Warren Keller: A Great Coach and a Better Man

Warren Keller

Back before Stephen and Argyle joined forces for school and athletic purposes, it was Stephen vs. Argyle.  Or what I would call the good old days since I grew up in Stephen.  And it didn’t take long to cultivate a healthy rivalry between the two towns and schools.  It was the high school version of UND and NDSU.  Back then it was pretty much the end of the world if we didn’t beat the Argyle Eagles in football or basketball.  And truth be told, Argyle got the better of us more often than not.  But the battles were so epic that you always felt you were part of something really big, and when I look back years later, the wins and losses are trivial.

What really mattered to me was that through it all, I had the opportunity to get to know Warren Keller.  And his family.  Warren was the long time Argyle coach and was on the opposing bench or sideline for everyone of those match-ups with the Eagles during high school.

Warren died Tuesday morning at the age of 70.

Even as a simple minded 17 year old, I had immense respect for Coach Keller.  We all did in Stephen.  I’m not sure I can pay a better compliment than that.  These two towns located eight and half miles apart on Highway 75 fought tooth and nail for years.

And then a strange thing happened.  After high school I attended Moorhead State University.  I befriended a gangly and fun-loving freshman by the name of John Keller.  He was Warren’s oldest child and it turned out that he was a pretty good guy.  So good that we eventually became roommates.  Shortly after that, I officially met Warren and soon realized why John was “a pretty good guy.”  Warren wouldn’t have it any other way.  He and his wife Sharon raised a family of salt of the earth kids.

When I think of Warren Keller now, I don’t think about high school sports.  I  think about when I received my promotion six months ago.  In the days following the announcement I received just over 200 e-mails, phone calls and text messages from well-wishers.  And exactly one hand-written letter.  Of them all, it was my favorite.  One full page, top to bottom, telling me how excited he was for me.  And as I look at the letter, I see the words and feel the sincerity.  From a man that I grew to have tremendous respect for, Warren Keller.

Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins 2011 season could be summed up by one simple play in last night’s 3-0 loss to the White Sox.  With a runner on second the Sox hit a slow roller towards Twins third baseman Danny Valencia.  He lazily jogged to cut the grounder off near the middle of the diamond but was unable to come up with it.  Most players in the Major Leagues would go back and pick up the ball to insure that the runner wouldn’t try score from second.  But not Valencia.  Or any other Twins player on the field.  As the ball came to a rest about 70 feet from home plate, the White Sox player scored rather easily.  From second base.

I could go on and on.  And on.  But I’ve wasted too much time and thought and money on this current team.  Talent is one thing.  Baseball knowledge and heart are another.  The Twins are severely lacking in all three areas.

JL Beers

I waited an entire week before I darkened the doorway of the Grand Forks version of JL Beers.  I think that showed incredible restraint and will power on my part.  Because I knew it was going to be good.  I just wanted to give them a chance to work out any kinks they might have been experiencing.

I’m guessing there were no kinks because the place is awesome.  With seating for 49, the layout is pretty much exactly the same as the West Fargo edition of JLB.  The long, narrow building has the lights turned down low which gives it a nice pub feel.  A long bar runs pretty much the entire length of the joint and is the focal point.  And while the place is full of people, it didn’t seem crammed.  It had a very lively vibe and some nice flat screen TVs that are very easy to see in the darkened interior.

There is also an outdoor patio with seating for about another 20-25 people located on the north side of the building.

JLB is about the burgers and the beer.  Does any more need to be said?  I ordered the Humpty Dumpty Burger, which is cheese, a fried egg, and a hamburger patty.  I added bacon, because…well…because it’s bacon.  The fried egg reminded me of when I lived in Vancouver.  That’s how we rolled up there.  We put eggs on everything.  I also ordered the Sea Salt Fries.

My review is this:  It was the best burger I’ve ever had in Grand Forks.  For the hearing impaired:  IT WAS THE BEST BURGER I’VE EVER HAD IN GRAND FORKS.  I’m not sure I have to go into much detail about it other than it was like having bacon and eggs on top of a cheeseburger.  What part of that don’t you understand?

And the fries were so good.  Full disclosure:  I ate some of Summer Sidekick’s chips (Buffalo Blu Chips, fresh-cut potato chips with blue cheese on them) when he wasn’t looking.  They were really good too.  As for SSK, he’s been MIA for most of the Summer.  I’m thinking about replacing him.  The leading candidate is Dan the Man.  He lives in rural Florian.  But I digress.

If you like a place with really good burgers and beers from everywhere, then JL Beers is your place.  Plan ahead and try get there during the off-peak hours.  You’ll be glad you did.

Random Thursday

*My new favorite TV show is “Bait Car.”  Wouldn’t it be great if “Bait Car” and “Cash Cab” could be combined?

*The Minnesota Twins…ah, forget it.

*For sale:  4 Twins vs. Mariners tickets for September 22.  CHEAP!

*Took my dog, CJ, to the “Small dog” park the other day.  He spent the entire hour staring through the fence at the dogs in the “Big dog” park.

*Tomorrow on a “Can’t Miss” Reggie Tales, my review of the new “JL Beers” in Grand Forks.

*Reggie Tales shout out to my Uncle Tommy in Michigan.  Get well soon!

We Went Catfishing

18 lbs., 33 and 1/2 inches. This fish did not want to be caught. Especially by a novice like me.

I did something last night that I’ve never done before.  I went fishing on the Red River for the elusive catfish.  And I brought Red Sox and Blonde Daughter with as we fished under the direction of Captain Brad of Brad Durick Outdoors.  Brad runs a guide service and is the foremost authority on channel cat fishing on the Red River.  It is important to point out that this is an unpaid testimonial of Brad’s expertise:  We caught fish.  A lot of them.  And big ones.

In Brad’s spare time he is a salesman for WDAZ-TV.

Anyway.  Back to the pictures.

RSD with her 29 inch, 13 pound catfish. Also pictured is Blonde Daughter standing at a safe distance.

BD joins the fun with a 30 inch, 14 pounder. As they say on all the fishing shows, "That's a nice fish."

Those of you who know me will assume these photos are fake.  Heck, I have a hard time believing it too and I was there!  If this is what fishing on the Red is all about, then sign us up.  And it’s really amazing how much beauty that river has to offer, especially when you go a few miles north of town.  And obviously, a good time was had by all.

Monday Photos

If you have to watch the Twins lose, I suggest doing it from really good seats.

I’ve been to five Twins games this year at Target Field and I have yet to see them win.  You can’t make those odds up.  I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not my fault and that it’s possible that they just aren’t very good.  Anyway, these photos are from last Thursday night.  And if you’re going to be subjected to a Twins loss it’s more fun to be up close and personal.

Joe Mauer heads out to right field at the start of the game Thursday night. It is the first time he's ever played that position in his major league career. I think this photo also shows that I am still a pretty decent photographer.

One of my favorite non-Twins, Derek Jeter, greets Justin Morneau during one of his many visits to first base.

I found this interesting. It's Denard Span seeming to be disinterested in pregame festivities. I guess that's what you're supposed to do when your on the disabled list for the second time for the same concussion. In the background is Ben Revere applauding wildly.

Random Thursday: Yankees vs. Twins Edition

*Yankees and Twins tonight from Target Field.  Sabathia vs. Duensing.  And I’m going to be there.  Chances of Twins winning?  6%.

*We normally have pretty good seats at Target Field.  Tonight we’re going to have really good seats.  By the Twins dugout.  Close enough that I will be able to offer suggestions to Gardy.

*There is also talk of a stop for a Juicy Lucy at Matt’s Bar.  At this point it’s just talk.

*The Twins are honoring Jim Thome tonight in a pre-game ceremony.  And last night he hit his 601st career home run.  I guess I will have to settle for seeing his 602nd.  If he’s in the lineup.

*Reggie Tales shout out to Mike and Thonya in Montevideo.

Jim Thome

I’m going to the Twins game with the Yankees on Thursday in Minneapolis.  I had been secretly hoping that Jim Thome would hit his 599th home run in Detroit so that I would have a decent chance of seeing number 600 in person.

So imagine my excitement when, as planned, Thome hit number 599 last night in Detroit.  In my mind, Gardy would have given Big Jim a couple days off after that and would have had him in the lineup for Thursday night’s showdown with the Yanks.

But apparently Thome didn’t get the memo, because a half hour after his 599th he hit his 600th.  I did a fist pump on my couch and decided that it might be fun to see his 601st home run too.  Although not quite as historical.

I’ve never met Jim Thome, but he seems like a really easy guy to root for.  He’s now in an exclusive club with only seven other members, several of which have been linked to steroids in the last few years.

The Rest of the Story

   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJbLwNPjBJk

Last Friday I wrote about 11 year old Nick Smith of Owatonna making a shot from 89 feet at celebrity hockey game at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault.  For his efforts he won $50,000.

There is one small problem.

It wasn’t Nick that made the shot.  It was his twin brother Nate.  When Nick’s name was drawn, he was nowhere to be found, so Nate stepped in.

The decision whether to award the $50,000 to Nate Smith now lies in the hands of the insurance company that was used for the contest.  I’d hate to have to make that call.

11 Year Old Wins $50,000

        

Last night in Faribault, Minnesota, home of Shattuck St. Mary’s school, a celebrity hockey game was held.  The game featured a good number of current National Hockey League players including Zach Parise, a Shattuck alum.  But Parise and the rest of the stars were upstaged by 11 year old Nick Smith of Owattona.  Smith paid $10 for a chance to have his name randomly drawn and to take a shot from 89 feet away.  His target was three and half inches wide and the prize was $50,000.  Keeping in mind that the puck itself is three inches wide, Nick calmly slid a wrist shot down the ice and through the small opening.

For $50,000.

Nick is heading into the 6th grade at Owatonna and plays pee wee hockey there.  And is well on his way to a nice career.