Monday, August 10, 2020




AUGUST 3, 2020


MLB, the NBA, and the NHL have all returned to the delight of many sports starved fans. Sunday, three of our major league teams were in action and on TV. However, as I watched the Red Sox (baseball is my favorite sport), the Celtics and the Bruins, I was struck by the very real danger of these players contracting COVID-19. For what? For me and others to have an escape from the pandemic?

MLB is a mess. Half the Miami Marlins team tested positive for COVID-19. There are reports that on a trip to Atlanta, many of the Marlins went out on the town.

18 games (and counting) have been postponed already. Now some St. Louis Cardinals have tested positive. All MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can say is that he’s not a quitter. He should resign or be fired. It’s COVID-19 that won’t quit.

The NBA is using the Disney World ‘bubble’ in Orlando to keep players safe. Already Lou Williams of the Clippers was found to have left the bubble for a pre-approved trip to a funeral but veered off to a strip club in Atlanta. He is about to end his quarantine. It only takes a couple selfish players to spread the disease.

In fact, when I watched the Celtics-Trail Blazers game, I was struck by all the high fives, hugs, helping hands to lift a player who fell, and the close proximity of players to each other. This is a recipe for disaster.

The Bruins looked lost as they lost to the Flyers. The NHL’s ‘bubble’ is two cities in Canada – Toronto and Edmonton. All the players, coaches and staff are staying in one of those two cities. The Canadian government made an exception for the NHL as US citizens are barred from entering Canada. In fact, the Toronto Blue Jays were denied permission to play baseball at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. What’s the difference? Well, you’d have whole teams flying in from the US. The Blue Jays will use their AAA field in Buffalo.

We haven’t even gotten to the NFL where greed runs rampant. Roger Goodell and the owners have tried to change the last day that players can opt out of the season. Seven Patriots, including starting right tackle Marcus Cannon and middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower (their best at that position), have opted out.

Yet Goodell and the NFL owners think that they are going to have a 16 game season and then the playoffs. They have had to cancel the four pre-season games that they wanted, but the players didn’t.

As much as I love sports, I love life more. I don't want to see anyone get the disease. Reports of damage to the lungs and hearts of some of those affected most seriously are frightening. And then there's death.

Eduardo Rodriguez, who was the Red Sox best pitcher with 19 wins last year, contracted COVID-19 and has inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). Health authorities have found that some individuals who contract COVID-19 are left with permanent damage to their lungs and hearts. Red Sox fans hope Eduardo is not one of them.

So ask yourself, is it worth having players get a disease that can kill or leave them with permanent damage to their bodies so that you can watch what has become meaningless sports? Stop the insanity. Close down sports.

BEN MONDOR Recently in an email with Zine reader and NAPS English Department Head Rich Flinn, I noted that my Dad was born in Accrington, England and was brought to the US by his mother when he was two. Because he fought in WWII, they made him a citizen (unlike poor Ben Mondor). So Rich asked for the background on Mondor, a Canadian, fighting in WWII but not receiving citizenship for doing so. After trying to research it online (unsuccessfully), I turned to my friends.

My friend Paul related the following: “Mondor was a good man and benefactor to many. My father worked for him in at least 2 of his textile mills [I worked in one as well in a dye house]. When my father fell ill and had to stop work for medical reasons- some were military complications- Mondor kept him on the 'medical list of employees' so my dad would have full coverage. He also made McCoy a totally family oriented facility for everyone to go to.”

Then, my friend Bill LaPlante, a transplanted Rhode Islander now living in Colorado, sent me the following link to a book that has a chapter on Ben Mondor:

Lo and behold the book Reluctant Soldier...Proud Veteran was written by Terry Nau, who used to be the Pawtucket Times Sports Editor and who gets the Sportzine by email.

So I emailed Terry to see if he could confirm that Ben Mondor was never made a citizen despite fighting in WWII. Terry responded: “My book quotes Ben saying he finally received his citizenship papers in a private ceremony in 1957 in Woonsocket. Ben told me the lone govt. there officially apologized for the delay. I originally wrote that story for the Times/Call in 2008.”

So Ben Mondor did get the US citizenship that he richly deserved. It just took a while.

Terry Nau also wrote a book called They Heard the Bugle’s Call. It is about the 21 men from Pawtucket who died in Vietnam, including two of my classmates from St. Ray’s. Terry was instrumental in getting Pawtucket to erect a monument to those 21 men which now stands on a hill next to the Armistice Street entrance to Slater Park.

You can get a signed copy of Reluctant Soldier...Proud Veteran for $10 from Terry by emailing him at: The book is also available via Amazon. Terry’s other book They Heard the Bugle’s Call is also available via his email for $15.

I salute Terry Nau for all he’s done for those 21 Pawtucket natives and writing these two books.

I also salute Ben Mondor, who took a dank, deplorable dungeon and made it into a vibrant jewel of a ballpark that was a beautiful treat for many baseball fans, including this season ticket holder.

BULLETS R.I.P. Lou Schwechheimer, the long time former Pawtucket Red Sox General Manager, who died of complications from COVID-19 at age 62. After Schwechheimer was unsuccessful in buying the PawSox after Ben Mondor’s death, he purchased an A team and a AAA team in New Orleans. Through his efforts a new stadium was built in Wichita, Kansas for that AAA team. That new stadium was to open this year. Lou always had a warm smile and greeting for PawSox fans.

Intrepid reporter Ken Forestal, writing from New Mexico, informed me that the bass player for Charlie Daniels (R.I.P. Charlie) was Joel DiGregorio. So Ken was at a Charlie Daniels concert and afterward asked Joel if he was related to Ernie DiGregorio. Yup, Ernie is his cousin. Ken mentioned that he had grown up in Pawtucket.

A shout out to Bob Kumins, who was the first person to tell me that, for him, watching sports now was meaningless given the dangers to players’ health. Quite right, Robert.

One other salient point that Bob Kumins made – with all the players from the major sports being tested for coronavirus, how many people are being deprived of getting that very same testing despite many being at a greater risk to get the disease?

Per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (8/2), the NFL had Oakley design a face shield for players. Only thing – the players don’t like the face shield.

At one point, the Red Sox had Yoenis Cespedes on their team (2014). Boston traded LHP Jon Lester and OF Johnny Gomes for him. Bad trade losing Lester! In December of 2014, Cespedes and 2 others were traded to Detroit for RHP Rick Porcello. Sunday, Cespedes, now with the Mets, decided to opt out of the rest of the season. Only trouble – he never told anyone on the team. He just didn’t show up for the game vs. the Braves.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe is always a great read. On Sunday 7/26, Abraham noted that RHP James Karinchak, who pitched for Bryant, made the Cleveland Indians Opening Day roster. Karinchak is only the 2nd Bryant player to make the Majors. The other? Keith MacWhorter who pitched 14 games for the Red Sox in 1980.

Ex-BoSox 2nd baseman (and SS) Jody Reed turned 58 recently. Reed played for the Red Sox from 1987-1992. He was left unprotected in the 1992 expansion draft, and was taken by the Rockies who immediately traded him to the Dodgers. Reed played well for LA in 1993 and was offered a 3 year $7.8 million extension. On the advice of his agent and good friend J.D. Dowell, Reed turned down the offer. Over the next 4 seasons, playing for 3 different teams, Reed made $2.8 million. Wonder how long it was before Dowell became Reed’s ex-friend and ex-agent? (Source – Peter Abraham/Globe – 7/26).

EMAIL MacArthur Park? The way my mind works is one of God’s little mysteries, had that stuck in my head. Garry Gillett Hi Garry, not sure what instrumental Richard Harris ever did, but MacArthur Park only made it to #2. Know who wrote it? - Z

No, just remember Richard Harris and Donna Summer singing it and remember the instrumental. Had no freakin’ idea what it was about. Garry Gillett It was written by Jimmy Webb. And yes the lyrics are strange. - Z

Jimbo: I was tardy last week, although I did know that Turn, Turn, Turn was the ancient lyrical masterpiece, but I wasn't positive about Aretha. This week I'll go with Beatles pal, Billy Preston. The instrumental was "Outta Space", correct? Oh, yeah, the other big hit was " Nothin' from Nothin' leaves nothin').
Wallis Billy Preston is an excellent guess, Tom. Nothing from Nothing reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100. Outa-Space reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100. Steve Lenz's framework for the trivia question was #1 for both the instrumental and vocal on Billboard's Hot 100.

So technically Billy Preston is not the correct answer though you should know that Outa-Space was #1 on Billboard's R&B charts, but again #2 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Close but no cigar. Great answer, though. RIP Billy Preston. - Z


Hot as hell down here (Ed.: New Mexico) 111 yesterday-about 12 straight days of 100+-Baseball is a shit show at moment as is NBA-Florida off charts with new Covid cases-these are strange times we live in! My only guess to trivia is Louis Armstrong-"Hello Dolly".

Ken Forestal Ken, agree about baseball. Not sure who's dumber - Tony Clark or Rob Manfred. Methinks this will not end well for those involved. I want to see what happens after the first outbreak of COVID-19 on a team. You can't spend your money if you're dead.

Louis Armstrong is a good guess. Hello Dolly made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. However since much of his music was jazz, I doubt that there is an instrumental that he did that would have been #1 on that Billboard Hot 100 list. - Z

Right off the top of my head I think it’s Nat King Cole.   Matt Dawson Matt, what would have been the instrumental? Sorry, Nat King Cole is not correct. - Z

After I sent a clarification that both the instrumental and vocal went to #1:

Then I say Herb Alpert. Matt Dawson Very good Matt, you're on a roll. Yes it's Herb Alpert. Care to guess the two songs? - Z

He’s on my regular play list I know it’s This Guy’s in Love With You on vocal.  I’ll guess Spanish Flea. Matt Dawson

Hi Jim, How about Herb Alpert? Thank you. David Annese David, you are absolutely correct - the trivia answer is Herb Alpert. - Z


Also, my oldest brother had a slew of mid-50's 45's, many of Elvis's hits. I thought he wrote "Love Me Tender". Am I wrong? Back in about 1980, I saw Otis Blackwell at Lupo's. I believe he is credited with a number of Elvis's hits. Am I wrong (again)?

Tom Wallis

Tom, Otis Blackwell wrote Don't Be Cruel, All Shook Up and Return to Sender for Elvis. This amazing man also wrote Fever, Great Balls of Fire and Handy Man. Lucky you got to see him perform live. He died in 2002.

As for Elvis, research shows that you are right about Love Me Tender. Elvis was given co-writing credit for the 1956 song with Ken Darby who instead gave his songwriting co-credit to his wife Vera Matson. Bet she got some hefty royalties from that #1 song. 

The song was adapted from the melody for Aura Lee, a Civil War ballad.

So congratulations. You just destroyed the myth that Elvis never wrote any of his songs.

At the end of the documentary Laurel Canyon, a Place in Time (2nd episode), a male voice (forget who) says only Ronstadt, Sinatra and Elvis never wrote any of their songs. 

Thanks for all the input. - Z

Report: Cam Newton agrees to one-year deal with Patriots.

Ken Forestal Ken, this is a shocker to me. Never underestimate Bill Belichick.

This is an incentive laden contract with Newton for a possible $7.5 M. I still haven't learned how the Pats got around the salary cap which was supposed to be about $600,000 left.

I did spot that the Pats lost a 3rd round pick in the 2021 draft over that stupidity of videotaping the Bengals sidelines. As if they needed to do that vs the bumbling Bengals. If Newton signs with another team after the season, guess what - they get a 3rd round pick back in the 2021 draft. Belichick loves competition. Now he has it at QB. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. - Z

Worth reading:

I felt Mookie was never going to stay.  This article by Michael Holley makes a good case for why I felt that, and adds in a lot more.  The Adam Jones part was my main reason.  You can't hear the n-word every day at work and say to yourself that this is where I want to stay for my whole career.

Bob Kumins

Thanks Bob. Very good piece by Michael Holley whom I've always liked.

Holley lays it out there pretty clearly what factors may have played a role in Betts not wanting to sign with Boston. - Z

Sportzine is also available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz.


We were talking about favorite performers on the Johnny Carson Show. Like Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams. Dr. John said he liked a show with Jack Benny who said: “If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.”

Then Peter B added a Carnac the Magnificent bit: The answer: ‘Siss, Boom, Baa’. The question: ‘What sound does a sheep make when it explodes?”

The Atlantic Coast has another threat of a hurricane (Isaias). We started musing on when weather people started calling them by women’s names and then switched to men and women’s names. So I decided to tell an old joke about it (despite protestations from Kristin): ‘Why do they use women’s names for hurricanes? Have you ever heard of a himicane?’ Ba-boom.

So between Mark and Peter, we learned that the weather service first used women’s names for hurricanes in 1953. In 1978, storms in the North Pacific were called by either a man’s name or a woman’s, and in 1979, North Atlantic storms were added as male and female. There are apparently 6 lists of men’s and women’s names for hurricanes and when exhausted are then used over again. However in cases of very severe hurricanes, the name, whether male or female, is retired.

Peter ordered some onion rings and when they came, I suggested that he put ketchup on them, as I do. The group seemed to think that this was a bad idea. Dr. John said “Ketchup is the neutron bomb of foods.”


So I used a trivia question submitted by Buffalo Steve Lenz: Name the artist who had #1 Billboard hits with both a vocal and an instrumental. Extra credit for knowing the songs.

Matt Dawson and Dave Annese knew that the artist was Herb Alpert and Matt knew that the vocal was This Guy’s in Love With You. The instrumental was Rise (1979). Per Wikipedia, Alpert has had 14 platinum albums, 15 gold ones and has sold over 72 million records worldwide. He also co-founded A&M Records (with Jerry Moss).

My thanks to Steve Lenz for the excellent trivia question.

THIS ISSUE’S TRIVIA QUESTION What was the first Top Ten hit for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and on what album did it appear?


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