Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Strat-O-Matic Baseball - A Love Story

     


    I have always been a baseball fanatic. For Christmas in 1982, I asked for a subscription to Baseball Digest. It was a monthly baseball magazine, but it was the size of the old TV Guides. There would always be these weird ads and coupons for some baseball gear, but I was intrigued by the one by Strat-O-Matic (SoM). SoM is a card and dice-based game that can be played alone or with a group of friends. Think Dungeons & Dragons for the baseball nerd.

    Every cent that I had saved was dedicated to clipping the SoM ad and sending off for my own set. When I realized I did not have enough money, I set up a "stand" to sell some baseball cards on the corner of Summerdale and Langdon Streets near my house. I eventually started selling Kool-Aid as well, since I was of the entrepreneurial spirit and realized that I could get more money with the drinks and people perused the cards longer when they had a refreshment. It was more of a pop-up shop because as soon as I had enough money for SoM I closed up shop and sent off my money. It is funny to think of it now that I actually sent exact change via the mail!

    The day my SoM came in, I first read the rule book cover to cover before rolling a single die. I know that isn't normal but I need to know everything about what to do before I do it. From the first roll of the die, it was an INSTANT love affair. The game came with the full set of 1982 cards plus a few bonus teams (1927 Yankees and 1955 Dodgers). I would memorize names and stats, mix and match teams from different eras to play each other (the '27 Yanks usually thumped the '82 Phils, even with Lefty on the mound). 

    When I tell you that I took and played SoM everywhere, I really mean it. School, vacation, parties, etc. All I needed were 3 die, a set of SoM cards, a notebook, a pencil, 1-20 chance cards, and my imagination. I loved creating my own scorecard and then aggregating the stats by hand. Using pencil and paper to do long division to figure out the ERA or Batting Average of the players. I became somewhat of a math whiz because I eventually could do some of those calculations in my head at the tender age of 8 or so. 

    Eventually, life got in the way and SoM took a backseat to being a college student, then a father, then a graduate student, etc. However, in March of 2020, due to the pandemic and lockdown, I fell in love all over again with SoM as an adult. Only now, I had adult money to buy different sets of cards, dice stadiums (Connie Mach replica scoreboard and stadium pictured above), and my love for the game grew even stronger. I was able to play dream match-ups with the '80 Phillies versus the '08 Phillies and settle who was best. I then played the entire 1964 Phillies season to see if I could erase the collapse. I "traded" for Robin Roberts on the 1964 team, but kept the entire rest of the team intact, including the actual starting lineup for each game. The '64 Phillies won the NL by 4 games under my watch. The Phils went on to beat the White Sox in the 1964 Series in 6 games.

    In May of 2020 I purchased the SoM computer game. It is the same "engine" and logic that the card game uses, but the computer aggregates the stats for you. I was in heaven with that too. The PC game lacks almost all bells and whistles of graphics and UI experience, but it can allow you to play a game in about 20 minutes. The Cards and Dice game usually takes 40-60 minutes to play on average. 

    I also virtually some really awesome people, Don P. and Victor C., along the way that shared in my passion for baseball and SoM. So even when the Phillies continue to disappoint and Fall fades into Winter, I keep my baseball passion and math skills sharp with Strat-O-Matic til Spring.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Hope is the Opiate of Fools


     

    Hope is the opiate of fools. All season we hoped that the Phillies would make the playoffs, but we never believed. We all hoped the bullpen would be better because we did not think it could be worse. We hoped that the extended winning streaks would portend a contending team. The only thing the Phils contended with in 2021 was a .500 record. 

    I perused the MLB team stats and not surprisingly, the Phillies did not lead the league in ANY positive statistic. They were mostly mired in the lower middle in everything. We all want to point the finger at the bullpen and Blown Saves, but guess what? The Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, Astros, Red Sox, Braves and Yankees bullpens all blew 25+ Saves, yet they are in the playoffs. 

    The lack of consistent and clutch hitting coupled with EVERY SINGLE regular position player's (minus JT) Defensive WAR was a negative number. Cutch was historically bad and there is no way he can play everyday anymore. He was just THAT BAD! Didi was another guy who is a defensive liability. If he can't hit and can't field, he can't play. The defense almost never did any favors for the team.

    The bullpen was not good again, but if you at the numbers, they were far from historically bad. They walk too many people and do not strike out enough people. When you let the ball in play versus a bad defense, bad things happen. It isn't just that they have errors, but they do not have the range to get to the balls that other players do at their positions.

    In my opinion, the focus has to be on putting a defense out there that is capable. JT, Bryce, and Jean are the only "locks". They perform decent on defense and have the capacity to be superb on offense. Hoskins has good enough offensive upside to cover up for him being a butcher in the field. Didi and Cutch are both under contract, but should be a bench bats only. Bohm should not be on the roster and should be packaged in a trade if possible. Odubel has been serviceable but still makes so many dumb plays at the plate and in the field that he just does not seem to learn from. He doesn't hit for power enough to move him to LF either. 

    I hope that the front office makes wholesale changes to the defense and bullpen. I have not seen enough evidence of that to be a believer, yet. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Blow up the Phils Minor League System

     


    As the great Pop Fisher, fictional manager of the Knights in The Natural said " I should have been a farmer".  This Jekyll and Hyde Phillies team is infuriating. They go on a winning streak only to follow it up with a losing streak. They supposedly have the easiest schedule in MLB, yet they are 4-7 in September. The Phillies have actually been in 1st place for 24 games this season. How, I'll never understand, other than the NL East is complete horseshit. It feels like the team should be 10 games out. They just may by the time the season ends.

    The only real bright spots have been Wheeler and Harper. If the Phillies do not eke into the playoffs, Harper will not get the MVP. That is really his only chance and I think Tatis may already have the award in his pocket regardless of what the Phils or Bryce does...unless the Padres miss the playoffs and Phils get in. Fans tend to forget that Harper is ONLY 28 years old. He is entering his prime and his 2021 output should continue for the next few years. The issue is, does it really matter if the Phillies cannot put guys in the lineup to win.

    JT Realmuto is either playing hurt (and not really telling anyone) or he pulled the wool over everyone's eyes and his downside came much sooner than hoped. I tend to believe he is hurt. He is hitting terribly and his Caught Stealing % is much less than his career average. Opposing pitchers continue to pitch him high and inside, where he has a hole in his swing the size of the Grand Canyon. I applaud guys for playing hurt, but is he really doing the team any favors when he is clearly playing at WAY less than 100% health? 

    I was having a look at the Farm System, which is ranked 27th in MLB. They have 1 player in the Top 100, Mick Abel, who is likely 2-3 years from making the major leagues and has been on the shelf with shoulder woes for the latter part of 2021. Bryson Stott, Andrew Painter, and recently acquired Hans Crouse round out the top 4.  The Phillies lack a single impact player in the Top 30 of their minor league system. Mick Abel is not the next Cole Hamels, he is the next Kyle Drabek. Bryson Stott is not the next Jimmy Rollins, he is the next Luis Aguayo.

    Teams have to cultivate talent in the farm system to succeed. The Phillies have little to offer in trades to re-stock the farm. Why do other teams seemingly "find" breakout stars and the Phillies simply cannot? It is no coincidence that the farm has been terrible for 15 years. There is no "top prospect" from the last 10 years that is playing in the majors for the Phillies. Not a single one. Blow up the minor league system and pay dearly for free agents until the Minors can produce.

    

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Keep Hope Alive!

  


 

    If you live a life like mine, addicted to the Phillies and an eternal optimist that maybe just maybe the Phillies can make the playoffs, win, or just not plain suck...then you may also be living a life of deep regret and saving face when the Phillies do not do what you want or hope. Today is one of those days because I hope that Nola can be 2018 Nola. You remember that Nola right? The one who won close to 20 games and had an ERA of 2.37? 

    If you take 2018 out of Nola's stats, he would be 48-40 with a 3.97 ERA. That means that he is still above average, but nowhere near an ace of the staff. I take that into consideration, but today and for the rest of 2021 I really hope that 2018 Nola appears. If he does, the Phillies should make the playoffs. With a rotation of Wheeler, 2018 Nola, Gibson, and Suarez, who knows what can happen. 

    Sometimes you just have to be good enough to get in. Sometimes the stars have to align, Mercury can't be in Retrograde, the hitters hit, the pitchers pitch, and the fielders field. I am not asking for a dominant 100 plus win season at this point. I am simply asking for the playoffs and ATLEAST a series win. Stranger things have certainly happened. That is the magic of baseball.

    I initially named this group Drunk Phils Fans because baseball intoxicates me.  The amount of MLB games I have watched in my lifetime are definitely in the 5 figure area. I read somewhat voraciously and  most of my books are baseball-focused, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. I play Strat-o-Matic and have for 30 plus years. I long for the days of hit and runs, bunting a guy over, hitting the ball the other way and there is nothing better than a well-pitched low-scoring game that is played in under 2 hours. I am a complete and total baseball nerd. 

    I need the 2021 Phillies to make some noise in the playoffs. It stays off the doldrums of a long and cold baseball-less winter. I think we all need it. Keep Hope Alive Bryce & Company!

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Sad Story of Grover "Pete" Cleveland Alexander

     

  Grover Cleveland Alexander was named after the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. He played for the Phillies from 1911-1917 and then returned for a few games in 1930. His record while a Phillie was 190-91, 2.18 ERA and a WHIP of 1.075. Pete always wore a uniform that was extra baggy and the cap on his head was undersized and pulled down cock-eyed over one year. He won 31, 33, and 30 games in a three-year span, which included the Phillies first trip to the World Series in 1915. After the 1917 season, he was sold to the Cubs because Phillies owner William Baker said, "he needed the money". 

    Before Pete joined the Cubs, two major things happened that would change his life forever. He married Amy Marie Arrants and he was drafted into the US Army and he spent most of 1918 as a sergeant with the 342nd Artillery fighting in France. The war took an incredible toll on Alexander as he was exposed to mustard gas, had a bomb explode near him that caused partial hearing loss and part of his ear.

    "Ole Pete" had a love for the liquor for quite some time prior to his being drafted into the US Army. When he came back from the war, the drinking problem escalated, he was afflicted with epilepsy, which not much was known about the disease at the time, so he was perceived as having drunken episodes during a seizure.  

    From 1918-1925, Pete played for the Chicago Cubs, where he was 128-83 with a 2.84 ERA over his career there. His predilection for the drink consumed him. The Cubs even hired a bodyguard for Pete, whose sole duty was to stop Pete from drinking. His wife Amy also traveled with him, to keep his habit under somewhat of control. Neither option really worked and in the middle of the 1926 season, the Cubs Manager Joe McCarthy had enough of Pete and his antics and sold him to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Alexander played with the Cardinals from 1926-1929, where he would play in 2 World Series, winning one of them. The story of the ending of the 1926 World Series is maybe Pete's most famous. Pete had complete-game victories in Games 2 and 6. It is purported that Pete went on an EPIC bender after his Game 6 win, because he knew he would not be pitching again in that series. With St. Louis ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th, with the bases loaded and 2 men out against the Yankees, Alexander was summoned in to pitch. Pete was suspected to still have been drunk when he entered the game. He was definitely sleeping in the bullpen for the better part of the 7th game of the World Series. 

    The first batter Alexander faced was the feared Tony Lazzeri, who had 117 RBIs that season. Ole' Pete nearly gave up a grand slam on a very close foul ball, only to strike Lazzeri out to end the inning. He coasted through the 8th and first two batters of the ninth with the Cards still ahead 3-2 and Babe Ruth coming to the plate. Pete said after the game. "I walked Ruth, because there was no way I was going to let that fat bastard hit a Home Run and tie the game". Ruth inexplicably tried to steal 2nd and was caught to end the game and the series to give the Cards the 1926 title.

    He won 20 games again in 1927 and made it to the World Series in 1928, where the Cards were swept by the Yankees. "Alexander the Great" returned to the Phillies in 1930, his last year in the Major Leagues where he was 0-3 with a 9.97 ERA at the age of 43. Pete's next 20 years were beyond sad.

    His wife divorced him twice, once in 1929 and again in 1941. The final decades of Pete's life were tumultuous, to say the least. He was in and out of sanitoriums, worked various odd jobs such as a flea circus, bartender, and hotel help. It got so bad and he was seen as such an embarrassment to baseball and the National League, that Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, NL President Frick and Cardinals President Sam Breadon agreed to give Alexander a pension of $50 a month. Alex was not allowed to actually have the money, but it was sent to his "handlers" to pay for food and lodging for Ole Pete. They feared he would just drink the money, which he definitely would have.

    Alexander was able to gather himself for a short while when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938. When asked how it felt to be inducted, Pete said, "I’m in the Hall of Fame, . . . and I’m proud to be there, but I can’t eat the Hall of Fame.” Even the highest honor in the sport could not get him out of the doldrums where he continued to spiral for the next 12 years. He developed skin Cancer on his ear and had to have it amputated. For the better part of his last years, he was begging for change on the street to get enough money for alcohol.

    Alexander's last public appearance was at Yankee Stadium in 1950 against the Phillies. Pete died mercifully on November 4, 1950, in a hotel room in St.Paul. The official cause of death was listed as Cardiac Arrest, but it is believed either an epileptic seizure or drunken fall in his room were the true cause. Years of hard living and abuse of alcohol were ultimately his true demise.

    Pete was buried with full military honors and laid to rest in his family plot in Elmwood Cemetery close to St. Paul. Alexander still holds the National League career shutout record with 90, had 373( 3rd most wins on MLB history) wins and a lifetime ERA of 2.56. He allowed only 951 Walks in 5190 Innings Pitched. In baseball, Alexander was a believer that less was more. He often said, "What's the use of doing in three pitches what you can do in one?" Pete was not a fan of the strikeout but felt if he could put the ball where he wanted and the batter didn't he could induce outs on fewer pitches. Sportswriter Grantland Rice said of Pete, "He could pitch into a tin can. His control was always remarkable - the finest I have ever seen.".  Yet Pete was never able to control the bottle and he died broke and alone.


  



    

        

Thursday, September 2, 2021

What Should the 2022 Phillies Look Like?

   


  When a team has so many glaring deficiencies, a single off-season is often not enough to make that team a true playoff contender. The Phillies have desperate holes at LF, 3B, SS, 1B, and starting pitching. What stands out to me for the regular lineup is that most of the issues revolve around defensive liability. Hoskins and Bohm are absolute butchers in the field. Hoskins can hit, but Bohm has not shown the ability to consistently perform in the batter's box. Cutch has seen better days in LF and I honestly think if that position is below average in the field, they need to excel with the bat. Cutch does not and needs to be a bench player at best.

    Segura is a natural 2B, although he can play 3B. He is an excellent hitter, but the Phils require power SOMEWHERE in the lineup, so he should remain at 2B and 3B should be filled with a free agent (Arenado). Didi is done. He has always been a below-average SS, but this year he has been abhorrent on defense. It doesn't seem like Stott is ready, so Didi unfortunately may get a stay of execution since he has another year on his contract left.

    Starting pitching has ranged from a complete abomination (VV, Howard, Anderson, Moore) to glimpses of Cy Young prowess. There has been a regression in Aaron Nola as well. I think he is a #3 or #4 starter. Suarez also slots into a #4 or #5 starter, but certainly has shown glimpses of being a 2/3. The 2021-2022 Free Agent SP class is VERY strong. The Phillies should NOT look to fill in with back-end starters. They should look for a #1/#2 starter and the rotation should look like this: Wheeler, FA Starter, Nola, Eflin, Suarez.

    Relief pitching has been better this year than last (this is not saying much). There is room for improving and solidying the back end. Ian Kennedy is not the answer at closer. Re-sign Archie Bradley and consider signing a TRUE closer (Iglesias, Yates, Jansen). Supplement the pen either from the minors, trade or FA with another LH reliever (Andrew Miller?).

    You have to ask yourself, "Who is a true trade chip?". I immediately think of Hoskins to an AL team. The DH was made more Lead Hands Rhys. Is Hoskins enough to get a #2 Starting Pitcher, Power hitting 3B or LF? Can JT play 1B? Is Marchan good enough defensively to make up for his mediocre offense? 

    If I were sitting on Middleton's throne of cigars, this is what I would want to see:

C- Marchan

1B - Realmuto

2B - Segura

SS - Didi/Galvis platoon (Galvis late game defensive replacement too)

3B -  Arenado

LF - Mark Canha (can also play 1B)

CF - Odubel

RF - MV3

SP:   Wheeler, Kluber, Nola, Eflin, Suarez.

Batting Order: Odubel, Segura, Harper, Arenado, JT, Canha, Didi/Galvis, Marchan

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Random Past Phillies Game - September 7, 2005

     


    There was a time in the not-so-distant past that you used to receive actual physical tickets for Phillies games. Nowadays you print them out or have them on your phone. I want to take you back to a particular date in Phillies history. September 7, 2005, to be precise. The Phillies were the Wild Card team on the day before but were locked in a tight race with Houston and Florida.

    The franchise was 12 years removed from their last playoff appearance and since I was a season ticket holder, I had the option to purchase "first chance" playoff tickets. I did purchase them, but as well all know, there were never able to be used. The game that extinguished the Phillies playoff aspirations happened on 9/7/05.

    On September 6, 2005, I became a Dad for the first time. The highest of highs and one of my most memorable days personally. As Phillies fans, we often have the nagging feeling though. The feeling of imminent doom and where Murphy's Law will prevail a good portion of the time. Enter 9/7/2005, so let me tell you about that game.

    The Phils (73-67)  were playing (75-64) the Astros at Citizens Bank Park and the stakes were high. The Phillies were trying to gain ground on the Wild Card leading Astros. Stop me if you heard this before, but the bullpen was the culprit. The Phillies were down 5-3 going into the bottom of the 8th. Up stepped Bobby Abreu with one man on and he hit a 2 run HR to tie the game at 5. Shane Victorino then followed that up with his first hit in MLB in more than 2 years and his RBI single put the Phils up 6-5 going into the top of the 9th.  

    The Phillies closer in 2005 was Billy Wagner, the goat and villain. Wagner gave up a spirit and season-crushing 3 run HR to former teammate Craig Biggio to give the Astros a 6-5 lead. None of the 3 runs were earned because with 2 outs David Bell made a critical error that extended the inning for Houston and allowed Biggio to come up to bat. Future Phillies closer Brad Lidge came in to shut the Phils down in the 9th and seal the win. 

    The game on September 7, 2005 may not have been the only game the Phillies lost late in the game. However, losing in that fashion to a team they were trying to catch ended up being the last gasp for playoff hopes until 2007. I have ticket stubs from the 2008-2011 playoff run and they are dear to my heart. I do keep the unused playoff ticket as well though. It is a reminder of every game counts.

    

    

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Bobby Abreu and the 2005 Gold Glove

    


     Bobby Abreu somehow won the Gold Glove in 2005. I still wonder how something like this happened. I took a deeper look at his 2005 season, focusing on the fielding statistics that were available as well as things that I saw about his defensive play in the outfield. There was never a doubt about Bobby's offensive numbers, however, I contend that Abreu was not a clutch hitter. If the Phils were losing 5-1, Abreu would be your guy. When they needed a clutch hit in the 9th with the game tied 3-3, Abreu came up small.

    Firstly, his Defensive WAR (dWAR) for 2005 was -1.5 and his lifetime average dWAR is -1.0. Defensive WAR is a measure of wins above replacement, but given only the defensive stats of the player and their position adjustment. To put this in perspective, Pat Burrell's 2005 dWAR was 0.0. In layman's terms, that means that Pat the Bat was BETTER defensively than Abreu. 

    People often point to Abreu's strong arm as the possible reason why he may have won the Gold Glove. In 2005, Jason Michaels who played about 50% of the games that Abreu did had 10 outfield assists compared to Bobby's 7. Of note, Burrell also had 10 OF assists. Pundits will say that people did not run as much on Abreu because his arm was so strong, so that could be a reason why the above players had more assists.

    My personal observation on Abreu's RF defensive play was that he constantly took bad routes, avoided leaving his feet for a catch, and we all know that his fear of the wall was well documented. His offensive stats in 2005 were really good, but that was really never in question. in 2005 he has 102 RBIs, 31 SB, 24 HRs, 37 2Bs and hit for a .286 BA. Those are offensive juggernaut numbers, well documented by his 4.4 offensive WAR and 60.2 lifetime oWAR.

    Bobby Abreu won the Gold Glove because of 2 things: his offensive numbers and the attention he received from the HR Derby at the 2005 All-Star Game. It is a travesty to Gold Gloves that Abreu received one. When someone so undeserving gets a Gold Glove, it lessens the value of the award.  

Monday, August 30, 2021

Who Wants the 'D' (Battery)?

 The recent nonsense with the Mets' players making hand gestures to "boo" their own fans is really beyond disgraceful. It certainly made me wonder WWDPFD if this happened with a Phillie. I believe I would have 6-15 beers in the parking lot and then have a string of D batteries across my chest, just like Rambo had ammunition as I walked into Citizens Bank Park. These batteries would not be to power my transistor radio, but projectiles for the player who was a piece of shit and needed a knock on the head.



    I then thought about which Phillies through the years would have been a good candidate for DPF 'D' Battery Night and came up with these players who were pieces of shit:

1. Billy Wagner- He said Phillies fans suck and it it impossible to play here unless you never give up any runs ever. 

2. J.D. Drew- This piece of trash sat out a year and played Independent ball with the St. Paul Saints to avoid being a Phillie. 

3. Scott Rolen - Begging to leave Philly and then calling St. Louis "Baseball Heaven" was something to raise our ire...forever.

4. Sean Rodriguez - This numbnuts actually said "Who's looking bad and feeling entitled when you hear stuff like that? I'm not the one booing. I'm not the one screaming. I'm not the one saying pretty disgusting things at times. That seems pretty entitled. You're just making yourself look pretty bad as an individual, as a person, as a fan." I, for one, do not think that yelling that he was a man-bunned pig-fucking asshat being an issue.

5. Adam Eaton - This squid was upset he was booed when he received his undeserved 2008 World Series ring. Well, Adam, maybe don't have a 6.50 lifetime ERA buddy.


Maybe this spawns a new DPF T-Shirt idea. Who Wants the 'D' (Battery)?

Friday, February 26, 2021

Baseball Uniforms and Tradition

 


                

    Since 1893, the distance from the mound to the plate was exactly 60 feet and 6 inches. It is amazing to think a somewhat “arbitrary” distance has stood the test of time. The tradition of baseball is important. Three strikes will always be an out and three outs will always end a half-inning. As a Philadelphian, tradition is incredibly important and a part of us. You can rename Market East to Jefferson Station and I will never refer to it as Jefferson. It is and always will be Market East. The one thing that changes too much in all sports is the stadium names. I have been a Philadelphia Union season ticket-holder since the franchise’s inception in 2010. The stadium name has switched 3 times in 10 years.

                Every February I watch all 10 Innings of Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary. One of the things that stands out to me is the uniforms and how players wear the uniform. When I first started playing organized baseball, at Bridesburg FC, our uniforms were colored T-Shirts with Bridesburg on the front and some advertisements on the back. Even at that young age, I absolutely hated that I didn’t have numbers on the jersey, at a minimum. We were given basic white Rawlings pants, sanitary socks, and stirrups. Eventually, as I moved up in age, we had a bit better uniforms, but they were hand-me-downs. This meant these uniforms could be 10 plus years old and were used over and over.

                Eventually I changed teams and started playing for Max Myers AC. Huge upgrade in the skill set of the other players and I finally was able to pick my own number and have a jersey that was only mine and not re-used year after year. I really wanted to have my name on the back and a fitted hat, just like the pros did. More importantly, to me, was that my jersey was still a pullover and my hat was an Ashton Kutcher style trucker hat with mesh and adjustable snapback. I wanted a button-up jersey and fitted hat, just like the pros have worn forever. Even in the infancy of baseball, teams wore button-up jerseys and fitted hats.

                I attended Roman Catholic High School and played baseball for them all 4 years. The first two years, we had hand me down jerseys that I was proud to wear, but also terribly embarrassed. Most of the teams we faced had cool button-down jerseys, names on the back and fitted hats. Finally, for the final two years, the team bought their own uniforms. I now had my name on the back, but still a snap-back hat and pull-over jersey.  It was around this time that wearing long baseball pants and solid-colored socks became cool. I hated that trend and continued to wear my pants just below the knee, with the stirrups showing in all their glory.



                During my Junior year, I was asked to play for a Babe Ruth League team, Capitolo, which was based in South Philly. The fields in Philly generally were horrendous, but not this home field. Meticulously manicured, had actual proper dugouts, we got to play under the lights (this was NOT normal for Philly-based teams and I had never played at night before this) and best of all, I finally had a proper button-down jersey. I absolutely wore it everywhere for some time. I finally felt like I “made it”. My involvement in this select hand-picked team was short-lived, however. Our coach at Roman assembled the Capitolo team from various zip codes and high schools. Our initial games were versus the powerhouse team from Boyertown and we absolutely trounced them. Unbeknownst to me and other “outsiders” on the team, we were ineligible, because we did not actually play ANY league games for Capitolo. However, our coach had penciled our names in as pinch-runners in games across the season to circumvent the rule. That ruse was found out and I sadly had to turn in my jersey. Boyertown ended up winning the entire tournament that year.

                I went to college at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, where I also played baseball for 4 years. Our uniforms were completely Bush League hand-me-downs that looked used, abused, and were sad. The only thing proper was our hats. I finally was able to get a fitted hat. Our team was dreadful, shown by the aggregate record during my 4 years of 73-105-1. Never finishing above .500 any single year (although we were 25-25 my Junior Year).

                Finally, I wound up playing for some time in the Pen-Del and NJMBL, where I attained my baseball uniform dream. Button-down jersey with my name on the back and fitted hat. I still wore my pants knee-high and with stirrups, because tradition is important.