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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Published: Friday, 5/16/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

SPORTS COMMENTARY

Fund-raising event plugs true heroes

SUB

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

TGIF, over lightly, with a couple neat events headed for Our Town among assorted thoughts:

■ I have always shied away from using “heroic” and affiliated words in regards to athletics because breaking four tackles en route to a touchdown or having a good at-bat that results in a game-winning hit hardly seems courageous.

But now I can, thanks to an event coming to Ned Skeldon Stadium at the Rec Center on Saturday, May 31 courtesy of the Sylvania Senior Softball Association.

Members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team from all over the country will be congregating here for a series of three games that day, including an opener at noon against a team of metro policemen and firefighters. Talk about a field full of heroes.

Jay Schramm, a retired Toledo police detective and president of the Sylvania softball group, said he has been working for several years to make this appearance a reality.

“The team is made up of veterans, post 9/​11, who lost a limb in combat and play with prosthetics,” Schramm said. “Their motto is that life without a limb is limitless, and they certainly prove it. We’re honored to have them here.”

The team’s missions are to raise awareness of the sacrifices and resiliency of our military and to support its annual kids camp for youngsters with amputations or missing limbs.

One of the roster members expected to participate has area ties. Saul Bosquez, who lost his left leg below the knee during Operation Iraqi Freedom, is a native of Adrian, Mich.

In addition to the game against police and firemen at noon, the Wounded Warriors will meet a combined all-star senior travel team from the Sylvania league at 3:30 p.m. and a celebrity team featuring ex-University of Toledo athletes and former Detroit Tigers, among others, at 7:05 p.m.

Entertainment and various speakers are lined up between games, and veterans will be honored throughout the day, according to Schramm.

A donation is the price of admission. These athletes are truly heroes. Be generous.

■ Jordan Spieth, perhaps the most promising young talent in pro golf, will be at Inverness Club on Monday, May 26 to conduct a clinic for about 100 kids taking part in the Lake Erie First Tee program. The 20-year-old Spieth tied for second last month at the Masters.

Eric Rhodes, Inverness’ chief operating officer, said club member Alan Fadel, president of the Lake Erie First Tee, reached out to United States Golf Association president Tom O’Toole for help in procuring a tour player for the event and that Spieth jumped at the chance.

O’Toole will accompany Spieth to Toledo, and they will join some Inverness members and guests in a round of golf after the clinic, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Inverness closed its course early last fall, and it just reopened last week after a $2 million project that regrassed all fairways, tees, and greens, reconstructed numerous bunkers, and remodeled the conjoined Nos. 1 and 10 tees.

Inverness has hosted four U.S. Opens and, more recently, a pair of U.S. Senior Opens, all sanctioned by the USGA, so it can’t hurt to have O’Toole enjoy a first-hand look at the changes.

■ Former Springfield High School star Rick Upchurch, one of very few NFL players to be named to two different all-decade teams (1970s, ’80s), has been selection for induction in the Denver Broncos’ Ring of Fame. The four-time Pro Bowl selection was the NFL’s premier kick/​punt return specialist during a career that stretched from 1975-83.

Upchurch, who celebrates his 62nd birthday on Tuesday, will join Gene Mingo and former coach Dan Reeves in the Class of 2014 this fall. It will bring the total to 27 ex-Broncos honored by the team.

■ The late Leo Marentette, a one-time Mud Hens pitching standout who spent a decade in the Detroit organization, may have pitched just three innings during two appearances for the Tigers in 1965, but he formed some relationships that lasted until his dying day.

According to his friend Ken Rosenbaum, a former colleague at The Blade, Marentette’s visitation and funeral drew ex-Tigers Denny McLain, Willie Horton, and Mickey Stanley, among others from the baseball world, earlier this week.

■ Finally, and this is surely not in defense of Donald Sterling’s words and actions, but anyone who watched the recent interviews of the 80-year-old Los Angeles Clippers owner by CNN’s Anderson Cooper must realize the guy doesn’t have all his oars splashing in the water. “Delusional” was the word used by Magic Johnson, and that sounds about right.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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