Sunday, June 27, 2004

Larry Eustachy, Shame On You!

Shame on you, Larry Eustachy.

You show up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and all of a sudden your employer is causing problems for the University of Iowa.

OK, just kidding on that “shame on you” comment, big guy. And I also think I’m kidding when I say there are “problems.”

As you can maybe tell, I’m approaching this controversy with about as much humor as I can muster.

Larry, the day I get bent out of shape worrying that your school’s logo is too much like the Tiger Hawk logo at Iowa is the day I start riding my 25-year-old Raleigh bicycle 75 miles a day, seven days a week, so I get in shape for RAGBRAI.

Hey, on a nice June afternoon, I guess I think the folks at Iowa should have more to do than worry about logos. But I’m just here to comment on the news, not make it.

Here’s the scoop. The AP sent a story that officials at Iowa have asked the University of Southern Mississippi to get rid of its Golden Eagle logo, saying it looks too much like the Hawkeyes’ Tiger Hawk logo.

“We’ve had the Tiger Hawk logo for 20, 25 years and the Southern Mississippi logo seems confusingly similar,” Iowa spokesman Steve Parrott said. “We congratulate Southern Mississippi on its taste in logos, but we’ve contacted Southern Mississippi and asked them to change it because it’s too close to ours.”

[Pause. Go ahead, clear your throat. Now you can laugh].

The AP went on to say that the folks at Southern Mississippi don’t care much for what Iowa wants them to do.

“I’m not sure what the whole deal is,” athletic director Richard Giannini said. “But I don’t think (the logos) look anything alike. The only thing they have in common is they are both bird-heads and they’re both the same color, but there’s no other similarity.”

Southern Miss introduced the Eagle-head logo in January, 2003. The logo had avoided the radar of Iowa officials until the school hired Eustachy as its new basketball coach March 25. Media coverage of the hiring in Iowa brought the issue to the attention of Hawkeye officials.

“We saw the coverage and saw the hat he was wearing,” Parrott said.
Eustachy is the former Iowa State coach who was forced to resign because of alcohol-related problems. He spent last year in treatment.

When he was hired by Southern Miss, the AP sent a photograph around the nation showing Eustachy wearing a baseball-style cap with the Golden Eagle logo on the front. Frankly, it does look a little like the Tiger Hawk, but so what? Who’s going to care?

Nobody is even going to care when Eustachy brings his Southern Miss team to Iowa City next Dec. 3 for the Hawkeye Challenge.

Parrott wouldn’t speculate on whether Iowa would pursue litigation on the matter of similar logos. He said Iowa would wait to see how Southern Miss responds.
Litigation over a logo? Come on, Iowa. Act your age.

Meanwhile, the Hattiesburg American in Hattiesburg, Miss., reported today that “students and alumni from Southern Mississippi said, while there are similarities between the two logos, most don’t think it matters.

“That’s two different conferences, so it won’t really conflict,” Leroy Brown, 22, of Baton Rouge, La., told the newspaper.

Enough of that. Let’s get on with the important stuff… how the soybean crop is doing in Iowa this summer. That’s what I care about.


I’ve told you about George Shirk before.

Shirk and I used to sit across from each other at desks in a newspaper office in Des Moines. In those days, the city had two daily papers. George worked for one, I worked for the other.

Shirk was….well, a bit unusual.

He brought a whole new fashion statement to the newsroom. He wore faded blue shorts that looked like they once were size 34x32 pants from the Army Surplus Store. I think Shirk took a pair of scissors to them 15 minutes before showing up for work. I also think he had painted his bathroom while wearing them the night before.

The only reason I think I’m right on that was because there was still plenty of paint on the cut-offs when he showed up for work.

Shirk also wore sandals and no socks. Also, maybe a T-shirt, maybe a sweatshirt.

I liked George, but not everyone did. He had a way of making people kind of mad. I mean, Chuck Shelton, who then was coaching football at Drake, didn’t particularly like it when George wrote a column saying the university should drop the sport.

After games, when Shirk asked Shelton a question, the coach acted as though George wasn’t in the room.

This was the same Chuck Shelton who complained regularly that the game stories about his Bulldogs were buried so deeply in the Sunday paper that they were “back by the tire ads.”

I talked a lot to Shirk in the newsroom, but rarely did we discuss music. Maybe it was because he told me his favorite kind of music was that performed by the Grateful Dead.

Shirk didn’t stay in Des Moines long. He worked at newspapers in Philadelphia and San Jose, Calif., covering the Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Giants.

Later, he was editor of San Francisco-based Wired News. Now Shirk, 50, and his wife, Jean, 46, run a California magazine called Mammoth Monthly. It must be a pretty area there because the photographs sure are.

I’ll have to catch up with crazy George one of these days and talk about the old days.


Tom Kroeschell recalling Marc Lillibridge, the former Iowa State linebacker who was named the Green Bay Packers’ assistant director of pro personnel a few days ago:
“Remember when he’d tell reporters, ‘Call me if you need any quotes?’”

Nothing brings out the emotions more than writing about kids and dogs.

Some of the e-mails I received after the column on the death of my dog, Saki:

From an Eastern Iowa reader:

“I liked your column, except you made me cry when you talked about your Saki. That’s so sad. I’m so sorry you lost her.”

From Al Schallau, a former Iowan who now lives in California:

“I am writing to express my sympathy concerning the death of your dog. I know first-hand how a dog becomes a cherished member of one’s family. We lost both of our dogs in 2001. The first died on her own terms of cancer. The second had to be put to sleep by the vet. She had a cancerous tumor on her liver that was bigger than the liver. It was great, great pain for all of us.

“Fortunately, my daughter Angela soon thereafter brought home a male dog who was not wanted by his then-owners. She named him Luke. At the NBA Pro Summer League in Long Beach, I told Luke Recker that my daughter named her dog after him. Luke has been Angela’s dog ever since, and he is now a cherished member of our family.

“Again, my sympathy to you and your family.”

From Rev. David Mumm of Des Moines:

“Sorry to hear about your dog. It is amazing how pets grow on a person, especially dogs. I think that is why we don’t have one right now. Our last—a wonderful greyhound—had to be put down at age 3. Kathy and the kids weren’t terribly upset by it, but that was my dog, who was right there beside me in some challenging days.”


I also got some reader reaction after writing about people who “flip the bird.” From an Eastern Iowa reader:

“I’ve got to say that I’ve never seen a woman ‘flip the bird,’ but I can tell you a rather funny story on a related incident.

“One time my mom, my sister and I were going to see dad (who was in a nursing home). My mom then was close to 90 years of age. My sister was driving, and someone cut us off on the Interstate. Mom said, ‘Give ‘em the thumb!’ That sweet little old lady didn’t know why my sister and I found that so amusing.”

From one of my classmates at Wilson High School in Cedar Rapids:

“When a couple of us were trying to find a picture of Kenny Oliver to put in the memorial for our 50th reunion last year, we couldn’t find one that was appropriate. For some reason, he didn’t have a senior picture in the 1953 yearbook. He wasn’t present for the 12-B homeroom picture in the ’52 yearbook.

“If you have the ’52 yearbook, take a look at the Hi-Y picture on Page 35 and you’ll see why we couldn’t use that picture of him. Some of the boys in the back row were being nasty.

“I think Kenny did enjoy doing things like flipping the bird. He looked pretty devilish. Steve Ammons was joining in the fun in that yearbook picture, too.”

[NOTE: This is Ron Maly’s editor. The photo showed Oliver and Ammons flipping the bird. Ron knew both Kenny and Steve very well, and he said he’d like to be able to call them and meet for a cold glass of something-or-other so they could all share some laughs about the bird-flipping that took place more than a half-century ago. Ron said he’d also like to talk with Kenny about the incident in fourth grade at Lincoln School in Cedar Rapids. (I didn’t know Ron in those days, but his mother tells me he was known as Ronnie most of the time). Ronnie and Kenny were chasing each other around the classroom, and they knocked over the teacher’s flower pot. The pot broke into a dozen pieces when it hit the floor. The teacher, who obviously was not in a real pleasant mood, said she wanted Ronnie and Kenny to replace it. So they went to downtown Cedar Rapids the following Saturday and—with the help of Ronnie’s mother--bought a new pot. Unfortunately, neither Kenny nor Steve cooperated with us on the update project in this column. They died and now are probably flipping the bird and looking at flowers and flower pots in that big classroom in the sky].


George Wine, author and former athletic department spokesman at the University of Iowa, has made The Big Move.

After living on a farm in Solon, he and his wife have moved to a condominium in Coralville.

So how’s it going?

“We’ve been in our condo for 19 days (but who’s counting?”) Wine tells me in an e-mail. “And I have no regrets about leaving country (yet).

“I just returned from my 55th high school class reunion and for some reason I feel older. Maybe a nap will help.”


It was great to get another e-mail from Rob Borsellino. People can say what they want about the guy sometimes being careless with the facts. And they can criticize him all they want about “I” being his favorite letter in the alphabet. I certainly can overlook most of that stuff when it comes to Rob. There is absolutely nothing better than having a loyal reader and friend like him. He’s a winner all the way.

Vol. 4, No. 240
June 27, 2004

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Flipping the Bird And Other Fun Stuff

I’ve always felt that baseball was at or near the bottom of the barrel when it came to professional sports I’d want one of my sons or grandsons to play.

I mean, what does it tell you about a sport when the players spend half the time scratching their crotches and the other half either throwing the ball at somebody else’s head or sliding into the other team’s second baseman feet-first so you can plant your spikes into his body?

For some reason, that line of thinking leads me to Steve Kline.

Kline is a scumbag who pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals. He got everybody’s attention late last season when he said he hoped Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior “takes a line drive to the forehead and we never have to see him again.”

That was during or right after the time the Cardinals and Cubs took turns insulting one another in the heat of the National League Central race. The Cubs won the division title, and naturally the Cardinals didn’t like it.

Kline apologized for his comment about Prior, but not until the teams played their first game this season. And I think he had to be asked about the comment again before he said he was sorry. Whatever, he wasn’t very convincing.

Now Kline is in the news again in his usual unassuming way.

If you were watching the Cubs lose to the Cardinals, 10-9, last night on TV, you saw relief pitcher Kline make what was loosely referred to as an “obscene gesture” to Tony LaRussa, his manager.

In other words, he “flipped the bird” or “gave the finger” to LaRussa. The TV cameras showed it to everyone.

Real cool thing to do, right? Just what you’d want your grandson who plays Little League baseball to see, right?

It would be like Tim Couch, the Green Bay Packers’ second-string quarterback, flipping off Coach Mike Sherman in the fourth quarter, or Detroit Pistons backup center Mehmet Okur of Yalova, Turkey, giving the finger to Coach Larry Brown with 5 minutes left in an NBA game.

Ironically, Kline was the winning pitcher in last night’s game. At first, LaRussa didn’t even know Kline had flipped him off.

“He did that?” LaRussa asked reporters.

Bernie Miklasz, a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote this morning of how the pathetic Kline behaved.

Miklasz said Kline was “outraged that he wasn’t called into the game after warming up in the sixth. He slammed his glove to the bullpen ground and directed an obscene gesture toward his boss.

“When informed of Kline’s tantrum after the game, LaRussa’s legendary temper flared.
“’Give me two minutes,” LaRussa said. “And I’ll be standing on top of his chest kicking the (bleep) out of him.’”

Miklasz said LaRussa “roamed the clubhouse looking for Kline, and found him in the team’s shower room. No shouting could be detected. No St. Louis police officers, or medical examiners, were called in. LaRussa quietly re-emerged by himself…..”

LaRussa said Kline “told me thought he was coming into the game. I told him it was bull and he apologized.”

When reporters found Kline, he offered no apologies about flipping off his manager. “No big deal,” he told them.

Kline told Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch that LaRussa “yelled at me like he normally does. Hopefully, he gets over it in three more weeks and we move on.”

Kline, of course, isn’t the first baseball player to “flip the bird.”

Indeed, Urban Legends reports that the first documented instance of a public figure flipping the bird was in 1886 when famed ballplayer Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn covertly extended his middle finger while posing for a team photo with the Boston Beaneaters.

“It’s been a downhill slide for American manners ever since, according to an article by George Basler in the Binghampton Press & Sun Bulletin,” Urban Legends says.
“Social critics complain that the increasing prevalence of casual bird-flipping in public—arguably a trend of cosmic proportions these days—signals a disturbing vulgarization of the culture.”

I know of at least two major-college basketball coaches in this state who knew all about bird-flipping.

Johnny Orr, who then was coaching Iowa State, had his picture taken by a photographer when he was flipping someone off—probably one of the officials—during a game against Iowa. I asked him about it the next day, but Johnny went into denial. He was certain he didn’t direct his middle finger toward anyone.

In a separate incident, George Raveling, a former Hawkeye coach, also was photographed flipping the bird at no one in particular. Neither the photo of Orr nor the one of Raveling was published, as far as I know.

It could be that there are other well-known coaches from our state who may have wanted to flip someone off. They either had second thoughts or managed to avoid all photographers.

Flipping people off, of course, isn’t reserved for athletes and coaches. There’s a story going around about some bird-flipping done by John Kerry, the senator who will be the Democrats’ presidential nominee.

The word is that Kerry flipped off a Vietnam veteran at the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Memorial Day. reported that Ted Sampley, a former Green Beret who served two tours in Vietnam, walked up to Kerry and said, “Senator, I am Ted Sampley, the head of Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, and I am here to escort you away from the wall because you do not belong here.”

Sampley was wearing a “HANOI JOHN” t-shirt. When Kerry was talking to some school kids, Sampley said, “Kerry does not belong at the wall because he betrayed the brave soldiers who fought in Vietnam.”

Then Kerry, in front of the kids, other visitors and Secret Service agents, flashed the bird at Sampley and yelled, “Sampley is a felon!”


Marc Lillibridge, a good guy who played on some bad football teams at Iowa State, has been promoted to assistant director of pro personnel with the Green Bay Packers.

Lillibridge, 31, who played high school football at Linn-Mar of Marion, lettered at Iowa State as a linebacker in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Those were Jim Walden’s last three seasons as coach, and the Cyclones’ records were 4-7, 3-8 and 0-10-1.

It was after a 31-31 tie with Oklahoma State at Stillwater, Okla., in 1994 that the Cyclones sang the school song. They always did that only after victories, but it was pretty obvious there would be no victories that season.

It was after so many games in that horrible season that I noticed the emotional Lillibridge sitting on a bench, simply staring at the floor while trying to figure out what had gone wrong with his team.

Unfortunately, the answers never came, and Walden was told before the season ended that he’d be fired.

Lillibridge is entering his fourth season in the Packers’ personnel department. His pro playing career consisted of playing with six teams in three leagues in five years. He originally signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995. A back injury ended his career in 1999.


These past few days have been sad ones for me.

Saki, my 13 ½-year-old walking partner, died unexpectedly at 3 a.m. early in the week, and I’m having a tough time recovering.

Saki was an 11-pound, grey-and-white shih tzu. She came into the world thinking she was everyone’s friend, and she proved it right down to the end.

She especially loved kids. She always waited patiently until Megan, our 5-year-old granddaughter, finished petting her. Another of her favorites was Shelby, our 8-year-old granddaughter.

For a shih tzu, Saki had long legs. Because of that, she could run fast and jump high. Even in her advanced age, she still had a lot of jumping ability. And she loved to take those walks with me, from home to the Presbyterian church on the corner and back.

At 13 ½, that was a pretty good hike. But Saki handled it, in any kind of weather.

And she was never sick. Not one day in her life.

Consequently, I thought she’d maybe live forever.

She had gotten a little slower in the last few months. But on the final walk we took at about 6 p.m. Monday, she moved right along. But she stopped to bark at the blind cocker spaniel through the chain-link fence on the corner of 28th and Woodland Place.

Then she moved on. There was another small dog out for a walk across the street, and Saki gave him an approving glance.

Shih tzus have a way of strutting proudly when they walk. Sushi and Saki both did that. Sushi, who was Saki’s older sister, died a couple of years ago. Saki strutted the whole distance on that final walk Monday.

When we got home, Megan, her brother Nathan and her dad Kevin, shared a couple of pizzas with us. Saki wasn’t eating as much in the last year or so, but she always liked an occasional bite of pizza. She had what turned out to be a final bite Monday.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, she wanted to go out for some air. When she came in, she wanted her treat. The treat was a cookie. She jumped onto the couch and ate half of the cookie.

She began having some problems a short time after that. For some reason, she tumbled down some stairs. I think that was the first time she’d ever fallen. Maybe she had a heart attack, Robert the veterinarian said.

Saki rested on the couch. She hung on for the better part of an hour We watched her, talked to her, petted her. Then she said goodbye.

She was a good little girl, and she was loved by everyone.

I miss her a lot.

Vol. 4, No. 239
VolJune 24. 2004

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Kid in the Baseball Uniform

This would have been about 43 years ago.

I was 25 and in my early years as a sports copy editor at the local paper. It was a Saturday night in the summer, and a marvelous writer named Bill Bryson had just come into the office after covering a game at the baseball park that wasn’t yet named Sec Taylor Stadium.

Accompanying Bill to the ballpark and later to the paper’s newsroom that night was one of his sons—also named Bill. We called him Billy back then, and on this particular night he was wearing a full baseball uniform. Youth-sized, of course, because he probably was only about 10.

This was the young Billy who would grow up to be world-famous author Bill Bryson.

Go into any Barnes & Noble, any Borders, any Waldenbooks, any bookstore anywhere and you’ll see Bill Bryson all over the place.

A few of us might be lucky enough to have one book published and available at some stores. Bryson has “The Lost Continent,” “Mother Tongue,” “Made In America,” “Notes From a Small Island,” “Down Under” and many, many others sitting on the shelves.

And not just in this country.

When I was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a few years ago, one of Bryson’s books was in a library I visited. My friend, John Ritchie of Portstewart, Northern Ireland, said it was the oldest public library in Belfast.

Bryson gets rave reviews. Always. And he gets awards. Financial awards.

His latest award came yesterday. He won the prestigious 2004 Aventis Prize for popular science books.

BBC News reports that Bryson was presented with a check for 10,000 British pounds “during a gala dinner at the Royal Society in London on Monday.” He said the money would go to charity.

Ten-thousand pounds is a nice piece of change. At today’s rate of exchange, it would be $18,400 in U.S. money.

BBC News said Bryson won the award for writing the book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” “an exploration of science for someone who found school lessons ‘boring and mystifying.’

“The judging panel said the writer had communicated science ‘in an intelligent and highly accessible way.’”

Jonathan Amos of BBC said Bryson “is known for his quirky, engaging style.”

Bryson told BBC that the book had in some ways been just another travelogue.

“What I learned was not all the big stuff like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein—it was that science is about tens of thousands of people that do tiny, tiny things that all accrete into a larger body of knowledge,” he explained. “What I tried to do in the book was celebrate some of these people.”

Bryson, 53, was born in Des Moines, and lives in England now. His late father was a longtime sportswriter in Des Moines. He was a wordsmith. That means the guy could really write. Young Bill’s mother was a feature writer and a brother, Mike, wrote for newspapers and a wire service in Des Moines.

Yes, the kid has come a long way since tagging along with his dad in that baseball uniform.

Some would say he has hit a home run.

But I’d say, “Home run, hell. He’s hit a grand slam.

Just Nail Down the Chairs, Please

Question: How long would it take Bobby Knight to accept the coaching job at Ohio State?

Answer: How long does it take to say, “How soon do we play Indiana?”

It’s a no-brainer, folks. If Knight is offered the Ohio State job, he’ll take it.

I’m sure he’s frothing at the mouth, thinking how good it would feel working for his alma mater and needing 48 victories to sail past North Carolina’s Dean Smith as the winningest Division I basketball coach.

Smith had 879 victories. Knight, who was fired by Indiana and is heading into his fourth season at Texas Tech, has 832 victories.
Ohio State is looking for a new coach after the recent firing of Jim O’Brien. Basketball people insist Knight would listen if Ohio State called.
Whether Ohio State calls is another matter.

He’d be a load for Andy Geiger, the school’s athletic director, to handle. He’s been a load wherever he’s been. He’s embarrassed himself and his employers far too many times to make many athletic directors comfortable.

But he’s not the biggest problem in college basketball, just one of the problems.

Problem or not, I’m sure he’ll be answering all phone calls from Columbus, Ohio, this week. Especially if they’re from the athletic director’s office.

<strong>Harmon’s Disastrous Rose Bowl Game

A reader named Carol sent me a couple of e-mails regarding the 2002 Real Sports show on HBO that featured former Iowa football player Ronnie Harmon.

On the show, a thug named Michael Franzese said that evidence pointed to the belief that Harmon threw the Hawkeyes’ 1986 Rose Bowl game against UCLA.

Harmon, who had lost only one fumble during Iowa’s 10-1 regular season, coughed up the ball four times in the first half against the Bruins, who won the game, 45-28.

On the show, videotape of the game was shown as Franzese was interviewed by correspondent Bernard Goldberg.

Goldberg said Harmon, who admitted he took $50,000 from sports agent Norby Walters and Franzese, denied he threw the Rose Bowl game.

“I can’t honestly say because I was away in prison at the time,” Franzese said. “It doesn’t look good, that’s for sure. And I would certainly have my suspicions.”

“Which are?” Goldberg asked.

“He threw the game,” Franzese answered.

However, Harmon has always denied he threw the game.

When I was at the Chicago Bears’ preseason training camp in 1998, I interviewed Harmon and asked him about the Rose Bowl game. He told me he didn’t fumble intentionally.

Hayden Fry, who was Harmon’s coach, supports him.

In his book, “Hayden Fry—A High-Porch Picnic,” Fry wrote this of the Rose Bowl game:

“Harmon took a lot of heat because he lost four fumbles, all in the first half. That was uncharacteristic of him. I think he fumbled once during the regular season.

“The game film reveals that every fumble he lost was caused by a UCLA defender making a hard hit. They just knocked the ball loose.

“They did a great job of tackling. UCLA made bad things happen to Iowa. Iowa didn’t self-destruct. Ronnie Harmon had a tremendous football career with the Hawkeyes, and I hated to see it end that way. He enjoyed a long, successful career in the NFL, and I always enjoy seeing him when he comes by for a visit.”

[So I told Carol, the e-mailer, what I knew. In a return e-mail, she wrote, “I guess I still have a belief in human nature. I was hoping you would give me something concrete that Ronnie was innocent.”]

Tough Questions to Answer

My friend Gary Snell of Urbandale sent me this interesting e-mail:


“Just wondering if covering women’s wrestling requires one to hang out at the Lumber Yard?

“What’s the believability quotient of this: ‘Honey, I’ll be home a little late tonight. I’m going with Maly to cover a wrestling match.’”

[NOTE: Snell’s message was in reference to me saying in last week’s column that I’d rather attend a women’s wrestling meet than a men’s game in something called the International Basketball League].

‘A Journalist With Ethics?’

The Matier & Ross column in the San Francisco Chronicle had an interesting note. The only strange thing about it was that Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross used it as the very last item in their column. Here it is:

“Unluck of the draw: It was just another day on the job when Debra Saunders, The Chronicle’s conservative columnist, went to the British Embassy’s fancy trade and biotech showcase last week at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

“Like all the guests, she put her card in a big bowl at the sign-in.

“The prize: $20,000 worth of first-class Virgin Airways tickets, complete with beds, massages and open bar.

“And wouldn’t you know it, when the British consul general took to the podium before several hundred guests and pulled the winner from the bowl—it was Saunders.

“’I can’t accept it,” Saunders told the consul general. ‘It’s not ethical.’”

“The British bigwig practically fainted, telling the crowd, ‘A journalist with ethics?’


“The crowd burst into applause, while Saunders—who has never won so much as a Subway sandwich—tried not to burst into tears.”

[NOTE: Someone wondered what Diane Graham would say about that. “I’ll find out whenever she wakes up,” a guy said].

Vol. 4, No. 238
June 16, 2004

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Dewey Beats Truman All Over Again

Maybe you haven’t heard this one yet.

It was DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN all over again.

The Tampa Tribune apologized this week for what it called a “terrible error” after publishing an incorrect editorial after the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in the National Hockey League playoffs.

The newspaper had prepared two editorials—planning to use one if the Lightning won, the other if the Lightning lost. Well, the Lightning won, so you get one guess which editorial made the paper the next morning.

The wrong one.

It was another in a string of embarrassing things that have been happening to newspapers recently.

“We took a puk in the gut this morning when we published the wrong editorial about the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup final on Monday night,” wrote Rosemary Goudreau, the paper’s editorial page editor.

“We apologize to the team and to the fans for our terrible error….”

The Smoking Gun wrote, “In another fabulous newspaper screw-up, a Florida newspaper printed a lead editorial saluting the Tampa Bay Lightning’s valiant—but unsuccessful—bid to beat the Calgary Flames for hockey’s Stanley Cup.

“The Florida newspaper’s mistake came eight months after the New York Post bemoaned a Boston Red Sox victory in the American League Championship Series which, of course, the Yankees actually won….”

However, one of the most horrible newspaper screw-ups of all time came on Nov. 3, 1948 when the Chicago Tribune had its now-famous front page banner headline that had the DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN message the morning after the presidential vote.

The next day, Give ‘Em Hell Harry was photographed holding the Tribune’s front page in the air after he won the election.

More recently, the newspaper business has been infected by people such as Jayson Blair of the New York Times and Jack Kelley of USA Today, who wrote more fiction than fact for their papers.

But that’s not the extent of the problem. Newspapers everywhere are hurting financially. Circulation is down, profits are down, and layoffs are coming at such high-profile papers as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

When layoffs happen at places like that, they also come to smaller papers.

There are problems locally, too. Rob Borsellino recently authored an embarrassing column in the Des Moines Register which showed that he was in over his head in writing about the death of Bill Reichardt.

Borsellino wrote that, as an Iowa football player, Reichardt “was the Big Ten MVP in a year when the school didn’t win a single game – 0-9.”

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Iowa had a 2-5-2 record in 1951. The comment about the 0-9 record was an embarrassment to the family of the late Leonard Raffensperger, who then was Iowa’s coach.

Raffensperger’s son, Gene, is a former Register city editor, sports editor, Eastern Iowa Bureau Chief and senior reporter. Borsellino’s big-time error has been drawing plenty of “well, what-do-you-expect-from-the-guy?” comments at our weekly lunches that attract retired and working reporters and editors.

Frankly, Borsellino wears me out with the stuff he writes, so I’m not in the habit of checking out how many times he uses the word “I” in his columns. I let others worry about that.

But readers tell me that the biggest problem with the column on Reichardt was that neither Borsellino nor the paper has admitted the mistake in print.

Nor did the paper admit another recent error. That came in the sports section when it reprinted a story from the Biloxi, Miss., Sun Herald that said Tim Floyd planned to join Larry Eustachy’s basketball coaching staff at Southern Mississippi as an unpaid assistant.

The Register printed the story three days after the AP carried a story that said Floyd had no intention of joining Eustachy’s staff.


Too bad for the Iowa Cubs and their fans.

If the Cubs were playing at home this weekend and not in Oklahoma City, Sammy Sosa would be trying to hit home runs at Sec Taylor Stadium instead of in Jackson, Tenn.

Sosa has been on the disabled list after hurting his back by – excuse the expression – sneezing. At first, he wanted no part of a minor league rehab assignment, but later agreed to it.

Cubs management told Chicago reporters that they wanted no part of helping the attendance at Oklahoma City, so that’s why the Class AA West Tenn franchise was selected as the site of Sosa’s rehab assignment.

Sosa’s rehab starts Sunday, and he’s expected to return to Chicago next Wednesday. The I-Cubs stay on the road, going from Oklahoma City to Albuquerque.


You may remember “Uncle Bob” Nicholas, who has been corresponding with me in recent weeks about his nephew, 2003 Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler.

The 6-6, 257-pound Chandler (he was listed at 6-7 and 250 as a Hawkeye senior) was trying to make it with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent.

I heard from Uncle Bob again this week. Here’s his e-mail, which was titled “Big Nate Chandler:”

“A quick note from a still proud Uncle Bob.

“Nathan was cut yesterday by the Bills.

“I cried a little with the cry reserved for very sad things, like when you remember your dad and wish he was still around.

“The end of something or a new beginning—I guess it depends on how you look at things.”

[NOTE: Thanks for the update, Uncle Bob, on Big Nate. I observed Big Nate plenty of times last season, and he’s a classy, stand-up young man. I wish him well in whatever he does in the future, whether it’s on the football field or off the field. By the way, Uncle Bob, you brought a tear to my eye with your comment that “I cried a little with the cry reserved for very sad things, like when you remember your dad and wish he was still around.”


For my book, “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines,” I had the pleasure of researching Ronald Reagan’s sportscasting career at Iowa radio stations WHO in Des Moines and WOC in Davenport.

Here’s what I wrote about Reagan, the former president who died last Saturday and is being buried Friday:

Not many play-by-play radio announcers of collegiate football games go on to become president of the United States.

But that was the case with Ronald Reagan, who worked for Iowa stations WOC in Davenport and WHO in Des Moines as a young man.

George F. Davison Jr., a Des Moines attorney and a Sunday newscaster on WHO, said Reagan was hired by WOC in the fall of 1932 to broadcast several Iowa football games from Iowa City. The Minnesota game was among them.

“The pay was $5 a game, plus round-trip bus fare from Davenport,” Reagan said in April, 1974, while speaking at the 50th anniversary of WHO.

Davison said Reagan joined WOC as a staff announcer on Feb. 10, 1933.

“At the time, WOC and WHO were both owned and operated by the Palmer family,” Davison explained. “In May, 1933, the WOC studios in Davenport were closed. Reagan and other WOC employees moved to Des Moines and the WHO facilities. WOC returned to the air in late-1934 as a separate facility.”

After his radio days, Reagan took a screen test in Hollywood in 1937, acted in 53 films and later went into politics. He was elected the nation’s 40th president in 1980 and served two terms.


This is a true story.

A 92-year-old suburban woman was having trouble swallowing her food, so she went to a doctor.

The doctor diagnosed the woman’s problem as achalasia, a disease of the esophagus. But the doctor had good news. He said he could treat the woman successfully.

The woman had been taken to the doctor’s office by her son. The son said he knew the doctor.

“He performed a colonoscopy on me a few years ago,” the son told his mother of a procedure that ranks right up there with a prostate exam in terms of having fun. “He said I had no polyps and that I didn’t need to have another colonoscopy for 10 years.”

Then there was a pause.

“I hope those doctors wash their hands after they do a colonoscopy and before they look inside somebody’s throat,” the son told his mother.
The 92-year-old woman said, “Yes, but they do wear rubber gloves for those exams these days, you know.”

No wonder that guy raves about his mother’s great sense of humor all the time.


Don’t look for me to attend any of the games played in that goofy International Basketball League, if and when it comes to town. If I’m looking for off-beat sports silliness, I’ll stick with women’s wrestling.


Al Schallau, the former Iowan who now lives in California, was in Des Moines a while back.

One of the things he did was attend an Iowa Cubs game at Sec Taylor Stadium. Jeff Lantz, the I-Cubs’ media relations guy, is Schallau’s nephew.

Jeff’s mother (my sister Jean) told me that I was going to get the VIP treatment,” Schallau wrote me in an e-mail. “Jeff took me to my seat in the owner’s box, and then came back two minutes later with a baseball and glove, and said, ‘By the way, you are throwing out the first pitch tonight.’

“So I went out to the mound fearful of impending disaster. But I decided to throw the ball a bit high so it would make it to the plate. I did not want one of those pitches that bounce 20 feet in front of home plate and then roll up there.

“I threw a fairly high pitch. The catcher had to come out of his crouch, but he caught it about neck high. I was quite relieved.”

Vol. 4, No. 237
June 10, 2004

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

There Was Only One Bill Reichardt

It was a Saturday morning in 2002 and Bill Reichardt was on a roll.

“Have I ever told you that I was highest illegally paid player in the history of Iowa football?” Reichardt asked me.

“I’ve heard you mention that story,” I said. “But tell it to me again.”

So Reichardt did just that as he and I sat in a small office near the clothing store in the Shops at Roosevelt that he formerly owned.

I had made an appointment with Reichardt while researching my book, “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines,” which was published last August by Sports Publishing L.L.C.

I knew Reichardt, who lettered as an Iowa fullback in 1949, 1950 and 1951, would be a fountain of information.

I purposely made him one of my last interviews for the book so I could ask him lots of questions about former Hawkeye coaches and players with whom I had already talked.

He didn’t disappoint me. True to form, Reichardt gave me facts, opinions, seriousness and laughter as he summarized his years as a football player and his years before and after he was in uniform.

How fortunate I was to be able to pick his brain hour after hour that day. Certainly neither Reichardt, who appeared in robust health, nor I had any thought then that he would be dead at 73 of cancer in June, 2004.

Unfortunately, I was too young to see Reichardt play many games at Iowa. I figure I watched the Hawkeyes only two or three times when he was playing one season for coach Eddie Anderson and two for coach Leonard Raffensperger.

So most of the information about Reichardt had to come from the man himself.

He particularly liked telling the story of being Iowa’s highest illegally paid player.

As I explained in “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines,” Reichardt said he cut a deal to play for pay after deciding to attend Iowa instead of Southern California.

Southern California? Why Southern California?

“My mom wanted me to get out of Iowa City,” Reichardt explained.

“I accepted a scholarship to Southern California and was already on the train that was headed there. But just before the train pulled out of town, my dad, Iowa coach Eddie Anderson and Dr. Red Scanlan got on board to talk to me.”

Reichardt said Anderson “had never asked me to go to Iowa—he just assumed I’d go there.” But people interested in convincing Reichardt he should be a Hawkeye swung into action once they knew Reichardt was on the train bound for California.

“Dr. Scanlan was head of an Iowa booster club and was our family doctor,” Reichardt said. “He said, ‘Here’s what we can do for you,’ and offered me $200 a month for four years—a lot of money in those days—plus a job when I got out of school. I was to pick up the $200 in cash at his office on the first of every month.

“Anderson didn’t hear what Dr. Scanlan told me about the money, but
I got off the train and decided to attend Iowa. When I was in school, my room, board, books and tuition were paid, and so were my fraternity dues.”

Although Reichardt was one of the best players to wear an Iowa uniform, he never performed for a Hawkeye team that had a winning record.

He was named the Big Ten’s most valuable player in 1951, even though Iowa didn’t win a conference game.

“I maybe should be in the Guinness Book of World Records,” Reichardt told me while reflecting on his career. “I may be the only athlete in intercollegiate sports, male or female, who was named the most valuable player on a team that didn’t win a conference game.”

Iowa’s only victories in a 2-5-2 season in 1951 were over Kansas State and Pittsburgh. The Hawkeyes tied Minnesota and Notre Dame. They lost Big Ten games to Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin.

By the way, what happened in 1951 was horribly misstated by Rob Borsellino in today’s Des Moines Register. In a sloppy job of reporting, Borsellino wrote that Reichardt “was the Big Ten MVP in a year when the school didn’t win a single game – 0-9.”

Borsellino didn’t bother checking Iowa’s record books and didn’t bother asking anyone before writing that. Now I guess I wonder about the accuracy of some of the other things he writes.

Saying that Iowa was 0-9 in 1951 was an injustice to the late Leonard
Raffensperger, who coached the Hawkeyes that season, and to his son, Gene, a longtime veteran of the Register’s newsroom.

Among the jobs handled by Gene Raffensperger at the newspaper were city editor, sports editor, Eastern Iowa Bureau Chief in Davenport and senior reporter. He now is retired and lives in West Des Moines.

Reichardt told me he had an emotional start to his Hawkeye career.

Iowa’s first opponent in his first season of 1949 was UCLA. It was Anderson’s final year as the Hawkeyes’ coach.

“My fraternity roommate was George Constantine of Fort Dodge, who was one of the most delightful guys I ever knew in my life,” Reichardt told me for the book. “On the Friday night before the UCLA game, he went home to Fort Dodge to get some stuff for our room and was killed in an automobile crash.

“I was horribly devastated. I went down to St. Mary’s Church and sat there all night lighting candles. Eddie Anderson was a devout Catholic who went to church nearly every day. At 6 a.m. Saturday, he walked into the church and saw me praying.

“He thought I was praying for the game. I was so excited to be on the team, but I was exhausted before the game. In the locker room, Anderson said in front of the whole squad, ‘Carideo [assistant coach Frank Carideo], who are you going to put in there at fullback?’ Carideo said, ‘We’re going to put in [Gerald] Nordman.’

“Carideo, don’t you know Nordman can’t remember the plays?’ Anderson said.

“’OK, we’ll put [Donald] Riley in there,’ Carideo said.

“’Carideo, what are you trying to do, ruin me?’ Anderson asked.

“’Well, we’ll put that Reichardt in there,’ Carideo said.

“’OK, Reichardt, you’re in there,’ Anderson said.”

Reichardt said he then went to team physician Shorty Paul and said, ‘Shorty, I don’t have my knee taped. I don’t have my ankles taped.”

Reichardt said Paul “tugged on Anderson’s sleeve and said, ‘Dr. Anderson, Reichardt doesn’t have his knee taped.’”

Anderson then said, “You tell Reichardt to put a Band-Aid on his knee.”

Then there was the story Reichardt told me about Lou Ginsberg, a guard on Iowa teams in 1945, 1948, 1949 and 1950.

“Louie died a few years ago,” Reichardt said. “But just before he died, I called him on a Saturday afternoon. I’d heard he was in the hospital, dying of cancer. I said to him, ‘Louie, how are you doing?’ He said, ‘Why would you think of me?’

“I said, ‘Louie, I’ll bet I’ve thought of you once a day for the last 45 years.’ Louie said, ‘Why would you do such a thing?’

“I said, ‘Louie, you were in front of me on every play I ran at Iowa, and you never threw one fucking block, and that’s why I walk with a limp now.’

“Louie laughed and laughed and laughed. He died three or four days later.”

There was only one Bill Reichardt. I’ll miss him.


Nebraska isn’t interested in taking Missouri’s place on Iowa football schedules in 2005 and 2006.

So writes Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald.

Barfknecht wrote, “With Missouri bailing out of the first two games of a four-game football series with Iowa, the Hawkeyes are in need of a non-conference opponent in 2005 and 2006.

“Nebraska has only one non-conference game scheduled so far in those two seasons, and has open dates that match Iowa’s.

“Sound like a natural fit?

“Members of the Iowa athletic staff thought so, and phone calls to Lincoln were made, U of I athletic director Bob Bowlsby said.

“But a deal is unlikely.

“Unfortunately, Nebraska needs a home game in ’05 and so do we,” he said. “So it doesn’t look like this one’s going to work out.”

“However, Bowlsby said he’s interested in putting together games with Nebraska more frequently (in the future)….”


The Register seems determined to hire a woman to replace Dick Doak as its editorial page editor.

But there’s just one problem, and it’s a big one. The people doing the hiring can’t talk anyone into taking the job.

Maura Casey, associate editorial page editor for The Day in New London, Conn., accepted the Des Moines job recently, but then decided she didn’t want it after all.

Casey won a Pulitzer Prize for general reporting in 1988 and is the co-author of a handbook on editorial writing.

Vol. 4, No. 236
June 2, 2004