Thoughts from Midland

August 22, 2010

Midland, MI

Thoughts from Midland
- by

Saturday, August 21
First day waking up to something other than brilliant sunshine. It is overcast today and the temperatue at 9:30am is 73F with a forcast of thunder showers. Ugh.
Colour of the day, ISC red.
10:30am and the parking lot is almost full!  Gary lied, it was only the reserved lot that was full!  I found a spot up on the grass, shortest walk into the stadium where my favorite UIC once again offered to carry my bags up to the tower as long as I did not mention his name on here again.
A good sized crowd in the stands today and the U19 and Legends are keeping the other diamonds hopping.
Overcast day, warm and muggy. I am glad to be in an air conditioned press box even if I am going deaf from the old 707 engine behind me is grinding away blowing cold air. We now have two big fans behind me blowing some of the air down to the other end of the box where at far end we have the ballparkradio staff sweating away all day, and announcers and score keepers in the middle. I have statisticians on either side of me.
A fantastic game going on at 1pm, the 11am game is into extra innings.
A good sized crowd in the park today with ISC World Tournament going on, the U19 Championship going on and the first ever Legends Championship going on.
I went outside of the tower for the Legends Championship and got to sit with my friends the Zacks, in town for the day from Garden River. We got to watch Darren pitch in his third tournament of the week and to actually win the first ever Legends Championship. Well done Cobourg Force!  I posted a few pictures on Facebook!
The ISC World Tournament Championshp was an exciting game to watch. I ran a live scoreboard but did not do any play by play as M-LIVE did a play by play and live chat AND  ballparkradio did an outstanding job of covering it from all angels. While I did not see the entire game live on my own computer, I did see it off and on in the tower on the computers of the crew and the camera angels were excellent. Rosanne and her camera crew did a great job all week of the camera coverage. The broadcast crew I did hear as they are not that far from where I sit and they are simply great. The feedback I had via email was this was the best year ever for both camera quality and for sound. Well done ballparkradio crew.
The championship game was a good one to watch and the crowd was really into it. The game was close, expecially up until the 6th inning and even then it was within reach but the mighty Kitchener Rivershark Twins were not going to Threepeat today. Congratulations to the Jarvis Travelers for a well earned championship.
Congratulations to all those players who won All World today. You played well all week and you work were noticed. No, I do not get to vote, no one even asks my opinions, and NO, I have no idea who is on the All World Voting Committee. I do understand its a small group of people who see a ton of games through the week and I do know they rely on the guy sitting next to me all week for his statistics. Gary Baughman, the ISC Statistician has the complete record of every game played and his software enables him to do cumulative statistics to determine who had the most hits etc. Sometime over the next couple of weeks Gary will be sending me the cumulative statistics for everything that moves, batting, pitching, hits, the works. But Gary has to drive home to Iowa (and take my trusty ergonomic chair with him), get some rest, feed the dogs and then knowing Gary he will pull out the score sheets for every game and re score every game. He will send me a replacement file for every box score you will find on the Master Schedule. In case no one noticed, Gary did the stats for every one of the 141 ISC games played this year. In comparison to last year when he did all 58 games and the year before that he did all 78 games. This year Gary did all the Legends 19 games as well. The ISC II games of note, were done by Hank de Wild and his assistant Jim Johnson. They also did the stats for the U19 tournament.
After nine full days of long hours and lots of ball, its sad to have to fold up the tent and move out of a place you have grown to love. I guess I have always loved Currie Stadium since my first tournament there in 1995 but this week was special. We got to see the fruits of the labour put into planning this major event. Midland volunteers, stand up and take a bow. Every regular fan I know told me they found this to be the best ISC World Tournament they had ever been to. Everyone, fans, umpires and players all want to come back here again and soon.
Thanks to the ballparkradio camera crew for one final trip down the stairs with all my equipment, this time with my ergonomic chair, off for the winter in Iowa.
MISSING PLAYERSMarty Grant. Pitcher. 16 years at the ISC World Tournament, often appearing on the final day. Has he really retired?
Speaking of the umpires, the guys who hang out at Chez Blue, I want to thank them for their hospitality this week, it was outstanding. The ISC umpires compete to work at an ISC World Tournament and what you see at this event are the best umpires in the world. Many of the Blue were new to me, but I hope to see them all again, hopefully next year in Quad Cities, and for many of them, it will be at the weekend tournaments I like to attend in Canada and the USA. Towards the end of this week people were starting to notice that the week had gone by virtually without controversy, which generally means the umpires are doing a good job. I think they did a great job. The day did  not end when we left the ballpark like it usually does. I was honoured to be invited to the Blue wrap up party at my favorite local hot spot, the Boulevard Lounge. The whole crew was there and a nice surprise, many of their wives and a few special guests, the Poirier family. The guest of honour was Mrs Clark, that wonderful chef who fed the whole crew, and me, all week. She got two standing ovations. We had a great time, great food, and it was capped off by some very nice presentations to people who had helped the blue all week. I was additionally honoured to be presented with a new cap from the Nova Scotia Umpires Association courtesey of Mr Lou Davis of Truro, NS. Thank you Blue for the invitation, for the great meal and for all those who had such kind words in regards to our efforts to keep the world aware of what is going on in the sport we all care about.
I could write a book about the very nice and hard working people of Midland who were so kind to all their guests this week. Thank You Midland for your hospitality. I hope you have us back soon.
This World Tournament will go down as one of the best of all time, most certainly the best in the last 10 years or even more. My personal favorite of all time was Summerside 1994 and Midland will rank right up there with that great one. The main ingredient for this success was primarily the host, the people who worked their tails off making everyone feel welcomed; another key ingredient was location, the park, the stadiums, and the facility. No slight to any of the other locations, especially Kitchener, which in my mind has bent over backwards on all three hosting occasions to grow and imporve the delivered product and have succeeded every time. I would be delighted to see Kitchener get back in the rotation and soon. For now I will hope for the best that Midland will become a regular stop on that rotation and the sooner the better.
Its going to be pretty tough to pack up and head east.

Friday, August 20
Starting off another day with the drive down Orchard Drive in Midland, Mi into Emerson Park has got to be one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure. In another life I want to come back and have a home on Orchard or one of the many other beautiful streets of this beautiful city. Thursday, actually about 2am Friday morning, on the drive out of the park, I saw a deer on the lawn of one of the nice homes on Orchard. He just quietly watched me drive by.
Driving into the park on Friday morning, I saw a man and a woman in fishing gear clost to the side of the road on the right casting their lines. I had not realized that the river was that close to the roadway in. Emerson Park is full of surprises. I made a mental note to take some pictures of the beautiful flower beds around the stadium. MaryAnne Baier has posted some beautiful pictures on her Facebook site that include the flowers, the stadium the children playing and of course lots of the fans and of the ball players. They are the most spectacular pictures posted so far. Lots of other people are taking pictures each day so hope to see them posted soon. If they do not post them on facebook, I invite them to send me the link to their page so we can all share them.
I am not fond of this end of the week, the end of the tournament is near. I do not want to leave Midland. That is the common theme from the fans too. Without exception, everyone I have talked to amongst the fans has said this is the best ISC World Tournament in the last ten years and possibly ever. The reasons given are mainly related to the beautiful park, the wonderful stadium, and the warm reception of the Midland volunteers. Its a package deal, but its all about Midland. When I ask about the ball, everyone is pleased and so many people have expressed accecptance of the new format. Having the 46 teams was awesome and everyone played well. We are getting notes from players who were knocked out and have gone back home who are reflecting that they had an awesome time, enjoyed playing all week and not being blown away by the "big boys". Everyone I have talked to wants to come back to Midland, and soon.
I really like John Thompson's issue of Diamond Dirt today with his Report Card on Midland and WT 2010  I fully agree on all points.
The ISC is winding down and we are playing all their games in front of me on E-1, Currie Stadium so a lot easier to capture the scores instantly at the end of the game.
The Legends and the U19 are in full swing and its been a frustrating excercise in getting the results fast after their games end. We had widely made it known the best ways to reach us with the results, e-mail, cell phone or text, even Blackberry Messenger but we are still only getting results by pony not so express. The Game Controllers are dealing with a whole new batch of volunteers and are making adjustments as they go to improve the process. Thanks to Dough Bach for coming up to the tower and calling son Chris and colleague Collin and having them read of the U19 scores for 8 games last evening. The score sheets are working their way to Hank who will key them into his computer and hand me a hot stick with the html files on them, which hopefully will be by morning but worse case, by noon Saturday.  Simliar case with the Legends although we are getting some scores phoned up to us. This is great. Congratulations to our new Hall of Fame member Darren Zack, he threw a no hitter today!  Thanks to both the Bachs, the father and son Game Controller team for getting us the information on the playoff match ups for the Legends and for the U19 tournaments. Those are now reflected in the schedules and the brackets.
I keep being told that the food on Concession Row is fantastic. My aversion to ballpark food probably goes back to a couple of cases of food poisening in a little town east of Kingston ON at their tournaments so for the most part I avoid anything resembling ball park food. But with assurances and recommendations from so many people, I ventured out for a few minutes in the evening to test my luck. The Italian susage came the most highly recommended and yes, it was more than o.k. The confidence in the food options here is supported by the fact that the concessions for the most part are run by succesful local restaurants, names that the local people know and trust. There are lots of choices so now I am regretting I did not start earlier in the week.
One of the two best known ball park hacks, who just happen to be from Erie, PA, has noted to me that I was lucky to have attended and covered the 1st Annual Erie Tournament this summer, just a few short weeks ago. (actually some call it the long running Erie PA tournament, but re born) in any case, the point of the discussion was that FIVE of the remaining teams in the ISC World Tournament out of six, were in the Erie PA tournament. Further, many of the players on the 6th team, PA POWER, have members from the Blue Lake team that played in Erie. Next he will be telling me that some of the All Stars were too, but his point is taken, Mr. Bill Hillhouse was right on the money in inviting these top teams to his event.
Now, the challenge is on, will Erie once again be the ISC WT barometer for the big show next year?
MISSING PLAYERS: Todd Budke. A major threat at the plate for the past 14 years.
Friday was the day the humidity came back to Midland.
Kudos to our friend John Thompson, editor of Diamond Dirt. Fantastic work John! The fans in the park and the fans world wide enjoy your work. Does this man ever sleep!

Thursday, August 19
People are going to get tired of me raving about the beautiful weather in Midland, MI, but its the first thing that hits you every morning.
Today was a bit more humid and for 25 minutes late in the afternoon we did have enough rain to put a game on hold a few minutes and to set things back a bit.
Colour of the day, red.
The Legends kicked off this afternoon with 8 games before they called it a day. Its a new tournament so there are all the usual challenges of setting up rosters in the computer etc.
The U19 started this evening with four games. Same challenges as the Legends, lots of rosters to be typed up before we can generate most of the game files (box scores).
Maybe its because the tournament is winding to a close but today more than any other day so many people stopped to ask me to make sure the good people of Midland get recognized; everyone has been so hospitable; the host committee have thought of everything and if anything new comes up, they jump and get it for you; the people in the trailer park where all the caravans are parked cannot get over how accomodating everyone associated with the park has been, give them a special thanks; this is without a doubt the best ISC World Tournament in at least ten years; great facilities, great ball; great organization; Currie Stadium is the best stadium men's fastpitch has been played in in my lifetime; these organizers never sleep, they are here when we walk in in the morning and they are there to say good night when we walk out late at night, or early morning as is the case today.
I get to see the kindness of the people who go to these world tournaments every day. Every day someone wants to grab my equipment and carry it up to the tower for me, and I am happy that is the case, that stuff is heavy. This morning our own Umpire in Chief, Bruce Bierman volunteered even before I got to the stairs. At least half a dozen people stopped by to ask if I need a drink or something to eat. That is much appreciated as we do not get many breaks when trying to do instant or almost instant updating of so many files of information related to the multiple brackets.
Today was a banner day, I actually left the tower for more than 10 minutes. No trip to Midland would be complete without a visit to the Boulivard Lounge. I was fortunate to be able to join the hard working camera crew of for a very nice lunch. At 1pm the place was packed and I recognized a number of ball fans there enjoying lunch. Kyle, Blair, Jim, et al get the recognition (and well deserved) as they are the on air voices of audio and video streaming but its the camera crews that draw duty outside with the cameras through hot sun and rain downpours and seldom get recognized. I have heard great reviews of the quality of the camera work this year from all over the world and its this little band of volunteers under the supervision of Rosanne who deserve the credit for this.
I had a nice visit today from Jamie Clark, the wonderful lady who took over a thousand great photos at the Peligro Cup Tournament on July 1 in New York City and still found time to send me updates for every game played that weekend. Thanks for the rescue package Jamie.
I made my usual visit to Chez Blue today but not to eat, but to meet the wonderful chef who has been preparing the great food for the boys in blue all week. Thank you Mrs Clark for all your hard work.
I also met the family of our late friend Lloyd Poirier from Halifax. I am so glad you came to see the beautiful park Lloyd loved to umpire in and to meet all his friends in blue who miss him so much.
As we had a few delays today, I actually got to go out and sit in the stands and watch some ball, and to talk to people I have not seen in a long time, and to meet some new ones.
Due to the rain delay and then the 11 inning game won by the Kitchener Rivershark Twins, we did not get out of the tower until close to 2am.
Wonderful feeling going back to an empty room that the houskeeping staff have ignored for the 4th time. I am starting to re consider my evaluation of the hotel.
MISSING PLAYERS: Thomas Makea. Another missing Kiwi, one who has been a top contender for the past 13 years.
Speaking of the hotel, I missed it but there was a report that none other than Stephen Mulalley was singing in the lunge last night. Sorry I missed that.

Wednesday, August 18
Another spectacular day in Midland! Another day just like yesterday, simply fantastic; bright sun, warm but not hot, slight breeze and low humidity.
Colour of the day, ISC White.
This is going to be the day that the flow of information gets sorted out, gets streamlined, gets modernized. The game controllers had some good ideas yesterday and today as I enter the press box, I see some evidence. Its low tech, but it works. At the end of each game on the other 4 or so diamonds, the game controller uses his walkie talkie to call the press box annoncer who needs scores for the PA system and the duty PA announcer writes out a ticket with the team names and scores. Low tech, but it works. Its better than waiting up to six hours just to get a score. Before the day is over we also evidence that the game controllers have found a way to get the score sheets over to the statistician. And today we have 3 statisticians. Gary Baughman has been doing the ISC games and now we have Hank deWild doing the ISC II games with assistance from Jim Johnson.
A first today, tried ballpark food. Thanks to Kyle Smith, discovered that the chicken breast sandwich served by one of the vendors is actually quite good. Later in the day made my regular visit to Chez Blue where the fare of the day was Mac and Cheese. Once again Mrs Clark has outdone herself. Extra Blue in the house today for the ISC II's. Welcome New Blue.
MISSING PLAYERS:  Colin Abbott. Where is the big Newfie? Colin was a Farm Boy through and through and once Rod closed the barn doors, Colin may have decided to check out the pasture after 18 years being a major threat at the plate. Lots of fans asking where Abby is this week.
Some great ball today and good sized crowds out to see it.  Estimated crowd size tonight was over 2,000 for the Midland Explorers game.
Out of the ball park just after midnight tonight and set up again in the hotel before 1am.

Tuesday, August 17
Another brilliant sunny day in Midland! Fantastic weather and today, no humidity so great for everyone.
Colour of the day, ISC Grey.
Not off to a good day, got to the park, wheeled the equipemnt to the stadium, and got help up the stairs from our good friend Gerry from Peterborough. Got to the top and realized I had left my extra large coffee on top of my car in the parking lot. Back to get that and then climb the steep stairs to the press box again. All good exercise I know.
It went downwhill from there. NO NETWORK. The network has been slow at times but today could not even get connected. Called trusty Rob, our IT guy and he got it going but lost a full hour and we are already so far behind on game files from yesterday. Luckily when we left the park after midnight last night we had all the scores up but several game files behind. Gary promised to get up early and get caught up.
Friends have asked me how the hotel is. Its been fine. It meets my priorities, a good internet connection and a clean bed. Signal at the hotel is much better than at the park. Yes, I have been tempted to work from the hotel but I am joined at the hip with Gary. Midland Resort was once a Holiday Inn its younger days and have stayed there when it was a bit newer and more polished. But the old girl is still functioning under the new banner and I normally stay there when in Midland. When I booked my room many months ago, I requested an outside room as I wanted to be able to drive up to the door, fall out and into the hotel room. Ha, so much for that. When we leave the park at night the only people left are the hard working grounds crew rolling out the tarp for the night. When I get to the hotel its all I can do to find a parking spot. But its home away from home and so far its been nice and quiet and they only missed making up my room once.
Just announced at 12:30pm on the ISC news that we are caught up on the scores we have received and have also posted all the game files except two from yesterday and those two just hit my desk on a hot stick.
Out of the ballpark just before midnight and all caught up except for a couple of box scores which will be ready in the morning. 
The hotel tried to spoil an othewise pretty good day by not making up my room again, this is the third time. Must be some kind of austerity program.
Luckily the internet signal in the hotel is strong, stonger than at the ball park. Big thanks to Jim Johnson who kept sending me box scores for late day ISC II games. Jim is giving Hank a hand with the ISC II stats and he does whatever it takes to get the job done. Almost caught up on game files for the II's.
MISSING PLAYERS:   Donny Hale. Simple as that. Donny has been a top batter at the world tournament for the past nine years. I suspect he will be back.
Several good discussions with the seasoned game controllers today. They have come up with some ideas on how to speed up getting us scores and the score sheets. We are optimistic that Wednesday will be smoother getting the info we need to post game results for the fans world wide to see.

Monday, August 16
The sun is shining as bright as ever in Midland however the humidity has gone!
 A welcome relief for everyone.
Colour of the Day, ISC CFF Yellow.
Play resumed today at 9am on FIVE diamonds. Someplace there is a complex called Redcoats and we are playing ball there.
So far we are not getting lineup cards from Redcoats. We are getting the score sheets so we are able to post scores and Gary can compile his stats.
Doug Bach, the senior Game Controller was just in (1:30pm) with the 11am game results from Redcoats and reported they are getting the flow of information refined on this new complex.
Having two more games each two hours, the regular 3 at Emerson diamonds and today 2 more at Readcoats complex certainly put the pressure on us. At one point we were four hours or ten games behind on score sheets coming from the diamonds. The game controllers had their hands full and eventually got caught up but at the end of the day 12:15am Tuesday morning, we were 18 games behind on stats. We had all the scores but the score sheets still have to be keyed in. Gary is going in early and hopes to be caught up by noon Tue.
A fantastic day in the park for players, umpires, and fans alike. Bright and sunny but a beautiful cool breeze. I did not have a lot of time to get out and around the complex but managed to visit Chez Blue for dinner and what a feast that was. Thank you Mrs Clark, you are a wonderful cook.
A great job every day by John Thompson producing Diamond Dirt. 
MISSING PLAYERS:  Two words, Billy Simmons. You gotta miss Bill Simmons. Never a dull moment with that slapper. I first met Billy when he played for Milverton Millwrights and can remember him winning the MVP of the tournament award, think it was 1996 at the Perth Shootoout. Victoria was coming to the Perth Shootout and their centre fielder Jeff Hurford was injured, they needed a fielder who could hit. I recommended Billy to Jennifer and he did not dissapoint anyone, he had a great tournament. His first world tournament was in 1996 and after that got to play on a number of great teams. A fiery competitor, Billy was always harder on himself than anyone else could be when he struck out. But often as not he frequently slapped one down and got to first before anyone knew what had happened. Sorry your not in Midland this week Billy, some team could have used you to keep things stirred up, both on the field and on the bench. Does every team have a club comedian?

I had a nice chat today with my boss, Mr. Ken Hackmeister. He explained his reasons to me for tendering his resignaiton tomorrow to the Board and I completely understand. Kenny has been a great boss and he will be very difficult to replace.

Sunday, August 15
Its Hall of Fame time. Off to the Valley Plaza Resort.
Colour of the Day, ISC HoF cream.

Outstanding!  Without a doubt, the best Hall of Fame Celebration I have ever attended.  More on that laster.

See the link to the video taken by Jim Flanagan and my observations on the event.
Rumours of dueling guitars late into the night in the Blue Section of the Midland Resort. No word if Tim or Woo won.

John Thompson's book launch, "Z-Man". 12:30 to 1:30pm held in the Mediat Tent down 3b side at Currie Stadium. Another very nice event. A good crowd of family, friends and fans gathered to honour Darren and his outstanding career.
I was honoured to be invited by John Thompson to say a few words at this informal gathering and was proud to do so. I chose to talk about my interaction with the entire Zack family, the family that have fully supported Darren's fastball career all the way.
A great job by Larry Lynch acting as MC for John's book launch.
So many people stopped by and stood and told their stories related to Zee and to Fastball.

12:35 back in the press box and the sun is pounding down, its very hot in the park, and the sun is almost blinding its so bright. Will be happy to see some shade cover my little window in a few hours as most of the time I am typing in the dark.
An angel named Rosanne came along and papered my window with newspaper so that I could see my lap top screen. It took several hours to get caught up.
Cooler weather in the evening, at last. This will be much better for the players, the umpires and the fans.  I am still in a heavily air conditioned press box with a huge AC box behind my head that would compete with a 747 engine for noise levels.  Sunday night and I may be getting used to it, or maybe I am just going deaf.
Mark Long from Sydney Australia stopped in for a nice chat today. He has written a series of articles on fastball that have caught interest all over the world.  He sayes his writing project is over but I told him not to put the key board away yet, his time here in Midland will surely generate some ideas for new articles to come.
Brian Baillie dropped in for a chat. Its great news to hear that Monkton is in the process of planning their annual tournament once again for the July 1 long weekend in 2011.
One one of my short breaks I was invited into the den of the Blue. The umpires have their change rooms deep in the bowels of Currie Stadium and as usual they have turned it into their home away from home for nine days. They had a very impressive stock pile of home made food courtesy of one of the wives of the umpire crew. Really enjoyed the burito. I talked to a number of the blue in the afternoon about the sun and the heat. The brilliant sun shining down makes a tough job even tougher and there were some iteresting stories of making calls while facing that glaring sun. Keep hydraded boys, the heat is unbelievable. Help is on the way, or so I hear.
MISSING PLAYERS:  Yes I am going to miss a lot of names but cannot name them all. Every year we show up at the World Tournament and every year we see new players here for the first time. But sadly, players we have seen for years turn up missing sometimes. Some retire, some are just too busy to come, others simply did not get picked up by a team. So don't shoot me if I miss your favorite player. Today I was thinking how sad it is that Jarrod Martin is not here from New Zealand.  So why did I think of Jarrod?  Well, in addition to the fact that he is an outstanding ball player, he immediately comes to mind when I think of Midland Michigan. Why, because he was the first ball player I ever met from Midland on my way to my first ISC World Tournament in Summerside PEI, back in 1994. You know the story, MLB was on strike and I found out about the ISC WT being held in Summerside from Mark Smith.  I used up some Aeroplan Miles with Scare Canada and set off on my trip. The flight from Toronto to Halifax was on a big wide body jet, a 2-3-2 configuration, 7 people across. I was sitting on the aisle on the port side closer to the window. Sitting next to me in the window seat was a beautiful young lady. Turns out she was the girlfriend-of-the-day of Jarrond Martin who was sitting across the aisle from me in the 3 seat part of the configuration. I struck up a conversation with this young fellow, who was 19 at the time and he told me he was with the Midland team. Stupied me asks, "Midland, Ontario"?  "No" he says, "Midland, Michigan, we are the Midland Explorers. I can remember Steve Horning from that trip as well, and you know he has not changed a bit. I chatted with Jarrod and his lady all the way to Halifax then we split off and took a DC-9 over to Charlottetown PEI and I did not draw seats near this young couple but I did make sure I watched all their games during the week and chatted with Jarrod a couple of times in the park. Even at 19 Jarrod was a confidant young man, always smiling and as it turned out was quite a pitcher and all round good ball player.  I have seen Jarrod every year since, at the ISC's and in local tourneys like the Perth Shootout and Orillia. Always with a friendly greeting and a big smile, Jarrod is always the same. Everyone will miss him in Midland this week.

Saturday, August 14
Dough Gillis is holding a Youth Clinic on the main diamond this morning so I will be working from the hotel until maybe as late as 2pm.
The two 10am games, Games 4 and 5 have been moved to 9pm and 8pm.
There is one game, Game 12 on Diamond E2 at noon, which we will report on by 2pm.
The ISC Master Schedule has been updated.
UIC Bruce Bierman has kindly provided us with an Umpire Schedule which has been posted.

Michigan 3 - Ontario 0 - Yes, that is the tally so far. Three games played last evening and Ontario lost all three!  We will have to try harder today.

More Lifetime Stats from the ISC Statistician - Most Bases on Balls - Pitching stats.
 All the Lifetime Stats published so far are on the ISC WT 2010 Pagesee towards the bottom of the page.

The BallparkRadio team was working late into the night last night setting up cameras getting ready for today's live video streamed games.
Today's games:
4pm EDT - Kitchener Rivershark Twins ON vs. Marshall Lightning, MI - * This broadcast available to all, free of charge *
7pm EDT - Host Midland Explorers v. Shaw Chiropractic, Port Huron MI - pay-per-view & All Access Pass subscribers

It did rain sometime last night. I did not see it or hear it. Midland Resort is kind of quiet, but then again the AC drowns out everything.
Turns out it rained hard. Tim Maz from Erie reported a downpour at 7am. This delayed the first two games, actually pushed them to the evening.
On the recommendation of Betty and Gerry from Peterborough, tried the Midland Resort lounge for lunch. Not bad.

3pm - very warm and muggy in the ballpark today - but crowd is building up.

Ran into Bobby and Rickey Greene on the way into the ballpark today. They are here for the ball AND to be there for Darren Zack's induction into the HoF on Sunday am.
Speaking of the legendary Darren Zack, Big Zee started the game for Palermo on D2 at 2pm vs PA Power.

Thanks to Mr Blue, Dave Seldon for being the volunteer of the day and slugging my equipment up to the tower today.

Getting even more crowded in the the long press box today, a local TV crew has arrived and starting to set up to cover the Midland game later today.
 We have seen at least three new people so far, climing onto the roof and all over the place to position their cameras.
Also arriving were Maddy and Jim Flanagan, welcome to them both!
The Allan "sisters" arrived of our TV crew last evening from Owen Sound, welcome to them as well! Also welcome to their crew of cameramen who also arrived!
The Baier`s slipped into town.

3:30pm, warming up even more, the sun keeps breaking through the haze.

4pm game with Kitchener is FREE on video streaming and this is a SPECIAL ONE TIME ONLY LINK!
6pm and the park is really getting full. Opening Ceremonies coming up and first game for the host team Midland Explorers vs Port Huron.

The sun is out and its very hot.  The giant AC unit over my head is cranking away like a Boeing 747. Unfurtunately the ballparkradio crew at the other end of this long press box are sweltering in the heat.

Video Archive of 2010 ISC World Tournament Game 11 - Kitchener Rivershark Twins ON v. Marshall Lightning, MI:

Excellent Opening Ceremonies!  Its been a long time since we have seen this many teams on the field for an opening ceremony.

Hats off to the Midland Host Committee who have worked so hard on this tournament for a couple of years now.  WELL DONE!

Midland had an excellent game to start things off. They did not score until the 4th inning, a single run, but piled it on with 3 in the 6th and 4 in the 7th over Port Huron.
Frank Cox threw a one hitter to get the home off to a good start.

Thursday & Friday, August 13-14
As I have been uploading hundreds of ISC files for the past few weeks, brackets, rosters, schedules etc. my mind was already in Midland, so when Monday rolled around I was really wishing I was in Midland already. But the tournament does not start until Friday and the first real meetings are not until Thursday so I toughed it out.
Wednesday was spent packing both my personal stuff and moving files over from the home computer desk top I work from onto the HP Road Warrior that goes to the ball park with me.
Thursday, finally, load up the Buick and point her nose west. I had the red beauty into the garage last week to get regular servicing and to see why maybe we ran without AC on part of the trip back from Erie a couple of weeks ago. The computer showed some failures but nothing wrong, just re set everything and hope for the best.
The trip from Toronto to Midland was reasonably fast considering the distance, it gave me time to think of the great times in Midland in the past and to look forward to seeing old friends again. Mental note, write to Roger May to find out if he is making the trip or not.
Woodstock already, quick pit stop. Resisted one last cup of Tim’s, after all, Midland is civilized, and they have Tim Horton’s now, in fact they have been there for years. Come to think of it, Tim’s was next door to what must have been in those days, the grungiest Ramada in history with the slowest internet connection, which should not have been a surprise as it was recommended by cyber challenged Jack Ferguson whose only criteria for a hotel is “cheap”.
London, swing north towards Sarnia. First sign of problems, some idiot working on an overhead structure with a hose in hand, sprayed what looked like cement residue all over my car and the next, and the next. Hope he enjoyed that. Have not had to wash the Buick all summer, it’s been spotless, a bit of dust build up normally washed off once a week with a nice shower. Another mental note, find a car wash in Midland.
Trip has been boom boom 120km all the way until Sarnia and abrupt stop, thus ended the quick trip. I had heard about the construction. A lot of frustrated motorists. Several friends had recommended getting a NEXUS pass for speedy border crossings. Some revenge to realize that the cars stuck in this line of traffic could all have a NEXUS account and still they are no closer to the border than I am. I timed it. Roughly one hour to worm my way (cannot even call it stop and go) from the begging of the back up to the point where one could see the bridge and the line up could split off into the many different lanes lining up. One hour in the initial back up. Now I would spend 20 more minutes actually stop and go working my way up in the line. Some small relief to realize that my line was passing the cars lined up in the NEXUS line! I was counting off the seconds my line was taking for each car to talk their way into the USA.  Anywhere from 55 seconds up to 3 minutes per car. Finally it’s my turn. Hand the officer my passport, take off my hat and sun glasses. Where you going: Midland. Why: Softball Tournament. Have a nice evening. 12 seconds! 12 seconds! Maybe there are some advantages to looking old; well at least don’t wait to take off your hat and glasses, they need to compare your face with your passport photo.
Next stop, Port Huron’s best kept secret, the Welcome Centre (I refuse to spell it the wrong way) on Water St.. Welcome relief after sitting in the car one hour and twenty minutes going nowhere. Back onto the highway and point the Red Rocket towards Midland.
It would have been nice to make it to Midland as planned to attend Gary’s Scorekeeper Meeting but with the loss of an hour in Sarnia, I did not make it to the park until 7pm, just in time for the Umpires Annual Welcome BBQ. I know Gary had things under control over in the stadium area.
I did check into the hotel before heading to the park. I went to the room long enough to notice no refrigerator, so quick call to the desk and before I turned on the car again the fridge was being wheeled in.
I always look forward to that first trip to the Emerson Park. My GPS tells me to go one way but I go the same way someone told me in 1995 when I attended my first Red Coat Classics Tournament. I drive through the park area, past the hospital, past the beautiful manicured lawns of the sprawling mansions. It may be true that every home has two cars in the driveway, a Cadillac and an Impala, alongside the boat on a trailer. It truly is a beautiful city and the drive in and around the ball park is worth slowing down for.
Once you cross the boundary into the actual park, you know you are coming into a beautiful area. The park is full of picnic areas, many with hard covered pavilions where you can BBQ, set up an RV or camper, lots of parking. And this year, flowers, more flowers than I have ever seen here. Lots of trees and grass, a spectacular natural setting and Currie Stadium is in the middle of it.
I was warmly greeted by the 2010 Umpires, the Blue Crew. They had lots of brown pop and the regular kind too. The food was outstanding. This is a major occasion for this group. They have worked hard all year and this is their ultimate reward, to umpire at the ISC World Tournament. The umpires are from all over, with representatives here from the ASA, Softball Canada and Softball New Zealand. See the list of 2010 World Tournament Umpires.
Lee Isenhart, long time friend and notable Midland Explorer booster and “always in the park stalwart” was in attendance and invited Todd MaCabe to take a tour of Currie Stadium. I have seen it many times but wanted to see what they have been working so hard on here for many months now. First thing one notices are the abundance of flower beds as you approach the entrance to the stadium. They have set up a ticket booth and Will Call window near the entrance and everyone will be directed to enter the centre of the stadium. It makes for a warm welcome.
The playing field has changed dramatically at Currie Stadium. Unless you are a player, I doubt if everyone will notice it but I am told the work was extensive.
We did a quick visit to the press box which will have a ton of people working in it all week, including, ballparkradio, local announcers and score keepers, local media, statistics and some guy updating the web. Take note, very long press box, only one AC and it’s beside my seat, and miles from the hard working streaming guys. They did re carpet the floor in the press box, which looks nice. In spite of being a large cement structure, I have always had the fear that the old wooden floor just inside the door where I sit will one day give way as it was rotten from the water dripping from the AC unit. I am told the floor was repaired before it was re carpeted. Also told that the two wireless networks have been installed, one big strong one for the ballparkradio streaming and the other for those of us who must use a lap top to do our work.
The vantage points for the video streaming this year should be the best ever. I understand they will have a camera on the roof and there will be cameras behind home plate, in the centre field and on 1b and 3b, each taking advantage of staging set up for local TV who will do one game this week.
I did not mention one of my favourite interest points, The Tent City. Midland’s WT Tent City is quite noticeable. As we did our tour I was quite impressed with the array of food outlets down the 1b side right out into right field. The whole ball park is licensed so one can enjoy a beverage anywhere within the whole park. In the outfield, there is a well established wooden pavilion in right field where a beer pumping station has been set up. Pumping the beer last night was none other than Hall of Famer Peter Finn. All three samples I had were excellent, cold and tasted like real beer. I then realized I may have broken my own cardinal rule, I never drink in the ball park. But I was told there was no ball being played and not even a player on the field, and it was all for a good cause, checking the quality control of the draft beer taps.
They even have a big media tent set up down past 1b next to the grand stand. This is where John Thompson will have his Z-Man Book launch on Sunday after the HoF Ceremony.
I did see the small trailer over by Emerson D3 where ballparkradio will audio broadcast some games. It’s small but has a good vantage point.
Saw the first aid tent, not far from the beer pavilion, and lots of other tents which by the third draft I was forgetting which was which. But will tell you, it’s very impressive. The Midland host committee has worked long and hard to make everyone feel welcome and to make this the biggest men’s fastball event in the country. They have hopes of seeing a match of the record breaking 8,000 in attendance they had for the championship game at the 1996 ISF World’s and hope to fill the park every day.
 Colour of the day on Friday, ISC Red
My intent is to add to this little contribution much as I did on my blog in Saskatoon last year. It all depends on if I have the time or not. My workload here this year is immense, with 46 men’s teams, 10 U19 teams and 8 Legends teams.
Most certainly I will not find time to do a play by play for every game on the main diamond. I will try and run a live score board on the ISC News page for each game on the main diamond. My main goal is to keep the master schedule up to date. Bookmark this site:
And then of course to do the same for the U19, the Legends and the ISC II division, all of which have schedules on:
Friday morning, news from Roger May, he cannot make it to Midland, driving more than an hour these days is a major problem due to severe back problems. Sorry to hear that Roger, will give your regards to everyone in Midland.
Find a car wash. A bigger challenge than one would think in Midland. Unlike Toronto where every other or maybe every gas station has a reasonably priced car wash, there almost none here. Find one but it’s a major exercise to pay for the ticket and drive the Buick into something resembling a “Battle of the Machines” devise that looks more like it will eat your car up than actually wash it. But it works and so far cannot find any gouges in the car’s finish.
Over to the host hotel where the teams are getting registered. Nice chat with a number of people I have not seen for a year.
Over to the ball park to check out the internet connection. Small delay while electricians re wire an out let specifically to power the modems. Rob, the local IT guru pronounces the system ready to go and within a minute we confirm he is correct. All systems are a go.

1:30pm ISC Commissioner Joe Todd reports from Sarnia that the back up is approximately 90 minutes. Its only going to get worse today, Friday as fans and ball players storm the border crossing to get to Midland.

3:30pm loading up the car to head to the ballpark. First game is 5pm
Marshall MI Lightning Fastpitch

Shakespeare ON Shakespeare Falcons


  I just hope my ergonomic chair is in place  in the Currie Stadium. My chair spend the winter in Iowa and always seems to show up on time in the host city press box on time. I did hear a report that the chair is getting old and has lost a wheel. I know the feeling. If it topples over when I sit in it, we may have a problem.

4:50pm and we are ready to go on Game 1

My chair made it, minus two rollers. A runner has taken one as a sample to Office Max to try and buy a replacement while I sit falling over, which is not new.
New roller, now I have four wheels. Thanks Mrs Volk!

It is very bright and sunny in the ballpark this afternoon and very hot.

8:30pm Starting to go deaf from the overhead monster AC unit, decided to move one stall down, only slightly better but now I do not have the door opening and shutting behind me every two minutes.
I do feel for the streaming guys at the other end of this very long press box, they are not getting much of the cold air at their end and they have a cast of thousands in their little area.
Day One of the ISC World Tournament was awesome!  The park is amazing. Fantastic evening of ball.