Baseball Classifieds: Your Memories Wanted

As I work on the TinCaps media guide in preparation for the upcoming season (sneak peek here: Season in Review Page), one of the pages that requires updating is the “Notable Alumni” page that features some of the biggest names to have ever worn either a Wizards or TinCaps uniform. In some cases a player has worn both uniforms. While many days during the season the media guide sits and collects dust, preserving the records and the history of a franchise is a vital part of ensuring that no season and no player goes forgotten. Simply reading the media guide can be a boring task because numbers and names from 20 years can easily blend into one another, but finding the stories behind individual players is what can turn an ordinary experience into one that takes you back in time.

There are the great players in Fort Wayne’s franchise history who we recall for their on-field talents (LaTroy Hawkins, Mat Latos, AJ Pierzynski, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, David Freese), I’d like to know who you think are some of the more memorable players that have passed through this city. If a player sticks out in your mind, was it because of what he did on the field or off the field?

Here are some responses from folks that I got via Twitter:

Former voice of the South Bend Silver Hawks, Owen Serey:

For reference, here is South Bend's Coveleski Stadium.

For reference, here is South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium.

Owen’s own blog from that 2009 season shows that it was June 8, 2009, when Carroll hit that home run. Unsurprisingly, in that championship season for Fort Wayne, Brad Brach picked up the save.

Along with a few other co-workers, I had dinner on Friday night with some friends who were a host family to a Wizards player back in the late 90’s. This husband and wife with whom we ate dinner really enjoyed having this player stay with them, and had fun learning about him throughout the season.

If you’re not familiar with how Minor League Baseball works, each team has a clubhouse attendant who is responsible for laying out the pre and post-game meals, and helping the players with whatever they might need during the day. The attendant is also responsible for washing all of the team’s uniforms each night.

So a few weeks into the season the player comes home one night and realizes that his supply of clean, personal clothing is dwindling. He approaches his host mother and asks, “When are you going to do my laundry?” Weeeelllllll, that’s not exactly how it works with your host family. They will feed you, put a roof over your head, and support you at your games, but that relationship only stretches so far. The player eventually had to do his own laundry, and now years later the story lives on as a funny anecdote that is a snippet of a great summer experience for one Fort Wayne family.

Anecdotes like that are really what make players stay in our minds year after year.

Over the summer there was a great story on Sound Off With The TinCaps that featured the host families that support the players during their time in Fort Wayne. Here are some excerpts from those families:

“Our favorite part is watching them live out their dream.”  – Cindy Brown

“As a mother, I recognize how young some of these guys are. They’re away from home—most of them are from out of state or out of the country. I think I wanted to get involved with it so that they could have family here…They’ve got family looking out for them.” -Kim Zimmer

“I think the most rewarding thing is to see the guys move on and move up. We’ve had players who are now coaching to players who have played in the major leagues. It’s fantastic to see them progess and do their job and do it well and see them live their dream.” – Andrea Hines

Have there been any players that you’ve encountered in Fort Wayne, whether their play on the field was distinguishable or not, that left an impression with you? Here’s what some long-time members of the TinCaps front office have to say:

Abby Naas, Assistant Director of Marketing-Community Relations

“2009-Daniel Roberston. He did just about every single appearance that we had that year.  Also, if I struggled trying to find someone to do an appearance, he would sign himself up and get the rest of the team on board for it.  He was amazing.

2010-Hayden Beard.  Pretty much the same reasons.  He had a great sense of humor and was such a delight to bring around the community.”

Hayden Beard

Hayden Beard

Michael Limmer, Vice President of Marketing

“Dirk Hayhurst (’04) made an impression on me. Seemed like just a normal guy, without all of the normal bravado of a baseball player, figuring out how his tremendous skill in baseball worked into his definition of self and where it would take him in the future.
 
Another player that stood out to me was Josh Barfield (’02). Before the days of iPad and smart phones, Josh would come into the Memorial Stadium offices to use one of our computers, check email and the internet. You’d think that as a son of former Major Leaguer, Jesse Barfield, that he would have a chip on his shoulder or at the very least a defensive wall up. Found it not to be the case. 
Josh Barfield

Josh Barfield

Jake Peavy (’00) was a real class act. When he got called up during the season he personally came through the office and thanked everyone for their support and what they did to make the players’ lives easier. Probably one of the few guys that I’ve ever seen do that.”
Jake Peavy pitches for the Wizards in 2000.

Jake Peavy pitches for the Wizards in 2000.

“I did have an appearance in 2008 when we were still the Wizards at a Day Care and current big-leaguer Brandon Gomes came with and was extremely impressive in dealing with the kids and interacting.  He read a story and got right down on the floor and starting playing and talking with all of the kids.  I thought it was awesome.”

Whether you’ve hosted players, interacted with them or just watched from afar, please share your favorite memories of players who have come through Fort Wayne. Leave a comment below, tweet me (@MikeCouzens) or send me an email (Couzens@TinCaps.com) and I’ll use your feedback in an upcoming blog post.

Thanks for reading. Remember–just 78 days until Opening Day at Parkview Field!

MCsig

2 Comments

Travis Whitmore should be recognized- he did great all season for the Tincaps. We really enjoyed being his host family- he’s a great guy who comes from a fantastic family. We are thankful to be a part of his journey while he is living his dream.

Cody Hebner doing the “dougie” at multiple games! My son loves that kid! Also Daniel Cropper came in and had a great season. He made our summer the best ever. He always left tickets for my son to attend all the home games.

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