Showing posts from February, 2008

Spring Training 1985

We're just behind the right field batting cage at Jack Russell Stadium, the Clearwater home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Before Spring Training became the backbone of Florida tourism, it was a special delight only the most adventurous or avid fans might experience. The crowds were small (did any of the Florida-based teams ever have a March sellout?), the tickets cheap... "our little secret." Media access was easier -- even a reporter from a New York music station could get a field pass and the chance to catch workouts and get amazingly close to the stars. In this case, it's Mike Schmidt and phellow Phillie Len Matuszek watching Tim Corcoran get in his swings. While our friends and neighbors up north are shivering and maybe shoveling (snow) and scraping (ice), we're getting a head start on summer. Darn near perfect. And experienced, back 20 or so years ago, by just a select few of us. What's different? One is quite noticeable -- the players are wearing actual

Minor League Memory

August 1968... not long after "MacArthur Park" is a hit on the radio, I'm at MacArthur Stadium in Syracuse for the hits and outs, balls and strikes. Then the home of the New York Yankees' top farm club, this Sunday afternoon offered as close to interleague play as you could find -- their opponents were the Jacksonville Suns, in their final year with the Mets organization. While I can't recall very many players on the Syracuse roster (the one I am certain of was former Yankee reliever Hal Reniff), Jacksonville was brimming with young talent that would help the Mets become surprise champions a year later. Tug McGraw, Gary Gentry, Jim McAndrew and Duffy Dyer were all on the Jacksonville roster. So was Amos Otis (eventually traded to Kansas City) and Danny Frisella, who'd enjoy a productive 1970 and '71 in New York. Just one step away from the majors, but a big step. Syracuse's national prominence stems from the University of the same name -- whose alm

1st Blast From the Past

Taken from the upper deck of Shea Stadium on opening day, 1969 -- a game we'll revisit in greater length on its anniversary in April -- this is the first slide I've digitized using a newly purchased Microtek scanner. I'd greatly appreciate your comments on the picture quality when magnified on a 15" screen -- or larger. (This one uses a 300 ppi setting.)


Since 1948, the Dodgers have prepared for the season in quiet Vero Beach, Florida at the unique campus known as Dodgertown. No bank, bakery or beverage-maker sponsorship, just a team and a tradition. Spring training before it became a cornerstone of the state's tourist industry. 2008 marks the final time the Dodgers will call it their home. Unlike Florida's newer complexes, there aren't dugouts, just chairs and benches set against the stands. You might not sit this close at your local high school field. And a pre- or post-game walk around the campus offers charming glimpses of the names synonymous with Dodger blue.

Change of Season

Congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. After a thrilling and totally unexpected four-game, five-week ride through the NFL playoffs, they've delivered both thrills and a lesson to their fans -- to seize and savor an opportunity. The end of football season is followed by just a week and a half breather before baseball's camps open and the players report for Spring Training. We swap face masks for caps and shoulder pads for fielder's gloves. Brute force is exchanged for finesse. Winter's chill will eventually retreat and be replaced by the promising glow of spring. We're just outside Fort Lauderdale Stadium, ringed by palm trees. Can you feel the warmth?