Former major league player, manager, and long-time St. Cloud resident Hal Lanier shared this story about legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who passed away last October.  “I was managing with the Cardinals Triple-A farm team in 1979 and the club decided to put on an Old Timers Exhibition Game and Bob agreed to play,” Lanier began.  “We were put on opposite teams for the game and like all those contests it was just a fun thing, with pitchers were just lobbing the ball in.  Anyways, Bob lobbed in a pitch and I ripped a double into the gap.  But when I got a chance for a second at-bat, I noticed Bob was giving me “the stare” and then proceeded to stick a 90 mph fastball at my earhole.  Even at age 45 and playing for fun, he took that hit sort of personally. I’m just glad I was able to get out of the way.”

After years of not liking the way I look, I finally realized that I am not ugly – I’m just not my type… a couple of decades ago, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods were roundly and widely criticized for never taking a stand on social issues.  Today, athletes are routinely blasted for taking a stand on social issues – guess the wheels on the bus go round and round.

Lin-J Shell, a former Orlando Predators, and Canadian Football League player, tragically passed away in Jacksonville at the age of 39 last week after a brief illness.  He was a tremendous player and a really good guy.  Lin-J always had a smile on his face.  He was also a hero.  In 2017, while working as a substitute teacher at Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Lin-J confronted an irate parent who was trying to enter a crowded assembly with a handgun, eventually wrestling the gun out of the parent’s hands and preventing a tragedy.   An advocate and friend of young athletes, he also spent his summers putting on free clinics and workouts for Jacksonville-area kids.   Farewell, my friend, you were loved and will be missed.

The image of what an NFL quarterback should look like has changed dramatically over the last 20 years.  Back in the 1980s and early 90s, you had to be 6-2 to 6-4, 220-230 lbs. and you got roundly criticized for freelancing and running out of the pocket.   Then Michael Vick came along and changed all that.  Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes followed that and changed the way the position is now viewed.  I bring this up for one reason.  If NFL coaches and GMs were a little more forward-thinking back in the day, I would have loved to seen FSU’s Charlie Ward in an NFL uniform. He would have fit in very well in today’s game.

Every time a character dies in a TV Show I feel sad knowing that an actor just got fired from his job in front of our very eye.

Trying to figure out why Laker fan is so excited about their most recent “acquisitions” including Carmello Anthony (37), Russell Westbrook (32), Trevor Ariza (36), and Dwight Howard (35).  It’s the oldest roster in the history of the NBA and they only have one star in his prime (and that star is injury prone).  Add to the fact that both LeBron and Westbrook are two ball-centric players and I just do not see how this thing is going to work out.  Got just one question for Laker GM Rob Pelinka, “What? Ya couldn’t talk Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson out of retirement?”

When Tamyra Mensah-Stock won a gold medal for the USA in women’s freestyle wrestling, I know Osceola Head Wrestling Coach and Athletic Director Jim Bird had a smile on his face. Men’s Wrestling has long been an Olympic Sport, actually being featured in the original games in 708 B.C., but women’s wrestling was not added to the Olympic Program until 2005.   Long a proponent of making wrestling an all-inclusive sport, Bird has been an advocate of the Florida High School Athletic Association recognizing girls wrestling as a varsity sport.  The FHSSA will have a final vote on that issue next month…here’s hoping it happens and these young athletes finally get their chance to officially compete for state championships.  Y’All Have a Great Week.

Dan PearsonBy J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

J. Daniel Pearson, a long-time resident of Osceola County, has joined Positively Osceola as a freelance contributor. His JD’s Monday Morning Musings column will be a regular feature and he will be covering events for us throughout the year. Dan is a former Public Relations Specialist for Florida State University, Boardwalk and Baseball, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, the Orlando Predators and other professional sports teams and has been a freelance reporter to many newspapers in the state.