Canton native Tim Hagerty debuts baseball bookBy Jay Turner
With a list of past employers that includes the Beavers, BayBears, and Chukars, it isn’t any wonder that Canton native Tim Hagerty developed a fascination with “off-the-wall” baseball team names.
However, not even Hagerty himself, who is the current radio voice of the Tucson Padres, could have imagined just how far this interest would take him when he first began collecting team histories and photographs in the 2004 baseball offseason.
Over the past eight years, the former Bulldog play-by-play announcer has become somewhat of an authority on the topic of Minor League Baseball team names and their stories, and he recently solidified that status with the release of his first book, Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball’s Most Off-the-Wall Team Names and the Stories Behind Them.
Published in May by Cider Mill Press, the 96-page paperback features profiles of over 150 teams along with “fun facts, action shots, and team logos.” The book details the origins of teams such as the Montgomery Biscuits, the Lansing Lugnuts, and the Wichita Izzies and includes teams “as old as the 1902 Nevada Lunatics and as new as the 2011 Omaha Storm Chasers.”
With a forward from former MLB infielder Bill Ripken, brother of Cal Ripken Jr. and current owner of three minor league teams, Root for the Home Team marks an impressive book debut for the 2000 Canton High graduate.
“It was my offseason project for six years,” explained Hagerty, an award-winning broadcaster who also does freelance work for Fox Sports and Sporting News Radio.
Speaking via telephone from his Las Vegas hotel room, Hagerty said he first took an interest in the topic during his time with the Idaho Falls Chukars, the Double A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
“When I was in Idaho Falls, many of the fans would come up and ask me what a chukar is,” he said. “So I started looking around for a book about minor league team names, and I was really surprised that nothing was out there.”
Spurred on by his own curiosity, Hagerty embarked on a research quest that took him from the World Wide Web to various small-town historical societies to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, New York.
At some point in the process he determined that the topic would make for a good book, and so he went out and purchased a “publishing for dummies” book and managed to parlay that advice into a modest publishing deal.
From Hagerty’s view, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and he considers himself “very lucky” to have found his own niche within a sport he has loved since childhood.
“I’ve sort of become the unofficial expert on minor league team names, and if that’s what I’m known for, I’ll take it,” he said.
Of course, Hagerty is known for a lot more than just his knowledge of obscure team names; he’s also a first-rate play-by-play man with well over 1,000 professional games under his belt.
Currently the voice of the San Diego Padres’ Triple A affiliate, Hagerty has a job that combines his two greatest passions — baseball and broadcasting — and he’s savoring every moment of the experience, even if the season itself is a bit of a “grind.”
Hagerty, a former captain on the CHS baseball team, has been fortunate enough to witness some of the game’s biggest stars in action, from 2011 MVP candidate Justin Upton to Los Angeles Angels’ rookie sensation Mike Trout. He’s also had a chance to meet and interview several former players, including Hall of Famer and longtime homerun king Hank Aaron.
Hagerty described the job of a broadcaster as challenging but incredibly rewarding. And while the pace of the game is slower than in most sports, he said there is rarely a dull moment in the broadcast booth.
In his first-ever professional game, for instance, a local bank president had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after injuring his knee during the ceremonial first pitch. Hagerty, who was already nervous to begin with, had to then fill “15 straight minutes with no game going on, no standings, and no statistics to report.”
He also recalled another game that he called for the Mobile (AL) BayBears, in which the team took the field in the eighth inning without a pitcher because he had locked himself in the bathroom between innings. “I always tell people that it was baseball’s first bathroom delay,” Hagerty joked.
In both instances, he was forced to improvise on air, thus giving him the chance to sharpen his broadcasting skills — not to mention some interesting anecdotes if he ever wanted to write another book.
At the same time, Hagerty is proud of what he has achieved professionally and is much more concerned about the next game, as opposed to, say, the next book contract or the next big call-up.
“It’s not solely a stepping stone,” he said of the minor leagues. “It’s an amazing experience that takes you to some cities that you never would have gone to.”
“And that’s what was great about [writing] this book,” he added. “It made me realize that these smaller cities across the country have a great baseball history to them, with really legendary tales — just like the major league cities.”
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