Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: Bad news bears

Rockin’ at The Knob

For anyone who hasn’t lived in Toronto, Scarborough (or as it has been slagged, for decades, Scarberia) is part of the Greater Toronto Area and has been either a suburb of T-O or a city in its own right.

Back in the early ’80s Toronto’s Best Rock, Q107, posed this question:

“What’s the definition of a cultural event in Scarborough?”

Answer…Goddo at the Knob.

Toronto’s hard rockers Goddo played the Knob Hill Hotel dozens of times. I saw them once at that suburban venue and to this day, two memories remain. As I and my friends Gord Howard and Alfie Petitti were paying the cover charge in the lobby, one patron staggered out of the showroom and vomited at our feet.

Welcome to The Knob.

The other memory? Even though it was the early ’80s, Greg Godovitz introduced Goddo’s tune ‘Under My Hat” as such…

“This is a song you all should know because we’ve been playing it for so fucking long.”

I’ll cut Greg, Gino and Doug some slack. Maybe an off night. Maybe Greg had a shitty day.

But the Knob was my rock club during my days at Centennial College, when I aspired to be a writer for Rolling Stone, sitting in Stevie Nicks’s living room and starting my profile of Stevie with colourful descriptions of the decor, the surrounding area or whatever pets Stevie may have owned at the time.

I did arrange for an interview with Canada’s Metal Queen, Lee Aaron, and got to know Karen (real name Karen Greening) and hang out with her and the band in their suite at the Knob between sets. Guitarist George Bernhardt was surprised that I wanted to chat with him as well.

“Everyone wants to talk to Lee…no one wants to talk to us.”

Ahhh, but the dear old Knobbie will always bring back memories of one band, Scarborough’s own Santers. AKA, the Rick Santers Band, who made it on to Q107’s Homegrown album in the early ’80s. A few years later, their version of Free’s “Allright Now” went to #13 on 1050 CHUM’s top 30 chart and got plenty of airplay on the Mighty Q.

Take a look at this cute couple.

Santers bass player Rick Lazaroff and the lady he’s been married to for over 20 years or so, Darlene Watters.

In 2007, I moved to Wasaga Beach and found a tourism website run by Darlene called Wasaga Dot Com. Near the bottom I saw an adverting link. Contact Rick Lazaroff. I did, and told Rick all about my Knob/Scarborough history with the band.


We connected and became tennis buddies. As for Darlene, I had seen her band Shattered Heart play at the Harbour Inn, in Owen Sound in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

But it all began in that concert room at The Knob. Watching Laz kicking his left leg out and attacking his bass through many Santers tunes and Zep songs (though their best covers were of Mississippi Queen and White Room) and Rick/Ralph Santers/Santer and his brother Mark shaking the foundations as we pounded several Molson Canadian tall boys.

It wasn’t as legendary as The Gasworks (where I also caught Aaron, Santers and Anvil) but The Knob Hill Hotel will forever be in my rock and roll heart as the place where I rocked my weekends away at McCowan and Eglinton.


One of my greatest disappointments in moving to Wasaga Beach 11 years ago was finding out the storied rock venue, The Dardanella, had become a dance club. Fuck off! Fuck you and the SeaDoo you rode in on. No one has rocked the Dard in over a decade but if I could have one wish…on what will be the 100th birthday this summer of the grand old lady of the beach…which due to mismanagement and neglect, was only open a grand total of 7 days last summer…

Let The Dard Rock again, and whether you hail from Scarberia, Brampton, Oshawa or wherever, we can feel that bass drum in our gut and raise our glasses to the venues that shaped our lives.

Go back to 1976 and I’m sitting in the Elaine Theatre, across the road from The Knob, and watching what went on to become one of my all time favourite movies, The Bad News Bears.

In the words of Bears shortstop Tanner Boyle, “”I’ll drink to that.”

Put me in, coach…

I’m ready to play centerfield, just like Kelly Leak.

One of my go-to movies, when there’s nothing appealing on TV, is the original Bad News Bears from 1976. I plug in the DVD and I’m transported back to my days of playing the Canadian version of Little League but, unlike Kelly, I spent more innings at shortstop (and, when I was one of the younger players in the first year of tyke, peewee or bantam, right field).

imageAs a Canadian, I should prefer hockey movies but most of them have been lame. Even Slapshot drags for long stretches despite the Hanson Brothers, and memorable quotes.

“Who own da Chiefs?”

Many of my favourite films have been baseball related, from The Natural to Bull Durham to the one I love the most, Field of Dreams.

Bad News Bears was remade a few years back. Not wanted, totally unnecessary. The Billy Bob Thornton version was forgettable and way too PC. Odd in these times of adult comedies that feature jokes about sperm and other bodily fluids.

Jizz, okay. Foul-mouthed kids, not so much.


Four decades ago, shortstop Tanner Boyle said the reason the Bears (prior to getting uniforms sponsored by Chico’s Bail Bonds) were so cruddy…his favourite word…was because they were nothing but a collection of…um….kids who were Jewish, Mexican, African American or had runny noses. Of course, he used terms that aren’t acceptable today.


Burt Lancaster was one of the great movie stars, winning an Academy Award for Elmer Gantry and, in later years, giving memorable performances in Atlantic City and Field of Dreams. In the latter, Burt was Doc “Moonlight” Graham.

His son Bill wrote the screenplay for The Bad News Bears and it was a reflection of the times.

And it rang true if you played minor ball.


Thankfully none of my coaches were like the super competitive Roy Turner (Vic Morrow) or Walter Matthau’s drunken Morris Buttermaker but I did have house league managers that favoured the better players and limited the innings of lesser talents.

If you haven’t seen the original (again, don’t waste your time on the remake), a councillor sues his local little league and that allows his son and a bunch of sad sacks to form a new team and compete against Turner’s Yankees and five other squads that don’t think the Bears are good enough to share the same field.

The politician pays former minor league pitcher, and current alchoholic and pool cleaner Buttermaker, to coach the team.

They lose the opener to the Yankees, 26-0, and don’t even get their chance to bat because Buttermaker forfeits the rest of the game.


Coach Buttermaker convinces Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O’Neal) to become the Bears’s pitcher. He used to date Amanda’s mother and taught the 11-year-old how to throw a curve and a spitter. She makes the team better but they still lose.

Through a series of events, local juvenile delinquent and star athlete Kelly Leak takes over in centerfield and the Bears start winning.


If you’ve seen the movie, you know the rest of the story and if you haven’t, seek it out.

When I was 11, I played mostly at Birchmount Park in Scarborough. Unlike Kelly, I did not send any homeruns over a fence. My only round-tripper came after knocking the ball beyond the reach of my neighbourhood friend, Paul Denton. Oddly enough, I didn’t hit one over the fence until I was 40, years later playing slowpitch.


Tatum O’Neal went on to marry and divorce John McEnroe. Chris Barnes (Tanner) and many of the Bears quit acting before they hit adulthood.

Jackie Earle Haley…Kelly…struggled as an adult actor but earned an Oscar nomination for Little Children. Not easy portraying a pedophile  in a sympathetic way but Haley pulled it off. He also succeeded Robert Englund as Freddy Kreuger. Nice work, but the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, like Billy Bob’s Bad New Bears, paled in comparison to the original.

I found Haley on Twitter and tweeted my ongoing appreciation for The Bad News Bears and he, or whoever runs Jackie’s Twitter account, favourited my tweet.

So cheers to coach Buttermaker, Kelly, Amanda, Tanner, Ahmad, Ogilvie, Engelberg, Toby, Rudy, Jimmy, Reggie, Miguel, Jose and poor old Timmy Lupus (who has his moment of glory).

And to the Yankees, in Tanner’s words, “You can take your trophy and your apology and shove it straight up your ass.”



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