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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nick Hagen- River City Rascals Number 1/8th!

I mentioned Nick in a post several weeks ago.

The River City Rascals signed little person Nick Hagen in a tribute to Bill Veeck night. Veeck put little person Eddie Gaedel in a Browns game in 1951. Most baseball fans (and many non-baseball fans) know the story.

As far as I know, no little person has been used in professional baseball since Gaedel's appearance, until the Rascals signed Hagen!

I sent Nick a letter asking him about his place in baseball history!

Nick sent a great note back, mentioning that mine was the first letter of its kind he had received!

"I was very excited to sign with a Minor League" Nick says. He also mentions that he did not know anything about Eddie Gaedel, being only 16.

He does say that his Godmother seemed to know, and she called all of her friends about his signing!

Nick tells me about going to his first baseball game when he was 4. He won tickets from a summer reading program through the library. He remembers it well. a gentleman in a cart helped him and his family find the ticket booth, and get to their seats! He even stopped to get Nick a bat bag, some baseball cards, and a team poster! He had a very exciting time, though he remembers his seats being in the nosebleed section.

Nick talks about August 19th of this year, the day he was added to the Rascals roster.. He says it was a big day, starting around 5AM and lasting until 11:30 that night! He did practice hitting that day, and he notes that he was able to hit some balls.

"I will never forget that day."

Nick talks at length about how great the Rascals are and how nice the team was to him! We was also excited, as the Rascals won the championship!

Nick mentions that he loves the Cardinals, the Red Sox, and his favorite team is the River City Rascals!

Nick, thanks for the great note!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wild Pitches

Yes, I know, Cliff Lee did not have his best night. That was his first off season night ever in the post season.

Man, the Giants are doing great right now and looking good.

I was watching Freddy Sanchez the other night. I saw him play a lot in Pittsburgh. I started thinking about the Pirates. Just a few years ago, they had Sanchez, Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, and some a couple of promising pitchers, not to mention some real prospects coming up.

What happened? Why couldn't they do better? You can speculate all day on this one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roy Gleason 1963 Dodgers

Roy Gleason spent about 8 years in the Dodgers system, and even made it to the show in 1963! Roy let me know some info about his baseball and his military career.

"Sorry, but I never played any pro-ball in Kentucky, so I don't have any stories. I did have a contract with Louisville Slugger and went to Fort Mitchell in 2005 for a reunion with my 'Vietnam Brothers.' It is a beautiful state and the people were very friendly."

Thanks for the note Roy, and thanks for your service! My dad is also a Vietnam vet, and I love and admire all of the great, brave Americans who have served!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Joe Castiglione- Red Sox Broadcaster

Joe has been calling games for the Sox for 25 years! Before that, he did some work with the Brewers and the Indians.

I asked him about his favorite players, and his time in Cleveland.

"I loved my time in Cleveland even though my teams never won pennants."

He mentions that his other favorite towns are NY, St. Pete, Baltimore and Seattle.

Concerning his favorite players, Joe mentions Pedro Martinez and Mike Lowell.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wild Pitches

Congrats to former Tribe manager Eric Wedge! Looks like he is with the Mariners now! I bumped in to him a couple of times in Cleveland, and thought he was a very nice guy, and I liked his style too. I am so glad he is working again. I didn't feel like he got a fair shot at continuing with the Indians. I was hoping he might end up with the Pirates, but the Mariners should be a nice fit too.

How about the way my boy Cliff Lee handled the Yankees? I enjoyed watching that. Cliff has had a ton of success against New York.

One last thing. Did you watch the Giants/Phillies game last night??? Seeing Phil and Bobby from the Grateful Dead was a true treat! I had the opportunity to see the last few Grateful Dead shows in Louisville and I miss them! I have been to several Rat Dog shows too. It was really nice to see those guys!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ernie Fazzio- 1962-1963 Houston, 1966 KC Athletics

"I hit my first major league home run off Warren Spahn- So did Willie Mays- I will never forget."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jay Hankins 1961 and 1963 Kansas City A's

Jay responded to some questions for this site recently!

He let me know that his son is scouting for the Tigers at the moment.

He says that his favorite teams are St. Louis, Detroit, the Yankees, and Minnesota.

He played for teams near Kentucky, including Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Derrell Griffith- 1963-1966 Dodgers

"Sorry no stories about the state of Kentucky- Baseball has changed so much, I haven't kept up with it in the last 20 years or so."

I understand Derrell. Thanks for getting back to me!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Frank Funk 1960-1962 Indians, 1963 Braves

Frank let me know about his playing time in Kentucky as a pro.
"My very first year in pro ball was spent in Mayfield, Ky. The league was called the Kitty League; at the time, one of the oldest pro leagues in baseball. That was in 1954."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wild Pitches

I know a lot of people get excited about the post season. I personally feel more joy when I read about pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona and Florida in February. To me, that is the best!

Plus, since I follow the lower levels of baseball much more closely than the upper levels, I kind of feel like my season is over.

Also, my team is out (AND they were beaten mercilessly out of the post season). Now, I find myself in weird situations concerning who I should cheer for. I am in those situations during the entire season, the post season is nothing new.

For example- the Rays and the Rangers. I like both teams but the Rays are such great underdogs. How can you not love what they have done? How can you not love Joe Maddon? He is so cool.

But I like the Rangers too. Not as much as the Rays, but I like them. They have Cliff Lee! Cliff is my guy and I always want him to win. I simply cannot watch the Rays vs. Rangers with Cliff pitching. I get confused and conflicted.

I am proud of the Reds. Even though they get beat hard by the Phillies, they had a good season.

All things considered, right now I am more excited about February.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bill Hepler 1966 New York Mets

Bill Hepler went 3-3 with the Mets in 1966. He took the time to send me a note recently about his playing days.

"I enjoyed playing in Memphis for the Blues"

He mentions that his time in Memphis was right after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

"I loved playing in the Major Leagues and against such greats as Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose and with Nolan Ryan."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dave Sims- Mariners announcer

Dave Sims has his hand in call NFL, NCAA and MLB games!

I DID mention to Dave that I am a UK basketball fan, and, even though he has a very close association with Duke, he still answered some questions for me!

He says that his current favorite players include Adam Moore, Jason Vargas, and Josh Wilson. His favorite former players include Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney.

He mentions Chicago as his favorite sports town.

"Here's to a winning 2011 for the M's" he adds.

Thanks Dave!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wild Pitches

I heard a comedian on Bob and Tom this morning say that cheering for the Yankees is like going to a casino and cheering for the house to win.

Man, have you ever been watching a game, and your team is getting beat up like a bongo drum, and you just can't watch it anymore? I love cool baseball accomplishments and records. I just hate to see my team take a humiliating loss. What happened Reds?

Both of my Ohio teams have taken some beatings this year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Elmore Leonard- Author and Detroit Tigers fan!!

Author Elmore Leonard is a very interesting character himself AND he has a strong connection to baseball and to Kentucky! The FX series "Justified" is based on a character from Leonard's writings- and it is set in Kentucky!

I sent Mr. Leonard a short note recently asking him about his home town team, the Tigers and about the very exciting series set in the best state ever!

Elmore took the time to send me a great note answering my questions!

"I think the actor playing Raylan is perfect; he delivers his lines the way I hear them when I'm writing his dialog. The pilot was from a long short story, FIRE IN THE HOLE, but he's in two of my books, PRONTO and RIDING THE RAP.
I'm not writing scripts, but a three-part story where Raylan will have three different situations to face that will add up to a book. But I'm fairly sure they'll use some of my situations on JUSTIFIED.
I've only seen the Tigers at Comerica twice this year. I watch them on the TV all the time.
I'm waiting to hear when the new shows will come on."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Amaury Pi-Gonzalez- A's Spanish language Broadcaster

Amaury sent a VERY nice letter about his time in baseball!

He mentions that he is in his 33rd season doing Major League Baseball broadcasts in the Spanish language! He has also done regular broadcasts for Fox Sports during the Caribbean World Series of Baseball from Latin America.

Amaury was recently inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame! He mentions that his friend and Voice of the Giants, Jon Miller, is being inducted wit him too!

www.bayarearadio.org/hof/ has more info on this event.

"I am back with the A's, where I got my start back in 1977 with the controversial and colorful Charlie O. Finley."

Amaury mentions that he is the only Spanish broadcaster to work for four different teams as their Spanish play by play guy. He has worked for the A's, Giants, Mariners, and Angels.

He tells me a very funny story about when he first got his start in 1977. He wrote to then A's owner, Charlie O. Finley asking him for permission/rights to broadcast in Spanish Charlie's response was, "Yes Amaury you can broadcast in Mexican."

Obviously, Amaury notes, Mexican is not a language, it is a nationality.

"I have been watching baseball since I was a 5 year old kid in Cuba, where I was born, but left after Castro declared the government there a communist country and freedoms were taken away."

Check out Amaury's website:

Thank you so much for your note Amaury. There is something so real, so "baseball" about a guy from Cuba approaching the A's and asking about broadcasting the games in Spanish. You love the game and you have brought it to a larger audience. You are still a great ambassador for the sport, taking the time to write a blogger like me such a nice note!

Your career is begging for a book to tell your story!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Marty McLeary- Nashville Sounds

As the baseball season winds down, I thought now would be a good time to mention some of the players that I like to follow.

I did see the Nashville Sounds play towards the end of the season. Their starting pitcher was Marty McLeary.

Marty is one of those guys that has been up and down the system. He had some impressive moments with one of my favorite teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates in 06 and 07. He also spent a short amount of time making the show with the Padres.

He has dotted the map with all of the significant minor league teams, showing stuff worthy of a try out but not hanging around too long.

He is the kind of player that is fun to watch and support. You want him to make it and to stick.

Plus, he is a real life character mentioned in one of my all time favorite books about Max McLeary, the Frontier League umpire with a glass eye.

I am still hoping that Marty makes it. Sure, he doesn't have the best ERA, but I like his attitude, and his ability to hold on. I think he is a cool player out of a small Ohio town. I'm still in his corner.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wild Pitches

How about the Reds? Did you see Jay Bruce the other night? WOW!

Are you watching the Ken Burns Baseball programs? I was flipping between the Reds and the documentary the other night. Thank goodness for DVR though, that helped!

I heard on Bob and Tom this morning that 5 fans called to report the Reds for smoking in their clubhouse! After clinching the division, during their celebration, some of the players enjoyed cigars.

Personally, I am totally against smoking. I will avoid an establishment that allows it, BUT- even I could make an exception for this!

One more item this week. I heard that Indians legend Bob Feller went to the hospital recently and is getting a pacemaker. I spent a good chunk of time in Cleveland, I love the Tribe ,and I love Bob. Every young baseball fan needs to read up on him. The guy is a hero. I know some have bashed him for his outspokenness about certain topics, but the man has more than earned his right to say whatever he wants. He paused his career with the Indians to serve his country in WWII. He also did what he could do to help break the color barrier in baseball. Rapid Robert defines integrity.

Good luck to Mr. Feller. He is tough as nails though, so I am sure all is going to be OK with him!