As I depart Oakland for my next baseball adventure, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite pictures, starting with my favorite (if anyone out there can explain, please let me know):
So, how many games have you been to this season? Generally, by this time, I’ve been to at least a few. So far, however, its only been one. Of course, that didn’t stop me from simultaneously watching three on TV on Saturday. But, still. I feel like I need to improve my game.
With so much going on last week with Jackie Robinson Day, I never had time to share my thoughts on my first baseball adventure of the season – the Norfolk Tides at the Charlotte Knights. I’ll be posting more on that when I have time to think a little more sociologically about it. So watch this space!
This week I have plans to see games in California and New Hampshire. Comparing games from one community to another on different sides of the country is right up the alley for this Baseball Sociologist. So, stay tuned for updates on the Travels of the Baseball Sociologist!
In the meantime – feel free to share your baseball adventures so far this season in the comments section below!
Yesterday, I wrote of my adventures looking for remnants of the Huntsville Stars. I wondered why the team left town after 30 years? Not enough of a fan base? A bad location for the stadium? A quick bit of research turned up few clues, except an interesting article from September 2015 posted on the WHNT-19 website. In the article, the author lamented the loss of the team, which had just won the league championship as the Biloxi Shuckers against the Chattanooga Lookouts, both of which were enjoying new ballparks:
Joe W. Davis Stadium is all full of empty. It’s home to old memories, dust and, probably, the family of skunks that long-ago inspired the Huntsville Stars’ costumed mascot. And what has happened stinks.
Baseball was a rousing success in Huntsville during its three decades. Then it became an abysmal failure. The blame? Lousy, apathetic ownership. An out-dated, bad stadium. An area notoriously fickle when it comes to spectator sports. It’d take a documentary, not a commentary, to dive into all the reasons.
I don’t know what baseball was like in Huntsville, but I’m sure it was great. After all, it was baseball. Strangely, I’d always wanted to attend a Huntsville Stars game – ever since I was doing research on the minors in the 1990s and learned of it. How cool that it was named in honor of the city’s space flight heritage (Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and home to the famed Space Camp). It made me sad to see the stadium abandoned. In fact, even their website was abandoned – when you Google “Huntsville Stars,” the first website on the list is “The Official Site of The Huntsville Stars” – frozen in time from 2014. It’s just a little sad. And creepy.
As I mentioned yesterday, the team won the league championship title in three separate years, and was division champs 8 times. Here are just a few players who played in Huntsville: J.J. Hardy, Mike Bordick, Nelson Cruz, Tony Gwynn, Jr., Jose Canseco, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, and Jonathan Lucroy.
I want to know more about this team and this place – and not just because a bunch of Orioles once played here. I’ll ask around while I’m in town. Someday, I’ll get around to doing more research on baseball in Alabama, especially in Huntsville.
There’s nothing sadder than an abandoned ballpark. Whenever I visit a new city, the first thing I do is check out its baseball scene – past and present. Unfortunately, I arrived in Huntsville, AL, three years too late to see the Huntsville Stars.
The Stars were a Southern League (AA) team from 1985 to 2014, affiliated first with the Oakland A’s (1985 to 1998), then with the Milwaukee Brewers. They won the league championship in 1985, 1994, and 2001, and division titles in five additional years. Unfortunately for Huntsville, the team moved to Biloxi, MS, after the 2014 season. They are currently known as the Biloxi Shuckers.
The first thing I did once I arrived in Huntsville was type in “Huntsville Stars” in Google. Despite telling me they were “permanently closed,” Google still gave me directions to Joe W. Davis Stadium. I missed my turn and ended up in the parking lot of a movie theater, but that’s when I noticed a large, hulking structure through the fence. It looked eerily abandoned. I stopped the car and took a closer look. It was a concrete building – shaped vaguely like a baseball stadium. I could almost make out the seating area and the stadium lights. That had to be it!
I turned around, found the correct road, and drove slowly toward the stadium. It was like something out of the past. Even though the stadium has only been closed for two seasons, it looked old and abandoned. Chain link fence surrounded it, though I could still see the back of the scoreboard in the outfield – and two large signs in the shape of a star on either side of it. I’d definitely reached my destination.
I circled the stadium, taking it all in. Several “No Trespassing” signs were posted along the chain link fence. The box office was sadly silent. I turned the corner and caught a glimpse of the field. I parked and walked closer, feeling as if I were disturbing a sacred resting place. As I neared the fence, I could see the outfield scoreboard again. Directly in front of me on the concourse was a sign that said “Bat Boys.” I got back into the car and drove around to the other side of the outfield, parked again, and walked as close as I dared to the dear, departed stadium. From this vantage point I could see more of the field and the seating area.
Before ghosts appeared on the field à la “Field of Dreams,” I scampered back to the safety of my rental car. I may have been too late for the Huntsville Stars, yet, I felt like they were somehow still there.
Yesterday, MLB.com shared this letter from Don Mattingly to the Miami Marlins. I was hoping it would be a little more loving and inspirational, but, you know, not bad for a baseball guy…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This picture was so pretty, I just needed to share it! Who’s ready for Spring (Training)?
As a Baseball Sociologist, I am always fascinated by the intersection of sport and politics. Yesterday I posted about the Chicago Cubs’ visit to the White House earlier this week. In honor of President Barack Obama’s last full day in office, I thought I’d share this video from Yahoo! Sports:
Not your average baseball fan, not your average sociologist
Hagamos del béisbol un deporte más universal.
Official Affiliate / Unofficial Opinions
An exploration of the National Pastime
A celebration of the past and future of Oakland A's baseball.... with a Rock N Roll/East Bay rebellious spirit and a sense of humor.
MLB, Toronto Blue Jays, Sports News, And Much More!
Deux Montréalais qui vont visiter chaque terrain de la ligue majeure de baseball pour promouvoir le retour d'une équipe de baseball à Montréal Two montrealers visiting all the mlb ballparks to promote the return of an mlb franchise in Montreal
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