More response to Whitmarsh

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Rod Horrell and his wife owned Dream Dinners, one in West Hills and another in Camarillo. At the end of 2008, they lost the business. Then they lost their home.

Horrell, who calls himself “a big sports fan,” is moving with his family, which includes two young kids, to Monument, Colorado, just north of Colorado Springs, after living in Southern California for their entire lives, more than 40 years.

In response to the column in today’s Daily News on the passing of Mike Whitmarsh (linked here), Rod said he was compelled to send an email.

Here’s part of it:

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Maybe the Dodgers have a job for you

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The Dodgers’ annual job fair, where it fills more than 500 employment spots — ushers, security, maintence and food service — runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stadium Club and third baseline suites.

Candidates are asked to enter the Sunset gate to the parking lot starting at 9:30 a.m. to see what positions are available.

The Dodgers say they employ more than 3,000 workers on a typical game day.

Later — March 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — the Dodgers will also co-sponsor a community job fair that brings in more of the public and private companies. Last year, there were about 4,000 people who were able to make contacts with companies such as Bally Fitness, Federal Express, Macy’s, Coca-Cola, Sears, Primerica, USC and the U.S. Secret Service. More info at this link (linked here).

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Cary’d away to a rushmore to judgement … yes, it’s over

From ESPN’s paper-shredding dept., the follow up to such classic you-make-the-call enterprises such “Titletown USA” and “Who’s It”:

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Fans have voted Illinois’ four sports greats – Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks and Mike Ditka – the most impressive quartet of sports icons representing each U.S. State, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to be chiseled on SportsCenter’s “Mt. Rushmore of Sports.” Illinois received 28.6 percent of the votes, beating out the other four finalists – Pennsylvania, California, New York and Alabama.

The five-week series, which began January 18 with fan nominations on ESPN.com and concluded Tuesday with the live announcement of the winning state on the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter, engaged fans with more than 300,000 entries nominating the personalities to represent the states/regions and voting online at different stages of the series. Final voting for the winner from among five finalists began Friday, Feb. 20, and ended Monday, Feb. 23.

How the fans voted:

Illinois: 28.6 percent took Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks, Mike Ditka

Pennsylvania: 25.5 took Joe Paterno, Mario Lemieux, Roberto Clemente, Wilt Chamberlain

California: 17.4 took Tiger Woods, John Wooden, Magic Johnson, Jackie Robinson

New York: 15.4 took Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Joe Namath

Alabama: 13.1 took Hank Aaron, Bear Bryant, Bo Jackson, Willie Mays

Now is it time to play the Benny Hill theme music and move onto the next waste of time?

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Our Daily Dread: The ire of the Tiger

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T-minus (whatever it is until 11 a.m.) for Tiger Woods’ reentry into our golf TV box.

Can you feel it? It’s like a heavyweight bout, waiting for the champ to come out of his locker room, the lights dim, the music blares (“Eye of the Tiger” seems appropriate) and wearing a glittering robe with the hood over his head, he emerges to the roar of the crowd.

Unfortunately — or fortunately for golf — Tiger won’t have that kind of entrance today at the ritzy Ritz Carlton Golf Club just outside of Tucson for today’s Match Play Championship (official site linked here). It starts a day earlier than most PGA Tour events because this is special — the top 64 players, according to ranking, play head to head until it’s down to the final two on Sunday.

Kinda like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

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Which puts Tiger Woods in the UConn slot — without coach Calhoun yelling at the gallery to get their facts straight — and No. 64 Brendan Jones of Australia in the role of … Slippery Rock. Maybe it’s more like Whatsa Matta U.

Their match coincides with the start of Golf Channel’s coverage today, lasting until 3 p.m. Or, if there’s more drama, staying with it until past the end, plus interviews,analysis, re-analysis, more interviews, shot charts, FloBee informercials and a cooking show with Rachel Ray.

Tiger will walk the 18 holes that he didn’t feel like walking at Riviera Country Club last week. Had he played in the PGA’s Northern Trust Open, he’d have been on the hook for four rounds (probably), two at the embarassingly least. Here, in Match Play, he can go two rounds, play reasonably well, get knocked out and still have some dignity. After two days, half of the world’s top 64 players are eliminated. There’s no real shame in that. Tiger tucks his tail between his legs and goes back to his nuclear family in Florida.

Those who’ll be most bummed are the guys at NBC. The network has the Saturday and Sunday coverage all planned around a Tiger sighting. The semifinals (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday) and the 36-hole final (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on NBC (supplimented with Golf Channel coverage) best have someone named Sergio, Vijay or AK in the final four or else that compelling golf competition thing is as luring as Scott Hamilton’s Sequined Dudes on Ice special.

“He would not be coming back if he didn’t think he was pretty darn good right now,” said NBC analyst Johnny Miller. “He would not do it. I thought this was the perfect spot for him. He’s probably thinking, ‘Hey I can come back for the Match Play and scare these guys a little bit.’ He’s not here to test his knee, he’s here to win this thing.

“If I was Tiger and I didn’t want to tee it up to answer to a score and I was feeling pretty good, I’d try the Match Play because he can make a couple of doubles and still win your matches as long as you make a bunch birdies. This is a really good way to wet your feet if you’re Tiger Woods … you’re not playing medal play and you’re not answering to a score. Plus he has the intimidation factor going for him. It will be tough for Tiger to get to the weekend, but knowing Tiger he’s probably ready, far more than ready.”

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As the coverman of this week’s Sports Illustrated, Tiger Woods’ return means that “people (can) escape their troubles by watching sports, and this is the biggest sports story we have going right now,” said Tommy Roy, the executive producer of golf at NBC Sports, in that story. “He’s so likeable in the way that he plays, it sucks you in.”

Don’t get caught in the ire of the Tiger this weekend if your name happens to pop up next to his in the bracket. Play your game and see how that works for you. Just don’t cry like a schoolgirl when he’s walking off the course after the 13th hole with a 6 and 5 victory. Or however the score these things. Stableford, right?

Will Woods be as sharp this weekend as John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers, something of a threat like Oliver Purnell’s Clemson Tigers, or smart enough like the players on Craig Robinson’s Sydney Johnson’s Princeton Tigers to walk off the course if there’s some pain in that rebuilt knee?

Which school that uses the Tigers’ mascot to you lean to in this scenario? Comment or email at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com.

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Our Daily Dread: More people at Whit’s end

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Reaction to yesterday’s “Daily Dread” blog post (linked here) on how Mike Whitmarsh dealt with his demons will touch more than we care to think about. On many levels.

Rather than rant on about something else that really, is just about sports, an email I received from someone who seems to have benefitted from reading the post yesterday, which was turned into a column in today’s South Bay Daily Breeze (linked here) and will be updated to appear in Wednesday’s L.A. Daily News:

Very nice column. Very classy and touching. Thanks for writing it.

When I read about Whit last week I was taken back. One would think that a Gold medal winner, AVP champion, a nice house, seemingly no money worries with a wife – albeit
in trouble evidently – and two daughters would basically have the world by the tail.

If I had the chance to talk with him beforehand that is what I would have said.

But I am on the opposite end of the scale. I used to work in sports administration. Just turned 60. Haven’t had a full time job in a year. Can’t get a decent paying job worth my experience. I am “over qualified” for most. Others, i.e., young bucks, are scared because they think I’ll take their jobs. Now applying for minimum wage jobs.

After 39 years and eight months of a spotless credit history my credit report is ruined and has cost me one job at least. I can’t climb out via minimum wage jobs.

I’ve got no money left to pay rent this Sunday. No family. No pension. No where to turn. No future.

I am where Whit was but at the other end.

Sports teams are laying off employees just like everyone else. Nothing seems to be recession proof.

Many of us are literally at Whit’s end.

Again, don’t end it that way. Talk it out. Find a friend who’ll listen more than talks and offers advice.

There are many services available at local churches — free — that deal with all kinds of emotional needs and have referral services.

Personally, I’ve been down that dark alley before. Almost hauntingly like the one Whitmarsh faced last week. A divorce that involves kids is horrible on many levels, no matter how “easy” it may seem.

It’s not as simple as popping a couple of Prozac and feeling better.

Imagine the poor among us who’ve been knocked down even lower on the dignity chain because of all this.

Grind it out. Don’t grind ourself out because of something that seems hopeless.

More comments and emails can be sent to thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com

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More on Hank Gathers

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In reference to Sunday’s column on Loyola High players Jordan Gathers and Nick Lucenti (linked here), a followup to the blog posting we began last Tuesday (linked here), author Kyle Keiderling dropped a note to say he’s coming out with a book this November called “Heart of a Lion: The life, death and legacy of Hank Gathers.”

Keiderling wrote the 2005 book about the life story of Bevo Francis (linked here) — who in the 1950s scored 100 points in a game twice for tiny Rio Grande College in Ohio.

Keiderling is also constructing a website — www.hankgathersbook.com — where pre- publication copies may be reserved.

And, yes, for those who remember — a 1992 made-for-TV movie called “Final Shot: The Hank Gathers Story” has been available on DVD (linked here). Nell Carter plays Gather’s mom, Lucille, and George Kennedy plays Gathers’ Philadelphia-based priest, Father Dave.

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Sports Museum of L.A. closes to general public

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Less than three months after staging a grand ceremony to open the doors to his new Sports Museum of L.A., curator and collector Gary Cypres decided to close access to the public because of a lack of patrons during the recent turn in the economy.

The 32,000-square-foot museum, which opened on the Friday after Thanksgiving (story linked here), closed this last weekend and will remain so to the public until this summer, according to a message posted on its website (linked here). It had been charging $17.50 a ticket to adults and $11 to children aged 5-12.

A spokesman for the museum said Cypress was not getting the attendance he had hoped for — it was open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday — and the overhead costs, which included security, was too great to keep it operational on a daily basis.

Cypress still has the museum available to groups of more than 15 (with a reservation) and to private parties looking for stage fundraising events. The museum is offering refunds to those who have bought gift certificates.

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The museum, at 1900 S. Main Street in L.A., contains about 10,000 artifacts valued at more than $30 million, including a T206 Honus Wagner trading card; balls from Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, including the last caught by Cleveland’s Ken Keltner to end it; several unique Babe Ruth uniforms; Barry Bonds’ 755th home run ball; the 1941 Heisman Trophy awarded to Minnesota’s Bruce Smith; the original cornerstone from Yankee Stadium in 1923; the first balls used at Ebbets Field (1913) and Fenway Park (1912), and Gary Cooper’s gray New York jersey worn when he portrayed Lou Gehrig in the movie “Pride of the Yankees”

We can’t say we didn’t see this coming. In early December, we ran across a story about the financial problems that the Sports Museum of American in New York was having (linked here).

Then came the news today: That museum decided Friday to close its doors, as well as shutdown its website, because of financial difficulties. A spokesman said the museum is in the process of “implementing an orderly process to ensure the safe return of all the artifacts.” It opened in May, 2008.

Nine months ago, the museum that was the new home for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, reopened after it restructured its debts. It also houses the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center. Yet the museum was hurt by a $6 million construction cost overrun that ate into the its marketing budget.

Operational costs by individual operators of museums are too tough to manage. Most museums are owned by cities or counties, or have large fundraisers and memberships, to keep them sustained. A museum for sports is a fine idea — that’s what the Hall of Fame for baseball, football, basketball and hockey have found. But even they struggle with attendance and ticket pricing. They have to change to keep people coming back. The same exhibits in the same places work to an extent.

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Cypress’ hurdle is probably that he started a collection of sports memorabilia and never intended it to be a museum. It doesn’t cover everything, and it’s not really L.A.-centric. Cypress was hoping also to come up with some naming rights to the place. On top of all that, it’s not in a place that’s convenient to general public traffic. Had it found a home in L.A. Live, or at Staples Center, that might be much easier to access. Instead it’s east of all that activity, in a part of downtown that may someday become revived as a business district, but right now sits in a somewhat destitute, run-down section near the L.A. Mart.

Cypress has had plenty of problems to date just to get this place open to the public. The shame is that even targeting this summer as a time to reopen can’t be guaranteed.

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Our Daily Dread: Mike Whitmarsh … why?

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A handful of Mike Whitmarsh’s friends went ahead with plans to hook up last Friday and have some fun watching the PGA’s Northern Trust Open event at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades.

Smoke some cigars. Have a few beers. Enjoy each other’s company. Then head over to the Laker game.

Whitmarsh wasn’t able to join them.

What his pals believe is an apparent accidental suicide messed up his plans. He was 46.

The obituaries about Whitmarsh (beach volleyball database bio here) will read that he was survived by his wife Cindy and two young girls. His friends will painfully admit one of the great players in beach volleyball history, who only turned to the sport at a relatively late age after his shot as a standout college basketball player didn’t quite parlay into an NBA career, was in the process of getting a divorce. He had, in fact, just signed the papers grant it to his wife.

“We are all devastated by the passing of Mike,” Cindy Whitmarsh said in a statement issued last week. “His family, friends, teammates and colleagues will miss him terribly. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time; it means more than we can express.”

Mike Whitmarsh may have seemed OK on the outside. He wasn’t OK on the inside.

Speculate about why Whitmarsh would choose to end his life — and his friends have been struggling with that since hearing the news of it happening last Tuesday.

He seemed to have such a cool life. And such a legacy. Why would he want to end it? It made, and still makes, no sense.

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Our Daily Dread, Saturday edition: Trying to figure out the Legacy of Jeremy Lusk

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By John Marshall
The Associated Press

Brian Deegan was home in Southern California when he got a call.

Jeremy Lusk, a member of Deegan’s Metal Mulisha team, crashed at an event in Costa Rica, he was told.

No big deal, Deegan figured. Freestyle motocross is filled with hard crashes. Most of the top riders had been through their share; Deegan broke both wrists and his thigh bone in one, shattered a kidney in another.

This one was different.

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