Matt Silverman’s New House and Coffee Pot Park

On Saturday mornings, late mornings really, the purveyor of this site wakes and delights in the vast stretch of free time laid out before him, before he must return to work again and suffer the awfulness therein again. He stumbles out of bed achingly, yet looking forward to the peacefulness and lack of productivity that accompanies prolonged sessions on the internet, and indulging every random curiosity, usually baseball-related.

This past Saturday morning found yours truly on a baseball website that shall remain nameless for reasons discussed soon enough. This particular post on this particular website briefly mentioned that Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman recently purchased a mansion in the St. Petersburg area. This article linked to another article that went into almost exact detail as to the street name, distance from Tropicana Field, and prior owners of the home. Although this information is probably a matter of public record, and therefore within the bounds of journalistic propriety to release for public consumption, we here at the BBB feel Matt Silverman would probably rather not have his home address revealed to all of you out there on the internet.  Some of you are frightening.

However, knowing that we are of reasonably sound mind, the BBB, exercising its every random curiosity, endeavored to determine the exact house purchased by Mr. Silverman and we succeeded in that regard. Through a series of sequential calls placed by an informant to a series of public pay phones along Bayshore Boulevard, we were finally directed to a clandestine meeting with none other than Don Zimmer, waiting for us at a public park bench. He gave us the exact location. Don-Zimmer

As stated before, we are uncomfortable sharing that information with you unwashed cretins, but suffice it to say, Mr. Silverman lives somewhere in the vicinity of what is known to the locals as Coffeepot Bayou, as delightful a name given to a bucket of water as there ever was.

masonic lodge

So, where are we going with this? Well, readers of the last post will recall Baseball in Tampa Bay, by A.M. de Quesada. This book provides two photographs of particular interest to the topic at hand. One he describes as being of Coffee Pot Park, which he tells us was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns in 1914, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1915 to 1918, and the Boston Braves from 1921 to 1937.

Coffeepot Park?

Coffeepot Park?

De Quesada describes the other photograph as being of Waterfront Park, which according to Charles Fountain in his book Under the March Sun, which we uncovered while Google-searching, was located more to the south, where 1st Avenue South meets the bay.

Waterfront Park?

Waterfront Park?

In fact, Fountain’s book states that the Boston Braves actually played at Waterfront Park, not Coffee Pot Park, when they began their Florida spring training era in 1922. We actually suspect both photos are of Waterfront Park, based on their similarity to each other and other images we’ve seen. But that’s really not the point of all of this. The point is that beginning in 1914, the era of spring training in St. Petersburg had begun and it began at Coffee Pot Park. Based on several sources, this fact is clear.

Knowing this, we began to wonder about Mr. Silverman’s new house and its proximity to Coffee Pot Bayou. Obviously, he is a baseball man. He might appreciate the history of this location and its seminal role in spring training.  So, we began to wonder, did Matt Silverman just buy a house on the very spot where spring training in St. Petersburg began in 1914?

We knew the location of the home, which is near the bayou depicted in the Google Maps image above. We also knew that there used to be an old ballpark located near Coffee Pot Bayou. But where exactly did the old ballpark used to be? De Quesada never mentioned that fact. At first glance, that Masonic Lodge on the bayou’s northwest corner seems like the likely spot. Look at that big open space of greenery and the bent land boundary adjacent to the water where an outfield wall could have been. That’s gotta be it, right?

Nope. The Masonic Lodge’s webpage, which details how it came to be, has no mention of it being on any hallowed ball park grounds.

OK, so where do we search next?

Wikipedia! And here, on its sacrosanct pages, where every single fact is 100% accurate, we find something helpful:

In 1965, Fred Lieb wrote that the park was located at First Street North and 22nd Avenue in the “Granada Terrace” section of the city.[4] In 1966, Ken Goldman also wrote that the address of the ballpark had been at “First Street North and 22nd Avenue” which by today’s map would place the park southwest of Coffee Pot Bayou.

All right, now we’re diggin’ where there’s taters. Back to Google Maps! Back to Google street view! First Street North and 22nd Avenue!

1st N and 22 AVE

street

But wait a minute… it’s just an ordinary house. And some trees and stuff. Where’s the old ballpark? Where’s the grandstand? Where’s the line of Ford Model Ts? At least give me one of those bronze historic landmark signs! C’mon, Google Maps, gimme something!

To make matters worse, this was not the location of Matt Silverman’s new home. Not even close. In fact, it was probably a 10-minute drive away.

Our disappointment notwithstanding, the search had been fruitful nonetheless. We discovered a new book to read, the previously mentioned Under the March Sun, which, by all accounts and online previews, appears to be a well-written wealth of information on the topic of spring training, which began humbly enough and is now big business.

So what’s the appeal of exploring these old parks? It’s silly to romanticize that time period and the games which took place there. Most players were probably just eager to get it over with and move on to the regular season when the games really mattered.  However, some probably had a fondness for the seasonal return of baseball in a place that was warm, even during the winter, where they could fish in the bayou between practices. Now, almost one hundred years later, it’s nice to ponder the beginning of it all, the early years of what became Major League Baseball as we know it, with its enormous stadiums, fervent fan bases, and legions of scouts and reporters and bloggers. It’s just kind of neat to think about that on a lazy Saturday morning in December.

JEtbLue pArk, The Singularity, and The Apocalypse

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Return visitors here know the BBB takes kindly to a lot of things, but Red Sox Nation ain’t one of ’em.  However, like a doomsday cult leader the morning after The Big Day, we are amenable to new interpretations.  In light of the rescheduled apocalypse, we went about the delightful task of securing spring training tickets for this coming February (YAY!).  


While engaged in this wildly giddy task, we were presented with even greater delights in the form of sweet, sweet technological advance.  You see, it is now possible to comparison shop for seats at JEtbLue pArk.  Just click on one of the sections located here, and you will be transported, as if by a magical comet ride, to the spring training home of Red Sox Nation in Fort Myers, Florida.  


Is your seat in the shade?  Is it near the aisle, or in the first row of the section, perhaps?  Technology can provide us these answers now.  So, on the day of the real apocalypse, be comforted by that fact even while the snake god Kukulkan emerges from his stone temple and tears the flesh from your skeleton, sending it headlong into the abyss, and then into The Singularity, and then back into the abyss once more, with feeling.

Minors Imitating Majors: Nick Goody

james_brown's_celebrity_hot_tub_party01

You may click to enlarge the Funk.

You may click to enlarge the Funk.

There are some among us whose style, whose carriage, is so unique we are compelled to imitate it.  We should forgive ourselves of this, and rebuke those who would deny us our imitation, for we are but mortal and cannot be expected to throw on the bedraggled rags of shabbiness when the vestments of divine Funk are near.  Like Eddie Murphy robed in the sweaty velvet of Soul, we dip our toes into the Celebrity Tub that is HOT, and in the process, stave off banality for one more day.

Nick Goody

So Please, Please, Please, join me in remarking that Nick Goody, number 58 of the Tampa Yankees, resembles Jonathan Papelbon, also number 58, of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Let us enumerate as we contemplate the ways in which they are similar:

1.       Pre-pitch flat back

2.      Pre-pitch hanging right arm

3.      Pre-pitch left foot double tap

4.      Pre-pitch glove positioning at right shoulder

5.      Mid-delivery left knee raise across body

6.      Mid-delivery high right leg whip

7.      Post-pitch hop

 

First, the exemplar (Sep. 30, 2012):

Now, the mimic.  The official BBB videographer, who it seems is apathetic towards the lint on his lens or he would have done something about it by now, captured video of Mr. Goody at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin (Aug 29, 2012):

The attentive viewer will note Mr. Goody discourages stolen base attempts by expediting his knee raise while third base is open and a runner is on second, but that doing so is unnecessary while second and third bases are occupied.

This has been the second installment of Minors Imitating Majors

The Mysterious Windows of Joker Marchant

March 14, 2010. Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers.

March 14, 2010. Tampa Bay Rays vs. Detroit Tigers.

One of the more intriguing sights of Florida’s baseball parks’ is the mysterious building just past the first base line at Joker Marchant Stadium.  The darkly shaded and, until now apparently, tinted windows have always kept nosy onlookers from peering into the clandestine operations of the Detroit Tigers installation in Lakeland.  What’s in there?  Minor League scouting department?  Player training rooms?  Jim Leyland’s spring training stockpile of unfiltered Camels?

officeThe prevailing theory amongst the BBB staff of leisured analysts, who like to chit chat by the water cooler all day when they should be making funny gifs, or proofreading, or doing something for Christ’s sake, is that the dark tint hides the executive office of “The Judge” (Robert Prosky), owner of the fictional New York Knights baseball team in The Natural, starring toothsome Robert Redford. As you may recall, The Judge kept his office dimly lit, thus proving he had overcome a powerful childhood fear of the dark.  Thanks to the good folks at YouTube, the relevant scene is available below, and no, Jackass, you don’t have to watch the whole movie.  Just harness a few calories from this morning’s Mr.-Pibb-and-potato-chip breakfast to click and drag your electronic mouse pointer to the 54:45 mark.

Sadly, the BBB analysts’ theory was disproved Saturday as the setting sun retired to the west and revealed the room’s interior.  There was no hint of swirling cigar smoke, or imposing taxidermy, or powerful men uttering threats implied through teeth gnashed.  There were no imposing capitalists with their generous offers, provided we have an understanding, of course.  There was nothing but boring chairs and stupid walls and dumb sunlight, spreading its factuality all over everything.  

Dammit Truth, you’ve ruined Mystery again.

August 4th, 2012. Flying Tigers vs. Clearwater Threshers.

August 4th, 2012. Flying Tigers vs. Clearwater Threshers.

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The Buzzing Lights of Joker Marchant

A visual metaphor for the auditory intrusion of the incessantly buzzing lights at Joker Marchant Stadium, the otherwise beautiful and pleasing Florida home of the Detroit Tigers.

IMG-20120706-00079 IMG-20120706-00082

 

 

 

IMG-20120706-00081

Update: As of the 2013 season, the buzzing has stopped.
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Create Video Success: Digital Pompadour

The right place and the right time have rendezvoused quite a lot recently within sight of the official BBB videographer.   This past Saturday it happened at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  The videographer, who isn’t very talented but tries real hard, arrived early and took his assigned seat next to an amiable old man from Poughkeepsie.  While taking the first bite from something called a “knish”, the videographer overheard the Poughkeepsian say, “Get a load of this guy’s hairdo.”  The videographer looked up, stopped chewing immediately, and then searched desperately for his camera.

Now, women are generally expected to arrange their hair into a pleasing coiffure from time to time, if not every business day and most romantic evenings.  For men however, a beautiful arrangement of hair is a rare treat indeed.  It is for this reason the videographer seems especially taken with the appearance of this strange man and his alluring pompadour.  The video is a success because the software used to create it tells us so.   (The video for this post did not survive the transition from the old site, but this picture will suffice.)

featured image

Despite occasional flights of fancy, the BBB videographer is a true gentleman, and as such, does not succumb to base desires.  Therefore, there is no way, no possible way, he might have grabbed that strange man’s head and rubbed his cheeks through its unimaginable fluffiness, back and forth, slowly and smoothly, in a manner not unlike the spreading of icing on a cake.  No possible way.

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Jim Thome is Trying Hard to Get to Third Base

On March 5th, 2012, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida, Jim Thome was 6 foot 3 inches, 250 pounds, and 41 years old all day long.  Also on that day, Jim Thome was the stuff of legend, having previously hit 604 home runs, amassed 71.5 career WAR, and maintained a career .406 wOBA and a 145 wRC+ over his 21-year career.  For all of these number-y type reasons, he probably should not have stayed in the game after hitting a double in the fourth inning of an early March spring training game.  But he did, and the official BBB videographer, who is not very skilled but means well, was there to capture the moment.

Now, when Jim Thome enters the field of play, he takes it.  He takes it, and he enters it, like a stallion takes and enters a mare.  Nay, he enters the field of play, taking it in the process, on a chariot pulled by forty magnificent stallions, each named in honor of glorious notions like Dominion, Liberty, and Emancipation, to name but a few.  He then dismounts the chariot and enters the batter’s box trumpeting his presence with appendage extended, batting implement erect and purposeful.  The elegantly trotting stallion train exits stage left, shitting copiously and indiscriminately a carpet of perfect white doves, each destined for the heavens on wings whispered by angel’s breath.

Then Jim Thome hit that double and when he ran the bases, all 250 pounds and 41 years of him looked like this:

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Ozzie Guillen Will Show Us the Way

So much of human interaction seems more difficult than it need be.  Too often those of us desiring simply to be and to do are thwarted and ensnared and forced to suffer by those compelled to connive and to machinate.  Jealousies are conceived, petty squabbles are played out, and for what?  In the end, we’re all just headed for a box in the ground. 

So, while we are here, alive and forced to endure one another, why don’t we all just spread moments of pure joy?  On Thursday, the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves played a baseball game at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  At the end of a game in which neither side won nor lost, but both were better for the experience, Ozzie Guillen showed us the way: 

Featured image credit:  Elitedaily.com

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A Perfect Moment at the Ballpark

I can’t imagine how many dutiful repetitions it takes to hone a major league baseball swing, from little league to high school, maybe college, and then up through the minors.  Repetition upon repetition upon endless repetition, batting and cracking and whiffing through puffy blisters and the deflated pride baseball brings to those who play.  Over and over again, and then some more, sculpting the muscular contractions and synaptic pulses required for reproducible perfection.

Thirty-six different men, some of whom are paid exorbitantly for doing so, stepped into the batter’s box on Wednesday March 7th, 2012 at Steinbrenner Field.  Not one of them achieved quite the moment of perfection achieved in section 204 when a small human being wearing a baseball cap sat on the shoulders of a large human being, also wearing a baseball cap, at a game of spring training baseball.

father and son

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JEtbLue pArk Scoreboard

The reader should know this BBB contributor has a day job which requires him to wear fancy pants and to answer the phone when it makes a noise.  This job requires him to speak of things “going forward” and to “leverage” those things and to reply with “warm regards” to electronic internet mail about those things.  When alone and desiring nothing other than to produce or consume baseball writing, this contributor may refer to these requirements as his “stupid fucking job” even though he is exceedingly grateful to have it and he knows it is far from stupid.  But you see, at times when he must sleep before going to work, or iron his fancy pants in preparation for work, or be present at work when he would much rather imbibe baseball’s sweet, chin-dripping nectar, this contributor may be forgiven for referring to his employment with the aforementioned vulgarity.

It should also be noted there has been a bit of controversy at the BBB since you last joined us.  The leader of this outpost offered a gift to the commander of a much, much larger outfit and that gift was rejected, quickly and without much comment.  As many gifts do, it also benefited the giver through appearance of thoughtfulness or of skill in creating said gift, slightly, but measurably so.  However, the net generosity of the gift was not appreciated and its existence nullified.  I will not go into further detail about the recipient.  Suffice it to say he appears entrenched in his position and cannot be dug out, not even for a million bucks, I’ll bet.  Instead, I will share with you video treasure I pirated away from Jetblue Park, a name I insist on capitalizing because of the official BBB stance on ridiculously creative corporate name capitalization.

With the preceding thoughts in mind, this contributor hopes the reader will forgive the tardiness of this dispatch.  The source material dates back to March 3rd, 2012, exactly 16 days prior.  The subject of the source material dates back even further, decades in fact.  It is big and green and like most things lately, an embarrassment to Red Sox Nation:

Despite the September meltdown, the Red Sox offense plated 875 runs in 2011, more than any other team in the majors.  That offense is still punishing, and the wretched scoreboard operators who must update the scoreboard from the outside in between play, can woefully attest to this fact.  What happened on March 3rd, inaugural day at JEtbLue pArk, is what happens when an unstoppable force meets a fanciful notion.  En route to a 25-0 victory over Northeastern University, the Red Sox, who like to pick on people not of their own size, scored touchdowns in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th innings.  Mercifully, the game was scheduled for only 7 innings as there was another game set for later that day.

The more important takeaway from this game is that the scoreboard, formerly in operation at Fenway Park for many years, was brought out of storage to be installed at JEtbLue pArk, where it cannot be operated from the inside.  It is for this reason the scoreboard is a fine example of an excellent idea poorly executed.  Red Sox Nation begins this season as it finished the last, with regret over things not done properly.  As a Rays fan and one who fosters friendly rivalry, I say that regret is well-deserved.  They are after all, Red Sox Nation, and as such, deserve all bad things.

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