Just one more game

June 23, 2008

by Aaron Schultz

Over Winstock weekend in Winsted I ran into former Wildcat, and good friend, Todd Norman at the concert and around town.

While we were talking he brought up the health of his grandpa, and local sports’ legend, Ken “Fossil” Norman.

Fossil’s health hasn’t been great for a while now, and according to Todd he wasn’t doing the best.

As we talked, Todd mentioned to me that Fossil told him that he wanted to attend “just one more game.”

That game would be a Winsted Wildcat game, where through my years of growing up and playing for Winsted, he attended what seemed like nearly every game up until his health wouldn’t allow it any more.

With that, Todd told me he was going to bring Fossil down to our game against Dassel-Cokato June 15 – Father’s Day none the less.

Then, he suggested that we have Fossil throw out the first pitch prior to the game, and followed that up by asking if I thought that would be alright.

“Of course!” was my response. I thought it was a great idea.

So, after we got done taking infield, I looked into the crowd and saw Todd along with grandpa in the stands.

We talked, and got the make-shift ceremony set up as DC took their turn for infield.

After DC was done, Todd brought Fossil out on the field in his wheelchair, as Kenny’s sons Dick and Billy both joined him on the field.

One problem though, Dick was doing the announcing for the game, so he had to head back up to the shack for the proper introductions.

With the ball in Fossil’s right hand, Billy put on the catcher’s mitt and caught the first pitch of the game from his dad on Father’s Day.

Immediately after the fine toss, the entire Wildcat team came out to say hi, and give Fossil a pat on the back, as the fans and the Dassel-Cokato players gave him a standing ovation.

Fossil and Todd then moved back into the stands where they sat and watched the entire game.

When the game was over, Fossil headed back to St. Mary’s, having made sure he got to at least one final Wildcat game.

At the time, and even now looking back at it, it almost brings a tear to my eye thinking about Fossil.

We lost Fossil this past Saturday morning as he past away with his family by his side.

While I’m only 31 years old, I have more memories about Fossil than I could ever count – from him umping my games, to umping with him, to just getting into it with him during Wildcat games.

Looking back, there are so many great stories that, even now, I get a chuckle from thinking of a few of them.

Some of my earliest memories of Kenny was him umping our high school and Legion baseball games.

We always knew that he’d be a stickler for the rules, liked to call the low curve balls for strikes, and wouldn’t stand for ballplayers wearing jewelrey.

Then, after my high school days, I got a chance to ump a game with Fossil one very hot day in Howard Lake.

He did behind the plate, as he always did in his later years of umping, and I did the bases.

Two things stand out – well, really three, from that experience with Fossil.

First, he really helped me out on the field, even making calls of safe or out when they were supposed to be my calls. I didn’t mind.

Second, although I enjoyed umping with Fossil, I really figured out that I have no, nor will I ever have any, interest in being an ump over the course of my life.

Third, and lastly, after the game, he took me to Keg’s so that we could cash our umping checks. Then he went ahead and bought me a couple of beers.

I thought that was pretty cool, as he regaled me with baseball story after baseball story.

That was one thing Fossil was always good for – an endless supply of baseball stories. He also always had some old-time sports photos with him that he would pass around for everyone to see.

The final little story that I’d like to share about Fossil has to do with him sitting in the stands during Wildcat games.

There could be 100 people screaming or criticizing me or our team (many times we deserved it), but the only voice I’d ever hear was Fossil.

I couldn’t tell you why, but it was true. Many times we’d have little conversations during the game after he would state his displeasure with something I had done.

Still, no mater how much we’d maybe get into it during a game, we’d always be able to share a beer at a local establishment after the game, and have some fun.

Unfortunatly, we lost Fossil on Saturday, so I really wanted to pay a little tribute to him for everything he has done, not just for amateur baseball, but for me as well.

Kenny is one of the most passionate amateur baseball fans I have ever come across, and I could only hope that passion and enthusiasm he had rubbed off on me, just a little bit.

Fossil has been missed at the Wildcat games over the past few years, and it was great to see him back down at the park that Sunday afternoon, even if it was his “just one more game.”

Top 100 movie quotes

The top 100 movie quotes picked by ESPN continue, with quotes 15 through 11.

• 15: “Fat man, you shoot a great game of pool.”

From the movie “The Hustler.”

• 14: “There’s one thing I want you to do for me. Win. Win!”

From the movie “Rocky II.”

• 13: “Pick me out a winner, Bobby.”

From the movie “The Natural.”

• 12: “Noonan!”

From the movie “Caddyshack.”

• 11: “If you build it, he will come.”

From the movie “Field of Dreams.”