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  • Ellis J. Veech

    Born: December 25, 1905, Decatur, Illinois
    Died: March 31, 1960, St. Louis, MO, age 54,---d. lung cancer at Jewish Hospital (St. Louis, MO)

    St. Louis sports writer;
    Macon, Il, 4-year old, (April 15, 1910 census)
    Platt, IL, 14-year old, (January 12, 1920 census)
    Platt, IL, salesman, auto salesman(April 14, 1930 census)
    St. Clair, IL, sports editor, newspaper, (April 2, 1940 census)(listed Ellis J Veeck)
    Attended University of Illinois (Urbana/Champaign, IL) until 1928
    Champaign News-Gazette, 1928 - 1934
    East St. Louis Journal, 1934 -1936, sports editor, 1936 - ?

    Father: Roy B., born Illinois, 1885?; Mother: Callie A., born Illinois, 1888?; Wife: Florence Dowling; Son: Ellis J., Jr., born Illinois, 1937?;

    Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, Illinois), Thursday, March 31, 1960, pp. 18.

    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-26-2013, 10:42 AM.


    • Henry Francis Boynton

      Born: June 9, 1849, NYC
      Died: November 29, 1912, Chicago, IL, age 63

      Chicago sports editor;
      Sangamon, IL, 11-year old, (July 16, 1860 census)
      Chicago, IL, author / reporter, (June 1, 1880 census)
      Chicago, IL, time-keeper, (June 8, 1900 census)
      Chicago, IL, time-keeper, Post Office, (April 15, 1910 census)
      Arrived in Chicago, 1858
      Graduated Eastman's National College (Poughkeepsie, NY), 1866
      Rockland County Journal (NY)
      Chicago Inter-Ocean, sports editor, 1881 -
      Chicago Times
      Chicago Daily News
      Chicago Tribune
      Began writing baseball as early as 1869.

      Father: Henry F. Bueno, born Spain around 1828; Mother: Clara, born Vermont around 1829; Wife: Florence Bertha Myers, born Fulton, IL, August 18, 1856, Illinois, died June 1, 1934; Son: George S. born Illinois, December, 1886; Daughter: Alice L., August, 1888; Daughter: Ruth E., born Illinois, January, 1894;

      -----------------------Appeared in 1889 book---------------------------------Chicago Daily Tribune obituary; November 30, 1912, pp. 8.
      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-25-2013, 08:12 AM.


      • George Nathan Cantor

        Born: June 14, 1941, New Haven, CT
        Died: August 13, 2010, West Bloomfield, MI, age 69,---d. prostate cancer

        Detroit sports writer;
        Graduated Wayne State University (Detroit, MI), 1962
        Detroit Free Press, 1963 - 1977
        Detroit News, 1977 - July 15, 2003

        George Cantor has been a writer for Detroit newspapers for more than 40 years. He has written more than a dozen books on sports, history and travel and appeared frequently on local radio and television programs. He was also given the honor of throwing out the first pitch in one of the last games played at historic Tiger Stadium. He has authored three Great Lakes Guidebooks published by the University of Michigan Press.

        Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2004
        In 1963, after graduating from Wayne State University, George Cantor went to work for the Detroit Free Press. During his fourteen years with the newspaper, Cantor reported on the Detroit Tigers, covering the professional baseball team's trek to the 1968 World Series. Nearly three decades after the Tigers upset the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 1968 championship, Cantor published a book in which he "relives that glory year and sheds new perspective on the team and the times," described Wes Lukowsky in Booklist. The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions is "an intimate account. . . . [a] sparkling saga . . . recommended for most sport shelves," judged Library Journal contributor Morey Berger. Cantor details the Tiger's 1968 championship season, the team's effect on a city filled with racial tensions, and the histories of some of the key people associated with the winning team.

        Cantor's account, which includes present-day interviews with living members of the team, "conveys . . . both the intimate knowledge of the events as they occurred and the reflective distance of time on the happenings of that year," assessed Bobby Fong in Aethion. Praising The Tigers of ' 68 as "nifty bit of baseball nostalgia," a Publishers Weekly critic applauded Cantor's ability to "effectively [present] Detroit's victory in the context of the 1967 race riots." According to Fong, "Tiger fans" will welcome this "serviceable read." "The narrative is workmanlike, but both the player portraits and the social history are lightly sketched," commented Fong, who felt The Tigers of '68 gives "some insights into the players."

        Following his stint with the Detroit Free Press, Cantor became a columnist for the Detroit News and started working as a television and radio commentator for local media stations WWJ-Radio and WXYZ-TV. The journalist also began producing longer pieces of text, such as The Tigers of '68. Although he first released a three volume set of travel guides between 1978 and 1980--The Great Lakes Guidebook, Volume I: Lakes Ontario and Erie, Volume II: Lake Huron and Eastern Lake Michigan, and Volume III: Lake Superior and Western Lake Michigan--the bulk of Cantor's books were published in the 1990s. Among the many "guides" that Cantor has produced is Historic Black Landmarks: A Traveler's Guide, also released as Historic Landmarks of Black America. The "delightful" 1991 volume highlights the "diverse and unpredictable" accomplishments of black people in the United States, related Frank McCoy, recommending the "fun to browse through" work in Black Enterprise.

        In other travel writings, Cantor has focused on gambling venues, pop culture sites, historic festivals, and landmarks of North American Indians. Cantor's North American Indian Landmarks: A Traveler's Guide is promoted in RQ; although not ranked as the definitive "guidebook to Indian country," in Christina E. Carter's opinion "Cantor's book may be favored by the historically minded who want to hit the 'big' attractions." Like Carter, a Booklist reviewer recommended North American Indian Landmarks and recognized the "excellent introduction" Suzan Shown Harjo wrote for the book. The reviewer for Booklist applauded Cantor's "thorough job of researching the 600 different Indian nations in the U.S. and Canada." (Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2004)

        Inside Sports: World Series Factbook, 1996
        The Tigers of '68: Baseball's Last Real Champions, 1997
        Wire to Wire: Inside the 1984 Detroit Tigers Championship Season
        Out of Nowhere: The Detroit Tigers' Magical 2006 Season
        Tigers Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan!, 2007
        Baby Bull: From Hardball to Hard Time and Back, by Orlando Cepeda and George Cantor, 1998
        Detroit Tigers Yesterday & Today*
        Tigers Essential: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Real Fan!
        The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Detroit Tigers: Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping, and Gut-Wrenching Moments from Detroit Tigers History*
        Bad Guys in American History
        Confederate Generals: Life Portraits
        Courtney's Legacy: A Father's Journey
        A Season in the Big House: An Unscripted, Insider Look at the Marvel of Michigan Football
        Paul Brown: The Man Who Invented Modern Football
        Back on Top: The University of Michigan's Odyssey to the National Championship
        University of Michigan Football: Yesterday & Today
        Where to Gamble: A Guide to Casinos, Riverboats, Reservations, Racetracks and More
        Historic Festivals: A Traveler's Guide
        Mackinac: An Insider's Guide to Michigan
        North American Indian Landmarks: A Traveler's Guide
        The Great Lakes Guidebook: Lakes Ontario and Erie
        Traverse City: An Insider's Guide to Michigan
        Explore Michigan: Detroit
        Explore Michigan--Antrim County
        Explore Michigan--Grand Rapids
        Explore Michigan--Holland-Grand Haven-Muskegon
        Explore Michigan--Oakland County
        Explore Michigan--St. Joseph/Saugatuck
        Explore Michigan: Leelanau, An Insider's Guide to Michigan
        Explore Michigan: Little Traverse Bay
        Historic Black Landmarks: A Traveler's Guide
        Historic Festivals of the U. S.
        I Remember Bo: Memories of Michigan's Legendary Coach with CD
        Incantations: Columns and other graffiti
        Inside Sports World Series Factbook
        Old Roads of the Midwest
        Open Sesame: Understanding American English and Culture Through Folktales and Stories
        Pop Culture Landmarks: A Traveler's Guide
        Safety, Security and Open Roads : Touring AAA Michigan's History (American Automobile Club)
        The Great Lakes Guidebook: Lake Huron and Eastern Lake Michigan
        The Olympic Factbook: A Spectator's Guide to the Winter Games
        Usain Bolt
        Where the Old Roads Go: Driving the First Federal Highways of the Northeast
        Where the Old Roads Go: Southwest : Driving the First Federal Highways of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah
        Also wrote many books on Michigan football.

        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 03-11-2012, 04:03 PM.


        • Lansing Charles McCurley

          Born: February 9, 1899, Philadelphia, PA
          Died: October 16, 1958, Riverton, NJ, age 59,---d. heart ailment at Grandview Hospital (Sellerville, PA).

          Philadelphia sports writer;
          Philadelphia, PA, 1-year old, (June 2, 1900 census)
          Philadelphia, PA, 10-year old, (April 22, 1910 census)(listed McHurley)
          Philadelphia PA, sports writer, newspaper, (January 8, 1920 census)
          Abington, PA, sports writer, daily paper, (April 3, 1930 census)(listed McCusley)
          Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, cub reporter
          Philadelphia Daily News, sports editor, 1926 - 1954

          Father: James W., born Maryland, February, 1870; Mother: Mollie, born Maryland, August, 1877; Wife: Elizabeth, born Pennsylvania, 1907?; Son: Lansing, Jr., born Pennsylvania, 1927?;

          The Daily Courier obituary (Connellsville, PA); Thursday, October 16, 1958, pp. 2.------------------Sporting News' obituary October 29, 1958, pp. 24.-----------Nevada State Journal obituary (Reno, NV); Friday, October 17, 1958, pp. 17.
          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-24-2013, 01:36 PM.


          • Neil Robert Gazel

            Born: August 2, 1921, Milwaukee, WI
            Died: June 22, 2000, Arlington Heights, IL, age 78,---d. at home.

            New York / Chicago sports writer;
            Graduated University of Wisconsin (Madison), 1943; Received his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and advertising, May, 1946.
            Milwaukee, WI, 8-year old, (April 5, 1930 census)
            WWII, Army, south Pacific sector
            New York Daily News
            Chicago Daily News, sports reporter, 1946 - 1956
            Chairman of Chicago Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association, October 20, 1955.
            Neil left his baseball writing career around December 15, 1955 to embark on a public relations career.
            Commissioner of Park Ridge Park District
            Accounts supervisor of Selz Organization, Inc., 1955 - 1963; Elected a vice-president, 1963 - 1967. Selz was a public relations firm.
            Beatrice Foods Company, 1956 - mid-1978
            Appointed Director of Public Relations for Beatrice Foods Company, July 13, 1967.
            Vice-president of public relations, William R. Biggs Associates (Kalamazoo, Michigan marketing services-advertising agency), December 13, 1979 - 1983.
            Freelance public relations consultant and writer, 1983 - 2000.

            Father: Bernhard, born Michigan, 1892?; Mother: Emily, born Wisconsin, 1890?;

            Beatrice: From Buildup through Breakup, 1990
            Northbrook Star obituary (IL), Thursday, June 29, 2000.
            Neil R. Gazel , 78, died June 22.

            Mr. Gazel was born Aug. 2, 1921. He was a 1946 graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising. He was a World War II veteran.

            From 1946-1956, he worked as a sports reporter for the Chicago Daily News.

            From 1956-1967, he was assistant vice president, director of public relations for Beatrice Foods Co., Chicago. He formed the first public relations department for Beatrice Foods in 1967, and was author of "Beatrice - From Buildup Through Breakup," published by the University of Illinois Press in 1990.

            From 1979-1983 he was vice president, public relations, for Biggs/Gilmore Associates, Kalamazoo, Michigan, an advertising/public relations agency.

            From 1983-2000 he was a freelance public relations consultant and writer.

            He was also the author of several prize-winning industrial motion pictures and numerous feature articles including, Chicago Cubs Vineline.

            Mr. Gazel served as a past president of the Park Ridge Park District and a past director of the Illinois Association of Park Districts. He was co-chairman of the 1972 Olympic Diving Trials in Park Ridge, and a past president of the Park Ridge University Club.

            Mr. Gazel was a member of the Public Relations Society of America; Independent Writers of Chicago; Society of Professional Journalists; Chicago Press Veterans; Football Writers Association of America and the Baseball Writers Association, of which he was a former president of the Chicago chapter.

            Survivors include two daughters, Christine G. Ballard of Studio City, Calif. and Marcia A. (Stanley O.) Murton of Chicago; sisters-in-law, Arlyne J. Kaiser of Northbrook and Joan E. (Henry A.) Scandrett of Mequon, Wis.; and nieces and nephews.

            He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Kaiser.

            A memorial service was held June 28 at Drake & Son Funeral Home in Park Ridge. Interment was private at Ridgewood Cemetery, Des Plaines. Memorial contributions may be made to the Salvation Army, 5040 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago IL 60630.
            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chicago Daily Herald obituary, Sunday, June 25, 2000, pp. 209.

            ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chicago Tribune obituary, Thursday, June 29, 2000, pp. 9.
            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-24-2013, 01:00 PM.


            • Andrew Douglas Brown---AKA Doug Brown

              Born: February 24, 1931, Lansdown, PA
              Died: October 19, 1997, Pasadena, MD, age 66,---d. at home of cancer

              Baltimore sports writer;
              Graduated Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), 1968 (Degree in Botany)
              US Army (2 years0
              Graduated Columbia University (NYC), (Master degree, journalism)
              Baltimore Evening Sun, 1957,
              Baltimore Sun, 1991
              Lansdowne, PA, 9-year old, (April 22, 1940 census)

              Father: Stephen D., born Pennsylvania, 1893?; Mother: Riddell Y., born Pennsylvania, 1903?;

              The Capital obituary (Annapolis, MD); Tuesday, October 21, 1997, pp. 17.-------------------May 1, 1959: Jim Ellis, Gus Triandos, Doug Brown.
              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-24-2013, 12:40 PM.


              • James Lake Ellis, Jr.

                Born: 1916, Bluefield, West Virginia
                Died: December 20, 1961, Bronx, NY, age 43,---d. of cancer in the Bronx, NY Veteran's Administration hospital.

                Baltimore sports writer;
                Rowlesburg, WV, 12-year old, (April 8, 1930 census)
                Buckhannon, WV, 22-year old, (April 3, 1940 census)
                Graduated West Virginia Wesleyan College (Buckhannon, WV),
                WWII, Navy
                Morgantown (W. Va.) Dominion News
                Clarksburg (W. Va.) Telegram
                Baltimore Evening Sun, sports writer, 1947 - 1961

                Father: James Lake Ellis, born West Virginia, 1880?; Mother: Mona, born West Virginia, 1898?; Son: Franklin, born West Virginia, 1922?;

                ----------------------April 21, 1954.--------------------------------------------------January 5, 1960----------------Bluefield Daily Telegraph obituary (Bluefield, W. VA); Thursday, December 21, 1961, pp. 8.

                May 1, 1959: Billy Gardner / James Ellis.
                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-13-2013, 02:47 PM.


                • Frank James Marasco, Jr.

                  Born: January 19, 1893, Omaha, Nebraska
                  Died: January 8, 1980, Milwaukee, WI, age 86

                  Milwaukee sports writer / sports cartoonist;
                  Des Moines, IA, 7-year old, (June 4, 1900 census)
                  Milwaukee, WI, art director, newspaper, (April 10, 1930 census)
                  Milwaukee, WI, art director, newspaper, (April 26, 1940 census)
                  Milwaukee Sentinel
                  President of Milwaukee Press Club, 1955-1959
                  Baseball Writers Association of America, Milwaukee chapter, secretary-treasurer, (17 years).
                  Both his parents were born in Italy.

                  Father: John, born Italy, March, 1856; Mother: Theraca, born Italy, September, 1869; Wife: Mary K., born Wisconsin, 1895?; Daughter: Rosemary T., born Wisconsin, 1921?; Frank J. Jr., born Wisconsin, 1924?; Son: Daniel P. born Wisconsin, 1925?; Daughter: Natalie, born Wisconsin, 1928?;

                  Sporting News' obituary; February 23, 1980, pp. 45.
                  Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-13-2013, 02:24 PM.


                  • George E. Van

                    Born: September 20, 1903
                    Died: September 20, 1987, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, age 84,---d. at home of a heart attack.

                    Detroit sports writer;
                    Detroit Times, sports writer, 1929 - 1960
                    Detroit News, sports writer, 1960 - 1970 (continued to write until his death.)

                    Sporting News' obituary; October 5, 1987, pp. 56.
                    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-24-2013, 12:29 PM.


                    • Joseph Morgan Nolan---AKA Joe Nolan

                      Born: September 20, 1875, Ohio
                      Died: June 11, 1931, Cincinnati, OH, age 55,---d. at home of diabetes.

                      Cincinnati sports writer;
                      Cincinnati, OH, 4-year old, (June 10, 1880 census)
                      Cincinnati, OH, editor, (June, 4, 1900 census)
                      Covington, KY, editor, newspaper, (April 21, 1910 census)
                      Covington, KY, editor, newspaper, (January 10, 1920 census)
                      Covington, KY, editor, Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, (April 14, 1930 census)
                      Cincinnati Enquirer, sports writer, 1898 - 1931 (death). Joe started working for the Enquirer as an office boy in 1890, and became sports writer in 1898.
                      Cincinnati Enquirer, sports editor, (September 12, 1918 WWI Civilian Draft Registration.)

                      Father: James M., born Ireland, 1850?; Mother: Mary Jane Chuck, born Ohio, 1852?; Wife: Isabella Sanford, born Kentucky, 1883?; Daughter: Isabelle, born Kentucky, 1902?; Daughter: Rosemary, born Kentucky, 1908?; Daughter: Virginia, born Kentucky, 1908?;

                      New York Times' obituary; June 12, 1931, pp. 16.
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-13-2013, 12:52 PM.


                      • Louis A. Van Oeyen

                        Born: January 17, 1865, Dayton, Ohio
                        Died: December 12, 1946, Cleveland, OH, age 81

                        Cleveland photo-journalist;
                        Detroit sign writer, (June 1, 1900 census)
                        Cleveland Press, photo-journalist;
                        NEA Service cameraman, 1926

                        Parents: born Scotland; Wife: Edith, born August, 1868, Michigan; Daughter: Edith Lillian, born November, 1895, Michigan; Daughter: Helen D., born August, 1899, Michigan. Father: Exavier P. Von Oeyen. Was married to wife Edith in 1886.

                        Sports photography was in its infancy when Louis Van Oeyen accepted the job of staff photographer for the Cleveland Press. Concentrating on baseball, Van Oeyen took some of the most memorable shots that are still striking today. He set up shop in the early 1900’s at League Park where he photographed baseball’s greats, including Lajoie, Young, Cobb, Ruth, Mathewson, and later such stars as Feller, Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg and Averill. Van Oeyen was one of the first to attempt action shots, capturing a base runner sliding or an infielder making a play.

                        The Van Oeyen collection covers a wide variety of sports including boxing, auto racing and horse racing. Duplicate prints are available for sale. Contact the WRHS Library for further information.
                        In the 1920s and 1930s, Cleveland Press photographer Louis Van Oeyen may have been considered by many people, adults and children alike, to be the luckiest man in Cleveland. Van Oeyen, who had begun his photo-journalist career with snapshots of a tunnel disaster at Cleveland's water intake crib in 1901, had, by the 1920s, become the city's preeminent sports photographer. With a home located just blocks away from League Park, he spent hours there hobnobbing with the greats of the golden era of baseball. It was reported that Babe Ruth would join Van Oeyen at his home after a game for some Prohibition-era beer stored in the family icebox. His was truly a job to be envied in an era when men with names such as Ruth, Gehrig, Grange, Tilden, and Jones were enshrined in the pantheon of heroes formerly reserved for those named Washington, Grant, Lincoln, and Pershing.

                        Van Oeyen's images of the baseball greats of the 1920's were only part of his vast output of photos chronicling a variety of local sports ranging from hockey to football, track and field, and even boat and airplane racing. His work accurately mirrored the tremendous explosion in sports that took place in the inter-war years. It was an explosion that catered to the spectator, and was part and parcel of the speculative business fever of the 1920s.

                        Louis A. Van Oeyen was the dean of local newspaper photographers from the early years in the century when he became a full-time member of the Cleveland Press staff until his retirement in 1937. In nearly 4 decades with the newspaper, his favorite assignments were those connected with baseball, and he was a familiar figure on the sidelines. Van Oeyen photographed most of the major sports events, catastrophes, and celebrities reported in Cleveland during his long career. His were among the first photographs with the fast new lenses which could "stop" action, instead of requiring poses.

                        Cleveland Plain Dealer obituary, December 13, 1946.-----------------------------------------------December 15, 1934.
                        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-13-2013, 07:24 AM.


                        • Burton Sydnor Hawkins

                          Born: May 22, 1914, Pennsylvania
                          Died: November 27, 1995, Arlington, Texas, age 81,---d. at home of heart attack

                          Washington sports writer;
                          Harrisonburg, VA, 5-year old, (January 15, 1920 census)
                          Washington, DC, 15-year old, (April 2, 1930 census)
                          Washington, DC, sports writer, newspaper, (April 24, 1940 census)
                          Graduated Central HS
                          Attended George Washington University (Washington, DC),
                          Washington Star, copy boy, 1933 - 1937, baseball writer, 1937 - 1961, PR director/traveling secretary of Minnesota Twins, 1961 - 1971, traveling secretary/PR director of Texas Rangers, 1972-79, PR director, 1980-84, Rangers' official scorer, 1984-1991.
                          PR director of Texas Rangers,

                          Father: Norment Doniphan Jr., born Virginia, 1887; Mother: Ruth Jeannette, born Virginia, 1890; Wife: Janet L., born Pennsylvania, 1914?;

                          Dallas Morning News' obituary, Tuesday, November 28, 1995-------------------Washington Post obituary, November 28, 1995, pp. B7, by Samson R. Dutky.
                          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-13-2013, 01:02 PM.


                          • Alphonse J. Zizza---AKA John Garro---His actual name was Alphonse J. Zizza. John Garro was just his pen name.

                            Born: June 20, 1910, Massachusetts
                            Died: March 19, 1961, Medford, MA, age 50,---d. of a heart attack at a Sarasota, FL hotel.

                            Boston sports writer;
                            Boston, MA, 10-year old, (January 5, 1920 census)(listed Alphonso)
                            Boston, MA, electrician, Navy Yard, (April 12, 1930 census)
                            Boston, MA, junior recreation, recreational project, (April 3, 1940 census)
                            La Notizia (Italian language newspaper)
                            Record-American-Sunday Advertiser
                            State Department of Public Works

                            Father: Joseph, born Italy, 1863?, immigrated US, 1892; Mother: Mary Racca, born Italy, 1869?, immigrated US, 1892; Wife: Constance Marenna, born Massachusetts, 1909?; Son: Joseph J. (of Boston), born Massachusetts, 1928?; Son: John (of Weymouth); Daughter: Mrs. Janet Comerford (of Hyde Park, NY), born Massachusetts, 1931?; Daughter: Mrs. Mayilyn DeFonzo (of Somerville, MA), born Massachusetts, 1933?;
                            Daughter: Constance (of Medford, MA), born Massachusetts, 1937?; Son: John, born Massachusetts, 1935?;

                            Boston Globe obituary, March 20, 1961, pp. 24.-----------------Boston Globe death notice, March 20, 1961.---Springfield Union obituary, March 20, 1961.
                            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-02-2013, 11:24 AM.


                            • Charles Francis Capaldo--- AKA Chuck Capaldo

                              Born: February 11, 1926, Bergen, NJ
                              Died: November 1, 1986, Des Moines, Iowa, age 60, ---d. cancer

                              Milwaukee sports writer;
                              Englewood, NJ, 4-year old, (April 15, 1930 census)
                              Englewood, NJ, 14-year old, (April 6, 1940 census)
                              Associated Press (Newark), 1949
                              Associated Press (Milwaukee), 1958? - 1960?
                              Associated Press (St. Louis)
                              Associated Press (Des Moines), 1962 - 1967
                              Des Moines Tribune, city editor, 1967 - 1982
                              Des Moines Register, city editor, 1982

                              Father: Pasquale Francis, born Italy, around 1889; Mother: Anne Jane, born Northern Ireland, around 1898;

                              Syracuse (NY) Herald Journal obituary, Monday, November 3, 1986, pp. 61.
                              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-17-2013, 03:03 PM.


                              • Watson Nicholas Spoelstra---AKA Waddy Spoelstra

                                Born: April 5, 1910, Grand Rapids, Michigan
                                Died: July 20, 1999, Largo, FL, age 89,---d. died Tuesday at Hospice House Woodside, Pinellas Park, FL

                                Detroit sports writer;
                                Grands Rapids, MI, 0-months old, (April 26, 1910 census)
                                Holland, MI, 9-year old, (January 8, 1920 census)
                                Holland, MI, 20-year old, (April 12, 1930 census)
                                Ann Arbor, MI, reporter, newspaper, (April 15, 1940 census)(listed Walter Spoelstra)
                                graduated Hope College (Holland, MI)
                                Detroit News, 1947 - 1973 (His column was Waddy's World)
                                Moved from Detroit to St. Petersburg in 1977
                                Instituted, led and organized Baseball Chapel, 1973 - 1982 (a service to those in professional baseball who desire to deepen their Christian faith, but who are unable to attend church.)

                                Father: Klaas Nicholas; Mother: Jane Dyke (Jennie), born Michigan, 1880?; Wife: Anna Jean Murphy, born Michigan, 1912?; Daughter: Ann Jean, born Michigan, 1939?; Watson married Anna June 25, 1938.

                                Watson Spoelstra (1910-1999)
                                “Player, Writer, Visionary”, By Benjamin Hoak

                                In today’s era of obsessive self-promotion, true sportsmen – the kind who serve higher ideals than themselves and who understand instinctively that the principles behind their chosen game will endure long after they have gone – are hard to find.

                                Such a sportsman was Watson Spoelstra, the tough, likeable, workaday sportswriter who made his mark at the Detroit News through the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s – the heyday of stars like the Lions’ Bobby Layne and the Tigers’ Denny McLain. A consummate professional, Spoelstra is best known for what he accomplished in his second career.

                                Although he didn’t like to take credit for it, he fanned the spark of an idea called Baseball Chapel into a full-fledged fire that still affects the lives of thousands of major- and minor-league baseball players, coaches, umpires and families. His desire to provide an opportunity for Sunday worship services at the ballpark caught on with some of baseball’s best known names; Hank Aaron, Sal Bando, Tommy John, Sparky Anderson, Ernie Harwell and many others took hold of Spoelstra’s vision and helped pass it on.

                                That vision carried Spoelstra through the last 26 years of his life. Without Baseball Chapel, you see, this “ink-stained wretch,” as he called himself, wouldn’t have been keeping his bargain with God. What else could he have done when his daughter was lying in a coma, inches from death? No other recourse was available. Spoelstra made a promise and God changed his heart. He couldn’t have imagined it then, but it was the best bargain Watson "Waddy" Spoelstra ever made.

                                The Sportswriter
                                Spoelstra – known to all simply as “Waddy” – began working for the Detroit News in the early 1940s. He was a beat writer, covering at various times the Lions, Pistons, Tigers and the University of Michigan. Spoelstra was a big man, standing tall and broad-shouldered, wearing glasses and balding with a fringe of hair that began graying as he got older. Although he related fairly well to the athletes and learned the best ways to deal with them over the years, he could be a cranky writer, even crotchety or just plain mean if the mood struck him.

                                In August 1970, the Tigers’ star pitcher Denny McLain – he had won 30 games two years before and is still the last major league pitcher to have accomplished the feat – was not pitching well. Irritated with the press and egged on by teammates, he doused Spoelstra and writer Jim Hawkins with buckets of ice water in the Tigers’ locker room before a game one night. ‚ÄúDenny let this writer have it on the neck and shoulders with ice water from about 10 feet,” Spoelstra later wrote. “It was a direct hit. Denny hardly wasted a drop.” Not happy about having to work in a soaking wet suit, Spoelstra promptly complained to general manager Jim Campbell, who suspended McLain for seven days.

                                Despite his stubborn, strong-willed tendencies and occasional bouts of grouchiness, Spoelstra possessed a likeable personality. He enjoyed laughing and swapping stories and he developed a good relationship with the players. “It was the people that he really liked,” remembers his son Jon Spoelstra. “He liked telling their stories.”

                                The working relationship between the press and the players was different in Spoelstra’s day – Spoelstra kept his writing confined to events on the field, even if he knew salacious off-field details about players. “In those days the relationship was much closer between the media and the athletes,” says Ernie Harwell, the legendary broadcasting voice of the Tigers and a close friend of Spoelstra’s. “He related to players very well.” Writers commonly rode buses and charters with players and spent time with them after games, drinking, playing cards and developing relationships.

                                When Spoelstra covered the Lions in the 1950s, Bobby Layne was their star quarterback. He led them to three championships and ended up in the Hall of Fame, but he also had a tendency to drink too much the Saturday night before home games. On those nights, Spoelstra wouldn’t even get into his pajamas; he’d just lie down on his bed wearing his clothes and shoes. About 2 a.m. the phone would ring and a police officer at the jail would be on the line, asking Spoelstra if he knew Bobby Layne. Spoelstra would swing out of bed and bail Layne out before the game the next day.

                                Later in his career, the Lions held an appreciation day for Layne. They presented him with a plaque and after taking it, Layne told the 800-member audience in his Texas drawl that Watson Spoelstra really deserved to have it. “He’s the one who would bail me out of jail,” Layne said. That day was the first time the public knew about Spoelstra’s involvement.

                                Spoelstra’s reporting was honest, detailed and laid-back. He was a beat writer, through and through. He harbored no grand illusions of a cushy columnist’s job. He simply went about his work professionally and thoroughly. “He didn’t want to be a columnist,” Jon Spoelstra said. “He wanted to tell the story of what was going on in the game.”

                                His writing is crisp and clear, every word chosen with care, adjectives and adverbs artfully placed in positions of maximum impact. He painted a picture of the game, leaving readers with the feeling they had seen it themselves. Throughout his career, he always seems to have positioned himself in the right place at the right time to capture the details that made his reporting authentic. Whether it was watching from the press box, gathering quotes from the locker room or sitting in a manager’s office, Spoelstra was a fan’s writer. His in-depth knowledge of the game and of his craft made his writing real and accessible.

                                One of his big breaks as a writer came in 1957, when he covered the pro football championship game between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns. As an underdog, Detroit won 59-14, and Spoelstra’s story circulated around the country. He made his mark, though, as a baseball writer, becoming president of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1968. The BBWAA votes each year on the players deserving of enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. As president, Spoelstra served as the master of ceremonies for the induction of the 1968 class.

                                In addition to his Detroit work, Spoelstra reached a wider audience as a correspondent for The Sporting News for more than 30 years, filing almost weekly reports from Detroit. To make extra money, he also served as an official scorer for the Tigers. In the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals, Spoelstra worked as one of the three official scorers – the other two were also reporters from Detroit and St. Louis.

                                On April 14, 1961, Spoelstra was presiding as the official scorer for a one-hitter thrown by Detroit’s Frank Lary. His no-hit bid was barred by Spoelstra’s decision to rule a tough ground ball a hit rather than an error. Spoelstra demonstrated his professionalism, integrity and eye for detail in his explanation in the The Sporting News two weeks later:

                                “The big play occurred with Chicago at bat and two out in the fifth inning. Jim Landis was the batter. Landis smashed the ball to the left side of the infield. Shortstop Chico Fernandez made a backhanded stab at the ball . . . the ball struck the heel of his glove and bounced away.

                                “The degree of difficulty on the fielding play was one factor. A more important consideration was the speed of Landis. The scorer ruled Landis couldn’t have been thrown out if the ball had been handled cleanly. He made his call and the scoreboard flashed the hit sign.

                                “There were scattered booes from the 4,288 crowd.”

                                Those who knew Spoelstra and his wife Jean knew that while they were both great individuals, they were even better as a couple. They were devoted to one another their entire marriage – so much so that Spoelstra gave up his walking to stay near his wife when she became sick. She died in February 1998, after 59 years of marriage, and Spoelstra’s health began declining soon after. He never really recovered from his wife’s death and he died on Tuesday, July 20, 1999, at the age of 89.
                                SPOELSTRA , WATSON N. "WADDY," 89, of Largo, formerly of St. Petersburg, died Tuesday (July 20, 1999) at Hospice House Woodside, Pinellas Park. He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., came to St. Petersburg in 1977 from Detroit and moved recently to Largo. He was a sportswriter for the Detroit News and wrote a column "Waddy's World" for Sports Spectrum. He was founder of Baseball Chapel, a ministry for professional major league and independent league teams. He attended Feathersound Community Church,Largo, and graduated from Hope College, Holland, Mich. Survivors include a daughter, Ann Kimberly, Detroit; a son, John, Portland, Ore.; three grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. E. James Reese Funeral Home & Crematory, Seminole. (St. Petersburg Times' obituary, Thursday, July 22, 1999.)

                                1968: L-R: Watson Spoestra, William D. Eckert, Dick Young, Jack Lang.

                                June 4, 1977: L-R: John Werhas, Tom Skinner, Watson Spoelstra, Sam Bender.-------------------------------------1974.
                                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-11-2013, 07:43 AM.


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