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

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Douglas J. Gladstone

I know it has been some time since I posted to this blog (I still update my travel blog though, check it out!).  Anyway, I recently corresponded again with Douglas J. Gladstone, author of "A Bitter Cup of Coffee."  I did a Q&A with him several years ago- check that out here.

So, Douglas is still fighting to help out some former Major Leaguers who played briefly before 1980.  Mr. Gladstone makes a very interesting argument about a big flaw in the pension system for players.  In addition to his book, he recently wrote a very interesting article, which he said I could mention here.

Here is his complete article-

To hear officials from both sides tell it, Major League Baseball(MLB) and the union representing its players, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), are positively giddy about the new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that was ratified 29-1 by the baseball owners earlier this month.
But that doesn’t mean everyone’s singing Kumbayah at a campfire.
There are approximately 800 former players not vested in the pension plan who will tell you that things aren’t alright and that today’s players are unappreciative, greedy mercenaries with short memories who are getting rich off the sacrifices that were made on their behalf more than four decades ago.
"When do we get our reward?" wonders Carmen Fanzone, the former utility player for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. "Why aren’t the pre-1980 ballplayers included in the pension plan that they rightfully deserve?"
Fanzone and others, including former Senator pitcher Carl Bouldin, of Germantown, Kentucky, played between 1947 and 1979, and aren’t receiving pensions because they didn’t accrue four years of service credit. That was what ballplayers needed in 1980 to be eligible for the pension plan.

The players pension fund was established on April 1, 1947. You had to be on an active major league roster on that date to qualify for a pension. At that time, the rules stipulated that you only needed five years to retire. Effective 1969, all you needed was four years to qualify for a pension.
During the 1980 Memorial Day Weekend, a threatened players’ walkout was averted when the league and the union agreed that players would be eligible for health benefits after only one day of service and a pension after 43 days -- roughly one-quarter of a season.  

The problem? The proposal was never made retroactive.

So David Clyde, the former Ranger and Indian who was his generation’s Stephen Strasburg, came up 37 days shy of a pension. Don Dillard, the former Cleveland Indian pinch hitter supreme, was just 17 days short.

If they had attained enough service credit, the current IRS pension limitation is $210,000. But that’s certainly not what these men are getting for having played the game they love.

Nope, they’re getting the seasonal equivalent of a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings.

That’s because, in April 2011, MLB and the union announced that the pre-1980, non-vested ballplayers would each receive up to $10,000 in nonqualified, life annuity payments for their time in "The Show," based on a complicated formula that had to have been calculated by an actuary.

In brief, for every quarter of service a man had accrued, he’d get $625. Four quarters (one year) totaled $2,500. Sixteen quarters (four years) amounted to the maximum, $10,000. And that payment was before taxes were taken out.

Former Tigers reliever Steve Grilli, of Baldwinsville, New York, who is credited with 2 1/4 years of service, has been receiving gross checks of $5,625 for the past five years. After taxes, his take home is approximately $3,800.

Just how Scrooge like are MLB and the union? These payments stop when the player dies. Their spouses or other designated beneficiaries don’t continue to get them.
And they’re still not permitted to be part of the league’s health insurance plan either.

So while MLB and the union are singing the praises of their new CBA, and letting it be known that the minimum salary will rise to $555,000 by 2019, and that the owners are kicking in $200 million to fund the pension and welfare benefits of the players, or that ballplayers who participate in special events in London, Asia and the Dominican Republic will each get $15,000 to $100,000, or that the minimum salary rose to $4.4 million, remember that men like Fanzone and Clyde and Bouldin endured work stoppages so that free agency could happen for today’s players.

Meanwhile, a guy like Grilli, who used to drive a UPS truck to make ends meet, never made more than $25,500 a season, according to Baseball Almanac.

You think we’ll see Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper ever behind the wheel of a UPS truck?
No. Because in a more than $9 billion industry largely fueled by the $12.4 billion in licensing fees that Fox, TBS and ESPN are paying MLB, today’s players don’t have to worry about having to work second jobs in the off-season. MLB and the union would be wise to remember that this holiday season.
By the way, "Come By Here," which is what Kumbayah actually means, was originally a simple appeal to God to come and help those in need.

MLB and the union would be well served to remember that too.
Douglas J. Gladstone is the author of A Bitter Cup of Coffee; How MLB& The Players Association Threw 874 Retirees A Curve (Word Association Publishers, 2010).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Berra, Robinson, Marx, and Nixon

Here is a GREAT baseball/President/pop-culture photo we saw while the Marx Museum in Moundsville, West Virginia!  Check out my entry on our visit at my main blog Kentucky Travels.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Legends Wedding Proposal

It has been a very slow baseball season for me....  but I saw something very cool the other night while at a Legends game.

There was a wedding proposal!  That is always cool to see at a game!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lookouts Open House

It has been a heck of a winter in my neck of the woods, and I am READY for some baseball!

Luckily, many of the minor league teams have their annual open house events in late March.  This year, we decided to travel to Chattanooga to see what the Lookouts are up to!

This is such a great community and a great park.  You can park downtown and walk to AT&T Field, and many other great downtown attractions.

We got to the park pretty early.  We were in luck, as Alex, the teams marketing and promotions manager, was giving tours!

Alex let us know that its looking like the Lookouts will be getting some exciting prospects from the new parent club this year.  Everyone we talked to seemed very excited about The Lookouts new relationship with the Twins.

And that excitement showed.  We noticed many references to the Twins, while a few mentions of the former MLB team, the Dodgers, were still noticeable but scarce.

I really enjoy these pre-season opportunities to check out the entire park.  We were given the rare chance to see suites, dugouts, the locker room, and some more of the behind the scenes areas.

We were allowed to see where the team's radio announcer Larry Ward calls the games!  More importantly, Larry was hanging around to tell us a little about the team, and his TWENTY SIX YEARS of calling the games!

I was so excited about meeting Larry.  That's another great reason to show up at events like this.  You never know who you might be able to chat with!

The Lookouts were having an AMAZING sale of GAME USED items in the locker room.  You know I did some shopping!

The team's mascots were all over the place too.  This was a great chance to get a photo of yourself ON the field, WITH both mascots!

It has been a LONG, cold winter, and it felt so nice getting to Chattanooga and being able to hang out at AT&T Park!

Thanks to Alex, Larry, Looie and the rest of the Lookouts!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I thought I should mention that it looks like the AAA Red Sox in Pawtucket are moving!

Here is one of many articles about it:


Friday, January 16, 2015

Ottawa Champions will play a team from Japan this season

The independent leagues are really thinking progressively!  I previously mentioned the Atlantic League's discussion of starting a team in Cuba.  Well, now the Can-Am League has announced that their team based in Ottawa will play a team from Japan this year!  I think this is very exciting!  I am so impressed with these leagues for mixing things up a bit! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Polo Grounds, New York City Postcard

"Located at 155th and 8th Avenue, the world renowned home of the New York Giants has a seating capacity of 45,000 persons."

This postcard was sent from New York City from "Grandma" to a grandson, asking if he had been to this park.

It was sent in 1954.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Payne Park, Home of the Boston Red Sox, Sarasota FL. Postcard

"Baseball Fans come from far and wide to see the pennant winning Boston Red Sox in Spring Training at Payne Park.  Tourists enjoy the warm sunny days at Sarasota's large, modern trailer park shown in background."

This postcard is unused, but the Red Sox played at Payne Park between 1933 and 1958.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Atlantic League in Cuba

I know, there have been a LOT of headlines lately about Cuba....  and many of those mention baseball.  I absolutely love the idea of being able to travel to new and interesting places, ESPECIALLY if baseball is involved! 

I just finished reading some books on JFK, and I get that there is still some bad blood issues there.  BUT, I am glad to see some figurative walls coming down.

Anyway, I found this article about a possible Caribbean Division for the Atlantic League!  Check out the article and see what you think!  The proposed division would include Cuba, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

Hats off to the Atlantic League for even considering this sort of thing.  I really think of those guys as super progressive and innovative. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Joey Wong-Rockies prospect

Joey's mom sent a nice note recently!  He is playing Winter ball in Australia at the moment.  She wanted me to know that Joey appreciates the fan support he has received!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mike Devine- Frontier League

Mike Devine spent 2014 in the Frontier League.  He took the time to send me a great note recently about his career.

He says that, being from Pittsburgh, he grew up a Pirates fan.  He mentions that, at the end of his baseball seasons, he has enjoyed coming home to see the Pirates making it in to the post season!

He went from Traverse City to Normal in the middle of the season.  Concerning his time in Traverse City, he mentions that it is a great area, and he is grateful that they gave him his start in professional baseball.  It is a great town he says.

I asked him about favorite baseball books, and he mentions that he really enjoyed reading Josh Hamilton's book, "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back."  He talks at length about how he can relate to it because he has witnessed many friends and ballplayers get into drugs, and have the game taken away from them.

He continues, "No matter what the situation I think it is extremely tough to go from that low and get back to an elite level, and that book did a really nice job of highlighting the struggle he went through."

Mike talks a lot about his love of the game.  "I have been blessed to play with and against many people all over the country, and while I am a strong competitor, the wins and losses come and go.  What stays with me is the friendships and going to the park each day during the season knowing that there are 23 or 24 guys in that locker room and dugout with me ready to go compete together for the next 9 innings.  Baseball has blessed me with many things, but the thing that never leaves me is the friendships of my teammates and coaches that extend into life off the field."

I wanted to put Mike's feelings on baseball in quotes, because he said it perfectly!

Good luck next year Mike, and thanks for the nice note!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wild Pitches

Yeah, I know it has been a while......  But I did want to say hello during this very dormant non-baseball season.  There are a few things going on.......

First off, CONGRATS to former Florence Freedom Manager, Fran Riordan!  Fran has been hired by the A's organization to manage their Beloit team.  This is a very big deal and I love hearing about Frontier League players and managers getting picked up by affiliated teams

Also, Skylands Stadium in Augusta New Jersey will once again have a team playing in the Can-Am League!  I think this is great news.  We have been through that area several times, and really love it!  We stopped by and saw the New Jersey Cardinals of the New York Penn League back when they played there.  This is a very scenic area, and the fact that they once again have a pro-ball team gives me another excuse to visit!

I do hope to have a few more posts over the next few weeks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scouts Alley Seats at Great American Ball Park.

Thanks to a friend I was recently able to set in the Scouts Alley area at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati!

I was actually super excited about making it to one more game this year, especially one to the north of me.  As I mentioned before, this has been a slow season.

These were some great seats and I liked the exclusive area.  There is the "Scouts Alley" area, where there were no lines for getting a drink and a dog.  Plus, the Scouts Alley area was inside, and this was a hot day!

I DID notice a fellow beside me wearing this ring.  Yep!  That's a Pirates 1971 World Series ring, being worn by Bob Johnson!  he also briefly appeared for the 1969 Mets!  Talk about a couple of GREAT TEAMS!

I didn't want to bother him because he was... well working, taking notes and doing the sort of thing a scout does during a game.  We still said hello to him and chatted briefly.  He was super nice!  THAT was probably the best part of the 2014 baseball season for me!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wild Pitches

Well, the minor league season is pretty much over, with the exception of a playoff game here and there.  This has been a painfully slow season for me.  I only made it to a fistful of games.

Not to get personal (this is a blog about baseball), but my cat became very sick in March.  We have had to give him fluids and various meds each evening.  This has prevented me from going to a ton of games like I usually do each season.  I am glad that I could do it for him though, and I did not mind missing out on the season to help him out.

ANYWAY, there are several parks I was hoping to make it to one more time this season.  Nashville, for example, gets a new park next year!  I am very excited for them, but I hoped to make it to Greer Stadium one more time.

The Huntsville Stars are moving too, along with some other teams here and there. 

The Jamestown Jammers will relocate too.  I have been to Jamestown, and I have seen the Jammers but I never got to see them at home.  Here is a great article by Benjamin Hill from milb.com about the teams move.

Ben, as always, does a great job of describing the sadness of the teams last game (in front of a "crowd" of less than 400).


Thanks for reading, this blog may remain pretty dormant until next season!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reds vs Nationals in Cincinnati

I made it up to Cincinnati to catch my first Reds game in some time.  A buddy of mine got some GREAT seats from a friend.

I do enjoy going to see the Reds, but downtown Cincinnati can be a hassle.  Parking, and the streets can both be nightmares.

We did have a parking pass, but the line to get in to the garage was miserable.  I saw traffic cops all around, casually ignoring issues as they chatted with people on the street.

AND.....  I love catching a Frontier League game in Florence.  It is a closer drive for me, I don't have to deal with traffic in southern Ohio, and I prefer smaller stadiums.

Still, seeing a Reds game is pretty much required at least once a year for me.

Sadly, the Reds haven't been playing that great at the moment.  They looked bad on the night I came to town.  The Nationals beat 'em up pretty good.

I was a little surprised to see all of the Nationals jerseys at the game!  I didn't realize that they have a lot of fans here and there.  It wasn't quit like the Cubs and their numerous and loyal fans, but it was still impressive.

Oh, the Nationals brought their presidents!  In fact, the game was a bit slow, and the Racing Presidents may have been the most exciting point in the game!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tim Dillard

Brewers organization pitcher Tim Dillard sent a very kind note recently about his career.

Tim expresses that he appreciates support as a player of such an awesome game!

He has been a fan of many teams in his life, but at this moment, he is a die hard fan of his current team, the Huntsville Stars.

He says that the Nashville Sounds (AAA Brewers) are a special team to him too, as he considers that team his home team.

I asked him about his brief time in the Atlantic League.  He says that the league is very professional and competitive.  He mentions that many former MLB players are there.

I asked about his experiences in or near Kentucky.  He says that in 2012 he played in Cincinnati.  He had a burger with an egg on it and he also enjoyed some Graeter's Ice Cream.  At that time he also went to the Creation Museum.  He thought that was amazing, and he asks if I have been!

I have- see my entry on my other blog about that visit-


Thanks for the GREAT note Tim!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Angel's Pitching Prospect Michael Roth

Angels pitcher Michael Roth sent a note about his career, and his time at the major league level last year.

He let me know that "the show is everything you dreamed about as a kid."

His dad raised him as a Yankees fan, since he is from Long Island.

Thanks Michael!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Joe Van Meter

Joe Van Meter, currently pitching in the Orioles organization, sent a nice note recently.

He let me know that he was a Yankees fan growing up.  He is happy to be in the Orioles organization, and he thought Hickory was a fun place to play.

He says that Lexington was a cool place to play and visit (he played in town against the Legends in the SAL).
He was happy to be close to Louisville and Churchill Downs.  He would like to go to the Derby someday.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wild Pitches

Just a little house keeping here at the blog.....

First off, forgive me for not having more pics and mentions of parks this year.  I had two massive road trips planned and things didn't work out.  What didn't work out you may ask...

Well....  I try not to get too personal with my blogs but I do have a very sweet small animal that is sick, and we are doing a lot to take care of him right now.  All of our travel plans have been canceled for the summer because of that.

On to other items...

There is a NEW podcast for the Frontier League!  Here is some more info...  Check it out-

Did you get this weeks Sports Illustrated?  There is a great article on Don Mattingly, who I pretty much consider to be a local boy.  Good stuff.  There is a nice write up from Joe Torre about Don Zimmer too.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Brent Powers

I got a really nice note from A's organization pitcher Brent Powers the other day.  He was very kind to tell me about his career so far!

Brent says that playing for the Lake Monsters was fun.  He says it was a fun city with great fans.  He enjoyed his years there.

He says that he grew up in Texas as a Rangers fan.  Now that he is with the A's he jokingly says that he feels that might be a conflict of interest.  Ha!

He does say that he misses Texas, as it is a great place to live, and his family is there.

I asked about Beloit and he says that the area has a small town feel and he described it as a hidden gem.  He feels lucky to be a part of the team, as there are some great players there now.

I asked Brent about baseball books, and he says that when he was growing up, he read every book on Babe Ruth that he could.

Concerning Kentucky, he says that he has never played in it, but he has played all around the state.

Thanks Brent!  Good luck!

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014 Lexington Legends

This has been a VERY slow baseball season for me.  More on that later, but I recently made it to see my home team, the Lexington Legends, play for the first time this year!

Actually, this was not my first time seeing the Legends play in 2014, but it was my first time seeing them at home!

I had to make it to this game though, because they were giving away a small figure of the team mascot, Big L!  It was one of the coolest giveaways in some tine, and I really wanted one!

I was glad I went.  For some reason, the park had a more mellow vibe than usual.  I can't put my finger on it, but the park seemed more relaxed than in seasons past.  The players were interacting more with the little leaguers on the field.  Also, I didn't notice the army of staff and ushers that I have noticed before.  Also, I didn't feel overwhelmed by the sound system.  I have been here on some very loud nights in the past!

Big L was all over the place too.  He gave the umps an eye exam before the game, and did some shoe shining later on.  He seemed more animated than last year.  It was cool of the umps to play along.

I do enjoy making it out to see the Legends when I can though.  There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a game on a nice night in the summer.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

An Evening with Leo Cardenas & Tommy Helms, hosted by Jon Warden

This looks fun and interesting for all of the Reds fans-

From Cincy Card Shows:

NEW EVENT: An Evening with Leo Cardenas & Tommy Helms, hosted by Jon Warden.

Tuesday, May 27th at Marriot Northeast, 9664 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason, Ohio 45040.

Come out and hear some great stories from the 1960's and the days of Crosley Field. Players will tell a few stories and then we will enter in to a Q&A from the attendees. Remember that Helms was a long time roommate of Rose so we should be in for a treat. Following the event players will sign autographs for a separate fee.

Tickets prices are as follows:
Seating Paid in Advance $10
Seating Day of Event (if available) $15
VIP Table Seating in Advance $20
VIP Table Seating Day of Event (if available) $25
VIP Table of 8 (in advance only) $140

For more information including ticket information or to pay for tickets with visa/mastercard or paypal contact Steve Schell at saschellstar@gmail.com or Adam Knight at adamknight79@yahoo.com

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dan Black- White Sox Prospect

Alright, I am now a huge fan of White Sox prospect, and funny as heck eccentric, Dan Black.  I sent him a couple of photos I took last year in Birmingham.  He added VERY artistic touches to each one, in addition to signing them.  He wrote a note on a card (DIRECTLY on the card) hoping that the card does not end up on ebay!

Don't worry Dan, I always appreciate and value weird and different notes, inscriptions, and doodles on my cards and photos!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tyler Saladino- White Sox prospect

Tyler Saladino is working his way up the White Sox system!  He let me know recently that the new Charlotte Knights park is beautiful, and definitely worth checking out.  He says that he loved Birmingham too!

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: