Thursday, December 10, 2015

If Only I Still Had a VCR

Today, while rummaging through my closet, looking for a certain VHS tape that I'm hoping to get signed this weekend, I found 13 Florida State League games from 1994-96 on VHS tapes.
Time Warner Cable in Clearwater, Florida, used to broadcast several Clearwater Phillies games throughout the season. I would record the games for myself, mainly because I thought it would be cool to go back and watch these years later. What I didn't factor in was that the VHS format would not last forever.

A lot of these games were announced by Ryan Burr, who would later work for FOX Sports, ESPN, and NBC Sports.
Photo courtesy of
I was amazed that he went on to have a successful broadcasting career. I don't think this guy could pronounce any player's name correctly. Sure, these are just Minor League games with a tiny viewing audience, and no one probably thought or cared to bother creating a pronunciation sheet, but to my brother and I, we'd get a kick out of the butchering of even the simplest of names.

Anyway, back to the tapes. When the cameras were at the stadium, I'd hear players talking about how they wished they could get a copy of the game. I'd approach them letting them know my VCR at home was recording it and that I'd bring a copy to the next home game. It was usually the starting pitchers that would ask for copies, but then everyday players wanted them, too, not only for themselves, but also for their families. I didn't mind doing it. I spent a lot on VHS tapes and never got compensated. The worst part was bringing a tape to the game only to find out that a player who wanted a tape was promoted. Now I had to pay postage to ship tapes to the AA stadium. I used to include a note letting them know that if they needed more copies, just to let me know, and then I'd end it with my name and my e-mail address, which I still remember, That address must've looked so foreign to people. E-mail and the Internet were still quite new back then. Sadly, no player ever e-mailed me back.

Most of these tapes are labelled with the starting pitchers for each game.
This particular game from June 30, 1995 between the Charlotte Rangers and Clearwater Phillies featured Pete Hartmann against Rich Hunter, making his FSL debut.
Unfortunately, I can't find any box scores for these games, but I did find a brief synopsis from the Tampa Bay Times web site.

The Phillies squandered a seven-run lead, but staved off a late rally by the Charlotte Rangers to win 9-7 Friday night at Jack Russell Stadium. Charlotte scored five runs in the last two innings, but reliever Bronson Heflin struck out Edwin Diaz with two on in the ninth to end the game. Santy Gallone hit his third home run and Robert Estalella his ninth in support of Rich Hunter (1-0), who scattered seven hits in five innings to win his FSL debut.

Sounds like it was an exciting game to watch. Four out of the five players mentioned in the article went on to play in the Majors.

There's a shop near my home that digitizes video tapes. They charge $25 for 2 hours of video. Assuming these games are 2 hours or under, it would still cost me over $250 for digital copies of these games. I'd love to do it, but that's just too much.
I'm not quite ready to throw these tapes away, but I know they'll end up degrading sooner or later.
For now, they'll be moved back to the storage bin and stuffed in a closet, forgotten again.


  1. I mean I've got a VCR, you could hook the av cables to your computer and rip it that way.

  2. It is amazing how far we've come. I'm sure any pitcher with Clearwater now has the ability to look at anything he desires about the game he pitched.

    You might be able to shop around or check online for a better price then your local store. Although the route that Jeff suggested will probably be the most cost efficient. You could probably try and buy a vhs to dvd converter too....


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