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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum part 2

I will get a post up in the next day or so, but I have recently traded a couple of emails with Dr. Ray Doswell, curator at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He commented on my recent post about my trip to the museum.

Ray wanted to respond to my mentioning that there were some things wrong with the museum.

I think it says a lot for Ray, and for the Museum that they are obviously searching the internet for comments about the facility, and they are doing their best to make sure problems are addressed. Not only that, but Ray has spent a lot of time addressing every thing I mentioned. I am impressed by the fact that Ray and the NLBM are concerned about any comment or criticism- even if it is coming from a small, generally unnoticed blog.

Ray mentioned that there are a lot of changes going on at the museum, mostly relating to improvements, and our visit was on a very transition day. The museum was changing bulbs (and he mentions that the museum is switching to more energy efficient bulbs).

Dr. Doswell mentions that if I had come to the museum the day before, I would have been able to see a presentation by Willie Mays biographer Jim Hirsch. Ray is obviously excited about the museum, and the many programs that it is offering.

I would like to thank Ray Doswell for his response to my post. Also, I want to mention that I really appreciate and admire the fact that the museum and its staff obviously care a great deal about the museum, its quality and what it represents.

The NLBM really has a lot of weight on its shoulders, as it is the most significant representation of the Negro Leagues. Ray and the museum obviously care a lot about that responsibility.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wild Pitches

Sports Illustrated has a couple of great articles again this week. I really enjoyed the Stan Musial article.

How can you not love Stan? SI has again done justice with a great article about a great player. AND there is a nice picture of him on the cover.

Tim Lyaden's Scorecard is excellent this week too. He talks about how the history books are being rewritten, doubted, and generally looked at again. He notes that A-Rod's home run number 600 might actually only be clean home run number 358. On the football side of things, he brings up USC giving back the Heisman Trophy of Reggie Bush.

Layden asks how far should we go with the changing of the record books.

The article has a bit of a humorous tone making a serious point.

Congrats to Garza and the Rays on the teams no-hitter. Finally, they were not on the receiving end of such a hard loss.

I have traded some emails recently with Dr. Ray Doswell of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He found my entry about my recent visit to the museum and very quickly responded to some of the issues I noted. Ray obviously cares a lot about the museum, and what it represents. If someone mentions any sort of issues, he will address it. More on Ray and the NLPB Museum later.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: Counting Coup

Recently, I sent a note to Larry Colton who had a very brief career with the Phillies.

Larry sent me back a very nice and honest note. He also sent a small promo flyer for the book he wrote several years ago called "Counting Coup."

I have a bit of a personal policy of trying to read any book recommended to me, especially if there is some sort of baseball connection. Anytime I send a note to a baseball player and they kindly respond, and mention that they have contributed to a book, I try to track it down.

In the note Larry sent me, I could tell that he was a very socially minded person, as he mentioned baseball unions and politics. His awareness of social issues shows very clearly in this book.

So, I found a copy of the big, but easy to read "Counting Coup".

Colton starts out talking about how he travels to an Indian Reservation to spend some time in the area, and to write about the high school boys basketball team. Quickly, he notices a player on the girl's team who stands out. Larry's plan of writing a book about the boys team is scratched. The focus becomes the girls team and specifically Sharon.

Larry Colton has a bit of an interesting writing style. He very openly interacts with the people in the book, and he writes about it. In many ways, he becomes a part of the story.

Larry lives in the community for 15 months, following the team to games, and even going to family get-togethers and sweat lodges with locals.

He interviews local politicians, family members, and others in the community. The author boldly gives very honest quotes from those in the community.

There is some tension between the whites and the members of the Tribes. Since Larry gives such honest quotes, some of the people in the book do come off as racist. This does happen on all sides.

Also, there are the common issues that occur on a reservation. Larry acknowledges that he sees drinking as a problem in the area. Higher education is another problem. the whites seem to have an easier time getting access to an education.

Colton hasn't written just another book about an oppressed people though. By the end of the book, he has not offered an idealistic solution to racial problem.

In fact, the book is a little disappointing, as there is no fairy tale happy ending. The book ends on a bit of a down note.

With that disappointment, however, you do appreciate Colton's honesty. In the real world, the stories often do not end with everyone happy, and everything perfect in the end. If the author forced such an ending to this story, he would not be honest. These are real people in a real community.

This is one of the more fascinating books I have read in some time. You feel some real attachment to the people in the area. You want to see things work out for them, especially Sharon.

The book's realness, and the author talking so openly to the reader makes for a good read. His writing style reminds you of a friend telling you a story. You aren't watching it as an outsider, you are there with him, and you develop a real interest and appreciation for these real people.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Joe Buck's St. Louis MO.

Hey! Joe Buck's is just a couple of blocks from the stadium, and he had a very nice late lunch/early dinner here!
It wasn't crowded, and it had a great, casual atmosphere.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book: "Sayonara Home Run!" by Gall & Engel

An artsy friend recently let me borrow this book. It gives a history of baseball cards in Japan, and it is loaded with pictures!

The book is very attractive, and the pictures are a lot of fun.

I think many American baseball fans have very little knowledge of the game and its history in Japan. This is a nice, but not excessive intro to how the game in Japan has translated to cardboard.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Negro League Hall OF Fame and Museum, Kansas City


There are certain pilgrimages all baseball fans should make. The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown comes to mind. The Negro League Baseball Museum is also on that list.

I should take a moment to say that I truly appreciate shrines like this. A lot of love and respect has been put into this establishment.

I should also take a moment to be honest and say that I was a little disappointed. I have read about some of the money issues going on with the museum. I know there are problems and complications with keeping a place like this going, especially in these economical times, but I saw a few things here that were a little embarrassing.

We went inside. One of the first things you come across at the museum is the movie theater. There is a sign giving the times that the movie shows- which was pretty much every half an hour.

We went into the theater, and the movie was playing without audio. I went to tell one of the staff people. I told the person selling tickets.

We came back a half an hour later hoping to see the movie, with audio. This time, there was no movie showing. People casually walked in expecting to see the film, narrated by James Earl Jones. We all set around the dark theater. After a few minutes we realized the film would not be playing.

Sure, sometimes movie projectors don't work. However, they were obviously informed of the problem. It looked like they had even stopped the video projector, but they did not take the time to close the theater door or put up a small sign to inform patrons of the situation.

SEVERAL light bulbs were out. This was especially sad in their Hall of Fame locker area. Each inductee has a jersey and a plaque describing their career, displayed in a locker. Some of the lockers had no light. You literally could not read about the career of the player!

Some of the items on display were undocumented. For example, there are several sets of wooden ballpark seats throughout the museum. I was curious about where they came from, but I could not find a plaque or note card with information on them. They were just wooden seats. They may have been repros, or they may have been from a significant stadium. I don't know.

I was at the museum with friends who had been there before. They said that it seemed more impressive on previous visits.

There were some other areas of concern. I really hate to admit it, but I could go on.

I thought back to my visit to the Ty Cobb museum a few weeks earlier. The museum was smaller, it was ran out of a room in a hospital, and there was one staff person managing it, the gift shop, and some hospital work. It was nicer.

I went through the Royals Hall of Fame on this trip too. Very nice (see my previous post).

My friend and I both agreed that we could fix their lighting and some other issues in an hour or two. Again, these were small, but very noticeable issues.

The no photography rule here seemed unnecessary too. There are some nice relics behind glass, but there are many reprint photos, and things that a camera flash would likely not affect.

I honestly hate to mention any flaws here, but they were very obvious.

Still, for $8 admission, or $10 to see the Jazz Museum too, the ticket price is a bargain. If you are a fan of baseball, you will still have a great time.

There is a lot to like here. I got the feeling that this museum, with a little tweaking, could be spectacular.

There are some some uniforms. The Hall of Fame Section is very nice (with lighting). Also, I really admired the Geddy Lee Collection. Right when I thought he couldn't get any more awesome! What a great guy.

Oh, there gift shop was great. I have to give them a lot of credit on their gift shop. They had some beautiful reproduction Negro League jerseys. They were pricey, but they were some of the nicest repros I have seen.

They also had a great selection of affordable t-shirts. I personally couldn't leave without a Cleveland Buckeyes shirt. I also picked up Rod Carew's book SIGNED at cover price! If my wife had not stopped me, I would have bought more.

As I finish writing this, I am feeling like I may have been a bit hard on the museum. It was still a great trip, well worth the price of admission. Still, it may have been an off day for the museum, but it was probably the only trip many people will make there.

I love baseball. Obviously, I love going to games and shrines relating to the sport. I tell friends who have not gone to games about the joy and family friendly atmosphere at the minor league parks. I encourage people to visit the museums. I just hope that those people in charge of the parks, the shrines and the museums have the same reverence for the sport and its history.... especially the history of the humble Negro Leagues.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Postcard: Kansas City Municipal Stadium

"Kansas City Municipal Stadium Home of the Athletics."

"The newest and finest Ball Park in the American League. Seating capacity approximately 34,000."

I was thrilled to find this postcard of the defunct stadium postmarked 1957.

Wild Pitches

I am still trying to squeeze a few more games/parks and books on baseball in for the season. I just picked up the cool book on Crosley.

You know, that park was WAY before my time, but how exciting it must have been for those folks in the southern Ohio area! I have been to the replica park which is nice.

There is a very sad photo in the book of old cards inside of Crosley, as it was a bit of a dumping ground for scrap when it's baseball days were over.

So, if you live in an area with a baseball venue close by, go out and support it! Don't let it become a dumping ground!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kansas City T-Bones- Well Done

Some teams have a wicked good sense of humor, like the Kansas City T-Bones.

I thought I would put up an image of their pocket schedule this year.

"Fun...Well Done."

$1 hot dogs and free parking are a pretty big reason to go too.

This is a great park in a great location. AND they have a bull mascot named Sizzle.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Postcard: Old Busch Stadium

I would love to find some old postcards of the St. Louis Arch. The postcard style I love had been phased out by the time the Arch went up in the 60s.

Luckily, the gift shop at the Arch sells a great postcard book with 8 very retro looking postcards for $8.95!

The old Busch Stadium is on several of the cards.

Since the book is currently commercially available, I will only scan the cover (shown) for this blog.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame and Museum

The Kansas City Royals really impressed me during our recent trip through the area.

Like the Reds, the Royals have put a Hall of Fame for the team right there at their ballpark.

I know a lot of teams have some tributes, plaques, etc. but a full legitimate Hall of Fame is really nice.

The staff here was great. I asked a guy when I walked in if it was OK to take pictures. He said that it was encouraged!

This museum did a great job of covering the beginnings of the team, the history, etc. They had a fun display of stadium give aways and other relics. Uniforms and historic gear were also on display. George Brett factors significantly in the museum. In fact, there were Brett references all over the town.

In the back of the museum, there is a huge window over looking the park. It was a very nice touch.

Their World Series trophy is there!!! Tell me that is not cool!

In the gift shop, they were selling game used balls from games. I thought that was cool. I think prices started at $30. The balls had some documentation too, noting where they appeared in the game.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wild Pitches

Well, I guess we are at the half way point in the baseball season. Yeah, it makes me a little sad too.

I am glad to see one of my all time favorites, Cliff Lee, back with a winner. I was a little nervous as I heard some of the trade rumors. The Reds were talking about him, and that would have been great. I would love to see Lee back in Ohio. Then, there was talk that he was going to the Yankees. That would have been bad. But, he is with the Rangers. I can deal with that.

Get out to a game this weekend! Louisville is playing the Iron Pigs at home this weekend and Lexington hosts the Crawdads.

The Freedom are playing Evansville in Evansville. Fans in Kentucky can make that drive pretty easily.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Huntington Park- Columbus OH

Cooper Stadium was a great park in Columbus that saw a lot of history. I have talked to a lot of people who hated to see the Clippers leave. It seemed a bit unnecessary.

How could you top such a historic facility?

Well, they did top it.

I had the privilege of stopping by Huntington Park in its first year (2009) but it was an off day. It wasn't until this season that I got to stop by on game day.

There is a noticeable difference between a park on a day when a game is going on, and when a game is not going on. Yes, I know, I am stating the obvious.

All parks have some magic 24 hours a day. I mentioned in a previous post that I stopped by the old Greenville Braves park some time ago. The place is starting to fall apart, but the baseball magic is still there.

The excitement of seeing the team on the field, and of mingling with other baseball fans magnifies the magic.

Seeing a park without a game going on is always fun and a treat. Seeing a park with the team on the field, however, is ideal. You are seeing the park at it's best.

Columbus has a festive atmosphere. It is a party town. The park is right there pretty much on campus and you can feel the young vibe in addition to the baseball magic.

Unlike at other parks, standing around and drinking beer is the norm. There were no staff people chasing people away.

Huntington Park has a few features that I would love to see copied elsewhere.

There is a three story open building with a Buster's Wings on the top and a bar area on the second floor. The gift shop is on the bottom. The top area has several tables with great views of the game. And, in a move that reminds one of the rooftop seats at Wrigley, Busters has a bleacher area on the top of the building. This is a great place to catch the game! Oh, and they have great wings!

There are some fun photo ops in the back of Buster's. You can see Nationwide Arena right behind the park.

The park has a great fenced in viewing area from the street. You can watch some BP from here before the gates open! People on the street can get a great view of the game outside of the park even without a ticket! It is a really nice feature here.

I have put a smaller version of a panoramic I made on this site. This is a great park for pictures. The sun was overwhelming when I was there though, so some of my pictures are a little bleached out.

The Coop is still standing. It looks like it has been a bit let go, but it is still there, and they have fenced it in. I hate to see a nice park fade away, but I do love to see a great new park go up.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ernie Hays St. Louis Cardinals Organist

Organist Ernie Hays sent a nice short note.

He said that he has been the St. Louis sports organist since 1971!

He says that his favorite player was Ozzie!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jim Barbieri 1966 Dodgers

Mr. Barbieri sent a kind note about he brief playing experiences in Kentucky. He says that the only thing he remembers about playing in Louisville was that it was hot and humid.

He mentions that one night, after a game, the team went out for dinner. They were having a good time, and forgot about curfew. Right after getting back to his room at the hotel, there was a knock on his door. It was his manager checking on him.

"I think he knew that I just barely made it because of my heavy breathing" Jim says.

Jim says that he remembers everything about the World Series, and that the lose was the biggest.

He does remembers meeting Boog Powell, as they played against each other in the 1954 Little League World Series. Boog played for Lakeland, FL. and Jim played for Schenectady, NY. Boog was the pitcher and Jim's team beat him 16-0. Boog got his revenge sweeping Jim's team in the 1966 World Series.

Thanks for the fun stories Jim!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Larry Colton- 1968 Phillies

Larry Colton sent me a note recently!

"In 1968, the Phillies traded Jim Bunning to Pittsburgh, supposedly because they thought I was ready to move up to the big team and take his place."

He goes on to say that he got hurt and taking Bunning's place did not happen.

Larry mentions that Bunning went on to be a Senator.

He sent me this note in response to my question about having any Kentucky related stories.

Mr. Colton also mentions that Jim Bunning was very involved in the MLB player's Union. He mentions that Jim seems to have forgotten his Union past... and that he has forgotten a lot of other things!

I would like to thank Larry for his honest (and darn funny) letter. Also, Larry sent me a promo for his book that he wrote! I just got a copy for myself, so I am sure that I will get a review up soon after I read it.

Wild Pitches

There is a very nice, and honest article in this week's Sports Illustrated about one of my favorite teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I have talked a lot about how great of a town Pittsburgh is. PNC Park is a perfect baseball venue. The skyline is perfect, and catching a game here is very relaxing. Go out and check out the photo inside of SI, it will give you an idea.

Unfortunately, the Pirates have not had a winning season in almost 2 decades. It is a very sad situation for one of the greatest franchises in sports history.

I know Cleveland sports fans are feeling bad... again. You saw it coming a mile away though.

Reds fans can be happy though. Our boy Joey Votto is an All-Star! And all of Ohio knows that baseball is the only sport that matters. OK, and football.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CD: Gary Pressy "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"

I don't know about you, but around November, I am itching to here some organ music!

I was at a few games recently with my baseball buddies Nate and Holly. Holly commented that if someone could bottle and sell the smell at a baseball game, she would buy it.

I love that fresh mowed grass smell, mixed with ballpark food smells. That is very "baseball". It is part of the whole experience.

So is the organ music at some of the classier parks.

I picked up this CD and I have been listening to it at work a lot. I swear, when I listen to it, I can smell that ball park smell too!

The CD is what you would expect. It is fun songs played by Wrigley Field organist Gary Pressy. This will be perfect in November when I am really missing going to the park.

I contacted Gary through the Cubs and ordered this CD directly from him. He sent me my copy for $15 including shipping!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium- Kannapolis Intimidators

Kannapolis has an interesting team and park. We stopped by on a non-game day and checked the place out.

I am sure it is exciting on game day, but our time there was brief. It was hot and we did not have a lot of time.

I did like the info on the team that was posted inside of the stadium by the booster club. I like the information on the home areas of the team players.

An interesting item offered in the gift shop was a very long panoramic photo of the park made by a fan. You can buy a copy for $15!

Obviously, there is a lot of emphasis on racing here. To be honest, the place almost felt more like a racing shrine than a ballpark. I do appreciate that though. Baseball and racing fans both can stop here on their pilgrimages.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

L.P. Frans Stadium- Hickory Crawdads

The Hickory Crawdads proved to be a very classy organization when we came through town. We knew we would be there on an early Saturday morning. We called a couple of weeks ahead of time to make sure the gift shop would be open, and that they would be able to let us see the place. They assured us that they would be around when we would be there.

Well, we drove to the area, and the place was packed! We wondered if maybe they were having some college game or other event going on. We hoped it was not some sort of private event.

We went to the front game entrance. People were mingling everywhere- there was a lot of excitement.

We went on in and noticed that Crawdads posters, magnet schedules, and pocket schedules were being handed out to everyone that would accept them! Pretty cool! Really, any team hosting a non-baseball event at their venue should be doing this sort of thing.

The team shop is near the front of the park, and we noticed that it was not open for business. There was a very kind young girl handing out posters up front. I told her that we had called about stopping by and were told the team shop would be accessible. She went to see if someone could open it up for us and came back giving me a thumbs up.

The Crawdads have a smaller gift shop, but they have many more unique items than other teams. We picked up a cool t-shirt with one of their logos (it is a claw holding a baseball). they also sold game used balls!

The stadium was hosting a 5K run on the day we were there. We actually stuck around to watch some of it. They had a good crown and a full parking lot. The race ended at home plate.

The park has a nice rural feel to it. This is a park I hope to catch a game at some time. A nice community feel is going on in the area.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wild Pitches

The weather has cooled a bit, and there is no excuse for not catching a game this weekend!

I don't have a lot on my mind right now (if you have read my other posts, you know that this is nothing new).

I did watch a few games on TV recently. I have heard an organ rif of "Blister in the Sun". I always got a kick out of hearing the song when Burger King was using it in commercials. It was cool hearing it come from the organist at Wrigley.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

War Memorial Stadium, Greensboro, NC

Here are a couple of photos I took while on my trip through the Carolina's. The Greensboro franchise used to play here, and the park has a brief feature in Bull Durham.

I was not able to get inside, but that was OK. We only had a couple of minutes to look around. It still looks like a nice park, but see my previous entry on the new park. A change was needed.