Tom "Sky" Skibosh covers the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and New Berlin prep scene for Community Newspapers. If something is going on in local sports, Sky has an opinion about it. If you agree or not with what Sky says, we want to see your comments.
Special shout out to Brookfield East coach Mike Steiner and the gang for winning the state title. Aaron Dillon, etc. etc. etc. it was really a team effort - that was not just coach-speak.
I do want to give a special nod to two athletes. CJ Gregg, who had gone thru a ton of losing in football and basketball before this year. He had a great football year, finally, another solid basketball season personally, and then makes it to state in the high jump and the relays in his first year out. Great kid, who always had time for me, win or lose.
Over the years people have asked me what is my favorite sport? That’s easy. Baseball, our national pastime.
Baseball has always played an important role in my life. The first glove my dad bought for me was a right-hander’s mitt. It went on my left hand because my dad assumed I was right-handed like most people.
I never had much of an arm. I remembered playing (here’s where I show my age) ‘Peggy on a bounce’ with my buddies. Someone would hit the ball and if you caught it on the fly it was 100 points, on one bounce it was 50 points, etc. The hitter banged a long hit and I threw my glove at it to try and stop it, so I didn’t have my glove on when I went to get the ball.
For whatever reason, I picked it up and threw it back left-handed. Why, I don’t know, but it felt comfortable. Suddenly, the ball went twice as far, and I realized I had been throwing with the wrong hand.
I was left handed!
The Milwaukee Braves were my team growing up, so I suddenly started liking players because they threw left handed. It didn’t matter how good they were, if they threw left handed, I liked them.
Two of the players I will always remember were outfielders, both journeymen. One was Al Spangler, who played for five teams from 1959-71. The other player was Ty Cline, who played from 1960-71.
The Braves had another lefthander who was pretty good: A lefthander pitcher by the name of Warren Spahn.
Spahn played for the Braves (Boston/Milwaukee), Mets and Giants from 1942-65.
He is a Hall of Famer and the all-time winningest lefthander in baseball history with 363 wins and I didn’t have to look that up. He won more than 20 games 13 times, including six years in a row from 1956-61.
I was heartbroken when he was traded to the Mets. When he came back to face the Braves in 1965, County Stadium was packed and everyone was cheering for ‘Spahnie.’ The Braves beat him, 8-0, but it was a night I will never forget.
I was 16 years old at the time and who would have guessed that nine years later I would be the media relations director for the Milwaukee Brewers. Since the Brewers were so young (born in 1970), they used to have promotions where they had Alumni Games between the Braves and a team of Hall of Famers.
On this night, the Braves had an alumni game beforehand. At that time, there used to be a room behind the press box at County Stadium called the service room, where the media could get a hot dog, a brat, some peanuts and a soda pop during the game.
I walked back there in about the third inning and standing right there was Warren Spahn, the closest I had ever been to a sports hero growing up. You know how it is sometimes, you meet someone you admire and they turn out to be a jerk. Your dream turns out to be a nightmare. Suddenly, I was faced with that possibility.
Those of you who know me, know ‘speechless’ isn’t a word you would use to describe me. But that’s exactly what I was at that moment.
I finally got up enough nerve to introduce myself.
“Warren, when I grew up you were my hero and I loved watching you play. I know you probably get told that a lot, but I just wanted to tell you.”
Spahnie, who was a bold-legged Okie with a huge nose, turned to me and smiled and shook my hand.
“Son,” he said, “you are right. I do get told that a lot (and then a big smile cracked his face). And I never want people to stop because I love hearing it. Thank you very much.”
I’ve had a lot of great moments in baseball — I coached my sons to a few Little League Championships and I have an American League Championship ring from the 1982 season — but that is one of the best moments I ever had.
You see, I met my hero and he was a really great guy.
—Follow Sky on Twitter - @skyskibosh
Did you ever have one of those days? You know, where You should have never gotten out of bed? I did on Wednesday.
First of all I had a breakfast meeting. The gentlemen I was waiting on was 15 minutes late, but then that turned into 30 minutes when he went to the wrong restaurant. We finally connected and had a nice breakast at Maxim's in Brookfield.