Category Archives: football

Man Versus Ball by Jon Hart (2013)

Man Versus Ball book

Man Versus Ball
by Jon Hart
Potomac Books, 2013
184 pages

Bookstores are full of books written by athletes and about athletes. We have been told what it is like to play professional sports, the pressures athletes face, the challenges of living life in the public’s eye on the ballfield. However, I cannot remember ever reading a book written by a vendor before.

Jon Hart’s Man Versus Ball is a brief glimpse inside the life of those other guys working in major league stadiums. Hart accepted the undercover assignment as a journalist, but was so enthralled with the life of a vendor that he worked an entire season at Yankee Stadium, another at Shea, and still another at Citi Field. And that wasn’t enough; Hart spent time in Spring Training as well. Add to that a job as a U.S. Open ball person, an amateur caddie during a PGA tournament, a year in semi-pro football and a couple of seasons as an inline skating basketball player, and you have the highly entertaining Man Versus Ball.

This is not a book for kids, as Hart does not sugarcoat the language heard in the depths of the sports world, but there are several laugh-out-loud passages for the mature reader. As a former vendor myself (ten games at the old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati), I particularly enjoyed the chapters that followed Hart’s adventures slinging sodas and hawking hot dogs, almost so much that I am thinking about applying for the job at Great American Ballpark this summer. It sounds foolish, but the thought has crossed my mind.

Hart’s book is a reminder to live life to the fullest, no matter what your station in life. Whether you are on the field chasing fly balls or in the stands pushing peanuts, do it with all your might and enjoy it. There is no sense of regret in Man Versus Ball, and there should be no regret in life either.

Learn more about Potomac Books.

Purchase Man Versus Ball by Jon Hart.


He broke his leg, now he is breaking our hearts

1985 Topps Lorenzen

Jared Lorenzen, injured quarterback for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, has announced that he is finished playing indoor football. The “Hefty Lefty” said the decision was due in part to his broken leg, but added, “I’m tired of being burned by ownership.” Fort Thomas Matters has the full story.

Lorenzen goes down

Fort Thomas Matters broke the news that Jared Lorenzen broke his leg a few days ago, and even has video of the fateful play. This could be a devastating blow to the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, at least publicity-wise, as Lorenzen was the biggest name on the team.

TWJ contributor Patrick quickly sent over a couple of “fun cards” of this season lowlight, using the 1978 and 1979 Fleer football templates for inspiration.

1978 Fleer football Lorenzen fun card

1979 Fleer football Lorenzen fun card

I decided to get in on the action too, pulling from the 1985 Topps football set, one of my favorite card designs of all time regardless of sport.

1985 Topps football Lorenzen fun card

Another former Highlands High School quarterback, Kyle James, took over for Lorenzen. I still hope to catch a NKRM game this season, but it won’t be the same without the Hefty Lefty on the field.

Fun Cards Submission: 1959 Topps Jared Lorenzen

Lorenzen River Monsters

TWJ contributor Patrick is back with a brand new “fun card,” featuring the Pillsbury Throwboy Jared Lorenzen of the Northern Kentucky River Monsters. If you’re not familiar with the River Monsters, click here.

Thanks for the submission Patrick!

I want to see the River Monsters in action

Northern Kentucky River MonstersNorthern Kentucky has its very own Continental Indoor Football League team: the Northern Kentucky River Monsters. There are actually three teams in Kentucky; besides the River Monsters we have the Bluegrass Warhorses (Lexington) and the Kentucky Xtreme (Louisville). The remaining seven teams are located in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.

The quarterback for the River Monsters is Jared Lorenzen, who attended Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky (my alma mater), and appeared in four games for the New York Giants in 2006 and 2007. His nicknames are “The Pillsbury Throwboy” and “The Hefty Lefty,” and the video at this link shows why.

The River Monsters were a part of the Ultimate Indoor Football League in 2011, but was out of the league after one season. The team joined the CIFL in 2014 and played their first game on Monday night in Lexington, winning 36-20.

The team will play five games at the Bank of Kentucky Center in Highland Heights, which is less than fifteen minutes from my house. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a game or two this year.

R.I.P. Curtis Bray

(May 9, 1970 – January 15, 2014)

Curtis Bray

Iowa State defensive line coach Curtis Bray passed away today after collapsing during a work out. Bray’s coaching career dates back to 1993. He was the defensive line coach for my alma mater, Western Kentucky University, 1995-1996.

Too big for a binder: Boomer

Back when I was a football fan, and more specifically a Cincinnati Bengals fan, I accumulated some memorabilia that was too big for a binder. In 1986, McDonald’s issued football cards with some sort of a scratch-off game on a perforated bottom. The only card I have from this set is Boomer Esiason, and hey it’s a rookie card! The scratch-off game was separated from the card before I received it.

Boomer Esiason McDonalds

The other Boomer item I have is a candy bar wrapper. The candy bar is long gone of course. There is an offer on the back for a limited edition “I Ate a Boomer Bar” shirt. There are a handful of Boomer Bar wrappers on eBay, but no shirts.

Boomer Bar

Fun Cards: 2013 Topps Marvin Lewis

Lewis Topps

Before today’s Reds game, some of the Bengals players and staff took batting practice. Coach Marvin Lewis even got in the cage and took a few hacks. Maybe he and Dusty Baker can switch jobs? Couldn’t do any worse, could he?

Chris Broussard stands up for the Bible

Late Monday morning, an NBA player named Jason Collins announced to the world that he is a homosexual. It is difficult to say that we didn’t see this coming—not from Collins specifically (I don’t follow basketball at all), but from someone in one of the major sports. I read numerous editorials over the past few weeks about open homosexuality in the sports world, with many columnists attempting to equate or at least relate that lifestyle to one’s skin color.

Late Monday morning, Collins “came out of the closet” and was met with mostly positive and supportive remarks from fellow NBA players, professionals in other sports, broadcasters and sportswriters.

Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Tracy McGrady and Magic Johnson were among the NBA players past and present that Tweeted their support. Heavyweights from other sports such as Evander Holyfield, Barry Sanders, David Wright, and Martina Navratilova also expressed their admiration for his courage. Even former President Bill Clinton said, “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend.”

One NBA analyst’s reaction to Collins’ announcement, however, has been scrutinized more than others for his seemingly negative stance. On the ESPN program “Outside The Lines,” Chris Broussard said (as transcribed by Ben Golliver of BlazersEdge and Sports Illustrated):

I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN’s] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.

In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.

… Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.

In a world that is now openly anti-Christian, Broussard succinctly stated his view without malice toward Collins. He didn’t fire off an inane 140-character Tweet like Miami Dolphins player Mike Wallace. Broussard simply stated what he believes and gave a reason for his belief.

In a world where it is more and more unpopular to publicly state one’s opposition to sin, Broussard should be applauded. In a world that is screaming for more tolerance, where is the tolerance for God?

Mr. Broussard, thank you for using your public voice for the Bible and saying what many will be afraid to say in the coming days and weeks.

Fun Cards Submission: First pitches (part 4)

JJ Watt Houston Texans Astros first pitch

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt threw the first pitch before the Astros’ first ever official game as an American League team. I’m still not happy about them being an American League team. At all.

Fun card submitted by Patrick.

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