June 3, 2021
Westwood Village Rotary Club
Coming Up on June 10th - Captain Jonathan Tom

This week's guest speaker is Captain Jonathan Tom, who will share important safety information with us. Captain Tom, who took command of the West Los Angeles Police Division in early 2020, has followed a unique path to a law enforcement career. He is a graduate of University High, with which our Club has long-standing ties. Captain Tom will discuss the issue of "Home Protection" from the West Los Angeles Police Department perspective and other issues of importance to the citizens of Westwood.
WVRC Club Assembly

A Club Assembly will be held on Thursday, June 24th - which is also our Club's 92nd birthday. We will share highlights of our Long-Range Strategic Plan - we have exciting news. Be sure to join us for our last meeting of the year.
WVRC Foundation Donation Challenge

In honor of our Club's 92nd birthday and the successful completion of a challenging year, our Club is holding a WVRC Foundation Donation Challenge - members are encouraged to make a year-end donation to our Foundation, which will be matched 2 to 1 by our Club, up to a total of $5,000. Members will have the opportunity to vote on the worthy causes to receive these donations in our Club Assembly on June 24th.
Westwood Virtual Rotary Club Meeting for June 3, 2021
Arriving a minute late, I sat in the Timeout Room for penalty minutes and was allowed in at the perfect time.  PP Admiral Ed “Slugger” Gauld was called upon to sing “Take me out to the Ballgame.” Like a good cleanup hitter, he delivered a pitch perfect rendition, leaving us to open our Crackjacks and listen to President Nancy introduce our guests.

Special Guests David Stover, Pavitra Harilela and David Moore were recognized, though I must apologize for any spelling errors.  Our President has called for a Club Assembly on June 24, the 92nd birthday of our Rotary Club, when the Long-Range Strategic Planning Committee will make a presentation. In celebration of that birthday, WVRC has declared a 2 for 1 match for all contributions to the WVRC Foundation.  These funds will all be donated to 2 good causes which
we will democratically determine that day or soon thereafter.  Yes, you read it right-Terry White, our Treasurer, is treating you to $2 for every dollar you donate!  This is unlikely to happen again in our lifetimes!

Collection of donated items for Camp Pendleton will be on June 5 and June 6, perhaps before you read this newsletter. President Nancy has the locations.  There are 10,000 children there under the age of 5! They call them the Baby Seals.  

PP Steve Scherer provided the “Thought for the Day,” which came to him as he was dashing his morning run past the John Wooden bronze statue outside Pauley Pavilion at UCLA.  The Wizard’s words: “Success is from the self-satisfaction that you made the effort to be the best that you are capable of” and “Success is within each of us.”  Well-quoted, Steve, and I hope you were not running slow enough to read that inscription as you passed.

The Virtual District Convention will run from 6/10 to 6/16, so jump on the website and note the sessions you want to attend.  I know, there’s no real Hospitality night where we wine and feed our fellow Rotarians - leave that for next year!
Our Program Professional, PP Tom Barron was next up to introduce another creative professional who will speak to us. Mike Sullivan, president of Paulist Productions.  Mike came to discuss the book principally authored by John Sexton, Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game.  Sexton is a former president of NYU.  Mike thought the substance of the book would make a great documentary and persuaded the Paulist Production Advisory Board to authorize the project.  He’s got great experience from producing and co-writing the Growing Pains Movie after being the executive producer for the Growing Pains series at Warner Bros.  He also served as president of entertainment for the UPN Broadcast Network, helping launch the TV series hit Star Trek.  With 25 years service on the Paulist Production Board, this is just one of his current projects which was slowed by the pandemic.

Sexton believed baseball fans resembled religious leaders. Both have “blind faith” in something greater than they: their home team or a Creator. Originally, baseball fields were built only for the baseball fans-the believers. The park, like the sanctuary, is a sacred place separate from the hustle and bustle of modern life.  Time slows down at a baseball game or worship service.  An inning can last 10 minutes or forever - there is no time limit. The fan experiences a greater reality there, a community with other fans. The only enemies are the other (Devil’s) team but we are confident of victory. Yet, we may not win today, or even this season.  There are clearly “miracles” in both places - witness Kurt Gibson’s one-legged home run for the Dodgers.   And
also “curses” like the Chicago Cubs century without a championship.  Or the long curse that plagued the Boston Red Sox.  The owner traded young Babe Ruth to the Yankees for the money to fund a Broadway show, followed by endless decades of losses (baseball is a jealous god)! There are more failures than successes in both arenas, yet fans cling to something bigger than themselves.

A visit to the ballpark is a Homecoming for the fans and a connection with your father, who brought you there when you were so young. The player who is at bat, too, faces a difficult journey.  He must avoid being hit and yet must, with a round bat, hit a tiny round ball thrown nearly 100 miles per hour.  Once making contact, he must run with abandon to first base, which is enemy territory, then second, where is he alone without help. Racing to third, there is a friendly guide there who motions him to wait or sprint for home, sweet home.  So, in this “mytho-poetic realm,” there is resonance of fandom and spiritual faith.

I understand that anyone who reads this, or hears Mike Sullivan speak, or sees his coming documentary who is not a rabid fan who played ball as a child may not find this argument uplifting or convincing. I haven’t played the game in 40 years and have barely watched it at all since childhood.  I even extoll the virtues of rival sports over baseball. But when I heard Mike refer to the magnificent still of the stadium, the tension and focus on the pitch, the decision to swing, the feel of bat solidly on ball, the mad rush to first base and beyond, there is a stirring in the heart that makes hours of standing alone in an empty field or a bleacher seat worthwhile. And…I don’t care if I never get back. This is not a game - this is the National Pastime!

  • Commentary by PP Dwight Heikkila

WVRC 2020/2021 Leadership Team
President: Nancy McCready
Treasurer: Terry M. White
Youth/Vocational Service: Phil Gabriel
Director/Peace: PP Marsha Hunt
Foundation: PP Steve Day
Global Scholarships: PP Chris Bradford
Webmaster: PP Ron Lyster
Director/Merchant Minute: PP Mark Rogo
District Governor: Bette Hall
Immediate Past President: Diane Good
Secretary: PP Diane Good
Community Service: Aaron Donahue
International Service: Nevin Senkan
Program Chair: PP Tom Barron
Membership: PP Mike Newman
Director/Social Media: PP Aly Shoji
Windmill Editor: P Nancy McCready
Assistant District Governor: Michael Lushing