Wednesday, May 30, 2007


This article appeared in GLMV Chamber of Commerce Action News in May, 2007 (

I, like most Illini alums, was saddened to see the recent demise of Chief Illiniwek to the forces of political correctness. To honor the Indians, we offered to broadcast the games in Gujarati, but the offer was rejected.

The point here is that sometimes a business loses a key person and when that happens, you need a plan. You need to be prepared before the worst happens.

If you have a partner or two or three, you should have a partnership or shareholder agreement that will provide for a plan of succession if the worst case occurs. It is often referred to as a "Buy-Sell Agreement" and is highly recommended in business. If one of your partners were to die suddenly, or perhaps become incapacitated or even retire, you don't want to end up with an unexpected or unwanted partner who knows little about your business, such as the partner's prodigal nephew or his widow.

When you establish your business, you should have on your team an experienced accountant, lawyer and insurance agent (did I forget anyone?) to guide you through a potential business destroying situation. The lawyer will draft a buy-sell agreement in which the accountant will determine the buyout price each year based on asset value or perhaps a multiple of sales. A good way to fund the buyout would be key man insurance provided by your insurance agent.

In any case, you'll rest easier when you're at the stadium, cheering on the Fighting Anteaters from UC Irvine in their contest with the Fighting Banana Slugs from UC Santa Cruz.



Sunday, May 27, 2007



One of the hardest things to do in baseball is to steal home plate. Many players who are accomplished in stealing bases have never learned the art of stealing home. After all, stealing second or third base requires the pitcher to pitch the ball and the catcher to throw to the base. When stealing home, only one throw is required. In essence, the base runner must beat the pitch home by running as the pitcher is going into his windup.

The career leader in steals of home is, not surprisingly, Ty Cobb, who, incidentally, was related to my wife, Dianne, although the family was not exactly proud of it. Cobb was, to say the least, not a nice man. But he stole 896 bases in his career, which was, for many years, the all time record. Cobb stole home 54 times in his career, including 8 times in one season, 1912.

Apoparently, the year 1912 was the high water mark for stealing home. That was before the lively ball era, and few home runs were hit. Teams would scratch out runs anyway they could, and the combative Ty Cobb was the best at that.

How many people know that Shoeless Joe Jackson stole home twice in the same game in 1912?

I found interesting some of the other career leaders in stealing home. George Burns was No. 3 with 28 steals of home. But he played until he was almost 100 years old. Sherry Magee was No. 5, with 23. I knew a girl by that name, but that wasn't her. The immortal Jackie Robinson was No. 9 with 19. He was an exciting base runner and ushered in a new era in baseball. Another modern era master of that art was Rod Carew who was No. 14, with 17 steals of home. Carew is reportedly the only Jewish Panamanian in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The two players who really surprised me in stealing home were sluggers Lou Gehrig (15 times) and Babe Ruth (10 times). Apparently, they could run faster than anyone gave them credit for.


In the history of baseball, 97 players hit home runs in their first at bat in the major leagues. None of the leading home run hitters like Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, etc. did so. However, 2 of the 97 are in Baseball Hall of Fame. Of the 97, 19 never hit another homer in the big leagues.

One Hall of Famer was Hoyt Wilhelm, the knuckleballing relief pitcher who hit a homer in his initial appearance for the NY Giants in 1952, and pitched for 23 years and never hit another one. The other was Earl Averill, the pride of Snohomish, Washington, the first American Leaguer to do so, for Cleveland in 1929.

Paul Gillespie, a backup catcher for the Chicago Cubs, hit a homer in his first at bat in 1942, and another one in his last at bat in 1945. He played in 3 games in the 1945 World Series for the Cubs. He hit only 6 homers in his career.

John Miller (the infielder, not the golfer or the bowler) was the first NY Yankee player to hit a homer in his first at bat, in 1966. In his last at bat, for the LA Dodgers, he hit another one (in 1969). He hit only 2 in his career.

Bob Nieman, of the old St. Louis Browns, hit a homer in his 1951 debut, and hit another one in his second trip to the plate in the same game. Keith McDonald, a catcher for the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals, hit one in his debut, and hit another a few days later in his second at bat. He hit a third a day or so later before the Cardinals sent him back to the minors, where he plays to this day. His slugging percentage that season was 1.714, with 3 homers in 7 at bats. ("Sorry son, you'll have to do more than that to stay in the majors.")

Some other local notables who homered in their first appearance were Carlos Lee (1999), Miguel Olivo (2002), and Josh Fields (2006) of the Chicago White Sox. Other White Sox who did so prior to their Chicago days were Jermaine Dye (1996), Dustin Hermanson (1997), Chuck Tanner (1955, on his first pitch), and Gene Lamont (1970). Some of the Chicago Cubs players were Frank Ernaga (1957), Cuno Barragan (1961), Carmelo Martinez (1983), and pitcher Jim Bullinger (1992, on his first pitch). Sammy Sosa didn't do so, but Jose Sosa of Houston (1975) did.

Some of those initial homers were hit off Hall of Fame pitchers. Frank Ernaga hit his off Warren Spahn of the Braves, who won 363 games. Ernaga hit a triple in his next at bat against Spahn.
Will Clark of the SF Giants hit his off Nolan Ryan, the strikeout king.

One of my favorites was Gates Brown (1963). He was a short, fat guy who could hit but not catch the ball very well. He played 13 seasons for Detroit, mostly as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter.

Estaban Yan, a relief pitcher for Tampa Bay, hit a homer in his first at bat in 2000, and has batted only once since then because of the American League designated hitter rule. He singled in his other at bat.



Wednesday, May 23, 2007


If you mention the "Ice Bowl" to a Wisconsin resident, chances are he'll know exactly what game you're talking about. The NFL Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys was played on New Year's Eve day in 1967, in frozen Green Bay, Wisconsin, under the worst and most extreme conditions imaginable.

At game time at 1:00 in the afternoon, the thermometer read -13F (-25C), and the wind chill factor was -48F. The field was covered by a tarp overnight because of a heavy snowstorm, but the condensation froze over, leaving the field a sheet of ice. If they had an NFL franchise at the North Pole, the conditions could not have been worse.

The game officials could not blow their whistles, which froze to their lips. They had to shout rather than whistle, to end plays. The marching band at halftime could not perform because the mouthpieces of brass instruments got stuck to the players' lips. Seven members of the band had to be taken to the hospital for hypothermia.

Nevertheless, Packer fans are a hardy lot, and 51,000 people filled Lambeau Field, wearing parkas, several sets of mittens (not gloves), sleeping bags, quilted long underwear. People brought small boxes with newspaper layered on the bottom to put their feet in them to avoid contact with the snow. Fans brought wine and brandy to drink, but it turned into slush. Clearly, Packer fans know cold weather, but this was over the top.

One announcer said, "Dallas won the coin toss and elected to go home."

The Packers, led by legendary coach Vince Lombardi, were hurting, even before the game. They had lost their top running backs, Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, and they were forced to sign two veteran backs released by other teams because they couldn't run very fast anymore-- Ben Wilson and Chuck Mercein. But one can never underestimate a Vince Lombardi team.

The Packers scored two early touchdowns on passes from quarterback Bart Starr to receiver Boyd Dowler to lead 14-0. But Dallas came back when Starr fumbled and Dallas returned it for a touchdown. By late in the fourth quarter, with weather conditions getting even worse, Dallas held a 17-14 lead, when Green Bay got the ball back on its own 32 yard line. Sensing that it would be their last chance, quarterback Starr, who was sacked 8 times in the game, was determined to lead the Packers down the field. Throwing short passes because of poor pass protection and the shaky footing, he completed a 13 yarder to Dowler, a 12 yarder to running back Donny Anderson, and a key pass in the flat to the unguarded Chuck Mercein, who gingerly stepped down the ice sheet field for a 19 yard gain. Anderson tried twice to run the ball into the end zone but slipped on the ice and was tackled on the 1 yard line.

It was the Packers' last chance. With fourth down and only 16 seconds to go on the one yard line, it would normally be easy to kick a field goal and send the game into overtime. But not this day. Coach Lombardi wanted the game over with, one way or another, before conditions got worse; rather than attempting a field goal-- no certainty in those conditions.

The temperature on the field had dipped to -18F with a strong wind, and players' hands were frozen. Lombardi called for a handoff to Mercein, but Starr suggested that he should keep the ball and avoid the risk of a fumble. Lombardi said, "Then run it and let's get the hell out of here." Packer guard, Jerry Kramer noticed a weakness in the Cowboys' defense, and the play was called for him to make the key block on Dallas tackle Jethro Pugh. He did, and Starr sneaked through for the touchdown, just barely, for a 21-17 victory.

Two weeks later, the Packers played the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl, which in those days, was just an afterthought. The "real" championship was between the Packers and the Cowboys. Needless to say, Green Bay easily beat Oakland in Super Bowl II.

Several players, including Starr and the Cowboys' Jethro Pugh, the only NFL player from Elizabeth City State College (N.C.), claim to still suffer the effects of the frostbite they developed that day. Dallas quarterback Don Meridith came down with pneumonia after the game and was hospitalized. He later became the voice of Monday Night Football.

Interestingly, Bart Starr, a legend in Green Bay, played college ball at Alabama, where in his senior year at quarterback, led his team to 10 losses in 10 games. The Packers, however, saw something in him and drafted him in the 17th round of the football draft, and under Coach Lombardi's tutelage, he became a winner. He later became head coach for the Packers.

The other beneficiaries of that game were the tow truck drivers and mechanics who had to jump start the fans' cars in the parking lot after the game.

Looking back, about a million fans claimed to be there at Lambeau Field that day. It was the experience of a lifetime.



Monday, May 21, 2007


Steve "Lefty" Carlton, a baseball Hall of Fame pitcher had one of the all time greatest and most unusual seasons in 1972. While pitching for the woeful Philadelphia Phillies, Carlton won pitching's "Triple Crown", leading the league in games won, strikeouts and earned run average. The amazing thing about it was that the Phillies were just about the worst team in baseball, finishing in last place, 11 games behind the next worst team, the Montreal Expos. The Phils, as a team, won 59 and lost 97.

Carlton, meanwhile, won 27 and lost 10. When Carlton pitched, the lowly Phils played like champs. To give you an idea what chumps the rest of the Phillies were when Carlton wasn't on the mound, the other leading pitchers on the team were:

Ken Reynolds 2W 15L
Billy Champion 4W 14L
Woodie Fryman 4W 10L
Jim Nash 0W 8L
Wayne Twitchell 5W 9L

No other pitcher on the team won more than he lost. The bullpen was so bad that Carlton had to finish his own games. He pitched 30 complete games. Their leading relief pitcher, Mac Scarce, led the team with 4 saves. The team batted .236 and hit only 98 homers. Their leading hitter was 21 year old Greg Luzinski, a future White Sox star, who drove in 68 runs.

Carlton had been traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Phillies just before the 1972 season (for pitcher Rick Wise) because he had asked for a $5,000 raise after he won 20 and lost 9 with St. Louis in 1971.

In 1972, Carlton's earned run average was an outstanding 1.97, and the league batted only .197 against him. He did have trouble with some hitters however. The inept Bob Uecker (see my April 22, 2007 article) batted .300 against him. Also he couldn't get the Alou family out. Felipe batted .421, Jesus batted .436, and Matty hit .333 against him. Incidentally Jesus Alou also batted .571 against the immortal Sandy Koufax in 1965 when Koufax won the pitching Triple Crown.

Carlton was considered an eccentric. He didn't speak to the press after the 1973 season for the remainder of his baseball career (15 more seasons). He was upset when reporters questioned his unusual training methods which were versed in Eastern martial arts techniques. For example, to toughen his pitching hand, he would twist his fist to the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket of rice. It obviously worked, because he won 329 games in his career, and he held the all time strikeout record for a time (until Nolan Ryan passed him).

When he was a member of the Minnesota Twins championship team in 1987, he was photographed with his teammates and President Reagan at the White House. In the caption, his teammates were individually identified, but Carlton was listed as an "unidentified Secret Service Agent".



Friday, May 18, 2007

Business Tip--Be Skeptical

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

As a lawyer, I'm trained to be skeptical. Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see. When I met entertainer, Sam Magdal, he told me he does a tribute show to Frank Sinatra. My response was "Junior or Senior?" (The answer was "Senior", and he really does an excellent show.)

As many employers know, prospective candidates like to pad their resumes. A little checking might save you much trouble later on. For example, if the guy says he went to Penn State, make sure he didn't go to State Pen, like many of my clients. He may have gotten the name mixed up.

Don't believe in flying saucers or illegal aliens from space until they land on the White House lawn at high noon. Sometimes you have to take a chance, but make sure to get as much information as you can.



Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wrigley Field's Highest Scoring Game

The Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have had many wild, high scoring games in past seasons. In 1923, the played a 26-23 game. But the one I'm referring to is the infamous game of May 17, 1979 in which the Cubs banged out 26 hits, including 6 home runs, and 22 runs, but in keeping with tradition, still managed to lose. It was one of those warm spring days with a strong wind from the Southwest, blowing out to center field.

The final score was 23-22, when future Phillie Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt hit his second home run of the game in the 10th inning, off future Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter.

The Cubs had made an amazing comeback in the game. They were trailing the Phils by 12 runs in the 5th inning (21-9), but they rallied to tie the game and send it into extra innings. No major league baseball team had ever erased a 12 run deficit in a game before or since. Going into the game, the Phillies had the best pitching staff; but the game all but destroyed their shell-shocked pitchers, and the team went into a tailspin, dropping out of first place and culminating when their manager Danny Ozark was fired in August.

Many of the players went on to bigger and better things, except for the hapless pitchers in the game (Bruce Sutter notwithstanding). Bill Buckner hit a grand slam homer for the Cubs off pitcher Tug McGraw (father of country singer Tim McGraw). Buckner achieved notoriety in the 1986 World Series when he muffed a gentle ground ball in the 9th inning to cost the Boston Red Sox the championship.

Dave (King Kong) Kingman hit 3 homers for the Cubs that day. He went on to hit 442 homers in his career and not make the Hall of Fame. In his final season he hit 35 homers and got released
(fired), and no other team wanted him. His problem was that he struck out a lot, hit for a very low average, couldn't catch the ball and couldn't get along with his teammates. But when he did hit the ball, it went a long distance. One of his homers that day sailed out of Wrigley Field and landed on the next block down Kenmore Avenue--over 500 feet away.

Pete Rose, with the Phillies, later went to Princeton, er-- Prison, for tax evasion. He also admitted illegally betting on games. He broke Ty Cobb's lifetime record for hits with 4256 hits in his career, but was shut out of the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb, a notorious racist, who also bet on games, would not make the Hall of Fame either under today's standards.

The line score of the game was as follows:

Philadelphia 708 240 100 1--23-24-2
Chicago Cubs 600 373 030 0--22-26-2



Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I've often heard the mantra, "Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see." I've been a fan of many famous and funny quotes from television and movies. For example, sportscaster Joe Thiesmann once said, "Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius, a genius is somebody like Norman Einstein." That quote has often been cited to make Thiesmann, a former football player, like foolish. Actually, Norman Einstein was the valedictorian of Thiesmann's high school class, and Thiesmann, who has written several books on sports, was saying it to be clever.

One time Dodgers and Cubs manager, Leo Durocher once supposedly said, "Nice guys finish last." The actual quote was "Nice guys finish seventh." which he said to describe the "nice guy" Giants owner whose team was in seventh place (out of eight) at the time. The real quote didn't have the same pizzazz, and so it was changed by the media.

Humphrey Bogart was often quoted from the movie Casablanca (which, incidentally, means "white house"), "Play it again, Sam", when he actually said "Play it Sam", but the former misquote was the one that stuck. Surely, they could have gotten it right, but as Leslie Nielsen said in Airplane, "Don't call me Shirley", which is one of my favorites. Another favorite of mine from Airplane was the actor talking on the phone to the Mayo Clinic when he received a call from Mr. Hamm, "Give me Hamm, and hold the Mayo."

The relevance here, that I learned as a young lawyer, is to watch what you say, especially to the press. Look at the political campaigns, especially the negative ads. One can always take a candidate's public statements out of context, and remake them into something to make him/her look silly or stupid. Usually there's an explanation, but don't give "em any ammunition. Be careful what you say because they often get it wrong. Don't be negative and criticize yourself because your enemies will do it much better.

Remember, in business, if you keep your mouth shut, people may think you're stupid, but if you open your mouth, you may confirm their opinions. Just tell 'em, as John Belushi did in Blues Brothers, "We're on a mission from God."


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Friday, May 4, 2007


Previously common names like Ralph (No. 762), Howard (No. 820), Bernard (No. 830), Earl (No. 952), Susan (No. 609), Deborah (No. 662), Ann (No. 650), Carol (No. 753), and Donna (No. 830) are no longer in vogue. The forgettable song I Ain't Sharin' Sharon (No. 579), which was the flip side of Like Long Hair by Paul (No. 130) Revere and the Raiders isn't popular anymore and neither is the name. Instead, we have Madison (No. 3), literally named after the New York street where Daryl (No. 940 among boys, No. 2370 among girls) Hannah (No. 7) was given her name by Tom Hanks in the movie Splash.

Among girls, Brittney (No. 549) Spears didn't go over too well and is probably headed downhill. Leslie (No. 143 for girls, but not in top 1000 for boys in 2005, but No. 208 among all American men) Nielsen said in the movie Airplane, "Don't call me Shirley" (No. 883 among girls, not in top 1000 among boys) despite famed sports writer Shirley Povich, the father of newscaster Maury Povich. Incidentally, there are 7295 men named Shirley in the U.S. (probably none under 50 years of age). However, there are 731,720 women named Shirley, according to, which obtains its information from the most recent U.S. census. But Rebecca, for example shows up only 652,779 times. Even Hillary was No. 882 among girls in 2005 although that may go up this year.

Although Mary is not in the top ten in 2005, it is the number 1 female name in the U.S. with 3,991,000, in addition to 1,256,000 women named Maria. Barbara, No. 715 in 2005, ranks number 4 nationally with 1,487,000 Barbara's. There's even 4554 women named Buffy.

Among surnames, Smith is No. 1 nationally with over 2.5 million, and Johnson is No. 2 with 2,014,000. In case you're wondering, Suskin just makes the top 54,000.

That's all for now.




One way I like to chronicle our society today is by analyzing the most popular baby names. One can follow the trends by comparing the most popular names given from year to year. I have studied the 1000 most popular names for boys and girls in 2005 gleaned from Social Security records as well as the 10,000 or so most common first name for all Americans.

In 2005, people favored biblical names. Jacob was No. 1, followed by Michael and Joshua, although Josh was No. 752. Speaking of the patriarchs, Isaac was No. 50 and Abraham was No. 193. How about prophets: Elijah was No. 31, while Isaiah was No. 45. I should point out that many parents were spelling-challenged and there are separate listings for Issac and Isiah, not to mention Jakob. Jeremiah was No. 78 and Malachi was No. 162. On the other hand, Moses was only No. 536, and Jesus was No. 73.

Ezekiel, of spaceship fame, (Ezekiel 1) was No. 309. Some other interesting names included Elvis (No. 784), while Presley was No. 513 among girls. Frank (No. 234) Sinatra is no longer popular. Hugh (No. 969) Hefner no longer has much influence. Forget about Dion (No. 960) , with or without the Belmonts. Sammy was No. 862, as the Cubs were moving him out. Irving and Ulysses were tied at No. 976 (174 babies each). Keshawn came in No. 992. Amazingly, 304 people named their boy Xzavier (No. 677). Do you think he'll have to spell out his name wherever he goes? Harry (No. 526) Potter didn't impress many parents. Probably not surprisingly, Rush (Limbaugh) didn't appear in the top 1000.

(to be continued)


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What will you do for them now

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

In my first column, I want to thank the GLMV Board of Directors for electing me Chairman. I can't do the job without the support of the Board, the staff and the membership.

Several years ago, I attended a Kenny Rogers concert. After the concert, Kenny Rogers graciously signed autographs for a crowd in the lobby. Next to me, a 9 year old boy asked his father who that person was, signing autographs. The father replied, "It's Kenny Rogers." The boy then said, "Who's Kenny Rogers?" Obviously, the boy didn't know Kenny Rogers from Mr. Rogers.

The point here is that no matter how important or prominent one thinks they are, there are many people out there who have not gotten the message. In your business, you need to keep your name in front of the public, so they know you're still in business. The public doesn't care what you did years ago, they want to know what you're going to do for them now.

An excellent way to keep your business's image in the public eye is to get active in the Chamber of Commerce. Start today! Attend the mixers, the luncheons, the Home Improvement Show, etc. and let people know you're in business. You pay a lot of money to join the Chamber--you want to get a return on your investment. Let the Chamber work for you.