The LuLac Edition #70, Oct. 15th, 2006
PICTURE INDEX....Bob Casey and family, me and Johnny Callison in 1984 at the Vet and Senator Santorum giving a speech on the campaign trail.
COMING ON STRONG……..
The races are gaining more interest and once again the Keystone State is getting its share of national attention. The Santorum-Casey race is being watched closely as is the Sherwood-Carney battle. A great deal of money is being spent from all camps and if you are anyone’s mailing list, e mail or phone list you are being contacted over and over again.
Because the national races for both the House and Senate are getting tighter, more attention is being paid to the Commonwealth. Pundits say if the election were held today, the Democrats would take the House of Representatives. The Senate is tough because the Dems would have to run the table in order to win but people are giving them a better than even chance to do it. As time passes by and election day closes in, you’ll see more campaign ads, more coverage and increased intensity.
While driving to Harrisburg last week and then touring some of the little town in the “T” section of the state, I was struck by the dearth of political signage in the area. I was expecting to see a plethora of signs for Lynn Swann and Rick Santorum but instead saw very little yard activity………..One really has to question the lack of support Congressional candidate Joe Leonardi has gotten from the national and even statewide GOP committee. I guess if you don’t have a candidate that is dying on the vine, the national party won’t even give you a look. This is unfortunate because Leonardi is a passionate true believer in his candidacy, is articulate and creative. My feeling is he’d be able to stretch a few thousand dollars like nobody’s business if he got some national money. Sure taking on Congressman Kanjorski is a long shot but it’s not as if there isn’t a record of his to campaign against. It would be a real kick if somehow Leonardi got into striking distance in this race or even won it. Then he’d be beholden to no one and Washington most likely wouldn’t know what to make of that……….A friend of mine, a Sherwood supporter called the Congressman’s headquarters and complained about the fact that he would be offended as a supporter if Sherwood brought in House Speaker Dennis Hastert or even the President. The Sherwood staffer started to talk about how Chris Carney was going to cut social security benefits. My friend said that’s what he wasn’t calling about but thanked the worker for the information. Perplexed, he had no satisfaction from the phone call and decided to call the Carney campaign. He got a staff member on the phone, expressed his concern about social security and asked about Carney’s stand on the Iraq war and how he was going to end American involvement in it. There was a pause on the phone and then the staffer said, “He’s in the back, ya wanna talk to him about that stuff?” And just like that, Chris Carney was on the phone talking to an interested voter about his stand on the issues. In this multi media faceted political world we live in, sometimes we all forget that campaigns are won one voter at a time. My friend now is a Carney supporter simply because the guy and/or his staff answered the question he asked…….
And finally Phyllis Mundy’s opponent in the 120th Legislative district surfaced last week. John Cadarro wrote a letter to the Sunday Dispatch. It had nothing to do with public policy but instead praised his cousin Joe Ranielli’s “Bocci Alley” show that runs on various radio stations on Sunday. I’m sure if asked, Representative Mundy would also enjoy the program too.
Going to the candidates debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Ev'ry way you look at it, you lose
Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey Jr. argued over character and policy Thursday in a debate that reminded people of two guys in a bar debating the Notre Dame/Penn State game. It had everything in it but the fisticuffs.
From the start to the end, , the candidates talked over each other, pressed their own questions, and leveled stinging criticism. They clashed over where Santorum sleeps at night, how often Casey does his job as state treasurer, and which of them is more transparent with voters. Santorum dared Casey to look in the camera and tell the voters how many times he worked a 9 to 5 pm shift in public office.
Casey did not allow himself to be engaged calling Santorum’s question desperate campaigning.
So goes the style and substance of the second debate in one of the coiuntry’s top Senate races. Santorum and Casey discussed North Korea, Iraq and immigration, but it was less of a policy exchange than a sharp-tongued duel months in the making.
Down in the polls for more than a year, Santorum needed to shake up the campaign - and he did, at least during the debate, by putting his opponent more on the defensive than Casey had been in months. The two-term senator displayed the combative nature that has earned him admirers, but that has also fed criticism he is overly partisan.
In a closing argument that was an emotional plea for his job, Santorum made no apologies about his aggressive style.
"I'm a passionate guy. I'm tough, I'm a fighter," he said. "But you know what? I'm an Italian kid from a steel town. What do you expect from me? I'm a guy who had to grow up having to scratch and claw. I wasn't born into a family that had a great name. My dad's an immigrant to this country. I've worked hard, just like you do in western Pennsylvania to fight for the things you believe in."
The son of a two-term governor, Casey held his own, telling Santorum to own up to a record that the Democrat said placed oil companies, lobbyists, and Republican Party loyalty above everything else. Casey asked voters to back a new direction, promising to fight unfair labor deals and deliver children's health insurance.
Like his opponent, who stood only inches away, Casey often wagged a finger at Santorum. Near the end, it looked as though they were ready to tussle.
Casey said Santorum should be "straight with the people of Pennsylvania" about where he lives - a house in Virginia with his wife and six children, or a smaller one in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Casey challenged Santorum to refund $55,000 that the state paid to settle a dispute with the Penn Hills School District over his children's use of a state cyber charter school.
"Just pay the money back," Casey said as Santorum defended his decision, saying he paid property taxes. "You ripped off the taxpayers. Pay it back. Pay the money back. Pay the money back.
Casey said the Bush administration had first gone after Iraq, the weakest link of the "axis of evil," while allowing Iran and North Korea to pursue nuclear technology. Casey pressed his view that the country was less safe than it was before the Iraq war.
Santorum stood by his support of the Iraq war and what he calls a global war on Islamic fascism. He said the approach had worked, noting that the United States has not been attacked for five years.
In a bid to make Casey look unprepared on foreign policy, Santorum asked him to name the former Iranian president who spurred controversy in September when he visited the United States. Casey could not name Mohammad Khatami, saying later that he could not recall the name on the spot.
On WILK’s Nancy and Kevin program, local callers were divided as to who won. It was conceded that Santorum knew more facts and figures than Casey but others felt Casey drove the Senator crazy with his calm, almost comatose, unflappable demeanor. As Kman said on the program, “If you were a Santorum supporter, you thought the Senator won, if you are a Casey supporter, you thought he won”. On style and emotion points, Santorum was entertaining. He was good TV. But Casey, sticking to message held his own again with the Senator and with his lead in the polls, if nothing changes, maybe that’s all he needed to do in this debate.
(from AP, Phila. Daily News accounts)
SWANN AND RENDELL PLAY TO BASES
Gov. Rendell, aiming squarely at urban Democratic voters, hit hard on the need for stronger gun control laws and defended the need for dedicated transit funds, even if it meant raising the state sales tax.
Republican challenger Lynn Swann appealed to the state's rural pro-hunting population, calling for better enforcement of existing gun laws and criticizing Rendell for allocating highway money to support public transit.
The rising rate of violent crime - an issue long plaguing Philadelphia but brought home to residents in smaller communities elsewhere with the Oct. 2 fatal shootings at a Lancaster County Amish school - dominated the second and final gubernatorial debate.
The stark differences between the positions of Rendell, who supports handgun control measures, and Swann, who opposes any gun purchase limits, were made clear during the hour-long exchange. Unlike their testy exchange last week in Pittsburgh, it was more like lively cocktail party banter than down-and-dirty politicking.
Echoing the pleas of Philadelphia Democratic state lawmakers who last week failed in their effort to win support for any gun control measures in the General Assembly, Rendell said limits were the only way to curb so-called straw purchasers, who buy guns legally and sell them to criminals.
(from AP, Phila. Daily news combined accounts. )
JOHNNY CALLISON DIES
Johnny Callison died this weekend. He was a member of the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies baseball team that had the National League Pennant won, had 12 games left to play, had a 6 and ½ game lead and wound up blowing the lead and the pennant. 10 years old at the time, it was a lesson in life for me, knowing that you can’t always get what you want. Twenty years later, I met Johnny Callison at a 1964 Phillies reunion and then later at a book signing. Callison was always gracious and funny but also had a defiant chip on his shoulder saying that he was born too soon. He constantly said today’s players deserved the money but wished he could’ve been in on that in his career too.
I’ve included a few articles from the Philly Daily News today on Callison. Please indulge this departure from politics, Johnny Callison is just one more piece of the youth of guy’s my age that is slowly slipping away. RIP Johnny, hope the riches you find on the other side will more than compensate for what you denied here.
Phillies great Callison dead at 67
By BOB COONEY
WHAT A ROLLER-COASTER ride the 1964 baseball season was for Johnny Callison.
The Phillies' sweet-swinging rightfielder with a cannon for an arm was named Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game in New York, after hitting a three-run home run off Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz to give the National League a 7-4 win over the American League.
He also was part of the most infamous collapse in this city's history, when the Phils blew a 6 ½-game lead with 12 games remaining, including 10 straight losses. During the seventh loss in that streak, Callison played despite being hampered by the flu, and hit three homers against Milwaukee.
Callison finished that season hitting .274, with 31 home runs, 104 RBI and 101 runs scored. He finished second in the league's MVP voting behind Ken Boyer, of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Thursday, after a long illness, Callison died at Abington Hospital at age 67. He had been a longtime resident of Glenside. He is survived by wife Diane, three daughters, Lori, Cindi and Sherri, eight grandchildren and a great-grandson.
"I had some of the greatest times of my life and my career with Johnny," said Ruben Amaro, Sr., a teammate of Callison's with the Phils from 1960 to '65. "We grew up in baseball together. We were part of the Phillies that couldn't win a game in 1961 and he was really one of our big guns in 1964, when we should have won."
Born in Oklahoma, Callison started his major league career with the Chicago White Sox in 1958. Following the 1959 season, he was traded to the Phillies for Gene Freese. After two sub-productive seasons for the Phillies, Callison broke out in 1962 with 23 home runs, 107 runs and 83 RBI. He hit .300 that season as manager Gene Mauch sat him the final game of the season to secure Callison's average. It was the only time during his 16 years in the majors, which included three All-Star appearances, that Callison hit .300.
"Johnny was my lockermate in the '60s and one of my favorite baseball players," said Dallas Green, now senior adviser to Phillies general manager Pat Gillick. "He had great athletic ability and was one of the best defensive outfielders of his time with a great arm.
"He enjoyed the game and played it with his heart and soul. Johnny was a very special player to me, because of our association with the Phillies."
Callison played with the Phillies until 1969, before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs. He played for the Cubs for 2 years, then was traded to the New York Yankees in 1971. He finished his career in 1973.
"He had all the tools that a great player needs," said Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher and U.S. senator from Kentucky, who was a teammate of Callison's from 1964 to '67. "He did an unbelievable job playing rightfield and knocking in a lot of key runs."
Callison finished his career with 1,757 hits, 226 home runs, 840 RBI and a .264 average. From 1962 to '65, he led the National League in outfield assists.
Phillies president David Montgomery remembered being a fan of the ballclub in the 1960s.
"Johnny was a key member of those teams," Montgomery said. "I remember frequently watching the Phillies take infield. I never ceased to be amazed with the strength and accuracy of his arm from rightfield. It was a thrill to later get to know someone that I rooted for."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Bill Conlin He played the right way
FUNNY HOW TIME messes with the myriad things
rattling around inside your head.
I covered Johnny Callison's Phillies career from 1966 until
he was traded to the Cubs in 1969 for reliever Dick Selma and outfielder Oscar Gamble.
Yet my most vivid memories of the graceful rightfielder were forged before I ever set foot in the Connie Mack Stadium clubhouse.
On Sept. 27, 1964, I was high in the nosebleed deck of Franklin Field, watching Joe Kuharich's Birds knock helmets with the Cleveland Browns.
But the roar of the crowd competed with the voices of By Saam, Bill Campbell and Rich Ashburn. They were the back-channel sound in Penn's ancient shrine. Thousands of fans had ears glued to transistor radios as the first-place, pennant-bound Phillies tried to salvage the final game of a four-game series with the Milwaukee Braves. Our mortal lock to win the Phils' first pennant since 1950 had come home from California with a 6 ½-game lead and only 12 to play. Now, a six-game free fall had moved us from nervous laughter to gallows humor.
As the Eagles and Browns teed it up, Phillies ace Jim Bunning was getting ready to pitch on 2 days' rest. He had pitched six innings while losing the first game of the series.
When Johnny Callison ripped a solo homer in the sixth, the Phillies trailed, 12-4. Bunning was long gone. John homered again in the eighth. In the ninth, the Phils cut the lead to 14-8 with his third homer - to no avail. Callison had risen through racking chills and fever to produce a one-man show that was not good enough. The Phillies dragged a seven-game losing streak to St. Louis and panic surrounded every water cooler.
On a cold night, the Phils were down early. The aching Callison was 0-for-3 when he bounced
into an eighth-inning force that scored Tony Gonzalez with the Phils' only run. He was trembling visibly on first and the batboy ran out with his warmup jacket. Stan Hochman's game story described how Callison's hands shook so badly, Cardinals first baseman Bill White wound up buttoning his jacket.
Johnny's career is best remembered for the three-run walkoff All-Star Game homer he hit that season off 6-7 Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz.
That was a big moment in an exhibition. I prefer to recall how Callison stoically performed in the collapsing trenches of the Phillies' epic swoon.
Those were some of the thoughts I had when news came yesterday that the man I consider the best pound-for-pound player in Phillies history had succumbed to a long illness. John Wesley Callison, still so young when I began my own baseball-related journey, dead at 67.
Callison was among Gene Mauch's best ideas. Notoriously distrustful of young players'
ability to rise to big occasions, Mauch fell in love with Johnny's swing and general grace at a time the White Sox considered him an underachiever. They questioned his toughness and self-confidence.
Mauch had seen John in the minor leagues when he managed the Minneapolis Millers.
Callison packed five-tool skills packed onto a 5-10, 175-pound frame. He was a plus runner and a graceful outfielder, and he threw with perfect outfielder mechanics. His fluid, perfectly balanced swing produced great bat speed and surprising power. He probably could have hit for higher average, but knew his role as Mauch's No. 3 hitter called for run production.
Callison flashed Hall of Fame skills for four straight seasons here - 1962 through '65. He was an A-list outfielder in what I consider the strongest period in National League history. His
outfield peers were guys named Mays, Aaron, Clemente, the Davises (Tommy and Willie), the three Alous, Flood, Pinson, Frank Robinson - bright stars in a talent-cluttered firmament.
His skills declined rapidly after a 32-homer, 101-RBI 1965 season. John played through a series of nagging injuries that had to have taken away some of the bat speed so vital to his success. It was sad to watch him go from great player to merely good, because you knew the man quietly agonized over how quickly it was leaving him.
John played 2 years with the Cubs and two with the Yankees, and then it was over for him in 1973. He was only 34 when he came home to be with Diane and the kids and to begin a very private life where he was content to remain outside the aura left by his fine career.
Gene Mauch paid Callison the tribute that defined him. Mauch said that if he had to put together a book illustrating all the components that go into an ideal ballplayer, he would use photos of Callison swinging, bunting, running, sliding, catching the ball properly, positioning for the throw, all the good stuff.
If baseball is, indeed, the easiest game there is to play for those good enough to play it at the highest level, Johnny Callison gave us a rare glimpse of how a ballplayer should look when plying his trade.