Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cobb in Lakeland, Florida, March 2008

My travels with Tyrus Raymond (The Georgia Peach) Cobb started in Lakeland, Florida in March 2008 when Mr. David Dombrowski, CEO, President and General Manager of the Detroit Tigers called Mr. Ron Myers, the Complex Director at Tigertown in Lakeland and asked Ron to hire me. Lakeland is home to the Lakeland Flying Tigers, a Rookie League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and named after the famous Flying Tigers. 

I had exchanged numerous letters with David and he had my press kit.

Flying Tigers was the name of the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942, They were recruited under Presidential orders and commanded by Clair Lee Chennault. They trained in Lakeland, Florida before going to Burma. The only mementos left on the complex are a runway and an empty hanger.

The Detroit Tigers have made Lakeland their Spring Training headquarters since 1946.
Games are played in Joker Marchant Stadium, capacity, 8500.

Home of the Tigers

Ron Myers, Complex Director at Lakeland, Fl called me in mid-December, 2007 and we discussed the show. He asked several questions, how long was the show? Seventy-five minutes I told him. We discussed a few technical items. He said he would call me after New Years Day. I wished him a Merry Christmas.

I received a call from Ron on January 10th. We discussed a few more details saying he would have a conference call with me the following week. He explained his accountant and executive secretary would be on the line.

One week later he called and I had a pleasant conversation with with all three people. We discussed my honorariam, air-fair and hotel costs. He said I would stay at the hotel where the Tigers official staff were enconsed. "I'll get back to you" he said.

About a week later, at 6:30 in the morning, my phone rang. "This is Ron Myers in Lakeland, Florida," the voice bellowed. "We want you." it said.

My first show flyer
One week later, I received a call from Maria Walls who went over the details saying Ron wanted me to perform six dinner shows from March 17-22.

I leaped out of bed screaming, "I can't believe it, I can't believe it" and called family members to spread the good news.

I had eight weeks to rehearse my seventy-five minute show and rehearsed daily.

The Tigers first trained in Lakeland from 1934-41 at Henley Field and returned in 1946 and have been there ever since. They  moved to Joker Marchant Stadium in 1966,
that is now the home of the Lakeland Flying Tigers, a Tigers farm team. 

Adjacent to the twelve-acre tract on which the stadium is located is Tiger Town, the Tiger minor league training site since 1953. A three story dormitory provides housing for 190 players and coaches.

This massive complex is home not only to the Detroit Tigers but to seven of their farm teams consisting of young men from around the country, South America, Mexico and Japan who come here to show they deserve to make the Major Leagues and to make their dreams come true.

Most will not make it.  The Tigers house over 175 men in a four-room complex similar to one found on any college campus. 

A cafeteria is located herethat feeds the minor league players 3 meals a day. This is where I performed my show.

Clay Beatty, my assistant who handled sound, music and staging and I left San Francisco on  March 12th. We were joined by my nephew Steve Grant and  his partner, Bob Loudon, TV directors in Hollywood who flew from Los Angeles to video tape the show. With an assistant from the 

Entering the dormitory
Joker Marchant Stadium

Lakeland Flying Tigers,
the Tigers farm team, we
set up the stage, the audio
set where Clay worked to play the 24 pieces of music
between scenes that was in our computor.  A "green room" was built for me to dress before going on stage, numerous shelves were built to hold the equipment that Steve and Bob brought from Hollywood and a large curtain to hide all of this from the audience.

The lighting in the cafeteria was insufficient for taping so we went to a camera store in Tampa Bay to rent professional lighting, also two cordless microphones, one for the sound system, the other hooked up to the main camera for proper sound for the video. 

Clay and I did three rehearsals before the first show on March 17th. Wesley Fricks, my mentor also taped the show for a presentation for the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, GA. Wesley was intent on my performing at the Museum and they requested a video of my performance.

Ron introduced me to the audience and asked the woman who sang the Star Spangled Banner at the stadium to sing it before I walked on stage. I was hidden behind a curtain and I

Posing with Cobb
 Clay Beatty working on the sound board

        became emotional listening to her sing, tears flowing  down my checks as I stared at the large portrait of Cobb on the wall who smiled at me as if to say, "knock 'em dead kid".

Clay played Take Me Out To The Ballgame and I strolled on stage. The show was a success. I borrowed the Tigers warm up jacket to wear on stage with instructions to return it after the show. I returned the jacket to Mr. Myers who told me, "you knocked my socks off, keep the jacket as a gift from the Tigers". The jacket has since become my signature jacket, I wear it at all the shows I do and have worn it daily at home in Half Moon Bay ever since.

Aeriel view of the ballpark 
I thanked Mr. Fricks for taping the show and hoped the curator at the Ty Cobb Museum would like it and hire me. I also thanked Steve and Bob for the work they did taping the show.

Positive thinking, loving what you do, commitment, supportive family, friends and faith in God
have allowed me to make my dreams come true.
Me & my mentor Wesley Fricks 

 "It really shows no matter what you set your imagination to, anything can happen, If you dream as big as you can dream, anything is possible."  Michael Phelps – Winner 8 Gold Medals  2008 Olympics      

Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours”.  Dale Carnegie

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek". ~Mario Andretti

Posing at the scoreboard

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