Saturday, February 25, 2017

Noelle Foley at C2E2 2016

When did Mick Foley's little girl Noelle grow up?  How did Mick Foley even produce such a beautiful girl?  I'm infringing on Al Snow territory there.
I remember Noelle when she was a toddler.  I have been friendly with Mick for many years and he always spoke so lovingly of his family.  I remember seeing pictures of all of his kids (three sons and Noelle).  Mick always seemed to have his priorities straight.
All of a sudden it seems the kids have become adults.  Noelle has done some work in the entertainment industry.  She did some reporting work at C2E2 last year and I was lucky enough to run into her for a photo.
Mick has been a fan of women's wrestling and has worked for equality within the business.  This is especially significant now that Noelle has started to work towards becoming a wrestler.  I'll be following that story as it develops.
I salute Noelle for pursuing her dream.  I also applaud Mick for being a great dad above all.  Mick seems to have survived and even succeeded after retiring from in-ring activity.
Noelle Foley and me in Chicago, IL-March 2016.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Player Coach Michelle Gascoigne

Softball pitcher Michelle Gascoigne won an NCAA softball championship with Oklahoma.  She was drafted by the Chicago Bandits and has won two National Pro Fastpitch titles with them.In addition to the NCAA title, she left Oklahoma with a degree in education.  She is combining that degree with her playing experience as she embarks on a career in coaching.  Currently, she is on Kate Drohan's staff at Northwestern University.  Previously, she was on the staff at her alma mater Oklahoma for 2014-15.  Despite her youth, I have seen Michelle "coaching" he Bandits teammates on occasion.  She is very knowledgeable and has a passion for the game.
She is also one of the pitchers who "advised" me on my one at bat in 2015.  I believe her exact words were a negative head shake.  She proved to be wise with that reaction.
I will be covering the Bandits again this season.  I will also be onb the beat with the NU Wildcats.  I have interviewed Michelle as a player and I am looking forward to picking her brain as a coach.
One of the highlights of last year was wactching her pitch in Akron.  As of this writing, I do not know if she will still be playing in the NPF.  I hope she is.  I always anjoy watching her pitch.  She is a talented battler out there.  It has been a real pleasure covering her and knowing her.
Michelle Gascoigne and me in Rosemont, IL-July 2015.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Celebrity Jersey Card Miss: Leah Remini

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a regular feature where I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing spirts jerseys.  To date, I have created over 600 such cards.
Recently while watching King of Queens, while Doug (Kevin James) was on the phone, Carrie (Leah Remini) wearing a New York Jets jersey, was in the background.  It appears to be a #10 Chad Pennington jersey.
I immediately (yes, I am insane) went online to find an image of Remini in that Jets jersey.  I came up empty.  Then I tried to screen cap it from the episode on YouTube.  This was another fail, as you can see below, because Remini was not prominent enough in the scene (Darn you Kevin James!).
This would have been a great one.  Remini is one of my favorites and she looked so cute in the jersey.
This leaves me with a gnawing void in the Celebrity Jersey Cards history.  It is so close, yet so far.  It's one thing not to have a possibility.  It's another thing to be teased!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm On Puck Planet

I met Ryan Crappa during our time as writers for Tru School Sports.  Recently, Ryan announced he was starting Puck Planet, a site which would be dedicated to hockey.  He got a few writers from TSS on board, along with some new writers.
Ryan approached me, but I didn't think I would be able to contribute daily (or enough to satisfy the needs).  Fortunately, Ryan was fine with my limited commitment and I agreed to contribute a few times a month at the least.  I would be covering the Rockford IceHogs, along with writing an occasional feature piece on some hockey topic.
I am really excited about this site and writing for it.  I think Puck Planet has a bright future.  Ryan has the enthusiasm, knowledge and patience needed to run the site.  The writers already on board are all talented and dedicated.  I'm looking forward to watching it all develop and grow.
My first piece for Puck Planet is Rockford IceHogs Fight For Playoffs Spot.  Please check it out and return often to, your top destination for all things hockey!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Pack To Be Named Later

A Pack To Be Named Later is a website founded several years ago by Matt F., of Heartbreaking Cards.  The stated goal of the site is to rip open (at least) one pack of every card product ever made.  Admittedly, it was ambitious.  Now, several years later, APTBNL is going strong.
Each post would consist of the writer opening one pack of whatever cards.  The pack and the individual cards are included in the piece, along with a brief summary of the set, the cards and possibly other random thoughts.  There was no strict guidelines, other than to have fun and to show the packs.
I contributed in the early years of the site.  Some of the packs I showcased include 1978 Donruss Kiss, 1976 Topps Welcome Back Kotter, 1991 Impel WCW, 1991 Topps American Gladiators and others.  It was fun writing and also reading what others wrote.
Unfortunately, I drifted away a bit.  I got busy with other projects and did not keep up with APTBNL.  I still checked the site and always meant to start again, but it just didn't happen, until now.
I am once again writing on APTBNL.  My first piece showcases a pack of 2016 Topps WWE.  I don't know how often I will appear there, but I am trying for a few times every month.
It feels good to see my first piece back there.  It really is a fun site.  There are plenty of packs still to go and plenty of packs that can be repeated for different and interesting results.  You can always check out all of my pieces for APTBNL by clicking on the APTBNL box in the right column.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Friendly Encounters: Fernando Valenzuela and Dodger Bobble

This is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

Joshua Kohl is the creative baseball fan behind DodgerBobble, a cool website dedicated to the Los Angeles Dodgers, bobble heads and baseball.  While the site hasn't been updated in a long time, there is so much baseball goodness still to be found there.  I love this site.
Fernando-Mania hit in the summer of 1981.  Fernando Valenzuela eventually cooled off, but still had an excellent 17 year career in the majors, mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He will always be a beloved part of the Dodgers history and community.
It seems perfect that Josh was able to meet Valenzuela.  While he might not be the greatest Dodger of the last 35 years (Mike Piazza?) he is one of the best and possibly the most recognizable.  He is destined to be a lifer, almost like a team mascot.
Josh is a big baseball fan.  Meeting the legendary Valenzuela had to be a thrill.  I know the feeling.  Congrats on getting this icon!
Joshua Kohl and Fernando Valenzuela in Los Angeles, CA-March 2011.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Happy Birthday Sam!

My youngest niece Sam is celebrating her birthday today.  It's going to be quite a year of celebrating for Sam, too.
The picture below is from her Pinning Ceremony.  We are all so proud of Sam for her hard work.  She's going to do great things.
Coming ahead this year, Sam will be getting married to Kyle (seen in the photo).  That will be quite a celebration, too.  Just a few weeks after that, Sam, Kyle and I will be running in the Chicago Marathon.
Sam is an amazing young lady.  She is smart, tough, sweet and has a huge heart and a great sense of humor.  I couldn't be prouder of Sam.
I am also so happy to be involved in the Marathon with her and Kyle.  I appreciate them letting me share in the experience.
Happy birthday Sam.  I hope this is your best year yet!  I love you!
Sam Parker and the family in Naperville, IL-December 2016.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Celebrity Jersey Cards #310 Whoopi Goldberg & Elizabeth Hasselbeck

This is a regular series in which I create virtual trading cards for jersey-clad celebrities.

Carol Elaine Johnson was born in Manhattan, NY.  She rose to fame on the screen and stage as Whoopi Goldberg.  She donned a San Antonio Spurs jersey for a segment on The View, a show she has co-hosted since 2007.  While I am not a fan of a collared shrit under a jersey, I do appreciate the opportunity to create an NBA Celebrity Jersey card.
Elizabeth Hasselbeck was a co-host on The View from 2003 to 2013.  A native of Cranston, RI, she is married to former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck (who has appeared on his own football cards).  Like her former View partner, Hasselbeck earned her Celebrity Jersey Card for a show segment.  She gets extra points for having a basketball!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lisa Lutz and the Spellman Family

It is my never-ending quest to discover debut authors and then follow them throughout their literary career.  One of my favorite "finds" has been Lisa Lutz.
Lutz's The Spellman Files caught my attention in 20078.  Since then, I have enjoyed the adventures of the offbeat family of investigators.  Lutz combines humor with a bit of mystery to produce pure pulp entertainment.
I have enjoyued her forays outside of the Spellman franchise, too.  Heads You Lose is probably my favorite non-Spellman book of hers.  Lutz and David Hayward take turns writing chapters in this comic crime novel.  Utilizing extra notes and verbal sparring between the writrs, this book is an easy and enjoyable read.
I had the pleasure of meeting Lutz at a book siging a few years back.  She had been on my "Wanted" list since I read that first Spellman book.  It was another great experience, hearing the voice behind those beloved Spellman characters.
I highly recommend her books.  You can learn more about her at
Lisa Lutz and me in River Forest, IL-March 2013.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Louie

Today, join me in celebrating the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends and business partner.  Louie turns 50 this year!
I have known Louie since September of 1987, when I joined Lerner Newspapers.  Louie was already there, havibng worked part-time through high school.
We have had a lot of adventures over the years.  We survived Lerner and started Arch News Agency, our printed materials distribution company.
We have gone to Spring Training, Chicago Bears mini-camp, Las Vegas and other fun trips.  We have run the Chicago Marathon together twice.
I was there when he met his future wife Effie.  I stood up at their wedding and watched as his family grew to include three great boys.  I became part of his extended family.
Louie is a great friend and business partner.  I couldn't ask for anyone better.  It really has been a pleasure knowing Louie for these almost 30 years.  I love him like a brother.
Happy birthday Louie.  Enjoy your day!
Louie Atsaves and me in Chicago, IL-October 2015.