All posts by IndyBallIsland

29. Baseball fan. I prefer indy ball and the minors over the majors. If it's summer, you can find me at a ballpark. The Washington Wild Things and the Pittsburgh Pirates are my "hometown" teams, but I'm always up for taking a baseball road trip! Follow me on Twitter: @kmthomp29

Broadcasting Baseball – Tim Calderwood

On what would have been opening weekend in the Frontier League, Indy Ball Island still wanted to bring a Frontier League staple to all of our readers, words from the Boomers broadcaster Tim Calderwood.

Hello Indy Ball Island!

One thing we have a plethora of currently is time. I am grateful that Indy Ball Island has given me the opportunity to use some of that time to write about one of my passions in life, indy ball, and share some stories. I’m a visual guy so you know pictures will be involved in this as well. One of the things I have grown to love about indy ball is that everyone has a story, the unique perspective that I have is to tell those stories every night for others to hear and get the best seat in the house to watch as more chapters are written (Well, best seat ish).

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There will be plenty of time for stories and thoughts over the coming weeks before the return of baseball, but in the meantime I have a very wide range in musical taste (Eminem to Eric Church to Dave Matthews to Phish and everywhere in between), but every time I write something I like to use Jay-Z from PSA, allow me to reintroduce myself!

My name is Tim Calderwood and I IMG_-pwmpwkam currently the broadcaster for the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League. I have been with the Boomers since their first season, 2012. I’ll give a little bit more of my history in just a moment, but first since we are becoming buddies you can call me Popcorn, or TCPopcorn. It’s a nickname that has stuck with me for my entire tenure in baseball. On twitter @tcpopcorn and ditto on insta, though I don’t post much on insta. And twitter may fall into your realm because most of my posts come during baseball season.

20190809_213741During the pandemic to keep my baseball fix going I have been hosting a program that I post on Twitter and Youtube called Quarantine Cards where I open baseball cards, which is something I started doing during game broadcasts last year and wanted to start again while we wait this out (Stay safe out there everyone!).

One of the things I liked to do during my broadcasts was to try and find cards of Frontier League players that have reached the show and share a bit of their story, yes, you can make your way from indy ball to The Show.

 

NOTE: If you have any cards of Frontier League players in The Show, send ‘em my way! 20200418_213712They go with me to every game on the schedule to remind people that dreams can come true.

 

But back to my story. My broadcasting roots in indy ball trace all the way back to 2007. I spent three years with Traverse City (Beach Bums – Mich. 2007-09) and one year with Lake Erie (Crushers – Ohio 2010) before moving to Gary in 2011. One thing I have in common with the players is that for four years I lived with a host family before landing back in my homeland of Chicago. I’ve been broadcasting baseball since college, but as a ‘professional’ since 2005. I put professional in quotes because really as I look back at IMG_20200409_180957_392pictures and memories frequently, who can call this a job. I once heard a quote, find something you love to do an you’ll never work a day in your life, and ain’t that the truth. Each and every night and ballpark and season is filled with its own excitement.

Of my 13 years broadcasting professional baseball, all of them have been in the independent ranks and 12 of those years in the Frontier League. Now some people may say that being a lifer isn’t a desirable position, but I point to finding something you love and going with it. I enjoy being able to remember details of a player when they make it to The Show, or attending a wedding, or recounting great moments in team and league history (Plenty of those in the coming blogs I am sure). Many people have made careers in independent baseball, although as Frontier League Commissioner Bill Lee likes to say, “We’re family and you’re welcome to stay as long as you like, but we hope you get the heck out of here.”

I have built so many relationships through baseball. From players to coaches to managers to players who have become coaches and then managers to coaches who have become managers. I’m lucky in Schaumburg that the team has had only one manager in franchise history, Jamie Bennett. Many Frontier League teams are now led by familiar faces, and I have been able to build relationships with many of them in addition to my peers in the broadcast industry and the countless people from other organizations I have met annually in my Tour de Frontier as I like to call it.

Here’s to hoping we have many tours down memory lane in the coming months! Until next time,

Yours in Indy Ball,

TCPopcorn

The Pecos and Empire Leagues Were Built For This

We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Sports as we know it are canceling and changing.  Who is going to save us from a summer without baseball?

Look no further than the lowest levels of independent baseball… the Pecos and Empire Leagues.

You may be wondering how these two leagues, that I just classified as the “lowest levels” of indy ball will be able to continue playing when even major league baseball is having difficulty figuring out their game plan.

It’s simple really… the Pecos League and Empire League were both built for this…  Barely (or not at all) paying players and playing in front of minimal crowds is what they are infamous for.

Prospective players pay hundreds of dollars to play in these leagues when they attend training camps and tryouts in the spring. Every year, this is where a substantial amount of revenue for the leagues is made.

It’s also where a good amount of the labor comes from as well.  The fields these leagues play on aren’t state-of-the-art facilities that require a grounds crew and workers to maintain. Most teams use their own players to take care of field and ballpark maintenance.

As for playing in front of no crowds with no gate revenue, during a “normal” season, crowds usually range in the very low hundreds if that. It won’t be too much of a change overall. 

Don’t get me wrong, I along with many Americans, will be very happy to still have baseball to follow. I will watch and support the players.  I hope that they will be able to have the recognition that they deserve for grinding through some of the roughest conditions in baseball, especially with the current world situation going on all around us.

Here are the official statements from the Pecos League and Empire League about their seasons: 

Pecos League

4/16/2020- The Pecos League is aware of the rapidly changing developments regarding COVID-19. The Pecos League was originally scheduled to have a 64 game regular season start on 5/27/2020 and end on 8/1/2020 with 12 teams in 6 states. This will not happen.

The Pecos League has adjusted its season to a 48 game season with a start date to July 1, 2020 with an end date August 16, 2020 assuming it is deemed safe by local governments to play with fans at this time.

The other option the Pecos League may have to consider is to have four teams play in one location. No travel, no hotels and likely limited fan interaction would occur. But the players who need to play in the 2020 season would be able to play.

“There are 12 cities in the Pecos League and there are 12 different opinions, two of the cities have said no baseball in 2020. We will adjust and if possible play a 48 game season beginning July 1.”

Empire League

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I do commend the Pecos League and the Empire League for attempting to play and bring baseball to players and fans who are greatly missing it.  The sacrifices these teams are all making to play at a time of such uncertainty should be recognized if they do indeed have a 2020 season.