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Kids skip school for Cubs home opener, run into school-missing principal at ballpark

Two boys from Illinois did what almost any diehard Cubs fan would do: They skipped school to get to the home opener this week.

Tucker and Gunner Speckman tempted fate with a sign that caught a lot of attention, WQAD reported. It said “Skipping school. S-h-h-h, don’t tell Principal Versluis.” The sign was intended to get them on television. It did its job and got the attention of the MLB, which posted it to its Twitter account.

But Tucker and Gunner weren’t alone at the game Tuesday . Little did they know Principal Patrick Versluis, the same principal on the sign, also skipped school. He actually called off sick so he could take his son to the first home game of the season.

>> Read more trending news 

As much as the boys probably didn’t want to see the administrator, he didn’t want to see his students either.

“I saw him and I was kind of ducking down,” Versluis told the Chicago Sun Times. “I didn’t want him to see me either. I’m here with my son, Aiden, who’s in the fifth grade and I called out sick for the day.”

Versluis is part of a group of guys who share season tickets. This year he was the lucky one to get the opening day game. He said that while school and learning are important, so are some experiences that you can’t pass up.

“Attendance is important. But, we also learn from these experiences in life. Who’s giving up opening day? Come on,” Versluis told WQAD.

The boys are apparently good students, too. WQAD said they were given the tickets by their parents for straight A’s.

Tucker and Gunner did meet up with Versluis and snapped a photo of the trio of skippers.

The Cubs fell to the Pirates 8-5.

 

Hank Aaron: No. 44 made baseball history 44 years ago today

It was a historic day for baseball: 44 years ago today, No. 44 entered the record books.

On the evening of April 8, 1974, Atlanta Braves slugger Hank Aaron became the career home run king, slamming a 1-0 fastball off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing into the left-center field bullpen at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium. Home run No. 715 allowed Aaron to pass Babe Ruth’s career record that had stood since 1935, and tied the game at 3 and ignited a four-run rally for the Braves. Atlanta would win the nationally televised game, 7-4.

There was an 11-minute delay to celebrate the homer, as the crowd of 53,775 roared its approval.

Here are two iconic broadcast calls of Aaron’s home run, starting with Braves announcer Milo Hamilton:

And here is the call by Vin Scully, the longtime Dodgers broadcaster:

Which one do you like better? There is the pure, unbridled excitement of Hamilton, whose “There’s a new home run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron” is the more commonly heard audio.

And then there is the more nuanced call by Scully, who was silent for 22 seconds after the ball cleared the fence so listeners could soak in the moment. 

“What a marvelous moment for baseball,” Scully said when he spoke again. “What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.”

Which one was better? You make the call.

Astros give ‘Mattress Mack’ a World Series ring

There were many heroes during the Houston Astros’ run to their first World Series title last year, but the team decided to honor a local entrepreneur whose heroic work helped the city recover from Hurricane Harvey last year.

>> Read more trending news

Gallery Furniture owner Jim McIngvale, known as “Mattress Mack,” received a World Series ring from the team, according to an Instagram post Friday by his daughter, Laura McIngvale Brown.

McIngvale paid off a bet it made with customers last year, a wager that cost his business $10 million. McIngvale bet that if the Astros won the World Series, customers who had spent $3,000 on mattresses would receive a full refund.

>> Astros fans win again: Furniture company refunds $10 million

McIngvale also surprised 20 Astros fans and 20 first responders with tickets to Game 6 of the World Series and flew the group to Los Angeles on a chartered plane, KHOU reported.

He also made headlines when he opened his mattress warehouse and stores as shelters for Houston-area residents affected by floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge promises more home runs in Pepsi digital spot

Promising to hit home runs is nothing new for major-league baseball players. Babe Ruth famously promised a four-bagger to 11-year-old Johnny Sylvester in 1926 -- and then delivered.

>> Read more trending news

Ruth’s slugging descendant, Aaron Judge, does a 21st-century version in a new digital spot he shot for Pepsi, the New York Daily News reported.

Judge, who hit 52 homers as a rookie in 2017, is shown in the video sitting in a New York pizza parlor, eating a slice of pizza and sipping on a Pepsi Zero Sugar drink.

The owner of the restaurant is on the telephone talking with his mother, and the woman insists on talking to the Yankees outfielder.

The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year takes the phone and promises the woman he will do his best to hit 80 home runs in 2018.

>> Snowed under: Blizzard forces Yankees to cancel home opener

Judge will need to crank up his power stroke to reach that plateau. Through four games, he is batting .200 with three hits and no home runs, the Daily News reported.

The New York slugger will resume his quest Tuesday, as the Yankees’ home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays was canceled Monday because of a blizzard that hit the New York area.

Snowed under: Blizzard forces Yankees to cancel home opener

The New York Yankees are usually snowed under with ticket requests for Opening Day.

>> Read more trending news

Monday, a blizzard canceled the team’s home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Post reported.

The game was rescheduled for Tuesday at 4 p.m.; however, the forecast calls for rain.

Since 1970, the Yankees have played their home opener with snow falling twice, in 1996 and 2003. Game-time temperatures for those games was 35 degrees, NJ.com reported.

It is the first time snow has canceled a home opener at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.

Here is the final out of the 1996 home opener, which was the debut for manager Joe Torre:

White Sox rehire man who spent 23 years in jail for crime he didn't commit 

A man who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he was cleared of last year was rehired as a grounds crew member by the Chicago White Sox, WGN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Nevest Coleman, 49, worked for the White Sox in 1994 when he was arrested and convicted on rape and murder charges. DNA evidence last year led prosecutors to vacate the conviction, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Coleman was granted a certificate of innocence by a Cook County judge this month, clearing his name, WGN reported.

The White Sox decided to give Coleman his job back.

“We’re grateful that after more than two decades, justice has been carried out for Nevest,” the team said in a statement. “It has been a long time, but we’re thrilled that we have the opportunity to welcome him back to the White Sox family. We’re looking forward to having Nevest back on Opening Day at home in our ballpark.”

Coleman starts tonight.

Former MLB All-Star Albert Belle arrested on indecent exposure, DUI charges

Former major-league slugger Albert Belle was arrested Sunday in Arizona on charges of indecent exposure and driving under the influence, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Belle, 51, a five-time All-Star who played for the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox from 1989 to 2000, was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to jail records.

The Maricopa Sheriff's Office booked Belle, 51, on two counts of indecent exposure, one count of DUI-liquor/drugs/vapor/combo, and another count of DUI with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, ESPN reported.

Belle had a .295 career average and led the American League in RBIs three times. 

Belle has had legal problems before. In 1997, he settled a class action suit after he was accused of chasing kids with his car and bumping one after they egged his house, ESPN reported. In 2006, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years' probation after admitting to stalking his former girlfriend, ESPN reported.

Blockbuster founder, former Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga dead at 80 

Longtime South Florida sports owner, philanthropist and businessman H. Wayne Huizenga died Friday. He was 80.

>> Read more trending news

Huizenga owned the Miami Dolphins and their stadium for 15 years and was the initial owner of the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers.

In business, he started Waste Management in the 1960s, was the catalyst behind Blockbuster Video’s growth in the 1980s and ’90s and created AutoNation.

Huizenga was involved in various charities and funded the business school bearing his name at Nova Southeastern University.

He bought a small portion of the Dolphins in 1990 and became full owner of the team three years later. They went to the playoffs seven times during his ownership, and South Florida hosted three Super Bowls.

Huizenga sold the team to Stephen Ross over the course of 2008 and 2009. He sold the Marlins in 1998 and the Panthers in 2001.

WATCH: Brewers reenact famous scene from 'The Sandlot' 

After 25 years, the Beast is back.

>> Read more trending news

The Milwaukee Brewers are known for churning out entertaining videos -- remember their bullpen dance-off against the Chicago Cubs? -- and spring training was no exception last week as several players contributed to a shot-by-shot reenactment of a famous scene from the 1993 movie, “The Sandlot.”

The 1993 comedy was about a group of friends who loved playing the game but only had one ball. So when one player hits the ball over the fence, where a snarling, mean dog lives, the game is apparently over. 

In the 2½-minute video, several players reprise the roles from the film, WTMJ reported. Stephen Vogt played Hamilton “Ham” Porter, who hits the home run. Brett Phillips plays Scotty Smalls, a newcomer who volunteers to retrieve the ball, while Eric Sogard has a memorable cameo as Squints.

Other players in the video include Christian Yelich as Benny, Hernan Perez as Yeah-Yeah, Jeremy Jeffress as Kenny, Josh Hader as Bertram, Chase Anderson (Tommy Timmons) and Jett Bandy (Timmy Timmons).

Plus, Hank the dog plays “the Beast.”

The scene is faithfully done, although Vogt bats left-handed. Ham bats right-handed in the 1993 film. And the Beast steals the scene.

Here is the original clip from the 1993 movie:

And here is what the Brewers do when they get bored in the bullpen:

Family that found 7 rare Ty Cobb baseball cards find another one

The T206 baseball card set, issued from 1909 to 1911, has been called “the Monster” by collectors. Two years ago, a family in a rural Southern town discovered seven rare Ty Cobb cards from that set while cleaning their great-grandfather’s house and sold them for nearly $3 million.

>> Read more trending news

Now, that family has made another monster discovery.

An eighth card of the Detroit Tigers’ Hall of Famer was found in another part of the great-grandfather’s house, and the family has decided to keep this one, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

“The family’s intent is to keep this latest addition as a memento,” according to Rick Snyder, owner of MINT State in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Snyder initially reviewed all eight cards before sending them to be graded, according to a news release from Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). “It’s a family heirloom that reminds them of an event that changed their lives forever.”

The rarity of the card, which was originally included with packs of cigarettes during the first decade of the 20th century, is determined by the advertisement on the back. It reads “Ty Cobb King of the Smoking Tobacco World,” and before the “Lucky 7 Find” find two years ago, only 15 of these cards were known to have existed.

Another Cobb card, called “The Matchbox Cobb,” was discovered last year by a Georgia family. The family was cleaning out their father’s sock drawer when they found the Cobb card in a matchbox. The card was graded PSA 1 and sold in an SCP Auctions sale on Nov. 4, for $100,000.

The latest Cobb card discovery brings the overall total to 24. Like the others, this card was sent to PSA, the Newport Beach, California-based grading company said in a statement. A grade of PSA 2, or good, was assigned to the card. The Lucky 7 cards ranged in grade from PSA 1.5 to PSA 4.5, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

The family, which still wants to remain anonymous, found the original seven cards as they were cleaning their great-grandfather’s home. They were at the bottom of a rumpled, torn paper bag that was on the floor. When the family inspected the bag, they found old postcards and the seven Cobb cards, lying face down, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

PSA said the eighth card was discovered between two books inside an old, dusty box. The card was among clothing, eyeglasses, makeup and several tobacco tins.

“The initial discovery, it was a real shock to them,” PSA President Joe Orlando told The Associated Press. “They put the cleaning on hold for a while.

“Later, they knew what they were looking for, and in a dusty box between two books, there was another one,” said Orlando, whose company verified the new card and put a $250,000 value on it. “It falls under the category of ‘you can’t make this stuff up.’”

The T206 set contains 525 different cards with 16 tobacco-brand advertisement backs. This also contains a Honus Wagner card that is recognized as the “Holy Grail” of baseball cards.

Family members released a statement through MINT State, calling the find “unbelievable.”

“We are incredibly blessed and grateful to have found another card,” the statement read. “This is unbelievable. We would have never thought this would happen once, much less twice. It is an incredible feeling.”

“This just goes to prove that buried treasure still exists in the collectibles world, even well above sea level,” Orlando said in a statement through PSA.

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