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A Random Publication to Keep Umpires SHARP!

Death of The Cactus Spine


With the May, 2000, issue, The Cactus Spine completed seven distinguished years of publication. It was born of the need to disperse information to the masses. It evolved from a haphazard two sheet bulletin to a delightful, informative little booklet. As my knowledge of desktop publishing grew, it also evolved in sophistication. Over the years, its popularity and familiarity grew immensely. Among Metro Phoenix fast pitch umpires it was usually referred to as simply as The Spine. Everyone knew what everyone meant when someone said, “I read it in the Spine.”

The Spine had a full and useful life. But in consideration of its purpose, other media emerged, namely, the World Wide Web, that could do the job much, much better. I fervently hope that the internet never replaces the written word, the published book. What a delightful, sometimes almost reverent, feeling it is to hold a good book in your hands; to gently turn the pages; to mull over, ponder and reread a particular part or well turned phrase. But for our purposes, the Web allowed for far more current, up-to-the-minute news, interpretations, information and ideas to reach the greater part of our umpires. Therefore, May, 2000, was the last issue of The Cactus Spine that will be published.

Even in exerting my greatest effort, I was only able to get The Spine out four times a year. It was mailed to approximately 200 umpires (that was fast pitch only - now that number would close to double) costing over $100 in postage each issue. Before the advent of Ray Burns who printed it for us free, it cost us over $100 to print. Add to that the cost of envelopes, labels, ink cartridges, staples and colored paper and you will discover it was costing us more than $1000 a year to publish The Cactus Spine. More than the savings in money, however, is the timeliness of getting the information out.

For its first six and three quarter years, The Cactus Spine, was an exclusive fast pitch publication. The last issue being only the second issue to include slow pitch, I did not expect slow pitch umpires to express much emotion one way or the other concerning the termination of the Spine. Many fast pitch umpires, on the other hand, expressed experiencing a moment of silence to mourn the loss of what had been a vital link to the ebb and flow of Metro Phoenix fast pitch umpiring.

On a happier note and for the nostalgia buff, every issue of The Cactus Spine is archived here on this web site. Although not of any real value, it is felt to be a worthwhile endeavor if only as a trip down memory lane for the old timers or a peek into ‘the way things were’ for the newer blues.
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