Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Update on Amelia Earhart disappearance


Yesterday was the 115th anniversary of the birth of the great American aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart.  She was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas.  Amelia disappeared on July 2. 1937 over the South Pacific while en route to uninhabited Howland Island..  She was accompanied on the flight by her navigator, Fred Noonan.  The duo set forth from Papua, New Guinea in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe along an equatorial route.  They never reached their destination and the wreckage of their twin-engine Electra 10E aircraft is yet to be found.

I am intrigued by the mystery surrounding Amelia's disappearance and I have been following the the most recent attempt to determine her fate.  Earhart was the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and I've long admired her spunk and her adventuresome spirit.  That is why I have written about her in two previous postings on this site: "The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart"  (January 29, 2011) and  "Amelia Earhart and reflections on courage" (February 24, 2011).

On July 3, 2012, a group of scientists set off on a $2.2 million expedition to a remote island in the Pacific.  The group, known as The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), travelled 2,897 km (1,800 miles) by sea from Honolulu, Hawaii to the island of Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati.  Their mission was to find some clues to Amelia's fate and to uncover the  wreckage of her plane in the waters surrounding the island.

The expedition, however, was called off yesterday and the research team returned to Hawaii without locating the missing plane.  It was cut short five days early.  Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's founder, said that the searchers had faced "nightmare terrain" and that there had been some accidents with equipment.  Gillespie's wife, Tighar president Pat Thrasher, was quoted in a BBC report as saying, "It's not like an Indiana Jones flick where you go through a door and there it is.  It's not like that - it's never like that."

Although the outcome of the expedition was disappointing, the scientists were able to discover some useful information.  They collected video and sonar data which they were expected to begin analyzing during their voyage back to Hawaii.  The research team remains undaunted.  In fact, according to the BBC, they are planning a return trip next year to Nikurmaroro, the remote island where they believe Earhart and Noonan survived for a period.

While many experts subscribe to the theory that Amelia's plane ran out of fuel due to a navigational error, .  Tighar believes that she and Noonan may have been castaways for awhile.   During previous TIGHAR expeditions to Nikmaroro, bottles and other artifacts have been discovered that may have belonged to Earhart and Noonan, including a jar of what is thought to be anti-freckle cream.  Joe Cermiglia, a TIGHAR researcher, has said, "It's well documented that Amelia had freckles and disliked having them."

Broken shards and many glass containers have been recovered from the archaeological site on the southeast end  Nikumoraro.  The partial skeleton of a castaway was found there in 1940, but the bones and artifacts found in 1940, have been lost.  The evidence strongly points to the presence of castaways on the island.  Yet it still has not been proven conclusively that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  The 75-year-old mystery continues.  Stay tuned!


EDITOR'S NOTE  In August, it was reported that TIGHAR researchers may have found Amelia Earhart's plane debris. Due to technical difficulties, they were unable to see high definition images until late July.  When they looked at the high definition images, they discovered what appears to be a wheel and other landing gear off the coast of Nikurmaroro Island.  Click on the link below to watch videos and read ABC news stories about the latest discovery.

- Joanne

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whitey Ford: His six consecutive strikeouts

FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2012

On this day, 56 years ago, pitching great Whitey Ford tied an American League record with six consecutive strikeouts.  So why don't we go back in time and enjoy that great moment in baseball history.  I'll be happy to set the stage for you.

It was July 20, 1956 at Yankee Stadium.  On that Friday night, there were 16,103 fans in attendance to watch the Bronx Bombers play host to the Kansas City Athletics.  The Yankees boasted a stellar line-up with an infield that consisted of Bill Skowron at first base, Billy Martin at second base, Andy Carey at third and Gil McDougald at shortstop.  Elston Howard was the catcher.  Future Yankee manager Hank Bauer played right field while 24-year-old Mickey Mantle was the centre fielder and Bob Cerv was in left.  The team was managed by the legendary Casey Stengel.

Whitey Ford's string of six strikeouts began in the top of the second inning when Kansas City catcher Joe Ginsberg was called out on strikes.  In the top half of the third inning, Ford struck out three batters in succession: the A's shortstop, Joe De Maestri; their second baseman, Clete Boyer and their pitcher, Jack McMahan.  He added two more consecutive strikeouts in the top of the fourth inning:: third baseman Hector Lopez  and centre fielder Al Pilarcik.  His streak came to an end when he hit the next batter, left fielder Enos Slaughter, with a pitch.

Ford finished the game with eight strikeouts in a 6-2 Yankee victory over the Athletics.  Mickey Mantle had the game-winning RBI.  The time of that memorable game was 2 hours and 20 minutes.  It is also worth noting that Whitey Ford struck out six consecutive batters for the second time in his career on June 2, 1958 at Yankee Stadium.  He shut out the visiting Chicago White Sox by a score of 3-0.

Born Edward Charles Ford in New York City on October 21, 1928, Whitey is a native of the Astoria neighbourhood of Queens and he graduated from Aviation High School in nearby Sunnyside.  His father, James Ford, worked as a bartender.

The Yankees signed Ford as an amateur free agent in 1947.  While in the minor leagues, he was nicknamed "Whitey" because of his light blond hair.  On July 1, 1950, at the age of 21, the young left-hander played his first game in the major leagues.  He made quite an impression during his rookie year, winning his first nine decisions before being defeated in relief.  Sporting News voted him the American League Rookie of the Year.

Despite his auspicious debut, Whitey Ford chose to put his baseball career on hold in order to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  After missing the 1951 and 1952 seasons, he rejoined the New York Yankees in 1953.  During his rookie season, Whitey had worn the number 19 on his uniform.  Upon his return to the Yanks in 1953, he began wearing the number 16 (my favourite number).  Ford wore that number as a player from 1953 until 1967 and later as a coach.  His number was retired by the New York Yankees in 1974, the same year that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Whitey Ford played his entire 16-year career with the Yankees (my number again).  His statistics are truly outstanding.  He won 236 games and lost 106.  In addition, he had an impressive 10 victories in World Series play.  His career earned run average was 2.75.  He accumulated 45 shutouts and struck out 1,956 batters.

During his illustrious career, the southpaw had two twenty game seasons.  He recorded 25 wins and four losses in 1961, the year he won the Cy Young Award.  In 1963, he had 24 wins and seven losses.  When the Yanks won the World Series in 1961, Ford was named World Series MVP.  He was a member of six World Series championship teams (1950, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962).

After going 17-6 in 1964 and 16-13 in 1965, Whitey Ford developed health problems.  During the next two seasons, his appearances on the mound became infrequent and he only recorded four wins.  In August of 1966, plagued with circulatory problems in his left shoulder, Ford underwent surgery.  He appeared in his last major league game on May 21, 1967.  He only lasted one inning in his final start and retired at the end of the 1967 season.

During the 1966 season, while still an active player, Whitey became a coach for the New York Yankees.  For a year after his retirement, he remained with Yankee organization as a coach.  He left to engage in business ventures, but returned as a pitching coach in 1974.  He later took a position as a spring training coach with the team.

Whitey Ford pitched in 498 games.  He had a 690 win percentage, the highest of any major league pitcher in modern baseball history with at least 300 career decisions.  He was also a ten-time All-Star..


* Whitey Ford disliked pitching at Fenway Park in Boston..  He seldom did.

* Whitey Ford acquired the nickname "Chairman of the Board" because he was able to remain calm and in control during intense situations. His other nickname, Slick, came about because of a stern lecture manager Casey Stengel gave to his players for drinking too much and not applying themselves.  Stegel said that some of the guys were getting "whisky slick."  After Stengel's lecture, the other players began referring to Whitey and Mickey Mantle as "Slick."  The title of Whitey Fords's 1987 biography with New York sports writer Phil Pepe is Slick: My Life In and Around Baseball.

* There is one huge blemish on Whitey Ford's spectacular career.  He has admitted to cheating, especially during the latter part of his career, to give himself an edge when his skills were declining.  He was caught doctoring baseballs with the assistance of his catcher who made sure the ball landed in the dirt so that the evidence was concealed.  Here's how Ford rationalized his illicit activities.  "I didn't begin cheating until late in my career, when I needed something to help me survive.  I didn't cheat when I won the 25 games in 1961.  I don't want anybody to get any ideas and take my Cy Young Award away.  And I didn't cheat in 1963 when I won 24 games.  Well, maybe a little."

* Ford specialized in the curve.  He was a high percentage winner, a "money pitcher," who excelled at winning when the stakes were high.  He came up big when he need to.  That is why he holds World Series records for victories (10), consecutive shutout innings (33) and strikeouts (94).  That's why Mickey Mantle proclaimed, "If the World Series was on the line and I could pick one pitcher to pitch the game, I'd choose Whitey Ford every time."

*  Whitey married Joan Foran on April 14, 1951 in Long Island City, Queens, New York.  His entire New York Yankees team showed up after playing an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Joan and Whitey had three children: Sally Ann, Eddie and Tommy.  Son Eddie works as a baseball scout.  Tom Ford, who was a resident of Long Island, died in August of 1999 at the age of  44.  At the time of Tommy's death, Jason Zillo, a spokesman for the New York Yankees, said that Whitey's son had died of a heart condition.

*  In 2000, Whitey Ford missed attending the New York Yankees' spring training camp for the first time in 49 years.  He acknowledged that he had received radiation treatment for cancer, but refused to identify the type of cancer for which he had been treated.

* Ford opened a sports bar and restaurant in 2002.  It is located next to Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, New York and it was called Whitey Ford's Cafe.  Whitey Ford's Cafe shut down after less than a year.


In April of 1977, Whitey Ford was a member of the broadcast team for the very first game in Toronto Blue Jays history.

- Joanne

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Joanne's Journal: July 12, 2012


Edition No. 8


There are as many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness.
- Charles Baudelaire, French poet and critic 
From What is Romanticism?


On this day, 50 years ago, The Rolling Stones played their first gig.  The performance took place on July 12, 1962 at London's Marquee Jazz Club.  On that night, the band consisted of Mick Jagger on vocals, guitarists Keith Richards and Brian Jones and bassist Dick Taylor.  Some fans say that Tony Chapman, The Rolling Stones' early drummer, played the drums  In his 2102 memoir, however, Keith Richards claims that it was Mick Avery, a friend.  Half a century later, only Jagger and Richards remain of the original group.

Brian Jones developed a severe drug abuse problem and left The Rolling Stones in June of 1969.  He was replaced by Mick Taylor.  Less than a month later, Jones drowned in his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm and died at Hartfield, Sussex, England.  He was 27 years old at the time of his death.

Dick Taylor, the original bass guitarist. left the group to become an art student.  He formed a new band, The Pretty Things, in September of 1963.  Dick is now 69 years old and resides on the Isle of Wight, England.  As for Tony Chapman, he formed his own group called The Preachers which included Peter Frampton.  He later played drums in The Herd, also with Frampton, who was only 16 when he joined the group in 1966.  Mick Avery went on to become the drummer for The Kinks.


TO: Canadian TV handyman and contractor Mike Holmes for leading the project to rebuild the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground in Toronto's High Park.  The playground was destroyed by arsonists in March.  Take a bow, Mike.  Kudos to the many volunteers who have been helping him.

TO: The Conservative government of Canada for a 20 per cent cut to the Youth Justice Services Funding Program.  This community-based program diverts young people from the court system by offering much-needed services to youths on probation.  It seems, however, that the Harper government would rather have these youths commit more serious crimes down the line.  Well, at least Stephen Harper will be able to fill all those new prisons on which he's spent so much of our tax dollars.  Why can't conservatives understand that it is more important to be preventive and pro-active than to spend even more money later on.  Repeat after me, conservatives everywhere: AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE.  There's a lot of truth in that old adage.

TO:  Mitt Romney, the man who will be the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  In a speech to the NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States, Romney referred to President Obama's health care initiative as "Obamacare."  He knows quite well that "Obamacare" is a pejorative term.  It is absolutely derogatory and it did not go over well with the audience.  Not surprisingly, they booed him because most African-Americans support the president's health care plan.

The correct term for Obama's health care bill is the Affordable Care Act.  Here are two facts for Mr. Romney and his fellow Republicans to consider:

1.  In 2011, provisions in the Affordable Care Act helped approximately 86 million Americans access free preventive services such as cancer screenings, flu shots and wellness exams.  People have been assisted and money has been saved.  Repeat after me, conservatives everywhere: AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE.

2.  President Obama's health care bill is very similar to the one introduced by a certain Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.


What kind of case can not be carried?


A staircase



Well, the All-Star break is over and the rest of the season begins.  The Toronto Blue Jays have a record of 43-43 at the break.. They are .500 as usual.  I realize they lost three of their starting pitchers to injuries in a short period.  The Blue Jays, however, would not be in this predicament if they had acquired a decent starting picture before the season began.  They insisted that their starting pitching was good enough.  That was the party line.  Yet before the season started, there were far too many questions surrounding the rotation.  The state of  Dustin McGowan's health was uncertain and Kyle Drabek was a gamble.  The hard-luck McGowan has been on the disabled list all season and suffers from right shoulder inflammation.  He is scheduled to visit a doctor in Dallas to determine whether he has a blood clot.  As for Drabek, he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 19th.  Until his injury, his performance had improved, but he was still inconsistent.  The 24-year-old was far from outstanding and could go no further than six innings.

Although the Blue Jays could not have foreseen losing three starters, but they should have expected at least one of them to go down.  The rotation seemed very weak if anything happened to Ricky Romero or Branden Morrow.  Unfortunately, it did happen to Morrow.  General Manager Alex Anthopoulos's failure to acquire a proven starting picture has cost the Blue Jays dearly.  Don't get me wrong.  A.A. has acquired a good number of fine prospects and he has improved the team's scouting.  The Blue Jays have the potential for a great future.  It's about time, however, that Alex focused on the present.  His team needs to contend as soon as possible.  It's been almost 19 years since the Blue Jays have appeared in post season play.  The players and the fans are tired of .500.  As Jose Bautista said, he's not getting any younger.  Make your move, Alex!!!

Here's another reason the Jays have had me scratching my head this season.  Why did Adam Lind bat fourth in the batting order for so long?  He hits poorly against left-handed pitchers.  A clean-up hitter should be able to hit well against both righties and lefties.

Most pleasant surprises of the season so far:

* Catcher Jeff Mathis:   His hitting has been much better than expected.

* The play of Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion.

Biggest disappointments of the season so far.

The performance of ace Ricky Romero has to be the biggest disappointment so far.  He did not step up when the team needed him most.  Reliever Francisco Cordero's play has been another big disappointment this year.


Many people in Toronto and across Canada, including myself, are disappointed that Steve Nash did not choose to sign with the Raptors and play for a team in his home country.  He would have been the toast of the town in T.O.  It's too bad and it's also a Catch-22.  If the Raptors had appeared to be contenders, Nash might have joined them.  If, however, Nash had become a Raptor, he might have led them to the playoffs.

- Joanne

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicago, Navy Pier and Harry Caray's Bar & Grill

SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2012

Here I am in Chicago.  Yesterday I went to Navy Pier and I would like to share some pictures that I took there and at other places in the city.  As a baseball fan, I just had to have supper at Harry Caray's.  On my arrival here on Friday, the Windy City was engulfed in one of the most severe heat waves I have ever experienced in my life.  It was one gigantic furnace (The current record-breaking heat wave in North America and the flooding in Russia are just more proof of  man-made climate change).

On Friday evening, I went to a baseball game at U.S. Cellular Field (What a terrible corportate name!).  Unfortunately, my beloved Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Chicago White Sox by a score of 4-2.  On Saturday, I went to the museum area.  It was a long ride and traffic was slow due to a Tim McGraw concert at Soldier Field.

I have to say that Chicago really is my kind of town.  It is an amazingly well-planned city and its waterfront is magnificent.  It's a people city too.  There is no problem getting around Chicago without a car.  All the city's major attractions are accessible by public transportation.  An employee of the Chicago Transit Authority informed me that the system is open 24 hours a day. 

Shedd Aquarium

Inside Harry's restaurant

Famous statue of Harry with pictures of celebrities posing beside it 

- Joanne