Friday, October 31, 2008

Phillies 2008 World Championship Parade

2008 World Series Champions Phillies Parade
October 31 Philadelphia Pa

Friday, October 10, 2008

Phillies Announcer Larry Andersen

Larry Andersen had a fine 17 year career pitching in the major leagues including 6 memorable years for the Phillies. He was one of the main contributors in the bullpen for the beloved 1993 National League Championship team that captured Phillies fans hearts while featuring the likes of John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Jim Eisenreich and Curt Schilling.
But Larry is best known for being one of the genuine nice guys in baseball and one of it’s funniest men . Larry was always a lover of practical jokes.
When his playing career was over Larry progressed through pitching coach and then announcer career paths-- but his sense of humor remained. During a minor league game someone fitting Larry’s description was seen remotely activating the sprinkler system when the visiting coaches and players met for a conference at the mound sending everyone scrambling for cover at a Reading Phillies game when Larry was pitching coach.

Larry is currently one of the Phillies most popular broadcasters. When Larry started his broadcasting career he would start each broadcast with his popular “Shallow Thoughts” philosophical reflections.
Some samples of Larry’s shallow thoughts include:
“If I’m one for one and I’m batting a thousand does that mean if I bat two for two that I’m batting two thousand?”
“Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?”
"Why do we sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" when we're already there?"
and of course the classic:
“You are only young once but you can be immature forever.”

Elsewhere in this blog we interviewed Shane Victorino, who pointed out how running and his speed discovered while running track in Hawaii eventually led to a major league baseball career. Larry’s career was a little different.
In the spirit of equal time we recently interviewed Larry, a militant self proclaimed non runner for his feelings on running:

When was the last time you ran?
Larry: 2 days ago actually. After eating chili I had to run to the bathroom.

Did running help your pitching?
Larry: No, but my pitching helped the outfielders running.

What is your favorite post run beverage routine?
Larry: An adult beverage of any kind.

What is the longest distance you have ever run?
Larry: 6 miles, I was being chased by the police.

What is your favorite running route?
Larry: Circles, it helps my sanity or lack thereof.

How long have you been a practicing non runner?
Larry: Since I learned how to walk.

Do you have any running superstitions:
Larry: Yes, don’t do it!

Are there any things that would ever cause you to run?
Larry: Yes, see my answer about long runs.

At what distance are you faster than Shane Victorino?
Larry: Beer can from hand to mouth.

Which of your 93 Phillies teammates could you have beaten in a race?
Larry: Only John Kruk when he was out sick with cancer (from which he later fully recovered).

Is it wrong to wear an Ipod when you run?
Larry: For me it is, I hate music.

And finally, what is your favorite meal while in training?
Larry: Surf and turf! It’s a Big Mac and Filet of Fish Sandwich together.
Courtesy of Runners Gazette Magazine Written by Jack Heath

Interview with Phillies Shane Victorino


Shane Shines on the Field and on the Track

A Conversation with Shane Victorino from Runners Gazette Magazine


On Sunday, September 30 2007, the Phillies clinched the National League East Championship and their first trip to the National League Playoffs since 1993. Many of the Phillies players said that one of the keys to the Phillies season was a bunt by Shane Victorino a few days before against Atlanta Braves ace John Smoltz that had propelled the Phillies to a 4-0 lead. Victorino’s 20-foot bunt was the key hit and the catalyst in a must-win victory over the Braves as the Phillies closed on the faltering Mets. Victorino celebrated the Phillies improbable comeback--down 7 games to the Mets with 17 games to play in September by squirting the fans with a fire hose. They didn’t seem to mind. The story of how Victorino went from a small school in a small town in Hawaii to one of the most popular members of a championship Phillies team is a story every bit as inspiring and unexpected as the Phillies magical march to the Playoffs this season.

Many of us have had a coach or parent or friend tell us that running would lead to greater things. For Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino this is literally true. Running led Shane Victorino to the Big Leagues. This year five ft. 9 in, 180-pound Victorino led the Phillies with 10 assists and 34 stolen as well as leading the Phillies to one of their most exciting seasons in at least 14 years--since the exciting 1993 team. The 26-year-old Victorino grew up in a tight-knit family in an unusual place for a baseball player?Wailuku Hawaii. In fact, Shane is only the second Hawaiian born in Maui (Tony Rego, 1924 St Louis Browns) to make the major leagues. The first Hawaiian player to make the Majors was “Honolulu Johnnie” Williams, a pitcher who had a “cup of Kona” with the Detroit Tigers in 1914, appearing in only four games.

Shane’s mother, Joycelyn, explains: “Shane running track was directly responsible for him getting drafted. He won the 100, 200, and 400 in the Hawaiian State Track Championships. It was the first time he had run the 400 and he was only entered because a teammate couldn’t run that day. I remember looking at the starting line of the 400 and thinking, my little Shane, what is he in for here? He was smaller than everyone else in the field and has never run this distance before. Coming around the final turn he was the first one and he had a big lead.” Victorino flashed through that 400 in 50.35.

Growing Up
Victorino lettered in four sports at St. Anthony’s: baseball, football, soccer, and track and his mother remembers him changing from his baseball to track uniform and spikes when he had both on the same day. Victorino was offered a full ride to the University of Hawaii for football as a kicker, punt returner, and defensive back, and he also caught the eyes of the Dodgers who selected him in the sixth round of the draft that June based largely on his speed. It was around this time that Shane picked up his first nickname “the Flyin’ Hawaiian” for his speed.

Shane, who led the major leagues in assists (throwing out a runner from the outfield) for much of the season, joked with writer Jayson Stark that he developed his strong arm throwing coconuts in Maui. Shane did not throw the javelin in high school but one can’t help think that with his strong arm he would have won that event as well.

Ironically, Shane’s father, Michael, didn’t play baseball, but basketball, growing up: “I was pretty busy on the farm in Wailuku but being tall for an Hawaiian (a shade over six ft.) I did play basketball for the University of Hawaii in Maui and I was the center.
“At one tournament I bumped into Robert Parish the seven-foot Celtic great who was playing for Centenary College of Louisiana. He asked me who our center was and when I said ‘me’ I could see the shocked look on his face!” Michael Victorino is now a councilman in Wailuku.

Joycelyn recalls the closeness of Shane and his brother, Michael Jr., growing up: “They are four-and-a-half years apart but are as close as twins. When one is going through something the other one feels it too. They are very close.”

Because of his speed and his propensity to sometimes bowl over opposing players Victorino progressed through the Dodgers and Padres systems earning another nickname-- “the Maui Masher.” His dad recalls Shane running over a first baseman on a close play at first. The first baseman looked around first for Shane who was already standing on third.

From the Dodgers, Shane made his way to the Phillies first as a “Rule 5” draftee and finally as a starting right fielder. This year Shane had a “bobble hip” doll giveaway in his honor. (The hula doll features Victorino in a traditional hula costume with bare feet, a grass skirt, holding a ukulele, and flashing the “shaka” or hang-loose sign—Shane said that he liked the doll and it was a fairly good facsimile.) Fittingly, Victorino sent the crowd of 44,000 people home deliriously happy with a walk-off home run on his day to win the game. Shane also managed to give the “shaka” sign to his teammates before crossing home plate for the winning run.

The high-energy Victorino, who always steps up to bat at Citizens Bank Park to the rousing tune of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldiers” took time out to talk to Runner’s Gazette before a recent home game at Citizens Bank Park.
Shane at bat
JH: Shane, Can you tell us a little about your family and where you grew up and went to school?
SV: I grew up in Wailuku, on the island of Maui Hawaii. It’s a small plantation town in Wailuku. I went to school in Wailuku Elementary school then to St Anthony’s High School, a small Catholic high school.

JH: What sports did you and your brother Michael play growing up?
SV: My brother Michael and I were both involved with many sports: Football, baseball, and soccer.

JH: When did you realize you might become a major league player? Was it a goal of yours as a kid?
SV: I always wanted to play a professional sport. But growing up it didn’t really matter which one.

JH: How (and when) did you first get involved with track? What events did you do?
SV: I ran a little Kiwanis in middle school, but I really didn’t get involved in track until high school at St Anthony’s. St Anthony’s is a small Catholic school—there were only 64 graduates in my class. VICTORINO RUNNING FOR ST. ANTHONY AT THE YAMAMOTO TRACK AND FIELD FACILITY IN WAILUKU, HI MAUI NEWS PHOTO
JH: What have your parents taught you about sports?
SV: They taught me to set goals, work hard, and never give up!

JH: You set the Hawaiian state 100-meter record in 1999. An editor at Track and Field News said you were one of the top high school track men in the country--which other events and times did you run?
SV: My fastest times were a 10.5 in the 100 and a 21.3 in the 200 meters. I did both relays (the 100 and 400) and also long jumped.

JH: How instrumental was running track in starting your professional baseball career?
SV: Running track kept me in shape and I would definitely say it also helped my speed.

JH: What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run?
SV: The 400 meters is the furthest I ever ran in an actual event.

JH: How much do you run (miles a day) pre-season and during the season?
SV: I do much more running in the off-season than during the season. There is a lot more time to run after the season.

JH: Do you run on the roads or at the ballpark during the season?
SV: I run on a treadmill a lot and on occasion I run on the streets.

JH: Do you think you may be interested in running some 5K or 10K races some day?
SV: Never—those races are too far for me!

JH: What are some of your goals for this season?
SV: My main goal is just to be a better player at the end of the season than I was at the start.
(Note Shane has had a common runner’s injury?a calf strain for much of the last third of this season.)

JH: If you had to pick 3 of your teammates (besides yourself) to round out a 4 x 100 meter Shane's Bobble Hip DollPhillies relay team who would they be?
SV: I would say Jimmy Rollins, Michael Bourn, and Ryan Howard !! (Note: big first baseman Ryan Howard, not known for his speed, had stolen his first major-league base right before the interview and Shane had presented him with the actual base afterwards as a souvenir).

JH: Can you tell us about your favorite Hawaiian food?
SV: Lau Lau. It’s pork, beef, and chicken wrapped together in taro leaves which is then placed in the center of ti leaves, steamed and then baked. It’s good.

JH: What do you miss the most from Hawaii while playing in Philly? Shane's second Bobble figurine-- The Flyin' Hawaiian
SV: I’d have to say I miss the food from Hawaii the most.

JH: Many baseball players and runners are superstitious before their games/races. Do you have any superstitions?
SV: No, I am not superstitious. I have zero superstitions.

JH: How does your dad like being a councilman in Wailuku so far?
SV: He is very happy. He likes doing things to help people and to better our country.

JH: As a track coach I hate to see players dive for first in a foot race to the bag. It seems to me be a lot faster to run through the bag (or runners would be diving at the finish of the 100 meters) Do you agree?
SV: I agree. I dive only to avoid a tag on a bad throw!

Shane, Here’s hoping you, your family, and the Phillies have only “Pomaika`I” (good luck) and “Olakino Maika'I” (good health)!

This article formerly appeared in Runners Gazette Magazine- A very special thanks to John Brazer of the Phillies, Brad Sherman the Sports Editor of the Maui News, the Maui News, and the Victorino family for their kind assistance.
Here is a link to Shane's blog

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Harry Berkowitz July 06, 1940 - September 30, 2008

Note: Harry Berkowitz , 68, passed away September 30 after tragically being hit by a car the week before while walking across a street in his hometown of Piscataway, New Jersey. One of Harry's best friends Tom Osler reflected: "Harry was like a brother to me. We were brothers through running. We both had an unspoken love of running and racing that somehow transcended all other Harry Berkowitz, center in red cap, runs a race in Gloucester, NJdifferences. Harry and I met in 1955 running track in Camden New Jersey. We often strongly disagreed about many things, but in the end, we both loved each other like brothers."

Harry Berkowitz, had been a fixture at south jersey races for over 50 years.
He was also a close friend of Browning Ross since his days running for Browning at Woodrow Wilson (Camden, NJ) in the 50's.
Videos of Harry running in the early 60's with Browning Ross can be found at
Vera Stek wrote an article about Harry this summer. Ironically, Harry never had an incident with a car while running for 54 years. In the article Harry looks back on his running career, and his retirement from running with typical humor. Harry will be deeply missed by the running community in South Jersey and by all those who knew this gentle, witty man.

by Vera C. Stek, Courier News

Sometimes, a runner comes to the end of the road and knows that it's time to quit.

That's what has happened with Harry Berkowitz, 68, of East Brunswick, a lifelong avid runner who announced to his wide circle of running pals several weeks ago via e-mail that he was quitting.
"Both Justine Henin (tennis) and Annika Sorenstam (golf) have announced their retirements this week. Since it is often felt that big events occur in sets of three, I am joining them. I will no longer run in races," Berkowitz told his friends.
"I stopped being competitive in the early 1990s, when my hamstrings kept going pop-pop. I have reached the point where, when standing at a race start, my right foot feels so out of balance, that I might topple over. Last week my right hip was very painful. This past week my back has been aching. I think that I am better off avoiding races."
The decision didn't come easily. Berkowitz, born and raised in Camden, had started running in high school in 1956 and was Camden County and City half-mile champion in 1958. He competed as a teenager on the mile relay team in the Penn Relays.
"I was hoping to become a national class runner. I was never more than mediocre," he said.
To combat his lack of speed, Berkowitz turned instead to distance.
"I completed 178 marathons between 1965 and 2000. I finished at least one marathon a year. My fastest was 2:53:56 in Atlantic City, 1972.
"I also ran 168 ultramarathons. I finished a 50-miler in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s. That streak is finished. I ran all the Philadelphia to Atlantic City races from 1980 through 1990 and was the only person to accomplish that.
"I believe I have run over 2,000 races, although I haven't kept a log of all the races that I've run. During the 1980s and '90s, I was running between 60 and 85 races a year."
Berkowitz lived in Camden until he went to graduate school at Rutgers in New Brunswick in 1963. He graduated from Drexel Institute of Technology, which had no track or cross country teams.
"So I competed as an AAU athlete, running in Road Runners Club (of America) races, which were organized by my high school coach Browning Ross. Browning had competed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. I once asked him if he considered running in the Olympics or coaching me to be his greatest accomplishment. We argued about this several times over the years. Often, when he saw me in races, he would ask if I needed any coaching," Berkowitz said.
During his 10 years of college and graduate school, culminating in a doctorate in 1968, Berkowitz ran about 45 races a year.
"I ran my first marathon in Boston in 1965, finishing in 3:04:28, wearing $2.99 tennis shoes. Tiger shoes became available from Blue Ribbon Sports, now Nike, in 1966. I wore them for all racing and training."
While he was a post doctoral fellow at the University of Georgia in 1968-69, Berkowitz ran his best ever 50-miler in Poughkeepsie, N.Y, in 6:37:33, plus marathons in Boston, Atlanta and Grandfather Mountain, N.C.
He taught mathematics and computer science at several colleges before working for AT&T and IBM and retiring in 2002.
Devoted to his roots in South Jersey, Berkowitz is an active member of the Pinelands Striders running club and an ardent volunteer at the club's racing events, which he plans to continue.
"I joined the Striders in 1997 when I was helping Dawn Kempton, a member, train for marathons. In 1996 she ran Philadelphia in 3:35:00 and qualified for Boston, which she ran the following year. That was my most successful coaching experience."
Throughout his long career, Berkowitz met and befriended all the names in running from Ted Corbitt to Ross and Tom Osler. In 1964, at a meet in New Brunswick, he first saw high school runners Jim Ryun and Gerry Lindgren run.
He has a large circle of running friends with histories nearly as long has his with whom he frequently reminisces about the old days of running via e-mail.
"You are going out on top. You have epitomized good sportsmanship and have blazed a few trails on the way. You have proven that runners can be true gentlemen," one of his friends replied to the retirement announcement.
Berkowitz may be quitting racing, but he plans to continue running.
"I plan to continue training, which amounts to a moderate walk."