Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #86 Lawson’s Triple Play

15 05 2021

Another baseball-ish beer!  This one I had very recently!

Brewery: Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield, VT

Beer: Triple Play IPA

Description:  “A trifecta of hop varieties (Citra, Simcoe & Amarillo) which delivers a symphony of juicy fruit-forward hop flavors and a delightful bouquet of aromas. Winner of Brewing News National IPA Championship (2011), there is simply ‘no batter beer’!”

I’m huge into beer these days, and this “traditional” (meaning it ain’t hazy) IPA was pretty much amazing.

Medium:  16 ounce cans – I assume it’s on draft around Vermont when they brew it as well (in normal times).

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s got a baseball motif on the can design and the name is obviously a reference to a pretty rare play in the game!





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #85 Tree House Fall Classic

3 04 2021

One more beer I’ve got to catch up on for this series!  I had this back in November and forgot to take a pic when I had the beer!

Brewery: Tree House Brewing in Charlton, MA

Beer: Fall Classic

Description:  “Fall Classic was constructed as the ideal beverage to enjoy while watching major league baseball during the autumn season. It is also simply an homage to an incredible game. Nothing else elicits such a strongly nostalgic, all-American response quite like the crack of a bat on a cool autumn day. Or, experiencing the sights and sounds of a ballgame in the flesh. Brewed with clean American ale yeast and hopped with Strata, El Dorado, and Citra, Fall Classic pours a lovely orange color in the glass and puts forward potent flavors and aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, and earthy pine. It is dry, thirst-quenching, and incredibly easy to drink. It’s hard to believe this is the first classic American IPA we have brewed, but when you drink fall classic you will have the same thought that we did – better late than never!”

Medium:  16 ounce cans – 2020 was the first year Tree House released this.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s got a baseball motif on the can design and the name is a reference to the World Series.





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #84 Solemn Oath Warning Track Power

27 03 2021

I always love doing this series.  I was super excited when I saw this beer was coming from Solemn Oath, a fairly well-known and established brewery in the Chicagoland area.
Brewery: Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville, IL

Beer: Warning Track Power

Description:  “Hazy Pale Ale featuring Citra, Sultana, and Azacca hops brewing in collaboration with The World Wiffle Ball Championship.”

This is a hoppy hazy beer on the lighter side of the ABV spectrum. Was a tasty crusher with an awesome can design.

Medium:  4 packs of 16 oz stickered cans, and I’m sure there was some draft available.

How it’s related to baseball:  This is about as good as it gets for this blog.  They have copied the 1987 Topps design (my all-time fave) and it’s a collaboration with the World Wiffle Ball Championship.  There’s also some sneaky Guaranteed Rate Field (U.S. Cellular?  New Comiskey?) stuff going on in the background.  This came out when nobody was allowed in baseball parks, but it would do well at the craft section of the Sox ballpark!





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #82 Sketchbook Night Game

23 01 2021

This summer I did a post about Sketchbook Day Game – I also had their other baseball themed beer a couple months after that. It’s called – Night Game!

Brewery: Sketchbook Brewing Co. in Evanston, IL

Beer: Night Game

Description:  “Double IPA with Mosaic Hop and honey.  Huge tropical fruit, citrus and floral flavors and aromas.  The malt is simple and lends a drier and refreshing IPA.”

This is basically their Day Game beer – a “Midwest” IPA with honey – but as an imperial IPA.  So 8% plus ABV instead of 6%.  It was a bit sweeter than the regular and obviously packed a bit more punch.  I enjoyed this one – but actually liked the Day game better.

The Day Game beer I enjoyed when baseball was on COVID hiatus and during a Field of Dreams viewing in our house.  Conveniently, I had the Night Game version in September when baseball was back and I was able to watch a night game!

Medium:  I had it from a 16 oz can, I’m sure they also put it out on draft.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s named after a baseball term!  This is one of 2 beers with this theme.  This one, as the nighttime version, is meant to be drank at night when you don’t need to worry about staying as sober!





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #81 Sketchbook Day Game

18 07 2020

It’s been about a year since I did one of these posts.  I actually timed having this beer with watching Field of Dreams a few weeks ago.

Brewery: Sketchbook Brewing Co. in Evanston, IL

Beer: Day Game

Description:  “Day Game is brewed with Mosaic Hops for bright pineapple and grapefruit flavors and just a touch of Honey for a smooth body and soft honey finish.”

This is a “Midwest” IPA with honey.  It’s got a great balance of bitterness rounded off by that touch of honey – was very enjoyable beer to put down while watching Field of Dreams.

Medium:  I had it from a 16 oz can, I’m sure they also put it out on draft.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s named after a baseball term!  This is one of 2 beers with this theme.  This one, as the lighter version, is meant to be drank during the day time so you stay a bit sober!





Friday Flicks: Sandlot Cinema #6 – Field of Dreams

10 07 2020

It’s been a long while since I’ve done one of these – and frankly it had been a long time since I’d watched a baseball movie!  This is one of my “Baseball & Culture” posts, and I finally got around to doing my favorite baseball movie.  Field of Dreams is seminal, and if you’re willing to forgive a few some cuss words (I am, my wife doesn’t like it) – it’s actually a movie you can watch with kids.  My 7 and 5 year old watched it with us and were enthralled!

Here’s the obligatory statement** – SPOILER ALERT!

**that hopefully isn’t necessary on an obscure baseball card blog on a post for a 1989 movie that is widely considered the greatest baseball movie of all time

Movie/Studio: “Field of Dreams”, Gordon Company, 1989

Director: Phil A. Robinson

  • Kevin Costner – Ray Kinsella
  • Amy Madigan – Annie Kinsella
  • James Earl Jones – Terrance Mann (aka JD Salinger)
  • Ray Liotta – Shoeless Joe Jackson
  • Gaby Hoffmann – Karin Kinsella
  • Burt Lancaster – Moonlight Graham
  • Frank Whaley – young Moonlight Graham
  • Timothy Busfield – Mark the brother-in-law who gets disturbingly angry at his niece!
  • Dwier Brown – “Dad”

Field of Dreams was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and two other Oscars (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score).

Plot:

After growing up in Brooklyn with a widowed father who taught him his love for baseball – Ray Kinsella went to USC and met his wife Annie.  He got in an argument with his father (John) and stopped playing catch with him when he was a teenager – and then told his dad that John’s hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson, was a criminal.  Those were the last words he said to his Dad, who died while Ray was away at USC.  He now lives on his farm in Iowa with his wife Annie and daughter Karin.

One evening, walking through his cornfield, he hears a voice – “IF YOU BUILD IT, HE WILL COME“.  Ray deduces that he should build a baseball field there, and this will let the long deceases Shoeless Joe play baseball again.  His wife has her doubts, but she’s a child of the 60’s and agrees to let him follow his heart despite the financial impacts to their farm.

After Ray spends months building the park, a ballplayer appears.  Ray recognizes him as Shoeless Joe, a ghost who came out of the cornfield that is the edge of the new park’s outfield.  Joe has a catch with Ray and asks if other players can come with him when he returns.  When they do, Annie and Karin see the players, but Annie’s brother Mark (a banker) cannot and warns Ray he’s ruining his family financially.  Later, the voice comes back and tells Ray to “EASE HIS PAIN“.

Ray & Annie attend a local PTA meeting organized to ban books by radical (and aloof) author Terence Mann (who is meant to be Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger).  Ray realized the voice was referring to Mann, who had coincidentally named one of his characters “John Kinsella” just like Ray’s father.  Ray drives to Boston to take Mann to a game at Fenway Park, and after some tense moments the old author agrees to go.

At the game, Ray hears the voice again – “GO THE DISTANCE“, and sees the career MLB stats of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham on the Fenway scoreboard – 1 game in 1922, no at bats.  Mann at first denies hearing the voice, but as Ray is about to leave , Mann admits he too heard it.  The pair drives through the night to a small town in Minnesota where they learn that Graham had been a beloved local physician but he had passed away 15 years ago.  But Ray runs into the physician during a late night walk, transported briefly to 1972.  Graham tells him he was content he left baseball to become a doctor.  Ray and Mann leave for the drive back to Iowa and on the way – pick up a young hitchhiker with a baseball bag who calls himself Archie Graham.  Arriving at Ray’s farm, they find that now – not only are some of Shoeless Joe’s teammates there, but they have brought some other All-stars from the early 1900’s to field a second team.  They need one more to make 18, and Archie Graham is perfect for the role.  He gets his one at bat – and a few more – against Major League pitching.

The next morning, the players are back, but so is Mark – who still can’t see them.  Mark tells Ray he’s brokered a deal that will save his family from financial ruin if he sells the farm.  Karin speaks up, saying that people will come to watch the ball games, and Mann seconds the notion in an epic monologue.  Mark, frustrated with Karin, knocks Karin off the bleachers and she is choking.  Too far away from town to get a doctor, Graham leaves the field to save here, but becomes the older version of himself as he walks across the diamond.  Now unable to return to his ball-playing youth, old Dr. Graham again reassures Ray that he has no regrets.  He disappears into the corn – and now Mark can see the players and realizes Ray needs to keep the farm.

Shoeless Joe invites Mann to enter the corn, and Mann goes with him. Ray wants to go, but Joe tells him he’s not invited.  Then Joe repeats the original phrase – “IF YOU BUILD IT, HE WILL COME“.  Ray turns to home plate to sees his father – as a young ballplayer – taking off his catcher’s mask.  Ray gets to introduce his father to his wife and daughter, then have a last catch as father and son.  As they do, hundreds of cars are seen driving toward the field, and it is apparent that the people “will most definitely come”.

Big League Players in the Movie:

There are none that I’m aware of.  But it’s a hell of a cast.

Baseball card connection:  Unlike Costner’s other late 80’s baseball hit, there are very few baseball card ties to this movie.  I can’t remember any discussion of cards within the movie, and there’s only one card I know of that shows a character in the movie.  It’s naturally an uber-expensive one at that.  In 2016, Topps released an autographed mini of Costner with the name “Kinsella” at the bottom.  You’d have to pay multiple hundreds of dollars to score this one.

There’s also a little known card set of famous baseball writers that has the author of the inspiration for the movie – “Shoeless Joe”, by W.P. Kinsella.

Moonlight Graham also got some cards made after the movie, but it’s about the actual player not of Burt Lancaster.

Best quote:  I could go all day here and ultimately, it’s not just one.

“If you build it, he will come” – the voice that speaks to Ray.  This is the easiest and quickest to jump the mind.  The voice says a couple other things, but ultimately it comes back to this quote and all that Ray did was to have his Dad meet his granddaughter, and more importantly to have one last catch with his son.  I can’t watch that part without shedding a tear or fifty – if your dad died before you could say what you needed, of if (like me) he’s still alive and you haven’t played catch in 30 years, this is a movie for baseball fans and their dads.

“Is this Heaven?” – Shoeless Joe.   “No, It’s Iowa”  – Ray

See a good chunk of the the dialogue from Terrance Mann (aka JD Salinger and played by James Earl Jones) below.

Best song:  “The Place Where Dreams Come True” – There are a few notable songs from the 60’s and 70’s throughout the movie, but the main score is the most recognizable.  This is the last composition of the film before the end credits and I think has most of the main tunes you’d recognize from the film incorporated.  The score of the film is wonderful, and plays a big part in how meaningful the film was and has stayed.  It’s composed and conducted by James Horner.  Horner’s score for Field of Dreams was nominated for an Academy Award, losing out on the Oscar to the score for The Little Mermaid.  Horner, who died in 2015, would have his day – he won the Best Score Oscar for Titanic, which won Best Picture as well.  He composed the score for 2 other Oscar-winning Best Pictures, Braveheart and Avatar.

Other Notable facts:

  • Robinson and the producers did not originally consider Kevin Costner for the part of Ray because they did not think that he would want to follow Bull Durham with another baseball film. Obviously this obstacle was overcome.
  • Ray Liotta has apparently never seen the movie.  His mother was sick during filming and he associates it with that.
  • Mann is based off of J.D. Salinger.  Salinger threatened to sue if his name was used (not sure why the book was OK but not the movie), so they changed the name to Terrance Mann.
  • Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were extras in the Fenway Park scene
  • Madigan’s husband Ed Harris is believed by many to be “The Voice” – but Robinson won’t confirm who it is.
  • Field of Dreams was never #1 at the box office – it was 2nd the week of May 12, 1989 behind See No Evil, Hear No Evil – a comedy I’d never heard of until looked this up.  It ended up being a stronger word of mouth film.  Major League, which was released a little earlier in 1989 and did reach #1 for 2 weeks, grossed $15 million less than Field of Dreams that year.

Shoeless Joe, played by Ray Liotta, is the main former player in the book.  There are too many former players to mention at this time, but at some point I may go back to watch the movie again and update this post for all the players in the film.

***************

I’ve got to say, I hadn’t watched this movie in over a decade.  I wish that wasn’t true.  If you’re a baseball fan, you should watch it once a year at least.  It’s ahead of its time in many ways.  Most apparent to me was that it deals with racism in a way that made me feel like we haven’t moved forward at all in the past 21 years.  We watched this a couple of weekends ago when the George Floyd related protests were still very new, and it was poignant.  But the other part is that Kevin Costner plays a guy a lot like the baseball card collector in me.  I just love this game better than any other, in many ways because of the connection with my Dad.  It was hard to watch and not feel extreme sadness at the labor wars that MLB has had over the past 4-6 weeks.  They have a plan to move forward with the 2020 season – I believe it will be derailed by this virus – but I’ve lost a lot of faith in the sport, way more than I did in 1994.  Maybe that’s because I’m older.  I have 3 kids, we’re trying to figure out if the oldest (who f*cking loves baseball) has a health issue.  I don’t have time to be forgiving on the “billionaires v millionaires” issue.   This movie helps me remember what I love about this sport, and I wish it was mandatory watching for every MLB player, executive and owner.  Take the time to watch it again if you love baseball – you won’t be disappointed!  There’s a last quote I didn’t put above, from James Earl Jones.  America has forgotten this, I hope someday we can get it back.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #80 Hop Butcher Stealing Signs

8 06 2019

It’s been quite a while since I did one of these posts.  And I had this beer so long ago, I kind of forgot I wanted to post about it!  But here we are!

Brewery: Hop Butcher for the World in Chicago, IL

Beer: Stealing Signs

Description:  “Galaxy, Moutere & Simcoe-hopped Double India Pale Ale”

This is a New England Style IPA that is Hop Butcher’s main squeeze for the past ~2 years.  It’s got a creamy mouthfeel and is hoppy without the bitterness.

Medium:  I had it from a 16 oz can, which is about the only way you could get it.  And in the Chicago beer scene, that means it didn’t last long.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s got a baseball on the logo.  That’s about it!  I think stealing signs has to do with the Moutere hop – they say they were really on top of finding that newer hop to play around with.  And this is the beer they came up with.  It’s a collaboration with Aslin Brewing from Virginia / DC Area.





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #79 Paw Paw Mr. Sunday

30 06 2018

It’s been a long time since I did one of these posts, which is funny because I’d attribute my abandonment of this blog to beer becoming my hobby (and just having kids in general).  But when I see a brew that could fit – well, I’ll buy it, wait a little while to drink it.  And then wait even longer to post about it!

Brewery:  Paw Paw Brewing in Paw Paw, MI

(yes there is a place called Paw Paw Michigan)

Beer:  Mr. Sunday

Description:  “Hopped up amber ale.  Named after Paw hometown hero: Charlie Maxwell.”

It pours an amber color – as you’d expect, though sometimes amber beers are more red than anything – and is more malt than they seem to say.

Medium:  I had it from a 12 oz bottle, but I’m sure you can get it on draft at the brewery or elsewhere locally.

How it’s related to baseball:  Charlie Maxwell is the namesake of the brew.  He was a local to the town of this brewery – he grew up in Paw Paw, Michigan, which is a little west of Kalamazoo.  Charlie eventually made it to the big leagues with the Red Sox, but – you’ve got to love a true homecoming story – made his way home and had his best years in Detroit from 1955-1962.  He made the All-Star team twice (’56 and ’57) and got MVP votes 3 times while with the Tigers.  Maxwell was primarily a Left Fielder and finished his career with 148 homers and 432 RBI in 14 seasons (basically 5 full seasons, 5 half seasons and 4 cups of coffee).

I love stuff life this where a local place pays tribute to a guy who isn’t gonna be in the hall of fame, but for sure is a local legend.  For my hometown that would be Jeff Russell, the former reliever known best for his years with the Rangers.  The beer wasn’t my favorite style, but it was well made and if I ever found myself 20 miles of Kalamazoo I’d be sure to stop by and order a pint.





Sunday Stories: Major League Memoirs #8 – “The Big Bam” by Leigh Montville

6 08 2017

I originally set out to do this post back on February 5th – which was believed to be Babe Ruth’s birthday for a long time (later they found out he was born on 2/6/1895 – a day less than a year earlier than originally believed).  I started the book in mid-January, put it down for a while due to life being hectic, and then picked it back up and finished it in May.  Then more hectic life – finally, I’m doing the post for it today!  

If you count the book about the first All-Star game, Ruth has been the primary subject for half of the 8 baseball books I’ve read over the past 2+ years.  I find his life fascinating, which is probably why I’ve read so many books about his life.

Title/Author/Publisher: “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth” by Leigh Montville (Random House, 2006, 416 pages)

Description:  There have been a lot of Babe Ruth biographies – and as I mentioned, I’ve read a few.  After reading this one, I still think the one by Robert Creamer is still the definitive one – even though (or maybe because) it was released 43 years ago.

So it may have been a bit overzealous to read this particular book.  And frankly, that probably factored in to why I picked it up and put it down.  But once I dove back in, this was a great book.  To be clear, it doesn’t hide from the fact that there were a lot of previous books released.  It uses the research done on the Bambino, trying to put the pieces together.  And it acknowledges that there was so much about this man’s life that we just don’t know for sure – “the fog sets in”.  We know what Babe Ruth did on the diamond.  But we just don’t know that much about his personal life.  For example, his daughter that he raised with his first wife was clearly not his first wife’s child.  But it does appear that Dorothy was in fact his biological daughter.  The book points this out, and moves on (appropriately) to more important things.

It’s been a while since I finished this book, which isn’t ideal as I would probably be able to give some more nuances if I had been more active on the blog and written this 2.5 months ago when I finished the book.  One thing I distinctly remember is that “The Big Bam” delved into Christy Walsh much more than the other books I’ve read.  Walsh was basically Ruth’s PR man – kind of the first personal PR man in American sports history!

My review:  So all that said, I really enjoyed this book.  Again, if you could read one Babe Ruth book – read Creamer’s.  If you can read two – read this one next.

Other Notable nuggets:  One tidbit I found interesting enough to jot down – near the end of his career, Ruth played against a group of Cuban All-Stars, facing off against Luis Tiant, Sr.  The father of the famous Red Sox pitcher from the 70’s.  I feel like you can’t make this stuff up.

1980 The Franchise Babe Ruth Classic #61





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #78 – Goose Island Goatbusters

29 04 2017

More Chicago baseball beers.  I kind of forgot about this beer, but Goose Island came out with a beer when the Cubs officially “broke the curse”.  If you know anything about the curse of the Billy Goat – it wasn’t exorcised when the Cubs won the World Series.  That happened when the team made it to the Series.  This beer came out at that point – when the Cubs were playing the Indians.

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, IL

The brewery has been 100% owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev since 2011.

Beer:  Goatbusters

Description:  This stout was brewed at the brewpub on Clybourn, which is actually closed right now.  It’s described as having an onyx color, pine and coffee aroma, chocolate and hop resin flavor, toasty finish.  From what I remember, that’s about right.  My wife and I brought the kids down to Wrigley on the Saturday morning before game 4 to get some nice pictures.  We hit the brewpub up for lunch, and I tried this beer.

Medium:  This was only available on draft at the Clybourn brewpub.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s brewed in honor of the Cubs ending the “Curse of the Billy Goat” when they beat the Dodgers to make the club’s first World Series in 72 years.  It’s also a reference to celebrity fan Billy Murray, who was one of the stars of Ghostbusters.