2009 Home Plate Heroes Night
PLATES SELECTED FOR LIVE AUCTION
The Sultan of Swat by William Bruce
The Fifth Beatle by Jim Jolly
First Pitch (self-portrait as a terrified catcher) by Kevin Kresse
Batter Up by Sarah Mattingly
2009 Home Plate Recap
The Second Annual Home Plate Heroes night was held on May 14, 2009, at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. The Travelers weren’t at home, but the concourse was filled with interactive displays of our "Heroes."
While a recording of Jim Elder calling a long-ago Travs game in the background, our guests dined on ballpark fare. They also got a chance to take chip shots from behind home plate, have their pitching speed measured by radar guns, and participate in other kinds of activities. Many of the heroes gave away small prizes for answering questions correctly.
Over 50 painted home plates were displayed, and many of those were in silent and live auctions. The remainder of the plates were sold in an online auction ending the day before the event.
Ryder Cup print up for auction
Posted on 06 May 2009
By Harry King
LITTLE ROCK — Temperatures below forty or scores above bogey, nothing could discourage Jim Elder on the golf course. He pressed on, almost giddy with unfounded optimism about the next shot. A man who witnessed and appreciated that attitude did the late sportscaster proud in his pursuit of something special to be auctioned May 14 at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Greg Fisher, who listened to Elder’s play-by-play of Arkansas Traveler games in 1960s and ‘70s, met the man during the 1979 football season when Fisher was working for the UA sports information office. Ten years later, Fisher moved to North Little Rock, joined North Hills Country Club, and filled out a threesome that teed it up on short notice.
The manager of a big department store up East, Fisher has wangled some pretty nifty media relations assignments through the years, including the Cotton Bowl, the jockeys’ room at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week, and The Masters. The latter led to an invite to help out with the 2008 Ryder Cup, where he followed a group each morning and each afternoon, compiling notes and quotes.
Busy with that assignment, he didn’t visit the souvenir tent until the morning of the final day. He picked up a few items for friends and family, then stopped to look at a commemorative poster. A gentleman introduced himself as the artist, they talked for a while, and Steve Lotus agreed to sign the print purchased by Fisher. With Elder’s Good Sport Fund auction in mind, Fisher decided to pursue signatures from Ryder Cup captains Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger.
In the press center, co-workers who had worked closely with the captains told Fisher that Faldo and Azinger had not been very receptive to requests for autographs. Undeterred, Fisher thought his best opportunity would be when the captains and team members came to the post-event news conference. The European captain was up first and security was tight, so Fisher opted to try for Faldo as he left the press center. Sheepishly, he said, “Hey, Nick. Could you do me a favor and sign this poster?” Faldo paused and gave Fisher a curious look. For a moment, the autograph seeker thought he was going to be chastised, but Faldo said, “Where do I know you from?” Fisher explained that Lance Barrow, executive director at CBS at The Masters, had introduced them in Augusta. “Based on his reaction, it didn’t seem to jog his memory, but he signed the poster and quickly made his way to his golf cart and left,”Fisher said.
Pursuing the signature of the first winning U.S. captain this decade, Fisher stationed himself outside the press room door, print and Sharpie at ready. A Ryder Cup official who escorted Azinger to the news conference gave him a stern look and told him that Azinger would not sign. Disappointed, Fisher turned his back to the press room and was visiting with a friend as the U.S. team departed. He was explaining that he had only been able to get one of the captains to sign when Azinger walked by and heard the conversation. “Did Faldo sign that for you?” he asked. “Yes,” Fisher said. Azinger signed the poster and left, leaving other autograph seekers behind.
Already framed, “37th Ryder Cup” might be one of a kind. The auction bidding will be live, a week from Thursday.
—- Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.