Havana Curveball: Speaking the universal language of baseball

Posted December 24th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Havana Curveball, Ken Schneider, Marcia Jarmel
Look at the early Christmas present my e-mail contained!

“December 23, 2014
Dear Havana Curveball friends and supporters,

As 2014 draws to a close we are amazed at the synchronicity of the release of  Havana Curveball. Little did Ken know, when he got on a plane for our Latin American premiere at the Havana Film Festival that he’d witness the historic opening between the U.S. and Cuba. And to top it off, he was scheduled to share our film the very night of Obama and Castro’s announcement with a group of Cuba artists, filmmakers, academics and others. The response was overwhelming. Here’s ABC news’ interview with Ken the morning after his return: 

When the end credits rolled, there was great emotion and some tears in the room. He heard loud and clear that our little story of an American teen, dreaming of sharing the game he loves (baseball, of course) with Cuban teens, and the drama of his squaring this dream with the messy political reality created by grown ups, had great resonance. The kudos to the film gave great satisfaction, but even more, the invitation to return to screen the film to audiences throughout the island, in towns and cities, to groups of artists and students and families confirmed what we believe deeply, that art heals, that stories speak universally, that open communication speaks volumes.”

The note is signed by the creative duo behind the documentary, Ken Schneider and Marcia Jarmel.

Let me try again to say what I felt when I first discovered and wrote about this uplifting documentary:

This is bigger than politics. This is baseball!

Baseball is a universal language, one that can be shared with any age in any country. Baseball builds bridges.

Whether you’re writing for autographs, or want to contact someone for a story from baseball’s past, realize the power of the subject. Baseball connects us. In every letter, I want the recipient to know one thing:

I believe in baseball.

Also, I believe in Havana Curveball. The documentary is showing throughout America. Find a screening here.

Thank you for another great year in blogdom. See you in January!


Affordable baseball photos great for autographing: meet Detroit’s best-kept secret (that Jim Thome knows…)

(From the artful eye of Carol Sheldon!)

Co-writing the new edition of the book Belles of the Ballpark with Diana Star Helmer brought us a new friend. My wife and I discovered Carol Sheldon, one of the most knowledgeable fans of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in existence. 

Well, Carol has many talents. She’s been a gifted photographer and avid Tigers fan for years. Lucky for us, she has combined the two passions. Best of all, Carol is making her shots available to fans and collectors.

Q: How many MLB baseball photos do you have in your archive, ones that you’ve taken? How far back do they date?
A: I take an average of 400 a game and I go to about 30-35 average games a year plus playoffs. Since about 2000 I‘ve used digital and before 2000 I used film back to around the mid 80’s.
Q: What percentage of the photos are of THAT team (you know, your Tigers?)?
A: I’d say 85-90 % but if we are playing some with stars then I shoot them too. For example, I got Thome’s 599 and 600 HR’s                                             
Q: What percentage taken at Comerica? Any from Tiger Stadium? Have you shot at other ballparks?
A: Well, Comerica opened in 2000 so 90% , Film shots at Tiger Stadium especially the last year and last weekend.  I’ve been to about 35 ML stadiums and my camera is always with me so I do have pictures from each stadium mostly of the Tigers and pics of each stadium. (But I’m not that organized. I do have shoe boxes filled with negatives that are organized sort of.) I’ve also visited about 35 minor league stadiums too.
Q: Readers would be sending these out for autographs by mail, or in person. How many of the depicted guys have seen their photos (and I know that players, current and former, are still thrilled to see new views of themselves)? Have you shared in person or by mail?
A: Over the years I’ve worked on getting some of my good shots signed at the stadium and in the 80’s I sent 3.5×5’s in the mail to get signed. I’ve given players copies of something special. They do like that. Thome signed a copy of #600 for me and I gave him one plus a disk with shots of his family meeting him at home plate.
Q: Last question: can you share even one short tale about a good reaction from a current or former player over your photos?
A: Thome was nice and ask my name so he could personalize it. I got a very nice note back from Doyle Alexander after I sent him a photo.
Q: How can readers get your photos?
A: 5×7 = $ 2.00 8x 10 = $7 11 x 14 = $10 plus shipping. Shipping would be $2.50 to $5.00 for single photos. Additional cost for multiple photos. If you don’t see the player you want ask! I also have stars from other teams!  I can be reached at csheldon25@hotmail.com.  

Pat Neshek is coming! Santa Claus joins the Houston Astros

Posted December 11th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Houston Astros, Pat Neshek
Santa Junior?

It’s not just the beard.

If you want to see the spirit of Christmas during the 2015 season, tell Houston fans to check out this guy. 
Scratch that. Free agent acquisition Pat Neshek is Christmas every day of the year.
Guaranteed, the Astros will have a league leader in “most autographs given” and “best signature” categories.