Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vocabulary 2015

The new online course which I roll out once a year premieres on January 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Dear Jacci:

Thanksgiving is always a reflective time for me and I think about the last 10 years where I spent so much time building the Hall of Fame idea at the best of schools we know.

Your effort is well noted and you should know you have my loyal thanks.

From time to time, I would suggest you take a glimpse at our Facebook page Walt Whitman High School Hall of Fame.

As of this writing, we have attracted near 1,700 former Wildcats and the activity on our page from day to day is greater than any Whitman site on social media.

In the past week, we asked a question WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE TEACHER?

Over 100 responded and if you scroll back to that thread, you will read about some love affairs with South Huntington teachers which have impacted the rest of their lives.

Isn't that our goal as educators? And what better way to realize that all of your work has been rewarded than reading what graduates say about their education, 20-50 years after they left campus.

One suggestion.

Consider a separate wing for our Hall of Fame which would honor the teachers which have made South Huntington schools exemplary.

It will only add to the richness and luster of a developing legend.

May you and your family have the very best Thanksgiving,


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Melville Nine

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Melville Nine that April Day
Coach Ralph was calling us a circus, as if we had never come to play.
So when Peaches grounded out and the Greek did the same,
A sickly silence fell on those who had traveled to Amityville for the game.

The score was five to eight when Wags dropped a bunt down the line
And then Hat doubled in the alley and things were suddenly fine.
Amityville had no reason to deal with Dandy, who had homered before,
Crocker, the Amity hurler sent wide ones and we heard a very loud Ball Four!

Then from 100 throats rose up a muffled roar.
It bounded on the mountaintop and rattled in the flat.
For Willie, our very own Willie
Was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Willie's manner as he stepped into his place
There was poise in Willie's bearing and a smile on Willie's face.
And while responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt--it was Willie at the bat.

Willie stood out on our Melville squad, he was the only black on our Nine
The fact that Amity was mostly black for us was good and fine.
In April, 1968, race was not a problem at our school
In the rest of America, that just was not the rule.

As the angular, black hurler dug the ball into his hip
Defiance gleaned in Willie's eye, a sneer curled Willie's lip.
Close by the sturdy batsman, the ball unheeded sped.
Willie ignored it--Strike One the umpire said!

From the benches black with people, there rose up a muffled roar
Like the beating of a storm upon a stern and distant shore.
Kill him! Kill the umpire. Someone shouted from the stand.
And it was likely they would have killed him if Willie hadn't raised his large black hand.

With a smile of non-violent platitude, great Willie's visage shown,
He stopped the rising tumult--He bade the game go on.
He signaled to the pitcher and once more the spheroid flew.
But Willie still ignored it and the umpire said Strike Two!

Fraud, cried the maddened spectators and the echo answered Fraud!
But one startled look from Willie and the crowd was awed.
They saw his face grown stern and cold--they saw his muscles strain
And they knew that Willie wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The smile is gone from Willie's face--his teeth are clenched in hate
And with cruel violence, he pounds his bat upon the plate.
And then a funny thing happened on the field which filled my head with doubt
The Amityville coach huddled with the umpire in a protracted time-out.

And then our Melville coach had joined the huddle at the plate
In a few short moments, we would learn what was to be our fate.
All of a sudden the Amity team was joyfully throwing their gloves to the sky
The game was called for darkness and our question was why?

Oh somewhere in this joyous land the sun is shining bright
And somewhere men are laughing and somewhere hearts are light
And somewhere bands are playing and somewhere children shout
But there was no joy in Melville that day--there was still only two out.

It wasn't until later that night that we learned what it had been all about
Why Amity was declared the winner even though they only had two out.
When in 51, the shot heard around the world was the homer by Bobby T
17 years later, another shot was heard and this one in Memphis, Tennessee

The umpires feared a race riot on that day in April, 1968
100 years after Casey at the Bat, a different ending on this date.
The day in American history when MLK was shot dead
And Willie was left at the plate and nothing was ever said.

Almost 50 years later, I asked Willie at a reunion event about that historical day.
Willie smiled as he did when he stepped into the fray.
He put a hand on my shoulder and said he has no memories of that day.
But I will never forget it, the Melville boys or MLK.

A day in history--April 4 and you can look up the facts and story.
It was a dark day in America, one where there is no glory.
Still and all, it happened in Melville's final dance.
When one black man was shot in America and another denied his chance.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dear Principal:

Dear Principal:

It has been more than a decade since I led a coup which resulted in a creation of a Hall of Fame in a school district from where I had graduated 40 years earlier.

It was my way of creating a motivational tool to current and future students by recognizing the success of selected alumni.

I helped give birth to that baby and I hope more Halls in more schools might grow from the effort.

Yet, I wonder if the real genius of this idea is the mentoring potential such a connection suggests.

Can you imagine the possibilities if more school administrators utilized the brainpower and resources of former graduates to mentor their current student body, just beginning their personal journeys?

I have imagined it and I know for certain it would work.

All it would take would be a tenacious character and a very innovative school administrator.

Which brings me back to you.

Enjoy your holiday


Friday, November 07, 2014

America 2014

I came across a troubling post today on a school district website.

Apparently, a homeless man had rung the doorbell to an elementary school in the district early in the morning, before the children had begun arriving.

He asked for a cup of coffee and had questions about food banks and registering his children for the school.

The assistant principal sent him away without the coffee and without answers.

The note was sent to parents in the district to assure them that there was no danger to their children or staff and was simply an informative note to make them aware of the incident.

The missive went on to say that police had been advised and were searching the area, but so far, no results.

Am I missing something here?

What would he be charged with? Attempting to ask for a cup of coffee?

Is that a crime now in America?

What would have been the problem with connecting this person with social services and giving him a helping hand, rather than the back of his hand in dismissal.

This note was written by someone who I would call the Stupid-tendent.

What would you call him?

Are we losing our collective minds in America?


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Dear Chair:

Dear Jacci:

After 2 years here on Facebook and over 1600 graduates, I can tell you that the Hall of Fame concept is growing.

I can do what I can to keep it growing from the social media end, but I would like to see my original intention of mentoring catch the same kind of passion for the students who now walk the same halls which began our journey.

Now, that the Hall of Fame body has reached over 50 members, you might consider a speaking group among the so honored. Those who would agree to return to the school and share in a Q and A with undergraduates who could be inspired by their vast accomplishment.

An informal Meet the Hall of Famer, if you will.

I continue to believe that the premise of the Hall of Fame to honor distinguished graduates is an extraordinary achievement for the district. I would hope that their message could be more intimately shared with future Hall of Famers.

I look forward to your response.

Steve Tarde
Class of 1968

Friday, October 31, 2014

Casey and Hef

I first met Hef in the 1970"s.

I was in my 80's, but looked 40 years younger. It was a Halloween bash at the Playboy Plaza on Miami Beach, when Hef was into hotels and all that.

He came over to me at the glamorous bar and pit out his hand. I see you are dressed up like Casey at the Bat.

Hef roared with laughter. He might have been squeezing the ass of his gal pal Barbi with his free hand.

I believe there was a cigar in the story as well.

I have to come see you play. Have you met the Pistol--he's a big baseball fan.

I had no idea who the Pistol was, but I would soon find out.

Pistol came out as if on cue and sat his six-foot four inch frame next to me at the bar.

Pete ordered a Michelob. He asked the bartender what kind of night it had been.

The barkeep shrugged. It's Miami and both man laughed.

Pete looked over to me and said: Are we going to get laid tonight?

He certainly wasn't Walt Whitman, who had encouraged me to keep playing when I once pondered retirement.

In minutes, Hef had commissioned a limo and we were off to Place for Steak on the Causeway.

I still didn't think Pete knew who I was, but hell, I was hungry and I loved steak.

Pete treated us all to steaks that night and then Hef stood up and announced that I would perform Casey at the Bat. I almost fell off my chair. I hadn't even memorized the fabled poem, which of course, had been written about me.

I started off all right, but then Pete asked me if Walt Whitman had written the poem. Since Pete was paying for the entire entourage, it seemed perfectly logical to stop and answer his question--so I did.

Funny that he mentioned Walt, because the poet had come to many of my games over the years and told me that he had a formula for my playing baseball for 100 years.

I was probably boring both Pete and Hef, but what followed was the most amazing story of how I became the first and only baseball player to have a 100 year plus career.

And it all started with Walt Whitman--even though he never wrote a word about me.

Before I discuss the fandom of Whitman, let me share this story of Mickey Mantle.

The Mick continues to be one of the most asked questions when I am on stage with Casey.

Did I know him? Was he a fan/ Did I admire him as a ballplayer.

I didn't meet Mick until I was approaching 100 and I must admit I was slowing down some, but more about that later.

Mick recharged me. Whitey Ford, that crafty Hall of Fame lefty had invited me to do Casey to a bunch of over paid capitalists, throwing around their money in a drunken frenzy one November weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

I was taking BP and lining the ball around the gaps, when Mick approached me, in a blurred stupor and took the bat out of my hand.

Normally, an act like that wouldn't sit well with me, but after all, this was Mickey Mantle and he apparently had no idea who I was.

Whitey took the mound, which was a given whenever Mick stepped into the box. He lobbed one and Mantle hit it 500 feet into the trees beyond the left field fence.

The surgeons and dentists wagged their tongues and broke out in frenzied applause.

That's how you do it.

I was face to face with the Yankees legend. He was barely able to stand erect. After a moment, he bellowed. Don't I know you?

He motioned for his mentor, Hank Bauer to come out of the dugout.

Hey, Hank. Look who we have here. It's Ty Cobb.

Later, after my performance, I asked if Mick had been in the audience.

Whitey laughed and waved away the question.

Are you kidding? He is in his room drinking. He still thinks you're Ty Cobb.

At least he picked a great ballplayer.

Later on, I did Casey for Mick when he was recovering.

He laughed like a maniac.

After the show, he came backstage and wouldn't you know it--he asked me.

Don't I know you?

Now, after 125 or so years, I don't think it is that impressive that I have known Hef, Mick, Whitey and Pistol Pete.

You can even throw in Jerry West, if we are counting.

But the man who changed my life(s), was someone, who at first glance, looked like some old fan who had stumbled his way into the ball park.

They told me his name was Walt Whitman.

I had never heard of him.