Why Is Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame Election So Hard?

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.)

Roy Hobbs Official Geezer

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.

Checking up on that bastard cancer

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!

Roy Hobbs Official Geezer

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.

I just thought you would like to know …

RHWS Safety Outside the White Lines

One of series of Roy Hobbs World Series posts

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.

Roy Hobbs official Geezer!

Safety First

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 they are 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:

  1. Masks, and/or …
  2. Shields
  3. Social distancing
  4. Mandatory temperature checks
  5. Sanitizer stations

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:  

  • Dugouts
  • Bleacher seating
  • Restrooms
  • Sanitizing stations
  • Food concession stands
  • Batting cages
  • Pro shop and bat shop
  • Roy Hobbs offices and reception area
  • Meetings, where and how
  • Player & manager registration and how to handle
  • Park entrances
  • 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.

RHWS is moving forward with 2020 planning!

First of 2 RHWS 2020 preparation posts

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.

Greetings from the Roy Hobbs Geezer!

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.

Three other elements …

First, we do have a refund policy in place.  It can be found at www.royhobbs.com/world-series.  It’s simple, practical and covers the bases.

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: 

  1. Social Distancing is important and an effective way to combat Covid-19.  (This is not difficult on the ball field.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Washing our hands and using sanitizer is just good personal hygiene.
  4. 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 …

  1. Home plate umpire required to wear a nose & mouth mask or full mask shield.  
  2. Nose & mouth mask for infield umpire optional.
  3. Nose & mouth masks for catchers, hitters and defensive players are optional.
  4. Pre-game meeting, lineup exchange:  Masks required for all attending unless Social Distancing is practiced. 
  5. Dugouts limited to 4-6 players, preferably pitchers, catchers & injured players.  Practice social-distancing in dugout.  
  6. Sharing of helmets & protective gear is prohibited; sharing of bats & gloves is discouraged. 
  7. More time between Back-to-back games so that dugout benches can be wiped down with sanitizing materials.
  8. No post game handshakes or high 5’s.  We are considering suggesting alternatives.
  9. Meetings on the mound should be limited to Pitcher-Catcher and/or manager, but socially-distanced. (Nobody is reading lips!). Infielders stay away.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. Baseballs:  Suggested … Supply umpires with Clorox wipes and request that they wipe down baseballs in their ball bag between innings.
  13. 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.

The full tentative generic protocol document, which is a work in progress, can be found at http://www.royhobbs.com/world-series under the rules and guidelines tab.

Finally …

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.

Racism has no place at Roy Hobbs … or any where for that matter!

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.

Greetings from the Roy Hobbs Geezer!

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.

June 10, 2020