Tuesday, July 1, 2014

After a short break due to our summer fanfest, this week we continue our feature series celebrating our 10th anniversary of AngelsWin.com by highlighting our top contributor to our blog and player interviews, as well as a senior member on our board of directors, in David Saltzer.

David went by the screen name of Dinsle for many years on our old forum, but now goes by his real name at AngelsWin.com. David is an incredible journalist for AngelsWin.com and fantastic blogger. Saltzer has interviewed many top prospects and Angels players over the years, including several trips to Utah, the Inland Empire and Angel Stadium credentialed as a member of the media for AngelsWin.com.  

Without further ado, here's our interview with AngelsWin.com's David Saltzer. 

AngelsWin.com: When and how did you first come to AngelsWin.com?

Dave Saltzer: I came with the mass migration from the ESPN Board, but, for a long time lurked on AngelsWin.com. After all the shenanigans with the GSC, I was put off by the whole online message board thing. However, when Chuck started posting Top-Prospect Lists and incredibly good content, I knew I had an internet home. One day, Chuck put out a thread asking if anyone wanted to contribute to the site. I responded, and have been writing ever since. 

AngelsWin.com:  What keeps you coming back to the site?

Dave Saltzer: The content, the humor, and the great people. Everyday there is something new to read on here. This year, especially, we are hitting a level of content that I couldn't imagine. I may not agree with it all (are you kidding me--trading Cron and Shoemaker????), but, it's a great way to start off the day. And, if I'm ever having a rough day, I just need to log on here to find something to make me laugh. Some of the one liners are priceless. At lunch, if I've had a rough day with a student, I can come on here and get a good laugh, and go back to work in a much better mood. Seriously, some of you could write comedy, you're that good. The timing, the jokes (both in-group and outright) can just leave me rolling. And finally, there are some incredibly great people on this site. People that are more than friends--they are family. I have seen people on AngelsWin.com do some incredibly kind and generous things, and I deeply appreciate that.

AngelsWin.com:  What have been some of your favorite articles and threads?

Dave Saltzer: I love all the point/counterpoint articles and the responses to them. And of course, just for its longevity, the "Little Birdy" thread (simply because every trade deadline brings back references to it). But, of all of them, I would say seeing Chuck in USA Today was my overall favorite. I have been able to do a lot of great things with the team because I live locally and write for the site. That's all because of the great groundwork that was established by Chuck and the others. Any time I can see him or some of our other writers do something fun with the team or published somewhere else, it makes me very proud of all that we have accomplished.

AngelsWin.com:  What in-person events have you attended from AngelsWin.com (Spring/Summer Fanfests, Charity Golf, Charity Softball)?

Dave Saltzer: I have attended them all and love them all! I still think back on the Hail Mary's days and wonder how we ever went from those little things to the fully orchestrated dinners that we now do for the Spring Training Fanfests. Every year I wonder how we can top them all off, and every year, we manage to do so. It's really a pleasure to see so many fans getting experiences that they can't get anywhere else with the team and getting to know so many of you in person.

AngelsWin.com:  Why is AngelsWin.com your internet home for the Angels?

Dave Saltzer: Because AngelsWin.com has the best, classiest, and greatest collection of Angels fans anywhere.

AngelsWin.com:  In your opinion, what is AngelsWin.com’s best feature: the articles, charitable events, game-day chat, message boards, Fanfests, podcasts, etc?

Dave Saltzer: The Spring Training Fanfests by far. I go through baseball withdrawals at the end of every season. Getting out to Spring Training, seeing all the players, having fun with so many of my friends, it just sets the season up perfectly! I can't help but leave excited for the upcoming year.

 Ligther Side

AngelsWin.com:  Where do you live and what do you do?

Dave Saltzer: I live in Tustin, CA with my wife and 3 sons, who occasionally provide me content for stories. When I'm not writing for AngelsWin.com, I am a high school science and history teacher in South Orange County. 

AngelsWin.com: Why are you an Angels fan?

Dave Saltzer: My grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins, they were all Dodgers fans (they lived in LA or the Valley). I was born in Orange County, and was proud of it! I hated all the Dodger coverage and always having to watch Dodgers games whenever we went over to their houses. I hated how my team was treated as the orphan child to that team up north.

However, the big connection for me came in 1986. I was diagnosed with bone cancer at the start of the year. At the time Mike Witt had a charity called "Strike Out Kids Cancer" in which he would donate money to pediatric cancer research for each strike out he had during the season. I was chosen to represent the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation to throw out the first pitch of the 1986 season to Mike Witt. My family bought a quarter of a season of tickets that year, and I went to the games. They were the comeback kids--such a great team and a great year. I was there when Dick Schoefield hit that grand slam to win the game against Detroit (my mom and I stayed to the bitter end since I had to go to the hospital to start another round of chemo the next day). I figured if the Angels could overcome that kind of deficit, then hell, I could beat cancer. I mean, cancer is one thing, but, coming back 8 runs in the 9th inning is quite another thing especially when the Angels are down to 1 strike and Dick Schoefield was at the plate. It became a running joke in my family whenever something bad happened. My dream would be to throw out the opening day pitch in 2036 to Mike Witt and have enough money to make a sizable donation to pediatric cancer research in honor of making it 50 years. 

AngelsWin.com:  What was your first Angels game that you remember? Who’d you go with?

Dave Saltzer: I can remember going to see Nolan Ryan with my grandparents back in 1975 or 1976. I can't remember the exact year (I was only 3 or 4), but we sat up high and I remember walking the ramps. After that, my cousin Ken would come down and take me to games and that was a lot of fun. He and I would go all around the stadium and have the greatest time. Prior to the game, Ken and I would sell Ocean Pacific "OP" shirts around the neighborhood to have enough money to buy food and tickets. Those were good days.

AngelsWin.com:  Who have been your favorite players? Why? Any great stories or interactions with them?

Dave Saltzer: The 1986 team will always hold a special place in my heart, for obvious reasons. And, the 2002 team will always be the team that did it all. My wife and I were at all the post season games in 2002. Try teaching when you've lost your voice cheering on your favorite team. Thank goodness we didn't have kids then so we could both go to all the games.

I remember following Tim Salmon as a prospect and seeing him become the Rookie of the Year was very special. As a member of the media, I have had plenty of fun and amazing experiences with lots of players (some of which can't be published). But three special interactions involve Jim Abbott, Dick Schoefield, and Gary Pettis.

After all the chemo, I went back to high school and through a strange set of circumstances (and thanks to the greatness of my high school baseball coach, Coach Ochoa), ended up on the high school baseball team. When the Angels drafted Jim Abbott, I had an instant hero. What he did to break down barriers for people with disabilities is something that should be remembered forever. He was an inspiration and motivation for me (I had my own disability) and ended up placing third in the state as a disabled scholar athlete. Last year I got to speak with Jim and told him how much he meant to me. He gave me the biggest hug and like a true hero, was more impressed with all that I had done than what he had accomplished. Jim Abbott is an incredible person and a true sports hero.

A couple of years ago, Dick Schoefield was the batting coach for one of the Angels Minor League teams. I told him about that story and how much that grand slam meant to me and my family. He too gave me a big hug and got the chills. He didn't realize how much doing something like that could mean to a person. It was a very special moment. 

Lastly, one of the things that I have always loved about the Angels is that so many of their players over the years have done so many philanthropic things--not because they had to--but because they wanted to. Most of these things have flown under the radar. To me, that's an even greater level of charity because they are doing so not to be recognized for their kindnesses, but because it's the right thing to do. One such player was Gary Pettis. When he played for the Angels, he sent fresh flowers to all the kids in CHOC (yellow daffodils). If you've ever spent a week in the hospital every month, especially in the wards at CHOC back in they day (when there were 4 kids in a room), it's a pretty dreary place. Anything to cheer it up is deeply appreciated. I ran into him at a charity event hosted by Eddie Guardado, and got to tell him how much those flowers meant to me and all the other kids in the hospital. Like Jim and Dick, he too got very emotional, gave me the biggest hug. He had never met anyone who had benefited from his kindness all those years ago, and that was a very special moment for me.

Being able to say thank you to my heroes and to people who made my life better has been the greatest gift and interactions that I have ever had.

AngelsWin.com:  How do you survive the offseason?

Dave Saltzer: Thank G-d for the Hot Stove! The internet has made life a little more bearable in the offseason. I will never forget the day the website blew up when it became clear that we were going to Pujols and Wilson.

Outside of that, I bury myself in my work trying and laugh as hard as I can at the silliness that is high school (there is nothing more comical that a 9th grader--they are so gullible and precocious that it makes for a good laugh every day).

AngelsWin.com: What’s one thing you’d like everyone in AngelsWin.com to know about you?

Dave Saltzer: I really do appreciate all your feedback and comments on my writing. Thank you for being such great fans!
Love to hear what you think!

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