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BITS & PIECES—Spring Break: Lowrie retires; recalling Fosbury; prep baseball and softball
Notable spring items to ponder
Ironically, this edition of Bits and Pieces involves stories around spring sports. One is a major life change, another a significant life lost, and a third about current spring sports.
Lowrie hangs up his glove
I had the opportunity talk to former North Salem High School baseball standout Jed Lowrie in September. The longtime major leaguer had been released the previous month by the Oakland As after struggling at the plate as a 38-year old middle fielder. Jed talked honestly about his future after 15 major league seasons. He had already made plans to diversify his life—among the moves, investment in a Portland restaurant and involvement in the on-line baseball apparel website known as Baseballism.
The former Stanford all-American, his bride Milessa, and their two children moved into a home north of Lake Oswego last fall. Milessa (My-liss-uh)—who also graduated from Stanford—has a list of projects she is undertaking.
Thursday, Lowrie made his retirement official.
In an Instagram post (see photo above), Jed talked of closing the chapter on his playing career, and how he looks forward to new opportunities in the game. One aspect of those opportunities is his support for bringing a major league ball club to the Portland area. He loves the idea of luring the major leagues to the Rose City, and would like to be involved with the process at a “very high level.”
With stints in Boston, Houston, Oakland (three times) and New York (Mets), Lowrie was a MLB journeyman. But he certainly made an impact.
Said the writer for the Oakland As on SB Nation: “Lowrie is arguably the most important Oakland Athletic of the last decade.”
And with a 2018 All-Star game appearance for the team, Lowrie certainly made his mark. Not bad for a guy turning 39 next month.
To re-read about Jed’s retirement plans from his September article, click on the link here.
Go get ‘em, Jed.
Remembering Oregon’s high jump innovator
Dick Fosbury, who revolutionized high jumping on the international track and field circuit, died earlier this month. The longtime Medford resident, Oregon State graduate, and 1968 Olympic gold medalist, passed away after a battle with lymphoma. He was 76 years old.
Fosbury forever changed the high jump by developing an unorthodox jumping technique to clear the high jump bar. Instead of the utilizing the traditional straddle method of a scissors kick over the bar, Fosbury used—to widespread ridicule and criticism—a leap that began with his back to the bar, tumbling into the woodchip filled pits of his day. The technique, dubbed the Fosbury “flop” by the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper which covered his meets—eventually became the technique of choice in the track world.
And Fosbury, who struggled with the approach for several years, was finally applauded as an innovator who forever changed his field event.
A man who actually got to know Fosbury personally is longtime Medford-area sportscaster Demi DeSoto, who started high jumping as a junior high athlete, and idolized Fosbury and Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner growing up.
DeSoto had the opportunity to meet Fosbury at the Southern Oregon Sports Commission Dinner honoring the track legend back in 2016. The two then worked together covering the Grants Pass Rotary Relays—an event where Fosbury worked to master his flop technique during the early 1960s.
Demi says that Fosbury was an ambassador not only to track and field, but to life itself.
Demi compared the high jumper to celebrated American poet Maya Angelou, who he also had a chance to meet and interview.
“Their patience, caring manner, and focus on whoever they were with was soothing to the soul,” recalls DeSoto.
Demi said it was an honor to work with Fosbury as he provided color analysis during television coverage of the Rotary Relays.
Fosbury used track as a way to deal with life tragedies, including the death of his brother—who was hit by a drunk driver when they were riding bicycles together as children. He was eventually recognized as an innovator and a risk taker.
Said 2012 Olympic high jump champion Erik Kynard Jr. of Fosbury:
“He was as innovative as Henry Ford was to the Model T.”
“He’s the creator of what we still do to this day."
Prep sports: Baseball and Softball
This is the time of year in Oregon where baseball and softball are just getting their games started—and depending on the amount of rain—the win-loss records can be pretty thin.
So far, wet weather has hurt a few early schedules, but most teams have three or four games under their belts. Here is a brief about each sport in the Salem-Keizer area.
The Central Valley baseball standings look like this:
For most folks, what you will notice is that there are actually two teams missing from the list. McKay is playing at the 5A level—but where is North Salem??
So far, no answers about what happened exactly, but in years past, North Salem has had some problems with player turnout. Sadly, that may be the case here. Truth is, I inquired a bit late in the day Thursday, and the school is already closed for spring break. Will be checking further as time allows.«SEE BELOW!
UPDATE: Here is what is up with North Salem baseball this spring—click link.
As for spring break plans, here are what the teams have scheduled for the coming week. Sprague and West Salem are slated to participate in two different tournaments in sunny Arizona; McNary will travel to a tournament at Nelson High School in the Clackamas area, and South Salem participates in a tourney put together by Mountainside High School in Beaverton.
For local softball, the Central Valley standings look this way so far:
South Salem and McNary both have good veteran teams returning. McNary advanced to the 6A semifinals last spring. Still lots of softball left to play.
Here is the spring break schedule for all the schools: South Salem, West Salem and North Salem all head south to play at the North Medford tournament in the Rogue Valley, while McNary and Sprague will take part in the Jesuit/Mountainside softball tourney in the Beaverton area.
Everyone enjoy your spring.