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Mike Brue

Mike Brue is a veteran newsman with print, broadcast and digital experience whose professional career as a communicator began 40 years ago. One of the original founders of Unheralded.Fish, he’s been on hiatus most of its existence following the on-duty shooting death of one of his brothers, Mendota Heights (Minn.) Police Officer Scott Patrick, in late July 2014. For eight years, Mike worked as news director and a public affairs program host/producer at WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks, N.D., during which time WDAZ won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for its coverage of the 1997 flood disaster. During about 21 total years at the Grand Forks Herald, he served as a reporter in news, features and sports; a columnist; and in separate editor stints while overseeing assignments, projects and GrandForksHerald.com’s news content. His Herald work earned multiple awards, including three for Best Column in a seven-year span from the North Dakota Newspaper Association. Raised in a two-newspaper-a-day household exposed him to the joys of newsprint, and grade-school fictional adventures featuring his friends introduced him to early lessons about storytelling. His fondness for Twins baseball led him after high school graduation to ask the St. Paul Pioneer Press' executive sports editor for tips about entering the business. That landed him a four-year part-and full-time job as a Pioneer Press sports and business copy desk clerk, fulfilled between duties at the College of St. Thomas' Aquinas yearbook and Aquin newspaper. His journalism degree led him to early '80s stints as a reporter-photographer for The Dickinson (N.D.) Press and editor for the Carver County Herald in Chaska, Minn. For more than three years, Brue has been communications director for charitable nonprofit NDAD, known also as the North Dakota Association for the Disabled, with headquarters in Grand Forks. Ever the Twins fan, Mike's active interests also include photography, travel, movies and reading.

MIKE BRUE: Just The Facts, M’am

MIKE BRUE: Cubs-Indians World Series Game 7 Ranks As One Of The Best — But THE Best . . . .?

For high drama, Wednesday-into-Thursday’s historic World Series Game 7 between the long-suffering Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians franchises made for worthwhile baseball viewing and listening. In my case, it was some of both. Thank goodness for car radios.

A cleanly played game? Not really. You could question some of the unorthodox managerial decisions, too.  Still, the contest featured enough some clutch hitting and gutsy pitching from both teams, and enough fascinating strategy to keep millions of baseball fans’ bed pillows untouched into extra innings. Besides, after waits of 108 and 68 years for a World Series championship, what’s a few more late-night innings, commercials included….?

In many ways, the Chicago-Cleveland game (minus the rain delay between innings nine and 10) reminded me — for different reasons — of two climate-controlled Minnesota Twins contests that I actually attended.

One was the 2009 division championship-clinching game that Twins fans sometimes refer to simply as “Game 163.”

For you casual MLB fans, a 163rd regular-season game follows a 162-game season if two teams in a division finished tied for first. The winner of Game 163 moves on to the playoffs. The loser slinks into the off-season.

Twins followers tend to forget that, in 2008, the team narrowly lost the division title, 1-0, to Chicago’s White Sox in a Game 163. Forgetting may be by design, since Minnesota’s bats went balsa after Game 162.

So, when a Minnesota fan mentions Game 163 and grins, bet your autographed Tony Oliva bat that it’s the 2009 game.

Memorable? Definitely. An ultra-tense, do-or-die, back-and-forth, 12-inning sweat producer, the walk-off winner climax of a historic Twins season. It capped a franchise-loving comeback that began the previous week with Minnesota two games behind in their division’s standings with just three games to play. The Detroit Tigers stumbled out of that lead and then lost a hard-fought Game 163, too.

It was a dramatic, deafening, celebratory Metrodome win for Manager Ron Gardenhire’s Twins — an atmosphere in some ways reminiscent of Minnesota’s Homer Hanky crazed World Series home games under skipper Tom Kelly in 1987 and 1991.

It also was the Twins’ last win under the dome roof.  In the 2009 division series that followed Minnesota’s celebratory partying, ambition quickly deflated vs. the team’s post-season Achilles’ heel of the 2000s, the New York Yankees. The best-of-five series became a three-game sweep. Minnesota’s last loss, in the Metrodome, also put its dome years in the rearview mirror and Target Field in its headlights.

Anyway, MLB bigwigs decided they liked Game 163s so much that they artificially created a make-or-break single-game in both the American and National Leagues.  Two teams in each league with the best won-loss records but no division title get one game to determine which one advances to a playoff round with one of its league’s three division winners.

Meanwhile, many Twins fans groused that all but one of their recent multiple division-winning teams weren’t good enough to get beyond the first playoff round.

That was six losing seasons ago. But I digress.

I thought a lot about Game 163 during Wednesday’s final Cubs-Indians duel.

The other Twins game that came to mind that night was a Game 7, too:  1991’s 10-inning, 1-0 pitching tug-of-war with another “worst-to-first” combatant, Atlanta. Both teams had gone from dredging their respective divisions’ cellars the previous year to MLB’s pinnacle showcase.

 What a game.  Twins warhorse Jack Morris pitched an extra-inning shutout for the ages.  The Braves’ future Hall-of-Fame pitcher John Smoltz and several relievers proved just as unyielding, until inning 10.  Both teams had bases loaded with one out in their halves of the eighth inning — and neither was able to score.

Really, not many similarities at all to the Cubs-Indian Game 7.

I will never forget row upon Metrodome roll of stressed spectators gripping knotted and tightly twisted Homer Hankies.  I can still see thousands of thoroughly shredded food wrappers, napkins and paper cups at their feet.

Perhaps the Metrodome’s air-lofted lid would have ruptured had the tension gone unvented another few extra innings. We’ll never know. In the bottom of the 10th, pinch-hitter Gene Larkin’s bases-loaded, game-winning fly ball single over a drawn-in Atlanta left fielder sent an elated Dan Gladden home from his momentary perch on third base. That game-ending pin-prick spared the roof but burst Atlanta’s title-seeking balloon.

 Like ’91’s Game 7 masterpiece, 2009’s Game 163 elimination game ended with a walk-off hit — infielder Alexi Cassila’s grounder to right field, scoring outfielder-a- “Go Go” Carlos Gomez from second base — that produced an explosion of Metrodome celebration unrivaled since the Twins’ World Series wins.

Even without walk-off heroics in the Cub’s 10th-inning win at Cleveland in the wee hours Thursday, the game no doubt created plenty of anxiety for fans.  Lots of food wrappers, napkins and paper cups shredded there, too, I suspect.

Best World Series ever?

I still think the Twins-Braves Series 25 years ago was better start to finish, with four of the final five games — two for Atlanta, two for Minnesota — decided in the final at-bat, and then in front of the game-winners’ home crowds. In all, five 1991 Series games were decided by a single run, and three games — including elimination games 6 and 7, went into extra innings. Did I mention Kirby Puckett’s “We’ll see you tomorrow night” Game 6 winning home run…?

Even with multiple great storylines, Cleveland and Chicago had only three games decided by a single run and only one that went past nine innings and no walk-off hits.

Sure, yours truly is a unabashed Twins fan boasting about a Series that Minnesota won. But I already know plenty of non-Twins or non-Braves fans would agree with me about the marvel that was the ’91 Series.

Still, was the best Game 7 ever played just completed by the Cubs and Indians?  The internet and airwaves already have had plenty of takers on that claim.

I think back to what veteran TV play-by-play announcer Buck said around the last inning of Game 7. I’m not talking about FOX’s Joe Buck, but his late father Jack, who headed CBS’ Series coverage of the Twins and Braves.

“You know,” Jack Buck told viewers back then, “a lot of times, you attend a sporting event, or watch a World Series, or some other athletic competition, and not realize at the time how sensational it is. . . .But tonight, it’s so apparent that this is one of the most remarkable baseball games ever played.”

That’s when former catcher and CBS analyst Tim McCarver added, “You’re trying to look for some historical perspective to look back on, but you can’t find any.  It’s a one of a kind.”

Valid comments, still, these 25 years later. More than anything, the Twins-Braves Game 7 was one of a kind — and the best World Series game I’ve ever witnessed, in person or on TV.

 Disagree, if you must. Maybe you liked 1960’s Game 7 better, or 1997’s. Maybe 2001’s. Disagreement is a welcomed part of the joy of following baseball. The same cannot be said for the U.S. presidential campaign. And I mean 2016’s.

The Cubs-Indians Game 7 still belongs among the most memorable World Series elimination games in MLB history, and not merely because it was TV’s most viewed Game 7 since — drum roll, please — 1991’s Twins-Braves Series battle. 

Wow. Better yet, holy cow!

MIKE BRUE: In honor of fallen peace officers past and future

Mike Brue, an older brother of Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick, killed on duty in late July 2014, speaks at the Minnesota Concerns of Police Survivors' Blue Light Service Oct. 10, 2015, at the state Law Enforcement Memorial between the state capitol and downtown St. Paul. Photo: Theresa Knox
Mike Brue, an older brother of Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick, killed on duty in late July 2014, speaks at the Minnesota Concerns of Police Survivors’ Blue Light Service Oct. 10, 2015, at the state Law Enforcement Memorial between the state capitol and downtown St. Paul. Photo: Theresa Knox

When approached several months ago to speak Oct. 10 at Minnesota’s memorial site for fallen law enforcement officers, I accepted — with some hesitancy.

The public event in St. Paul was the Blue Light Service, held annually each October to honor peace officers who have died in Minnesota. The nonprofit Minnesota Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) sponsors the program and also, for participating survivors, a private dinner that precedes the event. Minnesota COPS uses the occasion to help promote the display of blue lights — a color associated with peace and with law enforcement — during the holiday seasons to pay tribute to the fallen officers.

It’s a fine and very worthwhile event. I consider it a privilege to even have been invited to be there, much less speak to the families and friends of these deceased heroes.

Still, I expected to struggle with this task.

It’s become increasingly difficult and even stressful for me to find the right words – any adequate words, really – since the tragic, violent circumstances of July 30, 2014. Death came far too abruptly, intimately and senselessly to my family that day.

Ever since, emotion sometimes clouds once-vivid memories and circumvents clear thought.

And my every subsequent attempt to describe Scott Patrick, publicly and privately, feels to me woefully incomplete.

Ultimately, when I turned my approach both backward and forward, I finally found enough footing to at least carry a completed, if clearly imperfect speech to the podium that night. Here’s what I wrote:

Thank you for the support and kindnesses you’ve shown the immediate and extended families of my late brother.

The impact of your actions is indelible.

I’m honored and certainly humbled to be invited to speak to this gathering tonight.

Yet, that I even qualify to do so brings me great sorrow.

It’s not been a little more than 14 months since Mendota Heights Police officer Scott Thomas Patrick was killed by three gunshots during a traffic stop in West St. Paul.

He was 47 and my second-youngest brother.

A memorial wreath and an enlarged photo of Scott Patrick, a Mendota Heights (Minn.) police officer killed on duty July 30, 2014, is displayed at the site of Patrick's death during a ceremony to dedicate the Office Scott Patrick Memorial Highway in West St. Paul and Mendota Heights July 30, 2015. The photo of Patrick was taken in 2013 by one of his brothers, Mike Brue. Highway dedication photo by Christopher Paul Madson Patrick.
A memorial wreath and an enlarged photo of Scott Patrick, a Mendota Heights (Minn.) police officer killed on duty July 30, 2014, is displayed at the site of Patrick’s death during a ceremony to dedicate the Office Scott Patrick Memorial Highway in West St. Paul and Mendota Heights July 30, 2015. The photo of Patrick was taken in 2013 by one of his brothers, Mike Brue. Highway dedication photo by Christopher Paul Madson Patrick.

But our family knew since he was a boy that there was a certain confidence and maturity about him that defied his age.

Scott was in so many ways a noble spirit — a quick-witted spirit, at that, with a repeated desire to challenge the people he cared about most to be better people than they already were. He never aspired to sainthood, and frankly would relish the opportunity to highlight his numerous disqualifications.

Scott needed only to be himself, because he was a very fine man who regularly displayed his generosity, higher moral character and quiet courage.

We’ve always been proud of him, so his sudden, senseless death on duty has not changed what his life by then had ensured.

Just as I’m sorry I will never have the pleasure of meeting the other officers we pay tribute to this evening, I also wish all of you could have known or at least met Scott.

I miss him immeasurably, and love him every bit as much.

It doesn’t seem real some days that it’s been 14 months.

Scott’s name is the most recent one added to the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association’s honor roll of officers who lost their lives while on duty or as a result of injuries that occurred on duty.

It’s sobering and sorrowful, this uneasy awareness I have — that something we all know to be true has not yet become fact.

And that is the identity of the next officer down.

Somewhere here in Minnesota, there is the peace officer who is approaching an unexpected end of watch.

I wish it was only a premonition and not a truly sad inevitability.

Death may come via gunshot, or a patrol vehicle accident. An errant or intoxicated driver, or perhaps heart failure while in pursuit of a suspect.

Whatever the cause, if we knew how to prevent it, we would. All of us would.

We don’t want anyone to feel that fresh rush of devastation that we helplessly experienced back when we each learned the fate of OUR law enforcement hero.

And we know from experience that Minnesota’s next peace officer death will rekindle some of our most shattering memories and ripple through our well-tattered scars.

The next officer down we’ll memorialize here is still out there. Somewhere.

And nobody should blame us that we take it personally.

Most of you know what it’s like to wonder whether an officer will ever be the one not coming home.

I remember when I learned that Scott was never coming back.

I hung up the phone in my office in Grand Forks, North Dakota , got up to close the door and sat alone, staring at everything within four walls but seeing nothing — except a mental kaleidoscope of life images of my brother.
I felt as though I was drowning in a flash flood of complete helplessness.

I take no solace in the fact that many of you have experienced just what I’m describing.

And my heart weeps for the next new survivors-to-be — because they will understand, too.

So, please, allow me now to take a few moments to share my wishes for Minnesota’s next fallen peace officer.

May this officer’s remaining time of life be lived to its fullest.

May this officer know during his dwindling time all the love, honor and respect he or she has earned and in turn provided.

May this next officer down find the time to recognize and appreciate those remaining actions, deeds and other moments of kindness that have made true and positive contributions in his or her life — and in the lives of family, friends, colleagues and community.

May this officer’s training, experience, integrity and ethical standards set examples of professionalism that will guide and inspire future officers throughout their own careers and influence the aspirations of law enforcement newcomers.

May this officer’s remaining efforts to serve and protect the community be accompanied by clear participation in and compassion for that community’s social, economic and moral fabric.

May that same community recognize, respect and appreciate — in clear and tangible ways — the extraordinary challenges faced and split-second responses that this officer handled in ways both appropriate and just.

Because of exemplary service, just conduct and true convictions, may this peace officer know that law enforcement brothers and sisters near and far will pay great tribute in solidarity and long aid loved ones who survived the officer’s great sacrifice.

May the next Minnesota officer on the honor roll be assured that his or her life will be remembered long after the circumstance that ended the watch.

And may this officer use the remainder of life to shape a most honorable legacy.

I realize the next one on this honor roll could be ANY officer in Minnesota . . . so let me extend these hopes to every officer in Minnesota.

From Ada to Zumbrota . . . from Aitkin County to Yellow Medicine County . . . in every state, federal, local, tribal and independent department, agency and division.

To each officer, in each of your journeys: blessed be the peacemakers.

And godspeed.

It hurts with all my heart to see Scott Patrick’s name on that honor roll right now.

But though I know better, I truly wish Scott’s name would be – and will be — the last.

– – –

My speech was outdated a mere eight days after I gave it. That’s when we learned the identity of the next officer down.

And I recognized my tears.

Veteran Aitkin County (Minn.) Sheriff's Deputy Steven Sandberg, killed on duty in October 2015, is remembered in a tribute posted on the department's website. Sandberg's funeral was Oct. 23 in Aitkin.
Veteran Aitkin County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Sandberg, killed on duty in October 2015, is remembered in a tribute posted on the department’s website. Sandberg’s funeral was Oct. 23 in Aitkin.

Steven M. Sandberg, 60, a husband and father, a sheriff’s deputy and longtime department investigator in Aitkin County, was shot and killed inside a St. Cloud hospital by a domestic abuse suspect who, according to authorities, managed to grab Sandberg’s gun and fatally shoot him.

According to authorities, Hammond himself died after he was subdued with a stun gun.
Deputy Sandberg’s funeral was held Friday in Aitkin. His community stood in mourning with his grieving family, as did much of the state and region. Thousands of law enforcement and other public safety colleagues paid their own respects – in thought and prayer as well as physical presence.

Scott Patrick’s family likewise stands with Steven Sandberg’s family, and the families of other past fallen officers.

We all understand. It’s all too familiar and fresh in our minds.

Worst of all, we recognize once again that this isn’t the end of it.

To Minnesota’s next fallen peace officer-to-be, whoever you are, please accept my wishes for you. And godspeed.