Out-of-school suspension but hope on the horizon

March 27, 2020

Out-of-school suspension - DIAA announced that the spring sports season is suspended though May 15 to coincide with the closing of schools. “DIAA leaders understand this is a disappointing, frustrating and stressful time for all involved. DIAA membership consists of strong leaders including administrators, athletic directors and coaches, and we appreciate your efforts as you lead your respective communities during this challenging time. We will get through this together, and one day when the time is right, we will play again,” DIAA Executive Director Donna Polk said. A glimmer of hope remains that a shortened season followed by state tournaments will be played – just a quick restart, then hit the ground running. “Practice? We talkin’ bout practice, man!” Stay fit because you never know, but mostly you do know. 

Legacy of excellence - The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame was only chartered in 2004. Its membership includes athletes by sport but also categories for Lifetime Commitment, Venue Enshrinement and Legacy of Excellence, which includes sportswriters and broadcasters. The Palestra and Penn Relays are listed under Venue Enshrinement. Here are some of the sportswriters and/or broadcasters who are members of the hall. They include Harry Kalas, Bill Campbell, Gene Hart, Ray Didinger, Bill Lyon, Jack Whitaker, Stan Hochman, Bill Conlin, Merrill Reese, Phil Jasner, Al Meltzer, Dan Baker, Byrum “By” Saam, Frank Dolson, Dave Zinkoff, Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Herman Taylor, Steve Fredericks, Andrea Kramer, Mel Greenberg, Claire Smith, Jayson Stark and Suzy Kolber. Amazingly, a sports columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Bulletin, the late Sandy Grady, is not included on the list. No wonder I’ve always felt a cosmic connection to Sandy Grady. A couple of months ago I got kicked off the family greeting line at my brother Tom’s viewing. There were just too many people for me to keep doing in-depth biographical interviews, and in the case of athletes and coaches, they were blown away by what I knew about them, a Fred family trait. The Neshaminy football chaplain, Dave Livingstone, an officiating minister, sat down across from me on the far side of the room and said, “Tom was so proud of you and thought you were so funny. He was especially proud when you joined him and Mike as a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.” I added, “Yes, we both laughed that after 40 years in Delaware, I was chosen for the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.” The minister grabbed both my hands and said, “This is your home. This is where you are from.” I later drove “home,” stepped from my 4Runner in the dark driveway and uttered one word into the dark night. “Tourist!” 

Walked into my own joke - Years ago in the mid-90s, Tim Bamforth and I pitched a proposal at a school board meeting to institute a sports hall of fame at Cape Henlopen. I asked for a designated locked room dedicated just for hall of fame archives and $10,000 for computer hardware and software. All expertise would be donated. The board scoffed at the locked room, “Who would have a key?” and instead of approving monies asked if I could organize some fundraising activities, one suggesting, “Perhaps a spaghetti dinner?” I responded, “Do I look like Chef Boyardee to you?” as eyeballs darted side to side and the library venue rumbled and hummed with the muffled sound of stifled laughter. 

Shelter in place - I use the phrase all the time when I’m heading out the door at 4:45 for a game that starts at 7 p.m. Susan will look at the chime clock then back at me and ask, “What time does the game start?” I simply answer, “Shelter in place. I'd rather get where I’m going and then wait than wait to get where I’m going.” Plus, I love watching the setup and feeling the pregame tension. 

Stepping on lines - I don’t look at or listen to parents who enter interviews after a game and start answering or elaborating on questions asked of their child athlete. A secret recording of teammates who have lost seasons talking to each other with no parents, coaches and sportswriters present would be incredibly revealing. But we just can’t get there because that culture is closed to us.

Freeze Frame - When you see an overwhelming positive image, freeze frame it and tell yourself, “Never forget the gift of the moment.” My sports memories are like a carousel of slides of inspiring magical moments, my blood for certain, but also the journeys of all the muppets that pass through my life. My memory for retrieving those images is uncanny because I imprint them when they happen. And mostly I have a more-or-less accurate story that goes with every image.  

Snippets - Back inside my matriculation matrix, master’s degrees were cheaper than six years of undergraduate study, and still most university graduates elected to get out with a degree in hand. But that has changed. The cost of postgraduate work is attention-getting like an $80,000 pickup truck. I am curious like a calico to see how many college athletes who lost a season elect to pick it back up once they have a degree. I am on the Triple P diet of pretzels, pudding and popsicles. Just call me Fruity Pop Pop, a Mango for All Seasons. Go on now, git!  


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter