This section has links to the exchanges I have along the way, the most recent at the top.
“We take baseball far more seriously than we do politics, and rightly so; there’s far more at stake.”
Chris Lamb is chair of the Journalism and Public Relations Department at Indiana University-Indianapolis. He’s an historian, lecturer, satirist, and columnist, and is the author of 12 books, including Stolen Dreams: The Cannon Street Little League All-Stars and Little League Baseball’s Civil War; Jackie Robinson: A Spiritual Biography; Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball; and Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training.
His columns and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Undefeated, Los Angeles Times, ESPN.com, New Republic.com, and The Nation.
You can read our conversation, ‘Circus Peanuts‘ here.
Allan Leonard has always been looking out towards a farther shore.
After growing up in northwest Ohio, he spent a year at the US Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island, which introduced him to New England and a lifelong love affair with the Red Sox.
“Before starting my undergraduate studies at Boston University,” he says, “I had the chance to visit Ireland to see the family my cousin had lived with on a student exchange scheme. Yet another world opened up and I was determined to return”.
He moved to Belfast at the time of the paramilitary ceasefires in 1994 and has called the island of Ireland home ever since. After a Masters in politics from University College Dublin, his career has ranged from creating digital material for the Northern Ireland Political Collection at Belfast’s Linen Hall Library, to policy work for both the Ulster Historical Foundation and the non-sectarian Alliance Party.
In 2016 Allan co-founded Northern Ireland’s first fact-checking service, FactCheckNI and is currently managing editor at Shared Future News, an online publication focused on peacebuilding.
“Peace can be improved by reporting and storytelling,” he says. “One project I’m proud of is What Northern Ireland Means to Me, a podcast and book of interviews with a couple of dozen individuals, to mark the centenary.” Other interview projects are in the works.
“I’ve been fortunate to have my work to take me to places like Kosovo, Cyprus, Iraq, Nigeria, and South Africa. In talking about transforming conflict, the quality of relationships always comes to the fore. Or as I learned in marketing, “people buy people” – we can make progress through positive experiences and I’m always looking to try to share some of these stories with others.”
You can read our conversation ‘Rights And Justice Have To Be Fought For…’ here.
For most of her career, Yvonne Watterson worked in public education in Arizona, her efforts in school reform recognized by the state’s Department of Education and featured in national publications including Education Week and the New York Times.
An activist at heart, she collaborated with the Hispanic Institute of Social Issues to publish Documented Dreams, a bilingual compilation of student letters, the proceeds of which were used to support their college education against a backdrop of anti-immigration sentiment and statute. Her advocacy led to various honours, including the City of Phoenix MLK Living the Dream Award and the YWCA Tribute to Women Social Justice Leader Award.
A breast cancer diagnosis in 2011 inspired Yvonne to make her personal writings public, sharing on her blog not only the challenges she experienced during treatment, but the systemic issues at the heart of the breast cancer epidemic. She contributed articles to Coping Magazine and Breast Cancer Action, and until the death of her husband in 2013, she published a bi-weekly column for her hometown newspaper The Antrim Guardian.
She also contributed regularly to Ireland’s newspaper of record, The Irish Times; IrishCentral.com – the largest Irish digital media site in North America – and Reading Ireland, an online journal dedicated to promoting Irish Literature and contemporary Irish writing.
A chance encounter in Phoenix with an Ajijic hotelier would introduce Yvonne and her boyfriend, Scott, to Lake Chapala and by 2020, performing as the musical duo Old Souls, they had made their home in Ajijic. Yvonne continues to write for an Arizona education non-profit, and when she is not singing, she is tackling controversial issues about the impact and legacy of The Troubles, sharing stories of lives lost or forever changed by unnecessary political violence, to be featured in an upcoming book in 2024.
You can read our conversation here: ‘We May Lose Or We May Win, But We Will Never Be Here Again…’
The subhead for this section is “exchanges I have along the way”. Like life, sometimes things don’t go how we might expect. This is a short example I think is worth recounting, mostly because it started out so promisingly but in the end came down to my judgment about whether or not to take it further. I’ve been second-guessing that judgment since, but thought I should include a quick account to at least try to stay true to the spirit of the project.
You can read that here.
Before moving to Thailand in 2019 to open a sports bar with his family, Danny Knobler wrote and talked about sports for 40 years all over the United States. He’s best known as a baseball writer, with 18 years on the Detroit Tigers beat for Booth Newspapers and another 11 years as a national writer with various outlets. He has written two books on baseball, Numbers Don’t Lie and Unwritten.
A graduate of UCLA, Danny began his professional career at Baseball America in the 1980s. After a year as a free-lance writer, primarily with Sport Magazine and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Danny moved to Michigan to cover the Tigers. He began there in 1990, arriving just in time for Cecil Fielder’s 51-home run season and the final few years of Sparky Anderson, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker’s Tigers careers.
CBSSports.com came calling in 2008, and Danny moved to New York and to a new role as a national baseball columnist. He later worked in a similar position for Bleacher Report, and covered games for ESPN.com and MLB.com, among others. He was also a regular panelist on the MLB Now show on MLB Network.
At the end of 2018, deciding it was time for something new, Danny and his wife moved to Pattaya, Thailand, opening Danny’s Sports Bar, now one of the more popular bars in town and – of course – the best place to watch sports in Pattaya.
You can read our conversation ‘Relief’ here.
Rose Jacobs lives in Munich, Germany, where she works as an English teacher at the Technical University of Munich and as a freelance editor, writer, and reporter – all of which she came to by way of 13 years at the Financial Times in New York and London, working as a web editor, copy editor, corporate reporter, and deputy editor of the weekend magazine.
Rose’s bylined writing these days mostly appears in the Chicago Booth Review, a magazine and website published by the University of Chicago’s business school. The stories stem from economics and other academic research. Rose loves the topics and the team there, including a former FT colleague who brought her into the fold.
She’s back in her hometown of East Lansing, Michigan for the 2022/23 academic year, making sure her husband and daughter get a full exposure to American life — including to some of the baseball fields that formed her. Rose’s father, a former minor league second baseman who went on to teaching and research at Michigan State University, moonlighted in her childhood as an infield coach for MSU’s baseball team.
But the family was exposed to the worst of American life in February, with the tragic campus shooting of eight MSU students, three of whom died. The city is still reeling.
You can read our conversation ‘Spartan Strong’ here.
A native son of Chicago’s West Side, John Wesley Fountain is an award-winning columnist, journalist, professor, publisher and author of True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity; and Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood. A tenured full professor of journalism at Roosevelt University since 2007, he wrote for the last 13 years a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times. As a journalist, Fountain has chronicled the story of murder for 30 years, mostly in Chicago. He was a 2021-22 Fulbright Scholar to Ghana, where taught at the University of Ghana at Legon and conducted a research project: “Africa Calling: Portraits of Black Americans Drawn to the Motherland”
He was previously a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degree in communications, and is a graduate of Providence-St. Mel School, Chicago.
He has won numerous journalism awards over a nearly 40-year journalism career and is author of five books, including his latest, Soul Cries: In Black & White and Shades of Gray. He is a frequent guest commentator on radio and television.
He often shares his inspirational story of going from poverty and the urban mean streets of Chicago’s West Side to the top of his profession. Fountain is founder of WestSide Press Publishing, Chicago, and more recently FountainWorks NFP, a not-for-profit focused on telling the untold stories of marginalized or underrepresented people in print, digital and other forms.
He says of his decision to become a journalist: “I chose journalism ultimately because of its power to make a difference, to shine the light on hidden corners of the world, to give voice to the voiceless, to make the invisible visible. I see this as more than a profession. It is a calling to which I am committed for as long as I have breath.”
You can read our conversation ‘Crossroads’ here.
You can navigate through the other sections on this site either by using the menu at the top of each page, or from quick links here:
Latest – A quick snapshot of the news stories of the day
Month-by-Month – A more detailed chronological narrative to help keep track of context
Games – Game Notes season-by-season
Sources and Resources – Some quick links to further reading and listening
You can scroll further down this page to read bios of this season’s participants, or you can jump to the individual Conversations here:
Ian Nicholas Quillen, Sportswriter and Betting strategist;
Julie Duval, Veterinarian, mother and committed Georgia Voter;
Alina Utrata, Podcast host, researcher on the political power of technology companies;
Mike Uy, Video game designer, New Yorker, fulfiller of fantasy;
Beth Ely Torres, Military musician with more than three decades of service;
Carol Ott, Tenant Advocacy Director for the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition;
Myles Michelin, Baltimore filmmaker and photographer;
Marc Bona, Beat writer and comprehensive community chronicler at Cleveland.com;
Lynne Sherwin, Business journalist and motivated Ohio voter;
Ken Hornack, longtime sports writer and recent escapee from Florida;
Michael Avila, Bay Area native, foodie and world traveller;
Keith Herrell, veteran journalist who worked on the very last edition of a big-city daily;
Cam Miller, filmmaker, historian and fount of Cincinnati Reds knowledge;
Rev Grey Maggiano, Baltimore pastor, former State Dept employee in Afghanistan.
Julie Duval is a veterinary surgeon in Atlanta, Georgia, where she’s just voted in the state’s upcoming runoff election for Senate.
She grew up in Kentucky, moved to Texas for high school then developed her love of college basketball while attending Duke, before moving to the college football wasteland of Philadelphia to get her veterinary degree. Fortunately, she was able to introduce her new (at the time) husband to the world of college football when they moved to Athens, Georgia, for advanced veterinary training. They moved away for a few years then returned to the peachtree state twenty-two years ago, raising two children (who ultimately shared their love of science) in Atlanta.
After the 2016 presidential contest Julie became more politically active, canvassing for future senator Jon Ossoff during his ultimately unsuccessful 2017 run in the House special election. She was very surprised when he called her directly during the Covid shutdown in early 2020 to enlist her help in his primary run for Senate.
Like many other pet lovers, Julie and her family felt the former president’s dislike of dogs (and possibly their dislike of him) was a significant character flaw that should have been disqualifying for the office.
You can read our conversation ‘Vote Once, Vote Twice…’ here.
Alina Utrata (she/her) is a PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her research looks at technology corporations, focusing on the political theory of the corporation and how Silicon Valley tech companies may be challenging or affecting the power of the state.
She grew up next door to Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area and received her BA from Stanford University in History and Human Rights and her MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.
She hosts a podcast, The Anti-Dystopians: The Politics Podcast about Tech, and is currently writing a dystopian novel about Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s space colonization attempts.
You can read our conversation, ‘Musk and Managing the Message‘ here.
For most of his working life, Mike Uy has been in the fantasy fulfilment business.
Before designing video games, he was a teacher, coder, IP lawyer, derivatives trader, and karaoke bar creator / bartender / owner who has lived in NYC three times including currently, SF twice, and London in the middle of all that for a bit. But before all that nonsense, he was a busboy / dishwasher from suburban Baltimore who mowed lawns, shovelled driveways in the winter, and made pizzas for delivery before he was old enough to work legally.
Sports-wise he was raised an Orioles fan, then a Hokie alum, but will be Tottenham even after he is dead. And will support whichever NBA team he can get to without needing a car, which has meant more Knicks games than anything over two mostly brutal decades of watching them up close.
Mike and I have known each other for about 15 years, but we hadn’t gone to a ballgame together since the Mets called Shea home and I used to go with our mutual friends to sing in his very excellent bar. When he was back in Baltimore recently, we had a few beers and went to watch the Orioles beat the Houston Astros.
You can read our conversation ‘It’s All Entertainment, Really…‘ here.
Born and raised in southern New Jersey, Beth Ely Torres moved to Indianapolis to attend college. With degrees in Horn Performance and Music History from Butler University, she took those skills to the Army Band Program and completed nine years on active duty, culminating in teaching Music Theory and Ear Training at the Armed Forces School of Music at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, VA.
Beth finished out her Army career in the National Guard in both New York and Maryland, retiring from the band program after 32 years total service.
Along the way, she picked up an MBA from American University and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. After moving to Maryland, she worked in the small business office for the US Department of Veterans Affairs based in DC.
When not working or attending Orioles games, Beth plays principal horn in the Baltimore Philharmonia Orchestra and the Greenspring Valley Orchestra. She also plays with Quintessence Woodwind Quintet. To fill up the week just a little more, Beth serves on the Vestry of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill, Baltimore, and sings alto in the choir. Fridays are for volunteer work, preparing for community food distribution with Baltimore Community Food.
I was fortunate to go to several Orioles’ games with Beth this season, but the two where we specifically discussed the content for this piece were an excellent 5-1 win over Tampa Bay and a close 3-2 O’s loss to my Chicago Cubs. (Luckily after that game she still invited me back…)
You can read our conversation, ‘About-Face‘, here.
More than many of its residents, Carol Ott knows what makes Baltimore tick. She has been writing about housing and advocating for fair and safe housing since 2008, focusing on the city’s most vulnerable communities – most of which have been plagued with issues like lead paint poisoning, vacancy, and substandard rentals for more than half a century.
As Tenant Advocacy Director for the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, she advocates for affordable moderate- and low-income rental housing, code enforcement, blight eradication, and economic development in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.
She also assists low-income renters in Baltimore with substandard housing issues, rent escrow, and other issues. In addition to her award-winning advocacy work, she works with tenants and neighborhood/community associations to bring problem properties and landlords into compliance.
Carol has regularly featured in local and national media, including the CBS Evening News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and the BBC. When she’s not working, she can be found gardening, travelling, cooking, and being a mom. But not, it turns out, at the baseball park.
Carol and her son Myles Michelin kindly agreed to come to an Orioles game with me but I ended up having to leave early, so we got together later for a longer, enjoyable chat over dinner.
You can read our conversation: ‘Priorities‘ here. I couldn’t change her mind about baseball, though.
Myles Michelin is a 22-year-old filmmaker and photographer from Baltimore. A couple of years ago, he was driven by negative comments about the city to go out with his camera and try to change some perceptions of his community. The result was a short film series called “My Block Doc” and the success of his initial work has inspired him to continue filmmaking and using his camera “to change the narrative for Baltimore”.
I took Myles to his first ballgame for a while to see the Orioles play the Red Sox. We didn’t get much time to chat during the game, but we met up for an interesting dinner later.
You can read our conversation, ‘Talking Pictures’ here.
Marc Bona and Lynne Sherwin met in 1993 on the Copy Desk at the Detroit News.
“I saw the new guy’s name on the schedule and thought it was cool that someone had the last name ‘Bona’, since I went to St. Bonaventure where “Bona” is an all-purpose abbreviation,” says Lynne.
“Since we worked nights, some of our early dates were day games at the old Tiger Stadium. Years later, after it was torn down but the diamond remained, we went back to pick up a fragment of brick and Marc got to stand where his favorite player, Ty Cobb, used to take his swings.”
After an impressive combined career covering many years – and countless managerial upheavals – at several papers, they moved to Akron, from where they’ve observed goings-on in the greater Cleveland area since the mid-1990s.
Lynne now works at a business magazine title and Marc – who has probably the most impressive sports memorabilia mancave I’ve ever seen – covers pretty much everything about the local community for Cleveland.com, formerly the online offspring – now more of a parent – of the Plain Dealer.
We had a couple of days recently to talk about the current state of journalism, as well as politics in Ohio and nationally. In the middle of it, we went to see the Guardians blow the second half of a double-header against the Chicago White Sox.
You can read our conversations here:
Marc Bona – Embracing the Shiny Penny
Lynne Sherwin – Baseball-as-Metaphor and the ‘Mistake By The Lake’
Ken Hornack recently came back to live in his hometown of Cleveland after working in Florida for most of his career. He was a sports writer at the Daytona Beach News-Journal from 1983 to 2008, and was the paper’s beat writer covering the Orlando Magic from the time they joined the NBA in 1989. He has also written for Fox Sports Florida and Cavaliers Nation.
As if illustrating the schizophrenic nature of Cleveland sports, we watched his Guardians blow the second half of a double-header to the Chicago White Sox – missing out on a pitching gem in the day game. Whatever the outcome, though, Ken would be the first to tell you that Cleveland Rocks. And he’s not wrong.
You can read our conversation, Money, It’s A Hit… here.
Michael Avila grew up in the Bay Area and has been travelling the world for most of his adult life. He recently returned from a trip to Moldova as the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine was entering its third month.
He moved to Northern Ireland a few years ago and has been working with local community and reconciliation groups, as well as victims of hate crimes. He’s also a media entrepreneur and runs a number of online ventures that reflect his wide-ranging interests.
Despite being out of the US for so long, he hasn’t lost touch with baseball and we recently chatted while watching the San Francisco Giants come up just short against the Philadelphia Phillies on MLB.tv.
You can read our conversation ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost‘ here.
(The win didn’t help Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who was fired the next day – the first MLB boss to lose his job this season)
Veteran newsman Keith Herrell was on the staff of the Cincinnati Post when it closed down for good in 2007. He talks here about his career, the effect on the city of losing one of its daily papers, and politics in the key state of Ohio.
Cam Miller is a Cincinnati writer, filmmaker and baseball historian and produces content for the Reds Hall of Fame. We chatted by email about why Opening Day is so important to the city. Read that conversation here.
And you can watch Cam’s film project, Riverfront Remembered, here…
On Opening Day, the Yankees-Red Sox game was rained out so the Cubs-Brewers became the first game of the brand new season. I watched at a local sports bar with my friend Grey Maggiano, who since 2016 has been Pastor at Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore.
You can read our conversation ‘If You Build It… here.