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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
July 14, 2006     The Catalina Islander
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July 14, 2006

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Friday, July 14, 2006 Continued from page I In all, a few 100 ballplayers suited up here. Sixteen Hall-of- Famers practiced on diamonds that were carved out of a canyon. A few others visited for exhibition games. Names that stir the imagination, like Grover Cleveland Alexander and Dizzy Dean, Gabby Harmer and Jolly Cholly Grimm. Movie stars came over, and sometimes worked out with the team. Starlets flirted with the ballplayers -- Betty Grable, Olivia de Havilland, and Marilyn Monroe spent time here. A future TV star, Chuck Connors, actually played for the Cubs one Spring. The biggest of the Big Bands ijoined the party, too. And a young radio broadcast- er named Ronald Reagan, destined to become a movie star and then the president of the United States, came over for two springtimes and made his mark. There were rainstorms and earthquakes, binges and brawls, careers made and careers ended. Some of the young hopefuls never made a major league roster; others are still active in professional baseball, more than 50 years after the last bag of Cub equipment got thrown onto a freighter. There are goats and great fish and wild boar arid even buffalo in this yam -- visitors you might not expect in a story about baseball. A lot of the guys golfed at the course adjacent to the ballpark -- so you can be certain legends emerged there, as well. It's about great ~ps, now sunk to the bottom of the sea, and massive puffing old railcars, chugging their way out of an icy downtown Chicago station to the screaming-to-hoarseness cheers of devoted Cubbie fans There were hundreds of them, bravihg the wind chills -- as the Pullmans headed on to a three-day journey through farms and fields that would end amidst orange groves on an 80-degree day in a long-lost Southern California that most people wouldn't recognize today. It's about balls and bats and tiny leather gloves and heavy, scratchy gray flannel uniforms, grouchy reporters armed with sometimes-poetic yet often-poison pens plus a colorful cast of sup- porting side characters that are straight out of the cartoons and the movies. CATALINA ISLANDER / And it's about little boys in a small town that happened to be out in the Pacific Ocean, getting to worship the heroes who arrived, right on time, by boat each and every February. Truly, this was a magical place. A magical time. A magical team. It can't happen again, the way baseball has changed, the way the word has changed. But the old baseball diamond remains -- marked only by a small bronze plaque beside the road. Yet ironi- cally, Catalina remains virtually unchanged --- somewhat of aliv- fresh-faced, hope- ing, breathing time capsule, forev- ful young kid on er memorializing a vision William an day in 1950 Wrigley had some 70 years ago. that he'd rather About 60 of the old ballplay- forget. ers are still alive -- not to mention The veteran a variety of locals and others who may have passed still can taste those glory days as away, but the kid though they happened last Satur- is still kicking, day afternoon. Their memories maybe living in a and their stories live on -- and, small town in fortunately, a lot of other Catalina Wisconsin or Cub happenings, great and small, some such place, have been recorded here-n-there, just a little old A lot of the tales are lost forever, man now who slowly shuffles sadly -- but enough remain to along at the mall -- alongside a make for some poignant, funny, new generation ofkids who'd give fascinating remembrances, anything to play in the major And that's what this scrap- leagues, but have no idea that this book is all about. Things that hap- man, this slow-moving white- pened to a grizzled old veteran on headed old feHa who's kind of a particular Tuesday afternoon in meandering in their way, once did. 1934, things that happened to a So here are the tales and the Great Food Great Service Great View 310-510-0333 417 Crescent Avenue See You at Steve's I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many friends of Shirley's for the wonderful cards, phone calls, personal thoughts and donations tO animal humane groups2 She loved you all very much. We had 56 wonderful years together, the best day of my life was when I met her. Shirley was beautiful, warm and had a smile. that would make the stars shine brighter. She was a wonderful gal who never complained even when she was hurting. She loved her family, friends, animals, home and Catalina Island. Avalon lost a very special lady, she will be missed very much. Thank you again, Roger Upton -1 H Open for Dinner Mexican Food Breakfast & Lunch 8am-4pm Dinner Wednesday-Sunday 5pm-9pm 901 Avalon Canyon Road * (310) 510-2505 Page 9 Top Left: Young fans get pointers from a pro on Catalina Island. Top Right: Cubs arriving on steamer pier, 1937 Bottom: Rookie hopeful Bobby Mattick, 1938. fading photographs, sometimes before. serious and sometimes a riot -- As Phil Cavaretta often says, sumptuous stories that are too quoting every good Italian grand- good to have been made up. Won- mother at the dinner table, "Man- derful truths, many stranger than gia, mangia" -- eat, feast, and fiction, many never published most of all -- enjoy. This year's "rally for the cure" golf tournament will be held on Sunday, July 16th 2006 at 10:am. $20 donation for a 9-hole scramble to benefit research for a cure for breast cancer. A no-host luncheon to follow at Steve's Steak House. "mulligans" available for $5, no limit. Sign up at the pro-shop or call 510-0957 by July 14tb. Visitors welcome. Come & join us for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and enjoy the best. View in Avalon! We offer daily food & drink specials And a unique cocktail menu Now serving the largest selection of Microbrews on Catalina Island Be sure to try a pint from The AWARD WINNING Angel City Brewery *Breakfast Served Friday-Saturday 8a.m.-11 a.m. 101 Madlla Ave in The beautiful El Encanto Marketplace For Reservations (310) 510-1474 Delivery also available