Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I have heard from some County Stadium Kid readers about a few experiences with players who “snubbed” them. However, it seems for the most part, people reading this blog have had great experiences with Major League Baseball players. In fact, some have mentioned how players have gone out of their way to make their fan experiences even more memorable. Read my first three blog posts and you’ll see 80 or more comments about favorite baseball experiences like:

@averygoodyear Toronto, Jays vs Sox, Big Papi rolls a ball over dugout to me - someone snatches it. He points at me, smiles, and rolls another.TatianaToronto area

(I am glad I could sneak in a little positive PR for Big Papi, especially since the recent discovery of his use of performance enhancing drugs is another bad hop to the groin for baseball.)

Baseball blogger Siobhan M, of , and I recently had an interesting discussion about “snubbing” and “autograph hounds.” She wrote a good read related to these issues on her blog that I would encourage you to check out.

I admit it has been 17 years since I chased an autograph at a ballpark, and I know how rude some fans were and how aggressive some autograph hounds were then already, and that was pre-eBay! I can only imagine what it is like today. I also wonder with all the new stadium construction if fans even enjoy the same kind of access to players entering and exiting the ballpark like I enjoyed at County Stadium.

Although I had a couple of “snubbing” experiences at County Stadium, I enjoyed hundreds of positive interactions with ballplayers, managers, and even with former Milwaukee Brewers owner and current MLB commissioner Bud Selig (He always humored me when I told him what minor league prospects deserved to be called up). These positive experiences inspired me and made me fall in love with the game even more. In fact, I recently commented on a New York baseball radio show that the few bad player experiences I had actually motivated me to work even harder as a ballplayer so that someday I could make it to the Big Show and give fans the same kind of amazing experiences I enjoyed as a kid.

My Rickey Henderson experience, as you can tell by my last blog’s title “Rickey is the Greatest, the Greatest Disappointment I Encountered at County Stadium” was like a sucker punch that knocked the wind out of me. I idolized Rickey and to be one-on-one with him for a few moments and have him not even acknowledge my existence certainly fits the definition of a “snub.” Never have I ever encountered such arrogance and contempt from a human being. After this blog post you will find my first excerpt from COUNTY STADIUM KID, a couple of pages describing the moment I met Rickey.

I hope Major League Baseball players today continue to go out of their way to make fan experiences very memorable. I agree that players do not owe fans anything extra, but when they do go above and beyond to win over fans, the energy and enthusiasm shared by those fans of all ages is contagious.

Today, President Obama gave the United States a pep talk. A quick glance through history and one will clearly see the positive force Major League Baseball has been to the spirit of the American people during difficult times. A recent example I will cite is the 2001 postseason after the 9 / 11 attacks. The documentary 9 Innings from Ground Zero captures the healing spirit that baseball sometimes provides, and I would encourage everyone to check it out.
(You can view Amazon description of film here: )

Given the current state of our economy, I am impressed that the Milwaukee Brewers are averaging 38,000 fans a game. They are already over the two million mark for the season.

Aren’t we lucky that MLB does give back, and aren’t they lucky that fans keep coming back?

Please continue to comment below about the positive baseball experiences you have had. Many people who have not left comments have twittered me how much they enjoy reading about other people’s experiences. I still feel I have another book here in which we compile some of these exciting baseball moments, so keep them coming and encourage others to do the same.

After only a few minutes, Rickey strutted out, nose in the air, wearing a T-shirt three sizes too small that displayed his brick-shaped triceps.
“Rickey,” I gasped, “I’m a huge fan!”
Rickey never flinched an inch. Although he and I were alone under the stands walking in the dark towards the light shining through a gate, Rickey didn’t even offer a glance in my direction.
“Rickey, I have ten of your rookie cards. I traded most of my good cards to get them. I’m a huge fan! Do you think I could get an autograph?”
Rickey continued to walk as if I didn’t exist. His rejection made me more desperate, and my pleas became more pathetic with every step. I knew I had only a few more seconds before we reached the light that would expose Rickey to a hundred autograph hounds.
“Rickey, you gotta sign my ball. It would mean the world to me and my dad.”
Rickey still didn’t provide a single acknowledgment of my existence, so I desperately dug deeper.
Still nothing.
Not once did Rickey even look at me, not even when I backpedaled right in front of him. Eventually, I gave up, stopped, and watched one of my heroes walk though the gate.
“Hey, Rickey!”
He never flinched.
An excited fan heard me yell “Rickey!” The fan turned to see Rickey emerge from the gate। The fan screamed louder, “It’s Rickey! Rickey Henderson!” Within seconds, the autograph hounds surrounded the legend, but Rickey walked through them all as if they were air. He ignored every fan as if they were unworthy to be on the same planet as him. He showed no emotion, other than a cocky smirk that telegraphed, “I’m better than you. Get out of my way.” As I watched Rickey walk away, I realized he was the greatest after all—the greatest disappointment I ever encountered at County Stadium.


  1. @WebBall Playing 3rd, sensed where hitter would hit, adjusted position, caught his smoked liner w/o moving an inch. Seemed slo-mo, in the zone

  2. @Bharks'95 ALDS. Game 5 at Kingdome. Edgar's double in 11th scores Cora, plus Griffey all the way from 1st. M's oust Yankees 6-5, reach ALCS.

  3. @HJBosch21 A brand new one for me: Watching a kid I played ball with in HS make his MLB debut on Thursday

  4. Joel, got two takers on FB. Janice Curran and Karen Rigby. Find them and ask them. Mention my name. (-:

  5. @lau56 Game 1-'68 WS-Bob Gibson strikes out a Series record 17 Detroit Tigers in Cards win. He seemed invicible that year-until Game 7.

  6. @BenKj tough one, i'd have to say visiting the field of dreams, definitely has some special feeling with it that no place else has

  7. @HitKing seeing a boy gain the knowlege and using it to do things he never dreamed possible after others told him he wasn't good enough!

  8. @lau56 2001 WS-Game 7-Luis Gonzalez' bloop hit over the head of Derek Jeter gives D'Backs an improbable comeback win & I was there!

  9. Larry, Game 7 2001 World Series, in my opinion, is definitely the "I was there when..." kind of game that ranks right up there with Fisk's HR, Gibson's HR, Buckner's blunder, etc. You've got to check out the "Nine Innings from Ground Zero" documentary to fully feel the magnitude of that Game 7. What a game! Based on the comments you've shared so far it's safe to say you've seen some amazing baseball!

  10. @stanwong27 Watched Griffey Jr in Oakland in '94.Just told my girlfriend how gr8 a fielder he was, next pitch:crack to the warning trk, jumps&steals HR!

  11. Stan,
    Griffey robbing a hitter of home run is pure poetry. In my book, I describe Griffey practicing robbing home runs during batting practice. I will post this excerpt in the near future.

  12. Hi Joel, it occurred to me today that I'm old enough to have experienced over 50 years of baseball memories...So you're right, when you add it all up, I could go on for hours. That 2001 WS was very memorable indeed & I was lucky enough to have seen all four home games for the D-Backs---all wins. What a Series!

  13. Speaking of Ken Griffey, Jr...He's a class act, unlike your buddy, Rickey. I played in a golf tournament with a bunch of ballplayers---past & present---including Junior, in Vegas, back in '98. When I asked him to sign my golf visor, he didn't hesitate. He's a humble guy and a true gentleman.

  14. @vasser40 Saw Nolan Ryans 300th win in Milwaukee. Leaving the game, got a certificate to mount ticket to. Got home, realized ticket was for next game!

  15. @nfeuerer Though last game of 09 was something i'll never forget. Had a radio on FLA/NYM game and were jumping for joy for Helms/Uggs

    Jim Gantner hitting a 13th inn walk-off in G1 of a DH vs. Bos 08/14/1992. Last HR of Gantner's career, was my fav growing up

  16. @thewonderbroker It was a late '70s game at County Stadium. Don Money's game winning grand slam was denied because ump had called time out!