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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Wild Pitches

I had a lot of fun going to games this year. It was, in general, a good baseball year, but I am looking forward to seeing some games again soon!

As the year ends, I have been thinking about some of the parks I visited this past season.

The day we were in August, our game was rained out. Still, the cool staff there stuck around to let us get a look at the park, and they opened the gift shop up for us.

In Asheville, NC we caught a Tourists game an a very good night. Nice crowd and fun staff. The community feel here was very noticeable, as I saw a lot of fans chatting with all of the other fans all over the park. The tourists have one of the funnest vendor personalities in the minors. Tommy Dembinsky is a character and a half. He even took a moment to stop by this blog and comment some.

We saw the Greenville Drive at Fluor Field. The park was perfect. Lots of green. The staff here really impressed me too, as I talked baseball with several of them. The park was upscale yet still very cozy.

We stopped by both of the legendary parks associated with the Durham Bulls. These are must stops on any baseball pilgrimage.

We made it to Knight Stadium to see the Charlotte team play. The park has an outdated feel, but, as newer parks keep getting built, the older ones become more appealing. This park was meant to eventually be transformed into a major league park which really makes it a fun place.

While in Savannah, we swung by the home of the Sand Gnats. VERY cool park with much history. We were given a tour on a non-game day by Chase at the park.

We went to Five County Stadium to see the Carolina Mud Cats. Cool mascot. There was a very small, but enthusiastic crowd there when we visited. The park is covered in netting too. I am not a fan of nets but I understand why parks use them so much.

We saw the indy league Kansas City T-Bones play on a field that can double as a soccer field. GREAT organization with good local support. This is a very fun area too. Kansas City (both of them) are underrated areas.

At the major league level, we saw the Royals and Cardinals at home. We got great seats in Kansas City at a great price. They have a very unusual park, and their Royals Museum is free to visit during games, which is classy! The Cardinals are a great organization in a fun area. With the Arch, the skyline, and a nice downtown area, St. Louis is becoming one of my favorite cities in general.

We visited the Negro League Museum in KC and had fun. I mentioned here that there were a few concerns, curator Raymond Doswell went out of his way to contact me to discuss them. The organization represents a lot of history and they take pride in that. This is another "must see" stop for even the casual baseball fan.

During our Georgia trip, we made it to Royston to see the Ty Cobb Museum. My opinion of Cobb has changed this year. I still think he was a dirty player, who no doubt did some bad things. I do think that his casual attitude in selecting a biographer did some damage to the way he has been viewed in history. After visiting the very nice town of Royston, seeing the hospital that he helped to establish, and reading more material on him than the Al Stump book, I think he was a better person than he gets credit for.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bruce Look 1968 Minnesota Twins

Bruce Look played for the 1968 Twins, but he also played for the Evansville Triplets from 1970-1971.

"Evansville is a great city. I enjoyed playing there very much and the people were nice."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Don Pepper 1966 Detroit Tigers

Don Pepper played for the Tigers, and he spent 1966-1967 playing for the Toledo Mud Hens!

He sent me a note about the Mud Hens.

"I still follow the Toledo Mud Hens and visit usually at least 1x a year."

"We had 2 great years at Toledo winning the Cup 1 year and the pennant the next."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ron Locke- 1964 Mets

Ron sent a great note about his career, and his team that he cheers for these days.

"I like to follow the Boston Red Sox and the Pawtucket Red Sox."

"I like to watch Pedroia for the Red Sox because he gives you 110%."

Ron compares him to Pete Rose.

"In 1966 I played with Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Tug Mcgraw. That was a big thrill for me because they all played in the Big Leagues."

Wild Pitches

Check out the Astros Daily site. My pal Glynn who runs the Colt .45s Collection of baseball cards site sent them an article mentioning my blog!

Here is a link to Glynn's site:


and here is a link to Glynn's article at Astros Daily:


Check it out. Glynn talks about his efforts to make a baseball card of the player Don Bradey, as no card was ever made of him. It is a cool article, and a cool card!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moe Morhardt 1961-1962 Chicago Cubs

I got a great witty note from Moe Morhardt recently.

"You baseball fans amaze me about things you dig up... you should be working for the C.I.A."

He does some instructional work these days.

"One of the things I ask the kids I instruct now is, 'What is the first thing that enters your mind when you get a hit?" (They say 'run', I say that is third). They sometimes say 'happy' I say that's second. The first thing that goes through every hitters mind is surprise! It never fails. So what that shows is you really don't have any control over getting a hit. If a single is a surprise, what is a home run supposed to feel like?"

He says that he does not follow the minors, though his grand son bought a hat of the Montgomery Biscuits.

Moe lives in New England, and says he follows the Red Sox. He also likes Chase Utley.

I asked Moe about playing for Lancaster Red Roses.

He says, "I remember quite a bit about playing in Lancaster."

"On August 1st we were in 2nd place, by Labor Day, we were in last."

"We had all our valuables stolen at Springfield after a game including mgr. Phil Cavaretta's All-Star and NL Champion rings."

Continuing about Lancaster, "We were losing a game in Binghamton 13-2 in the 6th inning on Phil's birthday. One of our pitchers told him not to worry, we were 'going to get this one for you'.

Moe says they ended up winning 16-15.

"We had a willow tree hanging over the CF fence. We were down 6-3 in the 9th with the bases loaded. One of our catchers pinch hit a ball that clipped the branch of the willow tree, hit their center fielder between the eyes and knocked him out. Our guys circled the bases for a game winning grand slam."

Moe says that center fielder was Joe Pepitone.

Moe tells me he moved around a lot, especially during his first full year in the pros. He spent time playing and training with the Cubs, Houston AAA, San Antonio AA, and Lancaster A. He was in Arizona too. At one point he went to Nova Scotia and got married!

"Baseball makes you a gypsy."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

John Miller- 1966 Yankees and 1969 Dodgers

John Miller played with some great teams, and he spent some time playing with the Harlan Kentucky Smokies in 1962!

"My first year of pro ball I played for Harlan," he says.

He tells me that there is not enough time or paper to describe the town.

I asked him about playing for the legendary Mud Hens.

"I only played in Toledo for a month of the 66 season. I just remember it was cold in April and hot and sticky in August. We did have a big chicken on the front of the ballpark."

Going back to Harlan, he tells me, "in 1962 we would by our beer from May the bootlegger and the sheriff of Harlan county would get shot about every month."

Thanks for the honest and interesting stories John! I do not know May (but I would love to hear more about the bootlegger selling to the team!)!

I can relate about Toledo. I remember a Toledo game in early April of 06 or 07. We had coats on and all, but we had to find blankets! It was freezing! Only a few hundred fans showed up that night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wild Pitches

I am glad the Yankees didn't get Cliff Lee.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bob Feller

I am sure most baseball fans know that the legend, Bob Feller, died last night. Click on the link to the Cleveland Indians web site for more info.

I spent a lot of time in Cleveland myself and had the chance to meet Bob a couple of times. If you ever met him, you know how cool he was. He always looked, and acted about 30 year or more younger than he really was. He was tough.

He was also friendly and generous, yet not afraid to let you know his opinion.

I can't think of another player that would take time out of a pro career in baseball l to join the Navy during a war, and he served proudly during WWII.

If you are not familiar with Feller, read up on him. He is a baseball legend and an American hero. Again, unlike many other players, especially today, he spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians. He was, in many ways, the ambassador of the team and the city.

One thing that I feel gets over looked at times concerning his career is how he was pushing for racial integration of baseball before many others.

Bob Feller did what he felt was right every time. There are no scandalous stories to plague his record. No rumors of drug use, betting, etc. to tarnish his legend. He was a great baseball player who gave it everything, and who always did what he thought was right. His career was never interrupted by a suspension, or by suspicion, only by service to his country.

Bob Feller had 92 years with us, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we were glad to have him.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mike Lee- 1960 Indians and 1963 Angels

Mike Lee spent a couple of years at the major league level. He sent a nice little note.

He says that he likes his home town Padres as a team.

I asked him about playing for the legendary Hawaii Islanders.

"Hawaii was a long time ago" he said.

His favorite memory was pitching to Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Al Neiger 1960 Philadelphia Phillies

Al Neiger sent a note answering some questions and telling me a great story involving Louisville!

Al says that his favorite team is his old team, the Phillies. Chase Utley is a current favorite player. Stan Musial is his favorite former player.

I asked Al about playing with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

"1961 we were the league champions. 1963 I had a good year pitching even though we finished next to last place."

Concerning any time in Louisville, Al tells me he, "played for Buffalo in 1960 (International League). We were playing Louisville (at Louisville). Both teams shared the same trainer in those years. I was waiting for the trainer to finish with one of the Louisville pitchers."

Al and the Louisville pitcher introduced themselves to each other and they discovered that their names were spelled similarly, though they were pronounced differently.

Al's Swiss-German name is pronounced "Nigh" ger. The other player had the Polish name "Nee" kro.

Man, I have asked several players if they have a good Kentucky story, and I keep getting stories about Phil Niekro! Phil spent some time with the Louisville Colonels, and it seems he made a lot of friends during that time!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wild Pitches

Just keep thinking to yourself, "pitchers and catchers report in February."

Just a quick note on Bob Feller. I have heard that his health is not the best.....

The guy is a legend, taking time out of an amazing baseball career to contribute to the efforts in WWII.

He has already squeezed in several lifetimes worth of living in his life. Word is he is at the Cleveland Clinic right now dealing with those health concerns.

I am sure all baseball fans are thinking about one of the toughest guys ever in sports right now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ken MacKenzie- Mets, Braves, Astros and Giants

Ken MacKenzie spent time with several teams in the 60s.

"I'll tell you a little about 1960- and the Louisville Colonels."

"I came north with the Braves in '60- we played the Reds on the way up- Jacksonville, Atlanta, Columbus SC and Louisville. I was still a non-roster player. Charlie Dressen left me in Louisville when the Braves went on to Milwaukee. The Colonels were still in Florida."

He went home for five days.

"The Braves called me up about 3 weeks later- I pitched in 3 games- 1/3, 2/3, and 10 innings. The 10 inning stint we won in the 18th. Dressen asked me about my record as I was signing my first big league contract."

Dressen asked Ken about his record, which was 1-0, with 11 innings pitched and a perfect 0.0 ERA.

"If I'd given up a run in the 10th of the 18 inning game, I'd have pitched 2 innings."

Ken ended up staying 62 days, and was then sent back to Louisville because, management felt, he was a relief pitcher and they needed a starter.

"That was in St. Louis. Nottebart started- gave up 7 runs in 7 innings. His only start. He got sent down and a relief pitcher called up- Chi Chi Olivo."

Ken stayed in Louisville.

"We had a good run. We won the pennant, playoffs and Junior World Series. Of the 12 wins in the playoffs and JWS, I had 8 saves and wins. Never pitched better. Bob Uecker was catching. We beat Toronto in the JWS- 4-2 I believe- Sparky Anderson played second for the Maple Leafs. That was 50 years ago."

Ken's older son, Kenny, will be 50 in October he says. He was born in Toronto when Ken got a job for the winter.

"I had spoken at a Rotary meeting while we were playing in Toronto and mentioned that I'd be looking for a job for the winter. Got one. Kenny was born about 3 1/2 weeks after we went north."

"1960 was a good year. I got to the majors (before expansion), we won the JWS (I was the MVP of the Colonels), Kenny was born- a healthy bonus baby, and we thought I was going to have a big league career."

Thanks for letting me know about your great connection to Louisville Ken!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jeff Long, 1963-1964 Cardinals, and 1964 White Sox

Kentuckian Jeff Long sent me a very nice note about his career, and Kentucky.

He says his, "best Kentucky memory is being signed by a fellow Kentuckian to a contract with the Cardinals."

Mo Mozzalli signed him.

"I loved all the players in my era- I met a lot of wonderful people."

Locally, he says, "I always hit well in Indianapolis and Columbus while at Atlanta in triple A."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wild Pitches

As the end of the year is near, I was thinking about how this year has gone for me relating to baseball.

I took a great road trip through the Carolinas. I visited the great Ty Cobb Museum in Georgia, the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, and went to a ton of ball parks.

I read a bunch of good books too. I thought now might be a great time to mention a couple of great books I read recently (and mentioned before) that I really liked.

I don't know about you, but I don't think I can ever read another baseball scandal type book. I doubt I will ever read another biography of today's top players either.

I love books about underdogs, the guys in the minors, and books about guys who had a baseball career, but went on to live productive lives in other areas.

I really enjoyed Dave Baldwin's "Snake Jazz." Dave wrote a great book about his days in baseball, and his life after ball. Dave is witty and just fun to read. I might almost say his writing could be compared to Bill Lee's, but Dave's is a bit more family friendly, and more focused.

Norm Bass III put together an amazing volume (the book is the size of an encyclopedia) about his dad, Norm Bass Jr. This is a great read on many levels. Top musicians, a legendary boxer, and other athletes make appearances in this book. "Color Him Father" is a vivid book about Norm Bass Jr. and his career, while also painting a great picture of race relations, and baseball and football during this time.

Nellie King wrote a GREAT book about his brief playing days in Pittsburgh and his radio career after that. He has very humble beginnings in the Hershey PA area. He talks about his wife, and his family, and he even talks about his health later in life. I was VERY sad to hear about the passing of Nellie just a couple of months ago. I am VERY happy that he wrote "Happiness is like a Cur Dog" before his passing. His blog is still maintained by his family, and a scholarship fund has been set up!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Frank Johnson- 1966-1971 San Francisco Giants

Frank sent me a brief note about Kentucky, and his memories.

"Kentucky is a good state. Memories you don't want to know."

Frank, with a response like that, I must admit that I DO want to know!