Shooting from the hip as the sun sets on Memorial Day and I’m thinking about my dad sitting in the back of a plane, landing and taking off escort carriers — known as “baby flat tops” or “jeep carriers” — in the Pacific and Atlantic during World War II. He was a radarman/gunner on torpedo bombers. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like. He tells the story of looking out the small window where he sat in the plane and he could see what looked like the entire Pacific fleet — big carriers, cruisers, destroyers — chugging towards the Philippines and Okinawa. Everywhere he looked, he said, he could see U.S. ships.
“I was never so proud to be an American,” he said.
Here’s some other things I was thinking about while driving home from Longview, where I watched the final day of the NWAACC baseball championships on Monday:
* NWAACC baseball, at the championship level, is about as good as it gets. I’d rather watch good college baseball than the pros. The emotion and energy is unreal. And when you get two rivals like Edmonds and Bellevue going head-to-head, you never know what’s going to happen. They met for the eighth time this season and Edmonds prevailed 7-6 in a back-and-forth, momentum-changing game. It was the sixth NWAACC title in eight years for the powerful North region. Everett won it all in 2013. My son’s an assistant athletic director at Edmonds and Paul Gehring, the former Bremerton High/Centralia CC/York College catcher who assisted at Olympic College before taking an assistants job at Edmonds, is the strength and conditioning and catcher’s coach at Edmonds. Casey Bohlmann, a Central Kitsap/Bellevue CC/Hawaii-Hilo pitcher, is a first-year assistant at Bellevue, where his responsibilities include recruiting and helping coach pitchers.
* I admit it. I never appreciated Ray Allen as much as I should have when he was with the Sonics. Best clutch shooter of all time.
* Marshawn Lynch was a no-show when the Seahawks visited the White House last week. His mom told the Seattle Times the Seahawks’ running back “just didn’t want to go.” A lack of respect for President Obama? Not at all. It was consistent with how he handles off-the-field things. He doesn’t give many interviews and makes few public appearances. He had no obligation to show up in D.C.
* U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t coming clean with his reasoning for leaving Landon Donovan off the World Cup team. Klinsmann said: ‘The ones we chose are just that inch ahead of ones we didn’t choose in performance terms.” An inch? Donovan came up an inch short. I’m not buying it. If there are 23 U.S. players better than the 32-year-old Donovan, then the U.S. should not be an underdog at all; they should contend for the title.
* Some former NFL players are suing the league, alleging that professional football knowingly supplied them with illegal narcotics and addictive painkillers. Even if the NFL encouraged it, nobody held a gun to the players heads and forced them to take pills or have someone poke needles in their bodies.
* Willie Bloomquist is the Mariners’ best option at shortstop right now, especially against left-handed pitching. Everybody forgets that he was a regular most of 2011 (hit .266 in 381 at bats with 20 stolen bases) when he helped the Diamondbacks win the NL West. Bloomquist proved that he could play shortstop on an everyday basis and hit leadoff for Arizona. He hit .302 the following season (318 at bats) while serving as the everyday guy for an extended period, and hit .317 an injury-plagued 2013 season when he was limited to 48 games and 150 at bats. Yeah, I know he’s hitting .192, but that’ll go up in a hurry if he gets regular at bats. Besides, Brad Miller is hitting .150 and Nick Franklin’s at .138.i
* The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour comes to Safeco Field on June 10-11-12. He’s among the greatest Yankees in the storied history of that franchise. Nobody will wear No. 2 again. It’ll be retired alongside No. 3 (Babe Ruth), No. 4 (Lou Gehrig), No. 5 (Joe DiMaggio) and No. 7 (Mickey Mantle). Not sure where he ranks among those immortals. He’s never led the league in hitting or won an MVP, but has there ever been a more class act than Jeter? Oh, by the way, no Yankee in history has more hits or has played in more games than Jeter. There’s not a lot of players I’d pay money to see, but I’m gonna pay money to see Jeter when he passes through Safeco next month.
* The day was Oct. 28, 1988. I turned 36. The same day, I wrote a column for The Sun, explaining why the grandstands at Roosevelt Field should not have been torn down. It should have been refurbished. For newcomers, Roosevelt was a grand old stadium that sat where there’s now a parking lot at Olympic College next to the Warren Avenue Bridge. I’ll turn 62 this October and still cringe when I look at that parking lot. I’m still from the school that says when you have a piece of usable recreational property you hang onto it. You can’t replace a field in the core of the city. Twenty-six years later, we know that to be true.
* Yeah, I was going through some old boxes, trying to downsize a bit when I came across the column on Roosevelt Field. I also came across a 1946 Bremerton Bluejackets program. It cost 10 cents back in the day. That the was inaugural season of the Bluejackets (yes, lower case J; the current West Coast League Kitsap BlueJackets spell it with a capital J). The Bremerton Bluejackets were a member of the Western International League, a Class B professional team. They were managed by Sam Gibson and the team was referred to as the “Gibsonmen” at times. Pitcher Joe Sullivan and second baseman Frank Plouf were the only Bremerton players on the roster that year. Oh, by the way, the Bluejackets, who were only around three seasons, played their games at Roosevelt Field.