Tag Archive: Los Angeles Dodgers

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” — Jerry Seinfeld

It was a Funeral for a Friend.

To be more precise, it was a service celebrating the life of my best man and my BFF.

John Newhouse moved into heaven at 62-years-young.The world would be a better place if there were more John Newhouses. Alas he was taken from us way too soon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was honored to deliver the third of four eulogies June 30.

Having long ago conquered Glossophobia, which hails from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread, delivering a eulogy was still an unprecedented, daunting challenge. The emotion cannot be minimized. The semantic issues are real. Even the best orators are confronted by the strictures of the eulogy.

If the family requests a three-minute eulogy that does not mean you should double or triple that amount of time. As Carly Simon sang: “You probably think this song is about you.” It’s not. Time your presentation. Stick to the written script. Work on your transitions, timing and eye contract.

As an assistant professor, a PowerPoint, a laser pointer and a clicker are de-rigueur standard tools of the trade. Using the Steve Jobs technique, each slide is a prompt, making speaking notes superfluous. Alas, there are no PowerPoints or Prezis for presenting the eulogy.

Speaking extemporaneously or winging it is not an option. Don’t go there. The eulogy needs to be just right. Standing behind the podium and mentally searching for the right words at the right time in the presence of the audience can very well lead to an embarrassing rhetorical train wreck.

And yet even with a tight script, the English language simply will not rise to the occasion. Nonetheless, there must be chosen words and they may not be perfect – that’s not possible – but still they must describe my best friend for 41 years.

Borrowing from another tongue, the Latin words of the U.S. Marine Corps motto — Semper Fidelis/ Semper Fi (always faithful) — spoke to the character of John Newhouse.

Regardless of his given cause/affinity, John was always loyal: The Spirit of Troy, The Los Angeles Dodgers, our USC Fraternity Phi Kappa Tau, his fellow Rotarians, his youth baseball teams … and most of all his family.

Looking into the collective eyes of his grieving family and recounting John’s unshakeable commitment to his two sons regardless of the circumstances, and how he treasured his wife and instinctively knew he overachieved in marriage, is a testament to why the phrase Semper Fi is appropriate.

Even though the author of Almost DailyBrett endured 12 years of parochial school with its sentence diagrams and the petty tyranny of the nuns and priests, the question comes whether it is kosher to add a Biblical verse 1 Corinthians near the conclusion of a church eulogy.

“Love is patient. Love is kind … “seemed to work for this setting. John was patient, did not keep score (except at a baseball game), always protected, always trusted. Yes, 1 Corinthians did the job.

As the clock clicked past three minutes, it was time for the close and a promise to share a microbrew together, if your author ever makes it to the pearly gates.

There are a myriad of challenges that each one of us will face in life. We will do better with some than others. Crafting and properly delivering the eulogy is one of them. With proper preparation, an understanding the English language will not cut it, and with a confidence the words will make the mark, then it will be time to go forward to remember, celebrate and pay proper respects to a departed colleague, friend or dear family member.

“Love Never Fails.”

John Robert Newhouse: A Celebration of Life

“John Newhouse was my best man.

“John Newhouse was my best friend … forever.

“He was everyone’s friend.

“He was my fraternity brother … and a fraternity brother to several in this room.

“He was the kindest person I ever knew.

“John Newhouse loved the world, and was a renowned traveler.

“My grandfather told me there were two places he never wanted to go.

“One was hell. The other was Russia.

“John and I went ‘Back to the USSR’ during the height of the Cold War in 1981.

“More than a few thought we were crazy, and they were right.

“When one talked about going to The Evil Empire it was not to-and-from, but in-and-out.

“John saw Moscow, Leningrad and the Baltic States as just another adventure.

“We did come out of Russia. We came back to America.

“John literally visited every continent on the planet, and was always looking forward to his next road trip. Wendy knows this undeniable fact oh-too-well.

“Speaking about the world, we can all say ex cathedra, our planet is a better place because of John Newhouse.

“When celebrating a life of someone so special that ended way too early, the world’s Lingua Franca, the English language, simply fails us.

“The U.S. Marine Corps adopted from the Latin, Semper Fidelis or Semper Fi as its motto. Translated it means: ‘Always faithful.’”

“There are many virtues about John, but his passionate loyalty to the Spirit of Troy, his devotion to his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, his commitment to his fraternity bros, his service with his fellow Rotarians, but most importantly his faithfulness to his family, stand out when one contemplates what made John Newhouse just so special.

“John Jr. and Scott. Let’s face it: From time-to-time, you drove him insane. Nonetheless he was proud of each of you, and he literally would do anything in his power to make your lives the best they could be.

“Wendy, you were always a miracle in John’s eyes. He was so proud to have you on his arm. He loved you dearly. I can state with impunity he was always Semper Fi when it came to you and your 33-years of marital bliss. He instinctively knew that he overachieved in marriage and he treasured your union every day.

“Considering that we are celebrating the life of John Robert Newhouse in a house of God, there are lines of scripture that seem just right in depicting why John was a gift to all of us. They come from 1 Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind.

“It does not envy. It does not boast.

“It is not proud.

“It is not rude. It is not self-seeking.

“It is not easily angered.

“It keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love does not delight in evil.

“But rejoices with the truth.

“It always protects, always trusts.

“Always hopes. Always perseveres.

“Love never fails.”

“John, I love you. Your family loves you. Your wonderful spouse loves you. Everyone here will always love you.


“And on a personal note as your best man, John: If I am good enough to enter those pearly gates to join you in eternity, the first microbrew is on me.”




“Just me and him in a room for 10 minutes.” – John Roseboro talking about Juan Marichal shortly after being clobbered in a bat-swinging brawl in 1965


“There were no hard feelings on my part, and I thought if that was made public, people would believe that this was really over with. So I saw him at a Dodger old-timers’ game, and we posed for pictures together, and I actually visited him in the Dominican (Republic). The next year, he was in the Hall of Fame. Hey, over the years, you learn to forget things.” – Roseboro talking about forgiving Marichal

“(Roseboro) forgiving (me) was one of the best things that happened in my life.” – Juan Marichal eulogizing John Roseboro in 2002

Fifty years ago was the Year of “Satisfaction.”

NASA’s Project Gemini was paving the way for Neil Armstrong to walk on the Moon just four years later.

1965 was also the year that San Francisco pitcher Juan Marichal frightenly clobbered Los Angeles catcher John Roseboro on the head with a baseball bat.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was only 10 years-young at the time, and still remembers this August 22 brawl as if it was just yesterday.

Contemplating the incident a half-century later, one can easily conclude that Roseboro, who had every reason to hold an eternal grudge against Marichal, was a better human being than the vast majority of us.

Juan Marichal Hitting Catcher John Roseboro

He was not only willing to forgive; he even flew his family to the Dominican Republic to spend time with Marichal and his family. Maybe San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers fans can learn something from this story. Baseball is only a game and sometimes emotions get high, but what is really important in life?

And when Roseboro eventually succumbed to a series of strokes and prostate cancer in 2002, the Roseboro family wanted Marichal, “The “Dominican Dandy” to not only be one of the pallbearers at catcher’s funeral service, but to actually deliver one of the eulogies.

In these days of institutional gridlock and permanent feuding, maybe we should contemplate Roseboro’s remarkable willingness to forgive, although he certainly never forgot. He was hit on the head with a baseball bat, an act that potentially could have been fatal … and yet …he was the bigger man.

Why Are We So Easily Offended?

“Love is patient, love is kind … it keeps no record of wrongs.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

”Johnny, Johnny, I’m so sorry.” – Willie Mays Serving as a Peacemaker immediately following the bat-swinging brawl

Writing Almost DailyBrett in many ways is the equivalent of walking across a mine field.

You know deep down inside that one of these incendiary devices (e.g., blog posts) will go boom and pow now and then. The subject could be relatively benign, such as the choice of gluten free foods or more serious including: graduate teaching fellows going on strike; widowers daring to date again and without forgetting the dearly departed; or even preferring to go to the Rose Bowl over a family gathering.

It seems as if Hatfield’s vs. McCoy’s-style of feuding and pettiness is way too prevalent in our society with perpetual keeping of score of real and perceived transgressions. For Roseboro, he knew what Marichal inflicted on him in the heat of battle, and yet he was not only willing to forgive he developed a lifetime friendship with Marichal and his family.

Remembering a Better Man

“I wish I could have had John Roseboro as my catcher.” – Marichal speaking at Roseboro’s funeral in 2002

You wouldn’t blame Marichal for being humbled, and a little bit sheepish delivering the eulogy at the service commemorating the life of John Roseboro.MarichalRoseboro1

Roseboro had every reason for a lifelong beef against Marichal. And yet he realized the brawl was keeping Marichal out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He (Roseboro) knew that sending the signal that the brawl was history was the way to ensure that Marichal was enshrined in Cooperstown.

How many of us would do that? How many of us are not on speaking terms with a wide variety of people, and for what reason? Can we even remember?

Maybe Doris Day had it right: “Que Sera, Sera”, (Whatever will be, will be).

Or better yet, Roseboro had it right. Pathos subsides. Time moves on. Life is too short. Make peace. Enjoy our limited time on Earth.

Sounds like good advice to all of us, including the author of Almost DailyBrett.










Shouldn’t we all have the right to proudly wear the colors of our favorite team and safely cheer them on to victory…regardless of the venue?

And consistent with this right are we also obligated, regardless of the outcome and emotional impact of the game, to treat those who freely choose to root for our opponents with respect, particularly if they wear their colors in your home stadium?

It is called civility…something that is an endangered species in American society and we are not just talking about football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer or whatever sport immediately comes to mind.

And while we are embarking in this discussion are we really better people if our team wins? And conversely if our team comes up on the short-end of the scoreboard is that our personal defeat as well? After all it is only a game. We are not the ones tying on the cleats, applying the sun glare black or rubbing on pine tar. And yet to some fans…

Almost DailyBrett is exploring this subject because college football will be underway in about six weeks. This blog argues that college football is America’s most emotional game because in many cases the rivalries go back a century or more and the respective teams play a grand total of once in a given year. There are no best-of-sevens in college football.

Certainly good-natured ribbing and cajoling between fans of respective universities is just as much of a feature of Americana as tailgating, fight songs and cheerleaders. But what happens when the kidding becomes taunting? What happens when the effects of alcohol combine with rising testosterone levels? And what happens when violence seems to be the way to settle a score?

Take Alabama vs. Auburn, two schools separated by less than 200 miles. The so-called “Iron Bowl” between the two schools goes back to 1893. In the State of Alabama, you are either “Roll Tide!” or “War Eagle!”  Alabama won the BCS National Championship in 2010, and Auburn followed with a national title of its own this past January.

Growing up, I read about legendary Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, one of the greatest in the history of college football. Which brings this discussion to the stately oak trees at “Toomer’s Corner” in Auburn, Alabama. One of the traditions at Auburn is to “roll” the trees with TP to celebrate victories by the Auburn Tigers.


Following Auburn’s come-from-behind victory in this year’s Iron Bowl, an Alabama fan Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, called regional sports radio host Paul Finebaum to complain that Auburn students allegedly rolled Toomer’s Corner upon hearing the news of Bear Bryant’s passing. When the host doubted the story, Updyke then announced that he had poisoned two of the Toomer’s Corner 130-year-old oak trees with a deadly herbicide, Spike 80DF. “Do you think I care?” Updyke asked. “Roll Damn Tide!”


Updyke’s attorneys have entered an innocent plea to criminal mischief, but their client’s crowing about his misdeed on sports radio may be all the prosecution needs to put his crimson backside behind bars. Meanwhile, the trees are in mortal danger.

Even more revolting than the poisoning of defenseless trees that just happen to grow on the Auburn campus is the sickening attack this past March against a San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stow, in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers beat the Giants that day, but that did not preclude a brutal attack on Stow, who ironically works for American Medical Response. Stow suffered significant brain damage and recently was upgraded from “critical” to “serious” condition at San Francisco General Hospital. A man with a prior felony record, Giovanni Ramirez, has been arrested in connection with the incident.

In this case, we are discussing baseball not football. We are also talking about one of the most long-standing and intense rivalries in professional sports going back to 1890 when the Giants were located in New York and the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

It may be easy to try to dismiss the Toomer’s Corner and Chavez Ravine (home of Dodger Stadium) incidents as criminal and isolated. Yes and No. The real question is whether they are representative to the loss of civility in American society?

As I grew up, I occasionally heard the phrase, “Magnanimous in victory; gracious in defeat.” If you follow sports, politics, business etc. long enough you will celebrate your share victories and endure your share of defeats. Being able to respect the feelings of the “losers,” while at the same time offering congratulations to the “winners” is a sign of maturity.

When the actual contest is taking place, it is a wonderful release from the pressures of daily life to be able to cheer for your team. And you should be able to wear your team’s colors anyplace, anytime you want…and to accept with a smile good-natured ribbing. Having said that, there is no excuse for insults, violence and certainly no justification for criminal behavior. Here’s to hoping that (if guilty) Mr. Updyke and Mr. Ramirez each spend a long time in a very bad place (this is not equating trees to a human life, but criminal behavior with criminal behavior).

My biggest concern is what happens if criminal behavior, masked as fandom, gets completely out of control? Will someone bring a gun to a stadium and shoot a fellow fan or a player or coach on the field? I am sad to say this is not the first time this thought has crossed my mind. I have many times wondered how many of my fellow fans are armed and will intoxicants provide them with liquid courage? Can we imagine having to walk through magnetometers in order to go to a game? Preposterous? Just think about how airport security has changed in the last 10 years.

One way to cool everyone’s jets and reduce this awful possibility is to simply enjoy the game, and remember it is only a game…not life or death. And if your team wins? Great. And if your team loses? Oh well. Remember: You personally did not win. And you personally did not lose. The team that you are rooting for, won or lost. It’s not personal.

Sometimes we seem to forget that.









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