Saturday, June 27, 2015

That’s a photo of former BJ reporter Janis Froelich enjoying a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game in St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Stadium, which changes names more often than I change underwear. It began as the Florida Suncoast Dome and then switched to the ThunderDome before settling on Tropicana Park.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are neck-and-neck with the New York Yankees in this year’s American League East division standings. The Cleveland Indians also in a neck-and-neck race, but with the Chicago White Sox for last place in the American League Central division.

The woman sitting next to Janice amid Boston Red Sox fans, no less, Michelle Bearden, explains the headgear:
“Ladies night at the Trop! Free Rays cowboy hats. With longtime buddy Janis Froelich, a true baseball fan! Let's crush those Red Sox!”

When you go to a game at the Trop, besides catching sunrays you also can feed and/or pet the 30 devil rays roaming in a 10,000-gallon tank, among the 10-largest in America. If you don’t count the swimming rays, the Trop capacity is 40,473.

When I walked into Ol’ Blue Walls for the first time in 1969, as a new State Desk hire courtesy of Ben Maidenburg’s generosity to a guy who had been fired at the Dayton Daily News for his union activities, I looked around (remember, this was in my male chaunist days; I’ve gotten better since) and thought: “Damn, that Janis Froelich and Joan Rice are the hottest babes in this newsroom!”
Joan and I later had desks next to each other in the Features Department before we both retired, me in 1996 to Cuyahoga Falls and later Tallmadge, and Joan to her Rootstown sanctuary with a retired cop, Larry Momchilov. Joan, Mark Dawidziak and Bob Dyer are probably my closest friends from my BJ days.

In 2010 Janis published "My Life Looking Back at a Murder. A Disparate Story About the 57th PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club," about her friend, Linda McClain, who was volunteering with Janis at the 57th PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club in 1974.
Janis’ Kent State roommate at one time was Paula Slimak, a former PD reporter. Janis grew up in an 1853 farmhouse right off Hudson's downtown Main Street. She’s been married for almost two decades to St. Petersburg photographer Ray Bassett, owner of Maddock Photography. Well, he has a great live-in model (there’s that latent chauvinism creeping in again).

Nowadays, Janis writes, “I mostly babysit two granddaughters, Halle, 9, and Clare, 6. Larry Froelich, another BJ Alum, is my ex-husband and the proud grandfather of these two.”

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