Monthly Archives: March 2014

Cartoonist’s Delight

Barrel-shaped and strong as an ox, Steve Bilko was right out of the comic strips. When Bilko broke in with the St. Louis Cardinals, he was tagged “Humphrey” after the mountainous blacksmith and sparring partner of boxer Joe Palooka in the popular comic strip of the 1940s and 1950s. After slugging 37 homers his first […]

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Remembering Uncle Bob

“Death steals everything except our stories,” Jim Harrison writes in the poem, Larson’s Holstein Bull. I’m reminded of this every time someone I know dies. On Sunday, March 23, my sister’s husband of 50 years, Robert Earl Keith, died. He was 72. Everybody in our family called him Uncle Bob because it fit him to […]

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Past Gives Meaning to the Present

Why should anybody care about a player, Steve Bilko, who has been dead since 1978 and a minor-league Los Angeles Angels team that played 58 years ago? Brothers Joe and Jack Hannah along with Joe’s son, Lon, make up the Sons of the San Joaquin, honored eight times as the best traditional singing group by […]

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It’s Bilko Time!

Long before Rambo, there was Bilko. The names sound alike. They suggest raw power and brute strength. And they conjure up images of action and heroism. Rambo, of course, was a fictional character. Bilko’s name was used in a popular ‘50s TV show and later in a movie, Sgt. Bilko, but Steve Bilko, the baseball […]

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‘Something Very, Very Special’

Tony Freitas was throwing a baseball for a living seven years before Bob Thorpe was born.  When they hooked up in Stockton, California, in 1953, the 45-year-old Freitas had more than 5,000 innings under his belt. The 18-year-old Thorpe was fresh out of San Diego High School and being touted as a future superstar. In […]

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The Slim Virginian

Dave Hillman was the ace of the Los Angeles Angels pitching staff in 1956 with 21 wins but so little was written about him that most people didn’t know his real name was Darius Dutton. Dave was a nickname given to Hillman by his boyhood hero, John S. Blackwell, in their hometown of Dungannon, tucked […]

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