Results tagged ‘ Phoenix Muni ’

Goodbye Bob Feller

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I don’t care much about autographs. An A’s employee for almost 9 full years, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of current and former baseball players, such as Lenny Dykstra in a restroom, Mudcat Grant’s chauffeur at a golf tournament. More recently I ran across actors like Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. I didn’t ask for their autographs, they didn’t ask for mine. One day last Spring Training, however, I did ask for an autograph. Hall of Fame Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins visited Phoenix Municipal Stadium to draw awareness and raise funds for his charitable foundation. He’s been to Phoenix Muni multiple times the past couple years. He brings with him former baseball players. On March 27, 2010 he brought Bob Feller.

I wasn’t a sports fan when young. Then, in my teens, I became an A’s fan. Baseball has the greatest history of all American sports. For over a hundred years, thousands of men have taken the field. There’s equally as many stories, some more unique than others. Bob Feller was a unique story. Making his debut for the Cleveland Indians at 17-years-old, he pitched his entire 18-season career with the Indians, which was interrupted by three years of military service. Most astounding to me, he was enshrined in Cooperstown on his first ballot in 1962. For 48 years he lived as an active member of the Hall of Fame.

We were honored to accommodate when Jenkins’ group asked if Feller could throw the ceremonial first pitch. At 91 Feller was unable to walk the stairs to the field. Our stadium operations coordinator offered to drive him around the ballpark and onto the field through the outfield fence. As Feller took the mound he was announced by an exuberant Mark Andrews. To cheers, Feller tipped his cap and fired a strike to home. I would not have believed a man of 91 could do such a thing. In good shape, sharp mind, and kind spirits, Feller talked a bit with guests and staff on field, recorded a short radio interview, and headed off the field on the cart that brought him on. Amazingly, our vintage stadium gate usher, Chet, 90-years-young himself, was at Bob Feller’s 1940 Opening Day no-hitter (his first of three career no-hitters). Chet recounted the events of April 16 in Chicago with Feller, agreeing on the batting order and how the outs were recorded. Chet attended that game rooting for the White Sox. Chet departed the ballpark in 1940 with a lifelong respect for Bob Feller.

As that afternoon’s Spring Training game continued I reflected on Feller’s contributions to the game of baseball. How much he enhanced the game and how much baseball meant to him. I fetched a clean baseball and troubled Bob Feller, with a donation, for an autograph. Sitting in my office, just over my shoulder, it’s the only autograph I keep on display.

Travis LoDolce, Digital Ticketing Operations Manager & Spring Training Operations Manager

 

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 (Photos copyright Travis LoDolce)

Update from the Road

Major League Baseball is in full “swing.” Though not locally just yet. A’s Spring Training is seven home games deep at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Arizona. The United States has two wins in the World Baseball Classic. And A’s Ticket Services is involved with both. 

Travis is the Spring Operations Manager at Phoenix Muni. He is responsible for most items not player or press related. He sends this report from the road: Hello. Games are underway. People ask me how the team looks and how much baseball I’ve seen. I really don’t see much of the games. Mostly watching the crowd, observing the stadium PA booth, checking on parking, etc. But from what I’ve seen the team looks solid. I’m very excited for this club. Young guys throwing well. New additions in the batting cage. The sun is warm, people friendly, it’s hard not enjoy the experience. Phoenix Muni is a great ballpark. Close to ASU, it’s an open ballpark. A lot of blue sky. Team on the field wears pretty colors. Cheers! 
Matt, who you may remember from his many seasons as a teenage (and 20-something) bat boy is the Co-Equipment Manager for the United States WBC team. This is his second stint in that roll. Matt shares this report from Toronto: The week in Clearwater was a lot of work, changing stadiums and clubhouses four days in a row, making a lot of last minute roster changes, and just the overall organizing of our equipment. It was definitely our own little Spring Training before the tournament. The team came together on March 2 and all seem to be having fun playing next to each other and just watching each other in how they prepare and play. It’s very cool to see these guys respect each other and play for each other because of the USA on their chest. Toronto, needless to say, has been fun. Great city, we’re 2-0 and we’re looking good. The games are very intense with a lot riding on every pitch. I can only imagine a World Series game being like this. These guys are up for the challenges ahead as they have one thing on their minds and that is to win the WBC! 
Thank you Travis and Matt. Best of luck while out of state (and out of country!). We look forward to seeing you both in Ticket Services again soon… though not too soon.  
 
Travis includes some photos from Phoenix: 
The A’s home dugout and field top prior to the start of Spring Training.
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Grounds crew adding the “Athletics” script to the field.
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The view from right field with Papago Park hills in the background.
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Catcher Kurt Suzuki in practice with a coach.
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The view from atop Camelback (he has to leave the ballpark at some point). 
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