Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Happy Birthday Nancy

Today is my oldest sister Nancy's birthday. Since she is across the country right now, I will celebrate her day here.
We might tease her about being the "matriarch" of the family and being the oldest sibling, we love her dearly. It's not because she makes cookies, cupcakes or even pumpkin rice krispies treats. It's not because she helped hang a bunch of pictures in my place either. It's not even that she indulges me and gets pictures with mascots whenever she can. While Nancy has done a lot for me, it isn't for what she does. We love Nancy for who she is.
Nancy is caring, generous, thoughtful, loyal, funny and all other qualities you'd want in a person. Lucky for me, she is my sister and my friend.
I always say, my sisters are my rocks. I love them both and appreciate them dearly.
We've had so many great memories and I look forward to so many more, like when we celebrate when she's back in town. For now, I just wish her a wonderful birthday. I love you, Nancy.
Nancy and Clark in Chicago, IL-December 2019.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Team Australia Stacey McManus and the Olympics

With the Olympics postponed to 2021, I reached out to several of my Olympic softball friends for Olympians' Thoughts, my latest online contribution to Global Traveler.  Team USA Monica Abbott, Team Canada Lauren Bay Regula, Team Mexico Sashel Palacios and Team Australia Stacey McManus were kind enough to give me their thoughts. Coincidentally (or not) all aqre former Chicago Bandits.
Stacey played one season for a Bandits a few years ago. The Australian players then became the Aussie Spirit, based in Mankato, MN.
It was cool having the Aussies on the Bandits. They had a huge fan base from around the world and their native land folks were very supportive.
Stacey's mom Cindy came from Australia for several games. It turns out she is originally from New Jersey and was a bit of a softball player, too. Mom Cindy is such a sweet person. She gifted me with a little koala bear during Stacey's season with the Bandits. It was so thoughtful and cool. It now sits on my shelves along with other softball swag.
It was awesome seeing Stacey return with the Spirit after her year with the Bandits. Of course, we all missed Stacey and the other Aussie Bandits playing here, but it was also cool to see the whole Australian team play.
I really was looking forward to seeing my friends in the Olympics, but I'll hold that anticipation through 2021. Hopefully by then, the world will be close to normal.
I really appreciate the friendships I have developed from National Pro Softball. I especially am grateful for these four friends for their time and thoughts. Other players echoed their sentiments and I encourage all to follow players on social media. There are messages of disappointment and frustration, but there is a lot more hope and togetherness. At a time like this, that is the most important thing.
Stacey McManus and me in Rosemont, IL-Summer 2019.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Friend Encounters: Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon and Tony Feddeler

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

The last time I saw my friend Tony Feddeler with the Four Horsemen, he was repping the Johngy shirt. Tony returns here with some of the Horsemen, but no Johngy shirt. Still, this is a very cool moment.
Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were the tag team within the Horsemen. On their own they would have been a great team, but as part of the Horsemen, they became legends. The Horsemen were perhaps the greatest stable and assembly of talent ever. With Ric Flair as the leader, Arn and Tully as the backbone, a rotating 4th member and manager JJ Dillon, the Horsemen were so good as villains, they were cheered.
Tony is a great friend, a wrestling fan and a convention buddy. We've had a lot of fun over the years at various events. He's a good guy and I always look forward to seeing him.
I love the picture below, because Tony looks like he could have been in the Horsemen. Actually, he could have been Arn's tag team partner, moving Tully to the secondary title picture with Ric still being the main man. Arn and Tony would have been a force.I am sure Tony wouldn't disagree with me placing him in the Horsemen!
Arn Anderson, Tony Feddeler, Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon in Schaumburg, IL-September 2018.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Celebrity Jersey Cards #664: Doug McWilliams & Michael Zagaris

This is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, we continue working our way alphabetically through all Major League Baseball teams.

Doug McWilliams is a huge part of the history of baseball cards. From the early 1970s through 1995, McWilliams was one of the main photographers for Topps. The first picture of his that Topps ever bought was of George Hendrick, although they did not use it for a card. His first picture bought and used by Topps was Vida Blue. In 2010, McWilliams donated more than 10,000 negatives of his photographs to the Baseball Hall of Fame. After being responsible for so many of the baseball card pictures, it is only fair that McWilliams appears on one. This Celebrity Jersey Card features McWilliams wearing #50, presumably to represent his 50 years of photographing baseball.
Based in San Francisco, CA, Michael Zagaris rose to fame shooting rock and roll and fashion. He eventually concentrated on sports photography and became the official team photographer for the Oakland A's and San Francisco 49ers. Like his photography colleague, Zagaris deserved to be "carded" and his Celebrity Jersey Card, featuring him in an A's jersey,  serves that purpose.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Micky Dolenz at Wizard World St. Louis 2017

The new year is well underway, which means a whole new year of Wizard World events across the country. The next Wizard World is June 5-7 in St. Louis, MO.. I won't make the trip, but I will be there in spirit.
A couple years ago, Jack and I did make the trip to St. Louis for Wizard World. It was my fourth Wizard World city (along with Chicago, Columbus and New York).
One of the cool celebrities we met was Micky Dolenz, the former singer and drummer for the Monkees. Dolenz's career actually started well before his Monkees days, when he was on tv's Circus Boy. He had his own band for a while before he auditioned for the Monkees tv show.
The Monkees became a hit series, although short lived. The four musician/actors eventually became a real band. That band has continued to remain popular and has reunited many times over the years.
Micky isn't the only entertainer in the Dolenz family. His younger sister Coco appeared on some episodes of The Monkees and also sang some backup. His daughter Ami is an actress, too.
Check out WizardWorld.com for all of the info on the Cleveland event and all of the other Wizard World events all year. Also, check out MickyDolenz.com for news on Dolenz.
Micky Dolenz, Jack Keenan and me in St. Louis, MO-April 2017.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Aubree Munro of Team USA

Aubree Munro was a star catcher at the University of Florida. In her four seasons, she hit .254 with eight homers, 76 rbi's and 57 runs scored. She also had a fielding percentage of .997. She was a two-time NCAA National Champion and a two-time WCWS All-Tournament selection.
Aubree was selected in the 2016 NPF College Draft by the USSSA Pride as the 39th overall pick. She played a bit for the Pride, but concentrated more on Team USA. With Team USA, she was a World Cup of Softball Silver Medalist in 2016 and 2017. In 2019, she was a Pan American Games Gold Medalist.
Like her Team USA mates, Aubree was excited when she was named to the 2020 roster. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, the Olympics were postponed until 2021. As I have mentioned before, I am really looking forward to this Olympics. Never a big fan of the Olympics, I am excited to see my friends (or at least acquaintances) take the big stage.
I will be supplying recurring coverage through the Olympics here, for Global Traveler and for Patch.com. Also, follow Aubree at @Aubree_Munro1 on twitter. Also, go to the Team USA softball site for all of the info on the team.
Aubree Munro and me in Rosemont, IL-June 2019.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Cards That Never Were: Doug Favell Topps 1968-'69

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets. It is a concept I have borrowed from far too many to list, but I appreciate all of their efforts.
Doug Favell started his professional hockey career in the Boston Bruins organization. The Philadelphia Flyers selected Favell and teammate Bernie Parent in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft. After the 1972-'72 season, Favell was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Bernie Parent (who had been traded there in February of 1971). Favell played three seasons with the Leafs, before being sold to the Colorado Rockies. The Edmonton Oilers selected him in the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft, but Favell chose to retire.
Favell played 370 games and had a 317 goals against average for his career. He was one of the first goalies to use the butterfly technique. He was also the first goalie to use a painted design on his mask (although former teammate Gerry Cheevers was the first to actually have artwork on his mask).
An excellent lacrosse player, Favell played professionally for the Detroit Olympics and the Philadelphia Wings. He was inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2005.
For his efforts, Topps (or OPC) issued cards for Favell in every set from 1969-1979. Since they missed a 1968 rookie card, I felt compelled to create one.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Chris Chelios at The National 2017

Chris Chelios played an unbelievable 26 years in the NHL, 8+ with my beloved Blackhawks. That career, ended after the 2009-10 season with the Atlanta Thrashers, earned him an enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
Prior to his NHL career, Chelios was an outstanding prep player. He even played at Mt. Carmel, my alma mater. It's a long-running joke among my friends that no other duo of Mt. Carmel alums played as many games as Cheli and I. Together we played 1,651 games in the NHL. Of course, I played none, but that doesn't get in the way of a (bad) joke.
Actually, Cheli didn't attend Mt. Carmel for long. Despite him being 3 years older than me, we weren't even there at the same time. I think he played his freshamn year at MC, before the family moved to the west coast.
Despite his Chicago roots and his time playing for the Hawks, I had never met Cheli until last year at The National. He looked to still be in playing shape, despite being 55 years old.
I mentioned our MC connection (but not the bad joke). We talked a bit about his son Jake (then playing defense in the AHL) and daughter Caley (a sports reporter in Tampa).
It was a thrill to meet Cheli. Because of ages and proximity, I really followed Cheli's career for more than 30 years. (How had he really escaped me until then?)
Chris Chelios and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Squared Circle Expo Update

The Squared Circle Expo is scheduled for May 29-30 in Indianapolis, IN. With the pandemic, all conventions are in a holding pattern. The fine folks at SCE are keeping all updated as best as can be.
I wrote at length about their latest update at Squared Circle Expo Update on Patch.com. In short, the SCE is still scheduled as is, but the organizers are looking at other options with the host hotel and the guest wrestlers. They will keep all posted as developments occur and I will report their updates, too.
As we settle in for a long lockdown, we realize the things we miss most won't be the events. It will be the friends and the memories.
Ed "Mr. Zubaz" Gonzales and "Hardcore" Heather Owens are two friends I miss and looked forward to seeing at the SCE. It's no shock that I miss the #ClassyBroad, but yes, I miss Ed, too. They are such a huge part of the convention scene. I have known them for several years and they are two great people.
Nobody works harder than these two and nobody parties harder. Despite being extremely busy at conventions, they always have a few minutes to catch up.
Although I haven;t been with them in a while, at least I have been entertained by them through their Pop Drunk YouTube channel. They drink, talk Funko Pop figures and basically have a ball and I have just as much fun watching them.
It looks like the SCE will be postponed, but it will happen at some point. I will be so happy to see Ed, Heather and all of my other friends there. Until then, I will sit at home and watch Pop Drunk videos to get my Ed and Heather fix.
Check SquaredCircleX.com for all of the info on this great event. Also follow Squared Circle Expo on Facebook for more frequent updates.
Ed Gonzales, Heather Owens and me in Schaumburg, IL-November 2018.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Friend Encounters: Lacy Marie and Michael West at Days of the Dead Louisville 2017

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

Author Michael West is a regular presence at Days of the Dead conventions in the midwest. The Indiana resident has been part of the celebrity author lineup, but also goes as a horror fan, like the rest of us.
Michael has written many books. A noted fan of horror, Michael has crafted horrifically good stories within the pages of his books. He has also done short stories, which I think are especially challenging in the horror field. I first interviewed Michael back in 2012 and that can be found at On the Beat With Michael West.
It's always fun around Michael, whether we are talking about his latest book project or I am watching him meet his favorite celebrities.
One celebrity Michael met was fellow author Lacy Marie. Lacy Marie's latest series is written to inspire people to remain loyal to living their lives regardless of life's circumstances. Her writing goal is to impact lives.
I can only imagine the conversation between these two talented folks. I would have loved to hear how their minds work. Of course, they probably just discussed regular stuff and not the intricacies of writing. Either way, I find them interesting.
Go to DaysoftheDead.com for more info on the Indy event and more. Check out ByMichaelWest.com for more info on my talented author friend.
Michael West and Lacy Marie in Louisville, KY-October 2017