Friday, April 30, 2010

Through The Eyes Of...Jimmy Scott: Greatest Pitcher You Never Heard Of

The following is part of a weekly series called "Through the Eyes Of....". In each segment, I share interviews with or stories about those that I view to be the "Good Guys."

"Through the Eyes of..." is a part of my personal crusade to present baseball in all it's beauty, splendor, and goodness, instead of through hashing and rehashing all that is broken with our National treasure.

With 334 career wins and 4268 career strikeouts, two no-hitters and three championship rings, baseball's greatest pitcher you've never heard of, Jimmy Scott, has become more than just a legend. He has become a voice for MLB players, current and retired.

At 41, Jimmy is fully aware of his own baseball mortality; he knows that though he's not yet over the hill he can certainly see the top of it.

Jimmy Scott is using his down time, while recovering from an off season shoulder injury, to climb up the chart as Baseball's Greatest Blogger, a career he hopes to continue long after he hangs up his jock for the last time.

Jimmy waxes weekly with some of baseball's greatest former players and wives of players on his popular blog, Jimmy Scott's High and Tight. His guests have included Dale Murphy, Tommy John, Scott Brosius, the late Gabrielle Schoeneweis, and Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers.

Upcoming interviews in Jimmy's on-deck circle include Steve Rogers (Expos), Donna Candiotti (ex-wife of former pitcher Tom), and Tisha DeShields (ex-wife of former infielder Delino).

Jimmy Scott was gracious enough to take some time from his busy blogging and rehab schedule to share his thoughts and career plans on this week's edition of "Through the Eyes Of....

Civ: Are you coming back to play baseball or is your career over?

Jimmy: I won't say my playing career is over until my arm is surgically removed from my body, like in one of those "Saw" movies. In fact, "Saw XXVII" should be about a Roger Clemens-type, or Jimmy Scott-type, who gets abducted and he has to eat through his rotator cuff in order to survive.

Jimmy: I think that's what Dr. Frank Jobe was going to initially do with Tommy John back in the early-'70s, but he thought better of that.

Civ: Are you going to answer my question?

Jimmy: Succinctly. Yes and no.

Civ: Then when do you think you'll be back?

Jimmy: 20-10. My rotator cuff was strained in January and still hasn't healed. It doesn't need surgery, just more rest. I'm sending it to its own spa in Arizona this fall if it doesn't heal on its own soon.

Civ: How would you come back next year?

Jimmy: Probably through the Indie leagues. Did you see Eric Gagne is pitching for Quebec in the CanAm League? I think he only hangs with the team on days he pitches then takes off back to the Great White North. He's coming back as a starter. The New Jersey Jackals wanted me this year, but I told them my arm wasn't ready. The Newark Bears contacted me.

Jimmy: I ended up voicing a commercial for them recently, but I can't even throw the ceremonial first pitch of a game, so I've kept my feet off baseball diamonds most of the summer. Think I should forget about that and come back as a hitter like Rick Ankiel?

Civ: Can you still hit?

Jimmy: Never could hit very well, so the "still" isn't worth including in your question. Next...

Civ: Why are you focusing your time on your website, Jimmy Scott's High & Tight?

Jimmy: I missed all of 2007 with a bad elbow and much of 2008. That kind of slapped me in the face with a wake up call. "Jimmy," I said aloud to myself, "you better think of something to do the day your career really ends." Come to think of it, my wife said the same thing. Maybe we said it in harmony.

Jimmy: Anyway, I started Jimmy Scott's High & Tight as a means of interviewing other players and agents and MLB wives and coaches, etc. to get a sense of their lives post-retirement. As its evolved over the past year, the issues have moved from strictly retirement to the relationships part of the game.

Jimmy: Did you know there's a statistic flying around out there stating up to 85% of baseball marriages fail after a player's career ends? I learned that and have talked to a number of wives, life coaches, a pair of psychologists, to talk it through. There's a new interview every Monday morning that gets uploaded to the site. You can listen in on our banter and also dig the music we (really, just I) mix in.

Civ: You don't just do interviews.

Jimmy: Right. I also write daily columns about various subjects, kind of "inside a baseball mind" stuff. On Monday's, I'm starting a series of columns based upon tips that former MLB catcher Brent Mayne sends out each week via email to subscribers to his Art of Catching website.

Jimmy: He wrote a book and had some interesting tips about catching. I figured I could expand on them to cover baseball and life inside baseball. We're calling it "The Mayne Line." Isn't that funny?

Civ: I guess. It's not funny ha-ha.

Jimmy: So true. I also have guest columnists on the site. I have a real baseball wife, who calls herself Cassidy Dover to protect her and her husband's identities. She writes for the site. She has a new article go up every Thursday. And former outfielder and current Phillies scout Eric Valent writes for the site every so often.

Jimmy: Desi Relaford wrote a couple of articles too but had to stop because, drum roll... He went back to school. That's right. At 37 years old, he decided to go to college. What else is a millionaire ex-ballplayer to do?

Civ: That's the next question.

Jimmy: The transition from active baseball player to ordinary civilian isn't easy. Imagine going from a job in which you are pampered all day long and, if you succeed, maybe 45,000 people cheer your name and sing your praises really loud that night.

Jimmy: Plus, you get paid a lot. It's a 24-hour a day ego-stroke. Now imagine that being gone. It's just you in a big house with a wife and some kids, none of whom think of you the way Bert from Mammaroneck on the sports radio show thinks of you.

Jimmy: This is a huge let down. That's why lots of guys go back into coaching. For the ego and also because they miss the camaraderie. Hanging with young kids is very different from hanging with a bunch of adult males calling each other unprintable names.

Civ: Is your wife Vanessa worried about the end of your career?

Jimmy: Ummm... She likes that I have the website to keep my mind and voice occupied. She doesn't like that it doesn't make any money.

Civ: Why not? Couldn't you get some big endorsement dollars to cover its costs?

Jimmy: It really doesn't cost much at all to run. Mostly time. And I kind of like have it clean of any corporate fingerprints. At least for now. But I never say never. I'll write it, but I won't verbalize it.

Civ: Last question: Has it sunk in that your playing career may be over?

Jimmy: No. But that's just denial talking. The real me knows the end is near. I'm just trying to keep it as far away as possible. I hear parking gets tougher when you're no longer a household name.

Civ: Thanks, Jimmy.

Jimmy: You're welcome, Civ. Tell your readers I said hi.

Civ: I will. Thanks, Jimmy .

Jimmy: You already said that, Civ. I'm going now. Good day, sir. TC

Todd Civin is a freelance writer for Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He can be reached at for comment or hire. He is also a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award-winning children's story that is capturing the heart of the nation by teaching sharing through baseball.

Visit A Glove of Their Own and purchase under donor code JNF636 The Joe Niekro Foundation. With each sale $3.00 will donated to The Foundation which is Aiding in the Research and Treatment of Aneurysm Patients and their Families.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Through The Eyes Of... Buddy Biancalana: Still A World Series Hero

The following is part of a weekly series called "Through the Eyes of..." In each segment, I share interviews with or stories about those I view to be the "Good Guys."

"Through the Eyes of..." is a part of my personal crusade to present baseball in all its beauty, splendor, and goodness, instead of through hashing and rehashing all that is broken with our national treasure.

After spending twenty minutes and twenty dollars in the batting cage with my son this weekend, I exited the cage with several quarter sized blisters on my Avon Skin So Soft hands and a case of heartburn after ingesting a huge dose of humility.

I came to several conclusions as I tossed my batting helmet and bat in disgust.

Aging is a cruel, cruel reality that I simply haven't yet come to grips with. How a man can get winded, while swinging and missing at a slow pitch softball is beyond me.

Second, when your wife tells you that she's not laughing at you, she's laughing with you, she's only being kind.

Third, hitting a round object with a wooden stick that is hurled in your direction at 90+ miles an hour, must be the most difficult accomplishment in sports. For those of us who sit at home cursing at any of these athletes who still manage to hit one ball in four, should take a few cuts in their cleats before playing arm chair manager.

So, despite the fact that former Major League shortstop Buddy Biancalana will forever live with a career average of .205 in the forever annuls of baseball lore, Biancalana has a lot of things that most of his can only dream about.

While most of us are carving our legacy while working as the cashier at Wal-mart or asking if our customers would like it Super Sized, Biancalana will always be able to tell his grandchildren that he was a former Major League player.

While each of us could only dream of getting even one major league hit, Biancalana has 113 to his credit, while driving in 30 of his teammates over six major league seasons with the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros.

And while my blistered hands and I sit home and watch the World Series this coming October and dream of what it would have been like to plate in the Fall Classic, Buddy Biancalana will be polishing his 1985 World Series ring and remembered the two weeks that time stood still, the ball looked bigger and he was experiencing a series in the zone that would not only change his career, but would become the Foundation for his current business venture PMPM Sports.

Oh, yeah and did I happen to mention he appeared on Late Night With David Letterman, got to hang for several seasons with George Brett and Nolan Ryan and can still fit his 49 year-old frame into rookie Royals uniform, Burger Boy?

My point is, before you and the host of Late Night TV tease Buddy Biancalana about his light hitting, slick fielding statistics, try spending a few minutes in the batting cage.

Hey honey, do you know where the pumice stone is?

Buddy was nice enough to share his thoughts with me about baseball and about his company PMPM Sports. I found him to be funny, kind and very knowledgeable about the psychological side of hitting and about what his findings can do to help athletes in many sports.

Biancalana and his partner Steve Yellin are the co-founders of PMPM Sports and use their knowledge and studies of Perfect Mind-Perfect Motion to help athletes bring their game to a new level.

Yellin has been teaching tennis and golf for over 30 years and is responsible for developing the innovative and powerful drills that PMPM Sports uses to allow athletes in all sports to reach their full potential.

He was the Florida High School state tennis champion, and went on to play number one singles on the University of Pennsylvania tennis team. He was a member of the All-Ivy League tennis team in 1973, played in the 1973 NCAA National Championship, and was invited to play on the 1972 Israeli Davis Cup team. Yellin also holds two masters degrees in Business and Education.

And now, Through The Eyes of Buddy Biancalana: Still A World Series Hero.

Civ: You came up for three games in 1982 and got your first major league hit, a triple. Do you remember the at bat and who it was against?

BB: I believe Brian Kingman. It was the last game of the season and Mike Heath, a catcher, was playing right field. I hit a line drive that he ran in for and the ball sailed over his head. I was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch it to an inside the park home run.

Civ: You also walked and were therefore 1 for 2 with a walk in three PA for your career. Any thoughts of hanging it up at that point?
BB: Yeah, I was pretty proud of sitting all winter on a career .500 average.

Civ: What was that off season like knowing your were hitting .500 with a .667 OBP and a 1.500 slugging percentage?
BB: An overwhelming time commitment due to all the endorsement opportunities and speaking engagements!

Civ: As a .205 life time hitter, was there any pitcher who you had considerable success against?

BB: No one in the Majors. I did hit three home runs in a week against a Minor League pitcher, Tommy Joe Shimp. Does that count?

Civ: What was it like playing with George Brett?

BB: It forced me to become very good at catching pop ups. He didn’t want much to do with them. Watching him and Hal McRae taught me how to play an aggressive style of baseball.

Civ: Statistically you were a light hitter as a major leaguer, I think the readers would be interested in hearing how a lighter hitter makes it to the bigs. What did you hit as a high schooler? College?

BB: A bit over .300 as a junior in HS and around .285 as a senior. I had three above average tools, glove, arm and speed. That’s what got me drafted in the first round, ahead of Cal Ripken I may add. Poor Art Lilly, the scout who signed me!

Civ: You took some razzing by David Letterman during Pete Rose's quest to catch Ty Cobbs hits record. What were your thoughts while it was going on? What was it like to appear on Late Night?

BB: I had a lot of fun with it. It gave me some publicity when my play wasn’t. Although, it was my performance in the World Series that got me on the show. It opened many doors for me.

Civ: There have been 11 players ever drafted out of your high school Redwood High and you were the only one to make it to the major leagues, does the school have a Buddy Biancalana day? Do you ever see your old coach? What did he tell you?

BB: Actually Chad Krueter graduated from Redwood. NBC filmed a Sports Fantasy show with me at the high school after the Series, and the county of Marin had a day for me. I do stay in touch with my coach Al Endriss. He was a major influence on my career.

Civ: Of the 26 first round picks in the 1978 draft, 14 made it to the show, amongst them Kirk Gibson, Tom Brunansky and Lloyd Moseby, did you play against any of them in HS or college? Minors? Do players even know or care about this kind of thing?

BB: I played on a scout team in high school with Moseby and also the Minors along with Rex Hudler and I’m sure others, but don’t recall. Yes, I think players are aware of who first round picks are, especially from the same draft. It’s a bit of a common bond.

Civ: What do players say to each other when they reach base. I always see them talking. Do you even know other players or is it small talk.
BB: Mostly small talk, but there may be some discussion about how the pitcher is throwing. Some relationships among players may be closer now than when I played due to all the movement of players between teams. Players who share the same agent, may be closer as well.

Civ: Do you ever see any ex-teammates?

BB: Every now and then. We had our 20 year reunion for our World Series team. Great fun. All the same one liners were flowing. It was as if there was no time lapse.

Civ: What was your funniest baseball moment or story?

BB: Quite possibly when I was put on the disabled list and in our clubhouse. All of a sudden, a big laundry basket was pushed towards me by Lee May. As it approached, up popped Hal McRae aiming a fungo at me simulating a shot gun, pretending to shoot me, because I was of no use to the team. It was very funny. They were two of my favorite team mates.

Civ: Tell me about the events in the 1985 series and how did you know you were in the zone? Which came first, being in the zone or your first hit?

BB: Not sure I know for sure. But, before Game One I felt intensely nervous. For the first time in my life, I remember really identifying and sitting with, and feeling the fear. It was very freeing and empowering. It had a lot to do with freeing me up to play the best I had ever played. In my first at bat in Game One, I failed to get a bunt down in the third inning on a squeeze attempt. We ended up losing 3-1 and the media jumped on it pretty good. I felt a lot of pressure before Game Two, but again, I sat with it and remained pretty freed up. Being emotionally free is one component to being in the zone.

Civ: I know you were a proponent of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Did PMPM come out of your knowledge of TM?

BB: Any technique that reduces stress and enhances the mind body connection, will be beneficial to an athlete and anyone in general. The less stress in one’s nervous system, the better the mind-body coordination will be. TM is not a part of our program.

Civ: Can these techniques be used outside of the sporting arena?

BB: Yes, very much so. We have worked with a few musicians and stock traders. My wife told me she used them driving through the fog recently, when it was difficult seeing the lines. We have clients who have done better on tests and even were able to go off medication for ADHD.
The program can have a profound effect in many areas of life. We teach the co-existence of opposites, silence in the mind while simultaneously experiencing dynamism of the body. It’s what great players naturally do so often. Jordan, Tiger, Federer, Gretzky, Montana, Brady and others.

Civ: What players have come to you and use your techniques?

BB: Players whose names we can mention are, two time US Open Champion, Lee Janzen, Bob Keppel of the Twins, Kyle Davies of the Royals, Minor Leaguers Daryl Jones and Adam Ottavino of the Cardinals and George Brett for his golf game. There are many others whose names we can not mention for privacy purposes.

Civ: I know Nick Green of the Red Sox was a client. He started the season hitting in the .280's and has come back to earth to hit "the back of his baseball card". Did he depart from your techniques or do role players eventually come back to earth?

BB: Every player is different. We began working with Nick a few years ago and he had tremendous results. He exceeded his career average by 59 points and previous HR total by 19. He was able to resurrect his career, but our program is not a panacea. We have identified the processes in the mind that allow an athlete to play his best and developed a systematic way to teach it.
Not every player is capable of doing it, or doing it consistently. But we have found that every player we work with quickly realizes it’s what has to be done to play his best. We teach players how to access deeper levels of mind-body coordination.

Civ: Why don't some of the bigger names use your techniques?

BB: Give us time! We are three years into bringing this knowledge into sports and it is knowledge that has never been mentioned before. New discoveries take time. Teams and agents are sending us players who are under performing, but our program is not just for those players. Our program is for any player who wants a clear understanding of why he plays well sometimes and not other times.
It’s for those great players who have had trouble in the post season. Bonds, Arod, Soriano, Sabathia, and others. As great as they are, when the pressure is turned up in the post season, they have for the part struggled because they don’t have the knowledge of how to systematically connect at the deeper levels of mind-body coordination. And it doesn’t mean they are mentally weak.

Civ: Who is the biggest name using PMPM?

BB: I would have to say Lee Janzen who is turning things around.

Civ: How does this differ from sports psychology?

BB: Our work takes place on the field. We work in the arena of the state of mind at impact or release point for an athlete. That is the moment of truth. That and the state of mind just before the motion begins, will determine the fluidity and effectiveness of the motion, and the ability for an athlete to make a last split second adjustment. We often times refer clients to sports psychologists.

Civ: Have you been hired by any teams or strictly individuals?

BB: We did a test pilot last season with five St.Louis Cardinal Minor League hitters and are proud to report, the five showed an average increase in OPS of 100.8 points versus a decrease of 22.45 points for the rest of the Minor League hitters with whom we did not work. We had similar results with one of their pitchers.

Some prominent college basketball programs have attempted to hire us, but we are still working through the logistics of complying with the NCAA.

Civ: What does a day in the life of a PMPM customer consist of?

BB: When we are with them, we will be on their respective practicing field, in the cage, on the mound, golf course, basketball court etc. Depending on the sport, we will spend an hour or more with them as they are practicing what we teach. They will view videos when we are not with them and speak to us as needed.

Civ: You talk about your what if's...What if you had discovered this while you were playing, what difference would that have made in your overall numbers?

BB: Substantial. I was unable to sustain mechanical adjustments because of the lack of fluidity in my mind at the time. Anytime an athlete knows exactly where to look so they may produce the best motion available to them, will have a large impact on their performance

Civ: What if Ichiro used your company or techniques?
BB: Ichiro, naturally does so well, at what it is we teach. However, he struggled in the ALCS in 2001, striking out 1 time every 4.5 AB versus during the ’01 season when he struck out about 1 time every 14 AB. We would be able to give him a thorough understanding as to why this most likely happened and how to systematically prevent it from happening again.

Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for The Bleacher Report and Seamheads. He is also a supporter of, "A Glove of Their Own," the award-winning children's story that teaches paying it forward through baseball. The Luis Tiant Charitable Foundation is the most recent non-profit organization to join the A Glove of Their Own team and will earn $3.00 from each sale of the book purchased using the donor code LTF 223 Luis Tiant Foundation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You Came in 14th Dad. How Great Is That?

Many of you know my tired little story. I was laid off in November, 2008 along with 150 of my closest friends. I'm told it's part of life. "Not my life," I frequently think. Nothing bad ever happens to me.

My wife, Katie, reminds me, however, of my days spent as a single parent in the mid '90s, after my divorce. Days of "situational depression" where I laid, huddled in a corner, too depressed to get out of bed, thinking of the hand life had dealt me.

My son, Corey, who was nine at the time, had chosen to live with "Todd, I mean Dad" instead of with Mom and our daughters, Erika and Julia. Corey would come into my room and say. "Hey Todd...I mean, Dad...we need to worry about us. Not about Mom and the girls. Get up. We need to go live."

I'd get up, and go shave and drag a comb through my hair. I'd shove some tooth paste in my mouth and "go live."

From "living" I struggled to find a new job, as my "wife" and I had gone into business together publishing a monthly "feel good" magazine. When I stopped feeling good, the magazine stopped too. When my marriage died, we put the magazine down.

I started a new job making "$6.93 an hour," a number that is forever etched in my brain. It was about 20 percent of what I had made previously, but I was working again. I was out of bed and I had started to "live."

At lunch, I'd go outside and take a walk around the building. I would wear big steel-toed work boots and jeans. Hardly exercise apparel. But I'd walk. And think. And think. And walk. When the 12:30 bell rang, I'd go back inside. And work. And think.

I'd think about my kids. My man, Corey, who was thrust into adulthood at the age of nine. My daughters, Erika and Jules, excited to go live with "Mom in her new house." I'd think about not being able to tuck them in. Or wake them up by throwing their shades open wide. I could still hear them sing "Butterfly Kisses" to me. Only now I couldn't feel their eye lashes brush against my cheek.

The bell would ring again. It was 5:00. Time to leave, pick up Cor at the babysitter, make him supper and go outside and play some ball with him.

"Hey, Todd...I mean, my curve. Did it curve, Dad? Did it curve?"

"About this much, buddy," I'd say to the little man, motioning. "How was school?" I'd ask as I turned and twisted, a la El Tiante.

"Have you heard from Mom?" he'd ask, totally unaware I had ever asked him a question.

"Does this curve?" Corey would ask, totally unaware he had asked a question.

On weekends, I'd drive to Worcester to pick up the girls. As I got closer and closer to their "house," I'd get nervous in the pit of my of gut. Not sure if it was excitement to see my "Big girls" or the anxiety that comes with meeting "Mommy's new friend."

The girls would look absolutely beautiful as Mom sent them out of the house, dressed like little princesses. Erika was six and Jules was three.

We'd drive up to New Hampshire and the girls would sing to me. "Every breath you take, I'll be missing you," they'd sing, a la Puff Daddy's tribute to Notorious B.I.G. While they were rapping, I was fighting back tears. I still cry a bit, 15 years later, when I hear that song.

The girls and Corey and I would do our best to make everything seem OK. We'd spend mornings that fall at Corey's soccer games. One of my favorite moments of my entire life was taking the girls behind the shed in Hooksett, NH to pee pee and not understanding that "girls are plumbed different than we are."

In the spring, the girls would come up every Wednesday night and every other weekend and hang in the stands while Corey played baseball. They were there on a Wednesday night, when Daddy lived vicariously as Corey turned an unassisted triple play against the "Expos."

That spring we joined karate. I'm not sure if anyone but Corey climbed above a yellow belt. It wasn't important. We all learned the "star block set" to defend ourselves against "left, right, up, or down" strikes. (I actually used it in a fight I got in a few years ago in Antigua...Thanks, Sensei).

By now, my lunch time walks turned to jogs. No longer in steel toes, but in a $29 pair of running shoes I bought at K-Mart. I'd strip out of my work clothes in the men's room at work and jog one telephone pole at a time.

As I'd get from pole one to pole two, I'd literally pat myself on the back in an effort to rebuild my shattered self esteem. Tomorrow, I'll try to make it to the third and then the fourth on Wednesday. I'd run out, and run back...if I could.

My pay climbed a bit. And Corey and I fixed up the house. We had curtains now and I promised to make him a hot supper each night. We had separate rooms again as he thought, "It's time for you to sleep by yourself, Todd...I mean Dad."

That Wednesday, I picked up the girls a little earlier than normal and whisked up Rte. 93 to Derry. It was the night of my first race. The Derry five miler. The most I'd ever run at work is 45 phone poles, or about three miles. "What's an extra two?" I thought. That was until I passed the three-mile mark.

There were 27 people in the race. I felt like I could see 26 of them in front of me. Reality was, I was in the middle of the pack. A place I had spent most of my life in nearly every sporting endeavor in which I had ever participated.

As I turned the final corner I could see Corey, Erika, and Julia. They were still about 150 yards away. I could see they were holding a sign. I was gasping for air as runner No. 14 was gaining on me. "Second wind?" I thought. I used my second wind back at mile 3.5.

I plodded. Runner 14 gained. As I got closer to the three munchkins, they were jumping up and down. I'm not sure if I could read the sign or hear their voices. "Go Dad, Go!"

I'm sure No. 14 didn't know what happened. He was on my heels and I was failing fast.

"Those kids saw 13 people ahead of their Dad. I'll be damned if No. 14 passes me too."

I suspect God picked me up and carried me the last quarter mile. I'd never run so fast. No. 14...ate my dust. I crossed the finish line and they gave me a Popsicle stick with No. 14 written on it. It belonged to me. Not him.

The lady at the finish line tried to take the Popsicle stick with No. 14 on it out of my sweaty hand. I clutched it tight. "It's for my kids," I panted. The lady looked at me and looked at my smiling kids. She nodded and smiled as if knowing what kind of a life race we have all been through.

"You came in 14th, Dad," Erika screamed. "How great is that?" Julia added.

Pretty great, kids. Pretty great.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remember Our Team As They Play A Real Game Today

Yesterday there were 16 Major League Baseball games played. There were another eight hockey games and four NBA games with final scores in which one team beat the other.

In the big picture, none of it truly matters.

We banter daily about the "Battles" that we won.

Battles aren't fought on the hardwood or at the rink. On the diamond or on the gridiron. Battles are fought on the battlefield only.

Blood isn't shed by guys in shoulder pads. Blood is shed by a team with no pads at all.

The word battle should be reserved for those skirmishes in which our men and women fight far from home, defending honor and displaying courage. The term battle should not be abused when we speak of Josh Beckett buzzing one by the head of Bobby Abreu and the ensuing square dance that took place between overzealous boys.

A battle is a revered term we should sanctify when we speak of our troops upholding life and liberty as we know it.

We speak of "Our Team" as if we suited up ourselves and faced the opposing pitcher on the mound. "Our Team" suits up every day to fight an enemy that it doesn't even know. To put their lives on the line so that we can sit back and watch LeBron take on Kobe.

"Our Team" wishes that it could find the time to play ball in the backyard with a child they haven't yet met. They pray that they could sit around the dinner table and break bread with their mother and father. With their sisters and their brothers.

While we lie in bed watching the Bruins defeat the Canadiens, "Our Team" wishes that they could simply be falling asleep next to their wives or husbands or their fiances. While we love our Yankees or our Sox, "Our Team" loves their country so much that they are willing to have shrapnel buzzing by their heads at a speed that would make a Randy Johnson offering look like a Wakefield knuckler.

And "Our Team" doesn't wear Red Sox or pinstripes. They don't have a closet full of Cubbies t-shirts like you or me. They have a wardrobe that is without diversity. Clothes that they put on each and every day that show their true colors. Red and white and blue.

And while 26,000 men and women are running today's historic Boston Marathon to the cheers and admiration of millions from Hopkinton to Boston, a number far greater are also running life's marathon to the cheers of no one.

So when you flip on the tube today. Patriots Day in Massachusetts, think of the true patriots.

Not Brady, Moss, and Welker, but PFC. Darren Dodge, USMC (my daughter Erika's boy friend), Gary Coran, USMC, Cpl. Lee Haywood, USMC, Robert Corran USMC-RIP, Kevin Messmer, 10th Mountain Cavalry, and Captain Jennifer Harris, USMC-RIP.

They are the heroes that truly went to battle yesterday and the day before.

And they are truly the only team we should be rooting for. These men and women are the true patriots that should fill our hearts today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finally Ready To Share: Todd's All-Star Blooper

One of the most wonderful gifts, that has been passed down through the Civin gene pool has been the ability to share a good story. To me, the ability to tell a personal account of a chapter from life's play is the greatest treasure that my Dad and Mom could have blessed us kids with.

The ability to capture nearly every nuance of life's most memorable moments coupled with a steel trap long term memory leaves me with an endless web to weave. Most times I try to share the thousands of points of light that have dotted my personal geography, but every once in a while it's fun to share a story of a time that life has reared back and kicked you in the jewels.

There has been one such story that I've been holding back as it teeters delicately on the see saw of good taste. At the same time, presenting ones life while exposed and vulnerable tends to create character. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, "For a tree to become tall it must grow tough roots amongst rocks."

So here goes nothing.

My story begins when I was about eleven years old. Most of my friends made the Spencer Little League All-star team and even though I thought I deserved a spot on the team the voters didn't. I guess that an .083 batting average and a half dozen errors for the daisy picking right fielder doesn't score many All-star votes.

Our team opened up the All-Star schedule in Auburn, MA, a town about fifteen miles from Spencer. My Dad was away on business and my Mom didn't drive in those days, so my brother, Dyno, and I hitched a ride with Mrs. B and Mrs R. (names have been altered for obvious reasons), two of the All-Star Moms.

We rode in the back seat of their station wagon with the wood paneled sides with their two All-Stars, Anthony and Paul.

Mrs. B and Mrs. R. were those two typical Little League mothers that help to define the phrase "Little League mom". Both women wore loud red T-shirts emblazoned with their son's names on the back and red baseball caps adorned with the bold Spencer "S". Each of them feasts on a daily dose of umpire amongst their daily fare and snap their gum incessantly as they chew.

It was a scorcher of a summer day, but for some reason, I decided to wear a pair of long Wrangler jeans to the game. I wasn't much for shorts in those days. Probably because I used to suffer terribly with warts all over my legs. In fact, my sister, Melanie, used to call me Toad, though I was never quite sure if it was because of my name or because of my warts.

The hot July sun baked down as the Spencer All Stars took the field. Mrs. R. tapped me on the shoulder as Paul took the mound and Anthony took his spot behind home plate.

"You didn't make the team, huh Todd?" she said in a screeching voice that closely resembled finger nails on a chalk board.

"No, Mrs. R." I said thinking of my .083 average and the beautiful patch of daisies growing out in right field.

I remember feeling a little nauseous as the first couple of innings passed. I wasn't really sure though if it was from Mrs. R or from the 90 degree heat burning a hole in my Wranglers.

Around the third inning I remember getting up from the bleachers along the third base line because I felt my stomach feeling sort of unsettled. I walked away from the crowd of Spencer fans with hopes of "breaking a little wind" as Dad used to say.

Much like the pigeon who dampened my spirits by dropping in my ear on the first day of first grade, my colon let loose with a wrath of fury. If one can envision the folk tale of Hans Brinker with his finger in the dike, and then picture said little Dutch boy taking his phalange out, that's what it looked like.

With the speed of a flood engorged stream overflowing it's banks, my Wranglers filled with hot, wet excrement from my ankles to my collar. I immediately dropped to my knees looking a little like Bambi falling to the ice.

At that very instant, the unsuspecting group of Spencer fans cheered loudly as All-star catcher, Anthony came to bat. Anthony batted about .600 points higher than I did during the regular baseball season and therefore made the All-Star squad. In the event that you forgot, I didn't.

As the strapping catcher stepped to the plate, a warm cross wind blew from left to right. I was sure it was going to take the stench from my soiled undergarments and cause the evacuation of the bleachers. It didn't, but as I looked in that direction from my spot on the matted turf, I spotted Roberta, a hottie from my fifth grade class walking right towards me.

Roberta was the first girl in our class who had bumps in her shirt and was the talk of the entire fifth grade. I suspected it was toilet paper and found it sort of ironic that Roberta had what I wanted, in more ways than one.

I'd waited for the chance to talk to Roberta for most of the school year and now had my chance. Unfortunate for me, I was sitting on the ground with hot, wet, fecal matter baking to my backside.

She walked by and smiled. I nodded and played with the dirt that hadn't been contaminated around me.

After about ten minutes, my brother came over. "Wanna play catch?" he asked unaware that his big bro had pooped himself.

"I can't...I pooped myself", I whispered.

"You what?" Dyno blurted out, apparently unaware that any hope of a future prom date rested perilously in jeopardy.

I motioned him over and shared my quandary with him. I begged him with all my heart and soul to go ask where the bathroom was but he didn't want to ask.

"Dyno, please. I'm filled with poop and I feel another one coming."

After a little pleading Dyno, walked over to the snack bar to ask where the rest rooms were. I sat in my doo doo as Paul swatted a deep fly to right to put Spencer up 2-0. Unlike me, Paul had made the All-star team. Mrs' R looked over at me from the top seat in the bleachers and shouted in her excruciatingly high pitched voice.

"Hey, Taaaaahd. Did you see what Paul just did?"

"No, Mrs R." I thought. "Did you see what I just did?"

Dyno returned seconds later and I knew that my nightmare was coming to an end. As luck would have it though, the facilities for the Auburn Little League complex consisted of a one-holer about 500 yards beyond the left field fence.

I pulled myself to my feet as steaming poop dribbled out the elastic band of my Fruit of the Looms and traveled down the leg of my Wranglers. I remember waddling the length of the left field line, turning over my shoulder occasionally to see if the Spencer cheering section was any the wiser.

I opened the door to the dimly lit shack and proceeded to make like the Department of Environmental Protection and clean up after the spill. The small wooden outhouse had no lock on the door so Dyno had to stand guard, while I waged war.

The porto-potty had a plank of wood with a hole carved in the middle and a swarm of flies buzzed around the top. I remember some colorful graphity filled the unpainted walls of the throne, but really wasn't up for reading.

I peeled my Wranglers over my soiled bottom as the smell of raw sewage filled the stall.

I reached over to the rusted toilet paper dispenser and pulled at the end of the first sheet. To my dismay, I yanked a two inch by two inch square of something resembling wax paper to clean my steaming rump.

I pulled again and again and again wrapping the high gloss papyrus around my little hand until I made a little mitten of sorts. With the first wipe, the mitten instantly disintegrated spreading doo doo all over my hand and wrist. I've never experienced such a mess.

A good fifteen minutes passed, as Dyno waited patiently outside the door. I made the decision to toss my pooped filled undergarments down the hole and to fly commando for the last few innings of the game.

I exited the outhouse and felt a certain sense of relief as I entered the fresh summer air.

"You think anyone will notice?" I asked Dyno wishfully.

"Oh, I think they'll notice," Dyno replied while blocking his nose.

Well, the last two innings were completed as Spencer came out on top. Mrs. B and Mrs R and Anthony and Paul hustled quickly to the car with trophies in hand, while Dyno and I walked sheepishly to the wood side station wagon.

"What happened to you?" asked Mrs. B.

"You stink" added Mrs. R, in her familiar Edith Bunker-like shrill.

"I fell in the mud near that building over there" I explained as if falling in poop was better than unintentionally smearing it on yourself.

Mrs. B relocated Dyno and I into the way back of the wood paneled station wagon as Paul wrapped his stinky athletic sock around his face. We traveled the fifteen miles in record fashion even by passing the Dairy Queen which was orignally part of our plan.

Mrs. B stopped the wood paneled station wagon at the bottom of High Street and let Dyno and I walk the last quarter mile up the steep hill.

"Hey Taaaahd," shouted Mrs. R as Dyno and I made our way up the street. "The fliiiiiiies are following you."

Jackie Robinson Takes On the Field 63 Years Ago Today

Some how it seems fitting to start off this article in the following way.

Three score and three years ago today, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I sit today and try to imagine what must have been going through his mind 63 years ago today.

I can't. I'm a white guy in a white guy's America.

The closest I have come to being Jackie Robinson, is being the only Jewish family in a town that had us and one other family that was only half Jewish. This in the small shoe town of Spencer, MA, which was primarily French Canadian.

In fact until the early 1970's, Spencer had a Catholic fire department and a Protestant Fire Department. I used to joke to my parents that we'd be in trouble if our house were ever to catch fire.

So when Jackie Robinson sat in his all-white locker room on the morning of Apr. 15, 1947, I can't even begin to guess what was in his head. I suspect that he dressed in the far back corner of the Brooklyn locker room. Even if it wasn't geographically set apart, I'm sure it was metaphorically such.

And though we look at him as a hero some three score later and wear his No. 42 in a show of unity, I suspect becoming a hero was the furthest thing from Jackie's mind. I suspect that staying alive or trying to drown out racial epitaphs were more in the forefront of his thoughts.

Why, it was still 16 years later when MLK gave his "I Have A Dream" speech and stated:

"But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition."

While King gave his famous speech in front of hundreds of thousands, Jackie Robinson sat in that locker room at Ebbets Field alone. By himself. Faced with the daunting task of desegregating all of baseball.

It wasn't until 1959, more than a decade later, that Pumpsie Green became the first African American to don the Sox of the Boston Red Sox, deemed by many to be the most racist organization in sports. It wasn't until then that baseball was truly desegregated.

In fact in 1973, after another fourteen years had passed, Judge W. Arthur Garrity abolished segregation in Boston's schools and ordered forced busing of blacks to schools that, until then, were all white. Garritty's decision was met with riots, bombings and personal death threats.

It was about that time that Jim Rice, a black from Greenville, NC took left field for those same Red Sox and essentially became the first black star in the organization's history.

And now, another 38 years have passed and we only recently elected our first African-American president. I suspect that we are pretty proud of ourselves as a Nation for righting a historical wrong. I suppose we think that we are finally "judging a man by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin."

I like to think that Jackie Robinson would be proud, too.

But I wonder.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Than Peanuts and Cracker Jacks on Baseball's All-time Menu

I'm really not sure what's going on with my body lately. Seems like I look at food and immediately add 15 pounds to my svelte and chiseled figure. My wife loses 10 pounds and somehow I find it.

I start each Monday, on the new Oprah diet and begin each Tuesday with another cry of "I'll wait until next Monday."

At present, I weigh twice as much as the Olsen twins and only 60 pounds less than CC Sabathia.

Not really sure when it got like this. In 2001, I ran up Mtn Washington at a weight of 165 pounds and finished the Boston Marathon only a couple hours behind the winner. This morning I tipped the scale weighing more than this years men's and women's winner combined.

It's gotten a bit discouraging watching Joey Chestnut ingest 68 hot dogs on July 4, while my wife tries to convince me to share her bag of nutri-system pretzels. I had aspirations of someday appearing on TV, but never thought it would be as a contestant on The Biggest Loser.

So, it should come as little surprise that I spent the better half of the morning, not exercising and miraculously not ingesting Twinkies, but compiling a smorgasbord of the tasty and tantalizing menu of baseball players with food like names. (For the record, I gained 11 pounds while creating the menu).

Tonight's Dinner was Exquisitely Prepared By:
Dennis Cook with desserts elegantly created by Dusty Baker

Food Ingested By:
Don Gullet

Soup d' Jour
A savory helping of Bill Campbell with Milt Stock, Billy Bean and Jim Rice

Your Choice of Rolls and Butter
Zack Wheat or Johnny Oates

Surf and Turf
Dizzy Trout, Catfish Hunter and Kevin Bass served with your choice of Rob Deer, Mike Lamb or Rabbit Maranville

Lighter Fare
~ Herman Franks and Julio Franco smothered with Chili Davis and Jeff Frey
~ Garrett Berger topped with Eddie Bacon and MLB writer Jonathan Mayo delicately seasoned with GM Salty Saltwell and Don Pepper.

Bobby Wine, Phil Coke and Todd Coffey with George Creamer

Healthy Desserts
~ Bob Lemon with Daryl Strawberry and Bill Almond
~ Damon Berryhill with Sean Berry and Frank Pears
~ Dan Quisenberry with Luke Appling and Connie Mack

For the Sweet Tooth
~ Rick Sweet with Candy Maldonado and Pee Wee Reese elegantly prepared by John "The Candy Man" Candelaria
~ Coco Crisp smothered with Candy Cummings and Peanuts Lowry
~ Pie Traynor, Cookie Rojas and my personal favorite Mark Lemongelo with Felix Pie.

And what more fitting way to end our baseball feast then with a quote from Slim Fast Spokeman Tommy Lasorda who once said "When we lose, I eat. When we win I eat. I also eat when we're rained out."

Tommy, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Born and Bred Red Sox Red

I'm a homer through and through.

I love the Boston Red Sox more than I love anything in the world (with the exception of my wife, my five kids, and maybe my mom and dad).

I love the Red Sox so much I had their representation tattooed on my left bicep and on my right calf. My son also has his body emblazoned with the Red Sox "B.”

I bleed red, and I see the world through rose-colored glasses.

I have a Red Sox license plate, pool table lamp, and a closet full of Sox jerseys.

My dachshund’s name is Fenway, and my cat's name is Coco (after the since-departed Coco Crisp).I started following the Sox in 1971, at the age of 10. I was a late bloomer.

My first recollections of the team were watching George "The Boomer" Scott stretched to the ground at first base, seeing “Captain Carl” patrolling left field, and looking at Reggie Smith swing from both sides of the plate.

I made my sandwiches with Yaz Bread, drank from Red Sox jelly glasses, and still carry my lunch to work in a Red Sox metal lunch box.

My brother and I used to play baseball in the road in front of our house from 7 AM to 7 PM, seven days per week, rain or shine. We'd come inside at 7:05 p.m. to eat and watch the Sox.

When we played, we'd run to the side of the street as a car would cruise by every ten minutes or so. We'd shoot to see who would be the Sox. I'd cheat to win.

My Dad took my brother and me to our first game in 1973. We sat along the left-field line and saw Luis Tiant twist and turn his way to a 10-0 shutout vs. Cleveland. We also saw the first Major League game played by Rick Burleson and Dewey Evans.

I love the fact that Bob Montgomery was the last major leaguer to play without a helmet and that there is Morse code beneath the scoreboard in left field.

My favorite all-time Red Sox player is Bill "Spaceman" Lee. No one played with as much spirit as the Space Man. He and I have both been accused of "marching to the beat of a different drummer." We are both proud of this.

I think Lee could save baseball if he were named commissioner.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Order Your Copy of Devoted Today!!

Pre-Order Your Copy!


The Story of a Father's Love for His Son

By Dick Hoyt with Don Yaeger

Devoted is the true to life story of World-renowned Father and son triathlon team, Dick and Rick Hoyt. Known throughout the world, as Team Hoyt, they exemplify the unconditional love of a father and a son. The story, told through the eyes, voice and feelings of Dick Hoyt, shares in detail the events which created their inseparable bond and resulted in their "Yes, You Can" true to life mission statement.

From the moment Rick was born to the exhaling of his very next breath, the book shares the stories which capture the essence of what each of them remain today, Team Hoyt.

Available on April 21st, 2010 ~ Order your copy today

(includes shipping via Media Mail~Add $2 for Priority)

Send check made payable to Dick Hoyt to Dick Hoyt 241
Mashapaug Road, Holland, MA 01521

Add $3.00 if paying by Credit Card or Pay Pal-
Email to take advantage of this service.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Team Hoyt Re-lives History While Dusting Off An Old Friend

By Kathy Boyer/Todd Civin

True friends are like running chairs. They are always there when you need them and ready to get dusted off and asked to travel 26.2 miles with you at a moments notice.

Or something like that.

Dick and Rick (Team Hoyt) have been having a lot of trouble the last few years with their running chair. The chair that carried them through the most recent portion of their thousand, plus running events.

According to the calendar, Dick, like all of us, is getting older as he will be turning 70 on June 1. Rick is not only getting older (48), but is also, like all of us, putting on a bit of weight. Rick tips the scales at 148 pounds right now, while he was only 115 pounds as recently as two years ago. Rick is also having trouble with his back, the result of sitting in the running chair for long periods of time over the years, while Dick is having trouble with his breathing when running, coupled with some pain in his quads and legs.

While sitting in the running chair that Rick has been using for many years, his feet are tucked under him as he sits during race events. He has been quite uncomfortable for over a year now and Dick has been talking with engineers and others trying to get a new chair built for Rick. To this point they have not had much luck.

A few months back, however, Dick was at a corporate event where he was the motivational speaker. A video came on the screen showing Dick and Rick competing in the 1989 Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. Like the re-emergence of an old friend, Dick said to himself “Hey, that is our old chair. Maybe that would work for Rick."

He noticed that Rick's legs were straight in front of him and not tucked underneath the chair and suspected that he would be more comfortable and his back would not hurt.

Problem solved?

The only problem is – the chair that they used in the 1989 Ironman triathlon in Hawaii had been retired and had been in the New England Sports Museum since about 1994.

The chair, which was built around 1987, had been used by the famed father/son marathon team in many road races and triathlons, including the 1987 Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C., their first Ironman triathlon in Penticton, B.C. Canada in 1988, and their first Ironman triathlon in Hawaii in 1989.

When Team Hoyt first started doing race events in the late 1970’s, Dick had a running chair built for Rick, but after using it for several years, Rick got older and heavier and outgrew it.

Around 1986, when Rick was visiting an orthopedic specialist in Springfield, MA, Dick mentioned to the doctor that he and Rick were doing race events and triathlons and that Rick was not comfortable in his running chair. The orthopedic specialist said that he and another friend (also an orthopedic doctor) would take a look at their current design and see if they could come up with an improved design that would make Rick more comfortable for longer periods of time.

The two doctors designed the seat, and another person designed the frame. Dick and Rick used this chair from about 1987 until about 1992. It was put in the New England Sports Museum around 1994, and was on display for all to see as part of the Museum's rotating displays.

After Dick remembered the old chair, he contacted the museum a few months ago and explained his dilemma. He drove into Boston to pick up the old running chair, which had several years worth of dust on it and needed a little TLC and duct tape.

Dick and Rick used the "new" chair in a few half marathons in February and March, and felt that it brought back a bit of nostalgia while using it. They thought of the days, long ago when they used this chair and all the races he and Rick have done since retiring "their old friend" back in 1992.

Dick also quickly realized how long and heavy and very difficult for him to push the chair is. Of course, Dick is now 18 years older and Rick is now 30-35 lbs heavier to boot.

The chair is also wider than their last chair and the handlebars are in a different position, which is making it difficult for Dick to adjust his running and rhythm while pushing.

The chair is being worked on as the Team prepares for their 28th Boston Marathon on April 19. They'd like to get it back in time to do some training for the big event and hope that Rick is more comfortable as they travel that familiar route from Hopkinton to Boston with their old familiar friend.

Pre-order Team Hoyt's new book, "Devoted"

Dick Hoyt's new book, "Devoted", with famed-author, Don Yaeger, will be available for shipping on April 21st by visiting the Team Hoyt website.

"Devoted" is the true to life story of the world-renowned Father and son triathlon team, Dick and Rick Hoyt. Known throughout the world, as Team Hoyt, they exemplify the unconditional love of a father and a son.

The story, told through the eyes, voice and feelings of Dick Hoyt, shares in detail the events, which created their inseparable bond and resulted in their "Yes, You Can" true to life mission statement. From the moment Rick was born to the exhaling of his very next breath, the book shares the stories which capture the essence of what each of them remain today, Team Hoyt.

The book is available for $28, which includes S/H by Media Mail® or for $30 by Priority Mail®. Send a check to Dick Hoyt, 241 Mashapaug Road, Holland, MA 01521 or add $3 for CC purchase or PayPal process fee. If paying by CC, please fax your order to 413-245-9554 or call 413-245-9466 between 10 AM and 6 PM EST.

Visit the Team Hoyt website at for details.

Kathy Boyer is the office manager, publicist, and friend of Team Hoyt. She will share the stories of Team Hoyt from time to time. For more information on Team Hoyt, visit