Jack Hall Blog
ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 29, 2016-2:05 A.M.
It seems like it is happening every day now. A terrorist attack somewhere in the world. People, usually radical Muslims, or wannabes, getting guns or bombs and killing people they've never met. Just for the hell of it. Or just because they don't like a particular lifestyle.

The latest was Tuesday night at an airport in Turkey. Thirty-six people dead and 147 others wounded. And for what? I'm afraid that this is the new norm, my friends. The terrorists are winning because they have many of us living in fear. Not wanting to go to the airport anymore, or a nightclub, or a tourist attraction. Looking over our shoulders. Looking at people who don't look like us or who don't talk like us with suspiscion.

Someone on TV said tonight that it was so much easier when there were armies with tanks and navies with submarines. We knew who the enemies were back then. Now, the enemy is us.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 28, 2016-2:01 A.M.
I was surprised to hear that the Gladstone City Commission had fired City Manager Darla Falcon at Monday night's meeting. Or, technically, decided not to renew her contract.
 
I don't know all of the details behind the decison. I can say that I thought Falcon did a decent job of navigating the city through its seemingly-endless budget crises.

On a happier note, the Gladstone Little Leaguers won the championship of the Yooper 9-10 boys tournment Monday night in Escanaba. The boys beat Norway, 9-4, bringing back memories of those Gladstone-Norway battles a decade or so ago. The Gladstone team got good pitching from Nathan Young, and turned a couple of double plays on defense.

It's looking like another fun summer of Little League baseball and softball All-Star tournaments, with the first of them starting on July 6th. We are ready at NewsTalk 600 and rrnsports.com to cover as much of it as possible over the next six weeks or so!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 22, 2016-2:37 A.M.
I have been a strong supporter of American Legion Baseball for all of my 20-plus years at this radio station. I think it gives kids opportunities to keep getting better at the sport they love through the summer months, and it helps them enjoy the sport they play at the high school level during the spring. Legion Ball also gives boys an incentive to stay out of trouble.

I have been troubled by the sorry state of affairs of Legion Baseball in Michigan. While there are more than 200 registered teams in Minnesota and Wisconsin, there were just 28 registered here in Michigan. But here in the Upper Peninsula, the news is good, as the sport is growing.

The last two nights, I attended American Legion Baseball games for two new local teams: the Mid County Mavericks and the Bark River Bucs. The Mavericks have had teams in the past: sometimes as a "junior team" and other times as a rather weak "senior team".

Other years, they have had no team at all in the Stephenson area. So, it's good to see the boys there be able to play on a ompetitive team this summer.
 
And in Bark River, it's a brand new team, and a pretty good one, too. This is another opportunity for kids, which I support wholeheartedly. Some of these boys have played on the Escanaba Legion teams in the past, but there's not enough room for all of them on the Cubs and Junior Cubs. So, this new Bucs team is an awesome addition to our baseball community.

Soeaking of Legion Ball, hope you will tune in Wednesday night for our broadcast of teh Gladstone Indians against Niagara, Wisconin. Game time is 6:30 on AM-600!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 20, 1016-2:02 A.M.
I spent part of my Sunday at the baseball field, and the rest with my dad on Father's Day. What a great combination: America's passtime at the ballyard, and a cookout in the back yard.

The Escanaba Cubs played a great game against downstate powerhouse Midland Berryhill, before losing, 3-2, in the semifinals of the Gregg Johnson/Al Erickson Memorial Tournament in Escanaba. If the Cubs play like this all summer, it will be a very good season!

Also, I was at the Gladstone Indians game against DePere on Sunday, and it wasn't pretty early on as the Indians made five errors and fell behind, 6-0. Gladstone ended up losing, 6-1, but it was encouraging to see Jake Peterson pitch so well (one earned run in five innings).

And of course, on Father's Day, I continue to call myself a lucky man to still be able to talk to my dad, spend time with him, and complain together about the Detroit Tigers. Ah, yes, there it is: baseball, back yards, and Father's Day!

---later, Jack

EAST LANSING, MI---JUNE 18, 2016-12:41 A.M.
I normally don't do blog entries on the weekends, but I figured since I would be sitting here inside a hotel room in East Lansing, I might as well jot down a few thoughts.

Sometimes, there is literally nothing you can do to win a game. That's the situation that the Gladstone Braves softball team found itself in on Friday in the state semifinals at Michigan State University. The Monroe St. Mary Catholic pitcher, Meghan Beaubien, was as good as advertised. She literally tore apart the Gladstone hitters and the Braves lost, 13-0.

Beaubien was so dominant that the Braves only hit two balls in fair territory the whole game, which only went five innings because of the mercy rule. But still, 15 up, 15 down for the Braves, and this girl, who is only a sophomore, struck out 13 of those 15 outs.

No wonder the University of Michigan wants this girl. I have been coming here to the state finals for many years in baseball and softball, and I have never seen a pitcher so dominant. I think we will see her pitching for the UofM in the College Softball World Series in the future.

Back home, the Gregg Johnson Memorial American Legion Baseball tournament is going on in Escanaba and Gladstone. Both the Esky Cubs and Gladstone Indians picked up wins on Friday, and both have doubleheaders planned on Saturday. The Indians play in the afternoon at 12:30 and 3:00 in Gladstone, while the Cubs play at 6:15 and 8:45 in Escanaba.

Trent Schwalbach will broadcast the Cubs games on NewsTalk 600 AM and rrnsports.com. The Indians games will not be on the radio because Trent has to work at his other job and I won't be back yet from here in East Lansing. I will get some Indians games on the air over the next few weeks, though, rest assured.

All in all, it has been a tiring, but mostly fun couple of weeks covering our local teams on the road. I thank Mike Dagenais, again, for doing all of the driving, and for being a good friend to both me and to the radio station. Have a good Father's Day, everyone!

---later, Jack

EAST LANSING, MI---JUNE 17, 2016-1:47 A.M.
Well, it was a tough day for the Escanaba High School girls softball team on Thursday here at Michigan State University. The girls lost in the state semifinals to Richmond, 6-2, ending a great season with a record of 36 wins, three losses, and one tie.

Much can be made of the play in the fifth inning where the Eskymos made their second straight error, but appeared to get an out at second base. Shortstop Callie Heller was spiked on the play as she tried to make the tag at second base, an unitentional spike, by the way.

As Heller lay there in pain, the go-ahead run scored as the play continued. To make matters worse, the umpires huddled and called the other girl safe at second base, saying that first baseman Kayla VanPortfliet nhad obstructed the runner's path to the bag. Richmond then got three straight hits to put the game away, 6-2.

I don't pretend to know the intimate details of high school softball rules. I am more of a baseball guy. But that call was a head-scratcher to me. I was unable to speak with the umpires after the game to ask for a clarification. It appeared, though, that the Eskymos got the short end of the call there. That is not, however, why the girls lost. I look at the eight base runners that were stranded in the first four innings as missed opportunities that hurt in the end.

Thanks to my broadcast partner, Mike Dagenais, for his help in doing video clips for our web site, RRNSports.com. He was also kind enough to buy me a huge Chipati for dinner. That's a pita filled with salad greens, mushrooms, red peppers, cheese, and turkey. It was delicious, and I didn't eat the pita crust itself. Being a good boy down here.

Hope you will tune in Friday at 12:05 in the afternoon as I broadcast the Gladstone Braves softball team in their semifinal game against defending state champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central. They have a young lady who has had a great year pitching...a sophomore who has already committed to the University of Michigan. But anything can happen in high school softball, so, hopefully, we have a huge upset to talk about Friday evening.

Come back to this spot on Saturday morning as I will do a special weekend blog entry here from Michigan State University. Great season, Eskymos, and let's go Braves!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 16, 2016-1:11 A.M.
Well, it's time to thit the road again.
 
By the time most of you read this, I will be headed downstate for the Escanaba Eskymos and Gladstone state semifinal softball games at Michigan State University. I want to thank all of the local businesses who give us the resources to be able to bring the girls' games home to you.

Also, a big thank you to my broadcast partner, Mike Dagenais, for driving downstate again, after taking trips to Gladwin and Saginaw in the past week. He also decided that he absolutely hated my blue overnight bag that I've had literally for 20 years, and he brought me a different one. I'm not throwing my blue bag away, though. Just keeping it for later trips!

The Escanaba girls play Richmond Thursday afternoon, and the Gladstone girls play Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central Friday afternoon. My broadcast on NewsTalk 600 AM starts at 5:00 Thursday for the Esky game, and 12:00 noon on Friday for the Gladstone game.

Also, welcome back Trent Schwalbach for another summer of American Legion baseball broadcasts. Trent will be on the air on NewsTalk 600 AM at 8:00 Thursday night for the Escanaba Cubs vs Gladstone Indians game. He will also broadcast two Cubs games Saturday night, but his "other job" prevents him from broadcasting the whole tournament this time!

Just hope the Cubs and Indians don't go 14 innings this time, Trent!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 15, 2016-3:06 A.M.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
 
That old cliche can apply to the Saginaw Swan Valley High School girls softball team, which lost to the Escanaba Eskymos, 5-2, in a Division Two state quarterfinal game on Tuesday. The Vikings were the heavy favorites to beat the Eskymos for a third time in the last five years, playing at Saginaw Valley State University just a couple of miles away from their home field.
 
But the Eskymos beat the top-ranked Vikings with a combination of big bats like Katie Ross and the pitching of Taylor Rathe. Ross hit two home runs and drove in three runs, and Rathe pitched a complete game with 12 strikeouts. She made huge pitches when she needed to, ending Swan Valley scoring threats in the second and sixth inning with big strikeouts.

Jerrika McAlpine and Emily Bruntgens did a nice job of getting on base, and there was nice defense from shortstop Callie Heller and first baseman Kayla VanPortfliet.

It was fun to broadcast that Eskymo win, and watch all of the Saginaw folks walk away in disbelief. The people in Saginaw, I must say, treated me and Mike Dagenais very well, and put up with my big mouth as I called the Eskymo win on the radio.

Also, congratulations to Ashley Hughes and the Gladstone Braves for their big quarterfinal win over Manistee in Traverse City on Tuesday. So all of this means that I will be on the road again, this time to Michigan State University, for the state semifinals. Escanaba will play Richmond at 5:30 on Thursday, and Gladstone will face D-3 defending state champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central at 12:30 Friday. The bigger they are...right?

---later, Jack

SAGINAW, MI---JUNE 14. 2016-12:22 A.M.
There's not much I can write here about the terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, that you haven't already read or heard. All I can say is that it is disgusting that anyone would open fire on more than 100 people, and kill 49 of them. Was this man mentally-disturbed? Was he an ISIS sympathizer? Did he hate homosexual people? It appears to be "all of the above".

President Obama and Hillary Clinton both went to the microphone to call for more gun control laws. Would that really stop things like this from happening? I think not. People who have hate in their hearts will find a way to hurt...and kill...other people. Donald Trump's comments were outrageous to me, too. Blaming Obama for what happened in Orlando is just plain wrong.

Let me change the subject to something happier. Playoff time for our local baseball and softball teams. I am writing to you from the Country Inn and Suites in Saginaw. The Escanaba Eskymos softball team has a huge challenge on its hands Tuesday in the state quarterfinal game as the girls face top-ranked Saginaw Swan Valley. Yep, in Swan Valley's back yard.

I believe our girls, of they play to their potential, can pull the upset at Saginaw Valley State University. Mike Dagenais and I will be on the air on NewsTalk 600 AM, starting at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon. It will also be streamed live at www.rrnsports.com.

My friend and colleague, Jerry Root, will be on the air from Traverse City, as the Gladstone High School baseball team faces Mason County Central in a quarterfinal game. The Braves are trying for their third straight trip to Michigan State University and the Final Four. And I think they've got an excellent shot at it. The game will be broadcast on Eagle 107.3 FM starting at 11:30 Tuesday morning. It will also be streamed live at www.wcmmradio.com.

The Gladstone girls are also playing in a state quarterfinal game at 12:00 noon in Traverse City, against Manistee. It's a shame that their game wasn't at a different time so Jerry could broadcast both the boys and girls. But he will keep you up to date on the girls game during his baseball broadcast from Saint Francis High School.

And we are also rooting for the Norway Knights baseball team, playing in a state quarterfinal game Tuesday at 4:00 ET/3:00 CT against Gaylord St. Mary.

Let's hope we get four U.P. teams to MSU! U.P. Power!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---JUNE 10, 2016-1:46 A.M.
It's a busy weekend around here as many summer activities get going.

The Upper Peninsula International Raceway kicks off its racing season Friday night with "Round One". It starts at 7:00, and it costs just $5 to get in and enjoy some fun racing! Then, on Saturday and Sunday, it's the Monster Trucks tearing up the UPIR track. Oh, those huge tires!

Meanwhile, in Gladstone, we have the Gus Macker 3 on 3 basketball tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds of players of all ages are in town for the event, which gives a boost to our local economy. The downtown Gladstone streets are transformed into a bunch of basketball courts. Lots of volunteers are needed to pull this off, so I tip my hat to all of them!

I have posted more information on the racing and on the Macker at www.RRNSports.com. As for the Macker, I have linked to all of the brackets and list of entered players there.

As for me, I will miss all of that because I will head downstate later today to broadcast the Escanaba Eskymos baseball and softball teams in the regionals.

Hope the rain stays away from Gladwin! I plan to be on the air with the girls at 10 a.m. on Kool 105.5 FM, and with the boys at 12:00 or so on NewsTalk 600 AM.

And one more thing. Don't forget about the big RRN auction, with tens of thousands of dollars of goods and services from across the U.P. and northern Wisconsin. You can get many items for 20 percent off or more! I runs from 7:00 a.m. until noon on Magic 97 WGLQ, NewsTalk 600AM, Kool 105.5 FM, Moose Country 102.5 FM, and Maverick 1490 AM.

---later, Jack

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