Lookouts

Lookouts
A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Paul Smith 1953, 1957, & 1958 Major Leaguer

Paul Smith spend most of 1953 and some of 1957 & 1958 playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He ended 1958 playing for the Cubs.

Paul sent a short note about his playing days. He says that his favorite team is the Astros. His favorite former player is Dale Long. I am always fascinated about players mentioning former teammates as favorite players. Former teammates of Roberto Clemente and Bob Feller mention these guys a lot. Great players with great character earn this type of respect from their teammates. I am sure Dale Long was a great guy to get this kind of mention from Paul Smith.

Paul also notes that he played a few games in Louisville in 1960-1961. Also played in Nashville in 1952.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

George O'Donnell 1954 Pirates

George O'Donnell spent several years in pro baseball, working his way up from 1949-1961. He played at the Major League level in 1954 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He says that he now follows the Cubs and Cardinals, as he gets their games on TV in his area. He says that his favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates, but their games are not generally broadcast on TV where he lives.

He says that he has too many favorite players to mention, but Frank Thomas was #1.

He mentions having some great games against the NY Giants. He says that he won 2 games, and saved another. He also says that he hit a home run against the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

George played in Kentucky with the Mayfield team (Mayfield Clothiers). He remembers teams in Owensboro, and Madisonville. He also mentions remembering teams in Union City and Clarksville, Tennessee.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gene Verble 1951 & 1953 Senators


Gene Verble recently sent me a fun bio sheet about his career in baseball.

Gene talks about playing for 2 of my personal favorite minor league teams to research, the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Seattle Rainiers.

He mentions that he played for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1952. This team won the Southern League pennant winners. He also played on the 1955 Seattle Rainiers. This Triple A West Coast League team won their pennant.

Gene relates a fun story about sitting behind President Harry Truman on opening day to protect him from being hit by stray balls.

"After I stopped playing, I managed for six years. I managed the Charlotte Hornets from 1957-1960. I managed in Syracuse, NY in 1961, and in Burlington, NC in 1962. I retired from baseball in 1963 to spend more time with my family."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roy Wright 1956 New York Giants

Roy Wright played in one game for the 1956 Giants (September 30, 1956).

He sent a note recently about his career. He mentions that the 1950's were a great era for the game.

He is familiar with Kentucky, though he really never played ball in the area. "I didn't play any game in your state. The closest I got would have to be Danville, VA. I am quite familiar with Lexington as I pass through there on my way home to Ohio. My oldest grandson also competed in the SEC's indoor track & field championships a couple of years ago for the University of Georgia."

He mentions a great memory.

"It has to be going to the Polo Grounds the first time and putting on that Giants uniform. To be in the same clubhouse with the greatest outfielder or all time (Mays) was special."

Roy also mentions that he played on the same fields with many other greats while in the Minors, includingPerry, McCovey, and the Alou's.

Dave Sisler 1956-1962 Major Leaguer

Dave Sisler played for 4 team during his career in the Majors. He played from 1956-1959 with the Boston Red Sox. During 1959 he went to the Tigers and stayed there until the end of 1960. He spent 1960 with Washington, and 1962 with the Reds.

Dave answered some questions for me in a letter this month. He says that his favorite team is the Cardinals. His favorite former player is Stan Musial.

Dave is a second generation Major Leaguer. His dad George Sisler played for the St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, and Boston Braves. He spent a few season also managing the Browns (1924-1926).

I asked Dave if it was exciting playing for the Washington team as his dad had also played for them. He said, "No."

"I remember that they were so cheap that they painted the ground green rather than grow new grass."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Buddy Hicks 1956 Tigers

Buddy Hicks played in 26 games for the 1956 Detroit Tigers. He took the time to type out a very kind note to me. "If you haven't already done the math I am approaching my 83rd birthday and I have the tremors in my hands which makes it difficult for me to write."

Concerning Kentucky, Buddy brings up his playing time with Senator Jim Bunning.

"I played with a fellow from your home state by the name of Jim Bunning while at Buffalo in the International League. I drove in the winning runs in his last three victories before he was called up to the Tigers, and he said that he was going to take me with him, which of course never happened. If I'm not mistaking I think he is still the only pitcher to win over 100 games in both Major Leagues."

"The teams that I played for in order were Trenton, N.J. Newport News Va. Spokane, Wa. St. Paul, Minn. Hollywood, Ca. Baltimore, Md. Atlanta, Ga. Buffalo, N.Y. Detroit, Mi. and CHarleston, W.V. I also managed Yakima, Wa. Austin, Tx. West Palm Beach, Fla., Savannah, Ga., Lexington, and Burlington, N.C. Ended my career in 1969 when my wife took ill and needed me at home."

Mr. Hicks says that he still follows the Major Leagues.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Frank Saucier 1951 St. Louis Browns


Frank Saucier recently sent me some great articles relating to his career. Frank has been on the receiving end of many honors. His college baseball field is now named after him. He lead all of pro baseball in batting average in 1949 and in 1950, he was named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year!

Oddly, his biggest notoriety related to Bill Veeck's putting midget Eddie Gaedel in to pinch hit in a game. Gaedel pinch hit for Saucier.

Frank sent a great article from the St. Louis Globe Democrat about the last Browns home game on September 26, 1953. The team was in financial trouble, and only had a couple dozen baseballs. To conserve baseballs, batting and fielding practice was skipped. Umpires allowed balls that should have been discarded to remain in play. Fans were asked to throw foul balls back.

Frank was also a part of the U.S. Navy's V-12 program during World War II. In this program, at age 18 he was one of the youngest officers to ever be commissioned by the U.S. Navy! He ended up serving in the Philippines, Japan and China.

While he was really getting his baseball career going and established, the Navy called him back in 1952 because of the Korean War.

After that, Frank went on to be the owner, president and CEO of his own company, and then he worked as a financial consultant! What a great success story! Frank did a lot in baseball, the military, and private business! Thanks for the info Frank, and thanks for your service to our country!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joe Mather- Cardinals

I sent a couple of VERY amateur photos I took to Joe Mather this season. I mentioned back in April that I went to one of the exhibition games in Memphis putting the ML Cardinals against their AAA team the Redbirds. I sent Jo Jo a couple of pics from that game.

Joey was kind enough to sign my pictures, adding commentary to them, and he answered some questions. You can tell Mr. Mather is a truly funny guy.

He says that his favorite park is Wrigley and his favorite sports team is the Pittsburgh Steelers (good choice). Phoenix Arizona is his favorite sports city.

He says that Autozone park is nice, but Busch Stadium is beautiful!

Joey's humor shows in his note, as he says that he has started an autograph collection too, and then he tries jokingly to talk me in to sending him my autograph collection.

Memphis and St. Louis are lucky to have Joey around!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jake Striker- 59 Indians & 60 White Sox


Jake Striker mentions that winning his only game in the Majors in Cleveland was great, as he was always a fan of Cleveland. "Bob Feller has always been my favorite player."

"As for a connection with a team close to you, I was with Louisville a short time in 1962." He mentions that Phil Niekro was a teammate.

I checked Jake's stats on baseball-reference.com, and he also spent some time in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Indianapolis, 3 other great, close baseball towns.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daryl Spencer 1952-1963 Major Leaguer


Daryl Spencer played for the New York and San Francisco Giants, the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Reds. He also spent 1951 playing in Nashville while in the minors. Daryl gets a lot of credit for influencing baseball and how it is played in Japan.

Daryl sent me a great, honest note about his playing days, and his thoughts on the game today.

Showing a great sense of humor, Daryl notes, "I'm not a great fan of today's baseball. My first problem is that I live close to Kansas City, so I do follow the Royals some."

Concerning his time in the minors and relating it to today's game, he says, "I played on a class D team in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma that made fewer bad plays." He goes on to say, "Players don't bunt, hit behind runners and make many more mental errors than we did. I played 4 years in the minors, about average in the 50's, and learned how the game is supposed to be played. Realize, there were only 16 Major League teams then, and if you make mistakes like they do today, you'd be back in the Minor Leagues."

"I followed the Yankees mainly when Don Zimmer (a former teammate) was a coach for them. I used to go to KC when NY was there and sat on the bench during pre-game workouts. I got to know the players and thus I follow them. Of course Zimmer is long gone, but the only present day players that I know are the Yankees."

I asked him about his favorite player now, and Daryl said, "I guess Derek Jeter is my favorite player."

I also mentioned his time with the Hankyu Braves. Concerning his time in Japan, Daryl wrote, "I was an icon in Japan. Hit 36 & 38 HR's in my first 2 years there."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don Taussig- 1958, 1961, & 1962 Major Leaguer

Don Taussig, who played for the Cards, Giants, and the original Colt .45s team sent a brief note about a book has has put out.

"Baseball: The Balanced Hand Method Of Hitting" is his book, and he suggests Amazon as a good place to pick it up.

"It is an instructional book concerning the proper use of the hands in swinging a bat. For teaching purposes I discuss my hitting experiences during the period 1957-1961".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nick Testa 1958 New York Giants


Nick Testa is one of those interesting players in the game who had about half a sip of coffee at the Major League level, but stuck around the game for some time. On April 23rd of 1958, he caught one inning for the Giants and did not get an at bat. That is his career in the Majors.

He did hang around baseball, coaching, helping out in the minors, and even playing in Japan.

Nick let me know that his favorite players were Joe DiMaggio and Don Mattingly. He thinks the best athlete and player was Dave Winfield. Best all around was Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

As for managers and coaches, Nick is fond of Joe Torre and Jeff Torborg.

I was excited to hear what Nick thought, because he has been around baseball for so long.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Paul Pettit 1951-1953 Pirates

Paul Pettit, who had a very interesting career during the 50s sent me a great note.

In 1950 he received a $100,000 signing bonus. He pitched for the first part of his career (including his 2 seasons in the Majors). In 1954 he switched to the outfield and first base because of arm problems.

I am personally very fascinated with guys who switch positions like this. Paul says that one of his most gratifying experiences was "being able to have a rewarding career with both pitching and playing as an everyday player."

Mr. Pettit says that baseball gave him many opportunities to travel. "From Canada to Managua, Nicaragua; Cuba, Mexico, and most of the major cities in the United States."

He says that baseball is still a big part of his life. All of his four sons played, and 2 had professional careers.

The player he respects the most is Stan Musial. He says he is partial to Alex Rodriguez and he hopes Alex will break the career home run record.

Paul tells me that he played for the Indianapolis Indians in 1951 for one month. He did say that he stopped by the Louisville Bat Company in Louisville and "was very proud to find my name up in front with all the players to ever sign a Louisville Bat Contract."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bobo Osborne 1957-1962 Detroit Tigers


Larry Osborne played mostly at first base for parts of several seasons in Detroit from 1957-1962. He played the 1963 season with the Senators.

Obviously he played away from Kentucky, but he did send a note to let me know he did spend a short amount of time in Louisville playing high school baseball back in 1951.

"While in high school playing in a Stan Musial League National Championship Tourney. Finished second against a Detroit team consisting of several players who later became teammates in professional baseball."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bud Lively 1947-1949 Reds


Bud Lively let me know that His favorite team in the Majors is his former team, the Reds. His favorite team in the Minors is the Huntsville Stars.

Like several other players who played before the 60's, Mr. Lively says that his current favorite player is Jeter. His favorite former player is Stan Musial.

Bud mentions that his old home park, Crosley Field, was his favorite. He mentions that there are many stories from the park of flooding problems in the old days.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nellie King 1954-1957 Pirates


The Pittsburgh legend Nellie King was kind enough to answer some questions for me recently. For those of you that know me, it is always exciting getting a note from one of the great Pirates.

I asked Nellie about his favorite baseball card, and he responded, "The 1st one I got paid for!". 1954

His favorite teams are the Pirates, New Iberia (LA) Pelicans, and Denver Bears. The Pelicans and Bears were former Pirate affiliates.

Mr. King's favorite current player is Derek Jeter. His favorite former player is also a former teammate of his, Roberto Clemente. Clemente is my all time favorite too, and I can't imagine how exciting it must have been to play on the same team with him!

I will have to check out Nellie's new book. He lets me know that it is available online. Here is a link:

http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=59118

Also, Nellie's kind daughter sent a note to let me know that Nellie has his own blog too! Check it out:

http://happinessislikeacurdog.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rudy Regalado 1954-1956 Indians


"I played triple A baseball for the Indianapolis Indians in the American Association & we played the Louisville Colonels in Louisville. I enjoyed Louisville. They had great pizza!"

Rudy tells me that he follows his former team, the Cleveland Indians, in addition to the Los Angeles Angels. He likes Adrian Gonzales of the San Diego Padres.

Rudy proudly notes that he played in every game of the 1954 World Series. He came in to play in the 8th inning of the 4th and final game.

I notice I have a lot in common with Rudy. He has a connection to two of my all time favorite teams (the Indians in Cleveland and in Indianapolis, and he loves pizza in Louisville). He mentions something else that I agree with. He says that he admired a former teammate, Bob Feller. While living in Cleveland, I got to meet Rapid Robert my self twice. Bob is full of integrity. Last time I saw him (about 3 years ago) he was in great shape and he looked ready to take on any hot headed hitter.

Bluegrass Stallion's Basketball

I don't want to duplicate myself, but I have written a bit about the new professional basketball team in Lexington on my other blog:
Kentuckytravels.blogspot.com
I do hope Lexington gets out to support this team!
Their web site is:
http://bluegrassstallions.com/

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lloyd Hittle 1949 & 1950 Washington Senators

Bernice Hittle, a relative of Lloyd, responded on his behalf to a letter I wrote him.

Bernice says that Lloyd appreciated hearing from baseball fans. He turns 85 in February and is almost completely deaf.

He has no favorite teams today, but his all time favorite player is Ted Williams. Ms. Hittle notes that Lloyd feels no one could hold a candle to him today.

Lloyd started with the Stockton Ports in 1946 after he returned from the service.

He doesn't remember a whole lot about playing for the Senators, but he does recall his two strike outs against the White Sox.

Thanks to Bernice and Lloyd Hittle for this response. It gives me goose bumps knowing that Bernice and 85 year old Lloyd took the time to write me about Lloyd's career which started OVER 60 years ago.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tony Roig 1953, 1956, & 1957 Senators

Tony Roig wrote saying that he played for Louisville in 1956.

"I really enjoyed my year there. Red Marion was our manager."

In 1962 he played for Indianapolis and they won the pennant, but they lost to Louisville in the playoffs.

He finished his playing career after playing 6 years in Japan at the age of 40. He then spent some time scouting for Milwaukee and the Angels. He spent 14 years as a scout for the Phillies. For Philadelphia, he spent some time as a hitting instructor.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gordon Massa 1957-1958 Chicago Cubs

Gordy played a fist full of games for the Cubs between 1957 and 1958. He sent me a note recently about his playing days.

He says that he still follows the Cubs, and his hometown team, the Reds.

"I played my first Major League game against the Reds in my home town. It was very exciting for me. I caught and went two for five."

He also played for teams in Des Moines, Burlington, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, and Amarillo.

Mr. Massa mentions that he played 1st base for Edler Hi in Cincy. His senior year, they played a Louisville team at the old Louisville baseball field.

Future football greats Paul Hornung and Sherrill Sipes played.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bill Renna 1953-1959 MLBer

Bill Renna, who played with the 53 Yankees, 54 Philadelphia A's, 55-56 Kansas City A's, and the 58-59 Red Sox sent a great note about his career, adding a Louisville link.

"In '52 when I was with the K.C. Blues- we played Louisville KY @ Louisville. Pinky Higgins was the Mgr. of the Louisville team. He later became the Mgr. of the Boston Red Sox. I had some good games against them in that season- especially in Louisville.
I think that had a lot to do with their purchase of me from the S.F. Seals in '57. Pinky and I got along very well. Louisville was a very nice park. I liked it."

Thanks for the note Bill!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Glen Mickens 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers‏

Right handed pitcher Glen Mickens sent me a great note recently. He took the time to give me some great stories about his career.


He says that baseball has been his life since he was 15 years old, and he is still involved coaching kids in Kauai, and coaching a UCLA alumni team.


"Though I only had a cup of coffee with Brooklyn in 1953 it was the thrill of my life to have played with all those great and future Hall of Famers. Particularly it was great playing with my idol Jackie Robinson." Glen goes on to say that he still cheers for the Dodgers, since he played for them and their minor league system.


Glen says that he roomed with Drysdale at Montreal, and he also played with Roberto Clemente (a personal favorite of mine!). Other players that he played with at this time were Tommy Lasorda and Sparky Anderson.


Mr. Mickens played in Japan, appearing in 3 All Star games. "I was the 1st American to be credited with a win in one of those games." He says that he was treated well while playing there, and he will always have fond memories of his time playing in Japan.


Concerning baseball cards, he says that he signed with Topps while with the Dodgers, but he has never seen a card from them.


Mr. Mickens says that he coached for 25 years at UCLA, and had 31 of his players make it to the Majors, including Chris Chambliss, Eric Karros, Todd Zeile, Don Slaught, and Tim Leary.


Thanks for taking the time to get back to me Glenn!

Ed Mayer 1957-1958 Chicago Cubs





I received a great response and a lot of fun information recently from former Cubs left handed pitcher Eddie Mayer. Mr. Mayer said that he will be 78 this month. He said that he is amazed that he still gets letters about his baseball career.

He does mention that he has checked out my blog, and he noticed that I just wrote about his former teammate, Gene Fodge.
Ed says that he still loves the Cubs. He says that he and his wife travel once a year to see a game at Wrigley. Ed talks very fondly of another former teammate, Ernie Banks, mentioning that he is truly a nice guy.

Ed says that he sometimes follows his first team in 1952, San Jose (now a Giants farm team). Eddie mentions that this team won the pennant in 1953 while he was on it.

I asked him about his favorite players. Ed says that Tim Lincecum is his current favorite, and his favorite former player is Ernie Banks. Mr. Mayer mentions that the 58 Cubs had a lot of talent, including Bobby Thomson, Alvin Dark, Dale Long, Walt Moryn, etc.

I asked a lot about the minors, and Ed mentioned that he played for San Jose, Greensboro, Montgomery, Rochester, Omaha, Fort Worth, Portland, and Havana!

He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and was a teacher for 25 years after baseball.

Eddie sent me a great article from his time with the Omaha Cardinals detailing a big win he had over the Louisville Colonels. Looking over the box score from the game, Mayer pitched 9, gave up 1 unearned run, allowed 5 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 8. He also sent some articles relating to playing against another favorite team of mine, the Indianapolis Indians. I love reading articles from decades ago about games in the minors! I will try to put a scan of the articles up. He also sent some great reads relating to his having the 2nd best ERA in the National League in 1958. Ed also sent a great article about his closing a game on May 30th of 1958 for the Cubs, giving him his last Major League victory over LA and Sandy Koufax!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kentucky Horsemen Football

For anyone that follows the Horsemen in Lexington, I have read that they have folded. I actually heard this several days ago, and just hoped it was a nasty rumor. I hoped that they might come back a few days later and announce that they were actually still functioning (like they did a couple of years ago, saying that they were no more, but then announcing a week or two later that they would actually be back in a new league).

Well, it looks like they could not swing the fees that the new Arena 1 League required. I am very sad to hear about this, they really put on a good show at Rupp, and I loved going to the games.

Their web site still appears current, though it hasn't been updated lately. I know the Lexington area will have a new pro basketball team and that's great, but I will really miss the Horsemen. I think they stuck around a lot longer than anyone expected.

Jimmy Stanley- Frontier League

Jimmy Stanley played for a couple of teams in the Frontier League this year, including spending the first part of the season with the Florence Freedom. Being a fellow Lexingtonian, Jimmy let me know a little bit about his very young, pro baseball career.

"It's always been my dream to play pro baseball and I thank God for giving me this chance" Jimmy said. He seems very happy about his opportunity.

He said that his favorite park to play in has been the one in Southern Illinois (Home of the Miners). He was impressed with their huge crowds and amazing facility. His favorite pro team is the Reds. He mentions that he is a huge Griffey fan.

Los Angeles is his favorite sports city, but he bases that mostly on a friends description.

I asked him about the new artificial turf at Champion Window Field. He said that he was a little skeptical of it at first but started to like it after a while. He said that it was different pitching on the turf mound and it did not feel natural.

Jimmy also talked about playing in the 2005 Kentucky State Championship with Lexington Christian Academy. He got to pitch the final game.

Jimmy gives his parents a lot of credit for their support, and he was glad that his pro career started a short drive from home.

I asked Jimmy about being traded from the Florence Freedom to the Kalamazoo Kings. He did say that he was bummed about it at first, but he felt that everything happens for a reason. He said that he is enjoying the area, and he is glad that he got to meet the guys on the team.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Brian Shubsda Newark Bears

I sent a note to former Citadel Catcher Brian Shubsda. Brian sent a very nice note back about himself. I got to see Brian with the Newark Bears this last season.

Concerning his teammates on this exciting Bears team, Brian says, "it is very humbling to be in a clubhouse like ours, with names like Carl Everett, Armando Benitez, and Ramiro Mendoza". He says that he enjoys playing at their park in Newark.

Brian very kindly says that he was glad he could respond to my request for info. He says that getting letters and pictures in the mail is fun.

He also mentions that his best friend, Todd Frazier was with the Louisville Bats this year! That is his Kentucky connection!

Gene Fodge 1958 Chicago Cubs

Gene Fodge was kind enough to send a note about his pro baseball career.

Gene says that his favorite former player, and his favorite baseball card was Ernie Banks. His favorite team was his former one, the Cubs. His favorite player these days is Derrek Lee.

Gene played in 1957 for the legendary Memphis Chicks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lucas Holko

I just thought I would take a second to put up a couple of links. As a fan of baseball at the lower levels, and as someone who goes to a lot of games, I am aware of the dangers of foul balls.

I have seen a few close calls. Most fans that attend games regularly have seen someone take an injury from a flying ball. I once saw a third base coach politely but firmly advise a mother holding a very small baby to think about setting in a different area.

I personally like getting a seat near 1st or 3rd. I hate having the net in front of me.

I have some personal close call stories myself. My wife and I changed seats at a game in Augusta New Jersey several years ago. As the game went on, we decided to set on the opposite side of the field for some different photo angles. After setting down, and getting comfortable in our new area, a foul ball smacked the seat we had been setting in, putting a dent in it. If we had still been setting there, we would have been hit. The ball went from the hitter's bat to smacking the seat in a fraction of a second. There would have been absolutely no time to react. We also were inches from a Gary Matthews Jr. foul ball a couple of years ago at Spring Training.

Things happen though. Anyone at a game is taking a chance (pretty much a small chance generally). The chances of really getting injured from a foul ball are small. In fact, I personally don't worry about such things.

Which brings me to Lucas Holko. On September 2nd, Lucas was at one of my all time favorite parks watching a team I have seen many times- the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. I have mentioned them before. Great park and a great team. The Scrappers play right behind a mall in a pretty rural area. 4 year old Lucas was setting in his dad's lap at the time when he was hit with a foul ball. Lucas is being treated at Akron Children's Hospital.

Anyway, please take a moment to read about Lucas. Here is an article on the Scrapper's web site:

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090910&content_id=6896738&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp

Here is a link to the Holko family's website with updates on Lucas:

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/lucasholko

The family has put some exciting updates about his progress on the site. Please take a moment to check it out. I don't know what else to say about this, but I think it is sweet when a family goes out to a ball game together. The Holkos were out enjoying a game together when this fluke accident occurred.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Louisville Bats Jerseys

Check out the official Louisville Bats team website that I have linked to the left. They are again selling game used jerseys. Prices start at $75!!! Pretty much all of the really cool looking black alternate home jerseys are in the $75 area. You have no excuse for not getting one!

Oh, and they come with a very attractive COA. They actually put the purchaser's name right on it!

I love this organization. It is great seeing AAA Reds players on their way up. The Bats ALWAYS have fun promotions during the season. Now, they are hooking their fans up with a great deal on GAME USED jerseys!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Joe Landrum 1950 & 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers



I got a great note from former pitcher Joe Landrum.

I asked him about his his baseball card (I have never seen one of him!). He says that they aren't around because he was called up to the Dodgers from the minors on two occasions after the baseball card photos were all taken!

He was not able to play in 1951 so that he could graduate from Clemson before going in to the army. He was in the Service for all of 1953 & 1954.

He proudly mentions that his son Bill played for the Pirates and the Reds (among other teams).

Chuck Kress 1947-1954 MLB player

Chuck Kress, who played with the Reds, White Sox, Tigers and Brooklyn Dodgers responded to some questions for me.

He mentioned that his favorite team is the Mariners. His favorite recent player is Edgar Martinez.

Chuck did say that he had a lot of great memories relating to his time with that legendary Brooklyn team. Mr. Kress notes that he is proud of the fact that he got to play with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snyder, and manager Walter Austin.

He does remember playing in Louisville when he was with Columbus of the American Association.

Don Kaiser, 1955-1957 Chicago Cubs

Don Kaiser sent a quick note to me recently. He says that he does not have a current favorite team, but growing up, his favorite team was the Brooklyn Dodgers. He mentioned that the Brooklyn team was the 1st one he faced once in the majors.

Wrigley Field was his favorite park to play in.

Don has a link to Kentucky by playing for the Louisville Colonels in 1959.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Harley Hisner

Harley Hisner who played in 1 game with the Boston Red Sox back on September 30th of 1951 sent a note recently.

He mentions that Joe Di Maggio got his last regular season hit off of him during that game. He struck out Mickey Mantle twice. He did give up 7 hits, all singles, in his 6 innings of work. He never got another chance in the Majors after that.

Harley watches the Red Sox play every day on Direct TV during the season.

He mentions that he played in Louisville in 1950, 1951, & 1952!

Jack Daniels

I do write the occasional fan letter to baseball players to see what they think about playing, or if they have retired, I do ask about their playing days, especially if it relates to playing in or near the great state of Kentucky.

Jack Daniels who played in 1952 for the Boston Braves sent a note back to me that he watches the Cards and Cubs these days. He says that he doesn't like the way the game is played though. I have heard this from a lot of the guys that played more than a couple of decades ago.

He says that he was with the Toledo Sox from 52-55. With that team he played in Louisville at Parkway Field. He says it was a good field to play on and that he had a few good nights there. He remembers a home run contest there to!

Thanks for letting me know about your time in Kentucky Jack! Playing baseball in Toledo (not to mention the Majors) also entitles you to some serious bragging rights!

Hillis Layne



Hillis Layne recently sent me a note and some info on his playing career. Hillis spent some time with the Washington Senators (1941, 1944, & 1945). He sent a great article about his playing days from 12 years ago written by a Mavis Amundson.

Mr. Layne has some notoriety as a legend in Seattle playing for the Rainiers. While playing in the Pacific Coast League in 1947, he lead all hitters with a .367 batting average! He has scouted, managed in the minors, and in 1987, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame!

He was very popular in the Seattle area, and in 1950, when he was cut from the team, many fans were very unhappy. He was nicknamed "Mandrake" because of his near magic ability to get on base. He would also later play for the Portland Beavers, and in the 50s he worked as a player/manager for a few teams. He then worked as a scout until 1976.

Hillis mentions that he spent 20 years in pro ball as a player, and 18 years as a scout for the Majors.

Addressing some of my specific questions about the game, Mr. Layne notes that the games has changed so much and that there are too many teams. He mentions that when he played, there were 8 teams in the AL and 8 teams in the NL. Today there are 30 teams. He says that he enjoyed playing one hour and 18 minute games and now it takes that much time to play 3 innings with all of the relief pitchers they use in every game.

Hillis has a connection to the area simply because he is from and lives in the other great state- Tennessee. He notes too that he enjoyed many games at the University of Kentucky.

Hillis added a PS on his note to me.
He says he is in poor health at 91 years of age, and he goes on to ask that I pray that his health will improve.

You know I will Hillis, and I ask that anyone that stumbles across this entry on my blog do the same! You are an asset to the game and the region!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Baseball Season is almost over

Obviously, not a lot is going on in the world of lower level pro baseball. I did read a short article in Baseball America about Indy League teams struggling this season.
Obviously, I might be writing less over the next few months. I might try to get around to reviewing some books, and I still have some pictures and comments to put up on some parks I visited this past season.
I do hope people get out to support the other local minor league teams in their communities. Lexington and Owensboro look to have pro basketball teams. It looks like the Pikeville team is continuing too.
Evansville Indiana had a good amount of success with their hockey team, and they also look to return.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dutchess Stadium and the Hudson Valley Renegades, Fishkill, NY‏


On this trip, we ended up visiting 10 pro baseball parks. We saw games at 5 of them. We ended up visiting this one a little by accident.

Going on a road trip that involves ball parks can be a little spontaneous and unpredictable. I rarely buy tickets in advance these days. I keep a couple of minor league park maps around most of the time. And, like many other fans of lower level pro baseball, I have a lot of useless information memorized that kind of impresses someone a little, maybe once a year.

Our visit to Dutchess Stadium was not planned. On our way up to Maine we realized that we had routed ourselves right through New York City. We made a few adjustments on the way back to go around NYC.

So, we are driving down the road. To my right, I notice a pretty nice looking park briefly fly in and out of my field of vision. We take the next exit. It was too nice to be an amateur field.

Plus, a few seconds after seeing it, it hits me that it is probably the home of the Renegades. I am a little confused about all of the little rural towns in New York.

Anyway, it is pretty early in the morning and we find ourselves in front of Dutchess Stadium. I figured it was really too early for any staff to be around. I hoped to get a good picture of the front entrance area, and maybe get a quick look in if a gate was open.

Well, there was a guy at the ticket window! I asked him if the team shop was accessible yet and he said it was!

I was pretty excited. We went in and bought a few items. The gift shop was small but had a nice selection of shirts, cards, novelties, etc. They were selling 5x7 photos of players for $2, which I thought was a great idea.

The guy running the shop said it was fine for me to go check the park out. They were great about this, so I was able to walk around and really check things out.

New York Penn League parks are always scrappy. They are small, and built on the cheap side, but they are fun. This park really reminded me of Skylands Park in New Jersey. I visited that park in 2005, back when it was park of the New York Penn League too. It was very similar to another park I have spent a lot of time at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio.

Like Skylands, they have decorated the park with paintings of mascots and other images. The restroom was especially decorated.

This is a nice little park in a neat little area. I hope the community is proud of this great venue to catch young prospects!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bridgeport Bluefish & The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, CT.







OK, I know Bridgeport is a LONG way from Kentucky, but we did do it on our week long road trip!

I was very excited about seeing this park. I will try to get some pictures up soon, but this is a great park right off of the interstate. It is very accessible, and we didn't have to drive through town to get to it.

They had a nice, well stocked gift shop that even had some bargains. Unfortunately, I did not find a card set, and I did hear rumors that one would not be produced this year for this team. This is unfortunate, as the team seemed talented.

The park is elevated on the outside. You do have to go up a lot of steps to get to the main entrance, and then come down some, depending on where your seat is, once inside.
The really cool thing about this park is it has a very industrial feel. There is some factory beside it, and some other buildings. The Ballpark at Harbor Yard has maybe the coolest feature I have ever found at a park- a rail line. Trains pass over the outfield area every 15 minutes or so. Locals may not appreciate it, and season ticket holders are probably tired of the novelty, but it is unique!

The staff was generally friendly, we talked to a couple of park employees who were great. They obviously took a lot of pride in the team and in the park. The park did seem to have a lot of ushers who were obtrusive at times. I will take enthusiastic ushers anyday over ones that don't pay attention though.

I took a lot of photos at this park, and the pictures don't do it justice. The park is one that you need to see in person.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Atlantic League vs. The Frontier League

Bridgeport and York are both members of the Atlantic League. This is a great, established league. I love the Frontier League and enjoy getting out to see this league whenever I can. I was excited to see how the Atlantic League compared.

We were totally impressed with the way these guys operate. I have read that the Atlantic League maintains a standard with the parks comparable to AA. I would rate these two parks at better than AA in general.

I love the teams that the Frontier League puts on the field. The Frontier League seems to have a lot of guys who weren't picked in the draft, or who have played some around the A level. They are young prospects trying to sneak in or back in to affiliated ball. With the exception of Joe Charboneau having one Veeckish at bat for the Canton Crocs in 2000, I can't think of any other former Major Leaguer appearing in a Frontier League game.

The Atlantic League seems full of former AA and AAA guys, along with some notable former Major Leaguers. It was fun catching Pete Rose Jr. in this league. Gary Carter and Tim Raines are managers. There are names in these league you will recognize from the 80s and 90s.

We had a great time catching games in the Atlantic League. We love the Frontier League too. I guess, with any independent league or minor league team, it is good seeing the local community come out to support them.

York Revolution at Sovereign Bank Stadium, York, PA.



Maybe 45 minutes from the Gettysburg area is York. Do to time limits, we really weren't able to see a lot of this town, but we did make it out for a ball game!

We were able to catch games at two Atlantic League parks this time around and I am so glad that we did. This are great parks, well maintained and exciting.

The York Revolution play at Sovereign Bank Stadium. Initially I felt overwhelmed by the park. You walk in and the place is electric. There is a lot to take in. Looking towards the outfield, the place seems excitingly inconsistent.

To the left is the Arch Nemesis which is 6 inches taller than the Green Monster. At over 37 and a half feet, it is something. It is pretty bold of this team to one up the Red Sox, and it really gives this stadium some character.

Moving along, the park also has a visible children's play area, and then standard park adds. The adds seem to be layered a bit, with some over the outfield wall.

Another very cool tradition at this young park is the firing of a canon when a player for the Revolution hits a home run. Seriously! I am not making this up!

Also, adding to the team's boldness, they do have some in between inning entertainment provided by the "Big Hitters". The Big Hitters are a group of guys with some size to them. They dance.

Their gift shop was well stocked with the usual unique and interesting items.

Similar to what I have seen with the Florence Freedom, the Revolution was giving away nice, small magazine style programs. Along with the usual adds, the Revolution included some cool articles about some of their players, stats, etc. A great feature I noticed that other teams neglect is that they note national anthem performers. I would LOVE to see other teams give this kind of credit in their programs.

The only problem at this venue is that it took us a little while to park and to buy tickets. We may have went on an exceptionally enthusiastic day though. They had a good crowd. Much better than I expected for Indy league ball. Then again, I have seen a lot of local support for many minor league teams this year, thank goodness!

This team draws a great, friendly crowd that seemed appreciative of the action on the field. There were chants, and friendly banter in the stands. I can honestly say there was an almost Major League vibe going on. This is the kind of park I would like to visit again. A lot of care has gone in to the making of this team and park. The locals seem to support the team, and they have a lot to be proud of!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Appalachian Power Park (again)

With a little retooling on our trip schedule, we were able to fit this game in kind of last minute. Originally, we weren't going to be in the Charleston WV area, then we realized it would be pretty easy to get to this area for a second time this year.

This is a cool park, and I was excited about getting to see a game here. The park is quirky and scrappy. It is small and you feel very close to the action.

The fans seemed pretty diverse. In some ways, I felt like I was at a high school sports event, as there were a LOT of kids and teenagers running around. I also saw plenty of older guys there paying close attention to the action on the field. I noticed one of the older guys yell (by name) at one of the kids to set down. The kid apologized and set down. So the crowd seemed familiar with each other and respectful.

Dennis Haskins, Mr. Belding from the show "Saved By the Bell" was the "promotion" on the night I was there. It was kind of funny, there were several signs promoting an appearance by Mr. Belding. I don't think I noticed any promo material using the actors real name.

Haskins was very entertaining. He was interviewed a lot, and he had a very long autograph line. He sang a few songs too! He did a very respectable "Brown Eyed Girl" between the game and the fireworks. In fact, I need to find a recording of him doing this song, as it is still in my head!

Dora the Explorer was there too. She must also be a big fan of baseball. I have seen her in Toledo, Lexington and now Charleston this year.

It was a good game, with Kannapolis beating up on the Power for the win, but the Charleston crowd seemed happy. It was a fun night.

We stayed for fireworks after the game. It was a great show. The fireworks, like the action on the field, felt very close. In fact, I had to dust a little black dust off of my clothes afterwards.

I forget the exact promotion (I think it was a strike out batter of the game promotion) but you could take your ticket from the nights game to a Quaker Steak and Lube for for 6 free wings with a food purchase! If you have ever had wings from this chain, you know this is a great prize. Unlike other similar promotions, we took advantage of this one (I probably own 60 expired coupons for a free White Castle burger given out at various ballparks).

I saw a little more of Charleston on this trip. I didn't think Charleston had a lot going for it, but the fact that a Quaker Steak is there (the chain seems to mostly be in PA and OH) definitely improves the areas coolness score. Actually a minor league ballpark, a nice mall AND a Quaker Steak pretty much define a cool town.

New England

OK, I know I am trying to keep things mostly centered around professional baseball in and near the great state of Kentucky. Well, recently we took a trip up to New England to visit several parks between here and there. In fact, within about a 1 week period we saw ballparks between Charleston West Virginia and Portland Maine. We visited 10 parks, seeing games at 5.

Some I had visited before and it was nice seeing them again.

Some were very kind and generous about letting me look around even during off hours (the folks with the Hudson Valley Renegades were super!) while other parks had very limited access when games were not being played (Hadlock Field in Portland and the new Coca Cola Park in PA come to mind). Anyway, it is always fun checking a park out!

I will try to get some reviews and pictures up over the next few days.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Myron Noodleman and Lousville Bats vs. Charlotte Knights





I am almost embarrassed to admit that this was my first time seeing the Bats this year. Mostly because of the weather and other commitments, I just haven't been able to make it to a Bats game until this last Saturday.
I experienced a little deja vu watching this Bats team. It seemed like I had watched the same team in Chattanooga last year. I guess that's a good thing.
It is funny, sometimes when you see several different minor league teams that are linked to the same big league team, you start to see the same faces. Its great when you see those guys at AA one year, and AAA the next.
I have experienced this with the White Sox's AAA team, the Knights. I have seen the White Sox a few times over the last several years and I have seen the Knights play here and there. In 06, I remember Josh Fields playing for the Knights against the Mud Hens in Toledo. I saw him the next year at spring training with the White Sox. It was nice seeing him again with the Knights this past weekend.
I really like Louisville Slugger Field too. It is a very photogenic place to catch a game. It is in a city area. I do prefer seeing games a little more "out" with green trees behind the outfield wall, but Louisville looks so nice. With the bridge visible, you do know you are in a bigger area, but it is still Kentucky!
This park is clean and friendly. There are ushers and staff that are very visible and helpful, but they are unobtrusive. Most seemed eager to talk about baseball.
Parking is plentiful and easy to access. I saw most lots next to the park charging a reasonable $5.
This was also my first chance to catch Myron Noodleman which was a treat. Unlike many baseball fans, I LOVE big furry muppet type mascots. Myron is an actual person, so I went in a little skeptical. How can a minor league travelling attraction be entertaining if they aren't in a big furry costume??
Myron Noodleman is just a funny comedian type of guy doing in between inning sketch gags.
I wasn't sure what to expect from minor league entertainment that wasn't an umpire harassing muppet. I got it pretty quickly though. The whole gimmick starts out a bit slow, but it grows on you quickly. The crowd got in to it pretty quickly too. Watching a nerdy guy doing dance moves (he had the moves down by the way) is just funny. By the end of the game, I wanted to see more of his strange humor.
The funniest part of his act was his fan interaction. He was all over the park messing with fans. It was sort of like watching a clueless annoying fan and a great comedian all at once. His delivery and style are perfect.
Myron is kind of like that joke that doesn't seem funny at first, but then the more you think about it, the funnier it gets. When Myron comes out at the start of the game, he doesn't seem that funny. He dances around and all. Its good for a chuckle. Then, he does the dueling banjo act (mimicking a coach giving signals while a coach responds). That's funny. Then he keeps going. He walks through the crowd like he owns the park, making fun of fans, and just being over the top obnoxious. I saw him bring some hecklers down a few notches too, which was appreciated by everyone, including the hecklers.
I am looking forward to the next time Myron comes to town. His act is entertaining and original. I hope he keeps doing this for decades to come.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Captains and Legends

Sometimes you have a strange moment of realization. You realize that something you have appreciated will end. It might not be that big of a deal. You still get the same amount of sleep when you go to bed that night, but you are sad to hear about it anyway.

Every morning I check the Lexington Herald Leader to see what they had to say about the previous night's Legends game. They do a nice job of giving a brief description of the game. I do wish they would cover the Horsemen a bit more thoroughly, but I am very happy with their Legends coverage in general.

I noticed a note at the end of their few paragraphs concerning Saturdays game against the Captains, which was the last game of the series against Lake County.

The Herald Leader noted that this would be the last game ever between the Captains and the Legends in Lexington.

The Captains switch leagues next year.

This isn't that big of a deal in general. In fact, I doubt many people care.

I have mentioned here before though that we used to see the Captains a lot when we lived in the Cleveland area. They were our team. In fact, even when they play the Legends now, we are a little conflicted about who to cheer for. Its one of those situations where we want both teams to win.

I guess I can admit too that, when we would see the Legends play the Captains in Lake County, we always cheered for the Captains. The Legends seemed a little cocky back then.

It has been a bit of a treat seeing the Captains play in Lexington. They have a great park near Cleveland- Skipper, Captain Tony and the Lighthouse are missed by us.

The Legends are my team now, and it is strange being a fan of one team for a while, and cheering them on against another team that you used to cheer for.

I am sure we will catch a game in northern Ohio maybe every other year or so. We aren't in that area a lot, but we have found ourselves there a time or two since we moved. That will be nice, but we will miss seeing them at least a few times a year. I think we might even miss that conflicted allegiance feeling too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Huntington Park, Columbus Ohio



I finally made it to the new Huntington Park in Columbus. Again, I was unable to catch a game here, but I was able to stop by and look around on a trip through the area.

The Columbus Clippers organization has always been top notch. I always felt that they promoted their team and baseball in general well. I have never had a bad experience with these guys.

While passing through the area recently, we stopped by. The Clippers staff was great. They were very friendly about letting me walk around the place and hit the gift shop.

This is a beautiful park. In fact, it is really hard to say just how perfect it is. The skyline view of the city is amazing. The park feels modern and traditional. I am really just going to have to put some pictures up on this one.

The Coop was great too. 70 years of history is hard to replace. I do recall hearing some rumors that a soccer team or race cars might try to move in to the old Cooper Stadium. We will see. It does break my heart when old parks become vacant parks.

This is a great one though. I am itching to catch a game here.

The gift shop was clean and nice. They did have a great selection of shirts and novelties, including some very cool retro shirts. Items were a bit pricier than what I am used to at the low A and indy league gift shops.

Their program was $2 and looked great. 4 baseball cards were included in the program! I was excited to add another Trevor Crowe card to my collection!

Looking through their program, and having seen this team earlier in the year (I did see the Clippers play the Mud Hens in Toledo before they had a chance to play their 1st game at Huntington) I am really excited to see so many players that were former Lake County Captains. When we lived in Cleveland, the Captains were our team. We had partial season tickets, and went as often as we could. Frank Hermann, Chuck Lofgren, Niuman Romero and Trevor Crowe come to mind. All nice guys that I saw at the A level, and it is so exciting seeing that they have come this far.

I am trying to figure out a time that I can get up there to see a game. With Easton, Cosi, their arena area, the Columbus Zoo, and Short North, Columbus has a lot going for it. With this towns desire to improve and to make itself better, it reminds me of Pittsburgh in a lot of ways.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rain

I have had most of my recent travel and game plans cancelled because of the weather. I just haven't done a lot lately. I am making plans though! I did hit a rain delayed Lexington Legends game Friday, and the next night I went to a Florence Freedom game, also rain delayed.

Florence is such an underrated area. There is a lot going on right there that I have talked about before. Their walking tacos and sliders for $1 are about the best ballpark deal around.

I've noticed at the last few Freedom games they ask all former and active military guys to stand for a moment of recognition. Pure class. Every team around should be doing that.

The Horsemen did well too. I love this Arena football team. It does seem like they are getting more support. Their on field host Steve is funny as heck.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Appalachian Power Park

I have seen the West Virginia Power play the Lexington Legends and the Lake County Captains at their home parks several times. This was my first trip to the area and I was very excited about catching a game at Appalachian Power Park.

I guess I should start out by saying that my game was rained out. I did not get to see a game here.

I was still able to get a great look at the park. I have travelled around to a lot of baseball locations and facilities, and I must say, the guys running the Power's home operation get an A+. I can think of a couple of parks where the staff seemed annoyed that someone actually wanted to spend some money in their gift shop. They had no clue about baseball, their particular team, etc.

The staff at Appalachian Power Park seemed to take a lot of pride in their facility. They seemed happy to let me come in and check things out.

The gift shop was small and crammed, but well stocked. I was very impressed to see signed game used caps (I would love to see more teams selling signed game used gear). They had a fun selection of shirts and other items including some retro style stuff from the older Charleston team. The guy running the store seemed very knowledgeable about the team, the park, etc. We talked about the recent draft, and the South Atlantic League in general.

The staff was very kind about letting me walk around the park and take pictures. I truly felt like I had the place to myself, and the other staff did not seem to mind my being there. I pretty much walked all around.

This might be one of the most unique parks I have come across. In fact, it is very hard to describe. It just went up in 05, but it has the feel of a park much older. Not that it looks worn out, but it seems more mature. It kind of feels a little outdated in a charming way.

Hypothetically, lets say I had no knowledge of this park before coming to it. Lets say someone showed it to me, and asked me to guess its origins. I would guess that some thoughtful baseball purists had a hand in it, several decades ago. I would assume no modern company could have thought this up. I would probably also wrongly guess that the downtown area was build around the park. The park just feels natural here, and it feels like it has been woven into the downtown area for a lot longer than it really has.

It is open and accessible. There would be plenty of places outside the fence of the park to look in on a game. All of the seating is close, and near the field.

Some of the park is built in to buildings that already were up in this downtown area. It sort of reminds me of the Louisville AAA park in that way. I think this really adds to a park, and the area near it.

There were a lot of banners up showing former players from the area who have made it. I really like this feature at a minor league park. I know Pawtucket and Indianapolis do this a lot, and it looks cool.

The park is really cool, but the only draw back is there is not a lot of stuff going on in Charleston. It is a nice town, but.... They do have a great 3 story mall. There is a movie theater close too. Free parking seemed scarce, with pay to park garage space around the mall. I do think charging to to park while you shop at a mall is bold.

We even picked up a pamphlet about things to do in Charleston. Most suggestions required a 30 minute or so drive out of town. Huntington is close. I do want to check out Pt. Pleasant and the Moth Man museum sometime. Marshall University is around here. But there just isn't a lot really going on in this area. I will take a book on my next trip here.

Speaking of books, this park is bursting with character. Even at its young age, a lot of love has gone in to it. I would really enjoy a book about this park. It is young, but a book is justified even at this point.

Let me make it clear though, I will make another trip here. The ball park alone has a cool feel, and I was there without a game going on! I can only image how fun it must be with a game!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

odds and ends

I have not been out to a ball park recently. I am planning on visiting some that I have not seen before soon, but not a lot else has been going on. The Lexington Legends had 3 of their guys in the SAL all star game, which is exciting for them. There are several players on that team right now that look good. It is a more exciting team this year in general.

The Legends are playing the Bowling Green team this week. It is very sad that this rivalry will not be allowed to develop, as the Bowling Green Hot Rods change leagues next year.

The Florence Freedom have a fun team too. They will be playing 2 of the new Frontier League teams this week. I am hoping to get up there to see at least one of those games.

One of the new teams is from Avon Ohio. The Lake Erie Crushers operate in my old stompin' grounds. Northern Ohio is a very nice baseball area, especially with this addition. The Lake County Captains of the SAL and this new Frontier League team are both short drives from downtown Cleveland.

The Crushers are managed by John Massarelli, who managed the Washington Wildthings for several seasons, and was one of the Leagues most successful managers. He is a fun manager to watch. I kind of figured an affiliated team would sign him up he is so good!

The Freedom are also playing the Sliders from Michigan, who were a traveling team last year. The year before they were in PA playing at a very small field, drawing very small crowds. They now play on the campus of East Michigan. I am not sure of the current situation with fan support, but I hope it is better (I guess it has to be better than last year, as a traveling team there are no fans to cheer for you!). I just read on their web site that their fireworks night was cancelled, as the sponsors pulled their support, which is very bad.

I am glad the Freedom and the Legends are getting good fan support.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Justin Randall and the Evansville Otters

I know the Otters aren't having the best season at the moment, but who cares. They have a ton of history behind them. They are one of the oldest indy teams around, and they play at Bosse Field, which has been in existence since 1915!

I love the Frontier League. The League is really developing a great reputation. I kn0w Owensboro was trying to get a FL team at one point. In ways, I wish they had gotten in to the league when they had a chance. In other ways, I fear a FL league team there would have failed miserably. Unlike when it began, the league is really a bigger market organization now. Areas close to Cleveland and Cincinnati support teams in this league. Early FL teams in Ashland and Pikeville failed quickly (the Ashland team folded after 11 games).

Evansville and Florence have teams that get a lot of local support, AND they are 2 of the oldest teams in the league.

Justin Randall played for both teams last year, and he is with Evansville this year. He coaches at Ashland University (in Ohio) too. He mentioned that his favorite field is Bosse. Being from Canada, his favorite team is the Blue Jays.

He noted that the new field at Florence is shocking. I was trying to think of a term for the new turf there, and Justin described it perfectly. "Shocking" is the best description! That, along with the various colored seats in the Freedom's park make it the most colorful park I know about.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Neall French and the Charleston RiverDogs


The Charleston RiverDogs recently played a series of games against the Legends here in town. 4 games were played, I was at the 1st and 3rd one, and listened to the 2nd one on the radio.

The 2rd game was a brilliant one on the part of Charleston. Hector Noesi took a perfect game to the 7th before walking a batter. Casey Erickson relieved Noesi, pitching a perfect 8th, and the switch pitcher Pat Venditte pitched the 9th. Ronald Ramirez had the Legends only hit, a home run against Venditte in the 9th inning.

A no-hitter is something special, but you hate to see one pitched against your team. In that respect, I was pretty happy Ramirez hit one.

On the other hand, a no-hitter is pretty rare and exciting, even if it is against the good guys.

As a side note, I almost went to the similarly pitched AAA one-hitter by the Paw Sox over the Louisville Bats. It was a rainy day here, I figured Louisville had similar weather. They played, and again, I missed a great pitching performance from Clay Buchholz.

So, the Yankees single A team had a great showing against Lexington. This team looked more like a AA team. Several of these guys have a real chance.

I did correspond a bit with Charleston first baseman Neall French concerning the game, and playing baseball. He said that his favorite park to play in so far has been the RiverDogs home park, "The Joe." He said that his second favorite park so far is the one in Bowling Green.

Neall noted that his favorite team is the Yankees, as they have been good to him.

I asked Neall about what he thought of the new team and park in Bowling Green. He said, "the new team in BG is a talented team with some exciting players, and they play in a top notch stadium. Great place to play, with outstanding facilities."

I asked him about the one-hitter in Lexington, noting the outstanding pitching performance. Neall responded, "And that one hitter was a great game to play in, what a great pitching performance?!"

I may have put too much emphasis on the "pitching performance" part of my question. It was without a doubt, a great performance from the entire team.

I was pretty excited that Neall responded to my questions about his career, playing in Kentucky, and his experience in the game in Lexington this year.

I know Neall comes out of the Bay Village/Cleveland area, and went to St. Ignatius High School. I know when I lived in the Cleveland area, I bumped in to guys from the school doing volunteer work more than once. I met some St. Ignatius students doing volunteer work over their Thanksgiving break one year. Many kids would be home playing video games or sleeping! I have a lot of respect for any alumni coming out of this service minded school.

Neall is doing good with Charleston this year after playing with the Gulf Coast League Yankees last year. It will be fun watching his career as he goes up the baseball ladder. Thanks Neall!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kentucky Horsemen at Rupp Arena


Unfortunately, I was unable to get out and do a lot this weekend. We originally planned to do a quick road trip through Tenn. but things fell apart. Actually, I had some dental work done and my jaw and face are feeling pretty rough. Resting around the house sounded like a great idea!

I did catch up on some stuff. We also took the time to catch a Horsemen's game at Rupp. The crowds are looking better, but they announced the attendance at just a little over 3,000.

I really love Rupp, and I really love the Horsemen. Going to any event at Rupp is a good time.

I know I have talked about how great Rupp is before, but every time I go there, I feel more of an appreciation for the place. The arena food is affordable, and the staff is friendly. Their security is exceptional too. I honestly haven't seen a lot of bad stuff go down at Rupp, but I have noticed security jump into action when it has happened. I'm not kidding either. Security at the arena is very perceptive, and I have noticed them take action before an unpleasant situation gets ugly.

The Horsemen continue to put on a great show. They have mentioned that they operate as a not for profit at this point. I think this started with the 09 season, and was the only way to keep the team from going belly up.

Its a bit strange, I know the Louisville team was drawing a much bigger crowd than the Horsemen, but that team is no more.

Going to a Horsemen's game is a lot of fun. They have the pyro like they do at a UK basketball game. The team is a lot of fun too. Their on field announcer, Steve, is probably the best on field guy I have seen at a pro sporting event in some time (are you listening Microphone Mike?). He is funny and witty. He shows a lot of subtle humor too, which is appreciated. Also, this season, the team has Jared Lorenzen. This guy has played in the NFL!!! He's fun to watch too, and I think he is having a good time hanging out in the Arena 2 league for now. Jared alone is worth the price of admission.

You can still get great seats for as low as $10, PLUS this past Saturday they offered buy 1 get one free tickets. It's a great way to get the Rupp Arena experience, and see a fun sports team at a reasonable price, without fighting a crowd of 24,000 plus.

I love downtown Lexington and Rupp. I love getting downtown late afternoon early evening, eating at Deshay's, taking the walk ways over to Rupp Arena, passing the shops, and getting to a game.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5/14/09 Florence Freedom vs. Evansville Otters

The Freedom hosted their 1st exhibition game at Champion Window Field this past Sunday. They beat the Evansville Otters in an exhibition game.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that this was the 1st time I have ever seen the Evansville Otters play. I grew up near them, I have been to Bosse Field (in the off season) but this was my first time actually seeing the team. I have tried to see them many times. Hopefully, I can catch a home game this season.

I really enjoy catching the Freedom. I enjoyed the Freedom/Miners game a few days earlier at Crosley (mentioned in my last post) but the Freedom's home field has a great vibe going on. It seems to get better each season too.

Being the classy organization that they are, the Freedom were letting people in to the game for a canned food item. Most people I saw brought in more than just one, so the Freedom seemed to have had a nice little collection going.

The Freedom have put down that new fake grass stuff on their field. I thought it was pretty cool. Jenn wasn't so sure. It looked nice though. There is kind of an orange/brown grass where the base path dirt used to be. I do appreciate watching a grounds crew prep, but this stuff looked nice. The colors of the grass really stand out. You notice it the second you step in and see the field.

The Freedom still have their original mascot Liberty. Their new mascot, Belle is about the greatest mascot around. She is, without a doubt, the coolest mascot in the state, and she may be the best mascot in all of the Minors. I love big muppets and so do you. The Freedom also have a new mascot that I think they called the Run Rabbit. Rabbits are creepy.

Continuing with their very family friendly (and affordable) theme, the Freedom have added a $1 menu!!! This is super cool. I would love to see this catch on at other parks. They have small burgers for a buck each.

I am really looking forward to my next game in Florence, this is a great park that is very casual and relaxed. The staff is friendly, and they don't have ushers telling you to get out of the isles, or asking to see your ticket.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Crosley Field in Blue Ash Ohio


I was able to hang out some at the Florence Freedom's exhibition game against the Southern Illinois Miners. This game was played at the Crosley Field in Blue Ash. I really love the Frontier League and the Freedom. This was a fun event at a fun place.

I have to admit that I only recently heard about the "new Crosley Field" in Blue Ash, OH. The original was before my time. I have seen pictures, but I have no personal connection to it in anyway. You would not be able to go to this Crosley Field and pretend that you were at the original. The original had a view of the Cincinnati skyline and held over 25,000. This field is one of several in Blue Ash. A few hundred could watch a game here comfortably. In many ways, it is an appropriate place for high school level play, and it feels like any other lower level amateur field. It is very unique though. I love this sort of thing. Blue Ash put this re-creation together as part of their community sports complex. I read that there are original seats form the original Crosley Field. The seat frames looked original to me. Also, there is an original ticket booth there which seemed it's age. They have a replica scoreboard too. I read that the dimensions of the field are the same as the original. There are plaques displayed with signatures of Reds players.

I really love the idea of trying to recreate an old park. I do know some larger cities have tried to make smaller versions of their big league stadiums for the kids. This is similar. I did find myself thinking about other additions to make the park more authentic, and more like the original. More seats? More replica era ad signs? I quickly abandoned this line of thinking. Without a big league budget you really can't make a Major League park- original or replica. Blue Ash has done the nicest job possible in carrying the Banner of Crosley Field.

The Freedom organization put on a nice show too. They scheduled this and another preseason game here since their regular park is still being prepared. No tickets needed. The game had an extremely casual feel as players and fans mingled. The Freedom played the same team the night before in IL, and that game was shown live on the internet which was cool.