The Man Cave: A Quick Tour

For the last 40 years or so, I have acquired quite a bit of “stuff” (a polite way to say that). I had always envisioned a sort of personal Hall of Fame for folks I admired, and it came to fruition when I retired in 2017 and moved back to Ohio. The basement of our house was converted into a “man cave” that has drawn a fair amount of attention and inquiry.

I guess it will always be a work in progress, and it will breathe and flex as time goes by. I had to sort of design it as I went, but people seem to like how it turned out, so here’s a look at how it is today. Hope you enjoy it.

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I loved the Knicks of the early 1970s, and Dave DeBusschere is my all-time favorite basketball player. Ken Stabler is my second-favorite quarterback behind John Unitas, and I loved Bill Russell (though I hated the Celtics) because he was so smart and such an intense competitor.

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If I had one game to win, Bob Gibson would be my right-handed starting pitcher; Sandy Koufax would be my left-handed starter. Andre Dawson was the best player in baseball for several years. I loved the Blazers and Bill Walton before his feet came apart. Brooks Robinson is the greatest third-baseman of all time, and a wonderful man. Garry Maddox was a brilliant centerfielder. Terry Crowley was a fantastic pinch-hitter. Al Hrabosky and I became unlikely friends when he was with Kansas City in the late 1970s.

The Krenchicki Collection

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Wayne Krenchicki and I have been friends since he came to Cincinnati from Baltimore in 1982. I knew a little bit about him from his limited time with the Orioles in the late 1970s, and he was a smart, smart player. This is the only real attempt I have made at “collecting” for a player; the idea is to have a jersey from each team he played for or managed (and that’s a few). There are still a handful I need to fill out the set, but there’s everything here from the jersey he wore at age 15 to win the Babe Ruth World Series to his final stop as manager of the independent Evansville Otters. There are jerseys, hats, bats, socks, gloves, jackets …

Fookie!

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Steve Foucault was a terrific short man for the Rangers during the mid-1970s, and later was Krenchicki’s pitching coach for several teams. He’s one of my best friends in baseball, and his area is right next to Krenchicki’s (you can see some overlap of hats and other items). He also pitched for Detroit and Kansas City in the big leagues, and his final coaching stop was with Long Island in the Atlantic League.

The Reds 1961-1976

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The sleeveless jerseys the Reds wore from 1961-1966 are the greatest baseball jerseys ever. And Fred Hutchinson (#1) was a terrific manager. Jim Maloney was a star pitcher for the Reds in the 1960s, with some serious gas (Interview here and here).

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Dave Concepcion was the best shortstop in baseball during the 1970s. Ozzie Smith later got a lot of publicity for doing backflips, but he was not nearly the all-around player Davey was. Davey had tremendous range to his glove side. Good speed. Developed into a good hitter. He’s the guy I want to play short. Period.

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The 1975-1976 Reds are the best team that has ever played. They are beyond special. The albums above the team photos are from the 1970, 1972, 1975, and 1976 seasons. Long live The Big Red Machine!

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Tony Perez is the best clutch RBI man I have seen. He was the heart and soul of the Big Red Machine.

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Gary Nolan is my all-time favorite pitcher. He had a blazing fastball and great control when he came up as a rookie in 1967. He fought arm and shoulder issues for the balance of his career. I was thrilled to be able to get one of his game-worn jerseys and have it signed. He has class and grace and humility (story here). The white home jersey is one of my original ones from 1977!

The Giants

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Part of the Giants section. Across the top are jerseys from Steve Kline, J.T. Snow, Darrell Evans, Mike McCormick, and Travis Ishikawa. At the center of everything, of course, is a Willie Mays jersey. I don’t believe there has ever been a better baseball player than Willie Mays.

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One of the many gifts my brother gave to me a was a love for rock-and-roll. We used to give each other albums for birthdays and Christmas. They are shown here. More Giants jerseys at far left. And Groucho is, of course, the greatest.

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More rock-and-roll: Creedence is my favorite band. I framed their albums and acquired a Kustom amp setup identical to that which John Fogerty used on stage with them. It is functional and will rattle pictures on the walls if the volume is turned past 1. Also shown are the two main guitars John Fogerty used: a Les Paul Custom and a Rickenbacker 325. They are left-handed versions because although I am right-handed, I play guitar left-handed.

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I have been captivated by the space program since I was preschool age. Alan Shepard, America’s first man in space, was a hero. He flew on Freedom 7 and Apollo 14, where he hit golf balls on the Moon.

The Office

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I have a small office where I do jersey restoration work and all of the editorial stuff for this site. For a typical interview, I have two voice recorders going (primary and backup) and all three monitors. The large one in back is perfect for the Baseball-Reference stat display; at left I usually have the subject’s Wikipedia page. In front I can access emails or other things that may be useful as we talk. On the back wall are my brother’s framed letterman’s sweater from high school (left) and a framed John Unitas jersey. On the opposite wall (not shown) are some JFK items. These three people are heroes and influences above and beyond all others (story here).

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At right is the heat press I use for jersey work; at left are some of the research and other materials I use for jersey and interview projects. On the wall are photos and plaques from my model-airplane-flying days.

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When I decided to start doing my own jersey work, I bought a 1971 Kenmore sewing machine at Goodwill for $15. It gets the job done. Almost every jersey I have, aside from the framed ones, has been converted to the number 14 in honor of my brother. The jerseys are wearable, and I just can’t put on another number. All of the “labor” is done the old-school way I learned in the 1980s (i.e., it’s all done by hand).