Remember back to your childhood, when baseball was known as “The National Pastime.” You may have followed the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox or Cubs growing up. It all really depended upon where you grew up.
The new baseball season has just started. For several John Knox Village residents, “hope springs eternal” when the boys of summer take the field.
Residents Harry and Joyce Wood are Miami Marlins fans who attended a game during the first home stand of the 2015 baseball season. Harry grew up in Philadelphia at a time when that city hosted two teams – the Phillies and Athletics.
“When I was a kid, my father took me to see the Phillies,” Harry said. “Dad did not like the Athletics, and he did not like Connie Mack because he traded off all the good players. So I was a Phillies fan.
“I remember some of the names back then: Del Ennis in the outfield; Jim Tabor on third; Skeeter Newsome at shortstop; and Harry Walker. After every ball pitched Harry would step out of the batter’s box and smooth his hair, so he became Harry ‘The Hat’ Walker,” he said.
Harry (not The Hat but Harry) Wood is now a diehard Marlin’s fan. While many transplanted South Florida residents keep their allegiance to the teams back home, the Woods are fans of the home team.
“My favorite player of all time on the team is ‘Mr. Marlin’ Jeff Conine. Today I think (Giancarlo) Stanton is great and I like (Christian) Yelich in the outfield,” he said.
The Woods have a family connection to the Marlins. Their son-in-law, Chris Lane, is the Marlins Chaplain, so it’s only natural that the Marlins get the family’s blessing and loyalty.
“I think they will make the playoffs this year,” Harry said. Spoken like a true baseball fan, after all that is the baseball tradition: Hope springs eternal.
For John Knox Village resident Betsy Bousfield, baseball has always been a ritual of spring and summer. Growing up in Michigan, Betsy’s first memories of baseball games were the Detroit Tigers with names like Hank Greenberg, Rudy York and Hal Newhouser.
“As a teenager, I remember listening to Tiger games on radio station WBCM while lying in the sun at our cottage on Saginaw Bay in Michigan,” she said.
From her days in the Great Lakes State through her professional life as a Broward County School Administrator, baseball has been the sport Betsy has followed. When the Marlins began play in 1993, Betsy adopted the team.
She knows the names of her favorite players, “Pitcher Charlie Hough and Jeff Conine come to mind when thinking of the Marlins in Joe Robbie Stadium as they began. Everyone’s current favorite is Giancarlo Stanton. I will be happy when Jose Fernandez (recovering from Tommy John surgery) can pitch again.”
Betsy still follows the Marlins on television and sees the games in person when she has the opportunity.
“The Rotary sponsors a Marlins game each year so I try to go,” she said. “The new Marlins Park is far superior to Sun Life Stadium when it comes to baseball. The fact that you can close the roof and be in air- conditioned comfort is great.”
The Other Major Teams
Longtime South Florida resident Charlie Mennes has been a supporter of both the Dolphins and the Heat since their inaugural seasons. Charlie and his wife Evelyn have been residents of John Knox Village for 15 years, but lived in Miami Shores before their move.
Charlie said that during the first season of the Dolphins he got season tickets right at the beginning and kept those season tickets until he and Evelyn moved to John Knox Village.
Charlie recalls those early days of the Dolphins in the late 1960s.“When they first started, they did not look like they would do anything like a perfect season,” he said.
“But when coach (Don) Shula came in, they worked together. And some of the guys were just fantastic.” Charlie said those Shula coached Dolphin teams were built for the hot South Florida weather.
“Shula liked the smaller guys. He did not want the heavy guys with all the heat. That perfect season (1972) was a fantastic year. The bunch was fabulous – Bob Griese, Earl Morrall, (Jim) Kiick, (Mercury) Morris, (Larry) Csonka, and (receiver) Paul Warfield was really someone to watch.”
But for Charlie, season tickets to just the Dolphins were not enough. When Miami was awarded an NBA franchise for the 1988-89 season, he was again right in line.
“They had a drawing, and I put in my name right away and got a real low number. I got a choice of seats at the Miami Arena. I was a season ticket holder from the very beginning. When we moved to John Knox Village 15 years ago my son took the tickets over,” he said.
Even though Charlie no longer attends games in person, he is still an avid fan of both the Heat and the Dolphins.
“I follow the Heat and watch every game. I tape it if it is a late night game and watch the next day. The same thing with the Dolphins,” he said.
Tee It Up And Have Fun
For many seniors, enjoyment of sports is not just in being a fan…it’s also about participation. Charlie is also a dedicated golfer. At age 92, he tees it up every Monday and Friday at the Pompano Beach Municipal Golf Course.
Charlie got into golf back in the 1960s. “Three of my friends were playing and they needed a fourth,” he said. “One friend was a doctor, another a boat captain and the third a pianist. In those days doctors did not doctor on Wednesday afternoons…they were all on the golf course.”
Like Charlie, fellow resident Edna Dusel plays a couple times a week, and more often if she is out of town visiting others who enjoy golf.
Edna’s first exposure to golf was through her late husband’s interest in the game. “My husband played, and I would go out and just ride in the cart with him. Being outside in beautiful environs with him was great and then I thought why not just learn the game and play along.”
“My husband bought me clubs as a Christmas gift in 1975. I took lessons and we played on weekends and during vacations,” she added.
Great Golf Close To Home
Edna’s love of golf has taken her to Myrtle Beach, SC; Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico; and many other courses throughout the country. Now she stays mostly close to her John Knox Village villa. “I like playing at the Palm Aire Country Club. The Oaks is my favorite. But I also enjoy The Palms and The Cypress, and at Woodlands (Country Club).”
Edna encourages anyone who has the inclination to give golf a try. “If you do not have clubs, just get a starter set or some used clubs and take some lessons. Then just go out, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy the weather and the environment,” she said.
For our avid golfers, John Knox Village has a Corporate Membership with ClubLink, which manages the courses at Palm Aire Country Club, Heron Bay Golf Club, Woodlands Country Club and now TPC Eagle Trace.
As a member, residents and employees can set early tee times and play at discounted rates. For more information, contact the Marketing Department at (954) 783-4040.
South Florida Professional Sports
The history of South Florida professional sports – while not as lengthy as the storied teams from New York, Boston or Chicago – still has its traditions. Here is a short chronology of South Florida’s professional sports teams.
South Florida’s first major sports team, the Miami Dolphins joined the American Football League (AFL) when an expansion franchise was awarded to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny Thomas in 1965 for $7.5 million. The Dolphins have won two Super Bowls (VII and VIII in 1972 and 1973). Website is (www.miamidolphins.com).
The Heat came into the NBA for the 1988–89 season with an unproductive first year, with a roster full of young players and journeymen. The team started out the season by losing its first 17 games. The Heat have won three NBA Championships (2006, 2012 and 2013). Website is (www.nba.com/heat/)
The Miami Marlins were founded in 1991 as the Florida Marlins and began play in 1993. The Marlins won their first game on April 5, 1993 against the Dodgers. Charlie Hough was the starting pitcher and Jeff Conine went 4-4. The Marlins have won two World Series Titles (1997 and 2003). Website is (www.miami.marlins.mlb.com).
The Florida Panthers hockey team franchise began during the 1993-94 season. On Oct. 6, 1993 the Panthers played their first game skating to a 4-4 tie with the Blackhawks in Chicago. In 1996, the Florida Panthers made it to the Stanley Cup, but lost to the Colorado Avalanche. Website is (www.panthers.nhl.com).
— Marty Lee, Word of Mouth Advertising