Bob Wilber is the youngest of Del and Taffy Wilber's five children. After spending seven years in professional baseball, as a player, coach, and scout, he began a sports marketing and management career that now spans more than 25 years.
In my previous installment of Bob On Baseball, I surprised even myself by realizing I’d somehow subconsciously ignored my years as a Scouting Supervisor for the Toronto Blue Jays as a source of material, up until this point. I’m still not sure why it took so long to include my scouting adventures, but once I opened that door it became clear that there are more stories to tell than I’d anticipated. In other words, this could be fun!
It’s kind of strangely amazing to me that I often look back on my life in and around baseball, and when I do I tend to skip over one particular piece of the puzzle that has been assembled. I’ve written here exhaustively about my playing days, from the first fly ball I caught as a 5-year old to the endless bus rides in the Northwest League, and beyond. But a recent connection on Facebook triggered the thought that I’ve oddly ignored four years of my baseball life here at Bob On Baseball, when my employer was the Toronto Blue Jays and my title was Scouting Supervisor.
Rest in peace, Stan Musial. Simple words, and ones we get the unfortunate chance to use more and more often as we too age, but even in their simple beauty the words cannot express the feelings.
Part of St. Louis died on January 19, 2013. Part of the game of baseball left us as well. It’s easy to use hyperbole to overstate the memory and the place in history of nearly anyone who has recently passed, but it’s my heartfelt feeling that such overblown statements about Stan “The Man” do not exist. At his retirement, after 22 years with the Cardinals, baseball commissioner Ford Frick described No. 6 as “Baseball’s perfect warrior. Baseball’s perfect knight.” Say that about anyone else and people will roll their eyes.
The words in today’s headline, or something approximating them, were the first ones to come to mind as I stood outside the home-team dugout in the little Class A (Rookie Level) ballpark in scenic Bristol, Tenn., on a warm day in early June, 1978. Just days before, I had signed my first professional baseball contract, with the Detroit Tigers, and soon thereafter found myself in an exotic and strange part of the country, deep in Appalachia. Like other rookie circuits, the Appalachian League season didn’t start until after the June draft, and when my new teammates and I gathered there to begin our pro careers, it seemed to me that we had a few too many players for a typical roster, and something had to give. One of those somethings was me.
My wife Barbara and I have recently relocated from the Twin Cities to Spokane, which simply continues my uncanny method of living in places where I have baseball connections. As you may recall from an earlier Bob On Baseball, my dad managed the Spokane Indians for a couple of years when I was in high school, and I was lucky enough to spend parts of two summers out here, working out with the team and developing my skills. Those Indians were the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, and now as the summer of 2012 approaches Barbara and I are getting excited to head out to the very same ballpark to watch the current incarnation of the Indians, still a Rangers farm club but now a part of the Class A (Rookie Level) Northwest League. That would be connection No. 2, since I also played in the Northwest League.
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