Wednesday, August 20, 2008


1994 was the last season for the Fan District Softball League. That year a longtime Biograph player, Billy Snead, defected to play for Chiocca's, his favorite watering hole.

Snead's old Biograph teammates struck back by announcing they would walk Fan League Hall-of-Famer Billy Snead every time he came to bat in games in which the two teams faced one another. They called their payback strategy F.B.S.

Three games were scheduled and in all three Snead was indeed given a free pass to first base with each at-bat. Chiocca's won all three games, with Billy scoring the winning run all three times. In the finale, he even made the final putout at home plate as Chiocca's catcher.

It made me glad I'd left the team ten years earlier, also to play for another team. And, it was the most failed strategy I've ever seen in sports. The blow-back made Billy look like a hero. That Biograph team's chief conspirators know who they are.

Consequently, I created the piece above, a laminated card with Billy's head mounted on Babe Ruth's body, and I gave them away to the guys who most needed to see them (click on the art to see an enlargement). Later the same concept inspired a F.B.S. T-shirt; I'm told Jack Nicholson has one of them. But that's another story, for another day.

Billy has Leukemia.

Good luck, Billy.

Update: Actually, this episode inspired two T-shirts that I designed for the Biograph softball team. Ernie Brooks sent me this photo from the 2006 Derby Day party, which shows Billy in the second one. We all look forward to the caption being proven to be appropriate once again. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)
The shot below is one of mine. It's from 1981.
With three of his old Biograph teammates I visited Billy today (Sat., Aug. 23) at MCV. He was quite himself and we all had a good time. To visit Billy's web site click here.

Update: As of Sept. 26, Billy is in remission. I had a beer with him that Friday in Chiocca's. Happily, his wife and daughters were there, along with several of the regulars. It was a roomful of smiles -- a scene I'm glad I was there to see, firsthand.


Update II: After a rough winter, Billy's condition has improved with the warm weather coming in. On Apr. 22 Billy was in Chiocca's and looking much his old self. He will be at the Derby Day reunion on May 2. Call Larry for details (804) 233-2295.

Update III: Billy enjoyed a good summer and is doing fine.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The photo above documents one of Larry Rohr's rides through the auditorium during a midnight screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Larry only performed his feat on special occasions, such a anniversaries, etc. This time it was for the night that "Rocky" broke the local record for consecutive weeks that a movie played at the same theater.

The record (I think it was 88 weeks) had been held by "The Sound of Music" at the Willow Lawn in the '60s.

So, at the Biograph we had a little fun by having a ceremony in which we literally broke the "Sound of Music" soundtrack album, the record, as seen below. Bravely, John Porter held the vinyl, as the tuxedoed manager of the repertory cinema wielded the hammer.

Larry's rides always took place during the scene where Meatloaf crashes out of a frozen vault on his motorcycle. "Rocky" went on to play for exactly five years before its run ended. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

-- Photographs by Ernie Brooks

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mondo Softball

The video above to below is a promo for a show about softball that ran locally on cable television in 1990. Mondo Softball was hosted by Mutt deVille, the sportswriter for SLANT, a Fan District-based magazine (1985-94).

The 30-second spot spot features brief glimpses of several Fan District Softball Leaguers in the day. They include: Paul Joyce, Boogie Bailey. Dennis Johnson, Jack Richardson (the headfirst slide), and others. There’s even a quick look at Leo Koury, the umpire for the Fan League who left town in a hurry.

Monday, June 23, 2008


"Matinee Madcap": Shot in 16mm in and around the Biograph Theatre in 1974, it is a chase-scene-driven, Black & White comedy.

"Biograph 10": News coverage of the Biograph's 1oth anniversary party. "My Dinner with Andre" premiered and Chris Gibbs, who catered the meal featured in the movie, served the same meal to the premiere's audience.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Derby Day softball reunion on May 3, 2008.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


This year the Derby Day party (the 29th annual reunion) for the Biograph softball team and friends will incorporate into its format a Fan District Softball League reunion, which enlarges the gathering. Which means players and fans associated with any of the league’s teams over the years will be welcome, with a few exceptions (you know who you are).

The event will take place on Saturday May 3rd at the usual place. Contact the event chief Larry Rohr, (804) 233-2295, for more info.

The Fan District Softball League (1975-94) established a Hall of Fame in 1986. The first class was elected by the 12-team league’s designated franchise representatives prior to the annual All-Star game/picnic. To be eligible then one had to have retired. Ten names were selected.

The same rule held true in 1987, but by 1988 a few of those who had been inducted into the Hall had unretired. So, in 1988 it was opened up to anyone who seemed deserving and those already in the Hall got to vote, as well.

For 1989 no one was voted in. In 1990, ‘91 and ‘92 additional names were added. In all, 41 players and two umpires were tapped. The list leans heavily toward those who made significant contributions to the league’s lore in the early years of play.

Those in the FDSL HoF are: Ricardo Adams, Herbie Atkinson, Howard Awad, Boogie Bailey, Yogi Bair, Jay Barrows, Otto Brauer, Ernie Brooks, Hank Brown, Bobby Cassell, Jack Colan, Willie Collins, Dickie deTreville, Jack deTreville, Henry Ford (depicted on the right), Danny Gammon, Donald Greshham, James Jackson, Dennis Johnson (depicted top left as the batter), Mike Kittle, Leo Koury, Jim Letizia, Junie Loving, Tony Martin, Kenny Meyer, Cliff Mowells, Buddy Noble, Randy Noble, Henry Pollard, Artie Probst, Terry Rea, John Richardson, Jerry Robinson, Larry Rohr (depicted above as the pitcher), Billy Snead, Jim Story, Hook Shepherd, Pudy Stallard, Durwood Usry, Jumpy White, Barry Winn, Chuck Wrenn.

Art by F.T. Rea, the illustrations are from the old Sports Fan (1977-81).