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Local Sports

Column: Baseball, beards are a mystery to me

Tuning in to Game 1 of the 2017 World Series Tuesday night, I was reminded of a thought I had sometime ago. What is up with all the beards in professional sports these days?

I like a neatly kept beard on men. The long and wild beards on display just turns me off a bit. Actually, I’m not all that keen on the long head of hair on men either. All that long hair — facial and head — are a distraction to the action for me. Just saying.

At some point in the past year or so, I finally remembered something about bearded baseball players.

I’m a big old movie buff. I watch a variety of genres including sports movies. I’ve seen a lot of the baseball bio-pics, dramas and comedies. But the movie which jumped into my mind watching MLB players of today with beards is a comedy with one of my favorite movie stars — Red Skelton.

The movie is “Whistling in Brooklyn” from 1943. Skelton plays Wally “The Fox” Benton, a radio personality and amateur detective. He is mistaken for a serial murderer, and the story line takes him to a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Battling Beavers. Benton needs to get into the game to warn the next murder victim.

To play for the Battling Beavers, the players had to have beards. Benton gets into the Beavers’ locker room, dresses in the star pitcher’s uniform, ties up the pitcher and cuts off his beard. Impersonating the pitcher, Benton even catches a pop-up with his beard.

Thought this was a good time to bring this observation up since the Dodgers — formerly of Brooklyn — are in the 2017 World Series.

I’m cheering for the American League Houston Astros. It was Game 2 of the World Series Wednesday and a home run derby broke out. The Astros and Dodgers hit a World Series record eight home runs in the game. In the first two games of the Fall Classic, there have been 11 home runs.

I’m not watching every pitch of the World Series this season. I’ve had the two games on as background noise as I worked on stories for this week. One of those stories was the preview on Friday’s Class A playoff football game between Lynnville-Sully and New London.

Lynnville-Sully and Prairie City-Monroe are hosting first-round playoff football games Friday. Lynnville-Sully head coach Mike Parkinson said it about the Hawk fans. I’ll repeat it for both the Hawk and Mustang fans — bundle up, brave the cold and go cheer on the two Jasper County teams on Friday. Really, bundle up it is going to be cold out there.

The Hawk football team made a little bit of Lynnville-Sully history a week ago. They finished the first undefeated regular season for Lynnville-Sully football team since 1999. The team has 10 seniors on it.

Drake Ehresman, who has played all four years for the Hawks, said reaching the goal of an undefeated regular season was special for the team, but now the Hawks worked toward another goal in the playoffs.

“As a team we’ve bonded well,” Ehresman said.

Tanner Foster is a first-year senior player. He said it has been fun been on the team and working with his teammates.

Cayden Johnson, another four-year player, had to stand on the sideline most of the season with a shoulder injury.

“It was great to watch them do it (go undefeated), cheering them on,” Johnson said. “I’m back to practice but probably won’t play Friday. I really want to get back out there.”

For Johnson to return to action, Lynnville-Sully will have to win at home Friday night to advance in the playoffs.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets

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