By Ed Odeven
My maternal grandma would have turned 90 years old on the 15th. And this time of year’s always been very special to me.

In April, four things are always bunched closely together: Major League Baseball Opening Day, the NCAA Tournament Final Four, my birthday and Grandma’s b-day.

I miss my grandmother, who passed away in December 2008. She always brought a smile to my face.

And it was always fun to watch sports with her, too, even if she wasn’t a bona-fide sports fanatic.

One of her funny mannerisms many years ago, which drove my grandpa nuts every time, was when he was watching golf and it was Jack Nicklaus’ turn to swing his club, grandma decided that if she made funny faces, including putting her fingers on her cheeks and waving them in cartoon-like motions, at the TV it might make Nicklaus mess up and have a lousy hole or round. And that’s exactly what she wanted to happen!

Asked why the heck she made those funny faces when Nicklaus was golfing, she liked to sum it up this way (or similar variations), “He’s won enough already. Let somebody else win.”

And this went on for years..

That story never lost its amusement value to me.

Years later, after grandpa had passed away, and grandma would join her grandson(s) (and other relatives and friends) to watch sports on TV, she would mention that she noticed how often baseball players spit out sunflower seeds or tobacco during a game. She also saw all the gum chewing. She seemed to find it quite funny that a guy as tall as pitcher Randy Johnson would be chewing gum every time she saw him on TV. She’d say something like, “There he is again, always chewing, always chewing,” and laugh.

She came up with the theory that all this chewing and all this spitting would bring a team good luck — energy, too. And she wanted to be a good-luck charm.

So, for example, if we were watching a game on TV, or perhaps sitting at the local ice rink to watch my brother play hockey, she’d mimic the big-league ballplayers, pretending to be chewing and/or spitting. Her lips were moving quickly and small chirping-like sounds were being made while her lips were shut – that is, instead of actual spit flying from her mouth.

Hey, grandma was a role model after all.

Thinking back to all those games she kind-of watched while I was intensely watching the TV, it’s nice to remember that she didn’t take herself or sports too seriously. It was, after all, supposed to be fun and games.