Mid-March : our thoughts turn to Spring…and baseball…which means : The Marauders.
I remember when we moved to Midlothian, IL in 1974, and the following Spring my parents told me I received a phone call and put me on the phone with Mr. Bob Vaughan, the manager of The Marauders, who told me I had been drafted to play on his team. My Dad told me he had known Mr. Vaughan from his high school days.
I remember that first team meeting at Mr. Vaughan’s house with a bunch of other kids who were bigger than me. At the time it was a Little League sanctioned league team and The Marauders were a minor league team of 9 to 12 year olds.
Practices soon began. We drilled defense, got batting practice and had scrimmage games. I learned about ‘laps’ – a disciplinary running trip that you had to take to the bushes when you did something wrong like getting lazy, goofing off or taking a ‘backward K’ (striking out looking (not swinging) at a called 3rd strike). (Laps were later run to “Ritters” (one of my dad’s coach’s house near the Central Park school field) or up the hill when practices were moved to belly button hill field.)
We had only two losses all season and won the championship that year ending us as 1975 Midlothian Village Champions. But by the way we celebrated when we won, you would have thought we had won the World Series.
The following year Mr. Vaughan moved up to be a major league manager of The Braves. My dad, Ed Novick, took over the helm as Manager of The Marauders. I took over a more prominent role on that team and was a shortstop and pitcher. We weren’t nearly as successful as the year before. I was drafted mid-season to go up to the Braves because they needed a player because of player absences due to vacations. Thus my Marauder player days ended. But my younger brother Michael and cousin John played on The team in subsequent years. But my dad stayed on as Marauders manager long after we did for the next 33 years.
In those years my dad built a Midlothian baseball dynasty with the Marauders. My dad’s managing record was 449-165-1. That’s a .730 winning percentage. In that time The Marauders won 10 Village Championships and made the playoffs all but 9 seasons (and even in those seasons they frequently won the Round Robin championship for all the non-playoff teams). He prided his success on observant scouting, savvy drafting, and the most disciplined daily practice schedule. When the season started, The Marauders were always the most prepared team. They won their opening day game almost every year with few exceptions. They frequently won the first half of the season. They were a little less successful in the second half of the season when occasionally more talented teams wound best them. Still they were almost always in the playoffs and won Championships in 1 out of almost every 3 years.
One year, when I was getting out of college, my dad had a heart attack in the Spring and couldn’t manage The Marauders. He had to consider giving up the team. I stepped in as manager that year. We went 6-9 that year -not terribly successful, but competitive. But it saved The Marauders and kept it in the family until the following year when my dad returned as manager.
My two boys played on The Marauders. Cody played for his Grandpa as a 9 year old in 2005. The Marauder Family Tradition Continued when Canyon was drafted and played for the Marauders as a 9 and 10 year old in 2011 and 2012.
Many others who we still call friends played on the Marauders over the years. I wrote about one, Mike Cline, in The Legendary Ed Novick. Hundreds of kids have played for The Orange over the years. When you were a Marauder you were like family. Marauders share a common experience of camaraderie, tradition and brotherhood (maybe kinship is a better word – there have been many girls who have played on the team over the years!).
From 1976 through 2008, my dad managed all but two years – 1989 when I managed following his heart attack and 2004 when Matt Prim managed following his quadruple bypass surgery. My dad managed until 2008. That last year he battled cancer into the fall and winter months. He passed away on January 6, 2009.
Dad was honored by the baseball league the year he passed away in 2009. I wrote about that day in A Perfect Baseball Birthday. That year the Midlothian baseball named Diamond 1 was christened ”Ed Novick Field”, to forever remember the dedication that my dad gave to Midlothian baseball. (Note: Diamond 2 had been previously named ”John Sikarica Field” and Diamond 3 “Matt Peters Field” to honor predecessor Midlothian baseball benefactors).
Dad’s coach of several years, Matt Prim, a former Marauder player himself, took over as manager and continues proud Marauder traditions today including the legendary Marauder picnics and producing The Books – an end-of-the-year book summary of the season given to every Marauder player and coach that includes the team history, season schedule and record, individual statistics, team all-time records, game recaps, photos, a Manager’s Message, Awards pages and autographs page for team members to sign .
Midlothian baseball has evolved over the years, changing from Little League to Boys Baseball to a local baseball leadership. In that time, team names have changed numerous times.
The one constant in Midlothian baseball for over 45 years has been The Marauders name and legacy.
The 2014 season is about to begin and we are still a part of The Marauders. My mom still keeps score for the team. And I still go to practices or games to cheer on The Orange when I can. Why not come out and cheer on The Orange when you can? Maybe I’ll see you there.
Were you or someone you knew a Marauder? Why not leave a note or story about your own Marauder story or favorite memories in the Comments section below? We can celebrate our stories and memories together and archive them for when we make a Marauder web site to preserve the Marauder history and tradition for years to come.
Ok. He got me.
Yesterday my twelve year old prankster son set me up for a prank. He got me.
Do you think I got him back? Nope. But I did get someone I didn’t expect.
So yesterday Canyon told me there was something in my bedroom he wanted me to see. So I went up to my room with him walking behind me. I pushed the half-closed door open and walked in, only to feel something hit me on the head. I looked down and saw a sign on the floor that said “Gotcha! -Canyon” and then saw a soccer ball bounce to the ground. I turned around because I thought Canyon had thrown the ball at me, but then he told me in a very-proud-of-himself way that the door had been rigged with the soccer ball over it to fall on me when I opened the door. Gotcha!
So, this morning, reminded by the sign still on the floor, I see an opportunity to get even with him and catch him in his own trick. While he was downstairs in the kitchen, I took the sign and put it on the floor in his room, half-close his bedroom door and balance the soccer ball atop the door. Then I go to the kitchen and tell him to go upstairs and straighten his room before we leave the house.
When he heads upstairs, I peek around the corner and up the stairs expecting a good laugh when I catch him in his own prank, only to see that he’s on to me. He stops outside the room, pokes his head through the half-closed door, then slips through the half-closed door, straightens his room, then slides back out through the half-closed door without upsetting the soccer ball atop the door.
Disappointed, I asked him how he knew to avoid the prank. He said he could see the soccer ball at the top of the door as he was walking up the stairs. Then he peeked in the room and saw his own Gotcha sign on the floor, and then he was small enough to just slip through the half-closed door without the ball falling.
My prank was foiled!
And, we were late. So we headed out for work/school.
Tonight I return home only to have my mom tell me that she had to tell me about something that Canyon had done.
In case you haven’t guessed it yet, she told me that she had gone into the room only to have the soccer ball fall on HER head! Then she saw the Gotcha sign and thought that Canyon had pulled a prank on HER!
Embarrassed, I had to come clean, tell her the story and apologize that it was ME that had put the soccer ball over the door, not Canyon.
The prankster not only got dad yesterday, but also got dad again when he got him in trouble for pulling a prank on grandma because he forgot to take down the soccer ball from atop the door before he left.
The little rascal!
With all the hype around the Oscar awards, I thought it would be fun to spread a little love and happiness by giving out the Eddies…an award I fashioned to recognize excellence in everyday living of people in my life.
Bitstrips had the perfect way to do that with an award cartoon that I could customize and share via Facebook. I made the award look like me, then selected friends I found on Bitstrips/Facebook who I appreciate, added an award title and note, then posted them to Facebook and tagged the photos so my friends were sure to receive the awards.
It only took a few minutes to do but I imagine made some people I appreciate smile, be recognized for what the do and feel good. It also let their friends on Facebook have the opportunity to smile, appreciate something about their friend, and maybe post a comment about in response.
The Eddies are just one way to appreciate my friends and family and spread some love, happiness and joy.
Why not come up with your own award to do something similar for your own friends and family?
We could all use a little appreciation to get us though everyday living, and being generous to others with our love and recognition is a nice thing to do and a good way to feel good about yourself too.
The following is the eulogy I gave at my grandmother’s funeral mass on October 30th, 2003 at St. Christina Catholic Church in Chicago, IL. I’ve only given two eulogies in my life: my father’s eulogy and the one for my grandmother below. I was moved by those in attendance when at both services these eulogies received a response of applause from the congregation. I imagine my words captured the essence of those loved ones whose memories we were there to honor. I was blessed to have had such beautiful people in my immediate family in my father and my sweet grandmother, Gladys, who I love so dearly.
Gladys M. DiGuido
September 14, 1913 – October 27, 2003
The last few months have been very hard on all of us to witness Gladys’ health and capacities decline as they did. Recently we visited her at the nursing home. She was not feeling well. Grandma asked Tina and I to pray for and with her and we huddled close and prayed a “Hail Mary”, ending with the words “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”. At that time, those words rang with an urgency that we often overlook. When I got the call from Michael that Grandma had passed away, I hung up the phone and prayed a “Hail Mary”. This time I couldn’t help but stop halfway through. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Blessed is the fruit of your womb — Truly, blessed are we who are the fruit of Gladys’ womb.
While reflecting on Gladys’ life 3 words stand out. The first word is “special”. Yes, she was special. But what made her so special was the unique way she had of making other people feel like they were the ones that were special. Her warmth and love were so palpable that even strangers were drawn to her. She would meet people, especially children, smile warmly, learn their names, talk to them, and shower hugs and kisses on them. It amazed me how many people, especially children, whether by blood, marriage, or merely affection, called her Grandma. She made many feel like she was their Grandma by the love and care she would show them.
Like the Lord who calls each of us by name, she had a special name for each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. From “Sweet” Susan, to “Eager” Eddie, to my own “Calm” Canyon, each of us knew Grandma’s special name for us.
Further, each of us probably thought that we were her favorite. I know I did. I suspect that many of you thought that you were her favorite too. She ,had a way of loving each one of us s000 much that we couldn’t help feel that we couldn’t have been loved by her any more completely — so we must be her favorite. She made each of us feel special in our own way.
The second word, and probably the most obvious, is “family”.
Nothing in this world was so special to Gladys as her family. Having lost her mother to death as a child, and been raised by her aunt and uncle, she knew the value and true blessing of a mother. By the grace of God she had a large and healthy family of her own. Much like Abraham of the Old Testament who would have descendents as numerous as
the stars in heaven, Gladys had 8 children, and lived to bless dozens of grandchildren and dozens more great-grandchildren. She actively participated in the nurturing and growth of each one.
Grandma loved to entertain us with stories, songs, and games.
She devotedly attended baptisms, communions, birthdays, graduations and weddings. She loved us all so very well and so very much that it seemed like her love would never end. And based on our presence here today, with her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, it never will. Her love lives on in her family as we pass on her love to new generations of her family.
The 3rd word is “faithful”.
Yes, Gladys was faithful…to her husband Nick, to her family, to her friends, to her community…she was faithful.
Even more devotedly, or more probably because of the fact, she was faithful to the Lord. On a few occasions when I would spend the night at Grandma’s, she would make sure I was settled in for bed and would say, “breathe a little prayer”. Grandma breathed a lot of prayers in her life. She prayed daily. She made every effort to get to church on Sundays and whenever else she could to come to the table of the Lord and hear His Word. She emphasized her faith and glorified The Lord and petitioned the blessed mother for strength and the health of her family. She revered the blessed sacraments and supported us all in our faith development by attending our baptisms, first communions, confirmations, weddings and rejoiced in seeing the day of one of her own being ordained a priest.
Gladys was faithful over 90 years and even unto death… and will remain so unto eternity.
Many families become enriched by the death of a matriarch. Our family has been enriched by the life of ours. And oh, what a rich inheritance of faith and hope and love is ours.
Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Gladys. Blessed are we, your family, and all whose lives you touched.
Loving Father, accept tenderly Gladys — our mother — our grandmother — our great-grandmother — our aunt — our neighbor — our friend — our sister — into your house for those special ones of your family of faithful servants and guide us home to Heaven to join her there with you.
In Jesus name we pray,
Today I shared a sweet daddy/daughter Valentine’s Day moment with my daughter, Tess.
I received a text from her at 10:45am while I was at work and she was at school. Tess almost never texts me during the work/school day so I wondered what was up. The text read, “Hi dad! Can I ask you a question?”
Immediately I replied, “Yep”.
Now, I know Tess. If she has to ask if she can ask a question, before she asks the question, she’s going to ask for something that she knows I may not like.
I thought for a moment about what that might be. Using my fatherly intuition, I thought that either: 1) she was going to try to beg out of going out to dinner with us tonight for heart-shaped pizza (a Valentine’s Day tradition at our house for many years), likely so she could go out on Valentine’s Day date with her new boyfriend (who I’ve never met), or 2) she was going to ask if the new boyfriend could come to dinner with us.
Preemptively I hoped for the best and sent her a text that read, “Yes you can bring (insert boyfriend’s name here) for pizza”.
Tess’ next text read, “Do you think (insert boyfriend’s name here) could come to dinner with us today ….. Really. ??”
I could tell that she had started to text me her question, then received my preemptive text, was surprised how I could have known what she was going to ask, and then finished with “Really ??” I can only imagine what she thought when she read my knowing answer to her question before she had even sent her text.
For me, I read her last text and felt such a sense of connectedness to my daughter, and satisfaction that my fatherly intuition was right, and that I could know and anticipate her needs before she even expressed them.
My dad could surprise me similarly when I was growing up and sometime seemed to know things before I thought he could have possibly known. I always wondered how he did that. Today I have a sense of just how he did.
And, isn’t that how our Father, God, knows and loves us so well, anticipating our requests and meeting our needs?
In reply I texted, “Yep. Dad knows and loves you so much I can anticipate what you’re thinking even before you say a thing. You’re my sweet Valentine and have been since you were born”.
She replied, “Thank you dad!!
Me: Happy Valentine’s Day, angel!”
Her: “Happy Valentine’s Day!!”
And, it is.
I’m so proud of my daughter. Since she was a baby I’ve called her as “The SweeTess Girl in the World”. She just turned 16, is doing great in school and just passed her Driver’s Ed test and will soon be getting her driving permit. She is respectful, sweet and loving toward others, and toward me too. She is every sweet thing a father could hope for in a daughter.
And, now my little girl is growing up. She just asked her boyfriend to the Turnabout dance next weekend and he said yes. I told her that no boys are taking her out unless they meet her dad first. We joke about it, but I perceived she hears me and is respectful, and maybe appreciative of the loving protection from where that expectation comes from. So, I guess tonight’s the night I meet the new guy in her life.
I imagine she knows the old guy in her life, her father, loves her so.
And, with the blessings I’m experiencing this Valentine’s day, I’m believing that mine is so in love with me too.
We later went to morning mass at the Catholic church in Woodstock. At the end of mass the pastor made a surprising introduction of a special guest that was at mass to address the congregation….Fr. Guido Sarducci - yes, the priest who would gave humorous editorials on the Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live. We were told he was there at mass sent there by the Vatican! A man dressed as Fr. Guido who did a pretty good impersonation of him too, invited all to buy tickets for a dinner fundraiser the church was having. But I most remember when he told the congregation, in his Italian accent, ”With the light ofa Jesus shining down on us all, how coulda the groundhog not see his shadow.” And that’s just what the groundhog did today, so, 6 more weeks of winter.
Do you believe in miracles?
Reports coming in today, including a Southtown Star article, are that St. Christopher School in Midlothian, IL, has been saved, avoiding a threatened closure after 90 years of existence.
This development is a redeeming sign of the Holy Spirit still strongly at work in our world today.
Many hundred parishioners and alumni worked together to pledge their support and commitment to keep St. Christopher open well into the future, all within just two weeks of the closure announcement. Pledges totaling nearly $2,000,000 payable over the 5 years were raised in just one week. The St. Christopher Parish community will be celebrating and should be proud.
Special thanks to those who led the charge: fellow Lewis University alumnus John Clavio, Nancy Callaghan, Principal Maureen Wilson, Pastor Rev. Krzysztof Paluch, my friends David and Janinne Leonhardt, and many others … and to each one of you who made a financial pledge, volunteered your time and talents, and prayed with us for the success of this endeavor.
St. Christopher has been open for 90 years. Here’s to the next 90! (And appropriately, this story is the 90th post on this blog!)
Praise The Lord, and may He bless St. Christopher and all those who pulled together as one to make this miracle happen.
Prior related stories on this blog:
For more information go to:
St. Christopher Parish Web Site: http://www.stchristopherparish.com/
St. Christopher School Web Site: http://www.stchrisschool.org/
St. Christopher Alumni Web Site: http://www.stchrisalumni.org/