Drinking Beer in the Left Field Tasting Room At Old Oriole Park

Peabody Heights Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, is located on the former site of Old Oriole Park, once home to the Federal League Baltimore Terrapins and the International League Baltimore Orioles.

Six Pack of Old Oriole Park Bohemian Beer, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Six Pack of Old Oriole Park Bohemian Beer, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

In honor of that heritage, the brewery has released a new beer, Old Oriole Park Bohemian. The bottle’s label includes a photograph of a player at Old Oriole Park sliding into home plate, with the grandstand near the left field corner as the backdrop.

Bottle of Old Oriole Park Bohemian Beer, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Bottle of Old Oriole Park Bohemian Beer, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

On June 27, 2015, Richard O’Keefe, the owner of Peabody Heights Brewery, and J. Hollis Albert, III, General Manager of the brewery, welcomed guests to celebrate the official opening of the tasting room, which is located in what was once left field at Old Oriole Park.

Comptroller Peter Franchot Talks With  J. Albert Hollis, III, and Richard O'Keefe, at Grand Opening of Peabody Heights Brewery Tasting Room

Comptroller Peter Franchot Talks With J. Albert Hollis, III, and Richard O’Keefe, at Grand Opening of Peabody Heights Brewery Tasting Room

Several local dignitaries were in attendance, including Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, Baltimore Orioles Minority Owner Wayne Gioioso, Sr., and Delegate Mary Washington.

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford Presents Governor's Citation to J. Albert Hollis, III, and Richard O'Keefe

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford Presents Governor’s Citation to J. Albert Hollis, III, and Richard O’Keefe

Governor's Citation Presented to Peabody Heights Brewery on the Official Opening of the Oriole Park Tasting Room

Governor’s Citation Presented to Peabody Heights Brewery on the Official Opening of the Oriole Park Tasting Room

Brewer Eli Breitburg-Smith gave a tour of the brewery. In the photo below, Brewer Breitburg-Smith and those assembled are standing in what was once center field.

Eli Breitburg-Smith, Brewer, Leads a Tour of the Peabody Heights Brewery for Dignitaries, including Comptroller Peter Franchot, Baltimore Orioles Minority Owner Wayne Gioioso, Sr., Delegate Mary Washington, and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford

Eli Breitburg-Smith, Brewer, Leads a Tour of the Peabody Heights Brewery for Dignitaries, including Comptroller Peter Franchot, Baltimore Orioles Minority Owner Wayne Gioioso, Sr., Delegate Mary Washington, and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford

The left field tasting room includes displays that celebrate Baltimore baseball history, including Old Oriole Park, as well as baseball artwork that captures the spirit of the game.

Old Oriole Park Historical Display at Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Old Oriole Park Historical Display at Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Posters of the book Deadball and the movie Field of Dreams Hang on a Wall of the Peabody Heights Brewery Tasting Room

Posters of the book Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel, and the Movie Field of Dreams, Adorn the Wall at the Peabody Heights Brewery Tasting Room

The tasting room is now open to the public every weekend, typically from 5-7 pm on Fridays and 11 am to 4 pm on Saturdays.

Old Oriole Park Beer Cases Stacked and Ready to be Filled

Old Oriole Park Beer Cases Stacked and Ready to be Filled

If you are a fan of the game and/or a fan of beer, be sure to stop by the left field Tasting Room at Peabody Heights Brewery. And while there, have a bottle of Old Oriole Park Bohemian on the very spot depicted in the label of the bottle that you are holding.

Celebrating Washington County Heritage With The Hagerstown Suns

This Saturday Night, June 20th, the Hagerstown Suns are holding “Washington County Baseball Heritage Night,” as part of the Suns’ 35th Anniversary celebration at Municipal Stadium.

Looking Forward To Heading Back to Hagerstown

Looking Forward to Heading Back to Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland

I am honored to be participating in a book signing during the game, along with local authors Bob Savitt (The Blue Ridge League) and Austin Gisriel (Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser). In case you are wondering why I would be included as part of the Washington County Heritage Night, my book Deadball: A Metaphysical Baseball Novel, prominently features Municipal Stadium.

Former Washington County Big Leaguers or their families will be in attendance Saturday night as well. Included in the list of players who made it to the Majors is John Wilson (1913), Ike Powers (1927-1928), “Boots” Poffenberger (1937-1939), Vic Barnhart (1944-1946), Dave Cole (1950-1955), Leo Burke (1958-1965), Mike Draper (1993) and Nick Adenhart (2008-2009). The Suns also are honoring Mickey Billmeyer, a major league coach, and Clyde Barhnhart, a long-time county resident and father of Vic Barnhart.

And if that isn’t enough, the first 1,000 fans receive a free poster featuring Hagerstown Suns players from years past.

For more information about the event, click HERE.

 

Surveying Site of Old Oriole Park at Peabody Heights Brewery

For several years I have wondered about the precise location of old Oriole Park’s home plate. From 1914-1915 the ballpark was known as Terrapin Park and later Oriole Park (V). The ballpark burned down in 1944 and is now the site of Peabody Heights Brewery.

Terrapin Park Postcard (Chessler Company, Baltimore, Maryland)

Terrapin Park Postcard (Chessler Company, Baltimore, Maryland)

This past Thursday, the mystery was solved. Richard O’Keefe and J. Hollis B. Albert III of Peabody Heights Brewery (which sits on a portion of the former ballpark site) arranged for a survey of the site to determine the location of home plate, as well as the infield and the outfield.

Anne Leininger of S.J. Martenet Company, Surveying Former Site of Old Oriole Park

Anne Leininger of S.J. Martenet Company, Surveying Former Site of Old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

Home plate was located on what is now a grass strip along Barclay Street, just south of the brewery and across the Street from the entrance to the Barclay School.

J. Hollis B. Albert III , Bernard McKenna, and Richard O'Keefe Standing at Former Site of Home Plate, Old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

J. Hollis B. Albert III , Bernard McKenna, and Richard O’Keefe Standing at Former Site of Home Plate, Old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

The surveyors also determined the former site of the pitcher’s mound, which was located in a grassy patch of land just south of Peabody Heights Brewery.

Site of Old Oriole Park Pitchers Mound, Located Behind Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Site of Old Oriole Park Pitcher’s Mound, Located Behind Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Site of Old Oriole Park Pitchers Mound  Looking Toward Home Plate, Baltimore, Maryland

Site of Old Oriole Park Pitcher’s Mound Looking Toward Home Plate, Baltimore, Maryland

The left field foul line ran parallel to what is now Barclay Street.

Left Field Foul Line marker, old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

Left Field Foul Line marker, old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

Third base was located next to what is now a loading dock for Peabody Heights Brewery on Barclay Street.

J. Hollis B. Albert III standing next to former location of home plate, old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

J. Hollis B. Albert III standing next to former location of third base, old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

Peabody Heights Brewery is in the process of putting together a display about old Oriole Park. Second base was located inside the brewery and Peabody Heights Brewery plans to include it as part of its brewery tour.

Peabody Heights Brewery at Old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

Peabody Heights Brewery at Old Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland

The tap room/tasting room will include a recreation of the old Oriole Park grandstand with a display and information about old Oriole Park, as well as information about several other former professional ballparks that once dotted the area nearby. The Baltimore Sun’s Jacques Kelly, a baseball fan and historian who grew up nearby, wrote this fine article about the surveying at old Oriole Park. Be sure to stay tuned for more information.

 

From Yard Waste Disposal To “Going Yard” – The Nationals Future Spring Training Home

At the southeast corner of 45th Street and Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach, just south of the power lines and the Royal Poinciana Apartments, is 160 acres of city-owned land currently covered with weeds, brush, and scrub trees.

Intersection of Havermill Road and , Future Nationals Spring Training Site

Intersection of Haverhill Road and Leeper Drive, Future Nationals Spring Training Site

A former yard waste dump site, the property is slated to become the Spring Training home of the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, beginning in 2017.

Power Line Running North East Across Havermill Road  Near Future Nationals Spring Training Site

Power Line Running North East Across Haverhill Road Near Future Nationals Spring Training Site

The Florida State Legislature still must approve the deal and no schematic drawings of the new ballpark have yet been released. However, assuming the ballpark design follows Major League Baseball Rule 1.04 which recommends that “the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East Northeast,” home plate for the new ballpark will be located somewhere just south of the intersection of Haverhill Road and Leeper Drive.

Intersection of Havermill Road and , Future Nationals Spring Training Site

Intersection of Haverhill Road and Leeper, Future Nationals Spring Training Site

Across from the proposed ballpark site, on Haverhill Road, is Advanced Disposal Services, a waste management company. Advanced Disposal operates a waste collection and disposal station at that location. It is a bit symbiotic, perhaps, that the Nats have chosen a spring training site across the street from a waste disposal plant, given that Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is located across from the District’s main sewerage pumping station on O Street.

Advanced Disposal Company, Located Across Havermill Road From Future Nationals Spring Training Site

Advanced Disposal Company, Located Across Haverhill Road From Future Nationals Spring Training Site

West Palm Beach boasts a proud Spring Training history, with ties to the Nationals franchise. West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium was located just five miles southeast of the Haverhill Road at 715 Hank Aaron Drive. Municipal Stadium was the spring training home of the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves from 1963 to 1997, and the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1972 and 1981 to 1997. Demolished in 2002, the former ballpark site is now a gated housing development.

Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

Former Site of West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium

Connie Mack Field (formerly Municipal Athletic Field and Wright Field) was located approximately seven miles southeast of the Haverhill Road site at the intersection of Tamarind Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard. Connie Mack Field was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns from 1928 to 1936, and the Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics from 1946 to 1962. Demolished in 1992, the former stadium site is now a parking garage for the Kravitz Center for the Performing Arts and a storm water retention pond.

Former Site of Connie Mack Stadium, West Palm Beach

Former Site of Connie Mack Field, West Palm Beach

Roger Dean Stadium is located just 12 miles north of the Haverhill site is at 4751 Main Street in Jupiter, Florida. Currently the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins, from 1998 to 2001, the ballpark was the spring training home of the Montreal Expos.

Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter Florida, Spring Training Home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins

Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter Florida, Spring Training Home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins

Beginning in 2002, the Montreal Expos held spring training at the Nationals’ current Grapefruit League home, Space Coast Stadium, in Viera, Florida. With the Nationals’ move to West Palm Beach slated for 2017, the Nats have only one more season in Viera.

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida, Future Former Spring Training Home of the Washington Nationals

Space Coast Stadium, Viera, Florida, Future Former Spring Training Home of the Washington Nationals

The Nationals relocation to West Palm Beach will be somewhat of a homecoming, with the Expos having previously trained at both Municipal Stadium and Roger Dean Stadium.

Welcome To West Palm Beach

Welcome To West Palm Beach

And beginning in 2017, Nationals stars such as Bryce Harper and Denard Span presumably will be “going yard” in what was once a place where the good citizens of West Palm Beach disposed of waste from their yards.

Talking the Talk on Susan Scher’s “In Other Words” Internet Talk Radio

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It was a pleasure being Susan Scher’s guest on her radio program, In Other Words, on March 4th. Although much of her audience listens to her show as a podcast, the show was broadcast live at 10 am and, if you listen in, you will know it had much of the excitement of a live broadcast.

To listen to the broadcast CLICK HERE. You can also download an mp3 of the show to your computer or iphone. Look for the cloud icon at the top right corner of the WEBSITE inotherwords

We discussed my novel Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel, as well as Baltimore baseball history, and the lost ballparks of  baseball.

I am looking forward to being her guest later this month on Radio One - on Friday March 27th – along with Orioles Historian and Author, Ted Patterson. More details to follow.

John McGraw’s and Wilbert Robinson’s Former Baltimore Homes Damaged By Fire

Chances are most people who live in the 2700 block of St. Paul Street in Baltimore, Maryland, have no idea that the two houses on their block that caught on fire on February 7th were once owned by two future baseball Hall of Famers, John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson.

2700 Block of St. Paul Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Where Wilbert Robertson and John McGraw Once Lived

2700 Block of St. Paul Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Where Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw Once Lived

McGraw and Robinson lived next door to each other at 2738 (McGraw) and 2740 (Robinson) St. Paul Street.

2738 and 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland. Where Wilbert Robertson and John McGraw Once Lived

2738 and 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland. Where John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson Once Lived

Both McGraw and Robinson played for the world champion Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s, when the team was a National League affiliate.Both players also were partners in the Diamond Cafe, located just two miles south of their homes, at 519 Howard Street in Baltimore. The Diamond is considered one of the first sports bar in the country.

Baltimore Orioles, 1897, John McGraw at bottom left  (laying down) and Wilbert Robertson second row, third from right

Baltimore Orioles, 1897, John McGraw, at bottom left (laying down) and Wilbert Robinson, second row, third from right

Robertson bought his house at 2738 St. Paul Street in 1898. McGraw bought the adjoining house at 2740 that same year. Robinson lived in the house with his wife and children. McGraw lived next door with his first wife, the former Minnie Doyle, and McGraw’s brother Mike. See The Real McGraw, by Mrs. John J. McGraw (p 112), The houses were located only two blocks north and four blocks east of the Orioles home ballpark, Union Park.

Rear of Row Houses at 2740 and 2738 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland. Former Homes of Wilbert Robertson and John McGraw.

Rear of Row Houses at 2740 and 2738 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland. Former Homes of Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw.

On February 7, 2015, a fire broke out in one of the homes and quickly spread to the other. Five people, including two children were injured in the blaze, although none appeared to be life threatening. Robertson’s home at 2740 St. Paul Street sustained the bulk of the damage. All of its front windows have been boarded up and the city has condemned the property because of the damage.

Fire Damaged House at 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Former Home of Wilbert Robertson.

Fire Damaged House at 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Former Home of Wilbert Robinson.

2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Circa 2013

Before the FIre, 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Circa 2013

Hopefully both buildings can be saved and restored. Although neither house is listed on any historic register, they should be given their connection to two Baltimore’s greatest baseball players.

Fire Damage To 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Forrmer House of Wilbert Robertson

Fire Damage To 2740 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Forrmer House of Wilbert Robinson

Several other homes of former National League Orioles Hall of Famers still stand in Baltimore City. These include Joe Kelley’s former home at 530 East 22nd Street, which is located next to St. Ann’s Catholic Church, where John McGraw married his second wife Blanche Sindall, on January 8, 1902.

Former Home of Joe Kelley

530 E 22nd Street, Baltimore, Maryland (three story tan brick row house). Former Home of Hall of Famer Joe Kelley

A former boarding house where John McGraw and Hughie Jennings both lived also still stands, at 12 West 24th Street (just six blocks west of Union Park’s former site).

Former Boarding House at 12 West 24th Street , Baltimore, Maryland, Where John McGraw and Hughie Jennings Once Roomed

Former Boarding House at 12 West 24th Street , Baltimore, Maryland, Where John McGraw and Hughie Jennings Once Roomed

Another house where Jennings once lived also still stands, but just barely, at 529 East 23rd Street.

529 East 23rd Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Former Home of Hughie Jennings

529 East 23rd Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Former Home of Hughie Jennings

As Joni Mitchell once famously sang, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”

Willie Keeler, John McGraw, Joe Kelley, and Hughie Jennings

Former Orioles and Baseball Hall of Famers Willie Keeler, John McGraw, Joe Kelley, and Hughie Jennings

The past, as seen through these buildings, is with us today. Like Al Kaline’s boyhood home, these buildings are an important part of Baltimore’s history. They should be preserved and their history celebrated. Unfortunately, the passage of time and a lack of vision have  a way of allowing structures like these to slip away.

Thanks to local Baltimore baseball historian Ken Mars for contacting me about the fire.

Baseball and Beer – Peabody Heights Brewery and Old Oriole Park

Peabody Heights Brewery has a rare opportunity to celebrate both Baltimore baseball history and Baltimore Beer. The brewery is located on the former site of  Old Oriole Park and Terrapin Park in the Peabody Heights section of Baltimore. The brewery opened a couple of years ago in the former Beverage Capital Corporation bottling plant at 401 E. 30th Street in Baltimore and plans now are underway to celebrate the former ballpark upon which the brewery is built.

Bernard McKenna, Richard O'Keefe, and J. Hollis Albert, III, Outside Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Bernard McKenna, Richard O’Keefe, and J. Hollis Albert, III, Outside Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Baseball and Beer in Baltimore go at least as far back as the early 1890s when Harry Von Der Horst, son of John Von Der Horst – the owner of Von Der Horst Brewery – was President of the American Association Baltimore Orioles. In 1892, Harry Von Der Horst’s Orioles joined the National League and just two years later brought Baltimore its first baseball World Championship. The National League Orioles played their home games at Union Park, which was located just four blocks south of what is now Peabody Heights Brewery. Harry Von Der Horst was something of an innovator, not only featuring Von Der Horst beer at Union Park, but also installing what perhaps was the first beer garden to be located in a Major League ballpark.

Richard O'Keefe Giving a Tour of Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Richard O’Keefe Giving a Tour of Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

When it comes to baseball and beer, Richard O’Keefe, the owner of Peabody Heights Brewery, and J. Hollis Albert, III, General Manager of the brewery, are innovators as well.

Bernard McKenna, Richard O'Keefe, and J. Hollis Albert, III, Marking the Former Location of Oriole Park Second Base, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Bernard McKenna, Richard O’Keefe, and J. Hollis Albert, III, Marking the Former Location of Oriole Park Second Base, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

In addition to building one of the finest breweries in Baltimore, O’Keefe and Albert have begun plans to pay homage to the baseball history that lies underneath its building.

J. Hollis Albert, III, and  Richard O'Keefe, at Former Location of Oriole Park Third Base, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

J. Hollis Albert, III, and Richard O’Keefe, at Former Location of Oriole Park Third Base, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

The two brewery officials have enlisted the help of others, including baseball historian Bernard McKenna (McKenna was responsible recently for locating the first known photograph of the Baltimore Black Sox’s home field  Maryland Park). On a rainy day last December, McKenna and yours truly met with O’Keefe and Albert to tour the facility and determine what portions of Old Oriole Park lies within the brewery grounds.

Beer Bottling Near the Former Infield of Old Oriole Park, Boxing Beer in the Former Outfield of Old Oriole Park, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Beer Bottling Near the Former Infield of Old Oriole Park, Boxing Beer in the Former Outfield of Old Oriole Park, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

We discovered that the former site of both second and third base lies within the brewery building, as well as a portion of right field, center field, and left field. The two story fermenting tanks sit near second base and stretch into what was once right field.

Beer Fermenting Tanks In Old Oriole Park's Former Right Field, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Beer Fermenting Tanks In Old Oriole Park’s Former Right Field, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

The brewery’s boxing area sits in what was once left and center field.

Boxing Beer in the Former Outfield of Old Oriole Park, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Boxing Beer in the Former Outfield of Old Oriole Park, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Brewmaster Ernie Igot’s mixing tanks sit in the former right field near the first base grandsstand.

Ernie Igot, Head Brewer, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Ernie Igot, Head Brewer, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Portions of Old Oriole Park remain on the site, including a concrete support wall that runs along an alley that parallels Greenmount Avenue.

Richard O'Keefe Walks the Eastern Perimeter of  Peabody Heights Brewery, Next to Old Oriole Park Concrete Support Wall

Richard O’Keefe Walks the Eastern Perimeter of Peabody Heights Brewery, Next to Old Oriole Park Concrete Support Wall

Also on the site is a section of the former left field brick fence.

Old Oriole Park Left Field Fence, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Old Oriole Park Left Field Fence as Seen Inside Brewery Compound, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Old Oriole Park Left Field Fence, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Old Oriole Park Left Field Fence as Seen From Street, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

The brewery’s loading docks located along the back of the building stretch from left field to center field.

Loading Dock Located in Old Oriole Park Left Field, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Loading Dock Located in Old Oriole Park Left Field, Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

The former site of Oriole Park’s home plate is located on the sidewalk that parallels Barclay Street, just south of Peabody Heights Brewery.

Former Location of Old Oriole Park Home Plate Just South of Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Former Location of Old Oriole Park Home Plate Just South of Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

With the former site of Old Oriole Park as a backdrop, O’Keefe and Albert are transforming one of Baltimore’s finest breweries into a place where fans of the game can not only take a tour of the brewery, but learn first hand the story of Old Oriole Park, Union Park, and three other professional baseball parks located within walking distance of Peabody Heights.

Richard O'Keefe, David Stinson, and J. Hollis Albert, III, Outside Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

Richard O’Keefe, David Stinson, and J. Hollis Albert, III, Outside Peabody Heights Brewery, Baltimore, Maryland

The past is all around, you just have to know where to look.

Walking In Williamsport on the Trail of Boots Poffenberger

One way for baseball fans to bridge the chasm between the last out of the World Series and the arrival of pitchers and catchers for spring training is to delve into the history of the game – maybe read a book or take a day trip to a nearby town or landmark with a connection to the National Pastime. Austin Gisriel’s Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hellraiser is an excellent choice if you are looking for a book to help pass the time until baseball arrives again this Spring.

Perhaps better, however, is spending an afternoon with Austin walking  in the footsteps of Boots Poffenberger through Williamsport, Maryland, the ballplayer’s home town. Austin was kind enough to show me around Williamsport this past November, just as the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals were cleaning out their lockers and scattering for the Winter.

If you have read Austin’s book, or if you know anything about Boots Poffenberger, you know that Boots had at least two great loves, baseball and beer. So it was fitting that our Williamsport Boots Tour touched on both aspects of his life. We started on the banks of the Potomac River at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Williamsport.

Williamsport, Maryland, at the confluence of the Conococheague Creek and the Potomac River

Williamsport, Maryland, at the confluence of Conococheague Creek and the Potomac River

Boots was born on July 1, 1915, According to Austin, Boots was named for his grandfather who piloted a boat  on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in and around Williamsport.

C&O Canal Lock 44, Williamsport, Maryland

C&O Canal Lock 44, Williamsport, Maryland

A rookie phenom pitcher with Detroit Tigers in 1937, Boots’s sporadic baseball career is well detailed in Austin’s book, as well as in the  SABR Baseball Biography Project article about Boots, also authored by Austin. When Boots wasn’t playing baseball (either during the off season or during those periods when he simply chose not to play, or was not allowed to play), he could be found at local establishments such as Ern’s Tavern at 35 North Conococheague Street in Williamsport. Now known as The Third Base Tavern (the “Last Stop Before Home” according to the sign), Ern’s was one of Boots’s favorite haunts.

Author Austin Gisriel In Front of Third Base Tavern, One of Boots Poffenberger's Favorite Haunts

Author Austin Gisriel In Front of Third Base Tavern, One of Boots Poffenberger’s Favorite Haunts

Boots’s legend lives large inside the Third Base Tavern. A table in the spot where Boots’s booth of choice once resided sits next to the tavern’s front window.

Where Boots Rested His Weary Legs - Third Base Tavern, Williamsport, Maryland

Spot Where Boots Rested His Weary Legs – Third Base Tavern, Williamsport, Maryland

A picture on the windowsill next to the table shows Boots in action, sitting in his booth at the Third Base Tavern.

Boots in his Booth at Erns Tavern, Now Third Base Tavern, Williamsport, Maryland

Boots in his Booth at Ern’s Tavern, Now Third Base Tavern, Williamsport, Maryland

As Austin has learned having written the book on Boots, there is no shortage of people in Williamsport who have stories to share about Boots. During the short time we visited the Third Base Tavern we met several such residents.

Continuing the baseball theme, we stop next stopped at Doubleday Hill, named after Abner Doubleday, the Union general who famously did not invent baseball (but did fire the first shot by the Union Army at Fort Sumter, South Carolina). During the Civil War, General Doublday commanded an artillery battery in Williamsport on a hill overlooking the Potomac River.

Doubleday Hill, Williamsport, Maryland

Doubleday Hill, Williamsport, Maryland

It is on that same hill, in Riverview Cemetery, that Boots is interred. Boots died in Williamsport on September 1, 1999.

The Final Resting Place of Cletus Elwood “Boots” Poffenberger

The Final Resting Place of Cletus Elwood “Boots” Poffenberger

As noted on his grave marker, Boots served in the Marines during World War II where, according to Austin, Boots spent much of the time entertaining the troops by playing baseball for the company team. Weeds covered a good portion of Boots’s plaque when we arrived, so it took a few minutes to find Boots. Austin made sure the headstone was cleared before we left.

Author Austin Gisriel Next to Boots Poffenberger's Grave Marker, Riverview Cemetery

Author Austin Gisriel Next to Boots Poffenberger’s Grave Marker, Riverview Cemetery

The last stop on our Boots Tour took us eight miles north of Williamsport to Hagerstown, Maryland. Boots’s played many games in Hagerstown at Municipal Stadium, including his last game as a professional ballplayer in 1948, when he as a member of the Class B Interstate League  Hagerstown Owls.

Municipal Stadium, Left/Center Field Wall Facing South Cannon Avenue, Hagerstown, Maryland

Municipal Stadium sign, Left/Center Field Wall Facing South Cannon Avenue, Hagerstown, Maryland

Municipal Stadium is one of the oldest minor league ballparks still in use in the United States and currently is the home field of the South Atlantic League Hagerstowns Suns, an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Out beyond Municipal Stadium’s center field fence  is the Stadium Grill and Tavern located at 401 South Cannon Avenue.

View of Municipal Stadium through Center Field Gates Near Parking Lot to Stadium Grill and Tavern, Hagerstown, Maryland

View of Municipal Stadium through Center Field Gates Near Parking Lot to Stadium Grill and Tavern, Hagerstown, Maryland

Although Boots played many games at Municipal Stadium, Austin could not say definitively whether Boots ever frequented the Stadium Grill and Tavern.

Stadium Grill and Tavern, With Municipal Stadium in Background, Hagerstown, Maryland

Stadium Grill and Tavern, With Municipal Stadium in Background, Hagerstown, Maryland

It seems a safe bet, however, that Boots would have stopped by the establishment from time to time given the bar’s proximity to the ballpark (the current incarnation of the Stadium Grill and Tavern dates back some 50 plus years). The exact history of the building housing the Stadium Grill and Tavern, and its use during Boots’s last few years of professional ball, is another story for another day.

The Stadium Grill and Tavern Is Casual, But with Limits, No Backward Hats!

The Stadium Grill and Tavern Is Casual, But with Limits, No Backward Hats!

Even though we could not prove a direct link between Boots and the Stadium Grill and Tavern, we nonetheless stopped there for lunch.

Interior of Stadium Grill and Tavern, Hagerstown, Maryland

Interior of Stadium Grill and Tavern, Hagerstown, Maryland

With a view from our booth of the last ballpark where Boots played professionally, it seemed a fitting place to end our Boots Tour.

A Room With A View of Hagerstown Municpal Stadium From the Stadium Grill and Tavern

A Room With A View of Hagerstown Municpal Stadium From the Stadium Grill and Tavern

If you haven’t read Austin’s book yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. And if you find yourself anywhere near Williamsport, Maryland, and are interested in a tour, I am almost certain Austin would be willing to show you around.

Fenton Street Holiday Market This Saturday December 20th

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This Saturday December 20, 2014, I’ll be at the Fenton Street Holiday Market in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, selling and signing copies of Deadball, A Metaphysical Baseball Novel. tboltcover

I also will have on hand for sale copies of the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts 15th Anniversary Yearbook.

Stop by for some baseball talk and while you’re at it pick up some gifts for the baseball fan in your life. I hope to see you there.

Third Time The Charm City at the Baltimore Book Festival

The Baltimore Book Festival is held during the last weekend of September each year. The annual event draws thousands of book lovers to Charm City for three days of appearances by local, celebrity, and nationally known authors, book signings, and more than 100 exhibitors and booksellers. In previous years it was held in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, just north of downtown in the area surrounding the city’s famed Washington Monument. In 2012 and 2013, I had the pleasure of selling books at that location.

Authors Tent at Bicentennial Plaza, Baltimore Book Festival

Authors Tent at Bicentennial Plaza, Baltimore Book Festival

This year the festival was held at the Inner Harbor and featured not one, but two Author’s Tents. My table in the Author’s Tent at Bicentennial Plaza was just a few feet away from stone markers honoring the 200th anniversary of the founding of Baltimore in 1797.

Bicentennial Plaza Marker, Baltimore Inner Harbor

Bicentennial Plaza Marker, Baltimore Inner Harbor

Underneath one of the markers is a time capsule placed in 1997 and scheduled to be opened in 2097. As much as I would like to, it is doubtful that I will be able to attend that event.

Baltimore Book Festival Table Mates  Raleigh Mann, David Stinson, and Seth Adam Kallick

Baltimore Book Festival Table Mates Raleigh Mann, David Stinson, and Seth Adam Kallick

On Saturday September 27th, I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Seth Adam Kallick, author of American Nightmare, A Tale of the Dead West, and Raleigh Mann, author of Jumping with Mixed Feelings, A Family Memoir. Raleigh’s daughter Beth accompanied him as well and offered free knitting lessons to anyone interested.

Authors Stage at Bicentennial Plaza, with Baltimore's Inner Harbor in Background

Authors Stage at Bicentennial Plaza, with Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in Background

At 6 pm Saturday evening I took to the Authors Stage at Bicentennial Plaza to give a brief history of the lost ballparks of Baltimore and talk a little about my book. The view of the Inner Harbor from the podium was spectacular. Thanks to Beth for agreeing to listen to my talk and thereby increase by 100 percent the number of people waiting in the audience when I arrived.

Day Two - Baltimore Book Festival

Day Two – Baltimore Book Festival – And, NO, the orange sign to my left did not fall and hit my head

On Sunday September 28th, my table mates were Barbara Mathias-Riegel, author of Curtain Calls, and Bill Fortin, author of RedEye Fulda Cold: A War in the Cold Novel. The Ravens played the Carolina Panthers that afternoon, providing the festival with an extra jolt of potential customers passing through the Authors Tent to and from the game. At one point in the morning there were so many fans walking by, the Authors Tent had the appearance of a second Ravens Walk.

Thanks to everyone who stopped to chat with me about Deadball and the lost ballparks of Baltimore, and especially those who were kind enough to buy the book. Thanks also to my table mates whose good conversations helped pass the time between customers.