Category Archives: NEIBA

Reflections on Receiving the Bob Parker Memorial Award

Chad Gramling Accepting the 2012 Bob Parker Memorial Award
Chad Gramling Accepting the 2012 Bob Parker Memorial Award

Several years ago now, I attended my first Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Banquet. If memory serves, the News Sentinel’s Blake Sebring received the Bob Parker Memorial Award.

At the time, I didn’t really have much of a clue who Bob Parker was and the significance he had on the sport in Northeast Indiana.

As my knowledge and understanding of the man increased, I attended more banquets and saw many other greats earn the high honor that is given in Parker’s name. In 2007, it was awarded to long-time sportscaster Kent Horman. The next year, to former Fort Wayne Daisies’ Isabel Alvarez. Then to Dona Schaefer, and the News-Sentinel’s Don Converset in the two years that followed up until this one.

To say that I am in good company is an understatement. I’m just a goofball with a book and a blog!

But that book and blog has created opportunities for me to talk with people who knew Bob Parker. I’ve talked with good friends, counterparts and people who considered him a father figure of sorts. I can’t explain the look in their eyes that they get when the reflect upon Bob, other than to say I have no doubt they are reflecting fondly as they wax nostalgic for those moments. Clearly, Bob had an impact in their lives. And that’s why I considered it such a great honor to have been recognized in the same breath as Bob Parker.

I have had a few people ask me to share the words that I said in accepting the Bob Parker award this year. Since I am that goofball with the blog, it’s pretty easy. 🙂 There were several spots that I went off script, but it’s what I meant to say. So, without further ado, here goes…

Before I get started, I want to first acknowledge two things: One, God’s timing is perfect and two, I have a wonderful wife who is here tonight on – of all nights – her birthday.

I’ll never forget what my father said to me when I was twelve years old and told him I was done playing organized baseball. He said to me “once you get out, it’s really tough to get back in.” As the years went on, I found that wisdom to be true in pretty much any aspect of life.

In my senior year of in high school, I set a new life goal – to one day see my name printed as the author on the front cover of book. You see, I had realized I was a better story teller than ball player. And that’s how I have come to view Bob Parker. I never had the honor of knowing him personally, but through his writing, his art and talks with those who knew him best, I’ve grown to know him as master storyteller focusing in on one of the greatest human passions imaginable.

Bob shared widely acknowledged and lesser known stories, feats and facts about the game, and specifically as they related to our little corner of the world. Without his commitment to his craft, we would have lost much of our accomplishments, bragging rights and sports glory. The stories would have been lost with those who lived them.

In 2006, I realized my dream when I opened a FedEx box and saw the advance copy of Baseball in Fort Wayne. I might as well have been a rookie stepping in for my first big league at bat. I looked at the book and thanked God the cover looked better than imagined and – my name had been spelled correctly.

It was also at that time, perhaps just like Bob Parker once had, I realized I am no author. I am a teller of stories. And those stories belong to coaches, players, teams, umpires, front offices. Even mascots. They’re stories of triumph, heartache, accomplishment and resilience of human spirit. They’re about ambitions and dreams.

And my dream, the dream of being a part of a big league club had also been realized. Because these are your stories and you all – everyone in this room whether physically or in spirit – are that big league squad. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be just a small part of it.

And if he were here today, it be with enormous pride that I’d tell my father “dad, I found a way back in”.

NEIBA Announces HOF Inductees and Awards Honorees

I am very honored and humbled to be selected as this year’s Bob Parker Memorial Award recipient by the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association. Also on that night, Jim Shovlin will be honored with the Colin Lister Award and we’ll be inducting former Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, local umpire Dave Switzer, and long-time Huntington North baseball coach Don Sherman into the Hall of Fame. For more information about this year’s ceremony or to order tickets for the November 9th event, visit the NEIBA website.

Jim Shovlin Talkin’ Faded Glory on Talkin’ Sports

Tune Saturday at 9:00AM for Talkin’ Sports on WKJG-ESPN Radio 1380. 

Faded Glory, a film about a group of men pursuing a national baseball championship will be shown at the Cinema Center Wednesday May 12. Fort Wayne’s Mike Roesler (a NEIBA Hall of Famer) is one of the featured players in this film and we’ll talk with Mike and the film’s director Rick Cohen.

We’ll also check in with TinCaps President Mike Nutter as the TinCaps are home for the weekend and Komets President Michael Franke as the K’s face the Flint Generals in the IHL Turner Cup finals Saturday night at the Coliseum. We’ll also talk with Stephanie Jentgen from SCAN about plans for the upcoming Greater Fort Wayne Putting Championship.

We’ll be naming our SportsCenter Athlete of the Week in the 4th Quarter of the show . Any athlete (youth, adult, high school, collegiate, neighbor) can be a SportsCenter Athlete of the Week. Nominations for the SportsCenter Athlete of the Week can be submitted to this e-mail address or:

Phone lines are always open at 260-447-8500.

Wedge to be Among NEIBA Hall of Fame Honorees

The Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame will induct four new members during an awards banquet on January 29, 2010 beginning at 6:30PM at the Allen County Public Library. The four honorees will be:

  • Eric Wedge (Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians)
  • Keith Shepherd (Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles)
  • Gerry Tilker (35-year Wildcat official, FWUA Umpire)
  • Thomas Pillars (1928 St. Louis Cardinals, Monroeville Little League Coach and Organizer)

Pillars honor is being given posthumously and family members will be on hand to accept on his behalf. Wedge will also serve as the evening’s keynote speaker. In addition to the new HOF honors, NEIBA will also present the Bob Parker Memorial Award, given to individuals who go above and beyond to be promoters and ambassadors of the game of baseball on the local level, and the Colin Lister Award, which is given to individuals who demonstrate commitments to local youth league organization and development.

The Bob Parker Award will be presented to Dona Schaefer (Fort Wayne Daisies and AAGPBL supporter/activist and Fort Wayne Turners). The Colin Lister Award will be presented to Chuck Itt (Wallen Baseball player, coach and leader) and to Dan Eash (player and founder of the Fort Wayne Men’s’ Senior Baseball League). Tickets to the event are $25 and parking is free. Tickets must be ordered by January 24th.

They are available at Sports Center, Inc. (5511 Coventry Lane – Fort Wayne), via mail NEIBA, PO Box 40224; Fort Wayne, IN 46804 or on (click here to request your tickets).

This Week on Talkin’ Sports

Tune in Saturday morning at 9 to Talkin’ Sports on ESPN Radio 1380, as we’ll be talking with Komet legend George Drysdale about the Komet Legends/Detroit Red Wings exhibition game next Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.

We’ll also talk with Chad Gramling, author of the book Baseball in Fort Wayne. Chad will share with us how a local baseball organization will benefit financially from sales of his book.

We’ll preview the IHSAA Girls State Championship basketball games and Boys basketball sectional finals.The PSI/One Eleven Design Athlete of the Week will be named and we’ll be taking your phone calls at 447-8500 with comments, questions, rants and opinions.

Nominations for the PSI/One Eleven Design Athlete of the Week can be submitted to this e-mail address or:

Tune in Saturday mornings at 9 for Talkin’ Sports on WKJG-ESPN Radio 1380.

Talkin’ Sports is brought to you each week by: INdigital Telecom, Perfection Bakeries/Aunt Millie’s, Wise Insurance and PSI/One Eleven Design.

Talkin’ Sports. Local Guests. Local Topics. Local Opinion.

Recapping Dottie Collins Coverage

Dottie CollinsAs reported yesterday, AAGPBL great and NEIBA Hall of Famer, Dottie Collins passed away.

Since then, several outlets have reported the news ans many have produced wonderful recaps of her life and career.

A wonderful tribute to a treasure of a woman. Rather than produce my own, I’ve provided excerpts and links to the full coverage.

Collins made sure we’ll never forget legacy:

No one was more willing to do than Collins. No one was more cheerful or accommodating, more patient, more forgiving of those whose awareness of the AAGPBL was informed only by Hollywood, in the guise of the 1992 release “A League of Their Own.”

Dottie became Dottie-From-The-Movie once that hit the screen, even though she wasn’t. But what the hey. If it helped America reclaim a piece of its athletic heritage it had somehow forgotten, you could call her Santa Claus if you wanted to. (Ben Smith – Journal Gazette)

For Love of The Game: ’40s baseball ace was ambassador for girls league:

“She supported so many things in our league,” remembers Isabel Alvarez, who was recruited out of Cuba to pitch in the AAGPBL and had two separate stints with the Daisies. “The organizing she did. If it was for the league, she was right there all the time.”(Ben Smith – Journal Gazette)

Sports pioneer Dottie Collins dead at 84:

“Well into her retirement, Collins continued to promote the AAGPBL, providing interviews, speaking at schools, running a Web site and publishing a newsletter. She also served on the board of the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1999.

That year Collins was 16th in The News-Sentinel’s rankings of northeast Indiana’s 50 greatest athletes of the 20th century. She was the fourth-highest ranked woman.”(Blake Sebring – The News-Sentinel)

Fmr. FW Daisy passes away:

“In 1981, Dottie helped to organize the first exhibition game for former players which renewed interest in the league. Her determined efforts resulted in the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League Players Association and the movie “A League of Their Own.” She was instrumental in getting the league recognized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and had the privilege of opening the first Women in Baseball Display in Cooperstown. “(Wane-TV)

WANE also has a great video segment.

See Also:

Dottie Collins Honorary Golf Outing

Isabel Alvarez kindly sent me some information about the Dottie Collins Honorary Golf Outing the other day. The outing will take place on Friday, August 15th at Brookwood Golf Course and proceeds from the event go to the benefit of the Alzheimer’s Association and is being presented by Regency Place of Fort Wayne and Meadowvale Health and Rehab.

The event brochure and registration form is available here.

Dottie Wiltse Collins

When Women Played HardballDottie was born on September 23, 1923 and became a star softball player in the late 30’s. With the men off fighting WWII, Chicago Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley developed the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) to ensure that baseball would continue in the states. Dottie joined the league and became a 20 game winner as a right-handed pitcher in 4 out the 6 seasons she played.

She was marked as one of the league’s premier pitchers with a .608 winning percentage and lifetime 1.83 ERA. Dottie played for Minneapolis for one season and then came to Fort Wayne to play the remainder of her career for the Fort Wayne Daisies.

Dottie also accomplished a lot off the mound as well. Her husband, Harvey, taught her how to golf. She was the Fort Wayne City Champ in 1971 and was runner – up five other times. She helped organize youth golf and bowling leagues at the Elks Country Club. In 1988, she helped organize a reunion in Cooperstown that led to the movie “A League of Their Own”.

In 1999, Dottie was inducted into the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association (NEIBA) Hall of Fame. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about 5 years ago. Dottie was quoted in the book, Dottie Wiltse Collins: Strikeout Queen of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as saying her favorite memory of the league was:

“the people we met, including the fans, and the lifelong friendships that were created.”

Alzheimer’s Association

Our Mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

Allen County
Amanda DeLong
260.241.6188 phone; 260.486.5866 fax

Wells County
Kali Giggy
260.224.1447 phone; 260.824.4689 fax

UPDATE: Blake Sebring has a nice piece on the outing in the August 8th News-Sentinel.

NEIBA HOF Banquet – May 17th – Get Your Tickets!!!

The Northeast Indiana Baseball Association (NEIBA) will host its annual Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at the Allen County Public Library at 6:30PM. Fort Wayne native and popular local radio personality, Tony Richards will serve as this year’s keynote speaker. NEIBA Board member and Fort Wayne Wizards Public Address Announcer, Jim Shovlin takes on duties as this year’s emcee.

In addition to a change of venue, this year’s evening will include a dinner, door prizes and the induction of three new members of the local Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include Doug Bair, Dick Crumback and Bill Derbyshire. Ella Hardiek and Isabel Alvarez will receive this year’s Colin Lister Award and Bob Parker Memorial awards respectively.

Tickets are $25 per person. Visit for more info. Contact me if you are interested in attending.

Denny McLain Arrested

Two time former Cy Young Award winner Denny McLain (64) was arrested and charged with missing a court appearance in a civil case. In a foreclosure action, Oakland County (MI) deputies went to McLain’s home on Friday to evict the former Detroit Tigers pitcher and change the locks.

The deputies then learned there was an outstanding warrant against McLain for failing to appear and McLain was arrested. Bail was set at $175,000.

McLain was the to win 30-games in a season; winning 31 for the 1968 world champion Detroit Tigers. Following his baseball playing days, McLain worked as Promotion Director for with the Fort Wayne Komets (where he was integral in bringing Pete Rose to the Coliseum). McLain also served as the Keynote Speaker for the 2006 NEIBA Hall of Fame banquet.