“When life throws you a curve, Turn on it!” So says a popular Roy Hobbs T-Shirt.
A great shirt to wear in 2020 … it seems like all we are seeing every day are junk pitches, (no pun intended). No fastballs this year!
Regardless, some very good news is that our final registration numbers show 205 teams – thank you for your support!
Back in the batters’ box, so far, we have not screwed ourselves into the ground swinging at some of these off-speed pitches, however, please consider the following offerings:
Blyleven Curveball – Yes, we are playing ball in Fort Myers, despite the many rumors you probably have heard from friends, competitors or reps from other organizations. We’re received too many phone calls with bogus reports of our demise. Adult baseball – SW Florida Roy Hobbs – enters playoffs this week, and Roy Hobbs World Series’ first pitch is October 18 at 10 AM – somebody damn well better throw a fastball!
Wilhelm Knuckleball – We lost the use of JetBlue Stadium to a construction project and the use of JB1 and JB2 fields to Red Sox instructional league play on September 24. And, CenturyLink is still on the DL for Covid-19 testing. The JetBlue loss was 7 game slots a day – 35 for the week.
We now have 14 fields available for games at 10 a.m. and 14 again at 2 p.m., and Terry Park’s 4 fields for night games. Yes, Terry Park is going to be the focal point in 45s, 53s and 60s play. Now, if the daily rain will just stop – it’s October, Mother Nature, please read the memo.
Hrabosky Changeup – We had made the decision last fall to change the way we group teams to start the tournament as the AAAA group has to expand and should be exposed to other quality teams.
Furthermore, teams need to earn their way to both AAAA and AAA playoffs, which will stay at 8- & 16-team affairs for the most part – adjustments at the discretion of Roy Hobbs. Click here to see playoff formats by division. on pools and playoffs in general terms. Please note 2020 is an anomaly in this process, but it is a start.
Valenzuela Screwball – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-244 on September 25, gaining national headlines with the idea that CV19 is on the run in Florida, and the state is 100% open for business, complete with no fines or “penalties” for refusing to wear a mask.
First, the order focused on restaurants and bars, allowing 100% occupancy, with some stipulations. However, you will be hard pressed to find me in any bars nor in any restaurants where there is no social distancing or servers don’t wear masks!
Second, the fines he refers to are people being fined if security or police are called, regardless of business.
His order does not supersede the normal order of the operation of any business. To wit: Sign says “masks required,” well, the business can refuse service to customers who do not comply as long as the business does not discriminate. Keep this in mind.
Gibson Fastball – Nothing has changed for us, this purpose pitch is “high & tight.” For entrance to the RHWS complexes each day, everyone will be required to have a mask in their possession and to put it on if asked or if social distancing – 4 feet or so outside – is not possible. And, there will be a temperature check each day at each complex. Anyone not wanting to comply with these RH business policies in this CV19 environment, please don’t come to the 2020 RHWS. These policies, as said many times since June, are not negotiable!
Perry Spitter – CV19, period, and no pun intended with regard to spitting comments in our protocol documents! This damn thing has forced a new normal. Although Florida numbers currently are manageable, CV19 is proving to be very elusive, and none of us know what next week, month or year brings.
That being said, we have developed comprehensive CV19 protocols for games and event operations, and these have been approved by Lee County. They are posted on royhobbs.com and can be accessed through this link: CV19 Game preparation and CV19 RH Operations. To be blunt, these will be our operational procedures during RHWS 2020. Please understand and respect our position.
We have been asked if we will require participants to be tested and be negative before attending. No. Although this might be a good idea, this is not protection and a slippery slope, so I’m stopping here.
Lee Eephus – The ball is in our wheelhouse, and it is up to us to make the most of this opportunity. Yessir, 2020 is a tough year, and it’s not over yet. But let’s play ball, make the most of this opportunity and know how to put it all in play going forward. ‘Nuff said … Turn On It!
Every year, we require a housing form from players – where are you staying? This year, the housing form is on-line with instructions to print it, complete it and hand it in at player registration – avoid having to fill it out at PDC. But that last option will still be available at player Check-in.
No money will change hands at registration, meaning the $1 player admission fee will be handled differently. Teams will pay $20 to cover all their players; we will collect either at Manager when he checks-in.
That’s all the news for now
Repeating myself, I know, but it bears repeating. This is our mantra and we don’t want anyone to misunderstand: Individual Social Responsibility is a big deal, and it will be an important element in the success we all enjoy the 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series. Please “Stand Together” with us and plan to attend RHWS #32 with a commitment to adhering to the guidelines.
We can all make the 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series a passionate place and enjoy the reality of everyone heading home healthy and safely.
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame Class of 2020 includes 7 gentlemen players, administrators and managers.
And 89-year-old Dick Pavlak will be honored as the 2020 Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball. Dick continues to play and pitch in the 50s division of the Miami Valley RH League in SW Ohio.
The Class of 2020 includes playing administrator/managers Ronnie Alexander (South Carolina), Flip Harrison (Virginia), Dick hill (Maine) and John Oehlers (Ohio), along with 3 players: David Darrah (Florida), David Fauth (Minnesota) and Eric Sallee (Washington).
Short biographical data on the eight 2020 honorees appear below.
Due to issues surrounding the Covid-19 plague, Roy Hobbs will not be holding a celebratory induction gathering this fall. However, in its place will be a virtual presentation of the honorees receiving their rings and their opportunities to respond to their inclusion. It has yet to be determined whether those will be live or be video’d and combined into one presentation for Facebook and YouTube off this website. Stay tuned.
Ronnie Alexander has been a fixture at the Roy Hobbs World Series 2004, but it is his work back home in South Carolina and North Carolina that propelled him to the Hall of Fame.
As a manager, administrator and coach in the Easley Adult Baseball League, he has made it possible for perhaps hundreds of men to play the game.
If not for Alexander, there would not be an Easley League. He made it happen and made it function. He donated money and works the fields and umpires and arranges schedules. In addition to running a 35-plus age league he also started a league for players 17 and older.
He has also been a part of 3 Roy Hobbs World Series championship teams. He’s been a key member of the Carolina Rockies and Asheville Sox.
Alexander has applied the same relentless work ethic and dedication that he displayed in South Carolina with his league in western North Carolina.
Both leagues are the better for having Ronnie Alexander.
Dave Darrah has been a fixture, all-star and driving force behind the Florida-based American Baseball Club for 34 years.
He’s an outstanding position player and pitcher known as “Super Dave” and described as a quiet leader, legendarily smart pitcher and positive competitor.
Darrah has been coming to the World Series since 1993. All that time it has been as a member of the Americans Baseball Club, which is based on Florida’s east coast. His teammates think of Darrah as “representing the best of all of us.”
His combination of playing skills, leadership and work as the co-manager helped earn Darrah his election. His character was also critical in garnering votes.
He’s shared his room or house with teammates at the World Series and often pays for meals and drinks for teammates.
Darrah has been a perennial all-star in his league and has been his team’s MVP at the Roy Hobbs World Series as long ago as 1998 and as recent as 2018.
Dave Fauth is that rare player whose extraordinary on-field achievements, coupled with his quiet leadership in the dugout and outstanding personal character, paved the way to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame.
He’s excelled against the toughest competition in AAAA. Fauth usually bats third or fourth for the HPK Oilers, who have won multiple AAAA championships. He’s been with the Oilers for more than 15 years.
In 14 World Series Fauth has hit .461 with more than 9 RBI per year. He’s twice been a team MVP. In 2011, he hit an otherworldly .684 with 14 RBI. In 2004 he had 15 RBI.
Fauth has hit more than .600 twice and four times has hit better than .500. That has all been against the toughest competition that Roy Hobbs offers.
Teammates credit him with leadership in the dugout, from moments aside of encouragement, to “walking the talk” never taking an at-bat or play in the field off, to reminders that it’s a game and it is to be enjoyed every moment of being able to play.
Fauth started playing amateur baseball in 1979, the year he graduated from high school. In addition to his playing ability, he also sponsors a summer league team.
Flip Harrison is one those essential organizational wizards who make adult baseball possible for others to play the game.
He earned election to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame through many years as a player, coach, administrator and commissioner in the over 30 Virginia Baseball Congress.
Harrison was its commissioner for 10 years, running the day-to-day operations and under his leadership the league tripled in size, from 4 teams to 12.
He’s also been a fixture at the Roy Hobbs World Series for nearly a quarter of a century. This year will be Harrison’s 23rd trip to the World Series with the Richmond RiverDogs. The RiverDogs won an AA title in 2000. He was team MVP in 2006 and 2016.
Harrison is also a force for good in his community helping organize events for Virginia Special Olympics and other charities. He also organizes an annual Thanksgiving Dinner in the Richmond area for less fortunate citizens and has served as many as 5,500 meals to the needy in a day.
Dick Hill is a founding father and a life-long baseball man.
He was an accomplished player as a youth and played Baseball, Hockey and helped organize and play on the Soccer team at the University of New Hampshire. After college, he played on amateur men’s baseball teams in Manchester NH, Yarmouth Me, and semi-pro ball in Coaticook, Quebec Canada.
Hill then signed a contract to pitch in the Boston Red Sox organization. He pitched for Boston’s minor leagues affiliates in Waterloo, Iowa, and Covington, Va. After he stopped playing, he pitched Batting Practice for the Red Sox and was Tony Conigliaro’s personal BP pitcher when he was rehabbing from his (eventual) career ending beaning.
After 19 years of coaching little league and playing in the Mid-Coast Maine men’s league, he founded the Maine Woods league in 2001 and came to the Roy Hobbs World Series for the first time that year with the Bergen Yankees.
In 2005, he founded the Boston Braves 48s and 55s, which have now become the Maine Woods teams in 60s, 65s & 75s.
Through his hard work hundreds of men have been able to play baseball. He is referred to as a “hero” by many of the players on the Maine Woods and Boston Braves teams because of the opportunity he has provided them.
His teams have won a title in AAAA in 2011 in 65s and in AA 70s in 2019.
Hill was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.
John Oehlers has been a fixture on one of the best-known teams in Roy Hobbs history.
Oehlers has played for Harry Young builders since 1994. For many years he helped run the team and kept statistics.
In the 1996 World Series, he pitched 2 complete games in the championship round and was used as a pinch runner in the title game and scored the winning run. And he repeated the playoff pitching performance in 2013. As one opposing manager said, “john is not overpowering, he just gets people out!”
After Harry Young died in 2014 he works with Harry’s window Marlene to keep the team going. He was described as the “glue that kept team alive.” And, to this day, he keeps in touch with Marlene Young.
Oehlers has played on four Roy Hobbs World Series championship teams and been team MVP five times. He has also played on 14 teams that won the Toledo league.
In addition to playing for Harry Young in the World Series, Oehlers has played in the World Series for the Border City Brewers, Toledo Paramount, Glass City Black Sox, Massachusetts Chiefs and McGuire Insurance, in multiple age divisions.
Oehlers is known for this attention to detail and to his teammates needs; much of what he does is behind the scenes, trying to help meet the needs of those around him. He organized a fund-raiser to help fund a kidney transplant for a diabetic teammate. He keeps in touch with former teammates, one of whom said Oehlers has a sixth sense about the needs of others.
The tireless Oehlers has also coached Little League and travel ball teams.
Eric Sallee’s competitiveness and character can be summed up with a comment from his Hall of Fame vetting report.
“He is a rattlesnake on the field and is a rabbit in the dugout.”
Sallee combined playing talent, organizational ability, leadership, intelligence and a humble nature to earn his way into the Hall of Fame.
As a pitcher he’s won more than 250 games in senior baseball competition. He’s been part of 8 Roy Hobbs World Series championship teams.
He threw a no-hitter in the title game of the 2007 Roy Hobbs Vegas Baseball Classic. He’s recruited players and built teams in the Seattle area.
He’s played in the Roy Hobbs World Series 19 times since 1993. Sallee convinced the Tacoma Senior Baseball League to become a Roy Hobbs member league.
In the dugout, he’s known as the quiet leader, even as a Hobbs manager of the Auburn Angels in the 1990s. While incredibly focused on the mound, in the dugout he encourages teammates, works with them and leads by example. He is a student of the game
In 1998, Sallee became an original member of the Roy Hobbs Advisory Committee.
Sallee, a CPA, quietly proves financial aid to players and their families.
He is also a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.
2020 Brian Mullen Ambassador of Baseball
Dick is 89, continues to compete in the Miami Valley Roy Hobbs League on a 50s team where he pitches, hits and runs in 2 games a week. He is also playing softball and plays 3 games a week, something that us baseball folks give him a hard time about. He has always been able to run but he says he’s slowed down the last couple of years.
Here is a guy who is passionate about baseball and represents the game and the best of what baseball competition is all about.
At 2019 RHWS, he pitched and won 3 games in the 75s as his team won the AA Division – 2 complete games in pool play, relieved in tied championship game, pitched 3 innings to get the win.
Dick played high school ball, went to college with no baseball, so started playing amateur ball while in school. Once graduated, he stopped as it conflicted with his job as a traveling salesman. He returned to softball in the early 1980s and back to baseball in the 1990s; he came to his first RHWS in 1995 (and hasn’t missed a year since) with his son Randy on the Dayton Ducks, went home and started playing in the Dayton summer league in 1996.
During an 11-year stint from 2004-2015, he played all 4 weeks of Hobbs, plus the Sunshine Classic and on some father-son teams … by all estimates, Dick has probably competed in at least 1000 RH tournament games and perhaps as many has 2000 games since 1995.
He has been on 2-3 championship teams, including the 2012 Akron Knights father-son championship team. In the semifinal game, he was scheduled to hit in the bottom of the 5th with 2 outs, bases loaded and tie score, facing a 20-year-old pitcher. He was asked to bunt the second pitch. He laid down a perfect bunt between pitcher and 1B … base hit, go-ahead run scored and that led to 3 more runs to win the game.
Dick is a gentleman, a ballplayer and an inspiration. As HoF Member & Trustee Mike Shevlin said, “I want to be him when I grow up!”
It’s all good for the Roy Hobbs World Series, at least as of today. We have updates, we have good news, we have not so good news.
So, let’s get after it …
Overall, nothing has changed … We plan to hold the RHWS unless told not to.
Lee County has opened up for adult sports – finally – and the Southwest Florida Roy Hobbs league began play Sunday. Yippee!!!!! It is important to note, however, that this is an experiment; the local league has to demonstrate it will follow the agreed-upon protocols, and Lee County cannot have another spike in cases.
To be sure, we are at the mercy of others. But, it is still up to us to show the powers that be that we can do this.
As we have noted in the past, there are 14 aspects of the RHWS, off the field, that we are addressing. We have to develop a plan for each of those aspects and submit it to Lee County Parks and Rec for approval. Our goal is to have something prepared by Labor Day. As we develop final versions, we will share. I suspect this is all a work in progress.
Be ye aware, however — and I know everyone is tired of hearing this – plan on having a mask with you for use as needed, practicing social distancing and getting temperatures taken at each complex every day as basic behavior principles.
Now for the new news
Remember, the deadline for the $500-discount registration fee has been moved to September 9. The final event deadline has been moved to October 1.
Sad news: There will be NO locker room services at the 2020 RHWS. It’s simple, if MLB cannot keep people safe, how is Roy Hobbs supposed to in a 220-locker locker room? We have absolutely no control on what participants do after they leave the complex, so indoors is ripe to become a breeding ground. (Sunshine Classic locker room: Way too early to be talking about that.)
Good news: We have City of Palms Stadium back for 2020. Long story, but good for RHWS.
Not so good news: No night games at CoP as the stadium lights system is not working, and there are no plans to fix it. So, we lose Sunday night games there, and we have to work with Florida Southwestern’s potential practice schedules.
Bad news: Centurylink is closed for now, and the baseball fields cannot be used as long as Covid-19 testing is being done at that complex. We really won’t know for sure until after October 1. However, we are planning to play without Centurylink, and that potentially will cost 11 stadium games. We have asked for night games at JetBlue, which would replace 3 games.
Fair warning: As of now, we are not planning to relax our age minimums; therefore, no age waivers will be granted. We have received numerous requests to date, none of which have been granted, and we have suggested to call back in mid-September. But, let’s put it this way, if we decide to relax age minimums, we will announce it here.
We get it, we understand that everyone has a decision to make on participating, a decision they are comfortable with. We are here to help, but the problem is … if we do it for one team, we do it for all, and that opens Pandora’s box, which undermines our integrity on age guidelines. We are convinced that the vast majority of teams that do add underage players will be teams that don’t need the 69s or 64s or 59s or 52s or 44s, and that will take playing time away from age-appropriate players. The integrity of RHWS age guidelines are on the line here, and we are not ready to compromise.
Working together: So, let us help you pull a team together. Rob – firstname.lastname@example.org – is handling assisting teams do combos, and we are hearing more and more on this. We do have some teams dropping out for lack of player commitments, but most of those teams have players who want to come, so we are working with everyone to make this happen. Please contact Rob with regard to combo efforts.
Streamlining: Every year, we require a housing form from players – where are you staying? This year, the housing form will go on-line in September, with instructions to print it, complete it and hand it in at player registration – avoid having to fill it out at PDC. But that last option will still be available at player Check-in.
Passing the buck: No money will change hands at registration, meaning the one buck ($1) player admission fee will be handled more efficiently, we hope. Teams will pay $20 to cover all their players; we will collect either at Manager check-in or by adding it to the team invoice.
That’s all the news for now
Repeating myself, I know, but it bears repeating. This is our mantra and we don’t want anyone to misunderstand: Individual Social Responsibility is a big deal, and it will be an important element in the success we all enjoy this fall and going forward. Please “Stand Together” with us and plan to attend RHWS #32 with a commitment to adhering to the guidelines.
This needs to happen to make the 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series a reality.
The questions keep coming … daily … and the answers remain the same!
“Are you going to hold the tournament?” Yes, if at all possible, the Roy Hobbs World Series will be held as scheduled.
“When will you make a final decision on playing?” We already have; we plan to play. Now if government says NO, we will have to abide by that, but not without some hand-wringing and looking for alternatives.
“Are you going to muddy the game?” Huh? “Change any rules?” No.
“Why don’t you back up the payment deadlines?” We did that 10 days ago. $500-discount deadline is now September 9; final deadline with full fee is October 1.
“Are you going to do the locker room?” No final decision yet, but it’s not looking good.
“Are you going to require masks?” Yes, when social distancing is not possible.
The “what if” questions abound. It’s tough enough to deal with reality without dealing with the hypothetical, so “what if” rarely gets answered.
However, “what if I don’t want to wear a mask or get my temperature taken?” Best advice: Reconsider attending. Our position on masks, social distancing and temperature-taking is non-negotiable.
Bottom line: The goal of our planning and our operational protocols will be to keep our customers as safe as we possibly can while still providing the stellar baseball opportunities and competition for which Roy Hobbs has become known.
Some RH Updates
Florida’s governor has rescinded his barely enforced quarantine travel orders on travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Of course, the reciprocal quarantine orders on travel from Florida are still active.
When checking-in for play at the World Series, we require every participant to complete a housing form. This year, we are going to create the form and post it on our royhobbs.com/world-series registration page for players to print and bring with them and drop off at registration.
We should have done this before, but CV19 has encouraged us to look for ways to limit person-to-person contact and to speed the check-in process. We are hopeful this will help all concerned.
Today, Canada extended its border closure to September 21.
Roy Hobbs continues to work on its protocols for registration, player check-in, access to the office, batting cages, concession stands, player and spectator seating, restrooms, pro shop and bat shop and Mr. Gloveman’s trailer.
More information on that will be forthcoming; however, since the situation in Lee County remains fluid and lots of folks are sharing their experiences with us, we continue to gather information and talk about the best way to get things done. So, we don’t want to be careful what we might set in stone.
And finally, we will announce the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on Monday.
Election to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be easy.
Voting for the Class of 2020 starts Monday when eligible members of the Hall of Fame receive their ballots.
There are 12 candidates on the ballot this year, and Hall of Famers can vote for as many as 7 candidates – or none if they believe no one meets the qualifications. If the trend of the past 2-3 years continues, maybe half the candidates will be elected. (Our goal is to announce the Class of 2020 by mid-August.)
So, why is it so hard? What does it take to be elected?
It’s hard because it is supposed to be hard to be selected to a Hall of Fame, any Hall of Fame!
It’s not supposed to reward longevity or to reward being friendly with Hobbs’ core family, i.e., me or my dogs. We said that from the beginning.
Despite what some think, Tom Giffen has ONE vote, either as one of the 66 eligible Hall of Fame voters or as one of the 14 members of the Board of Trustees. Yeah, you say, but if the Geezer tells people who he likes, well, that takes care of everything. To that I invite anyone to ask any HoF member or Trustee if I ever “politicked” for a candidate.
I am totally confident of that answer. I know that’s the target on my back, and I accept it. But I am also confident in my integrity in that regard.
But why is it so hard?
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is looking for excellence, period.
The qualifications for nominees outline that excellence and require concrete examples of that excellence.
For Roy Hobbs, then, it is as much about exceptional character as anything. That theme runs through the qualifications listed on the nomination form and on the questionnaire that we ask the nominator and the references to complete.
Yes, players are eligible, but what they do on the field – their excellence has to be documented and statistics help – is only part of the equation. There is also leadership and character. What they do outside the white lines is equally important.
This is not the Baseball Hall of Fame where statistical standards reign as guidelines, good ones for the voters, who, even though they might never have stood in a batter’s box seeing a curve ball seemingly focused on their head, bring their own biases and opinions to their ballot.
This is far more selective, and we believe Hall of Famers should be instrumental in selecting future members of their club. They know what it takes to be there.
Roy Hobbs has 66 Hall of Famers eligible to vote. While not all do vote, to be elected, a candidate must be named on 70% of the returned ballots. Say 50 ballots are returned – that requires 35 votes!
And it is hard for the voters. Not only do we as the Board of Trustees spend the time and effort to gather information on the candidates, we ask the voters to spend the time and effort to get to know the candidates, their achievements and their character. No, no photos – that surely opens the popularity can of worms.
So, it’s tough, across the board, no question. It should be!
What does it take to be elected to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame?
Besides the 70%? Excellence!
The process is demanding. In addition to basic data, we ask nominators to answer 3 leadership/character questions, to provide a list of accomplishments, honors and awards as well as statistical data with regard to players. We set AAAA competition level expectation for players as well. We ask the nominator to get 2 references to back up the nomination, 2 people who will answer the same questions as well. This year, we actually had several references who had no idea they ‘volunteered’ as references. How sad is that!
And we require that the nominator and references not just tell us how good their candidate is but to SHOW us as well. And, that is NOT easy.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised at the number of GOOD guys who are nominated. You shouldn’t be as you know from playing at the RHWS, there are thousands of good guys on the field. You know that because you look forward to seeing them and spending time competing with them. Our guess is that out of 4000 participants each year, 3800 are good guys.
After we get the nominations, a member of the Trustees calls the nominator and references, talks to them about what’s needed and sends out the questionnaire with a remember to call back if they have questions. We get that document back and we compile those along with the Nominator’s comments and the achievement data.
We have a checklist of qualifications for the HoF that we ask voters to review before they get to know the candidate through the data gathered. Producing that data on the candidates is hard work; combing through it to meet the candidates requires time and effort as well.
Here is a snapshot of the qualifications checklist:
1) a minimum of 15 years involvement in Roy Hobbs on the house-league level or the RHWS;
2) sustained, documented excellence within the area of nomination (player, administrator, manager, umpire, etc.);
3) sustained, documented leadership excellence within the area of nomination;
4) demonstrated exceptional character on the field, in the dugout, among teammates, and by extension, in the community;
5) “Is this candidate exceptional across the board?”
6) Finally, don’t just tell us, SHOW us. Provide concrete examples of excellence in each of the areas.
As you can see, this is about character, how these individuals impact their teammates, their dugout, the game itself and, by extension, their community.
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is looking for the BEST of the BEST. Help us find them.
I travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston periodically for blood work and a checkup on my chronic myloid leukemia (CML). I have been in remission since 2001 and reluctantly ended 16 years of daily chemo treatments in December of 2016. It was a very comfortable safety net!
So, every 6 months I head to a mecca for leukemia and cancer treatments, as I know this bastard could return at any time. This summer, however, the trip was postponed 3 times because of CV19 and my desire not to travel to Houston, which, unfortunately, is a real hotspot.
I finally spent Monday on the round trip, but I flew it from Austin instead of driving the 3 hours each way.
I need the trip to Houston for many reasons, not the least of which is that it grounds me in the understanding that I am very fortunate to have been able to outlast CML (to date), to be alive.
I people watch while awaiting my turn to surrender 9-10 vials of blood and then to wait on the results before visiting Guillermo Garcia-Manero (GGM to his colleagues), a MDA leukemia professor who believed in me 21 years ago this month, when others did not. I see many, many people … all ages, all colors, all religions, all nationalities, all manners of dress … at MDA, all in different stages of the disease.
Several times each week, I see a circular post on Facebook, calling for the reader to repost to ‘condemn’ and support family or friends battling the disease. I want to reply (but don’t as I don’t want to offend anyone) with a suggestion to a) donate to your favorite cancer research charity – there are plenty of options – or b) reach out to those with cancer and offer personal, physical support even if it is an ear to hear. When I suggest the latter, the usual answer I get is, “I don’t know what to say!” None of us do. But we can say we care and we are glad to be a friend, to listen!
My visits to MDA are a vital reminder that Cancer is an indiscriminate bastard. In my mind, MDA – and the drug regimen they prescribed – saved my life when other hospitals and doctors had written me off as a bad risk on their treatment statistics. It’s a very big reason why we started the Roy Hobbs Foundation to raise money for leukemia research.
Research brought me STI571 a.k.a Gleevec, which gave me a new lease on life. We are modest, but we have sent $10,000 or more each of the last 4 year to MDA to support GGM’s research into finding an effective treatment for acute myloid leukemia, which is the gorilla in the leukemia world today. Over the 10 years of the Foundation, more than $75k has been raised for that research. Much of that money is raised at the Roy Hobbs World Series, thank you very much.
Back to Monday. It was a good day.
There was a new normal at MD Anderson, courtesy of CV19. Sanitizer, masks and social distancing reminder everywhere you look, but even that really did not dampen the work and spirit there of “making Cancer history,” MDA’s motto.
They took my blood – oh my but are those technicians good! She picked an arm and said, “take a deep breath.” Never felt a thing. (Much different from the lab I go to in Fort Myers where it is not unusual for the technician to take 3 or 4 stabs – literally – to find a vein!)
I visited GGM. Blood work was normal. I will have to wait a couple of weeks for the genetic testing to come back – that’s where we find out if there is any trace of the bad guys in my system. GGM and I talk about my CML – he says I have a 5% chance of it returning now, and I know there are other therapies to address it if it does invade again. We talk about the prospects of his research. And we talk about baseball. GGM is from Spain, says he doesn’t understand the game, and I say next summer, let’s go to a game together, even if it is the Astros! “You don’t like the Astros?” he asked. “No, I do,” I said, “I even have a couple of hats, but I was very disappointed in their cheating.” We will talk about that more down the road.
Grabbed a taxi with a date with Southwest Airlines to get back to Austin.
It was a long day, but a good day, and yet another personal reminder of both the evil of Cancer in the world and the good people – victims and medical folks alike – who fighting it day in and day out.
Putting the Roy Hobbs World Series together on the field is relatively easy, so far.
But, outside the white lines, well, that is another story altogether.
Roy Hobbs’ full-time staff and several others have been working on 14-15 areas of safety concern as we approach the 2020 RHWS. There are a lot of moving parts here, and, in many cases, they overlap.
Here is the crucial point: Within the confines of running the RHWS safely, we want to protect you, to keep you – our customers and baseball colleagues – SAFE. And, in turn, protect ourselves, our staff, and our business, too!
We know that everyone has a different comfort level with what is happening. However, suffice to say, Roy Hobbs is not a democracy, and we are determined to set workable standards that protect everyone while respecting all measure of opinions as we can.
If we are to err, it will be on the side of caution.
There is another aspect we have to consider: We lease and use municipal facilities, and Lee County Government will set the minimum standards of what we have to do. Our friends at Lee County Parks and Rec have notified us that they will want to know what our protocols will be before they will approve them and give us permission to proceed with RHWS #32.
In a word, it’s their baseball, and theyare not ready to hand it to us to play with.
We have a general idea of what the County wants, but not specifics. Our playing protocol has gone through 6 revisions so far. And we need to get an adult season going here in Lee County so we can determine just what is possible, what we can and cannot do.
Precautions involve 5 focal points
I noted earlier that we have identified 14-15 areas of concern, and I will list those shortly without comment at this time since many of those issues are moving targets, and our options to deal with them are refined with each discussion.
However, since our primary goal is to keep everyone safe, everyone needs to understand from the beginning that our safety precautions for everyone, including staff, will involve:
Masks, and/or …
Mandatory temperature checks
Participants, including umpires, will be required to sign the event waiver, which includes added language on accepting risks in regard to viral and bacterial infections. That waiver is a participant’s ticket to get on the field. It says that the participant agrees to abide by Roy Hobbs playing rules and site guidelines, period. None of it is negotiable.
Roy Hobbs Baseball is not going to debate masking rules, social distancing or potential mandatory temperature checks at the gates to each complex.
If any of those elements are a problem for a potential participant, best advice is, do not come to RHWS #32. Roy Hobbs staff will not negotiate the guidelines, period. Those refusing to comply will either not be allowed entrance to the complexes – not even to watch – or will be asked to leave if found violating the guidelines inside the fences and refusing to comply upon request.
If that sounds harsh, so be it. We intend to protect everyone as best we can, even if it means turning customers away.
Areas of Concern
The areas of concern we are discussing include, but are not limited to:
Food concession stands
Pro shop and bat shop
Roy Hobbs offices and reception area
Meetings, where and how
Player & manager registration and how to handle
Roy Hobbs guest service personnel
What happens if a player(s) is covid-19 positive
Handling customers who want to negotiate the rules.
As you can see, the ballgame becomes more complicated outside the white lines.
You will notice that the locker room is not on that list, at least, not yet. We must address the elements that affect all of our participants first, then we will talk about locker room issues. Those also are tied to our MLB trainers who will be advising us after their experiences in MLB’s 60-game season.
As part of our safety policies on all of those issues, we want to do two things: First, we want to minimize wherever possible one-on-one contact between participants as well as participants and staff. Second, all staff will be required to wear a mask and/or shield when participants are within 10-12 feet.
We are NOT going to require participants to be masked except when social distancing is NOT possible or when they are in the confines of a building, such as Hobbs’ PDC offices or any complex restrooms. For example, batting-cage max occupancy will be 2 players (hitter & pitcher); those standing around outside waiting their turn must social distance or wear masks. (Roy Hobbs will have masks available for everyone as needed.)
We will be making changes in the way we interact with players registering each week, but it would be advisable for all participants to have a mask handy for that process. There will be more to come on that process, for sure.
As of this time – July – Roy Hobbs will require an infra-red (no-touch) temperature check for entrance to every complex. Anyone running a temperature of at least 100.4 will not be allowed to enter that day. We will take that temperature twice, however, before denying entrance.
More Data To Come
Our goal is to operate the 2020 RHWS in full and as safely as possible for all concerned.
There are many topics herein that need to be addressed. We are continuing our internal discussions, researching our options and consulting with County officials as to their guidelines.
We will continue to keep everyone updated through this blog, the Roy Hobbs Baseball Dugout page on Facebook and through www.royhobbs.com.
Remember, if you don’t see our announcements on those sites, it’s a rumor and not true.
Looking forward to seeing everyone this fall; meanwhile, be safe and avoid risks.
The rumor mill is an ugly bastard … especially since it’s wrong 99 times out of 100.
The 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series has NOT been cancelled, period. If something were to happen to force us to do that, YOU WILL HEAR IT DIRECTLY FROM ROY HOBBS!
Now to the subject at hand, the 2020 RHWS and what plans we are discussing. This is the first of 2 posts on our preparation and approach, this one dealing with the overall situation and what we anticipate on the field. Post 2 next week will address safety precautions and guidelines we are considering for activities off the field at the complexes.
What can we do and when?
Most importantly, we continue to work on our plans for the 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series.
While the final approval for RHWS 2020 will rest in the hands of Lee County leadership, all indications at this time foresee Roy Hobbs playing baseball on Lee County fields in October & November.
(A digression: The news coming out of Florida on the Covid-19 front is not good. We know that. We do have trouble trusting Florida numbers – from both sides of the issue – but we trust the situation will improve with rededicated individual social responsibility.)
Now, the County has requested Roy Hobbs provide a detailed plan and protocol for the operation of the tournament. We have already created a protocol for the local SWF Roy Hobbs league, and it has been approved. We have not completed one for RHWS; it is too early for a definitive protocol.
What follows is our thinking today. Obviously, that can, and probably will, change down the road. We simply don’t know what next week, next month or September will bring. Suffice to say, all of us are living in rolling 2-week increments.
Second, we are keeping up with issues facing our non-US based colleagues. Canada has some pretty draconian policies in place at this time (regardless, something is working in Canada – word was on Monday that 2 large Toronto hospitals had no Covid-19 patients in ICU!). We assure our Canadian teammates and those in the Caribbean that we work with them as best we can going forward.
Third, the locker room. Simple answer: We. Just. Don’t. Know. If we can do it, we will have a plan by late August. (We want to, but PLAN on it involving masks!)
Where we stand
It is very simple: We plan to play the 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series as scheduled.
Yes, we know there are Covid-19 issues out there, issues that are conspiring against us, but we believe that together we will overcome this virus through our community determination and a corporate commitment to Individual Social Responsibility.
We also believe:
Social Distancing is important and an effective way to combat Covid-19. (This is not difficult on the ball field.)
Masks are a small price to pay to protect others; it involves respect for others, and it is part of the solution, not the problem. (We will provide.)
Washing our hands and using sanitizer is just good personal hygiene.
These 3 items add up to Individual Social Responsibility. It’s pretty simple on a daily basis. And, at the 2020 Roy Hobbs World Series, Individual Social Responsibility will underscore our guidelines and requirements.
On the diamonds …
We have no plans to change the rules of the game, period. We will play baseball.
We will have some on-the-field behavior modifications, however. (Whatever we end up with as the final document, the elements will NOT be negotiable.) For instance, and this is tentative …
Home plate umpire required to wear a nose & mouth mask or full mask shield.
Nose & mouth mask for infield umpire optional.
Nose & mouth masks for catchers, hitters and defensive players are optional.
Pre-game meeting, lineup exchange: Masks required for all attending unless Social Distancing is practiced.
Dugouts limited to 4-6 players, preferably pitchers, catchers & injured players. Practice social-distancing in dugout.
Sharing of helmets & protective gear is prohibited; sharing of bats & gloves is discouraged.
More time between Back-to-back games so that dugout benches can be wiped down with sanitizing materials.
No post game handshakes or high 5’s. We are considering suggesting alternatives.
Meetings on the mound should be limited to Pitcher-Catcher and/or manager, but socially-distanced. (Nobody is reading lips!). Infielders stay away.
Injured players: Anyone attending to an injured player on the field or in the dugout must wear a nose & mouth mask or a shield. In dugout, injured player being attended to must have a mask. Participants advised to have masks in a back pocket.
Spitting: It’s what baseball players do. Spitting creates an aerosol, and COVID-19 transmission is significantly enhanced via aerosol. Be aware of surroundings & wind; spit away from others – better yet, don’t spit!
Baseballs: Suggested … Supply umpires with Clorox wipes and request that they wipe down baseballs in their ball bag between innings.
Rules discussions or call disputes with umpires will be held from at least 6 feet distant – 10 feet recommended. Come within 6 feet yelling at an umpire will lead to an automatic ejection.
These are strange, frustrating and exciting times. We will persevere. And if I can leave one thought with you kind readers: It is that our Individual Social Responsibility, collectively will carry the day into our new normal. See you on the ball field.
Next week: What we anticipate we will see outside the white lines and away from the diamonds but within the playing complexes.
The upheaval in our country today is pervasive. Regardless of what we think, we are surrounded by issues we must address.
It is easy to see how Covid-19 has influenced us, whether we believe it to be real. Those of us who have lost family or friends know that it is real. We are engaged in a new normal, a new normal that can only impact how Roy Hobbs Baseball events are managed.
Then there is the issue of racism. It is far more insidious while being incredibly subtle.
Over the years, Roy Hobbs Baseball has been clear that racist behavior, symbols or language are not acceptable at our events. We have set standards that welcome all races, creeds, nationalities and personal beliefs, set standards for our event staff and make every effort to model those standards through our daily behavior.
However, it is time for us to reaffirm our commitment to stand opposed to racism in all of its ugly forms.
Please know racist behavior, symbols or language are not acceptable at Roy Hobbs, and we will address it swiftly and firmly.
Language is easy; behavior can be more problematic. However, in the words of Justice Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it.
Is this a political statement? Not at all. That, itself, is a different element that now further divides us.
But rather, this is about treating each other with respect as well as empathy.
Baseball has a unique ability to bond us to one another, on the field, in the dugout, in the locker room and in the stands. It does not discriminate on safe and out, balls and strikes or its rules, which are locked together much like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Baseball binds us together in a common purpose: striving for success … with respect and empathy for one another.
Baseball provides a level playing field. Problem is, off the field, it is a far different story, one we have ignored far too long.
Imagine what we might accomplish if we could be “life” teammates, cheer for and celebrate the success of our neighbor, of those we work with daily, of those we encounter as we shop, as we go out to eat, as we travel. Imagine what we could accomplish if we approached daily life as though we were all teammates, teammates that care about each other and whose lives matter to each other. Imagine what we could accomplish!
It’s really sad that the world of human endeavor cannot take what’s on the athletic field and translate it to our daily lives.
So, if we are to condemn racism, it’s important to embrace “Black Lives Matter.”
Every time I say or write that, the first response I usually get is “All Lives Matter.” I have always struggled with an answer other than to say, sure they do but if there were no systemic racism, the mantra would be unnecessary.
Kai Nilson, an Ohio Lutheran pastor, came to my rescue, and I paraphrase: When one of my kids gets hurt, it doesn’t seem to make sense to say to them, ‘All my kids matter.’ In that moment, I embrace my hurt child and say, ‘You matter. Your pain matters. Your healing and return to health matters.’ That doesn’t diminish my caring for my other kids. It expands my capacity to care as I live with another person’s pain.
If we are to address change in the self-evident, pervasive racism in our society, we need to walk miles in the shoes of others, we need to experience the world through their eyes, we need share in their pain, we need to see the world through the prism of the color of skin, we need to start expanding our capacity to care, and we need to BLOOM where we are planted.
At Roy Hobbs Baseball, we are working on those tasks and expect all those who take part in our celebrations of baseball to understand that’s who we are, what we do and that we determine what acceptable behavior is, both on a racial basis and otherwise.