Unheralded

JIM THIELMAN: Uncle Joe’s Surprising Legacy

About a half dozen years after World War II, Uncle Joe rattled through some woods around Minnesota’s west-central lake country and started to frame a cabin. It was to be about 600 square feet in a clearing with a southern exposure. In winter, the struggling sun would bathe the windows facing the lake, making even a February day a little …


Unheralded

JIM THIELMAN: No Baseball Owner Would Be This Candid Today

Twins President Calvin Griffith letter to Jim Thielman – July 1974 Whatever I wrote in that letter to Calvin Griffith in 1974, it didn’t include any profanities. I told the first owner of the Minnesota Twins about it a few years later. “Did I write back?” he asked. He said it was his habit to take phone calls and respond …


JIM THELMAN: Jubilación — Maybe We Should Embrace It

The Spanish word for retirement is “jubilación.” I learned Spanish when I rode with Juárez. Benito — we were on a first-name basis — never retired. He died at his desk reading a newspaper, by one account. So I will be avoiding desks and periodicals from here on. In the past year of reading about the challenging responsibility of retirement, …

JIM THIELMAN — Opening Day: It’s Greek To Me

Dunno why, but for the past half-century, Major League Baseball has missed the fun-filled opportunity to have Don Demeter throw out the first pitch of each season. The lanky, giraffe-necked Oklahoman will be 83 this year and retired from baseball for 50 years. It’s not as if he couldn’t have been capably handling this chore. If you’re not starting to …

JIM THIELMAN — A Sharp Razor Might Take The Edge Off These Days

When winter was packing a punch, the man would be outside Thielman’s Barber Shop sitting in a car, motor idling. On summer mornings, he’d likely be in a suit standing by the door, probably smoking a heater. Dad arrived, either in cold darkness or dewy early dawn, unlocked the door, flicked on the lights and knew what to do on …

JIM THIELMAN: So You’ve Been Asked To Write A Eulogy — Now What?

It’s always summer. A few days until the Fourth of July in a small Minnesota town surrounded by lakes. For nearly 50 years, that was the setting each time I thought of my cousin, Dave. So I had the beginning written when I was invited to do his eulogy. Even though I never considered myself for this role, I didn’t hesitate …

JIM THIELMAN: Happiest Cat Ever Born Dies

On a peaceful, moonlit, October night in 1999, Bob the Remarkable Cat coiled around a gravely ill feral kitten. Bob was in little better shape. His long tail was a mysterious stub and a gash decorated his left side. Threads of gangrene had begun weaving through him. A dust of stars scattered when dawn broke on the outskirts of Detroit …

JIM THIELMAN: What I Didn’t Know About Uncle Hugo

Dad looked at the clock one night and said, “It was Hugo’s birthday today. I should have called him.” He was closest to Hugo, his oldest brother. (Hugo, left, and Dad, pictured above). “I feel a little bad about that.” It was only about 9 o’clock, but that was it. Truly, it was that thought that counted. Dad and his four …

JIM THIELMAN: What’s The ‘Rush,’ Paul Ryan?

Do we have video? “Rushed.” By ambulance? Usually “rushed” in a headline suggests dire health issues. Which, I guess, dovetails with the topic of health care. Or do you see him in more of a sprint? Capitol to White House. That’s like a 2-mile run. I think the world record for the now-defunct 2-mile run is about 8 minutes. And …

JIM THIELMAN: Did Whack To Hand Cost Cubs ’45 Series?

Hitler was barely dead when the Chicago Cubs lost the 1945 Series to Detroit in seven games. The analog clock has stood still for the Cubs since. Until now. So with the Cubs headed to the World Series, you’ll hear some names. Like Phil Cavarretta. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1945 and the original “Mr. Cub,” …

JIM THIELMAN: In This Election, It’s Not Him, It’s Me

To this day, I have no idea about Dad’s political leanings. When you run a business in a small town, you don’t want to give people a reason to find another place to do business, he said. Dad’s response to political comments was, “Oh? Is that so?” A well-chosen phrase that suggests both surprise and agreement to someone immersed in …

JIM THIELMAN: Muhammad Ali Called Me An Idiot, And It Was Great

I had just turned 26 when Muhammad Ali came to WFMC. World Famous Mayo Clinic. It was a deadline press conference held in a bland, beige conference room at the Kahler Hotel in Rochester, Minn. At any major press conference today, there is sponsorship signage in the background and lecterns adorned with expensively researched brand logos. “Tell the agency to …