Fenway Park turns 100

Fenway Park 100th Anniversary Game, April 20, 2012

I have been fortunate to attend some amazing baseball games. Fenway’s 100th anniversary game last Friday will join that list — not for the Red Sox play, but for the amazing pre-game celebration. Nearly all living, former Red Sox players took the field.

The best seats I have ever been in put the game over the top. Right on top of the “X” on the Red Sox dugout. The game and the players were so close you caught every word. Plus it allowed me to capture this great shot of legends Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr. Thanks for the thumbs up, Mr. Pesky!

Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr at Fenway's 100th

Breaking in a ball glove

I clipped this article from Forbes in 2001 thinking that someday, I would get a new glove or have to break in a glove for my future kids. The future came to be the other day. I tried this one second hot water dunk on my son’s glove in preparation for the upcoming t-ball season. It worked amazingly. The glove broke-in nicely and he even stands a chance of catching a ball.

Forbes: Breaking in a New Glove

As thoughts turn to the rites of Spring, two excellent baseball reads from the early 20th century.
1) The Unforgettable Season by GH Fleming
The National League Championship Season of 1908 was one of the greatest ever. The Cubs, Giants and Pirates battled down to the wire. This is one of Sports Illustrated’s top 100 sports books of all-time which brought it back into print. Copies are much easier to find today than they were when I first learned of the book about 15 years ago.

2) You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner
My brother gave me a copy of this book about 20 years ago. It is a great and fun read as a hayseed pitcher tires to make it with the White Sox in 1916. Copies on Amazon or on the Internet at the link above.

Congratulations to the late Ron Santo

Ron Santo 1967

Ron Santo was finally elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame today. It should have happened a long time ago. Growing up in Chicago, Santo’s legacy loomed large over the very unremarkable Chicago Cubs teams of the late ’70’s. Now with Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, he will be a part of Cooperstown. He was a workhorse playing the hot corner and hitting with power. He was an All Star nine times.

Santo also has the distinction of being the best player ever from Seattle.

I never got to see him play and I never met him. When he passed away around this time last year, this article was the best read on the man.

Also worth reading is Larry Stone’s fine article.

Michigan Man

Lots of University of Michigan news today with the firing of Rich Rodriguez. A coach that came to the school with much success never found the formula with the maize and blue. It has not been a easy slide. There has been painful seasons, and more distressingly losses, where the team was unprepared. Cannot blame the kids preparation is all coaching.

RichRod had my support until the MSU loss last year. It was clear at that point, he just did not get what it means to be a Michigan Man. The most recent public weeping confirmed this.

What is a Michigan Man? I learned unexpectedly from the man himself, Bo Schembechler. I was in my sophomore year and in need of a hair cut. My barber at the time was Jerry Erickson at the Coach and 4 Barber Shop. I first went there because it was close to my freshman dorm, I later learned that Jerry was the barber of Michigan’s best. I was waiting for awhile and longer than usual. But the conversation was good. Bo, president of the Detroit Tigers at that point, had just fired broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. Bo’s house was egged. It was on ESPN. Pure sacrilege. I was about to be next when an old man in a suit bounced in and literally jumped in the the bathroom. Jerry, the barber, looked at me and said, “Mind the wait, will you?” At first I was annoyed, but I let it go. Turns out that old man was Bo. Here he was not some figurine on a faraway sideline. The man in the flesh. He just canned the greatest living announcer in the great game of baseball and jumped the line at the barber shop. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Bo vented to Jerry that he was upset about the eggs. The shop agreed that it was unacceptable. I chimed in. It was clear that asking why was a non-starter, so I opened with how baseball broadcasters were different that other broadcasters. They paint a picture and connect with audiences. In Detroit summer, the velvety smooth voice of Harwell made even the worst Tiger’s teams interesting. He was not the rah-rah party animal I grew up with in Harry Carey. He was the bridge to the first great baseball broadcasters like Red Barber. Bo listened. He showed respect for my opinions in away that I never expected — especially from a football coach.

Bo said when he came to Michigan, “Those who stay will be champions.” Whoever takes the reigns of the great football program needs to breathe those words, needs to live those words and needs to make sure his players do the same.

So long Bob Feller

Bob Feller Autograph

Bob Feller passed last week and so did a little of baseball history. Richard Goldstein’s NY Times article is the best write up on the pitching legend.

In my youth, my father and I bonded over baseball like so many Americans. We had a different twist in that we also collected autographed baseballs from Hall of Famers. From the ages of 10-12, I was able to collect every living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bob Feller was one of the first and the first autograph I paid for. It was at a baseball card show at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Mr. Feller was sitting at a folding table with several different 8×10 photos purchase and he would autograph for an extra dollar. Yes, $1. I am pretty sure the photo and the signature totaled $5. I remember my dad explaining on the way home that players from his era did not make what they did today (this was in 1983 or 84). They did not have a pension or any of those other benefits. What I really remember was how personal he made each signature. He talked to me and wanted to know my name and what position I played. He spent a good 4-5 minutes with everyone who wanted his signature. I remember it so well because I would come to learn that experience was the exception, like Bob Feller was most of his life, rather than the rule.

’03 Doping List

Like many baseball fans, I was disappointed to learn about this article: Ortiz and Ramirez Said to Be on ’03 Doping List. The intent was never to make this list public; however, it was never destroyed. This list needs to be made public for the good of the game.

I had been fortunate to attend the All Star Game in ’83, ’90, ’01, ’03, ’04, and ’05. My camera was able to catch most of the action in ’04 and ’05. How many All Stars have been tainted in some form by PEDs? Take a look…

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Clemens pre-game, 2004 ASG

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Manny being Manny, 2004 ASG

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Sammy and Bonds, 2004 ASG

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Big Papi, 2004 ASG

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Eric Gagne, 2004 ASG

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Rumors haunt Piazza, 2004 ASG

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Migel Tejada, 2005 ASG MVP

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Rumors haunt Andruw Jones, 2005 ASG

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Alex Rodriguez, 2005 ASG

These are not players on the fringe. These are the best in the game. All Stars. The sad part is that there is likely more. Baseball has reinvented itself time and again. Gambling scandals in the late 19th century were way to common. The American League was started in response to a gambling scandal in the National League. PEDs are a black eye and have tainted the game today. Baseball will endure and survive. Will the MLB?

HoF

One of the great baseball traditions happens today at the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York. I have been fortunate to attend several. Some great road trips and memories with my father. One year we were able to buy tickets to the Hall of Fame game from Carl Hubbell’s son and then later got an autograph from Ted Williams. Even met Fay Vincent and Mel Allen that afternoon. Pretty amazing stuff. If you are any type of baseball fan, plan a trip to the Induction Ceremony at least once.

Congratulations to Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson. Two fantastic players on my prized 1983 All Star Game AL autographed ball.

Link: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Solid read on Bootstrapping

Check TechFlash Guest post: Bootstrapping and the infinite runway by Hillel Cooperman. Solid read. Since the “at bats” phase is used, I like to think of Babe Ruth. He led the American League in strikeouts 5 times in 1918, 1923, 1924, 1927 and 1928. In 1927 hit 60 home runs, breaking his own record as the all-time single-season HR leader. The 1927 Yankees are regarded as one of the greatest teams ever. So you can have failure and success, but you have to take a bat in hand and get to the plate.

Babe Ruth from Baseball-reference.com
Batter Up!