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updated: 6/28/2019 8:20 PM

O’Donnell: Mike Spellman Scholarship Fund continues to grow

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  • Mike Spellman, who covered the Blackhawks, died in 2015.

    Mike Spellman, who covered the Blackhawks, died in 2015.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Neal Spellman shared memories of his brother, Mike, a Daily Herald sports writer who died in 2015. He was speaking prior to the inaugural Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap at Arlington Park in August 2015.

    Neal Spellman shared memories of his brother, Mike, a Daily Herald sports writer who died in 2015. He was speaking prior to the inaugural Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap at Arlington Park in August 2015.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Family and friends of the Daily Herald's Mike Spellman, who died in January 2015, were on hand seven months later for the first Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap at Arlington Park. Among those remembering Mike were Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito (in dark jacket), then coach Joel Quenneville, and jockey Luis Quinonez.

    Family and friends of the Daily Herald's Mike Spellman, who died in January 2015, were on hand seven months later for the first Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap at Arlington Park. Among those remembering Mike were Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito (in dark jacket), then coach Joel Quenneville, and jockey Luis Quinonez.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 

MIKE SPELLMAN WAS one of the all-time great people associated with The Daily Herald sports department.

He touched many with his journalistic vigor and his enormous capacity to infotain.

He was in a vintage vanguard with some extraordinarily memorable ambassadors including the great Bob Frisk and the eclectically energizing Keith Reinhard, among others.

Spellman was talented, he was funny and as Pat Mahoney -- one of the enduring names in the history of St. Viator High School -- said: "He had a genius for friendship."

(And, both his Ed McMahon and Eddie Schwartz were killer.)

He also departed far too soon -- sadly, suddenly -- on his 51st birthday in January 2015.

That's why recent news from brother Neal Spellman was heartening:

"The Mike Spellman Scholarship Fund at St. Viator is nearing $150,000 and growing. It's really amazing, because while we've had a couple of major donations, we've also had a remarkable number of smaller ones from friends and people who in some way just wanted to help sustain the sorts of things my brother was all about."

Arlington Park will host the fifth renewal of the $75,000-added Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap Saturday, July 20.

And contributions to sustain the Spellman zest can be directed to: St. Viator High School, The Mike Spellman Scholarship Fund, 1213 E. Oakton St., Arlington Heights, IL, 60004-6901.

MANY OF THE WRITTEN TRIBUTES TO BOB LEY -- who announced his retirement this week after close to 40 years at ESPN -- strained to get to their final word counts for a simple reason:

No investigative presence could survive at the cable sports carnivore that long without either pulling some punches or having some of his punches pulled for him.

As ESPN grew from curiosity to Mothership, too many golden alliances have sprouted with major sports providers who are not going to countenance any sort of excessive Edward R. Murrow types with their most secret recipes.

That's reality.

Ley departs an earnest broadcaster who maintained a comparatively low profile, had his moments and survived.

There are worse professional epitaphs.

THE CORE NARRATIVE is about the further empowerment of women, as it should be. But much greater universals are emerging as the U.S. World Cup team heads for a semifinal match vs. Ellen White, Lucy Bronze and England on Tuesday (Fox, 2 p.m.).

It is about enlightenment, it is about resolve -- "grit" in what may be the squad's double-secret password -- and it is certainly about the pursuit of personal and shared excellence.

Now if only further specifics of accelerating gender equity could be spotlighted to all global viewers.

"Quadruple grit," Megan Rapinoe told Fox Sports in the moments after her two goals fueled Friday's 2-1 victory over France.

For those interested, if only one story about any aspect of the current American women is read, it must be Gwendolyn Oxenham's freelanced "Megan Rapinoe's greatest heartbreak -- and hope" at espn.com.

It is brilliant.

STREET-BEATIN': Yes, the arrival of Craig Kimbrel on the mound at Wrigley Field was enough to make even 1914 Club members sigh. But the records of the last three World Series winners on June 30 of their championship years are enough to make North Side dreamers gently weep: Cubs, 2016, 51-27 (.653), Astros, 2017, 54-27 (.667) and Red Sox, 2018, 56-28 (.667). (TheoCo isn't close.) … ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is crowing that Jimmy Butler to the Rockets is "a disaster waiting to happen." The George Jefferson clone missed the reality only by phrasing: Houston is a disaster happening. … The impressive treasure trove of team-produced videos on the Bears official team website continues to grow. For classicists, one of the most intriguing is "Legacy Panel -- 1963 Championship" with Mike Ditka, Johnny Morris and Bob Wetoska. (Google "chicagobears.com," click on "Video" and scroll down. … The state of Nevada set a new one-month sports betting record in May with $317.4 million wagered. But Dave Tuley of Vegas Stats and Info (vsin.com) reports that for the first time ever, New Jersey topped it with $318.4 million -- and 82 percent of that came via mobile app. … With a probable slot on the Cubs new Marquee Network looming, Ryan Dempster continues to polish his "Off The Mound," hosting a live performance to benefit Special Olympics Illinois at Park West in Chicago on Saturday night, July 20. Guests will include Anthony Rizzo, Jeremy Roenick, Moises Alou and Jeff Garlin. (Tickets at offthemound.com.) … Faithful reader Rick Robertshaw notes that veteran QB Scott Tolzien of Rolling Meadows has signed on as a scouting analyst for Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers. Chryst needs some major anti-free fall after failing to win a very weak Big Ten-West last season. … Speaking of free fall, the decision to keep the 2019 Breeders Cup at equine doomsville Santa Anita comes loaded with risk. The struggling game has little mainstream equity for major media spotlights on some of its exceedingly calloused ways and means. … Gone-from-Carolina defenseman Calvin de Haan seems about as excited to be joining the Blackhawks as Kenny Chesney opening for Cardi B. … And despite winning three races on NASCAR feeder circuits Hailie Deegan won't be starting in the Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday (NBCSN, 1:30 p.m.). There's a reason her sponsors don't want to rush her: She's 17 years old.

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.