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But Only Yesterday They Were Kids

 

Occasionally – in fact, increasingly occasionally – I am reminded of the passing of time.  Another of those reminders came as I watched the recent television coverage of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards – the Oscars.

I met one of this year’s nominees and talked by telephone with a former nominee … when they were kids.  This was during my days as Vice President/Marketing for the Cincinnati Reds.

One summer night while I was at the Reds we hosted Cincinnati radio personality Nick Clooney, his wife Nina and their two kids in the ballclub’s private box.  Nick had recently lost his job at WCKY Radio when the station changed formats.  Dick Wagner, Reds President and my boss, was a radio buff and a Clooney fan.  He had called Nick to express support and asked if he and his family would like to join us in the box for a ballgame.  One of my memories from the night was how mature the Clooney kids were.  My wife said she thought young George had a lot of personality to go along with his good looks.  Nick survived his job loss and went on to a successful stints as a Cincinnati TV news anchor, newspaper columnist and American Movie Channel host.  When I see a grown-up George demonstrate Midwestern values and social consciousness I think of him at that Reds ballgame … and I think how blessed he is to have parents like Nick and Nina.

When it appeared the Reds would be in the 1979 baseball playoffs and World Series, I began looking for singers with Cincinnati ties to sing the national anthem.  I tucked a note in my World Series file about a local girl who was chosen to replace the short-lived successor of Andrea McCardle in the title role of Annie on Broadway.  The girl had studied at Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts.  A friend gave the phone number of the apartment where she and her mother were staying in New York.  I called to talk with her mother and encountered a young voice on the line.  “I’d like to talk with your mother,” I said.  “Who’s calling,” she asked.  “I’m Roger Ruhl,” I said, with no other identification.  “Are you with a company?” she asked.  Somewhat taken aback, I stammered, “Yes … the Cincinnati Reds.”   She wouldn’t let go, asking, “I’m from Cincinnati.  Why are you calling my mother?  What do you want?”  I found myself explaining that if the Reds were in the World Series, we would like to extend an invitation for her to sing the national anthem at one of the games at Riverfront Stadium.  Given the opportunity for national exposure, we correctly presumed that the show’s producers would have no problem with her missing a night.  As it turned out, there was no World Series in Cincinnati … the Reds lost to Pittsburgh in the National League Playoffs.  Otherwise, I would have met 14-year-old Sarah Parker, who later added her middle name Jessica to the full name by which most people would come to know her.     

 

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