Scorebooks and Wrigleyville

It’s been two weeks since I’ve touched base with you, and a lot has changed for the Nats during that time.

The ballclub has suffered through an 0-6 homestand and a 12-game losing streak; they’ve been to Philadelphia and Chicago and grabbed a couple of wins along the way. We now look forward to some time at home with the Dodgers, Braves and Phillies before leaving for our last long road trip of the season.

The Baseball Scorebook I mentioned in my last blog is doing very well at the Nationals Park Team Stores. Centerplate (the Nationals’ vendor) reports sales are brisk, and I hope fans will pass along the art of scoring games to a new generation and keep this longtime baseball tradition alive.

I designed the book especially for Nats fans, and I think you’ll enjoy using it to keep track of games, or to give as a present to your favorite baseball junkie.

I’ve run into several fans recently who have the scorebooks in hand, and it’s fun to see the way others keep score, complete with scribbles and notes that only they can decipher.

Funny story--two years ago, a tattered, completely filled-out scorebook showed up at my shipping address in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It went back to the mid-’90s before the cover was laminated, and it was in really bad shape.

Inside, every page was filled with games from many ballparks, Major and Minor League. Obviously someone had found the book and mailed it to me. I searched every page and couldn’t find a single name or phone number of the owner.

So, I kept it, hoping I would hear from the person who lost it.

Months later, I got an email through my website from a baseball fan in California who shared how he had lost his scorebook while moving.

He was in a panic, because there were many personal notes in the book, even romantic things he had written to his wife! Of course, I hadn’t read the book that closely.

I was happy to inform him that I had the scorebook; I mailed it to him with a new one, and the story had a happy ending.

I have had contact with baseball fans from all 50 states, Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia, all thanks to the Scorebook; but that was the topper!

While the Nationals scorebooks are available only at the ballpark, please visit the website for more information. Thank you!

The Nationals are just back from Chicago, where I was once again amazed by the baseball miracle that is Wrigley Field.

I have done many series there over my 24 years as a Major League announcer and the place gets to me every time I visit.

Most of those games were in my days with the Cardinals, and those were crazy weekends with that great rivalry, the ballpark divided like a college football game, the colors red and blue clashing as Cards and Cub fans sat side-by-side.

Now that I’m with the Nats, Wrigley doesn’t seem as hostile as it did then, and I’ve come to appreciate the pure baseball experience that is day baseball in Chicago.

The TV booth is very small, and Don and I collided many times over the weekend, but we knew we were experiencing something special in that small, intimate baseball shrine.

Don had the “pleasure” of pitching there several times on treacherous, windy afternoons.

From the ivy walls to the bleachers to the old hand-operated scoreboard to the 7th-inning stretch, there’s no baseball setting like Wrigley.

And when the Cubs win, the “Go Cubs Go’ song blares over the speakers as the team shakes hands, and 40,000 sing in unison--and they sing, and they sing, and they sing. That song seems to go on forever if you’re with the vanquished visiting team, then they take down all the flags atop the scoreboard and fly a single white flag with a blue W on it. It flies until the next game, and it’s something so simple that you almost feel like you’re back in the ’20s or ’40s when you’re there and see it.

I’ve been to Fenway many times, but there’s something about a day game at Wrigley that’s better. After the game, many fans stay and stay ... they don’t want to leave!

When they do, they spill onto the surrounding streets and crowd the bars and souvenir stands of Wrigleyville, the neighborhood that rings the ballpark. They mingle for hours, as if they never want to leave.

It’s like that line from “Field of Dreams,” where fans come to soak up the atmosphere, and it’s so thick, “you can almost feel it and swat it away from your face.” If you’re a baseball fan, you have to visit Wrigley Field some sun-soaked afternoon.

But okay, we’re back home ... time to get some wins vs LA-ATL & PHL. Until next time ... BC