Post Classicism

The beginning of baseball season used to be marked for me by attending Red Sox opening day. After thirty consecutive (1976-2005) I hung up my streak and went on to other things. Seeing the World Series banner hosted and all of the attendant hoopla marked the end of an era in my life. "Let the good times roll" had changed into "let the pink hats roll." I let Carrol Hardy pinch hit for me in years after that. Any one that knows me is aware that there are three things I don't stop talking about; myself, Ernest Withers and the Rickwood Classic. This photo was taken with my cell phone, the quality if which, at least for a small postage size image on the web, surprises the tar out of me......


The Classic

I am in Birmingham, unable to get that Randy Newman song out of my head. If you have read this prattling for any length of time, you have heard me write about Rickwood Field, the "old girl" of ballparks. I have flown in to photograph the "Classic" game, an annual event. The AA Southern Association Birmingham Barons will play a regulation game there tomorrow. I have photographed 5 or 6 of them as well as having visited the park several other times. I will see my pals Danny, Gabie, Cathy, Carol, Clarence, Lamar, Pepper, Dan and many, many others. I have used this photo before but it is the late Ernest Withers, who photographed here and David Brewer, the Director of Rickwood. This is Christmas in May if you ask me.


Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

In a couple of days, I am making the annual trip to Birmingham, Alabama. Perhaps the most violent crimes against our fellow citizens during the Civil Rights struggle during the 60's took place there. The church bombing that killed four young girls, blasting school children with fire hoses and releasing German shepherds on them -- yes, that Birmingham. I grew up in Boston, where the crimes against African Americans may not have been as overtly violent but were just as inhumane. Is 40 years enough to grieve? Not really but we must move forward, never forgetting to look back while we do.

In the photograph is Willie Lee, a former outfielder for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Birmingham Black Barons. He told me that while he played in the minor leagues of Minnesota, he prayed that he wouldn't wind up in Boston. He didn't, Pumpsie Green did.


No No Lester

Well, yes, I have been bad mouthing the guy since I took these in Portland four years ago. I still think if he wasn't left handed he would be sleeping on his parents couch (thanks and a tip of the cap to Mike Rutstein.) A no no is cool, even against the mighty, mighty Royals. You never know what you are going to see out there. As the prophet Earl Weaver said, "It ain't football, we play every day." I had a premonition something good was going to happen and I almost called a friend to see if she wanted to go down to try and score some tickets. Oh well,today is another fast paced day in the Life O'Baseball Bill.


My Baby Thinks He's a Train

Last Saturday, I watched Bartolo Colon hurl the horsehide sphere at McCoy. Not having seen Buchholtz pitch this year I am not sure who is better suited for the "Parent Club." Colon seemed to throw a few yakkers up the coula and for his performance there, he will be starting here Wednesday. The Sox have not jelled and it may be a long season. Every baseball season is a long one yet somehow, at the end, never long enough.


Helmet Head

A new rule seemed to appear out of the chilly night air of McCoy Stadium last week. After the death of third base coach Mike Coolbaugh last summer (he was struck with a batted ball) all coaches were required to wear batting helmets. THis policy has trickled down to anyone on the playing field. This means, of course, me, a photographer. I have no problem with this and am thinking of ways to customize a helmet. I have been clocked once, not in the head but in the leg and it ain't fun. I thought my leg had exploded. Major League parks have those cute little pits where photogs are protected and if you stay in the dugout at the Minors, you will be allowed sans helmet. Oh, the travails..


False Spring Redux

This Spring has yet to produce a consistent string of, well, springlike days. Three days of Disco Inferno heat are followed by three cold rainy days unfit for anything but muddling in that there mud. This is worse than hell, where at least it is hot everyday and you don't have to worry about summer winter heating bills (my heat came on this morning.) The Montgomery Biscuits built their HO-railroad cute park on the site of a Confederate prison. Taking this photo it stuck me that I was probably the only Yankee there and was alone in a room with bars around it. I beat feet out of there, off to the biscuit driven concessions. Syrup or butter on that sir? Or both????


The Good Eats

This is the site of the "Good Eats," a restaurant where many a mighty meal was served to Negro League players in Memphis. A hotel stood across the street where they stayed while waiting for games to be played at Martin Stadium. It is just speculation on my part, but I do believe and will stake my reputation on this, that a few of these players may have ventured to Beale Street to partake in some of the cities other fineries.


Crossed-eyed and Painless

The comment "Baseball is a diversion from real life" just crossed my path. For several years, I wasn't working and baseball was real life...and now, gulp of gulps, I have to agree it is back to its rightful place in an American's life as a stalling tactic to avoid all of those important things like life, liberty and the pursuit of baseball. Friends get annoyed with me when I exprees my disdain for what Fenway has become. For most people around here, b'ball does begin and end at Yawkey Way and that is a shame. but never ask what it was like to have photographer Bronson Arroyo's perfect game in Pawtucket or what it is like to have stood on the site of Martin Stadium in Memphis and talked to a man who helped augment his living by photographing there or in an overview of the whole thing, been to 60 parks. The world of disposable culture is moving so quickly these days last nights game isn't even history any more. It is gone to the ages, as inconsequential as yesterday's headlines. As Elvis sang, "I Forgot to Remember to Forget."