Ben’s Biz: Now Wearable!

In June of 2015, the official Ben’s Biz logo made its debut. This was a professional milestone for me.

Ever since the logo — designed by the magnificent Sean Kane — appeared, dozens if not scores of people have asked me the following question: “So when am I gonna get to buy a T-shirt featuring your beaming, beatific countenance?”

That question has a new answer: “Now!”

The official Ben’s Biz T-shirt is available for purchase!

FullSizeRender

The official Ben’s Biz T-shirts, Made in the USA by Original Retro Brand, retail for $20. They look and feel great, and a portion of every purchase benefits Minor League Baseball Charities, supporting youth baseball, community outreach and disaster relief efforts in Minor League cities across the country. Every shirt comes with a free autograph, which you will surely frame and hang in a prominent location:

autograph

I couldn’t find anyone to model one of my shirts for me, so I took to the streets myself.

IMG_2650

Photo credit: #TwitterlessDannyWild

Once again, the shirt is AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE! Supplies are limited, because the market for this shirt is limited. More than anything, this is about spreading the word: the word that there’s a guy who writes about the business and culture of Minor League Baseball, visits many different ballparks, tries to be original and funny and not too much of a sycophant and  — hey! — his stuff might be worth reading. Thanks to all who’ve spread the word thus far.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL!

There’s another Ben’s Biz T-shirt, and this one is not for sale. This one will only be available to an exclusive fraternity: the Designated Eater.

IMG_2655

In 2012 I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Since then, at each ballpark I visit, I’ve recruited a designated eater to consume the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits. Going forward, every designated eater will receive the T-shirt seen above. I’ll be bringing them with me on my next road trip, which kicks off Aug. 1 in Sacramento.

So there you have it: Ben’s Biz is in T-shirt form, and these shirts are AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work on my modeling poses.

IMG_2667

Handsome Boy Modeling School

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

Mall Ballers: The Spokane Indians’ Brief Run of Baseball Card Brilliance

It’s a very busy time of year for me, on a personal and professional level. It can be tough to keep track of everything that’s going on, and I often feel overwhelmed. But every so often something comes along that requires immediate attention, something so hilarious and bizarre that it trumps all else. This is one of those things:

For the ’87, ’88 and ’89 seasons, the Spokane Indians team card set featured players posing at the local NorthTown Mall. I can say, without hyperbole, that these are the greatest Minor League team card sets of all time. With perhaps a little hyperbole, I can say that these are the best baseball cards of all time.

cardsThis noteworthy bit of decades-old absurdity was brought to my attention via the Indians themselves, who recently posted an article on the team website about just how these card sets came to be. The whole thing is well worth reading, so click HERE to read it. A few notable excerpts:

Rather than having the players and coaches pose at Avista Stadium, [the team] took the players to the NorthTown Mall – who sponsored the set – and had them pose at various merchants throughout the mall.

***

Manager Steve Lubratich, the man responsible for creating a lineup and managing a bullpen, is posed next to a cardboard cutout of Whitney Houston, arm draped over her shoulder – perhaps not the best way to command respect from his players. Pitcher Jay Estrada is casually leaning on a shelf full of women’s clothes, outfielder Greg Smith is all smiles next to a display of aquatic shampoo, and future major leaguer Dave Hollins can be found hanging out in the food court next to a tub of popcorn.

Steve Lubratich

“At the time players were staying at the Gonzaga dorms and didn’t really have access to cars, so the chance to get out and explore the mall for the afternoon was well received,” said [former Indians general manager Tim] Leip in a recent interview. “All the merchants in the mall treated the players well and for some players it was their first time at a big mall.”

Bobby Sheridan

It was my first baseball card so I thought maybe that’s just how it was,” said 1988 outfielder Nikco Riesgo, who posed with a Spokane Indians pennant outside a sports store on his card. “It was a great way to meet the fans. We might have seen the whole city of Spokane that day, and we were treated like the Beatles. It was the perfect place for us to interact with people.”

Saul Soltero

Indians communications coordinator Bud Bareither was kind enough to send along the photos seen above, as well as those seen below. Please, continue to enjoy:

Kevin Higgins

Tony Lewis

brian cisarik

Mike Humphrey

Being made aware of the existence of these baseball cards certainly brightened my day. I hope that it brightened yours as well. And, in related news, I am now $3 poorer.

Capture

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

Lynchburg’s Name the Team Contest: How do you love them apples?

If you’re not from Lynchburg, Virginia, then you may not know the following bit of apocryphal lore:

According to local legend, Thomas Jefferson, who was visiting the owners of the Miller-Claytor House on his way to his Poplar Forest home, took a bite of the “poisonous love apple.” Supposedly, this was the first time anyone in Virginia had eaten this fruit, which we now call the tomato.

Today, some 200 years after Jefferson’s fear-dispelling chomp, the Lynchburg Hillcats announced their team name finalists. And, yes, “Lynchburg Love Apples” is among them.

You say "tomato," I say "love apple."

You say “tomato,” I say “love apple.”

It may very well be time to say goodbye to this, the current team identity.

lynch

The Hillcats — Cleveland’s Class A Advanced affiliate in the Carolina League — described the current stage of their rebranding endeavor thusly:

After the initial round of Lynchburg’s “Name The Team” contest saw its loyal fanbase suggest a number of creative and original names, the list has been narrowed to six finalists.

“We were not surprised but still extremely proud of the passion and creativity our fans displayed when submitting possible names for the Lynchburg baseball team moving forward,” said Hillcats Team President Chris Jones. “We are expecting our fans to show the same amount of passion and enthusiasm in the next step of the process by voting for their favorite name on our team website.”

In addition to “Love Apples,” which seems impossible not to vote for given the logo possibilities, there are five additional finalists under consideration. Italicized text is from the press release:

Lynchburg Derechos: Locals know Derechos are mighty storms, symbolic of the power and strength of players working their way up to the big leagues.

Wikipedia explains that a derecho is “a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a land-based, fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms.” It should not be confused with a haboob.

derecho

This is a derecho

Spanish speakers may decide that this is the “right” choice. Okay, what else is “izquierda?” Let’s see:

Lynchburg Doves — The Lynchburg Doves pays tribute both to Lynchburg’s hunting culture and the community’s faith-based history.

To summarize: a bird symbolizing peace is being celebrated, in part, because Lynchburgers have a history of killing them.

Lynchburg Hillcats — Lynchburg Hillcats honors the seven hills Lynchburg is known for and Lynchburg’s baseball history.

Been there, done that.

Lynchburg Lamb Chops
A celebration of Lynchburg’s faith-based heritage, the Lamb Chops combines the community’s servant-spirit with the fun of Minor League Baseball.

Because Jesus is the Lamb of God and Lynchburg (home of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University) is known for its fundamentalist Christian spirit. If they go with this name, then perhaps we’ll hear this song at the ballpark as a means to drive people out at the end of the game. Click at your own risk.

Lynchburg River Runners — Honoring Lynchburg founder John Lynch, the River Runners celebrates the man who ran goods across the James River and the town he founded.

Lynch was 17 when he founded his ferry service. When I was 17 I was working as a dishwasher and driving a 1981 Pontiac Phoenix.

For more on the Lynchburg Hillcats, check out my blog posts from when I visited last season. For more on the reaction to the proposed name change, check out the team’s Facebook page. As always, the fans are having their say.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Monday Night: Burlington Royals, July 4, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, when I return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. On Monday night I visited Burlington, North Carolina, the final stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

July 4: Burlington Athletic Stadium, home of the Burlington Royals (Rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) 

Opponent: Danville Braves, 6:30 p.m. start time

Burlington Athletic Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0164Burlington Athletic Stadium, from within: 

IMG_1980Culinary Creation: The “Moose Taco”, named after Kansas City Royals standout Mike Moustakas. Moustakas never played for the Burlington Royals, but he did play for the Burlington (Iowa) Bees in 2008.

IMG_0188Ballpark Character: Presidential candidate Bingo, looking patriotic on the 4th.

IMG_0175At Random: Infantile shenanigans

Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

My Appy League articles on MiLB.com thus far: 

Fellowship in Greeneville

An Emotional Kingsport Debut

Radio Dreams in Johnson City

Up Next: 

My Appalachian League trip is now complete. Stay tuned throughout the month of July for more blog posts and articles. My next trip begins on August 1; designated eaters still needed in Sacramento, Visalia, Boise, Tri-City and Spokane.

August 1: Sacramento River Cats (vs. Salt Lake, 7:05 p.m.)

August 2: Stockton Ports (vs. Rancho Cucamonga, 7:10 p.m.)

August 3: Modesto Nuts (vs. Visalia, 7:05 p.m.)

August 4: San Jose Giants (vs. Modesto, 6:30 p.m.)

August 5: Visalia Rawhide (vs. Inland Empire, 7:00 p.m.)

August 6: Las Vegas 51s (vs. Fresno, 7:05 p.m.)

August 7: “Off”

August 8: Reno Aces (vs. Salt Lake, 7:05 p.m.)

August 9: “Off”

August 10: Boise Hawks (vs. Hillsboro, 7:15 p.m.)

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (vs. Spokane, TBD)

August 12: Spokane Indians (vs. Eugene, 6:30 p.m.)

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Danville Braves, July 3, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Danville, Virginia, the ninth stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

July 3: Legion Field, home of the Danville Braves (Rookie-level affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) 

Opponent: Burlington Royals, 7 p.m. start time

Legion Field, from the outside: 

IMG_0110Legion Field, from within: Fireworks on the day before the Fourth of July; the place was packed.

IMG_1888

Culinary Creation: BBQ Dog

IMG_0149Ballpark Character: Mascot Blooper and Captain Five O’Clock Shadow America, celebrating our nation’s independence on this July 4th Eve.

IMG_1869

At Random: Evan Gattis, condiment lord

IMG_0121Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

My Appy League articles on MiLB.com thus far: 

Fellowship in Greeneville

An Emotional Kingsport Debut

Up Next: 

7/4: Burlington Royals

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Pulaski Yankees, July 2, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Pulaski, Virginia, the eighth stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

July 2: Calfee Park, home of the Pulaski Yankees (Rookie-level affiliate of the New York Yankees) 

Opponent: Bristol Pirates, 7 p.m. start time

Calfee Park, from the outside: 

IMG_0065Calfee Park, from within: 

IMG_0101Culinary Creation: Funnel Fries ($4)

IMG_0081

Ballpark Character: The Calfee Cat

IMG_1854

At Random: One, Calfee Park is the only Appy League stadium I’ve visited that has a videoboard (installed in 2015). Two, it was a wild ballgame. The Pirates scored six runs in the second inning on one hit, lost the lead three times and still went on to win by a score of 15-14. Time of game: 3:40.

IMG_0105

Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

My Appy League articles on MiLB.com thus far: 

Fellowship in Greeneville

An Emotional Kingsport Debut

Up Next: 

7/3: Danville Braves

7/4: Burlington Royals

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Bluefield Blue Jays, July 1, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Bluefield, Virginia, the seventh stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

July 1: Bowen Field, home of the Bluefield Blue Jays (Rookie-level affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays) 

Opponent: Kingsport Mets, 7:00 p.m. start time

Bowen Field, from the outside: 

IMG_0002Bowen Field, from within: 

IMG_1793Culinary Creation: The Big Whisky BBQ Sandwich, provided by the local restaurant of the same name. At $5, it’s the most expensive item on the menu.

IMG_0024Ballpark Character: Henry “Double Loud” Belcher (Correction: Henry’s nickname is “Double Out.” But “Double Loud” works pretty well, too).

IMG_0015

At Random: Blue Jays manager Dennis Holmberg in his colorfully decorated office, adjacent to a colorfully decorated clubhouse.

IMG_0006Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

My Appy League articles on MiLB.com thus far: 

Fellowship in Greeneville

An Emotional Kingsport Debut

Up Next: 

7/2: Pulaski Yankees

7/3: Danville Braves

7/4: Burlington Royals

**

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Princeton Rays, June 30, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Princeton, West Virginia, the sixth stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

June 30: Hunnicutt Field, home of the Princeton Rays (Rookie-level affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays) 

Opponent: Greeneville Astros, 7:00 p.m.

Hunnicutt Field, from the outside: 

IMG_1738Hunnicutt Field, from within: 

IMG_1753Culinary Creation: No designated eater tonight, so I laid low on the food front. Here’s a picture of Roscoe’s Grill.

IMG_0240Ballpark Character: Roscoe

IMG_1739He talks!

At Random: Unorthodox bleacher seating.

IMG_1745

Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day

Up Next: 

7/1: Bluefield Blue Jays

7/2: Pulaski Yankees

7/3: Danville Braves

7/4: Burlington Royals

**

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Elizabethton Twins, June 29, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Elizabethton, Tennessee, the fifth stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

June 29: Joe O’Brien Field, home of the Elizabethton Twins (Rookie-level affiliate of the Minnesota Twins) 

Opponent: Pulaski Yankees, 7:00 p.m. start time

Joe O’Brien Field, from the outside: 

IMG_0183Joe O’Brien Field, from within: 

IMG_0186Culinary Creation: Fried bologna sandwich ($3) and a brat ($4).

IMG_0196Ballpark character: “Big Dave” McQueen, head groundskeeper, clubhouse manager and endless fountain of E-Twins stories.

IMG_0210At Random: The Wataugah River runs behind the stadium on the third base side. This photo was taken during the eighth inning.

IMG_1720Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

6/30: Princeton Rays

7/1: Bluefield Blue Jays

7/2: Pulaski Yankees

7/3: Danville Braves

7/4: Burlington Royals

**

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Bristol Pirates, June 28th, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Bristol, Virginia, the fourth stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.

June 28: Boyce Cox Field, home of the Bristol Pirates (Rookie-level affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates)

Opponent: Greeneville Astros, 7:00 p.m. start time

Boyce Cox Field, from the outside: This is the entrance to the park; the field is down that pathway and to the right.

IMG_0131

Boyce Cox Field, from within: 

IMG_0157Culinary Creation: Bird’s Nest (the Pirates’ version of a Frito pie, $3) and a chili dog ($2)

IMG_0160Ballpark Character: Dewayne Woods, retired Army soldier turned volunteer ballpark pirate.

IMG_1679At Random: “One of baseball’s greatest individual accomplishments” took place in Bristol.

IMG_0133Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

6/29: Elizabethton Twins

6/30: Princeton Rays

7/1: Bluefield Blue Jays

7/2: Pulaski Yankees

7/3: Danville Braves

7/4: Burlington Royals

**

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 623 other followers