“The Lost Ballplayers of Orange”: Sept. 30 at the Orange County Historical Society

This happened:

Not long ago, I was seated at dinner across from a college-aged pitcher. Making small talk’s not my thing, but I gave it a go. I asked him what he was studying. “History,” he said, between bites of food. “Interesting! What era of history is your specialty?” Maybe I was the first to ever ask him that. When you’re a pitcher, people are probably more interested in your fastball than in your class schedule. He thought for a moment and finally he said, “I like studying war.”

Welp.

I told him that I liked history, too, and that I often wrote about baseball history.

His eyes briefly grew big. And then he said, “Wow. I didn’t know you could do that.”

Then he went back to his dinner and that was the end of that.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t realize baseball even had a history worth knowing.

But it is worth knowing. Baseball’s long history provides a unique reflection of who we are as a nation, as a culture, as a society.

And, there’s plenty of baseball history right here in Virginia.

Join me, The Baseball Bloggess, on Monday, September 30 at the Orange County Historical Society in downtown Orange, Virginia. I’ll be talking about – what else? – baseball history …

160 Games: The Lost Ballplayers of Orange Continue reading

The Troubling Story Of Baseball’s Douglas Neff

I could tell you about baseball.

I could tell you that Douglas Neff – or D.W. Neff, as he was called from time to time – was a star athlete at the University of Virginia, played 33 big league games in 1914 and ’15 for the Washington Nationals, then retired, fought in a war, and faded into the much-less-documented world of ordinary life.

I could tell you about Harrisonburg, Virginia where Neff, the son of a prominent local doctor, was born in 1891.

Harrisonburg is on the “other” side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the western edge of Virginia.

I could tell you about Boboko, Harrisonburg’s tiny Indonesian restaurant and its delicious food, which you will find just across the street from the Harrisonburg Farmers Market.

Delicious.

Neff’s childhood home is gone. But, I can show you where it once was.

Here …

… where this parking lot is now – also across from the Farmers Market.

Harrisonburg is home to James Madison University, with 21,000 students, and Eastern Mennonite University, with 1,100 more. Add another 54,000 residents, and Harrisonburg has sprawled so big and so wide that it now has two – two! – Walmarts.

Like this – only sprawlier.

I had it all planned out – to tell you about Neff and baseball, and Harrisonburg and Boboko, the tiny Indonesian restaurant.

But, some things don’t go as planned. Continue reading

Open House To Benefit The Wildlife Center of Virginia Is Saturday, Dec. 1 In Orange

I’m taking off my Baseball Bloggess cap today to let you know about the damage that the recent ice storm did to the Wildlife Center of Virginia … and how we can help! I’m also delighted to invite you to my annual Wildlife Center Open House which will be at my Yoga Studio in Orange, Virginia next Saturday, December 1. Some of you are nearby enough to swing by — please do! And, for those folks who are a bit too far afield … but would still like to help … keep reading!  Thank you!

On November 15, a destructive ice storm hit Virginia. It did an enormous amount of damage at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Just one of the many damaged animal enclosures.

Thanks to the quick and selfless actions of the Center staff in the midst of the storm, no animals were injured or escaped … although several had their habitats and homes severely damaged or destroyed. There’s quite a rebuild ahead for the Center, and so our annual Open House & Yoga Class to support the Center couldn’t come at a better time.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia depends on the generosity of individuals like us to support their life-saving work. They have cared for more than 3,000 wild animals this year … and new patients come in every single day. They need our help more than ever today.

Athena the barred owl at last year’s Open House Continue reading