'Outrageous Arizona' stories captured in new Eight show

August 6, 2012

Make no mistake: Arizona’s reputation for spawning infamous characters is long and legendary – from brazen outlaws to lady bandits and self-promoting warriors, even corrupt politicians. Many of their stories are embarrassing, some are inspiring, but all of them are outrageously true.

Eight, Arizona PBS viewers will watch these history-rich, home-grown characters come to life in a new hour-long special, "Outrageous Arizona," premiering at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, on Eight HD (8.1 or Cox Channel 1008). Download Full Image

Eight co-produced the show with True West magazine. Here’s a preview of some of the dozen featured vignettes:

• Goyathla: A Real Yawner – Learn the story behind the famous Apache warrior Geronimo we never knew, from where he got his name to his shameless self-promotion during captivity.

• George Warren: Drunken Loser Lands on State Seal – Gambling away his one-ninth interest in Bisbee’s Copper Queen Mine, Warren died penniless yet ended up on Arizona’s State Seal.

• Pearl Hart: Lady Bandit – America’s only known female stagecoach robber was popular with suffragettes, then sent packing by Arizona’s territorial governor with whom she possibly had a fling.

• The Thieving 13th – One of Arizona’s strangest legislatures dates back to 1885, unmatched for its corruption when naming a territory capital, picking a university site and appropriating funds for an asylum.

• The Legend of Red Ghost – After the U.S. Army imported camels to test them as mounts, the Civil War spiked the project, leaving one escaped feral camel to reportedly terrorize Arizonans.

• Diltche: Frontier Woman – A White Mountain Apache grandmother named Diltche captured and sold into slavery in Mexico defied all odds to escape and through sheer determination return home.

• Tombstone: A Tony Town – Wine bars, coffee shops, ice cold beer, telephones? Turns out the rugged Tombstone we thought we knew had a sophisticated side even Doc Holliday and the Earps enjoyed.

“This unique show is a salute to Arizona’s well-known penchant for attracting outlandish characters, and it premieres appropriately during our state’s centennial year,” said Kelly McCullough, Eight's general manager. “You can’t make this stuff up, and we didn’t have to.”

Host of "Outrageous Arizona" is Bob Boze Bell, executive editor of True West magazine and a prolific western history writer and illustrator. Supporting each story will be photographic and illustrated images provided from the archives of True West.

Also contributing to the production are popular Arizona personalities Marshall Trimble and Jana Bommersbach. Trimble is the official Arizona state historian and a sought-after speaker and entertainer throughout the West, while Bommersbach is one of Arizona's most acclaimed journalists and historical authors. Both are contributing editors for True West magazine.

For more information, visit azpbs.org. Eight is a member-supported service and the public media enterprise of Arizona State University.

Mike Benjamin named baseball assistant coach

August 7, 2012

PHOTO GALLERY - Coach Benjamin's Playing Days at ASU

Coach Benjamin's ASU Hall of Fame Plaque Download Full Image

PHOTO GALLERY - Bordes' Playing Days at ASU

Arizona State head coach Tim Esmay has promoted Sun Devil Hall of Fame member Mike Benjamin to assistant coach. Former Sun Devil student-athlete and graduate manager Greg Bordes will step into the role of volunteer coach.

Benjamin, who has been a volunteer assistant coach at ASU for the past three seasons, will continue his role as infield and third base coach, as well as manager of the team's run game.

"Mike has done an unbelievable job of coaching this program since he joined my staff in 2010," coach Esmay said. "The fact that he will now be able to use that expertise in recruiting and evaluating talent, as well as on the diamond and in practice, is an immeasurable boost for not only the baseball team, but the university as a whole."

Benjamin, who played shortstop for the Sun Devils in 1986 and 1987, was inducted into the Arizona State University Hall of Fame in 2011. During his time at ASU, Benjamin has helped mentor a number of infielders that are now in the professional leagues, including Joey DeMichele, Drew Maggi, Deven Marrero, and Raoul and Riccio Torrez.

Bordes spent six years with the Sun Devil baseball program, including four as a student-athlete and two as a graduate manager, before he became an area scout for the New York Mets last spring. He was a three-year letterwinner for the Sun Devils, and a member of two College World Series teams (2005, 2007) and a pair Pac-10 Championship squads (2007, 2008). Bordes played more than a year of minor league baseball and is the younger brother of former Sun Devil pitcher Brett Bordes.

"Greg's professional baseball experience, both as a player and a scout, will enable him to help our current student-athletes reach their highest potential on the field," coach Esmay said. "However, he knows what it takes to be a Sun Devil and how to do things the Sun Devil way, and that is what will help him teach our guys how to succeed beyond just their playing days."

Coach Esmay and Benjamin were teammates at Arizona State during the 1986 and 1987 seasons under head coach Jim Brock, and both have sons on the current Sun Devil team. Benjamin's son, Michael Jr., is set to be a junior infielder on the 2013 team, while coach Esmay's son, Tucker, will be a redshirt sophomore this coming season.

Benjamin hit .315 in his ASU career, including .327 with 18 homers and 55 RBI during the '87 season in which he earned First Team All-American and First Team All-Pac-10 honors. Benjamin also stole 30 bases, helping lead the Sun Devils to Omaha and the College World Series that year. He was a third round pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 1987 MLB Draft.

Benjamin played 13 seasons of Major League Baseball, the first seven of which he spent with the Giants. He made his Major League debut for the Giants on July 7, 1989 and played there through the 1995 season. He spent 1996 with the Philadelphia Phillies before joining the Boston Red Sox in 1997. He played two seasons in Boston, playing in the 1998 American League Divisional Series, before finishing his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Following his pro career, Benjamin was a coach for the Chandler National Little League team that advanced to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Benjamin replaces former ASU assistant coach Travis Jewett, who left earlier this summer to become an assistant coach at Vanderbilt.