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Day 97 “It really is a “team” thing!”

Ryan and Ariel charting the pitchers!
Ryan and Ariel charting the pitchers!

It was a busy day! I drove a couple hours after the game last night, pulled over in a rest area, woke up late!  Drove the additional 1.5 hours to get to the Tennessee Smokies game against the Mobile BayBears. When I arrived, the game had just started and the place was packed! There were school children everywhere who were part of the D.A.R.E. program. I was kind of worried since a lot of the kids weren’t paying attention to the game and fearful one of them was going to get hit by a foul ball! It didn’t happen, fortunately. I was having a good time watching a bunch of the kids trying to pick a good position to get a foul or home run ball.  I was sitting in the outfield grass area where no one was for the first inning, until the kids realized that home runs were hit there.

I was chuckling at one parent who was there with his glove. He was directing the kids to where they should stand as he occupied the third base foul area near the Smokies’ bullpen. I appreciated his leadership. He had to be about 50, stood about 6 foot tall, weighed a buck fifty at the most with tattoos up one arm and down the other and he was wearing shorts that almost reached his ankles. His long flowing grey hair was almost butt length, wearing a baseball cap that protected his nose, face, eyes and cheek piercings from the sun.  He raised his arms triumphantly, flashing his toothless grin at one point, when he caught a line shot that was right at him. I was impressed with the catch and by the fact that he immediately gave it to a kid.  The Smokies pitchers seemed to be watching him directing the kids into position more than they were paying attention to the game, which almost got one of the players hit by a foul ball, a ball that the player gave to a young boy.  That young boy was immediately directed by the toothless leader to thank that player, which the child promptly did.

I am a day ahead again on my post, I should be blogging about the doubleheader I watched last night in Nashville.  Alex, the Public and Media relations person with the Sounds, set me up with an excellent ticket right behind home plate. I was sitting among the scouts and the “geek” team for the teams.  The “geek” team consists of the Video Scouting Coordinator (VSC) and usually a pitcher, the pitcher from the previous night, or the pitcher who was to pitch following night. Ariel Pena was the pitcher enlisted to do the charting for the Sounds on this night since he pitched the night before (look up Ariel, he is a very good pitcher with the Brewers). He worked with Ryan Gaynor the “VSC”.  The Omaha Storm Chasers had tonight’s pitcher doing the charting, I never caught his name.  Their job was to chart what pitch was thrown (Fastball, Curve, Slider, Change-up, etc.) record the speed of the pitch, count the pitches, where the ball was hit, so on and so forth.  Just like what I do when “keeping book”, except  their work is more extensive.  I have to say I was impressed with these two, people kept coming up to Ariel to get his autograph and he signed without complaint. I even got him to autograph my Top Prospects Book. Normally I don’t do autographs of players, but I did with him.  Ryan got stuck answering tons of my questions, he did so politely. I know what it is like to be interrupted when I am trying to focus on something and I appreciated his patience a lot!  Ryan had a couple of other fans come up and ask him questions, he represented the organization very well.

Also, there were many other scouts in attendance. Some were with the Brewers and Royals doing specific player evaluations. There were scouts from other teams getting a look at a player they might want to trade for and they want to do their own evaluation. I have seen this grouping many times on this trip; but, what I learned last night was the responsibility of the pitchers on the team having to chart.  Ariel explained that he won’t have to do it in the Majors once he gets there. He laughed and told me that, of course, he got stuck doing it when there was a doubleheader.  The “VSC” told me, “Ryan got to the stadium at 11 am that day and probably won’t be leaving until 2 am. He, also, has to get all the video coordinated for the coaches to look over; and, so he, himself, can go back to make sure the charting is correct.  Besides all that, he needed to get some advanced scouting done on the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Sounds next opponent.” I could tell that Ryan and Ariel loved being apart of this great game. They each have very different roles within the team and they rely upon one another, along with everyone else, to make the Nashville Sounds and the Milwaukee Brewers a winner. (Remember the KC Super Fan Chris will be profiled!)

I have been thinking a lot lately about all the knowledge I have acquired on this trip. I have been to many ball parks all over. I have seen what works and what doesn’t at the different venues. With five more months to go, I am sure that I will see even more.  I need to begin thinking about what I will do after all this is done. I thought it would be promoting Baseball Buddha, selling hats, t shirts, etc., and writing stories about fans. But people don’t like the shirts and my unique style of writing probably won’t work with other media. I need to raise more money to insure that I finish the trip, I think I have enough to make it to August, that leaves September and October.  Please give me some ideas that I can focus on. I would love to be a consultant after I finish my ‘baseball’ travels or even write a book about my experiences, but that is in the future. So – any and all ideas would be appreciated! Please don’t be shy!

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 www.baseballbuddha.com. 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!

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Day 96 “Where does the time go!”

Try and guess what this is!
Try and guess what this is!

Well I will not be posting much tonight, it is 11:20 pm Central Time!  I just watched the Nashville Sounds sweep a doubleheader from the Omaha Storm Chasers. I had a great time watching the games with Ryan Gaynor the Video Scouting Coordinator for the Sounds and Ariel Pena, one of the Brewers top pitching prospects. They were charting the pitches and pitch speeds. I don’t know if they enjoyed me asking so many questions, but they were very polite.  I hope to have more to write about the games tomorrow. I am laughing right now because I still intend to write up something on Chris the KC Super Fan, with all this hype I better do an interesting story on him or you all will be super disappointed! I have to get on the road to Knoxville, TN. I have a three hour drive ahead of me, switching time zones to the Eastern Time Zone; plus, the game starts at 11:30 am!

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Day 95 “Recharged…”

Derek Jeter crowding my selfie...
Derek Jeter crowding my selfie…

Wow! These days are getting away from me! I lost an hour since I came back into the Eastern Time Zone! That kills me, I needed to get up early since I wanted to go to tour Louisville Slugger wooden bat plant and check out their museum. I needed to be in Lexington for a 7:05 pm game, which was no problem.

I made it to the tour of the factory, to the museum and to Lexington with no issues. Since I usually blog about the day before which was actually Day 95 and today is Day 96. I screwed up yesterday talking about the great experience I had at Bosse Field in Evansville. Today I wanted to do a couple of things after I got to Lexington. Of course I wanted to blog about the KC Super Fan Chris who has a fun story. I wanted to listen to an old radio broadcast of a regular season game between the Chicago Cubs and the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1957. I accomplished one of the two things before I went to tonight’s game!

I listened to the game and kept book of the game from 1957.  I had a great time on the tour at Louisville Slugger with all the history, nostalgia and just coming from Bosse Field I was on this historical high. I “needed” to “geek the game” from 1957.  It was so cool listening to the game being called by Vin Scully from 57 years ago (he only called the first three innings).  I want to save some of the details for another blog post, but the broadcast was so crisp and clear, it felt like it was yesterday.  I loved all the old commercials and I definitely will be doing it again.  It was also a lot of fun because I didn’t know who was going to win.  I was thoroughly entertained. I know it sounds goofy and people wonder what is the point but it is just like replaying an old movie.  Keeping book helped me really stay focused on the game.

That is a BIG bat!
That is a BIG bat!

I have been thinking about doing the “old game thing” since I learned how to keep score and I have actually gotten my system down pretty good. I need to figure out the pitchers, but it is coming along. When I searched the web for old radio broadcasts I found a few sites that have them, but they only had a few games, I hope that the MLB has a lot of the old games archived somewhere. As far as the Louisville Slugger tour went, I highly recommend it for all baseball fans! I understand woodworking since I worked in that industry for quite awhile, so I knew what to expect. Even though, I still had fun watching the bats being made and going through the museum.

I am going to end it here, I am way late at getting this posted.  I have been trying to stop and smell the roses more, since it has been suggested to me.  I think I hit a few rough patches since I was lonely and was missing my daughter, but I have worked through that. I will be back in Wisconsin at the end of the month, so that will help me get recharged! I would rather be doing this any day of the week than actually having to go to work, so I am not complaining in the least bit!

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 www.baseballbuddha.com. 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!

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Day 94 “Theres no crying in baseball!”

Bosse Fied Press Box
Bosse Fied Press Box

I have been a little critical of the “Baseball Entertainment Complex” lately. I am into nostalgia and I want to see more of the historic stadiums, and  sometimes you are led to certain places.  I am currently sitting in the press box of Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana.  This stadium is the third oldest stadium in operation behind only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I came into Evansville looking for a Starbucks so I could sit and write my blog for today.  I couldn’t find a Starbucks but I found this place! It is the type of place I envisioned I would see all over the US when I began this journey!

Bosse Field is most remembered for its role in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own”, starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis, which tells a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 50s. Bosse Field was the home field for the team in the movie, the Racine Belles, and the grandstand is still painted with their name. Major league players from Evansville include Don Mattingly and Andy Benes. Several Hall-Of-Famers called Bosse Field their home park early in their careers, including Warren Spahn and Hank Greenberg.

“Bosse Field presents a remarkable baseball experience, directly from the moment you step up to the high gates. Its history is striking for a baseball fan to behold, with the added delight of banners cheering on the Racine Belles, left over from “A League of Their Own.” The field itself is bowl-shaped, pushing the crowd back from the action, and the outfield feels deeper than usual. All in all, it feels like a living time capsule of baseball days gone by.  Bosse Field might never receive the recognition of a Fenway or a Wrigley, but there is the sense it does not need it. The quiet, proud history of the ballpark is undiminished, even after all these years.” (took from a website, I can’t find now…)

Left over signage from the movie!
Left over signage from the movie!

I was just going to take a look at the park and then drive to Morganfield, Kentucky where I was scheduled to watch a high school game.  When I arrived at the picturesque ballpark which is attached to the Garvin Park complex, I was stunned at how well it looked for how old it was.  I walked in and started checking the place out like I owned it.  The Evansville Otters of the Frontier League utilize the front offices and play their games here. I talked with Jake Riffert, Director of Operations for the Otters.  Jake game me a tour of the facility and a short historical overview. He explained that the stadium needs a lot of work but the Otters are on a limited budget, therefore can only do so much.  The stadium is owned by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) which is a public school corporation serving Evansville, Indiana. At the moment, they don’t want to spend too much money on the place.

I was so excited at what I was seeing I decided to stay for a high school game that was to begin at 4 pm.  As I was walking back to my car to get my gear, I ran into some interns that were working with the Otters and helping get the stadium in shape for Opening Day this Thursday.  One of the interns, Blake, walked me around the ballpark again. He had some great insights, also, and I appreciated the time he spent with me.  He introduced me to the owner of the Otters Bill Bussing. He was gracious enough to talk to me for ten minutes as I told him how much I loved the place.  I am currently full of ideas on what I would do to revitalize interest in baseball, assuming that people have lost interest in coming out to games.  I told Bill some of my ideas, he probably thought I was nuts to come into his place and suggest certain things.  Anyway I stayed for a fun game between Mater Dei High School and North High School both of Evansville. Mater Dei won the game, 7-3.  I sat, watched and also “geeked” the game from the Press and Public Address Box where I spoke with recent Mater Dei High School graduate Chase Hoehn, who handled the PA duties.  I was impressed with Chase and his calm demeanor. He was phenomenal at how he handled his job as he controlled the music in between innings and batters, also.  He should go a long way!

View from the Press Box!
View from the Press Box!

As I left Bosse Field, I couldn’t help but think about Historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Georgia and Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  These places are a part of great baseball history and I think they need to be preserved.  Early in my travels I did a piece on ASU baseball and that program moving to a different ballpark. My point in my post was you couldn’t move history. One of the reasons that baseball is our National Pastime is because its’ history aligns with a lot of our country’s history. People forget a ballpark’s ‘roots’ when they decide to tear down these old historic parks and build fancy new ones downtown that will look and feel old but have no history to them.  Talk to any Red Sox fan, first thing they will ask is, “Have you been to Fenway?”, then you will see them drift off, their mind is at Fenway walking up the runway becoming awash in all of its’ historical glory.  I want to say the same thing about Wrigley. I love that place. The fans are great but probably have a little more hard luck now days.

I would love to work at a place like Bosse Field and build the historical fan base of this great game.  I have met many people on this journey that have a passion for this game and all the idiosyncrasies. I believe in my heart that the older parks are unappreciated and there are many ways to reignite the passion for many of them. So many simple and overlooked ways. But, I am not going to bore you with what I would do if I were to own a team like the Otters that plays at a place with so much history, that is only for my daydreams for now!

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 www.baseballbuddha.com. 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!

 

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Day 93 “The Grind”

I think I have hit the wall! Today was a tough day and it was the first day that I wanted to be home. I felt lonely wishing I had someone with me. I got down to Busch Stadium rather early, was hoping to find a Starbucks close by. I was kind of shocked that so many people were there three hours before game time. I didn’t find a Starbucks and was unable to work on my post for today. I have a good one too!  KC Super Fan Chris!  I will profile him soon. I just drove four hours, checked into a hotel and I need a shave!  I am missing my daughter who is home from college for the summer.  Sunday nights’ she and I would usually hang out, watch a movie and I felt like doing that.  So, I am a little down at the moment and have a case of the Sunday night “heebee jeebees”.  This will pass and I need to grind this out for a little bit.  I knew this would happen at some point, just surprised that it has taken this long.  Ball players hit the proverbial “wall” once in awhile during the season. The constant pressure and the travel wears you out. I can say that the constant travel has done me in. Since I am in a different place every day, ‘the grind’ can be very stressful.

Anyway, I met three really cool dudes today at the game. They are “crazy’ about the game of baseball and they dig deep into the history of the game.  I gave them my card in hopes they keep in contact. I am learning a lot about the history and I love it. I want to get a group of people I meet along the way to get together and discuss ‘history’ at some point.  I have a high school game tomorrow in a small town in Kentucky, which I’m looking forward to.

St. Louis versus Atlanta today was my 100th game since I started this journey! The Cardinals gave up two runs in the top of the ninth losing to the Braves, 6-5!  This is all I am posting. Please bare with me, I am struggling a little bit with writers block, also.

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Day 92 “Smelling the Roses!”

Willie the K-State Wildcat!
Willie the K-State Wildcat!

Last night I got to see the Texas Longhorn pitchers combine for a no hitter against Kansas State. The TL offense clobbered the Wildcats as they had 19 base hits while scoring 12 runs. I met a great couple last night, both of which are PhD candidates at K-State, I never asked for their names but we talk about a full range of subjects other than baseball. I appreciated that they let me go on and on about some of my political ideas and beliefs. I haven’t gotten into all of that on the trip with others, and I really don’t want to. I just want to focus on baseball but on occasion it is nice to discuss worldly events with highly educated and intelligent individuals.

So, I stopped and “smelled the roses” today! As I drove over to Kansas City from Manhattan, Kansas I stopped in a small town that had all kinds of antique shops. I collect a few things, old baseball related items and turn of last century ceramic beer bottles. I enjoyed just browsing the shops, but I didn’t find anything. However, the day was beautiful and real peaceful.  When I got into Kansas City I went to 18th and Vine historic district and took in the Negro League Hall of Fame. I loved it since I am in the middle of a historical baseball book regarding the integration of the Birmingham Barons of 1964.

I attended the Royals game tonight and I had a great time at a great venue! I met the Kansas City Super Fan, Chris! I hope to profile him a little more tomorrow, he has a great story! That is all for today. I have a three hour drive to St. Louis and the game is a 1:15 pm start tomorrow; and, I want to get into town, get some good rest and get up a little early, so I can write before the game.

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 www.baseballbuddha.com. 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!

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Day 91 “Bedlam?”

Does "Bedlam" mean boring?
Does “Bedlam” mean boring?

I am sitting in Manhattan, Kansas at a Starbucks, of course, near the campus of Kansas State and it’s raining outside. I am going to a game between Texas and K-State at 6:30, I hope the rain stops soon!  I want to write about the “Bedlam Series” between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma University that I attended last night in Oklahoma City. However, the crowd didn’t seem really into it. Oklahoma State won the game 4-2 but it really wasn’t that close.  “Bedlam” means a state of extreme confusion and disorder which the OSU-OU game is supposedly characterized by these things. Currently, Oklahoma State is ranked seventh in the nation, and Oklahoma U is not having a very good year.  I was hoping to see a crazy crowd with fans getting into it. I got to the ballpark early in the day because I heard that it might sell out. I even purchased a more expensive ticket than I normally do, I wanted to be in the middle of the “bedlam”.  I didn’t see that at all and I was upset I spent money on this “snooze fest”.  I was extremely disappointed, the game was in downtown Oklahoma City at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, there was no atmosphere outside either, no tailgating, nothing!  The series heads to Tulsa and ONEOK Stadium today and tomorrow.

I have come to expect a lot from college baseball and its fans, I had high expectations and I was let down.  So here I sit trying to write a post today about a boring game and a rivalry that I thought was going to be a lot more interesting.  I guess some of it can be blamed  on it being played on a neutral off campus site and the students didn’t have easy access to the game; also, the school year is just getting done.  However, the more I have looked into this “Bedlam” Series the more disinterested I have become since corporate sponsors have formalized the concept and created a points system.  I guess I was hoping that the students came up with the idea behind this whole thing but it is more just a marketing tool… Click here, “Bedlam Series“, if you want to know more.

Well, here I sit … “Momma told me there would be days like these…”

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 www.baseballbuddha.com. 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!

 

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Day 90 “Going Deep!”

lancaster mascotI am 90 days into this project and I am kind of shocked that I have made it this far! I have been from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and back again. I have seen baseball being played all over the South, Southwest, and the West! Yesterday, I didn’t put out much of a post, it was only the third time that I wasn’t able to write to much in the past 90 days. I have to say that I am amazed that I have been able to find things to continue to write about everyday and that you continue to read what I write.  Just a quick note, my post is one that you check on from time to time. I know some of my family and friends read it everyday, and I know that it probably gets a little stale at times. I thank all my loyal followers. I did have one friend tell me she has a hard time keeping up with all my posts and that she feels guilty!  Well I say “Screw Guilt”, if you don’t read it daily or don’t enjoy what I write, no worries!  I am just grateful that you read even one posting!

I am learning a lot about the game of baseball, the people that follow the game, and all that participate in it. I am seeing how games are marketed to the public at the different levels. I’m learning how prominent Major League Baseball’s influence is and how it wants the game to be perceived.  I’m keeping my mind open to all the experiences, trying to temper my expectations and holding out hope that I will get to witness the game in its “purest” form. I can’t exactly explain what I mean by that, but I will let you know if and when it happens.

As I have been driving from city to city, I have gotten to examine my life while getting small glimpses into other communities that are different than my own. I’m finding that ALL have a lot more in common than I would have guessed.  I have gotten off the “incorporatized” intrastate highways and have seen extreme poverty and arrogant wealth.  For as large as this country is, it has become very small in culture and tradition. We are a marketing machine. When something works in Phoenix, you can be sure that it is going to be replicated in Savannah and Houston.  This is just my observation and I have found things that have surprised me. I hope those traditions stick around since they are truly unique experiences in Hattiesburg, Starkville, Baton Rouge and Clemson.

Racing sausuagesPlato or Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”, I love this quote. As I look back over the past 90 days of baseball and how it interacts with everyday life, I can say honestly that it is truly America’s Pastime.  The pundits say it is on the decline, I agree with them in the sense that the attendance at professional sporting venues might be declining, however, the game itself is being played everywhere and the unique traditions are being upheld especially at the college level.  From Colorado Mesa University to UCLA to Mississippi State the atmosphere is different and unique; however, I can’t say the same about the minor league ballparks in the same geographic region.

If Major League Baseball is truly worried about the “fan experience” they wouldn’t be putting out such a homogeneous product at every venue. The new stadiums are all becoming alike. I call this, “The Baseball Entertainment Complex designed to suck every last dollar out of you” syndrome.  My criticism may seem harsh but it isn’t and there are bright spots. I love what the San Diego Padres did with Petco Park along with some other unique places. For the most part, the venues offer food that is very bland and terrible save a few places. The interest in the game is still huge but to spend the kind of money required to go to a ball game is way too much for the average family.

Early on in this adventure I focused on a fan at a specific game watching a specific team, I wanted to build my following.  I have since gone on to blog about the different venues and now I am talking about different experiences within the game, i.e. keeping score and listening to the game on the radio.  The project and journey is evolving. I want to say that I am finding a lot of happiness doing this and I hope that I can finish it.  Money will eventually become a factor, I hope I can raise more, continue to get donations and hopefully I can sell more hats and shirts.  People will say that I probably shouldn’t have been critical of the MLB, especially if I want to work with them in the future.  I say if they are that sensitive, or offended, then they are not paying attention to what I am actually trying to tell them, “They have a great product but they need to continue to diversify the experience.”

Some people have said that I am escaping the day to day grind of living, since I am not paying attention to what is happening around the world.  I agree, this is an escape from the “noise box”. Bad things happen every day and it can be overwhelming to the senses. If you are like me you start to feel a little guilty for being happy and content.  I have my opinions on many things, I express them when I need to. I am lucky and very happy to be doing what I am doing, I don’t take it for granted. Someone told me today not to forget to stop and smell the roses. As I have came in and out of cities, I have forgotten to just stop and take it all in at times. Next time I see a beautiful winding river I hope I remember to stop to take some time to enjoy. Maybe I will lay down on the river’s bank to read one of my historical baseball books, or just take a nap, taking in the sound of the water rolling by.

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 www.baseballbuddha.com. 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!

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Day 89 “No Post”

I ran out of time today!  I have a lot to write about, I apologize!  I will make sure to get something posted tomorrow!  I am in Tulsa, Oklahoma and will be attending the “Bedlam” game tomorrow between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma Thanks for following me!

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Day 88 “Baseball Entertainment Complex”

Yesterday was Day 88 in this journey, I bring it up for no particular reason. I was in Little Rock, Arkansas to watch the Arkansas Travelers take on the NW Arkansas Naturals.  I got into Little Rock the night before from Memphis, I spent a lot of time at a Starbucks the previous night and then yesterday since it was a 7 pm start. It rained on and off with the threat of rain all day.  I was hoping there wouldn’t be any weather delays and that the game didn’t go to extra innings. I had to be in Oklahoma City by 10 am for a radio interview and that was a 5 hour drive.  Well, the game went to extra innings with the Naturals finally put the Travelers away in the 12th and won 6-5!  The game ended about 11:15 pm and it started raining immediately after.  I drove towards Oklahoma City for 3 hours, found a rest area slept until 8 and made it to the interview by 10:10 am.  More about that tomorrow!

I have not been writing a lot lately, I feel I have been in a “funk”. I am still enjoying the trip and seeing all the places but I am a little disillusioned with a lot of the minor league venues.  I know that minor league baseball is a business and they need to make money to stay in business.  Most are using a formula of entertainment that “seems” to work for their community.  I alluded to some of this yesterday. The food seems to be the same everywhere, the constant entertainment between innings, etc.  I don’t know what I expected but I guess I wanted to see something different wherever I went. I have found it’s not necessarily the case.  I make no bones about it, I love nostalgia – give me the unique and the old stadiums.  I loved McKechnie Park in Bradenton (Pirates), Wrigley Field has a great energy and look, Bakersfield is a real treat, the Montgomery Biscuits utilized the old with new.  However, for the most part, a lot of these newer places are “cookie cutter” with the baseball entertainment complex in mind.

I have stuck to a schedule and have planned the trip out two to three weeks in advance. This is great to get media attention, I really enjoy it. Even though, the “exposure” has limited me. Part of what I want to do is to get to the smaller communities and get off the beaten path.  I want to go to a game every day, but I think come summer, I am going to leave weekends open without scheduled games. This way I can search the back roads, go to the community “Merchant” league games, take in a youth tournament, etc. When I had a conversation with Chris Dearing in South Carolina he told me about a “Black” league that is still played in the South. He felt it is great baseball that people don’t know about. I want to go to those games, search out those venues. I don’t know what I am looking for but I have gotten my fill of the “systematic” formula of baseball entertainment.  I understand why it works for the casual fan.

I am working my way back to Wisconsin and will be there by the end of the month. It will be nice to see my daughter and my family.  My plan from there is searching out great baseball cities in Wisconsin and Minnesota, talking with people who show up on Sunday afternoons to watch the Legion team. I hope these games still exist!

Feels great getting a ball!
Feels great getting a ball!

My final thought for the day, at the game last night I got a foul ball. There is something that excites me when this happens.  I have been trying to get one at all the different “leagues”, so far I have been successful.  The little kid comes out when I chase after and get one. I wasn’t the only one. I sat next to a guy and his friends who wanted one, also. He purchased his tickets so he in a good position to get one. I got the only one that came our way. Unfortunately, I fell through a gate and on to the field to get it. I showed him and his friends the ball then explained to them what I was doing. They loved it, like most people I tell.  I was hoping another ball would come our way so he could get one.  One didn’t, but when he went to the bathroom a ball was hit near there, I was hoping he was paying attention.  He was and out hustled his buddy to get it, and like all “kids”, he was excited to show it off when he got back. I was happy for him!  That is what I love about this game, it brings out the “kid” in all of us!

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