Sunday, November 4, 2012

Another Day, Another Post

The Montgomery Biscuits had another day to plan their 2013 campaign, but that didnt stop me from being annoyed with how the 2012 season ended.

Frankly put, the team quit.
They quit on the fans, on the season, on the playoffs and on themselves.

Doggy Daddy waves the white flag

It was flat out embarrassing to watch as they rolled over and let a lousy Mobile BayBears team walk over them. They walked over the Biscuits so badly that it gave them the momentum to win the championship. I say walked over us, but that implies our guys showed up, which they did not.

There are times I am shamed by what happens at the park, usually its hearing about how expensive our beer or concessions are, how our announcer doesnt sound southern, our funny team name etc. But this September it was what was between the lines. It was really sickening, and made me like our team less to see. Those players treated us like they were tires, owed a break. I even started to boo them, which doesnt usually happen.

BOOOOO!!! YOU STINK!

Its funny, because you hear that and worse at every other ballpark in the country. But at our park, very rarely do you hear anything but encouragement. In fact, this year at the playoff games, when we had a man on first and the opposing pitcher chased him back with a throw over, I would boo him. People were shocked!

We are so polite here, I supposed its because, as Hank Aaron would have us believe, we were the worst park in the nation for hearing insults from the fans. Now we are teddy bears, warm and fuzzy and full of "get em next time" even to the visiting team!

Heckle no Jeckle

Very sparse is the heckle at Riverwalk, but we do have some good ones.

A few years back I heard one that made me chuckle, not so much on the originality factor but the delivery was priceless.
He's a witty wisecracker


This particular day the visiting shortstop booted a ball, as infielders do. A fan behind the netting picked up on the guys number and used it in a very traditional manner, shouting "One-three aint got no glove!!" at the top of his lungs.

Then, from down the third base line, a brash female voice with a very southern drawl echoed the heckle in a high pitch. If you have ever heard Flip Wilsons character Geraldine, then you heard the voice that cried out "One three aint got no glove!!"

 And the crowd laughed out loud, it was timed perfectly, delivered just right and hit the mark. The shortstop made three more errors that night, each time hearing the call-and-return heckle.

I thought it ended there, but the following day during batting practice the shortstop watched a ball roll past him that he couldn't have caught with a fishing net on a ten foot pole when his teammates barraged him with the high pitched "One three aint got no glove!"
The DEVIL made me do it

Now thats an effective heckle, everyone enjoyed it!


GIANTS WIN PENNANT IN TWO LEAGUES

For the first time in history the Giants won their respective championships in both USA and Japan.
Manager Hara tossed in the air 11 times to celebrate victory
Nobodys tossing Bochy 


Other teams in Japan have already begun fall training camps, with players getting about a thousand swings a day. Thats an actual number not just an exaggeration! To put that in perspective, Pete Rose tells how his dad was rough on him growing up and every night before bed made Pete work on his switch hitting by taking a hundred swings from each side of the plate.

I really enjoyed my first season watching Japanese baseball, and will look forward to next year when I can see a season from start to finish. I kinda came in on the second half of this one.



MONTGOMERY BASEBALL HISTORY

Again I want to visit the history of our cities team, and I hope to learn more about it as the blog moves forward. We have had some amazing players come through both for and against us, and I think most casual fans dont realize how much history Montgomery has.

We are such a football town, even being the site of the first Iron Bowl, but even small details like where the teams played are being forgotten. Back before Riverwalk we had Paterson Field, obviously it housed the Rebels teams from 1950 until the move in 1981.
Paterson Field home of the Rebels with a view of Oakview Cemetery
Before Paterson teams played at Crampton Bowl, bowls being common baseball grounds in the era before concrete companies held the power over building for sports teams. At the time home plate was located near Madison ave and faced southeast. Crampton Bowl was built on the area the city had been using as a landfill from its inception until sometime after 1900.

Crampton Bowl during a baseball game 1930's era


This was the home of the Montgomery baseball team as far back as the teens or maybe earlier, from what I can tell. Previous to that teams played at a field that is now the Capitol Heights Jr High School football field. This is where the team was located for players who graced the t-209 topps southern league set of 1909. This is where the team played that was known as the Climbers, as the hill in the outfield can still be seen from Federal Drive, the road passing beyond the outfield.

I dont know where the Negro league team played.  I am going to venture a guess that it wasnt at the bowl. Our Negro League teams need more investigation, as I can find precious little on them. Not sure why there isnt more, but as I come across it I will post it here.

So basically, our last three ballparks have been built at a prison camp or the dump.


RIVERWALK STADIUM CIVIL WAR ERA PRISON

The historic marker in front of the box office tells of the prison camp at the site. It says

"Confederate Military Prison

Near this site, from mid April to December 1862, a Confederate military prison held, under destitute conditions, 700 Union soldiers, most captured at Shiloh. They were imprisoned in a foul, vermin-abounding cotton depot, 200 feet long and 40 feet wide, without blankets and only the hard earth or wood planks as a bed. The cotton shed was situated between Tallapoosa Street and the Alabama River. Of the 700 Union prisoners, nearly 198 died in captivity. The survivors were moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in December 1862."
Site of the prison with historic marker
   So from what I have read, there is a little more to the story. We were sent between seven or eight hundred soldiers, the officers were given quarters with citizens in town who could watch them in the manner to which they were accustomed. You know, even Yankee officers are civilized, right?

The enlisted men, who made up the majority of the captives, were a bit of a burden on the city who really seemed to not know what to do with them. A hasty decision to house them in a warehouse near the river was made with the expectation that the Confederate congress would soon move them to a place more suited to keeping of prisoners. However the Confederate Congress was not so quick to move the prisoners, who were basically kept waiting.

Reports say that of the nearly 200 dead, many died before the prisoners interred were able to dig their own well inside, providing fresh water. Also, a layer of clay gave the inmates a material to make pipes, cups and bowls which they traded and sold to the guards and passersby.

The prisoners were used for labor once they stopped dying in groups, and I read one account of a trigger happy guard shooting a prisoner who refused to step back into line on the streets of the city, causing an uproar among the citizens.

SILVER LINING - ITS GOOD FOR THE LOCAL ECONOMY

A morbid side note, the prisoners died with such rapidity that the city was forced to hire its first full time cemetery keeper. They just never knew when they would need a fresh grave or three, so he was instructed to hire a crew of four men who would add paths trees and grass to Oakwood Cemetery. Nine months, two hundred deaths means about one every third day assuming they dont go more than one at a time.

Help Wanted - people skills not required


Also we had to find a place for the deceased, who being military dead were given their own section in a respectful corner. Until one day in 1868 when a detachment arrived from Marietta to remove the dead men to be buried in a Union cemetery elsewhere, much to the surprise of the new Undertaker and his crew! A hasty letter was written while the dead men were disinterred to a more suitable location among their comrades. Eventually the Keeper was fed up with this and other unusual demands of the duties and resigned his post.

BUT WAIT THERES MORE TO THE STORY OF THE PRISONERS

Those hardy prisoners taken on the field at Shiloh in 1862, who survived being shut in a cotton warehouse all summer and into the cold of December, were eventually moved. They were taken to a prison camp in Tuscaloosa where they were released three years later, at the end of the war and given transportation back to the north via the main mode of transport at the time, riverboat.

The Riverboat Sultana was the vehicle to these mens freedom and they jammed the decks to the brim, exceeding the 375 capacity by more than a little bit. Around three thousand were aboard as Sultana steamed north toward Memphis from Vicksburg along the Mississippi River. Most aboard were freed prisoners from Cahawba and Andersonville prison camp who had begged, borrowed or stolen the five dollars fee for military troop transport on the ship which was a veteran of the New Orleans to StLouis trip.
USS Sultana - not the Love Boat

Around two am, just ten miles from Memphis, a badly repaired boiler gave way in a violent explosion, tearing the ship apart and killing or injuring scores. Official totals list the injuries at around 700 and the deaths in the neighborhood of 1500 from the blast. It was the worst maritime disaster in American history, but because it happened in the few days between the end of the war and the assassination of Lincoln it didnt even make the front page of most papers.

OUT OF TOWN SCOREBOARD

Caracas wins again, Henry Wrigley with three hits - no homer tho! No runs no RBI.
Daniel Mayora also had three hits, the former Biscuit 3b.
I got the email notice late that they were live broadcasting the video feed, so I didnt get to watch this game until the late innings. Despite a bad call the Leones managed to push across a couple late runs and even up their record at ten wins and ten losses.

Wrigley as a Biscuit




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