Thursday, July 15, 2004

Buying the Miata Is a Smarter Move

I was minding my own business the other day, mowing the lawn and thinking about what a guy usually thinks about while mowing the lawn—whether he wants his new bright-red Miata convertible with the leather interior to have the optional suspension package or not.

I mean, deciding on a $672 suspension package is not easy.

Suddenly, my neighbor to the south started waving his arms frantically. Robert is his name, and whenever he waves his arms like that I figure he wants to say something about football.

“Are you gonna buy one of those Iowa uniforms?” he shouted even before I shut off the mower.

“Why, are they for sale?” I asked.

“Well, the replica uniforms like those being worn in the ‘throwback’ game are,” Robert said. “They cost $500. I thought you’d know about them. You wrote a book about Iowa football, didn’t you? The uniforms are replicas of those that Nile Kinnick and the rest of the 1939 Ironmen wore. Iowa’s players are going to wear them Sept. 4 when they play the Kent State Golden Flashes.”

“What the hell would I do with an Iowa football uniform from 1939?” I asked. “Wear it while I sit at home watching the Hawkeyes play on TV at Arizona State on Sept. 18?”

Robert didn’t think that was very funny. When it comes to Iowa football, he’s a pretty serious guy. So he went back to trimming his bushes. He does that a lot.

Anyway, when I finished the mowing, I started thinking more about what Robert said about the replica uniforms. I started wondering if maybe I should fork over the $500, plus whatever it costs for the dreaded shipping and handling.

I mean, why shouldn’t I have one of those uniforms? I could wear it, as well as the gold helmet that goes with the outfit, to my grandchildren’s soccer and baseball games. [That would be as good a way as any to get hauled off to the funny farm on a Saturday morning, wouldn’t it?] By the way, none of my grandkids are old enough to play football yet, so wearing the uniform to one of those games is out of the question.

I also had one other idea.

I thought maybe I’d talk to Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the best newspaper sports columnist in the state. I’d ask if maybe he was interested in buying one of those uniforms, too. Then maybe he and I could meet for coffee in, say, Solon on the morning of an Iowa home game and talk about whether we think the Hawkeyes will have their game faces on that day.

Knowing Hlas, though, he’d probably decide to buy the Kent State replica uniform. I can’t say that I’d blame him. The Golden Flashes’ uniforms are cheaper. They cost only $250.

I’m happy to know that the people over at Iowa aren’t stopping with just the replica football uniforms for the Sept. 4 game. They also plan to hand out 40,000 straw hats and fedoras that they think people were wearing to games back then.

I’d have to check with Bob Brooks to find out more about that. He’s one of the last guys alive who are old enough to remember what it was like at an Iowa game in 1939. Well, then there’s Jim Zabel. He might’ve broadcast one of those games.

All I know is that Brooks and Zabel would sure look good in one of those straw hats now.

One other thing about that throwback game. It’s probably good that the Iowa-Minnesota game will be played in Minneapolis in the upcoming season. I’d hate to think what the people at Iowa would decide to do with my old pal Floyd of Rosedale if the Hawkeye-Gopher game would be a throwback version.

Somehow, I don’t think Floyd would take too kindly to being outfitted in a fedora.

[NOTE: This is Ron Maly’s editor. Before Ron moves onto the rest of this column, I thought I should inform any Miata dealers around the country that he’s been dreaming of owning one of those cars for about a dozen years now. But don’t bother sending him any price quotes. I mean, Mike Rickord pays him a ton of money for those columns he writes in the Iowa Sports Connection, but not quite enough to buy a 2004 Miata for cash. One year Ron thought he wanted a Miata, but decided at the last minute to buy a 5-year-old Pontiac at the DOT auction at the Fairgrounds instead. He now has a 15-year-old Toyota and a 6-year-old Honda. Obviously, anything he writes about a 2004 Miata is pure fantasy. Sometimes he’s like a little kid dreaming about getting a new 15-speed bike. What I always say to him is, “Keep dreaming, Ronnie-boy. Maybe you’ll win the lottery.” I wish he would already, then maybe I’d get a raise.]


I see Mike Ditka has decided he doesn’t want to run for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. Ditka is no dummy, even though he may act like one at times. He sang the National Anthem at a Cubs’ game the other day, and the fans—even those who’d been drinking all day at Wrigley Field--could actually understand the words.


It’s about time Drake had another night football game at home, and it’s finally going to happen.

Dave Blank, the Bulldogs’ athletic director, said today that the Sept. 11 home opener against William Penn (another of those 9-11 games!) will be played at 7 p.m., with portable lights provided by the Musco Lighting Co. The game had originally been scheduled for 1 p.m.

It will be Drake’s first home night game since Nov. 11, 1960, when Wichita State was the opponent. The lights at Drake Stadium were removed in August, 1967.
However, Drake Stadium is considered the home of modern night football with the first game ever played under lights in the nation occurring Oct. 6, 1928 when the Bulldogs beat Simpson, 40-6.

“I’m tremendously excited about bringing night football back to Drake for the first time since 1960,” said Drake coach Rob Ash. “I’m anticipating a big crowd….I think some fans will be attending perhaps their first Drake game because of the novelty.

“This game will be, hopefully, a preview of many more night games that we will be able to play when the new Drake Stadium is completed in 2006.”


People have been sending me nice e-mails about Dan Johnson’s Hall of Fame story in the Sunday paper.

Johnson called a week ago to interview me about the sensational game, which was won by Denise Long’s Union-Whitten team over Jeanette Olson’s Everly team, 113-107, in overtime.

I wrote the game story that Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Auditorium after what was undoubtedly the best girls’ title game ever played. Olson scored 76 points and Long 64 in the rousing windup to another outstanding season of six-girl basketball in this state.

Johnson’s story was about Olson—who now is Jeanette Lietz—being named to the paper’s Sports Hall of Fame. Johnson did his usual superb reporting job, and quoted me accurately in his story. It was a pleasure talking with him about a game that turned into an unbelievable offensive explosion.


Mark Robinson, an Iowa fan who is a frequent contributor to this column and to Internet chat boards, e-mailed me to say that he has moved from Iowa City.

“I moved to Southern California this week to take on a new job. Not really a new job, it’s the same thing I’ve been doing for 23 years,” he wrote. “But things sure seem ‘new’ out here.

“I already miss Iowa City and Iowa in general. California continues to amaze and disappoint at the same time. I think I will enjoy it, though.”


Is anybody excited yet that the AAU Junior Olympics are coming to town?

Vol. 4, No. 243
July 15. 2004