Return to the Road: Caps, Cards, and Code at MiLB HQ
As promised/threatened, I have quite a bit more Florida road trip content to share. So after yesterday’s brief respite, it’s time to hit the reset button and do it all again.
We’ll start with a blog-centric exploration of something I already wrote about for MiLB.com: Minor League Baseball’s St. Petersburg, FL headquarters. This was the absolute first stop of my trip, as it was the proverbial hop, skip and a jump away from the Tampa airport. I arrived at HQ in a most disheveled state — I hadn’t eaten anything all day, my contact lenses were giving me major problems, my GPS wasn’t picking up a signal, and my general cluelessness regarding 21st-century automobiles resulted in an inability to turn on the air conditioning.
But I made it! Minor League Baseball HQ! Located in an off-the-beaten-path office park, with swampland for a backyard; this is where the magic happens.
Immediately to the right, upon walking in the doors, one comes across this tidy display featuring an official ball from each league.
But that’s a mere prelude. I embarked upon a tour of the facility with Minor League Baseball’s director of communications Steve Densa, and we soon visited the “theater” room (used for meetings and the “Minor League University” staged twice yearly for executives new to the industry).
And, yes, that display encompassing the room’s back wall is exactly what it appears to be: caps of every affiliated Minor League team, arranged in alphabetical order. I tweeted photos of the “Hat Wall” a few weeks back, and it almost immediately set a personal record for re-tweets. People just love this thing; for a certain subset of fans it’s akin to communing with the divine.
But personally, I was more intrigued by the historical treasures to be found. This fire-proof, cinder-block encased room houses informational index cards for virtually every professional player from the turn-of-the-century through the early ’90s. A very unique and thoroughly irreplaceable reservoir of record-keeping!
Lou Pinella’s player card, with confidential info thumbed out:
There are all sorts of notable names contained in these filing cabinets, from Hall of Famers to those went on to fame in other endeavors (like actor Kurt Russell). But the silent majority are comprised of players such as Ernest Agnew, about whom little else is known these days:
More items of historical import can be found in the nearby library, a modestly appointed room comprised of all manner of books, programs, videos, and league correspondence.
But the star of the show, in my mind, was this absolutely fascinating document:
The code book! Following the instructions contained therein allowed teams to engage in surreptitious correspondence via the telegraph wires. Read on:
Here’s some representative code:
Anyone in the market for a Nazare Nascent?
(Incidentally, this book would be a great way to choose a band name. Think up a baseball term, then see what the applicable code name would be and — voila! — indie stardom is only a coquettish grin and harmoniously-strummed ukulele away).
But there’s no need to keep secrets these days at MiLB HQ — unless you’re worried that the neighbors lurking about have nefarious intentions.
Why I otter…
And that’ll be it for me from Burning. I attended a game that night in Buckboard, and the next day made my way to Buffetted. The next post “On the Road” post will contain odds and ends from my time there.