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Ear to the Ground

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Beisbol has been...

Pete Rose was sitting over at Field of Dreams memorabilia shop in West Town Mall signing autographs last week when he heard a familiar voice say "Pete, I believe you're getting fat."

Rose looked up and searched the crowd for the transgressor. He saw a tall guy in a beat-up hat. He looked a little closer and grinned.

"This ain't Strawberry Plains 'Gar, is it?"

"That's close," said Ed (Edgar) Bailey, baseball legend and former City Councilman. He was accompanied by his son Joe.

Rose and Ed Bailey (who is indeed from Strawberry Plains) go way back to the '50s when Bailey was with the hot-hitting Cincinnati Reds and Rose was a big-eared kid shagging balls at the park. His father was a sewer worker there and Bailey and the other players used to buy Rose clothes and try to keep him presentable. Bailey would attempt to cut the boy's wild, wiry hair.

To the crowd's delight, Rose got to reminiscing and asked Bailey how many homers he got in 1956, when the Reds set a Major League record with a total of 221. Bailey had 28. Rose told them how much he'd looked up to Bailey.

"Ed could really hit," Rose said. "I guarantee that if Ed Bailey were playing today, he'd hit 50 a year."

When Joe and Ed returned home from seeing Pete, Ed's wife Betty had one important question: "How'd Pete's hair look?"

Bailey played baseball from 1953-1967 and was with the Reds until 1961. He had a cameo, of sorts, in the movie Rain Man when Dustin Hoffman's idiot savant character started shuffling through a stack of baseball cards. At the top of the stack was Ed Bailey.

Give light and...

It's not been possible to figure out, from reading our daily paper, who's done what to whom in the most recent chapter of the ongoing blood feud between the school system and the County Commission. Last month, after a long and bitter debate, the school board voted unanimously to request permission from County Commission to transfer $2.1 million from the construction budget into operating funds to cover a looming financial crisis brought on by skyrocketing insurance costs.

Last week, two of Superintendent Charles Q. Lindsey's minions appeared at the commission's agenda committee and did or did not (depending on with whom you talk) ask that the transfer of funds be deleted. Lindsey, who has been conducting guerrilla warfare against the commission almost since he took office, now says that nobody asked the commission to take the transfer off the agenda. County Executive Tommy Schumpert, commission chair Leo Cooper and about 25 others say the school folk did indeed ask for just that. Because substantive issues do not get debated and decided at these sessions, agenda committee meetings are not taped (or weren't until last week), making the recollections of witnesses the best guide to who said what.

That's where the News-Sentinel could shed some light, but the story in Tuesday's paper by education beat reporter Jennifer Lawson was of the "he said, she said" variety, giving both sides a say on the insurance funds transfer. On one hand, there's "School officials said they were confused because no such request was made..." On the other hand, there's commissioners being "surprised by a request... to delay transferring $2.1 million..."

Readers are left to muddle through the controversy as if it were one of life's unfathomable mysteries. They might also wonder why Lawson couldn't have asked her colleague Michael Silence, who covers County Commission and was present at the agenda committee meeting.

December 13, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 50
© 2001 Metro Pulse