Friday, December 18, 2015
Atlanta Bullpen Pitcher Catches Famous Home Run
By BILL HENDRICK
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) - "Someday when I'm an old man watching television I'll see myself on the other end of history," said Tom House, a reserve pitcher for the Atlanta Braves who caught Henry Aaron's record-setting 715th homerun Monday night.
The 25-year-old Californian said he was thrilled just to witness the event, much less be a part of it. He said it was the high point of his baseball career.
"I was hoping in spring training that I'd get a chance to make the club just to see him, to see the record set," said House, who had a 4-2 record for the Braves last season.
"I looked up and there it was, coming in my direction,"' said the young pitcher, who leaned against the left-center field wall to make the catch in the bullpen. "I thought, it's coming to me, it's coming to me. "All the ball players let me have it. I saw it coming all the way and I caught it right at the base of the backwall," House said. "I caught-it and all I could think about was putting it in Hank's hand." The blonde-haired pitcher said he had jokingly told Aaron before the game that he would retrieve the historic home run but never really believed he would have a chance at it.
"I told him, "Hammer, if I get it, I'm going to put it in your hand. And that's what I did," he said.
After the 400-foot shot, when Aaron's teammates converged on him as the sellout crowd of more than 53,000 roared its approval, House kept his jestful promise.
"I put it right in Hank's hand," the young pitcher said. "He said, 'Thanks, kid," when I gave it to him. It was a very emotional moment for him and me, too," said House, who added he wasn't sure if Aaron knew his name or not.
Rewards ranging from $25,000 to $36,000 had been offered for the home run ball, but House said he never considered doing anything but giving it to Aaron. "I'll admit, I didn't do the businessman-like thing. I figured it was a mighty expensive decision. But I am sure that anyone else who could have got it (in the bullpen) would have done the same thing."
House holds a masters degree in marketing from the University of Southern California. Before the game, pitchers in the bullpen discussed what they would do if Aaron's homer landed in their territory.
"We kidded around a lot, but I think anybody would have done what I did. The decision I made at the time was the right one.
"As far as baseball is concerned, this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me," said House.
Magnavox Television Corp.-which sponsors Aaron--offered to give House the TV set of his choice after he gave the ball to the slugger. "I wasn't expecting anything, so this is better than nothing. All the talk about money was just kidding. For being a fringe player, just being able to play with Henry is reward enough," House said.
The historic shot triggered 11 minutes of bedlam in Atlanta Stadium as a standing room only crowd of 53,775 cheered the soft-spoken Alabama native who claimed baseball's most cherished record. A call of congratulations came from President Nixon while the famous No. 44 was still in the game.
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who ordered the Braves to play Aaron in Cincinnati Sunday, called him "one of the greatest we have ever seen."
Kuhn's order renewed a controversy. Aaron's 34-ounce bat probably ended it, at least temporarily. It undoubtedly will be remembered for years.
"If God didn't see fit for me to hit the home run here, then I would have hit it somewhere else," Aaron said at a post- game news conference. Did he feel a big weight had been lifted from his back? "Oh, you don't know," he replied. "This would have to be my top thrill in baseball," said the man who holds more than a dozen major league records. "It wasn't one of my better ones, but the wind helped to carry it," he said. "I hit it fairly good. It was a fast ball. It was inside, but I think he wanted it further inside. He just hung it a little."
Downing, a 13-year-veteran who had yielded only two other homers to Aaron, left the game after walking the next two hitters following Hammerin' Hank's blast that drew the Braves even at 3-3.
Atlanta went on to win the game, 7-4. The Dodger hurler vanished from the ball park, leaving behind only a tape-recorded message in which he said, "Like a great hitter,when he picks his pitch, he's pretty certain that's the pitch he's looking for and chances are he's going to hit it pretty good."
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Georgia families risk fines in resupplying medical marijuana
By BILL HENDRICK
ATLANTA (AP) - Patients who have to go out of state to get cannabis oil say they will face risks and hurdles even after medical marijuana becomes legal in Georgia on Thursday.
Gov. Nathan Deal will sign a law that makes it legal to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil in Georgia. But patients who need the oil still have to go out of state to get it, because it remains illegal to produce at home.
That means families have to travel out-of-state to get the oil, and it is unclear whether the federal government will tolerate that.
The U.S. Justice Department has said it will not stand in the way of states that want to legalize marijuana as long as there are effective controls in place. However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law and in every state between Georgia and Colorado.
That, according to Rep. Allen Peake, means families that have to drive or fly to Colorado could risk penalties if the marijuana extract is found by a federal officer or airport security, or a law enforcement official from a state where marijuana is illegal.
Peake, a Macon Republican who sponsored the original legislation, said two Colorado companies have agreed to ship cannabis oil, with no more than 0.3 percent content of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient. But the lawmaker contends the THC level is not high enough to help many patients. Georgia's new law allows up to 5 percent THC.
"The product is not FDA approved," Peake said. "You'd have to fly to Colorado or risk crossing state lines. ... Until we have a safe product produced and cultivated in Georgia, we're going to face challenges."
Some 14 families from Georgia have moved to Colorado to get medical marijuana for their children. Blaine Cloud, 42, of Atlanta, hasn't moved his wife and children just yet. Daughter Alaina, 9, has seizures, and he hopes the low THC content cannabis oil will help her.
"But we will do what's best for her," he said. "If we have to travel out there, then that's what we'll do. It's ludicrous to have meds legal in Colorado and California and soon in Georgia but not in the states you have to travel through to get back home. It may take a few people getting caught to show the injustice of the system."
The family of 3-year-old Jagger Cotte, 3, moved from Atlanta to Denver so the boy could have access to cannabis oil. They want to return home to Georgia but are wary.
"I fly a lot and I know the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). There's a three-ounce maximum for liquids. It's not right to ask families of sick children to be going all over the country," Sebatien Cotte said. Jagger needs the full 20 ounces.
"I know many people shipping it back, but none of the methods are risk free. We'll drive" when the family has to return to Colorado to get more after moving back to Georgia, he said.
Cannabis oil has not been approved by the FDA. Peake's bill would allow it to be used for seizures, cancer, Crohn's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, mitochondrial disease and sickle cell anemia, helping up to 500,000 Georgians.
The law sets up agencies to oversee the program. Patients must get an authorization from a doctor, a certification form, and sign up with the Department of Public Health to obtain a registration card.
"The Georgia Department of Public Health - working with the Georgia Composite Medical Board - will move quickly to implement a system that will effectively and efficiently provide qualifying individuals with documentation allowing them to possess low THC-cannabis oil for medical purposes," said Shawn Ryan of DPH.
Peake said at least 29 families will soon be receiving the 0.3 percent THC product by mail. Whether that's legal, he said, "is a gray area."
Heather Jackson, spokeswoman for the Realm of Caring Foundation, a nonprofit that has helped set up the procedure to ship cannabis oil to Georgia, said it can contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.
"It's such a shame to put families in a situation to be criminal to help their loved ones," she said. "We've had about 400 families relocate to Colorado Springs for treatment from all over the country. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is turning a blind eye to this, but anything detectable with THC is technically illegal."