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Day 76 “Mr. Willie!”

Mr. Willie Smith
Mr. Willie Smith

“I used to sit right down there when I was kid”, motioning up the third baseline, now a picnic area, but back in the day had bleachers for black patrons that came out to see the Savannah Indians. “My daddy used to drag me to the games and been hooked ever since”, Willie said. When Mr. Willie started coming to the games, it was simply “Grayson Stadium”. It was newly remodeled and the south was segregated.

Now, it’s known as “Historic Grayson Stadium”. The stadium was built in 1926 and is the oldest working minor league ballpark in America with a capacity for 4,000 people. Originally known as Municipal Stadium, the park underwent major renovations in 1941 following a devastating hurricane in 1940. General William L. Grayson led the effort to get the $150,000 needed to rebuild the stadium. Half of the funds came from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In recognition of Grayson’s work, the stadium was renamed in his honor.

Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947.  Exactly six years later, the first South Atlantic League game with both Black and White players took place at Grayson Stadium on April 14, 1953.  The Indians were the first team to break the color line when Al “Izzy” Israel and Junior Reedy started on Opening Day in 1953.  Mr. Willie, who was there, remembers Junior Reedy saying at the time, “it brought more black folks to the stadium.” A month after Opening Day, 15,363 fans packed the house on Merchants Appreciation Night to set the largest single-game crowd in Savannah history.

“My daddy wouldn’t pay a dime to watch football, but would for baseball, he took to it” Willie smiled recalling his father. “He knew baseball very well. He read that paper, those statistics of all the players, used to listen to the games, too. I had no choice, he dragged me to the games”.   Willie motioned to the trees behind the outfield wall, “Those trees were not that big when I started coming here, not even half the size they are now”.  He chuckled, “I saw Hank Aaron hit a few balls into those”.

When the game started, we stood and the National Anthem was sung. Willie stood and sang along. I appreciated the effort and he seemed to enjoy it.  As we sat back down someone came with food for Mr. Willie. “I’m treated well here. They don’t charge me for anything. When new Managers, Owners, Directors come to the Sand Gnats, they make sure to introduce themselves.”, Willie stated very unassumingly. “I can’t complain and they invite me to some of the team events. It’s like I am a part of them”.  Mr. Willie Smith Jr., husband to Gloria and father to Michelle and “Willie Smith, III“. Willie “the third” played in the Major Leagues signed as a free agent by the Pirates in 1986.

Mr. Willie is well known at the stadium and in Savannah. He has come to watch all the Sand Gnats games, and has come out to Historic Grayson Stadium for as long as he can remember. Currently 75 years old, he figures, “It has been at least 70 years or more.”  I noticed Mr. Willie when I found a seat behind home plate.  As I was waiting for the game to begin, I kept seeing people wave to someone behind me. This ‘person’ would yell out to them.  I saw some players motion his way, also, and one of the coaches.  I looked back and saw this elderly black gentleman, the mascot pointed and I knew I found a story.  I approached him and explained what I was doing. He laughed and told me I could write about him.  Mr. Willie is used to this as he was interviewed by a local news station the night before. For him, this has been happening for years.

“It takes the wind out of the atmosphere of this place, when Willie isn’t here”, Jon Mercier, director of the Sand Gnats, explained to me. “He wasn’t feeling well the last couple of weeks and everyone was asking, ‘Where’s Willie’?”

Mr. Willie told me once in a while he will go down into the dugout and talk to some of the players before the game. He likes to instruct them on how to hit the ball, but doesn’t know if they take his advice.  He explained that he becomes disgruntled at times with the current manager, who makes him mad, with the way he manages the game. Willie likes small ball and doesn’t understand why the manager doesn’t bunt more.  At times the manager makes Willie look bad when his way works out.  I had to laugh when Willie was yelling for a player to bunt and the batter followed his “advice”.  He beat out the throw to first by the pitcher. Willie kept saying, “you will beat out the throw big boy, just bunt!”  He turned to me and said, “They should listen to me more.” He laughed at what he said with his easy going manner.

The game was flying along and during the seventh inning stretch, Willie stood up and sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” like he did with the National Anthem. There was no pretenses with Willie. What you saw is what you got.  “Willie comes alone to the games but someone is always sitting and talking to him”, Jon Mercier stated while smiling.  At this game it was me, his friend George, and another gentleman who drives 20 miles to the stadium to attend the home games.

“My Daddy was a railroad man, did the route from Savannah to Atlanta. He grew up in Cairo, Georgia, same as Jackie”, Willie said without being prompted. His favorite MLB team growing up was the Brooklyn Dodgers because of Jackie Robinson. Before the South Atlantic League was integrated, “Jackie Robinson came through Savannah but he wasn’t allowed to play even though he was with the Dodgers at the time.”, Willie shook his head at this. I inquired why he liked to come to the games so much if it was only white ball players. He looked at me kind of puzzled and said, “They played so well.  I love the game but it is not like it was then. Back then they didn’t have so many errors.” I inquired again about the segregation aspect.  He said, “My daddy never paid attention to it, it wasn’t that bad. My daddy never lived long enough to see white folks and black folks sitting together, but he did get to see Babe Ruth play here”, he said with a smile. Mr. Willie wanted me to understand that there was segregation, but a lot of the times it wasn’t enforced as he got older.

Throughout the game Willie was very vocal. He would interrupt our conversation to yell encouragement to the players. “Settle down pitcher, settle down big boy”, or, “Put the wood on that ball.”  I loved it.  He yelled at a few women to sit down in front. They turned around and waved with big smiles knowing Mr. Willie was playing with them.  A few of the concession workers would walk through, wave and he would wave back explaining to me who they were.  He lives nearby, but now drives to the games instead taking the bus, or riding his bike, like he did when he was younger. In closing, Willie remarked, “I will be here as long as they have baseball in Savannah; or, as long as the Lord lets me. I love this game”. So do I Mr. Willie, so do I!

Again, as always, I wish I could do this story justice. Mr. Willie was very interesting and he had so much more to say. I am very grateful he shared part of his life story with me.  It was great watching the Savannah Sand Gnats play the Delmarva Shorebirds in this truly “historic” stadium. A stadium rich with history and memories. Being able to sit, talk with and listen while watching the game with Mr. Willie, I was very happy!

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 http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html. Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

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Day 79 “Hey Rodney!”

Eric Knox & Rodney Hines
Eric Knox & Rodney Hines

As I was sitting at the Georgia Tech game waiting for it to start I was thinking about the last couple of blog posts I had written,  Day 76 “Mr. Willie” and Day 77 “Models”.  They were on the opposite ends of the “fan” spectrum. As I was trying to pull all my thoughts together on how this game interacts with the daily life of this diverse group of people, the Georgia Tech players were in front of me warming up.  I noticed a couple of them wave and say hi to a guy behind me.  I didn’t pay much attention to it at first since I thought they were responding to his gesture.  Then, another player smiling and waving, I fully heard, “Hey Rodney”!  I, of course, turned around and had to ask this guy some questions.

“Baseball, Softball, Swim, Tennis, Basketball, Football, and that new one that they are playing,”  Rodney said.

I inquired, “New one?”

“Yeah, you know, the one like soccer but with a ball and a stick”, he looked at me inquisitively.

“LaCrosse”, I said like I knew the game well (I don’t).

“That’s it Lacrosse” Rodney said. “All the players come through the store and I  talk with them to get to know them a little bit. It’s hard to remember all their names, but it’s nice that they remember mine”.  Rodney Hines has worked at the West Side Market for the last six years on the campus of Georgia Tech.  He says he doesn’t get to see a lot of the games. But he tries to make it to warm ups, or for the last few innings after work if he can.  On this day he had his Georgia Tech baseball shirt on but only had 15 minutes to talk to me, since he had to get to work.

Rodney was a very pleasant and unassuming person, telling me he got an MIS (Management Information Systems) degree from the University of Maryland back in 1986.  He worked in IT until 9-11, but said that it was hard to get a job in that field after that tragedy.  He moved to Atlanta to help his niece get her medical practice started. When she merged with another practice, one of his fraternity brother’s niece got him his current job.

Rodney said that he loves seeing the teams be successful and feels it is important to show up for a little while so they know you care.  I was very impressed with that attitude, all I could think of was, “it takes a village”, even if you are a small part of it.  Rodney said, “I am proud of them” and quickly added, “I wish them luck in the ACC Baseball Tournament”.  As we were finishing up, #32 Freshman Eric Knox came and shook Rodney’s hand. I thought they were both were class acts.  I thanked Rodney for sharing a little bit of his story with me. He thanked me also, shook my hand and left the stadium before the game started. He didn’t want to be late for work.

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 http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html. Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

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Day 144 “LeBron Madness”

The Fans and The News!
The Fans and The News!

I am sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Cleveland right now. I am frustrated because I didn’t get the discount on the Evolution Sweet Greens juice I drink almost everyday. I asked for the discount and I know the code to get a dollar off.  However, the guy said that he couldn’t give it to me. I said, “come on, yeah you can.” He said he needed the coupon to take to his sales meeting.  I was fine with the “no”, but a little miffed with the reason. I have been all over the United States drinking these and getting the discount without the coupon. It might be a flaw in the system; but, I got a little self-righteous and, in turn, the guy got a little testy with me.  I laugh because it is one of those instances where I want to be right for whatever reason, but it just makes me look ridiculous. I put him on the defensive and I owe him an apology.  It doesn’t matter if I was right, or if he accepts my apology, I have to humble myself (He accepted and appreciated it).
Yesterday marked five months that I have been on the road. I left Milwaukee on February 10, as I recall it was quite cold!  I have been lucky that I have been able to chase warm weather. It feels like the longest summer of my life and I am loving it!  Like I said, I am in Cleveland and the town is getting a little crazy with the LeBron James signing. The news is everywhere and people are excited. I just want to watch a baseball game. In view of the recent news break, I don’t think Cleveland cares about baseball at the moment. ESPN, ABC, CBS, FOX are all here getting the fans reaction. What I find funny is how staged the news is. They tell them when to cheer. The majority are happy to oblige for their moment in the sun even if it is for a couple seconds.

T-Shirt Vendor!
T-Shirt Vendor!

I moved from the Starbucks, to a sports bar near Progressive Field, which is across the street from the Quicken Loans Arena where the Cavaliers play.  A t-shirt vendor just rolled up outside the sports bar and is selling t-shirts that say “Forgiven” for $30. There are long lines to get them. What is it about the attachment of a player and/or a team that people get so fanatical about?  The energy and expectations is very high for next season. Anything less than a NBA championship is going to be a let down. I am sure that we will hear the team tell the fans to temper those expectations once the season starts; but at the moment, they are gladly taking the bounty of cash that the fans, with their mob mentality, are willing to pay without hesitation. I am excited for the City of Cleveland. People need things to rally around.  People are high- fiving, with LeBron on all the TV’s, shouts of “We’re Back” and “Forgiven” can be heard and everyone is smiling.  I understand this is a baseball blog but it is hard to ignore the electricity that is in the air. I love the feeling. Fans feel like they are the stars with all the coverage, they want their 15 minutes of fame and are willing to say what the news wants to hear.  The feeling of being important.  I observe one guy slap his girlfriend on the butt after he finishes his moment and gives her a look of satisfaction. She smiles and they get in line to buy a t-shirt.

The Chandelier in the theatre  district!
The Chandelier in the theatre district!

I talk with my waitress about what this means to Cleveland. She is beaming. She tells me that Cleveland is turning around and this helps.  She rattles off everything that the city is doing to improve its image.  She tells me about the chandelier in the theatre district which I saw it earlier when I was at Starbucks.  She says it is going to be a good night for tips, “When people are happy they are generous.”  I listen to some fans who are discussing how much the t-shirt vendor is making, “yeah those shirts only cost him $3 and he is selling them for $30”, one guy points out. “Who cares” another says, “this is awesome.”  A cameraman points his camera in the window, people start chanting “Lets go Cavs, Lets go Cavs”, horns are honking, people are celebrating.  This is the commercialization of sport. LeBron is God- like right now. He gets paid to preform and people are doing shots of tequila in honor of “King James”.  I want to go to the baseball game. I want this energy to show up in Alexandria, Minnesota for a Blue Anchors game.

Since I need to touch on the baseball aspect of the post, I just want to say that I had a long drive last night and today. I had time to think about the most memorable experiences thus far on the trip.  I compiled a list of some of my favorite experiences. There have been many and this is only a few that I want to point out. Please, feel free to click on a link and read.

Best College Experiences

1. Mississippi State

2. Colorado Mesa

3. Clemson

Best Personalities

1. Mr. Willie (Savannah)

2. Lou Presutti (Dreams Park)

Best Baseball Ballparks

1. Bosse Field (Evansville)

2. Fenway (Boston)

Best Small Town Baseball Experience

1. Alexandria

2. Cape Cod

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 82 “Now you know…”

hankI had something that I wanted to write about today but it is going to take longer than I have!  I went to Hank Aaron Stadium, which was right off Satchel Page Drive in Mobile, Alabama, last night to see the Bay Bears play the Mississippi Braves.  The two Braves pitchers were on fire and only allowed one hit and no runs beating the Bay Bears, 2-0.  I enjoyed the game and I liked how the stadium was laid out.  They had all the luxury boxes on the field level and the stands above it.  It was an older stadium but it seemed clean and well taken care of. There was not a lot of people in the stands since it was a mid-week game. However, I did get two balls. I chased after the one and found the other one right next to it, it was labeled  “Minor League Practice Ball” – hey I will take it!  Makes for a good story!

I have been reading the book, “Watching Baseball Smarter” by Zack Hample, before the games.  I have to say that I have learned a lot from this book!  It says that Zack “…is an obsessed fan who regularly writes about minor league baseball.  He has collected more than 7,000 baseballs from major league games”, he sounds like my kind of guy!  Last night I learned that catchers can be called for a “balk”. Something new because I didn’t know this. “The catcher must keep at least one foot within the catcher’s box until the pitcher releases the ball.  If he doesn’t, the ump will charge him with a catcher’s balk, so he stands and extends one arm to give the pitcher a wide target.”

I also read in Zack’s book that a batter at times will tap his helmet twice to let the second base umpire know he is in his sight line. The umpire will then re-position himself.  I finally learned how they calculated On-Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). We all have seen them on the scoreboard but did you really know what they meant or how they came up with the percentage.  I have been around baseball for a  long time and all I knew was, the higher the better!  This is where I start feeling like a fraud, I need Eggo again!  Therefore,  here goes the formula for  “On Base Percentage”:  “Add the player’s hits, walks, and times hit by a pitch.  Write that number and keep it separate. Now figure out a second number by adding his at-bats, walks, times hit by a pitch, and sacrifice files.  Write this new number after the first number and stick a division sign in the middle.   That’ll give you his on-base percentage.  (Anything above .400 is fantastic.)  Here’s the formula: (H+BB+HP) / (AB+BB+HP+SF).”  Joey Votto, first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. is the current active MLB leader in OBP, with a career mark of .4193, so that means he gets on base almost 42% of the time!

Slugging Percentage (SLG) is a little easier to understand.  Divide the players total bases by his at-bats is all you have to do. “Total bases are the number of bases resulting in hits; a single is one base, a double is two, and so on.  The simple formula is TB/AB, but first you might have to some arithmetic to figure out the number of total bases.”  Anybody that is above a .500 slugging percentage is good, .550 is great, and above .600 is extraordinary, since only a few do it each season.  As of today, the Colorado Rockies as a team has a .506 slugging percentage, which is very good!  They hit just as many extra base hits as they do singles.

I love Zack’s book and I highly recommend it. I hoped you enjoyed a few of the nuggets I pulled out of it. If you want to order one, click – Watching Baseball Smarter. I don’t get any royalties so I have no ulterior motive.  I am also reading some historical books on the integration of baseball in the south, Mr. Willie really got me interested.  I love that I learning all of this!

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 http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html. Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

 

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Day 80 “Roll Tide”

scorebookI purchased a C.S Peterson’s Scoremaster Official Baseball and Softball Scorebook for $6.99, I slapped a Baseball Buddha sticker on it and I was itching to use it.  I had considered emailing my buddy Eggo to get his opinion on what I should use, but I saw the scorebook at the sporting goods store and I bought it impulsively!  I got to the Alabama game a half hour early (I usually show up when gates open). I wanted to grab a program and stat sheet but they were asking $2 for those. The guy asked if I  was scout, I told him I wasn’t, I explained what I was doing. he wasn’t impressed, he gave me a stat sheet no charge, I was grateful for his generosity.  I wanted to get to my seat to tune in the radio and make sure I had the starting line ups in the book.

I found a great seat in the general admission section and set up my area which I have been developing this system sub consciously.  I will explain it another time. Since I was going to “keep book”, I knew from previous experience that I needed water, sharp pencils, and an eraser.  I checked that I had everything since I wouldn’t be going anywhere during the game.  I was short an eraser and water…  I also forgot to buy some kind of cushion, my butt should be calloused up by now from all the sitting but it isn’t!    Lesson learned, will have to not make to many mistakes and tough it out with no water during game.  I tuned in the radio and I couldn’t find the station!  Thought it was FM so I was using my IPhone, but “no dice”.  I put on my headphones (Bose over the ears type) and listened to music as the game started. Two scouts came and stood close to where I was. It’s weird, that kind of thing is happening more often. I believe it is a pack mentality. One nodded to me, I nodded back.  I felt important in a guilty kind of way.  Even though, once I get my Stalker radar gun and the nicest stop watch you can buy for ten bucks that might alleviate some of the guilt.

roll tide“Can I ask if you are a scout and who you are scouting for?”  I got this question from an Alabama fan. I would say that he was in his early 30’s, he was at the game with a group of young baseball players.  They must have been T-Ball age, the kids had invaded my space with their gloves, popcorn, and soda (pop for my Northern Wisconsin friends).

“I am a scout but I would rather not say for who”, answering the question.  I wasn’t in the mood to talk and didn’t feel like explaining, I was into the game again!  He said very nicely that he understood, he was just curious (he had a big chew of tobacco in his lip. I instantly felt the urge to have one, I resisted, over 3 years no tobacco).  The kids were entertaining and at times getting in my way as I viewed the game, but he made sure that they kneeled down when they forgot I was sitting there.  I felt kind of bad for stretching the truth.  It makes me feel good when people think I am a scout, don’t ask me why, it isn’t a glamorous job but one that has a certain appeal to for a lot of people.

I feel I am getting the hang of “keeping book”. But, figuring out all the pitching changes and who the run(s) should be charged to has confused me , I figure this is a process.  I didn’t have enough space in the book for some things, but I am getting better.  I am finding a lot of joy doing this.  I make notes of players that impressed me with great plays and study them a bit longer than the rest. A few of the fans were looking at me when I did this and then they would point to the player.  I didn’t know what they said since I was listening to music.

Alabama got smoked by Florida on this day, 13-3. I enjoyed the little fantasy world I was in.  I will master “keeping book” before this journey is over.  You would think I would get sick of going to all these games; however, it is the opposite. I can’t wait to get to the ball park every day.  I have been reading some historical baseball books, that desire became even more intense since I met Mr. Willie.  There is so much about this game that I am exploring. I know this sounds goofy, but I feel I have finally found my calling.

I need to thank my friend Jill (Campbell) Rodriguez and her husband, Shane, for letting me stay with them. I enjoyed reminiscing with Jill about our “middle school” memories and the gang from Beaser Park!  Today I feel like one of the luckiest people in world to be able to do this. Tonight’s game is in Montgomery, Alabama.  I get to throw out one of the ceremonial first pitches! I will let you know how I do tomorrow!

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 http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html. Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!

 

 

 

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Day 84 “Asked & Answered!”

April28th 1075I was in New Orleans last night and watched the Zephyrs crush the Iowa Cubs, 9-1.  There are times I am finding that I have become very obsessed with the game that I want to concentrate on certain things.  I purchased a stop watch yesterday and I was timing the pitchers from the moment they step on the pitching rubber to the moment they released the ball, about 9 seconds for both when they didn’t have a base runner. Timing was all over the board when there was someone on base. I did this ‘timed set-up with release’ for two innings. I know it is weird and it serves no purpose but I was enjoying it. I also was referring back to the book “Watching Baseball Smarter” on different things.  Needless to say, I was self absorbed and didn’t really talk to anyone, so I thought I would put together a list of frequently asked questions.

I get asked a lot of questions, since I am picking up a lot more followers lately. I am going to create a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page on my website, but I figure I will utilize the blog to let everyone know about it!

  1. Are you independently wealthy, how can you afford to do this?  I am not independently wealthy. If that was the case I won’t be sleeping in my car as often as I do.  I am able to afford to do this trip since I don’t have a home or a rent payment, I packed all my stuff up and it is being stored at my sister Meg’s house and my ex-wife Jane’s storage locker.  In addition, I received large donations from Bruno Independent Living Aids, my brother Chad’s family and many small donations on my website.
  2. If you don’t have a house, where is your mail sent?  My ex-wife has been gracious enough to let me have my mail forwarded to her home.
  3. You AREN’T married are you?  I am not married nor am I dating at the moment. I like how it is assumed that I am not, that one always makes me laugh.
  4. Why are you doing this? This is a complex question and I don’t always know where to begin with my answer.  I suppose the main reason is that “life is short” and I am not getting any younger. I am blown away at how fast life has flown by since I graduated from high school. I think I’m like most wanting to make a mark in life, but I never really knew in what ‘occupation’, or how to accomplish my mark.  A lot of people just know and they go about living their plan. I was lost for a very long time. I am very much a “daydreamer”, but I let my fears and other peoples societal constraints dictate to me.  I wanted to fit in for a very long time, but I was always attracted to people that lived on the fringe.  When my Dad had his triple by pass it affected me. I didn’t like seeing my Dad that vulnerable. The thought of losing him never occurred to me because he always seemed young to me. I knew that one day, possibly I would possibly be ‘in his shoes’. Spending time together and our conversations about life, I knew it was time to start doing things that I “needed” to do.  That is the short answer. However, there is more depth to my reason(s).
  5. Are you a writer or journalist?  I am neither, but I do like to write. I thought it was painfully obvious, since my grammar is bad and I use to many commas. I have been told I have a very unique writing style, I know my sister Debbie really likes how I write.  My Mom said I was very good writer years ago.  I have always wanted to write a book (I think a lot of people do).  However, when I read what I write, I don’t like it most of the time or I don’t think it makes sense. I have learned that I will always be my own worst critic and I will never be perfect.  Writing is a process, I am trying to enjoy it as I go along. Some of my stuff will work and some won’t, it is what it is.  I have to say that I am blown away that people are actually reading what I have written.  I have to thank Beth Chapman for editing my posts, I usually post my first draft and she will go in later and clean them up a bit!
  6. What has been your favorite experience so far?  I have had so many great experiences, I can’t lump them together however.  My favorite story so far has been Day 43 “Who replaced Steve Garvey?”.  The most fascinating person I have met has been Day 76 “Mr. Willie”.  The most entertaining experiences have all been at college games with my boys at Colorado Mesa Day 58 “The Pit”, at Southern Miss Day 66 “The Roost” and Clemson Day 72 “The Cheap Seats”.  I have enjoyed speaking to everyone that I have met along the way.  I think in the beginning I was learning and getting comfortable.  I will probably classify the stories when this is over. (check back these may change, I am only a third of the way through)
  7. What kind of car do you drive?  2004 Lexus ES330.  How many miles are on it?  Currently 185,000. How many miles have you put on the car this trip?  17,000 (as of May 9th).
  8. Do you have any kids?  I have one beautiful daughter Sami.  She is finishing up her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She wrote a very touching paper about me and this trip. I shared it before the trip started, click “My Daughters Speech”, for a fantastic write-up.
  9. What do you plan on doing when you get done? I have not given it much thought. Obviously I would love to continue with something in baseball, but will be just fine if that is not in the cards. I truly have no expectations about this trip or how it will affect my life after.
  10. Can I come with you?  I don’t have very much space in my car and besides I don’t think your husband will be to happy about it.
  11. Do you get sick of baseball?  No, I am getting more obsessed with it.  Currently reading: “The Knucklebook” by Dave Clark, “Watching Baseball Smarter” by Zack Hample, “The Physics of Pitching”, and Baseball America’s 2014 Prospect Handbook.  I have been reading some historical stuff also, learning to keep the scorebook properly, and tuning into to the radio broadcasts.
  12. Do you get scared sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots? In the beginning it was a little nerve racking but like anything you get comfortable.  I have met some very interesting people, so I am grateful for those experiences.
  13. Do you get lonely?  Yes, it can get lonely, especially when I am driving late at night and I wish I had someone to talk too!  I do get texts from a fair number of friends and family so that helps.  But during the day I am actually quite busy.
  14. Are you a Buddhist?  No, however I did go to India where I attended a 10 day Introduction to Buddhism retreat.  Even though I like a lot of things about it, I use what I feel benefits me and leave the rest. I believe we can learn great things from all cultures.

A question that has never been asked…

  1. What is your favorite music to listen to on this trip?  70’s music! There are some songs that get to me and I will sing along. Think Tommy Boy when they are singing “Superstar” by the Carpenters, that is totally me when  “Everything I Own” by Bread comes on.  I love the soft pop songs of the 70’s the most, I am no longer ashamed of it!  Oh!! If Gloria Gaynor’s, “I Will Survive” comes on you can bet I am all over it!  (I no longer like Tiffany, Rob Dwyer.)

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 http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html. Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!