Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Nolan Ryan, American folk hero.

I used to have a Nolan Ryan t-shirt back in the day, not surrendering it until it finally fell to pieces.

Like the man whose image was emblazoned on it, that shirt lasted a VERY long time, and I miss it greatly.

Does the modern generation even know who Nolan Ryan is?

They should, because the dude is the real deal.

He was born in 1947, made his Major League Baseball debut at 19, played 27(!!) seasons, retired in 1993, and went into the Hall of Fame with 98.8% of the vote in 1999.

That year’s induction class, with George Brett and Robin Yount joining Ryan in Cooperstown, is the high-water mark for my own personal relationship with the diamond game.

Those three, who soared so high in the ’80s, when I was an impressionable teenager, were larger than life figures — old school folk heroes who looked like real dudes, not steroid-inflated cartoons, and their exploits still seem so much bigger than many who have followed them.

Ryan, in particular, was the guy.

He was old man strong, going bald and doing his arm curls in his dad shorts while drawling good-natured wisdom to his own sons in the TV clips we saw.

Then, every fourth or fifth day, he took the ball, went to the mound, and buzzed fools until the game was over.

Pity the manager who dared to think about pulling him early.

Nolan Ryan pitched like the rancher he was — you do the damn job, and you don’t ask, expect, or want, anyone else to come moseying along talking about “hey, do you need some help?”

He threw two of his MLB-record seven no-hitters after age 40(!!) and struck out 5,714 batters — almost 900(!!) more than his closest challengers, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.

Today, starting pitchers get pats on the head and orange slices for going five innings, then managers run 300 relievers through the game.

Ryan, death grip on the ball, wasn’t moving off the mound.

Not when Bo Jackson cranked a ball off his face, leaving the hurler (and his uniform) splattered in blood, as shown in the photo above.

Today everyone hyperventilates at the sight of a single crimson drop. Ryan retired 17 more hitters, without changing his uniform.

And not when Robin Ventura, a rock-solid third baseman in the ’90s, charged the mound one August day after being plunked.

Stop. Hammer time.

Ventura was 26, Ryan 46, and the rancher collared the upstart, pulling him in with one arm and raining blows down on the interloper with the other.

There are a ton of fake “fights” in MLB history, and then there is the one where Ryan, who was nearly wrecked after being bum-rushed by man-mountain Dave Winfield 13 years earlier, upheld his vow to protect himself at all costs if the situation ever repeated.

Enter Ventura, exit Ventura — ejected from the game, forever to be remembered more for getting beat down by an old man than for his own strong 16-year MLB career.

And Ryan? He wasn’t even ejected, cause no ump wanted to mess with the old man, either.

So, what’s this all about, other than me getting misty-eyed over a long-gone t-shirt?

It’s about how you all need to go to Netflix and watch the 2022 documentary Facing Nolan.

It’s a reverent look at the kind of baseball player who rarely exists in the modern game, but it’s also a love story.

Between Nolan and Ruth, his wife of 55 years, a champion in her own right, and the true power figure in the family.

Between Nolan and his children and grandchildren, who tease him about his old TV commercials and bring out the softer side in a tough man.

Between Nolan and the state of Texas, and Nolan and ranching.

And between Nolan and the game he played for three decades; a game he dominated in a way few others ever have.

It’s a great film, about a true American folk hero, a man who did his job one 100 MPH fastball at a time, then went home to his family and the ranch, content.

Read Full Post »

Scott Hilborn earned All-State honors for his play on the baseball diamond. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe was also honored.

Wait, there’s more.

Practice has begun for the 2022-2023 school athletic year, but one final set of awards has come hurtling in at the last second to officially put a wrap on things from last year.

The Washington State Baseball Coaches Association released its All-State teams Wednesday, with two Coupeville players landing on the 1B/2B squad.

Senior Hawthorne Wolfe and junior Scott Hilborn were tabbed for their play this past spring, when they helped lead CHS to a Northwest 2B/1B League title.

Coupeville finished 13-7 overall, 11-1 in conference action, falling 3-2 in a winner-to-state, loser-out game against Friday Harbor.

Wolfe split time between the outfield and pitcher’s mound, while Hilborn played in the infield and pitched. Both were standout hitters for the Wolves.

Friday Harbor’s Nathan Posenjak and Darrington’s Jesse Stewart, both shortstop/pitchers, join Wolfe and Hilborn in representing the NWL.

Led by Coupeville’s duo, Whidbey Island had a strong showing overall.

Joshua Sterba, a pitcher/infielder from South Whidbey, was named to the 1A team, though 3A Oak Harbor, which had a strong season, was blanked.

Read Full Post »

Coupeville High School baseball coach Will Thayer is moving to Las Vegas. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Will Thayer exits on top.

After leading the Coupeville High School baseball team to the regular season Northwest 2B/1B League title, and winning Coach of the Year honors, the diamond guru won’t be back next spring.

Instead, he’ll be livin’ life several states away, with an upcoming family move to Las Vegas in motion.

Originally hired as a CHS softball assistant coach, Thayer jumped across the road to replace baseball head coach Chris Smith after his own move off-Island.

Thayer compiled a 20-10 record in his time running the hardball program.

Thayer discusses strategy with Xavier Murdy.

Coupeville baseball went 7-3 during a pandemic-shortened 2021 season, then finished 13-7 this past spring.

The Wolves were 11-1 in NWL play in 2022, edging defending champ Friday Harbor (10-1) for the regular-season crown.

CHS fell 3-2 to the Wolverines in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff game, denying Thayer and seniors Cody Roberts, Hawthorne Wolfe, Sage Sharp, Xavier Murdy, and Cole Hutchinson a chance to advance to the big dance.

While his tenure on the CHS bench was a relatively short one, Thayer will be remembered as a coach who was very easy to work with, and one who was always willing to answer all my questions — even the dumb ones.

I wish him and his family the best in the future.

 

The family move to Vegas also plucks away Thayer’s daughter, Brooklyn, a hard-working basketball player who suited up for the Coupeville JV this past winter.

Once the hardwood season ended, Brooklyn capped her freshman year by working as a manager for her dad’s baseball team.

Brooklyn Thayer

Read Full Post »

Coupeville’s homer-happy baseball sluggers rule the diamond in ’77. (Photos courtesy Sarah Lyngra)

It’s a lil’ slice of the “good ol’ days.”

The photos above and below, which come from a series of pics being digitized by Sarah (Powell) Lyngra, capture Coupeville’s hardball giants of 1977.

They were shot by her parents, David and Beatrice Powell.

And, thanks to former Wolf great David Ford, we can ID 10 of 12 players and half the coaching staff!

While the guy with the beard in photo one is one of our mysteries, the man in the cowboy hat is Bill Losey.

Back row (l to r):

Mystery Boy #1, Craig Anderson, Byron Fellstrom, Charlie Tessaro, Mark Smith, and Greg Fellstrom.

Front row:

Davin Bailey, Mystery Boy #2, John Beasley, Scott Losey, Rusty Bailey, and Caleb Powell.

Like a movie still from the “Bad News Bears.”

Read Full Post »

Camden Glover and his #1 fan, mom Stevie. (Photo courtesy Glover family)

He’s a young guy, but also a veteran.

When Camden Glover hits high school this fall, the Coupeville freshman will do so having already picked up playing experience at CHS.

He was a key part of the Wolf JV baseball team during his 8th grade season, flinging liquid heat as a pitcher and punching hits at the plate.

Glover whiffed five Mount Baker batters — and collected four RBI as a slugger — in an opening day win and remained one of the most reliable players CHS coach Jon Roberts had on his roster.

That topped off a rock-solid final year as a middle school student, following on the heels of a standout basketball season when he banged down low to pace the Wolf attack.

Glover had a stretch where he topped 20 points in multiple games, proving a deadly touch with the ball around the hoop and in the open floor.

Add it all together, and Tammy Glover’s oldest grandson is ready to have a huge impact at the high school level, with one of the more-enthusiastic rooting sections rockin’ the joint in support.

Camden celebrates his 8th grade graduation with his brothers. (Photo courtesy Glover family)

“The best part is our community,” Camden said. “And all the support from all our families.”

Glover plans to keep on playing basketball and baseball during his CHS days and finds something to enjoy in both sports.

“I like them equally,” he said.

“They are very different, but with basketball there is a lot more going on and it’s fast paced,” Glover added.

“It’s a great feeling when we do one of our plays smoothly and score a basket.”

Glover powers to the hoop for another bucket. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When he’s not playing on the hardwood or diamond, Glover enjoys “hanging out with friends, riding my bike, (and) video games” and hails the Will Ferrell modern-classic Step Brothers as his favorite film.

The rising star relies on his large support crew, which is anchored by his family.

“Probably my mom (has had the biggest impact on me), because she has always pushed me to be the best I can be,” Glover said.

“All my coaches have been great so far,” he added. “Each of them have helped me grow in many different ways.”

Glover credits a large part of his success to “being able to remain calm under pressure,” while wanting “to work on my endurance and cardio.”

As he looks ahead to a bright future playing alongside fellow Wolf freshmen such as Aiden O’Neill and Chase Anderson, he has a clear vision of his athletic future.

“I would like to continue to be a reliable team player,” Glover said.

“And work on gaining confidence in my abilities and being a positive and encouraging role model.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »