Beyond the Column

Larry's LaRue-minations

Archives: March 2013


Booth Gardner, the Mariners Moose …. and me

When Jeff Smulyan bought the Seattle Mariners in 1990, he had some cutting-edge ideas to draw new fans – from music and videos to a ‘Singles Night’ promotion  in which the No. 1 pickup line of the night was ‘Hi, I’m Jeff Smulyan and I own the Mariners.’

It was a goofy time, when the team couldn’t draw 20,000 fans to a Mark Langston-Roger Clemens matchup. One of the Smulyan group thoughts: Let’s create a mascot.

They hatched a contest for school kids to come up with a mascot, draw it and submit. For every contest, someone has to be

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UP Man plays ball for fun – and a sister city

 At 64, Michael Kagan still has the wheels to play cnter field – and the heart to make his love of baseball help others.

The topic of today’s column, Kagan for the past three years has made an annual trip to Cuba as part of a volunteer All-Star team of seniors from around the country.

It costs him $3,000, and since it was all arranged initially by a California players, it’s just coincidence that some of the games each year are played in Cienfuegos, which happens to be one of Tacoma’s sister cities.

“Everyone in Cuba asks for a

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The interviews one never quite forgets …


Over the years, a journalist has the opportunity to interview people outside the norm – politicians, ball players, men who wear tin foil hats.

While working for The Register in Orange County years ago, a good friend and fellow writer George Cunningham was assigned to interview Larry Ball.

The tabloid publication, The Star, had named Ball one of the Top 100  psychics in America. And he was local.

George asked me to accompany him as a photographer.  We met Mr. Ball, and George asked how his visions came to him.

“I stare at a dot on the wall,” Ball

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Mural-painting, piano-playing Axel Moeller … again

Weeks after a column on Axel Moeller, the man whose murals have covered grafitti along Sixth Avenue – and been painted, largely, gratis – he continues popping up in the oddest places.

Axel, you may recall, talked a lot, and at times it was hard to say what was strictly accurate and what may have wandered off-track a bit. Was he really a musician back in the ’50s who played with big-name country singers he knew? Well, how do you verify that when most of them are gone?

This week a reader dropped by Bargain World on Pearl Street,

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A man who might help you earn your wings


Bill Coyner was the kid who looked to the sky whenever a plane flew overhead, who got the urge to fly young and began reading about how to do it at age six.

Today, he’s the head flight instructor for the Clover Park Technical College, and a man with more than 10,000 flight hours under him – all without a single accident.

As today’s column points out, Coyner was named the Flight Instructor of the Year by the Federal Aviation Administration for the Northwest Mountain region.

Coyner not only teaches at Clover Park, he graduated there, went on

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‘Break a leg’ is just an expression, not advice

Last weekend the Bellarmine Prep spring musical – ‘West Side Story’ – played two nights, although the second performance was delayed a bit.


Leading man Jake Elliott hurt his knee not long before the curtain went up, and was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance.

About the time the cast had been scrambled to make up for his absence, Elliott called and said he was coming back. The curtain was held and Elliott arrived – in a knee brace.

The show went on, and will again on Thursday and Friday night. Elliott is now officially a trooper.

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Sharing a lunch hour with a Sumatran friend

After waiting all morning for telephone calls to be returned, decided to take advantage of a dry day – rare enough this week – to spend my lunch hour at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Headed right for the tiger cubs to make sure the little guys looked happy and healthy, and they did. After a brief chase, however, the two collapsed upon one another and napped.

Over at the major tiger enclosure, it was feeding time. Missed the name of the fellow, although he was Sumatran, male and weighed in at about 275. As one of the zoo

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A no-fault divorce ends Corkscrew Northern run

Partnerships dissolve, whether they’re romantic or business, and it appears the owners of a huge model railroad – the Corkscrew Northern – and the Boys and Girls Club simply didn’t understand one another.

Today’s column outlines the background of the train, from it’s 1980 beginnings through it’s days at the B & G Club where kids learned not just about trains but about handling expensive equipment responsibly.

Alas, model trains and kids seem an outdated partnership, and after 1998, the Corkscrew Northern basically resided in a crammed storage out-building behind the Gonyea B & G Club in Tacoma.


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