Writings and observations

peterson MARTIN
PETERSON
 

My wife, Barb, and I were in Lewiston this week for the NAIA World Series. In my mind, even though I live in the land of the Blue Turf, it’s the best sporting event in Idaho. It’s also an annual reminder of the great baseball heritage of the Lewis-Clark valley, as well as the rest of Idaho.

Several years ago, when our current governor was a member of congress, he and I were spending an evening out on the town in Washington, D.C. During the evening we ran into Congressman Mary Bono and had a drink with her and her then boyfriend. He told me that he had lived in Idaho at one time. The, correcting himself, said that he had actually lived across the border in Washington. It turned out that he had played baseball at LCSC and lived in Clarkston.

The University once had a great tradition of baseball, fielding teams from 1890 until 1980.

Some of the greats coming out of that program included Bob Dillinger, who played for the Browns, Athletics, Pirates and White Sox, and Frank Reberger, who played for the Cubs, Padres and Giants. Bill Stoneman, another former Vandal, spent eight years as general manager of the Los Angeles Angels and was the most successful general manager in the team’s history.

Certainly the two best baseball players with Idaho roots were Walter Johnson and Harmon Killebrew. Johnson played for the Weiser Kids in 1906-07 and went on to become one of the first five members elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Killebrew grew up in Payette and also ended up in the Hall of Fame.

A number of well-known players came through Lewiston playing for the Lewis-Clark Broncs. I can remember getting to know Rick Monday when he was renting the basement apartment in a friend’s home in Clarkston.

Probably the best known product of the Broncs was Reggie Jackson. He wrote about his time in Lewiston in his memoir, “Reggie,” and got most of it wrong, apparently mistaking his time in Lewiston for his time in Birmingham, Alabama. But he did have fond memories about spending time at Bojacks.

After his retirement from baseball, Jackson would team up with commentators Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell doing commentary on ABC sports. Keith Jackson was another sports personality who got this start in Lewiston. But his start was as a disk jockey working for KLER.

Another valley connection to Reggie Jackson was the late Mike Miltenberger from Clarkston.

Mike had a terrific arm and pitched in Single A ball for two seasons. When he was playing for Fresno in the California League, he pitched against Reggie Jackson twice. Jackson was playing for Modesto. Mike wasn’t one to brag about his accomplishments, but he did once tell me, with a big grin on his face, that he had a perfect record of striking Jackson out every time he pitched against him.

One of this year’s blockbuster movies is “42” the story of Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey and the integration of major league baseball. The little known Idaho connection with this story is with Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who recruited and signed Robinson in 1947.

In 1911, Rickey graduated from law school at the University of Michigan. He and two of his classmates looked around for a place to settle and make their fortune. They decided that Idaho’s best attorney was probably William E. Borah and with Borah in the Senate, his former clients just might be available. They moved to Boise and opened shop. But by 1913, with few clients, Rickey left Boise, joined the front office staff of the St. Louis Browns, and went on to make history.

Baseball is, and always will be, America’s sport, and it’s great to know that Idaho has played a significant role in that baseball tradition.

Marty Peterson grew up in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. He is retired and lives in Boise.

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rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

There are times when the American media is an invaluable source of information, education and entertainment. But it can also make a major ass of itself. When it does, we get duds like the twin excesses now available to all – regardless of how you get your daily fix.

I’m a harsher critic than most readers/viewers because much of my life has been spent in and around one form of journalism or another. But that was then and this is now. Professional journalistic standards are a whole lot different these days. Lower. Much lower. Where they exist at all.

We’re daily being inundated by two trumped up “stories” that are almost entirely media creations: the Treyvon Martin case and the miscellaneous travels of Edward Snowden. Neither justifies today’s coverage.

First, Martin. Yes, he was a teen – a black teen living in Florida. Yes, he was shot and killed by a guy who saw himself as some sort of neighborhood protector – a guy with a Hispanic surname. So what? How many teens. – how many Black teens – are shot and killed in Chicago every week. Last weekend alone there were 19 Chicago shootings – most of them teens. Two weeks before – 18. In any given month, in just that one city, 40 or more shootings. Name one dead teen. Just one. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

So why does the media put Treyvon Martin at the top of our daily reading and viewing list? Day after day after day? What’s so special about the Martin case? Why does it get the attention it does when children – 4-5-6-8 year-old children are being killed on streets and playgrounds and little ones in baby strollers in Chicago and elsewhere daily? Why Martin?

My own thought is the media outsmarted itself on this one. While a certain amount of coverage in Florida was to be expected, the shooting happened during an otherwise slow national news period. There were the elections. But -for the most part – elections don’t sell papers or snare viewers until very close to voting. So the national media picked up the Martin story because it wasn’t Chicago. Or Newark. Or Detroit. A black kid killed in a mostly white neighborhood in Florida was – different.

But – once picked up – various media found themselves stuck with it. If there were new details – any new details – in a story they’d deemed worthy of such attention for weeks and weeks and they didn’t keep up, the competition would. The number of papers sold and the number of viewers watching are just that important these days. So CNN and Fox – and now MSNBC – are wall-to-wall with day-long coverage of a story blown completely out of proportion. Two of the three cable news channels have all but wiped out other – far more important – news in daytime. And recap all night. This week, for instance, the last live CNN news is 5 pm (PDT). After that, it’s all Zimmerman. And Egypt? Arizona fires? Anything else? Not a word. Zip.

Then there’s Snowden. The leaker. What he did was wrong. Not treason by a long shot. But wrong. For reasons we don’t yet know, he violated conditions of his private employment while working with very sensitive classified government information. Regardless of how morally justified he may have felt, his actions were wrong. He should be tried and punished under the appropriate laws.

But the media has become obsessed with where he might be in the world. If the guy goes here, so do hundreds of cameras and reporters. If he goes there, so do they. They even go looking for him where he isn’t! Now they’re sitting at the Moscow airport to see which way he jumps next. Before this is over, we’re going to know which brand of aftershave he uses and how much deodorant he applies daily.

Snowden and his whereabouts are NOT the story. What he did IS. But, here again, media bosses believe they can’t stop now. If Snowden moves, and this or that network doesn’t move with him, whatever interested viewers there may be might go to the other channels to keep up. Or readers may drop the offending paper to pick up the one still chasing along behind. That’s media “bean counter think.” Not professional journalism “think.” Certainly not mine. Gotta keep the numbers up.

Both stories are media inventions beyond the basic facts involved. Both are getting unwarranted amounts of coverage. Not because they deserve it but because central players in both have been elevated to some sort of sick celebrity status. Because the media has made George Zimmerman and Edward Snowden larger-than-life, both will have books written about them – movies made of their “stories” – they’ll cash in on the celebrity whether walking the streets or sitting in their respective jail cells.

Snowden will eventually come home and will likely do some jail time. As for Zimmerman, that’s up to a Florida jury. I’m more interested in who shot the latest child in a stroller or the one with pigtails swinging on a big city playground. I want to know if they caught the bastard and if he’ll ever walk the streets again. But I’m not looking to the national media to tell me. They’re busy elsewhere.

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Rainey