Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at Pirates Prospects!
For those of you checking in today, we’ve got a special Roundtable, where I asked everyone to fill out their holiday wish lists. I asked for tangible items, so the idea of a winning season for the Pirates, while atop everyone’s wish list, is not eligible for this article.
I might already own my holy grail of baseball items. I bought the 1909 uniform of Dots Miller five years ago. It was a World Series winning year and it has the iconic PBC logo, along with the fact that it’s my hometown player.
Before I knew that uniform existed, my top baseball item I wanted is an 1887 Kalamazoo Bats team card of the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. I already collected 1887 cards from the Old Judge set before I ever saw an example of the Kalamazoo Bats card. I have cards of every player shown on that team card, multiples of some of them. However, just seeing the earliest team photo available on a card makes it a dream item.
The photo shows ten players in full uniform. That’s not the entire team in the photo, but it’s not far off. The club only used 16 players all season in 1887, and that’s with one of their starters (first baseman Alex McKinnon) passing away mid-season. They had another player make the team out of Spring Training and not play a game before he was sent to the minors, but other than that, the only other players they used were on tryouts in a postseason exhibition tour. Imagine 16 players doing all of the work now? The Pirates used 18 players on Opening Day this year!
This card is my current baseball dream item to own.
As an avid baseball fan and a member of the media this questions is a hard one to answer. My office definitely has a good amount of sports items and most of it is baseball related. So, the idea of adding any baseball item to it really had me thinking: Do I go with a classic item like the ball from Clemente’s 3000th hit or what about a historical item like the bat Joe DiMaggio used for his 56-game hitting streak.
Those all are great but I prefer items tied to a personal memory, and that is why I would have to pick the ball that Johnny Cueto dropped.
That game and moment is such a core memory for me for many reasons. It was my first MLB Playoff game and I was working the game for Pirates Prospects. I was photographing the game from the photo well that was behind the Pirates on-deck circle. Clint Barmes had me blocked where I could see the moment the ball dropped but I saw him picking it up.
I have never been in a stadium so loud as that whole evening but especially the ball drop and the results of the very next pitch. That game was a fun night at ball park and that piece of memorabilia went home with a lucky fan in the left field bleachers.
I’m jumping into the future—as opposed to the past—for my answer.
I have never really been one to wax poetic about baseball. I don’t get worked up about the crack of a bat or the snap of a mitt. The closest I’ve ever come to transcendental experiences like that are probably when I visited The Field of Dreams—as pure of an experience as I can remember, which is why I find it so upsetting the commercial route they are undertaking—and getting to sit behind home plate at PNC Park for my 21st birthday.
We actually went to the game where the Mazeroski statue was unveiled, so that was cool, and I got to meet Bob Nutting at this event (but we won’t go there). I’ll never forget the feeling of walking out of the tunnel and getting to experience the field and the cityscape from that vantage point, as if I was taking the field myself—my mom says she wishes she could have captured the look on my face as it was happening. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do again, but have yet to have the opportunity, mainly due to the prohibitive cost.
So maybe I could go with that, but what I really want is the 2022-2026 Collective Bargaining Agreement, even if I may be living too in the moment. Despite being one season in already, it has yet to be put to paper and released to the world. I basically check every day, and there’s nothing I want more than to have it available so I can save it to my computer and dive into the new rules and regulations that I love and enjoy so much.
The first thing that came to mind was either an autograph from one of my favorite players, like Ken Griffey Jr. or Randy Johnson. Even maybe a home run ball from Griffey or even Jason Kendall (even though those were few and far between).
Then I really thought about, and how those were probably just as easily accessible through eBay or Amazon, and looked to something more personal.
With me finally being able to put together an office for me to write, I’ve started collecting some things here and there to go with it. Having that in mind, if I could really truly get any one baseball related item, it would be the first glove I ever had as a kid, just as a reminder of where it all started.
I think ever since I can remember I have always wanted to do one thing, talk about baseball. The hours I spent playing catch with that glove, I think having something like that in the place where I continue to build my writing career, would be a great reminder of everything I’ve done and how far I’ve come.
I’m just going to go full-on fantasy. I’d like a DVD of the 1909 World Series. Wouldn’t even have to be Blu-Ray. Baseball was a very different game then, starting with the fact that games typically took less than half as long. (No batting gloves.)
I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to see a game unfold. I think I could even tolerate the bunting. And triples!
And of course that World Series was the first title for the Pirates. It involved a bunch of the franchise’s all-time greats – Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Vic Willis, Babe Adams, Tommy Leach, George Gibson and Deacon Phillippe, the first three being Hall-of-Famers.
I would say that the one item I’d like for Christmas would be a game ball from Game 3 of the 2013 World Series. It’s the one World Series game I’ve ever been to.
Going to a Fall Classic contest has always been a bucket list item. I knew I was going to propose that winter, and the series was in St. Louis that year. I mean, it would be difficult to find two teams I dislike more than the Cardinals and Red Sox, but that didn’t matter.
What was also cool was getting to see something in baseball I’d never seen before. The game ended on a walk-off obstruction call. Additionally, I got the chance to talk to Jim Joyce about the call for a later project.
That one game will always be special in my heart. Here is a Sports Illustrated magazine that my dad got both players to sign from that final play.
I’m honestly stumped on this, and hadn’t been able to decide on anything specific.
My first thought was maybe something autographed. Maybe a jersey from a favorite player of mine when I was growing up, such as Ken Griffey Jr. Or, it could have been a glove he used.
After more thought, I decided I would want something that I’d find hilarious. With that said, the one baseball item from any moment in time that I would like is the base that Lloyd McClendon famously stole.
It would be hilarious every time someone asked about the item and I could chuckle, “That’s the first base that Lloyd McClendon stole against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001!”
I’ve never been a big autograph person, or a memorabilia person. I’ve owned a few jerseys in my life, and definitely got a lot of autographs as a kid.
I did like collecting the Starting Lineup action figures, especially the Cal Ripken ones where he was laying out for a ground ball. I probably have one of those somewhere in my baseball stuff, so I’ll leave that as an honorable mention.
I decided to dive into the video game realm, since that was my favorite way to experience the game of baseball — outside of watching the actual game. My gift would be a working Sega Genesis and RBI Baseball 94.
This isn’t a difficult thing to buy today. In fact, I feel a bit like Kevin from The Office when he stole the foot bath that he wanted, instead of taking the more valuable iPod. I should be listing Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run ball, which I could sell for every baseball game ever made, along with every other video game ever made.
I’m sticking with video games and highlighting RBI Baseball 94 as one of the best all-time titles. I loved the ability to play with real players, and to play a season. The simplicity of this game is why I picked it over more dynamic options like MVP Baseball 2004, or anything recent from MLB The Show or Out of the Park Baseball. I feel like RBI walked so MVP could jog so The Show could run, and OOTP is just in a different universe.
RBI gave you 800 players and 28 teams, back in a time when there were no Tampa Bay Rays or Arizona Diamondbacks, and when it was uncommon for MLBPA licensing. The fact that you could take over any team, with their real roster, and play to a championship was incredible at the time. The gameplay is very simple, and adds the fun mystery of never knowing what will happen to the ball once it leaves the infield.
You could probably get a copy of this for like $3 on eBay, and a working Sega Genesis would be the bigger expense. However, I would spend the most relaxing weekend playing a season of this with any of the retro-90s rosters.
Although, it is cheating if you pick Seattle.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
**In this week’s Pirates Winter League Report, John Dreker features right-handed pitcher Brad Case, along with the weekly rundown of winter league action.
**Minor league Rule 5 pick Josh Palacios picked up a pair of hits. John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league updates.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony Murphy looked at Alexander Mojica’s unique situation going into 2023.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
John Dreker talked with right-handed pitcher Brad Case, who is working on adding a new swing-and-miss pitch.
Ethan Hullihen will have an offseason payroll update in the latest Pirates Business update on Sunday.