A stranger to surprises suddenly stunned by South Park shirts

Jake Gelof drafted No. 60 by Dodgers
July 11, 2023

Rehearsals for retirement - “The days grow longer for smaller prizes. I feel a stranger to all surprises.” - Phi Ochs. There I was, a Sunday morning coming down, sitting on a sawed-off barstool on Market Street Extended in Lewes taking photos, waiting for the last trudgers and trekkers to complete the Beebe Heroes 5K. And then friends wearing Fredman shirts designed by grandson Mikey in Jason Fruchtman’s art class a year ago representing me as a South Park character began showing up. “Get our picture,” they suggested, which I somehow did without missing any of the final finishers. Liza, Mikey’s mother, was the source of the chain of custody, handing overstock shirts to Ava Cannon, who distributed them to some of the regular runners. I was surprised, but I didn't run around like a Price is Right contestant who just won the combination Sunbeam car and toaster package. My compadre runner muppets from Sesame Street by the Sea enjoyed the surprise and watching me sit stunned, a stranger in a small town 48 years ago, enduring a hall-of-fame moment. ”We love you, Fredman!” they bellowed unabashedly, and I haven’t felt that special since sophomore year when I was slugged as a student with social problems and put in a special class with other fledgling comedians and satirists. 

Jake Gelof is a Dodger - Jake, a third baseman out of Virginia, was pick No. 60 overall in the MLB Draft, going in the second round to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bleacher Report: “I don’t know how they did it, but the Dodgers walked away with the biggest steal of Day 1. Jake batted .321 this season with 23 doubles, 23 home runs and 90 RBIs, becoming Virginia’s all-time home run leader.” The top three farm systems as rated by in March 2023 are the Baltimore Orioles followed by the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Nationals are No. 10. The Phillies are No. 21 followed by the Athletics at 22. The Atlanta Braves, the best team in baseball at the all-star break, are listed at No. 30. 

Toy trolley - I have a Girard Avenue cream-and-green Septa trolley on my desk, and I have a photo of granddaughter Anna on the digital scoreboard at Howarth Field after scoring a lacrosse goal as the still-active trolley rumbled by. Philly people from back then dodged trolleys, but not at the frenzied level of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers remain one of the all-time creative mascots. Years ago, super sports agent and negotiator Ron Shapiro — a friend of mine — helped put Cape Gazette columnist Sumner Spence in the scouts box when the Dodgers played in Philadelphia. I remember Ron saying, “The Dodgers are the best organization in baseball when it comes to reaching out to help others.” Ron Shapiro’s son Mark is the current president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. Eric Mangini, nicknamed "the Mangenius,” a former head coach of the Browns (2009-10) and Jets (2006-08), is Ron Shapiro’s son-in-law. I could go on and risk sounding like a college professor who talks too long and knows too much about the biography of someone so successful they sound fictional. 

Soulless selling - I can spot a sports press release 12 miles away like Cape May on a hazy day. Social media has become a sports hype machine. Like one of the natural prickly Velcro-type balls that stick to your shorts, then everything else sticks to it until your shorts weigh more than a 16-pound shot. Get outta here with your horse chestnut self! Lately I am being blasted with promotional press releases. Just makes me wonder: “Where is this all going? And like the Milky Way Galaxy, where does it end?” 

Snippets - I know this is rookie test week along the Delaware beaches. Guards who make it through early summer training almost always pass the test unless they wimp out, because on a rare real rescue, you have to be ready for game day. Lives are at stake, including your own, which is why they call it lifeguarding. Wimbledon tennis and the Tour de France are great July early morning television. The athletes are exquisite and hardcore. The best athlete who was also a president, George W. Bush, ran a 3:44 marathon in 2001, threw out opening pitches like he was called in from the bullpen, and executed the double-shoe duck at an Iranian press conference. I ran 3:38 in the 1978 Lewes Marathon, which is faster than most celebrity times I could find (Puff Daddy don’t want none), but 90% of celebrities I had never heard of. Drew Carey ran 4:37. I remember when covering the Ravens hosting the Browns, a fan bus rolled into the parking lot with a banner hanging on the side that read, “Drew Carey is a big fat idiot!” (Drew’s from Cleveland). Go on now, git! 


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