Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Guest Post: Farewell to the Sea Cows

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Michael Lortz, last seen on this blog via his stint as Dunedin Blue Jays Designated Eater. Michael is a consultant and freelance writer from Tampa. He currently writes for TampaBayBaseballMarket.com and has written for various other baseball sites. He is a big fan of Hugh Manatee.

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In 1972, there were only 1267 manatees in Florida. Today, there are over 6300. Starting in 2017, however, there will be approximately 30 fewer manatees in Brevard County.

After 22 years at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida, the Brevard County Manatees are moving west to Kissimmee to be rebranded as the Central Florida “Somethings”. Somethings isn’t really their name, but there is a fan vote to determine between a Magic/Disney-related name or a rodeo-cowboy related name. Either way, they won’t be the Manatees anymore.

Space Coast Stadium (Ben's Biz file photo)

Space Coast Stadium (Ben’s Biz file photo)

The history of the Florida State League is littered with teams that no longer exist, from the Palatka Azaleas to the Baseball City Royals to the DeLand Sun Caps. The league’s most recent move was after the  2009 season, when the Sarasota Reds became the Bradenton Marauders. Prior to 2009, teams moved from such historic locations as Al Lang Field in St Petersburg and Dodgertown in Vero Beach. And just a few exits north of the Manatees’ current home is the Cocoa Expo, a ghost stadium that once hosted Spring Training for the Houston Astros, who coincidentally also moved to Kissimmee before vacating it for a new shiny home in West Palm Beach.

I went to my first Brevard County Manatees game during their inaugural 1994 season. They were the new kids on the block, with the right stuff for the home of the space shuttle. Initially a Marlins affiliate and, later, a Brewers farm team, they frequently featured young talent on the way to the Majors. Players such as Edgar Renteria and Josh Beckett, Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo called Space Coast Stadium home.

Although I no longer live in Brevard County, I’ve made sure to go to at least one game every year. I’ve gone by myself, with my Dad, and, most recently, with my nephew. Even though he is not the biggest baseball fan, going to a game every year with him has become our thing. He eats hot dogs and runs around; I half-watch a game and get to spend time with him. And somehow, someway, he always ends up going home with a game-used baseball.

Mike and his nephew at Space Coast Stadium

Mike and his nephew at Space Coast Stadium

Admittedly, the Manatees are not moving far – Kissimmee is only about an hour from Viera – but the fact that my hometown no longer has a team hurts. Space Coast Stadium will still be used for tournaments and regional games, but that’s not the same. The Space Coast will no longer be home to Minor League Baseball.

My family on my Dad’s side is from Brooklyn, New York. In the late 1950s, when my Dad was a kid, the city went through a horrible time when the Yankees were the only game in town. Citing better financial opportunity, the Dodgers and Giants broke the hearts of millions of fans and relocated to the West Coast.

Today, I live in the Tampa Bay area. Every year, Rays fans hear rumors that the team will eventually leave the area for a new stadium in a new city. I write about the Rays’ fan base on various websites and have estimated there are nearly a million Rays fans in Florida. There would be a lot of sad people if the Rays moved.

If I’m emotional thinking about the Manatees, how will I deal with the relocation of the Rays?

Ever since there has been baseball, teams have moved to greener or more profitable pastures. Baseball is a business and business owners want to position their business where it will make the most profit.  Business school taught me that. My family experienced this harsh reality in Brooklyn and now I have to realize it in Brevard County.

While I understand, how do I tell my 8-year old nephew that the Manatees are gone? How do I tell him the that team on his first baseball hat is no longer in existence? How do I tell him “Let’s Go Manatees” is no longer a chant that means anything to anyone but us?

Although the Brevard County Manatees have gone extinct, they will live on in the great times and great memories of the last 22 years. As Bart Giamatti once wrote, baseball is “designed to break your heart.”

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***

Thanks, Mike, for your insight. Regularly-scheduled Ben’s Biz Blog programming will resume tomorrow. In the meantime, my posts covering my 2015 visit to Brevard County can be read HERE

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On the Road: Sun-scorched in Kingsport

To see all posts from my June 26 visit to the Kingsport Mets, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Requisite pregame wanderings out of the way, it was time for a ballgame. The Kingsport Mets were hosting the Pulaski Yankees on this incendiary Sunday afternoon, meaning that it was the Appy League equivalent of New York City’s twice-annual “Subway Series.”

Pulaski and Kingsport are located approximately 115 miles from one another. Shockingly, there is no subterranean transportation between the two locales.

So, yeah, I guess I’ll just call it the I-81 Series. Or, as Kingsport assistant general manager Josh Lawson suggested, “Subway Series South.”

Not that I was really watching the game, anyway. Since no one volunteered to be my Designated Eater in Kingsport (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine my gluten-free diet prohibits), Lawson took the job.

Here is what we had to choose from:

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And here is what was chosen:

IMG_0080Take it away, Josh:

This so-called “Taco in a Helmet” consists of chips, chili, shredded cheese, lettuce, jalapenos and salsa. Josh explained that it replaced the “Mets Pie” on the concession, menu, the “Mets Pie” being Fritos in a hot dog container covered with cheese and chili and the like.

“[The Taco in Helmet] is real filling, and you get to take home a collectible souvenir also,” he said. “But it took three years before people stopped ordering the Mets Pie. This is the new Mets Pie.”

Josh then had an opportunity to enjoy a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.

IMG_0082“[General manager] Brian [Paupeck] was saying that no one would want to get their hands dirty with wings,” said Josh. “So why not take our chicken sandwich and make it a Buffalo chicken sandwich? It now outsells our grilled chicken.”

That concluded Josh’s designated eating cameo, but I’m not done writing about the Kingsport Mets concession scene.

Taking a cue from their sister club in St. Lucie, the Mets offer charcoal-grilled pretzels.

IMG_0079They also offers bags of house-made pork rinds, which I (greatly) enjoyed later in the afternoon.

IMG_1569With Josh’s assistance, I crashed a group outing taking place on the first base-side picnic pavilion. There, I received a helping of some primo pulled pork and a side of baked beans.

IMG_0089Also phenomenal was the “Beach Hut Shaved Ice Truck.”

IMG_0087I got “Tiger’s Blood” shaved ice, which contains real tiger’s blood (I’m lion).

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“Awesome!” it says in my notes, regarding the taste of Tiger’s Blood. (Don’t be discouraged, young writers. It took me years of practice to be able to describe things so vividly and creatively).

I enjoyed the shaved ice while sitting at the Beer Porch, which featured Mets baseball cards under (plexi)glass. The Beer Porch offers alcoholic beverages from Kingsport-based Sleepy Owl Brewery and Gypsy Cidery.

Josh and I also swung by the team store, where this T-shirt currently reigns as the No. 1 selling piece of apparel.

IMG_0085Despite the flurry of information and imagery I have just hit you with, this was an inordinately sleepy day at the ballpark. It was a sun-baked afternoon and, as you can see, Hunter Wright Stadium doesn’t exactly offer much in the way of shade.

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IMG_0094I got some relief from the heat in the press box, which isn’t directly located behind home plate. It’s shaded to the left, and at a bit of an angle.

IMG_0097The press box offers a view of the dog park located beyond the fence in left field and, in the distance, Bays Mountain. At one point in the afternoon, I was told that wolves are raised on the mountain, and that roadkill deer are fed to the wolves. I don’t remember who told me this, but it’s in my notes so it has to be true.

Back on the concourse, I spoke with Rocky and Kyle Horne, the father and older brother of Kingsport pitcher Kurtis Horne. Rocky and Kyle had traveled some 2,800 miles from their home on Canada’s west coast to see Kurtis pitch. My story on them can be read HERE.

horneThrough it all, the sun just kept beating down.

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Pulaski went on to win this particular iteration of the “Subway South Series,” by a score of 11-5. The Yankee players celebrated by putting their bodies in close proximity to one another.

IMG_0107By the time the ballgame ended, I wasn’t feeling too well. The heat, combined with that day’s stadium diet of pulled pork and pork rinds, had left me feeling light-headed and nauseous. I spent over a half an hour in the parking lot after the game, desperately trying to come up with a Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke, but I just couldn’t do it. My brain, and body, were shot.

This is me, defeated, completely and totally out of jokes.

IMG_1575Oh, well. I’ll get ’em next time.

***

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On the Road: Meeting the Mets in Kingsport

To see all posts from my June 26 visit to the Kingsport Mets, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

I began my Appalachian League road trip in Greeneville, Tennessee. The following day I had a new destination, and that destination was some 48 miles northeast of Greeneville: Hunter Wright Stadium, home of the Kingsport Mets. It was a Sunday afternoon, and my overriding memory was that it was hot. But it was also beautiful.

IMG_0069I was greeted outside of the stadium by Kingsport Mets general manager Brian Paupeck, who assumed that position prior to the 2013 season. He came to Kingsport after spending 10 seasons with the St. Lucie Mets, who are both operated by the parent New York Mets. While in St. Lucie, Paupeck apparently learned a thing or two about office decoration from St. Lucie general manager Traer Van Allen.

Here’s Van Allen’s bobblehead collection:

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And here’s Paupeck’s, in Kingsport:

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IMG_0070A rock quarry is located directly behind Hunter Wright Stadium, and Paupeck reported that controlled explosions at the quarry (which occur two-three times a week) cause the the bobbleheads in his office to start bobbling. It is my hope that one day Paupeck videos this phenomenon and then disseminates it via the internet.

Kingsport has been the Mets’ Rookie-level affiliate since 1980. A veritable who’s-who of future New York Metropolitans have started their careers there, including six who were on the 2015 pennant-winning squad. This season, Kingsport’s Opening Day roster included seven of the team’s top 10 prospects. Surely, the team’s Wall of Fame (or, more accurately, Chain Link Fence Hall of Fame) will continue to grow.

IMG_0072I’m not sure if Slider is on the K-Mets’ Wall of Fame, but he should be. Slider’s bone-wielding skills are top-notch.

IMG_0073Slider had some measure of relief while standing in the so-called “Breezeway”, which leads to the seating bowl. Otherwise, this is a ballpark that provides very little relief from the heat (hence, the team plays the vast majority of its games at night).

IMG_0074Hunter Wright Stadium, owned by the city of Kingsport, opened in 1995. The city leases it to the Kingsport Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, who utilize it as a key piece in their tourism-promoting arsenal. A variety of high school and collegiate tournaments are held there annually, because baseball tournaments lead to greater hotel occupancy rates and greater hotel occupancy rates lead, in turn, to more hotel bed tax revenue.

The construction of Hunter Wright Stadium was more difficult than expected, due to the rocky terrain upon which it was built. A good portion of the budget went toward leveling the land, and the ballpark was built in sections. Therefore it has a bit of a Frankenstein’s Monster quality, with perhaps the most noticeable quirk being the placement of the press box.

The press box isn’t behind home plate, though it is in the general vicinity.  IMG_1564

The field was a nice place to be, outside of, you know, how hot it was. The players were mingling about, which is what players tend to do as game time becomes imminent. They are expert minglers.

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The K-Mets, like many teams, have a Field of Dreams program in which local youth teams take the field along with the players. Or, in this case, a not-so-local youth team. The orange-shirted individuals in the below photo came from Cumberland, Kentucky, located approximately 60 miles away.

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Pregame introductions gave way, as they often do, to the National Anthem. This particular iteration was a prerecorded organ version. Classic.

Once the anthem had concluded, a ballgame broke out. Sorry to be so predictable, but baseball is predictable. I do my best with the materials that I am given.

IMG_0091There will, of course, be more material to come from Kingsport. I’ll do my best with it.

***

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On the Road: Classics with a Twist in Greeneville

To see all posts from my June 25 visit to the Greeneville Astros, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

The man in the below photo, his name is Curt Collins.

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Curt is a lawyer based in Greeneville, Tennessee. He has his own law firm, specializing in Family Law, Criminal Law and, as his website points out, “more.” But Curt is a man of many talents, not all of them relegated to the courtroom. During the evening I spent at the Greeneville Astros’ home of Pioneer Park, Curt served as my designated eater (you know, the individual recruited to consume the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits).

You had probably already guessed that Curt was my designated eater, given that, in the above photo, he is posing in front of a formidable spread. He and I (and his wife, Aly, who will appear later) were in a Pioneer Park suite, and Curt is no stranger to such environs. He and Aly attend approximately half of the team’s games, and Curt advertises with the club via a recurring between-inning skit featuring the hapless “Convict Carl.” Fans are advised that if they, like Convict Carl, make a bad decision then Curt is the man to call for legal representation.

But anyway, let’s get back to that spread. The Astros’ concessions are handled by Sodexo, which also provides food service for Tusculum College (Pioneer Park is located on the Tusculum campus). In the below photo there are two (2) of each of the following items: The High Heat Burger, Astro Dog, Corn Dog, and Nachos Supreme (in a team-logo helmet).

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We began with the High Heat Burger. Said heat is brought via Cajun seasoning, pepper jack cheese and the team’s “High Heat” sauce (it’s mayo-based, with some hot peppers in the mix).

IMG_0033Have at it, Curt.

Curt said that the High Heat “had a good flavor to it” but that “you have to like spicy.” Curt likes spicy. He gave it an eight, on what I assume was a 10-point scale.

Next up was the Astro Dog: a hot dog wrapped in brown sugar-crusted bacon and topped with chipotle mayo, tomato, fried onions and a dill pickle spear.

IMG_0034Curt’s love for the Astro Dog is as boundless as the great outdoors. He had to move out of the suite in order to fully appreciate it.

IMG_0035“This is my favorite,” said Curt. “It’s such a good mix of flavors. The fried onions make a difference, and you can’t go wrong with bacon on a hot dog. The brown sugar gives it a little sweetness, and the brown sugar mixed with the chipotle mayo is such a unique combination. That’s what really makes it. The weirdest part is the tomato. I don’t think I’d miss them.”

The next item on the docket was a corn dog.

IMG_0037“It’s a classic corn dog,” said Curt. “I don’t want to say anything negative, but I guess you need the truth: It’s not hand-dipped. It tastes like something I could make in a microwave.”

Another item to consume necessitated another location change. Here, Curt poses with his Nachos Supreme in front of the concession stand from which it can be obtained.

IMG_0043These nachos are made “supreme” via the addition of cheese, chili, sour cream, tomatoes and jalapenos. Curt said that while they were “loaded nachos, for sure,” they were “not loaded down with too much chili to where the chips get soggy. I’m getting to the bottom and they’re all still crispy.”

When we returned to the suite, Astros general manager David Lane was waiting for us with even more helmet-based cuisine.

IMG_0044These ice cream sundaes included both vanilla and chocolate ice cream and were topped with berries, nuts, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. For dessert, Curt was joined by his wife, Aly.

IMG_0049Kurt and Aly met on July 4th, 2012, but didn’t start dating until a year later. They were married this past May. Aly works for the local Boys and Girls Club, which regularly partners with the Astros on community-minded events.

The newlyweds enjoyed their sundaes.

IMG_0051Kurt declared dessert to be “fantastic,” and not just because he got to share it with his beautiful bride.

“It’s like the ultimate sundae,” he said.

And thus concluded this latest adventure in designated eating.

“I don’t want to keep using the word ‘classic’, but that’s exactly what they’ve got here,” said Curt. “Good, classic food.”

***

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On the Road: A Dedicated Fan Base in Greeneville

To see all posts from my June 25 visit to the Greeneville Astros, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Pregame wanderings complete, it was now time to take in a ballgame. (For me, taking in a ballgame simply translates to “more wandering.”)

IMG_1540David Lane, the longtime general manager of the Astros, introduced me to some of the team’s most dedicated fans throughout the game. First I met Arthur and Edith Ricker, who just so happened to be celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary. Arthur delighted in sharing his World War II memories, with Edith often jumping in to steer the conversation back on course. As that impish gleam in her eyes amply illustrates, she was quick with a smile and had a great sense of humor.

“Want me to stick out my tongue?” said Edith, just before this picture was taken.
IMG_0028Later on I met Steve Alexander, part of Greenville’s most celebrated baseball family. Most prominent among them was Steve’s father, Dale, who won the 1932 American League batting title as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

IMG_0053 Finally, there were sisters Norma, Betty and Joyce of nearby Mosheim, Tennessee. The sisters agree that the best player they ever saw play for Greeneville was Jose Altuve, whom Betty called “a little fireball.”

IMG_0055For more on the individuals mentioned above, read my MiLB.com story.

Anyhow, there was still a ballgame going on. There always is.

IMG_0029It was “Olympic Night” at the ballpark, which manifested itself primarily via the staff — and the mascot — wearing over-the-top patriotic t-shirts (I guess all t-shirts are “over-the-top,” come to think of it). Gizmo, the cousin of Houston mascot Orbit, loves America.

IMG_0056If baseball doesn’t work out, maybe Garcia, Pal, Johnson, Castro, Franco, Fernandez and Sanbria (?) can form the country’s most awkwardly-named law firm.

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Hitting coach Cesar Cedeno, on the left, was honored this season with a bobblehead/leg featuring his preferred dugout pose. Two undulating appendages for the price of one!

As the game wore on, I spent a couple of innings in the grassy area down the third base line that serves as a promo crew staging area.

IMG_0061Some of the things I saw back there can’t be unseen.

Nah, just kidding, all of the food is alive and well.

IMG_1548The Astros ended up losing the ballgame, 5-3, to the Johnson City Cardinals. My only note involving the game itself was that Greeneville shortstop Jonathan Arauz (who was born just before I entered my sophomore year of college) hit a home run over the right field fence and that a “retrieval effort ensued.” Fascinating stuff, as always.

After the game, I spent some time admiring Pioneer Park’s Greeneville baseball history exhibit.

IMG_0065Once I returned to the field of play, a rather desultory round of Launch-A-Ball was just wrapping up.

IMG_0067That meant it was time for me to wrap things up as well. All that was left to do was write and disseminate my nightly Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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On the Road: Kicking Things Off in Greeneville

To see all my posts from my June 25 visit to the Greeneville Astros, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Okay. Here we go. Over the last two months I visited the entirety of the Appy League as well as 10 teams throughout California, Nevada, Idaho and Washington. I’ve written features and short blog posts from (nearly) all of these locations, with still more to come. On a personal level, I moved to a new apartment here in NYC and, one month later, have still not finished unpacking. Oh, and the Ben’s Biz T-shirt is now available! The cumulative effect of the above endeavors leads me to my favorite activity of all: excuse making! I just haven’t had the time (some might say the wherewithal) to return to the blog to write the in-depth ballpark recaps you have come to know and, surely, love.

But you know what? Now I’ve got the time. I’ve got it in spades. Today I’ll begin blogging about Appy clubs and their diamonds, with all the heart I muster. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us.

***

I flew into the city of Asheville, North Carolina, on the morning of June 25. I had no time to be a tourist, however, as I needed to get to neighboring Tennessee as soon as possible. So I hopped into a rental car, cranked up Complete Road Music Volume 1, shed a tear to some Red Sovine and hit the open road.

After checking into a hotel in Johnson City — my home base for the next five nights — I headed to Greeneville to see the Astros. I never quite made it to Greeneville, however, as the Astros actually operate in neighboring Tusculum. Their home of Pioneer Park, built in 2004 and funded via a sizable donation from local businessman/philanthropist Scott Niswonger, is located on the campus of Tusculum College. The Astros run the park between June 1 and September 15; otherwise it is under the control of the college.

IMG_0002Pioneer Park is the newest park in the Appy League. It has 2,500 seats, but can accommodate as many as 3,800 via berm seating. The Astros led the league in attendance from 2004-2014, but last year were dethroned by the Pulaski Yankees and their renovated Calfee Park. They are currently in fourth place in the 2016 attendance rankings, having been passed by the Burlington Royals and Johnson City Cardinals (two teams that have also made improvements to their facilities recently).

One of the first things I saw upon entering the ballpark was pitchers Diogenes Almengo and Patrick Sandoval signing pregame autographs.

IMG_0004Longtime season-ticket holders Bill and Don were not signing autographs, though they probably would if you asked nicely.

IMG_0005I spent an hour or so before the game with Astros general manager David Lane, who, when I arrived at the ballpark, was manning a ticket booth. (Such is life in the Appy League.) Among other locations, we stopped in one of Pioneer Park’s four suites.

IMG_0007This “Wheel of Fun” was donated by the parent Houston Astros. The primo prize, in my opinion, is “game-used item.”

IMG_0009 This Tusculum College athletic field is adjacent to the ballpark.

IMG_0011The clubhouses are located down the right-field line. In the below photo, I like to imagine that the player with the bat is actually carrying a bindle stick and that he has just decided to run away from home. His friend is bidding him goodbye and good luck.

IMG_0013The clubhouses are shared with the Tusculum baseball team, who once boasted a standout player by the name of Boo Morrow.

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And wouldn’t you know it? Today (August 30), is Boo Morrow’s birthday.

Capture

If you think this closet looks cluttered now, just think about what it looks like after the season ends. Then, the Astros have to stuff it with just about everything they own since they do not have access to the rest of the facility.

IMG_0017Longtime readers of this blog, of which there are several, know that I never pass up the opportunity to take a picture of a trainer’s table.

IMG_0018Clustered in the corner of a hallway were the remnants of the previous night’s fireworks show. MAXX CALIBER! (Lane also spotted four broken bats in the general vicinity, and grabbed them so they could be used as Wheel of Fun “game-used items.”)

IMG_0022The Pioneer Park grounds crew works year-round, on behalf of both the college and the Astros. Their storage space is ample.

IMG_0023Our visit to the dugout was brief, as a game was about to break out.

IMG_0019But before a game begins, patriotic protocols must be followed.

IMG_0025I watched the National Anthem while standing behind these two longtime fans. We’ll meet them in the next post.

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***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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About Friday Night: Spokane Indians, August 12, 2016

On Friday night I visited Spokane, Washington, the final stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip. After a not-so-brief travel and sleep delay, I now provide the following brief recap. There will be far more to come on the blog regarding this trip, as well as my previous Appalachian League excursion. 

August 12: Spokane Indians (Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Texas Rangers)

Opponent: Eugene Emeralds, 6:30 p.m.

Avista Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0392Avista Stadium, from within: 

IMG_0424Culinary Creation: Bacon Blue Fries (beer-battered fries with blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles and bacon crumbles)

IMG_2777Ballpark Character: Doris the Spokanosaurus

IMG_2771At Random: The Indians are long-time partners of the Spokane Indian tribe; signage throughout the ballpark is in the tribe’s native Salish language.

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Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

This trip is over!

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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About Last Night: Tri-City Dust Devils, August 11, 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 Thursday night I visited Pasco, Washington, the penultimate stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip.

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (Class A Short-Season affiliate of the San Diego Padres)

Opponent: Spokane Indians, 7:15 p.m.

Gesa Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0365Gesa Stadium, from within: 

IMG_0370Culinary Creation: The Grand Slam Burger (topped with barbecue pulled pork)

IMG_2685Ballpark Character: On-field emcee/late-innings peanut vendor Erik Mertens

IMG_2677At Random: I’m going to go ahead and declare this to be the biggest sunshade in Minor League Baseball.

IMG_0380Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

MiLB.com articles from this trip thus far: (Read ’em all!)

At the Helm in Sacramento

It’s Churros Time in San Jose

Marty is Doing Well in Visalia

Up Next: 

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

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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About Last Night: Boise Hawks, August 10, 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 Wednesday night I visited Boise, Idaho, the eighth stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip.

August 10: Boise Hawks (Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Colorado Rockies)

Opponent: Hillsboro Hops, 7:15 p.m.

Memorial Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0322Memorial Stadium, from within: 

IMG_0326Culinary Creation: Rocky Mountain Oysters (look it up)

IMG_0347Ballpark Character: Rally Rocket, the alter-ego of Hawks’ account executive Jon Jensen.

IMG_1082At Random: I was Fry. I lost in this race to Spud and Gem.

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Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (vs. Spokane, 7:15 p.m.)

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

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Reno Aces, August 8, 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 Reno, Nevada, the seventh stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip.

August 8: Reno Aces (Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks)

Opponent: Salt Lake Bees, 7:05 p.m.

Greater Nevada Field, from the outside: 

IMG_0272Greater Nevada Field, from within: 

IMG_0292Culinary Creation: Funnel cake, red velvet funnel cake and a deep-fried Snickers bar lurking in the back.

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Ballpark Character: Princess, a 10-year-old pit bull rescue dog, has become a ballpark celebrity. She shares an office with her owner, Aces executive vice president Andrew Daugherty.

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At Random: Aces shortstop Jack Reinheimer made a cameo as designated eater, becoming the first-ever active player to act in this capacity. A truly historic moment.

IMG_2526Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

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

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (vs. Spokane, 7:15 p.m.)

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

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz