Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Baseball in the Land Of Edison
Baseball in the Land Of Edison
Thomas Edison with the Philadelphia Athletics
Thomas Alva Edison always said that he came to Fort Myers, Florida, because of the weather. When scouting for an appropriate place to set down roots, he spotted land on the Caloosahatchee River. It suited him perfectly, particularly because of the bamboo plants on the site. He was in the process of trying to find an ideal filament for his light bulb project.
Many years later, he noticed that baseball had arrived in Fort Myers, in the form of the Philadelphia Athletics. Connie Mack was in charge of the team. The year was 1925, a few short years before Edison was to pass away. Edison loved baseball, and made a point to visit the team at Terry Park.
A marvelous stadium had been constructed near the downtown area of the city, sufficiently large to house more than 5 000 spectators. The Athletics remained in Fort Myers until 1936. The Cleveland Indians trained there in 1941 and 1942. In 1955, the Pittsburgh Pirates came to town and stayed until 1968. The last Major League franchise to train at the site was the Kansas City Royals, who stayed and played from 1969 to 1987. Presently, the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox train in Fort Myers.
Terry Park was virtually levelled in 2004 by Hurricane Charley. Decisions were made to rebuild the stadium to its original grandeur; however, financial restraints led to a substantial downsizing for the main stadium. It houses less than 1000 seats. There are three other wonderful ball diamonds attached to the complex. Many significant ball tournaments take place there nowadays, including the Roy Hobbs Tournament.
Edison enjoyed taking a few at bats with the Athletics. As is shown in the photograph, his form was not perfect. Nonetheless, he did manage on one occasion to smack the ball, hitting Ty Cobb on the shoulder. It was reported that Ty Cobb forgave the inventor.
On another occasion, Edison invited the team over to his place for a fine cigar and libations. He distributed the cigars to the players, and lit up his own stogie. He then noticed that none of them smoked. He asked Connie Mack about the situation. Mack told him that the players had decided not to light the cigars, as they were a special gift from a very special man. "Nonsense', indicated Edison, and he had another round of cigars distributed for smoking purposes.
As a former Yankee fan, I was well aware of the reputation that Bath Ruth had in the city of New York. He had such influence that even Yankee Stadium was know as "The House that Ruth Built". While touring the Ford and Edson Estates in Fort Myers, I discovered that Edison also entered into the mining business later on in his life. It was not a great success, but his company did produce cement. His product was used in the building of the stadium. You get the point. At the Estates, we say the Yankee Stadium is the "House that Edison Built".
But enough of that history. Our focus is now on the Toronto Blue Jays, and their quest for a third World Series Championship. They have their hands full with the pesky Kansas City Royals. Their win Monday night was a step in the right direction to achieve the goal.
And yes, I believe there was an election Monday!!