The Association of Professional Ball Players of America held its 84th annual banquet on February 7th in Long Beach. The APBPA is a benevolent organization that assists indigent former ballplayers, major and minor leagues. To quote from their web site:
Since 1924, we have provided financial assistance for those professional baseball players, coaches, umpires, scouts and clubhouse men who are in need. No distinction is made between the major league player and the minor leaguer. Membership in what is a unique fraternity is the defining factor.
The Association had its origin when twelve former players met in Los Angeles and determined that there was a need to take care of the less fortunate members of their profession. From these beginnings the Association has grown to 11,000 current members. It has helped over one thousand ballplayers, players who are members of the Hall of Fame and those who enjoyed only a brief career. Total assistance rendered through 2006 is in excess of $4,300,000.
Major League Baseball and the National Association of the Minor Leagues have endorsed the Association as their benevolent organization.
Membership dues, donations, legacies and personal contributions finance the Association. Since we are a non-profit 501 C-3 organization, all such contributions are tax deductible.
The reasons for our help are many. Naturally, many of our assistance cases are older, retired players who have been ravaged by illness and the infirmities of old age. But sudden and tragic accidents and financial emergencies beyond the individual’s control create an urgent need. Our assistance has reached outside the Continental United States.
I filmed the speakers, which to my knowledge is the first time the event has been preserved on tape. Click Here to watch, it runs about 70 minutes. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection.
Former major league pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant is the first speaker, and well worth watching for his tale about an incident involving a certain umpire. He also promoted his book The Black Aces, about the only African-American 20-game winners in the major leagues. Click Here to visit the book’s web site.
This is the second year I’ve shot photos for them.
Former major league manager and Angels broadcaster Sparky Anderson spoke, but it was before the dinner began, so I didn’t get that on video. But you’ll see Sparky in the background from time to time.
You will see Roland Hemond. Roland is best known as the former general manager of the White Sox and Orioles, but in these parts he’s revered as the first minor league and scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels back in 1961.
Awards were given to two prospects, Yankees catcher Austin Romine and Cubs third baseman Josh Vitters. Austin is the younger brother of Angels minor league shortstop Andrew Romine, who should be at Rancho Cucamonga this year. They’re the son of former major league infielder Kevin Romine. Austin couldn’t attend due to a schedule conflict, so he was represented by his parents.
You’ll also see in the video former Angels pitcher Dave Frost, John Young of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), and San Diego radio personality Bill Werndl, among others.
The master of ceremonies was Dick Beverage, who is the APBPA secretary/treasurer. He also runs the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. Longtime Angels fans might remember Dick as a frequent guest on Angels radio pre-game shows in the 1970s-1980s. He wrote a book on the history of the old PCL Angels, which is out of print but he’s working on an update.
Below are some photos from the event.
Sparky Anderson congratulates Kevin and June Romine
Sparky Anderson with Jim “Mudcat” Grant
Dick Beverage gives Josh Vitters the Chuck Stevens Award
Jim “Mudcat” Grant promotes his book, “The Black Aces”
Original Angels farm and scouting director Roland Hemond
John Young, the creator of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)
Former Angels pitcher Dave Frost
San Diego radio sports personality Bill Werndl
For those who haven’t seen it, Major League Baseball launches the MLB Network on cable January 1.
The official web site is www.mlbnetwork.com. You can enter your zip code on the home page to determine if the channel is available on your cable or satellite system, and if so what channel.
The first program is at 3:00 PM PST, a live “Hot Stove” program that seems to be their version of the ESPN Sports Center. At 4:00 PM PST, they’ll broadcast surviving footage of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Looking at the schedule for the first few days, it seems to be mostly rebroadcasts of World Series games, previously aired documentaries and the ubiquitous Hot Stove show.
Once spring training starts, presumably they’ll have much more.
I’d like to see them broaden their horizons.
My immediate concern is that this isn’t “the Baseball Channel.” It’s MLB Network. Which suggests it’s more about promoting Major League Baseball than the national pastime in general.
For example, they could have launched by showing us games from the Dominican winter league. I know those are available because they air on the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes channel. Baseball is being played throughout the Caribbean right now, so why not introduce us to that brand of the game?
This would also be an opportunity to introduce American audiences to Japanese baseball. Certainly there must be some games in the can of Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matzusaka, etc. while they were playing in Japan. Teach us about the Japanese major leagues so we understand the teams, the rivalries, the star players, etc.
It would also be nice if they’d add a Minor League Game of the Week telecast, at a minimum. That would require negotiating broadcast rights with Minor League Baseball, which probably wouldn’t be a big deal but you never know.
Leading off with Larsen’s perfect game will have some nostalgic interest for people like me who love baseball history. But I suspect they’ll quickly lose the younger generation who turn the channel at the sight of anything in black-and-white.
It’s also a little weird choosing January 1 as a kickoff date, since New Year’s Day is traditionally wall-to-wall college football. How many people will abandon the Rose Bowl telecast to watch a 52-year old baseball game? Which will repeat several times after the inaugural broadcast.
I’m looking forward to the channel for no other reason than having some baseball white noise in the house, but given how much time they had to plan for this I’d think they could have come up with some better programming. Right now it has the feeling of a product done on the cheap.
I’ve never really cared much for measuring traffic on FutureAngels.com or on this blog. Some fan sites obsess over hits and unique visitors, misinterpreting those numbers for popularity or quality of content. Many professional web site designers will tell you it’s a sure sign of amateurism to have a hit counter or to brag about number of hits on a site.
Nonetheless, I was stunned this evening to receive a notice from MLBlogs.com that the FutureAngels.com Blog is the fourth-highest read fan blog on their service.
The main reason I was shocked is that, when I see rankings for fan sites, the ones for Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs fans seem to far outrank the rest. The West Coast blogs usually are near the bottom with also-rans like Kansas City and Pittsburgh. (No knock intended on those blogs; it’s just that your fans either are less passionate or have better things to do with their lives than blog all night long.)
Yet there we are, right with the New York and Boston fans.
As Dick Enberg would say, “Oh, my.”
Thank you to all of you who read this blog. It’s nice to know so many people enjoy reading more than just the endless rants and insult exchanges that ruin many blogs and fan boards. There’s a place on the Internet for intelligent discourse after all.
- Will Smith LHP
- Jordan Walden RHP
- Mark Trumbo 1B
- Hank Conger C
- Nick Adenhart RHP
- Ryan Chaffee RHP
- Peter Bourjos OF
- Kevin Jepsen RHP
- Matt Brown 3B-1B
- Luis Jimenez 3B
Please feel free to post your comments here.
I don’t suppose anyone would believe me if I said I’d predicted the Phillies would win the World Series in five games …
I told a friend from Philadelphia before the Series began that it would be Phils in five. He said Rays in five, being a typical pessimistic Phillies fan.
Just wanted to catch up on what’s going on with the FutureAngels.com web site and the Angels in general.
On Friday I’ll start the annual off-season tradition of posting Angels minor league game of the week webcasts. I’ve been archiving webcasts since 2003, so I’ll mix in some “classics” along with replays of 2008 games. First up will be an April 2003 Arkansas Travelers contest at Wichita. Bobby Jenks is on the mound for the Travs.
I’ve mentioned a few times that, in addition to my day job and FutureAngels.com, I was also working this year on a political project which has soaked up much of my spare time. With Election Day on Tuesday, that’s one time sponge eliminated.
Another big upheaval is that I lost my job last week, so both the spouse and I are now unemployed. The upshot is that it creates an opportunity for us to accelerate our move to Florida, as discussed a few times in this blog. But we have to jump through some financial hoops first.
In any case, it looks like I’ll have a lot more free time to catch up on all the 2008 photos that are backlogged on my hard drive. I’ve been working on the Orem Owlz photos shot last June; those should be done tomorrow. Then I’ll do the Owlz photos shot last September during the playoffs. After that, I’ll loop back to do the Tempe Angels photos from mid-July and the fall instructional league photos. Once those are done, I’ll process all the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes photos.
I also have a ton of video that’s been neglected, especially highlight clips of so many players.
And it’s about time to start writing the annual FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects report.
If we can get to Florida with cash in the pocket and no mortgage payments, then I’ll start work in earnest on the Angels minor league history book I’ve talked about. Statesville NC historian Bill Moose e-mailed a few weeks back to say he’d found another 1961 Statesville Owl, Ed Thomas. And Ed knows the whereabouts of Owls infielder Jerry Fox. It’s truly astonishing so many of them are still around 47 years later.
But first things first.
Because of the unemployment situation, I may start to post on eBay some collectibles for auction. I have a lot of Angels minor league prospect jerseys in the closet. First to go will be Bobby Jenks from the Quakes and Travelers. I’m not sure, though, if they have certificates of authenticity because minor league front offices back then didn’t always do that.
Worst case scenario, I’ll stand on a corner with a bottle of Windex, a squeegie and a roll of paper towels, and offer to clean windshields for a buck …
Obviously, if I’m still unemployed come spring training you won’t see me out at Tempe. But that’s five months away.
For those of you outside of SoCal who may not have seen it, the Los Angeles Times posted a frank interview with Torii Hunter about the Angels’ post-season stinkfest. Click Here to read the article. It’s well worth it.
Particularly revealing is this passage by sportswriter Kurt Streeter about the botched squeeze play:
I burrowed in on the question still haunting Angels fans: Scioscia’s decision to squeeze. There are many who agree that Aybar should have been allowed to hit. But bunting in tight moments, isn’t that the way your team played all year, dink-and-dunk, drip-and-drop, popgun hits and speed?
“No, no,” came a quick reply. “People say that, but that’s not how we played all year. You rarely squeeze. But in the regular season when you do squeeze you can do it because you’ve always got tomorrow. . . . If you lose you have tomorrow to make up for it. In the playoffs it is different. Totally different.”
Hunter also promised a clubhouse attitude adjustment, something I proposed in my October 7 blog. Torii said:
“I am going to start right in spring training making sure the guys know that this year we are going to kick some [posterior]. . . . We are going to put it in everyone’s heads that in the playoffs next year it is going to be different. Don’t start worrying about the pressures of everyone saying we can’t win the big ones or the Red Sox dominating you. Right away, I am going to try to [instill] that.”
Roger that, Torii.
What’s a vacation without inflicting home movies on your friends?
The sunrise runs about five minutes. The manatee footage is about eight minutes.
We weren’t ten feet from the dock when the manatees swam up to join us. They’re incredibly docile and social. The younger ones want to suckle, as you’ll see.
As our tour guide Cinnamon explains in the video, their only threat is from humans. Most of them have scars on their backs from speedboats running them over. By law, the channel is a no-wake zone, but sure enough some jerk came speeding through at warp speed, sending us all rocking in the kayaks.
For $30, you’re out in incredible wildlife for between 2-3 hours, depending on circumstances. The water was murky because of Tropical Storm Fay, but normally it’s quite clear. The manatees don’t mind.
Hopefully we get down to Space Coast Stadium this evening for a Brevard County Manatees game.
Posting while I can, because the Internet access here isn’t all that reliable.
My wife and I are on vacation in the Space Coast region of Florida — Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island. We’ll be there through Friday.
This is the area that was worst hit by Tropical Storm Fay. The storm parked over Brevard County and sat for three days dumping water.
We have a friend here who works at Kennedy Space Center. Her home is about 100 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, protected only by a berm. We always thought the storm surge would nail her house one day, but ironically the berm kept in all the water dumped by the storm, rather than letting it run into the ocean.
We spent the day helping her clean out ruined furniture and stuff, then scrubbing the floors with bleach hoping to kill mold that could render the house uninhabitable.
Many of her neighbors had it worse than her. They’re all lugging piles of debris to the curb. She said a council member drove by and said FEMA would be in contact shortly. Her insurance won’t cover the damage, or so they say.
We had dinner at a historic restaurant known today as La Fiesta, but during the Space Age it was The Moon Hut. It was a burger joint at the bend in A1A where it heads south onto the Cape from the mainland. During the 1960s, it was a popular hangout for the astronauts as they drove home to Cocoa Beach from Canaveral Air Force Station. Although it has new owners, they’ve kept the Moon Hut memorabilia on the wall.
It’s really quite common to walk into most public places here and see autographed 8x10s of astronauts. This is a company town. The company just happens to be NASA.
In the morning, we’re taking a kayak tour of the Indian River islands on the inland side of the cape. Go to www.cocoabeachkayaking.com, scroll to the bottom and watch the six-minute video. It’s exactly as depicted, manatees and dolphins and all sorts of critters.