Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bowling Mike Ball

From the July 31rd, 2003, Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Tribute Chronicle Ohio comes a nice tale of a Mike Ball with determination. The story is no longer available, except is cached form. The whole article follows.

Let's cheer this one.

Teenage bowler hopes to go pro

By BURTON COLE Tribune Chronicle

NILES - Aspiring pro bowler Mike Ball approached the lane in well-practiced paces. The 16-year-old rolled to a stop just in front of the left gutter, chipped-paint forest green wheelchair angled a touch to the right, and snapped the brakes in place.

Never taking intent eyes off the 10 wooden pins standing in a triangle 60 feet away, Mike plucked from his lap a 14-pound ball swirled in blue and gold. With an arcing swing barely clearing the right tire of wheelchair, he launched the ball down the third arrow on the lane.

The bowling ball slid dangerously close to the right gutter. It hung on precariously, stubbornly. When it seemed impossibly too late, the ball took a sharp hook to the left, slicing right between the 1 and 3 pins with the satisfying clatter of hard rock maple wood tumbling over wood.


Longtime bowling league teammate Ben Teets, 16, of Girard, said he once perched in a regular chair with a bowling ball to get the feel of throwing from a stationary, seated position. It raised his appreciation for Mike's ability. "I wouldn't be able to do as good as he can,'' Ben said.

Mike was born with spina bifida, a neural tube defect of the spinal column. He walked with leg braces and canes early on. The canes doubled as extension rods for smacking things that were supposed to be out of his reach.

Mike started using a chair when he was in kindergarten. Shortly after, he began a quest for sports he could do the "real'' way while seated. His competitive fires weren't satisfied with adaptive leagues and "everybody wins'' rules or special equipment. He found it eight years ago during a birthday party at a bowling alley.

"One of the parents asked if I wanted to try it. I did," Mike said. "I thought I could do it.''
He stunk. He knew he could do better. Wanted to do better. "I think I found my sport," he said.

Mike kept going back to the lanes and caught the attention of bowling coach Lou Laneve.
"He was real determined," Laneve said. "I have mechanical knowledge (of throwing a bowling ball). I knew he could do it out of the chair."

The biggest problem was learning to counterbalance himself. Leaning over with a weight in one's hand has a tendency to topple a chair. Mike said he never tipped over his chair, "but I came close!"

Now he bowls in league games Mondays and Saturdays at Niles McKinley Lanes, and is a freshman on the high school bowling team. His average is up to 95. Earlier this month, he rolled his high game so far, a 221.

Niles McKinley bowling coach Jim Kennedy said, "If I could only have all the other kids pay as much attention as he does, I would have no problems on this team."

Mike knows he needs to keep working, keep improving to reach his ultimate goal of turning pro sometime after his 18th birthday. "That's always been my goal, to be a pro bowler,'' Mike said.

Pro would be wonderful, but mom Lisa Bell couldn't be prouder of her son now. "This is one thing we found that he can do with everybody else and we don't have to make too much adaptation," Ball said. "That's been our main thing is to get everybody to see beyond the wheelchair."

Mike sees beyond the wheelchair - 60 feet beyond, where 10 hard rock maple pins sit in a triangle, a tantalizing target for the swirl of his blue and gold ball.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Heavy Metal Mike

I confess that I haven't coughed up $10 for a heavy-metal music video. If you are interested, you can get one from Mike Ball, a.k.a. Iron Mike.

For example, on concert video #10, you get footage and likely powerful sound of:
  • Snot -Stupid
  • Korn - Clown
  • Nin - Wish - Perfect Drug
  • Fear Factory - Resurrection
  • Megadeth - Almost Honest
  • Anthrax - Inside Out
  • Unsane - Sick
  • Second Coming - Soft
  • Iron Maiden - The Trooper
  • Bruce Dickinson - The Tower
  • Drain STH - I Don't Mind
  • Metallica - One
In his About me section, we learn that 39-year-old Iron Mike describes himself as:
Workin my ass off all the time and having fun on the weekends. Playing pool and drinking Capt. Morgans at the Osprey. I'm a single father with a career and a house. I like sharing music and entertaining people. I like a crowd and being part of a group. When I make someone's day that really makes me happy. Of course besides that I like a live thrashing band and watching the pit.

Concours Competitor

In Essex, England, Mike Ball was the Masters Winner of the Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club National Concours Comptition 2004. It's coming up on time for this year's go.

Basically, the contest rewards the best looking, best maintained, best decked out little Alpine sports cars. In Mike's case, it is a nifty red number.

The event was held at the Leatherhead Leisure Centre, August 6th through 8th.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another SCUBA Mike

Working for a company out of Cheney, Washington, Mike Ball is a sale type, but also a skin diver. He seems to be no relation to the famous diving dude.

This Mike is Eastern U.S. account manager for AutoPatch, a division of XN Technologies Inc., which makes networking hardware and systems. Mike's territory is Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey (except for the 609 area code), New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

His profile include:
After completing his Air Force career where he was responsible for computer maintenance and training at several sights including missile silos, Michael and his family sought out a place to settle down. They found the Northwest, and AutoPatch found Michael. He first brought his abundant technical knowledge into AutoPatch's Support Division in 1997, but soon moved into sales where he continues to help his customers with everything from system design to troubleshooting. During his travels around the world Michael fell in love with diving. Exotic Australia, Italy, Guam, Tyland and California are just a few places on his diving resume. When asked what his favorite dive spot is Michael responds: “anyplace very warm with clear water”.
We have to wonder whether the U.S. Mike Ball met Mike Ball in Australia.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Mike Upcountry

I ran across a photo of a Mike Ball from the Viet Nam War era. The image shows Mike with 11 days left on his tour.

The remarkable John Olson took the snap. You can see more of his work published in Stars & Stripes here.

Does anyone know 1) whether this Mike Ball made it home safely and 2) what happened to this him?

There'’s RealVideo and RealAudio of the photographer discussing his work during this period here. Of course, you need the utilities to see or listen.

This stuff has been on my mind recently and it is ironic that it appeared in a search now. I have been watching the DVD series of Band of Brothers. A former boss, Les Hashey, was one of the WWII 101st Screaming Eagles. He appears on the DVDs as a character and as himself in the interviews with the men from the story.

Les was a great guy, a tremendous amount of fun. He was the water-safety coordinator for the Red Cross for Southern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, and a friend of the family because my mother ran Red Cross chapters and taught swimming. In fact, my sister and I were also water-safety instructors.

I worked for Les for two summers when he ran the Candlewood Swim and Field Club in Lakewood, New Jersey. After the war, he was one of the top Army divers, doubly interesting because he had a polio-shriveled leg, which he didn't let bother him.

Friday evening's at Candlewood was when the adult members gathered for cookouts in the club, really an excuse to drink together. Les would wait until it was dark and the seated folk were pretty sloshed. I poured kerosene into the diving-tank end of the z-shaped pool. Les would climb up the five-meter tower. On his signal, I'd light the surface of the pool and he'd do a full twisting three and one half into the flames.

It wasn't exactly Jesus at Capernaum walking on the sea. Yet, to a bunch of drunks, it made the evening.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Great Grappler

For full-disclosure, I note that I spent one season on the wrestling team at Plainfield (New Jersey) High school. I lettered but was only so-so.

In a defining coincidence, the wrestling room shared a wall with the swimming pool, a wall with windows. I decided I'd rather do the latter than roll around in various folks' sweat. I was a better swimmer in high school and college than I was a wrestler.

All that written, one of us was hot stuff 19 years ago. The 1986 West Virginia AAA High School Wrestling Champions were:


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Paint the Town

For Oregon and Washington states, the business manager of the AFL-CIO/CLC's International Union of Painters and Allied trades is Mike Ball. That is District Council No. 5.

Killa Killola

If you can believe the band's site, "Los Angeles’ newest and most buzz-worthy rock band, Killola, was born in 2003 when a circle of friends came together and decided to create something special. Since that time, this group of talented youngsters has developed into what is the most appealing, attractive and talented original act to hit L.A. stages in some time."

Mike Ball is lead guitar and vocal.

The site describes their music as, "built from a solid mixture of core ingredients that blend into a just-right cocktail of energetic rock and great entertainment. Rieffel’s dramatic and captivating vocal style mix sensationally well with her explosive energy and onstage sass. The highly co-operative guitar work of Mike Ball and Timm Sharp lend tasty, catchy guitar licks and solos. Dunn’s stylish, pounding basslines add flesh to the backbone of Grody’s intensely technical and stomping rhythms. The music involves deep and emotional vocal content layered on a musical canvas of ear-catching choruses, wide vocal ranges, and variations of intensity, pace, and dynamics. The Killola engine is fueled by it's own creative fire, as well as the influences of many different styles and genres of music, from Queen to Ween, Zeppelin to Fugazi, Brian Eno to Debbie Harry, E.L.O. to Sparks, and so much more."

Mike is on the left.

Hear their music here. Hear them live Wednesdays in June at the Cat Club.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Right Radio in Rochester

Up in Rochester, the one in New Hampshire, Mike Ball is on the morning news on the Clear Channel Communications station. He's on WGIN, 930 on the AM dial, weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. with Maureen Eagan.

You can get a flavor of WGIN from the rest of the day's schedule:
  • 9a.m. - noon, Glen Beck
  • Noon - 3 p.m., Rush Limbaugh
  • 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Laura Schlessinger
`Nuff said.

Back to Mike, he used to co-host on another of the chain's New Hampshire stations. His profile for that one include:

Mike got an early start in broadcasting when, at the tender age of 9, he impersonated sportscaster Howard Cosell in an interview with a house full of kids. Sadly, the rest of Mike’s career has been a slow but steady decline from this pinnacle of broadcasting excellence. Even more troubling, tapes still exist of this interview. Born and raised in Orlando, Mike spent childhood summer vacations perfecting his accent with his cousins in Thomasville, Georgia. Mike graduated from William R. Boone High School in Orlando in 1984 and enrolled at the University of Florida to pursue a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After a couple of semesters, Mike and his high school sweetheart, Janine (A.K.A. She Who Must Be Obeyed), were married. First daughter Ashley was born in December of 1987. The arrival of the little bundle of joy caused Mike to switch majors to his other passion, History, in an effort to get on with his career and actually make some cash. After graduation in 1991, Mike got back into the family construction business, working first as a laborer and then as a project manager for his dad’s company. Mike stayed in the construction industry, accepting a project manager’s job in 1994 in Columbus, Ohio. The Ball family (now with new members Stephen, born in 1990, and Allyson, born in 1992) moved to New Hampshire in 1998 due to Janine’s career relocation for a major retailer. Mike continued in the construction industry for another year before hearing the siren call of broadcasting once again (O.K., in reality, Mike was listening to the Dan Pierce Show while on a construction site when he heard an ad for a board operator position - so maybe “siren call” is a bit over the top). Mike started out as the overnight board op on what was then “New Hampshire’s Action News Network”. In a classic case of being in the right place at the right time, Mike was promoted to weekend news producer and sportscaster when the previous producer left to join the U.S. Army. Shortly thereafter, Mike was promoted to producer of The Woody Woodland Show when the morning show producer retired after 20 years on the job. Mike was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be the “fill in” host whenever Woody was away and this led to the creation of The Big Show with Mike Ball which airs Saturdays from 6 – 9 AM. A major reshuffling of the morning news lineup gave Mike another opportunity. This time as Sports Director and co-producer of New Hampshire’s 1st News with Marga Lynn and Dan Pierce. Mike gained valuable experience working with these 2 news veterans and upon the next reshuffling, Mike took over as co-host of the morning drive program with Maureen “Moe” Egan on November 5, 2001. Mike and Moe then transformed New Hampshire’s 1st News into “Mike and Moe In The Morning”.

And now....The Big Show with Mike Ball will become the all new Weekday Morning Show as well!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Florida Phrase-Master

Down near Clearwater, Florida, Mike Ball was tending his bar when he U.S. 19 got loud. The WTSP news link may still be live.

He saw the fatal car accident. A GMC truck and Silverado collided, and the latter flew into a van. As Mike put it, "The cars went bam, bam, bam as they hit each other. It was scary, like something out of the movies."

Two dead and five to hospitals.

Our namesake owns the bar across the highway from the scene. There are several bars listed. I may never know which is Mike's.

Friday, May 13, 2005

One Way Band

Alas, another disappearing Mike Ball seems to have run afoul of the religious sorts. He was bass guitarist for teen Christian rockers The One Way Band.

While his picture recently vanished from their site, you can hear a cut with him here. His profile info is still floating around the site. To wit:
I've been involved in music since a young age. I started playing the bass nine years ago primarily with my family. I started playing on my church's youth band when I was 13 and continued to play at my church until I came up to school. I've played in a lot of other bands but I've always had great joy in glorifying God through the gift of music. Currently I'm attending Grace Fellowship church and a leader in Inter Varsity's work on my campus.
There is a detailed rap on site about the whole band, but hey, if Mike is gone, why bother? He must be in a higher place, eh?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Many-Fingered Midwesterner

Turns out that our columnist and waterskier Mike Ball has a whole other business life. He is head of The Advertising Group (TAG), from his home base of Whitmore Lake, Michigan.

It is a network of hotshots who coalesce as needed to create marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns. Clients vary in size, all the way up to such as Alka-Seltzer.

You can check out the work here and see this Mike yet again in a new context here.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mike's Ingredients

More musical Mikes...ths one in a pun-heavy band, What's Cookin. They have the nerve to call themselves seasoned musicians. They are Doug Atherton, Steve Johnson and Mike Ball.
t a s t y

Doug's voice is expressive, warm, and engaging. The guitars -one acoustic, one electric- create the perfect balance of mellow tones and punchy accents. And Mike's tasty chops on congas chimes and shakers provide a rock solid foundation, without the crashing cymbals and pounding bass that can distress the digestion of the dinner patrons.

s e a s o n e d p r o f e s s o n a l s

Doug's band Harvest was a staple around Northwest nightclub scene for years, as was Steve's old group Nightingale. And Mike's been sweetening up latin jazz sounds of bands like Abraxas since James Taylor had hair.
You can get samples in MP3 here, and see Mike (in the middle) here.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Stick Figure

The big guy with the big stick -- La Crosse -- is Mike Ball in Massachusetts. You can see him and an indoor Topgun field here.

To commemorate his his MVP award in the league, they report:
This award need really needs no description - it describes the best player we have at any level in either of our two locations. In short, this award represents the best of our 3000+ participants throughout this past fall and winter. By all accounts, Mike Ball has been the most explosive and exciting player in our leagues for two years running. At this points, it's almost not fitting to compare him with other players in the league - for he is indeed playing division one level lacrosse in the high school setting.

Good thing Mike's just about done with our league's, as I've just about run out of things to say about him. In fact, after this write-up, Mike Ball commendation will officially no longer be my concern. But word of warning to Penn State, better get your pens and/or keypads ready, 'cause Mike Ball's gonna get a lot of press while wearing the blue and white.

Great run, Mike. You'll be missed.
Mike Ball
New Milton (Lawrence Academy)
Acton High School Silver Division

Friday, May 06, 2005

Aging Ungracefully But In Good Spirits

Mike and Doreen Ball are members of the Avon Wings (UK) motorcycle club in England.

This seems from the Website to be a group of gray-haired, beer-bellied, thong-wearing, sometimes mooning bikers who have a great time.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Construction Maven

In Santa Cruz, California, the project manager for Bogard Construction Inc. is Mike Ball. He was assistant accounting manager and project engineer first. He must have a good record there.

He manages the Long's Drug Store remodelling projects in multiple cities including
  • Santa Cruz
  • Aptos
  • Campbell
  • San Bruno and
  • San Mateo
Bogard and Long's have a 40-year history.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Ghastly Portland

In Oregon, a collector and teller of ghost sightings and related spooky events is, of course, H. Michael Ball. There is a link to his ethereal histories and those of others here. His main page has numerous links to ghost reports, each by location and each with a picture, so you'll know when you're close, too close.

For example, one is the Money Tree:
Ed Black was a loud mouth. He would stand up to anyone and speak his mind. It seems he was that way all his life. His mother said he would never live to see fifty. He lived to see his fiftieth birthday and celebrated with the few friends he had. They passed their bottles around and Ed kept boasting about how his mother was wrong. She was not too far off the mark..... Ed was still the wise aching loud mouth that he had always been and one day, shortly after his birthday celebration, he said the wrong thing to the wrong person. He was found dead in his van at the corner of N. Kerby and N. Alberta with a bullet through his head.

Ed had been living in that old van for as long as anyone in the neighborhood could remember. He didn't want his valuables stolen and had confided to a few people that he kept his money, jewelry and stash under or near the rocks by the big dead tree. He would sneak over to his money tree late at night to get what he needed or add to his treasure.

The 'Old Dead Money Tree' lot has been fenced. Some of the rocks are out of reach but many are right by the side walk. This is a pic of the rocks. Neighbors have never seen anyone digging for the treasure.... whatever Ed had buried at the site is probably still there.

It is said that in the early morning hours after it rains you can see Ed standing by the rocks at the money tree. Everybody has a home.... this is Ed's.
There's some fun reading there. The fact that he gives you the street addresses doubles the pleasure.