TIME AGAIN TO REMEMBER CHARLIE KELLER

Thankfully, Baseball Still No. 1

By Harry M. Covert

I STILL HOLD OUT THAT BASEBALL is the nation’s pastime. Sitting in the stands watching a no-hitter, or seeing snappy double plays and homeruns, what’s better to any sport lover? It’s preferable in these quarters to watch a direct throw from catcher to the second baseman and an out. Similarly for an outfielder’s throw.

Charlie Keller

Charlie Keller

Back in the days learning the ropes to a long life, I remember well when an 18-year-old catcher named Johnny Bench, on his haunches, warmed up throwing out runners in the minor leagues in Newport News, Va. Those in the park knew exactly he’d be a Hall of Famer. He spent his career with the Cincinnati Reds.

Approaching the Frederick Keys’ April 9 debut this year is a good time to rejuvenate, clear our heads from all the political foolishness all around us and, as lots of older people think, time to drool about The Masters, the annual Augusta, GA, golf tournament leading to the spring and summer.

Fun Days in the Piedmont, Carolina Leagues

FREDERICK’S LATE, GREAT Charlie Keller is remembered too as baseball gets under way. He was a terrific Yankees player and coach. I have no anecdotes about him except that his baseball notoriety is legion – also about horses and farming.

But back to baseball. It was a privilege to meet Gil Hodges, the late, great first baseman when he became the manager of the long ago Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. Hodges did his minor league baseball with the Newport News Baby Dodgers of the Piedmont League. It was fun, as a kid, watching him. We could go to the game and, if wearing a Baby Dodgers tee-shirt, admission was 50 cents. Our bus ride by ourselves on Citizens Rapid Transit (CRT) cost a dime.

Never can I forget the night back in the early 50s when the Baby Dodgers were playing the old Portsmouth Cubs. No radio coverage. In the top of the fifth inning, lots of razzing was under way from the Cubs’ bench. A fight ensured. The Baby Dodgers pitcher came off the mound and slugged the big mouth. Suddenly, blood was flowing. The hurler bit off the ear of the hazer and spit it to the ground. Both were tossed from the game. Lots of clapping and cheering.

Back in the day I was watching a Carolina League game in Lynchburg (VA). By the way, the Hillcats of today are playing the Keys in Frederick April 13-14-15. But the 1983 game involved the then Lynchburg Met Lenny Dykstra. Lenny attempted to explain to an umpire how infielders need only swipe, not tag, for a second base out. That was the major league way he insisted. When the ump ruled against the would-be legend, he stomped around, threw down his glove and generally created a ruckus. The umpire prevailed and tossed him from the game. It was a crowd-pleasing moment.

Forgot to mention that Sam Perlozzo, former Frederick Keys and Baltimore Orioles manager, led the L-Mets in 1983, stood by and grinned as Dykstra headed for the showers, still grousing.

SELDOM IF EVER, AS A BOY, did we miss Saturday television baseball game of the week with Dizzy Dean. Ol’ Diz often broke

Dizzy Dean

Dizzy Dean

out singing the “Wabash Cannonball” but kept everybody up to date on the field festivities. Often, it was fun to watch the live, local, commercials. On one afternoon, the local announcer misspoke the sponsor, Schlitz. Still funny. Nowadays things are difference, often wearisome and not the least bit humorous.

Dizzy Dean and broadcasters like Buddy Blattner, Mel Allen, Red Barber, Vin Scully and Harry Carey, just to name a few, could teach modern sportscasters a thing or two, especially that they stop talking so much.

Maybe we live in the past too much, but the above mentioned all lead to the nostalgia of the recreated broadcast. In Tidewater Virginia we listened to Josh Barry describe the games on Norfolk’s WNOR AM. He was terrific. You may recall a fellow named Lindsay Nelson, another named Russ Hodges and Gordon McLendon, founder of the Liberty Broadcasting System. Imagine, McLendon paid major league baseball $1,000 dollars a season for broadcast rights. My how time flies – or tempus fugit for you smart people. ◄◄◄◄

WHAT’S IN A NAME? HERE’S THE ‘SKINNY’

Rick Snider’s Real Redskins History

By Harry M. Covert 

It is time to put to rest – to bed — all of the hullabaloo, gibberish and nonsense about the Redskins name in the National Football League and any place else for that matter.

All the people who run around acting like they are offended is pure and unadulterated  hogwash, first class. There are lots of things in which to be offended but Washington’s name business is not one of them. Actually the Redskins practice in Ashburn Virginia; they play in Landover (formerly RalJon)  Maryland and market themselves as Washington, northeast, southeast, west or what-have- you.

100 things rick snider book reviewLet’s get down to business here. Those who have nothing else to do but squawk and beat the drums for silliness can be assured that all of their lip-biting or other visions of upset are for nought.

The Redskins played their very very first game in Frederick, Md., upon their transfer from Yankeeland – Boston. –Supposedly the name was a marketing ploy by George Preston Marshall, the Washington, D.C. laundering magnate who, quite frankly, brought the team from obscurity and near financial ruin to the “nation’s capital.”

Confession may be worth something at this spot. Before the days of non-stop sports events on television screens and when Sunday family meals were heavily practiced, football lovers could watch one day from Washington south. In my days I enjoyed the Sunday afternoons watching the Redskins and Eddie LeBaron, then known as the “Field General”, the late great Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, a dazzling runner, and among them one of my all-time favorites Bill Dudley, the college and professional player known as Bullet Bill. There were others.

Rick Snider, a Maryland man, is The Expert on Redskins history. He is a distinguished columnist and author. His latest book is “100 Things Redskins Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” This 282-page history is a grand read front to back.

A quick survey among Frederick County locals didn’t provide any names of those who attended that first game on September 6, 1937 when the Washington Redskins defeated the American Legion All-Stars 50-0 at McCurdy Field. Marshall the promoter said 2,500 attended that game. Others, a sportswriter of the day, suggested maybe otherwise. Nowadays the attendance is around the 80-90,000 mark and other amenities.

Snider points out the Frederick game was necessary since the old Griffith Stadium in D.C. was occupied by the Senators, who were known as “first in war, first in peace and last in the American League.”

McCurdy Field was torn down and rebuilt in 1974. It was home to the Frederick Keys baseball team as well as the Frederick Hustlers and Warriors.

A quick survey among Frederick County locals didn’t provide any names of those who attended that first game on September 6, 1937 when the Washington Redskins defeated the American Legion All-Stars 50-0 at McCurdy Field. Marshall the promoter said 2,500 attended that game. Others, a sportswriter of the day, suggested maybe otherwise. Nowadays the attendance is around the 80-90,000 mark and other amenities.

Snider points out the Frederick game was necessary since the old Griffith Stadium in D.C. was occupied by the Senators, who were known as “first in war, first in peace and last in the American League.”

McCurdy Field was torn down and rebuilt in 1974. It was home to the Frederick Keys baseball team as well as the Frederick Hustlers and Warriors.

Was A Sioux the First Redskin?

ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE Redskin players is Norman Snead. He was a high school all-state player at Warwick High School in Newport News, my hometown. He starred at Wake Forest and was selected by the Redskins. He played there from 1961-63 when he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sonny Jorgensen. The latter played a decade. He announces today.

Author Rick Snider

Author Rick Snider

Author Snider has all kinds of great facts. The Redskins almost became the Dallas Redskins.

Redskins-dom is no stranger to Frederick even today. A Sunday grocery store visit saw a couple shopping for milk, bread and, you know the rest. Husband was arrayed in Redskins’ hat, shirt, pants and running shoes. Wifey was attired in Redskins shirt and pants and wristwatch. Nice team. This is not unusual even when the Baltimore Ravens have performed much better in recent years in the won-loss departments and even a Super Bowl.

Oldtimers, though, maintain a close affinity to the Redskins.

Was the first true Redskins’ Indian player a Sioux?

Snider’s tidbits are terrific. He tells exactly how Jim Zorn got his first coaching job in the NFL. How the fabled Joe Gibbs was almost fired by Jack Kent Cooke after three straight losses. How the Redskins 70-0 loss was almost 90-0 in the 1940 world championship game.

Remember John Riggins’ famous dinner with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; how the Redskins’ Cheerleaders were formed; and the Redskins’ Marching Band; or who really was the very first Redskins’ black player?

But, back to the nickname, the honest and true naming of the team. The team wasn’t named in honor of Native American Indians. Snider ends the myth at the start in Chapter One, Page One.

So when all of the social commentators and generally those “who don’t know jack”, Rick Snider has the facts, just as he does when covering the football wars of today.

Okay, sports fans would like to know the most successful ‘Skins coach in the history of the franchise? Nope, not Gibbs, not Vince Lombardi. Buy the book.

I recommend a signed copy. Link on to: SkinsBook100.com.◄◄◄◄