“Follow your heart”: A baseball dream

Don Wordlow never wavered in pursuing his dream job.

As anyone who knows me understands, I’ve never met a microphone I didn’t like. With that in mind, I recently started doing podcasts, where I’ve met some very interesting people. The one who stands out the most is Don Wordlow, who invited me to be a guest on his show: The Baseball Lifer.

As you can probably guess, baseball is Don’s passion, and as I spent 25 years umpiring amateur baseball and covered all levels of the sport as reporter, we had a lot to talk about. Like me, Don was in the media end of the game, spending 12 years as a color commentator.

The thing is…Don is blind. From birth.

“I discovered the game at the age of eight listening to it on the radio,” he said. “I went to my first game when I was nine. The magical part was Dad arranged for what we now call a meet-and-greet with the Mets three broadcasters, all of whom are now enshrined at Cooperstown: Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner, and Bob Murphy. Dad knew that meeting the broadcasters would be even more exciting than meeting any of the players.”

Something sparked in Don’s young brain. He decided that he too would be a baseball broadcaster, which early on had his parents perplexed.

“Mom wanted me to be the next Ray Charles and said listening to baseball games would get me nowhere. When it mattered though my parents believed in me when I wanted to become a communications major.”

Though his peers viewed the idea differently.

“My friends…thought I was a nut for wanting to be on the radio.”

As you might expect, there were a lot of naysayers along the way, those who couldn’t wrap their brains around a blind man as a baseball broadcaster.

“I was a particularly stubborn…I kept pushing until I ran into Jim Lucas, who worked with me in college and later as a pro.”

The pair spent four years in AA ball in New Britain Connecticut from 1993-96, a time during which there were few technological advances to assist the blind. Don didn’t even have a computer.

“When the team was at home, Jim—or somebody else who could see—would read the daily stats into a tape recorder,” Don said. “I would then braille them. I was expected to have all my braille notes written before I got to the park. I would spend time preparing “all-time gems” because (we) were sponsored by a local jeweler. These gems were recordings of great moments in baseball from the 30s to the 90s. We ran them during pitching changes. When we started in AA, five gems might last two games. As the number of pitching changes proliferated during the 90s…I had to have ten or more ready.”

Don, who said the braille transcriptions took the most time, also prepared pre-game features of highlights from the game that happened the night before.

Over the years, Don was known to lean out of the press box and lead the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. He said there were a lot of memorable moments along the way, including the time he and Jim were invited to work part of a Major League game on June 23, 1994 between the Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs.

“It was a whirlwind, a fairytale blur,” Don said. “Double A games required me to have between 25 and 50 pages of braille stats in my lap. Quickly, we found it would take more than that to prepare for three half-innings of a single game.”

Don had close to 200 pages to juggle that day. Don and Jim were treated like celebrities, riding in limousines provided by the Marlins. They also appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America.

“Having my mom and my brother at the Major League game where we broadcast was a huge thrill,” he said.

Today, thanks to advances in technology, those with disabilities have an easier time integrating into society, still those journeys can be difficult. Like everyone, Don has suffered setbacks. A divorce. A severe back injury. Bouts of depression. Still, his sense of humor shines through. Don is working on a book about his life, one he says will be filled with funny stories. In the meantime, he has some advise.

“Professionally, persist in your search for an education and the right job,” he said. “Read both for work and pleasure. In your personal life, follow your heart.”

Listen to Don’s Major League broadcast here.

Listen to my visit with Don here

Find Don’s podcast here.

Anne Montgomery’s novels can be found wherever books are sold.



“Original, exceptionally well written, and compelling”

Midwest Book Review

Synopsis: In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The entombed man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Critique: Blending archaeology and Native American mythology, “Wolf Catcher” by novelist Anne Montgomery is an original, exceptionally well written, and compelling work of historical fiction that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that “Wolf Catcher” is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Anne Butler Montgomery (https://annemontgomerywriter.com/about) has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, and amateur sports official. She was also a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novels include The Castle, The Scent of Rain, A Light in the Desert, and Wild Horses on the Salt. Anne Montgomery taught high school journalism for 20 years and was an amateur sports official for four decades, a time during which she called baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games and served as a high school football referee and crew chief.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



Street Racing: The auto industry needs to stop promoting speed!

Young people see street racing as exciting, a notion car companies and Hollywood promote. Somehow the ultimate carnage isn’t mentioned.

You’ve seen the ads. Attractive young people, slipping their sleek new vehicles into gear, careening around sharp mountain curves or downtown city streets. What fun they’re having, when their cars can go from zero to 60 in under three seconds!

Of course there’s the flip side. Roughly 46,000 people in the U.S. die in traffic accidents annually. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 30.

And yet it is speed and daring that automakers promote, and those little tiny disclaimers at the bottom of the screen noting that “the course is closed,” and “the cars are operated by professional drivers,” are ludicrous.

An article in Bloomberg titled “Traffic crashes are getting worse. Car ads are part of the problem,” reporter Danny Harris pointed out that “marketing speed, power and reckless driving as a selling point for cars is part of a longstanding advertising tradition for automakers.”

Note that in 2022 the auto industry spent over $17 billion on advertising. Currently, an average automobile weighs a little over 4,000 pounds. Weight combined with  high rates of speed can produce horrific carnage. So the question is should car manufactures be treated like other companies that produce dangerous products.

“The U.S. has a substantial history of affecting how industries, especially those with harmful products, market their goods,” Harris wrote. “Advertisements for cigarettes were banned from American radio and television by an act of Congress in 1971. Billboard ads for cigarettes, including cartoon advertisements that target children, like Joe Camel, were banned in 1998 as part of a settlement. The alcohol industry has developed its own standards for self-regulation— a model the car industry could also follow.”

The Fast & Furious franchise promotes speed and reckless driving and our young people are getting the message loud and clear.

If the car makers cared, they’d find other ways to sell their vehicles. But they won’t, because speed sells. But let’s not put all the blame on the auto industry. How about Hollywood with its endless movie car chases and the Fast & Furious franchise which spouts the message that you’re only cool if you drive recklessly and fast?

That message is being heard loud and clear by teen drivers. In 2020, 2,800 teens were killed and about 227,000 were injured in the U.S. in auto accidents. The majority of these dangerous drivers are boys, especially those 16 to 19, who are three times more likely to die on the road than female drivers of the same age.

One of my sons was sucked into the street-racing world when he was young. Luckily, he was caught before anyone was hurt. That such a smart young man would think speeding on city streets was a fine idea is frightening.

I grieve for parents who get that visit from the police. And I’m angry at the stupidity. We know young people don’t always make the best decisions, so perhaps it’s way past the time for auto companies and film makers to stop promoting dangerous driving as something glamorous, as opposed to what might easily be a tragic end to a short life.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



It’s a tough time to be a teacher

Life is getting tougher for teachers. One of the biggest problems is lack of respect for the difficult job they do.

This is not an easy time to be a teacher. Practically every day there are news stories about what’s going on in classrooms nationwide, accounts that are rather ridiculous.

As a teacher of 20 years, the idea that my peers are pedophiles “grooming” children, that they are spreading their “radical agendas”, and that they’re teaching students to hate themselves for who they are is not only insulting but hurtful.

Once upon a time, teachers were respected, as was the occupation itself. The job was considered a calling, like nursing or religious ministry. Today we live in a world where many believe that horrid, old saying: Those who can’t do teach. (It pains me to even write those words.)

I had many jobs prior to becoming a teacher at 45, which included being a sportscaster and reporter, as well as an amateur sports official for 40 years. My world was chronically stressful. I was in the public eye daily and when I made mistakes, I was frequently called out. The attacks were sometimes personal. On occasion, I was accompanied to my car by police officers concerned for my safety.

And still, teaching was the toughest job I’ve ever had. I spent 20 years in a Title I school where the vast majority of my students lived in poverty, a place where drug and alcohol abuse, neglect, hunger, hopelessness, and gangs ruled. My job was to give them hope in a future they couldn’t see. Some didn’t believe they’d live to be 20.

For our students to become healthy world citizens, we teachers had to help them acquire important skills beyond the basic core subjects of math, science, history, and English. Communication skills especially are paramount to building strong relationships and making good empathetic decisions. But there’s a problem. Getting along with others, assertivenessis, and problem solving-skills are part of what’s referred to as Social Emotional Learning. For reasons I can’t fathom, SEL is now a dirty phrase. How can teaching a child to be resilient and self-assured be a bad thing?

School districts all across the country are desperate for teachers. If attitudes don’t change there will be many more empty classrooms.

When I researched the subject what came up was baffling. Somehow SEL became linked to another educational acronym, CRT, which stands for Critical Race Theory. Before I go any further, understand that there are no elementary or secondary schools in the country teaching CRT. Zero! Zilch! None! That’s because the class was designed for college students, primarily those in law schools. CRT studies involve using “sociology to explain social, political, and legal structures and power distribution…focusing on the concept of race, and experiences of racism.”

This idea has been so twisted that parents believe educators are teaching children to hate who they are because of past history. If you’re a White child, you must carry the sins of 19th century slave owners on your back. If you’re family hails from Germany, you are responsible for the evils of the Holocaust. (While I’d like to think those who oppose CRT care equally about the feelings of Black and Brown children, I doubt that’s the case.)

Since I taught history for a brief spell, I can tell you I never saw or sensed any student who seemed to feel uncomfortable learning about bleak eras in our past. So you can imagine that recent legislation has me confused. At least eight states now have laws about how any subject involving race can be taught, laws that say students can never be made to feel guilt or discomfort because of who they are.  I believe these laws are completely unnecessary, because the last thing teachers want is make children uncomfortable.

I’m not saying here that all educators are perfect. Like every vocation, some get it wrong. But I’d stake all I have on the idea that the vast majority of teachers only want their students to become happy, healthy, productive citizens. To reach that lofty goal, we must teach kids to understand both themselves and the past. To do that they need empathy, understanding, and a feeling of self-worth.

Someone please tell me how these lessons can be anything but positive.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



A fancy bra and cowboy boots

Faced with a formal affair, I wondered what attire might be appropriate.

I found myself in a bit of a pickle recently. I had to attend a wedding. A formal wedding! Dressing up meant I had to make nice with things like shoes and lingerie, neither of which I’ve ever gotten along with.

“I only have one dress,” I said to my sweetie pie.

“So wear that one.”

“Then I’ll have to wear heels!”

Shoes have been the bane of my existence all my life. I was born with a crooked left foot, and a while back I suffered a severely broken leg, one that required extensive surgery. It took eight months for me to learn to walk properly again, so you can imagine the idea of donning heels had me apprehensive.

“Just wear your cowboy boots.”

“We’re not going line dancing. And the bride has been pretty specific that this is a formal affair.” In fact the young woman in question—who I’d never met—actually sent invitations suggesting a proper color palette for guests’ attire, and my purple dress was not one of the requested shades. I sensed that the combination of that dress and my boots might make the bride swoon.

I fretted over the upcoming affair, wondering if I might get away with wearing nice pants. I checked into whether slacks would be a serious fashion faux pax, and to my surprise I discovered that it is permissible for women to wear pants to a formal wedding, which meant my pretty, black tooled cowboy boots would work, as well. (I live in Arizona. Things are a bit different here, so trust me on this.)

I pulled together a black jacket, nice pants, and a sheer black shirt, but then frowned. Clearly, I needed appropriate undergarments. But when I searched my drawers, I discovered that my daughter had appropriated my one dressy bra. Okay. My only bra. Since I’m a child of the 70s, I’d tossed that torturous device when I was 16. It wasn’t until I was 51 and a teacher that anyone seemed to notice.

“You can’t do that in front of your students,” a fellow teacher said.

“Do what?” I was perplexed.

“You have to wear a bra?”

“Why?” I looked down. Several layers of fabric separated my bits from the world. “I’m old enough to be their grandmother. They won’t even notice.”

But I was wrong. I caught numerous boys checking me out, so I started wearing sports bras, which still bugged me, but which were not as uncomfortable as a regular brassiere. But a sports bra wouldn’t cut it for a formal wedding, not even in Arizona.

So I traipsed off to a lingerie store in a swanky mall. Since I’m not a fancy type, I appeared in that realm of delicates in a black sweatshirt bearing a cowboy and running horses, black leggings, and sneakers. Two white-haired women stared at me.

“I need a bra.”

One focused on my chest. “What size?

“Um…I don’t know.”

They appraised me as if I was something they’d discovered in a petri dish. And yet, after whipping out a tape measure and assessing me from multiple angles, one woman walked me to a dressing room and handed me a single bra.

Now, I’ve been in dressing rooms strewn with bras left behind by frustrated shoppers. Finding the proper fit can be a grueling affair, still I put it on without question.

A short time later the woman reappeared at the door as I faced myself in the mirror. “Turn around.”

I did.

Raise your hands in the air.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Bend over.”

I was perplexed, but did as she ordered.

“It’s perfect.”

And she was right! I wondered if she’d been bestowed with a master’s degree in bra-fitting, but didn’t ask. “It doesn’t hurt!” I smiled, and she pointed out the structural supports and special fabric with such intensity that I imagined NASA engineers must have designed the thing.

I was so delighted, I bought two.

As for the wedding, all went well.

And nobody said a thing about my boots.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



To bathe or not to bathe?

If you bathe everyday, you might want to reconsider.

I’m guessing you had a shower today. Or maybe a bath. Perhaps you’re a person who bathes daily.

It’s here where I confess that I do not.

Now don’t get all judgmental, because there’s a perfectly good reason I let a few days go by before stepping into the shower. And I have the medical community on my side.

“Showering every day may be a habit, but unless you’re grimy or sweaty, you may not need to bathe more than a few times a week,” said the good doctors at WebMD.

I know! Surprising. Especially since I remember the days, back when I was still involved with sports on a regular basis, when I was known to lather up twice a day, but it seems doing so was bad for my health.

“Washing removes healthy oil and bacteria from your skin, so bathing too often could cause dry, itchy skin and allow bad bacteria to enter through cracked skin.”

That I live in the Sonoran Desert—one of the driest places in the U.S.—also adds to the bathing conundrum. Since the skin of desert dwellers is already quite crispy, adding a daily shower to the mix means there isn’t enough moisturizer in the world to keep us from scratching our flesh off.

I will now put on my history teacher hat.

Those ancient Greeks were all about competing in the nude, so daily baths were important.

In ancient times, bathing was a communal operation. One massive construction, the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan that encompassed 880 square feet, dates back about 5,000 years. Then the Greeks came along and invented the shower, because of all those sleek athletes heading to gymnasiums, the name for which comes from the word “gymnós” which means, you guessed it, naked. Back then sporting folks practiced and competed au naturel, so their bits no doubt needing a bit of soaping up at the end of the day. Jump ahead to Medieval times and bathing had mostly disappeared, with the exception of the very rich who were known, on occasion, to throw dinner parties in baths, where food was placed on boards situated over the water. However, when the Black Plague appeared people developed hyper aversions to bathing, because they believed the illness could sneak through their pores and that dirt on one’s skin would block the bubonic bugs from entering one’s system. Even into the late 1800s doctors didn’t bother washing their hands before surgery. But a bathing resurgence occurred in the 1900s when the Saturday night soak became popular with the whole family jumping in and out of the same tub of water to scrub away a week’s worth of grime. Ewwww!

Which brings us to today, where daily bathing is the norm, something we should reconsider. According to WebMD, “When you expose your body to normal dirt and bacteria, it actually helps strengthen your immune system.”

As a desert dweller, there’s also a conservation issue to consider, because showering can waste a lot of water. So, while I’m certainly not suggesting you stop bathing, perhaps you might think about the frequency with which you step into all that lovely water.

To bathe or not bathe? Something to consider.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.