The theme this year was “Catch 22” and T-shirts, luggage tags, program front and a patch carried out that theme.
With 191 amateur baseball teams from all over the county plus Germany, Russia and the Dominican Republic, we kept busy.
And the main reason things run so smoothly, as least in my mind, is the planning and the experience of the staff in dealing with 3,000 plus folks. And behind it all is former BJ sports editor Giffen.
|Tom Moore with Tom Giffen|
Don't know if you realize what is involved in such an endeavor year after year—this is the 22nd year the series has taken place.
The teams are placed in divisions according to age....28 to 80. Yes, I said 80. Just because you have a few years on you doesn't always mean a rocking chair by the fire.
Tom starts the planning even before the present event is over. And over the year the series is fleshed out....with certified umpires, series crew and the fields....fields that are at major league standards since we use the spring training facilities of the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins.
As one player who had a few years on him told me; “I got into the outfield in Hammon Stadium with the scoreboard, the announcer and a few people in the stands and I felt like I was 18 again!”
And it's that attitude that keeps these players coming back year after year.
When the time draws near, an 18-wheeler takes Tom's office from Akron on Akron-Peninsula Road to Ft. Myers, along with all kinds of baseball paraphernalia for the shop.
The program for that year is being printed at that time, with information on the previous year, the rules, etc plus stories that I've written from telephone interviews of players all over the county and sometimes a foreign interview or two.
Once in Florida, the Series staff get their initial assignments for checking in managers and players and for concession stands, the store, and giving out “goodie bags” ---a cup, a pen, a luggage tag and lots of discount coupons from Ft. Myers businesses.
(A story this year in the local paper pointed out that the Series brings in about 9 million dollars to the local economy.)
Tents are put up for signins and for bat salesmen that come in, along with a massage table by a Ft. Myers masseur.
Then name cards are printed for the player (remember that's over 3,000) and these cards the players must carrying with them. If somebody thinks a player is too young for the division, the card lists his birthday. Also, letters on the card indicate the gifts they gets...a t-shirt, a program, a goodie bag, a free beer and dinner at the Saturday welcome party.
There are rules--most follow major league baseball--but there are exceptions….for example, players can share positions. One fellow I wrote about had a goal of 300.…not a hitting average, but weight. He goes to bat and if he makes it to first base, his shared pardner runs for him. (By the way, saw him again this year…he’s still over 300, but he’s trying.
If trouble breaks out, the player responsible is thrown out of the game and has to see Tom to remain in the tournament. a repeat means he goes home.
I had one team tell me the reason they keep coming back to the Series is Tom sets the rules and he won’t break them for anybody.
And that man has a remarkable memory. He can remember players from years ago, and is always ready to shake hands and greet them.
Each team plays four games Sunday through Tuesday. Then they’re seeded according to their record and placed in quad A, triple A, etc.
Win your division and you get a medal and a championship hat.
Tom’s idea of relaxing at the Series is to umpire games…and this despite his ailments---lukemia (in remission) hips replaced and this year a stent for a heart problem.
Tom now has a foundation set up with moneys going to lukemia research.
And two Saturdays during the Series, there are “Challenger Games” in the stadium for mentally challenged kids. They get to bat, pitch and run the bases with the help of some of the ball players. Of
|Tom Moore with "Oil Can"|
Tom and wife Ellen’s second son, Mac, takes care of cyberspace problems--from Houston, Tex. where he lives with his wife and new daughter.
Of course there are parties for umpires, players and the staff. And if it doesn’t rain on Wednesdays, we get a day off.
In between writing stories for “the Inside Pitch” I do other chores, this time giving out the free T-shirts. I also try to interpert the game highlights that managers turn in to be published in the Pitch.
You who have run into my handwriting know how bad it is.
Some of the highlights are worse. Of course I have a hard copy of all players’ names and can double check. After all, if a player has an outstanding game, you want to make sure his name is right in print.
One of the best highlights I got this year was down to two words:
A highlight of my writing this year was an interview with former Boston Red Sox pitcher “Oil Can” Boyd.
I went to his field a bit early and he was pitching. And the way he acted, I figured this was not going to be a plesant interview. Turned out off the field he was the nicest guy you’d ever want to know.