It’s been a busy week here in the MiLB.com offices, as there was not one, not two, but THREE logo unveilings. Of these three it was, of course, the El Paso Chihuahuas that got the most attention. Read all about it HERE and follow that up by reading about the new logos that will be sported by the Arkansas Travelers and Charlotte Knights in 2014 and beyond.
I more or less keep my opinion out of the MiLB.com pieces, reverting instead to industry sycophant status, but once all is said and done I’d like to get some logo discussion going on this blog. That would be fun, right? For now, however, we shall return one last (?) time to the subject that has dominated October: noteworthy in-season endeavors that I didn’t get around to writing about during the season itself.
We’ll begin with the New Britain Rock Cats, who last appeared on this blog due to their “Kitty Growl Awesomeness.” This time around, director of creative services Mark Milligan reports the following:
Rock Cats pitching coach Stu Cliburn struck up a friendship with the press box crew this season and it resulted in some interesting products that made him into sort of a cult hero in New Britain.
Attached are 2 of his ‘headshots’ that we used.
“Red, White, and Stu”
“Red, White, and Stu 2: Electric Stu-galoo,” the inevitable sequel:
But that, of course, is not all. It never is. The Rock Cats then crafted a video entitled “Red, White, and Stu,” which was popular enough to merit a sequel.
Moving on, remember last month when I wrote a post that featured a veritable cornucopia of cow-milking pictures? No? Well, here’s the link. This post prompted long-time reader Ed Pellegrino to write in with the following anecdote, which is well worth sharing.
Back in the early days of the Miracle being at Fort Myers, in the mid-1990s, there was a lot of vacant land around the Lee County Sports Complex. A nice tax trick was keeping the land zoned Agricultural by moving grazing animals around every couple of days from lot to lot.
The Florida State League is notorious for the summer storms and it would be a sure sign of a delayed game when the cows visible from the top of the bowl would lay down. It would indicate a storm coming soon. It wasn’t uncommon for the pace of the game to increase once Bessie was down.
If you have anecdotes to tell, content to share, comments to make, or guest posts you want to write, then get in touch. I strive to make this particular slice of the internet as interactive and personable as possible. But as for today, this is all I’ve got. Thus concludes Ben’s Biz Blog post #996.
You guessed it: in a continuation of recent blogging trends, today’s post will cover in-season topics that I didn’t get around to covering during the season itself. And today’s topic is one near and dear to many of your hearts, even though your heart would be much better off without it.
I am talking, of course, about colossally oversized food items. In a move ripped straight out of the Lake County Captains playbook, this July the Pensacola Blue Wahoos debuted a monstrous menagerie of deep-battered seafood that they called “The Battleship.”
Sez the team:
Tasked with creating something out of the box and unprecedented in Minor League Baseball, Blue Wahoos Executive Chef Chris Voorhees and Sous Chef Travis Wilson came up with the Battleship. It is a culinary creation that will tickle the fancy of any seafood loving sports fan.
“It’s like a po’boy all grown up,” said Voorhees.
So why not call it the Po’ Man? We’ll leave that question for another day, so that I may once again have a press release do my job for me:
[The Battleship] features jumbo fresh caught gulf shrimp, fried fresh oysters, two whole fried soft shell blue crabs and lightly fried potato salad “baseballs” with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and lemon tartar sauce all on a foot-long French bread roll garnished with a pair of grape tomato “pegs”.
The sandwich is large enough to feed a small family, but if fans can finish the entire thing on their own in under 11:21 minutes they get their name and picture on the Blue Wahoos Battleship Wall of Fame and an “I sank the Battleship” t-shirt. If they can ‘Sink the Battleship’ in under nine minutes, they get the wall recognition, t-shirt and the sandwich is free. So far the fastest finisher did so in 11:21 minutes, thus setting the benchmark for recognition.
Clearly, this is one game of Battleship that will always end with the call of “I-8.” (Even if what’s being “sunk” more closely resembles a sub.)
And — update! — check out this informative and compulsively readable post on the Battleship, courtesy of the Blue Wahoos’ “Hook, Line, and Sinker” blog.
As most of you know, my days of consuming Brobdingnagian concession stand entities has gone the way of the dodo, thanks to a 2012 celiac disease diagnosis (file under “What can you do?”). For those who may be interested, this summer Alysa Bajenaru interviewed me about my life as a “ballpark celiac” for her “Inspired RD” blog. Alysa also has celiac disease, and as the wife of professional pitcher-turned-coach Jeff Bajenaru she’s spent an inordinate amount of time at the ballpark as well.
Read the interview HERE, because I’ve got nothing else to offer today. Thus concludes Ben’s Biz Blog post #995.
Today’s post will, yet again, function as an exhumation of various endeavors that I didn’t get around to covering at the moment in time when they were actually taking place. And what I’d like to focus on today is an endeavor that very much appeals to me, given my background as college radio DJ/nerd turned Minor League Baseball writer/nerd.
On Thursday, July 18, the Durham Bulls teamed with locally-based/internationally-known indie label Merge Records for an evening of baseball and music. The label , which was founded in 1989 by Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, curated the Bulls’ walk-up music throughout the ballgame. Here’s the list of tunes that were heard that evening at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which the Bulls have made available as a Spotify playlist.
* Arcade Fire – “Wake Up”
* Bob Mould – “Silver Age”
* Divine Fits – “Would That Not Be Nice”
* Hospitality – “Friends of Friends”
* Imperial Teen – “Runaway”
* The Love Language – “Brittany’s Back”
* M. Ward – “Requiem”
* Mikal Cronin – “Change”
* Mount Moriah – “Bright Light”
* The Mountain Goats – “The Diaz Brothers”
* Polvo – “Heavy Detour”
* Redd Kross – “Researching the Blues”
* Shout Out Louds – “14th of July”
* Spoon – “The Underdog”
* Superchunk – “FOH”
* Telekinesis – “Wires”
* Wild Flag – “Romance”
* Wye Oak – “Civilian”
I was disappointed to see that Eleanor Friedberger was left off the play list – Personal Record is a great LP! — but beyond that I thought this was really innovative partnership and the sort of thing it’d be great to see more of throughout Minor League Baseball. The Bulls’ “Merge Night” went on to serve as the centerpiece of a long Spin magazine feature on the evolution of downtown Durham, and hopefully it will serve as the impetus for a Mountain Goats song about the life of a Minor League mascot.
The evening was also chronicled as part of the season-long “Bull City Summer” project, and in that piece Bulls’ director of marketing Scott Carter explains the rationale behind it thusly:
I consider music the lifeblood of the ballpark experience: it is incredibly important to the atmosphere. But I also believe that if you can mix in some new music that may not be as mainstream, like that which Merge produces, you can make your ballpark into a place where people feel cool. That’s huge. You want people to feel like coming to a game is cool. And we’re lucky to be in a market like this one where indie music is so widely appreciated. So it’s not as out of the norm to hear some of these artists at the DBAP as it may be in some other minor league towns.
I couldn’t have said it better myself (I mean, really, I couldn’t have). While I totally understand that a lot of music on smaller labels isn’t accessible enough for the “all family-friendly entertainment, all the time” atmosphere of Minor League Baseball, the opportunities are out there (though Austin-based Matador records co-founder Gerard Cosloy quickly shot down my idea of a potential collaboration with the Round Rock Express).
So — what are some prominent (or at least semi-prominent) record labels that operate in Minor League cities? And, speaking more broadly, what are some other ways that Minor League teams could partner with the local music scene in their community? An idea that I have bandied about for the last couple of years is a concourse record fair, held in conjunction with local record stores and/or labels and/or community and college radio stations. Get in touch if you have any suggestions or feedback, as this is a topic I plan on returning to as time and inspiration allows.
A very short time ago, within the same galaxy that I am currently communicating from, I wrote about the Tri-City ValleyCats’ exemplary “Show on the Road” promotion. Read all about it simply by clicking on the link provided, but if time and/or battery life and/or attention span is at a premium and you are unable to do then here’s a synopsis:
For “Show on the Road,” the ValleyCats brought their Minor League game day experience to a local youth field, complete with on-field introductions, mascot races, between-inning contests, and, of course, more. Commence image placement:
Soon after I my post about “Show on the Road” I received the following email from Round Rock Express director of communications Jill Cacic (because remember, you can’t spell “director of communications” without “Cacic”):
We actually put on a very similar event this year in a partnership with RBI [Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities] Austin called “Triple-A for a Day.” We brought out our entire promotional crew, mascot, PA announcer, [on-field emcee] Ballpark Rob, the grounds crew and the hot dog vendor (can’t leave Dell Diamond without him!) down to Downs Mabson Field for the RBI Austin Kid Pitch Championship to turn their field into Dell Diamond. Former MLB pitcher and University of Texas legend Greg Swindell threw out the ceremonial first pitch….It was a really great event and made these kids’ year. There were over 200 people in the stands to watch this game when they said they normally have maybe 30-35. It’s an event that we’re looking to turn into a yearly partnership with RBI Austin.
Here are a few choice photos from the team’s Facebook photo album chronicling the event:
Or, if moving pictures are more your thing, there’s this Reckless-ly enjoyable recap video:
In a similar vein, this past June the Beloit Snappers invited fans out to the ballpark for a “mystery event” at Pohlman Field.
Per the team:
All those in attendance will get the chance to meet Snappers players and coaches and they’ll receive a free ticket to the Snappers sixth fireworks show of the season on June 29th. A free hot dog and soda will also be given to everyone who shows up for this secretive happening. All other information about the event is considered highly classified.
This “mystery event” turned out to be a flash mob of sorts, as the 200 or so participants headed to a nearby youth field in order to, yes, bring the Minor League game day experience to a non-traditional environment. Once again, a few photos from the team’s Facebook photo album:
And so it went, and so it goes. I am fully expecting “Show on the Road” style events to proliferate in the year of our Lord 2014. Don’t let me down, industry. Don’t let me down.
Ben’s Biz Blog post #993 shall now cease to function.
The previous post to have been published right here on this little slice of the internet that I call my professional home featured a bevy of ostensibly quality videos from the 2013 campaign.
[cue sound of a needle scratching across a record]
What a needlessly convoluted sentence that was! What I meant to say is: let’s start this post with some more videos.
Specifically, I’d like to highlight this A+ effort out of Daytona. The weather in that city can be quite intense, to say the least, turning tarp pulls into a harrowing battle with the elements. This preview is rated MM for “meteorological mayhem:”
The intro to the above video shows clips of several notable “tarpocalypse” videos from seasons past (at least one of which was featured on this blog). Well, this one outta Ogden can now be added to the ranks:
Oh. but calamity can befall ballpark denizens in a multitude of ways. This season Lansing Lugnuts broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler emerged as the nation’s pre-eminent chronicler of press box laptop foul ball casualties. To wit:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 2, 2013
Let’s take a closer look. First up is L. Tyler Murray of the Dunedin Blue Jays.
— L. Tyler Murray (@LTylerMurray) August 2, 2013
Next, we have a MUST-READ ACCOUNT of foul ball laptop terror (complete with an absolutely uncanny audio clip), courtesy of Winston-Salem’s Brian Boesch.
For the record, Winston-Salem’s aforementioned “The Dash Board Blog” is easily among the best team blogs in all of Minor League Baseball. Broadcasters looking to raise their writing game would do well to scroll through its ample archives.
And then there’s Goldberg-Strassler’s 2013 broadcast partner, the inimitable and on-the-rise Slavko Bekovic.
— Slavko Bekovic (@SBekovic) May 11, 2013
And wait, what’s this? Yet another example of foul ball lap top destruction? Yes, it’s true, and this one is live and direct from Great Lakes.
— Great Lakes Loons (@greatlakesloons) August 31, 2013
Speaking of Mr. Goldberg-Strassler, during the season he anchored a weekly podcast called “Around the Nest.” In this podcast he talked to every broadcaster within the Blue Jays farm system (himself and Bekovic included), so that they could share their expertise regarding that particular team. The end result was a thorough farm system overview, all in the course of a single broadcast.
A replicable idea, no?
This has been Ben’s Biz Blog post #992. Ben’s Biz over and out.
My words are my words and they’ll always be my words, but, let’s face it, my words are best enjoyed when they are used sparingly and in the service of contextualizing pictorial or video content. Today, I’ll focus on doing just this: words minimal, video content ample.
And, in keeping with October’s blogging theme, this video content shall be comprised of that which I didn’t get a chance to cover during the season. We’ll begin with this riveting pre-game ceremony out of Tulsa, in which the Drillers honored the Coon family and their three generations of military service. The eldest member of the family is 94-year-old WWII veteran Phillip Coon (introduced at the 2:05 mark), the last Native American survivor of the Bataan Death March. His first pitch is a truly inspiring thing to behold, and the Drillers deserve a lot of credit for putting together such a moving piece of Independence Day pageantry.
Those in the mood for less poignancy but more parody would do well to check out this, a far different sort of Drillers video:
Moving from the Texas League to the Eastern League, the Akron Aeros produced many a worthwhile video this season. Teams looking to promote the ballpark appearances of dance world celebrities would do well to follow this comedic template:
And then there’s Cole Cook, who, in addition to pitching for the Aeros this season, took part in a series of videos highlighting his surrealist sensibilities. Cole’s father (actor Peter Mackenzie) had a starring role in the surrealist early ’90s Fox sitcom Herman’s Head, which perhaps helps to explain how he came to be involved in these sort of farcical enterprises:
And — hey! — look at this. In 2011 I turned the tables on Cole Cook by interviewing him. Yes, the interviewee became the interviewed:
Our downward descent of the Minor League ladder now brings us to Fort Wayne, home of Johnny Appleseed and, therefore, also the home of a Minor League Baseball team whose name references Johnny Appleseed. As part of the Tin Caps’ “’80s Night” promo, they produced this hilarious bit of performance art. Let it serve as proof positive that Minor League ballplayers are far less self-conscious than their big league counterparts:
Finally, you may recall that this past offseason I made productive use of my time by putting together a post featuring every “Harlem Shake” video produced by a Minor League team. That fad came and went, of course, but kudos to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for being the only (so far as I know) to do the “Harlem Shake” IN-GAME.
Once again: Minor League ballplayers are less self-conscious than their big league counterparts.
I hope that everyone enjoyed (or at least benevolently tolerated) my recent blog detour, in which I covered the time that was had in Louisville during the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. But that detour, circuitously indulgent as it was, has now led us back to the main road. And while traveling this main road my mission is simply to provide lots and lots (and lots) of content pertaining to in-season innovations that I didn’t get around to covering during the season itself.
I’ll begin today’s post with a cavalcade of pictures sent to me by loyal readers (and veteran MiLB ballpark travelers) Rex and Coco Doane. Back on June 23 they attended a game in their home borough of Brooklyn, where the Cyclones held an on-field mascot Bar Mitzvah as part of their annual “Jewish Heritage Night” promo.
Yes, a “mascot Bar Mitzvah.”
I had been unaware that Sandy the Seagull was Jewish (he, like most mascots, had heretofore kept his spiritual proclivities under wraps), but this really was his 13th birthday and therefore it was imperative that his transition into manhood be properly commemorated.
Here, Sandy is congratulated by his mascot counterpart Pee-Wee as King Henry narrates the action and a Beach Bum stands sentinel.
Mazel Tov! (I’m sorry, I’m not Jewish, Mazel Tov is the only seemingly-relevant comment that I can muster.)
Shortly thereafter, a rabbi threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was a “bris”tering fastball.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones players wore jerseys featuring Hebrew lettering.
And whilst bedecked in this one-time only bit of religiously-themed apparel, the Cyclones won the ballgame. Mazel Tov! (Really, that’s all I’ve got.)
Upon further perusal of my “potential blog topics” email folder, I see that I am in possession of even more Rex and Coco-submitted Brooklyn Cyclones content. In August the Doanes attended “Bark in the Park Night” with their dogs Cricket and Brisket, reporting that “PeeWee went crazy for Cricket. Brisket went crazy for ballplayers.” Let’s go to the tape:
Moving on to this post’s first bit of non-Doane content, check out what has to be one of the better tattoos to be emblazoned upon a body in the year 2013.
— Jeff Perro (@MiLBClubbie) June 14, 2013
As you can infer from his twitter handle, Jeff is a clubbie. His occupation goes a long way toward explaining this tattoo as well:
— Jeff Perro (@MiLBClubbie) June 14, 2013
And with that, I have hit upon my totally arbitrary and completely self-imposed offseason blog post word quota. Thanks for reading, and please do not hesitate to get in touch via the below channels.
The annual Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar is a multi-faceted industry extravaganza, and one of its easiest-to-overlook components is the Job Fair. While a fraction of the size of its Winter Meetings counterpart, the Seminar Job Fair represents a great chance to, as its web site says, “get a head start on your competition.”
I would agree. While the number of job postings at the Seminar are fairly minimal, job seekers put themselves in a great position via the opportunity to learn from and network with the industry. A lot of Winter Meetings job seekers enter the experience with myopic viewpoints, not quite understanding the level of competition or how the industry actually functions on a day-to-day basis, but those who have attended the Seminar gain a far more realistic and nuanced view of what they need to do to succeed. And while it is certainly intimidating to be a relative unknown within the tight-knit collegiality of the industry, there are ample opportunities to make connections, start conversations, bond over drinks, etc.
While attending the Seminar, I let it be known that I would be happy to highlight Job Seekers in an upcoming blog post so that my readers (which certainly include potential employers) could get a sense of who they are, what they’re looking for, and what motivated them to come to Louisville. Three Job Seekers responded to this open call; they are profiled below.
Kyle, a resident of Morgantown, WV is currently spending his days working in sales and his evenings calling Division II basketball games. He has three years of NCAA Division I communications experience, but, as you’ll see below, baseball is his passion.
For two seasons, I doubled as the play-by-play broadcaster for the University of Kansas baseball team in the spring and the Willmar Stingers of the Northwoods League in the summer, calling more than 120 games each year. During this time, I also served as a communications assistant in the Kansas Athletics Department and acted as the director of media relations for the Willmar Stingers, writing a game recap each night, producing game notes for each series and working in the ticket office during homestands. I currently have a full-time sales job with a private corporation, but I want to return to baseball and am hoping to find a minor league play-by-play job for next season.
What prompted you to attend the Promo Seminar, and was it a worthwhile experience?
I attended the Promo Seminar to network as much as possible, realizing that a lot of teams would not have a definitive grasp yet on their broadcaster situation for next year. I set some lofty expectations going into the Promo Seminar and somehow it exceeded them. I met a lot of great people and learned an incredible amount during the group therapy and power sessions. It was certainly worth the trip.
Interested in having Kyle work for your organization? Contact him at 785-472-7013, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael, 24, was born in “the rubber capital of the world” (aka Akron, OH) but has lived in Tennessee for almost his entire life. He attended the Memphis College of Art and, as a graphic design professional, would like to let it be known that his favorite fonts are Nevis and Franchise.
What experience do you have in the world of baseball so far, and what sort of job are you looking for?
This past year was my first in baseball, interning as a graphic design assistant with the Tennessee Smokies. There I handled all of their graphics needs when it came to video board, print, social media, billboards, stadium signage, etc. You name it I made it. I was also the in-game audio operator for all of our their games, as well as co-director of the team’s game day productions when needed.
I am definitely looking to stay on the production and design side of things in baseball. As a designer, I enjoy being at the heart of the memory-making aspect of baseball, trying to add to the sport’s rich history with everything I make. Each design could be somebody’s first ticket, first poster, first everything, so I want to make sure they are all worth remembering.
What prompted you to attend the Promo Seminar, and was it a worthwhile experience?
I had such a blast being with the Smokies that a gathering of like-minded people sharing ideas on the sport sounded like the right place to further my experience and start to establish a network in minor league baseball. With only a year under my belt, I wanted to dive into the deep end of the pool and immerse myself in all of the knowledge I could obtain from the 3-day event. From all the ideas that I gathered to all the great people I was able to connect with, the seminar well exceeded my expectations.
The main highlight for me was every person I got to meet one-on-one and spend a few minutes with, learning so much from each one. My lowlight would have to be almost knocking over Pat O’Conner in passing at Louisville Slugger Field. Nice first impression, huh?
For more on Michael, and to get in touch with him, check out his website www.michaelvinson.net
Andrew, a classic hip-hop aficionado, attended the University of Arizona and currently resides in Austin. The Irvington, NY native reports that “Baseball is my lifelong passions, and to make a career for myself in this great game is my absolute goal!”
What experience do you have in the world of baseball so far, and what sort of job are you looking for?
For the past two seasons I have worked for the Round Rock Express. This past season I worked in the “Control Room” working in the Gameday Presentation. I am hoping to obtain a position working in Community and/ or Public Relations. However, as we all know, working in MiLB requires an individual to remain flexible and open to all opportunities!
What prompted you to attend the Promo Seminar, and was it a worthwhile experience?
I decided to drive 17 hours from Austin to Louisville to get better and learn more about the business of baseball. It was a phenomenal education with great minds and personalities coming together to share ideas, and the best part as a “Job Seeker” was that I had an opportunity to interact and introduce myself to members of MiLB across the board. This Promo Seminar is a must-go for anybody who works in MiLB and anyone who wants to gain valuable and important insights from some of the top baseball minds!
And there you have it, just a small sample of the sort of folks who are vying for a career in baseball in 2014 and beyond. Get in touch if you’d like to share your own job seeking experiences (at the Promo Seminar or otherwise).
The above title is a bit of misnomer, as the Promo Seminar is only three days long and was over by the time that everything in this post took place.
But! I was still in Louisville for the bulk of this particular day, and I did some things and saw some things and now I’m going to write all about it. I just don’t know what else to do.
Friday, September 27
After a semi-productive morning of writing, I checked out of Louisville’s Galt House Hotel amid a scene of controlled chaos. While the Minor League Baseball Promo Seminar had been a fairly large event, it had nothing on the H20-XPO taking place that weekend and the lobby was absolutely packed with water industry merchants, policy makers, activists, and hangers-on. I wanted nothing more than to get out of that aquamarine mob scene, but wasn’t scheduled to leave Louisville for another couple of hours. So, I commenced to walking.
The Galt House Hotel is on 4th Street, and as part of a downtown revitalization effort a nearby stretch of this street has been closed to traffic and transformed into a retail/dining/nightlife complex called “Fourth Street Live!” It’s good for what it is (an accessible downtown gathering spot), but there’s no getting around the fact that its loud and tacky, with a disproportionate amount of square footage given over to national chains.
Spending time on Fourth Street Live, while convenient for those situated downtown, leaves the visitor with little to no sense of what it is that might make Louisville unique. Therefore, I was glad to get a little time to walk around and take note of that which existed beyond the penned-in parameters of Fourth Street Live.
Before becoming the proud home of entities such as TGI Fridays, Hard Rock Cafe, and Howl at the Moon piano bar, Fourth Street was the site of Civil Rights sit-in protests.
Click HERE to check out a photo gallery of the sit-ins and protests that took place in and around Louisville’s Fourth Street. Captivating stuff.
Just a few minutes later I came across this little monument to monk/poet/activist Thomas Merton, who became a monk at the nearby Abbey of Gethsemani (his famous autobiography Seven Storey Mountain was written there, among many other works).
Even better is the back of the plaque, which says that on this very corner Merton had the sudden realization that he “loved all these people.”
Seeing this plaque got me to thinking about how we, as a society, don’t do enough to honor and promote the work of men and women of peace. While attending the Promo Seminar I heard a lot of great ideas about military-themed promotions and events, and I’m generally all for these types of endeavors as they represent a great chance to honor the sacrifices made by those in the community who have served overseas. But there is too much of a disparity at play, this willingness to almost indiscriminately label anyone remotely connected with the military as a “hero” while rarely if ever extending the same level of consideration to those who dedicate their lives to issues revolving around peace and social justice.
And, of course, even typing the above paragraph made me think about how I haven’t done nearly enough work on these fronts and am, at present, an ineffectual and self-centered urbanite whose college-era idealism has withered into a general “eh, I’m just trying to get by in NYC” sort of malaise. This is unacceptable, but also unacceptable is the continuation of this tangent, because, look, I had a baseball bat museum to visit.
And on the way to this baseball bat museum I saw another really interesting plaque!
Thornton Blackburn’s Wikipedia page is short, but absolutely fascinating. Please enjoy this brief excerpt, as I am laboring under the delusion that everyone is interested in what I am interested in:
[The Blackburn's] had been settled in Detroit, Michigan, for two years when, in 1833, Kentucky slave hunters located, re-captured, and arrested the couple. The Blackburns were jailed but allowed visitors, which provided the opportunity for Lucie to exchange her clothes—and her incarceration—with a Mrs. George French. Lucie was then spirited across the Detroit River to safety in Amherstburg, in Essex County, Upper Canada (U.C.).
Thornton’s escape was more difficult as he was heavily guarded, bound and shackled. The day before Thornton was to be returned to Kentucky, Detroit’s African American community rose up in protest. A crowd of some 400 men stormed the jail to free him.
Anyhow, I was indeed headed to a baseball bat museum or, to put it more specifically, the Louisville Slugger Museum. Along the way, one passes a variety of commemorative plaques which immortalize the Louisville Sluggers used by famous players. This was a Jeff Bagwell edition.
Along the way to the museum, there were many sights to be seen. Sights such as humorous Army-Navy Store signage.
Not to mention a 30-foot tall gold replica of Michelangelo’s David.
Finally, there was this photo op in front of the Louisville Science Center.
Eventually, my destination was reached.
There were no photos allowed during the factory tour, under penalty of death, but it was enjoyable to be walked through the bat making process. Afterwards I wandered about the museum portion, pausing briefly to take this subpar photo.
Ted loved his Louisville Slugger.
So did the Babe.
After visiting the Louisville Slugger Museum my hope had been to swing by Zooperstars! headquarters, but time was a bit too tight so I simply walked around for a bit on East Market Street. Before skimming through the record selection at Please and Thank You coffee shop, I stopped by Muth’s Candies and scored some primo peanut brittle.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is headquartered in Louisville, but I don’t think this graffiti was approved by corporate.
And then there’s this:
One final thing about KFC is that Louisville is home to the thus far only location of the more upscale (but still very casual) “KFC Eleven.“
And with that random fact, I am officially out of Louisville-based content. I flew back to New York City that evening, thus ending what I truly believe was a successful jaunt to Kentucky. I just wish that said jaunt could have lasted a bit longer, because then I could have attended the Cropped Out Festival. Blues Control and Endless Boogie on the same night would have been awesome!
Meanwhile, I consider this blog to be its own sort of endless boogie. Post #988 is now in the bag.
Welcome to another installment of this Louisville tour diary, in which I detail the time that was had (by me) during last week’s Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. This post shall chronicle Day Three, but before proceeding please know that a recap of Day One can be found HERE and a recap of Day Two can be found HERE.
And with that bit of introductory housekeeping out of the way, we can now proceed with an unburdened spirit.
Thursday, September 26
Day Three started out strong, as Golden Bobbleheads were the first order of business. These annual awards honor the best promotions to take place in the Minor Leagues during the season, and are voted on by Seminar attendees (the finalists are chosen on a monthly basis by Minor League Baseball HQ in St. Pete). Before voting, each nominated team gives a brief presentation on their promotion, with teams not attending sending video submissions instead (these teams rarely, if ever, win). The end result is a fun and fast-paced couple of hours, as teams politic, provoke and plead from the podium.
Five Golden Bobbleheads are eventually awarded, in the categories of Best Non-Game Day Event, Best Theme Night, Best Charity Promotion or Event, and Best In-Game. I’ll weigh on the winners at a later date in the near future, but as for the presentations themselves this is the only photo that I possess:
That’s Lake Elsinore Storm assistant general manager Raj Narayanan standing next to a gorilla, who soon took part in a light saber battle that almost ripped down the stage curtains. Such anarchy is par for the course when it comes to the Storm, who regularly engage in such nonsense at the Promo Seminar (for better or for worse I’ll never forget their 2009 presentation in which they touted their Subtle Butt flatulence neutralizer giveaway).
Meanwhile, my 10 nominations for 2013′s “Promo of the Year” MiLBY Award are just about to be unveiled. Check them out on MiLB.com and vote for your favorite! The MiLBY’s are the fan equivalent of the Golden Bobblehead, the hoi polloi-embracing yin to their industry insider yang. These two awards are not in competition with one another, but I’ve got to say it’s been a bit disheartening to find that teams generally care a lot more about winning a Golden Bobblehead. Again and again teams brag to me about winning a Golden Bobblehead (often thinking that I have something to do with their selection), but rarely do I hear such excitement when it comes to the MiLBYs.
This is disheartening, yes, but somehow I carry on.
There was a full slate of presentations after the Golden Bobblehead portion of the morning (one of which included a hilarious verbal slip-up), but for the most part I wasn’t paying much attention. In fact, for much of it I wasn’t even in the room. This is because I was to be the Seminar’s final ballroom presenter, so I spent some time in the hotel room putting the finishing touches on this:
I suppose the title is self-explanatory, as this 20-minute speech simply detailed my 2013 travels in chronological order. I tried to keep it breezy and funny yet informative, and I think I succeeded. Going into it I was incredibly nervous and edgy and couldn’t really sit still, but as soon as I got on the stage I was completely relaxed and started making jokes like they were going out of style (and my kind of jokes really are going out of style).
(Also: I am available to give this speech, or variations thereof, in other venues. All that I ask is for travel and lodging expenses to be covered and a small “whisky stipend” provided.)
Unfortunately this smartphone photo seems to be the only documentation of my speech that exists. Please know that it was delivered into a sea of smiling faces, each more impressed than the last at my boundless charm, buoyant humor, and verbal dexterity. If anyone else has any more photos then please send them to me! The flames of narcissism need to be fanned, as I am a lonely man and the offseason is long and cold.
I celebrated my victorious speech like I celebrate everything else: by eating a meal in public while standing, completely alone. In the afternoon there were a couple more “Group Therapy” sessions, and one of the ones I attended was titled “Beyond the Press Release” (moderated by Minor League Baseball corporate communications manager Mary Marandi). I spoke a little bit during the session about the unpredictable crapshoot that is national media attention, but here are two things in my notes that I didn’t get around to mentioning.
– For the love of God, it is the year 2013 and therefore ALL press releases should be sent using BCC (believe it or not, there are still some teams who display their entire mailing lists in the “to” column of every single press release they send).
– Maintain Facebook and Twitter feeds separately. There are still several teams whose Facebook posts automatically appear on Twitter in truncated form (usually ending in the middle of a sentence, followed by an ellipse), which gives Twitter followers the impression that they are a total afterthought. Twitter is far too important a means of communication to be used in such a slapdash manner.
Any thoughts on any of this? Let me know.
Up until this juncture I have been extremely heavy on the written word, leading eyes to glaze over, minds to numb and joints to atrophy. As a remedy to these myriad afflictions I shall close the post with a barrage of photos from Thursday evening’s ballpark outing to Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Bats (this is easily the best stadium naming rights deal in Minor League Baseball, as regards the company’s connection to both city and sport). After shuffling off of the hotel shuttle almost everyone headed toward the concourse booze merchants, but not I. My allegiance is not to the booze (well, at least some of the time), my allegiance is to you. Therefore, I did a full lap around the stadium before entering.
Architecturally speaking and otherwise, Louisville Slugger Stadium is an absolute gem. It fits beautifully into its downtown surroundings, incorporating a defunct train depot into the design and featuring gorgeous views of the Ohio River and the bridges spanning it.
The statue out front commemorates Louisville native Pee Wee Reese in high-flying form.
This pathway (located down the third base side of the facility) leads to an outfield entrance.
Like moths to a flame, industry was gathered ’round the booze (yes, I have a tough time maintaining a gluten-free diet in a ballpark environment, but I think it would be even tougher to work in baseball as a recovering alcoholic).
Tours were being offered at this stage, so I joined on with a group whose departure was imminent. The view from the suites:
This picture, hanging in a corridor located outside of the press box, gives a sense of what an absolute behemoth Cardinal Stadium was (the team played here from 1982-99, largely as a member of the now-defunct American Association).
Old American Association championship banners decorate this spacious entranceway area, which used to be the aforementioned train depot.
We then ambled down to the Bats’ clubhouse, home of the forsaken Aerobie.
This was one of the few clubhouses that I’ve seen that feature a pool table.
Beyond that, I simply enjoyed documenting some of the more absurd pieces of 2013 season detritus. I wonder what the fine is for allowing the fine box to be photographed by a middling Minor League blogger?
Not the best place for a fitted hat sticker, guys.
No offense, USA Baseball.
And while Muhammad Ali is one of Louisville’s most famous native sons, let it be known that one of his most celebrated adversaries also logged time here.
Back upstairs, there was a whole lotta eatin’ going on. Although I failed to document it, the centerpiece of my dinner was a “Kentucky filet mignon” aka fried bologna.
Dinner was followed by the presentation of the Golden Bobbleheads, but, as mentioned previously, I’ll save my thoughts on them for another time. After the awards “ceremony,” whilst in the midst of the usual industry event hobnobbing, I was approached by members of the Bats’ staff. Would I be interested in dressing as a racing food product? How could I say no?
Back down into the abyss we descended:
No documentation exists of our concourse forays, but it was an interesting experience. Usually when I’m in costumes such as the above, the response is one of constant attention. “Hey, can I get a picture?” “High five!” “I know you can hear me!” etc. But when dressing up as a racing food product amid an all-industry crowd, THE INDUSTRY DOES NOT CARE. I was met with contemptuous glares by some, but most were completely indifferent and couldn’t even be bothered to high five. Okay, cool, that’s fine, save your energy for the piano bar. I understand that at this point in the calendar year a certain ennui has set in. It sure has for me!
But yet, I keep writing. There will be more from Louisville, because there is always more until there is nevermore. But, for now, I’m gonna quit Raven.