When people asked me two years ago why we created BaltimoreBaseball.com, the simple answer was I needed a job.
The more complex response, though, is I wanted to create a website that was different from what others were doing. There’s a ton of excellent and thorough coverage of the Orioles out there, but I felt like there was room to establish something unique.
The site would focus on the Orioles, because that’s what I do and, frankly, one of the few subjects I really know.
I wanted to establish a site where you could get the necessary Orioles news, but I wanted it to also offer a hefty portion of commentary, the ‘Why?’ or ‘What does this mean?’ that can be siphoned away from the news of the day.
I also wanted an interactive forum to share thoughts and ideas with Orioles fans and even debate them on occasion – respectfully, of course.
I also thought we could give you a whole lot of minor league coverage and sprinkle in some local high school and college content – filling a significant void – and do it all without charging you.
In my not-so-humble opinion, I think we’ve accomplished all that, and the response has been fantastic.
But there is always room for improvement, for growth. Room to add new features.
And that’s why I’m writing this today.
Because we’re adding a new feature tomorrow, “Calling the Pen.”
And we are adding a tremendous local sports journalist in Jack Gibbons to help make this a must-read. (I would have written “legendary local sports journalist,” but Jack would argue legendary is a code word for old.)
We could use your help, the reader, if you want to take a stab at writing. More important, we want you to read the entries and then provide your feedback.
Baseball, I believe, is the most lyrical of all sports. Maybe it is the pace. Maybe it’s how the history is woven into the fabric of this country. Maybe it is how baseball has been passed down from generation to generation more than any other sport.
Maybe I’m just an unapologetic baseball nerd and have an unhealthy obsession with the game.
But I know I am not alone. Or I don’t think I am.
So, here’s the deal: Starting Saturday we are going to run a periodic feature that highlights non-fiction baseball essays from the community. The first one – and some others throughout the year – will be written by Gibbons. On Saturday, he’ll share a gripping story about his grandfather, flawed men and baseball bonds.
The essays can be about the sport in general. Or specifically the Orioles. Or your childhood and baseball. Or how you are stuck in Baltimore as a Toronto Blue Jays fan or stuck in Boston as an Orioles fan.
The landscape is fairly open, although I don’t want an essay on why manager Buck Showalter should use young players more. Or why the Chris Davis signing wasn’t a good one. Or how the club’s on-base percentage needs to be improved. There are other places on the site to air those grievances and discuss those subjects.
No, this feature is more about baseball memories, baseball feelings, baseball emotions written from your heart. This feature is more about writing, expressing.
I’m hoping some professional writers will join in and maybe some local dignitaries, too. And I’m hoping some Regular Joes and JoAnnes will give it a shot as well.
And I promise all of it will be quality.
Because I’m bringing in a heavy hitter to write a chunk of these and to edit the others.
In sports journalism circles, Jack Gibbons is a revered name. Now retired, he spent a total of 46 years in the business in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He was the sports editor of The Baltimore Sun when it arguably had the best group of writers assembled in any sports department in the country.
The man knows writing, knows editing, knows Baltimore and knows baseball.
And now he is going to be offering his expertise for this site, and for anyone who wants to send an essay our way for potential publication.
We can’t offer money for the piece or guarantee that we will print it. And it must be an original piece. But if we choose your submission, we can give you a forum to display your work, an archive where it will be kept and an attentive and growing audience that undoubtedly will check it out.
I’m not one to get super excited about things. But this new feature has me psyched.
I’m jazzed to be working with Jack again and I’m eager to see what these submissions will be like from you.
And I’m thrilled to keep trying different things to make this a unique site to visit.