Batter up! Hear that Call! The All American Professional Baseball League Gets a New Home

The Logo of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (Photo courtesy of the AAGPBL)
The Logo of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (Photo courtesy of the AAGPBL)

One of my favorite things about baseball is a part that is often forgotten. The All American Girls Professional Baseball League. At a time when most women got married before they turned 20 and stayed home to raise the children, these women were part of a change that is still felt today.

World War II forced many women into the workforce, while “Rosie the Riveter” is often celebrated, the women who played professional baseball are often forgotten. Then came Penny Marshall and the movie, “A League of Their Own”. While it’s technically a “historical fiction” as many characters are composites, the spirit is there. If you want to read a great article that Time Magazine did on the players, you can read it HERE. (Be sure to click on the link to the photo essay about half way through the article.)

I can’t tell you how that movie changed my life. I had been raised with traditional values. I remember seeing the “Broad Street Bullies” Flyers of the early 70’s and telling my father that I wanted to play hockey to which he replied, “You are a girl, you will figure skate, that’s what girls do.” It took me more than 15 years to get my father to allow me to play on his non-contact hockey team and the ALOTO movie was a big part of that.

I have been rather obsessed with the AAGPBL since then, I’m working my way through THREE different books on the league. In many ways, Rosie the Riveter and the AAGPBL did for women what Jackie Robinson did for people of color.  I was lucky enough to meet several of the players in Reading, you can read the blog HERE.

On August 8, the Winnebago County Officials and the Park District (where Beyer Stadium of the Rockford Peaches was located) announced that the International Women’s Baseball Center would be moving the center from California to a location directly across the street from where Beyer Stadium once stood. The official announcement will be make at There will be training and educational facilities as well as a museum dedicated to girls’ and women’s baseball. You can read the new statement on the IWBC’s announcement on their site HERE.

I am beyond excited! In June, I very nearly drove the five hours from my aunt’s house to Rockford just to see the commemorative plaque at Beyer Stadium. The stadium was torn down in the early 1990’s and recently, the Friends of Beyer Stadium have worked hard to build a new baseball field on the site as well as dugouts and a beautiful fence. They are working hard to help future generations remember the importance of AAGPBL! You can read more and see many pictures of the hard work they have done on their Facebook page HERE.

I can promise you that when the new museum opens, I will be there! I have to, I mean where else can I see the Peaches’ bus?

 

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Heck no! They won’t go! (At least it doesn’t look like it)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that while the Phillies are my first love, I’ve grown quite find of my home town, Dunedin Blue Jays. In fact, we would never have found our current home if we hadn’t gotten lost on the ways to a Phillies/Jays spring training game years ago.

Last year, the Governor of Florida announced a program to provide baseball teams tax money in order refurbish stadiums or build new ones. More money would be given if two teams shared a facility. Dunedin, whose stadium was last refurbished in the 1990s and whose training fields are four miles from the stadium, jumped at the money and planned to take the tax money and go together with the Astros and move operations to the East Coast. Reports were that the deal for the Jays to move was 95% done.

As a resident of Dunedin, it’s easy to see how important spring training is to our little town. Starting just after the first of the year, the snowbirds come. Restaurants that were only partially full in December are now full. In the evenings the sidewalks are full of tourists strolling and browsing the shops. Quite a few of the cars have Ontario plates.

For months, talk of the Jays leaving was a top topic of discussion, even in the hair salon! What would happen if they left? Would another team come in? The Brewers? The Nationals?

Today, The Toronto Star ran an article with the title, “Blue Jays Likely to Keep Dunedin as Spring Training Home” You can read the article HERE

At eleven this morning, even restaurants downtown were touting the article on their Facebook pages. By noon, I ran into a neighbor who said he heard about it at the community center. By two, I had an email from another neighbor to all the members of our neighborhood association.

There’s something special about baseball in Dunedin. I love walking a few blocks and watching baseball when the Threshers are out of town (or better yet, when the Threshers play the Jays). Yes, the stadium is outdated.
Yes, the seats are the most uncomfortable seats ever made and yes, the parking is limited.

BUT there is something to love…the staff who recognize you after just a few games, the between innings emcee who actually LOVES his job and is great with kids, the promotions like the diamond dash, the food which is consistently good (and if you eat at stadiums as much as we do, you appreciate good stadium food) and sometimes you just appreciate that small town feeling. I know I do.

So today is a good day. A glimmer of hope or is that Blue Jay blue?

My First Rays Game-A Playoff Game to Boot!

Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field-No I’m not leaning, the Trop is designed that way.

We won the lottery. No, not Powerball, the Rays’ Ticket Lottery. For the first time ever, Baseball Ross and I entered a playoff ticket lottery and won.

I guess you’d say the Rays are my second team. The Phillies, even as maddening as they can be, are still my favorite team. However, now that we live in Clearwater, I must admit that I kinda like my now home town team.

We had heard horror stories from friends about how hard it is go get to the Trop, how horrible parking is. Just horror story after horror story about how difficult everything is when it comes to going to see a game at the Trop.

So we planned ahead. We got maps of approved parking lots and when we could, bought parking passes ahead of time and we decided to leave hours early.

It worked out. For the first game, we didn’t get a parking pass due to a “burp” with the ticket buying site. We left for St. Pete early and followed suggestions by a neighbor on how to find parking and….it worked.

A local sports bar, Ferg’s which is across the street from the Trop had a big party and we headed there after parking.

Ferg’s is your average sports bar, average food but they do provide a place to hang out before a game and have a really cool outdoor area complete with TVs, which is where we hung out.

Hanging out at Ferg's
Hanging out at Ferg’s

Another cool thing is that if you walk the walkway/underpass from Ferg’s to the Trop, there are home bases embedded in the sidewalk outlining major events in St. Pete baseball history. Like this one:

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Since it was our first game, we splurged and went with some pricy tickets that had food included. We got to eat in the “Bank America Club” and even had waitress service at our seats! That was pretty cool.

Bank America Club
Bank America Club

We also spent a lot of time exploring. The Trop is now home to the Ted Williams’ Hitters Hall of Fame.

They had some really interesting displays there. I think you might recognize this guy:

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We also paid a visit to the Ray Tank. Personally, one of my favorite features! I LOVE to pet rays. For some reason they just fascinate me.

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In fact, the Rays’ game winning home run that night went into the tank right about where the left side of the picture is.

The only real downside to this visit was our sight lines.

Sight Lines from My Seat
Sight Lines from My Seat

There are two bad things about our seats:

1. The incline is not very great so when you get a woman that’s 6 feet tall with 4 inches of teased hair on the top of your head…you won’t see much.

2. I had a WALL in front of me that kept me from seeing the Rays dugout and any fouls that went down the right side.

The best thing was the TV that was on a five second delay so we could see what we missed.

I did sit at the end of the aisle until those people arrived so I could get these pictures:

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Rays Manager Joe Maddon is Introduced.

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Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino

Best of all…The RAYS WON!

 

A Great Time in Reading, Even Though They Lost

Twilight in Baseballtown
Twilight in Baseballtown

Back in Baseballtown, it was good to be home.  There’s something special about First Energy Stadium, to me. I love it’s brick, the way the players have to cross the concourse to get from the locker room to the field, the BEST hotdogs in all of baseball, the ostriches.

Wait! Ostriches?

The Ostrich

Ok, I’m not sure I like the ostriches. There’s a whole load of reasons and I’m not really into the “rebranding”, but I’m not going into that now. Let’s just look at this picture of a large bird in a little truck and leave it at that.

I really had a good time. I got to see my favorite players, Derrick Mitchell, Jesse Biddle, Kelly Dugan, Austin Wright, and Seth Rosin before the game.

Derrick Mitchell led off. Now before I start, I want to go back to two years ago this week. Back then Baseball Ross and I lived in Harrisburg, PA and we went to a lot of games in Reading. I had talked to Derrick Mitchell that night and had complimented him on his home run the night before and asked him to hit one for me for my birthday. He laughed and said, “It doesn’t work that way.” Well that night it did. He hit a home run for me for my birthday. I always tell Derrick that that was one of the coolest birthday presents I had ever gotten. (If you want to read the blog from that night and see the video, you can click HERE)

So Derrick was up to bat and then…it happened (again) he KILLED a ball right over left center near the 370 sign.

Derrick Mitchell sends one over the fence
Derrick Mitchell sends one over the fence

Another homer…and what is this week??? That’s right, my birthday.  After the game, I saw Derrick, he had remembered that my birthday was this week and he even said, “I felt really good after that first one, I’d have hoped to hit you a second for your birthday.” It blew me away, that he could remember! (And people wonder why Derrick is my favorite.)

I also have to mention a funny thing that happened after the game…I was talking to Derrick as I mentioned above and a kid about ten years old kept interrupting while Derrick and I were talking. When Derrick left to go back to the locker room, we said our goodbyes and he gave me a hug. The kid then looked at me and asked me if Derrick was my dad! (ROTFL) Considering that I had been feeling, err older since it is my birthday this week, that kid really made me feel good.

I got to see Kelly Dugan and Maikel Franco in their Fightins uniforms for the first time as well…

Maikel Franco
Maikel Franco
Kelly Dugan
Kelly Dugan

Another cool thing that happened was that I got to visit the press box. I had the privilege of becoming friends with a talented local writer who kindly invited me to visit him in the press box. It was my first time in a press box during a game. I found it quite cool and was grateful to have had the chance to check out the game from that very different perspective.

Something that Ross and I love is the Berks hot dogs. When you see as many games as we do, you get stuck eating a lot of food from the concessions. Over the years, you get to appreciate the places with good food and loathe others where the food is not palatable. I love the concessions in Reading. The Berks hotdogs are the best in baseball.

Reading lost that night, but while I wish they had won, I still had a great time. I saw my favorite players, had a homer hit for my birthday, saw my new friend in the press box, saw my favorite usher and had a great hot dog. We saw a beautiful sunset (picture at the top of the page).

It was an awesome night in Baseballtown.

The Arch, The Rain, The Cardinals and Cubs

I recently flew from Clearwater to the St. Louis area to visit family.  Luckily, my family loves baseball as much as I do, so we made a trip to Busch Stadium to see one of the greatest rivalries in baseball, the Cubs vs the Cardinals.

I’ve been to St. Louis dozens of times, but never had the opportunity to visit the New Busch Stadium or the old one. I had been able to see inside the old stadium from inside the Gateway Arch when I was a kid, but that was all.

My aunt and uncle with whom I was visiting, live about 35 miles from St. Louis. My cousins and I left for the game and as we pulled out of the driveway it began to rain. Well it was a deluge. It rained so hard that five minutes after we passed the neighboring town, they closed the highway as the water was high enough to stall out cars.

We drove to Scott AFB to pick up the Metrolink, which stops right at the stadium. It was raining so hard that my feet were soaking wet in the short distance from the car to the train.

Busch Stadium from the Metrolink (taken the day after the game, it was raining too hard to take one game day)
Busch Stadium from the Metrolink (taken the day after the game, it was raining too hard to take one game day)

We got to the stadium and found our seats. Then headed to the Cardinals store for souvenirs and supplies. By supplies, I mean fresh, dry socks and a sweatshirt. When we left for the stadium it was in the 90s and by the time the tarp came off the field about three hours later, it was only 67! The game had an official rain delay of 2 hours, starting at 8:05.

The new Cardinals Sweatshirt
The new Cardinals Sweatshirt

I bought a sweatshirt and socks. I was taken aback by the fact that my needed socks cost TWELVE dollars, for a single pair! Sheesh! By that time my feet were purple and wrinkled from being wet and cold so long. Since I was damp all over the sweatshirt was also quite welcomed.

The Redbird Club
The Redbird Club

We had gotten seats in the Redbird Club. It was pretty sweet. There was an indoor area that was air conditioned and had several places and types of food to pick from. The walls were decorated with replicas of famous Cardinals like this one:

Stan Musial
Stan Musial

This is the view before the game from our seats.

The View of the Arch (and me)
The View of the Arch (and me)

The rivalry between the Cards and Cubbies is one of the greats of baseball. It lived up to its history. We had controversial calls, the Cubs manager was tossed from the game, the WAVE and in general was a great experience.

After the Storm in St Louis
After the Storm in St Louis

With the delay and the train ride, we finally got home after midnight. It was a long night, but I sure had a great time.

33 Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report

Spring is in the air! Ok, it’s still winter but with the temperature being 86 today, it’s hard to feel like it isn’t Spring.

Today was also the day that single game tickets for Spring Training went on sale. We were LUCKY to be able to get tickets to the coveted St. Patrick’s Day game. I’d bet the house that by now if anything is left it’s only grass seating.

We also walked the few blocks down to the Dunedin Stadium and got tickets to the games with the Blue Jays. These, too, are going fast.

I know that the “Kids” will be heading back to town very soon and some are already here. It’s getting close and I just can’t wait!

Even the FAMOUS Lenny’s where everyone goes to breakfast is ready!

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Bats Pop, Glass and Popcorn Scatter

View from the Upper Level at Bright House

Today was Sunday Brunch at Bright House. For all Sunday home games, you can pay $12, have access to a variety of breakfast and lunch choices and sit in the second level club seats (great view and they’re CUSHIONED). Not bad when you consider that a seat behind home is $9.50. Basically for $2.50, we got: roast beef, eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, hot dogs, bagels, salad, rice and bottled water. Not bad! And for a buffet style meal (As a rule, I’m not a big fan of buffets) it was really good. The roast beef was actually carved for you and was quite tasty.

Enough about the food, for at least a minute (it comes into PLAY in a bit).

Jesse Biddle

Jesse Biddle was pitching today. Of all of his 6 starts, I’ve seen 4. (I only missed one home start and the other was last week when they were in Daytona and Jesse only pitched 2 balls before he was hit by a line drive and taken out of the game.)

I really enjoy watching him pitch. Every game, you can see him develop a little more. He’s getting “it” that elusive “thing” that you can only understand by playing the game. I just watch in amazement.

It became quite evident that today’s Stonecrab’s were not the same team that beat up on Adam Morgan on Friday night. The first batter grounded out and the next two, Biddle struck them out swinging. The Threshers scored 2 in the bottom of the first.

This is where the food comes back into “play” and I mean that quite literally. As I mentioned in the opening, we were sitting in the club seats, the second level of Brighthouse just outside the suites. It’s a great view of the field but it’s also a great place to get hit by a foul. Baseball Ross and I were sitting in our seats in the first of three rows, just sipping our water and watching the game when one of the Stonecrabs fouled one up into the stands and it whizzed right over our heads, just barely clearing the top of the third row (and top row) of the seats…and it smashed into the glass wall of the popcorn popper!

After we gathered our faculties after such a hot ball flew over our heads we turned and the people who were standing behind the top row of seats; were scared to death! There was glass everywhere. Luckily no one got hurt and after a few minutes people were able to calm back down. It’s amazing that that foul managed to make it through the crowd of people and hit an area that was about 2×2 and glass. You couldn’t have hit that if you tried. (Kudos to the staff who calmed the people down and got the whole mess cleaned up and the popper out of sight in just a few minutes.)

Clearwater just never took their foot off the gas, Jesse Biddle set in and didn’t let up. He pitched a solid six innings, causing most of the Stonecrabs to pop up or foul.

If you want more details on the game you can click HERE

Clearwater went on to win 10-7 (most of the Crabs runs came late in the game). Jesse got his first win.

What a day, good food, good weather, good game and good friends. What more do I need to be happy?