Beyond Left Field with Norm: Tracy Ringolsby

Tracy Ringolsby has won many awards in his career as a writer and baseball analyst. He is a the president of the Baseball Writers Association of America and has been a member since 1976. Ringolsby is the pre-game and post-game analyst for Root Sports telecasts of the Colorado Rockies and a columnist for MLB.com. He is also a columnist for Baseball America (which he is a co-founder of) and an insider for the MLB Network.

220px-Tracy_Ringolsby_2010Please tell us more about yourself.

Born in Cheyenne, Wyo., and have been able to move back to Cheyenne. Live northwest of Cheyenne on 100 acres with my wife and five horses. Heritage dates back to three of the four families who originally settled southeast Wyoming.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Will be tough to beat the weekend when I was allowed to be a part of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and recognized for winning the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. For a weekend the Hall of Famers went out of their way to allow my wife, daughter and myself to feel a legitimate part of the festivities. Then the real world set in. The award is special because it was voted on by my peers.

You are a co-founder of Baseball America, How did that get started?

Allan Simpson came to the Kingdome in September of 1980 and discussed the idea of a baseball publication. That was at a time when The Sporting News was eliminating minor league coverage. Allan had a background in player development/scouting. The decision was that to survive it was necessary to have a niche. The decision was made to focus on scouting and playing development. Simpson did the bulk of the work. My main purpose was to help in creating relationships with writers, and to vouch for the legitimacy of the operation. Without Allan none of it happens. It was enjoyable because nobody had ever spent any time on scouting. That first year, 1981, we created the mock draft for baseball, and developed such strong credibility and relationships in the scouting world that in the early 1990s, when baseball tried to block the release of draft information, we were able to attain complete draft lists.

Growing up who were your influences?

In life it was my father. He was a honest man respected for his integrity. He was run over by a train and lost his left leg at the age of 6 in 1913. He never considered himself handicap. He never asked for special considerations. He was respected for his integrity, and loyalty. Professionally, Jim Flinchum, the editor of the Wyoming State Tribune and my first boss, was huge. He taught we responsibilities of our business and really created by love for the profession. He made it clear early on that if you were in the business to get rich you not only were in the wrong business but had the wrong priorities.

Who did you follow growing up? Was there a certain team or player?

Baseball in general. I always liked the underdogs.

The current players today, who do you enjoy watching?

I’ve been fortunate to watch Todd Helton from Day 1.
During my career I’ve been blessed, having the ability to cover on a regular basis the likes of George Brett when I covered Kansas City, Nolan Ryan with the California Angels and Texas Rangers, Larry Walker with Colorado, and Don Baylor as a player with the Angels and a manager/coach with Colorado.

I know it’s a hot topic, but, should someone who tests positive for PED’s be eligible for induction for the hall of fame?

If a player is eligible to be on the ballot then they should be inducted if their career merits it. There have been PEDs since the beginning. They become more refined over time, but that does not erase the fact that athletes have always looked for an edge and have crossed the line to help their success level.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Never lose sight of an appreciaton for the game, and remember the readers enjoy the game or they wouldn’t be reading you so don’t feel you have to attack. Learn to talk to people with the notebook closed. Spend time worrying more about being factual than first.

If I was coming to Denver for a game, give me a couple of places that I must see.

Not really a great Denver tour guide. I live northwest of Cheyenne, a little over two hours away, and spend what little free time I have at home. I will say on a Saturday night I love going to the Buckhorn Exchange and listening to Bill Barwick, an old-time western musician. The Denver Zoo is exciting. There is an African American Western Heritage Center and tries to document the fole of the African American in settling the West. More than 30 percent of the cowboys were African Americans, primarily freed slaves. If you were in Denver you would serve yourself well to take the couple hour drive to Wyoming’s Snowy Range.

Final question, What are your top five songs of all time?

1. He Stopped Lover Her Today by George Jones’ 2. 8 Second Ride by Chris LeDoux. 3. Ragtime Cowboy Joe by University of Wyoming Pep Band in its Friday Night tour of Laramie. 4. Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine by Tom T. Hall. 5. Sipping Champagne by Bill Mack.

Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with 9 Inning Know it All.