Our latest from readers of Press Pros for hall of famer Hal McCoy…on where baseballs come from, old baseball parks, favorite “bad” cigars, and percentages that the Reds actually finish the season.
From Dave in Beavercreek and the “selfie” booth at your local restaurant: I asked Siri about some of the new names on the Reds roster but she did not have a clue so where do I go from here?
DAVE: First of all, shame on you for asking Siri instead of me. And if you had, well, I don’t have an inkling of who some of these guys are. But we’ll find out soon enough. I still haven’t finished introducing myself to all the new players in the clubhouse. I ran out of time. Meanwhile, what you do is open that ratty, moth-infested wallet of yours and buy a ticket. Go to the game and walk into the front gate and directly to a program booth. Open the wallet again and, shazam, you’ll have all the information you need.
From Eric in Columbus: I met Sonny Fulks at the state basketball tournament and he told me you’d be writing the state baseball tournament for Press Pros this spring. That’s pretty cool and I hope to meet you there. But for now, I’ve always been a fan of old ballparks and wondered if you had a favorite? Thanks in advance.
ERIC: I am looking forward to more grass roots baseball and as they say, ‘For the Love of the Game.’ I know everybody expects me to say Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. I am not going to say that. While they are iconic venues, real baseball, and fun in which to watch games, for me the working conditions for the media are miserable. Selfish, yes. That’s why I love the next two oldest ballparks the best — Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. While some renovations have been made to both, when they built those stadiums, they built them right. They continue to be as functional and fan-friendly as always. I’ve always told fans that they keep Dodger Stadium so clean that you can eat a Dodger Dog off the concrete floors and not get sick.
From Joe B: Hal, I was talking recently with some people from Dayton who wondered if the Reds might not be like one of those Indy cars that crashes and doesn’t finish the race. I know that won’t happen, but more likely, what percentage of the roster do you expect to turn over between now and the end of the season?
JOE: Wow, my friend, my Indy race cars to guys the Reds hope race around the bases. That’s quite a leap. I can’t give you a number, but the Reds might save gas if they buy their own bus to shuttle players between Louisville, Pensacola and Cincinnati. I assume you are referring to the Reds sometimes displaying NASCAR stock cars at the stadium, unwrecked by the way, and are referring that the Reds look like the aftermath of an Indy crash. Safety has improved immensely at Indy, but back in the 1960s when I covered the Indy 500 five years in a row they raced in gasoline coffins. I can remember that my idol, Jim Murray, once wrote, “They pick up the victims of Indy 500 crashes with an ash tray. But don’t bring any ash trays to Great American Ball Park.
From Jack in Portsmouth: First time writer to Press Pros and I have two questions: One, someone recently told me that the Dayton Dragons are the Reds’ “Low A” team. So, where’s their “High A” team? And two, if Dayton is their “low” team, didn’t Votto, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto once play for the Dragons? And why did they have them in Dayton?
JACK: The high-A team is in Daytona Beach, Fla., which causes some confusion because Dayton and Daytona are so similar. Yes, Votto, Bailey and Cueto all played in Dayton. All of them signed out of high school and nearly all high school signees begin their career in low-A and then advance to high-A if they succeed, which those guys certainly did. Funny story. The low-A Dragons average 8,000 fans game. The Reds had their high-A team in Sarasota, which drew 500 fans on a good day. I was talking to one player during spring training one year and he said, “When I went from low-A Dayton and all those fans to high-A Sarasota and no fans I thought I was demoted.”
From Ben in Westerville: Just discovered the website and wondered what you think about major league baseball tramping on the Reds as the game’s traditional opening game?
BENJAMIN: Baseball is dripping with tradition, until the green stuff (money) pops its ugly head. As baseball’s first pro team in 1869, the Reds were always honored by getting to play the first game every year. Then along came ESPN and their bags of money. They wanted Opening Day on Sunday and they wanted different teams. They, of course, got what they wanted. They always do, right down to dictating game times. Why couldn’t they still honor the Reds by letting them still play the first game? Answer? Not a big enough TV market. Money talks and a TV-challenged team walks.
From Tom in Springfield: You talk a lot about liking cigars, but I can’t afford good ones. I wondered if you have a favorite “bad” cigar, or something you’d smoke as a last resort? My dad smoked Dutch Masters panatellas for years.
TOM: I started out smoking A&C Grenadiers in college, six for $1. And I stayed with them until Jack McKeon became manager of the Reds and began giving me expensive Padrons. I was hooked. I smoke four or five premium cigars a day, about $50 worth a day. My wife says, ‘Why don’t you just take a $50 bill every day, roll it up, and light it?” And I say, “Because $50 bills don’t taste good.” There is one good thing about smoking cigars. People give them to you all the time and I lead the world in getting cigars for my birthday and Christmas. As for cheap cigar advice, I don’t have any. I guess you have to say I have a snobbish taste.
From Gerry: How much patience with the Reds have for Billy Hamilton this year, and are his days as a Red numbered?
GERRY: You can’t teach speed, especially world-class speed. And Hamilton is still very young and still a defensive wizard. They dearly want him to bat leadoff but until he can locate first base without a GPS they’ll keep at the bottom of the order and continue to try to teach him to bunt and to hit the ball on the ground. He has been a poor student so far and not that he isn’t trying. He just can’t seem to get it. They won’t give up on him soon.
From Tim: I caught a foul ball at a spring training game last month and was surprised to see that the major league baseballs are made in China. That’s outrageous. How come?
TIM: That’s an easy one. M-o-n-e-y. Baseballs would cost too much to be manufactured in the U.S., labor and all. They’ve had balls made in Haiti and Costa Rica, too. Doesn’t sound very patriotic for America’s Pastime, does it? Many players also use gloves and shoes manufactured in Japan. Those are little secrets baseball would prefer Joe Fan didn’t know.