About seven years ago I was sitting in a Trustees meeting at Urbana University absorbing the opening comments of President Dr. Kirk Peterson. He painted a bleak financial picture from hand held notes. While they could have been current, he revealed that they were actually Trustees minutes from before the Civil War. Though the two year Urbana College and its four year successors were no strangers to financial distress, the school managed to endure from 1850 until last spring, spanning 170 years.
Last Saturday I received a note from retired Urbana multi-sport coach, administrator, and faculty member Bob Cawley. Consistent with his ongoing service to the university and its former athletes, he was distributing various athletic artifacts that had come into his possession after the doors closed. Though he was willing to drive to my home some 45 miles away, I suggested that we meet in the Urbana area for lunch. That’s the least I can do for an 80 year old who has remained so loyal to so many despite being fired as basketball coach and Athletic Director back in 1986. He remains one selfless guy.
Cawley suggested, “How about up on the hill on Tuesday at 11am?” as I agreed to meet him at Studebakers, near Westville on the way to St. Paris from campus. 45 years ago we knew it as Wards Plaza Truck Stop. I cherish my time with Bob and Tuesday was no exception.
This was not my only recent visit to “the hill” to recall shared Urbana experiences. Just the week before, I had lunch with three other alums and stopped on the way home to visit a fourth who had just been discharged from a nursing home and was doing well after fighting covid.
With the permanent closure, we can’t attend any more games or Homecomings, or meet current students. The two entrances are blockaded, awaiting a final disposition of the property. While that hurts, we mitigate by staying in touch and getting together with those who made it special. I continue to make those sessions a personal priority. UU Blue Knights t-shirts and pullovers continue to be a part of my wardrobe rotation. I’m proud to display the logo.
Stammen to the rescue
San Diego Padres reliever Craig Stammen (Versailles HS) was the winning pitcher at Texas on Sunday in a unique shutout outcome. The Padres starter became injured and couldn’t finish the first inning, prompting an early bullpen call which Craig answered with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief including a trio of strikeouts. Five more hurlers finished off the 2-0 whitewash.
He enjoyed the collective bullpen effort, his own performance, and the game environment, since Texas is allowing full capacity at sports venues. “Very nice. It felt normal again,” he told me from Pittsburgh on Monday morning. 26,723 attended on Sunday
Many pitchers like to talk about their hitting and this ten year MLB veteran is no exception, but he did not lug the lumber on Sunday. Between spring training and the regular season he’s hitting a gaudy .667 (through Monday), albeit with a very small sample size. He didn’t bat on Sunday because the game was in an American League ballpark where pitchers don’t hit.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave’s Shelby County sports media career began in 1975 at the same time he became Sports Information Director while still a student at Urbana College. He was later involved in many facets of the institution until its 2020 closing.