Tag Archives: Schaumburg Boomers

Broadcasting Baseball (Round 2) – Tim Calderwood

TC is back for round 2 of Broadcasting Baseball with some stories from the broadcast booth!

So, now I am really looking for things to keep my mind on baseball since the season should be underway. While it appears that some indy leagues and summer leagues are going to be playing in some capacity, I still long for the daily interaction with a group.

If you missed my first entry and my introduction, here it is. 

https://indyballisland.com/2020/05/15/broadcasting-baseball-tim-calderwood/

That gives a background for some of the stories that I will go into during this post. Since I last wrote my basement flooded with the wonderful late spring weather we got here in the upper Midwest. Yay! That would be why I haven’t done a Quarantine Cards in a while either. But I also found a couple more  Frontier League alumni in my card collection as I was going through them with Brendan Donnelly, D.J. Carrasco and Chris Oxspring. If you missed my quest to find cards for all Frontier League alums in the big leagues that was also in the first post.

If you are hungry for baseball, I broadcast a virtual home opener for the Schaumburg Boomers where I was joined by former players and coaches while MLB The Show 20 simulated the home opener. While doing some play-by-play, we mostly talked about time in baseball swapping stories of All-Star games, championships, teammates and whatnot. I know several other teams did virtual openers as well so if you crave baseball you can check them out. It was a lot of fun but also very uniquely challenging which was why I was glad to be able to do interviews during the game instead of a straight broadcast.

There’s always that one minor league baseball story right? So, for this post I thought I would write about strange things that have happened during my 12 years behind the mike, think of reasons for delays, stuff that has happened during a game and the like. Nothing to do with the game itself per se but things that affected the game. I’ll try and keep it as chronological as I can and I know that more stories will arise over the coming days. I imagine quite a few of you out there have some good stories to share as well so send me a tweet, @tcpopcorn and tag @IndyBallIsland as well. I came up with this idea after a tag on twitter from some broadcast friends of mine who were talking about random fans entering their broadcast booth during games (note, this is actually a semi-common occurrence in several Frontier League press boxes – Also shout out to Joe Brand, formerly an indy leaguer with Windy City and Traverse City and now with Kane County, and Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Windy City turned Lansing).

Strangely a lot of these stories I recall from my early days of broadcasting, perhaps nothing exciting has happened recently or these are just tough to follow. 

My second ever game behind the mike in indy ball was in Kalamazoo, Michigan as the Traverse City Beach Bums faced the Kings in a day game following the season opener. There was no power to the stadium that day because an animal, a squirrel I believe, or maybe it was a raccoon or something like that chewed through one of the city’s power lines. Because it was a day game the contest was able to go on. Had that been at night there would have been no way. I think the power came on in like the fifth inning or so. My backup broadcast equipment was battery powered so I was still able to be on air despite the rodent trouble.

Early in the 2008 season the Beach Bums were in Chicago for a series with Windy City (Jesse G-S broadcast for the ThunderBolts that year). I have no recollection if the game was actually played but I remember it was on the day of one of the triple crown races (Shout out to my fellow handicappers out there). If you are from the Midwest or have been around at all you know the weather can get atrocious. This particular day there was a tornado warning. My wife was with me. I just asked her to recall the event and she said, You mean the time when you were chasing the tornado and everyone else was in the clubhouse? Hahaha…yeah, I’m that guy. My wife was with me because I was obviously living in Traverse City at the time so she came to all the games in Chicagoland (At the time just Rockford and Windy City were in the Chicago area). I remember calling her in the press box and telling her to get down here as I had gone down to do my pregame interview and check on the weather. I also recall a pitcher from Oklahoma who was up in the upper deck on the phone as this was happening (As you may know getting privacy for a phone call in the clubhouse is like impossible). I just figured it was because he was from Oklahoma and tornadoes were no big deal. Nope, he told me he was terrified but was not going to have a chance to get down in time. Well, I do remember that the tornado never came near the ballpark even though it was in the area. One of my interns from early in my time with the Boomers texted me a picture of a tornado over the wall in left field during one of his first games broadcasting in the Texas League.

I think also in 2008 was the infamous skunk delay in Washington. At the time, Washington was a grass field and the bullpens were behind the outfield wall. Most fields in the Frontier League now are turf, although I haven’t been to the five newcomers from the Can-Am League yet obviously. A skunk somehow made its way on to the outfield grass. I think the game was halted for like 20 minutes as attempts were made to usher the skunk off the field without startling it. Our centerfielder was somehow able to shoo the skunk slowly around the outfield while everyone watched in amazement, or perhaps waiting for the inevitable, which never came. Meanwhile the bullpen door opened and the skunk ended up easing into the visiting bullpen in left field, no idea what the pitchers were doing, perhaps they hid in the clubhouse upon seeing the iron will of our centerfielder.

Mike Radomski quickly became one of my best friends in the world. Any post about Mike is worth an entire column in an of itself, you see Mike, who was the longest tenured broadcaster in the history of the Evansville Otters, passed away in a car accident in 2017. Recalling that day and that week still brings a tear to my eye (I now end all my broadcasts with his patented sign-off, Rock the Planet, putting my own little twist on it to add my friends at the end, which is how I feel everyone who is tuning in to a broadcast is to me, see, I could go on forever about Mike). But one of my favorite Mike stories and one that the two of us liked to share frequently is that our friendship began because of a delay. In 2010 when I was broadcasting for Lake Erie the team was in Evansville for a series. If you aren’t familiar with Bosse Field it is the third oldest park still hosting professional baseball (Wrigley and Fenway). In fact, one of the things Evansville was looking forward to showcasing this year and hopefully will still have the opportunity to, is ballpark renovations with a new lighting system. At some point in the game the light tower on the first base side completely conked out. The rest of the field was fine, but you couldn’t see anything on the first base side. This prompted a suspension of the game and a half doubleheader the next day. If you remember my Windy City reference about being adventurous, Mike was very similar. The two of us actually went up on the roof of Bosse Field to walk around and check out the situation first-hand in order to be able to give an accurate description to the listening audience. Hence the two of us watching electricians try to do work. Still a cool moment that the two of us always looked at as the beginning of a great friendship.

There’s another great story from Evansville in 2012 that resulted in a rainout, but I’ll save that one for the book, am I right Zane? Just suffice it to say in the words of Schaumburg’s musically inclined third baseman that year, we got rained the f**k out on the Fourth of July. The ensuing rainout resulted in my walking two miles by myself along the train tracks looking like a hobo I am sure to go see Ted (Best comedy ever?). Probably not the first time I have taken a random long stroll through a Frontier League city and certainly not the last.

Speaking of tornadoes, we had a microburst come through in Schaumburg before a game in 2012. I remember sitting in the booth thinking NBD as this front approached pregame and then running out of my booth as my closed windows were literally flapping back and forth. It was so windy that one of the team’s inflatables in left field was literally ripped off the ground and sent through a fence fully inflated. The metal stakes of the inflatable crashed through the windshield of a parked car in the lot belonging to one of our stadium ushers (objects crashing into cars could be an entire other blog post, am I right Gateway?). Needless to say both the fence and inflatable didn’t make it past that day as the inflatable literally had ripped through the fence.

Another Evansville story comes from 2013, which Mike conveniently titled, Dirty Plate Stalemate. I think about 10 minutes transpired in this delay. I don’t remember what prompted the ejection, but I remember the home plate umpire refusing to clean the plate after Evansville skipper Andy McCauley kicked dirt on the plate. I believe there was a rookie pitcher and catcher and neither would clean the plate until literally the umpire finally caved after about 10 minutes and the game resumed.

There have been multiple games that were delayed due to laundry not being completely dried. Shout out to all the clubbies in the world, talk about a difficult gig in sports. I bet there could be hundreds of clubbie stories as well.  

The 2008 Frontier League Championship Series was delayed an entire day and moved locations due to a flood. The Kalamazoo Kings had earned homefield advantage, but their field was under three feet of water as a river was right behind the outfield wall. The series was shifted to Windy City (Remember Jesse G-S?) and the ThunderBolts went on to win a second straight league title. On Facebook I am the moderator of a Frontier League History Group that you should go check out for photos, stories and memories from league history that has been growing during the pandemic and there are pictures of the field underwater on there (By the way, who knew how many league related items I have collected during my tenure, wow!). 

Below are the highlights of some others that came through on Twitter, and as always, share yours as well!

A game where wind and weather resulted in shallow routine pop-ups turned into triples and runs. A 17-inning contest featuring seven ties and lead changes after the eighth. Fires in buildings just beyond the outfield. A delay after a game started because the bases weren’t changed from little league bases. A presidential rally closing the highway for a motorcade that prevented an umpire from reaching the field.

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