No poems today.
There is a dearth
and too much saliva
on my mic stand.
On Sunday, I received the Distinguished alumni award from my gradeschool, St. Thomas More in Munster. It happened at 10 o'clock mass. Father Mike Yadron announced to the congregation.
"This next award, if you don't know who this guy is, then you've been living under a rock."
I walked up to the altar, shook hands with Father, took a photo, and walked back to my seat in the pew. A bunch of my family was there.
Alexis, Jeanie and Jackie
My dad and Kalli
Brother Brian, Michelle, Al and Katie
Sister Jennifer, Mark, Maddy, Annie, Jack(ass)
Cousins Phyllis and Patty
After mass, there was a breakfast in the solar room, My niece Maddy told me - "you never mention me in your blog. How come?" There you go, Maddy. You're mentioned. Please note, however, I never wanted to be the guy that the priest would say everyone should already know. How did that happen? One day you're a socially awkward trader with a foul mouth. The next day you're getting an award for helping out in the community. The world, as it stands, will never cease to amaze me.
screens from above
Don't lie. Dead, you clearly
can see the idiot
you've always been.
Before mass, the woman at the lectern laid a bombshell.
"And please pray for the soul of Edwin Gage, 55, whose funeral will be held here in the church on Monday at 10am."
What? Eddie Gage died?
At first, it didn't register. I couldn't fathom that he was an "Edwin." The name didn't go with the sweetest jump shot that Munster basketball has ever known. But, yes, it is true. Eddie Gage is dead at the age of 55.
In his obit, they called him "Smilin' Eddie." That doesn't tell the half of it. Eddie was a year younger than me at Munster and a leading scorer. His junior year, he developed clots in his legs. It stayed with him his whole life.
I have run into Eddie and his sweetheart, Janet (Geisen), whom I went to St. Thoms with, a ton of times. They often walked their dog around the neighborhood. We talked while he and Janet held hands. They were lovebirds from day one until the final day. These are good memories.
It felled me at the wake later on Sunday when Eddie's sister-in-law, Kathy, said that she and Eddie would talk about what I said on the show that day.
"I would say - 'Jim said this' - and Eddie would stop me. 'You mean J.D.' He called you 'J.D.' and made me do it too." For some reason, Eddie nicknamed me "J.D." And, just as inexplicably, he listened to the show. Gonna miss you, buddy.
He went away
way too early.
There's much left to do, love.
We will miss his smile.
For now, we grieve.
Imagine the range of emotions sitting there in the third row of church at St. Thoms. I looked at the row behind and there was all my nieces and nephews and brother and sister. I looked down my own row. There was Alexis smiling at me and Jeanie and Jackie, along with my dad and Kalli and big goof Kusiak. There was Phyllis and Patty. They were all there to celebrate the good things we've done at WJOB.
I tilted back to my brother - "Oh my god. Eddie Gage died." My brother gave me an inquisitive look like - "Who is that again?" Brian's too young to remember Eddie. Besides, after his sophomore year, Eddie got slowed down by leg clots and didn't get to make his mark on Munster basketball.
Directly. He didn't make his mark directly. Eddie, you see, was a great basketball player and a great shooter. I wound up with a decent high school basketball career. A lot of this success was built on the ability to shoot a basketball from long range. For this, I owe Eddie Gage.
It started when Eddie was a freshman and I was a sophomore. After practice, we would play horse, pig and other shooting contests. Sometimes, coach Mike Copper would have to shoo us out so he could turn out the lights. Same thing with Jack Yerkes, who later became the head coach.
I enjoyed very much beating Eddie Gage in a game of horse. But it rarely happened. If you asked me then or now - what would you rather do: beat Highland on Friday night or beat Eddie Gage in a game of HORSE? - I'm not sure what the answer would be.
Eddie had, as I mentioned before, the sweetest shot I ever saw in Munster basketball. And that includes Drew Hackett, Kent Heinbaugh, John Grunewald and others. Eddie used a lot of backboard, even on long range shots, which you can only do if you have an extremely soft, sweet shot. In those games of HORSE late at night after practice, I learned how to shoot. And for that, I thank Eddie Gage, dead at the age of 55 from bile duct cancer. He worked for 32 years at BP and listened to WJOB. Just a really cool, nice Region guy who will be missed.
Many are dead,
All the people
Whose names we've known or said.
We will soon be with them,
...On Saturday, we broadcasted:
1. wrestling Regionals from Hobart, which had one of the best matches I've ever witnessed. It went into several overtimes. AJ Fowler of Calumet vs. Drew Bailey of Merrillville. Bailey beat the second-ranked wrestler in the state in the final second. Unbelievable.
2. girls swimming sectionals from Lake Central. The best part of this story is that announcers Ryan Walsh, Kevin Smith and Matt Lee set up the cameras and booth at the finish line... and wound up getting yelled at by a bunch of moms who usually sit there. Oh well.
3. Purdue Northwest mens game.
4. Purdue Northwest womens game. My cousin, Scott Francoeur, was called into action from South Bend to announce both of these games, which were played in Westville and ran on Facebook Live.
5. girls sectional basketball from Merrillville, at night
6. girls sectional basketball Bowman, at night also
It was a free-for-all in terms of equipment. Jimmy Mullaney, Nick Hedrick and Ben Cowart had to hustle with cameras from one location to the next. But it all added up to you could lay on your couch all day and all evening and watch local, Region athletes perform on Roku, Apple and Amazon TV. My guys are bringing you the future before it even happens. Bye.
ain't any good
for no one except birds.
People burn out, like me.
That's where I am.
Thanks to Juan Maldonado for the wrestling photos.