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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crosley Field Book

This book has been out for several years, but I just very recently picked up my copy.

Its funny, this park was finished with baseball way before I came along. An older friend noticed me reading the book, and he mentioned that he had been to some games there as a kid. He was very excited to flip through the book.

There are a lot of pictures and history in this one. The players had to walk through the crowd to get to the diamond. Traffic was a huge issue in the area. A young Pete Rose used to try to bum tickets years before he would play at the park.

I thought this book would be a very quick read, but it was not. You read about the park and the players, then you gaze at the photos for some time, thinking about the place.

The authors do a great job of discussing the parks very early history, its evolution, upgrades, etc. You read about the park's early days, its significant moments, and finally, there is info about what is in the area now where the park once stood.

One of the saddest pictures I have ever seen relating to baseball is in this book. There is a photo of the park being used to as a scrap yard.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rich Herrera- Tampa Bay Rays Director of Radio Operations

Rich Herrera is one of those few radio guys that has done everything, and he has done it for several teams in several sports! In baseball he has worked for the Giants, the A's and now the Rays. He worked for the Fox Sports Radio Network hosting his own show!

Rich sent me a very kind note answering some questions.

"It is hard to pick one favorite player."

He says that he loved working in San Francisco as it is a great sports town but he is really enjoying his current situation in the Tampa Bay area!

Rich asks me if I am a UK Wildcats fan! Thanks for asking Rich, and yes I am!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wild Pitches

The weather is better in my area, and I am still trying to squeeze in a few more games before the season is over!

Just a couple of random thoughts/opinions......

I hate to see Lou Piniella step out, but I understand his need to leave. I think he will always be around baseball in some way.

I am still thinking about seeing the San Diego Chicken in Indianapolis! In fact, here is a link to the Chicken's page, and a blog post he had about how much he enjoys performing at Victory Field in that town. I especially like what he has to say about naming rights, and the actual name, "Victory Field"! Take a moment to read his post:


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

San Diego Chicken in Indianapolis

Indianapolis is one of my all time favorite places to go outside of the great state of Kentucky. I am always looking for an excuse to go there.

Well, I had a great excuse to go there a little while ago- The San Diego Chicken was making an appearance!

I have watched a lot of the current minor league characters make the rounds. I love them all. And, as I have mentioned before, I love mascots. Unfortunately, the Chicken was about the only one I had not been able to catch.

There is something so exciting about the Famous Chicken. He has been around since 1974 and he is full of integrity. Ted Giannoulas has always been the San Diego Chicken, even going to court over it.

I don't think anyone would have held it against him if, at some point, he decided to pass down the costume. Really he could have franchised the gimmick at some point, but he has not. He is the Chicken, and his relentless touring during baseball season gives him more cred than just about anyone in the sports world that I can think of.

He gives 100% too. Items at his merchandise table at the game were more than affordable. Hand signed photos were sold for $2. Plus, he always sticks around after the game to sign autographs for everyone.

Seeing the Chicken at Victory Field is ideal. In my opinion, downtown Indianapolis is very easy to drive through, parking is never much of a problem, and there is plenty to do within a short walk. Plus, the Indianapolis Indians have a great staff.

The San Diego Chicken did not come out until at least the 3rd inning, but after he came out, he was visible for most of the game, coaching 1st base at one point, and taunting the visiting team. He held up posters of girls in bikinis to distract the pitcher. He actually got into a play fight with the other team twice, once coming out to Rocky theme music, and wearing boxing gloves.

My favorite moments involved the Chicken posing for photos with small children, putting his beak over the tops of their heads. Bringing out the "little chicks" and taunting the umpire was great too. Oh, and he had a dance off with the Indians mascot, Rowdy.

The combination of Indianapolis Indians baseball, the great town of Indianapolis, and the Famous San Diego Chicken made for a great night at a ball game. I really hope that the San Diego Chicken continues doing what he does, as it is classic and totally unforgettable.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Manuel Rivera Strikes out 4 in 1 inning- Lexington

I don't know if anyone noticed this, but there was a 4 strike out half inning during the Lexington Legends game against the Greenville Drive on Friday night.

Lexington's Jiovanni Mier struck out swinging. A wild pitch went past the catcher, and Mier ran safely to 1st. Interestingly, Jiovanni would end up scoring after stealing second. He looked to be picked off easily in a steal attempt to third. Another off throw pitch convinced Mier to go on home, and he scored.

Jacob Goebbert, Ben Heath, and Jonathan Meyer also struck out in the inning. Heath's strike out was similar to Mier's, but the catcher threw him out at first.

It was fun watching this 4 strike out inning. Credit Drive pitcher Manuel Rivera with 4Ks in the inning! Here are some photos I took.

St. Louis Cardinals

When I was much younger, I drove through St. Louis with some friends a couple of times. The place seemed so big and intimidating.
Maybe its that I am older, or maybe living in a big city like Cleveland for a decade has changed my perspective. Or, maybe it was the fact that any city bigger than Evansville Indiana seemed huge to me back then.

This time around, however, the place seemed just right.

We drove in to town early on a Friday and St. Louis appeared just right to me. You see the Arch from a ways off. You are pulled to it. We looked around feeling the need to park, and go right to it.

We resisted that initial urge, and went to our hotel. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that our hotel was situated right between the Arch and the Busch Stadium. We parked at our hotel, and walked to the points we wanted to see.

The Arch is just amazing. We were able to spend some quality time here while in town. We took the egg shaped pod to the top and looked out the windows. There was a bit of a line, and you are in a closed in space, but this is with out a doubt a "must do" at some point in a lifetime.

We walked down to the park and had a meal at Joe Buck's (look for a review elsewhere on this blog). We had a nice time there, and continued to walk around town before the start of our game.

St. Louis has a very unique vibe going on before games. We passed a number of bars and nice restaurants that felt very open. For blocks, you could see casual fans hanging out and enjoying themselves.
As a side note, we heard more than one bar band that was in tune. Bar bands in other areas, please take note! Singing, and playing in tune is important!

You can really have a very complete game day experience here near the stadium. There is a very nice fan experience going on all around.

There was a coffee shop inside of the Hilton near the park and we stopped for coffee. Inside of the hotel, a piano player played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and outside a very competent bar band played. Street vendors sold peanuts and red bird hats.

St. Louis knows something that many other baseball areas have not figured out. MANY cities with major league teams need to take note. Having your ballpark in an easy to access downtown area with plenty of appropriate businesses is good for everyone.

The crowd was festive but pleasant. I did not notice any panhandling, or graffiti. Fans greeted and laughed with each other. You could feel safe walking with your children in this area before game time.
Busch Stadium is all that too. The staff was friendly and helpful not not intrusive.

The Cardinals had a very nice, well stocked and well managed gift shop. I noticed that the cashier made a point to address me as Mr. AND she pronounced my uncommon last name correctly. Retail people remember that. That earns an A+.

I love skylines at parks. Like the Pirates, the Cardinals have a great one, at least from where we were setting.

Another cool thing about the Cardinals. They will do a "happy birthday" type message on their side scoreboards for FREE. They loop them too during an inning, so, if you miss it the first time, get your camera ready. You'll probably have a couple more opportunities to get a picture of the message.

We had a really nice time in St. Louis and I am looking forward to getting back again soon. Especially if you are in Western Kentucky this is a nice, 3 day weekend trip.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wild Pitches

Hey, check out this link about Luke Holko Day hosted by the Scrappers. I have mentioned Luke here before. He was accidentally hit by a foul ball at a Mahoning Valley Scrappers game a year ago. It brings me a lot of joy to read that he is doing better. Also, the Scrappers officially added the 5 year old to their roster for a game recently!


In the Frontier League, the River City Rascals signed little person Nick Hagan in a Bill Veeck tribute event.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Book Review: Gary Carter

When I was a very young kid, the Mets were my team. Gary Carter was my favorite player.

I always thought he was positive and honest. he was always smiling, and just seemed to have a friendly, great attitude.

He is still one of my all time favorites. As I have gotten older, I have found other players that I admire for the same, or for other reasons, but many of my favorite moments in baseball that I witnessed first hand (on TV) involve Carter.

Interestingly, there are a few books out there on "The Kid."

I read "The Gamer" some time ago, and I recently picked up "A Dream Season" and had it finished in a couple of days.

In my mind, Gary will always be a member of the Mets. I do think it is cool that he is the only guy in Cooperstown wearing an Expos hat, though that will not be the case much longer.

I did not know a lot about Carter's time with the Dodger's and his rough relationship with Lasorda until I read The Gamer. I also did not know much about his time with the Giants.

Both books cover some of the same ground, most obviously the 86 World Series.

The Dream Season book was published in 1987, so the 86 season was still fresh in the minds of Carter and all of the Mets fans.

Both are fun reads, especially if you were a fan of baseball in the 1980s.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kansas City T-Bones

Kansas City Missouri has the Royals. Kansas City Kansas has the T-Bones.
We timed out our Missouri/Kansas trip to make sure we could see the Cardinals, the Royals and the indy league T-Bones.
I can't say enough about how much the Kansas City area has going on. Missouri AND Kansas. This park really added to our whole experience in this area.
The T-Bones on field announcer was interviewing kids from several local little league teams on the field as they paraded before the game. Most of the kids gave her generic yes or no answers, or told her their position.
One kid decided to take a moment to describe his team's accomplishments, and he went into excessive detail about how good they were. It was pretty funny.
It was mascot day when we went. I love mascots.
I also love the fact that there are so many minor league teams getting good local fan support. I especially love seeing the independent teams drawing good support. These guys had a good crowd.
The park is very unique as it is used by other teams, and for other sports.
The Park is in the Village West area, and it features one of the nicest lifestyle centers (I hate that word, by the way) that I have seen. It seemed to go on forever. Oh, and we found some good BBQ close by. This is the kind of town I could move to if I ever had to move.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kentucky Explorer Magazine

A friend at work has got me hooked on Kentucky Explorer Magazine! just check out the cool cover of this issue! There is a great article about some of the amateur baseball teams in the area during the 19302-1950s. There are some great reader submitted photos!

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite magazines, packed full of Kentucky history!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Wild Pitches

I love a good scuffle at a game. I have been to hundreds of minor league games, and I think I have watched two almost occur. Both stopped as each team came close to each other. I think all of the players during that SAL contest realized a fine was not worth it.

Did you see that Reds/Cardinals confrontation earlier this week? Lots of players and coaches involved, but very little happened. I kept thinking about those guys with seats right behind home plate. If the netting had not been there, they would have had players in their lap!

I really hate the thought of the baseball season winding down, but it is. I did notice that one of my favorites, the Legends, have some games in early September, thank goodness!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jared Bolden- Bakersfield Blaze

Jared Bolden has been playing in the Rangers system since 08. He was kind enough to sign a picture of him I took while he was with Hickory, and he answered some questions!

"My favorite ballpark that I've played in so far was probably in Greenville. Their field looks just like Fenway."

He says that his favorite team is probably the Atlanta Braves.

He also says that his time at Hickory was fun. It was a long season, and he learned a lot. He has been promoted to Bakersfield!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dwayne Hilton- Cardinals Organist

Dwayne Hilton, the organ player for the St. Louis Cardinals, sent a great note.

"Its so much fun being a part of the St. Louis Cardinals' organization."

When asked about his favorite player, he mentions Albert Pujols.

"I enjoy playing all kinds of music on the organ- anything that gets the fans clapping & excited."

Dwayne kindly signed his letter, adding the "Charge!" notes!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Andrew Cruse- Kansas City T-Bones

Another great, friendly response from a T-Bones player came from pitcher Andy Cruse.

Andy made it up to the Clearwater Threshers while in affiliated ball after being drafter in the 9th round by the Phillies in 2006.

He says that he grew up an Atlanta Braves fan being from the south. He loved Fulton Stadium.

"The park here in KC is great, but it is hard to pinpoint a favorite through my career."

Concerning the Phillies, Andy says, "they drafted me and gave me an opportunity and I am grateful for that."

I asked him about playing for the Winnipeg Goldeyes (one of the few remaining pro baseball teams in Canada).

He said, "I enjoyed Winnipeg but I'm glad I am in KC this year."

He also mentions that he is very excited about is Alma Mater, the University of South Carolina, winning the national title.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wild Pitches

So, the season is winding down. I am trying to fit in as many more games as I can, but it is getting tough! I was hoping to do one more trip around Tennessee and catch some of the teams around the eastern part of the state, but I am not going to be able to.

Anyone see Andrew McCutchen get hit by Mike Leake the other night? Ouch! I'm sure that wasn't on purpose (though Mike getting hit at his next at bat was). Still, that looked bad.

The Reds and the Pirates are my two teams, and those or two favorite players right now.

I have watched Andrew play at every level. In the minors, he was always a friendly guy before the games, and would sign autographs every time asked. It was a lot of fun watching him come up.

One of my favorite teams, the Florence Freedom, is not having a great season. I don't know what happened, but it is just not working at the moment. Still, when I attend games (even on weeknights) they are drawing good crowds. This is a great team that gets a lot of good local support, even on an off season.

I love the Freedom and the entire Frontier League. I know a lot of people who are a bit picky about the games they attend. I know of some people who only go to games in the majors. I know of some who will go to upper level minor league games.

There is something special about the Frontier League. Sure, it is considered a lower level of pro baseball (which, in my opinion, is a scrappier, more exciting version of baseball to watch). But it is fun. The crowds, the teams, and the entire experience are more casual. The Frontier League is, at this point, an older, and more established indy league.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Brian Joynt- Kansas City T-Bones

The T-Bones are one friendly team! Several members responded to my letters! What a great group of guys!

Brian Joynt, who made it all the way up to the AA Padres sent a very nice note.

He still seems happy to be playing baseball, and he expresses having a passion for it at any level.

"I truly enjoyed playing for the Padres organization and probably one of the nicest stadiums I've played in was Petco Park in San Diego."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dr. Ray Doswell- Curator of the NLBM

The Following is the complete email I received from Dr. Ray Doswell concerning the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum:

Thanks for the note. You can use whatever you like from these emails. We thank you visiting the NLBM and your interest in the Negro Leagues.

I think you just caught us on a bad day. I do regret that your visit was disappointing. You did catch us not at our best and in a bit of transition. The exhibits themselves were created in 1997, so we are constantly trying to update, repair, and improve things. We had been at that time gearing up for a major event in July; the official national postage stamp release with Thurgood Marshall, Jr. as the presiding officer. Several bulbs were not only being changed in the days and weeks that followed, but being switched to more energy efficient “green” bulbs as well. Much of the updating began soon after your visit to the NLBM. In addition, the computer kiosks were also being repaired as well.

As for the film and locker exhibitions, I truly believe these were oversights from the VERY new staff people we hired, who simply had not turned the systems on properly. I am not usually there on Sunday’s so I was not notified. Our new staff additions are a sign of growth, and there will be these minor growing pains. However, they should not come and damage the experience of any visitor. This is something being addressed by leadership. Ultimately, exhibition issues fall to me and I am sorry we were not at optimal levels for your experience.

Speaking of growth, you alluded in your blog to financial issues at the museum. The NLBM, like so many museums around the country, has its challenges in this economy. But let me assure your readers that much of what has been in the press has been overblown and in my opinion, and somewhat irresponsible. We are celebrating as an institution 20 years in 2010. We are stable financially and sustainable. The leadership is confident in the future direction of the institution. Still, the museum always welcomes the help of interested fans, players, and companies. Membership is vital to our existence and folks can join at http://www.nlbm.com/.

If you had come the day before, you could also have caught Willie Mays biographer Jim Hirsch for a program at the museum. It was a great program and one of many that we have had this summer and hope to continue. We encourage everyone to follow us on the web and especially on Facebook, where we have close to 4,200 followers.