Well, a few things have changed since the last OMNI in February. If you are reading this years down the line, you may recognize Spring 2020 as the outbreak of the global coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. For those of you reading this as it happens, well here we are.
Like everyone, my life has been pretty well upended by the social distancing orders and gigantic changes to the economy and the world. But I am very fortunate that my family and I are healthy at present, and I get to spend some of this time escaping into minor league baseball. Back in March/early April, when everyone was suddenly “sheltering in place,” I had a surge of energy for working on the site. I cranked out new DIA team pages for the seven team identities that we lost in 2019. You can check them out here. I then shifted into making player pages for Hall of Famers and completed this year’s class as well as 2015, where I am currently at in my effort to drill back in time. Then when the reality of unexpectedly homeschooling my kids and accomplishing other life goals hit, MLG output ground to a halt. Now here we are at the end of April, with no start to the baseball season in sight. But hey, there’s plenty of minor news to talk about!
The 2020 Professional Baseball Agreement drama continues. As the virus was breaking out, there was about a month with nothing to report on this front. When the story returned, it was clear that there were a lot of new dynamics in the pandemic era. Murphy’s Law tells me that there will be an announcement on like the first day of May, so I will just miss it in this OMNI. But no worries! I have a completely separate PBA coverage channel, so read up on these articles. The latest is called “The PBA in the Time of Coronavirus.”
MiLB.com (like many other sports sites) has shifted from their typical coverage to posting articles about more in-depth and quirky things. The site has been pumping out articles about the minors in Hollywood movies, documentaries, television, books, etc. They are also working on a fantastic series about the longest-tenured team identities in each league. As of this writing, they’ve done the Rochester Red Wings, Nashville Sounds, Harrisburg Senators, and Chattanooga Lookouts. All this content is very Minor League Geek-y and right in my wheelhouse. If you’ve read my Minors in the Movies series, you’ll see that I’ve already dug into a lot of the movies in question. Some of the short documentaries seem very intriguing, though, and I hope to check some out. The series about the team identities is very well-crafted and I learned new things from each article that I will likely incorporate into the team pages once I get around to them.
In other news, the great Miles Wolff continues to distance himself from the game that defined much of his career. Last year, he stepped down as commissioner of the independent American Association, and now he has sold his interest in the controlling entity of the Appalachian League’s Burlington Royals. Wolff has a history of animosity toward MLB, and I expect that the new PBA would have been a bitter pill for him to swallow. Or maybe he just got bored with the team. Either way, we salute Mr. Wolff as always.
There have been a couple of notable ballplayer deaths in the past few months, and both of these gentlemen had atypical relationships with the minor leagues. Detroit Tigers great Al Kaline died at age 85. Normally, I give an overview of the person’s minor league career, but Kaline was a “bonus baby” who bypassed the minors altogether. Another notable death was Steve Dalkowski, who passed away from Covid-19 complications at age 80. Dalkowski is not a household name and never made the major leagues, but he is considered by many to be the fastest pitcher of all time. He had control issues (as well as personal issues) that followed him through a lengthy minor league career in the 50s and 60s that included stops with the Kingsport Orioles, Knoxville Smokies, Wilson Tobs, Aberdeen Pheasants, Pensacola Dons, Stockton Ports, Tri-City Atoms, Elmira Pioneers, Rochester Red Wings, Columbus Jets, and San Jose Bees. May both of these men rest in peace and be remembered by baseball fans in perpetuity.
In lighter news, the latest line of Hometown Collection baseball caps was a doozy. This particular set includes: the weird one-year wonder Queens Kings, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons’ primary logo, the South Bend Silver Hawks’ original hood ornament logo, a black Visalia Oaks cap, burgundy Prince William Cannons, the Miami Amigos, the Québec Carnavals, and the Beaumont Golden Gators. I was dumbstruck to see the Carnavals in the lineup. I first found out about them a few years ago, and added them to my “foreign language nicknames” page. It’s neat to see the old Eastern League team get some new exposure. As for the Golden Gators, they have been on my radar for a very long time, and I have cards of guys like Benito Santiago and Sandy Alomar, Jr. for the Gators. I will have much to say about Beaumont when I add the eighties-era team to the DIA (realistically) in a few years. It was also fun to take another look at some of the class 90s-era teams that I know so well and have already made team pages for. I have an emotional connection with all of these designs except for the Miami Amigos, a sort of novelty team from the late seventies that had barely any connection to the wider world of baseball. Cool logo, though.
Well, my amigos (see what I did there?) it is time for me to bid adieu. I wish health and wealth for you and your special people. Thank you as always for reading.