Friday, April 27, 2007


TERRY FELTON, The Biggest Loser.

Terry Felton pitched for the Minnesota Twins from 1979 to 1982, and his career record will go down as the worst in the history of major league baseball. He lost 16 games and won none in his career. That's zero, zilch, nada. In his final season, 1982, he lost 13 and won none. On a couple of occasions, he was in line to finally win a game, but ill timed homers by the opposing team sank his chances.

In all fairness, he did win some games in the minor leagues. A player has to be fairly good in the minors to ever reach the majors. Pitching for the Toledo Mud Hens for 4 years, Felton won more games than any other Mud Hen pitcher, 33 wins, and he held that record for over 20 years. But Toledo ain't the major leagues, and therein lies the problem.

Although he had a good fastball, he walked too many batters and tended to give up home runs at the wrong time. He did have 3 saves with the Twins, as he had to do something worthwhile to stay in the major leagues that long. After the Twins mercifully released him, he became a detective in the Baton Rouge, LA. sheriff's department.

Among other pitchers with abysmal records was Don Larsen, a friend of my father in law, who achieved fame by pitching a perfect game no-hitter in the 1956 World Series for the NY Yankees. Larsen, pitching for the pitiful Baltimore Orioles in 1954, won 3 and lost 21. After being traded to the Yankees, he became a decent pitcher.

RON HUNT, Nothing Can Hurt This Guy.

An unusual record was set by Montreal Expos second basement Ron Hunt who was hit by pitches an incredible 50 times during the 1971 season. Ouch! That sounds more like dodgeball. Hunt, who apparently had a high tolerance for pain, led the league in hit by pitches 7 years in a row, and he came in second in 2 other seasons. In 6 of those years, he was hit by pitches 24 times or more. Although he hit few home runs, he was a pesky singles hitter who leaned over home plate when he batted. He was the consummate lead off hitter. Although pitchers had no reason to be afraid of him, he finagled 58 walks the same season and had an on-base percentage of .402. In another season, Hunt's on-base percentage was .418.

Now, in baseball if the umpire doesn't think the batter made an effort to get out of the way of the pitch, he will not award the batter first base. Hunt made that into an art, by squirming in such a way as to look like he was trying to evade the pitch, when he really wasn't. In any case he achieved enough respect to appear in 2 All Star Games. He was quoted as saying that while some people give the bodies to science, he gave his to baseball.

EDDIE YOST, The Walking Man

One of the weakest hitters on one of the worst teams in baseball was third baseman Eddie Yost of the Washington Senators of the 1950's. Yost, who broke into the major leagues in 1944, at age 17, led the American League in receiving bases on balls for 6 seasons. In 1951 and 1954, he came in second in that category to Hall of Famer Ted Williams, considered one of the greatest hitters of all time.

The comparison to Ted Williams ends there, however. For example, in 1956, Yost obtained 151 walks (including 9 intentional walks) in 152 games, while his batting average was an anemic .231. In 1952, Yost coaxed 129 walks from American League pitchers, while batting only .233.

Because of his talent in working pitchers for bases on balls, his on-base percentage was over .400 in 7 different seasons, and he led the league in getting on base in 1959 and 1960. His secret was his keen eye for the strike zone and his ability to foul off many good pitches. Pitchers wanted Yost to hit the ball because it never went very far, but after he would foul off many pitches, the frustrated and tired pitcher would finally throw one out of the strike zone, and Yost would trot to first base. He did that over 1600 times in his 17 year career. He later went on to coach and manage in the big leagues for many years.



Wednesday, April 25, 2007


The legendary George Abbott, who was called "Mr. Broadway" based on his seven decade plus career as an actor, producer, director and author in American Theater. Born in 1887, he wrote his first play in 1910 and continued working on Broadway until 1994, the year before his death at age 107.

He produced the play Damn Yankees in 1955 and brought it back to Broadway for a revival in 1986, when he was 99 years old, and again in a 1994 revival when he continued to give advice to Director Jack O'Brien on revisions to his original book. On opening night of the 1994 revival, he walked down the aisle and received a standing ovation. He was heard saying to his companion, "There must be somebody important here."

Some of his other well-known works included The Boys from Syracuse (1938), Pal Joey (1940), Call Me Madam (1950), Pajama Game (1954) with a 1973 revival.

A native of Salamanca, NY, where his father was mayor, Mr. Abbott obtained a B.A. from the University of Rochester and then attended Harvard where he studied playwriting.

Some of those who worked with Abbott early in their careers included Desi Arnaz, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim and Liza Minelli.

He was married 3 times. His first wife, Ednah died in 1930 after 16 years of marriage. He married again in 1946 and divorced in 1951. He married his last wife, Joy in 1983, when he was 96. In the New York Times obit, Mrs. Abbott was quoted as saying that a week before his death he was dictating revisions to the second act of Pajama Game with a revival in mind.

He won several Tony Awards and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1930 for Best Achievement in Writing (All Quiet on the Western Front).

When he died in 1995, all the lights on Broadway were dimmed in tribute to him.


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What's Your Management Style--S***r Bowl Coaches

This report appeared in my Chairman's Report in the GLMV Action News, March 2007

Shortly before the recent championship football game, which shall go unnamed because the NFL owns and enforces the copyright, the Wall Street Journal printed an article about effective management styles. It happens that both coaches in that game have something in common besides their race--their management styles.

Both Lovie Smith, from Big Sandy, Texas (named after an old girlfriend of mine) and the other guy, have motivated their respective teams to play tough, disciplined football without yelling, screaming profanities and otherwise belittling their players. I'm sure that Vince Lombardi and George Halas, looking down on that game must be doing double takes.

The coaches in that game have demonstrated that directing their players calmly and treating them with respect has paid big dividends.

That lesson applies in your business also. If you're the boss with the explosive temper, you might get some short term goals realized, but in the long run, you will have more turnover among employees and low morale which will cost you. Can you spell l-a-w-s-u-i-t? Your customers will pick up on that and vote with their feet.

Set goals, give your people some responsibillity, let them know what is expected of them, and they will produce. People do make mistakes, but hopefully they learn from those mistakes. Show confidence in your people and don't make them terrified to make mistakes, and they will realize their full potential to the benefit of your business.

So I look forward to seeing the improved Rex Grossman back next season, leading the Bears to that game again.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


As a lawyer, people often ask me how to avoid getting traffic tickets.

Assuming you're not blatantly breaking the law, i.e. speeding 20 mph faster than the flow of traffic, weaving between lanes, speeding all by your lonesome at 2:00 A.M. and driving a red Corvette with alcohol on your breath, while doing all of the above, there are helpful ways of handling the situation.

If you see flashing lights behind you, pull over as quickly as you can safely do so. Pull out your license and insurance card and put your hands on the wheel where the officer can see them. Please keep in mind that the officer is apprehensive also, because he or she has no way of knowing if you're a wanted terrorist or just an average taxpayer. This can be a tense moment, and you always want to start off on good terms.

I always greet the officer with a smile and "Good Morning" (except when it is afternoon or evening). As you can see, I have a lot of experience in this type of encounter. The officer will usually ask, "Do you know how fast you were going?" Or, "Do you know what you were doing?" Its OK to answer, but don't say too much, as your admissions can be used against you. Most people are speeding, but not necessarily in an unsafe manner.

I usually say, "I'm not sure how fast I was going", or "I don't know, did I do something wrong?". The point here is: don't be belligerent and argumentative with the cop. If you have a bad attitude, you're fairly certain to get the ticket. Don't say, "The mayor/police chief/politician is my buddy/cousin," even if he is. That won't help you, and it may get you in even more trouble. In my case, I do know many chiefs and politicians and certainly judges, but you can be certain I'll never volunteer that information to the cop.

The other line often heard by officers is "Do you know who I am?" The standard answer by the cop is, "No, but I will when you show me your license." Remember, even if you are a big shot, you probably don't want the local newspaper to report it as news. Its better to keep a low profile.

One other thing: If you have a radar detector in the car, you're fairly certain to get a ticket.

If it's late at night, the police often will follow a car and look for a pretext to pull you over to see if you've been drinking. Officers have told me that if they follow any car for a quarter mile, they can find a minor violation to give them a reason to make the stop. If you follow the drill above and you haven't been drinking, he'll probably let you go without a ticket. I've had it happen to me many times--I don't drink--I get stopped for touching the center line or the fog line. I just go with the flow, and the officer moves on to the real drunks. If you are very impatient, try to control it, because it looks suspicious.

Keep in mind that officers are instructed to write a certain number of tickets because, besides showing a presence to keep the roads safe, the fines from the tickets are used to pay for squad cars and equipment along with other village necessities. But officers have some discretion to let minor offenders go--there's plenty of major offenders they can catch.

And remember, don't ever, ever, back into the squad car like I did last year. But that's a story for another day.




As we approach the 10th anniversary of the death of Jeanne Calment, it's time to reflect on her life. She was known for making one of the greatest real estate deals of all time. In 1965, at age 90, she agreed to sell her condominium apartment in Arles, France, to a 47 year old lawyer named Francois Raffray, and in return the lawyer agreed to pay her a monthly sum for the remainder of her life--in effect, a reverse mortgage. The value of her apartment was equal to 10 years of payments. Thirty years later, the lawyer Raffray died, leaving his widow to continue the payments, thus paying for the apartment more than 3 times over. Mrs. Calment ultimately died August 4, 1997 at age 122, the oldest well documented person in the world.

One interesting thing about her is that she had bad habits. She smoked cigarettes for over 100 years. The reason she quit smoking (at age 117 except for a few puffs now and then) was not that her doctor said it would kill her, but that she was nearly blind and could not safely liight up, and she was embarrassed to admit that and ask for a light. She also drank 2 glasses of port wine a day.

Her family was prominent in town, and knew many people. At age 14, in 1889, she met artist Vincent Van Gogh in her father's shop. He had come in to buy some paint. Mrs. Calment later described the artist as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable". That was the same year that the Eiffel Tower was built. She even attended Victor Hugo's funeral in 1885. She continued to live in Arles, in southern France, for the remainder of her days. Coincidentally, Dianne and I spent the day in Arles in 1996, and looked her up, but we coudn't talk to her because she didn't speak English.

She was still riding her bicycle until age 100, and she lived on her own until age 110 when, after she almost burned down her condo while cooking (or smoking) she moved into a nursing home. She appeared in the film, Vincent and Me, playing herself, when she was 114, making her the oldest actress. Rumors that she dated George Burns were unfounded.

She was able to walk around OK until she fell and needed hip surgery at age 115. She recovered, but was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. However, her mind was alert, she talked a lot, and she received frequent visitors. She ever released a CD in 1996 called "Time's Mistress", featuring her reminiscing to a score of rap and other tunes. She was precedeased by her husband, daughter, grandson, and, of course, her parents.



Sunday, April 22, 2007


As a frustrated baseball player, I want to tell you about a man I can relate to and admire. "Mr. Baseball", Bob Uecker, the announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers is one of the funniest men in baseball. A native of Milwaukee, he is a brilliant marketer who made a career joking about his ineptness on the baseball field. He parlayed this into a starring role in the TV sitcom, "Mr. Belvedere", and also a role in the movie "Major League".

He did a beer commercial in which he populatized the line "I must be in the front row", when he was placed in the worst seats in the stadium. Those seats in Milwaukee's Miller Park are now called the "Uecker Seats" in his honor.

He played 6 seasons in the major leagues, but most of that time was spent on the bench. His lifetime batting average was a paltry .200. He never stole a base, but was thrown out 3 times in his career. A catcher, he had 27 passed balls and 11 errors in one season, leading the league in both categories. What was incredible was that he played in fewer than half the games that season. He was a prime candidate for the "least valuable player" award if there was such an award. He even received a World Series Championship ring with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he never appeared in a World Series game--apparently the manager forgot to put him in.

He joked that the high point in his career was in 1965 when he received an intentional walk from pitching great Sandy Koufax. What he didn't say was he hit a home run off Koufax his previous time at bat. He hit only 2 home runs that season (the other was off Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry).

Sandy Koufax was that season the best pitcher in baseball. He won 26 games and set the major league record for strikeouts in a season, while pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers to the World Series Championship. Koufax was the Most Valuable Player in the World Series. He even pitched a perfect fame no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs. Perfect games are extremely rare, even against the Cubs, who have gone 99 years without a Championship.

To say the least, Koufax dominated major league batters that season with great success against the likes of baseball greats Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks (who went hitless against Koufax that season). Koufax didn't fool Bob Uecker however, who batted .400 against him that season. All the other batters in the league batted only a measly .179 against Koufax.

Uecker once hit a grand slam homer against the Giants. Uecker joked that when the Giants manager came out to the mound to replace the hapless pitcher, he was carrying the pitcher's suitcase with him. "Sorry son, we're sending you back to Keokuk."

Uecker has his name on a plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, for meritorious service as an announcer, but obviously not as a player.




The legendary Stanley Fujitake has a plaque in his honor in Downtown Las Vegas to commemorate an unusual record. Mr. Fujitake, a Honolulu native, who was known as "the man with the golden arm", became known locally when, on May 28, 1989, while playing casino craps, took his turn at the table shooting the dice and didn't "crap out" until 3 hours and 6 minutes later. The players who were fortunate enough to be at the table with him made thousands of dollars in that time. The California Hotel and Casino lost approximately $1 million on Stanley's long roll.

By the second and third hours, Stanley was steaming. He was rolling sixes, eights, fives, tens, even yos (11's)--but nary a seven. The other players were screaming encouragement--it sounded like Yankee Stadium in there.

Take a break for the restroom or to get a hot dog. Fuggedaboudit. Each time Stanley threw the dice--118 times--the casino slowly and grudgingly paid off the players.

The lesson here is that if Stanley is going to take his turn rolling the dice, mortgage your house if you have to, but get in the game. Sadly, however, it won't happen again because Stanley died in 2000 at age 66.

Before his death, he had 2 other memorable dice rolls exceeding an hour each, which, besides making other players a lot of money, were commemorated on plaques at the Crapshooter Hall of Fame at the California Hotel in Las Vegas, making him a platinummember of this unusual Hall of Fame.

One last note: A day or so after that roll, the dice table was taken out into the alley behind the casino, chopped into pieces and burned.



Wednesday, April 18, 2007


This article appeared in the GLMV Chamber of Commerce Action News for
April, 2007

Back in the late 1980's my wife Dianne and I were in Dallas, TX attending a real estate convention. We were on the hotel elevator one morning with several other conventioneers when Scott MacKenzie walked onto the elevator. If that name doesn't ring a bell, he's the artist who wrote and recorded the song, "When you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair," back in the late 1960's. That song was popular in the hippie community and still gets played on the radio today.

When he got on the elevator, I hailed him, "Hey Scott, Scott MacKenzie, how are ya?" How about signing an autograph for me? Mr. MacKenzie, surprised that anyone would recognize him, was very gracious, and after he got off, someone asked me, "How'd you know that was him?"

Actually, I had information that nobody else there had, and that's the point in business. If you do your homework and work harder than your competitors, you will do well in business. If you can uncover some information that has eluded your competitors and know how to use it, you'll be far ahead. Certainly, in the legal profession and probably most other businesses, information is the key commodity.

If you come to Chamber functions on a regular basis, you'll know what's happening in the community. At our luncheons, our speakers are usually people well connected in the community and we can learn much from them. If you participate, you may be able to obtain an edge on your competition. If you network with other Chamber members, you will certainly learn useful information. I always do.

So how did I recognize Scott MacKenzie? Well, we had attended a Mamas and Papas concert the previous night and Mr. MacKenzie was the musical arranger for them and he performed that song for the audience. Mr MacKenzie was related to John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, and he toured with them.

Some other time, I'll relate how I got folksinger Pete Seeger's autograph on a Chicago Cubs scorecard.


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The legendary Amarillo Slim, whose real name is Thomas Austin Preston, became famous for winning the World Series of Poker in the 1970's when there were only about 10 entrants. Today, there are thousands. That's not meant to belittle Mr. Slim's skill, because he was invited to play against the top players in the world.

Mr. Slim was less well known for winning outrageous proposition bets. For example, he was badgered by former world champion tennis player and noted hustler Bobby Riggs (remember Billie Jean King) to play a game of ping pong for big money. Mr. Slim agreed to do so, provided that he choose the paddles. He came to the match armed with a large skillet for each of them, and he quickly dispatched Mr. Riggs to the losers circle.

Later, hearing of this the world champion ping pong player, a Taiwanese gentleman, challenged Mr. Slim to a game. Once again, Mr. Slim agreed to do so if he chose the paddles. Knowing the Taiwanese was probably practicing with a skillet, Mr. Slim appeared at the match with 2 Coke bottles. Obviously well practiced with the Coke bottles, Mr. Slim easily disposed of the champ.

Mr. Slim had a perfect record in the 100 yard dash against racehorses. He bet that he could beat a racehorse in a 100 yard dash. Although Mr. Slim had run on the track team as a young man, if the race had been run on a straightaway, he had no chance. The trick was that the race was run 50 yards one way, and 50 yards back. He finished the race before the jockey could turn the horse around. He could have beaten the famed Secretariat in a race like that.

Then there was the time he beat Minnesota Fats in pool, using a broomstick. Mr. Fats, who was really from New York, was the pool champion portrayed by Jackie Gleason in the movie, The Hustler, which starred Paul Newman. (Newman also starred in Hud, which, despite popular belief, was not a movie about a government agency.)

The lesson here is: don't let greed impair your good judgment. If someone wants to bet you the sun will come up in the West, don't take the bet. Have you ever been to Panama?



baseball oddities

With the baseball season starting this month, I thought you'd like to know about some of the interesting obscure characters of the game.

There was the immortal Ron Necciai, a 19 year old pitcher, who struck out 27 batters in a 9 inning game in 1952, pitching for the Bristol (Tenn.)Twins against the Welsh Miners, while pitching a no-hitter. Actually one batter grounded out, one walked, one was safe on an error, and another reached base on a dropped third strikc, which allowed Necciai to strike out a fourth batter in the 9th inning. That game caused such a buzz that later that season, the Pittsburgh Pirates brought him up to the majors to debut in (where else) Wrigley Field against the Cubs. The Cubs, who normally didn't scare anyone, rocked him from pillar to post, and sent him to an early shower. Mr. Necciai did win one game that year for Pittsburgh, then hurt his arm and never played in the majors again. He ended up selling hunting and fishing equipment in Monogahela, PA, his home town, and he still comes to old timers games in Pittsburgh.

Then there was Joe Bauman, the pride of Roswell, New Mexico (along with Demi Moore). Most people thing nothing ever happens in Roswell, N.M., but in 1954, Bauman hit 72 homers for the Roswell Rockets in 138 games. His batting average was .400, and he drove in 224 runs. He never played in the majors. After his brilliant minor league career, he bought a Texaco station in Roswell and lived out his days. I was in Roswell for a couple days in 2005 and looked him up in the phone book--he was listed. I didn't get up the nerve to call him, and I regret that, because he unfortunately died several months later at age 82.

How about the incomparable Owen "Chief" Wilson, not the guy from Wedding Crashers, but the Pittsburgh center fielder, who hit 36 triples in 1912, a record which will probably stand forever. That season he also hit 19 doubles and 11 homers. Although he was not a fast runner, he hit many balls over the heads or between the outfielders, who, in that dead ball era, played shallow. That, coupled with the cavernous ballpark (462 feet to center field) allowed players of that era to hit many triples but few homers. Notwithstanding that, neither Wilson or anyone else ever approached that record before or after.

There was the unlucky John Paciorek, an 18 year old Houston outfielder who batted 5 times in a 1963 game and never made an out--an all time record because that was his entire major league career. He got 3 hits, 2 walks, scored 4 runs and batted in 2 runs. He injured his back in the off season and never played in the majors again. His brother Tom, was the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers announcer for many years, and had a somewhat distinguished career on the diamond.

A luckier teenager was 15 year old Joe Nuxhall, who pitched for Cincinnati in 1944. He got only one batter out and allowed 5 runs. But several years later he returned to the majors and pitched for several years and won over 100 games.

The last one for now is the once famous Dean Stone who was the winning pitcher in the 1954 All Star Game without throwing a single pitch or retiring a batter. He entered the game in the 8th inning with 2 outs and a runner on third base, with the American League losing 9-8. As he wound up for the first pitch, the urunner tried to steal home plate, and Stone threw him out to end the inning. In the next inning, the American League scored 3 runs to win the gams.

Thats enough for now.