Sometime over the weekend in Sydney, Australia, the major league baseball season will begin when the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks square off at the cricket grounds.
Baseball in Australia? What’s the world coming to? Actually, I don’t find it all that unusual. Several players over the years who have suited up for our local Midwest League club, the TinCaps, were from Australia. And our new manager, Michael Collins, is an Aussie. He played several years in the minors, including a couple in the Midwest League, so the cold April weather shouldn’t be too much of a shock.
Every year, as the baseball season approaches, I try to read a baseball-related book. In years past I’ve read Eight Men Out, the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal; I Don’t Care if I Ever Get Back, a story about a 20th-century businessman who suddenly finds himself barnstorming with the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings; and more recently The Bullpen Gospels and Out of My League, books by former pitcher Dirk Hayhurst. (Hayhurst spent a summer pitching in Fort Wayne when the team still played under the Wizards name.)
I recently finished reading John Feinstein’s latest book, Where Nobody Knows Your Name, a look at players, managers and an umpire who were part of the 2012 International League season. The IL is a Triple-A league, one step below the majors. The book is full of anecdotes, such as the time the Norfolk Tides were supposed to fly from Columbus, Ohio, to Norfolk, Va., only to have their flight canceled because of a mechanical issue. The team scrambled and found four flights to put members of the team on. Two flights went to Norfolk, two to Richmond, Va. The manager got to the ballpark not knowing if he’d have enough players to field a team for that night’s game. On top of that he got a call from the parent club, the Orioles. That night’s scheduled starter for the Tides was wanted in Baltimore. He was being called up. The manager tapped a pitcher who was normally a reliever to start that night, and somehow the Tides won.
Another story was about a pitcher who had been called up to the New York Mets. While the Mets were in Pittsburgh, the player was sent back down to Buffalo. There were no available flights from Pittsburgh to Buffalo, so the Mets put him on a fight from Pittsburgh to JFK and then from JFK to Buffalo. Well, when he got to JFK, his flight to Buffalo was canceled because of the weather, so the Mets hired a driver to drive him from New York City to Buffalo, N.Y. While they were still in the City, one of the windshield wipers on the car broke. The driver pulled into a gas station in the Bronx, got the blades replaced. Some hours later, they got a flat tire. They decided to stop for the night in Binghamton. That was only the beginning of this pitcher’s odyssey.
I highly recommend Feinstein’s book.
Baseball is my favorite sport to watch, and I am looking forward to another great season here in Fort Wayne over at Parkview Field as well as the new-look Detroit Tigers as they attempt to repeat as AL Central champs.