What can I say? The mind wanders

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

Sat down to write this column and three things came to mind, so here you go:

Life-saving day for OPRF coach

What did you do to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I can't remember either, but OPRF varsity baseball coach Chris Ledbetter won't soon forget what happened to him. Ledbetter saved a man's life.

He was in Elmhurst working the door at his wife's family bar/restaurant when a waitress from another establishment came running down the street asking for a doctor. Ledbetter, who teaches CPR, found Thomas Podock, 54, on the floor not breathing and without a pulse amid a throng of patrons at Jack's Silverado Grill. He performed CPR on Podock, while Jim Geovanes, the freshman baseball coach at OPRF, secured a defibrillator. The 54-year-old Podock, who owns Advanced Auto Works in Lake Villa, was shocked back to life.

"He called me the other day and told me he wanted to give me a big hug when he got out of the hospital," said Ledbetter, who mentioned the incident only in passing last week. "He asked me if that would be OK. I told him, 'Tom, I had my mouth on your mouth, I think a hug would be just fine.'"

The incident marked the second time in Ledbetter's life when he had to put his CPR skills to use. In 2005, during a baseball game at Willowbrook High School, umpire Scott Marengi collapsed with a heart attack in the second inning. Ledbetter tried valiantly to save Marengi, but the 47-year-old died en route to the hospital.

Big opportunity missed

The sweatshirt on this kid, which was as large as a comforter, read "OPRF High School." He was California Redwood tall and just as thick. His body said football player, but he didn't look familiar. I would have noticed this kid on the sidelines — heck, Google satellite maps would notice this kid. We were waiting in line at a store downtown. I inquired. He's a senior, stopped playing football after his sophomore season, said it was due, partly, to the coaching — but he wouldn't elaborate. He's 6-foot-6, 320 pounds.

"There were about 20 of us who quit that season," he said.

"All as big as you?"

"No, but some were," he replied.

"Too bad," I murmured, "too bad."

Bracket busters

As I'm sure you're aware, we're in the midst of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Thus far, many of the games have been riveting, mind-boggling and even jaw-dropping. I'm sure Florida State, Butler, Richmond and VCU have disrupted many a bracket. There's no rhyme or reason to making bracket picks. As of now in the Spencer pool, Grandma, 87, is tied for first place with Abigail, 8. Do I sound bitter over a busted bracket?

Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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Posted: March 30th, 2011 10:10 AM

I also forgot to mention that its NOT just all the different sports at ONE school, but the WJ reports on at least 3 high schools. I think the WJ does a great job when it comes to sports reporting and that's why they have won awards for it.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 12:25 PM

He said how many football games he went too so I just responded to that.I mentioned football because he commment on the big kid and how he didnt play football. And yes I agree there are a lot of sports to cover. But he took on this job and in my opinion, I just feel that his articles are sometimes pretty judgemental. If he is going to judge that we he does than he should be there. Which again in my opinion I dont feel he has been.


Posted: March 25th, 2011 9:40 AM

OP Parent, So as long as he goes to the games your kid is involved in then life is peachy? What about soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, swimming, badminton, both girls and boys? Too many to list. You get my point. I think Brad does a good job at conveying whats important at the games and teams he covers. It seems to me you have a personal vendetta against him and that's your problem not his. Keep up the good work Brad.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 7:46 AM

Not asking him to attend every game. Just enough to establish good information. Half the home football games means 3 or at most 3. How could you not be at every home game. Tim Stablein was at every home game for the Huskies. Over 20 basketball games how many did you go to Brad? If he cant make the commitment then hire some help or pick up some high schoolers to help. He has enough time to write articles about non OPRF topics.


Posted: March 24th, 2011 10:07 PM

So BR. We have a small to medium size paper and one Sports writer. You expect him to go to EVERY game that he covers? Are you kidding me. Do you know how many sports and how much time that would be? Get your head on straight. Every paper including the big ones in Chicago dont attend every game they report on. (ie. high school sports etc)

BR from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 6:54 PM

You couldn't be more wrong Roger. This "hostility" goes way back. It is not even hostility. People are frustrated because Brad Spencer writes articles about games he does not even attend.

Roger from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 6:14 PM

Brad -- If anyone is wondering, the hostility expressed here is all about the Q&A you ran with OPRF Basketball Coach Maloney which opened the can of worms about his abusive incompetent record. From what I saw, you bent over backwards to be fair, but as people can read here, these coaches and their supporters have thin skins. Ignore the noise and keep up the pressure. Someone needs to take a second look at OPRF coaching. It's not just about the losses but the damage Maloney is doing to the kids.

OP Resident  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 2:34 AM

Glad to hear that rumor has been cleared up. I'd heard you don't actually attend many OP-RF, Fenwick, or Trinity games. That schedule must really keep your plate full. How about hiring a couple of high school reporters to do some stringer work for the paper? It would be a great experience and shouldn't cost that much.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 10:53 PM

Just do the OPRF athletic community and hire Tim Stablein to head up the sports section. Not sure if thats an immature statement. Man I hope not.

Brad Spencer of Wednesday Journal  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 7:41 PM

OP Parent and Brd, thanks for the feedback. However immature it is, it is still feedback, and it has never been my intention to upset or letdown even one reader of the sports section in the last 10 years, even though they aren't aware of the extent of my duties at the paper. I will try to do better in the sports department in the future. Again, feel free to contact me personally if you'd like to discuss this further. The phone number and the address are stated below. Thanks again.

Brad from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 6:38 PM

So the racist, unnecessary comments in the crime section stay up. But the ones that state the fact that you don't do an adequate job get taking down? Most members of the OPRF coaching community and the majority of the varsity athletes think you do a very poor job.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 4:58 PM

Since my son doesn't want me to post me name I wont because I respect his wishes. What was the point to your football player blurb? Another slam on a coach in a sport you know nothing and I mean nothing about. Maybe football was just to hard for this 320lb kid. It is a pretty demanding sport but it is hard to know that if you never played. Also almost every home game means under 50% of the games. Pretty judgemental of the OPRF football program for not even making half the games.

Brad Spencer from the Wednesday Journal  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 10:47 AM

I'm usually at every home football game, on the sideline, not in the press box. And I attach my name to all my comments and beliefs, unlike yourself. Comments are subject to deletion by the content manager. Posts that don't constitute a mature discussion are deleted. If you'd like to engage in further converation, I'm at 708-613-3319 or 141 S. Oak Park Ave. Thanks for reading.


Posted: March 22nd, 2011 10:43 PM

Oh and you wouldn't be able to recognize any football player because you don't go to games.

To be Deleted soon  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 10:21 PM

The only possible 6'6 320 pound kid that you would be referring too was unable to finish a sprint on time in two years. Another useless article Brad. How long before this post gets deleted.

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