I mentioned a couple of days ago that I went to a Tampa Bay Rays game on Saturday. As a friend said, I was making lemonade this past weekend. I was presented with an opportunity to attend a pretty awesome music festival in Orlando, and booked a non-refundable airline ticket and hotel room. Much to my chagrin, the concert was cancelled. Since I couldn’t recoup my expenses, I decided to make the most of the situation. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
I rented a car for the weekend and made the trek from Orlando to Tampa (actually St. Petersburg) Saturday night to catch the Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only did I get to see a pretty spectacular game, complete with Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria longballs and a walk-off bottom-of-the-ninth hit, but I got to take home this very awesome Chris Archer “K-Counter” bobblehead. I’m not really a bobblehead collector, but I don’t turn them down when offered, and I love being able to take something home with me after I go to a ballgame.
Not only did I see a great ballgame and take home a cool souvenir, I also visited a pretty sweet museum called the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. The museum is located in the centerfield area of Tropicana Field.
There are also a number of guys who are in the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame who have not made it to Cooperstown—at least, not yet—like Alan Trammell, Pete Rose, and George Foster. It was cool to see all of this baseball history on display.
I also got to see one of my favorite American League players, last year’s Most Valuable Player, Josh Donaldson. Even if I think his haircut is quite ridiculous, he is fun to watch. And I did enjoy hearing all the Tampa fans mocking his rat tail.
I sat next to a gentleman from British Columbia, and was very entertained by his accent and constant use of “eh?” at the end of each sentence. I always though comedians exaggerated the whole “eh?” stereotype, but it’s really true how much some Canadians use it. It was difficult not to laugh every time he said it, but I managed.
I did have a smile on my face nearly the whole game. It was just such a neat experience, although really weird to watch a baseball game played indoors. And I got to cross another major league stadium off my list. I have now seen a game in nine current parks (Baltimore, Boston, Tampa, Chicago AL, Washington, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago NL, and Cincinnati), and seven that are no longer with us (New York AL, Chicago AL, Cleveland, Detroit, New York NL, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati).
After the game, I drove back to Orlando. On Sunday I visited a local church and ate supper with a cousin I don’t believe I had previously met. She grew up in Florida, and said her family did come to Ohio once when she was younger, so it’s possible we met way back then, but neither of us can remember for sure. It was great to connect with her on a non-Facebook level.
On Monday, I killed time by walking around the Florida Mall and stopping by a baseball card shop. They didn’t have any dime or quarter boxes, but they did have fifty-cent packs. I’ll show off a few of those cards in a future post.
Ted Williams and Friends: 1960-2002
by Dick Trust
Arcadia Publishing, 2015
One of the latest offerings from Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of Modern America” series, Dick Trust’s Ted Williams and Friends: 1960-2002 is a superb collection of photographs featuring the “Splendid Splinter” after his playing days. Many photos from Old Timers Days at Fenway Park are featured, showing “the greatest hitter who ever lived” along with former teammates and opponents such as Joe DiMaggio, Warren Spahn, Carl Yastrzemski, Jimmy Piersall, Jackie Jensen, and Bobby Doerr.
Other photos show Williams at his Hall of Fame induction in 1966, at Jimmy Fund activities, and at the 1999 All-Star Game with Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken. Trust ends the book with a reproduction of a personal letter Williams wrote to a young fan in 1943. The Hall of Famer said he didn’t answer many letters, but decided to respond to this fan “because you sounded like you wasn’t one of those meathead wolfs that howl there lungs out when they get to the ballpark.”
Ted Williams and Friends: 1960-2002 contains a fantastic assortment of photographs, and baseball fans will appreciate the historical significance of this volume.
There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived
by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, 2013
The last .400 hitter in the major leagues. Twice a Triple Crown winner. Military hero. How do you introduce the late, great Ted Williams to a generation that is so far removed from his historic baseball career? Author Matt Tavares gives baseball fans a great tool at passing down the lore of the Splendid Splinter with There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived. A very quick read at only 40 pages, Tavares touches on Williams’ youth, his time in San Diego, his arrival in Boston, his service to the country, and his return to Boston after serving as a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War. That’s a lot of information to pack into 40 pages, but Tavares does a wonderful job of simplifying the facts for younger readers.
My favorite part of There Goes Ted Williams is easily the artwork. Each page contains beautifully painted pictures of Teddy Ballgame hitting home runs, signing autographs, or running away from an exploding airplane. Even if there was not a single word printed on the pages, the book would be worth the cover price for the artwork alone.
Recommended for children aged 6-10, There Goes Ted Williams is the book you need to begin teaching youngsters about “the greatest hitter who ever lived.”
Watch the trailer for There Goes Ted Williams below:
Ted & Me
by Dan Gutman
Imagine how awesome it would be to transport yourself to any year using nothing but a baseball card. No need for a fancy time machine like a DeLorean or the TARDIS, just a baseball card from the year to which you wanted to travel. That is the premise behind Dan Gutman’s excellent “Baseball Card Adventure” series of books.
Joe Stoshack is a young boy from Louisville, Kentucky, with a special power. When he holds a baseball card in his hand, he disappears from the present time and reappears in the year the card was manufactured. In previous books, Joe has met the likes of Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, and even Ray Chapman. In the latest installment, Ted & Me, Joe travels back to 1941 to meet Ted Williams. It was not entirely Joe’s choice this time, though, as the FBI had discovered his talent and recruited him for this special mission. He was to enlist Williams’ help in warning the President of the United States of America about the imminent attack on Pearl Harbor. Joe arrives in Philadelphia in time to see the Hall of Famer play in the last game of the season and secure a .406 batting average.
Gutman does a great job of engaging the reader in the story and keeping it interesting. He keeps you guessing up until the last page whether Joe will be able to accomplish his mission. I won’t spoil it for you here, but I will recommend that you read a few of Gutman’s other “Baseball Card Adventure” books before tackling Ted & Me. The first book in the series is Honus & Me, featuring the famous T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card. These are light and enjoyable reads, perfect for baseball fans young and old.
Two players among the six #9’s retired are not in the Hall of Fame, though there are some who believe at least one of them should be immortalized.
Minnie Minoso, Chicago White Sox
Minoso was a Negro League star before coming to the majors in 1949 and was named to seven All-Star squads during his big league career. After his retirement from the majors in 1964, Minoso played several seasons in Mexico, and made a brief comeback with the White Sox in 1976, appearing in three games, and another in 1980, playing in a pair. He also made appearances with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League in 1993 and 2003, becoming the first player in history to play professionally in seven decades.
Bill Mazeroski, Pittsburgh Pirates
Enos Slaughter, St. Louis Cardinals
Reggie Jackson, Oakland A’s
Roger Maris, New York Yankees
Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox