Let us now praise the Little Professor, brother of Joltin’ Joe

In another summer of baseball’s steroid-driven discontent — A-Rod scandals, Manny’s suspension, Clemens’s denials, etc. — it is worth remembering a different era in the pastime, the virtues of which were embodied by the other DiMaggio: Dom, the Little Professor, kid brother of Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper.

Dominic Paul DiMaggio died on May 8 at age 92. He’s not in Cooperstown, but the man who patrolled left field in Fenway while Dom DiMaggio was in center — Ted Williams, whom Leon Kass once aptly called “our Achilles” — was so convinced that his teammate belonged with the immortals that he had booklets entitled “Why Dom DiMaggio Belongs in the Hall of Fame” available at the Ted Williams Museum in Florida.
Dom DiMaggio made The Show in 1940. Like Joltin’ Joe and the Splendid Splinter, Williams, he lost years off his career in service to America during World War II. Thus his entire major league life spanned but 10 full seasons. He was a career .298 hitter with a lifetime .383 on-base percentage and an entirely respectable .419 slugging average. As a memorial piece in Sports Illustrated pointed out, he was a serious bat: “No one — not Joe, not Ted Williams — had more hits than Dom’s 1,679 from 1940 through 1952” (the missing service years being 1943-45). 

Earthly ambition, divine perspective: how to stay on track

I do not understand Kate Gosselin.

I cannot comprehend how marital strains and rumored infidelity convinced the reality star and mother of eight it is a good time to launch a media campaign, one that results in the yellow, capitalized headline: “We might split up.”

How could thinking out loud about divorce (to People magazine, no less) possibly reduce her odds of it?

This is one of several media blitzes that has left me scratching my head. I don’t understand, for example, how bad-mouthing the Palin family  could help Levi Johnston realize what he insists is his most urgent goal: greater access to his baby boy. (And, he later admitted, he’s also fishing for modeling gigs.)

These ill-advised campaigns reek of ambition — the blind, ravenous kind Shakespeare wrote about.

The compassion miracle can change perspectives

I didn’t like Eleanor. She was cold, distant and smug. And once I decided I didn’t like her, I easily found new flaws almost every time our paths crossed.

Eleanor and I worked together in a large mental health center. She was a nurse assigned to care for the patients and, when needed, the staff. But frankly, I didn’t think anything short of being mauled by a bear would persuade me to ever go see her.

But life humbles us in unexpected ways. I came to work on a Monday feeling fine. An hour or so later I was woefully chanting: “I don’t have the flu.  I don’t have the flu.” As each new symptom arrived, it became painfully obvious. I would have to enter Eleanor’s lair.

Waiting outside the examining room I kept thinking, “I wish I had been nicer to her.” When she called me in, I felt that visceral “uh-oh” you get when you’re about to face a moment of reckoning.  

Developing our Catholic faith

Christian Brothers College High School Class of 2009 salutatorian Will Behrens gave this talk to those attending the CBC graduation ceremonies May 17. He discussed the need for young people to develop their Catholic faith.

Ladies, gentleman, faculty, administration and the Class of 2009:

Each senior here today achieves a significant milestone in his life by graduating from high school. Accomplishing such a feat tends to focus our thoughts on the past as well as the future.

Simplicity — finding peace in the current financial crisis

The prevailing worldwide financial crisis has reshaped the lives of many people. The ripple effects from the calamities on Wall Street and overly indebted homeowners have diminished the prosperity they once enjoyed. Many people lost as much as 40 percent of their savings invested in the stock market.

Affected are major financial institutions and automobile manufacturers as well as less well-known companies in virtually every industry. Professionals, service workers, insurers and numerous others have not escaped the repercussions. The U.S. unemployment rate is now 8.5 percent.

Happy people: We’re contagious!

Happiness, according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, is contagious, and happy people seem to attract and be attracted to other happy people, creating networks of like-emotions among close family members, friends and others.

These findings might not seem earthshaking. But the study, which was conducted by researchers from Harvard University and Medical School and the University of California-San Diego, offers interesting implications for people who live with serious, chronic illness and pain.

The study began in 1983 in Massachusetts. It was an offshoot of the Framingham Heart Study that set out in 1948 to identify the common factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease by following its development over a long period of time in a large group of participants.

Participants in the 1983 study were the offspring of the original Framingham study cohort and included both adult men and women. There were 4,729 participants in all.

Happiness was seen as consisting of “positive emotions,” and, after the participants' social networks were identified, their degree of happiness was measured by asking them how often each participant experienced certain feelings during the previous week.

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