2013 Season

Edition No. 14

May 31, 2013






As we wait breathlessly for Mouse’s guest edition of The Mousetrap, just a few thoughts from the Old Skipper to help make your upcoming weekend just that much more enjoyable. 




On Tuesday I traveled to South Central Virginia (Martinsville) by way of Greensboro, North Carolina, for a deposition of a good old boy neurosurgeon.  While in the neighborhood, I popped over to Winston-Salem and took in a high A game at BB&T Park, home of the Winston-Salem Dash.  The Dash are the Advanced Class-A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox and Winston-Salem is a charter member of the Carolina League, which is an eight-team league that is spread throughout five states (Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia).   BB&T stands for Branch Banking & Trust, which had the naming rights to the field.




BB&T is a beautiful little gem of a ballpark which opened in 2010.  In terms of size and intimacy, it reminds me a bit of Werner Park.  I learned from a historical marker in the ballpark that Earl Weaver led the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals to a best-ever league record (106-47) and a Carolina League championship before being promoted to Omaha (then in the Western League) the following season; and that Wade Boggs played for a short time for a Winston-Salem farm team in 1977 when he was but a kid of 19 years old, recording a .332 batting average before being promoted to Double A Bristol, CT.  The ballpark has many historical signs providing fascinating facts about the heritage of the team and the league, and between the history and the sheer architectural beauty, I found BB&T to be a most agreeable venue to take in a doubleheader between the Dash and the Frederick Keys. 




The first game was a laugher, with the hometown Dash thumping the Orioles farm club by the score of 17 to 5.  The first pitcher for the Keys, a rangy lefty by the name of Tim Berry, could not get out of the second inning.  Although he entered the game with a 2-2 pitching record and a decent ERA, he left with a stinging loss and a significantly elevated earned run average.  The best part of watching him pitch was seeing him plunk the last batter he faced after giving up a home run to the preceding batter, which was the 8th of 9 runs that he would give up.  I guess he taught that guy a lesson. 


The only recognizable name on either roster was a guy named John Ruettiger, the nephew of “Rudy” of Notre Dame football fame.  Like his uncle, nephew Ruettiger is also a shrimp, batted 9th for the Keys, and doubtless has very long odds of ever making it to the Major Leagues. 


I sat in a crowd of about four or 500 people on a spectacular Tuesday evening, convinced that there was no better place in the universe to be right at that moment than sitting at BB&T Park and sipping on a cold brew while munching on savory salted peanuts.  It could only have been better with the good company of Joe or Will or any one of you fellas. 


I stayed for part of the nightcap, which resulted in a 1-0 win for the Dash, a polar extreme to the scoring explosion in the first contest.  I doubt that I will ever make it back to BB&T Park, but for that one memorable night, it was most definitely worth the 40-minute drive down I-40. 




The Mount Michael Knights won their first home Legion game last Saturday night by the score of 8-0 over the Millard Sox Gold.  I had the great privilege of announcing a game in which the Ernst boys combined for a one-hit shutout, with Will taking the bump for the start and pitching 5-2/3 innings of one-hit ball, and Joe coming in from right field to relieve, gassing out 4 of the 5 hitters he faced.  I have to say, it was a pretty good moment when I was able to announce over the PA system, “And coming in from right field to relieve Ernst is . . . ERNST.”  I don’t know if the crowd could hear the buttons popping off of my shirt up in the broadcast booth, but I wouldn’t be surprised. 


Here is the upcoming home schedule for the Knights Senior Legion team:


We 06/05/13


8:00 p.m.

We 06/12/13


8:00 p.m.

Tu 06/18/13


8:00 p.m.

We 06/19/13


8:00 p.m.

Sa 06/22/13


5:30 p.m.

8:00 p.m.

Tu 06/25/13


8:00 p.m.

Sa 07/06/13


1:00 p.m.

Sa 07/06/13

South Sioux City

6:00 p.m.


Hope you can make it out for one of the games. 


BOOK REPORT:  “Wherever I Wind Up,” by R.A. Dickey


I finished reading R.A. Dickey’s highly publicized book, co-authored with Wayne Coffey, entitled “Wherever I Wind Up.”  It is a very good read, with lots of interesting information about this journeyman pitcher whose life was turned around by the knuckleball and God, although not necessarily in that order.  He is clearly a very faith-filled man, and the book is littered with prayers to and praise for the Almighty.  (Having said that, I have a mental image of Itchie racing in his car at breakneck speed to the nearest book store to pick up his copy of the book.  Just saying.) 


The three most interesting things that I enjoyed about the book were:  (1) Learning that Dickey was actually a flame-throwing fastball pitcher as a youth and in college, pitching the University of Tennessee (with the help of Todd Helton) into the College World Series in Omaha in 1995, and throwing two wins for the U.S. Olympic bronze medalist team in Atlanta in 1996; (2) learning that it was a photograph of Dickey on the cover of Baseball America from that year that led someone in the Rangers organization to recommend an MRI of Dickey’s throwing arm, because of the odd way that he was holding his arm in the picture—leading to the discovery of a lack of an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in that arm and the retraction of his $800+k signing bonus by the Rangers; and (3) discovering that Dickey tried to swim across the Missouri River on June 9, 2007, when he was in Omaha with the Nashville Sounds for a game against the Royals and staying at Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, adjacent to the river. 






As to the river tale, as the story goes, Dickey was staring out of his room on one of the upper floors of the casino, admiring the majesty of the great Missouri River.  He was reminded of instances in his youth when he swam across rivers back home in Tennessee, and decided he wanted to challenge the Missouri. 


The next morning, Dickey walked into the Missouri River on the Iowa side, wearing only a pair of shorts and having taped a pair of his flip-flops to his feet, with a handful of teammates on the shore to watch.  As he made his way out into the churning Missouri, he realized quickly that he had underestimated its strength, and struggled to make progress toward the Nebraska shore.  Before long, he realized that he was not going to be able to make it, and turned around and began heading back toward the Council Bluffs side, but soon realized he was about a quarter mile south of the point of his embarkation.  As he fought the river, the muscles in his arms and shoulders filled with lactic acid and became practically frozen, reducing him to the dog paddle to stay alive.  As he was almost ready to give up the ghost, he neared the Iowa shore and the hand of a teammate—Grant Balfour—reached out from the heavens and helped pull him out of the water.  He survived the swim, and, as he tells it in his book, his life was turned around from that moment on because he realized that he was not the one in control, and he gave his life over to his Maker.  He went from having a 2-5 pitching record at that point and a mastodonic ERA to winning the AAA Pitcher of the Year Award, and the rest is history. 


When I saw that Grant Balfour was the teammate who pulled Dickey out, I looked back at my own records and discovered that it was the evening prior to this heroic rescue that Balfour had uncorked a wild pitch from the Nashville bullpen at Rosenblatt and struck a fan named Schrader in the eye, leading to a lawsuit being filed by him against the Omaha Royals and my subsequent taking of the deposition of Mr. Balfour at spring training in Florida in 2009.  A pretty eventful two days for the Aussie Balfour, who is now the closer for the Oakland Athletics. 





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Okay, enough food for thought for all of you.  Have a great weekend, and let’s all look forward to The Mousetrap and the words and wisdom of Brother Mouse. 










Our 510th edition