Tag Archives: Bob Parker

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”.

Fort Fragments (Local Ties): Day, Parker, Chenoweth, Dygert, Judy

Lost in the shuffle of the TinCaps and Parkview Field excitement is the fact that we have many local standouts who are playing on the college and professional level. I’m trying to keep up, but it ain’t easy. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights:

Former Snider standout, Kyle Day has landed on the Dayton Dragons’ roster. That means there’s a good chance that the first game in Parkview Field history will feature a local product. I think they should let him hit leadoff – which would make him the first hitter in the park’s history. How cool would that be?

In Mid-May, there’s a good chance we’ll see another local product at Parkview Field. Justin Parker has been assigned to the South Bend Silverhawks. It’s likely that we’ll see him then.

Ball State junior, Ryan Chenoweth (Homestead) drove in five of the Cardinals’ runs in a 15-9 win over Buffalo. Junior catcher, Zach Dygert (Angola) also drove in a couple runs in that game.

Though Bob Parker is long since passed, his work continues to live on. Great to see a recent post about his unique baseball cards. I would love to do a book about Bob Parker and his work someday. Please contact me if you can help.

Josh Judy (Indiana Tech) is starting the year with the High-A Kinston Indians.

Isabel Alvarez to Be Subject of Book

A little over a year ago, I was a newly published author who was going to my first professional book signing at Barnes & Noble (in Jefferson Pointe). I had my ideas about what to expect, and everything pretty much went that way until the unexpected happened.

ISabel AlvarezAbout half way through, a friendly-faced woman who was wearing an AAGPBL  sweatshirt emerged from beyond a series of bookshelves at the store much the same way Shoeless Joe Jackson (ably played by Ray Liotta) emerges from the corn husks in Field of Dreams. One of Isabel Alvarez’s former GE co-workers had informed me earlier in the day that she might be coming, so I was pretty certain who the woman was.

She was very soft spoken but we quickly struck up a conversation and she stayed for pretty much the remainder of the signing as we talked about baseball, Fort Wayne, her times with the Daisies and more. She also kindly signed next to her picture for folks who purchased the book.

It was a great experience indeed. Since that time, I have had the great fortune to talk with Isabel more and have found that first impression to be accurate. And, her passion for baseball and the AAGPBL in particular is apparent within just a few moments of meeting her and you can’t help but be reminded of this fact every time you see her.

This past spring, Isabel was honored by the Northeast Indiana Baseball Assocation (NEIBA) with the Bob Parker Memorial Award. Not only was she deserving, but she was truly humbled by an honor she never expected to receive. No offense to the other honorees, inductees, the emcee or keynote speaker Tony Richards, but her acceptance of the award was among the most memorable moments of that night in my mind.

It brought a smile to my face to see her handing out autographed baseball cards to those in attendance – because they were going faster than she cold hand them out. And, even though I had her autograph in my own book already, I had to get a card too. 🙂

Today, she sent me a link to an article in the News-Sentinel about a book that is being written about her life and baseball career. It was with much joy for her that I read the article as it detailed more.

But however much Alvarez’s past and present contributions to baseball are commemorated, she credits the game itself for the majority of opportunities she’s had in her life” exactly the point author Kathy Williams plans to touch upon in a book chronicling Alvarez’s life.

Right now, the book is tentatively titled “Life After the League: From La Tilla del Cerro to All-American. It likely will recount Alvarez’s family life in Cuba to her days as a professional baseball player in America and life after the league. The book is scheduled for publication by the end of the year.

It’s definitely one I am looking forward to reading.  Congrats again Isabel!