Sports stars shine at PSWA dinner

By Andrew Wiley

When M.N. Rawlins became the first president of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association in 1904, roads were unpaved, the Wright brothers had just gotten a plane into the air for 40 seconds and the newspaper was emperor of the information empire.

A lot has changed.

Streets have been paved, planes are now the safest way to travel and newspapers have been tossed aside for their flashier, younger cousin, the Internet.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the PSWA’s annual dinner banquet, commemorating the previous year’s Philadelphia sports standouts.

Photo by Andrew Wiley

The 107th PSWA dinner was held Jan. 31 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ with more than 1,000 people in attendance.

The main award at each banquet is for professional athlete of the year.  This year was no different, with 2010 National League Cy Young award recipient Roy Halladay being named the winner.

Halladay was not the only professional Philadelphia athlete to receive an award, however.  He was joined by teammate Shane Victorino and 76er Elton Brand who received the Humanitarian of the Year award and the Good Guy of the Year award, respectively.

In one of the most memorable speeches of the night, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel claimed the best part of his evening was when he got to meet Matt Hoffman, a Rowan University football player who donated stem cells to a 58-year old man suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2009. Manuel’s speech was filled with some humor as well.

“I thank the PSWA for allowing me to speak, and quite frankly, I don’t think they could have chosen a better speaker,” Manuel quipped.

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Baker on his way towards legendary status

By Andrew Wiley

Tucked away in his cubicle on the first floor in the farthest corner of the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University, Dan Baker furiously scribbles down words and numbers on the commercial format sheet for last Sunday’s men’s basketball game.

“I’ll be right back,” he says, before half-sprinting down the narrow hallway to his secretary so she can type what he’s just written.  Just as quickly, he half-sprints back, only to start on another format sheet.  He does this three times, getting a little faster each trip.

Baker, 64, is the coordinator of broadcast operations at Drexel University as well as the Dragons’ radio play-by-play announcer for the men’s hoops team, a position he has held for 12 seasons.

Courtesy of philly.com

But those are just two of his jobs.  His others are what people really know him for.

Well sort of.

People know his voice.

Anyone who has been to a Phillies game since 1972 has heard the voice.  The same can be said for an Eagles game since 1985.  Baker serves as both teams’ public address announcer.

His public addressing career began in 1972 while he was an elementary school teacher in the Philadelphia School District.  He was introduced to Bill Giles, then president of business operations for the Phillies, and was asked to interview for the job of public address announcer for Veterans Stadium.

“During my interview with Mr. Giles, he told me he wanted me to keep the ‘Game in Progress’ scoreboard with the balls, strikes and outs,” Baker said.  “I told him that not only would I do that, but I would be the fastest and most accurate scoreboard keeper in all of Major League Baseball.  And for 32 of the 33 years the Vet was open I believe that was the case.”

With the retirement of Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard in 2007, Baker is now the longest tenured PA announcer in Major League Baseball, an accomplishment he is quite proud of.

“I’m truly blessed,” Baker said.  “I’m lucky enough to work for one of the classiest organizations in all of sports, and they ask me back every year.”

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Vick, Eagles ride to victory against Colts

By Andrew Wiley

Michael Vick returned as starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday as they faced the Indianapolis Colts at Lincoln Financial Field.  It was the first start for Vick since suffering a rib injury in week four against the Washington Redskins.

Vick and the Eagles shocked many with a 26-24 victory.  It was the first win against the Colts in Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach, which began in 1999.

Courtesy of thecolorcurve.com

Vick, who many experts say is playing the best football of his career, threw for 218 yards with one touchdown and rushed for 74 yards and another score.

“This game was more emotional because we knew how tough it was going to be to win this game,” Vick said in a televised post game interview. “It took two weeks of hard work, guys working extra hard, watching film and doing whatever it takes. To win this game was very gratifying.”

Philadelphia was coming off their bye week and the Colts had a short week after playing last Monday night.  This was apparent early.  Indianapolis looked sluggish out of the gate, while the Eagles looked very well rested.

The Eagles (5-3) are now a remarkable 12-0 following a bye week under Reid.  Going into Sunday’s game, Peyton Manning was 3-0 all-time against Philadelphia.

The offense got it going early for the Eagles.  On the first play from scrimmage, LeSean McCoy rushed up the middle for a 62-yard gain, which is the second longest run of his career.  Two plays later, Eagles wide out DeSean Jackson caught a nine-yard pass from Vick for the first touchdown of the day.

On the Colts first possession, Manning floated a pass across the middle which was intercepted by Eagles corner back Asante Samuel.

Philadelphia dominated the first quarter, but stalled on two drives which resulted in two field goals by kicker David Akers.

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Yankees fall of cliff in game 3, lose to Rangers

By Andrew Wiley

The 2010 Major League Baseball season has been dubbed, “The Year of the Pitcher.”  Monday night’s American League Championship Series game in the Bronx between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers lived up to the hype.

Well, at least for a while.   Texas won 8-0.

Cliff Lee was phenomenal, working eight scoreless innings while striking out 13 Yankees.  With his 10th strikeout of the night, Lee entered the record books, becoming the only player in history to record at least 10 strikeouts three times in a single postseason.  The lefty moved to 7-0 with an ERA of 1.26 for his career in postseason play.

Courtesy of atssportsblog.com

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte is no postseason slouch either.  Entering Monday’s game he was the winningest pitcher in postseason history with a record of 19-9 in 41 career postseason starts.  Although he received the loss he pitched well enough to win.

The offense started early for Texas when Josh Hamilton hit a first inning slider into the right field seats.  That’s all the cushioning Lee needed.

It wasn’t until the fourth inning Lee surrendered a base runner.  Mark Teixeira walked and received a standing ovation from Yankees fans who were thrilled to see the perfect game broken up.

They wouldn’t be standing for long.

Lee was surgical on the mound, allowing only three hits and the one walk to Teixeira.  They were his only blemishes.

“I was just throwing strikes,” Lee said in an interview with TBS’s Craig Sager. “The cutter was a really good pitch for me today. I was working ahead in the count and staying out of the heart of the plate. That’s the name of the game as far as pitching goes, and I was able to do that tonight.”

Lee’s strikeout to walk ratio this postseason is a remarkable 35 to 1.


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Daily horoscope: Leo, see Cancer

By Andrew Wiley

When 19-year old Philadelphia University student Lauren Fox woke up on Jan. 10, she had no idea that everything was about to change.

She quickly got into her usual routine of making her morning coffee and toasting her plain bagel.  She showered and brushed her teeth, the same as any other morning.

Then it happened.  The moment when things would never be the same for this physician’s assistant major: she read her daily horoscope.

For the first 7,616 days of her life, Fox had been classified as a Pisces, but on that day in January, this Pisces, usually shy and romantic, was instead an unemotional and detached Aquarius.

Wait. What?

Parke Kunkel, astronomy instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, made public last week his belief that a 13th zodiac sign should be included in the zodiac calendar.

But, according to experts, this announcement isn’t anything new to the science community and actually wouldn’t have been considered new to Galileo or Copernicus.  This 13th “sign”, called Ophiuchus (O-Fee-A-Kiss or O-Few-Shuss), has been known by scientists for about 2,500 years and dates back to the Babylonians.

With a 13th sign in place, all previous signs shift about a month.  Some people who were once Leos would instead be Cancers, while some Libras are now Virgos.

Photo by Andrew Wiley

One DCCC student expressed his distaste for Kunkel’s proclamation.

“I’ve been an Aquarius my whole life,” said Eric Trexler, 21, a business management major.  “I’m not just going to switch now because some random guy says I should.”

According to Daniel Childers, professor of earth and space science at DCCC, the sun does indeed pass through a small section of Ophiuchus, in between Sagittarius and Scorpio.

“Although the sun goes through a small bit of Ophiuchus and actually a similar amount of Scorpio, the stars are much brighter in Scorpio,” Childers said.  “That’s one reason why [Ophiuchus] was never included.  The stars were difficult to see.”

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Calvecchio coaches way to Citadel Heart of Learning Award

By Andrew Wiley

Going into his second season at the helm of the Penn State Brandywine baseball team, Tom Calvecchio is focused on a lot more than just baseball.

Coach Cal, as he is referred to by his players, is a Delaware County native and graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa.  He attended Lock Haven University where he excelled both athletically and academically, being named a three time PSAC West scholar athlete as well as an Academic All American.  He earned a master’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s University.

Although he holds a position as a collegiate baseball coach, this lifelong athlete holds another position, one he is far more proud of: a special education teacher at Avon Grove High School teaching grades 9 through 12.

Courtesy of the Citadel Heart of Learning

Calvecchio has worked for the Avon Grove School District for the past three years and last year was awarded the Citadel Heart of Learning Award, Chester County’s equivalency of the Academy Award for teachers.  Fifteen finalists and three winners were selected from 2,200 nominations submitted by students, parents, teachers and administrators.

“It kind of validated what I do for a living I guess outwardly,” Calvecchio said.  “But it really shows the hard work my kids did in making me get this.”

Calvecchio discussed his experiences and goals for Delaware and Chester counties during a recent interview.

Q: You graduated summa cum laude from Lock Haven University and received a master’s from St. Joseph’s University; were you always a good student or did that trait come along later in life?

A: I think it came in later in life.  I was always a good student, like in the top 25 percent of my class in high school, but once I got into classes where I knew what I wanted to do with my life it gave me a little more motivation to do better.

Q: You were asked to try out for both the Pirates and the Braves; at the time did you have a preference?

A: I would have just been happy playing for money.  Obviously growing up a Phillies fan I would have to pick the Pirates because I wouldn’t feel good about myself wearing a Braves uniform.

Q: You’ve been involved with sports your entire life and I’m sure you have many great memories.  Pick your favorite.

A: Probably trying out for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I got invited to an invitation-only tryout and there were about 12 people there, but I was the only person who spoke English.  There were a lot of [Hispanic] people there and I knew I was a little out of my league, but it felt really nice to be out there to compete and try and win myself a contract. That is a pretty favorite memory of mine.

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