Three Up, Three Down: 'Papa Joe' lucid in wake of stroke, eyes return to radio


When longtime Las Vegan Armand "Papa Joe" Chevalier had his syndicated sports talk radio show on the Sporting News Radio network, he became known for "Bite Me Wednesday." On this day, listeners were encouraged to call in on the 800 number and vent on somebody or something in sports, then finish their rant with that two-word interjection.

I experienced a variation of "Bite Me Wednesday" on the hump day just passed, when I found Chevalier lying in a hospital bed at Desert Springs.

It had been almost two weeks since he had suffered a stroke at home.

"You know how people say 'I've fallen and I can't get up?' Well, I fell, and I couldn't get up," Chevalier said.

He still can't. When they brought him to the infirmary, the right side of his body was paralyzed. He can move his right hand from side to side now, thanks to the physical therapy and because the paramedics arrived quickly. The doctors think he'll get better with time, and a lot more therapy.

Papa Joe, who has been off the air for more than a year, talks about going back on it. Sooner, rather than later. That would be preferred in this economy. The stroke did not affect his speech or his disdain for the New York Yankees, Papa Joe said. For that he is thankful.

The doctors tell him he might be able to go home in another two weeks. He's 62 and has been given a second chance that a lot of people who suffer major strokes do not receive. He knows this. He will eat better, he says, and lose a lot of weight. The hospital is helping in that regard.

The hospital food smells like chicken and looks like chicken, Papa Joe said. It does not taste like chicken. It tastes like Derek Jeter's shoe.

I had brought him a turkey sandwich from Capriotti's Sandwich Shop. Upon learning of the plastic bag's contents, he shook my hand with his good hand, as if I were a caller from Dubuque who had been waiting on the line for 45 minutes to agree the designated hitter and George Steinbrenner were evil incarnate.

That second chance he's getting notwithstanding, I couldn't help but think of life and its ironies, how a guy who had grown accustomed to talking to thousands -- if not tens of thousands -- at once, now finds himself lying in a hospital bed, talking to one.

Armand "Papa Joe" Chevalier is in Room 100-B at Desert Springs, if you want to talk sports. Bringing a turkey sandwich is optional.

THREE UP

■ Fujio Miyachi of Japan, one of the world's top trail runners, wasn't sure about traveling here to compete in Saturday's XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run until organizers told him he could set up a donation box in the registration area to benefit Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims. This is like getting 6,000 shows and movies from DirecTV at no extra charge. Much inspirational.

■ Former 51s slugger J.P. Arencibia, who hit two home runs in his major league debut last year, hit two more and a triple and drove in five runs for the Toronto Blue Jays on Opening Night this year. Guys such as Arencibia are why the 51s will say you should check out a game, even when beers cost more than $1.

■ With all respect due the national champion Notre Dame fencing team, the only sports that count in college sports are football and basketball. That said, Stanford has won 16 consecutive Directors Cups for athletic success across the board and is leading again this year. UNLV is ranked 128th, worst in the Mountain West Conference except for Colorado State. Other MWC schools and their rankings: Brigham Young, 30; New Mexico, 45; Texas Christian, 52; Utah, 70; Air Force, 82; Wyoming, 100; San Diego State, 105; and Colorado State, 160. The worst overall athletic program in the land is Virginia Military Institute of the Big South Conference. But I'm hearing the Keydets' women's rifle team had a good recruiting year.

THREE DOWN

■ After starting the season 17-3, the UNLV baseball team has gone 2-8 since. This might be what happens when Maine, Central Michigan and Valparaiso go back to where the weather is lousy.

■ One of the ESPN analysts on Saturday said South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been suspended five times but probably would be back because he gives the Gamecocks the best chance to win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division. And here some people are worried about Reggie Theus recruiting guys with facial hair, if he becomes UNLV's basketball coach.

■ When Board of Regents chairman James Dean Leavitt began Friday's confab by saying, "This is one of the most important meetings I think this Board has ever had," how many thought the next words out of his mouth were going to be "Dave Rice" and "Reggie Theus" and not "budget crisis"?

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

 

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