Results tagged ‘ Arkansas Travelers ’

A Mass of Cots-tumed Characters

I’m going to assume that, at this point in time, you have already thoroughly scoured my post on 2014 road trip itineraries. (If you haven’t, then please click HERE). Thanks to all who have provided feedback on that post; more is always encouraged via benjamin.hill@mlb.com  and twitter.com/bensbiz

But enough about me! Did you know that, in recent weeks, several new Minor League mascots have made their debut? I am sensing a profoundly ambivalent response to that query, but soldiering on in the face of ambivalence is what I do best. Therefore, let’s start with Chico of the El Paso Chihuahuas, who I will be able to meet in person on April 29th. Say what you will about the Chihuahuas name/logo/overall branding efforts, but one thing they are definitely not is bashful. Chico, who came into the world without even a scintilla of an origin story, is IN YOUR FACE.

(This, and all Chico photos, courtesy Peter Svarzbein/El Paso Chihuahuas)

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Let’s back up a little…

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From the rear. This photo could in no way be misconstrued.

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I do my best to refrain from lazy “only on the internet” phrases such as “nightmare fuel,” but there’s no doubt that Chico has a bit of an edge too him. He’s got red eyes, a dog collar necklace, and a cockeyed, teeth-baring grin, three presentational elements that are rarely associated with the Minor League mantra of family-friendly entertainment.

El Paso Chihuahuas — on the cutting edge, or missing the mark? I have a feeling that Chico doesn’t care what your opinion is, whatever it is. He will be performing for a fan base that includes Pauly Shore and Cheech Marin (really!), so chances are that he’ll fit in just fine.

Peter Svarzbein/El Paso Chihuahuas

Peter Svarzbein/El Paso Chihuahuas

Meanwhile, a couple thousand miles to the northeast, the Akron RubberDucks have unveiled “Webster.” 

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And, yes, let’s get this out of the way. As noted by more than one of my Twitter followers, Webster appears to be Minor League Baseball’s version of “Poochie,” the superfluous Itchy and Scratchy sidekick whose cynical conception and even more cynical demise was the subject of a classic Simpsons episode.

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It turns out that, in the flesh, Webster is downright endearing. Chances are slim that he will die on the way back to his home planet, I look forward to meeting him when I visit Akron on July 18.

Out in Modesto, Al the almond and Wally the walnut have long held things down on the mascot front. You’d think that the team would be content with displaying their pair of nuts at every home game, but, no, they want more. Get ready for a female pistachio!

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Like all female pistachios, this one needs a name! Fans are invited to choose among Penny, Patty, Shelley, Bella, or Polly, but why isn’t “Ms. Tachio” one of the options? I need to start a consulting company so that such wordplay opportunities are always taken advantage of within the industry. I would be good at this, and you know it.

Finally, in Little Rock, the Arkansas Travelers have unveiled not one and not three but yes two mascots: Ace and Otey. Sez the team:

Ace is a native Arkansan who grew up rooting for the Travelers. He proudly served his country and upon returning to the Natural State competed and won the Mascot Tryout. With a name like “Ace” of course he is a pitcher and stands at a very menacing 7′ 2″ tall and weighs 501 pounds with a size-36 hoof.

From the Travs’ Opening Day Facebook photo album:

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At 7’2″, Ace’s height is even greater than former Arkansas Traveler Loek Van Mil!

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This, also from the Travs, might be one of my favorite mascot bios in recent memory.

Initially the idea was for just one mascot, but when Ace introduced the Travs and Hughes Agency to his best friend “Otey the Swamp Possum” during the interview process all bets were off. Just like Ace, Otey is also native to the state hailing from Southeast Arkansas. He grew up watching Travs games with his family from underneath the stands at Little Rock’s Ray Winder Field. Otey, who was named after former Traveler infielder and groundskeeper R.C. Otey, claims that he is the Travelers’ “Good Luck Charm”. In fact Otey believes that his superstitions helped the Travs win the 2008 Texas League Championship even though their 62-78 regular season record was the worst for a champion in Texas League history. Otey stands a stout 5 feet tall, he is a fan of second base and the “phantom double play” and his favorite number is .984, which was R.C. Otey’s career fielding percentage.

And with this memorable bio comes a very memorable mascot.

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Okay, let’s back it up just a bit…

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Otey inspired a brief burst of snark and faux-outrage from amateur hour internet hyperbolists, but so what? As Otey’s bio makes clear — and this is something I learned firsthand when I visited in 2012 — the Travs and their fans have a strong nostalgia for their colorful Ray Winder Field past.  So much so, the beer garden at their current home of Dickey-Stephens Field is named after a well-known and often well-lubricated fan who would slide, in shorts, into a popcorn box base. Otey should fit right in.

And with that, it’s time for me to hook slide on out of here.

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Dancing and Digging with Fellow Travelers in Arkansas

Yesterday’s post barely scratched the surface of my Arkansas Travelers experience, seeing as how it concluded with the game’s first pitch. Now it’s time to dive in, headfirst, to part II!

I was in the press box for the singing of the National Anthem…

and then it was time to — yes — Play Ball! It sure took long enough!

And with the game finally, mercifully, underway, I commenced to wandering. I hadn’t yet worked up an appetite, but couldn’t help but take note of the various concourse food options.

Premium popsicles, courtesy of “Le Pops.” I really should have ordered a salted caramel!

The more standard concessions were all reasonably priced, and this is one the hallmarks of the Dickey-Stephens experience ($3 hot dog, $3.50 sausage, $3.75 nachos, etc).

The open-air wandering was good for both soul and constitution, and provided pleasing vantage points aplenty.

But soon I returned to the press box, for this is my destiny. For the sixth (and final) time on this trip, I spent an inning on the radio (I’ll forgive the Springfield Cardinals for being the only team not to extend the invitation).

Here’s the view from the booth, presided over by RJ Hawk (left) and Phil Elson. One of the topics was the impending post-game Diamond Dig, which Hawk was slated to MC. He informed me that it would be an excellent place to meet young single women, and my last words on the air were “I’m gonna get married tonight.” It didn’t happen, but — foreshadowing alert! — there were indeed single women aplenty and they were beautiful.

I’ve been a fan of Elson’s broadcast work ever since 2005, when I listened to him call the controversial ending of that year’s Texas League Championship Series between Arkansas and Midland. Here’s how I described it in a 2007 MiLB.com article:

The Travelers were trailing with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the bases empty when Jason Aspito came to the plate representing Arkansas’ last hope. The left fielder worked the count full, and then took ball four. Except plate umpire Steve Fritzoni had apparently lost track of the count and ordered Aspito back into the batter’s box. He struck out on the next pitch — on a 4-2 count! — handing the RockHounds a season-ending championship victory.

Elson was furious at this turn of events, and bitterly  spit out the phrase “Have a nice career, Fritzoni!” That has since become a personal motto of mine, whenever I (or someone around me) messes up. “Have a nice career, Fritzoni!” I say to myself.

I’ll end this nerdy digression by turning to something even nerdier, which I know a portion of my readership will be deeply interested in: a Texas League memo regarding proper conduct toward official scorers:

The next order of business – and I’m all business on these trips — was a concourse interview with assistant park superintendent Reggie Temple. In addition to his official job duties, Reggie spends the bulk of every game washing and detailing cars in the parking lot. (This side business is known as “Reasonable Reggie’s Car Wash” and his oft-stated motto is “Gimme Your Keys!”)

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Reggie Temple.

But that’s not all. Of course not. Reggie is also an accomplished and enthusiastic roller skater, and he brings his skates to the ballpark with him. Throughout our conversation, he would stop and dance whenever snippets of music played over the PA.

The funny thing about Reggie was that he didn’t seem to be showing off for me, or anyone. He was totally nonchalant and business-like, like “Music comes on, I skate. That’s what I do.” (More on Reggie in my MiLB.com piece).

My Reggie rendezvous occurred just outside of the “Travelers Baseball Museum,” so naturally that was my next destination. It is what its name implies — an area packed to the gills with memorabilia from Little Rock’s long and distinguished professional baseball history.

This cartoon good-naturedly pokes fun at legendary Travelers owner and operator Bill Valentine (now retired).

And here’s Valentine’s desk, from old Ray Winder Field.

A few more museum shots:

Okay, now it was time to eat. Travs general manager Pete Laven had told me that the team sold a “Deer Dog” (as in, venison), a locally-made creation that alluded to the prevalence of hunting in the Arkansas region. I did a quick run-through of the concourse in search of one, but, somehow, failed. It’s my fault — it was getting late in the game at this point, and I had wanted to make it back to the press box in time for the seventh-inning stretch.

So, as is so often the case in life, I settled for a big ol’ corn dog. (Like my Yuengling in Jackson, this corn dog had a special significance to me,  and I’ll explain why in my next post. It will be a “very special” edition of Ben’s Biz Blog, don’t miss it).

C.D. in the P.B.:

The seventh-inning stretch is sung by Elson himself, and he takes these duties very seriously. Here he is, plunging the depths of the soul, waiting for the sound of the organ to waft through the ballpark.

And, truly, he really belts it out, with the last note of the song sustained for a good 15 seconds or so. Perhaps a video will one day emerge, but this is all I’ve got.

I spent the remainder of the ballgame speaking with (and being interviewed by) Matt and Carolyn LaWell. They are a 20-something married couple in the midst of a season-long trek through the entirety of (full-season) Minor League Baseball, and their dispatches from the road are chronicled at their website aminorleagueseason.com. They are truly skilled and committed writers, and it was a fortunate (although not entirely surprising) happenstance that our paths ended up crossing. I’ll have a little more on them later, but the next order of business was something truly special.

The post-game Diamond Dig! This is a Minor League promotional staple, in which the women in attendance (18 and over) are invited on to the field post-game in order to dig (with a plastic spoon) for a small box buried in the infield dirt. And this box? It contains a diamond ring.  As soon as the game ended, the combatants lined up for their shot at post-game treasure.

In the following shot, the individuals with the cameras are the aforementioned Matt and Carolyn LaWell.

The women soon streamed forth onto the infield, and then patiently waited for the announcement that it was time to start digging.

And…begin!

I will take a conservative approach regarding which, and how many, photos I post here, but I would like to say that I was truly astounded by the number of beautiful women who were on the field. Like, this is just who happens to be in Little Rock for a Minor League Baseball game on a Thursday night? It was amazing.

After about 10 minutes of fruitless digging, Hawk (the MC) gave the clue that the diamond could be found on the right side of the infield. A migration ensued:

The digging then resumed in earnest, but soon there was commotion from just beyond second base. Heads began to turn in that general location…

and for good reason! The diamond had been found!

I made my way through the scrum to get a closer look…

and — YES! — there it was in all its glory! Here’s the winner, looking both relieved and elated.

This woman was a skilled competitor. If you go all the way back to my first Diamond Dig photo, of the women waiting on the stairs, you’ll see that she was first in line and plotting her strategy. Congrats!

And now the evening — and my road trip — was finally over. But I was in no hurry to leave. I watched the indefatigable interns clean the stands, before retiring to their on-site apartment for the evening.

And then snapped a photo of the LaWells in the home dugout.

But it all ended with this photo, as accurate a summation of the Minor League life as there ever was.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Hook Sliding into an Action-Packed Night in Arkansas

This most recent trip, which I never came up with a proper name for beyond “OKARMOTN,” wrapped up with a return engagement in the “AR” part of the equation: Little Rock, home of the Arkansas Travelers.

Since 2007, the Travs have made their home within the spacious confines of Dickey Stephens Park:

Dickey-Stephens is a great place to watch a game, and I had a phenomenal time during my lone evening there. It was action-packed, full of memorable characters and situations, and there’s a good chance that this post will be broken up into two pieces. (That’ll be a play it by ear kind of situation, keep reading and I’ll keep writing.)

But all that said, I’ll tell you right now that, on one level, my trip to Little Rock was a total failure. This is because I didn’t make it to Ray Winder Field, which served as the Travelers’ home from 1932-2006. (This photo taken from ArkansasRoadStories.com)

Word has it that the facility is in bad shape these days, a most dispiriting situation, but I wanted to get to Ray Winder because nearly everyone I spoke to at Dickey-Stephens said I needed to. It is a place with mystique, where irascible owner Bill Valentine (now retired) ran a no-tech operation that was high in charisma and “only in Minor League Baseball” eccentricity. Broadcaster Phil Elson, who spent six years at working at Ray Winder, regaled me with tales involving beer can pyramids, midgets on scooters, and not-fit-to-print owner-umpire repartee before wrapping it up like this:

“You can come to a game here [Dickey-Stephens] and enjoy it. It’s great. But if you used to go to games at Ray Winder, then you still have Ray Winder in your heart.”

(So, yeah, I’m frustrated I didn’t make it there. I didn’t have the time, pre-game, because of an agonizingly slow drive coming in from Jackson on I-40 that afternoon. And, my attempt to stop by the next morning before flying out of Little Rock was stymied by what was, apparently, the wrong address. But enough rambling justifications, which I wrote down solely to appease my own tendency toward self-criticism…)

There is still PLENTY to write about, live and direct from Dickey-Stephens Park!

That post-game Diamond Dig was just fantastic, and we’ll get to that in due time.

But the first order of business was, as usual, a player interview. While I waited for Elson to procure a victim (thanks, Darwin Perez), I followed up on a commenter’s tip and investigated the interior of this unassuming structure located down the right field line:

It looks like it would house team offices, perhaps, or maybe a storage area. But, no — this is an intern living area! Six young men in their early 20s, co-existing in harmony (more or less). Steven Kettler, a West Virginia native, was the only one “home” when I stopped by for a visit.

Kettler gave me a tour of this humble abode, which has been used as such since Dickey-Stephens opened in 2007. It consists of a living room, kitchen, bathroom and three bedrooms (with two beds apiece) and, as you might imagine, is a bit on the “messy” side of the housekeeping equation. For more, read THIS MiLB.com article.

The top TV simply carries a live feed of the nearby baseball field, so that the occupants always know what’s going on and what may need to be done (setting up and taking down BP is one of their many daily duties, for example).

This hallway leads to the bedroom suites, which are, of course, impeccably maintained. Just take my word for it.

Reminders of Ray Winder Field are plentiful throughout Dickey-Stephens Park. This storage shed, located a proverbial hop, skip and a jump from the intern apartments, has seats from the old stadium stacked up against it.

Meanwhile, these Winder relics have been pressed into active duty at Dickey-Stephens:

Dickey-Stephens boasts a downtown location, and plenty of Little Rock landmarks can be seen from the outfield concourse. The white structure in front of the skyscraper is the Old State House.

Per that unassailable information source that is Wikipedia, the Old State House is ” the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It is known best as the site of President Bill Clinton‘s election night celebration in 1992.” It has since been designated a National Historic Landmark.

I made my way back to the front entrance just before the gates were scheduled to open. Outside, a crowd had formed.

Many of these early arriving partisans were eager to get their hands on the evening’s giveaway, which was stacked up in huge quantities on a full-to-bursting concourse table.

That would be a Garrett Richards replica jersey t-shirt, distributed to the first 1000 youths in attendance. Many of these youths made an immediate wardrobe change upon procuring one.

Upon entering the stadium, many of the fans make an immediate right. To the beer garden!

The beer garden’s bleacher seating is an homage to Ray Winder Field.

“Hook Slide Corner” is what this area is officially known as, and boy oh boy is there a story behind that. To a large degree, this drawing tells the tale:

Walter “Hook Slide” Bradshaw was a regular at the Ray Winder beer garden. His nightly routine, as captured in the above drawing, was to do his “hook slide” into a popcorn box base, on concrete, while wearing jean shorts. And the reward for his effort was free beer from his fellow fans, which, once consumed, would inevitably end up as part of a teetering can pyramid.

It’s hard to imagine a Minor League team condoning such behavior, let alone making it a part of its franchise mythology, but this is just one of the reasons that the Travelers stand out. I couldn’t find any pictures of Bradshaw online, but here’s a shot of a newspaper tribute that I took while visiting the ballpark museum (more on that later):

And now, Hook Slide Bradshaw has obtained Beer Garden immortality!

A mascot based on Hook Slide Bradshaw would be awesome, but the Travs, understandably, went a safer route:

That’s Shelly the Horse, hanging out by the inflatable-laden “Kidz Korner.”

A better vantage point can be obtained simply by turning in the other direction, however. Texas League Baseball!

Some 1050 words later, I’ve finally reached a point in the narrative where the ballgame is underway. And there’s still so much more to write about! Including but not limited to: a roller-skating, car-washing member of the grounds crew, a phenomenal seventh-inning stretch, an encounter with this season’s premier Minor League nomads, and the embarrassment of riches that was the post-game Diamond Dig.

Yep, this one is definitely gonna be a two-parter. Thank you for your patience; it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

10 From ’10

coffin.jpgThe 2010 Minor League season is now lifeless and entombed, but it is my duty to preserve the corpse so that future generations may gaze upon its sepulchral splendor.

To that end, today’s post features my 10 favorite photographs from the recently deceased campaign. All of these pictures appeared on this blog at some point during the season, and are presented in the order in which they originally appeared.

Remember — it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Let’s all take a look at once was:

Snowpening DayFreezing precipitation prevented the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers from playing their first scheduled home game, causing the players to release their start-of-the-season aggression upon hapless snowmen (note the Rattlers’ scoreboard message, a nice example of thinking ahead).


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When Ya Gotta GoThe Northwest Arkansas Naturals held a nightly “Adoptable Pet of the Game” promotion this season, and on April 11 the evening’s honored canine broke loose from her handlers…
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You can guess what happened next

Catatonic CauliflowerJerry “The King” Lawler visited Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, leaving no doubt as to his feelings regarding rampaging vegetables.

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Tattooed PerfectionOakland A’s hurler Dallas Braden became a household name upon pitching a perfect game, but soon afterwards returned to Stockton in order to abdominally express his hometown pride.
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(photo credit: George Steckler/Stockton Ports)

Sweets From the Sky: The Visalia Rawhide dropped candy from a helicopter following an afternoon game in May. Idyllic images resulted.
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(photo credit: Chris Henstra)

Guacamole-Topped Vengeance: San Antonio Missions fan Randy Neuenfeldt lost a race to the Puffy Taco in 1992. He wasn’t about to let that happen again.
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A Dignified EveningThis is what happened when Jose Canseco fought a 60-year-old man prior to an Arkansas Travelers game. Your winner, by decision: Gary Hogan!
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ConfidenceWe could all learn something from the preternaturally self-possessed young Trenton Thunder fan.
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Postgame for PyrosStuntman Ted Batchelor ran around the bases following a Savannah Sand Gnats game. He was on fire at the time.
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Spitting ImageThe Lake County Captains saluted the almighty watermelon in August, leading to a snapshot most adorable.
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Of course, feel free to send along your own favorites from the 2010 season. I am, as always, interested in your input.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

A Day In the Life

tomorrow.jpgTomorrow, as it’s been said, is only a day away. And tomorrow’s tomorrow, when it becomes the present, presents a bountiful array of enticing presents to fans gracing Minor League ballparks with their presence.

Wishing to continue my reign as a preeminent prescient promotional prognosticator, I now present this truncated list of just what, exactly, is taking place tomorrow. Taken in toto, it serves to illuminate the the voluminous vitality of the Minor League landscape.

I know many of you would like to punch me in the face after reading the above two paragraphs, but you can’t. I’m light years away, and ensconced in bubble wrap. 

To the list!

Hank Conger Bobblehead Giveaway (Arkansas Travelers) — In honor of the switch-hitting backstop who suited up for the team in ’08 and ’09.

William Seward Bobblehead Giveaway (Auburn Doubledays) — In honor of NewThumbnail image for seward.jpg Yorkstate’s 12tgh governor, who suited up for the commonwealth from 1839-1842. He later served as Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln. Now he’s a bobblehead.

Three World Record Attempts (Bowie Baysox) — As detailed in this week’s “Promotion Preview” column, the Baysox are attempting to reach new heights in the categories of “Most People Sitting on a Whoopee Cushion”, “Most People Doing ‘The Twist'”, and “Most People Engaged in Simultaneous Air Guitar.”

Farmer Axle Bobblehead (Bowling Green Hot Rods) — It’s “Agriculture Night” in Bowling Green, hence a giveaway featuring a tractor-driving mascot.

Lumberstock (Clinton LumberKings) — An all-day festival featuring live music, cornhole tournaments, and plenty of food and drink. “Wood”n’t you like to go?

hooks.jpgRetro Jersey Giveaway (Corpus Christi Hooks) — An inimitable item mimicking the ’80s incarnation of parent club the Houston Astros.

Ryan Dempster Theme Jersey Auction (Daytona Cubs) — Proceeds benefit the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation.

Buster Posey Bobblehead (Fresno Grizzlies) — If you want one of these then you better Buster move to Chukchansi Park.

Jimmy Hart Appearance (Lexington Legends) — The “Mouth of the South” attempts to devour Applebee’s Park.

Ladies Night w/ Rafe Hernandez (Mahoning Valley Scrappers) — The “Days of Our Lives”rafe.jpg star visits Eastman Field, delighting fans with hourglass figures.

Jacoby Ellsbury Bobblehead (Pawtucket Red Sox) — Free to the first 4000 fans age 14 and under. Or at least those, like Ellsbury, who can pass for 14.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Jerry Lawler Appearance (Richmond Flying Squirrels) — Because two legendary grapplers are always better than one, unless they gang up on you.

A few odds and ends before closing up shop:

– A new “Farm’s Almanac” feature is up now, about the Frederick Keys’ “Volt Night” and executive chefs in Minor League Baseball. “Volt Night”, in which Top Chef’s Bryan Voltaggio manned a concession stand, was a huge hit in Frederick (attracting a near-sellout crowd on a Tuesday night). The Baltimore Sun ran an excellent recap and photo gallery of the event.

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– For sheer wordplay lunacy, it will be hard to top the Huntsville Stars’ September 6 promotion. The game will be preceded by the “Okra Win-Free Labor Day Marathon”. 103 people will split the duties of running the race (no one will “win”, see?) and okra will be a side dish in the steak dinner following the race. Plus, an invitation has been extended to Oprah Winfrey, who once ran a marathon. The entire event should be soundtracked by THIS.

– Finally, from the “Why Didn’t I Think of That” department, the Lancaster JetHawks have passed along word that they’re planning a “90210 Night” promotion for September 2. Get it? 9/02/10. It’s been right there in front of us, all along.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Slugger vs. Sexagenarian

Well, it happened: On Friday night, 46-year-old memoirist Jose Canseco took on 60-year-old ex-baseball coach Gary Hogan in a pre-game boxing match in Little Rock. 

The bout was staged at Dickey-Stephens Park, home of the Arkansas Travelers. For some background on the fight, click HERE
The fight went the four-round distance, but in the end Hogan emerged on the winning end of a stunning 39-37 decision. The following photos are courtesy of the Travelers — big thanks to director of promotions Jeremy Neisser for sending them along in such a timely fashion. 
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In the end, Hogan was the Hero:
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Let’s go to the tape: 

Usually I would unleash such material on a Monday, but as detailed in the last post I’m on the road now. The days have lost their meaning.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

One More Before Hitting the Road

pa.jpgFirst things first, I am on the cusp of my third road trip of this 2010 season. As a Pennsylvania native who now lives in NYC, this one includes some pretty familiar territory:

July 10 — Lakewood BlueClaws
July 11 — Reading Phillies
July 12 — Williamsport Crosscutters
July 13 — State College Spikes
July 14 — Triple-A All-Star Game @ Coca-Cola Park (home of the Lehigh
Valley IronPigs)
July 15-17 — Attending Keystone Mascot Camp, culminating in performance at Harrisburg Senators game
Juy 18 — Harrisburg Senators (sans mascot costume)

As always, feel free to get in touch with travel recommendations as well as suggestions as to what I should call this trip. The Keystone Krawl? Pennsylvania Perambulations? Northeastern Navigations? I got nothin.’

But it’s not about me, or what I’m doing. At least it shouldn’t be. With that in mind, here’s a formidable array of content that has nothing to do with yours truly.

– The Tennessee Smokies are one of many teams to have staged a Michael Jackson tribute night this season, but theirs stood out for one simple reason: Zombie Dancers!

This is certainly the most painstaking “Thriller” recreation to take place in the Minors this season:

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Meanwhile, the Trenton Thunder’s July 4th entertainment consisted of the ultra-American combination of a Strong Man Competition and Apple Pie Eating Contest (in addition to the requisite baseball and fireworks):

The club hosted the final event of the Liberty Strongman Challenge: The Atlas Stones

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And then there was this:

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The Hudson Valley Renegades recently held a “Jim Joyce Redemption” promotion, featuring plenty of fake mustaches, “Whack An Umpire” games (as opposed to the usual “Whack an Intern”), Umpire Impersonation Contests, and Umpire bloopers and arguments displayed on the videoboard.

Portrait of the Umpire As A Young Man:

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The Lowell Spinners recently welcomed a most intriguing between-inning performer: Al Milar the Human Knot. This flexible Australian is like a cross between Rubberboy and Mad Chad.

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Spinners director of media relations Jon Boswell reports that the Human Knot is highly entertaining and very affordable. Give Jon a call if you want more info. Twice I tried to embed THIS VIDEO of the Human Knot in this post, and twice it disappeared. I’m giving up.

But not before mentioning that THIS is occurring in Little Rock, as I type this. I wish I was there.

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Okay, I think that’s enough content that has nothing to do with me. Here’s to the negation of the self!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

How Lo Can You Go?

homeplanet.jpgIf there is one constant in my life, it is that I am forever stumbling. And one thing that I’ve been stumbling upon with great regularity as of late are new Minor League logos.

Let’s take a look:

The Ghosts of Casper, WY recently announced that Mr. Boyd Erickson of Bozeman, MT has been named the winner of the team’s “10th Anniversary Logo Contest”. Mr. Erickson has recently launched Tumbleweed Graphics, a design company, so perhaps this win will net him some business.
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The entire concept of a Ghost anniversary seems odd to me, as ghosts exist for eternity. There is no past or future, only an unending present of spiritual uncertainty within a hazily-defined netherworld.

The sun, meanwhile, is not eternal. Nonetheless, it possess a staying power that is largely unfathomable to those of us eking out fleeting human existences. Jacksonville’s Minor League team, which is named after this pulsating orb of life-giving warmth, recently unveiled a new color scheme. Let’s take a look at the old:

sunsold.gif 

And the new:

sunsnew.jpeg

If I had listed the Suns a bit later in this post I could have entitled their segment “Burn After Reading”. But that opportunity has been lost, so let me cut to the chase and list the four new items that Reading Phillies players will be wearing in 2010:

Classic Ballpark Game Cap:

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America’s Classic Ballpark Batting Practice Cap:

readingredclassic.jpg 
Road Game Cap:

readingredroad.jpg

Road Jersey:

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Looking at the above items, one would think the team was named the “Red”ding Phillies!

As tempted as I am to go out on that high note, I still have one more logo to share. Earlier today, the Arkansas Travelers unveiled their new ballpark logo. The “DSP” stands for “Dickey-Stephens Park”, and none of the other virtually infinite things that DSP could potentially stand for (“Dee Snyder’s Parents”, for example):

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This logo hasn’t been very well-recieved on the team’s Facebook page, with a standard complaint being that it would be more suited to a racecar track. But considering that ballplayers often motor around the basepaths, I say it’s a perfect fit.

And on that note, I depart. In closing, I ask that you consider becoming my FRIEND and FOLLOWER. No, these two designations are not mutually exclusive.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

Giddy Up, Giddy Up, For '09

turn.jpgAs you may or may not be aware, the inexorable passage of time has resulted in the fact that we are now living within the realm of a new calendar year: 2009!

I, once again, find myself either unable or unwilling to make an earnest bid for literary immortality. But I have to do something to pass the time and pay the bills, so I may as well engage in a task that serves the betterment of mankind. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that I have updated my links section. There have been a few additions and many subtractions, as I work toward the ultimate goal of providing the most well-curated Minor League link list ever known to man.

I must credit Joey over at “The Consumption Of…” blog for motivating me to undertake this most recent round of link list updates. For it was he who asked me, in the comments section of a recent post, what were some of my Minor League team blogs.

My answer, in good old alphabetical order:

BlueClaws BlogA recently revitalized destination, offering behind-the-scenes insight intoblogssss.gif anything related to the BlueClaws.   

The Brooklyn Baseball BlogAll sorts of inside tidbits on life in the Cycones front office, written in a light-hearted and humorous style.

Greg’s Connecticut Defenders BlogUpdated regularly throughout the offseason, and chock full of exclusive pictures.  

Notes From the Nat (Vancouver Canadians fan blog) — Surprisingly thorough and wide-ranging coverage from a short-season superfan.

Rattler Radio (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) — As someone who has engaged in my own half-insane blogging adventures, I greatly enjoy announcer Chris Mehring’s wide-ranging, highly-detailed, and humor-laced posts.

Travelerocity (Arkansas Travelers fan blog) — No other Minor League blog I’ve come across enjoys a greater level of user interaction than does “Travelerocity.”

Of course, please get in touch (by email or the comments section) with YOUR favorite blogs. If I’m missing anything, please let me know. And, as always, thanks for reading.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com  

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