Thursday, April 22, 2021

Malamisura's and Bowen Field - It's a Family Thing

 Bluefield (VA) - One of the first things you will notice when you walk in to historic Bowen Field in Bluefield is a plaque hanging on the wall to the right honoring a lifetime of dedication from Patsy Malamisura. The current General Manager of the facility might pay just a bit more attention to the Memorial each day when he comes to work nowadays.

             Patrick is Patsy's son and to say he grew up in and around Bowen Field would be an understatement. Known to all that do business at the ballpark as Rocky, the younger Malamisura stepped up to his current title in early 2017.


               From shagging foul balls for a quarter apiece in the early days while his Father ran the baseball operations to returning to the top spot after retiring from his career at his day job, Rocky is known far and wide for his efforts in keeping baseball a huge part in this little corner of the State of Virginia.

               There's seldom a dull moment in the constant juggling of the various tenants that call Bowen Field home, either fulltime or the rare occasions where a team or organization looks to sneak in a game at the majestic park. The latest big project is well underway as the construction crew is hard at work trying to put the finishing touches on the new press box atop the stands behind home plate. The new box when finished will be a huge improvement of the current location on the third base line that is effected by the late afternoon setting.

                Rocky smiles when he talks about his family being involved with the stadium for seven decades now and its a safe bet that the community knows that their ballpark is in the best hands possible!

                Bluefield Daily Telegraph writer Tom Boone wrote a feature story on Rocky when he took over the position back on January 31, 2017.

                You can check out that article at www.bdtonline.com   

    

8 Years in between Posts ? It's safe to say that a great deal of life has happened !

 Ground Hog Mountain, Virginia -

                    I had to smile when I noticed that 8 years had transpired in between my final post in 2013 and the two latest ones from this week. After spending an amazing decade plus in the Northern part of God's own Valley I ended up off the Coast of Washington state in the San Juan Islands. There were a number of reasons that took me as far away from the Valley as one can go without actually leaving the Country but once Life allowed me to return we came back to the Old Dominion at the start of 2021.

                  A few things that have changed include the location of the family as following the passing of my beloved parents I wanted to return to their roots. Both of my parents grew up off different parts of US-58 that runs across the bottom of the state. Dad spent his early life in a spot near Buggs Island Lake, just outside of Clarksville while my Mom was raised at the other end of the 500 mile long highway near the Cumberland Gap. Harrogate, Tennessee might be the closest cluster of folks and Middlesboro, Kentucky would pass as the nearest "Big Place" unless you wanted to wonder out of the comforts and head all the way down to Knoxville.

                 I happily reached a point in my life where I could relocate to any spot in the Country or World for that fact and I decided on heading to a part of the Country that goes by the name Appalachia. I embrace the word Appalachia in the same manner that I did when someone would call me a Navy Brat as we were growing up. Loyalty is a BIG word in my World so trying to stay true to my upbringing by returning to a little place on the side of a mountain in between Mount Airy, North Carolina and Hillsville, Virginia.

                 Now that my work career is officially over I can devote my time to the one great passion that I have had in life - searching out special people and trying to tell their story, assuming they want it to be told! I have been writing for over 40 years now and the one constant is I always write in a positive light, with no exceptions. The early years of my life were heavily influenced by the words of one of the All-Time great storytellers in Jimmy Buffett.

                 Years before Buffett made a name for himself with his legions of Parrot heads he penned a song about how he would NEVER make his music for money but instead always make his music exactly how he wanted it to sound. If Buffett writes that same song now it would be laughable with his storied career but he wrote it when he was broke and just wanted to play his guitar and sing.

                My path down the road of writing had a very similar start in that I was fortunate enough to get a  chance to cover Sports for a large 7-Day newspaper while still in High School. I loved what I was doing and how I was doing it when my editor instructed me that if I wanted to be taken serious in this business that I would have to learn how to write in a manner that sounded like criticism. I proudly stood my ground and stated I would never write in a mean spirited manner. The conversation ended with my boss suggesting to me that I head down to the end of the street and apply at the weekly newspaper, were my passion for "Fluff" might find a home.

                Switching over to the neighboring St. Charles Journal allowed my writing style to continue for the remainder of my high school days but a serious career in journalism would never be in the cards for me. Just as my early mentor Buffett stated oh so elegantly roughly 50 years ago - I want to do my writing for me (and the subject of the writing).

                Over the years I have managed to have my work appear in close to twenty different publications across the Country and even managed to be the Sports Editor for a weekly publication in Virginia for a year. If I will mention that Buffett played a role in my writing style I would also need to mention that the person that bookends him is Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin is often ripped for writing too smart which is simply hilarious to me as I can only hope to write half as smart as Sorkin has done for the past 20 to 30 years.

                There are no sponsors in connection to my blog and there is no plans for that to change. There is no concern for the ratings, if you will allow a couple of The Newsroom phrases to be dropped in from time to time. As Will would say throughout the 25 episodes - "I'm on a mission to civilize!"

                I welcome any and all readers to check in from time to time as I have but one goal in mind, search for POSITIVE stories and try to be as uplifting as possible every single day !!  

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Remember that time when an Empty Chair cost me a rare chance to visit with Bo Trumbo and Allen Fisher?

 Bluefield (VA) -

                 While watching the game of baseball has always been somewhat enjoyable to me I will admit to getting to swap stories about the great game of baseball is where true enjoyment come from. Getting to sit with the right person or people for a nine inning contest brings un-chartable joy to any afternoon or evening.

                 When I arrived at Bowen Field in beautiful Bluefield , Virginia I was looking forward to bumping into Allen Fisher after having shared a couple of days of baseball chatter with on Saturday and Sunday up in Princeton when the great folks up there allowed our Wandering Golden Bears to take camp there for our series with visiting Indiana University - Southeast.

It didn't take long for the stories to start flowing in the press box early on Saturday and they quickly spilled over into the action on Sunday. It's very seldom that I have trouble matching stories about the game with any individual that I cross paths with but Fisher was running laps around me the entire time.

            Fisher has spent a lifetime in the game of baseball through his role as Clubhouse Manager first for the Cincinnati Reds and later for the Tampa Bay Rays. The journey began back in the early 1990's when he took the position in Princeton for the Reds minor league affiliate and has now come full circle as he will be back in a Princeton clubhouse again this Summer for the new WhistlePigs.

           The best part of the two afternoons with Fisher is that we shared the same thought process when it comes to sharing stories - putting the emphasis on the ones that should make people smile. I am sure that Fisher has seen enough "wrong" to fill multiple books but he didn't go dark with a single story and this, for me is the purest form of story telling! Fisher had mentioned in passing that he would be making the ever so trek across US-460 from Princeton to Bluefield on Tuesday for our contest with the host Bluefield College Rams so I was excited to pick up where we left off over the weekend.

          Being that our Tuesday contest was a true road game versus other time this season we called Bowen Field our home, I knew that I would have limited responsibilities for the afternoon so I brought my keyboard along so that I could work on one of the features about Tech's Joe Goddard. A day full of typing about a modern day Hero in Goddard while only taking breaks to listen to Fisher talk about his lifetime in baseball sounded like a dream come true!

        Once I arrived at the park, carrying a keyboard and a gas station cup of coffee for Skipper Lawrence Nesselrodt I was quickly introduced to another larger than life baseball figure in Marion F. "Bo" Trumbo. To call Trumbo a legend in both the Valley League and all baseball would be comparable to saying Ben & Jerry's make ice cream. It was amazing to me that in my decade long run in the VBL had never brought me face to face with Trumbo before and I will admit that it brought a HUGE smile to my face when he acknowledged being familiar with some of my work in the VBL.

        I was only a brief moment into my conversation with Trumbo when Fisher happened to approach us and surprisingly I had the honor of introducing the pair as they had never met before. My day was getting better at an alarming rate as now I was going to get to sit between the two local legends of the game while creating a story about a third one in Goddard!

       Hanging out with Lawrence "Big Picture" Nesselrodt for 13 years was highlighted by who you might get to visit with on a given day and today I had won the lottery. All I had to take care of was one minor detail in that it was my job to go up to the press box and inform the Public Address announcer how to correctly pronounce two of our trickier names in Nesselrodt (Ness-el-wrote) and Jared Sermersheim (Sure-Mer-Sheim).

       I bolted up the steps to take care of this and noticed something both surprising and sad. The PA chair was empty which meant there would be no one calling the contest between the Rams and our Golden Bears. Baseball without sound isn't the same as baseball with a voice bringing the players up to the plate and keeping the fans in the loop.

     I quickly glance down to the VIP box and could tell Trumbo and Fisher were well into their dialogue and a second glance let me know that there was less than 50 people there to watch a Tuesday afternoon non-conference game. The third and final glance was back at the empty chair and thanks to the sound of Rick Barry in my head, I sat down and called the ballgame. The Rams won 6-1 and my participation in the conversation with Trumbo and Fisher was when I introduced them to the crowd in separate innings.

     I am not sure when the opportunity to converse with Trumbo or Fisher will come again or if it will ever present itself again but in a lifetime of trying to do what is right, it's not always easy, is it Rick ?


Monday, April 19, 2021

Life on the Road with Lawrence Nesselrodt and the West Virginia Tech Golden Bears

           After an unscheduled 15 day layoff due to Covid safety protocols (April 2nd-17th) the Golden Bears returned to the baseball diamond over the weekend by hosting #20(NAIA) Indiana- Southeast in Princeton, West Virginia. While the team came up on the short end of the scoreboard in all 3 contests against the visiting Grenadiers, getting back to playing the game they all Love proved to be a victory in its self.

         The 2021 schedule has been interrupted now on multiple occasions but nothing threatens to slow down the enthusiasm of Skipper Lawrence Nesselrodt. Ness will quickly tell anyone listening that "It's a Great Day for Golden Bear baseball."

        After returning up I-77 to their Beckley campus late Sunday night the Golden Bears will return to class today before taking to the road Tuesday morning for a non-conference twin bill at scenic Bluefield College (VA). Bowen Field will be the sight for a Golden Bears game for the third time this season but this time will be different and WVU-T will be the visitors on the scoreboard.

            The Golden Bears played down in Bluefield against the Rams back on March 17th as the visiting team, falling short 14-7. The team returned on March 29th but this time resided in the home dugout while hosting River States Conference foe Oakland City only to fall short on both ends of the double header.

            First pitch is slated for 1:00pm on Tuesday with Game 2 slated for 30-45 minutes after the conclusion of the first contest.

           In a separate piece of news Golden Bear senior Bob Funk claimed the top spot in the Annual "Getting my Senior Day Celebration" form turned in! Well Done Mr. Funk.

          Senior Day is currently slated for Saturday May 1st against Ohio Christian.