" on my calendar.
This year, Flashback Weekend will be held from August 7-9 at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont, IL.  The focus this year is on Halloween, a true horror classic.  Celebrity guests include Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers), Gick Warlock, Tommy Lee Wallace, Alan Howarth, William Forsythe and many more.  This is a Halloween fan's dream (and pretty cool for regular horror fans, as well).
There are several other celebrities, too.  Barbara Magnolfi (Suspiria) is making a rare appearance.  Others include John Russo (Night of the Living Dead), Charles Band (Re-Animator), Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills), Richard Band (Re-Animator) and more.  Plus, local celebrities like Svengoolie, Nick Digilio, Dann Gire and John Laflamboy will be on hand for more fun.
In addition to all of these great celebrity guests, there will be an outdoor showing of (what else?) Halloween!  This is a rare opportunity to see the classic Halloween on a giant screen (and outdoors).  That is an event by itself!
That's not all though.  Alan Howarth will be in concert.  On Friday, August 7, the legendary composer will be performing selections from Halloween 2-6, Escape From New York and many more.
On Sunday, August 9, Svengoolie will present a special screening of Mad Monster Party.  It will feature audience participation and activities for kids.
Did I mention the costume contest?  What about the Zombie PinUps Pageant?  How about the Question and Answer sessions?  There is so much and I am probably forgetting a few things.
In the past, I have met some of my very favorite celebrities at Flashback Weekend.  I saw wrestler-actor Rowdy Roddy Piper in the Chicago area for the first time.  I interviewed Kelli Maroney.  I reconnected with Traci Lords.
I have so many great memories from Flashback Weekend.  I am looking forward to creating more memories at this year's Flashback Weekend, too!
Traci Lords and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2014.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

On the Beat with Sammy Marshall of the Chicago Bandits 2015

Today, the Johngy's Beat and Justin's World of Softball joint coverage of the 2015 Chicago Bandits features rookie infielder Sammy Marshall.  Sammy was drafted in the fourth round out of Western Illinois University.
The third player ever drafted by the NPF out WIU, Sammy was the WIU Senior Female Athlete of the Year.  She racked up a lot of other honors and awards at WIU and left as the all-time leader at WIU for career hits, career runs scored and career batting average.
We talked about her path to the Bandits, playing a role on the team and much more.  Because she is a big fan of the Chicago Bears, I also asked for her opinion on the new Bears coach.  In addition to her speed, Sammy brings intensity and poise to the Bandits.  It is going to be fun watching her career develop.
After you watch the video, check out ChicagoBandits.com for more info and updates.  Most importantly, check out a game in person!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On the Beat with Michelle Gascoigne of the Chicago Bandits 2015

Today, the Johngy's Beat and Justin's World of Softball joint coverage of the 2015 Chicago Bandits features pitcher Michelle Gascoigne.  In her third year out of Oklahoma, Michelle is having another fine season.
With four wins this season, Michelle is on pace to match her six wins in each of her first two seasons.  She stands at 4-2 and one save with an ERA of 2.55 and 43 strikeouts against 17 walks.  She also has five complete games.
We talked to Michelle about her future in coaching, adjustments in the NPF and much more.  I also asked her about Monica Abbott's recent perfect game.
After you watch the video, head to ChicagoBandits.com for more info and updates.  Then, be sure to check out the Bandits in person, on television or on YouTube.  Get to a game before the season ends!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On the Beat with Danielle Zymkowitz of the Chicago Bandits 2015

Today, the Johngy's Beat and Justin's World of Softball joint coverage of the 2015 Chicago Bandits resumes with Danielle Zymkowitz.  Danielle is in her fifth season of playing 2nd base for the Bandits.
Danielle has been a stellar performer throughout her NPF career.  She is hitting .239 with one home run and ten rbi's.  She is also her usual self at 2nd base.  Danielle and her shortstop Tammy Williams, have an ongoing fun rivalry over making "diamond gems."  These ladies make a lot of gems, including participating in a triple play last season.
As we learned in our interview last season, Danielle loves cereal.  I got an update on her cereal of the moment, along with some softball-related stuff, too.
I also had Danielle explain the "animal" gestures the team makes.  She explained the penguin, shark, elephant and peacock.  Finally, that mystery is solved for me.
After you watch the video, check out ChicagoBandits.com for more info and updates.  Then, be sure to check out the Bandits in person, on television or on YouTube.  Get out to the ballpark before the season ends!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Friendly Encounters: Keith Hac and Jack Keenan

Friendly Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

I call this pic "Hac and Jack."  Aren't I clever?  I gave Hac first billing because of his coaching resume (no offense to Jack).
As has been well-documented, Jack Keenan has been with Johngy's Beat for the duration of our coverage of the Chicago Bliss.  Head Coach Keith Hac has been at the helm for that whole time, too.
Over the course of our connection, the Bliss has gone 14-1-1 and won 2 Legends Football League titles.  At 4-0 this season, they look to be a strong candidate to win the LFL title this season, too.
Hac has a brilliant football mind.  I believe he could be successful on any level.  He sees things that others miss.  For years, the Bliss ran a simple, but effective, offense.  People criticized them for being one-dimensional and boring.  I praised them for winning.  Hac just rolled with it.
Then at the last game, out of nowhere, Hac made the Bliss a passing machine.  This took everyone by surprise, even me, although I am not surprised that Hac would surprise people (does that make sense?).
Of course, the critics immediately questioned why he would not have saved the newly discovered air attack for the playoff game against the Atlanta Steam.  Why not take them by surprise then?
There are a few possibilities and all are classic Hac.  Maybe he wanted other coaches to have something else on their minds as they prepared.  Maybe he wanted to give them a "now what?" moment.  Perhaps he just doesn't care.
My guess is a bit of all and probably more or maybe none and even less.  The point being that Hac has built the Bliss into a dynasty.  To him, it doesn't matter what the other teams do, say or think.  Wins are all that matters to Hac and he is racking up a lot of them.
Back to Jack, he took a lot of grief over a poor prediction a while back.  He might have miscalculated his analysis, but he has been invaluable to the Beat's coverage of the Bliss.  Crisp pictures, interview coordination and a lot of fun are on his Bliss resume.
Hac and Jack...two big reasons I enjoy covering the Bliss.
Jack Keenan and Keith Hac in Ontario, CA-September 2014.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Celebrity Jersey Cards #231 Tim Robbins & Sigourney Weaver

Athletes get trading cards.  Why not celebrities?  At least celebrities wearing athletic jerseys should get cards.  I am doing my best to create cards for jersey-clad celebs.

California native Tim Robbins has had a lengthy career as an actor, director, producer, musician, activist and more.  He is also a bit of an athlete.  We have already seen him pictured with the New York Rangers on a Celebrity Jersey Card.  Today, he is looking a bit like Tim Foli, which is why I put him at shortstop.  His #4 was most notably worn by Ron Swoboda or Lenny Dykstra, but I think Robbins would be more like Bob Bailor.
Actress Sigourney Weaver stayed true to her New York roots by sporting a New York Mets jersey for her Celebrity Jersey Card.  I give Weaver extra points for holding a bat and wearing a Mets cap.  Actually,. she gets extra points for choking up (although not as much as the legendary Felix Millan).  Wow...I just noticed a batting glove, too!  This rocks!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tru School Sports Spotlight on Sugar Dunkerton

I have been a fan of Sugar Dunkerton since he made his debut at Resistance Pro.  I have briefly recapped his RPro career in my latest contribution to Tru School Sports at On the Resistance Pro Beat with Heavyweight Champ Sugar Dunkerton.
As any wrestling fan knows, wrestlers are somewhat limited by the booker.  Still, within the confines of that, wrestlers have the ability to rise above and shine.  Give several wrestlers the same exact match and you will see varying results.  The intangibles and personal touches are what separates the great wrestlers from the pack.
Suge D has the intangibles and he certainly has the personality.  Back in his early days as part of the tag team of Lock Up, Suge had to stay within the boundaries of that role.
Consider that he was part of a tag team.  Consider that Lock Up consisted of two prisoners under the thumb of Warden Myers.  Consider that the team was a heel team.
Those factors limit the amount of fan interaction and personality one can show.  Suge did his best to stay within the parameters and still shine.  Bad guy or not, he was gaining popularity.
When his run with Lock Up ended, he embarked on a singles career and quickly found himself in the title picture.  His rise was aided by a turnover at RPro, but it was inevitable.  The departures only sped up his growth.
To his credit, Suge D also grew into and a bigger role.  I saw a change in him.  He became a leader in and out of the locker room.  As RPro Heavyweight champ, he had certain responsibilities to represent the company and he took on that challenge with ease and energy from the start.
The fans are solidly on the Special Dark bandwagon.  Even when he faced hometown favorite Colt Cabana, the fans were behind both wrestlers.  They were just happy seeing a great match.
Suge D is a special wrestler.  It is a pleasure watching him entertaining fans every show.  I always look forward to his matches.
The next opportunity to see Suge D in action will be at "Death Proof" in Willowbrook at the Baron on next Saturday, August 1.  Head over to ResistancePro.com for more info and ticket details.
Sugar Dunkerton and me in Summit, IL-June 2015.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Reconnecting With Jori Parys

Jori Parys recently started a blog at Jori Parys: Aspiring sideline reporter/sports broadcaster.  "Aspiring" is only temporary.  Jori is going places.
I first met Jori during her time with the Chicago Bliss, where she was a rookie on the 2014 Legends Football League champions.  Aside from her athletic endeavors, I learned she was a singer, too.  One example of her performing is at Jori Illinois State Fair.
Recently, Jori has mentioned on social media that she wants a career in broadcasting.  I think Jori will be great.  The blog is an excellent first step.  She also has already put up an interview at Jori Parys: Matt LaCosse Interview.  LaCosse played college football at the University of Illinois and signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.
I was impressed with how relaxed and fluid Jori was in the interview.  She obviously did her homework on LaCosse.  She asked the standard (necessary) questions, but also added some other interesting ones.
In such an interview, it is often hard to balance the questions.  You don't want to go over redundant old material, but you do want to cover the basics.  Jori did an excellent job in accomplishing everything and keeping the interview moving along.  I have seen a lot more experienced interviewers not do nearly as well.
Jori's future is bright.  She has the talent, intelligence, personality and more needed.  I am excited for her and for sports journalism.  This is going to be fascinating watching her career develop.
One last bit of great news is that Jori will be working with Johngy's Beat in the future.  We are ecstatic about having the multi-talented Jori on board with us.
You can check out her blog at Jori Parys.  It is now a regular stop of mine online!
Jori Parys and me in Darien, IL-June 2014.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cards That Never Were: Backup Catcher Hall of Famer Larry Haney 1974 Topps

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I attempt to create sports trading cards that for some reason were omitted from the original sets.  This is a concept I have borrowed from way too many others to list, but I thank them all.

Today is a special "Cards That Never Were," because it features a Backup Catcher Hall of Famer in Larry Haney.  I have written many times here about the BCHOF, but my I just wrote my first piece on the subject for Tru School Sports at The Backup Catcher Hall of Fame.
Haney signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles in 1961.  He made his MLB debut in 1966 and earned his first Topps baseball card in 1967.  He shared it the "Orioles Prospects" card with Ed Barnowski.
After the 1968 season, the Seattle Pilots selected him in the expansion draft.  In the middle of the 1968 season, he was traded to the Oakland A's.  Through his first four seasons, he averaged 47 games played with a .225 batting average.
The next four years were tough.  In 1970, he played 2 games with the A's, in 1971 he did not see any action and in 1972, he played 5 games for the A's.  During the 1972 season, he was actually traded to the San Diego Padres, but reacquired later in the season.  In 1973, he appeared in two games for the A's, but was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals, for whom he played two games.
Prior to the 1974 season, he was purchased by the A's (for his third stint with them).  In 1974, he set his career high in games played with 76.  Unfortunately, he hit a paltry .165.  In 1975, he played in 47 games and in 1976, he played in 88.  He managed to bat .201 during this three year period.
The Milwaukee Brewers purchased Haney prior to the 1977 season and he saw action in 63 games, hitting .228.  He was released after the season.  I believe he was a coach for them in 1978 and actually appeared in 4 games for the team in October.
Haney had cards from 1967 through 1970, 1973 and 1975 through 1978.  The missing cards would have him pictured with the A's in 1971 and 1972 and with the Cardinals in 1974.  I could not find pictures of Haney with the A's during that period, but I did find a picture of him with the Cardinals.
The card below isn't the clearest.  I cut myself a break because he only appeared in two games for the Cardinals.  I am surprised he had any pictures.