Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

Baseball Memories

Posted: April 17, 2010 in Family and Friends, Stories

One of the coolest websites in the universe is, and among the billion things you can discover there, you can find play-by-play accounts of games going WAY BACK throughout the wonderful world of baseball history.

I have a favorite.

It was July 19, 1979, and the Big Red Machine in their first year sans Pete Rose came to Busch Stadium to take on the Cardinals. Coincidentally, a snotty-nosed eight-year-old kid from Arkansas rode a bus with his dad for this very same game, his first ever opportunity to take in a big-leagues game in person. And now, thanks to, this snotty-nosed thirty-nine-year-old kid (now from California) can relive every play of that fantastic memory.

* The game opened with Pete Vuckovich getting Dave Collins to ground out to Keith Hernandez (unassisted).
* For Cardinal fans, it went downhill from there. The Reds scored five runs in the first inning, with a veritable hall-of-fame ballot crossing home: Joe Morgan, Ken Griffey, Dave Concepcion, Ray Knight, and Johnny Bench.
* Lou Brock (in his last MLB season) and Garry Templeton were the lonely bright spots for the Redbirds that night, both going 3-5. Brock had three RBIs, and Templeton had a double and a triple.
* In the ninth inning, with the game comfortably in tow, Ray Knight hit his first ever grand slam (and his first homer of that memorable season when he was asked to replace Pete Rose at third base). That ended the slaughter at 16-4.

I don’t know why, but I am fascinated to learn that it was a Thursday night, that 27,228 were in attendance, that the game took two hours and fifty-two minutes, and that Fred Norman got the win.

But I think I know why I am fascinated. It must be that it is the closest thing I have to a time-traveling machine. Of going back to those loge box seats in left field when I was just a kid, of eating a hot dog with my dad, and of that wide-eyed wonder of a moment of which I have never recovered.

Seeing Antwone Fisher

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Stories

As one of the events to celebrate Black History Month, Pepperdine brought the “real” Antwone Fisher to campus last night. Antwone Fisher has always been one of my favorite movies, so it was cool to take my wife, daughter, and mom down to Elkins Auditorium to see a screening of the movie and then hear a short interview with the man behind the movie afterward.

Part of the beauty behind the story for both Jody and I are the memories we have of our years spent as houseparents in a residential group home. Of course, Antwone’s story is a true story. However, it is only uncommon in that there was a movie made about it. And that he beat the odds.

Jody and I know our own Antwone stories, and although it was neat to see the star behind the show last night, it was extra special because it reminded us of our own personal heroes.

Remembering Hank Gathers

Posted: January 31, 2010 in Stories

Growing up, basketball was a massive part of my life. Massive. But anymore, although I’m still a sports fan, I just don’t get into basketball so much. I’ve got a couple of theories as to why this is, but I won’t bore you with them today. I still pause to watch a little hoops from time to time, mostly contained to the occasional Pepperdine game and the annual spectacle of March Madness, but all in all I prefer my basketball to come from the past instead of the present.

In today’s L.A. Times, columnist Bill Plaschke walked me down memory lane in remembering what is possibly the most emotional basketball story ever: the Hank Gathers story.

I loved watching Loyola-Marymount play in the Paul Westhead era. Their high-octane style threw the basketball world for a loop, and I for one enjoyed the trip. In fact, in my brief high school coaching career, my most successful season was inspired by the LMU story. But the Hank Gathers–and by extension, Bo Kimble–story was not about basketball style. It was a story of life and death, of love and respect, and of some left-handed free throws that still touch my heart.

Read Plaschke’s terrific column HERE.

The Human Experience

Posted: January 23, 2010 in Peace, Stories

Jody and I attended Pepperdine’s “REELSTORIES FilmFest” last night. The film festival screened eight short student-produced films, followed by an award-winning, feature-length documentary.

We were pretty pumped to see Ron Howard (Opie Taylor, Richie Cunningham) there as one of the judges of the student films, and we were also excited to see Jody listed in the credits of the first film under Special Thanks!!!

But in the end, the documentary, “The Human Experience,” stole the night for us. It is an amazing film, and for those of you in position to consider arranging for a screening in your community, I don’t think you would be disappointed.

Here is the trailer:

In fact, think of this amazing Christmas piece by Garrison Keillor as just being really, really early for next year. It is a must read, and you can read it HERE.

Morgan as Nelson

Posted: December 29, 2009 in Stories

Some of you are probably familiar with “The Grove” in L.A., a trendy shopping spot that’s good for celebrity sightings. Pepperdine Law alum, Rick Caruso, is the billionaire developer behind “The Grove” and similar shopping venues throughout Southern California. Today, we went to the “Americana at Brand” in Glendale, his latest development.

Between grabbing a bite for lunch and some shopping, we took in a matinee showing of “Invictus,” starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Going to the movies is a rarity for me, and really wanting to see a movie is rarer still. But I wanted to see Invictus. And I am very glad that I did.

Morgan Freeman has got to be one of the best actors of all time. Think of these amazing performances:
* Sergeant Rawlins in “Glory”
* Hoke Colburn in “Driving Miss Daisy”
* Red in “Shawshank Redemption”
* Scrap Iron in “Million Dollar Baby”
* God in “Bruce Almighty” and “Evan Almighty”

All those unbelievable performances make it even more improbable that he could take on a new role that ought to define his career. But I’m telling you that all the other roles were just leading up to this one. Morgan Freeman was born to play Nelson Mandela.

I’m a little slow getting around to seeing Invictus, so I’m not sure how long it will remain on the big screen. But I’d highly recommend that, if you haven’t seen it yet, you ought to make a point of getting there.

So My Reading List is Short Now’Days

Posted: November 11, 2009 in Stories

Well. Of course my reading list is long, but it consists of such page-turners as Evidence Under the Rules: Text, Cases, and Problems. Or maybe, American Criminal Procedure: Cases and Commentary. Just to name a couple.

But this year I committed to keeping a non-law school book by my bedside, and overall, I’ve kept my commitment. But it has been slow going. I have finished two books this semester and have recently begun a third. For those of you without a life, I thought I’d share my itty bitty reading list from this semester.

#1: Just Call Me Mike. This is the autobiography of Mike Farrell, aka B.J. Hunnicutt from M*A*S*H. I received this from the man himself at my summer gig with Public Counsel, and he even autographed it for me! It isn’t going to win Autobiography of the Year or anything, but I’d say that (a) M*A*S*H fans would enjoy it, as would (b) any self-respecting liberal. I’m more the latter (though self-respecting is a stretch), so I’d say I enjoyed it. For anyone outside those two groups, however, you should probably wait for the movie.

#2: The Long Snapper by Jeffrey Marx. I submitted a strong hint to the fam that I’d like this book, and Hillary gave it to me for my birthday. I had fallen in love with Marx’s book, Season of Life, a few years back, and since The Long Snapper featured a dude in his late 30s, I thought this would be a perfect match. I found it enjoyable overall. I guess. But it didn’t hold a candle to Season of Life. Anyway, if you are (a) a sports fan, or (b) an evangelical Christian, I think you’d like it. I’m more the former, so I’m glad I gave it a read. Again, anyone outside these two categories shouldn’t bother.

#3: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I’m just getting started here, but I have high expectations. I read Sedaris’s When You Are Engulfed in Flames over last Christmas break, and it was way funny. This one is off to a great start, too. If you (a) are gay, or (b) enjoy hearing a gay person tell hilarious stories, you can’t go wrong with Sedaris. (I’m the latter if anyone is keeping score at home.) 🙂 If you have the tendency to avoid all things gay, please step away from the bookshelf. However, anyone with a sense of humor ought to enjoy it bunches.

Well, that’s it. A whopping three books on this reading list. Hope you all can keep up.

When Politics Was Sidelined

Posted: October 19, 2009 in Justice, Lessons, Peace, Stories

(Our Constitutional Law prof sent us a couple of current articles related to Race Discrimination, our class topic tomorrow. One of them, the following article from the Sports page of the L.A. Times today, is a good read – a nice story from a sad moment in American history May we learn the lesson.)

WHEN POLITICS WAS SIDELINED: Sixty-five years ago, courage took the field as Manzanar High — the children of Japanese American internees — played its only intersectional athletic event, a football game against Big Pine High.

by Eric Sondheimer

October 19, 2009

When politics, race or religion prevents people from talking or even shaking hands, it’s left to sports competition to save the day.

And so it was, 65 years ago, in the middle of World War II, that courage and what was right came through on a makeshift high school football field in Manzanar, Calif., in the Owens Valley.

Manzanar High School, made up of sons and daughters of Japanese Americans interned by Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, played their first and only interscholastic athletic event, a football game against Big Pine High on Oct. 25, 1944.

“I thought it was a great story and is what prep sports is all about,” said John Dahlem, who has been documenting the history of the CIF Southern Section and persuaded the section to honor Manzanar and Big Pine during a ceremony scheduled for Thursday at a meeting of Southern Section Council representatives in Long Beach.

One of those at the camp was Henry Nakano, who at 13 was forced to leave North Hollywood with his family and arrived at Camp Manzanar, where for three years he lived behind barbed wire with armed guards in watchtowers. A sprawling high school developed, with lots of sports activities between the students. But not until Big Pine agreed to play the football game did the kids get to face opponents outside their camp.

Manzanar used its speed to defeat Big Pine, 33-0, in front of 1,000 fans. They played six-man tackle football.

“There was no taunting, no fighting,” said Nakano, who played in the game and is now 82 and living in Fullerton. “It went off very smoothly.”

“It was one of the sad times in our history,” said Dahlem, who spoke to several participants during his research. “This was one of the bright, shining lights. These kids were locked in full time. They couldn’t leave the camp for three years. All they could do is play each other, and they wanted badly to play another team, but nobody wanted to come and play them.”

That’s why Big Pine, which still competes in the Southern Section, will also be recognized Thursday. A side note: Manzanar was scheduled to play its second interscholastic event, a basketball game against Bishop. But a few hours before Manzanar was to leave for the game, the Bishop school board refused to allow its team to play. That prompted the Bishop student body president, Mickey Duffy, to write a compelling letter of apology to the Manzanar students.

“When we were informed that the game with your basketball team had been canceled, we did our utmost to change the school board’s decision through a petition signed by the entire student body,” Duffy wrote.

“It has been taught to us in school that a democracy and Constitution such as ours guarantees every American equal treatment. Certain members of the board, however, refused to acknowledge our efforts.”

Dahlem said of the letter, “That’s called courage.”

Manzanar and nine other relocation camps were disbanded in 1945. Manzanar was designated a National Historic Site.

Dahlem said the sportsmanship and camaraderie displayed on that day 65 years ago serves as an example of what’s right about high school sports.


Posted: September 30, 2009 in Stories

I made it up to the Perrins for CLS Bible study tonight, in large part to hear Dean Gash speak. He did a great job, as expected. Since I’m scheduled to speak next week, I now know that telling the story of Esther is off limits, as is telling the story of how Dean Gash’s parents met. Two really cool stories stolen in one night!

I especially enjoyed getting to visit a while with Lucy Perrin afterward about novels. Don’t get much of a chance to talk about novels in casebook-heavy law school, but it was a nice break to remember some of the stories that have meant the most to me over the years.

Lucy is much more well-read than I, but it was obvious that we have similar tastes -Anne Tyler and Flannery O’Connor just to name a couple. One of the books I mentioned that she hadn’t heard of was “Silence” by Shusaku Endo, a haunting work of historical fiction set in Japan.

Remembering “Silence” led me to look it up on the internet when I got home, and I was surprised to learn that Martin Scorsese is in the process of making it into a movie to be released either in 2010 or 2011 (starring Daniel Day-Lewis). So if any of you are looking for a good book to read, you’d better track down a copy and read it now before you get swept into the movie craze. I’m sure you know that the book is always better than the movie, but I think it is always better to read the book BEFORE watching the movie, too!

Plus, you’ll get to be all cool when the movie comes out by telling all your friends that you read the book a long time ago.

Check out “Silence” on Wikipedia HERE.


Posted: September 18, 2009 in Stories

Tonight was our family night, and instead of venturing out, we chose to watch the movie, Troy, on FX.

There are many lessons to take from this timeless story, but the one that I found most poignant came inside Achilles’ tent. He had just returned from the vicious murder of Hector, and his love interest said, “Hector killed your cousin, and now you have killed mine. When does it ever end?”

Achilles replied, “It never ends.”

This is the truth behind what Walter Wink calls the “myth of redemptive violence.”