Monday, January 3, 2011

A baseball related item from my youth

Rob Neyer linked to an article today where a fellow cited what he considered the best in-stadium giveaway ever. Seeing that made me think about one of the few possessions of mine that I still retain (and use) from my youth.

Back in 1987, a buddy of mine and I would frequent a used book store. This book store was pretty amazing but had one big problem. It's paperback fiction section, which was vast, was in no order whatsoever. We went to the owner and told him we would alphabetize it for him in exchange for store credit. It took an entire weekend but we did it. One of the books I acquired with my credit was my second baseball book: Bill James Presents the Great American Baseball Stat Book.

Everyone knows who Bill James is now but back then, his Abstracts had just recently begun being published by Ballantine. This Stat Book was put out by an organization called Project Scoresheet. They, in an effort to break the monopoly the Elias Sports Bureau had on baseball statistics, had developed a network of volunteer scorers to score ballgames, accumulate the data, and release it in this book. I thought this was cool and joined the Project.

The following summer, a handful of scorers from the Philadelphia area got together for a baseball game. We knew one another from newsletters and phone calls but had not met in person (at least I had not met them). One of the fellows, Pete DeCoursey, was an extremely nice fellow, one of the nicest people I've ever known, really. He was also a sight to behold. As you can see from his Wikipedia page, Pete has a look all his own. In addition, he is about 9 feet, 13 inches tall. So we're at this game scoring it, having fun, and Pete has to go. He gives me his clipboard and tells me to keep it. Here it is:

I still use it to this day. This evening, as a matter of fact, I was writing belated holiday cards on it. It has been to classes, ballgames, stream evaluations, meetings. I have gotten a lot of use out of it.

In addition, the clipboard protected me. I was scoring a baseball game in college from the dugout. A batter lined a ball into the dugout and I got the clipboard up in time to protect me. You can see the crack in the photo where the ball hit.

Being as Pete gave it to me in-stadium, I'll consider it my best in-stadium giveaway ever. Thanks, Pete.

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