Job Seeker Journals: Darius Thigpen’s Year in Review

I am currently recruiting PBEO Job Fair attendees to write about their Winter Meetings job-seeking experience. With that in mind, throughout the next week I’ll be running guest posts from last year’s crop of Job Seeker Journal writers. Today we hear from Darius Montez-Thigpen, who recaps an exhilarating and unpredictable year. 


About this time a year ago I made a bold move, a bold move in a year that was defined by bold moves. I called the 2014 Orange Bowl for Ohio State student radio (one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen live), I underwent surgery, I graduated from college, I took a part-time job in a town I had never heard of and then I decided to go to San Diego to find a job in baseball. It was a crazy year, but a great one.

That November I decided that I wanted to go to the Winter Meetings to find a job in baseball. I knew what I wanted to be — a play-by-play broadcaster — but didn’t know what the path would be. Then it dawned on me that the Winter Meetings would be a tremendous starting point to find a legit play-by-play job. I’d heard Colin Cowherd talk about how he got his first job in baseball after showing up to one of the meetings and marketing himself to executives in the minors. He found work, so why wouldn’t I?

I had already completed an internship under Columbus Clippers broadcasters Ryan Mitchell and Scott Leo, and was at the time working with IMG in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I felt like I had a good shot to get a job, or at the very least leave an impression on several people in the industry. I ended up applying for 15 jobs, which resulted in seven interviews. I felt pretty good about the situation.

I didn’t get a job. That wasn’t fun.

As disappointing as that was, things did work out. I ended up taking a job with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the baseball season. I worked under Matt Provence and Jon Schaeffer and had a great experience in The Valley. As it turned out, a chance conversation with Jon would change my life.

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Before working with the IronPigs, Jon was a broadcaster with the Lynchburg Hillcats. During the offseason he called basketball games for the then-Division II Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia (don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of that town either). Jon got a heads-up from one of the guys at Longwood that there was an opening for a position that is very similar to what most Minor League broadcasters do: a  Sports Information Director position with play-by-play duties for the now Division I Lancers of the Big South. The position would be full-time. Jon said I should apply. I did, thinking that it would be similar to the Winter Meetings. I could meet some influential people and, at least, become someone that they’d heard of.

I got the job.

It’s not that I wasn’t prepared for an offer or that I was even particularly nervous about going through the application process (the Winter Meetings got me ready for interviews in a rapid, speed-dating type atmosphere). It was just that it was simply too good to be true. Over the course of 17 months I went from a recent college graduate facing unemployment to a man getting to do exactly what he always wanted to do. I’d say I’m blessed beyond measure, but I think that still doesn’t do justice to just how amazing this all is.

The Winter Meetings prepared me for interviewing and it prepared me to go through a rigorous process of preparation and anticipation. Most importantly, getting rejected by seven organizations allowed me to focus on my weaknesses. I got great feedback from every organization, which helped take me to the next level. I also got to meet a ton of great people.

Seriously. The people in baseball are awesome. Ben Hill (in addition to apparently being a teacher back in the day) is a fantastic wordsmith with wordplay that packs a pun-ch (I had to).

I met Ben Gellman-Chomsky and Brandon Liebhaber at the Winter Meetings as we were each looking for jobs. They were 1000% more successful than myself. Ben landed with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League. Brandon became THE guy (like, the No. 1 guy) with the Jackson Generals in the Southern League.

I also met Jesse Goldberg-Strassler in San Diego. He wasn’t looking for employment (he holds down a position with the Lansing Lugnuts), but it was awesome connecting with him as he knows Ryan Mitchell from back in the day. I’m an Ohio State alumnus and Philadelphia sports fan. He’s a DMV guy who’s all about the Maryland Terps (B1G) and Washington teams, so there is direct competition between our favorite teams. Plus, we’re both all about Aaron McGruder’s “Boondocks”. Jesse has a way with the art of written language. I own his “Baseball Thesaurus”, and without any prompting or bribing I recommend you buy it.

I can go on for a while about how great the people I’ve met in Minor League Baseball are, but Ben gave me about 1000 words as a cap, so I’ll be brief. You need to work at least one season in the minors to experience what is almost too great for words to describe.

Going to the Winter Meetings is perfect if you’re in need of a first job, looking to meet new people, learn what else is going on in baseball or even if you just want an excuse to reconnect with friends from across the country that you’ve made within the industry. There’s something for everyone.

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If you’re at this year’s Winter Meetings say hi to my man Antonio Venegas (he’s the guy to the far left in the above group picture).

Whether you are hired on the spot or if you go without an interview, you’re definitely making the right decision by going to Nashville. Good luck!

Thanks, Darius.

Job Seeker Journals: A Look Back

After reading my previous post looking for new Winter Meetings Job Seeker Journal writers, you may find yourself wondering, “What is this all about? What did previous Job Seeker Journals look like? And who were the writers?”

This post is here to answer those questions, by providing links to the last three years’ worth of Job Seeker Journals. Click on each writer’s name to see all of their posts.

At the 2014 Winter Meetings in San Diego, these four individuals chronicled their experiences:

Darius Thigpen, Julie Brady, Katie Carlson, Sean Banks


In 2013, this quartet wrote about their comings and goings in Orlando:

Kasey Decker, Ian Fontenot, Meredith Perri, Alex Reiner


Nashville was the location in 2012, when this foursome dutifully detailed their time in the Music City:

Clint Belau, Chris Miller, Eric Schmitz, Linda Le


In 2015, we once again return to Nashville.

If you’ll be looking for a job at the Winter Meetings and want to write about it, then read the previous post and get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.

Help Wanted: Job Seeker Journal Writers

The Baseball Winter Meetings are scheduled to take place from Dec. 6-9 at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. A key component of this multi-faceted and increasingly massive event is the annual PBEO Job Fair, in which industry aspirants seek to secure professional baseball employment.


Looking for a job at the Winter Meetings is equal parts exhilarating and maddening, as hundreds of seekers vie to land a geographically and economically appropriate position. Some are content with securing an internship — anything to get that proverbial foot in the door — while others have already gone this route and are now intent on full-time employment. Some are just out of (or still in) college, while others are taking a leap of faith by trying to break into baseball after having started out within a different line of work.

Every story is unique and worth sharing. In 2015, as during the previous three Winter Meetings, I will run a series of Job Seeker Journal guest posts on this blog (these will also be compiled and featured daily on Therefore:

Are YOU attending the Winter Meetings as a Job Seeker?

Do you want to write about it?

If so, please get in touch — — with a photo of yourself and the following information:

— Name, Age, Hometown, College, Twitter Handle (if applicable)

— Prior Sports Industry Experience (if applicable)

— Why do you want to work in baseball?

— Why do you want to write about it?

— One random fact about yourself (this can, literally, be anything)


Emails from interested Job Seeker Journal writers must be received within one week from today: the deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. ET. Three individuals will be chosen (selected by myself, with input from an esteemed group of colleagues), and introduced in Dec. 4’s “Minoring in Business” feature on (This feature will include your answers to the above questions, similar to THIS, from last year). Selected journal writers will be responsible for writing four entries during the Winter Meetings, one for each day (Sunday through Wednesday).

This is a great opportunity to share your unique perspective on a baseball career rite of passage, and, who knows? The exposure you get from these journals could, for better or for worse, help separate yourself from what is always a crowded field of candidates.

If you have any questions, then do not hesitate to get in touch. Good luck and hope to hear from you!

New Logo Round-Up: Fierce, Streamlined and Verdant

So, didja miss me? What’s that? You didn’t even know that I was gone? Ah, well, whatever. The important thing is that I’m back from vacation and now fully in “offseason mode.” I have nothing left to write regarding my 2015 ballpark travels, but, when one dwells fully within the world of Minor League Baseball, there is always something to write about.

Today, that something will be a full-to-bursting bouillabaisse concerning all of the new Minor League logos that were unveiled when I was outta sight and outta mind. Let’s get to it, lest it get to us.

Kane County Cougars — For the first 25 years of their existence, the Kane County Cougars held the distinction of “Minor League team whose primary logo looks most like a Boy Scout merit badge.” I always kind of liked it, at least because it was so out of place in the current Minor League landscape.

oldkcThe Cougars unveiled an entirely new logo set on November 10. The Cougar in question, previously a blank slate upon which we could project our own emotional interpretation, is now fierce.


The logos were designed by Studio Simon, in conjunction with Cougars graphic designer Emmet Broderick. The team is now one of a select handful in Minor League Baseball whose wardrobe includes a lime green alternate jersey.


Bowling Green Hot Rods — When the Hot Rods played their inaugural season, way back in 2009, they looked like this:


And now, after just six seasons, the club has completely overhauled its look. The old logo was designed by Brandiose (then known as Plan B Branding); these new marks are courtesy of SME. I don’t really know much about SME, as they are not a firm that has had many Minor League clients. I guess I’ll have to learn.


If you’re looking for a relevant excerpt from the accompanying Hot Rods story, then boy are you in luck:

[Hot Rods general manager Adam] Nuse said the variety of colors and the shape of the old logo presented challenges to the team, especially when it came to merchandise.

“We’re certainly happy with [the new look]. Previously, we had a lot of different colors, and now we’re kind of focusing on the navy and the orange. It simplifies things a bit and makes it a little more modern. Our new logos are a little more symmetric than the other ones. I really liked our old logos, but they made it hard graphically — they created some centering issues — and I think our new stuff avoids those. They’re easier to fit on graphic pieces and merchandise.”

New Hampshire Fisher Cats — You may remember reading, here or elsewhere, that the New Hampshire Fisher Cats were originally called the “New Hampshire Primaries.” The franchise never played a game as the “Primaries”, however, because the local stick-in-the-mud population was thoroughly against it.


Still, the Fisher Cats continue to have fun with their what-coulda-been “Primaries” identity. Take it away, press release, and never come back:


As the Granite State celebrates the 100th anniversary of its presidential primary, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have launched a campaign of their own, “We the Fans 2016.” The interactive campaign will allow fans across the country to participate in New Hampshire’s rich political history by casting votes for the official game hat to be worn by the Fisher Cats on Opening Day, April 14, 2016.

Voting…will take place on the new voting website, The initial question will ask fans nationwide to determine which hat the Fisher Cats wear for the first game next season – a blue hat with a donkey logo or a red hat with an elephant logo. The two logos are throwbacks to the Fisher Cats’ original name, the New Hampshire Primaries, and will be accompanied by the team’s bipartisan jersey that is half red and half blue with ‘Fisher Cats’ in script across the chest.

This is the first time that I’ve encountered the phrase “bipartisan jersey” and I pray that it will not be the last. I voted on Tuesday morning, at which point the votes were evenly split, but at the end of the day the Donkey was winning in 48 of 50 states. One of the two states in which the Elephant was winning was New Hampshire.

Omaha Storm ChasersOmaha’s Pacific Coast League franchise switched its name from the “Royals” to the “Storm Chasers” prior to the 2011 season. The Royals affiliation remained, however, and now it is receiving an increased emphasis via the Storm Chasers’ new uniforms.

That one on the bottom right, it’s called the “Vortex.”


The press release, the embodiment of all Earthly knowledge, contains the following quote:

“In light of the Royals’ World Series Championship, there is no better time to further connect our two franchises, part of which is shown with these new jerseys,” said Storm Chasers President and General Manager Martie Cordaro. “From adding blue to our road jersey and with an all-new alternate powder blue jersey, we are now aligned with the color-scheme of our parent club’s primary three jerseys.”

In conjunction with the uniform unveiling, the Storm Chasers also announced that they have extended their affiliation with the Royals through the 2018 season. This affiliation, which began in 1969, is the longest in Triple-A baseball.

Appalachian League — Prior to this offseason, I can’t remember the last time a new league-specific logo was unveiled. This is, most likely, because I have a bad memory. Last month, the Southern League unveiled a new logo. And, last week, the Appalachian League followed suit:


One thing that these two new league logos have in common is that they were both designed by Todd Radom.

“The goal was to create something timeless, but built with digital platforms and the varied needs of the 21st century firmly in mind,” said Radom. “The results embrace baseball’s time-honored visual culture with a verdant palette that celebrates the traditions of baseball, the sport of summer.”

“Verdant Palette” would be a great name for a college football player.

On the Road: Father, son and lobster in Portland

To see all posts from my September 4, 2015 visit to the Portland Sea Dogs (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

Embden, a small town in central Maine, is surrounded by the Kennebec and Carrabassett Rivers. The town’s website declares that its current population is an estimated 939 people, who are “proud of our history and optimistic about our future.”

I met two of those proud and optimistic people at the Sept. 4 Portland Sea Dogs game: Erik Carey and his 11-year-old son, Luke.

047Embden is over 100 miles north of Portland; one would think that would be a prohibitive distance for Erik and Luke to travel on a regular basis. But if one would think that, then one would think wrong.

Erik and Luke are Sea Dogs season-ticket holders, who regularly make the long drive to Hadlock Field together.

“My wife has been to one game, my daughter has been to one. I think Luke and I have been to about 30,” said Erik, an eighth-grade teacher with 20 years of experience in the education field.

On these frequent father and son excursions to Hadlock Field, Dad drives while his son reads. These trips are so long and so frequent that Luke was able to read the bulk of the entire Harry Potter series while riding alongside his dad on trips to and from the ballpark.

On this particular evening, Erik and Luke varied up their Sea Dogs routine by serving as my designated eaters (you know, the individuals recruited to consume the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits).

We began at the Shipyard Brew Pen, located at the far end of the third-base line.


Shortly after we arrived in the area, there was a commotion behind us — shouts, squeals, nervous glances toward the sky and the sound of uncertain footsteps.

A foul ball was headed our way!

Erik dove for cover, but Luke kept his eyes on the prize. The ball bounced off of the asphalt and onto the roof of the Brew Pen, whereupon it rolled straight down and into Luke’s waiting hands.

Congratulations to Luke, the first-ever designated eater to snag a foul ball.


The Shipyard Brew Pen sells lobster rolls, and when in Maine, you’ve gotta get a lobster roll. Right?

The Sea Dogs’ lobster rolls are provided by Beal’s Lobster Pier.


Now it was Erik’s time to shine.

“This is pretty good…” Erik began.

“But not as good as my catch!” interrupted Luke, still psyched to have snagged an official game-used Eastern League ball. But back to Erik:

“Uh, um, uh, there’s so much pressure,” he said, searching for a way to describe the lobster roll. “Let me take one more bite.”

043“Does it taste like an egg salad?” asked Luke.

“No…” said Erik, still at a loss for words. He and Luke then commiserated briefly, using teamwork to come up with the following lobster roll description:

“The creaminess of the lobster melds well with the crunch of the bread.”

Erik, like the lobster, was now on a roll.

“The best part is that that the meat is not rubbery, and the sauce, there’s just enough,” he continued. “I’m really getting the lobster taste, not the mayonnaise.”

“Hey, you’re doing good!” said Luke.

“Yeah. Thanks, Buddy.”

For dessert, it was my duty to procure Luke and Erik a Muddy Biscuit from a concourse concession stand such as this.


New for the 2015 season, the Muddy Biscuit is a chocolate-dipped variation of the Hadlock Field treat known as the Sea Dog Biscuit: Shain’s of Maine vanilla ice cream served between two chocolate chip cookies.

Luke, introducing the Muddy Biscuit:

Like father, like son.

046Luke is no stranger to Sea Dog Biscuits and Muddy Biscuits, estimating that he’d had about “40 or 50” of them this season.

“This makes me sound like a bad parent,” said Erik. “Just wait until Mom reads this. … See, it’s not the cost of the travel down here. It’s not the cost of the tickets. I’m getting crushed by him at the concession stand.”

Luke wasn’t phased by his Dad’s accusations. He was lost in a dessert-based reverie.

“Would you say that the cookies and the ice cream complement one another? I’d say they do.”

“I don’t know,” replied Erik, before deciding that Luke’s Muddy Biscuit hypothesis was dead on. “It’s the perfect combination of a baked good and ice cream. Separate they are awesome, but when you put two great things together, you can’t go wrong.”

This sounded like an analogy for the father-and-son relationship — “When you put two great things together, you can’t go wrong.” Seeking to give Erik a rare upper hand in the dialogue, I asked Luke, “On a scale of 1-10, how thankful are you that your Dad takes you to these games?”

After much hemming and hawing, Luke grudgingly replied “10.”

“See, he doesn’t want to say anything nice about me,” said Erik. “Because he knows that I’ll remind him at the most inopportune moment.”

Note: My 2015 “On the Road” blog posts and articles are now finished. Thanks to everyone who followed along, and please feel free to get in touch any time about anything. Now the offseason truly begins. I’m going on vacation.

On the Road: The Maine Event in Portland

To see all posts from my September 4, 2015 visit to the Portland Sea Dogs (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

“This place smells good and looks good.”

The above sentence is scrawled in my notebook, on one of the pages dedicated to chronicling my evening at Hadlock Field. So, yeah, I was in a pretty good mood during this Friday evening ballgame against the New Britain Rock Cats. (Yes, the same New Britain Rock Cats who had already played their final home game, and who were now in the midst of their last-ever series.)

029Even the Trash Monster was smelling pretty good on this idyllic late-summer evening.

030Yes, you can actually throw your trash inside the Trash Monster. He is an anthropomorphic garbage can, and his diligent research on my part resulted me in learning that his favorite movie is The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon

I was particularly happy to have run into the Trash Monster, as I ended up missing out on some other key elements of the Sea Dogs’ gameday experience. The “Lobster Toss” between-inning contest occurred when I was at the concession stands with my designated eater, so I was unable to document that grand Portland tradition. Furthermore, I never got to see the “Home Run Lighthouse” emerge from beyond the center field wall, as no Sea Dogs players went deep in the ballgame. Spoiler alert! The Sea Dogs failed to score even a single run.

But life goes on, long after the thrill of blogging about it is gone. After saying goodbye to Trash Monster, I went upstairs to visit the press box.

036The view from the radio booth is a particularly good one.

IMG_0432And it’s probably even better once stuffed Slugger no longer blocks the view.

IMG_0431With this as my vantage point, I spent an inning on the radio with Sea Dogs broadcaster Mike Antonellis. That’s Mike on the left, and on the right is….is…I’m sorry, I can’t read my notes. Please forgive me, sir, and tell me your name one more time as it has slipped just beyond memory’s reach.


Update: His name’s Mark!


The path from the press box down to the front office is a treacherous one.

033But I didn’t go that route. I took the elevator, under the watchful eye of Slugger.

I was now closer to the ground.

037The ballgame was played with grace and alacrity, moving at a jackrabbit clip throughout. After meeting with my designated eater — this will be documented in the next post — it was already the seventh inning. The scoreboard contained nothing but zeroes and the denizens of the visitor’s bullpen were growing restless.

049I didn’t get a good photo, but here’s Frank the usher leading the crowd in the requisite between-inning version of “Sweet Caroline.”

051Frank, a retired postal worker, used be an usher at Fenway Park. I caught up with him after the game; note that he is singing into a plastic American Idol microphone and that his name tag reads “Neil Diamond.”

064Time was running out, and my opportunities to document new stadium vantage points was running out right along with it. With grace and alacrity, moving at a jackrabbit clip, I set my coordinates for the pavilion seats in right field.

I took this photo en route, simply because right angles are not common within seating bowl curvature.

054 This entire right field section emulates the “Monster Seats” at Fenway Park. Here’s the view from the last row.

055To my right was a giant inflatable L.L. Bean boot.

056The Rock Cats finally broke through with three runs in the eighth inning. As the bottom of the ninth approached, the score remained 3-0. Slugger tried to rev up the crowd with a skit in which he dressed up as Rocky, which is weird because the mascot of the opposing team is actually named Rocky.

The Sea Dogs bullpen was like, “Whatever, dude. Can’t you just get to the end of this post? It’s, like, November now. It’s time to move on.”

061The inimitably-named Forrestt Allday singled to lead off the ninth, but that was followed by a double play and a strikeout.


The game was over, having taken just two hours and one minute to play.

My last act of the game — and the season — was to record my requisite Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day. (And, yes, it was “Bark in the Park Night.” I just didn’t get any good dog photos.)

I’ve got nothing left to write.

On the Road: Replica Monsters and Big Boots in Portland

To see all posts from my September 4, 2015 visit to the Portland Sea Dogs (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

There are seven Minor League Baseball teams in New England, distributed with admirable equity on a state-by-state basis. There are two in Connecticut and one each in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. I have already documented my ballpark visits to all of the teams in all of these states, save for one.

Did I save the best for last? You tell me.

Yes, my ballpark travels culminated in Portland, Maine. Not only was Hadlock Field my last stop of the 2015 season, it was also the last Eastern League team I had yet to visit. When I arrived at the ballpark, it was with a sense of satisfaction, exhaustion, anticipation and sadness. It was all going to end here, at a ballpark that opened in 1994 and has hosted the Sea Dogs ever since. (The Sea Dogs were one of two Eastern League expansion teams in 1994; this expansion was a result of the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies joining the MLB ranks.)

004Slugger the Sea Dog has some serious musculature in that left arm of his, as he is able to perpetually hoist up a bulky electronic sign without breaking a sweat.

003If one were to turn around 180 degrees, and look in the same direction that Slugger is looking, one would see a tableau similar to the following. Hadlock Field is located in Portland proper, just off of route 295, west of the heart of downtown.

006Just down the street, on the first-base side of the stadium, stands a statue of a different sort. This, the work of sculptor Rhonda Sherbell, is called “American Baseball Family.” It was installed in 2007, and the source of at least one hilarious and oft-maddening Baseball Think Factory thread.


I think the Dad has gotten fed up for some reason, and now trying to sell the tickets to a more baseball-worthy family. The boy is like “Are you kidding me?” while Mom has her hands full to the point where she doesn’t really care one way of the other.

002Mom just can’t seem to shake that Teddy Bear from her palm. That thing must’ve been coated with adhesive.

007Upon arriving, I was welcomed as a visiting celebrity should be welcomed.

010My logo was designed by Sean Kane. The Sea Dogs logo was designed by cartoonist Guy Gilchrist, who is probably best known for writing and drawing Nancy. It just occurred to me that “Sluggo” is a key character in the Nancy strip, and Slugger is the Sea Dogs mascot. I think some sort of Nancy and Slugger mash-up is in order. How about it, Mr. Gilchrist?

Hadlock Field’s outfield is a colorful cornucopia of props, signage and seats. On the far right in the below photo, mostly obscured, is a pavilion featuring Fenway-emulating “Monster Seats.” There is also an inflatable L.L. Bean boot, installed atop the elevated outfield bullpens.

008Here’s a closer look at the boot. Note that a pitcher is warming up in front of the “SymQuest” sign. There is also a sign for Bangor Savings Bank, and who knows? Maybe that’s where Stephen King keeps his money.


From 1994 through 2002, the Sea Dogs were a Marlins affiliate. This made sense — the Sea Dogs owe their existence to MLB’s 1993 expansion — but was obviously less than ideal. The team became a Boston affiliate in 2003, however, and this obviously was ideal as Portland is most certainly a part of Red Sox Nation.

Hadlock Field’s “Green Monster” was added prior to the 2003 season in celebration of the affiliation; the Sea Dogs’ Monster is the same height as Fenway (37 feet) and even includes the names of Sea Dogs owners Dan and Bunny Burke in Morse Code on the scoreboard (the Yawkeys are immortalized similarly at Fenway). Dan Burke died in 2011, and his son Bill now serves as team chairman. Former Eastern League president Charlie Eshbach, the 2013 “King of Baseball,” was the Sea Dogs’ first employee and team president.


The home dugout looks normal enough…

012 …except that there is a toilet located at the far end (as in the end closest to first base). I don’t think I’d ever seen a toilet in the dugout before. Usually the closest one is in the clubhouse, or in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.

At first I thought that Slugger was reprimanding me for taking video and photos of the dugout bathroom.

015But it turns out that he was just Voguing.


Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it

Before leaving the field for less-greener pastures, I interviewed Sea Dogs pitcher Matt McCarthy about his charity work in general and involvement with Baseball Miracles in particular. It’s a worthwhile story.

Meanwhile, the gates had opened and fans were streaming into the concourse. It was the Friday of Labor Day weekend, and the number of fans wearing shorts and a long-sleeve shirts illustrates summer’s transition into fall.

018The Friday of Labor Day weekend was a pretty good night to attend a game, but, of course and as always, it wasn’t the best game that I could have been in attendance. If I had only come two days later, I would have witnessed the Sea Dogs’ signature “Field of Dreams Game.” The players, wearing 1926 Portland Eskimos uniforms, literally emerge from a cornfield en route to mingling with the fans and thanking them for their support.

field of dreamsNothing of that magnitude was going on this evening, however. Dustin Pedroia was being inducted onto the team’s Wall of Fame, but this was done in absentia as Dustin was otherwise engaged in Boston. Sea Dogs media relations director Chris Cameron, who was very helpful both before and during my visit, can be seen in the plaque’s reflection. Hi, Chris.

011Dustin is one of many Sea Dogs to have made it to the Majors. This list is alphabetical; knuckleballer Charlie Zink is the last one on it.


And as for Hadlock Field itself? It was named after a local high school baseball coach.


Meanwhile, back out on the field, the game was rapidly approaching. Patriotic songs were in the process of being sung.

023And then it was time to play ball.

027Hadlock Field is beautiful, and there is still much more to come. My 2015 season in blogging ain’t quite done yet.

On the Road: The Kids are Alright in Vermont

To see all posts from my July 11, 2015 visit to the Vermont Lake Monsters (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

As mentioned previously, my visit to Burlington, Vermont to see the Lake Monsters was not part of my end-of-season New England road trip. It was a standalone visit that took place on July 11, which I have since shoehorned into my larger New England narrative.


Centennial Field, home of the Vermont Lake Monsters. July 11, 2015

When in Vermont I stayed in neighboring Hinesburg with my cousin, Ali, her husband Jim, and their two kids Jason and Becca. (I call Ali my cousin, but her Mom and my Dad are cousins so technically I think we’re “first cousins once removed.” And her kids are, what? Second cousins once removed? It gets confusing really quickly.)

Ali, Jason and Becca accompanied me to July 11’s Lake Monsters game at Centennial Field, and I recruited the latter two to serve as my designated eaters (you know, the individuals recruited to consume the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.)

Jason and Becca were joined in this endeavor by Jason’s friend, Devon. Jason and Devon are in fifth grade, while Becca is in second grade. Let’s meet them:

Centennial Field is the oldest stadium in Minor League Baseball (the grandstand was built in 1922, but games have been played there dating back to 1906). Operationally speaking, the Lake Monsters don’t have the capabilities to offer a wide array of outlandish and/or regionally specific items (the bread and butter of most of my food posts).

Furthermore, my designated eaters, being kids, did not have the most sophisticated palettes. They wanted the basics anyway, and the Lake Monsters are adept at providing the basics.

029Thus, we have Jason with a double cheeseburger…

034…Becca with a personal cheese pizza…

033…and Devon with a foot-long hot dog.

035This was all taking place within the picnic area located down the third base line.

036Let’s begin with Jason’s double cheeseburger, which he had kept in a pristine, condiment-free state:

030“I don’t like ketchup or mustard,” said Jason. “Mustard tastes weird. And I don’t like relish. I just don’t like it.”

He was far more charitable toward the cheeseburger itself, remarking that “It’s good. The cheese is actually melted and the bun is good, too. A double burger may sound like a lot, but it’s actually the perfect amount.”

As for what food he’d like to see at the ballpark, Jason said that it’d be great if the Lake Monsters sold Moe’s tacos. He then recanted this sentiment, wisely stating that “I take it back. I don’t want chains, I want people to know about local restaurants. So how about Public House? They have good baseball food, I think.”

Our focus then turned toward Becca’s pizza.


Becca, in this case, was a second-grader of few words.

“I think it’s really good,” she said. “The sauce is really good.”

She then added that her ideal ballpark food would be “Strawberry and chocolate donuts, and maybe even some coconuts.”

Becca might be the first kid in the history of kids to like coconuts.

Finally, we have Devon’s foot-long hot dog. Like his buddy Jason, Devon eschews condiments. Perhaps this is why they are friends.

031“I like ketchup but only on fries,” said Devon, seeking to clarify that he did not have an across-the-board anti-condiment philosophy. “This is the longest hot dog I’ve ever seen. I wish that on ‘Hot Dog Heaven Day’ [when the Lake Monsters sell hot dogs for a quarter] they would launch these into the stands.”

As for how the hot dog tasted, Devon offered a single word in response: “Good.” He then explained that his ideal ballpark food would be “Pizza and then edible baseballs. Like, a sphere cake, vanilla, with white frosting and red stitches.”

“They could call it ‘Cake Me Out to the Ballgame,'” I said in response. This was followed by an unamused silence.

Edible baseballs were not available as a dessert option. But Chesster’s ice cream cookie sandwiches, a Vermont convenience store staple, were agreed by all to be an acceptable alternative.

037Becca, Jason and Devon ate in unison.

038“The cookies are really good. They’re not hard and they don’t crumble,” said Jason.

“They’re really good with the creamy ice cream in the middle,” added Becca, who, for the record is also capable of making a funny face while eating a Chesster’s ice cream cookie sandwich.

039With the designated eating complete, I asked Devon, Jason and Becca how they would rate the experience on a scale of “One to 275,550.”

Devon: 2,700

Jason: 4/5ths.

Becca: What was the highest number again? [I told her.] Okay, that.

Alright, then. Any final words before we wrap this up?

Becca: Kids ruin everything. Except me. I’m awesome.

Jason: I would recommend going to Vermont if you’re close by. Except for Essex. Don’t go to Essex.

[Note: Jason and and Devon are on the same hockey team, and Essex is their biggest rival.] 

Devon: If you’re near the Vermont Lake Monsters stadium and they’re in town, then you should go.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Devon. Centennial Field is a good place to eat, and a better place to see a baseball game.


On the Road: Bolting Around the Field and Admiring the Skye in Burlington

To see all posts from my July 11, 2015 visit to the Vermont Lake Monsters (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

The previous post in this Vermont Lake Monsters series was dubbed, accurately and originally, as Part One. In the interest of maintaining my high standards of consistency, this post shall henceforth be referred to as Part Two.

Part Two now begins with the game in progress. It was a beautiful Saturday evening, and the Lake Monsters were hosting the West Virginia Black Bears at historic Centennial Field.


Early in the game, I spent an inning or so talking to longtime season ticket-holder Skip Farrell. Skip’s devotion to the Lake Monsters runs deep, to the extent that he even got married at Centennial Field. His wife, Wendy, wasn’t with him at the time, so I promised to stop by later to say hello.

028Skip was keeping score at the game, which meant he had the honor and privilege of documenting Skye Bolt’s each and every at-bat.

IMG_1595Yes, Skye Bolt! It might not be as great of a name as Storm Throne, but it’s pretty close.

My more immediate concerns were tertiary, however, as I had been tasked with driving a lap around the infield in this glorified Go-Kart.


Specifically, I was tasked with delivering a bottle of water to each of the two umpires. I would then take a lap around around the field, collect the bottles, take another lap around the field and depart from whence I had came. And that’s what happened, more or less.


Driving and Vining. I should probably have gotten a citation for this.

For the rest of the evening, I stuck to walking. A stroll down the first-base line eventually led me to these fresh mascot tracks.

044The tracks led to an outfield area featuring a bar — Citizen Cider on tap! — and, beyond that, a Fun Zone. This is the perfect combination in that kids get to play while parents get to drink.


Vermont Frames Pavilion and Bar

I enjoyed the view from out this way.

046Also enjoying the view was my MLB Advanced Media co-worker Brian Bednarski, his wife, Carrie, and their son, Pete. They, like me, were enjoying some time away from the Big Apple. Pete’s looking over at the Fun Zone like “Oh, yeah — just give me a year or two and I’ll be the king of that place.”


The Bednarskis, birds, Burlington, Ben’s Biz Blog. It truly was a beautiful night for baseball.

What could be better than singing the seventh-inning stretch at Minor League Baseball’s oldest ballpark on a gorgeous summer evening?

A Skye Bolt appears amid tranquility:

IMG_1599Following Champ’s footsteps was one thing, but I eventually ran into Champ himself. Mythical creature or not, he’s a pretty big deal around these parts.

054A slightly more rigid iteration of Champ can be found guarding one of the Centennial Field entranceways. This sculpture was made by a local fan, out of just one piece of wood. A chainsaw was involved.

059Speaking of pieces of wood that the team acquired for free, this table used to be a Burlington Telecom cable spool. (This idea was borrowed by the Connecticut Tigers, who have done the same thing at their home of Dodd Stadium.)

056To the right of the spool tables, one could find local youths lounging in recliners by the dugout.

057To the left of the spool tables were tables of the picnic variety.

058It’s time to table this discussion, as under the grandstand there are no tables.

060With the game almost over, I checked in on Skip once again. His vantage point remained impeccable.

061 And this time, his wife was with him.

062It’s easy to remember one’s anniversary when one has said anniversary affixed to one’s seat. But isn’t weird that they got married on a Wednesday? Oh, wait…

065I also got a photo of Skip’s season-ticket holder cup, in order to satisfy all of the #cupdate fiends out there. The owners of these cups are entitled to $1 refills, all season long.

IMG_1601As I spoke with Skip and Wendy, the game came to an end. The Black Bears, having scored three runs in the eighth inning and three more in the ninth, won by a score of 7-3. (Skye Bolt, despite having a name worthy of a creator deity, went 0-for-4 for the Lake Monsters.)

064And that did it for my evening with the Lake Monsters.

While leaving, I mimicked an action that I had taken upon arrival: I took a picture of the house that is located directly across the street from the stadium.

067If a politician running for office used this as a campaign slogan, he (or she) would get my vote.


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