Happenings This Fall

Do the season right with these autumnal events!

Steamin’ Days at Auburn Heights
The Marshall Steam Museum
3000 Creek Rd., Yorklyn
First Sunday of the month through November
Auburnheights.org
Climb into an antique automobile or board one of the trains and experience what it was like to travel at the turn of the 20th century. Another option is touring the 1897 mansion that was home to three generations of the Marshall family. General admission is $8 for ages 12 and under, $10 for 13 and up, and free for Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve members.

Corn Maze & Fall Fun
Ramsey’s Farm
330 Ramsey Rd., Wilmington
Ramseysfarm.com
Embrace the fun of fall with the corn maze, sorghum maze, hay maze, pumpkin painting, hayrides, and more this month.

Kalmar Nyckel Adventures
Various October dates
Wilmington & Historic New Castle
Kalmarnyckel.org
Set sail on the Kalmar Nyckel in October for day sails, private sails, tours, or river cruises, setting off from multiple locations, including Wilmington and Historic New Castle.

Fort Delaware Ghost Tours
Pea Patch Island, Delaware City
Various October dates
destateparks.com
For three hours, participate in an actual paranormal investigation of Pea Patch Island’s Fort Delaware. All departures are on the ferry from Delaware City at 45 Clinton St. Admission is $50 per person.

Milburn Orchards
1495 Appleton Rd., Elkton, Md.
October through November
Milburnorchards.com
Milburn Orchards is the place to go for hayrides, a corn maze, farmyard playground, tractor tunnel, straw jump, and more. Admission is $5-$10, and free for ages 2 and below.

Harvest Moon Festival
Coverdale Farm Preserve
543 Way Rd., Greenville
Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Delawarenaturesociety.org
This fall festival, located at the scenic Coverdale Farm Preserve, features fun activities for all ages with hayrides, live music, food trucks, artisan demonstrations, and children’s activities. The festival is free for all members and $7 for non-members over the age of five. 

Grainfest 2017
Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen
270 E. Main St., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 7; 12 p.m.
meetatgrain.com/grainfest
The second annual Grainfest will include more than 20 breweries, live music, food trucks, kids’ activities, live music provided by five bands, and more. Beers will be available as half pours ($3) or full pours ($6). Wine will also be available. Advanced admission is $12; $15 at the door. ?

Vendemmia da Vinci
Wine and Food Festival
Bellevue State Park
800 Carr Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 8; 2-6 p.m.
Societadavinci.org
Dedicated to promoting the Italian-American heritage, the Da Vinci Society helps families in need, provides educational grants, supports cultural events and institutions within the community and throws one heck of a fall event. At the 14th annual Vendemmia celebration, guests can sample Italian wines and food, visit the Italian Beer Garden, listen to live entertainment, participate in a silent auction and handcrafted wine and homemade gravy contests, and more. Admission is $55 in advance and $60 at the gate.

The Ultimate Tailgate
Sheraton Wilmington South
365 Airport Rd., New Castle
Thursday, Oct. 12; 6-9 p.m.
Mealsonwheelsde.org
The Ultimate Tailgate fundraiser benefiting Meals On Wheels Delaware will include wine, spirits, and craft beer from 2SP Brewing Co. as well as area restaurants’ unique interpretations of tailgate food. Guests will enjoy live entertainment, a silent auction, tailgate-themed games, and a beer/wine toss. Tickets cost $65 per person and should be purchased online.

Musikarmageddon Finale
the baby grand
818 N Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 14; 8 p.m.
Outandaboutnow.com/musikarmageddon
Local acts Rusty Blue, Carrier, Cologne and TreeWalker are the four finalists of this year’s Musikarmageddon battle of the bands. The finale will determine the 2017 championship.

DTC Wine Feast & Auction
Sponsored by Delaware Theatre Company
At Delaware Art Museum
2310 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 14; 6-9:30 p.m.
Delawaretheatre.org
The 25th annual Wine Feast & Auction will include 500 food and wine aficionados from New York City to Washington, D.C. Proceeds go to providing artistic education and community engagement programs, as well as serving 35,000 theatergoers and 5,000 children throughout the state. Tickets are $100 through Oct. 1, and $125 after, though admission is $75 for people 35 years old and younger. Patron ticket: $250.

Delaware Wine & Beer Festival
Delaware State Fair Grounds
18500 S. Dupont Hwy., Harrington
Saturday, Oct. 14; 12-5 p.m.
Visitdelawarevillages.com
The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival is the First State’s “official” wine and beer festival, and still the only one that features all of Delaware’s breweries, wineries and distilleries in one location. The festival includes music, games, performers, DJs, and access to various local eateries featuring gourmet foods and Delaware specialties. Guests must be 21 or older. Admission is $10-$40.

October Free Writes
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington
Thursday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 29; 6:30-8 p.m.
Delart.org
Visit the galleries and explore a topic or idea through writing inspired by prompts. These informal gatherings allow participants of all experience levels to write with the hope of unearthing new materials and perspectives. No writing experience is required and advanced registration is recommended. Author Dennis Lawson will lead a mystery and crime themed free write on Thursday, Oct. 19, followed by a horror free write with Jessa Mendez on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Boo at the Zoo
Brandywine Zoo
1001 N Park Dr., Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21; 5-7 p.m.
Brandywinezoo.org
Trick-or-treat and celebrate Halloween Brandywine Zoo-style with this merry, not scary, event. Here, kids can trick-or-treat in their Halloween costumes through the zoo as it gets dark.

Halloween Blue Jean Ball
Food Bank of Delaware
222 Lake Dr., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 21; 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Fbdbluejeanball.org
The Food Bank of Delaware’s 12th annual Blue Jean Ball will feature a small plate menu prepared by students from the Food Bank’s Culinary School as well as Iron Hill Brewery’s chefs. Admission is $75 per person, which includes unlimited beer and wine, food from Iron Hill Brewery, live entertainment from Mike Hines and The Look, and a commemorative beer mug. Tables of 10 are available for $750.

Movies on Tap
Penn Cinema
401 S. Madison St., Wilmington
Thursday, Oct. 26, and Friday, Nov. 17
Premierwinespirits.com
On Thursday, Oct. 26, watch Young Frankenstein while enjoying brews from Argilla Brewing Company—all for a good cause. The viewing benefits Alex’s Lemonade Stand. And don’t miss Planes, Trains and Automobiles while sampling what Yards Brewing has to offer on Friday, Nov. 17.

Jack O’Lantern Jamboree
Gateway Garden Center
7277 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin
Friday, Oct. 27
Gatewaygardens.com
Bring your pre-carved pumpkins to the sixth annual Jack O’Lantern Jamboree, a free family-friendly walk through, and expect to see upwards of 70 carved pumpkins. Contact Gateway Garden Center in advance to save a place for your pumpkin.

Beers & Gears
Delaware Park
777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 28; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Delawarepark.com
This car show includes rat rods, muscles, exotics, hot rods, turners, pro street, imports, trucks and classics. More than 450 trophies will be awarded during this family-friendly event, free for spectators, with live music and DJs.

Halloween Loop
Downtown Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 28
Outandaboutnow.com
Featuring 13 local restaurants, pubs and bars, the 37th annual Halloween Loop is an extravaganza for guests to dress up in the spirit of the holiday. There is no official starting point. Select the nightspot you’d like to visit first, pay the cover charge, and you will receive a wristband that gains you admission to all other Loop venues without paying another cover.

Urban Bike Project
Fall Crisp Classic
Bellevue State Park, Wilmington
Saturday, Nov. 4; 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Urbanbikeproject.com
This autumnal bicycle ride begins and ends at Bellevue, with eight-mile or 12-mile riding options for riders. An after party at the finish line in Bellevue State Park is sponsored by Dogfish Head Brewery. Tickets are $30 with $15 non-rider tickets available for those who would just like to join the festivities at the finish. It’s $20 to sponsor an Urban Bike Project youth rider.   

Worth Recognizing: Community Members Who Go Above & Beyond

Deb Buenaga: Helping children with special needs through Preston’s March for Energy

In August 2011 Deb Buenaga’s son, Preston, who suffers from Mitochondrial Disease, received a specially-adaptive bike from a family friend’s fundraiser. The bicycle cost a hefty $2,200.

“When Preston rode his bike for the first time, for an hour and a half, his dad Steve and I knew that other children deserved the same opportunity,” says Buenaga. “We knew that we needed to ‘pay it forward.’” 

This motivated her to launch Preston’s March for Energy just two months later, while still juggling fulltime caretaking responsibilities for Preston. She quit her job as a preschool teacher and now dedicates upwards of 50 hours a week to the cause, and while she qualified for a Longwood Foundation grant for an administrative assistant, Buenaga herself makes approximately $5 an hour. She is backed up by 30-35 active volunteers.

The nonprofit provides adaptive bikes to children and young adults ages 6 to 21 with special needs who can’t ride a typical bike. Each adaptive bicycle is built and customized for the individual who will ride it. Preston’s March works with various bike vendors, raising money for families through events like Corks and Cookies, a yearly 5K, and corporate and individual sponsors, since insurance does not cover the cost of an adaptive bike. A family will apply through the website—prestonsmarch.org—and Preston’s March will collaborate with that child’s medical team to create the perfect bike, down to painting the bicycle the child’s favorite color.

“Today I was incredibly blessed to be able to make a child smile who has thyroid and lung cancer,” says Buenaga. “But he also has a dream to ride a bike like his brother and sister and friends. He cannot ride a typical bike because sitting up and balancing makes him tired and with a tracheotomy he has troubles breathing. I presented him with a bike that he can lie down with and pedal with his feet. He told his mom to Velcro him in his bike so nobody can take him off it.”

Buenaga and her family spend their weekends or vacation time presenting bikes all over the country. Last month she and Preston road-tripped to Green Bay, Wis., to surprise a family with two bicycles. She and Preston have put 28,000 miles on a donated van in less than a year. 

“We all open our eyes in the morning the same way—some of us not as easy as others,” she says. “Some may be suffering with a disease, some may be a caregiver and first thing they do is care for a loved one who needs them. But the one thing we have in common is to make it to the end of the day the best that we can. My choice is to go to bed every night and know I made someone smile.”

Burgers Worth Trying

We think you’ll like these local creations

Chelsea Cheeseburger – Chelsea Tavern

Arguably the best burger you can get in downtown Wilmington, the secret here is quality ingredients. Premium beef patty, beer-braised onions, aged white cheddar cheese and on a fresh brioche bun, with of course the bacon add-on. Pair it with hand-cut trio fries and a few of the quality craft beer selections. Makes for the perfect burger experience.

— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer

Kid’s Famous Charcoal Grilled Burger – Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon

What sets it apart? Is it the simplicity of quality, fresh ground chuck? Is it the famous char-grilled flavor? The powerful Wisconsin cheddar? Is it the vine-ripe tomato and crisp iceberg lettuce? Yes, it’s all of these. Simply delicious.

— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager

The Dirty Burger – Home Grown Café

This burger is piled with brisket and short rib, cheddar Jack cheese, bacon, tomato, caramelized onions, a secret sauce, and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Somehow this is also available in vegetarian form, although I haven’t tried that option yet. Arguably a little pricey at $16.50, but remember, this is Home Grown (Main Street, Newark), which means ingredients always made from scratch, with a local, health-conscious focus.

— Krista Connor, Senior Editor & Media Manager

Turkey Burger – Buckley’s Tavern

I know, I know, this historic Centreville tavern has long been known for its Buckley’s Burger. However, I’m a bit of a turkey burger fan and this is a go-to sandwich for me. The key to Buckley’s turkey burger is the lemon herb vinaigrette coupled with arugula. They add guacamole and top with Monterey Jack to provide a healthy yet satisfying alternative to their house favorite.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

The Tavern Special – UDairy Creamery Market

The Tavern Special is my favorite burger at the UDairy Creamery on Market Street. It’s a simple, straight-forward burger, just Monterrey Jack cheese, mushrooms and caramelized onions. But three things make it a standout: wonderfully fresh beef, coming directly from the farms of UD’s Ag Department; a choice of regular, ranch, or Old Bay-flavored handmade potato chips, and the option to easily (perhaps too easily) add an ice cream chaser at the same counter. 

— Mark Fields, Contributing Writer

Hereford Beef Burger – Goat Kitchen and Bar

There aren’t a lot of special components to this delicious burger, but the meat is fresh and tender and cooked to juicy perfection. The Hereford Beef Burger ($13.50) does come with one magic ingredient—pimento cheese, which gives an added flair to what would have been a great burger regardless. It also comes with bacon, lettuce and tomato and, for an extra 50 cents, you can add a fried egg to the combination. And the house-made pickles are worth the price of admission to the North Wilmington eatery all by themselves.

— Kevin Noonan, Contributing Writer

Aged Cheddar Burger – 8th & Union Kitchen

Inventiveness is the name of the game at 8th & Union when it comes to burgers, and several could likely make this list. The Smokey marries Gouda and a BBQ dripping aioli for delicious results. With bacon, egg, Swiss and mushrooms, the Kennett is basically two daily meals on one plate. But the Aged Cheddar Burger edges out the others with a sweet, earthy combination of caramelized onions, crispy shallots and sharp cheddar. Its flavor and texture make it a burger that will bring you back again and again.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

The Scorpion – Grub Burger Bar

For me, spice is the spice of life. That’s why I love the culinary adventure North Wilmington’s Grub Burger Bar serves up in the form of the “Scorpion,” a super-juicy burger topped with pepper Jack cheese, grilled jalapeños, and Grub’s own Trinidad moruga scorpion sauce. Not for the faint-hearted, but spice lovers, rejoice. P.S. Looking for something less adventurous but equally tasty? Grub’s Jive Turkey (ground turkey seasoned with pesto and topped with bacon, Swiss cheese, sprouts and avocado) or Guacapotle (cheddar cheese, chipotle aioli and house-made guacamole) burgers could be right up your alley.

— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer

Big Bold Blue Burger – Iron Hill Brewery

Iron Hill Brewery on the Wilmington Riverfront is well-known for both beer and tasty burgers. One of the many burger choices is the Big Bold Blue Burger, which is quite a mouthful. For $15, you will have various flavors exploding in your mouth, thanks to the Danish blue cheese, the Applewood smoked bacon, fried onion rings and a soft brioche bun.

— Olivia Ingman, Intern

Best of Philly Burger – Brandywine Prime

Brandywine Prime’s reputation as a top steakhouse in the area is well established, but on Friday nights it’s the burgers that bring them in. That’s Prime’s Half-Price Burger Night, a promotion that started eight years ago and is still going strong. The beef is top quality, so you can’t go wrong with any of the selections. I recommend the Best of Philly, a burger topped with caramelized onions, local mushrooms and Monterey Jack cheese served with house-cut fries on a Le Bus-baked brioche roll. You can get burgers any night at Brandywine Prime, but other than Friday they’re available only in the bar.

— Jerry duPhily, Publisher

Hangover Helper Burger – Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen

My burger-and-fried-egg obsession continues with this tasty item from another Main Street eatery. It’s beefy goodness enhanced with tater tots, bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce. What more is there to say?

— Krista Connor, Senior Editor & Media Manager

Peppercorn Blue Burger – Tonic Bar & Grille

For those of you who tend to order the wedge salad at restaurants where it’s offered, this is a burger for you. Gorgonzola melted on a black-pepper crusted beef patty, dressed with roasted red peppers. Tonic has earned a reputation in downtown Wilmington for its steaks, but their burgers should not be overlooked—particularly this one. It’s a burger with bite. For more, see tonicbargrille.com.

— Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Redfire Burger – Redfire Grill & Steakhouse

My first introduction to a Redfire burger was several years ago at Burger Battle, back in the days when the event was held on the grounds of Twin Lakes Brewery. It was the best burger I tasted that day and many others agreed, as it was named a People’s Choice winner that year. The Redfire features aged cheddar and maple pepper bacon, but it’s the addition of Redfire’s own Thousand Island dressing that sets this burger apart.

— Sophie duPhily

A Baseball Life

At 90, Jack Crimian can look back on a pitching career and a uniquely American odyssey that touched many of the sport’s immortals

It’s doubtful that any ex-ballplayer enjoyed his career as much, or remembers it as well, as 90-year-old Jack Crimian.

The long-time Delawarean spent parts of four years in the Majors and 11 in the minors as a right-handed pitcher, pursuing a quintessentially American odyssey that intersected with some of the immortals of the sport’s golden age—as well as Bing Crosby’s future wife.

The list of his encounters with future greats began at Olney High School, in Philadelphia, where Crimian, class of 1944, played baseball and football with Del Ennis, a star on the Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” team that won the National League Championship in 1950.

Four years later, as a minor leaguer in spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla., he shook hands with Babe Ruth. “Everything stopped when Ruth showed up,” remembers Crimian, “and we all went over to him. He could hardly talk.” A few months later, the Bambino would die of throat cancer.

In 1957, he served up Roger Maris’ first Major League home run—a grand slam. “It was a 3-2 count and I pitched him up and away. The ball went up and away, and it still hasn’t come down.” Adds the still competitive Crimian: “But it was Jim Bunning’s fault. He struck out Maris earlier in the game, so he told me how to pitch to him.”

Crimian fanned Maris’ future teammate, Mickey Mantle, five of the 11 times he faced the switch-hitting Yankee slugger. “One of his hits was a bunt down the third base line because we (the Kansas City Athletics) were the first to put a shift on against him, and there was nobody on the third-base side,” says Crimian.

He almost struck out Ted Williams, after a semi-epic battle of wits and skill (more later).

He was a teammate of Stan Musial (“one of the nicest men I’ve ever met”).

He played in Havana in dugouts guarded by Cuban soldiers carrying automatic rifles.

Crimian checks out a photo of the 1946 champion Blue Rocks, the team he broke in with. The Blue Rocks staff bought the photo on Ebay and presented it to him during the photo shoot at Frawley Stadium. Photo Jim Coarse
Crimian checks out a photo of the 1946 champion Blue Rocks, the team he broke in with. The Blue Rocks staff bought the photo on Ebay and presented it to him during the photo shoot at Frawley Stadium. Photo Jim Coarse

And he managed to connect peripherally with entertainment royalty. At a minor league game in Texas, players were recruited to escort contestants to home plate for a pre-game beauty contest, and Crimian was paired with Kathryn Grandstaff, runner-up in the 1952 Miss Texas competition. Years later, as Kathy Crosby, she would become the second wife of famed crooner Bing.

And in a final blaze of glory, he came out of retirement to go undefeated with the legendary Brooks Armored Car team in the Delaware Semi-Pro League from 1963-65.

But most important, throughout his career, Jack Crimian was a devoted husband to his late wife, Mary (“Mom” to him), and a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. And, in an age when players had to hold off-season jobs to make ends meet, he became a first-class auto body repairman in a Wilmington shop.

Crimian turned professional in his senior year in high school, when Phillies Scout Jocko Collins signed the 17-year-old son of a Philadelphia fireman to a $100-a-month contract with the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

“Got a check for $42.40 every two weeks,” says Crimian. “Lived at the YMCA.”

His budding career was interrupted a year later, near the end of World War II, when he was drafted into the Army.  After basic training in Alabama, he volunteered for the 82nd Airborne Division and went to jump school at Fort Benning, Ga. “First time I was ever in a plane I got kicked out of it,” Crimian laughs.

Kathryn Grandstaff, future wife of singer Bing Crosby, grins at the slightly flustered Crimian as he prepares to escort her to a home-plate beauty contest prior to a minor league game in '52. Photo courtesy of the Houston Chronicle
Kathryn Grandstaff, future wife of singer Bing Crosby, grins at the slightly flustered Crimian as he prepares to escort her to a home-plate beauty contest prior to a minor league game in ’52. Photo courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

Back from the service in ’46, he rejoined the Class B Blue Rocks. Working in the hot dog stand at the stadium, at 30th and Governor Printz Boulevard, was a pretty Wilmington girl, Mary Theresa Kelley. Crimian bought plenty of hot dogs, they began dating, and married two years later, honeymooning in—where else?—Niagara Falls.

A 5-10, 180-pounder with a three-quarter delivery, Crimian posted a 13-4 record with the Blue Rocks, and that winter was drafted out of the Phillies’ organization by the St. Louis Cardinals. Sent to Omaha, Neb., and now making the princely salary of $350 a month, he continued to stay at the Y during the season. In the offseason, the Crimians lived in the Olney section of Philadelphia and Jack went to work in the body shop at Roth Buick in Northeast Philly.

He spent the next four-and-a-half seasons in the minors, mostly as a reliever. “One year,” says, “I pitched 19 days in a row, sometimes three innings at a time. There was no such thing as a one-inning pitcher back then.”

He developed a slider, which became, he says, “my pitch. If you were gonna hit me, you were gonna hit my slider.”

In July 1951, the Cardinals called him up to “the show.” But the National League, stacked with sluggers like Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges and Ralph Kiner, gave him a rude welcome. He pitched in 17 innings over seven games in July, all in relief, allowing 24 hits and eight walks. He did manage his first win, against his original team, the Phillies, in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, and struck out his high school teammate Ennis.

He had another brief stint with the Cards in June of 1952, but was roughed up again and returned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings for the reminder of the season.

Crimian loved his time with his Cardinal teammates, in particular Musial and second baseman Red Schoendienst. “They were like one big family,” he says. “They were the only club where if you went there as a rookie, they weren’t trying to cut your throat because you were trying to take their job.”

When he was sent back to the minors, Crimian says, “I called [Cards Manager Eddie] Stanky everything in the book.”

In 1955, he became a starting pitcher for the Toronto Maple Leafs, posting a 19–6 record and 2.10 earned run average, with 16 complete games. The performance earned him Most Valuable Player of the Year in the International League, and in October he was acquired by the new American League franchise, the Kansas City Athletics. That fall, Jack, Mary, six-year-old Ann Marie and two-year-old Mary Ann moved to Green Street in Claymont.

The A’s called him up for the ‘56 season. Working in 54 games —seven as a starter—and 129 innings, he won four of 12 decisions and recorded three saves for the last-place team.

The most vivid memory from that season: his first time in Yankee Stadium. “I looked around and said, you son of a gun, you made it now.”

He also discovered a difference in the balls: “National League balls had stitches that were high, and American League stiches were flat.” Crimian preferred the high stitches for the better grip they gave him, and he hated new balls. “Too slippery,” he says.

Crimian's baseball card from his days with the Kansas City Athletics. Card courtesy of Drew Davis
Crimian’s baseball card from his days with the Kansas City Athletics. Card courtesy of Drew Davis

 

His battle with Williams occurred in the’57 season in Boston’s Fenway Park. A’s Manager Lou Boudreau brought Crimian in at the top of an inning, with Williams set to lead off. “Boudreau told me, ‘just throw one [type of] pitch warming up, and don’t throw it after that, because he will have it timed.’”

As Boudreau predicted, Williams watched intently as Crimian threw nothing but fastballs during his warmup.

Williams stepped into the box and pitcher and hitter battled to a 3-2 count. That’s when Crimian decided he had shown the Splendid Splinter too many sliders, so he went to a changeup curveball for the full-count pitch. At first, it looked as if the off-speed delivery had worked. “I had him halfway out to the mound,” says Crimian, meaning Williams was off-stride, his front leg extended, as the ball came toward the plate. “But those hands were still back, and—pow!—he flicked his bat and hit one off the Green Monster (Fenway’s famed left field wall, the opposite field for the left-handed Williams) for a double.”

In the off-season, the Athletics included Crimian in an eight-player trade to the Detroit Tigers, who used him in just four games in April—one of which was the Maris grand slam game—before sending him down to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The ’57 season would be his last in the Major Leagues. He made $9,000.

In ’58 he won 15 of 23 decisions for the Leafs, then, his arm hurting, he retired.

In his MLB career, Crimian pitched 160 innings, allowing 177 hits and 65 walks while recording 69 strikeouts. His minor league record was151-91.

The Crimian family, which now numbered six with the addition of Michael in ‘56 and Kathleen two years later, had followed their paterfamilias around the country throughout his career. Now they all settled into their Claymont home, and the ex-hurler didn’t watch a game or throw a ball for more than two years. He kept busy with the family and became a specialist on large wrecks at John’s Body Shop, a fixture on Wilmington’s West Third Street.

Then, in 1961, friends persuaded him to join the softball team at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, his home parish. “I played a little third base and found out I could still throw, and it was softball, so I had some power [at bat],” Crimian says.

Then came his last hurrah, what he calls his most enjoyable time in baseball: three years with the Brooks Armored Car juggernaut. Brooks Manager and third baseman Lou Romanoli went to John’s shop and persuaded Crimian to join two other former Major Leaguers, Ray Narleski and Bob Davis, on the 1963 Brooks pitching staff.

By then, his fastball, which he estimates was in the mid-90s in his prime, had deserted him, so he morphed into the wiley veteran. He particularly loved playing in Canby Park. “It had a good mound, and my pitch came right out of that white house across the street.”

Relying on a slow curveball, he says, “I found out how to pitch with Brooks.” He used the talented defense behind him, throwing strikes and allowing opponents to ground out or fly out. Romanoli says Crimian used to chide Narleski, a strikeout pitcher, “Ray, it takes you at least three pitches to get somebody out. I like to get ‘em out on one.”

That approach proved effective. From 1963-65, he went 24-0 for Brooks, whose 1963 playoff games with John Hickman’s Parkway team were the stuff of legend, drawing more fans than Phillies games.

Crimian retired for good after the ’65 season. He was 38 and a mainstay at John’s, where he built the unique car with two front ends, welded back to back, that came to symbolize the shop around town.

The tight-knit Crimian family was devastated in 2010 when Mary passed away. She was buried in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Middletown, and until recently, when he could no longer drive, Crimian went to see “Mom” every day. Setting up a folding chair by the graveside, he says, “I would just sit and talk to her for a while.”

Today, he has seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren (with another due this month) and lives with Kathleen in Boothwyn. Looking back, he says, “I wouldn’t trade the life I’ve had for anything.”

He and his extended family are regulars every Tuesday for half-price burgers at Kid Shelleen’s in Wilmington. “Sometimes there are eight or nine of them,” says Drew Davis, the restaurant manager.

A memorabilia collector and student of baseball history, Davis didn’t realize who Crimian was when he began coming to the restaurant several years ago. Then he spotted Crimian in a photo of the Brooks 50th reunion dinner. Now he views the nonagenarian as a living national archive of baseball lore.

“I shake his hand every time I see him,” says Davis. “I love pointing him out to people and introducing him. He has a new story for me almost every week, and they all check out.”

The nonagenarian wanted to deliver a pitch from the Frawley Stadium mound, and the Blue Rocks staff made it happen. Photo Jim Coarse
The nonagenarian wanted to deliver a pitch from the Frawley Stadium mound, and the Blue Rocks staff made it happen. Photo Jim Coarse

Crimian uses a walker now, and he has taken a couple of falls, breaking some ribs, but the competitive fire hasn’t gone out. One of Davis’ favorite stories involves the time Crimian, who compiled a respectable .231 average in only 26 at-bats in the Majors, was poised to put down a sacrifice bunt against Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Crimian didn’t know that Feller, a noted fireballer, had a curveball in his repertoire, so he was startled, he said, when “Feller threw a ball that started at my head and fell in for a strike.”

“So did you bail out?” asked Davis.

“Hell, no,” Crimian bristled. “I got the bunt down.”

Reflections on ‘The Show’

John Melvin Crimian knows how to tell a story and deliver a punch line. Here are his takes on some of the Major Leaguers he played against and with, along with comments on the game in general:

• Harry “The Hat” Walker, an outfielder for the Cards, Phils, Cubs and Reds and National League batting champ in 1947: “He must’ve touched his hat a hundred times during an at-bat.”

• Jackie Robinson, who was on first base when Crimian came into a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers: “I threw over to first 10 times straight. I had him twice, but they wouldn’t call him out.”

• Yogi Berra, the great Yankee catcher who was a notorious bad-ball hitter: “You couldn’t get a ball by him, unless it was right down the middle. Anything anywhere else, he’d get a bat on it.”

• Joe DiMaggio, “The Yankee Clipper”: “In Spring Training, I threw him a fastball inside and he ripped it down the line and tore the glove off my third baseman. He [the third baseman] was so mad because I threw inside to DiMaggio that he wouldn’t talk to me afterward.”

• Bobby Shantz, diminutive pitcher for several teams, including the Philadelphia Athletics, with whom he won the American League MVP in 1952: Shantz, 91 and still making personal appearances, is bald and has always worn a toupee —but not on the field. Says Crimian, who played with Shantz in Kansas City: “When he was pitching, he wouldn’t come out of the dugout while they played the National Anthem because he would have to take off his cap. On the road, his suitcase was clothes on one side and hair products and toupees on the other.”

• Joe Garagiola, a below average Major League catcher who gained fame as a broadcaster: “They sent him down to the minors because he could not throw the ball back to the pitcher. Believe it.” 

• On the movie 42, about Robinson, which Crimian saw with his grandson: “Everything in it is true.”

• On today’s baseball players. “Nobody can bunt anymore. And the way they keep adjusting their gear and moving in and out of the box? In my day, they would’ve been on their butt all the time. And pitchers should not throw in the off-season. Your arm needs time to recuperate. That’s what winter’s for. From the last pitch of the season to opening day, I never picked up a ball. The only thing I did was go to Spring Training early and run on the beach. We did a lot of running.”

• On coming close to hitting a home run: “We were in Toledo, and I hit one off the top of the fence, and man, I thought it was a homer and I’m Cadillacin’ around the bases, only I missed first base. They called for the ball and threw it to first and I was out. Didn’t even get a hit out of it.”

The New Faces of Blue Hen Football

New Coach Danny Rocco with some of the in-state talent on his defense: (l-r) Colby Reeder, Grant Roberts and Troy Reeder. Photo Moonloop Photography

In their first season, UD’s head coach and AD have the players believing. The fans may be a harder sell.

Danny Rocco, who seven months ago was picked to lead the Delaware Blue Hens football team, is entering his 34th year of coaching—the last 11 as a head coach in the college ranks.

Football coaching is the Rocco family business, with dad Frank having been a longtime coach at both the high school and college levels; two brothers who spent their lives as high school coaches; and son David, who coaches wide receivers at Western Illinois.

After six years at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., then five seasons with Richmond, Rocco, 57, was hired by first-year Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak as UD’s new head coach in December.

As a head coach, Rocco has never had a losing season, and he doesn’t plan on seeing that streak broken now as he leads the Hens into the 2017 campaign.

Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak arrived from Michigan last May. She hired Rocco in December.
Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak arrived from Michigan last May. She hired Rocco in December. Photo Moonloop Photography

“Success starts with high expectations, and Delaware expects to have a very competitive football team that’s smart, fast, and physical,” he says. “Our focus is on finishing better,” he adds, referring both to individual games and the season overall. “If we can finish better, we’ll be competitive.”

A competitive team is something die-hard fans like husband and wife Brian and Sarah Raughley have been waiting years to see again.

Brian, owner of Dead Presidents in Wilmington, and Sarah are long-time season ticket-holders and have spent many fall Saturday afternoons cheering on their alma mater at Delaware Stadium.

In fact, their midfield box has been in Sarah Raughley’s family for more than 50 years, and three generations of relatives from all over the state regularly gather in Newark for home games.

In recent years, however, both the on-field product and the highly unpopular University of Delaware Athletic Fund season-ticket tariff have dampened their enthusiasm.

“There’s a group of eight of us,” says Brian Raughley, “and one guy was ready to give up his ticket last year.”

That’s partly because Delaware is coming off two dreadful 4-7 years—the first back-to-back losing seasons since 1939—and a six-year postseason drought. One has to go back to 2010, when K.C. Keeler led the Hens to the FCS Championship Game, to relive some of that former Blue-and-Gold glory.

Asked about the slump, Rocco says, “As a coach, I’m always trying to identify problems without attaching blame. A number of things needed attention, including player development.”

Improving this area has been an early focus of his tenure, and seven months in, Rocco sounds upbeat.

“Things are going well. We’re off to a good start,” he says.

His boss agrees.

“He’s done all of the right things so far,” says Rawak. “Rocco’s done a tremendous job and I’m excited about the future.”

As for Brian and Sarah Raughley’s pessimistic box-seat companion?

“He decided to stick it out one more year after Coach Rocco was hired,” says Brian Raughley.

Four Coaches in 62 Years

Delaware football has a storied history that includes national championships, Hall of Fame coaches, NFL standouts and an enthusiastic fan base.

UD accumulated six national titles between 1946 and 2003, and is one of only two schools in the country to have three consecutive coaches enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame: Bill Murray, David M. Nelson (who instituted UD’s famous Wing-T offense and gave Delaware the iconic Michigan-style “winged” helmet), and the now-legendary Harold “Tubby” Raymond, who retired in 2001.

When Keeler took over in 2002—only the fourth head man in 62 years—he brought with him a new offensive philosophy and installed a no-huddle, spread offense in place of the Wing-T.

He took Delaware to its last national championship – its first ever in Division I-AA—in 2003, but his teams lacked consistency over an 11-year tenure. Despite being given a 10-year contract extension in 2008, Keeler and UD parted ways after the 2012 season, when the Hens finished 5-6.

Rocco has made some changes of his own, the most significant being the installation of a 3-4 defense. This alignment dates to his stint as linebacker and special teams coach with the New York Jets in 2000.

He has stuck with the 3-4 because, he says, the extra linebackers add versatility and more depth on special teams. Also, he says, “it’s very hard to recruit defensive linemen at the CAA level.”

Former Concord High standout Grant Roberts, a senior defensive lineman with extensive game experience for the Hens, figures prominently in the new defense. Despite having to adjust to the new coaching staff and a new defense, the Wilmington native expects a big debut for the ‘17 Hens. “We expect to win. We all expect to be successful,” he says.

Roberts, who has 48 tackles (27 solo) to his credit entering his final season, would love to end his college career as a champion, but he isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“Our focus is first getting back to a winning season,” he says.

At Liberty and Richmond, Rocco, 57, never had a losing season. Photo Moonloop Photography
At Liberty and Richmond, Rocco, 57, never had a losing season. Photo Moonloop Photography

When Dave Brock became head coach in 2013, Roberts says, “Everyone was excited and there was a strong vibe going into the future.” But Brock managed just one winning season, and was fired midway through his fourth year. The Hens were 2-4 at the time, en route to another 4-7 finish.

Delaware’s football family is a tight-knit one, and people are loath to criticize Brock for the team’s downturn.

“Coach Brock was great,” Roberts insists.

But things clearly weren’t working and a change of direction was needed, so Brock’s firing wasn’t a surprise.

Roberts is focused on moving forward. “There were definitely some tough games—some of which we should’ve won – but … we had a talented roster even though things didn’t work out.”

Rocco admits the challenge of rebuilding Delaware’s program was one thing that drew him here.

“The biggest challenge was changing the culture and the expectations of the program,” he says. “Delaware lacked a unifying, confident culture among its student-athletes. They didn’t believe they could win.”

Rawak and Rocco are out to change that, and both understand they are “in this thing together.”

“Rebuilding this program,” says Rocco, “is truly a team effort. No one coach can change a culture alone.”

The Hens lost just three starters to graduation, so he sees a solid foundation on which to build.

“We have the right people at the right time,” he says. “I have confidence we can win.”

Rocco enjoyed immediate success at both Liberty University and at Richmond, where he turned a 3-8 team into one with an 8-3 record and a share of the CAA title in a single season.

That turnaround is partly why expectations are high that UD will return to its winning ways this season.  It’s also a major reason why Chrissi Rawak hired Rocco.

Immediate Impact

Rawak was executive senior associate athletic director for the University of Michigan when she was hired as the new AD by first-year Delaware President Denis Assanis last May. She wasted no time in making her presence felt.

A month after firing Brock, Rawak announced that, starting this year, the university would reverse the unpopular policy of requiring a donation to the UD Athletic Fund with most season ticket purchases. The policy, begun in 2011, helped boost UDAF coffers but alienated fans and contributed to a drastic reduction in both season ticket sales and attendance.

Then, in December, Rawak made what may be her most important move as AD to date: hiring Huntingdon, Pa., native Rocco as the new head coach.

Rocco was identified as a candidate early on and has an impressive résumé: in compiling a 90-42 record that includes six conference titles, he garnered four conference Coach of the Year honors and was a national FCS Coach of the Year finalist five times.

Rocco understands and appreciates Delaware football’s tradition, and he hopes to return the program to national prominence. He has his eyes set first on a conference championship. 

“If you’re competing for a conference championship at the CAA level, then you are nationally relevant,” he says. Eight wins would likely get the Hens into the postseason.

The new season begins in Newark on Aug. 31, against Delaware State. While recognizing there are several storylines that will have people talking in the fall—playing defending national FCS champs James Madison (Sept. 30) and Richmond (Oct. 21), both at home—the most important game for Rocco is DSU, “because it’s the next one up on the schedule.”

First Recruiting Class

“Success,” says Rocco, “also comes from identifying, recruiting and developing talent.” He has accomplished that at his other posts, and as a result his teams have won consistently.

At UD, after getting his staff in place, he focused on his first recruitment class, ensuring that the right student-athletes were being brought into the program.

His approach is, first, “to recruit character.” He and his staff look for young people with ambition, who want to succeed both as student-athletes and at life. “We care about our student-athletes as people—about their success on and off the field,” the head coach says.

“They need to be goal-oriented and highly-motivated,” he adds.

He is excited about his inaugural class, announced in late January.

“We recruited extraordinarily well despite a late start and new staff,” he says, noting the process was facilitated by the fact that the coaches themselves were willing to take a big risk on the program. “The families appreciated that,” says Rocco.

Delaware offered scholarships to 15 players; 14 accepted, marking Rocco’s highest success rate to date. Two players who had previously committed to Richmond changed their minds when Rocco left, and followed him to UD.

Rocco’s first group of incoming freshmen includes four wide receivers, a running back, a tight end, a defensive end, a defensive lineman, a defensive back, a linebacker, three offensive linemen and a quarterback.

That group includes offensive lineman Mickey Henry, a Wilmington native out of St. Elizabeth’s, and standout quarterback Nolan Henderson, of two-time Division I state champion Smyrna. The MVP of the annual Blue-Gold Game in June, Henderson holds many state records, including touchdown passes in a career—105.

He adds additional depth at quarterback, following the off-season transfer of J.P. Caruso from Appalachian State. Caruso was expected to compete for the top job with Joe Walker, Delaware’s starting quarterback the past two seasons. Rocco hadn’t decided going into camp in July who his starter would be.

“It’s all about who gives us the best chance to win,” Rocco told The Wilmington News Journal.

Brothers in Arms 

Another position where the Hens enjoy some depth is linebacker, thanks in part to brothers Troy and Colby Reeder, former standouts at Salesianum School. Both are former Delaware Defensive Players of the Year—Troy in 2013, Colby in 2015—and were heavily recruited.

Troy Reeder, 22, went to Penn State, where he started at linebacker as a red-shirt freshman, racking up 67 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.

Colby, 20, followed in the footsteps of their father, former Wing-T fullback Dan Reeder, and enrolled at Delaware. (Dan Reeder is 12th on UD’s career rushing list, with 2,067 yards gained between 1982 and 1984; he later played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

The Reeder brothers were reunited last year when Troy transferred to UD to be with his younger brother. Troy doesn’t regret the decision. He says he and Colby have always been very close and bring out the best in each other. Playing college ball together was something the pair had dreamed of from the time they were little.

Rocco, who himself played linebacker for the Nittany Lions (1979-80) before finishing up at Wake Forest, has high praise for the Reeders.

“They’re doing really exciting work, they’re good role models,” Rocco says. “Troy is exactly what you’re looking for in a football player.”

Troy, a captain of this year’s squad, is excited to be home and starting a new season

“There’s no pressure on the players at all,” he says. “Everyone knows what this team is capable of and that we underachieved last year.”

Colby, who was redshirted his freshman year due to injury, is now healthy and ready to compete for a starting job. “I expect to see significant playing time this year,” he says.

Colby admits to some friendly competition between the brothers in the weight room, but that’s where any sibling rivalry ends. On the field, the more experienced Troy “helps me out a lot, and we work together well,” says Colby.

The Old Guard

For long-time fans, the Reeders may evoke memories of two other well-known Blue Hen brothers—Michael and Joseph Purzycki.

Mike Purzycki (Class of ’67), a standout wide receiver who set multiple records at Delaware, including becoming UD’s first-ever 1,000-career yard receiver, was elected Mayor of Wilmington last November.

Younger brother Joe (Class of ’70), recruited by Tubby Raymond, was an All-America defensive back who recorded a then-record nine interceptions in 1969, his senior year. He returned to UD as a defensive backfield coach under Raymond in 1978, a year before the Hens took the Division II title.

Joe Purzycki was on the search committee that hired Rawak. She, in turn, asked Purzycki, as well as former NFL quarterbacks Rich Gannon and Scott Brunner, for their input when seeking Brock’s replacement.

Rocco says he’s received strong support from Gannon, Brunner, both Purzyckis and others. “They’ve all been great,” he says. “They genuinely care and want what’s best for Delaware.”

Joe Purzycki, whose deep love for UD football is palpable, says of the new head coach, “Rocco is a good fit for UD. He’s cut from the same mold as earlier Delaware coaches. A football coach is who he is.”

Purzycki is impressed with Rocco’s winning record and the turnaround he effected at Richmond. A former college head coach himself (DSU, JMU), Purzycki knows the effort that requires.

Just as impressive, says Purzycki, was that during the search, “everyone who had coached either for or against Rocco over the years had nothing but the highest praise for him.”

“He’s worked for some of the best coaches in the business,” he adds, including former Jets Head Coach Al Groh, and Tom Coughlin, who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles. 

“You can’t be surrounded by such talent and not have some of it rub off on you,” says Purzycki.

If Rocco is feeling any pressure to produce results immediately, he doesn’t let on.

“It’s hard to put a time line on the rebuilding project, but I expect this year’s team to be competitive,” he reaffirms, sounding cautiously optimistic yet enthusiastic about the year ahead.

“You can’t just jam a program into a model and be successful—things need massaging,” he says.

When announcing the hiring in December, Rawak said Rocco’s impact would be felt immediately, but she also recognizes it takes time to build programs. She insists she hasn’t given Rocco a timetable for markedly improved on-the-field performance. But, she says, “When we step on the field, we play to win.”

While acknowledging that the record at the end of the 2107 season will be important, she says she also deeply values the process needed to get to where UD wants to be.

“There is always lots to learn, and the focus is on always getting better,” she says.

For their part, the players—the most important part of the process—are optimistic.

“Something really special is happening,” says Troy Reeder. “The players are buying into [Rocco’s] philosophy of winning each day, one day at a time.”

Blue Hen fans hope the captain is right.

The War On Words

A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse

Media Watch

In the course of one hour on a recent Sunday morning, I encountered these gaffes:

• Tracy Smith, on CBS Sunday Morning, reporting on author Herman Wouk: “After graduating Columbia University, he found work writing for comedian Fred Allen’s radio show.” Never mind the wordy “found work writing for,” the real culprit here is the missing from after “graduating.” When did this start, this trend of people graduating schools instead of schools graduating people?

• Same show, from Correspondent Lee Cowan: “The goats scale up a tree.” Scale: to climb up a surface (Department of Redundancies Dept.).

• Danny Pommells, on Comcast SportsNet: “The play of he and Reddick . . .” A typical sportscaster, eschewing the objective pronoun him, required by the preposition of, because he sounds more sophisticated.

• “I can tell you that Italy and China had twice as many voting representatives than the Philadelphia market” — Bob Ford, Philadelphia Inquirer. Surprising, since Ford usually writes pristine prose, but the comparative here calls for “as the Philadelphia market.”

Some additional media miscues:

• Reader Larry Kerchner spotted an online medical service article that reported “a debilitating condition, untreated Tinnitus wrecks havoc.”  The term is wreaks havoc. Says Larry: “Hey, I never liked havoc anyway.”

• In Delaware Business Times, a Sam Waltz sentence lost its way: “Clearly, exercising your First Amendment rights to commercial free speech now have been impeded and impaired by Dover Lawmakers.” Exercising, not rights, is the subject, so the verb is singular: has been.

• In a Wilmington News Journal story by Scott Goss, spotted by reader Jane Buck: “Aslam and Kim also withheld details about . . . a business partnership, cash payments and a gifted BMW sedan, according to the indictment.” Jane wonders if the BMW could dance, and I wonder why writers employ such strained, bastardized words. Wouldn’t “a free BMW sedan” work?

• Bob Cooney in The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Jackson’s shooting form may be something the Sixers would see as needing a major overhaul as it has myriad of mechanical problems.” Either insert a in front of myriad or make it “myriad mechanical problems.” Either way is fine, since myriad is considered both a noun and an adjective, but I prefer the shorter “myriad problems.”

• ESPN football commentator Tedy Bruschi: “It was much more easier for me.”  The deadly double comparative. Perhaps Tedy had too many brewskis before the broadcast.

• During a Phillies TV broadcast, Tom McCarthy said the runner needed to be “weary and leery of the catcher.”  That’s wary, Tom. And aren’t wary and leery virtually the same thing?

• Let’s end with this, from TNJ, via a reader: “When plump, chicken catchers, like those employed by Unicon, round up the birds….” Ah, those chicken catchers: plump but nimble.

Department of Redundancies Dept.

• From the Newark Post: “Nelson said the victim, a 22-year-old man, had engaged in a mutual fight with Evans.”

• Martin Frank, in TNJ: “In addition, Wentz’s new receivers, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, as well as running back LeGarrette Blount, will also get their fair share of attention . . .”

Missed Opportunity

Reader Susan Kaye writes: “Your comment on the News Journal sports page and ‘There ARE a litany of teams’ does not address the fact that litany is a singular noun. Although I agree that ‘litany’ doesn’t really fit in the context, if the sportswriter does choose to use it, it really should be ‘there IS a litany of teams.’”

Couldn’t Resist

I came across this somewhere on the Internet: What do you say when comforting a grammar Nazi? Their, there, they’re.

Seen a good (bad) one lately?

Send your candidates to ryearick@comcast.net

5 Questions With Tom Segura

The Netflix comedy star brings his honest and deviant humor to The Playhouse on Rodney Square this Friday

When he was 18 years old, Tom Segura took way too many drugs while hanging out at a bar one night with friends. Along with instantly becoming the life of the party, he blacked out completely.

He also almost died.

At some point, he fell to the floor. His sister called an ambulance, and he was whisked away to a hospital, where he later woke up in the emergency room staring at the bright ceiling lights with multiple tubes running out of his mouth.

He had awakened from a coma. Doctors told him later he was lucky he ever woke up at all. What saved him from flatlining?

The fact that he was fat.

On the Comedy Central show This Is Not Happening, Segura recounts that traumatic cautionary tale in a way that is equal parts honest, relatable, endearing and frightening. It also may be the funniest drug-overdose story that you’ll ever hear.

Like Richard Pryor talking about catching fire from freebasing, it’s Segura’s willingness to joyfully hopscotch back and forth between the appropriate and inappropriate, the mundane and the outrageous, the tragic and the downright hilarious that makes his brand of stand-up stand out.

It’s probably also the reason the stand-up artist has two successful comedy specials – Completely Normal and Mostly Stories – currently running on Netflix.

This Friday, Segura brings all of his funny and perverse energy to The Playhouse on Rodney Square as part of his No Teeth, No Entry Tour. Here’s what he has to say about his act and his frame of mind.

O&A: The story about your overdosing on GHB [Ed: also known as liquid ecstasy] – and the whole embarrassing thing of almost killing yourself by doing something stupid – a lot of people would never share that. But you did. And that’s something that comes up again and again in your comedy, that you’re not afraid to make yourself look a certain way…

Tom Segura: A lot of times I’ve thought about the overdose, and the whole reason I took too much was because I had too much in my mouth, and I didn’t want to look dumb by spitting it out. You know? I had too much of a poison in my mouth and I’d rather swallow it. It’s so crazy that I would think like that. But it is one of those things where, in the moment, you’re like, “You don’t want to look like an amateur.”

Even to this day, I realize that I’m so polite, that I do things against my better judgment so that I don’t appear impolite. It won’t be a mouthful of drugs. But I’ll stay in situations where everything inside of me telling me “Say something,” but I don’t want to appear rude. As I get older, I’m like, “Just address what’s actually bothering you instead of appearing impolite.”

O&A: Do you feel that comedy is an outlet to express all those pent-up frustrations?

TS: Oh, yeah. 100 percent. I mean, you have to be bothered by something. Somebody was talking to me, like, “I know you think comedians are angry.” And I said, “Well, they should be. Not walking around wanting to punch holes in walls. But they should be bothered by something. Because if you’re not bothered by something, you’d have nothing to talk about.”

That’s the whole thing: You should be annoyed if you’re funny. If you are so enlightened, if you’re in a place of nirvana, you’re not funny. You might be inspiring. But you’re not funny.

I feel standup is a place [to share] all the things that may not be conversation points or things that you can grind-out about in everyday life. It’s an outlet where you can go: “This is what’s bothering me. This sucks.”

O&A: On that note then, what’s your definition of good comedy? What are the elements that make it work for you?

TS: You don’t want to be indifferent in comedy. For me, the whole thing about comedy is that you have an opinion on something. It doesn’t matter if it’s an opinion on oven gloves or if it’s an opinion on who’s being confirmed to be on the Supreme Court. As long as you have an opinion – and usually the stronger the opinion, the better – that’s a great start.

Then it’s always about highlighting, almost exaggerating, an element of what you are saying. That’s what makes something pop! You have something punched up. It’s a departure from normal dialogue. It’s that extreme example.

It’s also dropping those social guards. Letting that politeness drop is what makes, I think, the best comedy flourish. Because the person is not worried if this is PC or acceptable to everyone. When you have all those elements combined, I think you have good comedy.

O&A: You’ve been doing this a long time. You started standup almost right after college. When did you learn that you were funny?

TS: I felt that I had some ability early on. We moved a lot when I was a kid. And when you’re a kid, everything’s about that social acceptance.

When you’re moving a lot, every time you start off, you’re reestablishing yourself and trying to make friends. And I would make kids laugh. Sometimes I would really make kids laugh. Like really hard. In my eyes, I was making them laugh more than I’d seen other people make other kids laugh. That gave me at least the illusion that I had some ability to do that. The more that I moved, and the more that I tried to be funny and had success with it, the more I thought, “Maybe that’s something I can do.”

O&A: Every comedian has airplane or airport humor, but yours is different because yours involves more your interactions with people you meet, whether it’s the comedian Bruce Bruce, or Mike Tyson, or even everyday people you meet. Are you constantly recording this stuff in your head?

TS: I think I’m tuned in to those things as being funny. We all have all these interactions all the time. But different comics are more tuned in to certain interactions.

I get turned on by small, mundane interactions if I think they’re socially awkward or inappropriate. If somebody says something – and I’m like, “Wait… what?!” – my radar goes off, because to me, that’s funny. And I know I’m going to report on it. Almost like a journalist. I’m going to tell people about it. I live for those interactions. They have always been super funny to me.

Tom Segura will perform at The Playhouse on Rodney Square this Friday, July 28, as part of his No Teeth No Entry Tour. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased via the website or by calling The Grand’s box office at (302) 652-5577.

Kesha Films New Video at Oddity Bar

When Andrea McCauley and Pat McCutcheon, owners of Wilmington’s Oddity Bar, recently received an anonymous phone call from someone inquiring about utilizing the quirky bar and venue as the setting for a music video, they had no idea what – or who – to expect.

The caller eventually revealed the artist as Kesha – as in, the pop musician who has sold millions of records worldwide. The caller, who turned out to be Kesha’s brother Lagan Blue Sebert, was the co-mastermind behind the idea, who, after scouring the internet for a perfect setting and landed on Oddity Bar, would produce and direct the video. Kesha herself was heavily involved in the workings of the project, with a strong vision which turned this into an intimate family project.

“They contacted us a little over a week prior, so it all happened pretty quickly,” says McCauley.

The video for the single “Woman” was filmed the day before Kesha’s Saturday set at Firefly in June.

Oddity bartender Chris Devitt ended up being the main liaison, working with Sebert on logistics, extras, and even procuring a classic car the siblings envisioned for the rockabilly-themed video. (The driving scenes take place in the Brandywine Valley, says McCauley.) Devitt is in the video, along with two other Oddity bartenders.

“Kesha was great. She was down to earth and pretty involved with the making of the video,” says McCauley.

Disc Golf: Give It A Spin

Here’s a primer to get you started before you head to one of the seven courses in New Castle County

Drive by most state parks in Delaware and you’ll see basketball courts, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and soccer fields. But finding the spots where Frisbees fly takes a little more exploring.
But disc golf courses are there—18 “ holes” made of steel poles holding chain-link baskets, awaiting anyone willing to give it a whirl, from experienced players to novices. New Castle County alone features seven courses, and more might be on the way.

The nearly 100-year-old sport is seeing a renaissance in Delaware, with new courses popping up to complement those that have been here for a while. Some local pros (and yes, there are pros) and experts took time to talk about how to get started, how to acquire a Delaware Disc Golf membership, and what new courses are open and possibly on the way.

Disc Golf Starter Kit

Jimi McIlvain first came across disc golf while driving a cab in Baltimore 20 years ago, but only from a distance—he could see the baskets from the roads where he drove. But it wasn’t until he returned to his home state of Delaware a few years later that he had his first opportunity to play. And he was immediately hooked.

“Within a few months of playing, I was able to beat the young guy who introduced me to disc golf,” says McIlvain, a Seaford native now living in Newark. “There is so much to like about the sport, but I think what appeals to most beginners is that you can compete quickly. If you go out and play regular golf, it could take you years to get to a decent level. With disc golf, it can happen much, much faster.”

Now a professional disc golf player —which requires nothing more than competing in tournaments for prize money—McIlvain, 54, plays several times a week, when his schedule permits. Work (he’s a landscaper) and family responsibilities sometimes get in the way of his favorite hobby, but he says the two other major advantages of disc golf over ball golf—the time and money invested—make it doable.
“Look, I’m busy like a lot of people, but I can get in a round of disc by myself in an hour or so, and with some friends in under two hours,” McIlvain says. “Try getting out for a round of ball golf in less than four hours and spending less than 50 bucks; it’s pretty much impossible.”

Though McIlvain prefers disc over ball golf, he says there are certainly similarities, in addition to the scoring set-up of par-3s and par-4s and playing 18 holes in a round. He says it all starts with getting accustomed to the sport by taking the beginner’s approach and learning how to hit the right “clubs” before going for the basket on every tee shot.

“In golf, you’re told that it’s best to learn how to putt and hit a 9-iron or 7-iron, and then work up to the bigger clubs like a 3-wood or driver,” McIlvain says. “Same with disc golf. If you can’t throw a putter and an approach disc fairly straight for some distance, you don’t need to bother with the other discs. You try and chuck a driver disc 200 or more feet, and you’re going to spend a lot of time in the weeds.”

The tee box on Hole #2 at Iron Hill Park. Photo by Matt Loeb)
The tee box on Hole #2 at Iron Hill Park. Photo by Matt Loeb)

On a trip to Brandywine Park, McIlvain first showed our group how to tee off using an approach disc. The disc mirrors a regular Frisbee one would toss at the beach, but it’s about one-third smaller and made of softer plastic. McIlvain says the best way to toss an approach club is to keep the thumb of your throwing hand above the plane of the disc, to ensure that it flies flat and straight, rather than slicing off to the right or hooking to the left.

He also demonstrated two ways to toss the putter, which is typically thicker and softer than most regular discs. The design keeps the disc from sailing too far, or at any angle, like a regular Frisbee, and when it hits the chains and pole, it dies and falls flat—hopefully into the basket.

“There are two ways to putt,” McIlvain says. “You can either flatly toss it straight at the basket, or put a slight angle on it and glide it right into the chains. Both styles of tossing it work well, it just depends on your preference. My suggestion is to try both and figure out what works for you.”

McIlvain’s top five courses from bottom to top in New Castle County are: Lums Pond, Brandywine Park, Canby Park West, White Clay Creek State Park and Iron Hill Park. The latter, incidentally, is considered by pro disc golfers to be the most difficult permanent, public course in the world. He suggests taking on Iron Hill last, after hitting places like Brandywine and White Clay. And always bring water and bug spray.

Club Up

Possibly the most challenging obstacle about starting a new sport or hobby is finding people to play with on a consistent basis. But a Delaware Disc Golf (DDG) membership—a simple and free process at www.dediscgolf.com—offers players a way to connect throughout the week and throughout the year.
Robert Teitelbaum, treasurer of the DDG, says the group’s Facebook page provides community interaction, but that leagues and doubles nights are also scheduled on the group’s website (see above). Groups typically meet at 5:15 or 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at a rotation of state parks.

“There is no charge for signing up for the club, and any fees you might pay throughout the year to participate in a tournament or otherwise go directly back into the club,” Teitelbaum says. “We also offer a yearly tag challenge, where you pay $15 for a new colored tag that features an assigned number.”

Teitelbaum says the challenge allows members to play against each other in a casual setting and compete for bragging rights. The tag numbers range from 1 to 200, and if a member with a higher number (say, 125) beats a member with a lower number (say, 50), the two players exchange numbers. “It’s a fun little side competition we have on a yearly basis,” Teitelbaum says, “with the goal being to acquire the lowest number and rack up as many head-to-head wins as possible.”

The DDG also puts on annual tournaments that attract pro players from around the region, country and even the world. Upcoming outings include the Brewer’s Challenge 2, hosted by Stewart’s Brewing Company, at Iron Hill on Sunday, July 16, and The King of the Hill on Saturday, Aug. 19, also at Iron Hill. Both are C-tier events, which are open to players of all skill levels, according to the Professional Disc Golfer’s Association.

Discover a New Course

Experienced disc golfers are familiar with the twists and turns of Lums Pond and the ups and downs of Brandywine Park. But two new courses have popped up over the last few years: Canby Park West in Wilmington, and the newly opened Greenridge near Harmony Road outside Newark. Both designs and openings were heavily influenced by Fran Hoffman, a Wilmington native who has turned disc golf course architecture into a hobby of his own.

“I’ve played more than 200 different courses in the U.S. and Canada, so I have an eye for what kind of terrain would make for a good disc golf course,” Hoffman says. “I also have 22 portable baskets that I can bring with me to a county or city park, so that I can set up a beta course and have people out to see if it works.”

Hoffman hosted a few successful makeshift disc golf events at Harmony Brook Park in 2015, and he knew that the area along Greenridge Road could make for a great permanent course. He spoke with members of the community, who were concerned with how drug use and general vandalism had become an issue, and they backed Hoffman’s proposal.

“Once the civic association was good with my plan, which involved minimal hacking of trees and excavating of land, I took it to the county and got things approved,” Hoffman says. “One important thing I take into account when considering a new course is to avoid interrupting the natural habitat. If the tree lines and bushes and elevation all lend themselves to a challenging but fair disc golf course, they should be left alone. It preserves the integrity of the area and is cost-efficient.”

Hoffman says he has his eyes on some other parks that would make for good disc golf courses in New Castle County, but wasn’t willing to speculate before discussing possibilities with county officials. To keep abreast of upcoming group events and outings, search “Delaware Disc Golf” on Facebook and join their group.

Wilmington Welcomes NextFab

The ‘gym for innovators’ at Fifth and Tatnall is a significant addition to the Creative District

Lest anyone doubt that Wilmington’s Creative District is for real, the mid-June opening of NextFab, the Philadelphia-based “gym for innovators,” should be ample proof that the vision is coming to life.
Its 10,000-square-foot building at Fifth and Tatnall streets offers crafters a playground where they can transform their dreams into reality, and maybe even launch a new business.

“They have taken a corner that’s been quiet for several years and are bringing it back to life,” says Carrie Gray, managing director of the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation, which has been spearheading redevelopment planning for the Creative District, an area bounded by Market, Fourth, Washington and Ninth streets.

NextFab members consist of “a mix of beginners and seasoned, knowledgeable craftspeople,” says location manager Kate Brown. “Our collaborative nature helps people develop their own ideas and see attainable goals.”

Entering the building, visitors encounter a reception desk featuring the NextFab logo designed by NextFab member Peter Brown and carved on a 3D cutter at NextFab’s main site in Philadelphia. The ground floor holds a large woodshop on one end and a laser-electronics shop on the other, with an open area suitable for small conferences in the middle. On the first and second floors are a half-dozen incubator spaces—private rooms designed for use by startup businesses—and a larger classroom area. The third floor remains open for now, available for crafters working on large projects.

Marketing Manager Laate Olukotun and Location Manager Kate Brown (Photo by Larry Nagengast)
Marketing Manager Laate Olukotun and Location Manager Kate Brown (Photo by Larry Nagengast)

NextFab’s opening raises the prospect of Tatnall Street emerging as the spine of the Creative District. The Mill, a small business coworking space, is housed in the Nemours Building six blocks to the north and Artist Ave Station studio and gallery is at the corner of Eighth and Tatnall, practically at the midpoint of the larger ventures. “This is a pretty significant presence,” Gray says.

“I think it’s great. NextFab has a lot of equipment that we can’t afford,” says Jessi Taylor, president of Wilmington’s Barrel of Makers, a community-oriented makers group whose members use the woodshop in the Highlands Art Garage, not far from Trolley Square, for some of its meetings. With its 3D cutters and laser tools, NextFab has “a level of intricacy that we don’t have,” she says.

Some Barrel of Makers participants have previously become NextFab members in Philadelphia and more will likely join to take advantage of the more convenient Wilmington location, Taylor says. She says she has been pleased with the friendly relationships that are developing between the NextFab team and members of the Delaware community.

Zach Phillips, creative director of the Short Order Production House, the video production business formerly known as The Kitchen, says he’s now scouting for space within the Creative District. In only two years, the business has already outgrown its digs in the Wilmington Train Station. “With NextFab, the Mill, and hopefully us in the Creative District soon, I think we’ve got the potential to spin out a lot of new businesses, not just one or two,” Phillips says.

About NextFab

NextFab Wilmington, at 501-509 Tatnall St., will be open from 2 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Membership rates range from $49 to $299 per month, depending on usage, with a discount equal to two monthly payments for a full-year membership. A pilot membership, covering classes only, is available for $19 a month. Members can use NextFab’s two Philadelphia sites as well as the Wilmington facility.

Class schedules will be posted on the NextFab.com.