Day 75 “Bill Murray and Ashland!”

Gary, Robin, Kay, and Stacey!
Gary, Robin, Kay, and Stacey!

“Getting off the bus at the baseball games, the smells were so wonderful”,  Kay said with a big smile as she and her husband, Gary, were explaining about the bus trips. Gary used to do bus trips with groups of senior citizens to the different venues around the Midwest before they retired to South Carolina.  “The tailgating with the grills, the brats, hamburgers, and everything had such a wonderful aroma”. Kay continued her train of thought, “I love that about baseball and summer time, along with the excitement of the game”. I was right with her in my mind.  Baseball games were a very small portion of the business, but by the look in in Gary’s eye, it was his favorite by far.  He was explaining to me about a trip to Iowa to see the Field of Dreams movie set (I haven’t been there yet). The Public Address Announcer and the music was way to loud at the Charleston River Dogs game for me to hear the entire story. But what I understood was the senior citizens which were mostly women on this trip wanted to make sure that they stopped even though on this day it was very windy and overcast. As Gary explained the story, it was quite chaotic with the elderly women being blown all over the place, walking into the cornfield and getting lost. Their hair strewn in every direction. He chuckled saying, “they loved it”. He told me he was surprised that they wanted to be sure they made the stop.  Just goes to show how important this game is to everyone.!  I love that I am getting to hear all these stories on this trip, and the most amazing part I will share in just a bit.

While I was at the Charleston River Dogs game against the Augusta Green Jackets, I was interviewed by the local NBC sports reporter, Brendon Clark.  I met Brendon earlier that day at the stadium to shoot the interview. I felt important in a “this is my 15 minutes of fame” kind of way.  After the interview, Brendon took me on the field where the players where stretching out (I grabbed a ball) and he spoke with the grounds crew. All knew Brendon and he has been voted best local sports reporter every year since 2005.  Everyone was responsive to his great gregarious personality.  We walked into the River Dogs office where we spoke to the General Manger Dave Echols who gave me a ticket for the game (it was a great seat). One of the owners group is Bill Murray.  He lives in the Charleston area year round and usually attends games regularly.  For whatever reason, he wasn’t there, so I was able to talk with Mike Veeck.  For all baseball fans the last name Veeck should ring a bell!  His father was Bill Veeck, who owned; or, was in a partnership of the following franchises:  Minor league Milwaukee Brewers. Major league teams Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and Chicago White Sox.  As Owner and Team President of the Indians in 1947, Veeck signed Larry Doby and thus successfully integrated the American League. Veeck was the last owner to purchase a baseball franchise without an independent fortune, and is responsible for many innovations and contributions to baseball.  Mike has been involved with baseball his entire life and has a large personality, click here to read more about Mike.

It was exciting to meet Mike and he shared a story about a time the White Sox were in Milwaukee. After they played a game at County Stadium some of the players were detained by Milwaukee County’s finest for getting a little out of control after the game while celebrating. Mike had to drive up from Chicago to get them out of the “clink”.  He told me that the 1957 Milwaukee Braves was his favorite team of all time. He rang off the starting line-up like it was yesterday (Dad, he remembered everyone, he might challenge you in that regard).  I will post my interview with Brendon when it is available.  After the interview, meeting Mike and Dave, I was very tired. There was a four hour window before the game, so I went and took a nap in the parking lot!

When I got to my seat at the game I noticed a family of four sitting behind me. Remember the bus driver, Gary?  He’s the ‘dad’ and wearing a Chicago Cubs hat.  I looked at him and asked inquisitively, “the Cubs?” His daughter Stacey said with a chuckle, “Don’t get him started”.  I was told that they were from Indiana. Stacy and her sister, Robin, had taken a quick trip to visit their dad and mom, Gary and Kay.  As I inquired further, Stacy told me she was from Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin.  I said, “really” excited that “my hometown is Ashland, Wisconsin.” “No way!”, she said.  Stacy lived in Ashland for 20 years. I asked her if she knew my sister Deb Yachinich.  “Yes”, she did! We talked about all things Ashland! Go Oredockers! I found out it is a “small world” and thoroughly enjoyed my time with Stacy and her family. Not only the Wisconsin link, but they were big baseball fans, too! Robin lives in San Francisco, currently, but is a huge Boston Red Sox fan.  When I run into Red Sox fans the first thing they usually ask is, “Have you been to Fenway?”  They all have this unmistakable gleam in their eye.  Robin had “the gleam”. Gary and Kay said that Wrigley was better. I haven’t been to Fenway yet; so, I had to agree with ‘dad and mom’.

Since Gary and Kay worked jobs that were basically seven days a week, they never got to take regular family vacations with the kids. But, Stacy told me her mom and dad always took them to see the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds games every year.  The proximity to Kendallville, Indiana was about the same.  Stacy is a Milwaukee Brewers fan now. However, when she was younger she was a huge fan of the “Big Red Machine” and recalling all the games, brought a huge smile to her face. Occasionally they would go to games in Cleveland and Detroit, but it was pointed out that most of the family are National League fans! Robin and her husband were given the a book about the “joys of score keeping” from Stacy. The two of them have been trying to learn how to keep “book”.  Robin said, “I have my way and my husband has his way.”  She told me she makes an attempt, but hasn’t gotten past the sixth inning, yet. Even though, she says, “I will master it.”  I think, from our conversation, she tried to at an Oakland A’s game. Since she lives in the San Francisco she sees the Giants play; and, she travels the Oakland Bay Bridge into Oakland when her beloved Red Sox are in town.

I wish I had more time to spend on this family. I loved the fact that I ran into someone from Ashland, to share some of the hometown gossip with (all good, polar plunge stuff), which she could relate to!  I want to thank the Charleston River Dogs for treating me so well, also. Thank you for the great seat!

If anyone would like a Baseball Buddha sticker email me at  I will wait until I have at least 10 requests before I mail them out. When received, take a picture so I can post to Instagram. That’s it for today folks!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 74 “CrossFit”

Today, I am completely and utterly exhausted!  I was able to work out the last two days at CrossFit-Carolina in Columbia and then again this morning at CrossFit-Charleston.  I hadn’t worked out since I left Florida which was over a month ago. In addition, I haven’t been eating the greatest.  Ball park food is not high on the health food list and I’ve been drawn to eating those terrible hot dogs (I should say, “sodium nitrate dogs”)!  Anyway, I was very happy that my CrossFit friends were there when I needed them. Everyone has always been helpful and outgoing.  I am amazed with how all the gyms do the same exercises, which gives me a lot  of comfort.  I almost threw up this morning, that’s how fast I got out of shape. I think the hot dogs has something to do with the situation, also.  I am sure it won’t take me that long to get back to where I was. But, need to rid myself of my “spare tire”, along with being more consistent. Being so busy, I believe I used this as an easy excuse not to go.  Plus, I didn’t know how it would be to just “pop in” to a CrossFit box.  Now that I know how accepting they are, I no longer “have an excuse” to skip weeks at a time.

I am super sore!  I think I will take tomorrow off to let my body recover. However, it’s all good – a “good sore”!  Okay enough of that.

I went to a high school baseball game last night in Columbia between Lexington and AC Flora.  Both of these teams were State Champions last year.  Lexington won the large school AAA division and AC Flora won the division level just below AAA.  In South Carolina, the high schools play the best of three championship series. When I attend high school games it is all about watching the game for me.  I love to pick out a player and study him.  Last night it was the third baseman for AC Flora, he piped my interest with his strong arm. The young player was only a junior and was built like Prince Fielder, only a tad taller.  I won’t bore you with what I thought of him.  These teams were cross town rivals and AC Flora came away victorious, 8-2.  I don’t think either team was using their top pitchers since playoffs begin on Thursday.

After the game I drove down to Charleston, got into town after midnight and pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot. I didn’t sleep well at all it was very hot and humid, so that adds to my current state of exhaustion. I might have to rethink this type of sleeping arrangement come summer. I just want to make sure that I have enough money to get through the end of the season, so I need to be very frugal now!

If anyone would like a Baseball Buddha sticker, email me your address. I will wait until I have at least 10 requests before I mail them out. Take a picture when received, so I can post to Instagram. That’s it for today folks!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!


Day 73 “The Drive”

Yesterday, I went to the Greenville Drive versus the Lexington Legends game.  I decided to “keep book” since I was extremely tired.  I was up late with the Clemson fans, I slept in my car on the campus, my car alarm went off at 3:33 in the morning. I sprang up and hit my head on the ceiling, then struggled to fall back asleep which finally came at about 5 a.m.  When I final came to, it was about 9:30, I got up and said good bye to all the wonderful people I met the night before. They were up making breakfast (bacon and pancakes). I was still full from the 12:30 a.m. tacos. I was given a couple of “Cheap Sheets” t-shirts (I will wear them proudly, wearing one currently).  I drove around the campus and took some pictures of the football field. I wanted to see where they run down the hill, “called the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” Running down “The Hill” began out of practicality: “The football team dressed at Fike Field House, ran from there to the gate and down the grassy hill onto the field at the start of each game.”  This is also where Howards’ Rock is located. The players rub it before heading down the hill.

fluorI went to a Starbucks in Greenville and spent 4 hours writing up the story on the “Cheap Seats”. The time I spent at Clemson was such a fun story I wanted to make sure I did a decent job with it.  I am not making excuses but it is tough to do semi-decent writing every day. I usually publish my first draft, edited daily by Beth Chapman with a touch here and there making it flow a little better. She does this everyday, you don’t know how much I appreciate this. She makes me look like a good writer! So when I finally finished, I didn’t have much time before the game started. I rushed over to Fluor Field and was quite surprised at how awesome the stadium was. This is the home of Boston’s Single-A team. I don’t expect a lot from Single-A stadiums (Bakersfield is what I think of). But, this was one of the best at this level (so much better than the Triple-A Huntsville site). The Stadium had an old look but, in fact, was relatively new.  It was constructed of brick that looked like it was recycled, with condos and restaurants located behind the outfield that matched the exterior of the stadium. There was a mini green monster, the playing surface was in the same category as the Clemson turf (Clemson’s was still better).  There was a lot of kids and teenagers at this game.  I chose to sit in the left field grassy area in front of the kids play area (which was entirely fenced in, top also, good move since the little ones wouldn’t be paying attention to foul balls).

I tried tuning in the radio station that broadcast the games but to no avail. I decided to listen to music and “keep book”, it was actually quite enjoyable until a football game broke out!  Greenville won the game 21-6, three times they batted around and almost a 4th time. It was hard to keep up!  I was wishing I had Eggo with me to ask him some questions. My scorecard had all kinds of notes and scribbles by the end of the game. Sitting in the outfield watching all the kids dressed in their baseball attire, trying to persuade the players to throw a ball their way – was a lot of fun, also. I was wishing Larry, another friend and a photographer was there. He would have gotten some great shots of the kids reaching for the balls that were thrown their way. I loved seeing the hundreds of arms going into the air. How all of them would swarm after a foul ball. To me that is one of the best things about these games, the interaction with the fans and players.

My blog has been gaining in popularity lately and fun for me to see the “following”. I am grateful to everyone that have been reading and to everyone that has just begun to read my blogs. I am having a great time on the road.  I need to say that college baseball have had some of the most interesting fans. Colorado Mesa’s “The Pit” has been big supporters of mine they really have spread the word! Clemson fans really jumped on “the bus” the last couple of days, Texas the college and Texas the state were huge supporters before my interview there. “The Roost” at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg has jumped on and have been vocal.  Of course all my friends in the Milwaukee area, but a huge “shout out” needs to go to my hometown of Ashland, Wisconsin!  They have been unbelievable with their support, I love that place. I am so happy to be an Oredocker!  I am heading to a high school game tonight in Columbia, South Carolina, then heading over to Charleston tomorrow.  I try to plan out the trip 7-10 days in advance. My “map”, click here. to see the games. I will continue to search out great stories while I’m learning a lot about baseball, people that follow baseball, and how much people are more alike than they are different.

NOTE:  I updated by biography since I hadn’t really touched it in three months. Click here if you would like to check it out: “biography“. That will get you where you want to “look”.  If you have read it before, just scroll down and look for the update from this past week.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 72 “The Cheap Seats!”

tigerI arrived at Clemson University about two hours before game time, the Tigers were taking on the “U” (Miami).  I was looking forward to the game since both teams were ranked in the Top 20.  I have found that college baseball in the south is a great venue with many knowledgeable fans who have no problem supporting their team, while making sure that the umpires and opposing players know that they are there!  As I pulled into the gorgeous Clemson campus, the love of sport was on full display, all the athletic facilities were in the same area, but they were not just “clumped” together. Each facility is spaced so that each has enough area, all have been nicely landscape. The vast green areas were complimented with water, the view blew me away. I instantly fell in love with this campus!  The football stadium was up on the hill surrounded by other campus buildings with greenery all around.  A short walk away was the baseball stadium which was surrounded by beautiful “grass” parking areas with a a river off to the left, lazily flowing it’s natural course.  I instantly felt my heart fill with Tiger Pride, what you say?  Clemson is a small university with about 15,000 students in a town of only 12,000 permanent residents but this place just felt right. I knew I would meet alum and student alike that were and/or are proud to attend this wonderful university. For some reason, I felt apart of it.

In the parking lots were many people tailgating before game time, tents were erected. People were walking all over.  I parked my car, approached a tent to inquire who and where I would find be the best people to speak with about the fan experience.  The group of twenty something’s immediately told me that I should talk to the people down by the river; and, in particular the “Cheap Seats”.  Initially I didn’t understand what they meant by the “Cheap Seats”.  I was excited to see all the campers and instantly thought of the experience I had at LSU.  At LSU everyone parked in RV’s and partied all weekend long as they attended baseball games. (I was told numerous times, “That was nothing.  You should come during football season”.)  Here it was the same type of setup but with a wonderful view incorporated into the experience.  Going back to my car, I selected a new place to park, under some trees on the corner next the river beside a large camper.  I approached a few guys to inquire about their baseball experience here, they immediately supplied me with a cold refreshment and explained to me about the “Cheap Seats”.  I was very excited to hear what they were about to tell me. I asked if I could profile them and they didn’t know what to say at first. There was a lot of their group who were down near the lake at that particular moment. And, some were on the lake which was near by.  A lady, who wants to remain nameless came into the area, was introduced me.  She was  very confident and quite welcoming and she explained that tickets are hard to come by for the “Cheap Seats”, since there are only 40 issued. Now the section is referred to as “a suite”, she said with a chuckle.  She told me she would see what she could do to get me into the “Cheap Seats”.  She talked with another of the group and came through with a ticket. I was very gracious and blown away by her hospitality.

cheap seatsThe “Cheap Seats” is a mini-bus that was transformed into a tailgating spectacle of legendary proportions. This “legend” was started in January 2003 by Dave Topham, Frank Murphy, Bryan Griffiths, and 15 other Clemson students. The bus was equipped with a wooden deck on its roof, a classic Clemson paint job, plenty of lawn furniture and at times the occasional old couch to accommodate 20 comfortably, and, of course, a grill.  The students used to drive this “spectacle on wheels” to the baseball games and park it behind the outfield wall. At the time the wall was 10 feet tall, so they needed the height of the bus. Through the years, concerns arose of about safety. So, to stay in line with OSHA standards, the athletic department let them build scaffolding around the bus. The stadium was renovated in 2009, with the decision to incorporate the bus into Doug Kingsmore permanently.  Currently, the bus is situated behind the right field foul pole, it has aluminum decking built on top and around it.  This new addition can hold 40 easily. Behind the seating is a bar and grilling area for “tailgating” during the game. (I chowed down on some very good chicken and corn on the cob).  I was given a front row seat by the “Cheap Seat” patrons.  These were not just any old seats, these seats were from the old Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha (where the College World Series is played for the uninitiated). Someone said that have good “Karma”, another person said, “…and we need all we can get since we have never won a baseball national championship. We have been to the championship, but are holding second place for the most appearances without winning it” (Florida State holds the #1 spot in that category).

I was equally blown away by how beautifully manicured the baseball field was. It was so perfect the turf looked artificial, but greener and was REAL deal. Regular readers know I don’t like the artificial turf that Texas Tech and Texas utilize, I just think it takes away from the game.  John Scketa explained to me that Clemson has an unbelievable turf management program at the school.  He pointed out to me that a famous professor on the subject and volunteers helped to maintain the field between innings.  I spoke to John, who is retired from Clemson (26 years, 4 months, 9 days employed).  He was in charge of the fan experience at all the different sporting venues and explained how everything has evolved during the years.  “Years ago you couldn’t play the music the way you can today”, he said. He began incorporating that 10 years ago pushing the limits, since the fans really enjoyed this type of thing the NCAA. Then, school relented. (The old adage, “If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em!”)  One thing John says he was able accomplish was to always report the weather in Omaha, Nebraska, just to remind everyone what the goal was – Home of the College World Series.  I had a great conversation with John. If I write a book about this experience, I will share some of the boundary pushing things and inside jokes they did.

bugleI was pleasantly surprised that they throw the ball out to the right fielder between innings (great tradition and fan interaction), like they do at Southern Miss. I didn’t ask if I could do it, there wasn’t as much room for error like there was at Southern Miss.  I was not disappointed with how they treated the right fielder from Miami.  They, too, were on him from the get-go regarding his constant “priming and primping” of his uniform. These guys were not quite at the level of Colorado Mesa, but they were close.  Molly Schaefer told me of a time when Miami was in town a few years before.  One of their pitchers didn’t get along with their right fielder. He gave them all kinds of information about him, needless to say it was a very long and frustrating weekend for that player. “The more information we have the more dangerous we are”, Molly stated proudly.  I was chuckling most of the night at what was being said to the player. But, their cajoling was always in the spirit of the game, and I enjoyed it very much.  The “Cheap Seats” also wave this giant flag when they score a run.  I missed it the first time they scored since I was having a lot of fun and was taking a lot of notes. Soon after the missing the flag waving, I was in the correct position to hear the bugle player.  I was told that once the he was lubricated enough, I would get to experience this performance. Sure enough, towards the end of the game he was blowing the horn quite a few times. I loved it! I was also told that when he indulged a little too much you can’t quite make out what he is playing.

The players and coaches love the “Cheap Seats”. When they won the Super Regionals a few years ago, the players rushed the “Cheap Seats” to celebrate. When they reached them, the Champaign showers commenced, with the players climbing the fence and the party was on!  To view – click, You Tube video.  On this particular night Miami beat Clemson in 12 innings, 3-2.  I had a great time at the game and was included in another Clemson tradition. After the game, the fans and players sing the school song.  I walked backed to where everyone was camping and stayed up talking about my trip with all the wonderful people I met.  They were so gracious to me and made sure to feed me with the 12:30 a.m. taco making extravaganza!  I have to say this is one of my favorite experiences so far on this trip and I would love to come back again!  Thank you “Cheap Seaters” for sharing your experience with me, I will forever be grateful!! By the way, the “Cheap Seats” are no longer cheap. They are some of the most expensive seats in the stadium and there is a small waiting list to get them!  Also, like LSU, I was told to come to a football game to see how crazy it gets.

NOTE:  I updated by biography since I hadn’t really touched it in three months. Click here if you would like to check it out: “biography“. That will get you where you want to “look”.  If you have read it before, just scroll down and look for the update from this past week.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!



Day 71 “Routine!”

I am here in Clemson, South Carolina sitting at another (You guessed it) Starbucks.  I went to the game in Atlanta last night, Braves playing the Cincinnati Reds. Braves won 5-4.  I was impressed with the turn out.  Highlight of the evening, only cost me a dollar! However, that was a “wolf in sheep clothing” fee.  I sure didn’t like the cost of the food and beverages. In Turner Field, it was one price for the season ticket holders and another for everyone else!  On Friday night home games, they do have a fireworks display which I enjoyed as I was walking back to my car.  Getting in and out of the stadium area was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.  Atlanta traffic is some of the worst I have had to deal with, worse than Chicago and almost equal to Los Angeles.  It was after 10 when I got on the road and figured I would get half way to Clemson, find a Walmart parking lot, and set-up for the night. I was hungry since I wasn’t going to pay those prices at the game. I found a Hooters ate and went to bed! Which brings me to today’s post, my routines.

I have fallen into routines on this trek, baseball games, Starbucks, Motel 6, Walmart parking lots, even Hooters about once a week (seriously they have the best wings). These are my “comfort zones on the road”. Places I can count on day to day.  It’s kinda strange how this has happened, but I now know what to expect at all of them.   Lots of people ask me why do you stay at Motel 6?  The truth is because it is inexpensive but also I know what I am walking into, my expectations are not very high.  When I get into my room I take the bedding off to the bottom sheet, I put my own bedding down.  I get an alcohol wipe to clean the TV remote, I turn the TV on and go through all the channels to make sure the Television is working correctly. If there is a refrigerator I unplug it (makes way to much noise). I make sure I have my flip flops next to the bed (don’t want to touch the carpet and remodeled units have laminate flooring).  I then plug in all my electronics to get them charged. I check for “laundry room” availability.  I wish I could say they are in better shape than my room,  but usually a mess. Taking my precautions, I clean up the machines before I use them. I have been able to do laundry once a week.  There are days that I take advantage of the usual checkout time, which is either 11 a.m. or noon. Going in and out of different time zones catches up with one traveling; therefore, sometimes I sleep in late.

Looking tired at Starbucks...
Looking tired at Starbucks…

When I get to a Starbucks in the morning the first thing I do is find a table near a power outlet, claim that table by putting all my stuff on it and then get in line. I usually get the following items, Evolution Sweet Greens (if they have it, some don’t) Tall “Pike Place” coffee, Bacon Breakfast sandwich and a bottle of water (if I didn’t drink one first thing in the morning).  I then spend 3-4 hours surfing the internet, planning out the game I will be attending, in addition to typing up the daily post.  The Starbucks experience is almost the same everywhere you go. I guess that is the goal, however some are dirtier than others. I check the bathroom right away to see if it is clean, if it is I am able to relax. If it isn’t, I tend to get a little jumpy like something is on my skin.  I really should contact them. They would be a great sponsor and I could send them a report on the all the stores!

As far as the Walmart parking lot experience goes, I usually show up after 10 pm, before 10 I usually go to a Motel 6.  At Walmart, first I look for the campers in the lot and park near them.  In the event there aren’t any, I look for where the semi’s are parked and pull-up along side of them.  Walmart asks that you park in the back of the lot. I try to find an island curb area to park next to. Preferably the passenger side to the curb (I feel safer this way for whatever reason). Once parked, my detail to get my car set-up for rest and relaxation takes me about 5 minutes. (check out my website and interview to see how I do some of this) I make sure I have a large empty bottle with me. Why, you may ask? Just in case I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night!  I usually read for a half hour before I go to sleep, it helps me relax and gets me used to the noises in the lot.  Most lots sound the same but every night I have slept in one I’ve had to adjust to that particular one.  When I stay in the lots I go to Starbucks to wash my face and brush my teeth.  It helps that I always have my “man bag” to keep my necessities.

I really do go to Hooters for the chicken wings. I always get the 10 piece, breaded, mild with a side of blue cheese.  I rarely eat all of them since they can be a little heavy and greasy.  I usually get a Lemonade or a water, I will sit at the bar 90% of the time.  It is 50/50 if I get one of the Hooters girls to wait on me. The Manager, who is normally a guy, does if they don’t.  He also seems to apologize that I had to wait so long.  I really don’t notice since I am either on Facebook or watching Sports Center on one of their TVs.  I eat quickly since it is usually late and I am tired.  I have noticed the “girls” are always really nice when they bring you the check, making sure that they get a good tip. But, they will not get rich off of me on this trip, I am not a great tipper and stick with the usual 15%, which doesn’t crimp by budget too badly.

What bothers me the most is I haven’t worked out since I left Florida.  I want to get up and at least run once in awhile but I haven’t done it. So, I worry that I will digress to where I was five years ago. If you haven’t read my life changing experience, read Day 63 “The Elliptical”.  My days go by so fast and this I did not expect!  Hopefully, I will eventually work some physical exercise into these routines.

NOTE:  I updated by biography since I hadn’t really touched it in three months. Click here if you would like to check it out: “biography“. That will get you where you want to “look”.  If you have read it before, just scroll down and look for the update from this past week.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!



Day 70 “What’s the difference?”

1st baseLast night as I was watching the Chattanooga Lookouts defeat the Birmingham Barons 5-4!  I started thinking about why the first baseman’s glove is different? I really never questioned the difference and I assumed that I knew but I really had no clue.  First off, it is actually not a glove at all!  It is a first baseman’s mitt, what you say?  “Called a ‘mitt’ because it lacks individual fingers. They are designed specifically for first base and are not used anywhere else on the field. Between 12-13 inches, these mitts have deep pockets and a wide, curved outside edge to give the first baseman an edge in scooping thrown balls out of the dirt. The larger size also gives other infielders a bigger target to throw to. However, the use of an outfield glove is not uncommon or inappropriate when playing first base.”

glove blackWhy is the infielders gloves smaller than the outfielders?   “The infield positions require quick reaction times and deft glove work. Therefore, infield gloves are smaller and often made of lighter materials. Second basemen use the smallest gloves. At 10-11 inches with small, shallow pockets, these gloves allow second basemen to transfer the ball to their throwing hand in the shortest amount of time possible; a key quality to have when trying to turn double plays. Players at third base and shortstop should use slightly longer gloves, 11-12 inches, for greater range. Third base gloves have slightly deeper pockets and open webs, designed to snag those hard line drives that give third base it’s nickname, the “hot corner”. Outfield gloves are the longest gloves on the field. Designed to give the outfielder maximum range, these gloves are generally 12-14 inches long, giving you the extra reach you need when snagging line drives or deep fly balls. These gloves also have large, deep pockets to prevent balls from popping out of the hand or off the heel of the glove. The webbing on outfield gloves are widely varied. Open web designs can provide slightly more visibility when catching fly balls, but closed, basket style webs prove to be more durable.”  Another question I have now is can the glove be even longer?  I will look into that possibility another time. I would be in the outfield with a 4 foot glove if I could mange it.

Does the catchers mitt really need to be that big and round? “Also fingerless, the catcher’s mitt is the most specialized type of baseball glove on the field. Heavily padded and uniquely shaped to direct pitches into it’s deep pocket, the catcher’s mitt presents the pitcher with a wide target to throw at while providing the catcher’s hand with maximum protection. Though other baseball gloves are measured from the tip of the index finger to the heel of the glove, catcher’s mitts are measured by circumference, usually between 32 and 34 inches around.”

I knew that the different positions had the different gloves. I knew some of the reasoning; but, I didn’t know that pitchers had their own specifications for a glove. “….although any infielder glove will do for the pitcher, using a glove with a closed web will help hide your grip on the ball from the batter.”

I have noticed that I spend a lot of time looking up answers to all of these things when I am at Starbucks writing my blog posts during the day.  I had no intention of writing about all of this today and for the causal fan you might not care but now you know!  Information about the different gloves, click here.

I have been wondering for a long time how a baseball was made, yesterday I was looking at the balls I had gotten. I noticed that the red thread is not the same on all, some balls it is real tight and clean looking. On others it seemed messy and thick.  I found a link and was surprised to find out someone actually hand stitches every ball!  Here is a link to a video. I posted the video on the Baseball Buddha Facebook Page, also.

As I was researching gloves and balls, I thought back to last summer when my brother-in-law, Jerry, purchased my nephew, Eric, a bat from a wood bat factory they had toured in Indiana. The first time Eric used it the bat split in two.  Eric laughed. But Jerry was not happy that he paid that much money for a bat that Eric only used once. We thought maybe it was an older bat and the wood dried out.  I have looked into this a few times. I had written a blog post regarding the different baseball bats, “Day 47“.  Today I think I got the answer to what was wrong with the bat. It was part user (Yes, Eric, sorry to say that you had something to do with it) and part manufacturer. The way it split in two is called a “slope of grain” failure and is the most common type of bat failure.  However, the user needs to understand how to grip the bat so he can hit the ball on the flat part of the grain. This is learned over time when using a wooden bat consistently (I will cut you some slack on this Eric, I didn’t know either).  There is  a lot of technical stuff that goes along with the type of wood, also. In 2009, the MLB has changed the ruling in regard to wood bats to reduce these breakage. If you would like to read more, click here.

NOTE:  I updated by biography since I hadn’t really touched it in three months. Click here if you would like to check it out: “biography“. That will get you where you want to “look”.  If you have read it before, just scroll down and look for the update from today.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!



Day 69 “Are you a Scout?”

When I show up at a baseball game, I am usually carrying my “man bag” and my laptop.  I get asked a lot if I am a scout, even at the minor league games, but almost every high school and college game.  On the days that I just want to watch the game, not really wanting to talk with anyone, I will play along – neither acknowledging, or denying, that I am.  I have talked with and observed a lot of scouts on this trip, I can spot them instantly. Recognizing them really isn’t that hard, so I can see why people assume that I am one.  Last night was one of those nights I wanted to watch the game. I thought the game was at Johns Creek High School, I showed up and a game was being played but it was a ninth grade game. I went to the concession stand and inquired where the varsity game was being played. The attendant told me the game was at Lambert High School about eight miles away.  I talked with some very nice “moms” that inquired if I was a scout. I told them “kinda”, then explained what I was doing.  I was very impressed with Johns Creek sports facilities, hands down the top of my “the nicest I have seen” list!  The “moms” explained how to get to Lambert letting me know it would take about 20 to 25 minutes to get there because of traffic.

No where to park!
No where to park!

I drove through one of the nicest suburbs that I have seen where larger homes and mini-mansions were the norm. These were nice well-crafted homes, not the Mc Mansions, you see in a lot of newer subdivisions. I arrived at Lambert High School to a packed parking lot; therefore, I had to park on the grass. I grabbed my gear and started walking down to the baseball field. I was blown away at the amount of people who were at the game. The stands were filled along with people standing everywhere, even standing on top of the football field bleachers last row. This was a big rivalry game and since Lambert is rated #2 in the nation, I think it brought even more people out.  I instantly felt people looking at me. I was scanning the crowd for scouts, I couldn’t spot any.  I tried to find a place down the right field line but the sun was in my eyes. I walked back through the crowd going down the left field line, bad angle.  As I was walking through the crowd, I heard the whispers, “What does his hat say”. “He looks familiar”.  “He is from Wisconsin”.  (I was wearing a Badger Baseball Shirt.  By the way, Wisconsin doesn’t have baseball.) “I wonder who he is here to see”, etc.  I hear those whispers all the time, to be honest, I enjoy it.  On this night I went with it, I didn’t feel like talking, as the game progressed I spotted a player that I wanted to watch.

Watching a lot of baseball, I have learned just how to spot the “stand out” players. I am not saying it is hard to do, most people are able to spot the good ones. What I’m talking about are the players that have that little extra. My favorite position to watch is catcher. There is something about that position that I love. It takes a special person to play and perform at a high level while catching. The catcher is the coach on the field, knows all the situations while making snap decisions. He’s the mediator between mound and plate with occasionally conferencing with a pitcher to calm down or to fire up. As a catcher, a player needs to have some “grit”. When they say, “There is no crying in baseball”, a catcher defines this statement. Besides all the mental and emotional skills required for the position, a player needs to have impressive physical skills which include quick feet, instinctive reflexes and strong arm strength.

I was watching the catcher from Johns Creek last night. He was a big kid, my guess 6’2′ (or taller), 210 pounds. What I noticed instantly was his “grit”.  He had no problems throwing the ball to second to keep a runner close. When I say throw to second to keep a runner close, I mean the runner was already there, not stealing from first.  The kid had quick feet, a keen sense as he naturally framed pitches. His throws to second between innings were always on the bag and they seemed so effortless.  I didn’t have a stop watch to record his pop time (meaning the elapsed time from the “pop”, or the sound of the catcher’s mitt, when he receives the pitch until the “pop” of the infielder’s glove when he receives the throw down at second base). The catcher’s throws back to the pitcher were hard, crisp and to the glove. This kid impressed me with his natural gifts. I was taking notes and watching him closely during the game. You know how you can feel ‘someone’ looking at you, well his teammates noticed me pointing me out to the catcher. Some of the dads started standing by me. This has happened before when I have pulled out my notebook. I looked around noticing lots of people looking at me. A very weird feeling.

The scouts I have talked with so far on my trip have all told me that it is what is “between the ears” that counts most. If I were to sit down and talk to this kid, I would point out a few points to consider. First, I would let him know he seemed a tad too emotional with the umpire’s strike zone compared to what he thought the strike zone was. As a catcher you need to remain calm, don’t let the umpire get the best of him. He might have backed up first base when there was routine ground balls to the infield. However, I didn’t notice if he did that or not. But to move up that kind of hustle is always appreciated.  I would tell him to be a gracious loser. He seemed frustrated when Lambert took charge of the game with a big lead. I understand losing “sucks”, but it is part of the game.  I would explain, that kneeling on your knee looking upset when a teammate ‘boots” a ball. This gives the wrong message to the rest of the team and the player who “boots” a ball. I would advise him to be the coach and leader that you are. My very last piece advice is to have a “short memory”. If you commit an error or lose a game, put it behind you quickly!  Overall this kid has a lot more upside ticks, than downside.  He might be a top prospect already, but I never checked. The player I love to watch the most in the Major Leagues is Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals. He personifies all of the above. When he is playing, he is in charge and I love that about him. I don’t necessarily like the team he plays for since they own the Brewers and the Dodgers when it counts.

I have picked up a lot of pointers from watching and talking about the game. I understand hitting a lot more. I’m beginning to spot the good technical hitters, but I still have a long way to go. As far as good pitching, I am lost! I might go out and get a cheap stop watch, to record pop times.  I enjoy these aspects of the game. It’s like “keeping book”.  This helps me hyper focus and just another outlet when at a game!  Lambert beat Johns Creek, 9-3. As I was leaving one of the player’s father came up and asked which player I was here to see? I nonchalantly said, “a kid from Johns Creek”. I didn’t feel like explaining and I figured if scouts haven’t shown up to watch these kids on these two teams, they aren’t very good scouts. Plus, I gave the fans something to talk about.

NOTE:  I updated by biography since I hadn’t really touched it in three months. Click here if you would like to check it out: “biography“. That will get you where you want to “look”.  If you have read it before, just scroll down and look for the update from today.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!


Day 68 “Check this out…”

I am sitting in a Starbucks in Dalton, Georgia. I will be heading to a high school game tonight and one of the school’s is the #2 rated school in the country currently, Lambert High School.  They are playing Johns Creek. I have gotten to see some very talented high school teams.  I saw the #1 team Barbe HS win against Sam Houston HS in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Saturday.  Barbe has ten kids committed to play college ball at the Division 1 level and Sam Houston has two. The coach at Barbe, Glenn Cecchini, has two sons playing pro-ball. Garin Cecchini is the #2 prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization and the other, Gavin, is playing Single-A ball for the Mets.  The coach at Sam Houston has published a book about coaching baseball. This leads me to believe, baseball is important in SW Louisiana.

Saying a prayer together after the game.
Saying a prayer together after the game.

Barbe had quite a few of their kids play in the 2008 Little League World Series a few years ago. You can tell by their baseball “presence” on the field. In observation, one can see a quiet confidence, the “between the ears” thing that the scouts talk about. I was impressed with this when Sam Houston came back to score four runs in the bottom of the seventh. I never felt that Barbe was entirely “rattled”, nor did I feel the team felt they were going to let the game get away from them. I was equally impressed that Sam Houston never gave up.  The players continued to come to bat with confidence and determination.  I can’t say the same for the fans in the stands, they were nervous. The Barbe fans really started to get on the umpire when the game got tight. I watched the ump closely throughout the game and he was very consistent with his calls. I laughed at this and I understood that it was the anxiety that was overtaking the fans and “who else to did they have to come down on”. Their verbal displeasure was made obvious. After the game, which Barbe won 5-4, both teams came to the pitching mound and said a prayer together.

I was interviewed by Troy LaFluer prior to the game and we sat together during the game. He covers high school sports for the local newspaper and he told me all about the programs in SW Louisiana. I told him that this is one of those pockets in the country were baseball seems so important to the local culture.  Troy said he doesn’t think people realize how good the baseball is in the area or the state, since the state is obsessed with football.  I loved being in the crowd for this game, the people were very friendly and the turn out was phenomenal.  I hope tonight’s game is equally exciting.

I have to say that I would love to see my Ashland Oredockers – my nephew Eric and Johnny Sechon – come down South and play against some of these top teams.  I believe that the well coached team from Ashland would be able to compete with any of these teams. I know I am biased. These teams and kids are some of the best I have seen. As a fan it would be so much fun to see, like the scouts have said, “It really does come down to what is between the ears”, and pitching of course!  That is what I love about the game, cheering on your teams, at all the different levels.

My buddy Rob gets on me all the time because I have two favorite MLB teams, #1 Milwaukee Brewers and #2 LA Dodgers – it is what it is. I used to say my American League team is the Brewers and my National League team is the Dodgers. I cheered for both for so long it is hard to just stop cheering for the Dodgers now that the Brewers are in the National League (since 1998).  As a fan of the game it is the excitement leading up to the games and  discussing the experience after that keeps me coming back each time.  It is more intensified the more personal, it is the memories and the feeling that we take away. And, so much more!

NOTE:  Today, I updated by biography since I hadn’t really touched it in three months. Click here if you would like to check it out: “biography“. That will get you where you want to “look”.  If you have read it before, just scroll down and look for the update from today.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!



Day 67 “The Ball!”

birminghamYesterday I went to one of the nicest ballparks in Birmingham, Alabama – gorgeous and very unique!  I loved all the site lines and how industrial it was. I personally think it will be even better when it ages and things get a little rusty. The design is not symmetrical, which adds so much.  The ballpark is a great place to come for an afternoon to watch a game, or just spend time hangin’ out while baseball is being played. Where I’m sitting right now is a total ‘contrast’ experience.  I am writing this post at the Huntsville Stars Stadium. This stadium is old and has absolutely no personality with the decay of age and little love. The season will be the last for The Stars at this facility as they are moving to Biloxi  next year. Looking at this dilapidated stadium, probably should have moved three or four years ago. The playing surface is even in terrible shape! This is the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A team and facility. I have to say I am glad to have this experience and I am sure I will see more “out of date past it’s prime stadiums as the summer progresses. And seeing this site, only proves I have been spoiled so far!

I do want to relate a story about the game yesterday in Birmingham. I have been getting baseballs luckily from all the leagues where I have seen games (California, Pacific Coast, MLB, NCAA, Southern, etc.).  I thought it would be fun to get one for a nice collection of things I have gotten on this trip; however, I didn’t want to go after a ball a kid would get. I didn’t want to be “that guy”.  Even though, I know most adults still get a excited to catch a foul and/or home run ball (mostly males with too much testosterone). I didn’t want to have to run after the balls. But it’s “that feeling” of joy, the little kid in us still desires this. For whatever reason, it is what it is.

The Ball!
The Ball!

Yesterday I was a little bored with the game and started thinking, I needed a “Southern” League baseball. There wasn’t a lot of fans in the stands so you could position yourself in certain areas where you have a better chance to get one.  Kids know this, also. I positioned myself a little ways away from them so I could actually go after a ball without running if need be. A couple of home runs were hit to left field where I was sitting. I saw the kids, or teenagers, who got the balls. I was walking after one when one teenager sprinted past me to get it.  The other I had no chance to get, and the third coming into “our” area was claimed by yet another teenager. About the 7th inning I was sitting and checking my Facebook. I heard the crack of the bat, when I looked up I knew it was a monster shot, the two teenagers who had already gotten balls didn’t realize it was gone. I started quickly walking to where it was going to land.  I had flip flops on and had my “man bag” strapped over my shoulder.  I was moving quickly, the kids realized it was gone and started to move, also.  I started to trot, I knew I was going to have to ditch the flip flops, but that would look bad. The “man bag” was going to hold me back, also.  The ball landed and bounced to where I could get it if I acted quickly.  The kids knew I had the angle and desire for the ball.  They started to sprint, I kicked off the flip flops, started to run, they were gaining on me.  There was a 3 foot concrete wall we were going to have to hop over. I tossed the “man bag” and hurdled the wall in an all out sprint. The kids were on top of me as we approached the ball.  They realized it was mine and put on the brakes just as I was scooping up the ball.  I triumphantly raised my arms in victory! It was at that exact moment I realized how much fun that was, but not without being embarrassed for acting like such a kid.

One of the kids hung his head dejectedly, hoping I would give “my ball” to him.  I said, “You already got one” He looked at me and said he wanted two. I scoffed and thought, “not a chance kid, not a chance”.  I walked to my seat and two older ladies, who were sitting by me, commented on how much they enjoyed watching me go after that ball. “Especially when you tossed the bag, your shoes and how smoothly you went over the wall.” I believe I heard, “Gazelle-like”.  They chimed, “Those kids never had a chance”.  I could only laugh at myself.  I really beat myself up over acting like a teenager but I will tell you it felt great getting the ball!  Going forward I will act more “adult-like”. Even though, inside I will be struggling to hold “the little kid in me” back.

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

Day 66 “The Roost”

The Roost
The Roost

“Have you even thrown a baseball before?” the Dive Doctor inquired “deadpan” after I just two-hopped the ball to the right fielder. Other members of “The Roost” were chuckling and telling me stories of some of their errant throws. “The Right Fielder might cut you some slack this time and throw it back to you, but if you short hop him again he will short hop you the next time”  someone added.  I was at a Southern Miss baseball game and out in “The Right Field Roost”. Now, it’s just “The Roost”.  This tradition of throwing the warm-up ball to the Southern Miss right fielder started five or six years ago by Todd Maddux. His brother was on the team as well as some other friends and he wanted more fan interaction, so they came up with this.  The first year the coach didn’t even know it was happening until the end of the year when someone inquired about its origins. When the coach found out he went along with it but wanted to make sure that no one got hurt. So, Todd was the only one that threw it out the first year.  The tradition has evolved over the years and others have taken over the responsibilities. They were gracious enough to let me throw it out for a few innings.  As I was told, the right fielder did short hop me two times when I short hopped him. I pointed to him to acknowledge my error and he tipped his cap to let me know we had an understanding going forward.

I was floored by the “Southern” hospitality I was shown at Southern Miss. The stop was one I wanted to make. I knew Brett Favre (Southern Miss Alum) was a baseball fan and showed up at the games. Since I am I huge fan of his, I was hoping I would see him.  It was Easter and he wasn’t at this game. He had been there for the Friday and Saturday games.  My buddy, Roger Wilson, has been sending out information to all the Media outlets and teams where I will be stopping.  Southern Miss was the first team and school that asked me to come out  I was shown around the park, and they even gave me a Media pass and “rock star” parking.  As I was touring their facility, they pointed out “The Roost” and told me some stories about it.  I told them that is where I wanted to spend the game, I was not disappointed.

The Boot
The Boot

“The Roost” consists of 40 assigned areas behind and down the right field foul line.  These spots are very hard to get and there is a waiting list. Someone said, “Just like in Green Bay”.  Todd told me that it is an unwritten rule that you are suppose to have a pick-up truck or van but that is no longer enforced. In these areas everyone has barques they keep in their spots year round along with lockers which holds their tailgating equipment in.  Everyone told me I wasn’t at a great party day since it was Easter. That didn’t matter to me, I was having a great time. In addition to the throwing out the ball to the right fielder, another tradition that they do in “The Roost” is that of “The Boot”.  When the opposing team commits an error or “boots the ball”, two of “The Roost” members grab these large poles that have these sheet metal cowboy boots on them and wave them over the outfield wall.  This tradition has also evolved over time and has been around since the 1980’s. Originally they had a cowboy boot tied to a rope which they would fling it onto the field and drag it back. Unfortunately, they had to stop this practice when a Florida State pitcher who was warming up in the bull pen got hit with it.

Most of “The Roost” members have been coming to games for years. One member is Hall of Fame (Class of 2014) punter Ray Guy of the Oakland Raiders. I got to meet and talk with him. Besides punting for Southern Miss he played baseball for the university, too.  He was gracious enough to autograph my media guide. I asked him about Brett Favre, but unfortunately he didn’t know who he is, “Brett who?” he asked and laughed.  I was excited to meet Ray.  He is a player I remember from my childhood. To me some of my sports idols that I had as a kid I view as fictional characters. He no longer is. I loved those Raiders teams back in the day!  Ray was into the game, when the second baseman “booted” a ball I heard him yell, “you aren’t Robinson Cano, now.” I laughed at this, it was great to see. The second baseman was the coach’s kid for Louisiana Tech and that didn’t go unnoticed when that error happened. I also heard a “Hey coach got any more sons!”

Charles Burchell - The Dive Doctor
Charles Burchell – The Dive Doctor

Terry Bethea, one of the original “The Roost” members, explained that it is the atmosphere that brings the fans. With the tailgating while the game is going on, the food, the socializing, etc. “What could be better”, he said as he raised his arms and looked around. I agreed with him.  Charles “Dive Doctor” Burchell. He got the “name” because he started the scuba program at the school 40 years ago. Charles told me of a time when “The Roost” would supply hamburgers to the opposing teams bullpen. They would put one on the fence and then it would just disappear.  The opposing coaches put a stop to that when they found out!  “It is all about the comradery” Charles said, as he was crushing some cans. They collect all the aluminum cans throughout the season and donate the proceeds to the Dug Out Club, “all of this is a type of fan recruiting” Charles made sure to point out this out. He was preaching to the choir now, I already wanted to get my name on the waiting list!

"Diamond Darling" Calan McWilliams
“Diamond Darling” Calan McWilliams

Calan McWilliams came out to “The Roost” a couple of times during the game. She is a “Diamond Darling”. Her mother and her boyfriend’s parents were with the group I was talking with. Calan’s boyfriend plays on the team.  I inquired as to what a “Diamond Darling” did for the baseball team. She explained that they are responsible for getting the bats after a player hits, making sure the umpire has enough balls and water. They do the 7th inning stretch by singing “Take me out to the ball game”, take care of the t-shirt toss, etc.  Each “Diamond Darling” is assigned a player at the beginning of the year. They send their assigned player encouraging notes and gift baskets through out the season.  I asked Calan how much she gets paid to do all this. She said with a big smile, “I just love baseball.”  This is her fourth year and now Team Captain. She told me that it is a big commitment, but went on to say, “All the Diamond Darlings love it.” They have two squads so they all don’t have to show up at every game.

I wish I could share more because I feel I haven’t done this story justice.  I talked with so many of the fans out on “The Roost” and had so much fun. The game and the day went by too fast.  But, I’ll return one day. “The Roost” is one of the best ‘fan experiences’ I have been apart of so far on this journey. I thank all for their warm Southern welcome and letting me be apart of “The Roost”! Southern Miss baseball will now be on top of my “must” watch list!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!