Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happier Times


I received lots of email comments and Facebook responses to my column the other day about Bob Brooks, the sportscasting legend from Cedar Rapids who died at 89 years of age.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write. 

Some readers wanted to know about other sportscasters from Iowa such as Ron Gonder and Frosty Mitchell. 

Indeed, a few wondered if Gonder and Mitchell are still alive. 

Both did play-by-play announcing of Hawkeye football and basketball games for many years. 

Gonder worked for WMT-radio and TV in Cedar Rapids [plus KRNT-radio and TV in Des Moines before that], and is mostly retired these days. 

I say mostly because he still entertains WMT listeners with frequent freelance programs dealing with sports topics. 

Gonder and Mitchell are among a shrinking list of still-living play-by-play announcers from the good old days when as many as 7, 8 or maybe 9 stations from this state originated broadcasts of Hawkeye football games. 

Jim Zabel of WHO-radio and TV in Des Moines  died several years ago, and now Brooks [who did Iowa games for a number of Cedar Rapids stations] has gone to the big studio in the sky.

Iowa went to a revised sports broadcasting plan a number of years ago, eliminating such play-by-play veterans as Brooks, Gonder, Zabel and Mitchell and replacing  them with the equally knowledgeable and talented Gary Dolphin  as the sole play-by-play announcer for large football and men's basketball networks.

Mitchell did Hawkeye football and basketball for KGRN-radio in Grinnell and later WMT-radio in Cedar Rapids. 

He also did TV play-by-play of Hawkeye basketball games for the Iowa Network. 

In retirement, I'm fairly certain Mitchell spends half the year in Grinnell and half the year in Florida. 

He hasn't totally quit talking on radio and TV. 

I hear Frosty on commercials for Adventureland every once in a while. 

I was honored to join Brooks, Gonder, Mitchell and 16 others  as charter members of the University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium  media Wall of Fame in 2006.

Pictured above are four members of the Wall of Fame. 

Left to right are Ron Gonder, Bob Brooks, George Wine and Ron Maly. 

Wine was Iowa's sports information director for a quarter-century, and is now deceased.  

The photo was taken in 2011 or so after we had lunch at the Iowa Athletic Club in Iowa City.

Those were the days, my friend. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Brooksie, It Was a Pleasure Knowing You and Working With You


Bob Brooks and I went way back.

Way back to the middle of the previous
Bob Brooks
century, that is.

It was in the 1940s and 1950s that I recall the man a lot of us referred to as Brooksie broadcasting football, basketball and baseball games on the radio in Cedar Rapids.

Brooksie was quite the sportscaster.

And quite the man.

I mean, Brooksie was doing games on the radio even before he was awarded his degree from the journalism school at the University of Iowa in 1948.

And he never quit.

Retirement was not in the man's vocabulary.

The only thing that took Brooksie away from the microphone was death.

He died Saturday at 89, and I'll miss him a lot.

Bob Brooks and I sat in press boxes at Iowa City and many other places around the nation for a lot of years.

He'd carry a big tape recorder and talked into a microphone.

I carried a portable typewriter, then later a small computer and wrote abut the games.

Those were fun times.

I mean, really fun.

A guy called me today and said he thought it was a mistake that Brooks never retired.

"I disagree," I said. "Sports were Brooksie's life, and he wanted to attend every Hawkeye game and every Hawkeye press conference right up to the minute he died. He went out  happy."

Brooks and I were among the 20 charter members of the University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium media Wall of Fame.

I talked to Brooksie a lot, both inside and outside of stadiums and arenas.

We'd have lunches in Iowa City, lunches in Cedar Rapids.

Brooks was everyone's friend.

I referred to Brooksie a number of times in my three [a first edition and two updated versions]  "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines"  books that chronicled the long, rich tradition of Hawkeye football. 

One was in a segment titled The Young Bob Brooks:

In 1939, Bob Brooks was a 13-year-old student at Franklin Junior High School in Cedar Rapids.

His father Ira was an Iowa sports fan who bacame a season ticket holder in 1939. Young Bob loved tagging along with his parents to Iowa City for Hawkeye games.

This is the same Bob Brooks who would later make his mark in the University of Iowa athletic scene. He became a play-by-play radio broadcaster, did Hawkeye football games for 55 years for Iowa stations and, in 2002,  was presented with the Chris Schenkel Award as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

"I saw my first Iowa game in 1938," Brooks said. "Iowa played Colgate and lost, 14-0."

But then came 1939.. It was coach Eddie Anderson's first season and Nile Kinnicak's last season.

Asked when he could see the magic developing that year, Brooks said, "Well, Iowa beat South Dakota, 41-0, in the opener and nobody knew who Nile Kinnick was, to speak of. Then the game that kiind of got things rolling was the next one against Indiana, which Iowa won, 32-29.

Erwin Prasse, who caught the winning touchdown pass from Kinnick against the Hoosiers said it was so hot "that it seemed like 100 degrees in the shade.I lost 18 pounds that day, and Kinnick lost 12."

Iowa football was still not a big hit. Only 20,000 fans were in the stadium, but the Hawkeyes were fashioning a personality. They passed up what likely would have been a tying field goal to go for the critical touchdown against Indiana. People liked that. 

"I had one foot in the end zone and one foot out of the end zone," Prasse said of the winning play. "But the pass counted."

Brooks said he saw most of Iowa's home games in 1939 as a member of the Knothole Club.

"Kids got in for 25 cents for the season, and that enabled us to stand or sit in the end zone," said Brooks, who added that those in the end zone would jump the fence and go into the grandstand.

Brooks talked of the two big national headline-makers on Iowa's schedule--the successive home games against Notre Dame and Minnesota.

"What I remember about the Notre Dame game is that I thought I probably wouldn't see it," he commented. 

"All of a sudden, it was evident that the Iowa athletic department was going to sell out the game.

"So the kids' Knothole Club was canceled. My parents had two tickets to the game, but I didn't have one. I believe tickets then cost $5, and I remember sitting around the evening dinner table at home when the subject came up as to how I was going to get a ticket to the game. I didn't have $5.

"So I finally contracted with a neighbor to mow his lawn for the next year to get my five bucks."

Brooks said the Knothole Club was restored for the Nov. 18 game against Minnesota, a team that had beaten Iowa eight consecutive times. But the stadium was so jammed that it could out without selling discount tickets to kids.

"I stood under a sumac tree in the north end zone," Brooks recalled. 

"Bill Green caught the winning touchdown pass from Kinnick, and Iowa won, 13-9.

"Minnesota was a national power, and Bernie Bierman, its coach, was the Bear Bryant of his time. After the game, the field was flooded with fans, and I was down there, too. 

"I watched Bierman come off the field. I thought, by the look on his face, that the bricks in the stadium were going to crack. He was boiling mad."

I also have done a lot of writing about Brooks  on the Internet over the years.

Here's one segment, when Brooksie was a mere 80 years of age:

It's not true that Bob Brooks broadcast the first Iowa football game that was played in 1889.

But he might have been the student manager on that team.

Just kidding.

Brooksie did see the 1939 Ironmen play when he was a kid, and he says he attended his first Iowa press day in 1943.

"Slip Madigan was the coach then, followed by Clem Crowe," Brooksie said. "For press day, we met under a tree on the practice field. It was a beautiful tree and we had a lot of shade.

"We solved the world's problems and we talked a lot of football."

Rest in peace, Brooksie. 

Like I wrote earlier in this column,  I'll miss you a lot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

It's Time for a Rain Dance


I've been worried about the weather in Iowa for a few weeks now.
Jay A. Davidson

For a long time, I thought I was the only guy in this state concerned about the hot, dry days and nights we were experiencing.

I'd turn on TV to hear what the weather people were saying, and what I'd hear was something like, "Well, there won't be any rain to ruin your weekend plans." 

Dumb stuff.

Hell, I'd love to have a downpour do something to my weekend plans.

It turns out that Jay A. Davidson of Des Moines, a man I've known for a number of years, is also concerned about the dry weather.

On Facebook, he said he was ready to do a rain dance.

I told him [on Facebook, too] that I'd be happy to participate in the same dance.

This morning on Facebook, Davidson wrote to me: "I can hardly remember a June in central Iowa being this dry. Do you?"

My response:"

"I agree. I can't recall June being this dry. We are getting July weather in June. My feeling is that this does not bode well for the rest of the summer. Call it global warming, call it whatever you want. This is strange weather, which unfortunately means that anything growing in Iowa is taking a beating. Hopefully, the farmers' corn and bean crops won't take a whipping, too. If that happens, everyone is in trouble."

I am also sure gas prices will soon rise because of the lack of rain.

They always do when the weather is strange.

Also grocery prices.

Hy-Vee is always looking for a reason to jack up the price of meat, eggs, bread, toilet paper and everything else.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Tim McCarver Is Not Aging Well. I Wonder If All Those Years Of Being a Catcher In Major League Baseball Did That To Him.  Tim Looks Like He Took One Foul Ball To the Mask Too Many.

Too Bad It's Not October

A reminder to myself and everyone else who has been on the bandwagon for the past 70 years or so: It doesn't mean a damn thing that a lot of people [me included] think the Cubs are the best team in baseball. Why? Because it's only June.

--Ron Maly 

Sunday, June 19, 2016


It says in the paper today that it's all right for
people to drink whole milk. That's a lie. Whole milk means milk containing large amounts of fat.  If people at the paper want to believe that crap and write that crap on Fathers Day, shame on them. Milk with fat in it is not good for anyone. Make my milk skim. As I wrote, shame on the paper.

--Ron Maly

Friday, June 17, 2016

Star Player's Wife Says NBA Playoffs Are Rigged for Money and TV Ratings

If you're like me and wonder how and why the basketball season is still dragging on as the Fourth of July approaches,
Ayesha Curry
 you'll enjoy this.  Ayesha Curry, the wife of Golden State Warriors standout Stephen Curry, thinks the whole thing is rigged. CBS reports that Ayesha tweeted she thinks the NBA playoffs between Golden State and Cleveland are rigged for money and TV ratings. "Frustrated before the start of Game 6,  Ayesha Curry's frustration reached a boiling point after her husband Stephen Curry fouled out of the game," CBS reported. "Curry was so incensed after fouling out that he removed his mouthguard and whipped it toward the seats, hitting a fan sitting courtside. This earned Curry an automatic ejection and prompted his wife to fire off [her tweet]." Imagine a player's wife saying a professional sport is fixed. For money and ratings, no less.  The NBA title [and the basketball season in this country] will now be decided Sunday night when the Warriors play the Cavaliers on ABC-TV Sunday night in the seventh game. And, oh, by the way, Ayesha Curry's tweet has been deleted from Twitter. I wonder whose idea that was. As for me, I have watched 5 seconds of the NBA playoffs because my finger mistakenly hit 5 instead of 8 last night on my TV remote.  I think Ayesha is probably right. The whole deal reminds me of an Iowan who many years ago announced to her family that "they're all in cahoots" during the playoffs in some sport. Definition of cahoots: "colluding or conspiring together secretly."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I Admit It. I'm Old-Fashioned. I Don't Think Beer Should Be Sold In University and College Football Stadiums


If there was any doubt in your mind that collegiate football is big business--with emphasis on the word big--then this column
should erase that doubt.

Multiple reports say that beer will be sold, and obviously will be consumed, by football fans of the legal drinking age in Ohio State's stadium this fall.

West Virginia, Minnesota, Texas and Louisville are among other universities that allow beer sales in their stadiums.

I just hope the idea doesn't spread to Iowa, Iowa State and any other university or college in our state.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned--wait a second, there's no maybe about it, I am old-fashioned--but I don't think beer should be sold inside college and university stadiums.

I know plenty of beer and other alcoholic beverages are consumed by people of all ages in the tailgate areas before and after collegiate football games.

I would prefer that the drinking of alcoholic beverages be reserved for the tailgaters.

It bothers me a lot that universities will be offering beer to young people of drinking age while football games are being played.

As I indicated, I guess I haven't joined the 21st century.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jiminy Christmas!


As hard to believe as it seems, the basketball season is still going on. Basketball! Jiminy
Jiminy Cricket
Christmas [not to be confused with Jiminy Cricket of Pinocchio fame], it seems like it was a year ago or so that our teams were bowing out of the NCAA tournament. And it seems like a year or so ago that Fred Hoiberg's first season as the Chicago Bulls' coach came to such an early, such a disappointing  such a crashing and such a crushing end. But there they were tonight, in the first week of June, playing basketball in the NBA championship finals. I didn't watch any of the game, and I'm glad I didn't. I'm not much of an NBA follower  anyway, but I watched four guys outfitted in dress suits late tonight saying during a roundtable discussion on ESPN that the Cleveland Cavaliers pretty much quit in their game against the Golden State Warriors. Like I said, I didn't watch any of the game, so I don't know if the Cavaliers really quit or not. All I know is that Golden State won, 110-77 [that's a whopping 33-point difference] and now needs just two more victories to seize the title. Evidently, the Cavaliers are playing about like Pinocchio played basketball. As far as I'm concerned, the end can't come too soon. I never cared much for basketball--especially basketball played by guys making millions of dollars--as the Fourth of July gets closer.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Greatest


I was very sorry to learn of the death late last night of Muhammad Ali at 74 years of age
Photo courtesy of Google

I followed the heavyweight boxing champion, who [in his own words] floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, when he was first known as Cassius Clay, then as Ali.

I didn't always agree what he did or said, but the man was a winner and a world-wide force both in and out of the ring.

Earlier in my professional writing career, I had the privilege of interviewing Ali after he gave a motivational speech in Cedar Rapids.

I know he motivated me that night.

After introducing myself to him following his speech, Ali said to me: "Ron, you have always been one of my favorite writers. In a way, you've always been a lot like me. We both tell it like it is."

I'm assuming the effects of the Parkinson's Disease that cost Ali for more than 30 years had not yet influenced him.

After Ali and I chatted for about a half-hour about the state of boxing  throughout the world and the state of football at Coe College, I mentioned to him that I had covered a couple of Golden Gloves tournaments as a writer.

I then was headquartered in Albert Lea, MN, and one of my favorite Golden Gloves hotspots was nearby Blue Earth, MN.

"Great," Ali said. "That's where it all starts. The Golden Gloves is boxing in its purest form."

As our conversation neared its conclusion, I asked Ali if he wanted to go a few rounds with me at the downtown YMCA in Cedar Rapids.

"I'm glad you asked," he said. "I always bring my jockstrap and my boxing gloves whenever I travel the country to do one of these speeches."

Ali and I ended up going three rounds at the "Y." 

I was able to send him to the canvas once.

I came out unscathed.

I didn't even need the band-aid I had purchased at the Mays Drug Store between Second and Third Avenues just in case things got rough for me.

Oh, all right, that last part is a joke.

Rest in peace, man.

You were the greatest.