Triple B Flashback: In the Beginning

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 1 on our countdown is a column from January 25, 2013.

It has been said, rightly so, that every story has a beginning.

One need only look at literature to see some opening lines that have definitely stood the test of time.

From Charles Dickens declaring in A Tale of Two Cities that “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” to Herman Melville inviting the readers of Moby Dick to “Call me Ishmael,” history is full of great opening lines and beginnings of stories.

These classic openers have grabbed the reader’s attention hook line, and in Moby Dick‘s case very large sinker for generations.

While beginnings are important one cannot and should not stop there.

By stopping at the beginning line of A Tale of Two Cities one would know nothing more than that times were both good and bad.

The same can be true of Moby Dick where the hunt for the white whale consumes Captain Ahab and his crew and becomes far more than just knowing to call a guy Ishmael.

So it is with all of us, while we are not classic literature we also have our origin stories and events that shape who we are and what pursuits we follow.

Don’t worry, this is not a back in the day when little Ryan was born kind of story.

Although, it is safe to say if we weren’t all born, none of us would be here.

No, this is a tale of when my love of baseball took root. And much like Dickens the tale of my first baseball game experience was the both the best of times and the worst of times.

Memorial Stadium 2

Memorial Stadium in Baltimore circa 1983.
Photo by R. Anderson

As I have mentioned previously, I grew up as a Baltimore Orioles fan who bled Orange and Black pretty much from the time I can remember.

I followed football as well but baseball was also the sport that drew me in just a little bit more.

As such, I tried to catch all the games that I could on the radio and television. I could recite lineups and stats that would make even the most avid statistician take notice.

So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that I was going to get to go to Memorial Stadium to see the Orioles play in person in September of 1983.

Aside from the thrill of going to the game for me, 1983 was a very pivotal year for the Orioles as they were in the first year under new manager Joe Altobelli following retirement number one of Earl Weaver and spoiler alert they went on to win the World Series that year over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Of course I am getting ahead of myself since no one knew for sure in September what October would hold but needless to say there was a buzz throughout Birdland on the anticipation of what could be.

Speaking of anticipation, like most young boys gong to their first baseball game I had high hopes and higher expectations that I was going to catch a home run ball hit by Cal Ripken, Jr. and get all kinds of player autographs before the game.

I was joined in my traveling party by my mom, a family friend and his nephew. The sky was the limit and I was ready to make the most of the ballpark experience.

We all loaded into the car and headed up to Baltimore (or Balmer if you are from there) which was about a 30 minute drive from where we lived.

Throughout the drive we excitedly talked about who we would see first and which inning we wanted to catch the home run ball in since it would be greedy to want to catch all of the home run balls that were hit our way.

Orioles Program

The 1983 Baltimore Orioles game program.

We arrived in plenty of time having pledged to arrive early and see the sights to avoid the traffic.

After walking around the Inner Harbor area it was time to head to the stadium.

It was at this moment that the realization occurred that the tickets that would gain us entrance into the hallowed walls of Memorial Stadium were not with us in Baltimore but were in fact back in Gaithersburg which was 30 minutes away and at this time even further away in traffic.

Looking back now with 29 years or so of hindsight I want to say that I handled the news of the ticket situation with dignity and grace and the cool assurance that comes from knowing that things like this happen and that the world goes on but the key is to keep calm.

The reality of course is that 8-year-old me did not take the news well at all. And who can blame young me?

I was at the cusp of seeing my heroes, of eating hot dogs until I was blue in the face and of course catching that pivotal home run and getting all of those autographs. Now, all of that was in jeopardy and I was not pleased and was far from calm.

In the end, we made it to the game around the fifth inning, found our seats and watched the Orioles play the Milwaukee Brewers who had not yet moved to the National League at this time. (Why the Brewers did not move back to the American League instead of the Astros for 2013 is another story for another day, but is no less puzzling).

I did not catch that home run ball. I did not get any autographs. I did eat a hot dog and I most definitely discovered that baseball is so much better in person.

There is a buzz around ballparks that really can’t be duplicated even with the most high definition of televisions with Dolby surround sound and the freshest of popcorn smells being pumped into the media room. To truly experience baseball is to experience it in person.

Since moving to Texas I have adopted the Astros into my stable of teams that I follow and try to attend as many games as I can each year in Minute Maid Park in addition to traveling the country and going to ballparks both small and large.

I have also since caught my share of balls despite striking out in my first attempt in 1983.

No matter the ballpark size I still get the same feeling walking in as I did as that 8-year-old boy experiencing it for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge fan of crowds so the push and shove on the escalators and concourses can get tiring but once I am in my seat the magic begins all over again and it is like I am seeing it all for the first time through the eyes of younger me.

For those few hours in the Ballpark, I don’t worry about the stress of life or any of the outside world it is just the game and me; well and thousands of my closest friends.

So while that September night in 1983 did not go completely to plan it was indeed the best of times and the worst of times and introduced me to the white whale that I have chased across state lines ever since.

It also taught me to always check and double check that I have the tickets before leaving for the ballpark.

Now if you will excuse me I think I need to catch up on some Dickens.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: Orioles Rout White Sox and No One is There to Hear

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 2 on our countdown is a column from April 29, 2015.

Earlier today The Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox tested the baseball equivalent of the old adage about what happens when a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it.

Instead of a forest though the two teams were in the nearly empty Oriole Pak at Camden Yards for a Major League Baseball game in which the Orioles defeated the White Sox 8-2.

The National Anthem was still played, and a stretch was still made in the seventh inning complete with the John Denver song that has entertained Birdland for the better part of four decades but something was definitely missing.

The Baltimore Orioles became the first Major League Baseball team to host a game with locked out fans. Photo R. Anderson

The Baltimore Orioles became the first Major League Baseball team to host a game with locked out fans.
Photo R. Anderson

With only players, team officials, some scouts and members of the media allowed inside the Ballpark the game marked the first time in MLB history that fans were locked out of the Ballpark when a game was going on.

While there were fans who gathered to watch the game from outside the gates no ticketed fans were allowed through the turnstiles.

With no fans inside the Ballpark home run balls and foul balls went uncaught and parts of the Ballpark were so silent one could likely hear a pin drop.

Orioles Skipper Buck Showalter noted after the game that it was so quiet that he could hear the bullpen phone ringing from the other end.

As strange as playing in an empty Ballpark is today’s game was merely one of many things to occur during a strange week for the Orioles who briefly told fans that they could not leave the Ballpark on Saturday night and then saw games on Monday and Tuesday completely cancelled.

Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and his teammates played a game in an empty Orioles Park at Camden Yards after MLB officials deemed it was unsafe to allow fans to attend. Photo R. Anderson

Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and his teammates played a game in an empty Orioles Park at Camden Yards after MLB officials deemed it was unsafe to allow fans to attend.
Photo R. Anderson

The Orioles will also fly south this weekend for a “home” series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays after the Rays voiced concerns about visiting Baltimore for the scheduled series between division rivals.

The reason for all of the juggling of the schedule is protests that are occurring in the neighborhoods surrounding the Ballpark which have led to the city of Baltimore imposing a 10 p.m. curfew.

Even with all of the efforts to shorten the pace of play a regular MLB game could not be finished in time for fans to all get home before 10. Ironically though the game in the empty Ballpark was finished in just a little over two hours which might lead some to believe that the ultimate way to shorten the game is to lock the fans out all the time.

With police and National Guard troops trying to restore order within Baltimore to prevent future acts of violence and looting, the Ballpark will stay silent until it is deemed safe to once again play ball.

Part of the freedom Americans have is free speech and the ability to show displeasure with things in a way that very few other countries have.

The Orioles will fly south this weekend for a "home" series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays after the Rays voiced concerns about visiting Baltimore for the scheduled series between division rivals. Photo R. Anderson

The Orioles will fly south this weekend for a “home” series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays after the Rays voiced concerns about visiting Baltimore for the scheduled series between division rivals.
Photo R. Anderson

But there are limits to the protection of free speech. Just as it is illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire it is also illegal to burn buildings and other property as a form of protest.

The violence and destruction over the past few days takes away from those members of society who are trying to peacefully demonstrate and have their voices heard.

As is almost always the case a small minority of protestors escalated things to the level of violence so any generalizations about the behavior of all of the protestors would be false. Sadly, the actions of the few far out shadow any peaceful message that the many may have been trying to share.

And while a baseball game being played in an empty Ballpark is likely something that will be forever mentioned as part of Baseball lore and may even warrant a small exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is those few individuals who turned to violent protests that caused the community of Baltimore to lose the economic benefit from at least six baseball games.

Granted two of the cancelled games will be made up as a doubleheader later in the season but the fact remains the protests took money out of people’s pockets.

Bars and restaurants near the Ballpark did not benefit from the game day crowds and the various vendors who sell peanuts and Cracker Jacks missed out on income from the games as well.

Hopefully the Orioles are able to come home to roost by the time of their next schedule home game, however, Major League Baseball has made it very clear that fans will not be allowed inside the Ballpark while protests are still actively occurring.

While it is certainly unfortunate that games are being played without fans and Camden Yards, the safety of the thousands of fans had to be taken into account so while it was a difficult decision to move out of Baltimore it was likely the only decision MLB felt they could make.

When the dust settles it is the images of the burning police cars and looting that most people will remember more than any peaceful demonstration that may have occurred.

In previous times of despair, such as the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing, baseball has served as a way to unite the community and help heal wounds.

Hopefully baseball in Baltimore can once again unite the community to focus on being one Baltimore cheering together for the men wearing the orange and black.

That is not to say that Esskay hot dogs, and crab cakes can solve all of societies problems nor is diminishing the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful demonstrations to stand up when they feel they are being wronged.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was one of two players to hit a home run with no fans there to catch it. Photo R. Anderson

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was one of two players to hit a home run with no fans there to catch it.
Photo R. Anderson

Regardless of whether one agrees with the protesters or not one should agree that they have the right to demonstrate within the boundaries of the law.

It is when those protests fall outside the boundaries of the law that action, even the difficult action of looking fans out of a Ballpark, must be taken to ensure that innocent people are not harmed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see what sporting event will be aired next without any fans.

Copyright 2015 R Anderson

Triple B Flashback: With Great Fame Comes Great Responsibility; or Does It?

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 3 on our countdown is a column from February 6, 2013.

We are a society that enjoys placing people on pedestals.

Whether it is actors, athletes, or any number of other categories, people who possess certain skills are often elevated above the rest.

As long as the elevated people behave in the manner that the masses below expect there are no issues.

But, once they start to slip, the lofty spot gets a little wobbly ahead of the inevitable crash back down to earth.

As a youngster I had a few role models/heroes from the Baltimore Orioles. I would watch these players and coaches on the television each night and all I knew of them was the persona that was projected through the broadcast.

These were the pre internet years and still part of the time when the media didn’t feel the need to report every aspect of a person’s private life.

So the elements that were broadcast were largely related to actual performance on the field. If a player happened to go home with someone other than his wife after a game, or went to a bar until it closed, it was not blasted across the sports section the next day.

The media considered it their job to cover the game between the lines and anything else was considered a personal matter between the player and his family and not something to be broadcast across the wire for the world to see.

This relationship tended to bond the players and the media together as did the countless hours that the media spent traveling with the players. It was not that the reporters were withholding information from the public, it was that they respected that the athletes were flawed people like the rest of us and there was no need to air dirty laundry that was not related to their jobs.

Sadly by the time I entered the profession the 24-hour news cycle was already in place and the players lost some of their privacy forcing reporters to dig deeper into stories that were not really stories leading to a tabloidization of the sports section.

I would love to think that we would grow tired of trash journalism and return to a more noble way to handle things. Sadly, that genie has been out of the bottle for far too long to go back now.

Adding to the difficulty of returning to simpler times is the fact that we have generations of people who don’t know any other way to do things.

Frank Robinson at Tinker Field 1986

Frank Robinson at Tinker Field in Orlando, Fl. in 1986
Photo S. Quandt

A few years back, okay a decade or two back, my mother picked me up from school to go see a Spring Training game for my birthday.

This particular game featured the Baltimore Orioles and the Minnesota Twins.

We arrived early at the ballpark and as we were reaching our seats Hall of Famer Frank Robinson came out to the wall where people were signing autographs. I took my game program over and waited to get his signature.

Instead of moving through the line of children that were waiting Mr. Robinson proceeded to flirt with a pair of women and totally ignored the waiting children.

And while this event happened over 25 years ago the memory is still as fresh today as it was then.

While Frank Robinson had every right to not sign the autographs, the manner in which he left me and the other kids waiting left a lot to be desired.

He could have just said, “sorry kids, I don’t sign autographs” and we would have gone back to our seats but for this “role model” to totally ignore his fans was not the best way to handle things.

Actress Natalie Portman has famously said on numerous occasions that she is not a role model and that her celebrity alone for doing her job does not make her feel any additional pressure or responsibility to all of the people who look up to her.

While Natalie is right, what is it that makes people look up to celebrities and athletes and consider them role models?

For me, I consider a ball player who plays the game the right way and doesn’t get caught up in scandal a person I can respect.

Of course it is getting harder and harder to know who to respect as there are almost daily reports of players who were caught or suspected of using steroids and other banned substances to get an advantage over the competition.

Often times it is a no brainer to catch the cheaters. There was never any doubt in my mind that Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez had a slight advantage that perhaps was pharmaceutical based when they were posting their monster numbers and crashing through the record books like a runaway train.

While certain players make it easy to determine guilt or innocence through failed drug tests and other means the line between guilty or not guilty of Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PED use is a little murkier for some.

Another player caught up in the web of suspicion of using PED’s was Roger Clemens.

While only “The Rocket” knows for sure what he did and didn’t take, I, and a federal jury, do not believe that he took anything that was illegal to gain an advantage.

Do I think that he is a good role model? Not really based on some of his off field activities.

Despite not considering Roger Clemens a role model, I do respect the way he played the game and the dominance that he showed for decades.

Despite being cleared by a jury in a perjury trial Roger Clemens will face an uphill climb in his bid to gain entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Logic says that based on his career numbers and the legal victory he should be a lock for Cooperstown.

But after failing to gain entry on the first ballot it appears the voters have a different take on the matter and the guilty by association tag will follow him for years to come.

Photo R. Anderson

Cal Ripken, Jr. at Baseball City Stadium in 1991.
Photo R. Anderson

One player that I followed that always seemed to play the game the right way, and never got into any controversy was Cal Ripken, Jr.

Cal was the longtime shortstop and third baseman for the Orioles.

Cal played all of his 21 seasons with the Orioles and became known as “The Iron Man” for breaking Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record of 2,130 consecutive games in 1995 and playing in 2,632 consecutive games overall before missing a game for the first time in 1998.

To put things in proper perspective from 1981 to 1998 Cal Ripken, Jr. did not miss a single day of work. Granted, work consisted of playing baseball from April to September so one could argue he had around half of the year off.

Still, I am not sure there are many people in any profession that can say that they have gone that long without missing work for vacation or sick days, etc.

So I looked up to him for the way he played the game and the quiet manner in which he approached things while amassing some huge numbers for his position. Cal Ripken, Jr. has also written several books on how to play the game and in his retirement is active in placing ballparks in underprivileged areas to ensure that everyone has access to quality baseball fields.

So do players and other celebrities bare a responsibility to be role models?

It is hard to say.

Is Natalie Portman correct in her assessment that she just does a job and people need to leave her alone or should ballplayers and other celebrities be expected to be more like Cal Ripken, Jr. and continue to give back after their playing days are done?

I like to think that players would want to be someone that is worth looking up to but I also know it is the media and the public’s responsibility to identify people who are worth emulating, and those who have behavior traits that should be ignored.

Do I realistically think that this approach will ever come to pass? I like to think that I am optimistic about most things but must admit a large dose of pessimism on that regard.

It seems we have now entered a phase where pedestals are built to be broken and while we tend to honor people who build themselves back up after the fall it also seems like many people are knocked down just for sport and the people who just go about their business without drawing excessive attention to themselves are ignored.

Now if you’ll excuse me I think younger me needs to come to terms with Frank Robinson giving him the brush off.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: Impacts of a Brave First Step Still Being Felt

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 4 on our countdown is a column from April 17, 2013.

We are a country that enjoys commemorating achievements in all shapes and sizes. Some call it the American spirit while others might call it an attempt to ensure that the sacrifices of those that have gone before us are remembered long after they are no longer walking amongst us.

This past Monday was set aside by Major League Baseball to pay homage to an achievement of courage and determination as part of the annual Jackie Robinson Day.

Each year on April 15 Major League Baseball teams stop to remember Jackie Robinson. Photo R. Anderson

Each year on April 15 Major League Baseball teams stop to remember Jackie Robinson.
Photo R. Anderson

On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African American to step foot on a Major League Baseball field when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The world of baseball for Jackie Robinson, and many other players like him, was far different from the world of baseball today.

I am not referring to jumbo trons and jumbo hot dogs or any of the other things that have found their way into the modern game. I am not even talking about the designated hitter.

Prior to 1947 there were no minority players in the highest level of professional baseball. It took an owner willing to do what others wouldn’t in Branch Rickey and a player willing to withstand insults from on the field and in the stands in Jackie Robinson to pave the way for those that came behind them.

For people of a certain age, like me, it is nearly impossible to picture a segregated baseball diamond. From my earliest recollections there were people of all shapes and sizes and races on the field.

Jackie Robinson Day at Minute Maid Park.  Photo R. Anderson

Jackie Robinson Day at Minute Maid Park.
Photo R. Anderson

Look at the rosters of the 30 MLB teams today and one will find players from six continents.

None of that would have been possible without someone taking the first step to desegregate the diamond.

So it is fitting to take time to honor Jackie Robinson’s sacrifice and to ensure that generations who were not alive back in 1947 can learn the story and know that without the sacrifices of people like Jackie Robinson the world would be an entirely different place.

One of my favorite quotes is “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It was first stated in the early 20th century by George Santayana, but the phrase is still as true today as it was when first spoken. Society must continue to learn from history so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Hunter Pence of the Houston Astros celebrates Jackie Robinson Day in 2011. Photo R. Anderson

Hunter Pence of the Houston Astros celebrates Jackie Robinson Day in 2011.
Photo R. Anderson

As another outlet to learn from the mistakes of the past this week also marks the release of the movie 42 which provides a big screen treatment of the momentous event and allows generations who were not alive in Jackie Robinson’s time to see what it was like.

As part of Jackie Robinson Day each player on every team wears the number 42 as a show of respect and solidarity. Of course one player still wears the number 42 every game but more on that in a bit.

While each team celebrated the moment in their own way the main celebration occurred in Los Angeles, CA where Jackie’s widow was in attendance at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

During the annual celebration of Jackie Robinson there are always a select few who will state in various outlets that the inclusion of Jackie Robinson in the Baseball Hall of Fame was based solely on him being first to break the color barrier and is not reflective of his playing ability.

Of course, a quick look at his career statistics show that based on the merits of his play alone Jackie Robinson is every bit of a Hall of Fame caliber player and is included as much for what he did as a player as well as what he did as a trailblazer.

In 1997 all 30 MLB teams were told to retire the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Photo R. Anderson

In 1997 all 30 MLB teams were told to retire the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.
Photo R. Anderson

In 1997 Major League Baseball retired the number 42 on all teams in honor of Jackie Robinson. As part of the retirement players who were still wearing the number were grandfathered in and allowed to keep wearing it for the remainder of their careers.

Currently Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is the only active player still wearing the number 42. Rivera is expected to retire at the end of this season so the number 42 will be officially retired 15 years after the announcement to retire it was made.

This means that starting in 2014, no player will ever again wear the number 42 in Major League Baseball. It is likely that the Yankees will retire Rivera’s number as well based on his impressive body of work. That will lead to the hanging of two 42 banners in Yankee Stadium with one for Robinson and one for Rivera. Then again the Yankees always did like to be a little different.

Of course this years celebration of Jackie Robinson Day was marred by the cowardly act of the Boston Marathon bomber.

At the time of the bombing only one MLB game had been completed with the Boston Red Sox and the visiting Tampa Bay Rays wrapping things up shortly before the first bomb was detonated.

The remaining MLB games Monday featured moments of silence for the victims of the attack. Acts like the bombing of innocent bystanders at the Boston Marathon show that the world is still as full of hate today as it was on that April day in 1947.

But just as was the case in 1947, there are still people willing to rise above the hatred and do what is right. And that is something worth remembering every day.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to catch a screening of 42, perhaps I will see you there.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson

Triple B Flashback: Orlando’s Historic Tinker Field Felled by Progress

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 5 on our countdown is a column from May 6, 2015.

After receiving a one year stay of execution, the appeals process for a historic ballpark in Orlando, FL. ran out last week and the grandstands of Tinker Field began to crumble in the name of progress.

Think of almost any baseball player from the 20th Century and odds are pretty good that they stepped foot on the infield grass of Tinker Field at one time or another.

For several years one of the highlights of my birthday was seeing Cal Ripken, Jr. and the Baltimore Orioles play at Tinker Field. Photo R. Anderson

For several years one of the highlights of my birthday was seeing Cal Ripken, Jr. and the Baltimore Orioles play at Tinker Field.
Photo R. Anderson

From Spring Training for Major League Baseball, to full seasons of Minor League Baseball, the quaint little ballpark in the shadow of the Citrus Bowl was a unique venue where a who’s who of baseball players played from 1923 to 1999.

The last professional affiliated baseball at Tinker Field occurred in 1999 with the Orlando Rays who were the Double-A farm team for the Tampa Bay Rays.

While the Orlando Rays were the last of the Southern League teams to call Tinker Field home, they certainly weren’t the only ones.

The Orlando Twins, Orlando Cubs and Orlando Sun Rays were among the many teams to call Tinker Field home.

The Orlando Juice of the Senior Professional Baseball Association (SPBA) even spent a season playing on the hallowed field in the shadow of the Citrus Bowl.

This ticket stub allowed me entrance to Tinker Field where I ended up meeting one of my favorite baseball figures Earl Weaver outside the third base dugout. Photo R. Anderson

This ticket stub allowed me entrance to Tinker Field where I ended up meeting one of my favorite baseball figures Earl Weaver outside the third base dugout.
Photo R. Anderson

Eventually it was the shadowy neighbor looming over right field that signed Tinker Field’s death warrant.

While time and neglect certainly played a role in the demise of the nearly century old facility, it was a massive expansion of the Citrus Bowl that hastened the demise of Tinker Field.

The expansion of concourses crept into right field to the point that Tinker Field could no longer function as a professional baseball field due to an outfield depth that would make a Little Leaguer feel like Barry Bonds sending everything he hits over the fence.

Tinker Field becomes the third ballpark from my youth to be torn down joining Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Baseball City Stadium in Haines City, Florida.  Photo R. Anderson

Tinker Field becomes the third ballpark from my youth to be torn down joining Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Baseball City Stadium in Haines City, Florida.
Photo R. Anderson

So, despite being declared a national historic site, the demolition of Tinker Field is in full swing with the goal of removing every trace of grandstand, bleacher and dugout before a June Rolling Stones concert takes place at the Citrus Bowl.

Of course, while I can’t get no satisfaction in the fact that the stands where I spent summer nights of my youth will soon be reduced to dust, I can take some solace in the fact that the actual playing field will be saved as a small nod to the history that occurred there.

There is also some solace in the fact that many of the seats from Tinker Field were removed and will be sold to fans for use in their dens and Florida rooms.

Still despite saving some seats and the clay and grass part of Tinker Field, it will not really be Tinker Field anymore without the stands which once echoed with the sounds of the crack of the bats, cheering fans, and the Caribbean accented shouts of a peanut vendor who looked an awful lot like O.J. Simpson.

Tinker Field becomes the third ballpark from my youth to be torn down joining Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Baseball City Stadium in Haines City, Florida. Of the three lost Ballparks the loss of Tinker Field hits the hardest as it is the one where I made the most baseball memories.

Tinker Field was where I first was able to see a live Spring Training baseball game on my birthday which is a tradition I still try to maintain each year.

Tinker Field was where I met and spoke with the late Earl Weaver on the third base line.

While I saw numerous Spring Training games at Tinker Field, it was Minor League Baseball that really grabbed my attention and stoked the desires of younger me to work in sports promotions at a ballpark. Photo R. Anderson

While I saw numerous Spring Training games at Tinker Field, it was Minor League Baseball that really grabbed my attention and stoked the desires of younger me to work in sports promotions at a ballpark.
Photo R. Anderson

Tinker Field was also where I saw the Clown Prince of Baseball himself, Max Patkin, perform his shtick on a sunny Florida day.

While I saw numerous Spring Training games at Tinker Field, it was Minor League Baseball that really grabbed my attention and stoked the desires of younger me to work in sports promotions at a ballpark.

During our trips to Tinker Field my mom and I were often joined for a few innings by team president, Pat Williams, who was also the General Manager of the Orlando Magic at the time, and I used to think how cool it would be to be a team executive getting paid to watch baseball.

I have yet to fully realize that dream of spending all of my summer nights as a Minor League Baseball employee but I may yet before all is said and done and when I do it will be because of those nights at Tinker Field.

I last visited Tinker Field in 1999 when the souvenir stand was offering clearance merchandise since the Rays were moving to a ballpark at Walt Disney World and it was easier to sell everything at a discount instead of moving it to the new facility.

I ended up getting an Orlando Rays fitted cap. To this day I am amazed that the employee correctly guessed my hat size just by looking at me. I am also amazed that in the years since my head has grown to the point where I can no longer comfortably wear the fitted wool cap.

I don’t know what happened to that vendor but I like to think he lived out his remaining years comfortably after his days at the ballpark were over randomly telling people on the street how big their heads were.

I last visited Tinker Field in 1999 when the souvenir stand was offering clearance merchandise since the Rays were moving to a ballpark at Walt Disney World.  I ended up getting an Orlando Rays fitted cap that I treasure to this day. Photo R. Anderson

I last visited Tinker Field in 1999 when the souvenir stand was offering clearance merchandise since the Rays were moving to a ballpark at Walt Disney World. I ended up getting an Orlando Rays fitted cap that I treasure to this day.
Photo R. Anderson

The Orlando Rays’ time at Walt Disney World was short lived and the team moved to Montgomery, Alabama and became known as the Biscuits.

To this day there are still no Minor League Baseball teams in Orlando making the decision to tear down Tinker Field an easier pill to swallow for some.

Others point to the peeling paint and overworked plumbing as reasons that it is best to raze the ballpark instead of spending money to preserve it and bring it up to current code.

In Houston people are dealing with a similar potential loss of a treasured sports fixture as the pending demolition of the Astrodome seems all but certain.

Recently fans were allowed inside the Astrodome as part of its 50th birthday celebration. The long term fate of the so called “eighth wonder of the world” is unknown. Like Tinker Field the Astrodome last hosted professional baseball in 1999.

With each year that passes it seems more and more likely that the Astrodome will also fall victim to a wrecking ball despite its historical significance.

The loss of the physical building, while difficult, does not take away the memories that occurred in those facilities.

Just as I am sure that there are people with fond memories of whichever Ballpark they grew up with, I can close my eyes and still picture Tinker Field the way I remember it right down to the tennis ball throwing peanut vendor, and the sounds of the rattling ceiling fans that tried their best to cool fans on those humid Florida nights.

I prefer to think of Tinker Field like it was, and not like the neglected facility it became.

The wheel of progress is always turning and sometimes it brings a bulldozer with it to raze the buildings of our youth.

Ticket stubs like this one from a Spring Training game at Baseball City Stadium, and memories are all that are left from the three Ballparks from my youth that have been torn down. Photo R. Anderson

Ticket stubs like this one from a Spring Training game at Baseball City Stadium, and memories, are all that are left from the three Ballparks from my youth that have been torn down.
Photo R. Anderson

I guess the morale of the story is to treasure your brick and mortar Ballparks while you can while building up memories that can last long after the Ballparks are gone.

Or as Simon and Garfunkel would say, “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Ballpark memories to preserve.

Copyright 2015 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: The Beaches of Bond, James Bond

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 6 on our countdown is a column from February 11, 2013.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s master spy James Bond’s debut on the silver screen. As part of the celebration there have been countless ceremonies and other specials to commemorate the event.

From Daniel Craig “parachuting” into the London Olympic Games with the Queen, to the planned tribute later this month at the Academy Awards, it is hard to argue that this is the year of Bond, James Bond.

With all of these activities and the DVD release of Skyfall tomorrow it seemed like a perfect time to focus on 007.

Some of the 23 James Bond movies. Photo by R. Anderson

Some of the 23 James Bond movies.
Photo by R. Anderson

Now, it would be easy to try and rank the men who have played James Bond on film.

From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, and everyone in between, most people when asked have a favorite.

One common theory of Bond relativity is that a person’s favorite portrayal tends to coincide with whoever was Bond the first time that they watched. For me, my first exposure to Bond occurred during the Roger Moore era.

Looking back now the Roger Moore movies were some of the campiest in the franchise. That is in no way speaking ill of them and in fact Sir Roger Moore himself as stated that he was in on the joke and wanted to play Bond in a campy manner with a wink and a nod to the audience.

In many ways Sean Connery and Daniel Craig portray a Bond that is truer to the source material than the Roger Moore installment.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy Connery’s and Craig’s portrayals, but for whatever reason I still tend to picture Bond as Roger Moore. I do not hold the same affinity for Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton. I enjoy other films that Brosnan and Dalton are in but just do not care for them as Bond.

Timothy Dalton seemed to be trying too hard and Pierce Brosnan seemed like he wasn’t trying hard enough during their stints in the tuxedo.

The final of the six men to play Bond, George Lazenby, gets an incomplete grade. I thought that his turn as Bond was pleasant enough but it is hard to say with only one movie to go by.

After the list of favorite Bond actor is decided the next logical step that fans are likely to take is picking their favorite Bond girl. In the early films one knew that there would be two Bond girls; the one that was the first to fall into the arms of Bond and the second more complex one.

It was a well known fact that, much like the person wearing the red shirt on the away team for the original Star Trek, the first Bond girl in each film would surely meet her demise in some cruel fashion shortly after exclaiming the phrase, “oh, James.”

The second Bond girl could be a baddy that was turned good by the power of Bond persuasion or someone else that we were led to believe won the heart of of James and would be seen in some sort of embrace as the credits rolled.

So, debate amongst yourselves and pick your favorite Bond girl. For me, that title goes to Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green in 2006’s Casino Royale.

One could also set up a list of best cars, gadgets, or villains. There really is no end to the amount of debate that one can give to the subject. This is one of the many reasons for the lasting appeal of James Bond.

But for our purposes let us focus on the beaches of Bond. The mood for the appeal of the sea and the role exotic locations would play in the franchise was set early on in 1962’s Dr. No. Ask anyone who has seen the movie and odds are they will recall Ursula Andress emerging from the ocean in her white bikini with a dagger strapped to her hip as the waves rushed onto the shore.

So pivotal was that moment in the franchise years later the producers tried to recreate it with Halle Berry in Die Another Day. And since this is a new era for Bond the fans were given the chance to see Daniel Craig emerge from the surf in much the same way in Casino Royale.

Part of the recurrence of beaches in Bond movies goes back to the source material and Ian Fleming himself. When Fleming was writing the novels that would inspire the film franchise he had a vacation home called Goldeneye in Jamaica.

This proximity to the tropical environment came through as three of Fleming’s thirteen James Bond novels, “Live and Let Die”, “Doctor No” and “The Man with the Golden Gun” have Jamaican settings.

Some of Ian Fleming's books. Photo R. Anderson

Some of Ian Fleming’s books.
Photo R. Anderson

Other beaches would follow in the films after Dr. No‘s Jamaican holiday. In no particular order are several memorable beaches of bond. Khao Phing Kan, Thailand in The Man With the Golden Gun, Holywell Bay, Cornwall, England, in Die Another Day, Praia do Guincho, near Cascais, Portugal, from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and One and Only Ocean Club, Bahamas from Casino Royale.

While the movies allowed the viewer to see the beaches the books allowed one to picture the beaches in their mind as they read along. Arguments can be made either way regarding which is better as the debate over books versus films has raged on for decades if not longer.

For me I tend to prefer picturing things in my mind first and seeing them second. But few can argue that the beaches of the films are truly spectacular and add to the visual story that is trying to be told.

And back to that first beach from Dr. No; you know the one that started it all. It has of course been renamed James Bond Beach. No word on whether the sand is best shaken or stirred when it gets stuck in one’s swim trunks.

Now if you’ll excuse me I think it is time to update the passport and fly out to see some of these beaches in person.

Copyright 2015 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: The Little Train Museum That Could

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 7 on our countdown is a column from July 29, 2013.

I suppose if we are really honest with ourselves, all of us at one time or another have been fascinated by trains.

Of course, that fascination tends to turn to cursing when one is running late to work while stuck at a railroad crossing watching a slow moving hundred plus car train lumber by at a speed slower than most people can walk. But for the most part, there is a little train engineer in all of us if we really stop to think about it.

One of the steam powered locomotives on display at the Galveston Railroad Museum. Exhibits cover all eras of train travel. Photo R. Anderson

One of the steam powered locomotives on display at the Galveston Railroad Museum. Exhibits cover all eras of train travel.
Photo R. Anderson

While some people dream of riding the rails like a hobo without a care in the world, others tend to picture themselves as a suave international super spy crisscrossing the globe by rail one shaken, not stirred vodka martini at a time.

This past weekend I took my inner train engineer to the Galveston Railroad Museum.

I had wanted to go to the museum for years but just never seemed to find the time and then a Hurricane named Ike flooded the museum with nine feet of water leading to a lengthy closure and repair process that made going to the museum impossible.

So with Ike a distant memory, and the museum reopened it was finally time to make the trip down to Galveston to see the museum and all of its railroad themed splendor.

One of the newest exhibitis at the Galveston Railroad Museum is a pair of locomotives painted in the colors of Santa Fe rail lines. Photo R. Anderson

One of the newest exhibits at the Galveston Railroad Museum is a pair of locomotives painted in the colors of Santa Fe rail lines.
Photo R. Anderson

My first experience with a train museum was the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD which is on the register of historic places and is considered by many to be the quintessential train museum in the country.

I have also taken several “tourist” train rides in multiple countries so I knew a thing or two about trains heading to the museum.

I also enjoy when old train stations are re-purposed into modern uses while maintaining a bit of the history of the railroad past. Examples of this I enjoy are Minute Maid Park which is housed in Houston’s old Union Station and still maintains a bit of train culture with the presence of a locomotive above the outfield and the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis’ Union Station that includes Pullman train cars that were converted into guest rooms.

So I knew that the museum would have a tall order to fill in order to grab my attention when compared to my previous railway history.

I can definitely say that the Galveston Railroad Museum did not disappoint and will probably be a regular stop of mine as they continue to bring exhibits back to life following the damage done by Ike.

Several of the train cars at the Galveston Railroad Museum still have signs of being under nine feet of water during Hurricane Ike. Photo R. Anderson

Several of the train cars at the Galveston Railroad Museum still have signs of being under nine feet of water during Hurricane Ike.
Photo R. Anderson

With an admission price of $7 for adults plus an optional $4 for a short train ride along the cruise terminal area, one would be hard pressed to find a better bargain on the museum circuit.

Housed in the former Galveston Train Depot the museum features trains from steam power to diesel power and all manners of locomotion in between.

There are examples of dining cars, mail cars, sleeper cars, box cars, etc. There is even a room with a model train set as well as a room dedicated to china and silverware from dining cars through the ages.

And while not all of the cars have been restored yet several were open for a closer hands on inspection.

A ride along Harborside Drive on a transfer caboose can make anyone feel like the railway version of the "king of the world". Photo R. Anderson

A ride along Harborside Drive on a transfer caboose can make anyone feel like the railway version of the “king of the world”.
Photo R. Anderson

Walking through some of the cars gave me a complete out of Bond experience where I felt like I was inside one of Ian Fleming’s novels.

There was also a certain Murder on the Orient Express feel as examples of the way train travel used to be propelled me back to that era in time.

Or at least what I think the era was like since I was not alive during the golden age of railroads.

But the train cars were definitely as I had pictured them to be although on a hot and humid Texas afternoon some pumped in air conditioning in the cars definitely would have been nice.

The interior of a mail car at the Galveston Railroad Museum. Photo R. Anderson

The interior of a mail car at the Galveston Railroad Museum.
Photo R. Anderson

And one cannot really speak about railroads without thinking of all of those people who toiled to build the Transcontinental Railroad and open up the country from coast to coast.

While planes soon replaced trains as the way to get from coast to coast one can’t help but feel some nostalgia for a cross country train ride.

Traveling from one end of the country to the other on a train is certainly on my to do list. Of course odds are it will be a one-way trip since I am sure I will have had my fill of the motion of the train swaying back and forth after a week on the rails.

The lobby of the old Galveston Train Depot includes several "ghosts of riders past" in various examples of the hustle and bustle that train travel once had. Photo R. Anderson

The lobby of the old Galveston Train Depot includes several “ghosts of riders past” in various examples of the hustle and bustle that train travel once had.
Photo R. Anderson

The last passenger train left Galveston in 1967 and while there are rumblings now and then about returning a Houston to Galveston rail line they seem to be far from reality at the moment.

Most of the trains that run through now are hauling freight from the ports and the refineries and not people.

And they are also the trains that like to stop along the way to load and unload their cargo while blocking many a railroad crossing in the process.

Light rail and bullet trains are the current buzz words and there is plenty of Federal funding being thrown around to connect cities by rail as a means to free up congestion on the highways.

It seems fitting to have a picture of a caboose at the end of a column about trains since they once marked the end of the train. Photo R. Anderson

It seems fitting to have a picture of a caboose at the end of a column about trains since they once marked the end of the train.
Photo R. Anderson

Unfortunately while the concept of train travel in the northeast is part of the daily vocabulary other regions seem hesitant to give up the freedom that comes from driving their own cars and clogging up those aforementioned highways.

So for now the dream of commuting by rail will remain just that until a time comes where trains become as popular as cars and other means of traveling from home to work and back again.

But for those who want to see what a commuter train system might look like they need only travel to the Galveston Railroad Museum and take a look at the trains and “ghosts of passengers past” exhibits to see what was, and what could be again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, as the late Johnny Cash would say “I hear the train a comin.”

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: Paging Mr. Willis

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 8 on our countdown is a column from April 22, 2013.

A few weeks back the Presidential budget was released.

This is a mostly symbolic gesture as the initial budget release is rarely the same as the budget that is agreed to and approved by Congress.

The Space Shuttle Launch Pad being torn down to make room for future vehicles that may land on an asteroid. Photo R. Anderson

The Space Shuttle Launch Pad being torn down to make room for future vehicles that may land on an asteroid.
Photo R. Anderson

While I did not have the time to read the budget in its entirety, one particular item caught my attention, and not in a good way.

Under the budget portion for NASA a plan to “lasso” an asteroid and bring it closer to earth was presented as a goal to be completed by 2025.

The justification for the asteroid lassoing mission being that it will provide a good opportunity to study asteroids up close and help guide future manned missions beyond low earth orbit.

Now, let me stop for a minute and point out that I am a huge fan of the space program and believe that exploration of space is good. I have also had many family members who have worked on various space programs, so the issue of space exploration is near and dear to my heart.

Mission Control in Houston could some day talk to astronauts walking on an asteroid under the current budget. Photo R. Anderson

Mission Control in Houston could some day talk to astronauts walking on an asteroid under the current budget.
Photo R. Anderson

Still, with all that said, I really cannot get behind the goal to bring an asteroid closer to Earth for study.

After all, if movies with Bruce Willis as a oil-drilling roughneck, and Morgan Freeman as the President have taught me anything it is that asteroids being close to earth is almost always a bad thing.

In both Deep Impact and Armageddon the Earth was threatened by an asteroid and actions had to be taken as a result. In some way I am sure that the mission to the asteroid would be made to show options to divert the Earth killing rocks from attacking but still why would you bring a potentially earth damaging rock closer?

While some want asteroids to be the future the past included talking to men on the moon from this room. Photo R. Anderson

While some want asteroids to be the future the past included talking to men on the moon from this room.
Photo R. Anderson

Ok, so the “baby asteroid” that they want to study would not be big enough to destroy the earth but it could certainly cause havoc in other ways that would need to be fully understood before such a mission could occur.

Also, in the words of the late George Hamilton, “it’s going to take a whole lot of spending money to do it right.”

Of course if history of funding the space program is any indication, the asteroid mission and related vision could very well be changed or scrapped altogether by the next President’s administration.

At the height of the Apollo Program, and with three rockets left to launch, President Nixon decided funds would be better spent on the Space Shuttle Program. So we had Skylab circling waiting for a boost from the Space Shuttle that never came and the three Saturn V moon rockets left on Earth became museum pieces.

A head on view of the Saturn V engines that helped the Apollo astronauts reach the moon. Photo R. Anderson

A head on view of the Saturn V engines that helped the Apollo astronauts reach the moon.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course, having the full size rockets on the ground for people to see is not entirely bad. If you have never had the chance to stand next to the Saturn V rocket I highly recommend it as something like it will likely never be built again.

When one considers that the amount of computing strength to complete the moon missions was less than the equivalent of what is in most dollar store calculators today it makes the feat even more impressive.

And to you conspiracy theorists who still believe that we never went to the moon and it was all just an elaborate hoax on a Hollywood sound stage I say that it is time to remove the foil hat and face reality.

The Moon Landing locations. Photo R. Anderson

The Moon Landing locations.
Photo R. Anderson

So, the moon program beget the Space Shuttle Program which did many things while circling the earth. Satellites were launched, experiments were conducted and the International Space Station was built.

While the Space Shuttle accomplished many wonderful achievements, there was also a dark side to the Program with the loss of 14 astronauts. Seven died during launch on Challenger and seven more were killed upon reentry of Columbia.

It was after the loss of Columbia that President George W. Bush decided to cancel the Shuttle Program in favor of the Orion Project which would return to a Apollo like capsule design and return man to the moon by 2017.

In an odd coincidence, much like with the retirement of Apollo there were three remaining launch vehicles that became museum pieces. While technically there would be four if one counts Enterprise I am merely counting the flown vehicles for the purpose of the analogy.

Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad. Photo R. Anderson

Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad.
Photo R. Anderson

I have had the opportunity to stand under the Space Shuttle and will also suggest that anyone who has the chance do the same in order to fully grasp the scale of the vehicles that flew so many missions over their 30 years in service.

Unfortunately a funny thing happened on the way to the moon and the Shuttle’s trip to museum life. President Obama decided to cancel the lunar program and set sites on commercial delivery of crew and cargo to the space station and the recently unveiled asteroid mission.

In the meantime with the Shuttle retired, the once great United States Space Program has to depend on rides that it purchase from Russia to get their crew up to the International Space Station.

I get that some people think we have already gone to the moon so why go back when there is more to discover else where in space but for me I don’t think we even scratched the surface of what the moon can teach us.

Space Shuttle Endeavour en route to retirement in California. Photo R. Anderson

Space Shuttle Endeavour en route to retirement in California.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course I am also of the generation that thought we would have flying cars, moon bases and kelp farms under the oceans by now. And where is my personnel jet pack?

So maybe the asteroid mission is supposed to inspire another generation of scientists to explore new worlds and new areas in space. I just think there are better ways to do that.

And if the asteroids do come and someone that looks like Bruce Willis is having to stay behind to save us all, I will definitely not watch as he says goodbye to his daughter. I still cannot watch that scene in Armageddon without getting a little watery eyed. It is amazing how the dust bunnies know to attack my eyes at just that moment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to call and see if the place that I got my robot attack insurance carries asteroid insurance as well.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: Mount Rushmore of Managers Gets Hall Invite

Editor’s Note: For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 9 on our countdown is a column from December 11, 2013.

The other day it was announced that Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, who rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the career list of Major League Baseball managerial victories, were elected unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the expansion-era committee.

La Russa, Cox and Torre combined for 7,558 wins and eight World Series championships. Individually each of them surpassed 2,000 wins. No manager with at least 2000 wins has ever been excluded from admittance to Cooperstown.

Until this week Earl Weaver stood alone on my Mount Rushmore of Hall of Fame managers. Bobbie Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre will soon join the late Earl of Baltimore.

Until this week Earl Weaver stood alone on my Mount Rushmore of Hall of Fame managers. Bobbie Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre will soon join the late Earl of Baltimore.

With their election to the Hall of Fame each of the three managers earn a place on my personal Mount Rushmore of managers joining former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who until now had been a floating head of granite awaiting the arrival of some companions in the mountain of my mind.

Granted placing imaginary heads of granite on a mythical “Mount Rushmore” is a purely subjective exercise. A case could be made for many other worthy managers to be included.

Arguments can be made about the various eras of baseball and how to weigh the accomplishments of managers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the managers of the modern era.

Even the actual Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, which features larger than life busts of presidents Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, is occasionally the subject of revisionist desire.

There was a time when people thought the “Gipper” himself Ronald Reagan deserved to be forever etched in stone on the side of a mountain.

Some folks even went so far as to say that the “Roughrider” himself Teddy Roosevelt could be surgically altered and transformed into the face of Ronald Reagan.

In the end Mount Rushmore was left as is and an airport and other things were named after President Regan instead.

So with the understanding firmly established that the Mount Rushmore of managers is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case the eye of the writer, I will make my case as to why I feel Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre deserve to be on my Mount Rushmore.

For starters it should be noted that until 2011 all three men were managers during my awareness of baseball.

Granted there were a few years where I was alive and they weren’t managing but from my earliest baseball memories to my earliest baseball cards all three men were in the dugout guiding their teams.

In fact each of the three men began their careers as managers within two years of each other, between 1977 and ’79, and concluded their stay between 2010 and 2011.

It has seemed odd the last few years without having at least one of them managing. The absence of Lou Pinella in a Major League Baseball dugout is also taking some getting used to as he was another manager that just always seemed to be there along with Jim Leyland.

Adding to the granite worthiness of Cox, La Russa and Torre is the fact that each of them managed in both the National and American Leagues showing adaptability to the nuances of the two styles of play.

Bobby Cox spent 25 of his 29 seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the National League. The other four seasons were spent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League.

Bobby Cox spent 25 of his 29 seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the National League. The other four seasons were spent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League.

Bobby Cox spent 25 of his 29 seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the National League. The other four seasons were spent with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League.

Under Cox the Braves won 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005 and one World Series title in 1995. Cox also led the Toronto Blue Jays to their first AL East title in 1985.

As I have mentioned before my grandmother is a huge Atlanta Braves fan so whenever I would visit we would watch the Bobby Cox led Braves play. I also had the opportunity to see Cox and the Braves in person a few times at Minute Maid Park when they came to town to play the Houston Astros.

I also was able to see Tony La Russa on many occasions at Minute Maid Park when he was manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. In total La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 17 seasons in the American League and 16 seasons in the National League.

In total Tony La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 17 seasons in the American League and 16 seasons in the National League. Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson is the only other manager to win World Series in both leagues.

In total Tony La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 17 seasons in the American League and 16 seasons in the National League. Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson is the only other manager to win World Series in both leagues.

La Russa seized the opportunity to go out on top when he retired shortly after guiding the St. Louis Cardinals to their second World Series title under his watch in 2011. In addition to his two titles with St. Louis La Russa also won the World Series in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics and joined Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win World Series in both leagues.

Of course one could also say that Sparky deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of managers based on his stellar career as well but let us not muddy the waters before getting to the last candidate for granite infamy.

Joe Torre managed 17 seasons in the National League and 12 with the Yankees in the American League. Like Cox Torre managed the Atlanta Braves, and like La Russa Torre managed the St. Louis Cardinals.

Although Torre’s success with the Braves and Cardinals was nowhere near the level that Cox and La Russa had with those organizations he did eventually find a favorable situation in New York.

Joe Torre began his career as a manager with the New York Mets and had an 894-1,003 managerial record over 14 seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Braves when he joined the Yankees. During a 12-year run with the New York Yankees that started in 1996 Torre’s teams earned four World Series titles in his first five seasons, six American League pennants in eight years, and compiled a record of 1,173-767.

Joe Torre began his career as a manager with the New York Mets and had an 894-1,003 managerial record over 14 seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Braves when he joined the Yankees. During a 12-year run with the New York Yankees that started in 1996 Torre’s teams earned four World Series titles in his first five seasons, six American League pennants in eight years, and compiled a record of 1,173-767.

Torre began his career as a manager with the New York Mets and had an 894-1,003 managerial record over 14 seasons with the Mets, Cardinals and Braves when he joined the Yankees.

During a 12-year run with the New York Yankees that started in 1996 Torre’s teams earned four World Series titles in his first five seasons, six American League pennants in eight years, and compiled a record of 1,173-767.

Although I was never able to see Torre in person when he was with the Yankees I did get to see his team in action when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers where he won two NL West crowns before retiring after the 2010 season.

So there you have it, three newly minted Hall of Famers and three former managers who careers are worthy of carving into stone.

Let the arguments continue over the Mount Rushmore of managers. For me my mountain is set. One might go so far as say it is written in stone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning the next group of people that should be etched into granite. Quint, we’re going to need a bigger mountain.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Triple B Flashback: Hit the Bull, WIn a Steak

Editor’s Note:  For the remainder of June we will be counting down our 10 favorite columns as we celebrate summer vacation. Coming in at number 10 on our countdown is a column from June 14, 2013 where we took a look at the 25th Anniversary of Bull Durham.

Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the release of a movie about the ins and outs of Minor League Baseball.

The movie that is causing all of the hoopla is of course Bull Durham, or as I like to call it the base of the Kevin Costner baseball movie triangle that also includes Field of Dreams and For Love of the Game. While Bull Durham enjoyed modest success during its theatrical run, it gained wider popularity in the years following to the point that celebrating the quarter century mark since it was released is kind of a big deal.

Tomorrow marks the 25th Anniversary of Bull Durham and people have been quoting lines from it ever since. Photo R. Anderson

Tomorrow marks the 25th Anniversary of Bull Durham and people have been quoting lines from it ever since.
Photo R. Anderson

While each of the sides of the Kevin Costner Baseball Triangle are good in their own ways I have always identified more with the comedy infused Durham.

I still watch both Bull Durham and Field of Dreams each year at the start of the baseball season and both still make me laugh and cry in various ways so many years later.

I suppose Bull Durham resonates with me so well because while I was never a Minor League Baseball player I was very much a Minor League Baseball fan and was attending games around the same time that the movie came out.

So the movie showed me the parts of Minor League life that I didn’t see from my view in the stands.

The movie also provided several concepts that I use even today as part of my daily life.

The concept of creating your own rain delay when the grind gets to tough and you just need a day to catch your breath is a theme that I have embraced from the movie. While I have never turned on the sprinklers in the office I have certainly found ways to give everyone a rain day here and there.

The movie also provided many timeless quotes with some of them being appropriate for repeating and some best left to the professionals.

In that respect, the current members of the Durham Bulls, the real-life team that inspired the team in the movie, made a hilarious video reenacting some of the crazier lines from the film. What makes the video of the players recreating the lines so funny, and perhaps makes the rest of us feel a little old, is the fact that many of the players were not alive when the movie first came out.

There is something for everyone in the Kevin Costner Baseball Triangle.  Photo R. Anderson

There is something for everyone in the Kevin Costner Baseball Triangle.
Photo R. Anderson

Another interesting aspect of the real life Durham Bulls is that they serve as the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays who were 10 years away from existing at the time of the film’s release. As a bit of trivia the Bulls were a Single-A affiliate at the time the movie was made and were owned by one of the filmmakers.

But enough about things that weren’t around when the movie came out. It is time to focus on something highlighted in the movie that is no longer around.

In the movie and in real life, Max Patkin was the Clown Prince of Baseball. For over 50 years Patkin went to Minor League ballparks across the country and Canada performing his baseball clown act.

I was fortunate enough to see Patkin perform during an Orlando Sun Rays game at Tinker Field. Patkin’s act was shown in several scenes and Patkin himself got a dance to himself later in the movie.

While it was clear that Patkin was closer to the end of his performing career than the beginning by the time Bull Durham came out it, to this day when I watch his performance scenes it is like I am right there watching him in person and trying to avoid getting sprayed by his water trick.

Although he died in 1999 Patkin will forever live on in his scenes from Bull Durham. That is both a testament to the man himself and to the filmmakers for recognizing the important role he played in conveying the essence of Minor League Baseball.

Another staple of both the movie and Minor League Baseball in general is road trips on a bus. Unlike the Major League players who travel in first class chartered planes, the Minor League players arrive by bus for all of their road trips.

Not much has changed with the Durham Bulls logo since Bull Durham came out. It is still one of the more iconic and recognized looks in the Minor Leagues. Photo R. Anderson

Not much has changed with the Durham Bulls logo since Bull Durham came out. It is still one of the more iconic and recognized looks in the Minor Leagues.
Photo R. Anderson

When Michael Jordan tried to make it as a baseball player in the late 80’s he bought a luxury bus for the Birmingham Barons to use. Still despite the “luxury” bus features it is hard to picture Air Jordan traveling through the cities of the Southern League in a bus.

As for the bus that was used in the movie, that was purchased by a man named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt is someone who knows a thing or two about motorized vehicles.

While Bull Durham has stood the test of time for 25 years, every once in a while a rumor surfaces about a potential sequel being made. Sequels can certainly be tricky business as few ever really are as good as the first or meet the lofty expectations set for them.

But, even with all of that being said I would still watch a sequel to Bull Durham. Do I think it could ever be as good as the first movie? Probably not. But, it does not have to be as good as the first movie. It just needs to help show where the characters ended up some 25 years after we left them on the porch and field.

I have my own ideas about what happened to the characters so if a sequel is never made I will still carry on my version of the story in my head. But it would be nice to see the cast get back together for one more trip around the bases.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to swing for the fences and see if I can hit the bull to win a steak. And remember “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson