Friday, November 23, 2018

THANKFUL FOR COOP AND JPM


Family, friends, health, a good job - I have a lot to be thankful for. However, during this
holiday season, I'm especially thankful for two people who recently passed away:
Jason Cooper and John Martin. They were two special human beings who touched a lot of
lives and a made the world a better place with their kindness, friendship, and ability to get
along with, and make others feel welcome, no matter the walk of life they came from.

Cooper, 52, and Martin, 50, died within three months of each other. Cooper, who was
raised in New Canaan, CT., had a massive heart attack while Martin passed away after a
two-year battle with ALS. They were both universally loved for their character and respected
for their great talent in their respective vocations.


Cooper was a modern day Paul Bunyan -  a mountain of a man who was country
boy strong. At 6'4, 250lbs, he could get out of bed, put 315 pounds on the bench, and easily
dial up 10 reps and say, "What else you got?" He was an extraordinarily gifted athlete with a
resume that included being a four-year starter as a tight end at Duke University AND being
an impact player on the lacrosse team. In this day and age, the millennials call that
"a major stud."

As great an athlete as Cooper was, he was a better person. And that's not hyperbole or cliché.
A former football teammate of mine at New Canaan High School, Cooper was humble, gracious,
and always interested in the well-being of others. And he was a magnet - attracting everyone
within his area code and beyond. If anyone ever had a reason to brag and say, "Well, I did
this...", it was Coop. The football gods seemingly poured him into a uniform and said,
"This is what an athlete should look like." But Cooper, who came home from Chicago to
coach high school football after a long career in finance, never bragged or talked about
himself - ever.He'd rather ask  about others and see how they were doing than wax poetic
about his accomplishments.  It's one of things that made Jason Cooper great.


Martin, who worked as a videographer at NESN covering the Boston sports landscape, was
talented as well, garnering five Emmy-awards for his work documenting the Red Sox,
Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics. We worked together for two years, traveling the country
covering the Patriots and their dynasty. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments
and memories to last a lifetime. Martin's lifetime was far too short, but he squeezed more
into it than most people could only dream of doing.


Martin, like Cooper, didn't have a circle of friends - he had a magnificent cavalry.
EVERYBODY loved Martin. You'd have to search far and wide to find someone to say
something bad about him - and if you did, rest assured, they'd be lying. In the
petty, jealous, and backstabbing world of television, JPM, as he was known by his friends,
had the uncanny ability to get along with everybody. Martin had such a great way about
him - always friendly and always genuinely caring about the lives of others. He had the
special gift of making you feel like he was your best friend - even if that was far from
being the case. JPM was simply amazing and you could say he had a million "best friends."


I am thankful for the lessons Martin gave us not only in the art of friendship, but during
his battle with ALS. There are terrible diseases, then there is ALS. It is brutal. It is vicious
It is unfair. JPM didn't deserve it. Nobody does. But he battled courageously and never gave
in to the disease. He wrote not one, but two books - the second focusing on his fight against
a disease that has never lost. During the darkest of days, Martin's flashed a smile that
could light up the entire city of Boston. He was a true warrior,  but more importantly, a
true friend to so many people.

Life moves too fast these days and we always seem to be in a hurry to move on from
things. We often obsess over trivial stuff and don't appreciate gifts that are truly important.
I will always appreciate and be thankful for the friendship of Coop and JPM and the lessons
they taught us. I won't soon forget about it and I don't think their large cavalry of friends will ever forget about it, either.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

ABOUT THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON...


Five boroughs. 26.2 miles. 52,000 runners. That is the New York City Marathon - at least
by the numbers. But the race around the world's greatest city is about much more than just
stats - which is what we seemingly measure everything by in sports these days. Sports has
become an analytic-driven landscape drowning with superfluous numbers, launch angles,
spin rates, and just about anything else spit out by an algorithm.

You can clock the time it takes you to finish a marathon, but there aren't any metrics that
can accurately measure the energy, heart, adrenaline, sweat, pain, exhaustion, and elation
from a journey that starts in Staten Island and finishes in Central Park, one of the best
pieces of real estate this country has ever seen.

Of all the marathons in the world, the start to the New York City Marathon has to be the
greatest of them all. It begins with the Verrazzano Bridge staring you in the face. It's a
spectacular double-decked suspension bridge that just towers over the field, making everyone
seem so remarkably small. And how many times do you get to run over  a bridge with 50,000
other people with a crystal-clear line of sight to the soul of New York City?  It is truly
breathtaking.


So, of course, in this social media obsessed world we live in, a scene like that has to be
documented. As I ran to the crest of the bridge, I started to laugh out loud. About 40 people
formed a line on the near four-foot high wall separating the lanes of the bridge - all of them
taking selfies. And they were loving it. I think the only reason many of them entered the
race was just to get that 'money' shot so they could post it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I chose not to scale the divider, my 54 years on earth telling me it was a bad idea - a pulled
muscle or turned ankle wouldn't help in trying to finish a race that had barely even started.
However, I did snap a selfie just to capture the moment.


The moment didn't last long - not with 26 miles ahead of me. Having received an entry
on August 20th,  I was a bit undertrained for the endurance event. Trying to
stuff a lot of miles in a 10-week period wasn't ideal and I paid for it with injuries to
my calf and knee. But I did get to the starting line healthy and that is the most important
thing. I relied on my experience of running this event five years earlier and the energy
boost from the people who lined the streets cheering the runners on. It seemed like every
inch of the course was soaked with a crowd that was ten people deep. It was deafening and
electric. You couldn't help but be energized by it.

The things you see and hear during the NYC Marathon can stick with you for a long time.
I came upon a few blind runners with guides leading them the entire way. With
my eyes and mind firmly focused on what was in front of me, there were times I'd
hear a unique sound pounding the pavement only to look up and see carbon-fiber blades
attached to an amputee working his way to completing his goal - the picture of courage
and the resiliency few of us will ever possess.


My plan going into the marathon was just to soak up the entire experience - even the
mind-numbing pain that goes with trying to complete the race. I've done five Ironman
events, so I've become quite familiar with everything that goes with something like this.
As I went through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, I was thoroughly focused
but had a mile-wide grin washed across my face. This was truly awesome as it was a
celebration of many things in my life.

I was thankful for just being able to run the race. I've put a lot of miles on this 54-year-old
body over the years and know how fortunate I am to be healthy enough to do it. People asked me
why I was running such a race. Why do you want to endure so much pain? My answer was
simple: why the hell not? The New York City Marathon is so big and just so special. To be
part of something that is way bigger than you is an adrenaline rush that few people get the
chance to experience.

I was not only running for myself, but in honor of John Martin, who passed away just three
weeks before the race. We worked together for two years at NESN, covering the Boston sports landscape together. He was a really, really special person who affected a lot of lives, mine
included. Martin showed the heart of lion while he battled ALS, showing tremendous courage fighting a disease that never loses. I created merchandise to help raise money for the family and
to help tell the story of this great man. I was proud to wear the Café Martin brand on my journey
through New York City. I was inspired by John and the people who screamed, "Café Martin!
Café Martin!",  pushed me along the way.


I reached the halfway point at 1:59 and felt good about the pace that I was on before losing
some steam. There were a few internal battles during the last five miles of the race. My body
wanted to stop but my mind said keep on going. I read many posts on social media from runners
who didn't achieve their goal of establishing a new personal record. There were lame excuses
and insufferable complaints. Sadly, many of them missed out on the big picture, choosing
instead to focus on their time of the race rather than the time they had in the race

I have no excuses and no regrets. This race was a celebration of life and everything good
about it. A 26.2 mile race on a drop-dead gorgeous kind of day in the greatest, most electric
city in the world is forever etched in my mind, heart, and soul.


I finished in 4:21 which is just another number that will be attached to my name on the Internet
forever. It's kind of like the age that follows a name in an obituary, though. It only indicates
how long someone lived, but says nothing about their journey through life.

My journey in the 2018 New York City Marathon was simply awesome and something I will
never forget. Ever.









Monday, November 12, 2018

ONE DAY FOR VETERANS IS NOT ENOUGH


The nation honors all those who served our country fighting wars with their own special
day. We pay tribute to the men and woman who put their lives on the line against faceless
enemies in countries far, far away. There will be a few parades and a lot of pictures
flooding Facebook of the American flag and our heroes who did so much for us. They
helped attain what we all enjoy today: freedom.

It's not enough.

For all the bravery, courage, determination, and sacrifice these veterans made, giving
them a day pales in comparison to what they truly deserve. And how our government
treats them is downright right embarrassing.

A 'thank you' will not do.

These men and woman leave the comforts of their home and the love of their families to
spill blood and sweat on foreign soil. What they return to is almost beyond comprehension.
Soldiers who had limbs blown off, their spirits shaken, and in many cases, their psyche
shattered forever, often have to wait long periods of time to get the benefits they earned
and the professional help they desperately need.

Instead of letting them go to the front of the line and take care of them immediately,
our government sometimes doesn't take care of them at all. Our presidents may give
them a pat on the back or weave together a few words of praise, but when the cameras
are off it becomes something barely more than a, "hey, good job, thanks for playing."

According to CNN, the average wait for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to
get their benefits is between 316 and 327 days. Almost a year!  That's absurd. All
the money the government spends keeping Guantanamo Bay open for terrorist
prisoners ($450 million a year) would be better served taking care of our own instead
of all the ones who tried to destroy our country.

Sadly, it seems a good majority of our country has more compassion for immigrants
trying to get into the United States illegally, than the men and women who actually fought
to protect it.

After the soldiers return home, turn in their weapons while trying to tune out the
horrors of wars, there is little waiting for them in terms of a career. They don't have
jobs waiting for them or counseling provided by the government to at least
help them find one.

A few corporations like Wal-Mart have pledged to hire up to a 100,000 veterans, but
it's not enough and the government should be doing a lot more. They ask soldiers
to make tremendous sacrifices, fight for our country, put their lives on the line, and
they don't have their backs when they return home.

Professional sports teams produce special Army fatigue uniforms which they wear
and sell for a nifty profit. The message is a great one: support our troops and veterans.
But what do they actually do for them? They, along with their families, should never
have to pay for parking, concessions, and tickets to the game. That should mandated
across the board by our government

According to a report in the New York Times, there are 22 suicides among veterans
every day. Yes, every day! One is too many. 22 is a terrible tragedy that can be
prevented. These men and woman need help. Sure, you trying going to war for
three years and have to kill or be killed. Is your job that stressful? I think not. These
soldiers have to come home, decompress, and then blend into society as if
nothing happened.

It's silly, absurd, and doesn't really make any sense. The government's motto should
be: "We take care of all those who take care of us." That's how it should
be, no questions asked.

Too bad it all can't be that simple. With our government nothing ever is.

Monday, October 15, 2018

REST IN PEACE, JPM. WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU


John Martin died on Sunday. 

When I read the news of his passing on Facebook, it felt much the same way it did two years 
ago when it was revealed the longtime NESN videographer had ALS: like a wrecking ball 
to the stomach that blew nearly every ounce of oxygen from my body.

It hurt. A lot. That feeling is something that will stay with many of us forever. 

John Martin was an extraordinary human being inflicted with the cruelest of diseases. We all 
know life isn't fair, but this was just brutal. John was the nicest of guys who made everyone
feel like he was their best friend. And he had a ton of friends - far too many to even bother to 
count. 

JPM, as he was known to all his friends, had to battle a disease that has never lost. He knew
what he was facing and did it courageously. He fought hard, he was brave, and he is forever 
one of my heroes.


Martin will always be a hero in a New England community that rallied around him as his
body wore down against ALS. We loved him, admired him, and wanted to do anything we 
could to comfort him during a fight no person should ever have to be in, much less face alone.

His friends made sure JPM didn't have to do that. They were always there for him.The local
teams rallied to support him.  Robert Kraft of the Patriots made the most moving of speeches 
to honor John and his family. The Red Sox raised money for him, as did the Bruins. Celebrities 
and athletes and stopped by Café Martin to bring him some cheer and it seemed like 
the entire region bought a Café Martin hat and posted pictures on social media wearing 
it, as well as great big smiles, hoping to put one on the face of JPM.


There was Eddie Vedder giving Martin a shout out at Fenway Park during a concert and
athletes from all over wearing their Café Martin hats with great pride and purpose.

Everybody loved JPM. You'd have to search the country far and wide to find someone to say
something bad about him - and if you did, I can assure you they are lying. JPM had such a 
wonderful way about him - one that attracted people from all walks of life to him. He always
had time for everyone and usually a great story to go with it. 

I could talk about his great talent as a videographer, but that would just take away from
the person he was. There were few better - anywhere. He was truly loved and had universal
respect. We adored JPM because he loved his job, loved his family, and loved all his friends.
There was nothing artificial about John, even as he worked in a business with a lot of 
disingenuous people. He was a straight shooter who didn't have time for a lot of B.S. JPM
didn't care about celebrity or status and could see through a person and an agenda in a split-
second.

JPM received a lot of love because he gave a lot of love. He coached youth baseball for
nearly 30 years in the not-so-great parts of Boston. He was always there for the hundreds
of kids he coached over the years, making a huge impact on their lives. JPM loved 
baseball and loved  coaching. That showed in his job as a videographer and in his passion 
for helping young kids.


JPM taught us a lot as he battled to hold off death. He kept living his life as an insidious 
disease tore through his body. JPM wrote not one, but two books - the second of which gave us 
an intimate, yet brutal look into the battle he was facing. There were a lot of dark moments,
for sure, but JPM always managed to keep the smile on his face and stay positive. He loved
Adrienne and his beautiful two girls and always had them in his heart.

John's death hurts. It will take a while for us to get over it. There was nobody like JPM. He
had a heart of gold, a mega-watt smile, and a personality that nobody will ever forget. 

We love you JPM. We will never forget you.







Monday, August 13, 2018

RYAN HOWISON'S 'SENIOR' MOMENT IN SCOTLAND


The news feed on Facebook bears a lot of crazy things - people taking selfies of their busted
faces and broken bones, women in their 50's posting pictures in their bikinis back in their 20's,
and the never-ending ugly feet by the sea pictures. So, when I saw a picture of Ryan Howison
and his family drinking beers after missing a flight to Europe, I didn't think much about it.

However, when I saw a picture of Howison standing in front of a golf leaderboard two days later
that showed he qualified for the Senior British Open, I yelled out, "You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding, Me!"


Howison, who was a baseball teammate of mine at UNC, qualified for a major golf tournament
and was getting the chance to play on the Old Course at St. Andrews, which is universally
known as the home of golf. He was going to play on the sacred grounds of Scotland in the
Senior British Open.

How the hell did this all happen?

"Last year when I watching it on TV, I thought I should try to qualify, " Howison, 51,
said from his home in Jupiter, Florida. "If for nothing else, to at least be comfortable that I
gave it a shot vs.wishing I had. Especially since it was going to be played at St. Andrews."

That would be great and all, but Howison was working full-time as a financial advisor and
not pounding ball after ball as he did when he played professionally a decade ago. There
wasn't a lot of time for practice and trying to get ready for the type of game he'd have to play
in Scotland was a challenge.

"There aren't many links style course in Florida, especially since it rains here during the
summer and courses don't allow for any roll," Howison said. "In Scotland, balls can roll 100
yards. I started practicing three weeks prior to the trip."


Howison teed it up on one of the four local course used for qualifying. His game was
sharp, as was his mental toughness. With a spot in the Senior British Open within his grasp,
Howison came up clutch, carding a 1-under 70.

"Not that one qualifying round means a lot, but to birdie the final hole to get into a playoff,
then birdie the first playoff hole to earn one of the of the seven spots in the Open, was a great
feeling," Howison said.

Howison was playing in a field that included the great Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer.
Mark O'Meara, Vijay Singh, Tom Lehman, and lovable John Daly was part of it, too. And
there was Ryan Howison - a guy who played baseball, not golf at UNC, getting after it in a
major tournament.


"I had the goal of going over to qualify and now I had," said Howison. "I was looking
forward to running into players I hadn't seen in years. I actually didn't know how many would
even remember me but surprisingly, guys I didn't know all that well were coming over to
congratulate me. That makes you feel good," Howison said.

Howison walked-on and became the starting third basemen on the 1989 UNC team that
won the Atlantic Coast Conference and earned a trip to the College World Series. The next
year he turned pro - in golf. He won three tournaments on the Nike  Tour and earned a
shot on the PGA Tour where success doesn't come easy, especially for a kid who didn't
even play in college.

But now he was in the Senior British Open, playing as a re-instated amateur on the hallow
grounds of St. Andrews, some 10 years after playing with the big boys on the PGA Tour.

"It was a very cool experience," Howison said. "There are many blind shots and you can't see
most of the bunkers which you need to avoid," he said. "I had to putt one time from the fairway
from 60 yards from the green."


Howison couldn't shake off the rust in the first round, posting a 5-over 77. He found his game
in round two and was 3-under through 13. However, he couldn't get the putter to fire up some
late round magic and Howison finished with a level par-72. That wasn't good to play on the
weekend.

"Unfortunately, I missed the cut," he said. "Overall, I left the event feeling like I could still
compete - if I didn't have a day job," Howison joked.

Asked if he ever thought about what would've happened if he concentrated on golf instead
of baseball at UNC, Howison didn't take long to react.


"I do and I'm so glad I didn't," he said. "My experiences being part of UNC baseball are
some of the best of my life. I loved the team aspect and the relationships created that have
lasted 30-plus year. Never once did I wish I played college golf. And it makes a better story
that a baseball player played on the PGA Tour than an All-America golfer did," Howison said.

And Ryan Howison can also say he's the only person to play in the College Baseball World
Series, golf on the PGA Tour, and compete in a senior major championship. That's a damn
good story.





Monday, August 6, 2018

BRIAN BILL AND THE POWER OF ARLINGTON CEMETERY



Arlington National Cemetery can overpower you.

It moves you in a way you never thought possible.

400,000 white marble headstones on 624 plush green acres will humble you, take your breath
away, and make you seem as small as the blade of grass that nestles up to a marker letting
you know someone far bigger than you can ever hope to be, made the ultimate sacrifice for
the country.


While on assignment interviewing professional athletes Washington, D.C. in June,  I was
drawn to Arlington National Cemetery. I needed to walk the sacred grounds where nearly
every soldier who lost  their life in our nation's conflicts, starting with the Civil War, is buried.

But of the more than 400,000 soldiers laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, there
was one I just had to visit, no matter what.

Brian Bill.

Bill died on August 6, 2011 while fighting in Afghanistan. Riding in a Chinook helicopter,
Bill and 16 of his brothers on SEAL Team Six were brought down by a rocket-propelled
grenade fired by the Taliban. In all, 30 Americans lost their lives - the largest loss of life by
the U.S. in the Afghan War. It's forever known as Extortion 17.

Bill was from Stamford, Connecticut, the town bordering the one I spent most of my high
school years. He was just 31-years-old. I was working at a local station at the time and
when I saw where Bill was from, I wanted to know everything I could about him. And the
more I learned about him, the more I realized what a real genuine hero the guy is. Not was.
Is.

There is no better proof of this than the actions that earned him the third of his four Bronze Star
Medals with Valor. I read this during a fundraising event for Bill last June and quite honestly,
my jaw dropped.

From the U.S. Department of Defense:

While performing in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Bill was part of a ground force
element during a daring nighttime raid against a heavily armed enemy commander. While
attempting to engage a barricaded fighter hidden inside the target building, one of his teammates
was struck and mortally wounded by enemy fire, causing him to fall directly in front of the barricaded enemy's position.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Bill fought his way into the compound, exchanging
fire with the enemy fighter while maneuvering to his wounded teammate. Within point blank
range of the barricaded enemy, Bill pulled his comrade from the precarious position where he
had fallen as enemy rounds impacted the rock wall around him. He then courageously exposed himself to the enemy fire again, as he pulled his wounded teammate across the open courtyard
to a position behind cover.

By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication
to duty,  Bill reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United
States Naval Service.

Simply amazing.

I have written several articles about Brian Bill and met his incredible family - and if you've
had the opportunity to meet the family you'd probably say "incredible" doesn't do them justice.
They are amazing people - just as Brian was. I've tried to do my best to honor his sacrifice
and fearless commitment to our country with my words and incredible respect for him.
I hold Brian in higher regard than any professional athlete I've ever met or profiled.


However, during that sweltering day in June, I felt the need to pay my respects to him in
the Arlington National Cemetery.  I went to the information center and typed the name of
Brian Bill into a computer.

Section 60 Site 9930

That is where the body of Brian Bill, American hero, rests.

No words were spoken between me and my photographer who was on assignment with
me. After I softly uttered, "Section 60 Site 9930" we were muted by the sight of all those
headstones that dominated the land in front of us.


I was in awe of all the soldiers who gave so much to our country. I was once again in awe
of Brian Bill when I came upon his headstone in Arlington National Cemetery. My spine started
to tingle and goose bumps raised quickly across both of my arms. Breathless.

I paid my respects, thanked him for his service, and let him know I had met his wonderful
family. Brian Bill will always be an American hero. He should never be forgotten. Ever.

And if you ever get to Washington, D.C., make sure to visit Arlington National Cemetery.
It is powerful. It is humbling. And it will make you really appreciate what self-sacrifice is
all about.






Wednesday, August 1, 2018

JOHN MARTIN'S 'GREATNESS' FINALLY ARRIVES



For nearly 20 years, New England fans saw their sports teams through the lens of John
Martin who captured the many indelible images while working for NESN, the flagship 
network of the Boston Red Sox and Bruins. In the midst of battling ALS, Martin put those
20 years into 141 wildly entertaining pages of a book called "Waiting For Greatness:
Memories and Musings of a Sports Television Cameraman."

"I always maintained during my television career, I'd someday write a book chronicling my
experience," Martin wrote from his home in Newton, Massachusetts. "Tried a few times
but couldn't get it going. Always knew the title. A year and half past retirement, I just started dictating one afternoon. It took me a month and a half to put together."



Martin experienced an incredible run covering the professional teams in the best sports town
in the country. Boston is a sports mecca with the biggest stars producing the greatest reality
series on television. Martin was there when the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins
captured 10 world championships during a 15-year stretch. The moments were priceless, the memories - unforgettable.


"My hope is that people get an inside look at my career during an unprecedented time in
Boston sports. And a few laughs," Martin said. "It morphed into more of a giant job description
and a venue of offering personal accolades to fellow co-workers. I'm quite pleased with it. The pictures were important, too - being a visual person."


Martin is much more than a visual person. He is creative, thoughtful, funny, hardworking,
and dependable. There isn't a person who has met Martin that doesn't love him. In the
cut-throat world of television, Martin was universally loved and respected. You may have not
been his best friend, but he always made you feel like you were.

The book was released July 18 and received rave reviews from his former co-workers and
colleagues.

'Waiting For Greatness' lives up to its title. John has been there for all the good times, the
bad times, and best of all, he knows how to tell a unique story about all of it. He really 
showcased what working in the media was all about for those of us there were there. It
was more about the stories, the friends, and all the laughs." - Bryan Brennan, Selfie King
and former NESN videographer.




There were a lot of laughs with his former co-workers and colleagues from his near two
decades working in sports television. Few worked harder than Martin and not many had
as much fun as Martin did. As he often liked to say, "I'm just living the dream." He lets
readers know just how great he had it while covering sports in Boston.


"It's a great peek behind the curtain of Johnny's career at NESN. Some great stories from
the man who spent a lot of time on the road with the B's and Sox. You also get a glimpse
into the mind of JPM - a man who always tells it like he sees it." - Greg Glass, videographer
at WHDH-TV in Boston.

In a television industry filled with people born with paper-thin skin and easily bruised egos,
Martin always said what he had to say in a way that didn't offend anyone- but they sure
as heck got his point. That's one of the things that makes Martin so great - and admired.
That comes through in 'Greatness' which makes for a wonderful read.



"Without trying, John showcases his humble kindness, true happy nature, being a genuine
friend and inspiring those around him as well. One word comes to mind when I think of
John and this book - genuine. He doesn't focus on himself. Like a scrapbook of his life, this
book takes the reader on the journey he took over the years." - Kim Agostino, former 
co-worker at NESN

I worked with Martin for two years at NESN. We spent most of the time hustling our asses
off and laughing so hard until it hurt. We loved our jobs and were always committed to
doing our best no matter what obstacles we faced. There were moments we'll both never
forget like covering Bill Belichick playing touch football with his family well after a game
in near total darkness at Gillette Stadium. We were the only members of the media there
and watched in amazement as the Hoodie was laying out to catch passes as if he were Wes
Welker during his prime. And there was John, in his element, capturing it all through his
lens.

'Waiting for Greatness is the perfect book if you want to know what goes on behind
the scenes of the sports world. Johnny has seen it all and his stories are funny and spot
on accurate." - Marc Cappello, longtime producer 98.5 sports radio.



All his great moments and memories are now documented in "Waiting For Greatness", a book
that Martin is very proud of. It's his story told in his own unique style and JPM appreciates
the response he's received from it.

"It's been overwhelming. More than 200 books were sold in the first week. People genuinely
are enjoying it," Martin said.



Get your copy of "Waiting For Greatness" today. It's a great read.









Monday, July 16, 2018

PETE BOCK, A GREAT BASEBALL MAN, PASSES AWAY




Less than a month after Durham celebrated the 30th anniversary of a movie classic, the
city is mourning the loss of a man who had a significant role in the making of "Bull Durham"
and was a big part of the fabric of baseball in North Carolina.

Pete Bock, who I affectionately called, "Mr. Baseball", passed away on July 14. In my travels
through baseball and sports broadcasting, I've never met anyone quite like Pete Bock. He was
truly a gem. Bock was as nice as the Pope with a kind, gentle heart, who didn't have an enemy
in the world. OK, so maybe he made a few when he worked as a professional umpire, but
once he put away his gear, Bock was as beloved as any person I've ever met.

I first met Bock back in the fall of 1987. I had finished up an unfulfilled baseball career at
UNC and was taking classes needed to get my degree. I'm not sure how Bock got my name
and phone number, but he called me one day to see if I wanted to be part of this baseball
movie in Durham. I was a Radio, Television, and Motion Picture major at UNC so I figured
I'd see how a movie was made up close and person. I reckoned the movie would be in
Blockbuster three weeks after it was released, but thought it'd be a great experience, nonetheless.

Pete and I hit it off right away. I was fascinated by his career in baseball that saw him
become the general manager of the Durham Bulls as well as the Hawaii Islanders, the former
AAA franchise of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a franchise Bock rooted for all the way up until his
death. There were also stops in Eugene, Oregon and Idaho Falls. He must've wondered when
the heck I'd stop with all the questions about his baseball career. I was like a sponge and
wanted to soak in all of his great stories.


With his extensive baseball background and ties to the Durham Bulls, Bock was a natural
fit to be the baseball consultant for "Bull Durham." He was in charge of coordinating baseball
boot camp, a two-week session where the actors really learned how to play. Bock also
chose which players he felt should do which scenes and also appeared as the minister in
the movie, marrying off Millie and Jimmy.

One evening, Pete tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Get a bat and your helmet and go
see Ron at home plate." Ron was Ron Shelton, the director of the movie. He told me that
Kevin Costner was going to tell me what pitch was coming and I was going to hit a home
run. Four pitches later, that was a wrap. 30 years later, I still get to say I hit a bomb off
Nuke LaLoosh.


Thank you, Pete Bock.

For some reason, Pete and I stayed in touch after the movie ended -for like, 28 years. I
criss-crossed the country for various jobs in television and we still managed to keep in touch.
Maybe it was because of the "Bull Durham" thing. Maybe it was because we were former
Tar Heels, I don't know. I will say this, Pete was a much bigger former Tar Heel than I could
ever dream of being. The man loved the Heels. Went to many games dressed in Carolina blue
gear from head-to-toe.  He was friends with Roy Williams and a big contributor to UNC and its
athletic programs.

In 2015, tragedy struck. After an ice storm hit North Carolina, Bock, who lived near Raleigh, 
slipped and fell in his driveway. His wife, Cindy, rushed to his side only to  fall and break her hip.


Bock hit his head in the fall and was paralyzed below the waist. In an instant, his life, which 

had been an amazing up until that point, was changed forever. Hearing this was like a punch 
to the gut that sucked nearly every ounce of oxygen from my entire body. It was sad, tragic, and seemingly so unfair. Anyone who has walked this earth long enough knows that life can 
be cruel and terrible tragedies occur everyday, but this just wasn't right.

Bock was universally loved and respected in a profession where both don't come easy. Besides
his extensive experience running minor-league teams,  Bock founded the Coastal Plain League, 
a collegiate baseball summer league that lists Kevin Youkilis and Justin Verlander among 
its alums.



Pete Bock was a baseball man through and through. But he was so much more than that.
He was a great father, husband, and family man who was very religious. I will never forget
his kind heart, infectious smile, and great laugh. His was a life well-lived. Pete leaves
behind a wonderful family and friends too many to count.

Pete Bock will be missed, but "Mr. Baseball" is in a great place right now, in Heaven, telling
amazing stories about his life and the game he loved.









k.