Sunday, April 30, 2023

A Fun Sunday at Dodger Stadium with the Joanne and Paul Sabolic

Sunday, April 30, 2023
Thanks to a gracious invitation from long time
friends, Joanne and Paul Sabolic, the four of us were off seeking a fun afternoon in the Sun at "Blue Heaven on Earth," a.k.a., Dodger Stadium.

Now 61 years old, Dodger stadium
still sparkles and awes upon arrival

Of course, the four of us enjoyed a
Dodger Dog and a beverage before
sitting down in our spectacular seats

I was excited because today's game featured two of the National League's traditional powerhouse teams.

The St. Louis Cardinals
11 World Series Championships
19 National League Championships

The Cardinals have won more World Series Championships than any other National League team.

Their 19 NL titles is the third most in NL history.

The 2023 season has been a tough one so far for the Cardinals as they entered the game with a 10-18 record good for fifth place in the NL Central.

The Los Angeles Dodgers
7 World Series Championships
24 National League Championships

The Dodgers rank third in terms of NL clubs winning World Series Championships, trailing the Cardinals (11) and New York/San Francisco Giants (8).

Adding to the agony of being a Dodger fan is those 24 NL Championships, the most by any Senior Circuit club that have only resulted in those seven World Series titles. In second place in terms of all-time National League Championships are those pesky Giants with 23 NL banners in their possession.

The Dodgers have been off to a slow start in 2023. Although they are in first place in the NL West, they were only 15-13 at the start of the game. R.: George, Laurie, Joanne and Paul

We had a fun afternoon indeed!

The Sabolic's seats were FANTASTIC!

We are extremely grateful to the
Sabolics for letting us tag along

As I said, we had a wonderful time visiting with Paul and Joanne that ended with . . .

A Dodger victory!

Meanwhile, in EuroBall action . . .

Our old team, the Thun Tigers, continue to
roll in Switzerland's top division, the NFLA

The Tigers are now 4-0 on the campaign while the Winterthun Warriors drop to 0-3.

A BIG win for the Varese Skorpions

It is time for our weekly check-in on the Italian Football League where our Skorpions continue to battle for a playoff berth after a rocky start to the 2023 season.

Italian Football League
Week #8 Results
Rhinos (4-2) 19 - Stainless Steel Warriors (0-5) 18
Panthers (4-1) 45 - Frogs (2-3) 19
Skorpions (3-2) 41 - Ducks (2-4) 34
Byes: Guelfi (5-1), Dolphins (4-1) and Mastini (0-5)

Italian Football League
1. Firenze Guelfi 5-1
2t. Ancona Dolphins 4-1
2t. Parma Panthers 4-1
4. Milano Rhinos 4-2
5. Varese Skorpions 3-2
6. Legnano Frogs 2-3
7. Lazio Ducks 2-4
8t. Emilia Stainless Steel Warriors 0-5
8t. Verona Mastini 0-5

Italian Football League
Week #9 Schedule
May 6-7, 2023
Skorpions (3-2) at Frogs (2-3)
Mastini (0-5) at Guelfi (5-1)
Panthers (4-1) at Dolphins (4-1)
Byes: Rhinos (4-2), Ducks (2-4) and
Stainless Steel Warriors (0-5)

The game between the 4-1 Panthers and 4-1 Dolphins should be a dandy! The winner will have an inside track to a playoff Wild Card Week bye.

As for our beloved Skorpions, what Coach Nick Holt and his staff are accomplishing this season has been historically significant.

At the end of each season, the Division II Champion is offered elevation up to the IFL, Italy's top league of American football. In 2022, the Skorpions won the DII title and happily embraced the competition of IFL play.

In the past ten seasons, only five of the DII Champions have accepted elevation. After wining all of the DII marbles here were the teams' records their first year in the IFL:

2015 Roma Grizzlies 5-5

2017 UTA Forli-Pesaro 2-8

2019 Bologna Warriors 1-7

2021 Milano Rhinos 1-7

2022 Modena Vipers 3-5

2023 Varese Skorpions 3-2 (with 3 games left in the regular season)

Can the Skorpions get to the nearly impossible 5 win mark for newly elevated DII Champions?

I checked with Jacob's Magic 8 Ball and the answer was "All signs point to it."

There you go, five wins plus it is then!

The Ventura County Youth Track Conference JV East County Finals

Fri.-Sat., April 28-29, 2023

These two days were dominated by Saturday's Ventura County Youth Track Conference JV East County Finals which would be Jacob and Mary's last meet of their initial track season.

Athletes from the Camarillo Cosmos, Moorpark Striders, Newbury Park Panthers and Thousand Oaks Flyers gathered at Camarillo H.S. for six hours of fun and frivolity.

But first, there were some happenings on Friday.

First, I brought my dominos set to Pasadena to take on my Mother in a titanic 17 game series in the recreation room of her skilled nursing facility.

At one point in this epic face-off which was broadcast live on ESPN 8, a.k.a., "The Ocho," she asked me what the score was. I answered truthfully that she was ahead seven games to three. Her observation of that score was simple and to the point, "I'm beating you badly. I've been playing this game all my life."

So much for our bonding moment. I did make a bit of a comeback after that but it was a case of too little, too late. The final core favored my 98 year old Mother 10-7.

A rematch is scheduled for next Wednesday, I'll be studying on-line for every tip that I can find about this ancient game.

Also on Friday, a Prom

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, our son Michael likes to work in his off-time with the Special Needs students at Newbury Park H.S. Mostly he does this by volunteering to coach the group's various Unified Sports teams.

On Friday night he took Mary along as his date to the NPHS Special Needs students' Prom. They both said that they had an enjoyable time at the function.

Time for a big track meet

The flowers were in bloom at
the Camarillo H.S. track

The first event at 8:30 a.m. was
Mary's 8U Long Jump

She stuck the landing

Mary's best jump of the day was 6'-9" placing her 15th out of 39 Girl jumpers aged 8 and Under.

Jacob running a great first leg of his
Boys 11-12 4 x 100 Meter relay

That's Laurie at the fence rooting Jacob on.
Making up the stagger

Jacob's team ran a time of 1:03.76 in finishing second of the six teams in their age group.

Jacob was happy with 
his start of the meet

Next, it was Jacob's turn
at the Long Jump pit

Good hang time on this leap

Jacob had a PR jump of 12'-3" which made him the third best jumper out of 30 competitors.

It was time for Mary's 100 Meter Dash

She was in a tough heat
with lots of speedy girls

Her time of 20.45 was the 23rd fastest of the 40 sprinters in the 8U age group.

Jacob had a good start in his
100 Meter Dash for Boys aged 11-12

This was a really close heat

He battled to the end finishing
third in his heat

He ran a PR time of 15.46 which was the 13th fastest time of the 48 sprinters in his age group.

Mary's favorite race is the 800Meter Run

That is two long laps around the track

Mary finished eighth out of 11 girls in her age group with a clocking of 3:54.38.

The 200 Meter Dash is Jacob's
favorite event

He made up the stagger quickly today


He was way ahead of all of the competition in his heat as they neared the straightaway.

Striding out

This was a proud Poppo
moment for me

Overall, Jacob's 32.88 time ranked him seventh out of the 22 sprinters in his age group today.

Mary also ran the 200 Meter Dash

Her 47.91 time ranked her 13th of the 17 girls aged 8U.

Jacob starting the third leg
of the 4 x 400 Meter Relay

This was the best he had looked
in this grueling event all year

Finishing his leg in good time

Although we had four youth track clubs in attendance, only the Camarillo Cosmos entered teams in the Boys 11-12 race.

Jacob's ran the race in 5:41.05 to finish second.

Mary was happy at the end of the day

Actually, they were both happy
with their first ever track seasons

They both said that they want to be a Cosmos again next Spring which was great to hear. They will both be in the same age groups next season but will compete as the older kids in their groups, not the youngest as they were this year.

It should be fun. Laurie and I both look forward to seeing them run and jump again in 2024.

Here is a list of the kids PR's for the season:

Mary Contreras
Iron Chick Award Winner
2023 Girls 8 & Under Age Group
Personal Records
100 Meters - 19.92
200 Meters - 47.63
400 Meters - 1:39.36
800 Meters - 3:31.25
1600 Meters - 7:55.60
4 x 100 Meters Relay - 1:24.21
Long Jump 7'-9 1/2"

Jacob Contreras
Iron Dude Award Winner
2023 Boys 11-12 Age Group
Personal Records
100 Meters - 15.46
200 Meters - 32.79
400 Meters - 1:24.70
800 Meters - 2:54.03
1600 Meters - 6:29.07
3200 Meters - 14:33.56
80 Meters Hurdle - 18.26
4 x 100 Meters Relay - 1:03.27
4 x 400 Meters Relay - 5:39.02
Long Jump 12'-3"
Shot Put - 16'-1 3/4"

The now traditional post-meet meal
at El Tecolote Mexican Restaurant
in Camarillo

Michael let Mary order his meal

I let Jacob do the same for me. Both Michael and I enjoyed two great meals picked by the kids.

Mary crashed

After attending that Prom on Friday night and then competing in her four events on a warm today, it was allowed.

American Football news . . .

The Rams NFL Draft picks the
past two days in Rounds 2-6

Let the re-building commence.

As is the norm, the Rams had no picks in the 2023's First Round on Thursday.

The Black Demons won the
2023 Spanish Serie A Championship

The LG Oled Black Demons (10-0) beat the Osos Rivas (7-3) for their first ever Serie A title after having lost in the championship games in 2019, 2021 and 2023.

All three of the defending champion Osos' losses in the 2023 campaign came at the hands of the Black Demons by scores of 3-2, 7-0 and now 22-13.

Friday, April 28, 2023

A Spring Feast and a San Marino Titans Baseball Game

Thursday, April 27, 2023
A day for nostalgia . . .
As a youngster I grew up in San Marino, California and, from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade, attended K.L. Carver Elementary school, a fine public institution.

During most of those years much of my youth was spent at sporting events and sports related Summer camps at San Marino H.S., Home of the Titans.

Since the visit to my Mother today was centered around a Spring dinner put on by her skilled nursing facility starting at 5:15 p.m., I opted to drop by SMHS for a look at my old stomping grounds.

A sign of the times

I took a walk through San Marino's downtown shopping area on Huntington Drive. Unfortunately, this San Marino landmark was permanently closed and open to anybody who might want to lease the building.

Today, most of this area is devoid of shops and eateries but chock full of banks and other financial institutions. As a result, there were not many people on the Huntington Drive sidewalks.

This mural is found next to the San Marino
City Hall, Police Department and
Fire Station complex

It got me to reminiscing . . .

Huntington Drive has always been a huge, six lane street that bisects the entire city of San Marino from East to West. There is also a now grassed in median strip that is about 20 yards wide.

When I was growing up, that median strip was where Pacific Electric tram cars, like the one in the mural, ran transporting people from the far reaches of the San Gabriel Valley into downtown Los Angeles and vice versa. By the 1960s, the tram line was closed down and grass and trees were added to that big median strip as we said good bye to a clean, reliable mass transit system that we could use all these decades later.

Now as a child, our home in the east end of San Marino was about a one mile bike ride across all the car and tram traffic before arriving at San Marino H.S. As a nine and ten year old I made that trip solo several times a week to see the Titans in action or to go swimming in the beautiful SMHS Titan pool. 

I wonder if parents today would allow their nine year old children to make such a journey by themselves.

By the way, the leap off of the high dive of that SMHS pool was a summertime rite of passage to be sure.

I always wanted to be a Titan but when the time came in 1958, at the age of 11, our family moved to our new home on the west end of San Marino. This move coincided with with my parents' decision to have their three children attend Catholic schools for the rest of their K-12 years.

So much for the dream of someday playing for the blue and white Titans.

I saw lots of great Titan basketball
teams and players in this gym

What are all of those little blue banners hanging all over the gym?

They are C.I.F. Championship Banners

The SMHS 1964 football team won the C.I.F. "AA" Championship.

That would have been the team I'd hopefully play with my Senior year if I had been allowed to attend SMHS.

Fortunately on the athletic front, the St. Francis H.S. Golden Knights football team that I did play with my Senior year won the 1964 C.I.F. "AAA" Championship.

SMHS established in 1952

The view of the Home Stands

This pool and that gym behind it,
were my Summer homes
in 1956 and 1957

I even got to meet my all-time
favorite L.A. Ram and Hall of Famer,
WR Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, at an
SMHS Summer Camp

As it turned out today there was a big baseball game about to start on the SMHS field.

The Titans (16-6, 7-4 Rio Hondo League) were hosting the Monrovia Wildcats (12-12, 6-5 RHL). This was the last game of the regular season with the C.I.F. playoffs scheduled to begin next week.

This was a big game for both clubs as the Titans were tied for first place in the Rio Hondo League with arch rival South Pasadena H.S. Tigers and needed a win to earn at least a co-championship. With a win, the Wildcats would tie the Titans in the final league standings and could wind up in a three way tie for the league crown if South Pasadena was upset by the Temple City H.S. Rams (5-15, 3-8 RHL) today.

The Titans had split their two previous games with the Wildcats, winning 6-5 at Monrovia and losing 4-3 at home.

Great, full-sized photo of the 2023
Titan baseball team on the back of
the home team dugout

The field looked pristine

The Titans starting pitcher
had some pop on his throws

This Wildcat batter had no chance
against The Heater!
Now this spot REALLY brought
back a memory

I was standing at about this exact same spot next to the Titans' dugout during the Summer of 1956 at the age of nine after a day in the SMHS pool, located about 30 feet behind me, watching two baseball teams in action.

Their was a play at second base where the runner slid into second base and flipped the shortstop. A fight broke out between the two players that resulted in both players being ejected by the umpires.

As our runner returned to the dugout about five feet from me, his coach asked what happened out there to start the fight. His answer opened my eyes to all sorts of possibilities, "He called me a sack of shit!"

Now, to an impressionable nine year old like I was, that was an exchange that I still remember to this day 67 years later.

The English language can do that to you.

I only stayed for the first inning where the Titans took a 1-0 lead. SMHS would go on to earn a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats.

Meanwhile, the South Pasadena Tigers beat the Temple City Rams 4-1 thus creating a Co-Championship atop the final Rio Hondo League standings.

The tie-breaker to determine which Co-Champion will go to the C.I.F. playoffs next week as the Rio Hondo League's #1 entry belong to South Pasadena based on sweeping the three game season series between the two schools. The Tigers beat the Titans 2-1, 7-2 and 4-0 in those three contests.

Final 2023 Rio Hondo League
Baseball Standings
1t. South Pasadena Tigers 8-4, 15-12
1t. San Marino Titans 8-4, 17-6
3. Monrovia Wildcats 6-6, 12-13
4. La Cañada Spartans 5-7, 8-14
5. Temple City Rams 3-9, 5-15 

The SMHS Class of 1965
commemorated on Senior Walk

In 1956, San Marino H.S. graduated its first ever class. There is a similar set up like this one for each and every class that has graduated since then.

I saw a lot of familiar names on this display of the class that I would have been a part of if I had been allowed to attend SMHS back in the day.

On to the Spring family dinner at Mom's skilled nursing facility . . .

My sister Marilyn joined us for dinner

The food was DELICIOUS!

Mexican Coke, oh my!

The facility puts on these family meals once a month and I've been able to attend the last two. My Mother has really perked up at both of these meals that we attended together.

Tonight, there were three family's, each with three people, dining at a shared, long table.

Mom, Marilyn and I were seated at one end of the table and as we dined I overheard the trio of people at the far end talking. At one point the man at that end said that he had a good English teacher when he attended St. Francis H.S.

Hmmm . . .

He looked somewhat familiar, like a young guy about my age. I wondered.

Later in the meal, a nurse asked how this family, "How is Miss Wickham enjoying her meal?"

Then it hit me that this must be the brother of Steve Wickham who was in my SFHS Graduating Class of 1965. Unfortunately, Steve passed away in a car accident in 1966.

I waited until after the meal was over as I did not want to disrupt the Wickham's family meal before introducing myself.

Sure enough, it was Patrick Wickham, Steve's brother, who graduated from SFHS in 1964. He was there with his wife visiting his sister who is also a patient in our Mom's skilled nursing facility.

Two Hawaiian shirted Golden Knights

I know that there are no coincidences in life, but still, what a small world.

On the drive home. I listened
to the 2023 NFL Draft's First Round

Since the Rams again do not a First Round pick, I was not overly interested in the discussions.

The last Rams First round pick was QB Jared Goff out of California in 2016.

Meeting the Cleveland Rams 1945 First
Round Draft Pick at San Marino H.S.
in the mid-1950s is still a lifetime highlight