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Danger of firefighting hits home

The too-often forgotten fact that wildlife firefighting is a dangerous job hit home last week when Madras resident John Hammack was killed.

After this summer, will anyone downplay the dangers of fighting forest fighters?

Hammack’s death was the 27th among wildland firefighters this summer season alone. This includes the 19 young people killed in Arizona early in the season when wind shifts sent the fire through their positions. They deployed their shelters but all were killed anyway.

Taking a chain saw to burning trees has to be among the most dangerous tasks a wildland firefighter can do, and that’s what Mr. Hammack was doing on Aug. 1. But then, reading about how he spent his life, as a rodeo man riding bareback and wrestling steers for years, I guess he was used to doing brave things. Our thoughts and prayers go to those he left behind.

Madras also lost one of its longtime civic leaders and businessmen on July 31, when Roger Tathwell passed away. For years, Mr. Tathwell operated Roger’s Drug, most recently out of the building now housing Ace Hardware and Figaro’s, which he continued to own. Roger was a dedicated community servant, an active member of various civic groups, and a staunch community supporter.

Roger cut a big swath through life. He was always quick with a raunchy joke or two, and was a pioneer Madras area river rat, tackling treacherous rivers with equipment of the day that now wouldn’t be trusted to float across Haystack Reservoir.

Roger was one of the true characters of the last half century in Madras. You don’t forget people like Roger Tathwell, and he’ll be missed.

A couple of weeks ago this column was spouting off that Jacoby Ellsbury got robbed a spot on the American League All-Star team back in July. As the weeks have progressed since the early July team selection, that fact is becoming more true.

One of the players selected as a backup American League outfielder was Nelson Cruz, of the Texas Rangers. He was one of the three nonstarting outfielders the managers, coaches and players selected ahead of Ellsbury, though Cruz’s accumulative stats were weaker. On Monday, Cruz was one of the players to get a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drug usage. Good call, players and coaches.

The Ceciliani brothers have to be making their parents, and their hometown of Madras, proud.

Darrell, Madras’ “other” pro baseball player, is having a very solid year in AA, hitting .285 for the Binghamton Mets. There’s talk that Ceciliani could be “called up” to the Major League club in September, when teams can expand their rosters.

While it’s much more common for players in the AAA level to get the call, occasionally AA players with good potential get a call-up, maybe get at an at-bat or two, in September, especially when a team is out of contention and wants to get a sniff of their prospects.

I don’t think there’s another Major League player from Oregon’s east side other than Ellsbury. (A couple of Web search efforts were not much help for verification). If Ceciliani makes it, there will be just two, and both from Madras. That’s amazing.

Meanwhile, Darrell’s little brother Devin was an absolute stud at Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, the annual all-star game matching graduated seniors in 4A and smaller schools. He caught six passes, scored two touchdowns, and led the West to a 33-23 win.

Devin is likely the best receiver MHS has ever produced, but after a great senior year in baseball last spring, he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays (the same team that drafted Ellsbury out of high school). But Ceciliani chose not to sign with them, but to instead head to college, the same answer Ellsbury gave to the then-Devil Rays. Devin determined he wanted to play football and baseball at Western, instead of taking a wad of cash and trying his luck in pro baseball’s minor leagues.

Judging by the way he torched the Shrine Game turf, the kid isn’t ready to take off the pads. It will be fun to follow his career at Western.




Local Weather

Fair

72°F

Madras

Fair

Humidity: 35%

Wind: 5 mph

  • 29 Jul 2014

    Partly Cloudy 93°F 59°F

  • 30 Jul 2014

    Sunny 96°F 61°F