Saturday, August 30, 2008


I was telephoned yesterday by the Dallas, Texas Area chapter of the American Red Cross and put on standby as a manager for one of the Dallas area shelters in the event that Hurricane Gustav strengthened requiring the evacuation of the Louisiana and Texas Gulf coast. Overnight Gustav suddenly strengthened into a strong Category 3 hurricane with winds up to 125 miles per hour – and getting stronger (shades of Katrina). Well, as I am writing this post the Weather Channel announced that Gustav has now been upgraded to a Category 4 with sustained winds in its now well defined eye clocked at 145 miles per hour. Yes, it’s still strengthening… Hurricane Fay was but a harbinger of Gustav and now even Gustav may be beckoning what is now Tropical Storm Hanna...

I received another call from Dallas Red Cross with the news that the City of Dallas is now going to also reopen the Dallas Convention Center and would I work with AM shelter manager and Friend Gary Wilkins? You betcha! Dallas and north Texas are expecting 8,500 or more evacuees from the Gulf coast to start arriving late today.

On Wednesday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (why didn’t McCain pick him?) declared a state of emergency and requested a presidential pre-landfall disaster declaration. President Bush immediately declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, a move that allows the federal government to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance in storm-affected areas. All this sure makes Jindal’s predecessor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
look even more incompetent than she was.

Furthermore, Governor Jindal activated 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen, and triggered preparation measures for the potential evacuation and shelter of affected Louisiana residents and enjoined the American Red Cross to be on alert. Governor Rick Perry of Texas also issued orders Friday deploying 7,500 Texas National Guard troops to Beaumont, Houston and Galveston. But back to Louisiana.

Admirably, and all in direct contrast to his predecessor, Louisiana Governor Jindal has engaged a specific working timeline with his disaster and emergency services staff to include the scheduling of the evacuation of hospitals, nursing/retirement homes, animal shelters and even the start of contra-flow traffic out of Louisiana as early as Saturday, August 30 – two to three days before estimated landfall. Residents of Louisiana can even sign up for critical cell phone alerts and status on the weather. Your tax dollars really at work. So screw any states rights or sovereignty lip synch, FEMA and other federal and local agencies (including the Red Cross and those great Southern Baptist Men with their mobile kitchens and feeding stations) are already in place along the entire Gulf coast. The Baptists even told me they would take a sometimes Episcopalian!

New Orleans and surrounding areas have now engaged voluntary evacuations while Mayor Ray Nagin of “Chocolate City” fame has ordered the mandatory evacuation of all visitors to the City of New Orleans. Well done! We understand that the Superdome under no circumstances will be used to shelter displaced citizens. Again, well done!

The Dallas Independent School District has sent 100 school buses to assist with any evacuation effort from Louisiana. Other school districts are doing the same and authorities are also engaging virtually all forms of transportation to include rail. We have learned our lesson well.

As already reflected, the American Red Cross has been in place for several days and continues to set up shelters across the States of Louisiana and Texas to accommodate what is estimated to be a substantial evacuee population. If the traffic coming out of Louisiana and the Texas Gulf coast is any indication, everybody is paying attention. Texas is ready to once again assist our neighbors.

Those citizenry in the watch area that aren’t wisely headed to safe areas like north Texas are, no doubt, contributing to the gross sales of Wally World (milk, bread and toilet paper) and Home Depot (plywood and generators). These two companies have been herculean in their corporate efforts to help folks prepare for these conditions and then contributing a sizable part of those profits to disaster relief. Believe me, I have seen hundreds of pallets of relief goods from both these companies.

But, you can also contribute to this effort. Go and Volunteer to help your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Even as you read this post, some of the folks from your local chapter are being deployed to assist in what will be a most challenging disaster relief effort. So, if you’re from Dallas, TX; Charlotte, NC; southeastern Michigan; South Bend, IN; Atlanta, GA; Providence, RI; Seattle, WA or any other part of our great country, get out there and do something positive!


Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Much to the chagrin of many of her great citizenry, Frisco, Texas has once again hit the national news and for reasons that conjure up memories of the 2006 debacle that involved Sydney McGee the once teacher from Fisher Elementary School in Frisco.

Veteran art teacher McGee who taught in Texas school districts for 28 years arranged and secured approval for an April, 2006 field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Apparently one of those 89 fifth-graders while in the museum and on their way to their exhibition happened to see in passing what was characterized as an “abstract nude" and later correctly identified as a Greek funerary relief from 4 BCE depicting a nude male torso in marble. Should we note that the field trip was accompanied by twelve parents?

Well, we all know what happened from that point. One parent (not in attendance) later complained and all of a sudden performance issues miraculously surfaced all culminating with the suspension and ultimate termination of McGee. The school district in an ultimate deflection states they didn’t fire her, they just didn’t renew her contract.

Now there is no doubt that this whole issue was handled very badly by Frisco ISD who embarrassed themselves, their community and the State of Texas. Though we will probably never know the real truth about all the issues it sure appears to be a matter of convenience and timing invoking the three versions of any story – theirs, mine and the real truth. If McGee was such a bad teacher why was she allowed to teach for 28 years? If McGee was such a bad teacher why did McKinney ISD provide her with a favorable performance review? I agree that if teachers fail to perform they should be given counseling and the necessary tools to do the job and that failing, held ultimately accountable for that failure.

I will concede at least that and hope that all parties would have learned that mutual respect, honesty, effective communications and fairness are four principles, which if invoked, might have prevented this tragedy.

Ultimately, Frisco, Texas and their ISD were held up to the ridicule of not just a nation, but the world and you would think someone would have noticed and learned.

Now comes Stonebriar the exclusive gated community of, yes, Frisco, Texas who through the Stonebriar Home Owners Association (HOA) told resident Jim Greenwood that he couldn’t park his Ford 150 pickup truck in his driveway overnight. They cited Jim three times for violating a subdivision rule that prohibited, “pickup trucks in your driveway."

Several of my Friends (with me close behind) immediately assumed that Greenwood’s truck was perhaps a junker and eyesore that my own City of Richardson would gloriously (to great applause) pull off the streets. Not so, the F-150 is a good looking 2007 model – I've seen the photos.

Well, we soon found out through an inquisitive media that Stonebriar HOA board members had changed their own rules, making exceptions for several luxury pick-up trucks, to include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline and the Lincoln Mark LT.

Jim, and not defiantly so, petitioned the Stonebriar HOA board for a review of that policy. Local Dallas television station WFAA noted the response of Bill Osborn, chairman of the Stonebriar HOA board, who stated they also prohibit boats, trailers, golf carts and RVs in driveways. But Osborn didn’t stop there, "The high-end vehicles that are allowed are plush with amenities and covers on the back. It doesn't look like a pickup. It's fancier." When reminded that the Lincoln Mark LT was just a dressed up version of the Ford 150, Osborn is reputed to have responded, 'It's our belief that Lincoln markets to a different class of people.” With that statement Mr. Osborn waded into Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and The Mere of Dead Faces.

Greenwood who continues his petition with the Stonebriar HOA and is now compliantly parking his Ford inside his garage (I would at least leave the door open) has communicated that, "Furthermore, one board member told my wife, that if we don't like it, we can move."

Now, I need to ask why Jim didn’t read the fine print of what appears to be incredibly restrictive covenants. Having said that how many of us take the gazillion hours to do that trusting to the good faith of our hosts? Remember your last closing?

The tragedy here is the arrogance, snobbery and the absolute stupidity of allowing and then enforcing this kind of covenant. HOA’s have brought such incredible negative attention to themselves because of this kind of onerous hedonism. The state legislature here in Texas and others around the country are now considering action to severely limit the power of HOAs because of activities like this.

Now the really interesting twist here is that our Mr. Greenwood just happens to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Concentra, one of the largest health care companies in the United States. The significance of the disagreement with some of his neighbors is the mature and classy way that he has handled the situation. Jim thought to share some of his thoughts on the Concentra web site at (

“As the CEO of a major health care company, I’m sometimes quoted in interviews, press releases, and other communications. But I’m currently at the center of a media story that’s unrelated to my position at Concentra. And yet, in the way that separate things can be somehow related, I see some interesting connection points between the two. And that’s what I’ve chosen as the subject of my first blog.

In short, members of my homeowners’ association maintain that our 2007 Ford pickup is not classy enough for our neighborhood and needs to be parked in our garage. When I pointed out that the F-150 is practically identical to a Lincoln Mark LT, which is one of five trucks allowed by the ordinance, the response was that “Lincoln markets to a different class of people.” To me, this position is not only unreasonable but disrespectful to people who make the vehicle in our driveway.

Here are the connection points. The company I help lead serves the country’s major automakers and their employees; in fact, we see close to 30,000 patients every day, most of whom are working men and women. These people help make America great, and they deserve respect and care. When we were developing Concentra’s new mission, vision, and value statements early this year, we felt it was critically important to bring respectful care and customer service back to health care. Our vision is to “redefine patient care by treating individuals to a welcoming, respectful, and skillful experience.” Regardless of the zip code they live in, the vehicle they drive, or the clothes they wear.

My company is also concerned about the health crisis in America: the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions is rising at an alarming rate. Working Americans are at the center of this crisis, and we think they deserve access to quality, affordable health care options. We’re working hard to develop a wide range of health and wellness services that are available at the workplace, online, and near people’s homes. These include biometric testing, health coaching, weight loss and smoking cessation classes, urgent care, and many others. I think everyone would agree that the health care system has both problems and potential, and we want to harness that potential to make a real difference in people’s lives.

I think this story about me and my truck resonates with people because it points to the basic values of reasonableness, fairness, and respect. But no matter how my personal situation is resolved, Concentra and I will continue working tirelessly to achieve our mission: improving America’s health, one patient at a time.”

Well stated. Sounds like a company I want to do business with…

Some feel that Jim in his spare time should run for the Stonebriar HOA and affect some positive reform and insure that a better class of people will work for the best interests of all in the community.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Despite the recent events of the first week of the 2008 Bejing Summer Olympics that include the incredibly naive misstep by the Spanish Men's Basketball Team, the babies on the Chinese Ladies Gymnastic Team, the ongoing supression by the Chinese government of the world media and much more I had the oportunity to wax eloquent on a variety of topics. I have chosen a more mundane, discreet path that will keep me out of the politics of the aforementioned situations save a sincere, "Shame on you" admonition.

Towards that end I just received another response to my October 7, 2007 post Proud To Be a Canadian??? where I had originally responded to what were the ramblings of an egomaniacal Canadian intent to “up” the Canadian experience and “down” America by spouting some gibberish about Canadian inventions. One of those was the certainty that Canadians had invented baseball. Let it be said now and forever, I frankly don’t care who invented the game whether it be Canadian, Russian, Chinese, Scottish or for that matter, any other nationality. It’s just nice to embrace the truth.

Admittedly, since my youth I have been cursed with stories of iconic and apparently mythological import that Abner Doubleday of Cooperstown, NY had invented that most American of pastimes, baseball. I initially offered that Doubleday or the equally iconic Alexander Cartwright of Hoboken, NJ were the Americans attributed with the invention of the modern game. Along with Ken Burns I was wrong about Doubleday who has now been discredited.

This respectful Canadian (whose privacy I will protect) accurately opined to the contrary though ignoring the Cartwright connection. She offered the opportunity to further my research into this subject. Her e-mail and my most recent response follow.

“I just came across your blog. While I have to agree with most of what you write, my quibble would be with 4. The oldest verifiable use of the word baseball comes from an Ontario newspaper in 1838.

Just as you believe that ice hockey is derived from the Scottish game shinty, there are those that believe that baseball is derived from an English (Irish?) game called rounders.

As far as Abner Doubleday being the inventor of baseball, I would submit his 37 volume daily journal as proof to the contrary. Not once is the game or the idea of baseball mentioned, which would be impossible if he had actually invented the game.

A Canadian...”

Here is my response.

Thanks for your welcome response. The origins of baseball have been the subject of much debate and my opinions also continue to evolve. The observations in my Blog related directly to the modern game as we know it today though I now emphatically concede that Doubleday was not involved in the invention of baseball at all. With one American myth dispelled let's reflect further on the reality of the origins of the game.

Most now agree that Alexander Cartwright (1820–1892) of Hoboken, NJ (photo above) who founded the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York (named after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company where Cartwright was a volunteer firefighter) was the “Father of Modern Baseball.” The Knickerbockers had played a recreational bat and ball game among themselves called the Town Game. When the Knickerbockers lost their free playing field in 1845 and had to start paying for the privilege, they founded a paying league whereupon Cartwright and a committee first drew up rules that eventually became known as the Knickerbocker Rules. These 20 rules are believed to be the basis for and evolution of the Town Game into the modern game of baseball. Cartwright is credited for the concepts of: fair and foul territory; three strikes per out; three outs per inning; nine players per side; and ninety feet between bases. We need note that while others have also been credited, Cartwright is thought to be one of the first to draw a diagram of a diamond shaped field. In recognition of his contributions, Cartwright was officially credited by the United States Congress on June 3, 1953, with inventing the modern game of baseball and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cartwright then and for the rest of his life took baseball to the next level.

I do disagree that your 1838 Ontario newspaper reference to "baseball" is proof positive that the game was invented in Canada. In short, your claim that the first use of the word “baseball” comes from an Ontario newspaper in 1838 bears scrutiny. Actually this supposed first recorded account of a baseball game, which allegedly occurred in Beechville, Ontario on June 4, 1838, was actually a letter apparently written by Dr. Adam E. Ford, and then recounted in a letter by Ontario resident Dr. Matthew Harris that was published 38 years later on May 5, 1886, in a magazine called Sporting Life.

In this letter, many of the elements of what was evolving into baseball were described including bases/byes (5), base lines, distance from the pitcher to the home bye, Innings, types of pitches and three outs, among others.

There is no doubt that some of the elements of modern baseball were coming together. This letter is recognized by many as perhaps first documented evidence of a baseball game in Canada not the first game of baseball

There were much earlier references to baseball. I would draw your attention to a 1791 bylaw in Pittsfield, MA which only four years after the US Constitution was ratified, "banned the playing of baseball within 80 yards of the town meeting house." The statute also mentions other prohibited games to include wicket, cricket, batball, football, cats and fives. I have seen a woodcutting depicting an American bat and ball game dated in 1833 reflects in its very comprehensive history of baseball that The Boy's Own Book first published in Boston in 1829, referred to a game called "Round Ball," "Base" and "Goal Ball" and the first documentation of a game more closely related to modern baseball. The article included a field diagram with locations noted for bases all arranged in a diamond. Other early 19th century American newspapers regularly mentioned games such as "Bass-Ball," "Base," "Base Ball," "Base-Ball," "Goal Ball" and "Town Ball." Hmm, I wonder if Dr. Ford or Alexander Cartwright saw this article? continues reflecting that “The first town ball club to adopt a constitution was the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia, founded in 1833. It was formed by combining two associations of Town Ball players. One of the Town Ball associations may have begun play in the spring of 1831, in Camden, NJ on Market Street.” And so it goes on…

Please note that my remarks in that original post were more a reaction to the mostly ridiculous rantings of someone trying to up the Canadian image, no matter the truth. Canadians don't need to cop to some false sense of accomplishment when they have so many legitimate and laudable achievements.

I absolutely agree that the modern game of baseball is based in part on earlier versions of rounders, a similar English (Irish) bat and ball game and the more formal game of cricket. But that's recent history. The Scots also had their version of a bat and ball game. As my anthropology DNA kicks in we need note that there is also evidence that the Romans played a similar game and in more recent history (the 14th century) the Russians had a bat and ball game they called Lapta.

According to highly respected Wikipedia, "Americans played a version of the English game rounders in the early 1800s which they called "Town Ball". In fact, early forms of baseball had a number of names, including "Base Ball", "Goal Ball", "Round Ball", "Fletch-catch", and simply "Base". In at least one version of the game, teams pitched to themselves, runners went around the bases in the opposite direction of today's game, and players could be put out by being hit with the ball like in Schlagball. Like today, however, it was three strikes and you're out."

It is almost amusing that the Americans at one point during the early development of baseball wanted to do everything they could to draw a distinction between rounders and baseball.

There is no doubt that whoever invented the game probably borrowed from many different versions of previous "bat and ball" games and that appropriately reflects both the Canadian and American distinguished pool of émigrés from all over the world. If the basis for the modern game was invented by someone other than those cited herein then they were obviously not well served by a lethargic media proving again that it always comes down to who timely writes the history.

When it comes to ice hockey we could give the ultimate credit to our First Nation Brothers and Sisters in present day Canada though we cannot be assured that other native peoples (like lacrosse) were not playing a similar game in other northern latitudes. Again, the Scots looking to busy themselves during the dark days of winter may have gotten the nod because of their proximity to someone who could write.

But, back to baseball. Frank Ceresi in The Origins of Baseball (Baseball Almanac, 07-2004) stated, "In truth, the game evolved over many decades, if not centuries, and its roots are, in reality, a tangled web of bat and ball games brought to this country by immigrants." It would be nice to think that there was some interaction, however subtle, between, those who were playing a similar game.

I also want to note that since Canada didn’t become a country until July 1, 1867 - well after the invention of the game - can the claim be made that a Canadian…………
well, you get my drift…

We can agree on one thing- that the history of baseball can parallel the history of America. Baseball has evolved into a uniquely American pastime where according to Ken Burns, “Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time's constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime.”

Even though other nations have embraced and in some cases surpassed our ability on the diamond, it’s still American. As Walt Whitman stated in a different time, “Well — it's our game; that's the chief fact in connection with it; America's game; it has the snap, go, fling of the American atmosphere; it belongs as much to our institutions; fits into them as significantly as our Constitution's laws; is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”

Thanks for your input and note that I have already corrected my post.

All the Best, Aye

Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I watched in amazement at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics also known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad of the Modern Era.

During the initial broadcast I was at another far more important function, the 30th birthday party of the daughter of a great Friend. I found myself in a sea of incredibly talented, erudite young adults who I am proud to say will hopefully be the inheritors of our planet. They appear that they will have the motivation and ability to clean up our mess. Well, I ended up waking up around 4:00 am and turned the TV on to NBC where, not to my commercial surprise, was a repeat of the Olympic opening ceremony.

It seems appropriate to use the US marketing phrase, we have been supersized! The pomp and circumstance punctuated by the colorful pageantry and costuming, fireworks, music (that included one of my favorites: Sarah Brightman), special effects and the spectacular lighting of the Olympic Torch by Chinese gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Li Ning, who appeared to run through air around the top ring of the stadium before touching off the torch (WOW!), seemed well beyond our most outrageous expectations.

The venue of this highly choreographed event is also the centerpiece of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Beijing National Stadium, which has been nicknamed the "Bird’s Nest" given its inventive and magnificent nest-like skeletal structure
. There was a lot of concern about the ability of the structure to endure any of the not uncommon earthquakes that plague China. Well, it did and doubly so and not far in advance of the 8-8-08 opening. In short, the venue and the program were extraordinary.

When you have a totalitarian Communist government and millions (one-fifth of the worlds population) of compliant though apparently very proud citizens, you can pull off such a spectacle and especially one that had to endure many last minute changes in personnel and costume. There has never been a more lavish and exciting opening ceremony in the history of The Olympic Games, period. I noted that they apparently are in love with the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipes which were piped in with some regularity as the countries entered the stadium.

Amidst all this breathtaking (more later) celebration of our Humanity we have seen the pall of the continuing suppression and crackdown by the Chinese Government of those who would protest (among many other issues) the incredible human rights violations against Tibet and her Citizens. I witnessed the removal of three US Citizens and journalists from Tianammen Square who were protesting restrictions on religious freedom in China and apparently forcibly sent back home. Others who from a Chinese perspective might cause unrest just didn’t have their visas approved and were denied entrance to China. It would certainly appear that China has reneged on its pledge to the International Olympic Committee to allow the media to freely report the news.

Whether self fulfilling prophesies, all sorts of groups are now pledging to take this opportunity to express their perspectives about Tibet and a variety of other issues relating to China’s totalitarian regime. A Chinese Al Qaida group as well as Tibetan nationals have pledged in their own special way to disrupt the Olympics to include violence of the first order. With this new Muslim extremist threat it would appear to allow the justification of a more intense crackdown by the Chinese.

While much of this has been heartbreaking and, understandably, very real issues, I suspect that we can pick and choose better ways to try and deflect and eventually stop the slings and arrows of this repressive society. One of the tenets of the ancient Olympic movement was the suspension of war and controversy to even include the guarantee of safe passage of athletes and citizens bound for the Olympics. Though our world has changed, we need to embrace those ideals as best we can. Yes, it takes two cooperating sides…

For fear of coming off as another form of Dixie Chick dissidence, my first reaction is that President Bush’s comments while in Thailand on the eve of the Olympics and his visit to China while absolutely right on, were ill timed. True, while he admonished the Chinese he also praised them for their market reforms further tempering his remarks by saying that China had the right to choose its own course. That immediately brought about a Chinese response that bluntly told Bush to mind his own business and stop meddling in Chinese internal affairs.

We need to let China host the Olympics and then work closely with them to facilitate the change and freedoms that their people and the rest of the world embrace. Methinks that by goading this giant with an electric prod is not as effective as attempting a more covert diplomacy.

That said, what about the pollution in Beijing? The answer is under the careful watch of the Chinese Bureau of Weather Modification? They have even created a forest preserve on a 1,750 site just north of the Olympic Village ostensibly to raise oxygen levels in the area?

Even after pulling half of the city’s 3.3 million automobiles off the road and shutting down scores of factories, pollution levels remain high as witnessed by yesterday’s gray shroud that hung over the city.

Athletes have expressed concerns about their health and their ability to perform at a high level under these conditions. Some have already worn dust masks and respirators even though the Chinese have expressed their offense at this practice. Too bad.

Through all of this a sense of humor especially in the United States seems to prevail. If you haven’t already done so surf on over to YouTube and view the following video - The Onion: The Beijing Olympics - Are They A Trap?

Bottom Line: As messy as this is, these Games are all about sport not politics. The Olympic Games are intended to be competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries though we have all gotten caught up in the overall team medal standings. We must respect the rights and sovereignty of all nations and the Olympic charter.

"Citius, Altius, Fortius" - "Faster, Higher, Stronger"


Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 2, 2008


When my Dad died on March 21, 1984 at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas it was the culmination of his long and courageous battle with cancer. While my emotional psyche was in overdrive, I was able to overcome public (and private) demonstrations of the terrible grief that I felt. I was strong during that trying time and given that failure to grieve, some Friends back in Atlanta rightfully sensed that I was in trouble, well at least emotionally. So when was the big fall going to occur? We all knew that it was just a matter of time…

I had been very close to my Father when I was young and literally battled the rest of the Family after my parents divorce and what I felt was a forcible exile from Dallas to Pawtucket, Rhode Island where I lived with my Brothers, my Mother and her parents at their “Cottage”. This divorce was exceptionally cruel…

Dad had been an athlete in prep school (St. George’s in Newport, RI) and college (Brown University & Babson College) and had played football and soccer and encouraged me to pursue what appeared to be some promise in the athletic domain. I developed into a football player of some note and was even invited to play the game at Ole Miss by the legendary coach, Johnny Vaught. Dad and I tossed footballs and baseballs back and forth and he helped hone my athletic skills. Those were the best of times in my youth.

Dad was charming and entertaining though always rather matter of fact in his interpersonal style with his kids. He operated at a high intellectual plane and I suspect that I may have disappointed him with my mostly mediocre academic record. Athletics were another aspect, however, and allowed me to hone my leadership skills and prepared me for my career.

While my Mother did a hell of a good job raising us kids, I think that we suffered not having the male influence of our real Father. Grandfather Littlefield proved to be a great surrogate Dad.

Five years passed and still no real grieving as I pursued life as best I could.

In 1989 some incredible films were released to include When Harry Met Sally; Glory; My Left Foot; Born on the Fourth of July; Henry V (Kenneth Branaugh); Batman; Driving Miss Daisy; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Dead Poets Society; The War of the Roses; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Crimes and Misdemeanors and one of my personal favorites, Field of Dreams. While Field of Dreams didn’t win any awards it was nominated for Picture of The Year, falling like several other great films to the genius of Driving Miss Daisy.

Field of Dreams was a baseball fantasy though based on some real life characters to especially include one of my personal heroes, Shoeless Joe Jackson, now vindicated after being tainted by the infamous Black Sox Scandal of 1919. It was a film adaptation of W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe about an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield and ends up attracting all the great (though deceased) players of the game circa 1919-26 save the Ty Cobb who the players, “hated as much in death as life.”

The plot of the film revolved around the enigmatic whisper “Build it and HE will come.” That HE turned out to be the Father to the movie’s title character, one Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) who never really had the opportunity to know his Dad. Well, the baseball field that Ray Kinsella built in his cornfield also attracted his Dad, John, who had a fleeting major league career. With the help of Shoeless Joe Ray recognizes his Father as one of the players and initially introduces him to his Family simply as, “John.” With the formalities over and as his Father is heading towards the outfield and the corn to join the rest of the players, Ray asks his Father to play catch, finally calling him "Dad". It was an incredibly poignant and supercharged emotional moment as they tossed a baseball back and forth while a long line of automobiles wind their way to the cornfield ostensibly to end the Kinsella’s financial woes.

Well, when Ray asked his Dad to play catch the dam burst. I totally lost it right there in the movie theater. Off and on for the next two days I paid the piper as I and my Friends knew I would. That scene brought back the moment when my Father and I shared that same experience which became for me the epitome of our relationship.

I certainly learned that emotions can be incredibly powerful and many times unpredictable. The bottom line is that we will all be ultimately accountable for losses such as that in our lives. Though I would certainly advise, sooner than later, I don’t know if we really have any choice over the timing of those events.

Through episodes such as these we reflect the feelings that we have for those special people in our lives. A Mother once advised her daughter, “Don’t trust a man that can’t cry.” Aside from being emotionally and physically destructive, the failure to emote throws one into an unfeeling Neanderthal state that will never fully allow one to appreciate his or her humanity. Don’t be afraid to put it all on the table. No doubt there is a risk of hitting lower lows though those highs are absolutely stratospheric. No regrets…


Ned Buxton