Grinders: Baseball's Intrepid InfantryBy Mike Capps and Chuck Hartenstein
Decades ago, Mike Capps sat next to his grandfather in the rickety, mosquito-infested Burnett Field, built in 1910 across the Trinity River from the twinkling lights of the concrete and steel towers of downtown Dallas. His grandfather pointed to the scoresheet where he'd checked the names of six or seven players.
"I also want you to pay attention to the names I have checked here," he continued. "These guys will travel back and forth between Dallas and Kansas City and Minneapolis and Boston all summer. You'll even see their names in the box scores. They aren't stars, but they are the engine that drives baseball's bus."
That kind yet emphatic, grandfatherly declaration buried itself in Capps' psyche for decades. Sixty years later, the small but hugely important snippet still ignites memories of his grandfather's passion love for the game of baseball. That exchange formed the foundation for Grinders.
Baseball is a game of stars, but it's also a game of grit, determination and persistence. In Grinders: Baseball's Intrepid Infantry, Capps and Chuck Hartenstein tell the stories of the game's foot soldiers. These are the players who took the hard knocks road, spending their careers bouncing between the Show and obscurity, never quite achieving their dreams, all for a chance to play the game they love.
Mike Capps has been the play-by-play voice of the AAA Round Rock Express for 21 seasons. He's worked for the Texas Rangers, the Houston Astros and ESPN Radio. He worked in radio and television news for 22 years at ABC, CNN and stations in Dallas and Houston, covering the first Gulf War, the Branch Davidian siege and 16 Space Shuttle missions, including the Challenger disaster. Capps is also the co-author with Red Murff of The Scout: Searching for the Best in Baseball.
Chuck Hartenstein pitched for 15 years as a reliever for the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays. He later worked as a pitching coach and scout in both the minor and major leagues and was voted into the University of Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 2004.