Today’s politics seems to bring out the worst in some people, as evidenced by recent remarks by Washington County Republican Party chairman Dave Ball. A video clip of Ball criticizing Sen. Pat Toomey over the latter’s recent vote to convict Donald Trump is being shown nonstop on cable news channels. In an interview with Pittsburgh news outlet KDKA, Ball said: “We did not send him (Toomey) there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to ‘do the right thing’ or whatever he said he was doing. We sent him there to represent us.”
Whether you agree with Toomey’s vote on Trump or not, Ball’s cynical comments reflect poorly on his party and on Pennsylvania.
More: Senate holds second Trump impeachment trial, votes on Biden nominee
• In case you missed it, another former member of the Erie Sailors has made it to the Hall of Fame. John Lynch, general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, was recently voted into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. Lynch, 49, starred for 15 seasons in the NFL, playing safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.
More: 49ers GM Lynch has Erie baseball history
Before that, he was a highly touted baseball pitcher who was a second-round draft pick by the Florida Marlins. He started the opening game for the Erie Sailors at Ainsworth Field in 1992. The Marlins had yet to field a team in the big leagues, and club owner Wayne Huizenga chartered a plane to bring three dozen or so Miami business and social leaders to come to Erie for the game.
Numerous limousines were booked to transport the big shots from the airport to Ainsworth, but when they arrived at the ballpark, there was no place to park. So, most of the visitors had to walk several blocks to the park.
Lynch, a Stanford graduate, played only two seasons of professional baseball before switching to the NFL, which proved to be a wise move.
More: Former Erie Sailors players celebrate anniversary of championship
• Speaking of NFL greats, Erie native Fred Biletnikoff is introducing a new line of wines called Biletnikoff 25, which is the number he wore for the Oakland Raiders. According to Fred’s wife, Angela, the wines are now available for presale, with a delivery date scheduled for the second week in March. A portion of the sales will go to the Biletnikoff Foundation for high-risk teens.
You’ll be able to tell it’s a Biletnikoff wine because your hand will stick to the bottle – just like Fred’s hands, covered in Stickum, used to adhere tightly to the football.
More: Main part of Biletnikoff sign goes up behind Erie High
• Larry Flynt’s death at 78 on Feb. 10 brought back memories of a connection to the famed pornographer in the 1970s. When Flynt’s raunchy Hustler magazine debuted, I sent a letter on behalf of a half-dozen editors on the Vanderbilt Hustler. I pointed out in officially sounding language that our trademarked publication had been around since 1873 and that we were considering filing suit against his magazine for name infringement.
Then I added, “but if you send free subscriptions to the following people, we will drop all legal action,” and included the Vanderbilt addresses for the staffers. Nothing happened for months until I came home from work at my summer job to find my mother about ready to explode. Flynt had sent the magazines, along with a humorous letter, to our Vanderbilt addresses.
But the woman at the post office there was outraged and forwarded all the magazines to me in Erie. The postal clerk always gave me dirty looks for the rest of my time at college. But I just wish I still had that letter from Flynt.
• A story in the Washington Post on Feb. 8 profiled Erie native Chris Ulrich, who worked as a domestic policy adviser to Vice President Al Gore and later held a high-ranking post at the Embassy of Japan. Ulrich, an Allegheny College graduate, used to pass a DC Improv place on his way to work. He finally stopped in one day, gave a brief performance, and got hooked. Eventually, he founded the company, CU in the Moment, which provides coaching on body language and presentation skills. The profile is fascinating.
• Longtime Erie school principal Jane Ross is proudly supporting her sister, Suzanne Smith, in her campaign for a judgeship in the York County Court of Common Pleas. Jane has been inviting her many friends to a benefit for her sister, scheduled Feb. 28 at the Third Street Polish Falcons.
• The Cleveland Plain Dealer is featuring a daily series during the month of February on prominent people in the Black community over the years. Longtime Erie businessman Sam Jethroe was featured in a flattering profile last week. Jethroe starred for the Cleveland Buckeyes in the Negro Leagues from 1942-48 before he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
More: MLB’s recognition of Negro League records includes Jethroe, others with Erie ties
• The recent death of Hank Bujalski, longtime CFO of the Times Publishing Co., was sudden and shocking, bringing deep sadness to his many friends. Hank, whose identity was recently stolen, had just been featured in a column by David Bruce. Hank had been a great basketball player at Cathedral Prep and he was a gifted professional in his field. Needless to say, he was also a wonderful guy.
More: David Bruce: Former coworker victimized by unemployment scam
Kevin Cuneo can be reached at Kevin.Cuneo1844@gmail.com.
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