Funny Things Do Happen In Sports Sometimes

Marc Elliott

CHOCTAW NATION…. Just spent the weekend here and have studied some of the history of the Choctaw Nation and the Trail of Tears. This is a gut wrenching read but I would advise you to read it anyway. You can find it online pretty easily. The only way I can describe it is that you will most likely be sad when you finish reading it. I’ll leave it there and state only that I stand with Dr. Gary Kohls when he says that we would all be astounded at what we don’t get taught about our history in our schools….

I WAS LISTENING TO THE MINNESOTA TWINS on the radio last Thursday eve as they opened their weekend series versus the Detroit Tigers and it was a hard fought series opener. Late in the game a woman fan in the stands was hit in the head by a foul ball and per standard procedure ushers, security, and medical personnel rushed to her spot in the stands to give her aid. Play was halted and the distress of the fan was such that several players turned to see what was happening and more came out of the dugout as well. While the delay was still on the Twins radio analysts began to tell some stories, one of which involved another foul ball hits fan story.

Believe me, I am certain this wasn’t funny when it happened, but now that many years have passed, you have to find some humor in this. Back in 1957 (I wasn’t quite in grade school yet) there was a guy on the Philadelphia Phillies by the name of Richie Ashburn. And he was fancied as a type of player who could stretch out his at-bats during a game. I wouldn’t quite call him a foul ball specialist but this is what he did. I remember him from when I became a little older but by the time I knew what was going on in the game with players and teams he had already retired from the game in 1962.

Anyway, during an at-bat once he hit a woman fan in the stands with a foul ball and it broke and bloodied her nose. Worse yet, it turns out that she was the wife of the Sports Editor for a major Philly newspaper. Play was halted as she was attended to, and eventually the attending medical people decided she should be transported from the stands by stretcher. Once they got her stabilized and on the stretcher, the medics began to take her up the stairs and then on to the hospital for care. Seeing this the umpire resumed play and as the medics were making their way up the stairs with the fallen fan, the pitcher fired another offering up to the plate and Ashburn screamed another foul ball into the stands and hit her again as she lie on the stretcher!

Well, I burst out laughing like crazy! I mean a good couple of minutes of deep abdominal laughter. Even today, a few days later, I can start laughing just thinking about this story. I am glad the woman fan was going to be ok and sufficiently recovered, but man, this is hilarious! Ashburn and the female fan would go on to become friends and the story had a good ending. Her son would become a Phil’s batboy, but the woman, Alice Roth, would never watch another game from an infield seat. She sat in the outfield stands from that point forward…

IN YET ANOTHER great foul ball story, apparently at one game there was an intoxicated fan sitting right behind the Phillie’s dugout and this chap was being fairly verbally abusive of one of the Phil’s players that day. It got to the point where many observers were surprised that this fan wasn’t ejected from the park. The legend goes that during an at-bat in the middle of the game Ashburn purposely launched a foul ball toward the obnoxious fan that ended up hitting an empty seat a couple of spots over from the foul mouthed knucklehead, whereby it hit the seat and harmlessly popped out on to the field of play.

And you know that moment right after a foul ball, a hit, or when anything of an exciting nature happens in baseball where there is a lull in the noise the crowd is creating, kind of a quick moment of quiet if you will, well, right when that occurred after the foul ball you could hear a voice from the Phillie’s dugout holler out to Ashburn at the plate “Richie, he’s a couple of seats over”! Evidently this was audible to many in the infield area and I have no word on whether or not Ashburn finally clipped the unruly fan that day….

FORMER MINNESOTA WILD player Chris Stewart got a one year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. This isn’t a guy that gets them over IMO, but he could be a productive player for them…. THE WILD have re-signed the big Swede defenseman Christian Folin to a two year contract. Last year he appeared in 40 games with the Wild to help cover for some injury situations and got into 13 games with the Iowa Wild. At 6’3” and 210 lbs., this guy could be a find for the team. He needs some work on his pro game but I could see him as a steady #5 or #6 NHL D-man in the future…. THE BLACKHAWKS have finally dealt forward Patrick Sharp, he will be on the Dallas NorthStars roster next season. When this guy is motivated and moving his feet he can be hard to deal with. The N-Stars problem though isn’t scoring goals, it is in preventing them. Don’t know how this helps that except that all 5 skaters have to help play defense….

IT DOESN’T LOOK to me like there will be that much more major dealing in this off-season. So does that mean anything to our hometown club? Yes it does and I just might opine on that next week, right here! PEACE

MFAN EXTRA; Congrats to daughter Chel on the birth of her 2nd daughter and my 3rd grandchild, Loretta Lucille at 6lbs 8oz, 926am on 7/8, welcome to the world Lori Lou!