Announcer Tim Hagerty says there’s more to baseball than just the game. He’s the author of “Tales from the Dugout: 1,001 Humorous, Inspirational & Wild Anecdotes from Minor League Baseball,” which takes a look at sillier parts of America’s favorite pastime.
Bill Lynch spoke with Hagerty about minor league ball and even baseball in West Virginia.
The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity.
Lynch: Tim Hagerty, tell me a little about yourself. Tell me how you got into baseball.
Hagerty: Well, I was fortunate that my high school had a cable access broadcast station at it. So I got to broadcast games when I was 16 or 17, and I knew this is what I wanted to pursue.
I grew up in Massachusetts and was passionate about baseball. I loved playing.
I was the type of kid that, even in Massachusetts, if you asked me to name ten Kansas City Royals, I could do it. I knew the rosters. I knew the statistics. I was the type of kid that would read the box scores every day.
And now in my job, that helps me, actually, because a lot of those players that I was following as a fan, as a kid, have become coaches and scouts.
Sometimes I’ll be in a press box, and somebody introduces themselves and I’ll say, “Oh, you played for Cincinnati,” and they sort of looked at me, surprised.
So, I guess my childhood passion has helped me as an adult.
Lynch: Where did your career take you?
Hagerty: Yeah, I targeted a college – Northern Vermont University – that had a really specific broadcast program. And what was great about that was in a rural area that I was able to broadcast games for a local AM station.
First job was in Idaho Falls, Idaho – beautiful city. That’s where the Royals AAA, excuse me, Royals rookie league team is. And it was there that I met a young player, Billy Butler, who went on to be a Major League All Star, and we’ve occasionally remained in touch, and he actually contributed the foreword to my new book.
So, it was fun to reconnect with him.
From there, went to Mobile, Alabama. From there, went to Portland, Oregon, Tucson, Arizona, and now I’m in El Paso, Texas with the Padres AAA team.
Lynch: So, what do you like about minor league baseball?
Hagerty: A lot. I think it’s the ultimate community event. There are so many fans who love the Cardinals or the Pirates or the Braves.
But in smaller cities – there’s something about Charleston across that player’s jersey. That’s your city. That’s your professional team.
What I also love about it is that in a lot of minor league cities, I hear from fans who say, “My parents brought me here. Now, I’m bringing my kids.”
And also, just how different it is. I’ve been fortunate enough to broadcast games, and about 60 different stadiums. They’re not all alike. You know, to me, the local ballpark is much like a local community. Each of them has their own flavor.
Lynch: Let’s talk about the book. This is your second book, isn’t it?
Hagerty: It is. Yeah, my first book came out in 2012. That was about the craziest team names in minor league history, including the Wheeling Stogies, named after a cigar.
But my new book “Tales from the Dugout: 1001 Humorous, Inspirational & Wild Anecdotes from Minor League Baseball,” is about the wildest stories that have ever taken place.
And speaking of Wheeling, in West Virginia, the oldest story that I found in my book takes place there in 1877.
Wheeling puts together this promotion in which fans would try to capture a greased pig. And if you got the pig, you got to keep the pig. And what it taught me was that these days minor league teams do all sorts of crazy things to sell tickets and to get media attention. That’s not new.
Wheeling was trying wild things in 1877.
Lynch: So, the research on this. Where did you find the stories?
Hagerty: I’ve always loved baseball research, and there’s a lot of different sources.
The origin of this book, when researching something else back in 2012. I found this 1880s newspaper archive and it talked about a Texas league game in Austin that got delayed when a wild bull ran on the field.
I don’t know about you, but when you see something like that, I want to know everything about this.
The bull was kicking up dust. Fans are shrieking. It knocked down a fence. And that taught me that hidden in newspaper archives are so many baseball stories that a lot of people don’t know about.
I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, which is a great resource. They have a lot of old baseball publications there.
There was also the Spalding-Reach guide.
It was an annual publication that baseball fans devoured. It was really the only thing of its kind from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. And it would have a lot of statistics and rosters and basic stuff, but also would have these wild stories.
So, it was fun to flip through there.
Lynch: With 1,001 stories in your book, do you have one that’s a favorite for you?
Hagerty: Well, probably the one that took the most time to research – in 1978, there was a fly ball that disappeared.
AA Bristol was at AA Jersey City in the eastern league, and I wasn’t able to pinpoint the batter, but a Jersey City batter hit a high fly ball to right field and it vanished. It didn’t land on the field. It didn’t go over the fence. It didn’t land in the stands. And I know that sounds crazy, but I’m talking to players who are on the field at the time I corresponded with somebody who was in the stands and everybody sort of described it the same way, like, just speechless. What happened to this ball?
So, the umpires got together. They understandably don’t know what the rule is when a ball goes up and never comes down. So, they gave the batter a double.
Yeah, in tonight’s game in Charleston or Bluefield, if a ball goes up and disappears, there’s precedent. It’s a double.
Lynch: The book is called “Tales from the Dugout: 1,001 Humorous, Inspirational & Wild Anecdotes from Minor League Baseball.”
Tim, thanks a lot.
Hagerty: Thank you, Bill.