I made my first public presentation related to the Midwest League book I’m working on, and I survived.
Actually, I thought it went quite well — and that’s great especially because I talked at a joint meeting of the Chicago and Milwaukee chapters of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The event was one of many held Saturday by SABR chapters across the country as part of the third annual SABR Day. (There were 34 different SABR Day events held this year, including mine at The Brat Stop in Kenosha, Wis.)
Several dozen SABR members listened to me talk a little about each of the 16 different Midwest League ballparks, and they asked some good questions, too. I met a couple fellow Midwest League baseball fans I already “knew” through Twitter — I always enjoy meeting my tweeps in person — and also talked with a lot of other great baseball fans, too.
Equally exciting was getting to meet and listen to the anecdotes of the event’s first speaker, Bob Lee. The Kenosha native pitched for four seasons in the Milwaukee Braves farm system and later brought Midwest League baseball to Kenosha as owner of the Minnesota Twins’ Class A affiliate. (The Kenosha Twins existed from 1984 to 1992, playing their home games at Simmons Field. After they were sold, the team moved to Fort Wayne, where the franchise remains today as the TinCaps. In 1988, current Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire made his managerial debut for Kenosha, leading the team to a 81-59 record.)
Lee was friendly and full of anecdotes. His catcher in the minor leagues was Milwaukee Brewers radio announcer Bob Uecker, and they remain good friends to this day. It was a pleasure meeting Kenosha’s “Mr. Baseball” and it meant a lot to hear him say I did a great job after I finished my presentation.
After leaving the meeting, I drove to Simmons Field to check out the former home of the Kenosha Twins. It’s not impressive (which came as no surprise since the lackluster facility was the main reason why the franchise left Kenosha) and I couldn’t take any good photos of the field because it’s fenced off and locked for the winter. Here’s my best shot of the place:
As I said, I wasn’t able to get a great photo of the place. And to be clear, the basic facility now lacks some of the features it had back when it hosted Midwest League games. You can read more about that in this history of Simmons Field. Interestingly, Simmons Field also was home to the Kenosha Comets of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (think “A League of Their Own”) from 1948 to 1951.
Of the 70 photos included in my PowerPoint presentation, this is the one that got the most reaction from my audience:
I included this shot to show people the size of the scoreboard at Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field, and also because I just love the lighting in the photo. It is one of hundreds of photos from my Midwest League journey that I didn’t use on this blog last year, and I look forward to sharing more of them with people through my book and future presentations.