Results tagged ‘ Administration/General ’

This ‘N That

Meanwhile, back in the world beyond Odd Man Out

My wife and I are headed to Florida next week to look at properties. Regular readers know we have plans to move to what’s called the Space Coast — Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island and other nearby towns.

Yes, the real estate market sucks like the sphincter of a black hole, but it’s also an opportunity to buy if you have the cash. For those of you who live in Southern California, Florida property prices are roughly one-third of what they are here.

If you’re interested, Click Here to search a Space Coast realtor’s web site. In the MLS Number field, enter these numbers separated by a comma, then click the Search button:

526176, 470878, 510668, 519450, 518200

The condos are in Cape Canaveral across the street from the Disney and Carnival Cruise lines based in Port Canaveral. The houses are on north Merritt Island, a couple miles south of the Kennedy Space Center south gate.

Merritt Island is also home to the largest wildlife refuge in the continental U.S. 

There’s baseball in the area. The Washington Nationals have their spring training in Melbourne, about 20 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral. I doubt I’ll have the time to get down there — when you’ve seen one spring training, you’ve seen them all — but I am planning to drive up to Daytona Beach to watch a college game.

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been researching the Statesville Owls, one of two Angels minor league teams in their inaugural 1961 season. Bobby Lucas, an infielder for Statesville that year, is now the head coach at Florida A & M University. They’ll be in Daytona playing Bethune-Cookman University. So I hope to see Bobby and get some photos of him for his former teammates.

I also hope to stop by the old Cocoa Stadium in the City of Cocoa. (Cocoa and Cocoa Beach are two different towns.) Now known as the Cocoa Expo Sports Center, it’s used largely for amateur events. Cocoa Stadium was the spring training home for the Houston Astros from 1963 through 1984. Jack Hiatt, another Statesville alumnus, played there late in his career and has tales about the players jogging in uniform around the city streets. Cocoa Stadium was revived for pro ball in the spring of 1993, when the Florida Marlins used it as their spring training home their first year before moving into Space Coast Stadium (where the Nationals are now).

I’ve been asked by several people what happens to FutureAngels.com when I move. I intend to keep it going. I’ll be closer to Cedar Rapids and Arkansas, and Delta flies non-stop from Orlando to Salt Lake City so I can still visit Orem without much effort. As with everything, it will depend on finances. I’m sure I’ll be helping out the Brevard County Manatees (Brewers affiliate) with photography, and the Daytona Cubs are 75 miles to the north. So I won’t be at Rancho much, nor will I be going to the minor league complex in Tempe more than once a year, but otherwise it should be status quo.

Meanwhile, I’m resuming a project that’s been on hiatus for about a year. I started building the FutureAngels.com Database, which when finished will be the ultimate resource for statistical data on the history of the Angels minor leagues. Priorities elsewhere have kept me from working on it, but looking at my web site’s stats I know it’s always among the top pages receiving hits from visitors.

I’m working on collating the win-loss records for every Angels minor league team since inception in 1961. When it’s done, you’ll be able to see results from every year — how many minor league teams the Angels had, where they were located, what were their win-loss records, who were the managers, etc. Eventually there will be search features you can use to ask questions such as, “What is the all-time Cedar Rapids win-loss record while an Angels affiliate?”

I’d hoped to have managers’ career win-loss records, but the problem for now is that in some years the resource I’m using — the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball by Baseball America — lists multiple managers for a team. I’ve spoken with Roland Hemond, who was the farm director back in the 1960s, and he says some of these listings may be inaccurate. I should be able to produce career win-loss records for managers like Tom Kotchman, where there are no multiple managers listed for a team, but I’ll have to dig further on the rest.

The FutureAngels.com Database is also intended to polish my programming skills, specifically how ASP.NET interacts with SQL Server. If that sounds like Klingon to you, well, don’t worry about it. But my morning assignment is to explore the wonders of two-way databinding. Which does sound very Klingon.

Oh, I noticed that the Angels are on TV today against the Chicago Cubs at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa at 1 PM PDT. The Angels’ business people still can’t their act together to televise games, so for now we have to rely on WGN, the superstation out of Chicago. Check your cable listings.

And if you’re looking for a condo in Irvine, I have a quite nice place with plenty of upgrades near a top-notch school for $575,000 … Cash me out and I’m on a one-way trip to Florida.

Keeping Score

Going through my bookshelves, I came across a ten-year old document that I thought you might find interesting.

As part of a research project, I’d contacted Howe Sportsdata to ask if they had any official rules for scoring a professional ballgame. I was looking at official score sheets of minor league games, and found some symbols I’d never seen before. Howe sent me a document they distributed to all official scorers, which is a remarkable insight into the scorekeeping trade.

At the time, Howe was the official scoring service for minor league baseball, and collated data for Major League Baseball. Howe is no more, having been acquired by SportsTicker in December 1998. SportsTicker was just acquired by STATS Inc. on March 5. MLB brought all its stats services in-house a few years ago, and shortly thereafter took responsibility for collating minor league data.

One thing I found out from the Howe people is that there is no “official” way to score a ballgame. Most of us learned to score ballgames when we were children, but there are many systems and some people simply make up their own.

Here’s what the Howe document had to say on the subject:

It is not a requirement, but we are trying to develop a standardized scorekeeping system throughout professional baseball. Toward that end, we are supplying you with 200 play-by-play scoresheets, good for 100 games. We understand longtime scorers have their own particular method that they will want to stay with, but otherwise scorers are strongly encouraged to stick as closely as possible to the uniform system outlined here.

These days, it’s all done by computer. Go into any press box in affiliated baseball and you’ll find them connected to a web page programmed by MLB Advanced Media (commonly known as BAM). It’s all a standard interface. When entering lineups, the scorer actually enters for each player a unique ID number assigned by BAM.

But if you’re a fan, you’ll still do it the old-fashioned way, with a scorebook and a pencil.

The Howe document includes a sample scoresheet, the sheet for Game #7 of the 1960 World Series between the Yankees and Pirates. It’s famous for Bill Mazeroski hitting a home run in the bottom of the 9th to give the Pirates the championship (long before it was called a “walk-off” homer.)

Here’s a tidbit I bet you didn’t know … No batter struck out in the game.

Click Here to view the Howe document. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 7 or later to view the document.

“Women in Baseball” Video

The Fullerton Museum hosted on March 7 a lecture on women in baseball. Jean Ardell, the author of Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, was the featured speaker along with two former players from the
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
that was the subject of the movie A League of Their Own.

I videotaped the lecture for Jean. If you’re interested in the subject, or you just want to hear a lot of anecdotes about the AAGPBL and the movie, you may find the video of interest.

Click Here to watch the video. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch. It runs about 80 minutes.

Maya Angelou Puts It in Perspective

Hate.

We see it all the time, every day in our personal and professional lives.

We most certainly see it on the Internet, which gives people free speech but not the responsibility that goes with it. Cowards suddenly find courage on the Internet, where they can post lies, smears, and personal attacks while hiding behind the anonymity of their modem. They can engage in offensive behavior that would get them a punch in the nose if they did it in the real world.

I doubt poet Maya Angelou had that in mind when she wrote “Hater.” A friend sent me the poem a couple days ago after a spate of posts on various sites by anonymous people attacking me for saying that a certain recently published book had credibility problems.

Well, yesterday’s New York Times article validated what I’ve been saying for the last month. ‘Nuff said.

But given the general tendency on the Internet to smear someone when you can’t win an argument on its merits, I thought I’d share this poem with my readers because it has a lot to say about the world we live in.


A hater is someone who is jealous and envious and spends all
their time trying to make you look small so they can look tall.
They are very negative people to say the least. Nothing is ever
good enough! When you make your mark, you will always attract some
haters…That’s why you have to be careful with whom you share your
blessings and your dreams, because some folk can’t handle seeing you
blessed…

It’s dangerous to be like somebody else…

If God wanted you to be like somebody else, He would have given
you what He gave them! Right? You never know what people have gone
through to get what they have.

The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but
they don’t know my story… If the grass looks greener on the other side
of the fence, you can rest assured that the water bill is higher there
too!

We’ve all got some haters among us!  People envy you because you can:

Have a relationship with God
Light up a room when you walk in
Start your own business
Tell a man / woman to hit the curb (if he / she isn’t about the right thing)
Raise your children without both parents being in the home

Haters can’t stand to see you happy, Haters will never want to
see you succeed, Haters never want you to get the victory, most of our
haters are people who are supposed to be on our side. How do you handle
your undercover haters?

You can handle these haters by:

1. Knowing who you are & who your true friends are *(VERY IMPORTANT!!)
2. Having a purpose to your life? Purpose does not mean having a job.
You can have a job and still be unfulfilled. A purpose is having
a clear sense of what God has called you to be. Your purpose is not
defined by what others think about you.
3. By remembering what you have is by divine prerogative and not
human manipulation. Fulfill your dreams!

You only have one life to live…when it’s your time to leave this earth,
you ‘want’ to be able to say, ‘I’ve lived my life and fulfilled
‘my’ dreams,… Now I’m ready to go HOME! When God gives you favor, you can
tell your haters, Don’t look at me…Look at Who is in charge of me…’


I think this also applies to fandom in general. Why do people look for the first opportunity to tear down a successful person? Maya Angelou has the answer — it’s jealousy.

Read Angels fan boards, and inevitably you’ll find people who claim to be Angels fans but have nothing positive to say. They look for any excuse to rip the players, management, executives. I remember one person telling me he would refuse to visit my web site unless I only wrote negative articles! Another person lectured that I should only write articles that would make me “popular.” ?! It’s not about being “popular,” it’s about expressing my opinion, like it or not. Maya Angelou’s warning about trying to be like everyone else reminded me of the demand that I only write articles which would make me “popular.”

One big reason why I’ve done FutureAngels.com since 1999 is I so enjoy being around a team environment where everyone is (or at least should be) geared to a common goal — winning. Individual goals are subservient to the team winning. I get to be around people who are positive, goal-oriented, and (for the most part) self-sacrificing.

It would be nice if the people who spend so much time on the Internet spewing bile would invest that time instead in making a positive contribution to humanity. But as Maya Angelou notes, for some people, “Nothing is ever good enough.”

Two Men in Blue

Gil Stratton and Cece Carlucci
Former Pacific Coast League umpires Gil Stratton and Cece Carlucci attended the 2008 APBPA banquet.

 

Dick Beverage of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America gave me the above photo of Gil Stratton and Cece Carlucci, two members who passed away within the last year.

Gil Stratton was known to generations of Los Angeles television viewers as the sports reporter for The Big News on KNXT (now KCBS Channel 2). But his career was so much more than that. He also umpired in the old Pacific Coast League, and had a career as an actor. Stratton played Cookie in the 1953 movie Stalag 17; his character narrated the story.

Stratton passed away last October in Toluca Lake at age 86 from congestive heart failure.

Cece Carlucci was one of the more prominent umpires in the long history of the old PCL. He was one of the umpires during perhaps the most infamous brawl in PCL history. On August 2, 1953, the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels went at it for a full 30 minutes before the LAPD restored control. Click Here to read about the brawl, including photos of that event.

Carlucci was inducted in the PCL Hall of Fame in 2003. He passed away last September at age 90 from cancer.

The 2009 APBPA banquet was February 7. Click Here to watch video of the event. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection are required.

The New FutureAngels.com Banner

The 2009 FutureAngels.com home page banner

 

The new banner is up on the FutureAngels.com web site for the 2009 season.

Who are the depicted players?

The 2008 banner had Angels minor leaguers who were now with the parent club. This year, I wanted to do something a little different. Most minor leaguers will never make the big leagues, players you’ve never heard of and will never hear about again.

At the same time, I wanted to honor Angels’ minor league history. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’ve been writing about the history of the Statesville Owls, one of only two minor league teams the Angels had in their inaugural 1961 season.

The photo on the left is of George Conrad, who was an Owls pitcher that year. Conrad was 11-7 that year for Statesville with a 3.21 ERA. He struck out 172 in 168 innings — but also walked 116.

The next photo is of catcher Angel Diaz with the Butte Copper Kings in 1998. Signed by Tom Kotchman, Diaz was an organizational catcher who worked at every level in the system, including Triple-A Salt Lake in 2001. Organizational catchers lead a nomadic life, but they’re invaluable because they provide depth at a critical position.

Joe Urso is second from the right, holding the bat. He’s depicted with the Boise Hawks in 1992, his first professional season. Urso was in the organization as a player through 1997, when he became a coach and later a manager. Joe was listed at 5’7″ but there are those who will allege that’s a stretch, pun intended … He was the endless butt of “short” jokes but incredibly popular. The Lake Elsinore Storm fans loved him so much that he was nicknamed “The Mayor.” Urso’s #7 was retired by the Storm a few years back. He’s currently the head coach at University of Tampa, his alma mater.

Mark McLemore is the player on the right. He’s wearing the uniform of the 1983 Peoria Suns in the Midwest League. Mark was only 18 at the time; his AVG/OBP/SLG that year were .240/.346/.280. Despite that total absence of power, he managed to play his way to the majors, starting full-time for the Angels at second base in 1987. His career ended in 2004 at age 39 with the Oakland A’s, having notched nineteen seasons in the big leagues.

I’ve been collecting card sets for Angels minor league teams when and where I can find them. Some are incredibly expensive, not necessarily because of the players in the set but just that they’re rare. They’re a reminder of just how hideous minor league uniforms can be (e.g. Peoria). Sometimes you find cards for mascots, club executives, local personalities, sponsors, etc. Many of them are in black-and-white until the mid-1980s or so.

When I started doing photography for the minor league teams in 1998, one complaint I heard over and over again from the players was that they wanted action shots on their trading cards, not the posed photos. Every once in a while, I’ll find a card where the player posed irreverently for his picture. Pitcher Jarrod Washburn posed as a batter. Right-handed hitting Tim Salmon posed as a left-handed batter. Ron “Papa Jack” Jackson posed with an unknown beverage in his hand.

Hmmm, maybe next year’s banner should be all gag shots …

Women in Baseball Lecture

Author Jean Ardell alerted me to a lecture she’ll be giving at the Fullerton Museum on Saturday March 7, from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM.

Jean is the author of Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, which I believe is one of the best baseball books I’ve ever read. It is literally the history of women in baseball — not just professional women ball players but women owners, women umpires, “Baseball Annies,” and so much more.

Jean will be lecturing along with two women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. made famous by the movie A League of Their Own. Their appearance is part of the current exhibit, Line Drives and Lipstick: The Untold Story of Women’s Baseball which runs through March 15.

Jean is also the wife of Dan Ardell, an original “future Angel” who played in the Angels minor leagues from 1961 tthrough 1964 and made his major league debut in September 1961.

Baseball Lessons — Teach or Learn

I was given a brochure for Baseball Coast to Coast, which is a web site designed to match instructors with students. The web site is www.baseballcoasttocoast.com.

I can’t vouch for it, but a lot of minor league players look to make a few extra bucks in the off-season doing instruction, so if you’re one of them you might want to register with the site. If you’re interested in learning more about the game, give these players consideration to help them make ends meet. Who knows, you might learn a baseball skill from a future major leaguer.

2009 APBPA Banquet

The Association of Professional Ball Players of America held its 84th annual banquet on February 7th in Long Beach. The APBPA is a benevolent organization that assists indigent former ballplayers, major and minor leagues. To quote from their web site:


Since 1924, we have provided financial assistance for those professional baseball players, coaches, umpires, scouts and clubhouse men who are in need. No distinction is made between the major league player and the minor leaguer. Membership in what is a unique fraternity is the defining factor.

The Association had its origin when twelve former players met in Los Angeles and determined that there was a need to take care of the less fortunate members of their profession. From these beginnings the Association has grown to 11,000 current members. It has helped over one thousand ballplayers, players who are members of the Hall of Fame and those who enjoyed only a brief career. Total assistance rendered through 2006 is in excess of $4,300,000.

Major League Baseball and the National Association of the Minor Leagues have endorsed the Association as their benevolent organization.

Membership dues, donations, legacies and personal contributions finance the Association. Since we are a non-profit 501 C-3 organization, all such contributions are tax deductible.

The reasons for our help are many. Naturally, many of our assistance cases are older, retired players who have been ravaged by illness and the infirmities of old age. But sudden and tragic accidents and financial emergencies beyond the individual’s control create an urgent need. Our assistance has reached outside the Continental United States.


I filmed the speakers, which to my knowledge is the first time the event has been preserved on tape. Click Here to watch, it runs about 70 minutes. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection.

Former major league pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant is the first speaker, and well worth watching for his tale about an incident involving a certain umpire. He also promoted his book The Black Aces, about the only African-American 20-game winners in the major leagues. Click Here to visit the book’s web site.

This is the second year I’ve shot photos for them.

Former major league manager and Angels broadcaster Sparky Anderson spoke, but it was before the dinner began, so I didn’t get that on video. But you’ll see Sparky in the background from time to time.

You will see Roland Hemond. Roland is best known as the former general manager of the White Sox and Orioles, but in these parts he’s revered as the first minor league and scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels back in 1961.

Awards were given to two prospects, Yankees catcher Austin Romine and Cubs third baseman Josh Vitters. Austin is the younger brother of Angels minor league shortstop Andrew Romine, who should be at Rancho Cucamonga this year. They’re the son of former major league infielder Kevin Romine. Austin couldn’t attend due to a schedule conflict, so he was represented by his parents.

You’ll also see in the video former Angels pitcher Dave Frost, John Young of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), and San Diego radio personality Bill Werndl, among others.

The master of ceremonies was Dick Beverage, who is the APBPA secretary/treasurer. He also runs the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. Longtime Angels fans might remember Dick as a frequent guest on Angels radio pre-game shows in the 1970s-1980s. He wrote a book on the history of the old PCL Angels, which is out of print but he’s working on an update.

Below are some photos from the event.

 

Sparky Anderson with Kevin and June Romine
Sparky Anderson congratulates Kevin and June Romine

 

Sparky Anderson with Mudcat Grant
Sparky Anderson with Jim “Mudcat” Grant

 

Dick Beverage and Josh Vitters
Dick Beverage gives Josh Vitters the Chuck Stevens Award

 

Mudcat Grant
Jim “Mudcat” Grant promotes his book, “The Black Aces”

 

Roland Hemond
Original Angels farm and scouting director Roland Hemond

 

RBI Creator John Young
John Young, the creator of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)

 

Dave Frost
Former Angels pitcher Dave Frost

 

Bill Werndl
San Diego radio sports personality Bill Werndl

 

MLB Network Begins January 1

For those who haven’t seen it, Major League Baseball launches the MLB Network on cable January 1.

The official web site is www.mlbnetwork.com. You can enter your zip code on the home page to determine if the channel is available on your cable or satellite system, and if so what channel.

The first program is at 3:00 PM PST, a live “Hot Stove” program that seems to be their version of the ESPN Sports Center. At 4:00 PM PST, they’ll broadcast surviving footage of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

Looking at the schedule for the first few days, it seems to be mostly rebroadcasts of World Series games, previously aired documentaries and the ubiquitous Hot Stove show.

Once spring training starts, presumably they’ll have much more.

I’d like to see them broaden their horizons.

My immediate concern is that this isn’t “the Baseball Channel.” It’s MLB Network. Which suggests it’s more about promoting Major League Baseball than the national pastime in general.

For example, they could have launched by showing us games from the Dominican winter league. I know those are available because they air on the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes channel. Baseball is being played throughout the Caribbean right now, so why not introduce us to that brand of the game?

This would also be an opportunity to introduce American audiences to Japanese baseball. Certainly there must be some games in the can of Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matzusaka, etc. while they were playing in Japan. Teach us about the Japanese major leagues so we understand the teams, the rivalries, the star players, etc.

It would also be nice if they’d add a Minor League Game of the Week telecast, at a minimum. That would require negotiating broadcast rights with Minor League Baseball, which probably wouldn’t be a big deal but you never know.

Leading off with Larsen’s perfect game will have some nostalgic interest for people like me who love baseball history. But I suspect they’ll quickly lose the younger generation who turn the channel at the sight of anything in black-and-white.

It’s also a little weird choosing January 1 as a kickoff date, since New Year’s Day is traditionally wall-to-wall college football. How many people will abandon the Rose Bowl telecast to watch a 52-year old baseball game? Which will repeat several times after the inaugural broadcast.

I’m looking forward to the channel for no other reason than having some baseball white noise in the house, but given how much time they had to plan for this I’d think they could have come up with some better programming. Right now it has the feeling of a product done on the cheap.

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