Unheralded

JIM THIELMAN: Twins Have A Bead On A Mardi Gras Season

The American League Central standings have barely shifted since the Cleveland Indians fell from a first-place tie with the Minnesota Twins on April 21. The turbulent April weather that could have crinkled a pitching staff has been forgotten. The Twins lead their division by 11.5 games. It could become a Mardi Gras season. This franchise has reached 100 wins just …


Unheralded

JIM THIELMAN: Ayyyy, What’s Up, Deck?

Who would think stark realizations about shrewd capitalism and insight to human nature could come from watching nine innings of pantomime baseball? Not this little black duck, as Daffy would say during cartoons in which Bugs Bunny was the smart one and Daffy was, well, daffy. Because the Minnesota Twins have had more bad seasons than good since moving into …


JIM THIELMAN: Haircut Blood — A War Story

The Panama Canal had long disappeared. The wackiest ship in the Navy had no land in sight when Ellsworth Gregor Buechel of Pittsburgh sat down for a haircut at sea. He didn’t call the vessel he was on by its rightful name, the APL-14. He called it “The Ritz Carlton”: A football-field long, unpowered ship, four decks high, towed by …

JIM THIELMAN: Can’t Die; I Haven’t Figured Anything Out 

Jazz the Cat thudded to the master bedroom’s wood floor followed by rapid tapping at 3:30 a.m. It sounded like a seizure. I went to college. Turning on the light proved me right once again. Cats with cancer migrating to their central nervous system don’t come home from the emergency veterinarian. There, they stopped the seizures with valium at 4 …

JIM THIELMAN: Fate — Life’s Tricky Pal

One of Dad’s tasks as autumn hummed into winter was lifting his golf clubs from the car trunk and storing them in the basement. He was doing this one October when I was about 16. “Why’d you ever come back to Minnesota from San Diego after the war?” I asked. “You could play golf all year.” Fate had made the …

JIM THIELMAN: Maybe Oliva Is Too Good For The Hall Of Fame

After we arrived at the expansive field on the outskirts of Cooperstown, N.Y., that smoldering Sunday in July 2001 for Kirby Puckett’s Hall of Fame induction, Tim, Shari and I needed to visit the port-a-potties, all blue, lined in a row by the road. We joined one of the dozens of human anaconda lines packed with tomorrow’s sunburn victims. A …

JIM THIELMAN: Christmas Letters: The Good, The Bad

I grew eager each December when the Christmas cards feathered out from a neatly stacked pile into a pitcher’s mound on the dining room buffet. It meant the one mimeographed Christmas letter would soon arrive. As I reached junior high, I couldn’t wait for what was the genre’s quintessential stereotype. The letter — who had a mimeograph machine? — addressed …

JIM THIELMAN: In Our Family, Even The Bigamist Was A Veteran

This blog was originally posted on Unheralded.fish’s Facebook page Monday. Ah, Veterans Day. It did not exist by that name the day I was born. But has every day since. That’s my slim contribution. Along with being a No. 19 draft choice in the Vietnam lottery. The closest I have come to winning a lottery. Then the Paris Peace Accord …

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 …

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 …