Neighborhood Sports

For this entry, we have a guest columnist. This is a new feature of the blog that I hope to include from time to time. We have a fascinating, richly-diverse (if not “rich”) group of readers — people in far-flung places with all sorts of experiences and insights. The next logical step in making this truly “our” blog is to let some of you take the podium now and then. It’s strictly on a volunteer basis — no one is required to “take a turn” or anything — but I hope the wheels are turning in the minds of some of you. If you have an idea, you can let me know; or if I have an idea, I may contact you with a plea to write us a piece. That was the case for this entry: once I’d read the article, I asked its author if we could use it, and he graciously agreed.

The following column was written by the sports editor of The Perry Chief in Perry, Iowa. The author also serves as an AP beat writer for Iowa State University football, and occasionally, ISU women’s basketball. You know him as Mr. Brown Snowflake, whose real identity remains hidden to protect the innocent.

This column first appeared in the April 23, 2007 edition of The Perry Chief. On February 5, 2008,Β it was awarded second place for “Best Sports Column” by the Iowa Newspaper Federation from among 76 entries statewide.

Without further adieu, then, here is the work of our first-ever guest columnist:

FROM THE PRESS BOX: Neighborhood Sports

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now, but time was the author spent hour upon hour playing sports. Either my parents planned exceptionally well or else the dice came up in my favor, as kids that were my own age or near to it were abundant in the neighborhood where I grew up. A bike ride of just a few blocks uncovered several other guys in my age group.

The result was a youth spent playing whiffleball, kickball, basketball,
football, maulball (often referred to, in those innocent days of the mid-70s to early 80s, as “smear the queer”) or any other variety of sports. An occasional game of “kick-the-can” or “bloody murder” might spring up, and if you could round up enough people (10 per side being the oft-desired but rarely achieved goal) a block-wide “capture the flag” might be undertaken.

Two-block long and lightly travelled Cottage Street served as a one-time home to kickball games, with Mr. Manual’s (correct spelling) pristine front yard an automatic out if the ball stopped in it. Of course, the older Mahan and Wilson girls always seemed to do just that,
and Mr. Manual would come out, chew us out and fetch the ball (we weren’t allowed on his little homestead, naturally).

The neighbor across the street from Manual (and next to my buddy Doug’s first house in the area) was, at the time, a certain Mr. Williams, a huge Oakland A’s fan who used to set up a cardtable with little paper cups and a cold jug of Kool-Aid for us.

When we outgrew Cottage Street we switched to Elm for whiffleball, with two shingles intentionally left to melt into the asphalt (where they remained for years) serving as home plate and second base. An old white oak served as first base, with a broken section of curb making a perfect third. And, as all could easily recognize, over the power lines was an automatic home run while launching one into Nelsons’ pool meant that not only were you out, but that you had to get the long-handled scoop to retrieve the ball.

We would wrap layers of black electrical tape around the thin yellow plastic bats and would also tape the ball (leaving the holes open, of course). The need for a catcher would often result in “ghost-runners” and “pitcher’s hand” was the standard order of the day.

On occasion the games would switch to the yard between Martins’ and
Eichelbergers’, but that was fairly rare, as were maulball games in my
backyard, because of the stone birdbath that, miraculously, no one ever collided with. Prized beyond all others was the 20×15 foot cement slab (complete with a circular built-in drain along one side) and 10-ft basket built by the one-time owners across from our backyard, the Ganeys. Mick had played high-school ball with Michigan and Iowa State coaching legend Johnny Orr and had put the court in for his kids, but as the years passed it really belonged to the neighborhood.

Long after the Ganeys had moved to Georgia the court still carried their name, despite the home changing hands two or three times. We used to shovel off the snow, squeegee the court dry, and play hoops in three layers of clothing in all but the worst of winter weather. A great 3-on-3 court and one that, even into high school, friends would drive across town to play pick-up games on. Thankfully the series of new owners never minded, and would sometimes turn on the floodlights for us.

Adolescence meant driver’s licenses and that meant a travelling circus. We even busted into the light box at the softball complex behind the high school and would turn them on and play ball until midnight. I guess the police figured — similar to when we did the same thing for full court hoops at Manners Park — that as long as we were in sight and sober we were not burning down the town, so they left us alone, though they would sometimes chase us off if we were too loud.

I think back to those times with Doug, Dan, Joe, Skybob, Iron Fran, Bill,
Fygar, Crewser, Bernandini and all the others and wonder where the days went. I know the answer, but looking around today I worry this generation won’t have such memories. I belong to what has been named “Generation X” or the “13th Gen.” Those of us born just after the Boomers (1966 in my case) and in the short years afterwards grew up just before the explosion of cable TV, video games and computers. My high school had three computers, the total power of which was significantly less than a Playstation.

For fun we played ball. Played catch, shot hoops. Spit chew and B.S.’d each other while punting a football. Yelled “Car!” and waited for the next pitch.

I cannot recall the last time I saw a similar sight. Two years ago in
Marshalltown I spent two hours on a beautiful sunny Saturday just driving around looking for something of the sort. Not a whiff. I have already done the same in Perry, with the same results.

Mr. Williams’ Kool-Aid would just sit there today.

Back to Fred: And there we have it! Many, many thanks to Mr. Brown Snowflake! This essay is particularly interesting to me because I was a country kid with only two others in the neighborhood, which pretty much precluded team sports.

Long ago on this blog we all told stories about places we played as kids. The discussion this time will certainly overlap with that, but we can also focus, as this column does, on the things we did there — the games, the activities, the building of treehouses, the lining-up of dinosaurs or army men (or both). . . .

Stories, anyone?


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45 Responses to “Neighborhood Sports”

  1. Catherine Says:

    Do you want to hear about our PVC pipe?

    We found it on our parking strip one Sunday after church. It was the day that they imploded the old sports stadium, the Kingdome, and we always joked that, as you could take a lengthy but manageable walk from our house to the Kingdome’s site, the pipe had come from there. Jokes or no jokes, we stood looking at it, and then Daddy turned to my sister and me and said: “Want a pipe?”

    We had no use for a PVC pipe, but we had use for a microphone, a lance, a bow-and-arrow, a horse, an oar and a few other things like that. So it was that the Pipe joined our family.

    It was a little taller than I was, and then, as I grew and the one end of the Pipe kept breaking, I was a little taller than it. I did not use it as a gun so much as a lance, because I had made up my own Native-American-ish tribe that required a warrior woman who wore an old princess Hallowe’en costume, and she needed a lance that she could throw from the great height of the garage roof. (I stopped that game as soon as I realized that the Pipe was breaking with increasing regularity.) When she wasn’t throwing her lance at anybody she had to ride a horse, which caused some problems because there was somebody else who wanted to ride a horse too: namely, my sister. I really preferred, however, to use the Pipe as a microphone, and would sing Irish and Scottish rebel songs at the top of my lungs to the neighborhood. (Nowadays I only play the fiddle for them.) I would stand in the middle of the lawn and pretend I was giving concerts to an imaginary crowd of people who really liked the song “Scots Wha Hae”.

    The silliest instance of Pipe use, however, came when I was about nine. I don’t know what came over me: I found this book about fairies that read like a children’s anthropology text, describing their culture and habits in great seriousness, with charming illustrations. (I have yet to find the thing again — I think it would be a great read.) I think it was the unique tone that allowed me to belief, briefly, that it might be true. The book claimed that wingless fairies flew quite as well as winged fairies; all they needed was something to ride upon, and having found that they would yell “Horse and Haddock!” and promptly levitate. Well, you can guess what the next few hours were like around my house. I straddled the Pipe and Horse-and-Haddock’d until I myself grew a little hoarse — but no closer to flying. I wasn’t yet allowed outside of the yard without a grown-up, and, since my mother protected me from everything, including the media, I didn’t realize the dangers out there. I assumed the only reasons I wasn’t allowed outside were the possibility of losing myself and the fact that I could get hit by cars. I figured if I could fly I would surmount the cars; and I also figured that I would be able to find my way excellently in the air. However, I never got so much as one inch off the ground.

    Now my sister, younger than I, has almost full custody of the Pipe, since when I have some time outside I mostly sit and read or play my fiddle for the neighbors. Some things, like neighborhood cacophony, haven’t changed — but I no longer play like a child.

    (P.S. for those of you who disagree with my mother’s protectiveness — I am no longer under such strictures, which began to lift about a year after the flying incident, and am a fairly normal, fairly knowledgeable young person who knows how to keep safe in this big wicked world. If she was wrong she hasn’t damaged me.)

    • I am deeply honored Says:

      What a great comment! I could not help bu think of the early 80s movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” In it a 16 pz glass Coca-Cola bottle is found by a Kalahari Desert bushman, who brings it back to his tribe. All sorts of trouble ensues …

      What brought that fun flick to mind was the many uses you had for the PVC pipe, much as the bushmen have for the Coke bottle.

      Oh the imagination of childhood! Oh the joys of innocence! Think of all the fun that came from something an adult would have thrown away!

      I worry about today’s fat, lazy generation that sits in front of video games that, while teaching great hand-eye co-ordination, are doing all the creative thinking. Ask any English teacher in grades 3-12…today’s kids simply cannot write and are amazingly poor at creative writing.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thank you! I loved the story of the PVC pipe! It’s really interesting what kids latch onto as great toys. Many times it’s the non-specificity of an object that makes it the best.
      I have to ask: among your Irish and Scottish rebel songs, did you sing “Wearin’ o’ the Green”? Amazingly, I found it at karaoke here in Japan, in the category of songs called “Traditional,” and it’s great fun to angrily belt it out! (In my best Irish accent, of course!) As to your serenading the neighborhood: I did the same! I don’t think I ever sang in the yard, but I definitely played my trombone — both in Taylorville, and since coming to Japan! In my early twenties, I remember taking my trombone out to the bank of the Shinano River and playing hymns out of the Lutheran hymnal. It’s a sound that I very much doubt has been heard before or since along the banks of the Shinano!
      Sometime I should also tell the story of how I played with the Salvation Army Band in Niigata. In a nutshell: I saw them playing on a streetcorner in the main downtown area of the city in the week before Christmas (one of my first years here). I knew who they were — knew it was a good ministry, etc. — so after a day or two of building up my courage, I asked if I could bring my trombone and play along. (The “band” at that point consisted of one guy playing a baritone horn, and his wife ringing the bell and tending the donation-collecting kettle.) He was delighted, and we played quite a bit that week!
      But wow, is my comment ever off the subject!

      • Catherine Says:

        Sorry, no Wearin’ of the Green. I didn’t even know that one. I sang one song traditionally sung to that tune (“The Rising of the Moon”) but I didn’t use the traditional tune.

        I sometimes combine hymns and fiddle tunes; “Hymns and Hoedowns” I call it. Maybe you could get some marches and come up with “Spiritual Songs and Sousa”?

  2. Daylily Says:

    I enjoyed this column! It gives a great picture of how kids used to make their own fun. Thanks, Sir Snowflake! If you would, please enlighten me on “bloody murder,” “ghost-runners,” and “pitcher’s hand.”

    I wasn’t into team sports, but I loved to fly kites by the hour in the field a couple of blocks from my house. My brother and I would go together, or I would go alone. Any old kite would do. Usually I just had the cheapest of paper kites, with old rags for the tail. They flew just fine, unless a strong wind ripped the strings through the holes in the kite. The field belonged to a nearby school. In the summer, my little girlfriends and I used to take blankets and clotheslines and build forts on the back porch of said school. Sometimes a custodian noticed and chased us off. Sheesh! Adults. We weren’t hurting anything.

    • I am deeply honored Says:

      My pleasure to explain, Daylily (and I completely agree with your comment that follows! I walked three blocks to elememtary school and five to 7-8-9 junior high but had friends who walked twice that far!).

      First, “Bloody Murder!” This was similar to hide-and-seek but with a twist. One person was “Bloody Murder!” (somehow never referred to as a murderer) and they would hide anywhere on the block. One porch (usually mine) was ‘base’ and everyone went out β€” this was key β€” individually, in search of BM. If you saw BM you could not scream until you (hopefully) safely hoofed it back to base. Then you screamed BLOODY MURDER and everyone dashed for base. BM was, of course, trying to ambush the hunters, and if someone was caught they became the new BM. Silly but great fun.

      Ghost-runners are invisible runners who take the place of someone on base. Lets say the game is 3-on-3. If Joe is on first and I get to first and he is on second it is now his turn to kick again, so a ghost-runner takes his place. They cannot make outs and advance only one base at a time (Joe would score only if I reached third or scored myself in the above instance).

      Pitchers hand took the place of needing a first baseman. If the pitcher had the ball in hand before the runner reached first the runner was out.

      Both ghost-runners and pitchers hand were used for whiffleball, baseball and kickball when necessary.

      Hope all of that makes sense!

      • Daylily Says:

        Thanks for the explanations! BTW, Wikipedia says that the rules for the ghost runner may vary by region and may be negotiated right before the game. Pick-up games are so different from organized sports, aren’t they? Kids get valuable practice in negotiating by discussing the rules before they play their game. As opposed to, say, the adults making and enforcing the rules in Little League.

  3. Daylily Says:

    Further thoughts: It is good to allow children to be bored at times, because then they get to use their imaginations and invent something to do. Parents should be limiting their kids’ electronic time and chasing them outdoors to play. If they complain they’re bored, just say, “Good! Now you get to think of something to do!”

    I worry about the health of America’s children because they spend too much time sitting with their electronic devices versus running around outdoors. And how about this: I see overindulgent mothers in my country neighborhood actually taking the car out of the garage to meet the school bus at the end of the driveway and transport the children back to the house! Come on, people! So the driveway is the equivalent of a city block long. This should not be a big deal. If you are really that worried that your child will be abducted, walk to meet him/her and walk back to the house. Ditto if your motivation is to welcome him/her home. Set a good example and walk!
    Save petrodollars and reduce air pollution! End of rant.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      You’re absolutely right, Daylily! I’m trying to think of what electronic devices my friends and I had to play with when we were kids. We had record players (LP turntables); I had an 8-track tape player; and I had a tape recorder (first an old reel-to-reel of my dad’s, then a cassette recorder). And that was it! Even my first movie camera wasn’t electronic: it was spring-powered, wound with a crank. And look at the nature of those devices: we listened to music and dramatizations of stories. [The funniest thing was once when I was listening to a dramatized British recording of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar {granted, I was listening to it for the assassination scene, which fascinated us as kids, and we had all the lines in that section memorized}. My mom heard these British voices talking about “Caesar,” and she hollered, “Fred, turn off that Planet of the Apes record and come eat supper!” Heh, heh, heh–same British accents, same character name. . . .] But also: we used both our record players and our cassette recorders most often for production. The record player allowed us to add soundtracks to the original audio plays we were creating on cassette tape. Same with movie cameras — our toys were all tools to be used by the imagination, not replacements for it. (See, I can rant, too! πŸ™‚ )

      • Chris Says:

        The other day while going through the garage I decided that since I had not used or touched my old Kodak Brownie hand-wound 8mm film camera and my GAF dual 8 projector that I wanted to find a home for them.

        I thought briefly about donating to Goodwill where we usually donate our stuff, but I thought this might be a better case of trying to find a home of a collector or someone who might actually want these things.

        So I put ’em up on e-Bay. Sadly the Kodak only got a couple bucks but it went to a photographer who owned a store so I hope it will be like the old photo store by your folks book shop back in T-ville and have a small collection of old cameras stuck in a display case.

        The GAF projector fetched all of about $22.50, but again it went to someone who obviously wanted it enough to pay $22.50 + shipping to get it.

        It was kind of sad to see these things go away, but since they had been neglected I felt it best to let them be free.

        The one thing I don’t think I will ever be able to part with is the old Minolta XG7 35mm camera even though I no longer use it (now I have a Nikon DSLR with a couple lenses), and I no longer use film of any sort really. It’s just hard to give up that past.

        As for tape recorders they served us all quite well. Starting with you exploring the fun effects we found accidentally, to my college days where I flipped a tape deck head so I could play things backwards (and record backwards but I had to play them forward, and consequently try figure out how to say things backwards). Then finally I found the music lab at Eastern Illinois and got to find out what kind of real run one can have with a reel-to-reel multi-track recorder.

        (Several years ago the wife and I were at a concert of the band “Barenaked Ladies” and they were talking to the audience telling them what they’d been doing earlier that day which was sitting around with a tape deck recording things and trying to learn how say them backwards.)

        Oops, diverted from sports. Sorry. Sadly I have no comments about sports as I didn’t play much. But I do recall R. H. attempting once to play baseball with you and I, which, in retrospect, seemed sad at the time…mostly sad for R.H. I guess.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Gosh, Chris! I wish I’d known you had a regular/super-8 movie projector to unload! I would have paid you a lot more than $22.50 plus shipping! I’d love to be able to watch all the old movies we made, but I don’t have a functioning projector (or ANY projector).

  4. Morwenna Says:

    Thanks, Sir Brown Snowflake! I was really hoping Fred would post your article on neighborhood sports.

    Catherine, great piece about the PVC pipe. I can imagine you soaring away with the fairies. I wish Arthur Rackham could illustrate this fun image!

  5. fsdthreshold Says:

    Catherine, your elusive fairy book isn’t the first one by Brian Froud, is it? That’s what your description sounds like to me.

    • Catherine Says:

      I went straight to the library to obtain a copy, and it wasn’t. You’re right, though, it does fit my general description. And what an amazing book it is, too!

    • Catherine Says:

      Update: Brian Froud’s book definitely isn’t the book I read but it does mention the “horse and haddock” incantation. Apparently the other book neglected to mention that it only works on ragwort stems, not PVC pipes . . .

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Heh, heh! Even though it’s not the right one, I’m glad you enjoyed the Brian Froud book. I know how haunting those “lost books” of our childhood can be. There was a book I know I owned as a child called The Horse That Takes the Milk Around. My mom and I searched for it for years after I grew up, but we never found it, nor did I find it when I emptied out the house after my parents passed away.

        This is almost a blog post topic unto itself, but there were three really special old books I had as a kid, and all three were missing their covers. I suspect that Mom brought them home from school libraries, since they were in such poor shape and ready to be thrown out. One was full of pirate stories and poems [what rhymes with “Aaaarhhh”?], with beautiful illustrations. I remember having much of it memorized, and reading it to my dad, and my dad reading it to me. “Old Captain Garrett of Peabody Lane, / He walked with a limp, and he walked with a cane. . . .” One was a book of native American folktales, illustrated in a way that both attracted and frightened me. The North Wind was a semi-transparent Indian in full headdress that for some reason really gave me the heebie-jeebies. The third was a fascinating book of fairy stories and poems, which I know I still have in storage. When I lived in the States, I would get it out every Midsummer’s Eve.

  6. I am deeply honored Says:

    I remember being given an old clunky cassette recorder when I was 7 or 8 (1974ish, I am old!). It weighed about five pounds and had buttons so big a gorilla could have used it, but, wow! A portable device on which you could hear your own voice! What fun!

    And I remember Fred’s old film camera. Half the fun of using it was hearing the mechanical (and charming) click-click-click-click-click as it recorded our adventures.

    Thanks, Morwenna, for the comment. And Daylily, I had no idea ghost runners would warrant an explanation on Wikipedia! Wow! You say Wikipedia desribes the rules as open to negotiation, and that was certainly the case with us. Some of us always wanted ghost-runners subject to pitcher’s hand on force outs, others were totally against it. But we all agreed they had to be “pushed” to move β€” they could not run on their own, even if who they were taking the place of would have moved on the play without a “push.”

    We definitely negoiated other things, but most of these were set; i.e. where/what the bases were, how many fouls is an out, could girls play, etc.

  7. I am deeply honored Says:

    Allow me to take this opportunity to apologize for killing the energy on this blog…

    • Daylily Says:

      Nonsense! My guess is that we have said what we had to say about the topic. But here’s a little tidbit: Catherine’s PVC pipe reminds me of the best toy my kids ever had: a brown corduroy-covered couch which came apart into two foam slab rectangles and two L-shaped cushions. Picture the two rectangles stacked and the two cushions arranged to form the arms and back of the sofa. Not wonderfully comfortable, but a great toy. Bought it for $80, IIRC. That couch became a fort, a Sumo wrestling ring (with an L-cushion held around one’s neck), a CT-scan machine, and more. Sometimes, I would put the couch back together and reclaim the living room. πŸ™‚

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Daylily, I’m confused: why did your kids, pretending to be Sumo wrestlers, hold L-shaped cushions around their necks? I can’t think of anything in real Sumo that that would simulate. . . . πŸ™‚

        For my cousin and me, the sofa was most important for the hidden space behind it that it created. The sofa became a mountain slope, and the space behind it was the entrance to the subterranean realm. We would “descend” into it, and then the entire house became the vast cavern of the inner Earth, with a certain red rug being a bed of lava that one daren’t fall into!

        And Mr. “I am deeply honored” — don’t worry! Flurries of comments will come again — if not on this post, then on ones to come. Your material hasn’t “killed” anything. On the contrary, it has enriched this blog, and thank you again for letting us read it!

      • Daylily Says:

        It was my son and his friend who were the Sumo wrestlers. They were maybe ten years old. The friend was very slightly built. With the cushion around his neck, he was perhaps twice as large as usual. I think it was the added bulk the boys were thinking of. They would push at each other with the cushions, trying to overwhelm the other “wrestler” and knock him down onto the padded surface of “the ring.” It was almost as if the cushion formed a set of short and enormously thick arms. (A player’s real hands and arms were busy holding the L-cushion so that it formed a U around his neck.)

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        I see! Thanks for the explanation. As soon as I asked, I wondered if maybe the cushions were to add bulk to the wrestlers. In a way, more than Sumo, I’m reminded of the Japanese sf franchise Gundam, in which people pilot gigantic robot suits that fight with each other. πŸ™‚

  8. Morwenna Says:

    Brown Snowflake, you don’t kill the energy on the blog. Look back at Fred’s July 4th posting. The alphabet challenge that you started there swelled the comments section to 121, bringing in all kinds of fun memories about games from Aggravation to Zilch.

    Speaking of that, we filled in X, Y, and Z, but did not find a V. Fred, we know you were an X-wing fighter once upon a time, but did you ever pretend to be a Viking?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      As a matter of fact, I did have a brief Viking period, too! I remember seriously trying to decide if winged helmets or horned helmets were cooler, and for a while I was all dragon ships and wooden shields.

      • Chris Says:

        When I was a little kid I loved the viking stuff but didn’t get enough of it.

        Imagine my horror when Rita and I finally did make it a couple times to Iceland and Norway only to find out the ubiquitous horned viking helmets for sale in all the toy and gift stores didn’t really represent common helmets worn by actual vikings.

        Didn’t stop us from buying one for a friend. It had not only horns but two nice long blond braids attached to the helmet. If that doesn’t say “SCANDI-*&^%in’-NAVIA I don’t know what does.

  9. I am deeply honored Says:

    For what man knows God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?
    For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.
    For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
    And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
    Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given Wisdom and sent your Holy Spirit from on high?
    And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and men learned what was your pleasure, and were saved by Wisdom.
    — WIS 9:13-18

    • Daylily Says:

      Thanks for this post! I think that these Wisdom verses must be an antecedent of one of my favorite passages, Romans 11:33-36:

      Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
      Who has known the mind of the Lord?
      Or who has been his counselor?
      Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
      For from him and through him and to him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen.

  10. Scott Says:

    PROD…OK, on the subject of professional writing, how much do you get paid for writing? I know you get paid by the word for most work and I know from my research that the different magazines pay different amounts per word. But from the marketing end of it, can you negotiate with the magazines for the pay per word? If you have more published works, does the pay scale go up? Does an agent bring in enough extra to pay for themselves? How do you balance the pay per word against the circulation exposure? And Mr BrownSnowflake, on the AP side, can you negotiate with them or do you just take whatever they give you?

    • Chris Says:

      I am not a professional writer but I rather assume that the writin’ game is hot. I base that on this photograph of a writer, I assume to be Fred, at what I assume to be a writing convention somewhere:

      Note the mass of bling that he has accumulated.

      As for the journalism trade, that too I assume rakes in “tha benjamins” as they say. Again, my abilities to find photographs of these people is astonishing (even to me) and I think I’ve found one of Mr. Brown Snowflake:

      Note the “press credentials” jauntily cocked in his hatband.

      • Scott Says:

        You may be right about the first one, but I don’t think Mr Brown Snowflake would ever wear an ascot.

      • I am deeply honored Says:

        Well I am unable to open a .bmp so I will just have to take your word for it.

        A word or two or more: I know of no one who writes sports for a living who considers or calls themselves a “professional” unless they are in a piss fight with a newsroom jerk (and 99.95% of newsroom jerks are jerks) or a journalism professor (who, as a rule, look down on sportswriters as not ‘real’ journalists but β€” and the irony eludes them β€” neither are they).

        Also, press credentials are almost universally worn around the neck on a whistle strap, though sometimes (like if it gets in the way of a camera) they hang on a whistle strap from a belt loop β€” the whistle strap being the important part of the ensemble.

        As for an ascot … uh, no.

  11. I am deeply honored Says:

    “Uh, hello?”

  12. I am deeply honored Says:

    My “uh, hello” was written before Scott’s post was on the site, so don’t be confused.

    Scott, as far as the AP goes, the rate is fairly firm. It is set largely by what it is you are covering and of how much interest it will generate. For instance, an Iowa State University women’s basketball game with Wisconsin-Green Bay is not going to draw the demand like an ISU vs. Nebraska football game.

    Contracts are let over the summer and are usually assigned by the AP directors in the Des Moines Bureau. If the bureau has a senior writer (most do) they will take all but the most plum assignments, leaving chumps like me stuck with Texas Tech at ISU Oct. 2, Utah at ISU Oct. 9 and Missouri at ISU Nov. 20.

    There is a lot more to all of this, of course, but the that is it in a nutshell. The pay for football is …. well, that is not for public discussion, so lets just say that football is about a six-hour day (not counting travel to and from) and one game pays my rent …

  13. I am deeply honored Says:

    To continue what I just said: I have no idea on magazine pay.

    Three years ago I had a story reprinted by Baseball America magazine. I picked up a cool $300 for 700 previously written words. Not bad… wish they would call again! (Are you listening Will?)

    Now, this is for Iowa and may be different elsewhere, but when a paper buys a photo shot by another paper the photographer typically pockets $50. If a paper asks you to cover a game for them (you send them your story, amended to take on their ‘local’ angle) the fee is generaly $50 but can rise to $100 depending upon what the event is and what the purchasing paper is asking for. This is in addition to the pay you are already earning from your own paper, of course.

  14. Scott Says:

    Thank you for the information. I always thought that the local news outlets forwarded stories to the AP for distribution. But I imagine with sports, that wouldn’t work out too well. You could have 50 reporters at one game while no one would show up to report on other games.

    On another note, most of us that post on this blog are fans of J.R.R. Tolkien. I found a blog for a wonderful artist by the name of Steve Thomas. The website is His most recent post is a collection of fantasy hockey logos using Middle Earth for team names. If you scroll down to older posts, he has travel posters for Middle Earth. And, if you are into old 1980’s video games, he has some posters using old video games themes done up to look like the old wartime posters.

    I apologize for plugging someone else’s blog on here and I haven’t commented on it before, but after I saw the hockey logos, I couldn’t resist.

  15. I am deeply honored Says:

    The people responsible for sacking the people responsible for sacking the people responsible for the credits wish to announce that they have themselves been sacked …

  16. I am deeply honored Says:

    PROD! For the love of God; PROD!

  17. I am deeply honored Says:

    “I’d say about 30 guns, some on the surface, some on the tower.”

    “We all have it coming, kid.”

    “It is Christ Himself who compels you! He brought you low by his bloodstained cross and with his resurrection silenced the roaring dragon! Do not despise my command because you know me to be a sinner!”

    “There is an old Romulan saying: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ It is very cold in space.”

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Very interesting juxtaposition of lines! I have written out and/or printed out all “prod” questions about Japan and writing from Mr. Brown Snowflake, Daylily, and Scott. I am working on doing a Q & A posting.

      September is traditionally my “vacation” month on this blog, but I know for most of you, September is the “back-into-the-thick-of-things” month.

      Meanwhile, if anyone is itchin’ to do a guest column, I’m all ears!

  18. I am deeply honored Says:

    Somebody get busy or else I will (you have been officially warned…)

  19. Marquee Movies Says:

    OK, Brown Snowflake, you got me with the movie quotes. (I really did enjoy your article – did a very nice job of reminding me of summer nights of playing kick the can. I grew up on a dead end block, so there was relatively little traffic, which made playing in the street much easier and more fun. I do love that moment in Wayne’s World when they’re playing hockey, and keep calling out, “Car!” and “Game on!” Again, good article!)
    OK – first quote, I don’t know – second is Unforgiven, with Mr. Eastwood – the third I’m guessing is The Exorcist, and the fourth, um…..Outland, with Sean Connery? Never saw it, but it’s my best guess for now. Do I have any of these right?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Mr. Brown Snowflake–

      Of those four quotes, I knew the Star Wars and Star Trek II ones, but I didn’t know the other two (although I have seen Unforgiven.)

      I re-watched Star Trek II about a year ago, remembering that I had liked it best out of the movies. It held up quite well after so many years! But I did chuckle at one point: when Khan’s crew take over that Federation ship, and we see them all occupying the bridge stations — the Federation bridge is all white and squeaky-clean, and Khan’s men look very much like an aging Metal band. . . . For some reason, it just struck me as really funny, how incongruous they look on a Federation bridge! But yeah — it’s a fantastic film!

  20. I am deeply honored Says:

    Marquee: I admit, the quotes I used are a bit obscure. The second is indeed Unforgiven and the third is The Exorcist.

    Number four is from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

    Number one is: Gold leader, begin your attack run. I am going to cut across the axis and try and draw their fire (Star Wars IV: A New Hope).

    And now, from one of my favorites:

    “They aren’t going to catch us. We are on a mission from God.”

    “It is 106 miles to Chicago. We have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, its dark and we are wearing sunglasses.”

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      It’s been a very long time, but I’m going to have to go with Blues Brothers.

      By the way Snowflake, I absolutely loved your post! I actually read it when you first posted, but I’ve been buried under a pile of Harry Potter books and couldn’t comment. I grew up playing the same games but I was usually the only girl. We lived on a small street with a cul-de-sac at the end of it. I had endless hours of fun. I’m glad you and Fred shared this with us. Thank you.

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