By Lew Freedman It was a race that lived up to its billing, a race that was worthy of the advance hype and its place in history. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29, not only filled the venerable Indianapolis Motor Speedway to bursting with 350,000 people in attendance, it delivered a race to be savored. Due to slick planning by his Andretti Autosport team, rookie Alexander Rossi became the champion in the most prestigious automobile race in the world, one that dates back to 1911, and as always it enthralled an audience bedazzled by speed. Rossi, 24, a Californian who has been living in Europe since he was 16 so he could embark on a Formula 1 career, became the freshest face on the IndyCar scene when he almost miraculously nursed 36 laps at 2.5 miles per circle out of speedy race car without stopping for fuel. Every ticket was sold in advance for the race that pays out $13.4 million in prize money, about $2.5 million to the victor. Every angle was scrutinized, yet practically no one in the world would have predicted Rossi as winner and even fewer would have guessed how he would out-run Carlos Munoz and Josef Newgarden, the second- and third-place finishers. "At least people had an amazing show to watch for the 100th running," said Newgarden, disappointed at not being the winner. It was a fabulous show. Anyone lucky enough to attend experienced a glorious day and that included the weather of 81 degrees and mostly sunny after weather forecasts called for thunderstorms. The start was clean, the lead changes frequent. Thirteen of the 33 racers led at one time or another and there were 54 lead changes, the second most in a single race. Although there were several crashes, they were minor in nature with all drivers able to climb out of their cars under their own power. Safety focus and protection is better than ever at the Speedway. This latest chapter in "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing" was indeed grand spectacle. In Rossi's case, if he goes on to become a perennial all-star driver everyone will recall that he entered the big-time in Indianapolis on a pleasant day in May. And did so under the mostly highly pressurized of circumstances and was transformed from unknown to household name overnight. About Lew Freedman: Lew Freedman's most recent book is The Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing. He is a prize-winning sportswriter and former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska, and The Republic in Columbus, Indiana. He also worked on the staffs of the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer. Freedman is the author of numerous sports books, many on the White Sox, Cubs, and baseball history. This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
It's an exciting time in May at the Motor Speedway the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 race quickly approaches. The following is an excerpt from Lew Freedman's book, The Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing. Enjoy The Beginning... The first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911 when the “Average Joe” in the United States did not even own a car for private transportation, or at least one that had an enclosed body and could take him very far. Compared to the cars on the road these days, passenger cars moved at the speed of golf carts, so right from the beginning, just being able to watch a race car speed around an oval at more than ninety mph was breathtaking. Initially construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not aimed at auto racing, but automobile development. Indianapolis was vying to become the nation’s motor vehicle center, competing against Detroit for the soul of the industry. Detroit had Henry Ford. Indianapolis wanted to lure manufacturers with a splendiferous testing facility. The world’s most famous automobile race was begun as a tenant for the Speedway, which opened its doors in 1909 and successfully attracted crowds well into the thousands for motorcycle racing and other events. The Speedway itself was a showplace from the start and it took almost no time before the Indianapolis 500 race added more cache to its fundamental reason for being. From its inception – and its reputation only grown and enhanced – the Indy 500 was the longest, most prestigious, most popular, and most exciting automobile race in the world. This new gravel-and-tar track built for $250,000 on 328 acres of what had been farmland six mile west of the city at the (now-famous address) corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road lured fans fascinated by speed. About the Author: Lew Freedman is author of over 75 books including JUMP SHOT: Kenny Sailors, Basketball Innovator and Alaskan Outfitter.
By James Alexander Thom, author of the new historical novel, Fire in the Water Presidential politics have always been vicious, slanderous and brutal, and often ridiculous. This isn't something new. Abraham Lincoln was easy to mock, as a gangly, homely, back-country bumpkin. And he was surely hated and scorned more in his presidential tenure than anyone else was, before or since, because he got into office at this country's cruelest moment, when Americans were eager to kill each other over their beliefs. That hatred cost him his life, in the instant form of a pistol bullet, fired by a man who was deranged by hatred. That bullet killed him as four years of personal agony had not been able to do, although a part of him died every tragic day that he was in the White House. Lincoln was a moody, tortured man, in person. Though he hated war, he spent his entire time in office having to make the decisions that resulted in the deaths and maimings of hundreds of thousands of his fellow Americans. The casualty reports of any given day tormented him almost to despair. I have pondered on Abe Lincoln for eighty years. Much of my life was shaped by him, even when I didn't yet understand that. I grew up in the Union he gave his life and soul to preserve. Many of my ancestors gave their lives and souls to serve his goals. As a professional writer, I judge Lincoln as the best writer who was ever President of this country, or maybe any country. Shakespeare couldn't have written the Second Inaugural Address better. And as a man who likes and needs to laugh pretty often, I understand that humor is our survival kit in the hardest times. I am sure it was Lincoln's. That tragic, tortured man was a famous joker. Someone once said that while the Confederate women gathered to sew uniforms for the Rebs, Yankee women gathered to make up funny Lincoln stories. But he made up plenty of his own, often at his own expense. I often envision him as "Abraham winkin'." Once when a political opponent accused him of being two-faced, Lincoln said, "I leave it to my audience. If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?" I'm happy that I lived long enough to get around to writing about Lincoln. Fire in the Water is another outstanding historical novel by James Alexander Thom . He doesn't actually appear alive in any scene of my novel, Fire in the Water, but his spirit is the force that drives the book's whole narrative, and inspires the protagonists to stay alive through the hardest hours of their lives. That is my tribute to Abraham Lincoln, who, like me, grew to adulthood in Southern Indiana, and, like me, was born in a log cabin. --James Alexander Thom, novelist James Alexander is the author of Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky (for which he won the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur Award for best historical novel), Sign-Talker, The Children of First Man, The Red Heart and Saint Patrick s Battalion. Thom is an inductee of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. His thoroughly-researched historical novels have sold more than two million copies. He was the inaugural winner of the Indiana Author Award in 2009. Two of his novels were made into television movies, by Hallmark and by Ted Turner. A Marine veteran, Thom lives in rural Owen County with his wife, Dark Rain, with whom he co-authored Warrior Woman. He is now at work on another American Indian novel, and a memoir.
This Day in Yankee History: Oct. 1, 1949 Joe DiMaggio But proved his ability immediately with the Yankees, winning the American League pennant and the World Series in 1949 and winning both crowns again in 1950 and 1951. Having talent on the roster did make a difference. DiMaggio might have been as big a celebrity as there was in the big town, but now Stengel had a resume that screamed loudly. Stengel was never going to win a popularity contest with DiMaggio in New York if he felt he had to bench him and DiMaggio squawked, but it didn’t come to that. DiMaggio had so many physical ailments, bone spurs on both heels and bone chips in his elbow, it probably did not surprise anyone when in mid-September of the 1949 season when he came down with a mild case of pneumonia and missed another chunk of time. He was apparently worn out. On October 1, the last day of the 1949 season, the star was honored with a Joe DiMaggio Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. Team officials were probably wondering how long DiMaggio would continue to play and just in case his setbacks led to him making a decision to retire in the off-season they wished to honor him while he was still in uniform. The fans wanted to be there, too, and 69,551 turned out. In a speech to the fans, DiMaggio said that when he was a rookie headed to the Big Apple, Lefty O’Doul, who was managing the San Francisco Seals and had once hit as high as .398 in the majors, took the young DiMaggio aside to offer advice. DiMaggio said O’Doul told him not to be scared of New York City because it was really the friendliest of towns. “This day proves it,” DiMaggio said. He thanked Stengel, friends and teammates, whom he called “the fightingest bunch that ever lived.” Bronx Bomber will not only cover the great hitters and their hitting careers, it will also cover many of the iconic home runs. Excerpted from Bronx Bombers: Yankee Home Run History by Lew Freedman published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group. For more of Yankee home run history, pick up your copy of Bronx Bomber today. Like us on Facebook, Cardinal Publishers Group. Follow us on Twitter @Cardinal_Pub
August 2015 / 1976, 1973, 1979 This Day in Yankee History Let's take a look at this month in Yankee history - August. Catchers are often the closest thing to true warriors in baseball and Thurman Munson was one of those guys. Munson was a good hitter, an excellent fielder, and a great leader. Every good team must have one and Munson filled that role for the Yankees. As an illustration of that the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Munson was anointed team captain of the club in 1976. It was the first time the Yankees named a captain since Lou Gehrig completed his New York career in 1939. Munson grew up in Ohio, played at Kent State, was a high draft of the Yankees in 1968, and spent only one season in the minors. By August of 1979 Munson had been selected to seven All-Star teams. He broke into the majors in 1969 with a brief showing, but was rookie of the year in 1970. In 1976, Munson was the American League’s MVP. Six times he hit at least 10 home runs in a season, with a high of 20 in 1973. As of early August of 1979, Munson had appeared in 97 games for the Yankees and was batting .288. He was in his 11th season with the club. A proud man Munson was often compared to Boston’s Carlton Fisk as one of the two best catchers in the American League, and to Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds, in a debate over who was the best of the trio in Major League baseball. Munson wore a walrus mustache and could be gruff in his relations with sportswriters. Unlike some earlier generations of Yankees, Munson could not count on playing in the World Series every year. But he helped make New York good enough for the Yankees to appear in three Series in a row between 1976 and 1978. Whether it was the American League Championship Series or the World Series, Munson was always clutch in the playoffs. His lifetime average in three of each of those types of series was .378. In the ’76 World Series versus Cincinnati Munson batted .529 ...And that is what happened this month in Yankee history - August. Bronx Bomber will not only cover the great hitters and their hitting careers, it will also cover many of the iconic home runs. Excerpted from Bronx Bombers: Yankee Home Run History by Lew Freedman published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group. For more of Yankee home run history, pick up your copy of Bronx Bomber today. Brought to you by CPG News & Information
If you were wondering what took place this day, August 6th, in Yankee history, you've come to the right place. Below is an excerpt from Lew Freedman's book, Bronx Bombers: New York Yankees Home Run History, and we wanted to share with you what happened this day in Yankee history. Bronx Bomber will not only cover the great hitters and their hitting careers, it will also cover many of the iconic home runs. There’s nothing like hitting it big in New York, the media capital of the world, and Babe Ruth discovered a way to hit it big that was brand new – by hitting a baseball in a bigger way than anyone else ever had. Ruth showed up at Yankee Stadium, hit home runs, and in an era before baseball teams played night games, he partied the night away. In a famous comment, when newspapermen probed Ruth’s roommate Ping Bodie to ask what the big man was like, Bodie replied, “I don’t know anything about him. I don’t room with him. I room with his suitcase.” Ruth actually began the 1920 season slowly because of a pulled muscle. But then he blasted 11 home runs in May. Up until shortly before that figure would have been sufficient to lead the league for a season. That was the most any player had ever hit in a month. Of course, in June Ruth hit 13 to break his 30-day-old record. The Babe passed 30 home runs – breaking his one-year-old record of 29 – on July 19. In the second game of a double-header against the Chicago White Sox, Ruth went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two homers, leaving him at 31 at the end of the day. Ruth passed 40 home runs in the same manner on August 6. He ripped two homers in an 11-7 victory over the Detroit Tigers, leaving him at 41 upon completion of that game. Ruth notched his historic 50th home run on September 24 against the Washington Senators at the Polo Grounds. However, it came in a loss as the slumping Yankees played themselves out of the pennant race. It was the first game of a double-header which Washington won, 3-1. The pitcher was Jose Acosta, who in a rarity for the time, was from Cuba. The right-hander pitched parts of three seasons in the majors and finished 10-10. Excerpted from Bronx Bombers: New York Yankees Home Run History by Lew Freedman published by Blue River Press and distributed by Cardinal Publishers Group. For more of Yankee home run history, pick up your copy of Bronx Bomber today.