From the Ballpark

July 27, 2009

Saskatoon, SK

Thursday, July 16
Al's Fastball will be down today while we move the operation to Saskatoon.

I may or may not have time to post to NEWS-2   and/or Facebook and Twitter.

Well we made it to Saskatoon o.k., was into the hotel by noon, not much thanks to Avis who have a big problem figuring out what a medium sized car is. Normally I order and get a Buick Allure, sometimes I settle for an Impala or even a Pontiac G6.
Today all they had was a little Ford Focus, I had to take it, but when I got to the lot, my luggage would not fit into the trunk and there was no back door!
Kevin Quinn, President of Softball Canada helped me load the luggage onto his baggage cart and go back to the terminal.
Back to the Avis counter and this time they scraped up a humungus big Caravan. I do not need that much space but its better than the baby Ford.
I guess my biggest fear is that someone will see me and think I am Roger May returning to men's fastball!  Sorry Roger, could not resist.

Into the ball park by 2pm, after doing a number of updates from the hotel. The complex here in Saskatoon is impressive, and the work they have done for the ISF's is overwhelming.
I picked up my credentials and not surprised they decided to burn the picture that I had sent to them and they gave me a generic Press Pass, no picture on it. The other option was a Volunteer Pass but my RCAF drill seargant always told me never volunteer for anything.

I got to look at my "office" for the next ten days. Wow, what a view! Their main press box is in two sections at the top of the stands. The section I am in has a small enclosed room at the far end with its own window, bench seat and super view of the playing field and the whole complex at Bob Van Impe. Next door to me is the webmaster who will be updating
Also next door is the famous video camera that will be covering all the games at BVI.  This is not a dime store web cam, this is a big professional quality camera that is giving a great picture. In additon to that camera which has a wide angle view of the infield, is another smaller camera trained on the batter's box. I am anxious to see who the announcers are. I was really hoping that ballparkradio would be here, but that did not happen, for what ever reasons, so anxious to see what they have to offer fans world wide.

Now there is a downside to the location, the press box is about the height of the penthouse suite on the Sears Tower. Its up three sets of very steep stairs. I took my time walking up and I was not carrying my computer bag, and I was winded. Getting down was equally challening with no hand rail for the top portion, the steepest set of steps. I may have to seriously consider moving under the grandstand where there is another press box but without the comforts of a separate work station.  We shall see after day one, tomorrow.

3pm or so walked over to see who was on the other diamonds, close to BVI and to GHP. Argentina was having a practice and some of the guys I had met in Midland gave me a wave.
Over to another diamond where Team USA was playing the team from the Czech Republic. Paul Koert was pitching and USA were up about 6-0 when I left to go back to the main diamond.
Before I left, Ty McKinney came over and greeted me, what a gentleman. A number of the other members of Team USA waved and smiled. Its nice to know the ball players are not upset with me for taking a stand on the Paul Algar issue. Hopefully they know they have someone to turn to if things ever take a bad turn for one of them. It should not be this way but once in awhile politics seeps into fastball.

I am told the Kiwis plan to play full out tomorrow evening against Team USA and that the Haka they sometimes perform will be intense. This is the first game for the Kiwis so it would be natural if they do perform the Haka.

While in the park I learned that Mexico may not make it to the tournament. This would be terrible so I hope this is not the case. Canada has new rules now on visitors from both Mexico and from the Czech Republic, and while the Czechs got here in advance of the new legislation, the Mexican team members are in transit today. Apparently they are at three different airports where their air carrier will not take a chance and fly them into Canada. I hope this gets sored out.

Last word was they were on their way to Minneapolis. If they get to Saskatoon, they will be let in.

 One problem I have will be that they will not be giving me Game Summary Sheets after every game like I get in all other tournaments. They told me this today. They have offered me a print out but I am worried that by the time I get it, their site will be already updated and I will just be repeating what they have. That was not my intent for this week. I wanted to be able to report on each game and have the Game Summary Sheet as my guide, rounding out each game with my own observations as I do in other tournaments.  I will see how it goes the first day. Without the Game Summary Sheet, I am not all that sure what I will be doing. My goal was to supplement the information being provided by the host. Suggestions?

Friday, July 17 - Day 1 of the ISF's!

Friday morning and I must apologize for my posting about TV this weekend by Softball Canada. Timing is terrible I know, so many people would have loved to have seen the ISF's on live TV but I thought I should pass along the press release because it does involve Canadian softball for the women. I will not comment on that other sport as everyone knows my thoughts on SP.

Friday morning and normal life must go on before I get to the ballpark. Thanks to Larry Withnell for sending me the Game Summary sheets for the two travel league games last night.
Meanwhile we posted brackets to the ISC web site last night that still had some proof reading to be done and thanks to "g" we caught the errors and new brackets are going up this morning, Done!

Latest word on the team from Mexico is here for the most part but another group due in about 2pm. This is great news.

After climbing up to the top of the stands again this morning found out that the wireless does not reach there. I could hook into the modem that is there but do not want to jeopardize the streaming video so have moved down under the stands. I am right nose on the fence behind home plate, best seat in the house. We shall see what the effect of the dust and the elements is but right now its just fine.

I got to meet the blue crew before they went onto the field for Game 2 starting at 11am and Wu was pleased to see me in black today.

Just got word that a runner will bring me scores from the other park. GHB

My ramblings on Game 1-2

My ramblings Games 3-4

My Ramblings Games 5-6

Paul Wolford has been picked up by New Zealand to replace their enjured player. (Refer to the Paul Algar Story). NZ see action vs the USA tonight.

 Friday evening and a good sized crowd in attendance.  At 8pm, before the Canada game, all four lines for the food outlets were very very long. The mini beer tent out back was also booming.

I started the day in the press box with the only computer plugged into the single long extension cord. Its now almost 9pm and the press box is full and we have added a power bar to which my pet squid is plugged into and every outlet is full.

Now that the sun is going down I can actually read the score board.

I do not have any details on the TV deal but understand one or more of the final games will be shown on Sports Net but a week or so after the tournament.
Talking to Peter Loubardias at SportsNet and he is doing the coverage of last 2 or 3 games.  I do know that Terry Baytor is coming in to do the colour commentary and is following all the action from his computer this week.

 Colour of the day: All Black! My Black Sox cap presented to be by Don Tricker on an earlier Black Sox tour and my 2007 Black Sox tour t-shirt. Go Black Sox! - Paul Algar, this one is for you!
Don't worry when Canada is playing, I am ALL RED.

 My ramblings from Game 7   Canada vs Argentina

 My ramblings from Game 8   USA vs New Zealand

 John Thompson's Photos from the Opening Ceremonies and the Haka by the Black Sox

 Just for fun, Gary's track

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Umpire Schedule

World Champions Crush Team USA in opener

Champs Chatter - Saturday, July 18 issue    and  PDF version

Saskatoon Clock   - by FastpitchWest

Mark Loehndorf, the Media Relations Manager here has been super accomodating and is working on getting updates to us from the other diamond.

Media Release re: Tickets for the ISF XII Men's World Softball Championship

Colour of the day: my brand new FastpitchWest t-shirt, here to keep the BallParkRadio squid company (the squid serving the many computers in the press box). Black Sox hat for half a day then Team Australia.

While we had an oustanding crowd of 5,500 here list night for the Canada vs Argentina game, right now there are not that many people in the stands and that is a shame as there is a lot of good ball and an outstanding facility.
I could see maybe a dozen fans in the 1b side for the game between Venezuela and Argentina, and now for the game between Botswana and Japan, maybe 50 so its picking up and that is just one side of the stands, I cannot see the other one, its overhead. Yes, I am working under the stands and its the best seat in the house. Just feet from home plate.  

Nice to run into some hard core fans from Ottawa in Denny's about midnight after the games yesterday. Fastball fans are the best.


 Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Umpire Schedule   (with thanks to Bob Stanton)

Champs Chatter - Sunday, July 19 Issue 

We have tweeked our version of the Master Schedule a little bit by linking each Game # to the ISF Box Score while keeping the winning team name linked to our own coverage of each game. Keep in mind we are  only one one diamond, MVI, so the games from the GHB diamond have only a summary with the occasional update.

At 8am its a wonderful bright sunny day in Saskatoon.

Colour of the day, yellow, hard to figure what to wear when 90% of my golf shirts have ISC on them. Hat: Team Canada, what else.

Stadium here is awesome, one of the best I have seen for fastball. On stilts at the front so the two dugouts, one at 1b and the other at 3b fit in underneath just fine. In between we have the scorers booth right behind the home plate and this week on the right of them we have the long booth occupied by the ISF anchored by the supervising umpires.  two the left of the scorers booth we have the media room with me in the first chair looking right down 1b line. Love the view. Its a long room, with the media area right next to the scorers booth (which we understand has heat) and then beside the media booth is an even larger area for handicapped fans and for out of work umpires (off duty). I have seen some good shots of the screened off area below the stadium on facebook.

Just had a nice visit from Dave Paetkau the head coach of the team from Denmark, nice catching up. He retired way too young, can remember his playing days with Team Canada in 1996. Nice to see him back playing masters ball and coaching the Danish team.  He is also involved with teaching kids to play ball and is organizing a winter training cruise see

A lot cooler Sunday night than the previous two evenings but hard core fans, especially the Kiwi fans all hung in there.

Pictures from the press box on Sunday by John Thompson

Philippines Nip Brits in world softball tiff


If any link to Champs Chatter does not work, please check our main ISF Results Link for them.

I am super impressed with the Volunteers here in the ball yard in Saskatoon!

Monday, July 20, 2009 - Day 4 of the ISF's

Gary's Tracking of the Standings to end of Day 3

The Star Phoenix
Today's front page: Canada wins early showdown - Wolfe, Eidt, Crawford picture  and many more great pictures!


 Batting Stats to Monday

 Pitching Stats to Monday

Colour of the day: Black - BallParkRadio golf shirt and BallParkRadio shell standing by for when it cools off. Started the day with my Australian Steelers hat on and switched to Team Canada at 7pm for the boys.

Monday, the day of the dust bowl. Cooler but not cold, cloudy but still bright and off and on sunshine, but the most noticeable thing was the dust blowing around. I cleaned my lap top every ten minutes but it felt gritty all day long. I have to worry about what all that dust does to the guts of a top end HP lap top.

Right from day one, one of the most noticeable things about the tournament are the volunteers. There are lots of them and they all enjoy what they are doing and it shows, they give a high level of quality service. From the guys on the parking lot gate in the morning to the people who sell the 50-50 tickets, they are all friendly and helpful and seem that they are happy all these strangers are in their town and ballyard.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 - Day 5 of the ISF's

Umpires for Day 5

Gary's Tracking to the end of Day 4    updated daily

Champ's Chatter Tuesday Morning

Pitching Stats through Day 4

Colours of the day:  Green, Aussie Steelers hat until 7pm when Team Canada takes the field.

Awesome ISF Coverage in Saskatoon 
Hi, I just wanted to send along my gratitude for the excellent fastball coverage being supplied through Al's web-site... It's awesome!!!I'm currently working over-seas on a survey vessel and am an avid fan (former fastball player, no slow-pitch for me). Not being able to attend the World's is very disappointing, but at least I've been able to follow along and 'see' the game(s) through Al. Thank-you so much.Finally, I would like to wish the entire Canadian team good-luck in their pursuit to become world champ's. In particular, the Newfie contingent on the team: Abbott, Mullaley, O'Brien, and Whitten. You guys have made our province proud, keep up the good work...Thnx from the South China Sea, Rick Warford (from C.B.S., NL)


From Paul Algar:

Thanks mate,I am happy to announce, I will be alongside my great friend Marty Grant in the ISC's in Quad Cities with Vancouver, and I will also be with them in the ASA.
I am free until the ASA if anyone needs a pitcher.

Cheers Al.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009 - Day 6 of the ISF's  - Hump Day

Our good friend Gary Baughman is helping us keep track of the Standings

Standings to the End of Day 5   

And thanks to our good friend Bob Stanton the UIC for the daily umpire schedules, the blue world wide love them!

Umpire Schedule for Wednesday, July 22

Champs Chatter – July 18  

Champs Chatter – July 19

  If you have problems reading any issue of Champs Chatter, click our main tournament page.

We had an interesting visit from CBC reporter Kathy Fitzpatrick while I was doing the play by play of the Argentina vs Indonesia game. Not sure when it will be on CBC radio but it should be on their web site sometime soon, she is doing a feature on the tournament.

Colours of the day:  White t-shirt from AAU 2009 Orlando, FL, thanks to Alex Linares - Australia Steelers cap, thanks to Loren Algar.  - the red hat comes out later.

Perfect weather right now, a bit cloudy so I can actually read the score board at the moment.

Lots of visitors through the booth today and ran into a lot of fans I know and some new ones. Gibby arrived from St Thomas and is perched in the front row of the reserved seats with his friend Tim from Meadville, PA
There are lots of fan groups here from New Zealand and from Australia and somewhat smaller groups from other countries including the Philippines.
Ran into Doug Eidt from Seabringville, ON, reporting that the video feed has been working fine with lots of people watching it for hours. He was on his way to inspect the beer tent for QA.
There is a good sized group here from Newfoundland supporting the many players on team Canada from the Rock.

The Volunteers here in Saskatoon are taking really good care of us!

Thursday, July 23, 2009 - Day 7 of the ISF's

Champs Chatter - July 23

Standings and Unofficial Stats from Gary Baughman

My local 15 minutes of fame continues, with CTV waiting for me at my best seat in the house this morning. They did a long interview about and then came into the booth and shot over my shoulder for an inning while I raced to get set up.  Will be shown tonight locall on CTV at 6:30 and 11:30pm news. Veronica Jubinville did the interview for CTV.

Friday, July 24, 2009 - Day 8 of the ISF's - The Playoffs Commence !

Champs Catter - July 24 with predictions

Very kind article by John Thompson of Diamond Dirt / Champs Chatter re "Al Doran Featured on Saskatoon TV"

Umpire Schedule for Friday, July 24, 2009

Another spectacular day in Saskatoon! Its actually very bright and sunny and very warm. In our little press box behind the blue, its just great, we are in the shade.

Terry Baytor stopped by to talk about the TV games they are going to tape this weekend. They will be on delay about a week. Will Announce the schedule when I get it. They will do 2 or 3 games.

Terry was admiring my Black Sox hat.  He knows I will be wearing the red for the Canadian games.

Colour of the day:  white, AAU 2009 t-shirt, new, thanks to Alex Laneres. - and Black Sox hat, for now. Glad I was wearing it late night last night on my way out of the park as I ran the gauntlet of Black Sox fans.

What a perfect day in the ballyard! Outstanding weather. at 2am Saturday morning on my way home it was 19C.

It was a perfect day, perfect weather, great ball and yes I was perfect, picking 4-4 - my four picks all won their games. No one else in our little media group of John Thompson of Diamond Dirt and Mark Loehndorf of Champs Chatter and myself were perfect. John and Mark each went 3-4. Al's Fastball was a perfect 4-4. See Champs Chatter for Saturday, July 25 for all our picks. Mine are:
Saturday Predictions:
C5 New Zealand will defeat Japan
C6 USA will beat Venezuela
C7 Canada will beat Australia
C8 will be New Zealand will beat USA

Saturday, July 25, 2009 - Day 9 of the ISF's - some - 4 more big games!

Champ's Chatter, Saturday, July 25

Today's Umpire Schedule, July 25      (with thanks to UIC Bob Stanton and D/UIC Brian Van Os - these guys have been 100% supportive all week - man thanks guys)

 Thanks to the dozens of fans from Australia and from New Zealand who wrote in last night during the big game between the Steelers and the Black Sox, your suppor is much appreciated as is the support from the many other fans who have dropped a line this week.  Some of the comments were added to the Game Report

Today, Saturday, promises to be another great day for Fastball in Saskatoon!

Colour of the Day may actually be Colour of the Game today!  walked into the park this morning "ALL BLACK" - BallParkRadio Golf Shirt and Black Sox hat.

12:43pm in the ball yard and the place is filling up fast. Absolutely perfect day!

Nice note from Larry Lynch back from Israel:

"Al, jusrt back from Tel Aviv, Israel. Canadian women won bronze, Master's silver and Open men gold in the 18th Maccabian Games. Both Mark Bendahan and Jack Firemen were inducted into the Israel Softball Association Hall of Fame. Great job on the ISF coverage. Wish Crawf and the R-Twins good luck down the stretch. Hawk"

We have received several hundred email and facebook messages for which we are humbled and we thoroughly appreciate! Unfortunately at best we have only been able to respond to a few dozen of them due to the goal of trying to bring everyone play by play action from the main stadium BVI. We have posted a  dozen or so of these messages on this page and/or on indfividual game tracking pages. Thanks a million!

I wish I had another few hours a day to also write about the outstanding support I have received in Saskatoon from the host committee and the large number of friendly volunteers who work in the complex each day. You have made the job possible and have made my stay most enjoyable.


 Terry Baytor has arrived and is working with Peter Loubardias of Rogers Sportsnet to tape Sunday's games. They will make a good team to cover the two final games.
Terry knows a lot about the sport and has coached at both the ISC club team leavel and the ISF international level as head coach of Team Canada. He will be able to offer insights into the
club teams that each of the many players from Canada, New Zealand and Australia play on.

RogersSportsnet will be airing the Bronze Medal game at 2:00pm EDT on Wednesday, July29th, while the Gold Medal Championship game will air at 2:00pm EDTon Friday, July 31st.

Champs Chatter for Sunday, July 26, 2009

 Tracking the Standings by Gary Baughman

Sunday morning at 9:00am and a bit of light rain, after 9 great days of sunshine in beautiful Saskatoon.

 10:30am raining harder

As of 10:50 this morning (70 minutes from the semi finalgame between Canada and New Zealand)
The field at BVI is still playable and we expect the game tostart on time. The weather report show that the rain should blow over.

 From our friend Peter J Porcelli II:

Okay guys, here goes the final predictions

My record in the playoffs thus far has been a very mediocre 4-4....

New Zealand Over Canada (Canada's chance was to advance to gold game yesterday)
Australia over New Zealand (Goolagong the best player on either team, Folkard provides the pitching to lead down under)

Good luck to Canada, I wish they could find a way to win it!!!

thanks for everything!!

Peter J Porcelli II

 Umpire Schedule for Day 10 - Sunday, July 26


Sunday, July 26, 2009 - Day 10 of the ISF's, 2 more big games to go!

Let's see what Sunday brings.

Predictions for Sunday

C9 - New Zealand will beat Canada

C10 Australia will beat New Zealand for the championship

I hope that I am wrong on Game C9, would be very happy if Canada proves me wrong. I will be on the job and wearing the red hat.

Good luck to all the teams.

So far, our record is 7-1 - were were wrong on Canada over Australia, game C7 - we really thought that Canada could do it.

Oye! Oye! Oye! to the Aussie Steelers AND the super fantastic friendly Volunteers of Saskatoon

Monday, July 27, 2009

Yes, we were almost perfect on the playoff predictions, 9 and 1, we really thought that Canada had a good chance of defeating Australia in Game C7, but it was not to be. Our good friend John Thompson who shared the desk next to us in the best seats in the house accused us of "going with the heart" on that call, no kidding!

Time to pack up and go home, back to reality. - See you on August 14 in Quad Cities for the ISC World Tournament and the ISC II Tournament of Champions



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