Wednesday, July 15, 2009


David Rosenfeld, TigerBlog emeritus who now works in the communications office at the Gilman School, actually did two tours here at TigerBlog HQ. His second one went from 2003 until last year; his first started in the mid-1990s.

TB remembers clearly the day when David first started here and picked up the Trenton Times sports section. From the next room came the most famous question in TigerBlog HQ history: "What's HUH-TER-BUH?"

With no idea what David was talking about, TB investigated and saw that he was reading a Page 1 headline that mentioned that HTRBA had won a game the night before. "HUH-TER-BUH" actually is H-T-R-B-A, or Hamilton Township Recreational Baseball Association, a team competing in the District 12 Little League tournament.

Once David knew what HTRBA was, he was even more amazed that a daily newspaper would devote that kind of time and energy to the local Little League baseball tournament. When informed that the District 12 tournament was just the start of it, with baseball and softball tournaments ranging from 10-year-olds through 15's on the horizon, as well as extensive American Legion coverage.

TigerBlog remembers his own first experiences with the District 12 tournament, back in the summer of 1984, TB's first with the Trenton Times. Jim Gauger, the lanky sports editor, penciled TB in for District 12 coverage, and TB couldn't believe that he was actually going to be interviewing 12-year-olds after games. By the time the tournament ended with a Chambersburg win over Hopewell Valley, TB had been indoctrinated in the ways of District 12, which can often be wacky.

Don't get us wrong, of course. Here at TigerBlog HQ, the District 12 tournament ranks up there among the great annual events, along with the Spelling Bee, Cowboys-Giants games, the Mets' yearly collapse, the day Duke is eliminated in basketball and college basketball on TV during the day on the Thursdays of conference tournament and NCAA tournament time.

Still, there are all sorts of lessons to be learned from District 12 Little League coverage (starting with the inherent issues of building up 12-year-olds to a level which they may never again in their lives reach). Rich Fisher, who has written for pretty much every publication in Mercer County, once said that he'd eventually need a translator to interview the kids from Taiwan or Japan for when Nottingham made its run to the World Series; TB remembers the Trenton Times doing baseball cards for the Nottingham players that year. Baseball cards? Of 12-year-olds?

There is one issue that we'll focus on here at TigerBlog HQ today. When TB asked Gauger why we were covering Little League baseball games, Gauger flat out replied: "because the Trentonian does a great job of it."

In other words, if they do it, we have to do it. Here at Princeton, as in the rest of college athletics, we are in times of budget challenges. Decisions have to made with an eye on fiscal responsibility combined with maintaining our commitment to being the best we can be on the field and off. It's very easy in the context of those discussions not to focus on what is necessary and practical but rather to drift back to "they do it; we have to do it" mode.

TB had one of those discussions this morning, as we began to think broadly about game programs for the coming year. How big should they be? What content is necessary? What is extra? What should we do that we've always done; what should we abandon? What new content should we bring in?

The meeting inevitably made its way back to "well, what does everyone else do" mode. Trying to stay focused on the big picture and leaving behind the "Trentonian does a great job covering Little League" way of thinking is a huge challenge now in college athletics. TB believes Princeton has made a big step in the right direction with its abandonment of media guides, for instance.

Stay tuned for more focus on this issue, especially in these tough times. In the meantime, enjoy the end of the District 12 tournament tonight. It'll be Nottingham-West Windsor for the championship.

You'll be able to read all about it tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shows how long ago 1984 was... You won't see Chambersburg over Hopewell Valley today. The four city leagues have combined into two (and still struggle) and Hopewell doesn't do Little League anymore.