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

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:


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


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!