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Thread: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

  1. #1
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Sep 2001

    Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Yesterday my son (8) and I were playing baseball in the yard. We were talking about batting stances and ...

    Where homeplate was a paperplate
    I'd take my hero's stance and wait

    ... popped into my head.

    At the start of each baseball season I like to go back and read some of Old Red Guards posts. At this point they are scattered in several threads ... I thought I would consolidate them here. I have provided links to original posts when available. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do. I will be adding 5 posts. Once I have completed them, please add in anything I may have missed.


    The Old Red Guard
    The premier discussion forum for Reds baseball and other MLB teams. To learn about gaining posting privileges to this forum, please click on About Us. This forum is named after one of the finest posters this site has ever had.
    On 3-22-03
    Sorry guys, I've been a bit under the weather but I got the cards mailed to GIK today so he can get them on to the winner. Again, sorry for the delay - hope the winner enjoys his cards!

    Thank you for asking about my husband. I almost threw away
    your note but but I saw Redszone in the preview and knew who you were referring to. My husband suffered a major stroke in May of this year and passed away soon after. He was a lifelong fan of the Reds and followed them online since he got very little news of his hometown in local news here.

    Thank you for being a friend to him, he very much enjoyed his Reds friends.

    Mrs. Marie Elledge

    Hello all. I've logged on to thank you for your respects to my father. I couldn’t get it to work, however. It took my screenname RoyalsReds, but says I don’t have access. So I figured I’d get through this way if you don’t mind. I’m writing about my dad. You knew him as Old Red Guard. To us kids (he had 5 of us, 3 boys, 2 girls and 10 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren) he was Poppa. My brother and Mom told me about you guys - I had to look you up but I was stunned to log on and find RIP to my dad was the first post listed. Wow! I read through it yesterday but had to wait til today to write. I cried like a baby. Well, what can I say? Poppa was always telling us stories about baseball - in fact I used to cringe when he'd get started. I'd give my left arm to hear those stories now. He was my coach, my son's coach and my grandson's coach. I read about the oven mitts. That's true. It weas how he began every spring. And he'd belt the ball at you. Except it was a rubber ball! He wouldn't tell us the first day and the new players would duck - the rest of us would laugh our tails off. He was hard nosed. His brother lives in Loveland and tells me the time they were playing in Legion ball long ago and my uncle stole second. Poppa was the shortstop and trotted over and told him hey, nice job but its a foul ball - whereupon my uncle headed back to first and my dad promptly ran over and tagged him out. Uncle Russ still hollers about that. But I'm your brother! To which Poppa always replied - Brother hell, this is baseball!

    He was a curmudgeon. He hated everything new. Then 2 days later he'd know more about it than anyone in the family. Damn computers! Everythings computerized he'd growl. Then I'd get an email from him with a powerpoint attachment. Damn cable TV, he'd growl. Then he'd call and invite me over to watch one of the umpteen hundred and five sports channels he'd subscribed to on his flat screen.

    He was born in 1929, in October. He always said he was born and the world went to hell in a handbasket. He could flat out write. Stories, poetry, letters. All us kids have a bit of his talent. I can write reasonably but not the way he could make you see things. He quit school in the 7th grade, or maybe the 8th. He said that was about the equivalent of high school and high school was like college today and college then was like having a masters degree today. He was the smartest person I've ever known - he read everything from cereal boxes to books. If it had print he'd read it. But his poetry is just great. He wrote about baseball - and life and love and mostly always it lifts you up - he was always funny or optimistic about everything - even when he grouched it was with a twist that made you see things differently. That was really his talent. I'd see a ballgame and he'd see a ballet, an opera and a metaphor for life being lived out on the diamond.

    Anyway, thank you - each one who wrote a kind response. I took the liberty of printing it all out for mom to read. She was always his practical half - she'd keep him grounded and he'd give her the chance to fly once in awhile. And right now she's still lost. They were married 56 years. Maybe your words will help her smile. She made a 25.00 contribution - just a thank you.

    You can address replies to Mrs. Marie Elledge at elledge@magiccablepc.com. She will respond but it may take her a bit – usually me or my brother have to be here to help her with the computer.

    Thank You,

    C.Jay Elledge, Jr.

    ORG, grew up in the Over the Rhine area in the late 20's and 30's.

    He lived in St. Louis with his son and unlike many older folks out there he found his way on the internet. he was a great storyteller and had the ability to not get bogged down in used to be's.

    Great historical perspective of the game.

    Still burned in my mind is his story of getting beer for his "Da" and getting a headache sipping the suds from the top of the bucket as he ran down the street to get it home before he returned from work.

    Also he waxed poetic about riding his fathers shoulders to the rail at Redland Field to look longingly at his favorite Red Jim Bottomley.

    BTW here's ORG favorite player (he's wearing CC Sabathia''s hat)
    Here are a few pictures of Old Red Guards brick. I never thought of getting a few of
    Redszone Brick
    Someone asked about the location of the Brick. The only thing I have says that it is in section 39 of the Hall of Fame Breezeway. Based upon the illustration that came with that locator, it looks like it would be about the middle of the breezeway between the Reds Team Store and the HOF entrance. It is closer to the side of the breezeway nearest Main Street.

    The inscription on the brick is from a poem by ORG from his days of playing sandlot baseball as a boy. It reads:

    Where homeplate was a paper plate
    I'd take my Hero's stance and wait

    Charles Elledge
    Last edited by gonelong; 03-30-2012 at 02:27 PM.


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  4. #2
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)


    People who don't think we're watching the greatest athletes in baseball history are just wrong - Reds Faithful

    Might as well make my jaded commentary on this here thread which could be renamed "The Never Ending Story"

    By Old Red Guard

    Yep. Just about all the players from the 30s wouldn't do squat if they were transplanted into today's game as is. 20 year olds looked about 30, bodies were smaller overall, no one weight trained (Lord forbid that makes you musclebound don't you know). The most popular diet supplement was liquid malt barley in one form or 'nuther. Juiced meant a guy played better drunk, you slept on clanking, rocking, creaking trains and spent weeks on the road, living in pullman's and hotel rooms.

    Nutritional theory was the more fatty red meat the better and exercise was generally considered only in spring training if you weren't smart enough to get out of it then. If you pulled a muscle or tweaked a hammy you rubbed some homemade balm into it, gritted your teeth, shut your fool mouth and played the game. There was some kid playing out in the cornbelt who was hellbent to take your job and your boss was hellbent to give it to him if you faltered for a second. After all you were making 5 grand a year and he could pay that kid 1200 and a train ticket to do the same thing. You might be better but not if you're hurt - why give the kid any chance at showing his stuff. Keep playing. Sanitation was nonexistent. Well, okay, most guys washed their face once a day and a few bathed more than once a week, but only a few. Uniforms were worn until they could play the game by themselves. Don't tear it either - get a needle and darn it up - if the club has to buy another one for you before midpoint they'd deduct it from your check. Heck that's about 6 bottles of whiskey and a night with a Philly hooker!

    Players would have made good footballers though with all that weight. Wool uniforms full of sweat and 3 pounds of fermented dirt, heavy leather shoes with razored steel cleats, cotton unders and a patch of leather on your off-ham and you were playing with 20 pounds of itchy, scratchy, buggy, sometimes soggy, baggy mucilaginous fiber clinging to your every move. Compare that to today's featherweight outfits and shoes that weigh 6 ounces! Training equipment consisted of medicine balls, a big field and for pitchers, a wall to throw against. Knocking bottles off posts was a favorite way for kids to practice control, pitching off a concrete stoop and catching the rebounds, tossing at birds or rabbits and hitting rocks as far as you could were other disciplines of rigorous training. Stickball WAS great - it taught incredible bat control and concentration. You try hitting a small ball with a broomstick and see how well you do. Stickball in the streets is overlooked as a way to teach youngsters today. I'm serious. That's how I always coached my kids when I was involved in Pony baseball. I'd start out with stickball games and oven mitts for gloves. Bragging now but in twelve years coaching tykes we never once failed to win twice as many as we lost and a ton of my boys made allstar teams every year. Nothing special I did - just the stickball and oven mitts. Catch with an oven mitt and by gosh you WILL use 2 hands. Swing with a broomstick at a little rubber ball half the sizer of a baseball and by the time we played with real bats and balls and gloves the kids hardly missed anything. Easier to straighten out swings when they're hefting a broomstick, too. Helps them select the right weight bat, too. Most kids try to swing way too heavy. Anyway, drifting - back to former athletes.

    Today's players are far better athletes. Work regimens are religiously adhered to, scientific principles are utilized, professionals in kinesiology, nutrition, conditioning for specific functions, flexibility, even psychology are employed to help players train. In the 30s and 40s you were too busy at your 2nd job during the offseason to train much. During the season some guys main exercise consisted of bouncin a different Betty in every town you visited and brawling in saloons. There were lots of "good" guys, too, that had families and religion. They loafed around the hotel reading, writing letters and playing cards. Not every player was a hell-raiser but the rip snorts probably got more exercise viz less sleep. Top it off with the fact that communicable diseases were widespread, nutrition from the cradle to grave was sometimes good but inconsistent. Food followed the economy - lots of people ate thin soup and little else when times were slow. For lots of kids times was always slow. Then as now the greatest weapon against poverty was hard work but then as now there were lots of folk who ignored that fact. There was no foodstamps, no unemployment checks, no welfare boards to take up the slack for the children. If your parents were unlucky, or bums, or down and out, then you didn't eat much. You spent your hours in the streets, playing stickball, pitching against that stoop, playing burnout with your buddies and breathing, sleeping, dreaming baseball.

    Then you're 16 and good - you play on a town team or maybe a factory boss pays you 3 bucks a game to play on their team and gives your old man a job to boot. You learn the game the hard way against guys who'll spike you, crash into you, trip you and rag you unmercifully -nothing sacred, mothers not spared. You small and young and facing a hulk of a pitcher who throws 85 ( fast enough back then) and spits tobacco with every pitch. He's dug a rut 6 inches in front of the rubber, too and pitches from there - the umps are scared of him so who's going to stop him? You know you can't pull him so you slap at the ball and poke it into left with a bit of spin - the ball caroms off into foul gorund after striking fair and you run like a jackrabbit, skipping over the first baseman's extended foot, ducking the elbow aimed at your ribs the 2nd sacker points your way and you slide into third with your spikes up and slashing. Not trying to hurt the guy, just keeping him from getting close enough to stomp on you when he sweeps the tag.

    A couple years of this and a scout sees you and signs you for a ticket and fifty bucks and sends you to Red Oak, Iowa to play. You're 18 and weigh 140 sopping wet. Your face is drawn and you look 30 by today's standards but everyone in Red Oak calls you Cheeks because they think you have a "babyface". You're scrawny, undernourished, wiry strong but no one today would call you an athlete. Didn't then, either - you are a ballplayer. Big difference. Athletes are born - ballplayers are forged from runny gruel, concrete stoops, bouncing balls, broomsticks and hard knocks. You know all the dirty tricks - better known as essential survival techniques.

    At 21, you make the show. You do well, you're a 2nd baseman. You get on base any way you can, you holler at the pitcher, you steal when you can but only when its necessary. Go the other way, bunt, squeeze, and you've learned to swing from the heels when the pitcher is predictable. You use whatever you've been given, and you learn everything you can, every nuance possible. You are successful and your twenties are golden years. Then you're 30. Within 2 or 3 years your career will be over. Your joints hurt, you've lost a couple of steps. You've played through aches and strains, and punished yourself for a decade to fend off the stream of prospects trying to unseat you. And now it happens. You're traded for no one in particular to a terrible team. You play a couple years, your numbers aren't that bad but the little things are gone. You can't steal anymore, triples are doubles and doubles are singles and that kid up from Tuscaloosa that throws 92 just blows it by you.

    You retire at 33. You are old, ancient by baseball standards. You've never touched a weight set, never taken a vitamin or mineral supplement, never even heard of yoga or yogurt, never had a personal or team trainer, you have the beginnings of gout, and have had chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, and a variety of flus during your career. Mostly you played through it all and let your natural vitality cure it. You have a permanently bent finger from the time you broke it on a ball that jammed it, then you taped it, grimaced and played on. You have hammer toe because you played in second hand shoes for all those early years and the toe was too tight. You don't even know its why you couldn't run worth a damn anymore when you were just 30. You were a ballplayer.

    Now you're 33 and you're nothing. No job, no other skills, no player's association to write you a check. You take a job as a coach. You'll teach the same misguided theories and scoff at new advances in nutrition and training for years, delaying major advances in your sport until the mid to late 60s when rising salaries and advancing knowledge begins to change the way athletes take care of themselves and baseball begins to scout athletes for their potential instead of ballplayers for their skills. The theory is you can teach skills but you can't teach speed or genetics. In the back of my mind, this old man realizes they are right, but I miss the pure ballplayers. The ones who raised hell and tripped guys as they rounded second. The ones who took whatever you gave em and used it against you. When I was a child I watched ordinary men with extraordinary skills playing a game I loved. Today, I watch demi-gods of athleticism with lithe, muscular bodies play my beloved sport. The hope for the everyday joe, who works hard, who hones his skills fanatically, to play at the highest level, is almost gone. Yes, today's athletes are incredible and outclass their counterparts of yesteryear. They are not nearly as much fun to watch or follow.


    Just for general info I think Dad was referring to a combination of guys he never knew but was intensely interested in and linked to - his grandfather Tommy Maddock, a second baseman/SS who played on different amateur and semi-pro teams from about 1895 to 1915, and great granddad's friend Frank Fennelly who played for the Reds in the 1890s and barnstormed one winter with my Greatgranddad in the south (nearly getting ggd divorced as the family lore goes). Tommy died in 1919 and Fennelly about 6 months later (in Philly). They remained friends all their lives. My grandma, Emily Maddock Elledge was a rabid Reds fan and instilled the love of baseball in Dad. She died in 1976 and always claimed her favorite players of all time were Vada Pinson and Frank McCormick. She was a 4-8" Irishwoman from the Irish area in west end. She was true to the stereotype, too - she could cuss like a sailor, drank beer like a fish drinks water and had a temper like nitro. She wasn't bad as it sounds but rather exciting because you never knew what she'd do next. She died in November of '76 and got to see the Reds greatest heyday before she left us. Dad's knowledge of the early Reds through the fifties especially, was encyclopedic but it was Granma who wrote much of that lore into his memory and taught him baseball when he was little. Grandpa was a blacksmith and an engineer for the old Balcrank plant in Norwood later in life and too busy to play much so Gran got out there with the boys. I'm pretty sure she probably sharpened their spikes...
    Last edited by gonelong; 03-30-2012 at 02:16 PM.


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  6. #3
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Sep 2001

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)


    Imagine the street, in a Norwood neighborhood in the early forties. Boys are playing stickball , three, maybe four boys to a squad, with the use of ghostmen and "called" fields. The Reds are recent two time champs and the imagined World Series between the Reds and Indians isn't a stretch at all. Baseball is the king of sports, unchallenged in its primacy - nearly every boy with any athleticism at all imagines himself a baseball player - and the boys who aren't that gifted just imagine all the harder. It was these streets and these games, played until the sun went down and mom's were hollering for the boys to come in, that Charlie and Russ and Jackie Elledge honed their skills in. All of them remembered those games vividly all of their lives, and Charlie wrote this years later:

    ORG - World Serious

    Our Stadium was thronged with folks:
    Maples, poplars, elms and oaks,
    All waving limbs and whistling boughs.
    What we saw were cheering crowds!

    Where homeplate was a paperplate
    I'd take my hero's stance and wait
    For taped up ball to hurtle in
    Mighty Feller was the pitcher then!

    Where Nicky waited with firstbase mitt
    To try and rob me of my hit
    A rock marked first, and every base -
    Crosley Field we named this place!

    Where the world series of the streets
    Was played each day til time to eat,
    And here I waited with broomstick bat -
    This game to win with mighty whack!

    My team was 'skins' and we were down
    And dinner bells were soon to sound,
    The sacks were jammed from first to third -
    The cheering crowd was all I heard!

    Billy Dell was on the mound,
    The fastest Feller in our town!
    He kicked his leg and spun and threw -
    One more strike and I was through!

    It seems a dream but I recall
    I swung my stick and cracked that ball -
    Around the bases the runners flew,
    2 ghostmen and Stevie, too!

    I stood to watch and savor glory,
    The receding ball, a game of story
    When around the corner came disaster
    The game stayed tied forever after!

    Returning home came Tommy's father,
    He drove without a care or bother,
    turning right in 'centerfield'
    He caught my drive on his windshield!

    The rules were clear and all agreed -
    The ball was dead for Iron Steeds.
    To think a Chevy caused our trouble -
    My homer ruled a ground rule double!
    Last edited by gonelong; 03-30-2012 at 02:17 PM.


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  8. #4
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Sep 2001

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)


    Summer always makes me maudlin, and lately I've been thinking a lot of baseball, my family, my dad "Poppa" and I found this in the scrapbooks. Thought I'd share it.

    Poetry Dots a Baseball i

    Boys practice poetry and I critique,
    verses rehearsed on green tablets
    with lines ruled in chalk. On the
    mound a youth launches himself
    into a question mark, exclamations
    pop the catcher's mitt and another
    hapless hitter strikes empty cliches:
    one -two -three. The rhythm flows
    from boy to boy like words strung
    into flawless similes, punctuated
    by "swing batta" and "rock-n-fire".

    I am the didactic stanza, exhorting
    youth to the grammar of summer's
    art, cheering when the centerfielder
    turns back to home and plucks an
    apostrophe from space in scissored
    strides, clapping when the shortstop
    scoops commas from dirt and slings
    hyphens to the stretch at first. By
    season's end in shimmery August,
    second-to-short-to-first is the infield's
    sonnet and our runners enjamb bases
    with the plagiarizer's stolen grace.

    Each laughing child with leather, cleats
    and grass-greened knees is a poem,
    but the song is the last boy chosen, joyful
    smile bursting into stanzas of glee
    when at last, long last, he dots an i
    and writes his dash of summer poetry.

    Sep 9/1967

    Charles Elledge
    Last edited by gonelong; 03-30-2012 at 02:19 PM.

  9. #5
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Sep 2001

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)


    Don Heffner
    Posts: 1733
    posted May 21, 2001 12:51 AM
    Would you care to expostulate on why the Reds let Luis Arroyo depart to the Yankees?
    Why they let Mike Cuellar leave the scene.
    What happened to Mike Caldwell
    Where is Claude Osteen
    What is you present state of mind as to who Dick Sisler should start in the final game of 1964 to face Bunning, I thinkhe's leaning toward John Tsitouris?

    Old Red Gaurd
    Posts: 304
    posted May 21, 2001 01:28 AM
    Arroyo was released to prepare an excuse for losing the 1961 World Series. This frightening prescience cost Mayo Smith his position as manager which cemented the Reds rapid rise to the top 2 years later under Swami Smith's successor, Fred Hutchinson. Cuellar and Osteen were gems of quality unseen by Reds management at the time - in other words they actually could pitch. Never having seen this phenomena in Cincinnati for a decade, the Reds simply did not believe their own eyes. Used to deceptive chicanery, DeWitt immediately believed his own disbelief and ordered both of them released before they infected the rest of the squad with the belief that they, too, could pitch. Word has it that Ken Raffensbarger actually believed he could for a short while. Caldwell was a giant who briefly turned red before becoming a brewer who was a giant again at least in pitching success. Had he been half the pitcher he was before and after his half season with Reds Cincy would have won a third straight in '77 and Mike would be renowned today in our glorious tradition as one of our best ever. His failure is not unlike the story of the Huns. Conqueror of uncivilized teams but in the Rome which is our 7 Hills he could but fail in the center of such glory.

    Faith in Tsitouris was mainly in Sisler's love of syllabic patronymy thus ignoring the young but single syllabled Jay or double syllabled Ellis, either of whom was prepared to go. But Sisler thought, if things get hot I can always Oh! Henry from the pen or McCool things off if I must. But that fateful day when four teams vied, and only one could be crowned the victor, came Bunning, the first Kentucky headhunter (a mean singer in his own right)to Philly's aid, their cause lost already, vowing to destroy the Red Menace that had so crushed their hopes, and thus, their revenge was our nadir. No Bunning, our Tsitouris, the rout commenced. Shades still walk the vale of that day's tears, I tell you.
    Last edited by gonelong; 03-30-2012 at 02:19 PM.


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  11. #6
    Member pedro's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    portland, oregon

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Thanks GL. ORG's writing never fails to move me and it's great to be reminded of this great gift at the start of a season which holds so much hope in the hearts of Reds fans everywhere.
    School's out. What did you expect?


    Ron Madden (03-06-2020),TeamCasey (03-17-2020)

  13. #7
    breath westofyou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    The game is at its best when it creates memories and words like ORG displayed

    It's trually larger than any of us imagine


    Ron Madden (03-06-2020)

  15. #8
    Member RedsManRick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Guelph, ON

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Thanks GL. Always good to be reminded of what the ideal looks like.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.


    Ron Madden (03-06-2020)

  17. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Shelburne Falls, MA

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    A true master among true fans.

    Great thread -- thanks.


    Ron Madden (03-06-2020)

  19. #10
    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Western NC, by way of VB, VA

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Wonderful stuff.
    "I can make all the stadiums rock."
    -Air Supply


    North (03-07-2020)

  21. #11
    Senor Votto
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Unforunately I wasn't around during ORG's tenure here. Reading his posts makes me realize why there's a forum named after him. He really seems like he was a great guy and very intelligent. I'm sure it was tough on the site when the news was heard.

  22. #12
    Do it! TheBurn's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    Rincon, PR-Winter Pk, FL

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Wow. Thank you GL, for helping me 'remember'. What an honor it is to have shared virtual space with ORG even if I only caught his last year or so. His words always took me to another time and another place. Truly amazing.


    Ron Madden (03-06-2020)

  24. #13
    nothing more than a fan Always Red's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Cincy West and WNC

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Faith in Tsitouris was mainly in Sisler's love of syllabic patronymy thus ignoring the young but single syllabled Jay or double syllabled Ellis, either of whom was prepared to go.

    great, great stuff- thanks for posting this!

    Reading this thread alone has stirred within me more interest in the start of the season than anything else I have read or watched this spring.

    There's just something about reading words penned by a person in love with the game, something that video can never match. ORG was a true wordsmith.
    sorry we're boring


    Ron Madden (03-06-2020)

  26. #14
    We are the angry mob cincyinco's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    The 303

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Have read these posts before, but like the game itself, for me, it never gets old. Mr. Elledge certainly had a way with words that makes me envious. I wish my writing wasn't so prosaic, but I am no poet. Mr Elledge makes me wish I was alive during a different area, thankfully he paints a picture so wonderful I feel like I am right there with him, watching as he recounts these amazing stories and memories.

    I can't wait for opening day and the upcoming season.
    "I hate to advocate chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone... But they've always worked for me."

    -Hunter S. Thompson

  27. #15
    High five!
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Irvine, CA

    Re: Old Red Guard (Compilation)

    Thanks for reposting. It's always nice to read these each season.


    marcshoe (03-06-2020)

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