Monday, June 29, 2009

Thanks To Me?

I'm watching the Red Sox play the Orioles on MLB Extra Innings. They've only got the home feed, so I have to watch Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). Jim Palmer and Gary Thorne are their announcers, and I generally like both of them.

Several times in the early innings, Jim Palmer referred to Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester having dealt with leukemia.

So, I went to the MASN web site and filled out a "contact us" form as follows:
Please tell Jim Palmer that Jon Lester had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, not leukemia.

Within ten minutes of my note, Jim Palmer made the correction on the air. Wonder if it was because of my note.

©2009 Douglas T. Dinsmoor


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Box Score Revelations

After writing my previous post about my encounter with Bill Veeck, I took a closer look at the box score from that game in Wrigley Field on September 21, 1981. A couple of Cubs players jumped out at me:

- Bobby Bonds I didn't realize that I saw him play, and I'd forgotten he'd played for the Cubbies. I always think of him as a Giant, but he also played for the Yankees, Angels, White Sox, Rangers, Indians and the Cardinals. After I saw him that day, he only played eight more games in the Major Leagues.

- Jim Tracy I'm guessing I'm one of a thimbleful of Colorado Rockies fans that saw their current manager play in the Majors. In his career, Tracy only had 213 plate appearances, and I saw one of them when he walked that day. Jim had only four PA's in the bigs after that. His base on balls on September 22 was the last time he reached base. Tracy then played a couple of years in Japan before hanging up the spikes.

©2009 Douglas T. Dinsmoor


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bill Veeck and Me

Yesterday, Today in Baseball had a piece on the anniversary of Bill Veeck becoming a Major League team owner. It reminded me of my encounter with him.

In September of 1981, I was living in Boulder. Since I was born and raised in Colorado, I was looking to live somewhere else, just because I thought I should. I had a hot job prospect in Peoria, IL, and I was called back there for a second in-person interview. Being the resourceful type, I decided to take Amtrak, because the Denver - Peoria route included a change of trains in Chicago. There was no additional charge for a layover, and on the way back, I spent a few extra days in the Windy City. On Saturday and Sunday, I made my first and second trips to see the White Sox play at Comiskey Park. On Monday, the Cubs were playing at home. Prior to that trip, I'd only seen five Major League games in my life. How could I not take advantage of the opportunity?

Cubs ticket - 9/21/81One of my closest friends at the time (sadly, since estranged), a friend of his, and I got walk-up bleacher tickets for an afternoon affair with the Cubs. You could easily do that in those days. Unbelievably, only 3,635 of us elbowed our way into The Friendly Confines that afternoon. It would be a trick to squeeze in the game and get me to Union Station in time for my trip home, but it was doable. Still, I had one eye on the clock the whole game.

The Cardinals shut out the Cubs, 2-0, in a snappy 2 hours and 33 minutes. The timing was good, but we couldn't dawdle. We left our seats and went underneath the bleachers to exit to the street. My friend said, "Hey, I think that's Bill Veeck!" Sure enough, he'd been watching the game in the bleachers with us, pegleg and all.

There was a crowd around him, and Bill was signing autographs. I went through a phase where I thought asking for an autograph of anyone was rather déclassé. I could very well have been in the middle of that phase at that point.

I did, however, come equipped with a camera! I had a Kodak Pocket Instamatic, that was roughly the size of an ice cream sandwich. It was a relatively good point 'n' shoot camera for the time, even though it was in the short-lived 110 format. It didn't have a built-in flash, but it did accept a flash cube -- a four-sided flash bulb that rotated after every shot.

I whipped out my camera and gave it to my friend. When it was my turn with Bill, I asked him if I could get a picture with him. He was very friendly, and he bellowed, "Ah, why do you want a picture of an old guy like me?" Then he put his arm around me in a bear hug sort of a way and posed for the shot.

My friend squeezed the shutter button, and... the freakin' flash didn't go off! Since we were underneath the bleachers, it was dark enough that it was necessary. Worse yet, it was the last exposure on my last film cartridge.

I didn't think (or didn't want to -- see above) of asking for an autograph. If we'd waited until we were out on the street, we wouldn't have needed the flash. We scooted out of there pronto so that I didn't have to walk back to Colorado.

Needless to say, the picture didn't come out. Years later, I dug through boxes and boxes of photos until I finally found the negative. I was hoping I could take it to a professional lab and get some sort of image from it. Alas, the whole frame was blank.

Even though I don't have the photograph, I had a momentary encounter with one of the legends of the game. That picture will be in my mind forever.

As luck would have it, and after several months of being strung along, I didn't get the Peoria job. The woman who referred me said, "Sorry about that. Why don't you try this guy in Boston. I hear he's looking for someone." I called, and six weeks later, I was living there. I've often contemplated how different my life would have turned out if I'd landed in Peoria instead of the Hub of the Universe. Not nearly as much fun, methinks!

©2009 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vin Scully and Me

The multi-dimensional Keith Olbermann posted a pretty cool blog entry recently about Vin Scully. A couple of the anecdotes were about the trepidation of meeting Vin, and it reminded me of my good fortune to encounter the Voice of the Dodgers.

Dodger Stadium media credentialIt was May 25, 1993. As a writer for Boston Baseball magazine (then known as Baseball Underground), I scored media credentials. I was really excited to see Tommy Lasorda's famous office, and I just wanted the chance to see legendary Mr. Scully. Alas, the pass only allowed me field and press box access, so I had no chance to get into the clubhouse and see Frank Sinatra's autographed photo on Tommy's office wall.

Still, being on the field at Dodger Stadium is a pretty cool deal. During batting practice, I got to say hi to former Red Sox Jody Reed. Not that I asked, but he didn't want anything to do with an interview, and he pretty much blew me off. When I said I just wanted to say hello, he chatted with me for a second, so it wasn't a total snub. I got the feeling that he'd left his Boston days in the dust.

While I was sitting in the Dodger's dugout, a woman was conducting a player interview
for local radio. I sat a few feet away from the rookie player and pretended to be disinterested. In actuality, I was hanging on every word. The player was Mike Piazza. Wonder what ever became of him...

After batting practice, I made my way up to the press box. I was standing in the chow line, when someone bumped into me. He kept moving, but politely said, "Pardon me." Before I knew what had happened, the shock of red hair (okay… orange hair) had already passed me. I not only got to see Vin Scully, but he bumped into me and spoke to me! I couldn't have been happier, and the game hadn't started.

After eating, I grabbed a chair in the last row of the press box to watch the game. In the top of the 7th inning, I was leaning my chair back against the rail. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone was standing behind me, just to my right. Awe-struck only begins to describe the feeling I had when I realized who it was: Vin Scully and Don Drysdale!

So, here was little ol' me from little ol' Baseball Underground, with two Hall of Famers! In the press box at Dodger Stadium! Yikes!

Believe me -- it was hard to keep my cool. I knew I had to talk to them, but I didn't want to make a fool of myself. Vin made a comment about what a weird and poorly played game it was (I may have his exact words scribbled down in one of my many boxes of stuff). I muttered something, and managed to engage both of them in a bit of conversation. When Roger McDowell plunked Derek Bell with a pitch, I turned to Drysdale, who was notorious about drilling batters, and asked him if he thought it was intentional. Drysdale just said, "Nah." He was probably right, since the bases were loaded and it forced in a run.

So, not only did I manage to see Vin Scully, I can legitimately claim that I got to hang out with him and talk baseball! Having Don Drysdale there, too, was icing on the cake.

It was quite a night for a baseball fan. Mission Accomplished. And then some!

©2009 Douglas T. Dinsmoor

Friday, June 19, 2009

Train Renck

Here's a letter I sent to the Denver Post this morning. I dragged my feet on it -- the offending article appeared last Sunday -- so who knows if they'll run it. But I had to get it off my chest.
Re: Mr. Juan-derful faces a raw deal when Manny Ramirez returns
Page 12C
Sunday, June 14, 2009

Troy Renck asserts that Manny Ramirez failed a drug test "with a banned fertility drug appearing in his system." This is patently false.

Manny's drug test indicated elevated levels of testosterone. Further tests showed a high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone -- an indicator of synthetic testosterone use.

A prescription for human chorionic gonadotropin (HGC) was found in the medical file Ramirez turned over to authorities -- not “in his system.” Ironically, a simple search of confirms this.

While I'm no defender of Manny, it's clear that he does his job much better than Mr. Renck does his.

©2009 Douglas T. Dinsmoor