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SOUR GRAPES

By JIM MAGDEFRAU

This and that

Though he is not back in the column-writing game, my Dad passed this along from a post he found on Facebook:

“Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.”

Dad used to keep a file of jokes, observations and other folks’ columns for his material sources. Now he’s gone digital.

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He also observed that while the Belle Plaine City Council is concerned about “burnouts” on Main Street after the town’s car show July 3, it has to be more quiet than firing a cannon.

We’re afraid that if a cannon is fired again on Main Street, as it was years ago during a July 4 parade, the town might have an early start on its façade project.

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Some days this job has its days. Then there can be one day that makes up for months or years of so-so days.

That day came back in 1998, when colleague Dan Adix and I traveled to Fort Dodge to cover the girls’ state softball tournament and Benton Community’s actual Cinderella run for the state title. Benton went into the tournament near .500, but showed it was no fluke as they shutout each team they faced.

Memories of the tournament came back as the Lady Bobcats met for a reunion at the high school with friends, family and teammates two weeks ago.

I remember taking the long drive to Fort Dodge, and listening to the radio. They announced the lineups and I heard a snicker in the voice of the broadcaster when he mentioned Benton’s record. I remember reading up on the Lady Bobcats’ first opponent, and a quote stuck out from one of the players, “I’d be afraid to play us.”

Well, Benton was not afraid. As Coach Z said of the tournament and the highly rated opponents, “They had the rankings, we have the trophy.”

Dan took the crow’s nest over third base for his pictures. I sat under the bleachers, amidst the open soda containers and candy bar wrappers, hoping to get “the” shot. With each throw and swing of the bat, I was prepared to rationalize a close loss, saying, “It was a good run.”

But as the game went into extra innings, another quote ran through my head, “We’re too close, and we’ve come too far.”

Two big plays came, as a runner was thrown out at home, and Janelle Niebuhr cracked a double that brought home Abbie Stepanek from third base to end the game. Abbie appeared stunned at first, then her face filled with emotion as she ran home upon Coach Z’s instructions. With my old Nikkormat and black and white film, I was able to get “the” shot of her hitting the bag for the win.

For shutting down each opponent, Tiffany Pickering was named captain of the all-tournament team. She led the team, and spearheaded the reunion. It was great to see the team again, plus to see how their spirit has carried over into the next generation.

No matter what, those kids will always have that trophy and that weekend to remember. I know it’s a weekend I’ll never forget.

There are days. Then there are days. That was one of those days.

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