Ain’t Nothin’ Better Than A Planned Escape

The offseason’s vice-like grip is rapidly slackening, and soon we will once again be in the midst of the five-month ultra-marathon that is THE SEASON.

In my case, this means that it’s time to hit the road in order to do some live-and-direct reporting from the Minor League frontlines. I made great strides in this regard last season, enjoying a “Southern Swing” before visiting my “Penn Pals” and then, finally, ending up in the “Heartland” (in addition to myriad other small and not-so-small excursions).

And now it’s time to do it again, to the extent that budget and sanity allow!

I have a few larger-scale excursions planned around newsworthy events, but much remains to be determined. And what I would like at this juncture is your input! Is your Minor League town a must-see destination? If so, why? I’m looking for all the things that make Minor League Baseball great — regional and/or ridiculous concession items, goofy contests, attention-getting promos, charming ballparks, eccentric fans and employees, and so on and so forth.

Another overlapping area in which I’d like your suggestions and invitations revolves around the idea of Doing Ballpark Jobs. I’d like to bring the Minor League experience to life by illuminating the work done by all sorts of stadium denizens — groundskeepers, vendors, food and beverage directors, scorekeepers, clubbies, you name it. And I’m all for serving as an intern for a homestand (or at least a series), so that’s something to consider if you’re a front office decision-maker in search of semi-competent labor of the cheapest kind — free!

My NYC location will of course make it easier to visit Northeast teams, but I am ready and willing to incorporate any kind of story into any kind of trip. So, again, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  No idea is too outlandish, everything is considered.

2011 marks my seventh season with MiLB.com and fourth writing this blog. To the extent I’ve had any success, it’s because of the enthusiastic responses I’ve received from those who work in the industry as well as committed Minor League fans.  I intend for this ongoing dialogue to only keep growing, and am greatly looking forward to another season of non-stop innovations, oddities, absurdities, and gastronomical monstrosities. My writing can only ever be as good as what I have to write about, so thanks for the material thus far and keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming.

And tell me why I need to visit your town! In all likelihood, I want to go to there.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

I’ll be back soon with the usual array of Minor League news and notes. Rumor has it that another gigantic hamburger was unleashed upon the world Tuesday morning…

18 Comments

Hi Ben,

Long time listener, first time caller.

I’m an NC resident, and last summer I hit all nine parks in the state. (All ten, if you count Charlotte, who play in SC.)

In central NC, you have an opportunity to visit all levels of minor league ball – the Rookie Burlington Royals, low A Greensboro Grasshoppers, high A Winston-Salem Dash, AA (for one more year) Carolina Mudcats, and AAA Durham Bulls – and they all lie basically along I-40 in a fairly short stretch.

The contrast among these teams, parks, players, and atmospheres is great to watch, especially while you hold the neighborhood pretty much constant. Watching rookie ball one night in Burlington and AAA ball the next night a half hour away in Durham is brilliant.

None of these clubs are known for ostentatious promotions or particular gluttony – I like to think it’s because the crowd is too discerning for that. (And I’d be wrong.) But the variety and easy access to all this baseball is a big reason why I make this my home.

Scott

Thanks, Scott. That’s a great angle — could go up the Minor League ladder from lowest to highest in a matter of days! And as much as I enjoy writing about ridiculous promos and food and whatnot, that is certainly not a prerequisite when it comes to visiting. All that’s needed is a game.

Well if you want to see the Puffy Taco race, I’d get in a visit to San Antonio. ;)

A few years ago, I created a Google map of all MiLB teams and try to keep it up to date. Maybe this will make your trip planning a bit easier. Might take a while to load.

map

I do want to see the Puffy Taco! He’s much better than the Engorged Enchilada mascot I once had to deal with at a high school wrestling match (long story, also not true).

Great work on that map…MiLB.com added something similar last year as part of the site’s tickets section, and it helped a lot in the planning stages.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/tickets/

Holy Guacamole, I had no idea that existed! Guess I gotta’ throw in the towel.

I’ve been kicking around the following lineup for a 4th of July trip:
Salem Red Sox -> Charlotte Knights -> Charleston Riverdogs -> Tennessee Smokies -> Pulaski Mariners

Which would hit all levels like Scott brought up, and still be East Coast to help with the travel.

Ben,
I’m heading a short while down 75 to Lexington to take in a couple Hagerstown road games vs. the Legends in Bryce Harper’s anticipated Minor League 1st full season. I know later in April the Suns visit the West Virginia Power and potentially a #1 vs. #2 showdown with Bryce Harper and Jameson Taillon. And, possibly a Harper/Stetson Allie showdown as well…so that could make for some great baseball!

You are living the dream man…I love MiLB!

Later,
Jason

Pingback: Griffin Benedict: Big leaguer « The Watson Files

Thanks for the comment, Jason, and feel free to get in touch with dispatches from the road at any time. Enjoy “Harpertown” while it lasts…

Will do, Ben! I’m planning on doing live Twitter, Facebook updates during the games & am hoping to stream some video live if my 4g phone cooperates haha. I’m also working on a painting of Harper if anyone is interested: http://www.cincysportsart.com/harper.html

Very cool. I’m sure people will be interested in that, so long as the Bryce is right.

Sorry.

I must agree with the NC comment. Lived in Greensboro for a couple of years and the Grasshoppers experience is fantastic. They have the (in)famous Babe, which is the ball-dog…

Driving 40 minutes up to see the Bulls in Durham is also a must. The ballpark is in a great area, with restaurants and bars… plus you get the movie-famous Bull billboard in the outfield.

NC is a great place to catch some MiLB.

Between these comments and a couple of emails I’ve received, it seems that NC needs to be visited. I’m gonna do my best to do so in 2012. Thanks, Jose.

NC is definitely the mecca of minor league baseball. I took a MiLB road trip down there from Rhode Island last summer and hit Durham, Burlington, and Greensboro for games. It was a great time. Plus, plenty of Chick-Fil-A restaurants in the area! Talk about win/win!

I am becoming increasingly convinced that the North Carolina tourism bureau is launching a guerrilla advertising campaign via this blog. Good work guys…I, for one, am looking forward to visiting.

Thanks for all you do, Ben. The Minors are the best and you do a great job of covering them. My trip this years is PawSox-NH Fisher Cats-Portland Sea Dogs-*BoSox*-Rock Cats. Should be fun. Also gearing up for opening day with the Whitecaps next weekend (if it doesn’t snow).
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’

Thanks, Mike — hope you enjoy your time in New England, and let me know how it goes.

And good work on “Minoring in Business,” those looking for more Minors perspectives should check it out:

http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Pingback: Carolinas On My Mind « Ben's Biz Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers

%d bloggers like this: