REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Old game, new fun

Baseball has transformed into something nearly unrecognizable from the game played back in the 1860s. Players now use
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Baseball has transformed into something nearly unrecognizable from the game played back in the 1860s.

Players now use gloves (they didn't.) Pitching is now overhand (it was all underhand.) And players often spit, curse and make oodles of cash from catching and hitting balls (they used to be unpaid, and players were fined for ungentlemanly conduct.)

Watching the Spiegel Grove Squires play vintage base ball is a sight to see. Even though there is an antiquated feel to the game, there is no shortage of excitement.

If a ball is caught on one bounce, the hitter is out. But defensive positions do not have the luxury of gloves. So they often have to let the ball bounce, which means it ricochets off in some unexpected direction. Players have to dive to try to make the out, an activity fairly uncommon in modern-day baseball.

The Squires, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center's old-fashioned base ball team, also have an utterly unique field. Trees stand tall in the outfield, leading to some daring, and often hilarious, defensive plays. Fly balls rattle around in the branches before finally falling to Earth. There is no telling where a fly ball may land.

Even spectators often become part of the action. Hit balls are sent screaming into the crowd, and audience members have to think fast or get bopped on the head with a line drive.

The Squires host the Cincinnati Red Stockings at home at 2 p.m. Aug. 17.

You'd really have to be opposed to fine entertainment if you dare miss this game.

-- Cory Frolik

McKeen does not tower over her peers

Commissioner Nancy McKeen is a giant in the local Erie County political scene.

But when it's time to pose with her fellow office holders, she doesn't stand tall.

Last week, all of Erie County's elected officials, including its judges, gathered at the County Services Center for a group photograph. A photograph for posterity is taken about once every two years, or every time some of the office holders change.

McKeen, a 4-foot, 11-inch Republican, was placed on top of a stool as she posed next to the other politicians.

-- Tom Jackson

Former Bengal faces another kind of stripes

Former Cincinnati Bengal linebacker Odell Thurman's appearance Thursday in an Erie County Courtroom was bizarre. Facing serious prison time and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted, Thurman showed up in court without a lawyer.

Thurman is accused of breaking a man's jaw after punching him in the face in a May incident at Kalahari Waterpark Resort.

Thurman has missed the past two seasons because of suspensions for off-the-field troubles and will miss the upcoming season while serving a drug suspension. With a track record like that, you'd think the guy would have a good defense attorney on speed dial.

Sandusky attorney Richard E. Garand stood in as Thurman's public defender for the hearing.

Garand said if Thurman was still in the league, there is no way he would have represented the ex-Bengal linebacker, who was a rising star.

"If he were still playing with a team, he would have had an army of lawyers," Garand said.

-- Mike Fitzpatrick

Bombs away

One of the hazards of working and parking in downtown Sandusky is the constant menace of shrieking winged poop-machines -- a.k.a. gulls. Their droppings seem to be especially abundant this summer, and I swear they target my car.

I wash it as soon I'm able, but occasionally I have to run an errand at lunch time in a poop-plastered car. It's embarrassing. But a young man I encountered last week went out of his way to tell me what I could do about the problem.

I was in the parking lot of Circle K when this friendly young guy told me I had a nice car and correctly identified the model. (I know, I keep saying young; I'm just not good at guessing ages. Junior high, maybe?)

I thanked him for the compliment and mentioned it would be a lot nicer car if wasn't decorated with doo every day, whereupon he told me I could have a thorough cleaning, inside and out, including shiny wheels if I paid a visit to CJ's Car Care on Cleveland Road. I thanked him for his advice and told him the business was lucky to have such an enthusiastic spokesman.

He grinned from ear to ear when he told me he worked at CJ's. I haven't taken my car there yet, but I predict this young fellow is destined for success, wherever he's employed.

-- Laura Barrett

Hide your flowers!

Any new homeowner's worst fear is of something being stolen.

After we purchased our home, I became super conscientious about locking all the doors and the windows -- even if I'm only leaving for a few minutes.

So I thought I was OK.

While pulling out of my driveway Wednesday morning, something caught my eye.

I threw my car in park and walked up to the flower beds in front of my house.

There, in the spot where my sunflowers had just begun to rise in height, were nubs.

Not believing what I was seeing, I crouched down, guessing they'd been trampled by one of our animals.

The tops of the stems had been cut in a clear line across, obviously not the job of a champing animal.

Curious, I asked a few other neighbors if they'd experienced anything similar. Two neighbors said a few small plants from their flower beds were also MIA.

So, somewhere in the area, someone's got a great flower bouquet.

-- Amanda Godfrey