Posted on Leave a comment

George Nock: NFL Player and Professional Artist

Breaking Barriers image courtesy Ted Haddock

George Nock—NFL Player and Artist

Sometimes it takes a while before an individual finds their true calling in life. For George Nock he grew up with art before taking a slight detour toward the world of college and professional football, before returning to his real love and talent, art. George Nock was a college star, NFL player, and later a professional artist.

Born March 4, 1946, in Baltimore, and raised in Philadelphia, Nock came from a big city background and lived a big city life.

George Nock courtesy Morgan State Athletics.Nock was a college football star, NFL player, and professional artist.
George Nock courtesy Morgan State Athletics. Nock stared in college football, played in the NFL, and returned to his true love, becoming a professional artist.

Nock excelled at both art and athletics during his early years. Even in his earliest years he was drawing and during junior high he crossed paths with two mentors who had a distinct influence on his life path. African American artists and educators William Tasker and John Battle III allowed George to excel in his coursework and even provided weekend lessons at the Fleischer Art Memorial. While still interested in art, Nock began to focus energies on sports during high school.

Nock attended Morgan State College (now University after 1975), where he and the Bears had several memorable moments during his career there. During the 1965 Orange Blossom Classic, facing Florida A&M, Nock returned a punt for a touchdown and the Bears defeated the Wildcats 36-7.

George Nock, Morgan State running back image courtesy Morgan State Athletics. Nock would later go on to a career in the NFL before becoming a professional artist.
George Nock, Morgan State running back. Image courtesy Morgan State Athletics

The following year, Nock and the Bears played in the first bowl game where a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) won an integrated game. Morgan State College defeated the West Chester Golden Rams by a final score of 14-6, in the Tangerine Bowl (now called the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando, FL, capping off an undefeated season at 8-0.

Several Morgan State players from the 1966 team went on to NFL careers including Tangerine Bowl MVP, Willie Lanier, Bob Wade, Baryl Johnson, Alvin Mitchell, Jeff Queen, and Nock. Lanier went on to be a star in the league, playing in 149 games, intercepting twenty-seven passes, and recovering eighteen fumbles in an eleven-year career. He was an eight-time all-pro, went to the Pro Bowl six times, was selected to both the 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams, and had his number retired by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Candy You Ate As A Kid

 

George Nock was an NFL player and professional artist. This image from his NFL career is courtesy New York Jets
George Nock in action for the New York Jets. Image courtesy New York Jets.

Nock’s college career was strong enough to invite interest from the NFL, and in the 1969 draft he was taken by the New York Jets in the 16th round, the 416th player taken overall. Being drafted that low, it was a struggle to make the team, but he did, playing alongside quarterback Joe Namath. He only played in two games that season and totaled negative five rushing yards.

While Nock’s numbers were not strong, the team ended the regular season with a 10-4 record, good enough to make it to the playoffs where they would lose to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The young Nock came back strong in the 1970 season, not just earning a roster spot but playing in all fourteen games, starting in nine. He finished second on the team in rushing yards with 402 and also caught eighteen passes for an additional 146 yards. Combined he scored six touchdowns. This was certainly a solid year, but the team was poor. Namath broke his wrist in the fifth game of the season and the team finished a dreadful 4-10.

Nock was to play one more season with the Jets. In 1971 he played in all fourteen games and totaled 137 rushing yards, 44 pass reception yards, and scored five touchdowns.

In 1972 he moved on to the Washington Redskins where in his final year in the league, he played in only seven games, cut down due to injury. He ran for twenty-two yards and caught no passes. The Redskins went to Super Bowl VII but were defeated by the undefeated Miami Dolphins.

Nock did not play in the 1973 season due to injury and was later traded to the Baltimore Colts. He was to later file suit against the Redskins for negligent treatment by team physician Dr. P.M. Palumbo, Jr.


Beckett Football Magazine Subscription

from: Magazine Values

In a post-career interview posted on the Washington Commanders website, in discussing how he transitioned from football to art, Nock stated, “I was always drawing and doing something related to the arts. I pursued it in a way that could be considered a career at the time, [but] I pursued it as a hobby just because I loved to do it. Doing it on my own, I developed my skill.” In discussing his passion for art, he went on, “I just decided to pursue the artwork, and see what happens. There’s a thing that eats away at you and there’s where your passion lies, so follow it. That’s what I did.”

The interview continues, delving into how Nock got into bronze sculpture,

Well, it took a while to do the bronze. I could always sculpt, but I never took a class. I’m self-taught. But then in ’89, I decided to really take a look at it and I was at a football convention in L.A. and when I came back I just made up my mind to do bronzes. I just made up my mind. I went directly to a foundry out in Northern Virginia. They took me in and I asked if they could show me how to do this. [But] they said, “We don’t let people [bronze] off the street.” So, I went and got this sculpture of a football player that I had done and brought it back to them. I said, “I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.” They said, “come on in, man.”  That’s how that happened.

Breaking Barriers sculpture by George Nock, a former NFL player, turned professional artist. Image courtesy Ted Haddock
Breaking Barriers, created by George Nock, former NFL player turned professional artist. The sculpture is installed at Lorna Doone Park in Orlando, FL. Image courtesy Ted Haddock

George Nock, the artist, has firm ties to the Orlando area. Visitors to Lake Lorna Doone Park can visit the “Breaking Barriers” monument. This incredibly important work, highlights two Little League baseball players, one African American, the other White. The monument is in commemoration of the first integrated Little League game played in the South. This game was played here in 1955 at what was then called Optimist Park.

Rather than attempt to retell the story of how the Pensacola Jaycees Little League team came to Orlando to participate in the district tournament, I refer readers to this excellent Major League Baseball article.

The world lost George Nock in 2020 at age 74 to COVID-19. An online memorial for him may be found using THIS LINK.

1955 Pensacola Jaycees Little League team. Image courtesy MLB.com
1955 Pensacola Jaycees Little League team. Image courtesy Major League Baseball.
1955 Orlando Kiwanis Little League team. Image courtesy Major League Baseball.
1955 Orlando Kiwanis Little League team. Image courtesy Major League Baseball.

 

 

 

 

 

Woman running in Orthofeet Sneakers

Sources

“67 Years Ago, 2 Teams of 12-Year-Old Boys Made History.” https://www.mlb.com/news/1955-little-league-baseball-history-pensacola-jaycees-orlando-kiwanis.

“Breaking Barriers.” Orlando Arts. July/August 2023.

George Nock. https://www.georgenock.com/.

“George Nock, Jets RB from 1969-1971 & Acclaimed Artist, Dead at 74.”  New York Jets. https://www.newyorkjets.com/news/george-nock-jets-rb-from-1969-71-acclaimed-artist-dead-at-74.

“George Nock.” Just Lookin. www.justlookin.com/bios/gNock.htm.

“George Nock.” Pro Football Reference. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/N/NockGe00.htm.

“Mayor Dyer & Commissioner Hill Unveil Barrier Breakers Monument. https://www.orlando.gov/News/Press-Releases/2022-Press-Releases/Barrier-Breakers-Monument-Unveiling.

“Nock Files Negligence Suit.” New York Daily News. September 28, 1974.

“Redskins Past to Present—George Nock.” https://www.commanders.com/news/redskins-past-to-present-george-nock-16952628.

“Willie Lanier.” Pro Football Reference. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/L/LaniWi00.htm.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products. 

 

SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Click the image or the link for incredible savings off cover price and have it delivered right to your mailbox.  Sports Illustrated Magazine Subscription from: Magazine Values

Posted on Leave a comment

Book Review–Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty written by Charles Leerhsen

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty book cover

Book Review—Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty written by Charles Leerhsen

Leerhsen, Charles. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. New York: Simon and Schuster. 2015. ISBN 9781451645798 (paperback). $18.99. Index, b/w photos. 449 pages, 404 pages of text.

 

Winner of the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year as awarded by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine. 

 

Ty Cobb--courtesy Library of Congress
Ty Cobb–Courtesy Library of Congress

On the Mount Rushmore of baseball immortality, you will find Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach. When your career batting numbers include lines such as 4,189 hits, twelve batting titles, a career .366 batting average, and nearly 1,000 stolen bases, immortality is yours.

Along with his batting prowess however, Cobb has another reputation that is not so glamorous. It is this reputation for fighting, having a short temper, being cheap, claims of his being a dirty player, and racism that former Sports Illustrated editor, Charles Leerhsen attempts to combat in his revisionist biography of Cobb. As reviewer John Williams stated in the New York Times with the books release, “Cobb’s image is not a fixer-upper; it’s a Superfund site.”

 

MagazineValues.com

 

Cobb The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball written by Al Stump
Cobb The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball written by Al Stump

Leerhsen has a major bone to pick with Al Stump. Stump, a man with a not so clean reputation himself, was the co-author of Cobb’s autobiography My Life in Baseball, and then more scathing works in True magazine and later the book, Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball, and comes in for repeated criticism, some of it deserved, from Leerhsen. The movie Cobb, based upon Stump’s work is given its share of criticism as well. In his note on sources he states the movie “was no help at all.”

In A Terrible Beauty, we learn of the difficulties Cobb had when breaking into professional baseball. The bullying and hazing of the day are things I hope would never be tolerated in locker rooms today. Some of it bordered on what might be called criminal. Cobb also had to deal with the murder of his father. A murder committed by his mother under mysterious and questionable circumstances.

While Cobb did have many difficulties, these do not allow a biographer to excuse away in any manner Cobb’s actions. He would fight seemingly anyone; from teammates and opponents, to umpires, to team staff, hotel workers, and even fans who catcalled him from the bleachers. Cobb’s admitted actions would probably lead to his banishment from the game today and more lawsuits than his lawyers could attend to.

In trying to bolster Cobb’s reputation, Leerhsen is at times not willing to place blame where it seems to belong, at Cobb’s feet. An example are multiple interactions with Bungy Cummings, an African American groundskeeper, who may have had a liking for alcohol.


Big League Chew – original – 2.1 oz pouch

from: Old Time Candy Company

In 1906, what looks to have probably started as a harmless interaction between Cummings and Cobb led to a violent fight with teammate Charlie Schmidt. Schmidt claimed to have seen Cobb choking the wife of Schmidt, who was trying to stop Cobb from beating her husband. Leerhsen seems to shake off the episode calling Cummings a drunk. Cobb is forgiven because “It’s worth noting I think [Leerhsen is the I] that he [Cobb] didn’t claim that beating up Cummings and his wife was permissible because there were Negroes who had become too familiar or aggressive (as is sometimes alleged or suggested); what he said, rather, was that he did not beat them up.” This is a claim that seems most improbable. Schmidt is condemned as a man who had fought with Cobb on at least two prior occasions, thus seemingly making him in the wrong by default.

Cobb is deemed to have not been racist for his praise of stars such as Willie Mays. In 1952, regarding Black players in Major League Baseball, Cobb stated, “The Negro should be accepted and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly.” Easy for him to have said twenty-four years into retirement and five years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Would a Georgia born and bred Cobb have made such a comment during his playing days?

So, what do we make of Leerhsen’s book? Well, first, I have several editorial complaints that should in no way reflect upon Leerhsen, his research, or the text of this book. First is the lack of a formal bibliography. This is a massive oversight on the part of the publisher. The two page “Note on Sources” that is included is unacceptable. What this “Note” is, is two long unusable paragraphs listing secondary sources. The first paragraph includes works on Cobb (with further bashing of Stump of course.) The second is “Other books I consulted,” a listing of authors and book titles in no conceivable order.

My second issue is what pass for endnotes. Rather than have standard endnotes, what readers are presented with is each chapter receiving a single paragraph of text with page numbers and a very brief comment where material came from.  If this material is not included in the “Note on Sources” you are left even further mystified.  These paragraphs are difficult and not user friendly, nor are they endnotes. I get not having footnotes, though those are most convenient for readers, and I am happy enough to at least have traditional endnotes. This type of notation should be avoided by all publishers.


David Sunflower Seeds – Original – 5.25 oz bag

from: Old Time Candy Company

After reading Leerhsen what am I left with? First, I am left with the nagging feeling I should have read all of Stump’s work prior. Because A Terrible Beauty is so focused on countering much of what has been written about Cobb, a grasp of that literature would have helped.

Secondly, it seems clear that the author has done plenty of research. While a majority seems to come from newspapers, which often have their own slant, Leerhsen is able to combat much of the reputation Cobb has been given (I hesitate to say earned after reading this book.) I would use the reputation for having been a dirty player as an example here. We learn that instances of Cobb being involved in a “spiking” seem to have been rare, and players of the day do not seem to have universally considered him a dirty player. Did you want to have Cobb barreling down on you while stealing a base or stretching a hit, probably not; does it appear he went out of his way to injure opposing players, no.

I might like to have seen a bit about Cobb’s legacy, especially in the Royston, GA area. Cobb’s burial location is discussed, and this is a must see if you are travelling through town.

At the end of the day, who is the real Tyrus Raymond Cobb? Is it the violent, racist, possibly alcoholic of Al Stump; or the more moderate, at times misunderstood, Cobb of Charles Leerhsen? It is probably somewhere in between, but Leerhsen has done a commendable job in righting some of the past wrongs we have assumed true of Ty Cobb.

You may find all of Charles Leerhsen’s books using THIS LINK.

Woman running in Orthofeet Sneakers

 This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products. 

 


Baseball America Magazine Subscription – $86.99

from: Magazine Values

Posted on Leave a comment

30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach Florida

Welcome to Daytona Beach. Image courtesy Volusia County Properties

Thank you for reading. Here you will find the 30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida. Whether you are a visitor, a local, or a day tripper, there are many things that the entire family will enjoy. There are no chain locations or food listings. This list is meant to promote locally based attractions and shops. These are places you won’t find in every community or tourist destination. So jump in, and review the 30 best things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

 

Welcome to Daytona Beach. Image courtesy Volusia County Properties
Welcome to Daytona Beach. Image courtesy Volusia County Properties

DAYTONA BEACH

Known as the World’s Most Famous Beach or the home to the World Center of Racing, Daytona Beach has often staked its reputation and future on these two industries. The beach and the speedway are two things that are not going anywhere. They are the rock on which Daytona’s tourism future still stands. Daytona Beach is much more than the beach and NASCAR however. In fact, here are the 30 best things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Yes, there is bike week and Biketoberfest. But, in speaking with longtime observers these events aren’t quite what they used to be. Sure, they bring people to town but the fact is, this is an aging market. It’s a market that has moved outward. This includes as Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach rather than the older hangouts in Daytona. Other cities within easy driving distance are also siphoning off visitors. In addition, bike events are held around the country. It’s not the novelty it used to be. Almost every tourist mecca has these events so Daytona doesn’t have the uniqueness it did many years ago. Bike Week isn’t going anywhere but I am not sure Daytona Beach should stake its name on the event.

Events come and go. Take spring break. Compared to the heydays’, spring break is almost a non-event today. Black College Reunion? The same thing. Today, in addition to the pop-up truck and jeep events that nobody in town other than hoteliers is interested in, the Welcome to Rockville, multi-day heavy metal concert is one of the biggest annual events. Of course, promoters can take their ball and go home any time they feel unloved or that they can get something better out of another town. I don’t foresee this being an event Daytona will hold on to long term without committing public funds. Local businesses seem to love this event and many claim it is their most profitable special event during the year.

A concern many event attenders voice about Daytona  are accommodations. Many buildings have been damaged by hurricanes and have not reopened. Those that are in business are charging what these visitors consider exorbitant rates. It’s not my place to say whether that’s true or not but visitor actions speak loudly.

And while Daytona Beach often has an identity problem, compounded by multiple groups trying to promote and support tourism, don’t be scared away by the revolving door of publicity campaigns or the negativity about some of the seedier areas of the community. Pay attention to your surroundings, use common sense, and just like in any other city, you’ll be fine and have a good time.

TRAFFIC

Daytona Beach can run the gamut on traffic congestion.

I have been beach side when there is very little traffic. Mind you, that is during off season and during the work week. International Speedway Boulevard from say, Clyde Morris Boulevard to Beach Street is usually pretty busy no matter the time of year. In the vicinity you have a large high school and two colleges, in addition to ISB being a major thoroughfare to beach side. Congestion is inevitable.

During peak season, say March through August/September back to school, weekend driving can be pretty harsh in spots. If you are coming to town during one of the weeks there are races at the speedway, be prepared for major headaches on International Speedway Boulevard and the highways that funnel onto the road. Pay close attention to any of the temporary electronic billboards on the side of the road and keep an eye out for pedestrians, who often don’t think crosswalks apply to them.

During bike week events in March and October, be on the lookout. Traffic can be busy, especially near the Main Street and Destination Daytona areas. Bikers are notorious for riding in wide and deep packs with many not paying attention to larger vehicles. Bikers weaving in an out of traffic is common and making extra lanes is commonplace.

Spring break and certain truck, jeep, and other pop-up events, sanctioned and unsanctioned, can tie up beach side traffic to a point it is at a stop. Many of these people see a need to cruise slowly up and down A1A, causing gridlock on the narrow and heavily stop lighted A1A.

Summer traffic during the weekends can be heavy as the beach is a popular, low-cost way for people to spend the day. Beach entrances are limited and it just takes time to get cars through the toll booths. Just be patient or scout ahead and find some of the off-beach parking lots.

While we are on the topic of traffic, city leaders have a mind that there must always be some type of road construction going on. This is not usually fixing potholes and the like, but rather, some type of project meant to enhance the city image while usually tying up traffic for long periods and often not having the anticipated outcomes. Just shake your head and drive on. The project will be complete in two years when another will be started.

Google maps and a bit of patience are your friends and will get you around the Daytona Beach area.

Personalized Push Pin Travel Maps

WEATHER

The weather in Daytona Beach can be brutal during the summer months. Don’t let the online historical records tell you otherwise. Weather report numbers are recorded at Daytona Beach International Airport and may not be accurate throughout the area.

The NOAA states that from 1991 through 2020 the average high for the year is 80.6 with a low of 62.5. They claim the average high in July is 90.2 and in August is only 89.8. I strongly believe most locals would challenge these numbers as being too low. Daytona Beach is HOT, there is no way around it. Try shorts and t-shirts on Christmas many years hot.

When it comes to precipitation, be prepared, especially if visiting during late spring through the summer months. Violent thunderstorms can come on rapidly and if you are on the beach, lifeguards will be working to safely clear you out. Getting a packed beach safely cleared is an undertaking but the lifeguards to a fine job. The NOAA states Daytona Beach receives an average of 51.25 inches of rain and 119 rainy days per year.

A word on hurricanes and tropical storms. Don’t be the tough guy trying to brave out a storm beach side. If you are in town and there are evacuation notices issued, pay attention. If you are staying beach side, please remember that bridges are locked down after winds reach a sustained 40 mph. You won’t be able to change your mind and leave and EMS will probably not be able to reach you if something bad happens. It’s rare, but keep a watch on the weather if you are visiting during hurricane season.

Here’s a personal story about Daytona Beach weather. I have been to exactly one NASCAR race at DIS. When I worked in trade books, a couple of book reps were in town for February races and had extra tickets and very generously invited me to attend. This was the Saturday race so the grandstands were not full. We were wrapped in coats and freezing. The temperatures were kind of low and the wind was very strong through the grandstands. Despite the cold, the sun was so strong we all left with sunburned faces and necks.

MagazineValues.com

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN DAYTONA BEACH

So, you are thinking of visiting Daytona Beach. Maybe you are already in town on vacation and are looking for things to do. Well, here is a list of 30 best things do in Daytona Beach or local activities you should consider. I have provided hyperlinks to official websites or sites with considerable information. It is recommended you check these sites to confirm open hours and associated costs.

What you will not find on this listing are things such as shopping malls, bars, and restaurants. There may be these type activities associated with a few of the items listed but you can find a shopping mall on your own. Chain restaurants, which proliferate in Daytona Beach, can be found on almost any interstate exit. There is nothing unique or interesting about these places and their Daytona Beach franchises are no different. I strongly urge you to seek out local restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and stores. Daytona has a lot of unique opportunities for you to try.

A word about using this list before you start. Many of these locations begin with the name Daytona or Daytona Beach. It can be easy to overlook this part of the listing but you will not want to miss some of these places.

This listing is alphabetical and not in order of favorites or by category. This list includes locations from Ormond Beach to the north through Port Orange and Ponce Inlet to the south. .

Finally, this list is by no means all inclusive. What are some of your favorites that I have not included? Drop me a line or leave a comment.  Do you own or work at a destination I didn’t include? Let me know. Maybe I will update it to 31 things to do. Did you not enjoy one of the places I have listed. Leave a constructive comment and I will approve it for posting.

Now, get to visiting!

Nomatic

Abraxas Books

256 S. Beach Street

Are you looking for that hard to find title, or maybe something to help pass the time while lying in the sun at the beach? With well over 100,000 titles in stock, Abraxas Books is the place to go.

For full disclosure, I have known Jim, the owner, professionally for well over twenty years. I have purchased hundreds of books from him. He know his books.

Abraxas Books owner Jim Sass and the world famous bookstore cat, Sterling. 30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Abraxas Books owner Jim Sass and the world famous bookstore cat Sterling. Image courtesy Abraxas Books.

 

A few words of advice you should heed. Jim loves cats. If you are lucky, his cat Sterling will be in the store. You are not likely to find James Patterson, John Grisham, or other exceedingly popular mainstream fiction authors on the shelves but you may find them on the carts outside. If you are seeking history, art, photography, philosophy, religious history and theory, classic literature, etc. this is your place.

Do not ask for a discount. Seriously. If you are buying multiple books, I have never not seen Jim take care of a customer. Jim is a straight shooter, widely read, and like most book dealers, is a good judge of character. Jim may be intimidating to some, but I tell you from experience, he is a good person and an asset to Daytona Beach.

Angell & Phelps

154 S. Beach Street

Angell & Phelps has been handcrafting chocolates and other candies since 1925. Watch candy makers at work through large windows and purchase their wares to enjoy later. Free samples are provided.

A must visit if you are strolling along Beach Street. Stop in after visiting Abraxas Books and the Halifax Historical Museum or grab a snack before you see a film at Cinematique.

 

Beach

Most visitors to Daytona Beach come for THE BEACH. With over 23 miles of coastline and nearly 500 feet in width at low tide, much of it drivable, beach goers flock to The World’s Most Famous Beach. Please mind the 10 mph speed limit and watch for kids and those not paying attention. It is recommended to swim near staffed lifeguard stations as rip currents are common. These young men and women are well trained and will be able to assist if you are in danger.

It is illegal to disturb sea turtles, hatchlings, or nests. Seriously, if these are marked or you come across them, don’t press your luck. An additional point, don’t dig and leave holes on the beach. Sea turtles and hatchlings can easily become trapped in your hole. If you or your kids just have to dig, fill it in before leaving.

For beach pricing information please visit Volusia Beach Pass. Multiple options are available and off-site parking can often be found for no cost.

 


At the Beach Fun Kit

from: Dover Publications

Birthplace of Speed Park

Corner of Granada and A1A in Ormond Beach

Relive the earliest days of beach racing and beach speed time trials The park includes monuments and a recreation of the Ormond Garage. The park is free to visit, and the beach is just a very short walk away. Park in the lot across A1A and walk over.

Calle Grande Arches

Calle Grande Street west of US-1 (Ridgewood Avenue) in Holly Hill

Calle Grande Arches Image courtesy Daytona Beach News Journal
Calle Grande Arches Image courtesy Daytona Beach News Journal

Dating to the mid-1920s, the remains of the Calle Grande Arches are a true site to behold.

William Collins Hardesty was the man behind a proposed development called Rio Vista on the Halifax. Plans called for cottages, a large hotel, a golf course, and a canal for gondola rides. Today, the Riviera Hotel remains from the original development, now as an assisted living facility. The golf course is part of the Riviera Country Club.

The still standing arches, which are located at what was to be the entrance to the grand project, are situated on the banks of a dirty canal. The detail put into these columns is incredible. Painted to look like marble they provide the feel of ancient Rome.

When visiting, please use extreme caution and park well off the road. Calle Grande Street is a known for drivers exceeding the speed limit. In the past, drivers have hit and damaged the columns. Visitors should pay attention to where they are walking when visiting the site. Take nothing but photos and do not touch the arches. The arches are not in the best of condition and can easily be damaged. Also, you don’t want to end up taking a header into the canal.

One final word of warning, I have been told that the homeless often congregate around this area. Deal with them at your own risk.

Casements

25 Riverside Drive in Ormond Beach

Located between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean, the Casements was built in 1913 and was purchased in 1918 as the winter home of John D. Rockefeller.

The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was purchased by the city of Ormond Beach in 1974 with renovations completed in 1979.

The Casements is now a multi-use facility offering visitor tours, workshops, classes, and special event rentals. Be sure to see the Boy Scout and Hungarian folk exhibits located on the third floor. The annual Ormond Beach Celtic Festival is held close by.

On the grounds, be sure to seek out the small marker placed by the Society of American Travel Writers. Please read my post on this marker by using THIS LINK. There are also two identical two-sided state historic markers for The Casements.

Casements Florida historic marker side 1. 30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Casements, Florida Historic Marker Side 1
Casements Florida historic marker side 2
The Casements, Florida Historic Marker Side 2

Cinematique

242 S. Beach Street

Founded in 1991, the 70-seat theater opened in 2010, providing an art house experience to visitors, showing first run independent, foreign, documentary, and art films that would not be available in Volusia County otherwise. This small theater fills a unique niche and has no comparable location in the county.

Ticket prices are around $10 per person. Limited food and drinks are available. Maybe stop in at Angell & Phelps for your movie snacks.

See the website for programming information and dates.

Daytona Beach International Speedway

1801 W. International Speedway Boulevard

First opened in 1959, the “World Center of Racing” annually hosts some of the largest stock car events in NASCAR, including the season opening Daytona 500. Motorcycle races, concerts, vintage car shows, and an incredible, drive through, Christmas lights display are just a few of the things you’ll find throughout the year at the Speedway.

The speedway isn’t about racing only, however. The facility offers guided tours, the NASCAR Racing Experience, an incredible museum, shopping, and more. The One Daytona shopping center is across International Speedway Boulevard.

Be sure to take the self-guided tour outside the facility, including monuments and the NASCAR equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. See how your hands measure up against some of the greatest drivers in the world.

Click the link to get your Daytona 500 tickets
Want to attend the Daytona 500? Click the photo or THIS LINK to find your tickets at great prices.

 

Daytona Beach Zipline Adventure 

Image courtesy Daytona Zipline Advenutre. 30 best things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Image courtesy Daytona Zipline Adventure

1000 Orange Avenue at Tuscawilla Park (be sure to take a stop at the World War I monument located close by.)

Two different courses are available allowing visitors to fit their schedule, ability, and budget to the attraction.

Test your skills on ladders, wooden bridges, tight rope cables, and zip lines.

Multiple pricing options are available. It’s about $55 to  take both courses, plan on around 3 hours duration. Check their website for more information.

Daytona Ice Arena

2400 S. Ridgewood Avenue #63D in South Daytona

Who says there isn’t ice skating in Florida? The Tampa Bay Lightning have won two Stanley Cups in recent years and the Florida Panthers are a top hockey team also. Several minor league hockey teams call Florida home. Hockey is no longer a Canadian or northeast exclusive.

OK, so you aren’t ready for the NHL. How about a family friendly option instead? From public skating times, to skating and figure skating lessons, to hockey clinics, you can find it here in a clean and safe indoor environment.

Check the website for times and prices.

Daytona Lagoon

601 Earl Street, located beach side, adjacent to the Ocean Center and the large parking garage. Nearby you will also find the Tourist Church, referenced below.

Located just a block from the beach, Daytona Lagoon has something for every member of the family: thrill slides, pools, go-karts, laser tag, arcade games, mini golf, a sky maze rope course, and more.

The waterpark is of course the main attraction here. It features several fun slides including Kraken’s Revenge, the Shaka Halfpipe, Blackbeard’s Revenge, and more. There is a lazy river, a lagoon pool, and a children’s play area for younger visitors. Life jackets and lifeguards are on site.

The best parking is in the County of Volusia parking garage located adjacent to the park. Parking costs $8 but bring your garage ticket and they will validate your visit and you will pay only $4 to park. That’s a great deal and your car stays cool in the heat of the day.

Visit the website for multiple ticket pricing options.

cheap concert tickets

Flea and Farmers Market

1425 Tomoka Farms Road

Open 9a-5p Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, this market, which opened in 1981, features over 1,000 booths and 600 vendors over many acres. From antiques to vegetables to cell phone cases to getting a tattoo, you can find it here. Parking, admission, and people watching are free.

For car enthusiasts, the first Saturday of the month features a Classic Car Cruise In.

Gnome Tree

1037 Riverside Drive in Holly Hill

Started in 2003 by a local couple, the original display of three gnomes at the base of a large oak tree has grown to several hundred gnomes who now “inhabit” the picturesque tree.

They even have a Facebook Page, The Gnomes of Holly Hill, Florida. Want more? There is a short, self published book available as well. Click THIS LINK to find it and purchase your own copy.

Halifax Historical Museum

252 S. Beach Street

Located in the County of Volusia owned, Merchants Bank Building, the Halifax Historical Museum is home to hundreds of items of local interest including artifacts, photos, souvenirs, and family mementos. The bank building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a site to see on its own.

Located next to Abraxas Books (see above). Afterwards, stop in at Stavro’s Pizza House located just two doors from the museum.

Parking is free. Museum admission is $10 for adults, under age 12 are free. Closed Sunday and Monday.

An overhead view of City Island Ballpark, now Jackie Robinson Ballpark, close to how it looked when future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson played there.
An overhead view of City Island Ballpark, now Jackie Robinson Ballpark close to how it looked when future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson played there.

Jackie Robinson Ballpark

105 E. Orange Avenue

Originally opened in 1914 as City Island Ball Park, the present set up of field and seating dates to 1962. The field is currently home to the Bethune Cookman Wildcats baseball team and the Daytona Tortugas, the Cincinnati Reds low A farm team.

The ballpark is named after Hall of Fame player Jackie Robinson. It was in this stadium that he played his first spring training game in 1946. Stadiums in both Jacksonville and Sanford would not allow a mixed-race team to play on their fields and now Daytona Beach holds the honor of having hosted Robinson’s first game.

The ballpark was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Learn about the history of Jackie Robinson Day and how it is celebrated in Major League Baseball at THIS LINK.

LPGA International

1000 Champions Drive

Golf lovers have a top-notch reason to visit Daytona Beach. The home course of the LPGA Tour, LPGA International features two, eighteen-hole courses designed by Arthur Hills and Rees Jones.

Also onsite are a three-hole practice course, chipping and putting areas, a driving range, Malcolm’s Bar and Grill, a pro shop, and member only facilities.

Visit the website to book a tee time or learn more about membership.

Looking to play golf around Volusia County? Take a look at my listing of golf courses in the county HERE.

Find tickets to see the best women golfers in the world play in LPGA events. Click the link.
CLICK HERE to find tickets for the best in women’s golf. Watch the greats in person on the LPGA tour. Image courtesy LPGA.

 

Marine Science Center

100 Lighthouse Drive in Ponce Inlet

Not to be confused with the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach, the Marine Science Center, which opened in 2002, is operated by the County of Volusia.

From their website, this remarkable project has allowed Volusia County to stand at the forefront of county government efforts to educate our public about the marine resources of our area and to rehabilitate and release sea turtles and seabirds.

The site includes a nature trail, boardwalk, multiple exhibits, a touch pool that features several types of marine life including rays, and Turtle Terrace, where visitors can witness turtle rehabilitation in process.

In its twenty years of operation the facility has cared for more than 20,000 sea turtles and more than 18,000 birds in addition to hosting more than one million visitors.

Be sure to visit the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse if you visit here (see below for lighthouse information.)

Closed on Monday. Adult admission is $8, seniors $7, children ages 3-12 are $5.

Mary McLeod Bethune House and Grave

Mary McLeod Bethune home Image courtesy National Park Service. 30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida
Mary McLeod Bethune home. Image courtesy National Park Service

640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard

The home was built in 1905 and purchased for Dr. Bethune in 1913 and served as her primary residence until her death in 1955.

The home appears to be temporarily closed for tours. When it reopens guided tours from Foundation employees and student workers are free, but donations are accepted. I took a tour a couple of years ago and the student giving the tour was knowledgeable, friendly, and quite accommodating to our group.

The home was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

Dr. Bethune is buried near the home on the campus of Bethune Cookman University.

This is certainly one of the underappreciated gems of Daytona Beach. Make the time to visit if it is open.

Coloring Books to Relax

Museum of Arts and Sciences

352 S. Nova Road

MOAS features many permanent, rotating, and traveling exhibits.

The Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum is a favorite for families. Also, a family favorite are the Root Family Museum exhibits including Coca-Cola memorabilia, a train station including two mid-century cars, a collection of teddy bears, and more. Every child will want to see the thirteen-foot-tall giant ground sloth fossil in the Prehistory of Florida gallery.

For adults, the Cuban collection is world renowned. African tribal objects, arms and armor, the gallery of American art, decorative arts, and Chinese art are available. The planetarium will be a hit with both adults and children in your group.

The Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art features perhaps the greatest collection of Florida art in the world. At more than 2,600 pieces the museum does a great job or rotating exhibits.

The museum is open seven days a week. A ticket combination package for MOAS and the Brown Museum is under $20 for adults. Separate pricing is available. A great bargain for art and history enthusiasts. This is without question one of the best museums in the state.

If you only have time for one activity, this is the one I recommend!

Ocean Center

101 N. Atlantic Avenue

The Ocean Center is located adjacent to Daytona Lagoon  and Peabody Auditorium and only a couple blocks from the Tourist Church. There is a parking garage across the street. The Ocean Center has parking on site but there is sometimes a charge, particularly if events are going on.

Conveniently located directly across from the World’s Most Famous Beach, the Ocean Center features an arena that can hold 9,000 people, an exhibit hall with over 93,000 square feet of space, and multiple conference and breakout rooms.

I have included the Ocean Center because it features a large public art collection that may be viewed during open hours. Also on site is the ECHO Gallery, an area of rotating exhibits featuring the ECHO themes; environmental, cultural, heritage, outdoor.

Be sure to take a virtual tour on the facility website.

Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens

78 E. Granada Boulevard in Ormond Beach

Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens building. Image courtesy of the museum
Image courtesy Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens

Just as World War II came to an end, one artist with a vision, and the people of Ormond Beach, worked together to create something magical.

Artist Malcolm Fraser offered a collection of his life’s work to any town along the east coast of Florida that would create an art museum that paid tribute to veterans. Ormond Beach and her residents rose to the occasion and worked together to create a living monument to creative freedom and equality of all persons, and to commemorate the service of World War I & II veterans who fought valiantly for that ideal.

Today, the newly remodeled and expanded museum offers permanent exhibits, traveling shows, virtual exhibits, and courses of all type.

The Gardens offer native and exotic plants and provide a perfect backdrop for weddings and other celebrations. While touring the Gardens be sure to seek out the military plaques and sculptures.

Open Monday through Friday 10a-4p and weekends noon to four. Admission is free but a $2 donation is recommended. This is one of the best values an art lover will find.

eCampus.com

Pinewood Cemetery

Main Street across from the Boothill Saloon. The Boothill itself can be quite the destination if you are so inclined. As the saying goes, “Come on in and grab a seat. You’re better off here than across the street.”

Pinewood Cemetery, also known as Peninsula Cemetery, dates to the late 1880s, and contains the final resting spots for many of Daytona Beach’s earliest pioneers including names such as Day, Burgoyne, and Jackson. Military headstones indicate burials of men who fought in several different wars are interred her.

Cemetery hours look to be Monday through Saturday, 8 am-5 pm; closed on Sunday. The walk through the cemetery can be uneven so dress appropriately.

Polynesian Luau

Hawaiian Inn Beach Resort 2301 S. Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach Shores

An authentic interactive luau experience featuring hula dancing, flaming knife dancing, and more. Suitable for all ages. Includes an all you can eat tropical meal with dishes such as teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, Hawaiian pizza, multiple side dish options, Pepsi products, and a cash bar.

Current show times are at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. Make your reservations through the website. Tickets look to be about $50 for adults.

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Image courtesy Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. 30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.

4931 S. Peninsula Drive in Ponce Inlet

Step back in time and climb 175 feet of fun in the Florida sun at the Ponce Inlet Light Station and Museum! Constructed in 1887, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse has guided mariners along the Florida coast for more than 130 years.

Admission is about $7 for adults, with several discount programs available. Climb all 203 steps to the top if you dare. Remember, you have to come back down also. The views are worth it!

Be sure to visit the Marine Science Center if you are at the lighthouse. See the information above.

 

The lighthouse was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998

Port Orange Sugar Mill

950 Old Sugar Mill Road in Port Orange

Also known as Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, the property is operated by a not-for-profit corporation and owned by the County of Volusia. Entrance is free and donations are appreciated. Donations benefit the not-for-profit organization and help them with park upkeep.

The property contains dozens of gardens and plants, but the real star of the show is the remains of a 19th century sugar factory that were part of the Dunlawton Plantation. Multiple interpretive panels will guide you through the history of the land and the artifacts you will find onsite. Don’t be surprised if you see a dinosaur or two while you are on the park grounds!

You will often find volunteers onsite who can provide information on the plants and flowers.

Woman running in Orthofeet Sneakers

Southeast Museum of Photography

1200 W. International Speedway Boulevard (on the Daytona State College campus)

One of several excellent art museums in the Daytona area, the Southeast Museum of Photography exhibits, collects, preserves, and interprets photography to facilitate teaching and learning at Daytona State College and enhances the community’s understanding of, and appreciation of culture, history, and photography.

Check the website for current exhibits, dates, times, and special events.

Streamline Hotel

140 S. Atlantic Avenue

Opened in 1940, this is the hotel where NASCAR was born! Once a dilapidated flophouse, the now fully renovated boutique hotel once served as local headquarters for the Women’s Auxiliary Corp during World War II.

Located directly across from the beach, the rooftop bar offers incredible views, or have dinner at the Victory Lane restaurant.

An early postcard image of the Streamline Hotel. 30 Best Things to Do in Daytona Beach, Florida
An early postcard image of the Streamline Hotel

 

Timucua Indian Burial Mound

Corner of S. Beach Street and Mound Avenue in Ormond Beach

For information on the burial mound and the recent efforts to preserve this landmark, please see my blog post using THIS LINK.

Tomoka State Park

2099 N. Beach Street in Ormond Beach

Tomoka is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with over 160 species sighted, especially during the spring and fall migrations. Visitors can stroll a half-mile nature trail through a hardwood hammock that was once an indigo field for an 18th-century British landowner.

The park protects a variety of wildlife habitats and endangered species such as the West Indian manatee. For many visitors however, Chief Tomokie is a highlight of the park.

A boat ramp gives boaters and canoeists access to the river. The park store offers snacks, camping supplies, and canoe rentals.

For overnight stays, the park has full-facility campsites and youth camping.

Chief Tomokie at Tomoka State Park
Chief Tomokie at Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach shown in a vintage postcard.30 Best things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida

 

Tourist Church

501 N. Wild Olive Avenue

The Tourist Church, also known as the Seabreeze United Church of Christ and the First Congregational Church, is an historic church located at 501 North Wild Olive Avenue in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States. Built in 1929, it was designed by architect Harry Griffin in the Mission Revival Style of architecture. Today it is an active United Church of Christ congregation.

On October 6, 1995, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

You need to see this church to understand just how interesting it is. From the coquina to the stained glass. It’s worth the stop especially if you are visiting the Ocean Center or Daytona Lagoon. They are very close to each other.

Tourist Church Daytona Beach, FL. 30 Best Things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida
The Tourist Church as depicted in an early 20th century postcard.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the 30 best things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida and that it makes your visit a memorable one. Please let me know of your favorites or places I should add.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products. 

If you are visiting Daytona Beach, make the short drive to Sanford and visit the Central Florida Zoo.
If you are visiting Daytona Beach, make the short drive to Sanford and visit the Central Florida Zoo. Click this link or the image for your “skip the line” tickets.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Ray Caldwell: Lightning on the Baseball Field-Literally

Ray Caldwell--Courtesy Library of Congress

Ray Caldwell—Lightning on and off the Baseball Field

The story of pitcher Ray Caldwell is certainly a cautionary tale to the dangers of
overindulgence. While Caldwell, at an athletic 6’ 2” and just under 200 pounds,
may have never been able to use his talents to his best advantage, his name is one
that will live in the legacy of baseball forever. Ray Caldwell, despite his physical prowess, is best know for being struck by lightning during a game.

Ray Caldwell was born in the town of Corydon, Pennsylvania on April 16, 1888.
Ray’s father was absent from the start. His stepfather, Lewis Archer, worked in the
telegraph industry, a field that Ray would find himself working in during off-seasons                                                    and in his years after baseball.

Corydon, PA would be erased from the map in 1965 by intentional flooding from
the Kinzua Dam and Allegheny Reserve.

According to baseball historian Steve Steinberg, Caldwell did not take up the game
of baseball until 1908, signing with a semi-pro team the following year. After a
strong performance on the mound against an all-star team from the Pennsylvania
League, young Caldwell signed his first professional contract, turning pro in 1910.

Ray Caldwell--Courtesy Library of Congress
Ray Caldwell–Courtesy Library of Congress

That year he won 18 games for Mckeesport and caught the eye of New York
Americans scout Arthur Irwin. Irwin signed the 21-year-old pitcher, and Caldwell
made his first start for the New York Highlanders on September 21, 1910. The
young right hander had arrived and looked forward to taking the mound and the
batter’s box in 1911.

Caldwell’s first full season should be seen as a success. Using a fastball that had
zip and a knee buckling curve ball, the young pitcher struck out a career high 145
batters on his way to a 14-win season. At the plate, major league pitching didn’t
intimidate him, and he hit .272 in his limited at bats.

The 1912 and 1913 seasons saw Caldwell dealing with arm injuries though by the
end of the 1913 season, he was showing his old form again.

1914 was a good year for Caldwell, if not for the Yankees overall. Again, pitching
well, Ray ran an impressive record of 17-9 with a 1.94 earned run average, good
for fourth in the league. His five shutouts that season were a career high. While his
pitching was strong, his hitting was suspect, ending with a career low, .195
average, including more strikeouts than hits.

With his career looking up, the inner demons were taking hold during 1914. Ray
loved the big city life of New York City. Ray had a penchant for women and the
bottle. During July, he went missing during a road trip, and racked up team fines
totaling $900 during the season; fines that owner Frank Farrell would rescind in an
effort to keep that talented hurler on his team.

Ray Caldwell was lightning on the baseball field; figuratively and literally after being struck while pitching. Ray Caldwell Courtesy Library of Congress
Ray Caldwell–Courtesy Library of Congress

Despite having signed a contract with the Buffalo Blues of the rival Federal
League, Caldwell was back with the Yankees in 1915 at the then high pay of
$8,000 per season. Despite having little offensive support from the light hitting
Yankees, Caldwell posted an impressive record of 19-16 with a 2.89 ERA for the
1915 season.

During the summer of 1916, Caldwell left his team behind, drawing the ire of the
team and earning a $100 fine and fifteen-day suspension. When this didn’t bring
the pitcher back to the team he was suspended for the remainder of the season.

Caldwell showed up late for the 1917 spring training, sporting a tan and looking in
good shape. The press called him “the Pearl of Panama,” believing he had been
pitching in a league there. Despite pitching well early in the season, Caldwell was
fined and suspended ten days for missing curfew and a game the following day.

When he returned from suspension, Caldwell showed flashes of his brilliance,
pitching 9 2/3 innings of relief to defeat the St. Louis Browns, only to be arrested
later that night, having stolen a ring from a local woman. In August, he was hit
with divorce papers and a request for $100 per month from wife Nellie, who
charged him with abandonment.

Despite a growing mountain of evidence against him, the Yankees resigned
Caldwell for the 1918 season, perhaps in hopes he could regain his early career
magic. In August, he left the team and went to work at Tietjen and Lang Dry Dock
Company, perhaps with the knowledge that being employed in what was
considered an essential industry in the war efforts, he could avoid being drafted.

Abandoning his team yet again was the final straw for the Yankees and in
December he was part of a multi-player deal with the Boston Red Sox. His stint in
Boston was a short one. He was released in July, sporting a 7-4 record. At age 31 it
certainly appeared that Caldwell was done in Major League Baseball.


Big League Chew – original – 2.1 oz pouch

from: Old Time Candy Company

 

 

The Cleveland Indians, led by Tris Speaker came calling and signed the pitcher to
a contract on August 19. His unique contract agreed that on days he pitched, he
should get drunk afterward and not bother reporting the following day. The second
day after a game, he was to report to Speaker and run laps as directed, the third day
he would pitch batting practice, and the following day he would pitch for the
Indians. He won five of six starts for the Indians with a low ERA of 1.71.

With the Indians, Ray had offensive support that he did not have in New York.
During the 1920 season, the first in what many consider the “lively ball era,” the
Indians were led by three 20 game winners, including Caldwell, and earned a spot
in the World Series.

The Indians would emerge victorious in the World Series, but Ray had a dismal
performance in his single game, giving up two runs in only 1/3 of an inning before
being pulled.

Ray’s pitching had become a bit more erratic, and Speaker and the Indians moved
him to the bullpen in 1921. He would be suspended during the season, only to
return and win two straight games. He followed up these wins by being shelled by
the New York Yankees, a game the Yankees won 21-7.

Ray Caldwell’s Major League career was over. Age, inconsistency, injury, and a
reputation for liking the bottle had caught up to him. He would continue to pitch in
the minor leagues, occasionally showing dashes of brilliance, but never brilliant
enough to attract a major league contract.

His final major league record was 134 wins and 120 losses with an ERA of 3.22.
Never a hard thrower he only totaled 1,006 strikeouts. His thirteen-year minor
league career record was 159 wins and 147 losses. In his 23-year combined
professional career, Caldwell won an impressive 293 games. Had he done that in
the majors, he might have a spot in Cooperstown.

Ray Caldwell Lightning on the Baseball Field; Literally

Caldwell is one of hundreds of players with heaps of talent who for whatever
reason never reach their potential. Most of these players are forgotten to time.
Caldwell, however, is remembered for a freak occurrence of nature during one of
his 1919 appearances.

In August 1919, pitching against the Philadelphia Athletics, Caldwell was on the
mound, having pitched a strong eight innings. With two outs in the ninth, and
teams looking to get out of the bad weather, lightning struck. Literally.

Players hit the ground, Caldwell lay flat on his back, unconscious. Indians’
manager Tris Speaker tried to send Caldwell to the hospital after he came to,                                                              but the pitcher insisted on finishing the game. Which he did, inducing a ground                                                          out to third from A’s shortstop Joe Dugan on the next pitch.

So just what is the truth of this story. There is no doubt that lightning struck
SOMEWHERE near the pitcher’s mound. Where exactly is debatable. Some
claimed it struck a metal railing close to the press box while others claimed it hit
the ground near the mound and sent the hurler flying. Caldwell himself liked to
claim the bolt struck the metal button on his cap, a highly unlikely prospect.

Others on the field back the claim that the bolt hit close by. Catcher Steve O’Neil
had his mask and cap knocked off. Umpire Billy Evans stated he felt a tingle in his
legs.

Perhaps that bolt of lighting is what Caldwell needed. Shortly after this, he pitched
a no-hitter against his former team, the New York Yankees.

Ray Caldwell, who was lightning on the baseball field, passed away on August 19, 1967,                                                at the age of 79 from cancer. His remains are buried in Randolph Cemetery, in Randolph,                                              New York, under a small, unassuming marker with a Masonic symbol. His fourth wife,                                                     Estelle, who passed away in 1992, is buried next to him.

Ray Caldwell was lighting on the baseball field; literally and figuratively.Ray Caldwell's headstone--Courtesy Findagrave
Ray Caldwell’s headstone–Courtesy Findagrave

An online memorial to Ray Caldwell may be found HERE.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a
purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect
any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are
never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

 

Yankee Stadium
Get your New York Yankees tickets HERE or by clicking the image above.
Enjoy an authentic sports experience in New York City and watch the New York Yankees at the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Share unforgettable memories with family and friends as you cheer on the Yankees in their quest for a World Series Championship.
Posted on Leave a comment

April 15 Major League Baseball Celebrates Jackie Robinson Day

April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball
April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball
April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball. Photo courtesy Major League Baseball

Every year April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball, from players, to coaches, to management, to staff, to umpires, they all celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on field, in recognition of the man who “broke the color barrier” in baseball. The story of Jackie Robinson has been told many times and is much more complicated and important than can be covered here in a  single blog post. I will supply some recommended sources for those wishing to learn more about not just Robinson the baseball player, but Robinson the man; a man who, at age 53, left us at way too young an age. An online memorial to Robinson may be found HERE.

 

Get your 100% insured Los Angeles Dodgers tickets at great prices by clicking this link.

Each April 15 is a major celebration around Major League Baseball. April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, a day that players in particular are highly respectful of. So what is Jackie Robinson Day and why is it celebrated on April 15?

April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball. Read more about the legend in Blackout. In 1946, Jackie Robinson began his career in what many, particularly in that time, called “organized baseball.” Organized baseball basically meant white baseball and not the Negro Leagues. For those seeking more information on Robinson’s first Spring Training, I highly recommend the book, Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training written by Chris Lamb. Here, you will learn much about baseball, the racism of the era, and the struggles and successes young Robinson dealt with on his way to being on the 1947 Dodgers roster.

Opening Day in baseball is always a major event and opening day in 1947 was April 15 (thus why Jackie Robinson Day is on April 15.) Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers that day, going 0-3 at the plate. He did reach on an error and scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning. It may not have been what he and the fans were expecting, but he held his own and showed he belonged with the Dodgers.

For the 1947 season, Robinson hit a very respectable .297 and lead the league in stolen bases with 29 while playing in 151 games. He was justly rewarded at the end of the season, finishing 5th in the Most Valuable Player voting and winning Rookie of the Year. You can find Robinson’s career statistics by click THIS LINK. After an extraordinary career, Robinson was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Call Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom FighterThroughout his life, Jackie Robinson was more than a baseball player. He was truly a cultural icon. In his post-baseball life, he used his fame in support of Civil Rights efforts and was often seen accompanying Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King is quoted to Robinson saying, “You have made every Negro in America proud through your baseball prowess and your inflexible demand for equal opportunity for all” You may read more about Robinson’s relationship to the Civil Rights movement HERE. Also recommended is the book, Call Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom Fighter. 

On April 15, 1997 at Shea Stadium before the Los Angeles Dodgers took on the New York Mets, Jackie Robinson’s number 2 was retired throughout Major League Baseball. Players then currently wearing the number were allowed to continue throughout their career but future players would be allowed to wear the number. The last active player to wear 42 in the Majors was the New York Yankees star reliever and now Hall of Fame member, Mariano Rivera, who retired after the 2013 season.

A listing of the last players for each team to have worn the famous number 42 is below.

Arizona Diamondbacks–never issued

Atlanta Braves–Armando Reynoso (1991-1992)

Baltimore Orioles–Lenny Webster (1997-1999)

Boston Red Sox–Mo Vaughn (1991-1998)

California Angels–Mo Vaughn (1999-2000)

Chicago Cubs–Dave Smith (1991-1992)

Chicago White Sox–Scott Ruffcorn (1996)

Cincinnati Reds–Roger Salkeld (1996)

Cleveland Indians (now Guardians)–Michael Jackson (1997-1999)Detroit Tigers–Jose Lima (2001-2002)

Florida Marlins–Dennis Cook (1997)

Houston Astros–Jose Lima (1997-2001)

Kansas City Royals–Tom Goodwin (1995-1997)

Los Angeles Dodgers–Ray Lamb (1969) (Robinson’s 42 was retired by the team in 1972)

Milwaukee Brewers–Scott Karl (1995-1999)

Minnesota Twins–Michael Jackson (2002)

Montreal Expos (now Washington Nationals)–Kirk Rueter (1993-1996)

New York Mets–Mo Vaughn (2002-2003)

New York Yankees–Mariano Rivera (1995-2013)

Oakland Athletics–Buddy Groom (1996-1997)

Philadelphia Phillies–Toby Borland (1994-1996)

Pittsburgh Pirates–Jason Schmidt (1996-1997)

San Francisco Giants–Kirk Rueter (1996-1997)

St. Louis Cardinals–Jose Oliva (1995)

Seattle Mariners–Butch Huskey (1999)

Tampa Bay Rays-never issued

Texas Rangers–Marc Sagmoen (1997)

Toronto Blue Jays–Xavier Hernandez (1989)

Jackie Robinson Day was first celebrated in 2004 at Shea Stadium in New York  with the Mets being host to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dignitaries at the event included Robinson’s widow Rachel, President Bill Clinton, and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. In announcing the tribute, Commissioner Selig stated, “In honor of Jackie, Major League Baseball is taking the unprecedented step of retiring his uniform number in perpetuity. Number 42 from this day forward will never again be issued by a major-league club. Number 42 belongs to Jackie Robinson for the ages.”

In 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s breaking the color bearer in Major League Baseball, Ken Griffey, Jr., with the support and backing of the Robinson family, asked Commissioner Selig for permission to wear number 42 in honor of Robinson. With permission granted, Griffey also wore his game socks in the same manner of the retired legend.

Since 2009, Chandler Bats has prided itself on continuously constructing the most finely engineered wood baseball bat in the world. Often imitated but NEVER duplicated, Chandler Bats remain THE gold standard amongst MLB’s top prospects and stars, as well as players of all levels. Decades of experience, the highest quality wood, the hardest finish and highest level of performance. We are DIFFERENT BY DESIGN™.


Chandler Bats CB26

from: chandler bats

 

For the next decade the only players to wear 42 were those grandfathered in, in 1997. Griffey again approached the commissioners office in 2007 for permission to wear the retired number in recognition of the 60th anniversary of Robinson’s first appearance.

Selig took the request under serious consideration and came back with the offer of allowing all players to wear the number. In its first year, Jackie Robinson Day was honored by more than 200 players and coaches.

Now, each season, April 15 is a date looked forward to on the schedule as all players wear number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson and his contributions not just to baseball, but to his country. Teams pay special tribute at the start of games and it can be seen in the faces of players, coaches, and fans, just how much the day means to them.

With the progress that has been made, and with the knowledge that equality is still a work in progress, April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, is one of the most important days in the baseball season.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

April 15, Maor Leage Baseball Celebrate Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium.
Celebrate Jackie Robinson Day, or any other day, with a trip to Dodger Stadium. Find your tickets by clicking the image above or THIS LINK.
Posted on Leave a comment

Frank Fanovich Major League Baseball Player New York City Police Officer: In Memory

Frank Fanovich

Frank Fanovich       

Frank Fanovich lived a life many boys have dreamed of. Frank Fanovich became a major league baseball player and then served as an officer with the  New York City police department.

On January 11, 1923, in the Bronx, NY, Frank and Mary Fanovich welcomed the birth of their son, Frank Joseph. The eleventh was a beautiful, winter New York day with the high temperature reaching 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Overnight temperatures fell to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. No snow fell on the city that day. It was without doubt a blessed day in the Bronx.

RMS PannoniaFrank Fanovich Major League Baseball Player
RMS Pannonia

Frank, Sr. was born in Pesino, Italy on November 27, 1892. He was five feet, eight inches tall, and weighed 161 pounds. His hair was brown, he had gray eyes, and a fair complexion. He worked as a chauffeur. On August 24, 1912 he arrived at the Port of New York aboard the RMS Pannonia, set to start a new life in a new country, one full of opportunity. On March 8, 1927, married and with a young son, his Naturalization papers were submitted.

As a boy, Frank, Jr. played sandlot baseball and grew to love, and become good at, the game. Later in life he was to play professional baseball, reaching the pinnacle, the Major League, if only for a short period of time.

While it appears, Frank did not complete high school, his World War II Draft Card and his enlistment records show him working for Phelps Dodge as a skilled lineman and serviceman. Frank was a tall and lanky young man, standing six feet tall and weighing 160 pounds. He had brown hair and eyes with a ruddy complexion and a scar on his right cheek.

As a member of the “Greatest Generation,” Frank proudly served his country during World War II. He enlisted in the United States Army on November 25, 1942, in New York City as a private in the Signal Corps. His enlistment was “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.” Frank provided his service stationed in England. Private Fanovich returned to the United States aboard the Queen Mary, docking in New York City on July 11, 1945.


Commemorative United We Stand Mens T-Shirt

from: Flagshirt

Shortly after arriving home, Frank, Jr. married his childhood sweetheart, Yolanda Franco, who often went by the name Gloria, on February 2, 1946, in Kingsbridge, Bronx. The happy couple were married for 65 years before Frank’s passing on August 27, 2011. Yolanda and Frank do not appear to have had any children, as none were mentioned in Franks obituary.

Shortly after exchanging their nuptials, “Lefty,” as Frank was nicknamed, was signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent. The young copule hitched their immediate futures to the whims of the baseball gods; i.e. managers, general managers, owners, and the talent in Frank’s left arm. He played for three different teams during the 1946 season, bouncing between the B and C minor league levels.

In 1947, Fanovich was sent/traded to the unaffiliated Watertown Athletics of the Border League; a team on the C level. Pitching in twenty-three games Fanovich compiled a 16-3 record and recorded a 2.85 earned run average. Playing in multiple positions as required, he played in a cumulative 59 games that season, In 99 at bats he legged out 32 hits for an impressive .323 batting average. Fanovich showed no power as a hitter with only three extra base hits, all doubles.

Frank Fanovich major league baseball player and later an officer with the New York City police department
Frank Fanovich major league baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds organization. Photo courtesy Baseball Reference

The Cincinnati Reds saw something they liked in the young pitcher and purchased his contract from Watertown, assigning him in 1948 to their AAA affiliate in Syracuse. For the Chiefs, he produced mixed results, compiling a 9-13 win/loss record for a team with an overall record of 77-73. While Fanovich struck out 120 batters, he struggled with control, walking 110. In a different era of baseball, the young pitcher threw thirteen complete games. With the stronger level of pitching, Franks batting numbers plunged. He hit only .219 in 64 at bats.

Things were looking up for the twenty-six-year-old pitcher as the 1949 season began. He made the roster for the Cincinnati Reds pitching out of the bullpen. He had been a starter during his minor league career but a chance in the majors was too good to overlook.

The season was not what the Reds and Fanovich might have hoped. Fanovich appeared in 29 games, compiling an 0-2 record with no saves, and a 5.40 earned run average. In only 43 innings pitched he logged 27 strikeouts and 28 base on balls. In his defense, the 1949 Reds were a poor team, finishing the season with a dismal 62-92-2 record. Fan support is what might be imagined for a team with a record like this. They finished with the lowest home attendance in the National League at just under 708,000 at Crosley Field.

With a not so grand start to his Major League career, Fanovich found himself back in the minors for the 1950 season, playing for the New York Giants AAA team, the Minneapolis Millers. Despite Fanovich providing an underwhelming 7-12 record, the Millers finished a league best 90-64. An amazing 24 players from the team spent some time in the Majors including Baseball Hall of Fame member Hoyt Wilhelm who led the team with fifteen wins.

With a passion to improve safety as well as quality, Chandler Bats sought to provide a revolutionary wood product for big league players. We've also made it our mission to offer the same high-end product to players at any level of the game.
With a passion to improve safety as well as quality, Chandler Bats sought to provide a revolutionary wood product for big league players. We’ve also made it our mission to offer the same high-end product to players at any level of the game. In 2019, Chandler Bats was acquired by Yoenis Céspedes’ YC52, LLC with the goal of supporting and expanding our production capabilities, product line, and more. Click THIS LINK or the image for information and to order.

 

Frank Fanovich major league baseball player and New York City police officer
Frank Fanovich major league baseball player courtesy Findagrave 

Fanovich led a journeyman’s lifestyle for the next couple of years, bouncing around the minors, playing for four different teams before landing back in the Majors in 1953 with the Philadelphia Athletics. For Fanovich the results were much the same as in 1949. In his first game pitching for the A’s, he faced three batters, walking all of them. Pitching in only 26 games he compiled an 0-3 record and an earned run average of 5.55. His control had still not come around, issuing 37 bases on balls to go with only 37 strikeouts. The Athletics were to remain in Philadelphia for only one more season before moving to Kansas City.

The final two years of Frank Fanovich’s baseball career were spent in Richmond and San Antonio in the minor leagues. His stint in San Antonio at the AA level may have been the best of his career. He put up a 14-11 record, a 3.47 earned run average, while striking out 118 and walking only 97. His 210 innings pitched were a career high. He pitched eleven complete games including four shutouts. At age 32 it was a great way to leave the game that he had given so much to.

Fanovich posted a career MLB record of zero wins and five losses in 55 career games. His earned run average was 5.49. Fanovich was to fare better in the minors, compiling a 73-74 career win/loss record including 52 complete games. As might be expected, some minor league statistics from the period are incomplete or unavailable so it is not possible to make a full assessment of his success.

After retiring from baseball, Fanovich went on to a successful career with the New York City Police Department, eventually joining the Manhattan North Narcotics Division. He would work for NYPD for 27 years before he and Yolanda would retire to New Smyrna Beach in 1987.

In his retirement years, Frank enjoyed a good game of golf, often on the Hidden Lakes course near where he and Yolanda lived. He also retained his love of baseball, keeping up with his beloved New York Yankees.

 

After having led a full life, Fanovich passed away on August 27, 2011 at the age of 88. His remains are interred at Sea Pines Memorial Gardens in Edgewater, FL, in the All-Faiths Mausoleum.

Frank Fanovich was a major league baseball player and later officer with the New York City police department. Frank and his wife Yolanda are interred at Sea Pines Cemetery in Edgewater, FL in the All Faiths Mausoleum.
Frank & Yolanda Fanovich are interred in the All Faiths Mausoleum at Sea Pines Memorial Gardens in Edgewater, FL

An online memorial to Frank Fanovich may be found HERE. A memorial for Yolanda Fanovich may be found HERE.

Frank Fanovich was as major league baseball player and New York City police officer, living the dream of millions of boys and young men.

To read the stories of other Major League Baseball players associated with Volusia County, click HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

 

Subscribe to Baseball America and keep up with everything going on in the sportFrank Fanovich Major League Baseball player  blog post
Every issue features coverage of the majors, minors, college and high school baseball as well as prospects, prospects and more prospects. Whether you’re looking to win your fantasy league or stay on top of the game at all levels, Baseball America puts it all in your hands. Click the image or link for information and to subscribe at a great discounted price. 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Daytona Cubs Intern Ejected Over “Three Blind Mice”

Derek Dye

Every professional baseball player is going to have a run in with an umpire at some point. Umpires are human and are going to make bad calls. Calling balls and strikes at 95+ miles per hour is subjective no matter what the official baseball rule book might say. Bang-bang plays at a base can be just as difficult as an umpire may be partially shielded and at times, they just make a bad call. Modern replay and the challenge system are helping to lessen the impact of these calls but in years past, player or manager confrontations with umpires were more commonplace. In 2012, a sensitive umpire ejected a Daytona Cubs intern for playing the song Three Blind Mice.

Usually not a lot comes of it. The player may argue for a bit while walking away. When a call appears to be particularly egregious the manager may come bolting out of the dugout. Usually, he already knows he is going to get tossed but these actions are not meant to change calls but to support and fire up his team and their fans.

Some managers have been known for their tantrums. Bobby Cox holds the all-time record for most ejections with a whopping 162, equal to the number of games played in a complete season. Others well known for arguing calls and being ejected are Tony La Russa, Lou Pinella, and Bruce Bochy.

You can review career ejection numbers on this page.

Watch as Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon gets ejected in this classic clip.

For players, coaches, and umpires, life in the minor leagues can be a drag with long bus rides, low pay, and the reality that very few of them will ever make it to the majors. Umpires have an approximately three percent chance of making it to the “show.” It’s a dream though that dozens chase every year. In fact, Daytona Beach is home to one of the most famous umpiring schools; the Wendelstedt Umpire School.

Want to know more about what it is like to be a Major League umpire? Read Called Out but Safe: A Baseball Umpire’s Journey.

 

 

 

 

For fans, these minor league games can be quite entertaining. Teams run fun promotions, there’s a chance to see legitimate major leaguers on a rehab assignment, and prices are usually very reasonable, especially in comparison to major league prices.

Late Innings August 1, 2012

Fans at Jackie Robinson Ballpark were treated to some unexpected entertainment on August 1, 2012. That night during a close game between the home team Daytona Cubs and visiting Fort Myers Miracle in a Florida State League game, fans witnessed an ejection that could not have been predicted.

To learn more about historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark, click HERE.

With the game hanging in the balance during the top of the eighth inning, Miracle batter Andy Leer grounded a pitch to Cubs shortstop Tim Saunders, who threw low to first base. Field umpire Ramon Hernandez ruled that first baseman Taylor Davis bobbled the throw and called Leer safe.

 

Brian Harper was the Daytona Cubs manager when an intern was ejected for playing Three Blind Mice
Brian Harper of the Chicago Cubs poses during Photo Day on Monday, February 27, 2012 at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Daytona Beach Cubs manager, and former major leaguer, Brian Harper came out to argue the call with Hernandez while home plate umpire Mario Seneca stood by taking stock of the situation.

Derek Dye Daytona Cubs Intern Ejected Over Three Blind Mice
Derek Dye is the Daytona Cubs intern ejected for playing Three Blind Mice
Photo courtesy Nigel Cook/Daytona Beach News Journal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daytona Cubs Intern is Ejected

Seated in the press box was twenty-one-year-old intern Derek Dye, who attempted to poke some home-team humor at the umpires and over the public address system played the children’s song “Three Blind Mice.”

Seneca was in no mood for humor and turned to the press box, picked out the culprit, and yelled out, “You’re gone,” motioning the ejection. Seneca took his ire even further, silencing the sound system for the remainder of the game. That’s right. No announcing of batters, no music, no between innings sound system. Nothing but silence.

At first there was a bit of confusion. Those in the press box through that Harper had been ejected despite not vociferously arguing. They quickly realized it was University of Illinois senior, intern, Dye that had been given the boot.

The small crowd of less than 1,000 reacted as would be expected, showering the umpiring crew (all two of them) with boos. Cubs staff was quick to improvise however and a staffer in the grandstand took to shouting the names of each batter in turn. The tired crowd played along clapping and stomping their feet, showing support for their beloved Cubs.

When the final batter struck out in the top of the ninth inning, the Cubs were 2-1 winners over the Miracle and fans left Jackie Robinson Ballpark with a story that almost had to be seen to be believed. Want to see it? Watch below!

The Cubs and Miracle took to the field the next evening with the same umpiring crew. Intern Derek Dye was not in the press box however. Feeling lighter in the wallet thanks to a $25 fine from the Florida State League, Dye was handing out wristbands, helping identify fans as being 21 years or older in order to participate in the “Thirsty Thursday” promotion that evening.


Dye, and some fans in attendance, questioned the authority of Seneca to eject a non-participant in the game. Dye was quoted afterward, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think the umpire had that sort of jurisdiction. I haven’t seen the flow chart of who has what power.”

While Dye may have questioned Seneca’s judgement, it appears that the umpire was well within his authority, and was not the first to do such. In an article in Bleacher Report they cited three rules Seneca invoked.

Paraphrased:

Rule 4.06(a)—participants should not incite or try to incite a demonstration by spectators

Rule 9.01 (b)—umpires have the duty to order a player, and others, to do or refrain from doing anything that impacts the administration of these rules and to enforce penalties

Rule 9.01(c)—umpires have authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules

So, while Seneca may have seemed thin-skinned and quick on the trigger, Dye’s actions were considered worthy of ejection by the league who handed down the token fine. For Dye, he received an immediate, if short lived, burst of fame. It was reported that interview requests were submitted by ESPN and the “Good Morning America” show and the young intern signed several autographs for knowing fans.

Neither Mario Seneca or Ramon Hernandez was able to beat the odds. Neither umpired in the major leagues. Their having ejected Daytona Cubs intern Derek Dye for a game is the reason they are remembered in baseball today.

Who doesn’t love Wrigley Field for a ball game? Chicago Cubs Tickets will go quickly. Click this link to search for great seats at the best prices. 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

Miami Marlins Tickets
Get your Miami Marlins, tickets by clicking the photo or THIS LINK.