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Friends of mine in Springfield sent me the article about Dick Schofield [Bob Cavanagh, "From the junior leagues to the majors," Jan. 22]. I enjoyed it very much since I was a teammate of Dick's on the Eddie Quinlans team in the Oldtimers League during that summer of 1945. I played second base. Dick was the shortstop. Tom England was at first base, Ron Ellis played third, Pete Larsen was the catcher, Butch Miller and John Schwener pitched. The outfielders were Jim Crawford (who later played professional baseball), Tom Gagnon, Bill Matlack, George Kane, and Jack Corcoran.
At age 10, Dick was the youngest player in the league; the age limit for the league was 14. Jim Crawford was only 11; John Schwener and I were 12. I believe that we had the youngest overall team in the league, but we were extremely well-coached by Dick's dad, Ducky Schofield. After playing each team in the league twice, we finished in a tie with the Robins for first place, but lost to them in a playoff game. I believe that the final score was 4-3.
The other six teams in the league were the Falcons, Flamingos, Hawks, Orioles, Owls, and Wrens. We had the only team not named after a bird. There were many good ballplayers among all of those teams.
I still have a framed photograph of our Eddie Quinlans baseball team on a wall in our recreation room here in Wilbraham. It hangs alongside a photo of the Harold O'Shea Builders baseball team, which won the Midget League championship that same summer. Those games were played in the afternoon; the Oldtimers League played in the evening.
Jim Crawford, John Schwener, Dick Schofield and I played on both teams (Eddie Quinlans and Harold O'Shea Builders). Since my dad, Harold O'Shea, coached the Midget League team, I got to play shortstop on that team and Dick Schofield played second base. As you can tell, shortstop was the favorite position for both Dick and me.
Since I loved to play baseball, that summer of 1945 was probably my favorite one growing up. So, your article and the photo of Dick Schofield brought back a lot of happy memories.
MAKING LOSERS OF US ALL
The Land of Lincoln could become the first state in the nation to own a casino. Former U.S. Senator Paul Simon said, "Gambling is the only addiction actively promoted by government. If you saw signs urging you to smoke cigarettes or drink more whiskey, sponsored by the government, you would rightfully be offended. But when our government accommodates -- and promotes -- legalized gambling it is doing virtually the same thing. Government should not be encouraging activities that prey on our weaknesses."
A state-owned casino would put government in the business of making losers and addicts out of its own citizens. Critical state programs, such as education, health care, and public safety should not be dependent upon our neighbors, friends, and relatives losing their money!
If the state owned a casino, it would be in the position of both promoting and regulating casinos. This is a conflict of interest, with a huge potential for corruption.
Government ownership of a damaging or addictive activity does not decrease the damage, but it does make the activity more appealing and more acceptable. For example, in Malmo, Sweden, gambling addiction has doubled since the state-owned casino opened.
It's time for us to stop chasing the "big win" from gambling and acknowledge the costs. Addiction, bankruptcy, crime, child abuse, and suicide outweigh the financial benefit to the state. The state cannot gamble itself rich -- even when it is the "house" -- without making its citizens poor.
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addition Problems
HELP A GOODWILL AMBASSADOR
Exciting things are happening to Central Illinois junior high and high school students. Approximately 35 students, including my 15-year-old son, will be representing their hometowns and Illinois as they travel to New Zealand and Australia for 22 days starting in June 2004 with the People to People Student Ambassador Program.
The People to People Ambassador Program was started by President Eisenhower as a means to improve international relations. For the students involved, it is both an educational trip and 'goodwill ambassador' trip. For many of the students, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The students will learn about and interact with a new culture, as well as becoming a mature, responsible member of their own community. During their 22-day journey, the students also show those they interact with in New Zealand and Australia what is special about their own hometowns.
The students must raise their own money for the trip's expenses, and have become involved in a variety of community projects as a result. If Illinois Times readers don't already know a student involved, I invite all who have access to the Internet to see what exciting adventures are awaiting our area students by looking at the Web site, www.studentambassadors.org, and viewing the South Pacific Adventure itinerary.
THE MEANING OF PATRIOTISM
It gets old hearing people such as Richard Stone and Marc Fletcher say that if you don't support Bush you're not supporting your troops or you're just plain unpatriotic [Letters, Jan. 22 and Jan. 29]. Either you're simply basing your thoughts on emotional pap or you're severely deficient on facts. Allow me to bring you up to date.
In the last four years, I have seen all of the following: The electoral process subverted; a budget surplus turned into a record deficit; the wealthy given a tax cut while much of the rest of the nation wrestles with unemployment and poverty; environmental efforts, treaties and policies ignored, under-funded or done away with altogether; the Constitution and civil liberties attacked; the entire country whipped into a color-coded, duct-tape-buying frenzy; North Korea gone from a willingness to negotiate with South Korea and the U.S. to the verge of nuclear war; America dragged into a preemptive war with Iraq based on inaccurate (or lack of) intelligence and outright lies; international allies and friends snubbed and insulted; [more than] 540 American soldiers and no less than 8,059 Iraqi civilians dead while Dick Cheney's former oil company posts massive profits. All of this, thanks to our current leader.
Patriots are defined by what they support, not whom they support. Patriots support their country. And when a leader behaves in a manner so incompetent and disrespectful of the people's will and the principles their country was founded on, true patriots do not support that leader.
The fact that we are at war does not give valid reason to support Bush in the face of all the things he has done to this country. If anything, the fact that we are at war should be even more reason to find a competent leader whose words as well as actions are to the betterment of their country and its people. While it remains to be seen whether John Kerry or any of the other candidates is such a person, one thing is clear: Bush is not. Don't take my word for it. Take a moment away from your flag waving and chest thumping to get the whole story.
U.S. Army Veteran, 1994-98
Last week, we incorrectly reported the advance purchase price for Otis Taylor's Sunday performance. Illinois Times regrets the error.