Unless you live 100 years or more and have impeccable timing, Friday will be your only experience with the dated palindrome of 11.11.11.
11.11.11 is oddly alluring in its simplicity and symmetry. Some will try to make it mystical.
In all likelihood it will be a day of some reflection and perhaps some foolishness.
Here are a few thoughts and observations, medium well done, on this day so rare.
Veteran’s Day 11.11.11
The NBA began shortly after WWII had ended. It was the fifth and final declared war in our country’s history. Some of the game’s early pioneers served before beginning their NBA careers.
Chuck Cooper enlisted before becoming the first African-American player drafted into the NBA, by Washington in 1950. Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the NBA was drafted into the military after 7 professional games. After serving in the U.S. Army, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton was the first African-American to sign an NBA contract.
David Robinson served in the Navy where he was a 7-foot submariner. Bob Petit, and Elgin Baylor saw military service. There are others of course.
On Veteran’s day, I would make the case that the term “Veteran’s Minimum” should make us think of service to country. “Maximum Contract” should remind us of the ultimate sacrifice.
Let us collectively salute those who have, are, and will defend our country and our rights, rights that include the freedom to have and enjoy the great game of basketball.
The Fabric of Round-ball on 11.11.2011
Given the recent state of the NBA, it is apparently easy for some to equate the cultural significance of basketball as much less than Major League Baseball and the National Football League. Don’t be totally swayed by this myopic view.
I won’t argue the point as loudly if it is narrowed to simply the NBA, MLB and NFL. But when you compare the games themselves for cultural significance, there is little comparison.
While MLB and the NFL can claim large crowds and viewing audiences, neither game is woven into the participatory fabric of both American and International life at the level of basketball.
I see hoops in yards, on garages and even on silos. I see very few goalposts and backstops.
On many days at noon, I can see priests playing a game of “Shirts and Skins” on the Bucks practice court at the Archbishop Cousin’s Center in St. Francis. We all know that is a common occurrence at YMCA’s and Athletic Clubs everywhere. I can’t remember the last time I saw an adult pick-up football game of any style. You see organized softball, but pick-up versions of baseball? Not so much.
Globally, basketball continues to challenge soccer for the top spot when it comes to participation. You can play basketball alone, one-on-one, two-on two, etc., indoors or outdoors. It is simply one of the world’s most popular and accessible sports. It is part of the fabric.
If you want to talk fannies and eyeballs, the NFL and MLB show well. If you want to talk sweat, the game is round-ball.
Bucky Opens Perfect Run 100 Years Ago
Records and schedules aren’t easily available, but presumably some time around November of 1911, the Wisconsin Badger Basketball team opened an incredible period in school history.
Walter “Doc” Meanwell took over the program in 1911 and coached a perfect 15-0 1911-1912 season. The Badgers shared the Big Ten Title with Purdue at 12-0.
Badger Otto Stangel, of Two Rivers, was named the Helms Foundation National Player of the Year. Wisconsin was also awarded the Helms National Championship after holding opponents to a mere 15 points per game.
Meanwell would win seven Big Ten Titles in his first ten seasons in Madison.
The 15-0 record includes a victory over Marquette.
A Rare Event on a Rare Day
On November 11, 1911 the central United States was hit by a once in a lifetime weather event. Many cities recorded both record highs and record lows on the same day.
Springfield, Missouri had a morning high of 80 degrees and a midnight low of 17.
There were dust storms in Oklahoma, nine tornadoes across the region and a blizzard in Ohio.
Janesville, Wisconsin was perhaps the epicenter, suffering an F4 tornado that killed nine and injured 50. The rescue efforts were later hindered by a major snowstorm that night.
By most accounts, that was the most newsworthy 11.11.11 since the first one in year 11.
Have a great 11.11.11, whatever the day may bring.
A "FAN-TASTIC" NIGHT
Those of us privileged to work in professional sports have a lot of fun, all the time.
On Thursday September 8, I had an especially good time with three Bucks fans.
Patricia Patterson, Sherry Opine and Chris Stawski entered and won the "Bucks Experience" package recently offered here on bucks.com. They joined me for a Baseball Broadcast Experience at the Brewers-Philly game at Miller Park.
We arranged to meet at five o'clock near the Robin Yount statue. When I walked up, Sherry was the first to approach me and say hello. Then Patricia and Chris introduced themselves. Everyone, including me, was on time and ready to go.
After a few photos taken by Bucks/NBA photographer Gary Dineen, we headed for the Fox Sports Wisconsin TV production truck outside the right field corner. There, we met members of the TV crew, led by Producer Chris Withers and Director Michael Oddino who also head up our Bucks television coverage.
Chris and Michael were gracious hosts. They showed Sherry, Patricia and Chris how the cameras are controlled, outlined each of their jobs, and gave a great synopsis of how a telecast works. It was fun for me to see the reaction of people on their first trip into a production truck. Believe me, it is impressive, and the people who "make the show" are true professionals.
After leaving the truck, we picked up our credentials and walked through the tunnel at Miller Park on our way to the elevator. We got a unique view of the stadium from the right field corner. When we got to the Brewers Clubhouse, Chris, Patricia and Sherry were all able to get pictures in front of the entrance. The stadium crew was, as always, courteous and helpful.
Next we headed to the Broadcast Booth. On the way, we bumped into Craig Coshun and Telly Hughes. Both took the time to meet our guests and take pictures. Remember, these people are busily preparing for "Brewer's Live" about the time we showed up.
We walked through the Press Box to the TV Booth to say hello to Bill Schroeder and Brian Anderson. These two gentlemen are as engaging off the air as they are on. I'm a big fan of their work as are our sweepstakes winners. I always have to give my former partner Schroeder a few "shots" and he accepts them in the spirit they are given.
Next, it was time for dinner at the NYCE Club high above the left field corner at Miller Park. I had been in the club, but had never enjoyed a meal there. We all agreed that it is a top-notch spread. Amazing really. Each of us thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the conversation.
We headed to our seats in the fourth row just behind the Philadelphia on deck circle. It doesn't get better than that. I enjoyed the smiles and comments from Sherry, Patricia and Chris as we settled into our great vantage points.
I heard someone say "Jim" and turned around to see Wisconsin Basketball Coach Bo Ryan and his wife Kelly. It was nice to quickly catch up with them. Our guests got a kick out of sitting so close to Bo. Chris, a diehard Marquette fan, wondered if he should get a picture of himself and Bo for his Facebook page, but didn't want to deal with heat from his friends.
Chris and I talked about sports. Sherry watched the Brewers and listened to the Packers and still participated in the conversation. Patricia couldn't get enough of the scene, snapping so many pictures she had to buy camera batteries. Both of the ladies know their stuff. I was having a blast talking to all three of them.
The game was very entertaining until the Phillies put up a big 6th inning. Chris had to leave to pick up his daughter, but the ladies and I stayed until the very end. It was one of those nights that you didn't want to end.
Did I mention that in professional sports, every day is a good day but some are just better than others?
I had one of those days last Thursday and made three new friends in the process.
"MY MIND IS SET "
Every August, Beloit College publishes its "Mindset List." It is intended to outline the world as seen by that year's incoming freshmen and "freshwomen." What it does for me is make me smile and wonder what place history has in today's world.
Sometimes progress is a tad disturbing.
So lets look at a few things relating to sports that these kids who have always been expected to wear bike helmets understand.
When it comes to labor issues, their only reference is professional sports. No, Jimmy Hoffa didn't play third base.
To them, LBJ can only be LeBron James.
O.J. Simpson was someone looking for the killer of his wife and her friend before he ended up in jail himself.
Arnold Palmer is a mix of lemonade and iced tea.
Their NBA heroes have been Shaq and Kobe. Michael is some team owner. (Magic and Larry anyone?)
Baseball has always had three divisions and a wild card playoff team.
Thank goodness there are still books, I mean the Internet, so they can consider the past if they so choose. Does the Amazon River still sell books?
And don't forget, Ferris Bueller is old enough to be their father.
Enjoy our upcoming Bucks historical pieces on bucks.com!
"You are Looking Live"
If you were flipping cable channels recently, you may have stumbled upon an incredible example of broadcasting longevity.
NBATV was airing replays of the 1977 and 1979 NBA Finals, while ESPN carried live coverage of the Little League World Series. In every case, Brent Musberger was the lead announcer.
This led me to do a little "googling" and remembering.
Musberger is in his fifth decade in this business, much of it on the national level. Having worked for CBS, ESPN, and ABC, Musberger has handled nearly every top sporting assignment imaginable. He is so entrenched, there is a college drinking game named after him.
For those of us old enough to remember, he was one of the original members of "The NFL Today" on CBS, the grandfather of all football pre-game shows. His famous "You are looking Live" set-up line is a classic.
Musberger is also considered to be the first broadcaster to use the term "March Madness" while calling the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament.
He was the lead NBA voice during the "Golden Age of NBA Basketball" covering the Magic Johnson Larry Bird rivalry and Finals.
So how do you last this long at the national level? Being well rounded is helpful. Musberger worked as a minor league umpire, and a sportswriter at the Chicago American before beginning his storied television career.
On NFL game coverage, he was once partnered with Bart Starr. He introduced the world to Florida State co-ed Jenn Sterger while doing NCAA Football. Sterger would later be linked to another former Packer quarterback, Brett Favre. Musberger's career has an interesting way of coming full circle in many ways.
When he was released by CBS, it took three announcers to fill his role: Jack Buck on Major League Baseball, Greg Gumbel on the NFL, and Jim Nance on NCAA events. Musberger would later replace the great Keith Jackson on ABC's NCAA College Football package.
The only time I've had a chance to visit briefly with Brent came during an NBA All-Star weekend. We happened to be seated near each other on a half-filled shuttle bus to the venue. It was just idle chit-chat, but his persona was very apparent. This man fit the position he held quite well. He was comfortable being Brent Musberger, or should I say "Brent" which suffices.
That, my friends, is a big reason why he has lasted this long, and rebounded often, at the top of a very competitive business.
AboutJim Paschke has been the television Voice of the Bucks since 1986, pairing with Jon McGlocklin during each of those seasons. He's added a new title to his business card -- master of online blogging and video webisodes. He'll be at the games, at the practices, at the shootarounds, on the plane, in the hotels, in the community and everywhere else the Bucks go. Bookmark this page and experience the Bucks in a whole new light. Play Paschketball!
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