BML Baseball Update 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Coming up this week on “RCN SportsTalk,” it’s our annual chat with members of the Blue Mountain League, along with a friendly reminder that you can check out our “BML Game of the Week” every Tuesday evening in July on RCN-TV.

Scheduled to appear on this week’s program are BML President Bob Varju, Vice-President Ted Plessl, Secretary/Treasurer/Media Relations Liaison Tim Fisher, along with new team managers Nate Kester (Northampton Giants) and Joey Troxell (Hellertown Royals).

In addition to taking a look at the first two-and-a-half months of this summer’s baseball action, there are a number of topics we will focus on.  These include:

  • The personal history of Giants’ Nate Kester–he started in the league in 2010, ironically with current VP Ted Plessl (who was then manager of the now defunct Bethlehem Hawks). He started his BML career as a senior in high school and played with that team through 2014.  He then changed teams to Northampton after the Hawks folded, and struck up an amazing, close relationship with then Giants manager and longtime BML player Ed Wandler.  Kester describes Ed as a “father” to him and offered him the managerial job this past year when Wandler had to retire due to health issues.
  • “Change of Scheduling”
    Over the last year, they have changed the way they compile the regular season schedules.  It’s now based largely on avoiding traffic/congestion issues and also working around community ballparks’ priorities (the BML use to have first dibs, but now are sometimes second or third in priority for getting fields, so the BML now has to work around other leagues’ schedules).
  • To that end, the BML now starts with a Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday plan, then adjustments are made and Saturdays are left open for rain/rescheduled games…or allowing for a family day if a team wants to avoid playing on that day–if possible. More scheduling issues and changes for this season will be discussed.
  • They have added roster spots to allow for more players on each team, combined with a deadline that “freezes” the roster (which just occurred this past weekend) for the playoffs.

Regarding the almost annual issue of “losing daylight” for their championship series (which usually takes place in mid-August, when the sunset time moves in front of 8pm), a proposal is made every year to have the finals at Limeport Stadium (which has lights)…only to be rejected.  We’ll learn more about this idea and discuss why this suggestion is NOT employed to avoid having games being called “on account of darkness.”

There’s many more issues we will discuss, along with some general thoughts on baseball overall, the top teams and players will be identified, and much more!  If you like local baseball and want to learn more about the BML…tune in this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV, set your DVRs and/or watch the show through RCN On-Demand!

 

Announcer 101

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I believe most sports fans believe they could just jump behind a microphone and do an announcer’s job.  Most do not realize the preparation and skill it takes to present the product for the enjoyment of the viewer.  It only looks easy because of the work that goes into knowing the players, their teams, and the game itself before you even go on the air.  It also helps to surround oneself with a great crew and outstanding fellow announcers.  In the many years I have been behind the microphone (50+), I have been blessed with outstanding color analysts – the ones who create additional information as the action unfolds.

It all started with Dick Tracy, who probably was the quirkiest of all, but so highly respected that he could say almost anything, never look at the camera, and be received as the true authority of the high school football, basketball, and baseball scenes.  He was not television “savvy” but that was part of his charm and mystique and it worked!

When Dick retired, it left a huge void that needed to be filled and it was my job to find the replacements.  I decided that, prior to any interview, I would create a blueprint for the job.  Here are the suggestions (in bold type) I tried to instill in my potential recruits:

MY TOP 10 ANALYST TIPS

BE PREPARED:
Follow all the games each week so you get a feel for the top players, the teams, and the conference. 

BE NATURAL:
Try to stay conversational and relaxed. With TV, the pictures can speak for themselves – just try to add interest to the game. Relax and respond to the situation and the play-by-play guy.

KNOW THE NAMES:
Learn the proper pronunciation prior to the game.  Take time to find the names before talking about a play.  It is not a panic situation.  There is time to find the number and the name in the program.  This will become second nature to you with experience.

DON’T HESITATE TO BE HUMOROUS:
The only caution is try not to demean a player; you certainly can point out a mistake (but it is still better to give the player who did the right thing more air time). Instead of saying someone badly missed a tackle, give credit to the runner.

IF YOU THINK YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T SAY SOMETHING – DON’T!

POINT OUT AND CLARIFY:
You can truly add to the game by pointing out things – emphasizing a player’s skills, clarifying why a play worked, etc.

DON’T RESPOND TO THE DIRECTOR IN THE HEADSET – THE PEOPLE AT HOME CAN’T HEAR HIM:
If a question is asked by the director, work the answer into the conversation.

P.S. – the crew will always try to test a rookie and make him answer a question on the air.  You’ve been warned.

DON’T TALK OVER THE PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN:
There is ample time to get your analysis in after the play has been called.  Relax and jump in at the appropriate time.  Remember – “Dead ball is you”; “Live ball is not you”.

LISTEN:
To coaches, sportswriters, players, and play-by-play announcers.  Their insights become YOUR insights.

BE READY FOR THE NOTORIETY:
People will eventually get to know you and talk to you at the mall, on the street, at the corner store like you are their friend.  I have found that a simple “Thank you” for a compliment and an “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I hope not to do that again” for a valid criticism works pretty well. Remember – you are a representative of RCN. 

I fortunately found Mike Joseph (football), John Leone (college basketball), Tom Stoudt (basketball) and Scott Barr (wrestling and baseball) as the four who fit the bill.  I could not have surrounded myself with better people over the years, and for that, I am grateful.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I did watch the All-Star game because of Shohei Ohtani. I do not know which is better for the game – his exploits or his personality.  He may hit 60 or more home runs this year and win 15 games as a pitcher, but the story I found to be the best was that he donated the $150,000 he won for the Home Run Derby to a couple of dozen members of the LA Angels’ support staff.
  1. The NBA Finals have demonstrated the immense shooting ability, especially from beyond the arc, that exists in the pro game today. These players are amazing in both their accuracy and their ability to shoot despite being guarded so closely.  There is certainly defense in the NBA, but, man, there is plenty of offense!
  1. The San Francisco Giants have the best record in baseball and they are managed by Gabe Kapler – yes, that Gabe Kapler who managed the Phillies in 2018 and 2019. The fans couldn’t wait for him to leave town.  He loved analytics – the Phillie fans did not.  It appears right now that Kapler knows what he is doing – analytics says so!
  1. It was nice this weekend to root for any of the top three as the British Open unfolded – Oosthuizen, Morikawa, and Spieth are all difficult to root against. It became one of those – “May the best man win” kind of competitions.  That turned out to be Collin Morikawa.
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball is back on Tuesday this week LIVE at 6:00pm. The game features the the Limeport Dodgers vs. the Northampton Giants.  The Limeport Bulls and the Egypt Orioles are on tap next week.  Join Chris Michael and me.

 

 

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Cary Grant’s Later Years

 For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In celebration of the birthday anniversary of Cary Grant we continue last week’s examination of the legendary actor’s career.

Following his own personal dissatisfaction with The Philadelphia Story, Grant appeared in the first of four movies under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock in 1941’s Suspicion.  Like the former flick, Grant did not get along well with his co-star Joan Fontaine and would never work with her again.  Hitchcock was also critical of Grant, citing it was a mistake to cast him in the role.  Ironically enough, Hitchcock would later criticize James Stewart with the same offense 17 years later and referred to Stewart as “no Cary Grant.”

That same year, Grant received his first Oscar nomination for Penny Serenade.

According to Turner Classic Movies, Grant also benefited largely from the film industry’s production code for the 1944 dark comedy Arsenic And Old LaceThe movie was based largely on the stage play but the film code would not allow for certain scenes to be shown.  In its place, Director Frank Capra would substitute loosely scripted exchanges where Grant would just have to go “over the top” and playup a made-shift scene instead.  

The biggest example of this is at the film’s climax.  The film code (in the 1940s) would never allows for murderers to get away without punishment in a comedic film, so the scene in which the “old ladies” are given poisonous wine to the police was replaced with Grant kissing his finance, running around the house exuberantly and running out into the street yelling “Charge!” (a humorous reference to a recurring joke throughout the film).

According to the Graham McCann autobiography Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Grant would later say “Arsenic” was the worst performance of his career and he hated the dark subject matter (his character’s family was all insane).  This might be because his real life mother was also institutionalized early in Grant’s childhood.  His father also left him on his own as a teenager when he found a higher paying job in another city.

Two of Grant’s most memorable roles occurred in 1946’s Notorious (co-starring Ingrid Bergman and directed by Hitchcock) and 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife (with Loretta Young and David Niven).  The following year Grant was named the fourth highest box office draw in the world, but his failure in films like Monkey Business and Dream Wife led to the idea that his days as a leading man were over. Cary then left the film industry and didn’t work at all for several years.

His fortunes changed in 1955 when Alfred Hitchcock complained about Stewart’s performance (for the first of two times) in the rebooting of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Grant would star in two Hitchcock-directed film classics, playing his usual suave, leading man persona, in To Catch A Thief and North by Northwest.

Ian Fleming then approached Cary Grant about playing James Bond in 007’s film debut, Dr. No, ironically after Grant’s former co-star, David Niven turned down the role. But Fleming had to withdraw his offer when Grant said he would only portray the super spy in one film and would not commit to a lengthy film series.

After starring in Charade and Father Goose, he had become increasingly disillusioned with cinema in the 1960s, rarely finding a script which he approved of. He remarked: “I could have gone on acting and playing a grandfather or a bum, but I discovered more important things in life” and dedicated his time to his daughter and grandchildren.  According to Gary Morecambe and Martin Sterling’s book, Cary Grant: In Name Only, they would go on to say that Grant knew after he had made Charade that the “Golden Age” of Hollywood was over.

Twenty-three years later, just hours before he was scheduled to appear on stage talking about his life, he suffered a stroke.  Despite medical personnel on the site, Grant refused any treatment and died a few hours later.  He was 82.

Grant is regarded as one of the greatest Hollywood actors ever. To this day, he frequently is positioned in the top two or three spots in various film critics and media outlets “all-time” greatest actors’ listings.

Be sure to check out some of Cary Grant’s legendary performances in Charade, His Girl Friday, and other classic films on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Behind the Mic: America’s Guest (The Saga Continues)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

In my previous blog, I spoke of having played seven of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  The caveat of doing that was that I had not paid to play any of them.  Due to RCN, Lafayette, and a couple of “Joes”, I had managed to be a guest at all seven.

You can find the courses listed on this site: Golf Magazine’s 20 Best PA Golf Courses and the ones I played on my previous blog.

I bring this up, because on July 2, I was supposed to play my 8th – the Philadelphia Cricket Club, which is #4 on the list.  Once again, this was as a guest.  I was prepared to put another checkmark on my bucket list.  That morning (7:31 AM) I received this e-mail – “There are no carts out today due to the week’s heavy rains.  Any issues or concerns?”

For me, there were both “issues” and “concerns”.  I had no idea if this would be a difficult walk and, at 75, the last thing I wanted to do was hold up my three playing partners, all of whom were much younger and had lower handicaps.  I did not wish to spoil their enjoyment.  As disappointed as I was, I told them to play without me and enjoy the day.

At 8:49 AM, this email arrived: “Good news- Joe bailed us out with a tee time at Saucon/Old Course at 12:30 today.  Let’s meet around noon and hit a few balls.”  This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  I have played it before, but it is a golfing treasure.  Any opportunity to play it is certainly special.  This past Friday was no exception.  The course was in magnificent condition; the golf was good; and the camaraderie and the friendly insults were flying.  It was what a day of golf should be.

More importantly, I continue to be amazed by friendships that offer benefits far beyond my ability to reciprocate.  The best I could do here was to give my hosts Saucon Valley Senior Open golf hats as a token of my appreciation.  Naturally, however, they gifted, not a sleeve of golf balls, but a BOX of golf balls (of course, they were Titleists).  As you can see, it’s hard to balance their generosity.

The final line of the last email said, “I will circulate some alternate Cricket dates and we can reschedule that visit, too.”

In conclusion, I WILL get to play the Philadelphia Cricket Club (#4 on the list of Pennsylvania’s best courses) this summer.

I think you would agree that the early disappointment caused by the “no carts” rule at the Cricket Club was more than overcome by what transpired the rest of that Friday and what is certain to be another memorable round of golf in the future.  I am not sure why I am so fortunate and I am not sure how I will ever repay their generosity, but the list of things I am thankful for is constantly growing – friendships being near the very top of the list.

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

 

  1. Did you watch golf’s The Match – Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson vs. Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau? On the second hole, Mickelson made the comment, “We’re not in a rush”.  And they were not.  The round was not good television – little drama, with few great shots by the pros, and much, much too long.  Thank goodness for Aaron Rodgers.  His shots, especially his putts, made for some enjoyment.
  2. It was announced this week that there will be no fans at the Olympics in Tokyo. Does this mean that those who have the rights to broadcast the events are disheartened or secretly smiling?  Now the only way for anyone and everyone to get their Olympic “fix” is by watching the events on television.  And, ironically, it is because of television that the Olympics will go on.  75% of the IOC’s income for the Olympics comes from television rights estimated to be worth $3 to $4 billion.
  3. It has been a long time since I set aside the time to watch the MLB All-Star game and an even longer time set aside for the Home Run Derby. But this Monday and Tuesday, I want to watch because of the LA Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.  He is a two-position All-Star (pitcher and DH) and the modern day Babe Ruth.  He will be in the HR Derby and he will also pitch in the game.  He is worth watching.
  4. Speaking of All-Star games, 50 years ago, the All-Star game featured 22 Hall of Famers – Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal and Roberto Clemente, who would sadly be there for the final time. The managers, the Orioles‘ Earl Weaver and the Reds‘ Sparky Anderson, are also in the Hall of Fame. This was the greatest collection of baseball talent on one field ever.

 

 

 

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops – July 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We continue to keep you posted on the local summer high school basketball leagues in the RCN viewing area.

On the one hand, a few of the regular league and tournaments have been held–some with the same number of teams as usual, others with dramatically lower turnouts.

The Holy Name girls tourney was held recently (a month later than “normal”) and Jim Thorpe came into the Lehigh Valley and surprised some very good teams by bringing home the championship.  Nazareth, Easton and hosting Allentown Central Catholic were the local contributors that played very well.

The Nazareth boys basketball team has come on strong of late and captured the “JamFest” title in Allentown the previous weekend.  The Blue Eagles had a very young team last winter and those underclassmen might just be hitting their stride.  Keep an eye on Nazareth this winter — they should be fun to watch once this upcoming season gets underway.

Also, the summer league in Forks Township had a good month.  Notre-Dame, Wilson, Lehigh Christian Academy and Bangor have been some of the top teams that I have seen so far.

Meanwhile, areas like Catasauqua, the Slate Belt, Stiles and other regions continue to struggle this summer–either having issues fielding teams and/or conducting their regular tournaments.

TOC Director Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk last week to provide an update on the struggles many squads are having this summer.  Eric, the longtime head basketball coach at Catasauqua High School, chose our program to announce some significant breaking and exclusive news concerning his career — along with sharing some controversial opinions on some key local basketball and baseball topics.

If you missed last week’s show, be sure to check it out (free for RCN customers) through our On-Demand services!

Also, checking back next month for our final update on the scholastic summer basketball scene!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Cary Grant’s Early Years

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

As we approach the birthday anniversary of one of cinema’s classic actors, we salute the talented career of Cary Grant.

Cary Grant was born Archibald Alec Leach, on January 18, 1904 in Bristol, England.

Unlike other actors who sometimes toiled in other occupations or had other interests before pursuing roles in the entertainment industry, Grant knew at an early age that he was destined for acting.  In the Graham McCann autobiography, Cary Grant: A Class Apart, Grant’s mother would teach him song-and-dance numbers at the age of four and he would frequently go to the theatre to see many great performers, including a very young Charlie Chaplin.

Grant would be befriended by the Pender theatrical performers in England who trained him to be a stilt walker and later asked him to join their touring production.  He was seen on Broadway performing with them in America as early as nine years old.  Back in England he continued to work as a lighting technician behind the stage. He seemingly forced his school to expel him at the age of 14 by constantly breaking school rules (he’d frequently be found in the girls’ lavatory).  Three days after his expulsion, Grant rejoined the Pender touring group.  

According to Cary Grant: A Celebration by Richard Schickel, Grant boarded the same ship that Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were taking for their honeymoon. Grant played shuffleboard with Fairbanks and used him as a role model going forward.  After arriving in New York City from that trip he performed (at the age of 16) at what was then the largest theater in the world, the New York Hippodrome.

He performed on the stage and in pictures throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.  In 1927 he signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures, which demanded Archibald begin using a stage name–both parties mutually agreed on “Cary Grant.”  One of his big early films, She Done Him Wrong, (starring Mae West), reportedly saved Paramount from bankruptcy and gave Grant a significant pay increase.

While 1935’s Sylvia Scarlett was a box office bomb, it was an important film for Grant in that it was his first leading role and a performance which earned him rave reviews.  It also formed a successful partnership with Katherine Hepburn–a pairing the two would repeat several times over the next decade.

When his next film, Wedding Present, turned out to be a major success, Grant did not renew his Paramount contract and became the first “freelance” movie actor in Hollywood.  It was unheard of in this time period for a major actor to not “belong” to a specific film production company.  Grant changed his mind over the next 18 months as several of his movies were not successful and he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1937.

While his films for the next two years had largely mixed reviews, Grant’s performances seemed to be always praised by critics and movie goers alike.  Grant reunited with Heburn for what would be, by far, the pair’s most successful movie (critically and financially) — the Academy Award winning, The Philadelphia Story.

When up-and-coming actor Jimmy Stewart stole the spotlight from Hepburn and Grant in the film and won an Oscar for his performance, it formed a rift between the three actors.  Grant never wanted to work with either performer again.

Grant would not be disappointed for very long as one of his next job offers came from a then, still somewhat obscure (to American audiences anyway) British director by the name of Alfred Hitchcock…we’ll examine those and other experiences next week here at The Showplace.

In the meantime, you can see Grant in one of his early classics, His Girl Friday, this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. on RCN-TV.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

CATCHING UP & GIVING BACK

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I’ve always said, I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazing people in my life.

From the time I first broke into the broadcasting business until now, I remain just as lucky to stay in very close contact with some wonderful people and consider many of them close friends … even when we don’t see each other in person very often or as much as we used to.

Their generosity in sharing their time and advice to me has been the main driving force behind me continuing to speak to students at local school districts and making myself available to young aspiring broadcasting students.  I’ve never hesitated to give people my email (which is chris.michael@rcn.net) to give advice or answer any questions about the communications industry. I’m proud to say that there’s a long line of former students with whom I worked or gave advice to, who have gone on to achieve some wonderful accomplishments in this business.

I am also not alone in being a big fan of “giving back.”

I had the opportunity to check-in with a number of “old friends” recently.

A few include…

I frequently would cross paths with long-time Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare when I covered the Phillies in the early 2000s.  Lanny was one of a number of extremely classy and generous Major League Baseball broadcasters–nearly all of them were always congenial, friendly and very helpful to a (then) young announcer who was looking for tips on advancing in his career.

Frattare has used his vast knowledge of the communications industry along with his ability to work well with young people by working as an assistant professor for Waynesburg University for over ten years now.  In addition to being a great instructor, he’s constantly staying in touch with his former students and is very quick to reach out to alums with potential job opportunities for them.

When I covered the NFL and other pro sports teams for CBS Radio in New York City, a frequent colleague in the press box and on practice fields was Michael Longo.  Mike was not only a wonderful person and a great help to me in my earlier years (and still was in good shape when I saw him at a Phillies game two years ago) but was part of a dynamic broadcasting partnership.

His wife was Donna McQuillian, who may have been THE nicest person to me on my first professional sports reporting gigs.  McQuillian was, like me, a Temple University broadcast alum and immediately took me under her wing in showing me the “ropes.”  McQuillian was an early pioneer–she was the ONLY woman covering Philly pro sports teams for many years and was a true professional in the locker rooms and during live reports.  Both Michael and Donna were extremely giving of their knowledge and worked with young people throughout their careers.  Sadly, we lost Donna a few years ago to cancer, but Mike continues to work with aspiring broadcasters for a trade school in New Jersey.

Former colleague and frequent “SportsTalk” guest Jon Marks has also kept busy.  In addition to hosting the afternoon drive time show for Sportsradio WIP in Philadelphia, he splits his “spare” time hosting a national sports show on the weekend and teaching broadcasting students at a couple schools in the Delaware Valley area.

Even though he and his wife have been extra busy the last few years — they have two adorable and highly energetic kids — Jon continues to work with up-and-coming on-air personalities.  He’s actually one of three of my former co-workers at my old stomping grounds in Philly who teaches communication courses.

Giving back is something everyone can do and there are many ways to accomplish this.  I am extremely grateful to have so many quality role-models…both for my career and for myself as a person.  I consider myself very fortunate to have learned their valuable lessons and still have the opportunity to chat with many of these classy individuals to this day.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: The “Funny Side” of Leslie Nielsen

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.  Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

This week, we continue our look at the life and career of Leslie Nielsen. Prior to 1980 and for the previous 30 years, Nielsen was largely typecast as a serious dramatic actor.  When Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker came up with their idea for the movie, Airplane!, they wanted to create a grand spoof of the Airport film serials and the other “tragedy films” that were popular in 1970s theaters. To do so, they wanted to find dramatic actors and non-traditional comedic personalities that you would never think of to star in a comedy film.

Their idea worked to perfection…but even the producers were surprised how well things worked.

By casting the “dramatic” acting of Nielsen in a role keying upon delivery of dead-pan comedic lines (some of the funniest in film history), the producers were astonished at how well the “serious” Nielsen dished out his comedic lines flawlessly.  The film — and Nielsen & #39’s delivery — was not a fluke.  Leslie would go on to have overwhelming success as a comedic actor for the next 30 years.

Due to the success of the movie, Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker were given the green light to create their own situation comedy and, no surprise, penned it with Leslie in mind as the main character.

Even though this series only lasted six episodes, the Police Squad series, which was reportedly cancelled by ABC because they “didn’t get the humor,” would go on to become one of the best comedy series of the early 1990s.

The man known in the industry for his dramatic performances was now one of the most sought-after comedy actors on the planet.

In addition to the Naked Gun/Files of Police Squad movies, Nielsen would star in successful spoofs like Spy Hard (picking apart films like the Die Hard, the James Bond film series and others) as well as ripping on classic horror films in Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  He also became the logical choice when Walt Disney decided to make a live-action version of the popular cartoon character, Mr. Magoo.

Even as he began to slow down as an actor at the age of 81, Nielsen would frequently steal scenes in his appearances as The President in the Scary Movie film series, as “Uncle Ben” in Superhero Movie and even in his last role as a cross-dressing bar owner in the horror-film spoof, Stan Helsing, starring Diora Baird and Keenan Thompson.

Leslie’s career spanned 60 years, appearing in more than 100 films and 150 television programs and portraying more than 220 characters Nielsen died in his sleep after complications from pneumonia in 2010. He was 84.
You can see many of Nielsen’s acting performances in films like Project: Kill as well as guest starring appearances on Bonanza and other classic television programs on RCN TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

SPRING ALL-STARS 2021: ROUND 2

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Recently here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” we started recognizing the student-athletes from the RCN viewing area who were honored by their leagues and districts for the annual “All-Star” honors from the past year.

Today, we continue our salute to these award winners by highlighting Lehigh Valley girls lacrosse players and the standout wrestlers during the last school year.

First, here are the Easton All-EPC representatives, courtesy of the Red Rovers lacrosse squad.

1st teamers:

Lindsey Geiger, Sr., Midfielder (league MVP)

Lea Kreigher, Jr., Midfielder

Kylee Hager, Jr., Goalie

Alicia Rodriquez, Sr. Low Defense

2nd teamers:

Ava Milia, Jr. Low Attack

Eran Gleason, Jr., Low Defense

Reese Kreigher, So, Midfielder

Meghan Vizian, Jr., Utility

We’ll have more on the local girls lacrosse scene by having both the league and district champions on our July 8th edition of “RCN SportsTalk.”

Also, here are the top scholar-athlete representatives in the sport of wrestling from each school district in the District XI region. 

SCHOOL NAME  SCHOLAR ATHLETE
Bethlehem Catholic High School  Evan Gleason
E. Stroudsburg Area South High School  Ajay Hiller
Easton Area High School  Dominic Falcone
Freedom High School  Thaddeus Howland
Lehighton Area High School  Michael Yeakel
Liberty High School  Jackson Marcantonio
Louis E. Dieruff High School  Jerry Villanueva
Nazareth Area High School  Drew Clearie
North Schuylkill High School  Danny Grigas
Northampton Area High School  Jagger Condomitti
Northern Lehigh High School  Brenden Smay
Northwestern Lehigh High School  Benjamin Griffith
Notre Dame- Green Pond High School  Brett Ungar
Palisades High School  Gavin Kreschellok
Parkland High School  Luke Yatcilla
Pen Argyl Area High School  Tyler Taylor
Pocono Mountain West High School  Charlie Maloy
Pottsville Area High School  Sam Sterns
Saucon Valley High School  Sophia Riehl
Stroudsburg High School  Joshua Jasionowicz
Tamaqua Area High School  Nathan Wickersham


If you have some post-season honors or haven’t seen your favorite team or sport listed in our spring “all-star” listings recently, please encourage your respective league or district chairs to pass those lists to me at
chris.michael@rcn.net over the next few days.  We’ll be making our “last call” and posting our final edition of honoring this year’s student-athletes very soon here at “The Shop!”

America’s Guest

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

So I’m watching golf this weekend and realize that the PGA Travelers Championship is being played at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.  I then realize that I played that course one Friday on the way to do a Lafayette game against Harvard or Yale (I don’t remember which).  I also remember playing the TPC course in New Jersey and the TPC Potomac at Avonel Farm, again through my Lafayette ties.

This got me to thinking about some of the great courses I have had the privilege of playing.  So I went to this site: https://golf.com/travel/best-golf-courses-pennsylvania-2020-2021-ranking/ and saw the list of the top 20 golf courses in Pennsylvania.  I was shocked to discover that I had played or will play EIGHT of them, including four of the top five.  I was also shocked that I never PAID to play ANY of them.  Allow me to explain.

My good friend, Joe (I’m not sure he would want me to use his last name), a company president and RCN customer, gave me the moniker “America’s Guest” during one of the many rounds I played with him.  He came up with this name when he realized how my job often allowed me to play in charity tournaments paid for by the company.  Since he belonged to four different courses – Saucon Valley, Aronimink, Manufacturers, and the Philadelphia Cricket Club – he was not jealous, just amazed that I was able to play so many courses without paying, thus the term “America’s Guest”.  Here is a brief history of my journey through the very best courses in the state:

#20 –   Saucon Valley Grace – I have played this course many times as an invited guest, on media press day, or as part of a company-supported charity event.  Any time you are heading to Saucon Valley for golf, it is a special day.

#16 – Lehigh Country Club – This one is a yearly Sacred Heart charity event that RCN supports and graciously asks me to play.  Who am I to say no?

#14 – Saucon Valley – Old – This great golf course has been the venue of many PGA events with the Senior Open coming up next year.  Each of these events called for Press days where the tournament specifics were offered up followed by lunch and a round on the golf course.  I am guessing that I have played the Old Course at least half a dozen times.  It is hard to believe there are 13 better courses in Pennsylvania.

#11 – Saucon Valley – Weyhill – This is the most exclusive of the three Saucon Valley courses and is the best.  Recent renovations have made it even better and more challenging.  I have played here by invitation only and have appreciated every one of those invitations.

#5 – Fox Chapel (Pittsburgh) – Another Joe (again, I will refrain from using his last name) invited me and a Lafayette colleague to travel to Pittsburgh.  We played in a Coca-Cola tournament on Thursday at Fox Chapel.  I managed to get Mets-Pirates tickets that night for the three of us through Mets catcher, Brian Schneider.  Joe is a huge baseball fan and I was so glad I could contribute something to the two days.  I’ll tell you about the next day shortly.

#4 – Philadelphia Cricket Club – Wissahickon – This is where the first Joe comes in.  I will be playing the Philadelphia Cricket Club on Friday, July 2.  Joe is always a terrific host and I look forward to another great day on another great golf course.

#3 – Aronimink – Joe again.  This time I played with the President of the Club and my Lafayette colleague and Joe.  It was a member-guest tournament.  My greatest memory was a par-three hole where I put my tee shot about six inches from the hole, tapped in for a two, got a stroke based on my handicap, and won a “skin” with a “net” hole-in-one.  My actual greatest memory was playing this golf course.  It is one of the most renowned courses in the country, not just Pennsylvania.

#1 – Oakmont – We culminated our weekend in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, playing the #1 course in Pennsylvania.  This occurred due to the generosity of Coca-Cola Joe.  He, too, is an amazing host.  Valet parking, lunch, a caddy with a great sense of humor, and one of the world’s great (and most difficult courses) made this a day to always remember and cherish.  I spent more time in sand traps than I wanted, but did not mind so much.

So I am forever indebted to a couple of “Joes” and to RCN for creating the opportunities to experience golf at its zenith.  I’m not quite sure why I was the recipient of such generosity, but I will tell you there is no downside.  Trust me, it is great to be “America’s Guest”. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. What will the Eagles end up doing with Zach Ertz? His days in Philly are supposedly over, but the next stage is taking a long time to happen.  No one wants his contract or a high trade price.  Teams, I think, are just waiting for him to be released before he is picked up.  This has become a mini-series.
  1. So the Phillies stop Jacob deGrom’s shutout streak at 31 innings by scoring two runs and raising his ERA to an amazingly low 0.69. The Phils lost anyway.
  1. It is still hard to fathom that both the 76ers and the Nets are out of the Eastern NBA Finals. With all that star power and talent, who would have believed this would happen?  The Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks have not won a title for a combined 113 years.  Yet, they are in the Eastern Finals.
  1. Tuesday, June 29, our Blue Mountain League Game of the Week features two teams in the top echelon of the standings – Northampton Giants at Hellertown Royals. It is on LIVE at 6:00pm.  The BML shuts down for July 4th week.  We will be back on July 13.
  1. There will be no blog next week due to the July 4th Enjoy your family and stay safe.