May 29, 2011

How we made yesterday into an exciting time, Las Vegas style

Vivian and Frank had a fun time at Wynn in Las Vegas yesterday. Frank spent most of his time playing an exciting new slot, Tarzan. Vivian did her usual floating and played some of the machines depicted here. Wynn is Frank's favorite casino and well worth the 28-minute drive from our home.

And did you know that valet parking at all Vegas casinos is free?

May 20, 2011

Field of Dreams just too unreal


I like Field of Dreams as a movie, it just doesn't make my top ten baseball list. It may be unfair to say that a movie about dreams is not grounded, but that is why. I don't really relate to the baseball in the movie, which seems to me more a metaphor for communication between generations and immortality than the game itself. Again, this is entirely fine as a theme, but it makes the baseball part of the movie just too unreal to me and I guess I rate baseball movies according to how REAL they are, not how poetically moving they are.

For instance, I get that Ray Liotta may be the Shoeless Joe Jackson of someone's dream, but I don't think he is anyone's idea of how Joe really was. For this he should have been played by someone like Randy Quaid, and let Liotta star in the Pete Reiser or Tony Conigliaro story or something.

Therefore I prefer Pride of the Yankees, for instance, despite Cooper's terrible swing, because of the few shots of real Yankees to Field of Dreams, which is rather unreal as far as baseball is concerned. Again that doesn't make for a bad movie, it just doesn't make my personal list. I can respect anyone who would include it in theirs.

That said, I love the Moonlight Graham theme! He would be included in my top 10 characters in baseball movies.

The bottom photo is of Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella with Moonlight Graham played by Burt Lancaster. The movie was released in 1989.

May 19, 2011


Winning Super Bowl Quarterbacks

1. Cy Young
2. Andre Dawson
3. Mike Simms
4. Dick Starr
5. Buck Rodgers

Winners of the Master's Golf Tournament

1. Johnny Mize
2. Jim Palmer
3. Ron Woods
4. Bob Watson
5. Shanty Hogan

Winners of United States Men's Singles Tennis Title

1. Gaylord Perry
2. Don Newcombe
3. Don Larson
4. Jack Kramer
5. Carlos Gonzalez

NBA Most Valuable Players

1. Jackie Robinson
2. Pete Rose
3. Bill Russell
4. Joba Chamberlain
5. Jack Reed

Defensemen in the Hockey Hall of Fame

1. Pete Orr
2. Todd Coffey
3. Jeff Reardon
4. Willie Horton
5. Mickey Stanley

Umpire Doug Harvey

May 15, 2011

Darrell Berger's best baseball books and movies

These are listed in no particular order, other than “Glory of Their Times” and “Bull Durham” are my number ones.


The Glory of their Times by Larry Ritter. The book that began the interest in baseball history. After interviewing Larry for Baseball Hobby News we became friends, one of the great baseball gifts of my life.

A False Spring by Pat Jordan. One of the few baseball books about failure. His failure at baseball allowed for his success as a writer.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton.

The National Game by A. H. Spink (1910). History of baseball, team reports and loads of photos. I found a copy without a cover for one dollar at a street vendor in Manhattan. I had the copy leather bound.

The Natural by Bernard Malamud. The best baseball novel.

The Bill James Historical Abstract. Here not only as a great book but to honor James’ statistical revolution.

Veeck as in Wreck by Bill Veeck.

The Long Season by Jim Brosnan.

The Fireside Book of Baseball edited by Charles Einstein. The first baseball anthology, and therefore has the best selections. Second and third volumes also excellent.
Willie’s Time by Charles Einstein. Einstein gets two in my top ten. This is a cultural memoir of the 60’s as viewed through the prism of Mays’ career in San Francisco. One of the few if not the only baseball books to be nominated for a National Book Award.

The Universal Baseball Association by Robert Coover. Best weird baseball novel of all time and gets just right the obsessive baseball fan personality.


Bull Durham

Bang the Drum Slowly

The Pride of the Yankees. Because it has the real Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel. Bill Dickey and Mark Koenig.

The Natural. Makes both my movie and book list!

The Rookie. Also has a great alt country soundtrack CD.

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. Documentary of the significance of Greenberg as first Jewish baseball star. Many great interviews with old players and fans.

Sugar. Story of a pitching prospect from the Dominican Republic. Documentary-like realism.

College. Buster Keaton comedy from 1927. Features a college baseball team practice with Hall of Famer Sam Crawford as coach.

Rawhide. 1938 western starring Lou Gehrig as himself.

May 14, 2011

Where I would rather be today: Bondi Beach, Australia

Click on pix to enlarge

Bondi Beach is in a suburb of Sydney and is among the world's most famous beaches. It had been on my short list of places that I wanted to see when we spent a few days in Sydney prior to a 2003 cruise that originated in that city.

Vivian and I took a bus tour that included a stop at Bondi and as soon as we pulled into a parking lot, it started to pour. Our Bondi visit lasted only a few minutes, so it remained on my short list. In 2009, we vacationed for a week in Sydney and took public transportation on a perfect day to Bondi. I was not disappointed.

According to Wikipedia, "Bondi Beach is about one kilometer long (6 miles) and receives many visitors throughout the year. Surf Life Saving Australia has given different hazard ratings to Bondi Beach. While the northern end has been rated a gentle 4 (with 10 as the most hazardous), the southern side is rated as a 7 due to a famous rip current known as the "Backpackers' Express" because of its proximity to the bus stop, and the unwillingness of tourists to walk the length of the beach to safer swimming. The south end of the beach is generally reserved for surfboard riding. Yellow and red flags define safe swimming areas, and visitors are advised to swim between them.
There is an underwater shark net shared, during the summer months, with other beaches along the southern part of the coast. Pods of whales and dolphins have been sighted in the bay during the months of migration. Fairy penguins, while uncommon, are sometimes also seen swimming close to shore or amongst surfers. In 2007, the Guinness World Record for the largest swimsuit photo shoot was set at Bondi Beach, with 1,010 women wearing bikinis taking part.

"Bondi Beach was added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2008."

Vivian and I have visited Sydney three times and it remains one of our favorite places in the entire world. I will save photos of that city for another blog post, but today you are having a look at Bondi Beach. These Bondi Beach pictures make us ache to return.

Photos by Frank Barning

May 13, 2011


Mel Queen, a member of our all royalty team, passed away today. The card is a 1967 Topps.

Felix Hernandez -- King Felix
Mel Queen
Prince Fielder
Duke Snider
Earl Battey
Ray Knight
Ray Noble

Chief Bender

May 9, 2011


Names that would be found on a calendar:

1. Rick Monday
2. Billy Sunday
3. Lee May
4. Boots Day
5. Wally Moon

Names associated with the legal system

1. Vern Law
2. Dave Justice
3. Johnny Bench
4. Joe Judge
5. Bob Will

Players with the same last name as Male Rock and Roll singers whose baseball careers overlapped that of the signer's popularity.

1. Norm Cash
2. Ray Boone
3. Billy Martin
4. Ed Charles
5. Rocky Nelson

Players with the same last name as female rock and roll singers whose baseball careers overlapped that of the singer's popularity.

1. Carl Warwick
2. Bill Lee
3. Ryan Franklin
4. Tyler Houston
5. Cody Ross

Famous duos
2. Jim "Mudcat" GRANT & Carlos LEE
3. Billy MARTIN & Colby LEWIS
4. AMOS Otis & ANDY Pettitte
5. Mel HALL & Johnny OATES.

May 5, 2011

Where I would rather be today: Arches National Park

Click on photos to enlarge

High on my list of places that I would like to revisit is Arches National Park in Utah. The pictures I took tell the story far better than words ever could.

Yes, I posted the same photo twice but I do not know how to undo it.