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Sometimes in life, you experience something unexpected that really causes you to stop and think. I recently experienced a rather emotional “unexpected moment” in Detroit, Michigan. Let me explain.

Although I have lived in North Dakota for many decades, I actually grew up in Michigan and graduated from high school there. As a boy, I was a big sports fan, and I loved the Detroit Tigers baseball team. They were my heroes, and I loved everything about them. I followed their statistics, read everything I could about each player, and of course, I listened to every game I could on the radio. My family lived about 65 miles north of Tiger Stadium, and it was a big event when I got to go to Tiger Stadium to watch a Tigers game. All-in-all, I got to go to 20 Tigers’ baseball games before I graduated and left Michigan. In those games, the Tigers won/loss record was 17-3. I got to see many great players, like Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Harmon Killebrew, Whitey Ford, Jim Palmer, and Yogi Berra. One time, I even caught a foul ball hit by future Hall-of-Famer, Al Kaline. I still have that ball today.

Well, last week, my business meeting got finished early one day, so I thought I’d try to find the spot where the beautiful old Tiger Stadium used to be. It was built in 1912 and torn down 6-7 years ago. When I drove to the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumball, I was awestruck to discover that although the stadium was gone, the playing field remained intact and completely surrounded by a security fence. It was rather amazing to peek through the fence and see the infield, pitcher’s mound, the outfield grass, and even the old flag pole in center field still standing. My mind was flooded with memories as I stood there and remembered games from my boyhood. I remembered a brilliant 2-hit shutout Whitey Ford pitched on opening day and a monster home run that Mickey Mantle hit that went completely out of the stadium. I also remembered a home run my favorite player, Rocky Colavito, hit that bounced off that flag pole in deep center field.

I decided to walk around the entire fenced-in area so I could view the playing field from every angle. As I walked, I though that this must be the only place in America where the remains of an old major league playing field are still intact, even after the stadium was torn down. I have no idea how long this historic property will remain, but seeing how Detroit is struggling so badly economically, it might be here for a while. Commercial property in the city isn’t exactly in high demand.

As I was walking the perimeter of the playing field, I began to look for someplace where I might be able to squeeze through the fence to get inside. It seemed impossible until I came to the only remaining part of Tiger Stadium that still stands — the 1930s art deco iron gates that protected the players’ parking lot. OK, I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but the old locking gate looked rusty enough that I thought it might open if I gave it a good kick. I did, and guess what? It opened up… and I was suddenly inside. At the very moment I walked through the gate, my head started spinning. I know this will sound a little sappy, but my knees got weak, and I actually felt a little lightheaded. I’m not kidding. Could it be that I was actually going to get to walk onto the playing field where I’d watched so many of my heroes perform? It was truly a life-changing moment for me as I walked toward home plate.

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As I stood at home plate, in the batter’s box where players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig, Joe Dimaggio, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Hank Aaron once stood, I felt humbled. I walked to the pitcher’s mound where Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Nolan Ryan, and Christy Mattewson once pitched. It was about the coolest thing I’d ever done. The spooky thing was I was there all alone. It was a beautiful day in Detroit, and there was not another person in sight. Nowhere. I was able to enjoy the experience all to myself. It was glorious. And, yes, as silly as it may seem to some, I ran the bases and imagined I was beating the throw to home plate to win the game for the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth. I was sure I could hear the fans cheering…

My name is Mike Stevens, and I am a Tiger.

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If there’s a more provocative topic in the printing industry, I’m not sure what could generate more debate and opinion than whether or not employees should be allowed to use personal cell phones on company time.

Do you allow employees to use personal cell phones while on the clock at your printing firm?

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a groundswell of large companies like FedEx and UPS banning employee cell phone usage at work. FedEx won’t even allow their employees to bring cell phones into the building. In the food and restaurant industry, which is heavily staffed by younger workers, cell phone abuse during work hours has gotten so chronically bad that many companies (like Dairy Queen) ask employees to sign a written statement saying they promise not to use their cell phone while working.

My oldest daughter, Paige, works at a popular Juice & Smoothie bar here in Fargo. Her boss has video cameras in the shop and a smartphone app that allows him to “visit” his juice bar remotely. She received this letter from her boss a few days ago:

Hey Ladies,

So I’m out of town checking in on our store, and I’m constantly seeing people on their cell phones. This is a BIG NO NO. I’m not paying you all to be on the clock and on your phones.

It doesn’t matter if there’s no one in the store.

If you are caught using your phone without permission, you will be written up. Then, if it happens again, you will be automatically TERMINATED on the spot.

Thanks,

Ed (name changed)

I’m not going to give advice here about what type of policy you need in your printing firm because I think this is a very personal — and difficult — decision every business owner is facing today. However, I do think it would be wise to reconsider your current company cell phone policy and possibly replace it with something more strict. There is a strong and growing momentum in the workplace to support the idea.

My name is Mike Stevens, and I am a printer.

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How to have a better brain

August 21, 2014

The LA Times recently completed an interesting four-part series on how learning and memory work. And the New York Times wrote about the importance of physical exercise for neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells). Did you even know it was possible to do something that would help your body create new brain cells? A […]

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Don’t be complicated

August 6, 2014

“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau Are you like I once was? Do you ever think that sometimes you make the simplest decision more complicated than it needs to be? Are you so addicted to trying to make things so perfect and impressive that they turn into a […]

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The 10 Commandments for a Printer’s Marriage

July 16, 2014

1. Don’t place others before one another. 2. Let nothing on earth become more important than your marriage. 3. Don’t bring a bad day at the print shop home with you. 4. Remember to worship together. 5. Love and accept one another’s family as your own. 6. Don’t harm one another with words, attitudes, or […]

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Don’t be a perfectionist

July 8, 2014

I have a deep commitment to quality and excellence. I try to do everything the very best way it can be done — but I work hard at not allowing myself to become a perfectionist. Why? Because trying to get it perfect will slow you down, frustrate your coworkers, and sometimes cause you to miss […]

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Don’t Let Others Steal Your Joy

June 17, 2014

You’ll always have grumpy customers, equipment breakdowns, slow payers, and bad weather. And then, of course, every printing company seems to have one irreplaceable co-worker who always seems to see the “negative” side of things or who makes a point to tell you all the reasons your new ideas won’t work. My solution: Keep smiling […]

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One printer’s story about losing weight and beating type 2 diabetes

June 3, 2014

Hi everyone, over the last two weeks, I shared my plan on how I was going to lose “10 pounds in 10 days.” As I blogged my daily progress each day, I often received feedback and encouragement from many of you. Many of the letters I received told stories about how others were also struggling […]

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Day #10 – Losing 10 pounds in 10 days

May 28, 2014

Beginning weight at the start –   210.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #1 –   208.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #2 –   206.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #3 –   205.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #4 –   204.75 pounds Weight at […]

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Day #9 – Losing 10 pounds in 10 days

May 27, 2014

Beginning weight at the start –   210.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #1 –   208.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #2 –   206.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #3 –   205.5 pounds Weight at the end of day #4 –   204.75 pounds Weight at […]

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