Tag 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.

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 NEIBAseball.org (click here to request your tickets).

Buy the Book, Support NEIBA

Baseball in Fort WayneThe Baseball in Fort Wayne blog is going stronger than ever, with spring training producing a lot of traffic from researchers and fans looking for information about new and emerging faces on their teams. The Baseball in Fort Wayne book has reached a point in it’s life where the publisher (Arcadia) is reducing warehouse inventory. That being the case, I have been offered the opportunity to purchase copies at a discounted rate. So I have decided to make this into an opportunity that is a win-win-win-win for the readers/buyers, the publisher, me and the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association (NEIBA).

I have purchased some of the available copies. I intend to sell all of them at a rate that is discounted from the cover price AND $1.50 from each book sale will be donated to NEIBA! That’s right, $1.50 from EVERY BOOK SOLD.

To make this an easy process of managing the sales, shipping and inventory, I have set up a PayPal checkout process (see below). Please use this to make your purchase. I am happy to personally sign each that one that you buy. If you need more room to give me specific signing instructions, please send them via my on-line contact form AFTER you have made your purchase.

LIMITED TIME OFFER: ORDER YOUR BOOK DIRECT FROM AUTHOR CHAD GRAMLING!
$17.00 Sales Price + Shipping (Media Mail). $1.50 of every purchase donated to the Northeast Indiana Baseball Assocation! Supply is limited, so order today!




Dottie Wiltse Collins: 1923-2008

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we report All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) great and Northeast Indiana Baseball Assocaiton (NEIBA) Hall of Famer, Dottie Wiltse Collins has passed away. I’ll post more information as it becomes available.

Rest in peace Dottie. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

See Also: Dottie Collins Honorary Golf Outing | DOTTIE COLLINS: A Great All-American Pitcher During the Forties

UPDATE: 5:28PM
More Coverage at:

Service is 10:00 a.m. Saturday at D.O. McComb & Sons Lakeside Park Funeral Home, 1140 Lake Ave. Rev. Robert Petty officiating. Calling 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Burial in Greenlawn Memorial Park. Memorials to All-American Girls Professional Baseball League – Reunion Support Fund or Allen County Alzheimer’s Association.

UPDATE: 9:35PM
More Coverage at:

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.

CONTACT INFORMATION
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.

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!

General Electric Plant News: There’s a Baseball Story Here!

You’ve probably heard the news about the local Fort Wayne General Electric plant. If not, there is great coverage at WhatsGoingDown(Town) and Fort Wayne Observed. That’s in addition to the news in “traditional” media like the Journal Gazette. But in short, the stories relay the sad fact that General Electric Co. announced plans to spin off its Consumer & Industrial business group, which includes the company’s Fort Wayne operations. Basically, it means there are 265 or so employees who are potentially impacted and there is an uncertain future in store for the widely recognizable campus.

But, yes friends, there’s a baseball story here!

In the 1880’s there was a race to innovate a facet of the game of baseball through the novel idea of playing a professional game at night through the use – of all things – lights. On June 2 of that year, Charles Jenney, owner of the Jenney Electric Company provided 17 arch lamps to illuminate League Park. The lamps provided 4,000 candlepower each, with three lamps fastened to the grandstand; one behind the pitcher’s box and the rest stationed along the baselines and in the outfield. The game between the professionals of the Northwestern League from Quincy, Illinois and a team from Methodist College lasted seven innings, with the professionals winning the contest by a score of 19-11. It was covered by the media The Gazette, The Fort Wayne News and The Sporting Life – all of whom were critical of the use of artificial light. However, The Sporting Life did note that with the use of more lights, such events could be successful [source: Baseball History: 19th Century Baseball. Heck, it only took the Cubs a 100 years to catch up – must be something about centuries with them!

Jenney Electric Company was later to come under the umbrella of General Electric. Many claim this event to have been the first lighted baseball game on record, though there are others that claim the feat as many as two years earlier. Regardless, it was among the first and another innovation generated in Northeast Indiana.

But, yes friends, there’s more of a baseball story here! Our local electric innovation was more than features of the field. General Electric innovated on the field.

In the 1940’s, the GE Voltmen were the city’s baseball elite. The 1948 squad would go on to claim a national semi-pro championship, boasting a roster that included many members of the Northeast Indiana Baseball Assocation (NEIBA) Hall of Fame.

The 1948 GE Voltmen

Pictured above, the 1948 GE Voltmen – (L-R) Standing; Coach Dee Hamilton, Bill Brandt, Paul Dyke, John Corridan, and Manager John “Red” Braden. (Second Row) Bob Winters, Stan Shargey, Pete Elko, Truett “Rip” Sewell, Bill Hardy and batboy Jimmy Slack; (Third Row) Al Hazle, Olan Smith, Charlie Harmon, Rudy Rundus, Art Garbrielli, Hugh Orphan, and Charlie Shipman. Photograph courtesy of Don Graham.

See Also: GE Press Release regarding intent to spin off.

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 NEIBA.org for more info. Contact me if you are interested in attending.