Years ago, Topps, the baseball card people would just take a stamp and mark the player on the card TRADED! and reissue it. I didn't have time to photoshop the same thing across Brandon Moss and the poster boy for sleep apnea surgery...Craig Hansen. There is a bit of Nuke LaRoush in Hanson. Last time a player went to the Pirates was Freddie Sanchez. Shot him as well. Hanley Ramirez, another subject, was a nice kid and I was sorry to see him go. The lives of the might be rich and famous...


Dog was still a pup...

I take a survivor's delight in telling people that I actually saw The Beatles in concert...and 42 years later, still have the mop top haircut. Boston Baseball magazine will celebrate its twentieth anniversary next year but I have been associated with them so long, I remember when it was called "Baseball Underground." Originally a four page, two color printed sheet, it has evolved into an eighty-four full color production, unique in baseball. All of this for 2 bucks.....Sly, the vendor in the photo, is most certainly a novella waiting to happen. Mr. Sly is a veteran of sixteen years with the magazine....has served in the National Guard and seen overseas duty in that space of time and is consistantly the best seller game to game.


Devil or Angel?

To come back to Boston to this.....I have always been able to keep out the outside chatter, whether it was Schilling's humility or Pedro's petulance (hey, there is a band name...) Adam Dunn? I don't think so people.The trick is to make it look easy, whether it is writing, photography, cooking with Rachel Ray or hitting the horsehide sphere. He sure did that over the years. It is living in society that seems difficult for him. Considering Dan Duquette failed to land Mike Mussina and so, to save face, overpaid for Manny, we did get an expensive but sweet deal. This one's sweetest moment? Grand slam in first at bat for the Carmines....2001


Ted E. Tourist, Guilford and Wally the Warthog

So, yes, I made at least three pals on the jaunt. Ted E. Tourist, the grumbling bear of the Ashville Tourists. I found this interesting. Ashville knows that it draws big bucks visitor to their very nice city to the extent that they even name the b'ball team - Tourists... Guilford, the grasshopper representing the Greensboro Grasshoppers, was the most pleasant of the bunch. I judge everyone at ball parks by their kindness to kids. Most evil to kids I have ever met? Mo Vaughn and Nomar Garciaparra. Vaughn had a great PR machine that would make you believe otherwise but up close to kids, he took on Jim Rice attributes. At the hight of his popularity and earning power as a pitchman, Rice lost his Colonial Franks personal service contract for being mean to kids in supermarkets.In Winston Salem, Wally the Warthog seemed in need of a suit cleaning but was really adept at spending time with the young 'uns...


and on the seventh day..

I got caught in rainstorms that were soaking the East Coast...and were wreaking havoc with air routes. I was only an hour and a half late arriving which is lucky considering the number of flights that were cancelled and delayed all day.At the risk of sounding like George Carlin...why does the AARP contact me on my birthday? It started when I turned fifty....Why don't they just send a postcard with a picture of the Grim Reaper on it with an Uncle Sam hat, with the caption, "I Want You!" Having read that the AARP put a photo of Sir P. McCartney on their maggie cover, I thought that they should expand and publish a second mag, American Association of Musicians That Should Retire....


Days Indigo

You know, I thought I would never see another pool to rival the guitar shaped beauty at the Days Inn across the street from Graceland.The Asheville contender is a close second place. It boasts a wall to wall mural of the Smoky Mountains and a color scheme so garish it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. No, those are not water droplets emanating from me in the corner of the picture. Fountain sprays are left on 24/7. I imagine water conservation is as distant a topic of discussion, in North Carolina, as is creating no smoking restaurants and bars. Another game in a truly wonderful ballpark is today's manly activity. I survived Jimmy Buffett night and Lord knows what wonders of small town promotion await me today. I would probably start going back to church if they handed out corn dogs instead of communion wafers. Well, maybe.


Are you a baseball man?

Somebody asked me that last night. I guess hanging around the basepaths with an oversized camera, trying to look oh-so nonchalant would give that impression. It made me think of a quote from the book "Lords of the Realm" about Lou Gorman. he mumbled about everybody..good baseball man. McCormick Field in Asheville is small, well scrubbed and fun. Surrounded by forests,drawing a very family oriented fan base, it was a nice way to spend and evening. Best part? I have two more games to go. I arose at 3:30 yesterday morning for the Logan trip/flight, etc. and wasn't up to warp speed last night...Tonight, the return of the baseball man.


Yup, yup and Away...

Well, embarking on another week of baseball. Asheville, Winston Salem and Greensboro are the targets of my undying enthusiasm in the next week. I have never been to North Carolina, so it will be completely new territory to me. Any of these teams will be hard pressed to make me laugh harder than I did when I found this barber shop at the Chattaooga Lookouts park last years. Get a trim, watch the game.......For eight bucks, they would have shaved my head. I gave it a momentary thought but it would have made my boss too happy, so I backed off. Between cell phone camera and wi-fi, I will check in from the road. See you at the Fiddling Pig!


Bill and Charlie

My good pals, Bill and Charlie. Along the baseball road, I have met many wonderful people. These are two of the best friends I have and it came about because somebody - a very Zelig-like character - said to me 18 years ago, that Bill had a block of Sox tickets just like I did. We have visited each other at games, dinner and hospitals. Charlie has a natural wit that veers towards the quip. Bill has a quiet, more thoughtful sense of wit with an even more highly developed sense of the absurd than Charlie... They complement each other like a pair of IT Laurel and Hardy's. Their video game, "HDJ" (now being beta-tested) will soon be available in a home version.


Too much....

Too much chatter about death around here...let me get back to The National Pastime. In the middle is Josh Papelbon, brother of....a different animal in styles of pitching then bro. He is a submariner, always fun to watch but not often successful. This was last year with the Greenville Drive. He was moved up to the Lancaster, CA affiliate of the Sox with not much success. Quite the preener, he acted like the younger brother of somebody well known...


Jules Tygiel, 59; linked baseball to culture

This is very sad for me. I was a terrific fan of his writing. When I was asked to list writers as possible contributors for my book, he was first on the list.

From the New York Times:

Jules Tygiel, a baseball historian and author who used the sport to illuminate larger issues of American culture and society, died of cancer Tuesday at his home in San Francisco. He was 59. "Jules . . . was able to pull off the double play of combining his two loves, history and baseball, to become the foremost baseball historian in the United States today," said John Gemello, provost of San Francisco State University, where Mr. Tygiel taught for 31 years.Mr.Tygiel's 1983 book "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy," is regarded as one of the best about the man who altered the course of history when he became Major League Baseball's first black player in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Baseball was one of the first institutions in modern society to accept blacks on a relatively equal basis," Mr. Tygiel wrote in "Baseball's Great Experiment. "The 'noble experiment' thus reflects more than a saga of sport. It offers an opportunity to analyze the integration process in American life. An examination of the forces that led to Robinson's hiring, the reaction among both blacks and whites, the institutional response of the baseball establishment, and the resulting decline of the Jim Crow leagues reveals much about the United States in the 1940s and 1950s."


The Fourth

At the risk of sounding like a George Carlin observation....there are certain numbers in America that stand for themselves..The Fifth...as I'll take the...and the greatest of American holidays...The Fourth. As I will tell anyone, I bleed red, white and blue. With my actions, I shattered my life 18 years ago today and because of social mechanisms set in place, was able to put back together the pieces. A 250,000 medical bill got swallowed into the abyss of the government. Free health care and seven years of SSI checks got me back to a point where I could work and pay taxes again. During the seventh inning stretch at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI they play Kate Smith's version of "God Bless America" and it is my doing. They will play it today as they played it yesterday and many days before that. I am tempted to go hear it.


Before motor drives, cell phone cameras and Sweet Caroline

A pitcher so astounding that MLB lowered the mound to take away his advantage and bring hitting back to the forefront, played for the Cardinals. Bob Gibson, he who beat the BoSox three times in the 67 World Series, was his name. I don't think he had a nickname. Guys like that don't need one.