Monthly Archives: October 2008

Baseball history in Cochise County

It seems fitting that this baseball blog post comes after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series last night. Yay, team (I used to live there, so I’m partial)!

Bisbee, Arizona has quite a bit of baseball history. Some of the game’s legendary players and managers either started their careers at Warren Ballpark or got some of their biggest breaks there. Some say Warren Ballpark is the oldest baseball stadium of its kind in the U.S.

The photo below is a team photo of the 1947 Bisbee Yanks, a Class C farm team for the New York Yankees. It was taken in the first base-side bleachers at Warren Ballpark in September 1947. Mike Anderson, a member of the Friends of Warren Ballpark, says it looks a lot like the kids who played for the Bisbee Copper Kings this year! He supplied the history about the players below.

Photo courtesy of Pete Vucurevich

Photo courtesy of Pete Vucurevich

Front row: left to right: Jim Wirt, Jim Bynon, Bud “Whitey” Howe, Charlie Metro, Bill Collins, Bullet Joe” Jose Valenzuela, Frank Finnegan

Middle Row: Jim Propst, Sam Kitterman, Eddie Hughes, Frank Lucchesi, Bob Holland, Pete Vucurevich, Bob Keeler

Top row: Jim Rude, Wayne Peterson, George Smith, Max Hittle, Clint Courtney

Charlie Metro was manager of the Yanks. It was his first manager’s job. He moved up the ranks to manage class B, A, AA and AAA ball, later managed the ’62 Chicago Cubs and the ’73 Kansas City Royals. He was a good friend of Billy Martin. Metro played for Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics, the Detroit Tigers, Casey Stengel’s Oakland Oaks and the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League prior to taking the Bisbee job. He is 90 years old and lives in Virginia with his wife.

Frank Lucchesi became, at age 23, the youngest manager in professional baseball in 1951. Like Metro, he worked his way up the managerial ladder, managed the Philadelphia Phillies in the 70s, the Chicago Cubs in the 80s and finally, the Texas Rangers. Frank is 83 and lives in Texas with his wife.

Clint “Scrap Iron” Courtney was a catcher (very briefly) for the New York Yankees, the St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox. He also became a minor league manager, and at his death was manager of the Atlanta Braves’ AAA Richmond team. He and Billy Martin had a career-long feud that started when Courtney was with the Yanks and Martin was with the Phoenix Senators.

This photo is courtesy of Pete Vucurevich, who played for the Yanks in 1947 and the Bisbee Copper Kings in 1955. Between his Bisbee stints he played on minor league teams in Ventura, CA, Twin Falls, Idaho, Binghamton, NY and Norfolk, Va. He also played on several top-notch Navy teams from 1951-1954, including the Armed Services World Champion Los Alamitos Naval Air Station team team in 1954. His brother Dan played for the 1953 Copper Kings. Pete lives in Sierra Vista, Ariz. Dan lives in Bisbee, Ariz.

Pete says the Yanks’ uniform was the same as the Yankees – white with pinstripes but with a “B” instead of “NY.”

The historic Warren Ballpark in Bisbee, Arizona will be 100 years old in 2009. Check back for more info about events to be held July 5, 2009.

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X-treme sports in Sierra Vista

Well, I guess they aren’t x-treme sports.  No bungee jumping or scaling tall buildings.

But, they are competitive.  I’m talking about the 28th Annual Senior Games in Sierra Vista, to be held January 9-11, 2009.  This, the oldest Senior Olympic-style Games in Arizona, is the largest recurring multi-sports event in the area.  And registration  for the Games is now open and will be open to registrants until December 31, 2008. 

The Games are designed for those over age 50, with a Masters’ Division for those ages 45-49. Last year athletes over age 80 competed in their respective event categories.  I’m amazed and impressed at their skill level and athleticism. 

As I said, these athletes are competitive.  They want to win.  With 17 different events scheduled, hundreds of competitors will be reaching for gold, silver or bronze medals. 

If you want to show your prowess in basketball, racquetball, cycling, tennis, track and field or one of the other events, join the athletes who come from all over the United States and Canada, in Sierra Vista. 

Not an athlete? It’s fun to be a spectator too. Plan a visit in Sierra Vista for the weekend and watch these athletes go for the gold!

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Up, up and away!

“In my beautiful, my beautiful balloon…” This song and lyrics by the 5th Dimension always makes me smile.  And makes me happy.

Photo by Ty Holland

Photo by Ty Holland

To add to that, I love hot air balloons.  Many years ago, I met a balloonist who had been to Malcolm Forbes’ castle in France to join in a huge hot air balloon rally.  Malcolm Forbes also participated in the rally, as he was a major fan of hot air balloons.

The Festival of Color hot air balloon rally in Sierra Vista may not have celebrities such as Malcolm Forbes, but the rally is always well attended by local residents and visitors. 

What I love are the colors of the balloons against the crisp blue of our autumn skies.  Just spectacular.

Sierra Vista’s Festival of Color will be held on November 1 & 2 in Veterans’ Memorial Park on Fry Boulevard.   On Saturday and Sunday mornings, there will be a Balloon Launch from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m.  That’s glory to behold.  All the balloons setting up and slowly rising into the morning. 

Then, during the day on Saturday, there will be food vendors, kite flying, an airplane parade and bands playing.  It’s an entire day of fun for the family. 

And one of the most awesome sights is the Balloon Glow from 7 to 8 p.m. on Saturday night. Against the night skies, the balloons’ fires will be ignited and trust me, it’s a brilliant sight. 

If you’ve never been to a hot air balloon rally, you should take the time to come to Sierra Vista for the Festival of Color.  All events are weather permitting.

Photo by Ty Holland

Photo by Ty Holland

And to close… 

We could float among the stars together, you and I

For we can fly, we can fly…

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Beautiful things that adorn the world

“I like to walk amidst the beautiful things that adorn the world.”

George Santayana 

Doesn’t that quote just say it all? I love it. Those few words have often made me cast aside my chores and forget about the never-ending errands to take a walk through the beautifully forested Ramsey Canyon Preserve, a Nature Conservancy property, which is one of the most spectacularly beautiful areas in Arizona. 

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Vista Convention & Visitors Bureau

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Vista Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Preserve in Sierra Vista is over 6,000 feet in elevation, so it’s decidedly cooler. Plus, the spring-fed stream runs all year – sort of like nature’s own swamp cooler.  I’ve been there in all seasons and have never failed to see wildlife up close and personal. Deer stop and graze just feet from visitors; while cautious, they are not afraid since they’ve never been threatened by humans. 

Sierra Vista Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sierra Vista Convention & Visitors Bureau

And of course, the birds. That’s probably the most popular reason folks go to Ramsey Canyon Preserve.  I’ve seen nesting eagles and hummingbirds and zillions of other birds whose names I don’t know.  

Sometimes I’ve joined the docent-led hikes (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m., March through October) and sometimes I’ve just strolled alone.  I’ve witnessed the change in seasons — which reminds me that autumn in the canyons is just around the corner.

While southeastern Arizona doesn’t get as much exposure in the press as other places for the “New England fall foliage-look,” it’s just as colorful. The riotous fall shades show up in the golden aspen, red maples and yellow cottonwoods, along with all the other hues of sycamores, ash and elm. I’ll let you know when the colors are at their prime.

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Bisbee Stair Climb: OMG!

Midway through the Bisbee Stair Climb last Saturday, I had one question.

Why was I doing this?!

In my younger days I was a bit of an athlete, and was even on the track team in high school (I was a walk-on to my college track team, too). I started as a sprinter and gradually started running longer distances. I even did a 10-miler in Philadelphia in the 90s.

I’ll be the first to admit, however, that I’m not in my best shape now. I’ve been in training, but I REALLY underestimated this race. Cynthia Conroy, the race’s organizer, said that it was a 5K that feels like a 10K. This is pretty accurate.

I was thinking I’d probably run this race in 12 minute miles, but I wasn’t accounting for the mountains of stairs I’d be climbing. I should have studied the results from last year. The overall winner ran about a 31-minute 5K. On a normal course, a 5K winner can finish in under 20 minutes. (Some even do these in 15 and 16 minutes!)

The stairs throughout the course weren’t just a few steps every once in a while. They were stacked up all over. Add to that the mile-high elevation, and this is ONE. TOUGH. COURSE!

The stairs are Bisbee’s sidewalks. People who live there walk up them every day. I’d hazard a guess that they’re in better shape than I am!

I and 1,100 other masochists tried the Stair Climb. Are you up for it? I’d advise starting your training now. In a month (after I recover), I’ll start training for ’09!

For a complete story, see the local paper, the Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review.

If you read my earlier post, I mentioned that I was going to do the Ice Man competition too. Heh, heh, heh. What was I thinking? I passed, of course!

Did you run? What did you think? Leave your comments below!

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Plans for Halloween?

The Arizona Daily Star has a story about paranormal experts posted that will be part of Halloween weekend in Bisbee, in southeast Arizona (specifically Cochise County) on Nov. 1. Do you have your costume picked out for Halloween yet?

There’s a ton of ghost related stuff in Cochise County: ghost towns, haunted hotels and ghost tours. See my earlier post for more information and links. (By the way, I saw the movie Ghost Town, and really liked it. Ricky Gervais didn’t disappoint. He’s such a funny guy. Greg Kinnear also did well. He’s a fellow Hoosier, someone from the state of Indiana.) Apple Annie’s in Willcox has a pumpkin festival going on now that will run through the end of October. they also have a corn maze. From the air, it looks like the design on the Arizona state quarter. 

Apple Annie's

Photo: Apple Annie

I’m outta here. Going to Tombstone for Helldorado Days and then Bisbee for the Stair Climb! Have a great weekend, my fellow travelers!

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Darn Good Digs

Great accommodations on a budget

I ran across a site today called Darn Good Digs thanks to Kelly, a blogger I follow on Twitter. (If you don’t know about Twitter, it’s a hot social media site that has grown hugely over the past year. You type in a response to the question: “What are you doing?”)

At first I didn’t “get” Twitter, but now, I’m following a bunch of people that I think have interesting things to say, and I learn lots of new things like, for instance, about this site, Darn Good Digs.

On Darn Good Digs, people nominate hotels, bed & breakfast inns and other accommodations they’ve stayed in that are… well… darn good!

What hotels or bed & breakfast inns have you stayed in that you think belong on the site? You can use their nomination form to tell others about a great place you’ve stayed in that you think should be on the site.

I invite you to visit the site and nominate some! Their tagline says that they highlight “out-a-sight inns for in-the-know travelers,” and their version of budget is below $150.

I can think of a few in Cochise County that could qualify: the Shady Dell ($55-$145 a night), the Letson Loft Hotel ($130-$185 a night), the tipi at Cochise Stronghold Bed & Breakfast and the Copper City Inn ($110-$135 a night). The Casa de San Pedro is just over the $150 mark at $160, but I think it’s “darn good” too.

What others? Let us know by leaving a comment below and adding a link to the hotel’s Web site. Thanks!

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