October 26, 2014

Where Have You Gone Jay Johnstone?

September 24, 2014 by · 4 Comments 

I don’t care where Joe DiMaggio has gone; I’m turning my lonely eyes to Jay Johnstone. Baseball has always had loads of talented center fielders, but where, oh where, have all the colorful characters gone? You know: the guys who say crazy things and give the Commissioner a hot foot? Please don’t talk to me […]

Frontier Story With a Curve

July 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

In the spring of 1944 Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall discovered that of the 280 or so major league players in the armed forces, most had never left their domestic bases, and many had not even completed basic training, a fact I learned when researching Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser. Boots, who had […]

Off the Beaten Basepaths #7: Trappe, MD, Home Run Baker’s Home!

June 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

With school out, many people in Baltimore and Washington will be traveling to Atlantic Ocean resorts. If you’re one of those folks AND you’re a baseball fan, do yourself a favor and take a very short detour through Trappe, Maryland, the life-long home of Frank “Home Run” Baker.

Off the Beaten Basepaths #6: Leesburg, Florida

April 4, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Off the Beaten Basepaths is a video series that takes you to little known baseball sites. Enjoy Episode 6 which will take you to historic Pat Thomas Stadium in Leesburg, Florida.

Adding a P.S. to a 55-Year-Old Love Letter to Baseball

November 4, 2013 by · 6 Comments 

My Dearest Baseball, I found an old love letter written to you on October 8, 1958, by The Sporting News, one you should have taken seriously. In it, your old beau admits to flirting with a cute new thing named the National Football League. Indeed, that particular issue was the first time that a story […]

Swing Time

October 5, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

Chris Davis was one tired looking hitter coming down the stretch. So was Manny Machado. Both have a reputation for being hard workers. No doubt fans of every team could name a hitter or two (or eight) who despite the hard work, slumped in September. I am starting to believe that it was because of […]

View to a Thrill

July 24, 2013 by · 5 Comments 

Of the thousands who watched the Home Run Derby this past Monday, no one in Citi Field had a better view than George Carroll, who was directly behind home plate. And I mean directly behind home plate: Carroll was one of two catchers who most people saw all night long and probably never noticed. Carroll […]

Misplaced Minor League Nomenclature

April 14, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Many fans may not realize that the Frederick Keys, the Baltimore Orioles’ affiliate in the Carolina League who happen to be celebrating their 25th anniversary this season, are named for Francis Scott Key who is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery across the road from the ballpark. This is because nothing that the Keys do promotionally […]

Off the Beaten Basepaths #5: Lefty Grove’s Home Town

February 17, 2013 by · 5 Comments 

Lefty Grove was born in the mountain town of Lonaconing, Maryland which is the focus of this installment of Off the Beaten Basepaths. Lefty was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1931 and his trophy resides in the George’s Creek Library in Lonaconing. It’s the only MVP trophy not in private hands or at […]

Earl Goes Out a Winner

January 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Earl Weaver won his final contest, at least as much as it can be won. The Hall of Fame manager died aboard a cruise ship—it was an Oriole-themed cruise—on the day of the Orioles FanFest. I’m sure that the Baltimore Convention Center will see its share of tears, wept unashamedly by grown men who wouldn’t […]

Memorial Stadium Love Affair

November 16, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

David Stinson, a friend, and author of the novel Deadball, recently took me on a trip to Baltimore to visit some interesting and little known baseball sites. We visited the spot where once stood Union Park, home of the National League Champion Orioles. This was the team of John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson whose graves […]

Orioles Magic

September 23, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

Leaving the radio on so that I could listen to the Orioles’ game, I got out of my car on Saturday to pump some gas at a local convenience store here in Western Maryland. “Excuse me, but what’s the score?” asked a guy heading into the store. “One to nothin’, Orioles,” I replied. “Great! What […]

Suns Hit a Gnome Run With Harper Promotion

August 5, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The Hagerstown Suns, the Nationals’ South Atlantic League farm team, handed out a rather interesting item this past Saturday night, when they gave away Bryce Harper Garden Gnomes to the first 1,000 fans who entered Municipal Stadium. The gates opened at 6:00, but fans began lining up before 5:00 to ensure that they would receive […]

Off the Beaten Basepaths #4: Rebel Park in New Market, VA

July 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Few ballparks in America offer an old-fashioned ambiance as does Rebel Park in New Market, Virginia. Coupled with its spectacular view of Massanutten Mountain, Rebel Park might be the most scenic baseball site in the Eastern United States. It is home to the New Market Rebels of the Valley Baseball League, a wooden bat, summer, […]

A Tale of Two Teenagers

May 20, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

Another teenage phenomenon has made his way through Hagerstown, only this year he was wearing visiting gray and his stay lasted for only four games. Dylan Bundy, the Baltimore Orioles 2011 first-round draft pick who is rated by many scouts as the best high school pitching prospect in the last 25 years, threw five shutout […]

Off the Beaten Basepaths #3: The Eastern Shore

May 1, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Delmarva Peninsula has a rich baseball history. Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx and Frank “Home Run” Baker were born there as were many other Major League ballplayers. An excellent musuem, the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame, is located in Salisbury. But there’s no sense reading about it, when you […]

Remembering Nick Adenhart

April 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is an excerpt from Safe at Home: A Season in the Valley, which I wrote in 2009 about a college summer league team, the New Market Rebels. Preparations were well under way for the Rebel season when Nick Adenhart, who happened to be from my home of Williamsport, MD was killed three years […]

Harper-Less Hagerstown Suns Open with a Flourish

April 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A very respectable crowd of 2,078 turned out on a very chilly Opening Night, to watch the Bryce Harper-less Hagerstown Suns play the West Virginia Power in Sally League action on Thursday. Still, the contrast between this year and last year when 6,017 came to watch Harper’s minor league debut was stark to the point […]

This Ain’t Your Uncle’s Slide Show

April 1, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

When I was a boy, the latest in home entertainment technology was not a 60″, HD, surround-sound television, but the Kodak Carousel slide projector.  This bit of click-clacking wizardry was hardly entertaining, however, because invariably, Uncle Bob and Aunt Sally would invite you and your family over to view the slides from their latest vacation […]

Off the Beaten Basepaths: Spring Training 2012

March 19, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

It wasn’t easy going to Florida for a Spring Training sojourn because it was up to us to have as much fun as possible on behalf of all our friends who couldn’t go. Our motto was We’re having fun because you can’t.  It took us 15 days and we drove almost 2,900 miles down, around, […]

Spring Training, Here We Come!

February 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Ah, spring. The time when a young man’s fancy turns to baseball, especially if that young man is now 55 years old.  Hope is springing eternal in training camps across Arizona and Florida and fans up north are dreaming that this is the year for their favorite team. Don’t you wish you could go to […]

Off The Beaten Basepaths

February 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It appears quite possible that the Hagerstown Suns, Bryce Harper’s home for the first half of the 2011 season, will be moving to Winchester, Virginia. The Suns of the South Atlantic League had hoped that the city of Hagerstown would either significantly renovate Municipal Stadium or replace it all together, but that hasn’t happened. The […]

Why Baseball?

February 1, 2012 by · 6 Comments 

February is finally here. That means that pitchers and catchers report this month. That also means that it’s time to ask the annual question that many of us contemplate when we find ourselves giddy with the notion that there are ballplayers once again stretching and throwing in the Southern sun: Why baseball? What is it […]

Christmas and Baseball

December 20, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

The Christmas season used to have a wonderful pace to it, much like a baseball season does. Santa didn’t arrive until the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was followed shortly thereafter by the arrival of the first Christmas card. The Grinch That Stole Christmas was broadcast–once–and your entire Friday evening revolved around that […]

Albert Pujols is a Bargain

December 8, 2011 by · 10 Comments 

In order to understand why the Los Angeles Angels are getting a bargain by signing Albert Pujols for $250 million over 10 years, it is important to stop thinking like a fan or a sabermetrician or even a general manager. In order to understand a contract like this, you have to think like an accountant. […]

Bring Unto Me the Little Ranger Fans

November 22, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Oh, somewhere in this fabled land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout. And that would be St. Louis, because around Arlington there are 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds who are now permanently scarred for life because their team […]

USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, NC

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a “baseball tourist” as I am, you’re always on the lookout for interesting baseball sites whenever you travel. On a recent visit to Cary, North Carolina, I had the opportunity to tour the USA Baseball National Training Complex which was opened in 2007 and is owned by the Town of Cary. USA Baseball […]

Wildest Card Wednesday Looked Like Tournament Play!

September 29, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Immediately, after Wildest Card Wednesday’s games had concluded, the folks at MLB Network and ESPN were saying that this was the greatest night of baseball in the game’s history. Now that we have a few hours’ perspective, it is clear that they were absolutely right. There has never been a night in which the numbers […]

Fixing the Fall Classic

September 22, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Baseball’s post-season starts in mere days, which means that so will the discussion concerning the waning interest in baseball’s post-season. Bud Selig’s answer is to give the public more of what it already finds dull. Adding a best two out of three wild-card round is most definitely déjà vu all over again. We do not […]

Closing Day in Hagerstown

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“It’s a sad day, a sad day,” said a fan in a Hagerstown Suns camo hat while standing behind the home team dugout some 20 minutes before the final game of the 2011 season. Big Tony, the Suns beer vendor acknowledged that it was. All 656 in attendance seemed to feel that way, although they […]

A Death in the Family

August 27, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Baltimore is the biggest small town in America. Everyone has a sense that they’re either related to, or that they know, most everyone else in town. We feel that way about the athletes who represent us as well, beginning with the old Baltimore Colts who lived in the city year-round and who worked regular jobs […]

When John Kruk Was Quiet, Slender, and Attacked by a Grandma

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

John Kruk was a skinny kid out of Keyser, West Virginia in the summer of 1981, but he had already attracted the attention of several scouts. “A great guy . . . a natural athlete,” remembers Preston Douglas, the head coach that season of the New Market Rebels, the collegiate summer team with whom Kruk […]

Childhood and Wally Bunker

June 17, 2011 by · 6 Comments 

The year 1964 when I was 7 years old, was a landmark for me.  In February of that year, I saw the Beatles for the first time on my grandmother’s 13″ black and white television; a set so full of vacuum tubes and other hardware that it weighed as much as our big screen TV […]

Valley Fans Have a Long-Standing Love Affair With Baseball

June 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The day that many Shenandoah Valley residents have eagerly awaited since last August will arrive tomorrow when the Valley Baseball League begins its 89th season. The Haymarket Senators pay a call on the Strasburg Express to kick off the latter’s inaugural season, but the passion of Valley fans for their local teams is nothing new. […]

Baseball Passion in Small Town America

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

We sometimes forget in this ESPN Age the great passion that baseball once inspired on the most local of levels.  Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley has had a long love for baseball and there are two towns, some 20 miles or so apart that are perfect examples.  New Market, which saw the last Confederate victory in the […]

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