Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Earl of Doublin'

Major League baseball player Earl Webb was born on Sept. 17, 1898 in White County, Tennessee. In 1931, he broke a major-league record by hitting 67 doubles in 589 at-bats, averaging one every 8.79 trips to the plate. Today, it is one of the longest-lasting records in major league baseball. It earned him the nickname, Earl of Doublin'.

William Earl Webb was born on a farm in Blue Spring Cove community of White County, less than 10 miles from Sparta. His father worked in the coal mines and when Earl was 6, the family moved to the Ravenscroft community, another seven miles or so from Sparta. Earl’s father not only mined but served as assistant deputy sheriff. He also pitched and played the outfield for the Ravenscroft baseball team and taught singing in the local school. Earl’s mother was the former Helen Victoria Palmer. She is listed in the 1920 Census as “matron” in a hotel. (she ran the coal company’s boardinghouse.) Before baseball, Earl was a coal miner. He claimed to have begun working in the mines at the age of 11, for 5 cents an hour.

Webb married Blanche Matthews of Fentress County, Tennessee at the end of 1920. (They had five children.) His father took him aside, suggesting that coal mining was a rough life and he should pursue the possibilities of playing baseball professionally.

Earl played right field. He was a left-handed batted who threw with his right hand. His Major League debut was on August 13, 1925 for the New York Giants. His last appearance was on October 1, 1933 with the Chicago White Sox. Webb played on five MLB teams between 1925 and 1933: New York Giants (1925), Chicago Cubs (1927-1928), Boston Red Sox (1930–1932), Detroit Tigers (1932–1933) and Chicago White Sox (1933).

His career batting average was .306 with 56 home runs. Webb finished second in the league in extra base hits in 1931 with 84. His .333 batting average that year was seventh-highest in the American League. He finished sixth in the 1931 American League Most Valuable Player voting.

After baseball, Webb returned to the coal mines, taking a position with the Consolidated Coal Company of Jenkins, Kentucky, both working as a foreman in the mines and managing the company baseball team. He managed teams in Kentucky and West Virginia into his 50's. Earl Webb died of coronary thrombosis on the night of May 23, 1965. He and Blanche are buried at Taylor Place Cemetery in Fentress,County, Tennessee.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sports Announcers I Grew Up With: Marv Albert

There is a special place in my heart for the radio and TV sports announcers I grew up with. From ABC's Wide World of Sports to roller derby and wrestling, and everything in between, sports was a big part of my life growing up. At my house, we watched on TV whatever sport was 'in season,' especially on Saturday's. If there was a sports event on radio, we listened to it. I was very blessed to grow up with many now-legendary voices and characters.

Marv Albert was known as the voice of the New York Knicks from 1967 to 2004 (getting his start by being a ball boy for the Knicks before getting his first break on New York radio by sportscaster Marty Glickman). He has called the play-by-play of six Super Bowls, NBA Finals, seven Stanley Cup Finals and Wimbledon Tennis Championships and worked in two World Series (1986 and 1988). Albert is currently lead announcer for NBA games and NCAA tournament action works for Turner Sports and CBS Sports.

He was born Marvin Philip Aufrichtig on June 12, 1941 to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, where he went to Abraham Lincoln High School. While Albert grew up, members of his family owned a grocery store on Brighton Beach Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets known as Aufrichtig's. He then attended Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications from 1960 through 1963. He then graduated from New York University in 1965.

Albert is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and is commonly referred to as "the voice of basketball." As of this writing, Albert handles basketball duties for TNT and CBS.

Albert appeared on David Letterman's late night talk shows for NBC and CBS a total of 126 times. Each time, he brought with him a group of clips featuring sports bloopers and outstanding plays, which he had narrated and dubbed the "Albert Achievement Awards." He was placed as number 14 on David J. Halberstam's list of Top 50 All Time Network Television Sports Announcers on Yahoo! Sports.

Sports Announcers I Grew Up With: Pat Summerall

There is a special place in my heart for the radio and TV sports announcers I grew up with. From ABC's Wide World of Sports to roller derby and wrestling, and everything in between, sports was a big part of my life growing up. At my house, we watched on TV whatever sport was 'in season,' especially on Saturday's. If there was a sports event on radio, we listened to it. I was very blessed to grow up with many now-legendary voices and characters.

Pat Summerall was born on May 10, 1930 at Lake City, Florida. He died in Dallas Texas on April 16, 2013 at the age of 82. Summerall was a football star at Lake City. His position was place kicker. He played college football at Arkansas and was drafted into the NFL during the 4th round in 1952. He spent one year with the Detroit Lions, four years with the Chicago Cardinals and three years with the New York Giants. He was later named to the Florda High School Athletic Association's All-Century Team.

After retiring from football, Summerall joined CBS as a color commentator. He also worked for Fox and ESPN. In addition to football, he also announced major golf and tennis events. All total, he announced 16 Super Bowls on TV (more than any other announcer), 26 Masters Tournaments and 21 US Opens. He also contributed to 10 Super Bowl broadcasts on CBS Radio as a pregame host or analyst.

Sports Announcers I Grew Up With: Dick Engberg

There is a special place in my heart for the radio and TV sports announcers I grew up with. From ABC's Wide World of Sports to roller derby and wrestling, and everything in between, sports was a big part of my life growing up. At my house, we watched on TV whatever sport was 'in season,' especially on Saturday's. If there was a sports event on radio, we listened to it. I was very blessed to grow up with many now- legendary voices and characters.

Enberg was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan. Following high school, he played college baseball and earned a bachelor's degree in 1957 at Central Michigan University. Enberg then went on to graduate school at Indiana University, where he earned master's and doctorate degrees inhealth sciences. While at Indiana, Enberg voiced the first radio broadcast of the Little 500, the bicycle racing event popularized in the film Breaking Away. He was also the play-by-play announcer for Indiana Hoosiers football and basketball games, and in 1961 called his first NCAA basketball tournament event, the championship game between Cincinnati and Ohio State.

Dick Enberg joined NBC Sports in 1975 and for the next 25 years, broadcast sporting events for the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the U.S. Open golf championship, college football, college basketball, the Wimbledon and French Open tennis tournaments, heavyweight boxing, Breeders' Cup and other horse racing events and the Olympic Games. He later worked various sporting events for CBS and ESPN2. He currently does play-by-play for the San Diego Padres.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Life can be hard.


Crops fail...

Sickness comes...

Friends will fail you...

Wives betray you...

Husband's will turn to drink...

That awful sound that comes from your child's stomach when you put him to bed hungry at night.


Losing your mama...

Burying your child...

Without God, who can bear it?

Life breaks your heart.

Life will drive you to your knees and then you have finally gotten somewhere, because then the only way there is for you to go is UP!

We're not stuck here crying out in the night...

Crawling through the darkness...

Broken and alone...

Separated from the ones we love forever...

No sir, we are not, because we have the promise of Heaven.

(Bro. Jake Owens/Dolly Parton's Coat Of Many Colors)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Deaf Taxi Driver

George A. Guinn was a deaf taxi driver, who transported people between Albany and Monticello. Born on August 4, 1868, he was the grandson of Reuben Bayless Wood, who was murdered by Champ Ferguson during the civil war.

(From Albany's New Era newspaper...)
"Mr. George A, Gwinn, successful farmer and influential citizen of near town, died in a Nashville hospital, Sunday, June 16, where he had been following a stroke of paralysis at his home Friday. His death removes one of the county's most prominent citizens. He was seventy-two years of age, and is survived by his wife, formerly Mrs. Ida Mae Armstrong, and one brother, Mr. R. W. Gwinn of Danville. Funeral services were held at the Baptist church here Tuesday morning at 10:00 a. m., and were conducted by Rev. G. H. Lawrence through Sewell Funeral Home. The burial was in the Albany cemetery following the services at the church."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy National Pfeffernüesse Day!

Pfeffernüesse Cookies are one of the oldest and most popular holiday cookie in Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands. Known as Pepernoten in Dutch (plural), Pebernødder in Danish and Pepper Nuts in English, Pfeffernüesse cookies are so beloved in many European Countries that there is a National Pfeffernüesse Day, held each year on December 23rd honor of these little cookies.

Pfeffernüesse are great for dunking in hot mulled cider, amug of hot tea, hot chocolate or a steaming mug of Gluhwein.

Pfeffernüsse Cookies are spicy, small, round cookies, made with butter, molasses, and lots of spices. Pfeffernüsse are hard when they come out of the oven but soften with time....if they last that long! Pfeffernüesse cookies are a variant of the German Lebkuchen or gingerbread. Pfeffernüesse are a special treat, left for children by St. Nicholas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

"Sid Scott, What A Man"

Laying Sid to rest yesterday was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but the service was exceptionally great, especially the words of Sid the Kid and Courtney. Loved it. Sid's death is the end of an era for me. He was the last of a group of a group of broadcasters I grew up with at WANY radio. It is an era that I did not want to see come to an end. Sid was such a huge part of my life and life is not going to ever be the same again. I am not looking for sympathy, but it has been a rough year, with the loss of my aunt Pat on June 3rd, followed a week later by the death of my sister. Sid was in the hospital during the entire month of July. He kept bouncing back, as he had done years before during a previous episode with sickness, but God's will is not always what we wish to happen. Sid came from Lillydale, Tennessee. His family were neighbors to my great grandfather Hige Boles and they were sharecroppers. Both families migrated to Clinton County when Dale Hollow Lake was created. Sid first met my dad during the middle school years and the rest is history. Both shared passions for basketball, baseball and music. But, Sid's biggest love out of those three things was basketball. He would stand on a crate and peer into the small window in the door and watch high school basketball games because he did not have enough money to pay the price of admission. Years later, he would become a local basketball legend. The great Kenneth Conner said not he but Sid was the greatest basketball player to ever play for Clinton County. He got into broadcasting, which led to him becoming the 'Voice of the Bulldogs.' There will never be another like him. For me, walking into Lindle Castle Gymnasium will never be the same. If I was not helping him broadcast the games, which I did for several years before he retired the first time, I was sitting beside he and Sid the Kid at court side. I was drawn to him and I loved him. Yesterday, the preacher said Sid is probably already trying to organize a basketball game in heaven. On the inside I had to laugh, because I knew that Sid's punchline to that statement would have been, "There are no basketball games in heaven, because there are no referee's in heaven." My first real memory of Sid is dad asking him to touch his nose to his chin (one of his early claimed of fame's). I thought, "What a freak!" It was wasn't too many years later that my opinion of him changed to, "What a man!"

Saturday, December 19, 2015

In Memory of a Legend

I started in radio in the spring of 1976 and was blessed to work with or be close to many legendary on air personalities and radio executives around the area. People like my grandfather, Cecil Speck, my uncle, Wallace Allred, my dad, Darrell Speck, Welby and Mae Hoover, Elmer Goodman, Ray Mullinix, Eddie Neal, Bob Glover and Eddie Paul Coop. And then, after a couple of decades I started having to write most of their obituaries. Writing obits was part of my job, but what had been routine became difficult when I found myself writing them for the very people I had worked with and idolized. Today, I wrote one more and it was hardest of all. Hard because Sid Scott was like a second father to me. Hard because his passing marks the end of an era that I was not ready to shut the door on.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


This photograph has lots of memories for me. All through my childhood, up into my earlier adult years living at home, it hung on the wall facing our kitchen table. Times, life in general, were simpler back then. Sometimes I long for those days to return.

Grace was photographed by Eric Enstrom st his studio in Bovey, Minnesota. Most sources note the year as 1918, though Enstrom's daughter Rhoda, born in 1917, claimed to remember being present when the photograph was taken, and it may have been taken closer to 1920. The man in the photograph, Charles Wilden, was a Swedish immigrant who lived in nearby Grand Rapids, earning a meager living as a peddler and living in a sod house. While the photograph conveys a sense of piety, the book shown in the photo is a dictionary, not the Bible.

What happened to Wilden after the photograph is unclear. In 1926 he was paid $5 by Enstrom in return for waiving his rights to the photograph. He disappeared thereafter. After the photograph became popular, Enstrom attempted to track Wilden down but was unsuccessful. Various family members and local historians have also attempted to determine what became of Wilden but have not been able to locate definitive evidence.

Enstrom first licensed the photograph to Augsburg Fortress in 1930. In the 1940's, his daughter colorized the photo by hand. This version was used in prints produced in the 1940s onward and became the more widespread and popularly known version of the photo.

Enstrom earned a modest sum from the photograph for the remainder of his life. He died in 1968.

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...