The best $5 I ever spent

Over the past few years, I have increasingly begun to use, an encyclopedia of players and their career numbers.  With this blog, I now use the website pretty much constantly.  In a pinch, I can, among other things, look up the stats of a player I’m writing about, see who he was similar to and even check what percentage of the Hall of Fame vote he received. I actually find it difficult to write without being able to access the site. I don’t know what sportswriters did without the Internet.

On the site, visitors are allowed to sponsor the page of any player for a nominal sum.  With the sponsorship, one can post a personal message and a link to their site.  The lowest fee to sponsor is $5, though I’ve seen asking prices over $100 for top players.  Most of the game’s immortals are taken, but interestingly, the pages for a number of figures from the Steroid Era are available.  Currently, Roger Clemens’ page is free for $80, Sammy Sosa’s for $75, Rafael Palmeiro’s for $40 and Jose Canseco’s for $56 (though for some reason, Ozzie Canseco is taken.)

That’s all more than I can afford or could justify spending on this sort of thing, though the idea of getting a $5 player has long appealed.  I considered sponsoring Aloysius Travers, after I wrote a post on him back in May and saw his page free for $5.  However, I didn’t jump and kicked myself (not literally) after another sponsor stepped forward. Over this past weekend, however, I finally grabbed another player.

I will preface this by saying that I’ve started thinking I should write a book.  Recently, I read a baseball book by a first-time author and couldn’t help thinking: Man, I am totally as good of a writer as this guy.  The only thing separating him and me is that he put the work in. Fear has held me back in the past, coupled with the idea that I am not a good enough writer, would never finish a book and, even if I did, would get rejected by publishers.

I’ve realized, however, that regardless of the outcome, I enjoy the process of writing and talking to old baseball players.  Also, I’d rather try and fail at something than spend my life wondering what might have been.  If the most that comes out of my effort is a self-published book that few people read, it will still be a baseball book with my name on it, and that’s pretty cool.

The player I might like to do a book on is named Joe Marty, who I wrote about here back in June. Injuries and World War II robbed Marty of a long career, though when he was coming up with the San Francisco Seals in the 1930s, scouts thought him more talented than his teammate Joe DiMaggio.  DiMaggio of course went on to a Hall of Fame career.  Marty opened a bar in Sacramento and became, as an old-timer told me, “his own best customer.”  Thematically, the book seems rife with possibilities, and I also like being able to write about Sacramento, my hometown.

Thus, I plunked down $5 for Marty’s page.  For now, what I put on there is a placeholder.  If I ever do the book, it will be noted.

A bar I used to drink in

When I was a kid, growing up in Sacramento, I used to often visit a baseball card shop downtown.  It was two doors over from a building whose sign was a large, glowing baseball with the words, “Joe Marty’s” emblazoned over it.  I used to wonder what the place was.  As a baseball card junkie (I had a few thousand cards at one point), the ball caught my eye and as a kid, I once went in, thinking it maybe was a card shop.  The swaying drunks I encountered let me know otherwise.  Joe Marty’s was a bar.

Eventually, I learned Joe Marty had, in fact, been a real person, a ballplayer at that.  My senior year of high school, I did my final project on an old Pacific Coast League team that had played in my hometown, the Sacramento Solons.  As it turned out, Marty played for and managed the Solons back in the 1940s and ’50s.  Before that, he played in the major leagues, appearing with the Chicago Cubs in the 1938 World Series.  Injuries robbed him of a long big league career, though as a young man, he was once considered a better prospect than Joe DiMaggio.  The two came up together in the PCL with the San Francisco Seals and while DiMaggio missed the 1934 season with a career-threatening injury, Marty went to the Cubs for a large price.  In the end, though, as one old-timer told me, Marty returned to Sacramento, his hometown, and became his bar’s own best customer.  He died in 1984 at the age of 71.

Eventually, I drank in Joe Marty’s bar once or twice.  It had the coolest old black-and-white photos of famous players.  Sadly, fire gutted the place in 2005.  While the photos were reportedly saved from destruction, the bar hasn’t been open since.