Baseball’s ‘Beauty’: The colorful history of an unlikely Hall of Famer
Dave Bancroft, 80, listened to the caller and heard the stunning good news. “Oh, my God,” Bancroft responded. “That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Dave Bancroft, 80, listened to the caller and heard the stunning good news. “Oh, my God,” Bancroft responded. “That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Author’s note: From the book “Tasty Morsels: An Anthology of Short-Short Fiction”
Our lives changed the day before when my health sank like a brick in a kiddie pool.
At the nursing home, we weaved our way through endless corridors and countless rooms, most blaring TVs of black-and-white movies or ranting cable newscasts.
The village features a lake no one sees clearly unless you eat at the window of the Green Lantern.
Five years ago, a drunken driver raced through a stop sign and slammed the Anderson’s family car. The crash killed his parents and brother and left Anderson paralyzed from the chest down. On Tuesday, he won election to Wisconsin’s state assembly.
When Mary Lou tells anyone about their upcoming 75th wedding anniversary, she says with a smile, the person is always stunned. “They ask me: ‘To the same man?!”
In pig wrestling, four-person teams have one minute to grab a 200-pound pig in the muddy ring and place it atop a barrel.
At lunch, many grads recounted working in tobacco fields in Stoughton as teens. They each had vivid recollections of the Depression. Martin Johnson of Watertown, the 10th of 11 children born to his family, remembered a frequent meal and said, “I still hate vegetable soup.”
A typical daily training regimen at age 9: “Mom would pick me up from school (in Verona) 15 minutes early. We’d drive to Milwaukee from 3 to 4:30 p.m. I’d warm up and get on the ice and skate from 5 to 7 p.m., then wind down until 7:30. We’d be home at 9 or 9:15 p.m.”
What they saw astonished them: More than 500 students stood outside in a semi-circle and grieved quietly in peace. Dan and Melinda stood back at a respectful distance. “All you could hear,” Melinda said, “were the birds chirping.”
Gigi produced an average of nearly one gallon per hour throughout 2015. One prominent ag publication, Harvest, gushed about this “once a generation” cow and described her as having “limitless talent.”
This was K9 Boris’ first public appearance at a community event since his original handler, 33-year-old Ryan Copeland, died while on duty Nov. 23.
Many residents brought their dogs out; others held American flags. Some saluted. Most had watery eyes as the procession moved along slowly, stopping momentarily at the Municipal Center, where the police department is located.
“We could offer mounds of superlatives about her work ethic and her strong opinions she shared – mostly in a respectful way – and her unfailing spirit. The best part about Cora was her unique ‘Cora-ness.'”
On her time between books: “I was teaching. I got divorced (in 2001). I was a single parent raising my kid alone. Look out in the world, find a woman who is teaching, is single, raising a kid and writing books and book reviews. When you find that person, I want to drink her blood.”
The 158-year-old fair features an unlikely star: chocolate-covered bacon on a stick. There’s also fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a stick and 38 other bizarre ‘on-a-stick’ items
“Population: 485” has had such effect on readers that some, he admits reluctantly, have considered moving to a small town. “I always say, ‘Hang on there, Sparky. Small towns can be very difficult places.'”
“I live in California and I run into a lot of movie people. I’ve met some heavy-duty producers and I ask, ‘What did you guy use before ‘Bad to the Bone’?”
Two people compete; only one will win. So a crazy radio contest is out of control after nearly eight weeks. Or is it? “I can see how if we’re caught just gazing, we look like the most miserable people in the world,” one said.
“It’s hard to set goals because I feel so lucky for all the stuff that’s happened so far,” she admits. “I’d feel selfish and guilty to ask for more.”
“I’m a lucky guy. I never take it for granted. I love nothing more than getting on a tour bus and doing 45 shows. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than that – well, maybe one thing.”
“(My career) really started with this miniscule foundation and built up to a loyal foundation. It’s not a career based on TV or big performances. I like that. It’s in the style of the old troubadour.”
Allee Willis wrote, among many hits, the theme to “Friends.” “So many people come up to me and do that hideous clap from the first line. The producers wanted a very Monkees-sounding song, which it is.” The show debuted three weeks after she wrote it. “I’m totally grateful. That show exploded. I went along for the ride.”
“When you think you’ve gone too far, just come a little farther because we’re still down the road.”
At 13, the Mississippi native joined bluegrass legend Lester Flatt’s band. From 1979-85, he played in Johnny Cash’s group. There are few musicians who have performed with more legends. And Marty Stuart knows he’s experiencing history.
“I was a wallflower growing up. When we went national, there was a l too much attention. I basically just hung out in my hotel room and tried to figure out happiness. I wasn’t getting it from that attention. I was 22 at the time. I was really insecure.”
I don’t give up on anybody. I want communicate with audiences. I never give up and say, ‘It’s one of those nights.
On hearing his song “Nobody Knows Me” was played at a wedding: “It is a cheating song! But if somebody expresses an interest in one of my songs, I don’t try explaining to them why they shouldn’t be interested. We shouldn’t judge the emotional state of newlyweds.”
“There are so many young musicians who are sort of carrying his spirit and really speaking out against war. But you know how John was. If he was here, he would be doing it. He couldn’t stop doing it.”
“We gave him a four-foot long beer can opener. We also gave him one of the tiny keys to the city as well,” former Madison mayor Paul Soglin said. “It seemed to be a fun thing to do.”
“On the last day of school, (Cooper’s song ‘School’s Out’) is the National Anthem. On that day, it’s the most popular song on the planet. (laughs) I become Francis Scott Key for one day.”
“Let’s define drag. Drag isn’t necessarily a man doing female attire. It can be a female doing male attire. When you get even deeper, you’re born naked, and the rest is drag. Everything is drag.”
Les Paul played his first pro gig on guitar and harmonica under the name Red Hot Red. “Years before that, workers were digging a sewer near our house and, when they broke for lunch, one of them played harmonica. I jumped off the porch because I loved the sound. The guitar came about later.”
“I was 18 years old and supporting 50 workers with my career. That’s not normal. I never met my father. I did not know who he was until I was 30 and he died before I knew his name. There’s a lot of pain and loneliness about being famous and young and in a hotel room by yourself.”
Comic Mitch Hedberg on writing: “Every moment of the day,” he says, “is a potential joke.”
From the moment Prince arrives on stage, he owns it. He’s all swagger and confidence as if he knows, beyond all doubt, that the crowd is blessed when he’s ready to groove.
Bono said he loved “MMMBop.” Do you remember when he said that? Hanson singer Taylor Hanson beamed. “Yes, yes! He said it on TV (in England) in 2004 or 2005. What a huge compliment!”
Alexander McCall Smith: “I try to write about the decency of Africa. I fully realize the accusations of being a utopian novelist. I’m happy to be that.”
Add James Hetfield’s bullhorn vocals, which roar above the noise as if he drank motor oil, and Metallica presents hard rock’s hardest-rocking show.
“This is a job. That means if you wake up some day and don’t feel like coming, it doesn’t matter. You have to be here.”
Exploring the underbelly of TV fame might have provided plenty of material. But Diamond’s caught between reruns and reality.
Buffett’s nine-song, 50-minute show on a tiny stage in suburban Madison’s Greenway Station promoted the new Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant, a chain co-owned by Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings.
An acclaimed Wisconsin comedy film was bought by Miramax and never received a theatrical release. What happened with the hilarious ‘Chump Change’?
ICP wears clown makeup and presents a PG-13 horror show. In a genre where street credibility is gold, ICP is a bottom feeder.
“Of course, you’re going to get the hits. That’s why I’m coming there,” Green says, practically shouting. “The man upstairs says if I don’t sing, He’s made a mistake concerning Rev. Green.”
Tina Sauerhammer’s remarkable young life from doctor to Miss Wisconsin.
“Our success shocked us,” Speech said. “You have to remember in the early ’90s hip-hop groups weren’t selling millions of records. It was a blur. It was scary for us. But it was incredible. I still keep a lot of it in my heart.”
“Most people who bought ‘Copperhead Road’ (his 1988 best-selling album) were disposed Lynyrd Skynyrd fans. There were people who understood why I wrote ‘Copperhead Road’ and ‘Johnny Come Lately.’ I was trying to lend a voice to people other than myself. That’s why I do what I do.”
“I played a couple of amphitheaters where I saw Aerosmith and Jimmy Buffett play,” Chesney said, still sounding like a star-struck fan. “I was one of the guys out there partying on the grass. I look out now and think, ‘There’s a lot of me out there.’ “
Abrahamson says she never faced gender discrimination at IU – until graduation approached. The school’s dean suggested she leave the state to begin her career. “I was quite surprised,” she says. “He didn’t think the Law School could place me except, perhaps, as a law librarian in a law firm.”
On the first ‘Survivor’ finale, seen by 58 million people, Hawk savaged another contestant: “I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you with no ill regrets.”
“I suppose the best actors are like children. And to the extent that you can sustain and maintain that childlike part of your personality is probably the best part of acting.”
“There’s a huge difference between writing a good book and having good fortune. There are lots of good books published every year that don’t have one-tenth of the good fortune that I’ve had with (‘Empire Falls’).” Russo laughs. “I’ve written a few of them myself. So I know.”
This wasn’t a social or political rally. DeGeneres’ private life may be public, but it’s not part of her stand-up act. That’s unfortunate.
A guitarist extraordinaire with an undeniable savory sound, John Mayer will become The Next Big Thing. At just age 24, Mayer – a triple threat of singer, songwriter and guitarist – has enjoyed rising popularity in recent months.
“Do you know what we call our league? The Madison Outta Sight Bowling League.”
When the million-dollar winner Candace Porter finally speaks, it is in a whisper to her sister-in-law. “This is unreal,” Porter says. Her sister-in-law, whose face is stoplight red from joyful screaming, responds, “This is real.”
Through big-hair rock, grunge, rap and hip-hop, she’s maintained more than two dozen dance radio-friendly pop singles with a few ballads tossed in to give her longevity comparable only to Whitney and Madonna.
“Funny is funny. I’m a student of comedy. I really am. I love it. I will argue until the day I die that comedy is harder to do and more worthwhile when done properly – which means making the audience, not a critic, laugh – than drama. Do 200 people in a theater fall out of their seats laughing? That’s the verdict.”
“Email can be more obsessive more quickly and romance can progress faster,” Hamilton said. “But the basic elements are not that different from letters.”
“I’ve worked around the clock forever,” says Holland, a veterinarian for decades. Her medical residency will not be finished until she is 59, but she plans to practice medicine, she says confidently, “for 15 to 20 years after it.”
Where Spears excels, though, is in star power. It’s as if she is each personality of Spice Girl rolled into one. She’s a sex kitten one song (her navel should be insured) and a doe-eyed teen the next.
“You think we’d have inspirational running photos up, but he doesn’t like that,” says Rod DeHaven’s wife Shelli. “Even this story, he’s uncertain about it. He’s low key. But he likes the blood and guts of running.”
Oh, how to describe the screams? Try taking a hammer and whacking your big toe. Do it again.
Since 1986, Allen Hendricks has been the Picasso of Parmesan. As part of his one-person food marketing business, he has carved more than 400 cheese pieces, ranging from Mount Rushmore to Mickey Mouse.
“It’s a scary thought when I think, ‘What if I submitted to the Onion now? Could I get in?’ And I’m the editor,” Robert Siegel said. “We don’t even follow up on the good submissions we get.”
“(Quentin Tarantino) says he grew up around Black people so that makes it OK to use the ‘N’ word. That’s ludicrous. He leads young white America to believe it’s OK to use that word.”
In 1980, Elton John, then 33, returned to the Madison dining room and lounge where Eleanor Pearson played. “He gave me a nice kiss and asked if he could sit down,” Pearson says. “He started reminiscing about the pubs of England.”
For two hours, Shania Twain charmed the crowd, playing the part of everyone’s big sister rather than a video vixen. Despite wearing black leather pants and a tiny vest and sporting humongous hair, she never used the stage to tease anyone. This was a family show.
Then porn star Candi arrives. She flashes her surgically enhanced breasts so many times, it’s as if this is her nervous tick.
“I used to ask, `Would you like to hear something?’ But that puts people on the spot. Now I say, `Let me know if you want to hear something.’ ”
While two judges watch, three bubbly aspirants, in Bucky costumes, follow a four-minute tape telling them to: Shower, dry off, watch TV, laugh, cry, be scared, greet a youngster, race to the Kohl Center and react to a last-second shot that goes … in!
We talk about handling bad news. Reacting to good news, we agree, requires no preparation.
Alan Jackson is country music’s most reliable commodity, a bona fide superstar who seems as down-to-earth as a dairy farmer.
About the hit “One Headlight,” Jakob Dylan explains: “I tend to write with a lot of metaphors and images, so people take them literally. The song’s meaning is all in the first verse. It’s about the death of ideas.”
“We were told they were busing in from Cleveland. That’s why when I got the first phone call from the police, I didn’t believe it.”
“A lot of people think contemporary art is smarter than you – I think people come in and feel intimidated. That’s the beauty of this piece. It’s a piece of bubble gum, for goodness sake. It’s just a juvenile material to make a pretty sophisticated piece. There’s the tension between the sophomoric and transcendent.”
Later I called back: How about a game of H-O-R-S-E at my hoop instead? I expected nothing … until Globetrotter management approved it! The game was set.
“When I was in accounting, I’d call a friend up on the phone and do these comedy routines. Eventually, I decided I would give comedy a try for a year or two. Warner Bros. liked my tapes. They said, ‘We’ll record you at your nightclub gig.’ I said, ‘Well, we have a problem there because I’ve never played a nightclub.'”
“I’m not a motivational speaker, I’m a comedian,” he says. “If someone comes to my show and feels inspired by that, so be it. But I’m just up there to entertain. Anything other than that is a bonus.”
“When we first sent out tapes and got no response, we really became very cynical of the industry,” says Matthews. “Through negotiations, we wanted to be safe from too much exploitation – while at the same exploiting the record company.”
“The criticism I used to get when I played smaller places was that I was yelling too much and the music was too big. The music I was raised on is ’70s and ’80s rock anthem-type songs and musicians. I always write a big chorus, I can’t help it.”
“When we started out, there were no rock groups per se. There were rock stars like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and the Everly Brothers. No groups played rock. We didn’t look at the Four Lads and think, ‘We want to be like them.'”
Best of all, Johnny Cash’s voice still commands the same attention as an approaching train. And Cash isn’t content to be a museum relic in concert, either.
“I have a charmed life. I put on those Ray-Bans and I’m the `Gangster of Love.’ Then I take ’em off and I look like Steve Miller’s lawyer.”
He’s a natural showman who tore the stuffing out of sedate country concerts. And he’s sold more albums than any act other than the Beatles.
There’s an uneasy relationship between k.d. lang and her fame. She calls “Constant Craving” “my least favorite song (on the album `Ingenue’) so I was probably aware of its commercial potential.”
“I really thought I might have missed the big wave of country,” McGraw said. “I knew there was nothing else I could do for a living, so I had to keep trying.”
Known as the Fendermen, Humphrey and Sundquist recorded “Mule Skinner Blues” – a record with a rockabilly beat and yodel-like “hee-hee-haw-haw” chorus – in the basement of a Middleton home 35 years ago.
“I was out reading the pumps. There were two other boys there who were former employees and had been fired,” Lowry said. “I was trying to keep them off the premises.” A scuffle – two-on-one – followed and punches were thrown. Then Elvis arrived at the Madison gas station.
“We’re athletes and even though we’re portrayed as ‘ice princesses,’ we’re very competitive. If we go through years of training and we get a little disappointed, we should be allowed to show this emotion instead of sitting there with a smile.”
When it ended – with a topless Love swinging wildly at a concertgoer on stage – one felt particularly unclean. Afterward, she had our pity, having given us an unsettling glimpse at her tortured soul during the 90-minute show.
When stage light exposes the area, the mosh pit resembles a swarm of bees and, at its worst, rugby in an elevator. It’s like a big whirlpool in the middle of a lake.
An array of performers and speakers have appeared at the facility, dubbed “the cow barn”: Harry Truman, Marian Anderson, R.E.M., Billy Joel, Theodore Roosevelt, Bonnie Raitt and many more.
Vig: “(Kurt Cobain) would pick up the guitar and play something. I’d ask, `What’s that?’ It would be this gorgeous new thing he was writing. He said, `It’s just some pop (expletive),’ and he’d put the guitar down. Nirvana came from such a punk background. He felt he had to scream, but he liked to sing quietly.”
“The audience didn’t look at the band, but they felt the grooves. (James) Brown was the attraction. He’d do the dances, the splits and all that,” Stubblefield says. “But I always knew the band was the hottest thing.”
“I can see how it seems like a total about-face,” says Jeff Tweedy, 26. “But we feel like we’ve been doing the same thing all along. Even before we recorded ‘No Depression,’ we had tried out pedal steel players for the band and we had been doing acoustic shows.”
There’s an amazing statistic: you have 11 Grammy nominations and no wins. John Hiatt responds, “Isn’t that wild? I quit going.”
“It’s good that people are listening to so-called alternative music,” the Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie said. “But it also means there’s more competition. When we came out, it was ourselves, R.E.M. and a few other bands.”
Merle squeezed every ounce of sentiment from his well-worn repertoire, featuring classic, tender ballads and rave-ups.
“It’s weird, but I love it,” said Farley, after he greeted well-wishers. “A lot of guys from (‘SNL’) will say, ‘Man, was I harassed by those people.’ I think, ‘Why are you in this business?’ It comes with the territory.”
Marky appeared to have no qualms about entertaining an all-ages crowd at an alcohol-free central Illinois nightspot. He seemed at ease with his teenybopper status
“I haven’t compromised through the years. I stayed with very good music and never did a piece of junk just to make a buck,” Bennett says. “If you’re stimulated, you feel genuine about the fact you gave it an honest shot and that you didn’t sell out. You didn’t take a dive just to make money.”
“They went bananas last night,” Peter Frampton says of a Providence, R.I., theater show. “It’s a story that seems to be repeating itself every night. It’s a nice surprise, and it never ceases to amaze me.”
Joan Rivers, her tiny and freakishly obedient dog Spike, and Illinois’ preppie first lady stood silently in the dimly lit room where Lincoln’s tomb sits. History never blended such an unusual trio to mourn Abe.
A musical hodge-podge, the concert was more spectacle than respectable. Warrant’s two albums (“Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” and “Cherry Pie”), both big sellers, have ruled the party rock market. Rarely is a group so boneheaded and proud of it.
Mitch Ryder’s voice contains much of the fire found in vintage rock ‘n’ roll. Ryder’s torrid two sets at Liberty Stage Sunday night made it easy to understand how a performer like Bruce Springsteen draws inspiration from him.
“(‘Sara Smile’) holds up as much, if not more, than any song we’ve done. We have never stopped playing it live since it was released (in 1976).”
“‘Hairspray’ would be the perfect movie to show on airline flights,” Waters says. “There’s music and dancing, no sex or violence. They said they couldn’t show it because Divine, who played a loving mother, is in it. I know if John Candy had played the role, they would have shown it.”
“I’ve always tried to look for a clever angle in a punch line rather than just do shock comedy and bathroom material. To shock was never a goal.”
Alison Krauss develops from prodigy to superstar in 1991 to 2000. These five profiles follow her across that decade.
Patsy Montana became the first female country singer to sell more than 1 million records, thanks to her hit, “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” in 1936.
“When I was a teenager, I loathed country music. It was all sung by old men, who in reality were probably in their 30s but they seemed old, singing about drinking whiskey and cheating on their wives. It didn’t compute. Country music is very adult. Most of all, I think you need to be grown up to really understand what they’re singing about.”
Reflecting on his wildly troubled teen days, country superstar Randy Travis pauses and says matter-of-factly: “I don’t know why I’m living.”
In search of something significant from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” a reporter asked if show star Will Smith, 21, wants to teach middle America how to rap. Smith was befuddled. “Teach middle America to rap?” Smith wondered while laughing. “No, no, no, no.”
“I’d sing gospel on Sunday in church and blues on Monday to Saturday,” Koko Taylor says. At age 18, she moved to Chicago and hung out with blues performers in various clubs. “I kept sitting in with local bands and doing a tune here and there – for no money. That went on until (blues legend) Willie Dixon heard me sing.”
“Maybe (Grace Slick) was trying to protect her ’60s image by saying, `I was led astray by the others.’ Well, Grace was the one who brought `Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’ to the band’s attention,” Starship’s Mickey Thomas said. “She obviously felt the need to blame others for any creative shortcomings that occurred.”
Tiny Tim’s 1968 novelty hit “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” earned him a curious fame that still holds. Standing with his ukulele in downtown Springfield at lunch hour Tuesday, he turned more heads than a car accident.
While Eddie Snow rehearsed “Bring Your Love Back Home to Me” at Sun Records, a visitor walked up to him. It was Elvis Presley.
“Bubble gum (music) was happening then. Listen to the soundtrack of ‘Good Morning, Vietnam,’ there are a few bubble gum songs on there. They were even enjoyed by the troops. Bubble gum? It doesn’t bother me. That’s what we were, thank you very much.”
“He has, by far, the best baseball card collection in the world.”
Some rumors are too good to be true. On Thursday evening (1987), one spread that John Cougar Mellencamp and his band with Lou Reed and John Prine would play the Bluebird, a small Bloomington club. Cover charge: $1. Then it happened.
“Sometimes, I’ll write a song and say this is not even honest, and I won’t put it on the record – like ‘Jack and Diane.’ My only No. 1 record, and I didn’t want to put it on the album, because I didn’t think it was honest.”
Osbourne spoke with sincerity, but his voice and quizzical face make an almost comical impression. There’s a bit too much “Spinal Tap” in the real Ozzy. He’s not a caricature, but he’s a foggy hard rocker.
Fans cheered thunderously, an incredible wave of sudden attention that’s so forceful you expect the person of their affection to levitate. Instead, Michael Jordan flashed a golden smile.