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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Moeller Card Show and Denny McLain in Cincinnati!

I made it out to the Moeller High School baseball card show this weekend.  I wanted to get out there because Denny McLain was appearing!

It has been some time since I was last at this show, but I had a real good day.  The dealers are nice and reasonable, and there is more here than just the usual stacks of baseball cards from the 80s.  The show had a great selection of mini helmets, buttons, and vintage cards.  In fact, I enjoyed looking at the many cases full of old tobacco cards.

The show had several signers, but I was here mostly to get my album signed by Denny McLain (in addition to being an amazing pitcher, he also played the organ and he recorded on Capitol Records)!  I met him before, sometime in the mid 00s in Detroit.  I remember him being very pleasant at that time, and he also was a bigger guy.... as we all put on some weight as we get older.

Well, he has dropped a LOT of weight and he still seemed friendly and chatty.  He seemed very happy just to be there and he was very generous with doing photos and adding inscriptions and that sort of thing.

I have always found Denny's story to be one of the most fascinating in all of baseball.  I would put him right in there with Cobb and Rose as one of the most loved and hated MLBers ever.

Again, this was a great day at the card show for me.  One thing I miss about living in northern Ohio is that there were a lot of nice card shows like this, where they might have a few retired or current players signing autographs, AND dealers sold quality items.  I tip my hat to Cincy Card Shows for this one!

Good show, good signers, and good dealers!  I will have to make more of a point to hit their events when they come up!

Check out Cincy Card Show's link:


Here is my review of Denny's book, and a photo of him from about a decade ago:


And here is a link to a Detroit News Article about his weight loss:


Monday, April 21, 2014

Linda Ruth Tosetti- Babe Ruth's Granddaughter!

I sent a brief note to Babe Ruth's granddaughter not too long ago.  I hoped she might send a note, or a signed picture, but she took the time to send me a VERY nice long note, and some other info.  I must say that I was touched by her generous response.

She says that Babe loved home runs because he hit one once as a child.  It went over the right fielder's head.  The other boys cheered him, so he kept hitting them.

Concerning Moe Berg (who was a spy, see my review on this blog on the book about him), Babe said that he could speak seven languages, but he couldn't hit in any of them.

I thought the quote about Berg was the best Babe quote Linda mentioned, but then she also mentioned this one-

"Baseball is the greatest game in the world and it deserves the best you can give it."

Thanks Linda!  AND, check out her site at:


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

West Virginia Power 2014

We were able to make it to Charleston West Virginia to catch the Power take on the Legends.  The weather was great, and Charleston is a great town for South Atlantic League baseball!

Charleston is a town that has really grown on me over the last few seasons, along with this part of West Virginia.  I really enjoy making the drive over to this area.

It was a bonus that this was a Saturday DAY game.  I would like to see more teams have day games on a Saturday.  Since the game started at 2, we were able to drive up early, enjoy some other sites nearby, and then drive home after the game.  No need for a hotel room (or to drive in the dark) on this trip!

We got seats near the Toastman at this game.  I have noticed him before, but it was a real treat setting in his section!  This guy is lively!  He holds up signs with fun nicknames for the West Virginia players, and he taunts the opposing players when they strikeout (by making toast and throwing it into the crowd).  Seriously, Toastman is a very entertaining part of the game.

I really like coming to Appalachian Power Park to see the Power for many other reasons too.  For one thing, the staff at the park is always helpful and calm.  They are OK with people moving around a bit, and enjoying the game from different perspectives.  These guys don't have staff harassing fans to return to their seats.  The park has a pleasant "locals who all know each other" vibe.  You feel like kids and families walk down to the park not just to see a game, but to see their friends.

I really can't emphasize this enough.  At this park I feel a real retro calmness.  This is one of the more casual parks I know of.  The buildings around the park have an older feel and you do feel like you have gone back in time.  I don't want to make any over used comparisons to Mayberry but.......

I love the scenery around the park too- lots of mountains, plus, the previously mentioned older buildings.

Oh, and I did see some people watching the game from rooftops nearby!  I would love to work in one of the gorgeous older buildings that overlook the park.

I have noticed a vendor at the games who seems to always be selling hats for $5!  Like the Toastman, this guy is witty and always making jokes!

I could go on and on about how much I love this park.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Wild Pitches

Do you check out Kurt Smith's site, "Ballpark E-Guides"?  I have mentioned this site before, but it is worth mentioning again, as Kurt puts up a lot of fun, interesting, and helpful info.

I really liked his article about the Expos moving from Montreal.  Check it out here-

Kurt has written a very brief and easy to understand explanation of what went down.

He also got me thinking about all of the ballparks and teams that have moved on, or that are about to move on.  I don't mean to sound sappy, but I do feel a bit sad about defunct baseball teams.

It is well known that this is the last season for the Huntsville Stars, and Kurt's story reminded me of my visit to their park a few seasons ago.  The place was empty.  I grabbed a seat behind home plate, and I could listen to the radio broadcast live, as the voice of the Stars had his window open, calling the game right behind me.

On a brighter note, the season has started!  I am looking forward to visiting some new parks, and to seeing the local teams that I love.  The Lexington Legends play in my backyard, so I will be seeing a lot of their games.  The Florence Freedom start up in May, I will be at several of their games.  There are some teams a little further out that I look forward to seeing a time or two each season, like the Tennessee Smokies, the West Virginia Power, and others.  Visiting those teams at their home park is like visiting an old friend.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fandemonium at Smokies Stadium

This past weekend we made our way down to Kodak Tennessee, one of my favorite spots for baseball!

Its kind of funny, I am sometimes not exactly sure of how to refer to this area.  When someone says they are going to Kodak, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Knoxville, or the Great Smoky Mountains, I know they are going to this general area.  And I know that they will be having a lot of fun.

I like visiting this area during the baseball season because of the Smokies baseball team, and I like coming down any other time I can because this is just a great area.

There were several other baseball events going on this weekend, but the Smokies were hosting their "Fandemonium" event which sounded like the thing to go to in my books.

In fact, we came down for the weekend, and we had plenty of time to drive around the Smoky Mountains, and to walk the strip in Gatlinburg.  Any weekend during the baseball season we can come down, catch a game, and have a lot of fun in the surrounding area.

So we got to the Fandemonium event a little after it opened at 10am.  The team had shirts, hats and game used jerseys on sale and the prices were right.  I can never pass on a game used jersey for under $50.  The Smokies have a well stocked and very diverse team shop anyway.  These guys know about marketing their merchandise.

After making a few purchases, we took the self guided tour of the park.  This is another reason that I love these preseason minor league baseball events.  You get to take a thorough tour of the facilities!  Its actually pretty rare for the public to get a behind the scenes look at the smaller parks.  Most of the MLB parks give tours all the time, but not in the minors.

This was the first time that I saw a team offer a self guided tour like this.  There were signs with arrows, pointing fans in the right direction.  Also, staff were everywhere answering questions, and helping people who did not notice the signs.

Its always fun seeing the clubhouse, the batting cages, and inside of the dugout.  I can't say why exactly, but its just cool.

Mascots were on hand for photo ops, and the inflatables were open for the kids.  AND, the team was giving away hot dogs, beverages, and popcorn!  My first park hot dog of the season tasted great!  AND it was free!

Smokies Stadium is becoming one of my favorite venues for a game.  You have those fun cities nearby I mentioned before that are exciting and lively, but they still have a very rural vibe.

And that might be why I like this park so much.  This is a AA team playing in a solid AA park- but it doesn't feel like it is in a city area.  It feels like it is in a small town.

Plus the mountainous scenery around the park is amazing.  As you watch the game, right over the outfield wall you see those green curves.  You are in the beautiful south, dealing with friendly southerners.  The Smokies and Smokies Stadium get an A+.