OCTOBER 29, 2014


New home plate laid in at Wade Stadium   

Red Wings to operate Batavia again in 2015 

MiLB approves team move to Columbia  


It is awards season here at Ballpark Digest, as we begin our recognition of the best of the entire baseball world from the 2014 season. We begin with our choice of the Salt Lake Bees' Steve Klauke as broadcaster of the year. Watch the site for daily announcements of award winners; we'll have our Best New Ballpark award in next week's newsletter.--Kevin Reichard

By Jesse Goldberg-Strassler

In 1994, he became the inaugural voice of the Salt Lake Buzz (renamed the Bees during the 2005-2006 season). This past season, on June 24, he called his 3,000th game for Salt Lake.

Today, Ballpark Digest honors Steve Klauke as the 2014 Broadcaster of the Year.

"Over the years, fans identify with a team through its broadcaster, and since 1994 Bees fans have been lucky to have a broadcaster like Steve Klauke behind the booth," said Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest publisher. "This award is recognition for Steve's daily accomplishments, as well as his career with the Salt Lake Bees."


"Steve is not just one of the best broadcasters in Minor League Baseball; he is one of the best in any sport, at any level," said Bees General Manager Marc Amicone. "This is a well-deserved award for the hardest-working and most-dedicated broadcaster I've ever met."


"I would like to thank Kevin and the voting panel at Ballpark Digest for this wonderful honor," Klauke said. "With all of the talented broadcasters in Minor League Baseball, especially my cohorts in the Pacific Coast League, it is greatly appreciated and very humbling."


Klauke's time in Salt Lake City began in 1991, when he joined the Utah Jazz broadcast team for pregame, halftime and postgame shows. In 1994, when the Portland Beavers became the Salt Lake Buzz, he was selected to handle play-by-play duties on radio and television for the team. After 3,064 games, two MLB affiliates and over 500 different players later, he's still going strong with some of the best game broadcasts in all of baseball.  


"I have always received a lot of enjoyment from following those players that have gone to success in the major leagues, which in my case means guys like LaTroy Hawkins, who is the only member of our original 1994 Salt Lake Buzz team still in the majors, Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski, John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Jered Weaver and Mike Trout, among many others in our first seven years of affiliation with the Twins and the last 14 seasons with the Angels.

"There is also a big piece of my heart that goes to the guys that gave it their all and for whatever reason, did not make it," Klauke said. "Fortunately through Facebook and other means, I have been able to stay in contact with some of those players and many of them have gone on to successful post-baseball careers.

"One of the main things I have learned in this business is that there are no shortcuts. As I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, I do more homework now than I did when I was a student in high school (which may explain my grades back then). Another came from a piece of advice I received from the late Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, who told me that no matter how bad your day has gone, don't take it on the air with you. The people who are listening are doing so, in part, to escape their own problems for a couple of hours. So whether it may be a travel problem, something going wrong with your equipment or some other difficulty, unless you can turn it into a funny, laugh it off story, don't bother the listener with it."


It is a classic take on broadcasting: let the game be the center of the action.  


"There is so much to enjoy about what I do, I am not sure where to start," he said. "I still enjoy going to the ballpark every day, talking with the managers, players and coaches before, during or after batting practice to get those nuggets for the broadcast, as well as walking the concourse just after the gates open to find out what the fans are thinking and what they want to know.


"As I put it to one newspaper reporter this summer, yes, there are days that I come to the ballpark tired, especially after a 3:30 wake up call following a night game for a 6:30 a.m. flight, but I am never tired of what I do."


And neither are Bees fans.


Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is the Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and the author of The Baseball Thesaurus from August Publications.





We have some exciting book news to pass along.

Our newest book release is not a baseball title, but it's a great book for anyone interested in the history of sports and racial integration. When Jimmy Raye enrolled at Michigan State University in 1964, he did more than just enroll in a university hundreds of miles from his native Fayetteville, N.C.: he was part of a groundbreaking movement that changed college football forever.


His story, as well as his Spartan teammates and coach Duffy Daugherty, is told in Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, The Integration of College Football, and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. This the first book to fully explain Duffy Daugherty's Underground Railroad and its impact on college football. History has not accorded Daugherty, Raye, and the Spartans proper credit for their roles in the integration of college football. Too many view Daugherty as recruiting a couple of All-American players from the South, winning a bunch of games with his 1965-66 teams and then having it all come to an end.


In Raye of Light, Shanahan tells the story of how Daugherty integrated his Spartan teams in a time when leading college programs like the University of Alabama were still segregated, when it was unusual to see black athletes at skill positions like quarterback, and when choices for outstanding Southern black athletes were either traditionally black colleges or northern colleges opening their doors to nationwide recruits.


It's a great story, one told well by Shanahan. It's well worth checking out. 


 You can read more at the book's website.

We're now shipping the second edition of Cradle of the Game: Baseball and Ballparks in North Carolina by Mark Cryan and a foreword by Miles Wolff.  


You can read a full description at the August Publications website, but here's a summary from Cryan's intro:


Today, crowds continue to gather to see history-rich teams like the Asheville Tourists and the Durham Bulls play in beautiful, modern facilities, teams like the Charlotte Knights and the Greensboro Grasshoppers bring baseball into revitalized urban centers, and cheer on amateur teams like the Edenton Steamers and Wilson Tobs in ballparks built before many of their fans were born.


From the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Coast to the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina prides itself on "having it all," and surely the baseball fans of the region are blessed as well. With affiliated minor-league teams ranging from Rookie classification to Triple A and with four different minor leagues overlapping, North Carolina has a total of nine professional teams, eight collegiate-level Coastal Plain League teams, and over a dozen Division I college programs. The national governing body also calls North Carolina home, with Cary hosting USA Baseball in a beautiful multi-field complex. That's more baseball per capita than just about any state in the nation, and maybe the most baseball crazy place in the world outside of Latin America. A traveling fan in North Carolina need never go a night without a cold drink and a scorecard in his hands between March and September.


Cradle of the Game is 294 pages and costs $22.95.Ordering information is at the August Publications website; you can order it directly from our offices (and we'll throw in free shipping!), with paperback and eBook editions available as well from Amazon.


Also available: Never a Bad Game: Fifty Years of the Southern League.


Fans of the Southern League have seen it all since the circuit was founded 50 years ago: colorful characters, charming ballparks, and some of the best baseball players showing their potential. From Matt Moore and Cal Ripken, Jr. to Michael Jordan and Jose Canseco, Mark McCarter has seen them all-and tells their stories with grace, humor, and style in Never a Bad Game: Fifty Years of the Southern League.


McCarter, the award-winning columnist for the Huntsville Times and the Alabama Media Group, shares his tales of the Southern League, his beat since 1976. From can't-miss prospects like Cal Ripken, Jr. and Jose Canseco to some of the most colorful players in the minors, like Joe Charboneau and including a host of the biggest names in baseball (Bo Jackson, Chipper Jones, and Derrek Lee), Never a Bad Game: Fifty Years of the Southern League is a fascinating account of the people who make baseball what it is. With a foreword by the Atlanta Braves' Craig Kimbrel, Never a Bad Game: Fifty Years of the Southern League is a must-read for any baseball fan.


What others say about Never a Bad Game: Fifty Years of the Southern League:

"As someone who spent an inordinate amount of time watching the Huntsville Stars-go ahead, bet me that I can't name their 1985 championship-winning starting lineup-and can recite Joe Charboneau's Chattanooga Lookouts stat line by heart, I thought I knew all I needed to about the Southern League. I was wrong. Few history lessons are as entertaining as Never a Bad Game, and few writers are as entertaining as Mark McCarter. This book is proof that the best stories are often found far away from the glare of the big-league spotlight."

--Mark Bechtel, Senior Editor, Sports Illustrated

"Mark McCarter has never simply 'followed' Southern League baseball, he's lived it-and he's loved every minute. He didn't need to write a book to prove that. Thankfully, he did anyway. Never a Bad Game is a fascinating reminder that even baseball's greatest heroes once rode busses through Alabama, and that some of the most compelling history happened during five-game sets in Southern League ballparks. Mark's passion for pursuing and telling these stories should appeal to everyone who's ever eaten a hot dog in the bleachers."

--John Turner, Deputy Editor, The Sporting News


"Having covered minor-league baseball for six years before moving on to cover the Brewers, I can vouch for the minors being a treasure trove of great stories. This is where the game is played without the distractions of labor disputes, megabucks contracts and other off-field maneuverings. Mark McCarter gives you the inside stories of the Southern League that never see the light of day in big-league newspapers. You'll feel like you were right there in Joe Davis Stadium with Mark when you're reading these well-written and entertaining stories of life off baseball's beaten track."

--Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

 Again, you can order the book directly from the August Publications website. 



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-- Kevin Reichard, publisher

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