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Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Oh, Those Cubs, Always Full of Surprises

Wtad.com/whitepages/101317 

Bobbe White

IMG_2957 (1)el tappe

On a sunny September 9th, Wrigley Field spread before us. It was my first visit. I now have a certificate that says so. The ballpark is spectacular, from the rooftop bleachers to our seats in the shade and I now have a greater appreciation for “Field of Dreams.”

As we waited for the opening pitch, I envisioned, one former player at catcher. Our very own, El Tappe, from Quincy, IL. Google El to read about his impressive career. Knowing the man, I was somewhat awestruck by how much he actually had done for this club. I impressed our friends with his trading card, which I found online, during the game.

His MLB debut was 1954; his last appearance was in1962. Wikipedia writes that, “He was best known for being instrumental in implementing the Philip K. Wrigley College of Coaches, to give the team better leadership and stability, by utilizing coaching talent from within the organization. Tappe was one of the rotating coaches himself for 95 games. He returned to his backup catcher role for his last year as a player.”

To me, El was simply Tammy’s dad and Donna’s husband. He was one of the nicest, funniest gentlemen I’ve met and he was never crabby when we girls got bratty. It’s funny how someone of such stature can remain humble and patient. To growing up girls, he’s basically the nice dad of your best friend.

Here’s the odd part. Every fall, Tammy and I went to Madison school. In second grade, I ratted her ponytail, while sitting behind her in Mrs. Long’s class. However, every year, during K-6th grades, Tammy disappeared after Christmas Break. I’d receive her new school picture from Mesa, AZ. I guess I wasn’t curious enough to ask where she went each year, because she’d always return for the summer. The Tappe family relocated annually for the Cubs’ Spring Training, El was part of the coaching staff and scout. In hindsight, Tammy says she feels so fortunate to have had this split opportunity. Donna continued to visit her Cub “family” after El passed away.

In high school, we girls were given the opportunity to socialize (i.e. drink beer) with the Cubs AAA players, who played summer ball in Quincy. The fun continued, when at Arizona State, a few of my friends and I went to the Allman Brothers Band at the Mesa ballpark with the AAA’s. I wonder if any of them made the A team…

I pull for the Cubbies harder now that I have experienced the Wrigley Field awe. I understand the pilgrimage people make game after game and particularly when Cubs Vs. Cards.

Is this a great country or what? If there’s a major league in heaven, I’ll bet El is either still scouting, coaching or back at catcher. Thanks El, for giving my ball park more meaning, even if you guys lost that day 15-1. Ouch. Okay, now, PLAY BALL!

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In Memory: He Took My Can’t Away

written for WTAD.COM/WHITE PAGES – 7/14/17

Bobbe White

Another piece was written yesterday, but I got busy and forgot to send the accompanying photo. I finally remembered, but it was after we’d gotten the call, Jeff’s dad had died. It didn’t seem fitting to post my typical, “Silly day or thought in the life of Bobbe” post. Instead, it’s preempted by a tribute to my father-in-law, Jim White.

It’s kind of unusual when the parents of the guy you start dating are already friends with your own parents. Our dads golfed together on men’s day; our moms teed it up together on Ladies’ day. They ate dinners together and occasionally traveled together. A few times the guys even fished together. For about twenty years, our parents were even neighbors. Our kids grew up assuming everyone’s grandparents were buds as they ran back and forth between homes. It was great skipping one of those horribly awkward “Meet the Fockers” events.

I had the privilege of working for Jim at State Street Bank for nearly twenty years, until he retired. Believe me when I say, “He played fair, but he never played favorites.” His decisions weren’t always popular, but they were respected. I haven’t met many people who didn’t like him, but I’ll bet they respected him. He didn’t manage. He coached. He rarely complimented the individual performance. He always recognized a good team effort. Rest never lasted very long; he’d raise the bar a notch for the next project.

The best lesson from Jim was a tough one at first. As we brainstormed ideas for State Street Bank’s 100th anniversary (1990), he kept suggesting an antique car show on. That was about the dumbest idea I’d heard yet. Me plan a car show? So it was set. We were sponsoring an antique car show, the centerpiece of our anniversary events. My anxiety kicked into gear. I felt paralyzed with fear of how to execute. I remember telling my co-worker and sister-in-law, Laurie, that I just can’t do this anniversary thing. Too much pressure. “Tell him you can’t do it.”

In my head, I knew it was unacceptable to not try. Jim grew up understanding you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard to learn. What I learned about antique cars and their events was throttling. (Oh, good pun!) Who knew car spaces were wider than our lot’s painted stripes? No door dings at our event! Who knew there was a difference between antiques and repurposed? Who knew this was a strong, thriving culture, drawing car enthusiasts from miles away? I learned that when you can’t do something, you get an expert’s help. You learn from them. It came off without a hitch (Ha-ha – another good pun, no?) I was one proud cookie, as the “Best of Show” trophy was awarded. Jim was right. The event was a gas. (A gas!! Queue: knee slap) People loved it. I loved it.

On the family front, Jim taught Jeff many life skills. This is mainly because if you got in trouble at home, your punishment was working with Dad. It usually involved early risings and long days. Suffice it to say that of all the six kids, Jeff is the one who learned woodworking, automotive, electrical, farming and metal polishing the best. Metal polishing? Yep, one time, punishment put Jeff inside the safe deposit vault, polishing hundreds of little doors made with brass hardware. I chuckle every time I escort a customer in or out with their safe box.

Whenever I entered the White house, Jim would greet you, “And what did you accomplish today Bobbe?” I would try to recite every task and he would answer, “Okay.” My accomplishments never seemed adequate. He always said, “Okay.” I began to wonder if I told him that I’d cleaned the Taj Mahal, swam the English Channel and climbed Mt. Everest, his answer would still be, “Okay.” It angered me because I always felt like I’d disappointed him. His son, Jeff, had married a star slacker. One day, I walked in behind my brother-in-law. Jim asked Kent, “What did you accomplish today?” Kent said, “Not a damn thing, Jim.” He answered, “Okay.” What? Okay? Hmmmm…”Okay” is simply his answer. His reply. His conversation starter. He wasn’t measuring. I felt like a dummy.

Until that day, when it wasn’t obvious to me that Jim was simply responding with a word, not a judgment. Oddly enough, that question remains in my head, to make sure I accomplish something every day. And even when you don’t accomplish anything, it can still be okay. (But probably not very often.) We’ll miss you Mr. White, Jim, Dad, Grandpa, and Great-grandpa. Thanks for teaching us we can, even when we can’t. Best lesson ever. Rest well. Hit ’em straight. Hook a monster. Take that bird. Give Keith a hug for us.  James E. White (5.5.28 – 7.13.17)

 

 

It’s Almost Time: Teams for Tots

 

wtad.com/white pages/3.30.17/Bobbe White

soccer

Ahhhhh, spring and summer sports. To a child, it’s like Christmas. Hear them singing?

“T-balls roasting in the summer sun…”

“Deck the pool with lots of chlorine, fa-la-la-la-la…”

“Hark the herald grass and sand traps!”

“Tennis balls are coming to town!”

What an exciting time! There are uniforms to buy, schedules and transportation to coordinate, and some weeks, it’s your turn to take treats. YAY.  If you’ve not participated at some level, pull over next to a baseball field or park and watch newbies in any sport. It’s cheap entertainment. 

Here’s what you may witness:

T-Ball: It’s been too long, but I think everybody gets “at bats”. A game ends after a set time. They may not keep score, which is just peachy for peewees. 

Softball: A softball Olympian now coaches her son’s baseball team. Are her expectations unrealistic? Nope! She understands seven-year-olds want to dogpile at third base, or in the outfield. She smiled when a batter got a hit, then ran to third base, instead of first. When asked, he answered, “Well, nobody was on third and somebody told me it’s closer than running to first anyway.” Logical.

Tennis:  I taught tennis for the City of Winter Park, FL. It lasted a month. Seemed like a year. The upside: chasing a million stray balls was slimming. The downside: fifteen (seemed like fifty) children returning balls at my head was risky business.  

Golf: For years, Dad helped junior golfers. Irv loved Tuesday mornings. He had the patience of a saint and encouraged every effort. He understood sand traps fascinated little kids and that you ALWAYS stand back when the clubs are swinging. Remember, they just MIGHT hit a ball and flip it back over their heads or ricochet off an old oak tree. Dad wanted kids to love golf, like he did. Parents were appreciative. (Because Dad got them off the hook, maybe?)

Soccer: One dad-coach, had a half-time pep talk. Hot and tired kids sprawled on parents’ laps. “Team, we’ve got one goal and one goal only for the second half. Our goal is to have at least ONE players on the field by the end of the game!” Lofty goal. Our daughter was only in it for the end-of-season pizza party. Whatever.

Swimming:   Swim class/team resembles a gaggle of guppies. They’re in perpetual motion, resembling Minions in their goggles. Within fifteen minutes, everyone is shivering. And it’s 97 degrees that day. Little bodies are so darn slippery, they slither from your grasp and scramble up the ladder. That’s because they have to go to the bathroom. Again. It’s all that water. Unlike the above sports, however, at least they finish cleaner than they started.

If you have coached in the past, thank you. If you get asked, say, “Yes.” It’s a season, for heaven’s sake, not a ten-year contract. Batter up! 

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