July 2012

“I believe it’s jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.”

Eighteen years ago I got into this “runner craze” that was taking over.  I shouldn’t say it was taking over because in actuality I was probably in the minority choosing running as my sport instead of football or baseball or basketball.  I like to say that running was only for the cool kids back then.  I mean, I run and how cool am I?  I had one famous runner to look up to (Steve Prefontaine) instead of having to worry about remembering all of those other big sport athletes’ names like Michael Bird of the Boston Bulls or Brett Montana of the famous Green Bay 49ers. 

As I grew older and got out of school, I noticed that all of the people who used to make fun of us cool runner kids were actually starting to run themselves (I was definitely ahead of my time with this sport and knew it would take off one day).  Guys who used to play football were now running 30 or 40 miles a week.  Lazy people from my school are now running in the same road races as I do!  It got me thinking…what if there was a race that was not only competitive, but also enjoyable for all of those former football, baseball and basketball players who have now taken up running?  A race where Joe Fan and Lazy Larry could get a workout in, while at the same time experience something that not many people get to experience (and I’m not talking about Runner’s Nirvana).

My quest to create such a race came full circle on July 15, 2012 when Cleveland Indians Charities, Cleveland Browns Foundation and the Cavaliers Youth Fund joined forces for the first time ever and put on the Inaugural FANtastic 4-Miler!  The race, presented by the Cleveland Clinic Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute, took runners into Cleveland Browns Stadium and around the football field, into the “Q” Arena across the Cavs court area and finished on the warning track of Progressive Field.  All proceeds were split between the three sports teams’ charitable foundations.

The race sold out at 1,000 runners.  We saw the overall male and female runners finish in 20:41 (Mike Capriolo) and 23:22 (Kelly Green).  The overall winners received an experience package from each team and the top 3 winners in each age group received either a pair of Indians, Browns or Cavs tickets. 

The race drew the likes of former Indians pitcher and Sports Time Ohio pregame host, Jason Stanford, and his fellow STO co-workers Dave Chudowsky and Katie Witham.  All three competed in the race, while Browns alumni Reggie Langhorne and Cavs alumni Campy Russell cheered on the runners from the sidelines.

 Of course, for the non-runners out there, the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital stepped up and sponsored a post-race family walk around the warning track.  It was a nice way for the runners and their families to cool down, burn some calories and share their race stories while walking around Progressive Field!

Congratulations to all the participated and thank you  to all of the sponsors who helped make this race a success!

Grape Sno-Cone

I played little league baseball from pre-Kindergarten up until 6th grade.  I say pre-Kindergarten because my brother started tee ball in Kindergarten, and because I wanted to do everything he did, the coaches let me start a year early.  I was on the Claridon Eagles and then moved up to the Claridon Cardinals playing 2nd base and right field.  Was I good?  Let’s just say I made a wise choice running track and cross-country when I got into 7th grade.  But that’s neither here nor there.

When I played ball we had the best fields money could buy.  Unfortunately, there was no money, so we mostly played on fields where the dirt had some random grass patches making it a tiny obstacle course if you hit anything more than a single.  Our coaches were fathers of other players on the team who were gracious enough to donate their time for a season.  If we won a game, we headed up to the local Huntsburg Dari Whip for a Sno-Cone, which the coaches paid for.  Even if we lost a game, we would still get a Sno-Cone so it was win-win.  The comedian, Brian Regan, put it perfectly when he said he played just for the grape Sno-Cone, because win or lose, he got his favorite Sno-Cone, which was grape…but sometimes he went with his equally favorite, cherry.  Needless to say, we didn’t have much back then except baseball and the old Dari-Whip.

I would suspect that’s how most little league teams have it. You rough it and you enjoy every minute of it and all the while, you dream of making it to the big leagues one day.  Sometimes you get so lucky that you and your team get to come to a Cleveland Indians game and even better…get to watch the Indians take batting practice.  Thanks to Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Indians, one team got to do just that! 

Members of the Monarchs youth baseball team were set up with tickets and an Indians batting practice viewing the other day.  Unfortunately, batting practice was cancelled, but that didn’t stop Indians pitchers from putting on a show for the Monarchs.  Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Tony Sipp and Joe Smith swung over to meet the team and, without warning, told all the kids to get on the field and start sprinting across the outfield.  The kids, with excited and shocked looks on their faces, did as they were toldand the Indians pitchers sprinted across the field with them

Once warmed up, Masterson had the kids line up by the batter’s box and pretend to swing a bat at one of his ghost pitches.  Each kid got a swing in and then were told to run the bases right after.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying that our grounds crew wasn’t too excited to have to re-rake the field, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that no one could argue against!

Masterson, Smith, Tomlin and Sipp got the team together for a group photo and then invited them into the dugout for a couple of autographs.  It was a spur of the moment activity that will stay with these kids forever.  Now when they go back to their own sandlots, out playing in right field and their mind starts to wander, the vision of one day becoming a major league baseball player will be a little more clear to them.  Although, I’m sure the thought of a grape Sno-Cone will still be at the top of their mind!

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