Collectible Closeup: Sept. 25

Sep 25

I’m a bit of a collector.

I have a few things I like to work on collecting, as funds go. Baseball cards is a big love of mine, as well as geocaching coins, pathtags, geocaching signature items and pins, which I get when I travel or go to different places. I also have some random autographs I like to collect. The one other thing I have, which might be hard to showcase here, is some art. It’s mainly street art and things like so that I grab when I travel.

I’m sure there might be a few other things, but those are the main ones.

In those collections, I have some cool things. At least in my eyes. So I’m going to try and do a weekly feature here where I showcase a different piece of my collection.

This is the first week of it.

Of course, to start things off, I need to go to the baseball card collection.

And it makes sense to go with Pete Rose.

Growing up, I was a massive Pete Rose fan. I’m a firm supporter of him being in the Hall of Fame. Rose was toward the end of his stellar career when I started watching him. I was a Phillies fan and he brought a whole heap of experience to that team, helping the Phils win the 1980 World Series.

Here’s the card:

Pete Rose autograph.

Being Rose is banned from baseball, I’m pretty sure that means he can’t have any cards in sets that are connected to the MLB or the MLB Players Association.

So a couple of years ago, Leaf put out a set all about Pete Rose. As you can see, there are no team logos in the image. Anyway, if you purchased a box of these cards, you got several packs (the cards were decent) and a guaranteed autograph. I already have a couple of Rose autographs — one I got in person and it’s signed on a ball, and the other is a large photo given to me as a college graduation present from a friend — but having one on a card was too much to pass up.

I purchased the box and this is the autograph I got.

It’s a sharp signature and a pretty decent card. I don’t know if I’d buy the box again as it was a little more expensive than the card is likely worth (Rose signs a lot), but it was fun to open this box. My only disappointment was the card was in a top-loader holder (which is OK), but just in the box. I didn’t get the thrill of opening it in a pack to see what I got.

Still, it’s a great addition to my personal collection. I’ll share more from all my collections in coming weeks!

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Northeast Bloggers May Photo Challenge: Summer

Jun 28

I’m a day late on this one as I thought, originally, it was to be posted Friday.

Better late than never?

I sure hope so.

Anyway, this month’s photo challenge for the North East Bloggers challenge was summer. And what better way to cover that topic than with some baseball-related things?

Exactly.

This image was taken with my iPhone at a recent baseball game I attended. It was the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders taking on the Norfolk Tides.

Baseball, a cold beer and my scorebook … yep, pretty much a perfect summer night.

What a summer night!

Look for the photo challenge I run to run Sunday, too.

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Notes from my noodle: May 20

May 20

A couple of years ago, I did a blog post about Zander Hollander.

Earlier this year, I got a comment on the post from his nephew, who also gave me the e-mail address of his wife Phyllis. I had planned to e-mail, but didn’t really know how to approach it as Zander’s nephew had noted his uncles wasn’t in great health.

Autographed book.

Recently, a freelance writer happened upon my blog, hoping to find some info about Zander. He is working on a piece about Zander, so he’s looking for all he can get.

That made me remember the e-mail to Phyllis.

I wrote to Phyllis to see if I should forward her e-mail address and such to the writer. I also mentioned meeting them when they came to my town as part of the local book fair. She remembered, which was quite cool.

I’m going to be, in the next week or so, calling Phyllis. I’ll write a little more on the blog after that, to update my post from 2011.

With all of this, however, I went digging for some books by Zander in hopes of finding a signed one. Turns out, I have two signed books. These are very cool to have.

I love signed books and they are ones I really like to keep. So having these two is a bit of a thrill.

Check out the post linked above for the full story.

****

As much as I hate to say it, I guess I have to start working.

I’ve pointed this out on the blog before, but I’m a dreamer. So I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream big when I purchased my Powerball ticket for the $600 million jackpot.

No winner for me.

Though there was a slight disappointment when I heard the ticket was sold in Florida, it’s also reality. Think about how many tickets were sold for that lotto. Imagine the odds of winning. I only buy one ticket, so my odds are even greater.

It still would have been cool though.

Have you ever read the stories about people who win a massive lotto and are broke in a couple of years? I can assure you that wouldn’t have been me. Many of those stories repeat themselves — the person gives away money, is silly with his spending etc.

No chance for me.

I’m not going to lie — if I won $600 million, I would have tried to spend a million in a week or so. House/land, cars, some other things. All frivolous  Why? Because I could.

After that? Back to being smart with it. Invest it. Pay off bills for myself, family and close friends. Set up some college funds for certain youngsters. Set up a charitable foundation.

Then, have it set up so I get paid weekly. A certain amount. That way, I don’t just go spending money for the sake of spending it.

Alas, that won’t happen.

So when this new summer job of mine starts in a few weeks, I’ll be heading there. And I’m OK with that.

Though $600 million would have been sweet.

****

For the past week or so, I’ve been out finding spots to place geocaches in my area. I am hosting an event this upcoming Sunday and I wanted to have some new caches available.

You can find some interesting things while doing this.

Old ball caught in a bush.

Whether it’s piles of trash, makeshift memorials, the beauty of nature, or whatever else, you never know what you’ll find.

When inspecting at a local field, an old baseball was found.

This isn’t rare. I’ve come across old baseballs many times. And they often make for good photos.

But this one was different. It wasn’t just a ball in the middle of an old field or something. It was stuck. In a bush. We didn’t remove it as we thought it seemed cool an had its place.

It also looked like it had been there for a while.

Just another interesting find while out and about with geocaching.

****

That will do it for this edition of Notes from my noodle. I’ll be back with another edition of this shortly has I have a few more things to randomly share!

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Baseball scorekeeping is still fun, despite being a lost art

May 16

I’m one of those baseball nerds you might see at a baseball game — a scorebook in my lap.

Sometimes, I’ll have a beer. More often than not, a hot dog or two as well.

But I keep score.

It’s something I’ve always done. It’s not something that was passed down to me from my father or anything, but it’s something I do. When I go to some pro games with one friend, we’ll often pass the book back and forth and take turns with innings. This allows time for bathroom breaks or to grab a drink or a bite to eat.

Scorekeeping at games is a lost art form.

It’s a shame I haven’t kept all of those scorecards. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of great players. Hall of Famers. Minor leaguers who eventually made it to the show. And everyday guys who had their journey end not long after I saw them play.

Those scorecards showed a lot, including a lot of memories. I still have some. I have one or two of the scorebooks I used for the six years I covered professional baseball.

One thing I’ve always been in search of is a smaller scorebook, one I could carry in and out of parks without feeling like I am lugging a briefcase. I’ve seen the old ones reporters used back in the golden age of baseball. They were small and without frills.

I’ve never been able to find a scorebook like that. They were thicker, too. Thick enough to hold at least a season’s worth of games. But I don’t see those much. And for the few people I know who cover professional baseball, they all seem to use the Bob Carpenter book. I used that for a couple of years, too. But, in all honesty, unless you are on a good beat where there are press boxes and tables and such, Carpenter’s book isn’t easy. It’s about 8.5 x 11 inches, so it’s not tiny. And with so many pages, it’s a bit bulky.

But for a baseball nut, it’s heaven.

The scorebook is filled with everything a writer would need. And if you’re an announcer, this book is even better as it really gives you room to work. I love it, personally. But in my post-sports writing life, when I keep score at a park, I want something a bit more simple. I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, so to speak. I need a scorebook I can carry into parks with me and not have it be too big. I still carry my camera with me, so if I can tuck it into my camera bag or backpack and have it not add a lot of weight? Bonus.

The art

Scorekeeping is a lost art.

Years ago, you’d be able to go to a park on a sunny Saturday afternoon and, without a doubt, you’d be able to find many father’s keeping score with their sons. Or people would do it on their own.

The scorecard (home team) from the first professional baseball game I covered.

In the six years I covered professional baseball, it was a rarity. There were a few who made every home game for the Single-A team I covered. And they all kept book. I’d say 3-4 of them. It was a way of keeping in touch with the game.

And the team I covered was a no-frills team — so no between-innings shenanigans or anything like that. Just baseball. On a field that had been in places for decades.

This was baseball. Nothing more, nothing less.

Heck, the owner — then in his 80s — used to carry the nightly till out in a lock box. Talk about trust in society!

Scorekeeping is more than just filling in the diamonds to show how many runs were scored. It’s a narrative of the game. The best part? No two scorecards are the same. The beauty of baseball is it allows those who keep score to develop their own way of keeping score, or tweak something from other things they’ve seen.

People mark hits differently. Same with outs. Errors, passed balls, extra-base hits and everything in between can all be marked differently. Some people have systems so complex, only they can decipher them.

For many, keeping score at a game will keep them focused on what’s happening. It also allows people to look at the game in a different way.

A few years ago, while still working at the newspaper, I did a story about those who keep book at games. They all seemed to agree it was a lost art form.

When you go to major league games, your more apt to see more people doing it. There are kid’s scorebooks and cards now, so that often helps getting youngsters involved.

But with so many other activities going on, sometimes it’s hard to keep a kid settled down long enough to be able to keep score.

Still searching for the perfect book

For years, I’ve been looking for that book. The smaller version of a scorebook. Something easier to carry.

I think it finally ended.

The scorecard (visiting team) from the first professional baseball game I covered.

A post by a friend on Facebook got me thinking about scorecards as he noted keeping score at a game. So I decided to — as I do a few times every year — look to see if I could find a smaller book.

That brought me to a Kickstarter campaign from two years ago — The Eephus League Baseball Scorebook Revival. This book is small and made for simple scoring. Maybe a little too simple for me, but the size? Perfect!

But the campaign was over. What to do?

I visited the Eephus League website. Sure enough, the books were for sale. My hesitation is the book only holds 20 games. That would last me a couple of years as I don’t do 20 games per year. Still, I was hoping for something a little thicker.

Then something else caught my eye. The Halfliner. This book, designed by the same person — Bethany Heck — was bigger, but not massive sized like many others. It was hard cover and held 81 games!

Score!

(See what I did there?)

And the best part? This Halfliner isn’t fully ready. She has a Kickstarter campaign going and it was still active. Even better!

Needless to say, I’m a backer. I can’t wait for this to finish up and to eventually get my Halfliner.

This book is almost everything I’ve ever looked for in a scorebook for fan use. It’s a little bigger than I hoped, but the thickness, the hard binding and pretty much everything else is perfect.

I look forward to getting this one when the campaign is all over. After that, I’ll look forward to hitting up a game (or 10) so I can get back into keeping book at games and knowing I’ll have everything in one place.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Book Review: Just A Minor Perspective

Mar 29

With baseball season getting ready to go, I thought this month would be good to read this shorter book I’ve wanted to check out. It’s the story of one man’s first season in the minor leagues.

And being he played for the Phillies, it was even better. Eric Pettis takes us through that rocky year of playing for the Williamsport Crosscutters in Just a Minor Perspective: Through the eyes of a minor league rookie.

Besides the reasons mentioned above, one of the reasons I wanted to read this is because I covered a team in the New York-Penn League for six years. It makes me wish Pettis had played for Williamsport a couple of years ago as I may have had the chance to see him play. Not only that, maybe the team I covered would have made the book.

Alas, that team moved in 2009.

Though a quick read, the book had its ups and downs, kind of like one’s minor league career. There’s no actual true copy of the book as it’s on the Kindle. It didn’t take me long — a few days — to get through it. Amazon’s website lists it as 97 pages.

I don’t think this is a middle-ground book, however. By that I mean, if you aren’t a baseball fan, you might not enjoy it. There’s not a lot of non-baseball things and Pettis often gets caught up in terminology, which for a baseball junkie like me is great, but for others might be a turnoff.

That being said, if you are a fan of human nature and seeing what life can be in other walks of life, this can do a decent job at telling you about life on the road in the minor leagues. Though being a beat writer for a team wasn’t a travel position (I think I went to 3-4 away games, maybe, in six years), I heard many stories about life on the road, through managers, players and even the guy who drove the team’s bus. Pettis gives people a look inside that world. It’s not all cakes and ice cream on the road as a minor leaguer. Long and boring bus rides are status quo. Crampy locker rooms and bad hotels can often be normal. It’s not glamorous, that’s for sure.

Still, there are negatives to this book. I’ll touch more upon them later, but one major one to me is Pettis changing names. Books like these have been written before and names are used. Ballplayers are public figures. Names can be used. And should be used. I found, at times, scratching my head over this. He notes there are a couple whose names are not changed, but unless you Google each person, you don’t know. As a Phillies fan, I found that highly disappointing as being able to know who some of the people were would make it better.

Anyway, on with the review.

The Good

This book is about baseball. That gets a pretty big thumbs up from me right off the bat. It’s also about the minor leagues, so another thumbs up.

Pettis can be quite descriptive at times. I felt like I got to know his host family and house. Some of the clubhouses he takes you into, you can almost feel like you are there. The views from the dugout and such. The bus rides. He paints an interesting picture of the game and some of the people he has encountered along the way.

I think one of the best parts of this book is the story is about one of the lowest levels of minor league ball. Conditions, usually, improve on your way up the chain. So knowing what it’s like on one of the bottom rungs is excellent.

And, because of some things, the size isn’t bad. If this were to be more of a bookstore-type book, I think it would need to be added to. some of the negatives, which I’ll get to in a moment, would have to be cleaned up, too. But this book has potential to be even bigger given the subject and given America’s love of baseball.

I also like how Pettis paints himself. He doesn’t make it like he’s a goody goody. He shows he has a not-so-great side and is humbled by somethings. Going from Division I college ball to low-level minor league can be shocking and I think Pettis shows how he reacted to it. Basically, he shows he has flaws like anybody else and I like the honesty.

The Bad

A couple of things stand out. First is the re-naming of people. I won’t lie when I say that absolutely annoyed me. As a Phillies fan, I wanted to know who the people are. Of course I probably could have done some research to give a pretty good educated guess, but this wasn’t my research project. It was a book for me to enjoy. I won’t lie that this took away some of the enjoyment.

Pettis also gets repetitive at times. By the end of the book, I really understood that he worked hard. He mentions cliches early in the book, yet sprinkles them throughout the book. Realizing that baseball is full of cliches, I get it. But after a while, it got boring.

There were also times I was left wondering. Though Pettis got descriptive about certain things, other times he was vague. And that’s hard in a book like this. If one is going to cram so much into a book, it needs to be balanced. There were times I couldn’t put the book down. Other times I couldn’t wait until it was done. It was usually when he breezed through things.

I would have liked to have seen more about him. More of his emotion. It seemed like when he touched on emotion, it started quickly and felt guarded. Maybe a couple more “me” stories about him dealing with life.

Finally, as expected with any self-published book (and I expect when I finally do it one day, I’ll have it too…), there were several typos and misspelled things that likely would have been caught with a good proof reader. It wasn’t so bad where I would go nuts, but I notice these things and think it should be mentioned in the review.

Overall

In the end, it was a quick and worthwhile read. You get a look into the life of a minor leaguer. It sounds like he was often looked down upon because of his draft spot (which can quite often be true), but he still has a successful, but short, run in the minors. It’s a shame, too, because Pettis seems like the kind of guy who would be worth cheering for. For you baseball nuts, I’d definitely recommend it.

Rating

I’d have to go middle of the road with this ones. The good and the bad even out, with neither really making the book slide one way or the other. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars and if it was ever updated and lengthened, I’d read it again and see how it came out.

Artwork (For The Artful Readers Club)

This book is also one I’m reading for The Artful Readers Club. In this club, we read one book per month and also have to so some sort of a piece of art to go with it. For the second straight month, I went with an advertisement. I wanted to use a hiking shelter, but I couldn’t find any in my archived. I thought I had some. Instead, I just went with a trail photo.

Apologies for last month as I dropped the ball in visiting sites. Fear not, I plan on, within the week, visiting for last month AND this month. The link doesn’t work, but I’ll go through those who commented on mine and also those who commented on Darcy’s and try and find last month’s book review.

For the Artful Readers Club

Winner of last month’s book giveaway

I dropped the ball on this one, too! It was supposed to be given away after two weeks or so! Alas, it’s never too late. So I put everybody’s name in the Random.org generator and the winner is Paul Myers. Drop me an e-mail, Paul, and I’ll get the book out to you ASAP!

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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