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BASEBALL EXTRA

Welcome to Springer Nation

Baseball: He has his own web site where fans can learn all about that knuckleball.

May 24, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal Ripken Jr. has appeared in 2,393 more major league games than Dennis Springer, and the Baltimore Oriole third baseman makes $6.6 million more a year than the Angel pitcher, but Springer is Ripken's equal in at least one category: Both have web sites.

Welcome to Springer Nation, the online page where the curious can bone up on an obscure knuckleballer who recorded his first big league victory as a 31-year-old rookie last season.

Two college kids, Kevin Collier of Cal Poly Pomona and John Tower of South Carolina, hatched the idea for Springer Nation when Springer went 14 1/3 innings without giving up a run during spring training of 1996.

"We thought maybe this guy was going to be the next Tim Wakefield," Collier said, "and Wakefield was coming off a big year."

Springer began 1996 with triple-A Vancouver, but Collier and Tower went ahead with the web site anyway, and they were rewarded when Springer was eventually called up to the Angels and went 5-6.

Springer was not even aware of the web site until a fan in Vancouver printed out a copy of it and showed it to the pitcher last season.

"It's pretty neat, actually," Springer said. "It's really up to date and there's some trivia questions. The guys have done a good job with it. I think it won a web site-of-the-week award."

Springer said he had no idea why someone would feature him on a web page, which can be reached at .

"I didn't know if it was because of the knuckleball, or what," he said. "They're in it to pump me up, I guess. They're big baseball fans. It's good because I have friends back East and old roommates who check it out."

Collier, who met Springer at a recent Angel game, said there are 57 people on Springer Nation's "citizen list," and that in addition to updates on Springer, there is trivia and other various tidbits.

"But actually," Collier admits, "you don't get much."

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