Results tagged ‘ Beloit Snappers ’
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.
While it wasn’t necessarily my intention, one thing led to another and I ended up getting a lot of bullpen-related content on this trip. Enough for an MiLB.com “Bullpen Trilogy,” in fact, which began with last week’s riveting look at the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ “Quarter Game.”
Part two of the trilogy is a doozy, as it features an MiLB.com interview with none other than the Whitewall Ninja (aka Dakota Bacus.) Click HERE to read it.
My interview with Bacus was about more than just the Whitewall Ninja, however. What follows is the remainder of our conversation, in which he and one-time bullpen partner in crime Taylor Vail shared the details behind some of their other arcane rituals.
Ben’s Biz: Outside of the Whitewall Ninja, what have been some other bullpen highlights this season?
Taylor Vail: We did the sign game. So, say we’re playing Peoria, we’ll throw a ball to their bullpen that says “Sign Game?” You know, with a question mark. If they respond with “Yeah” then we’ll play.
Say our pitching coach [John] Wasdin goes out to the mound. While he’s out there someone [from the Peoria bullpen] would have to run out and touch one of the outfield signs. They might run to [the Regal] sign, for example, and however many signs that is the next time their pitching coach goes out we’d have to top it.
Vail (cont): One time there was a pitcher, who got released, he’s not with us anymore.
Bacus: Rest in peace.
Vail: Rest in peace to him, Drew Tyson. There was a pitching change and he went from pole to pole, got a cup of water from their Gatorade [cooler], and ran back. That was the best I’d ever seen.
Ben’s Biz: Once you do that, you’ve beaten the game.
Vail: Yeah, yeah, we beat them. That was against West Michigan, I think, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Game over. We won.
Ben’s Biz: When I was in Wisconsin I talked to the Timber Rattlers bullpen about their Quarter Game. Do you guys do anything like that, finding ways to supplement your income?
Vail: We sell broken bats. In Kane County we sold a few and got, like, almost a hundred dollars. Then when we went to Burlington [Iowa, home of the Bees] we put it all on black, playing roulette. And each of us [in the bullpen] walked away with $50 bucks I think it was.
Ben’s Biz: That’s funny, as the guys in Wisconsin also said that they spend their bullpen earnings at the casino in Burlington. [For the record, and also hilarious: this casino is named "The PZAZZ!"] So does everyone in the Midwest League just save their money until they get to Burlington?
Vail: That’s what I do, yeah. The casino is right in the hotel, so when you’re bored you just go there and lose it.
Ben’s Biz: Any other bullpen highlights from this season that I should know about?
Bacus: There’s the National Anthem stand-off, where you see who can keep standing the longest after the anthem [Note: I wrote about these last season]. Stuart Pudenz lasted nine innings and then 20 minutes after the game! That was against Peoria. We won that one.
Ben’s Biz: Dakota, you’ve recently been moved into the starting rotation. Are you still welcome in the bullpen now that you’re a starter?
Vail: Of course, he’s always welcome down there.
Bacus: You can take the kid out of the bullpen, you just can’t take the bullpen out of the kid.
Stay tuned for next week’s concluding installment of the Bullpen Trilogy, in which a quartet of Lansing Lugnuts talk about playing “Follow the Leader.”
Beloit was a late addition to my road trip itinerary, as originally I had planned to drive east from Appleton and then take a car ferry over Lake Michigan and into the state which bears its name. And once I did add Beloit to the itinerary, I was met with a lot of comments along the lines of “Beloit? Why?” and “Good luck with that one.”
The snarky tone directed toward Beloit stems from the fact that the Snappers are a community-owned team playing in a no-frills ballpark located in a town in which not much is going on from a tourism standpoint. But you know what? Pohlman Field has a lot of charm, the throwback yang to the uber-modern yins we shall see in future posts from this trip. I was grateful to have visited, and would recommend that you do the same should the opportunity arise.
The above two photos were actually taken at the end of my Sunday afternoon at Pohlman Field, once the weather had turned overcast. But when I arrived it was a bright and borderline uncomfortable hot summer day:
Pohlman Field’s closest reference point is Burlington’s Community Field, and if you aren’t familiar with that locale then please click HERE for a post on my 2010 visit. The fact that such facilities can exist within the same circuit as 21st-century standouts like Great Lakes and Fort Wayne is one of the reasons that the Midwest is one of my favorite leagues in all of Minor League Baseball. It’s diverse, I tell you. Diverse.
As is often the case with older ballparks, the player locker rooms are located in a separate edifice from the stadium itself. This means that the players must pass through a gauntlet of autograph seekers en route to the playing field.
My FOB (that’s First Order of Business, for those not familiar with the nuances of blogspeak) was to interview a couple of pitchers on the bizarre rituals and secret games of the Beloit bullpen.
That’s Dakota Bacus (now in the starting rotation) on the left and Taylor Vail on the right. The article based on our conversation has yet to be written, but it is Part Two of a planned “Bullpen Trilogy” that began with the Timber Rattlers and concludes in Lansing.
After talking to these upstanding gentleman, I made my way to the stands to talk to a ballpark character of an entirely different variety. Meet 99-year-old Grace Phillips, a Pohlman Field mainstay since the Snappers’ inaugural 1982 season:
My story about Grace HAS been written, and can be found HERE. And see the bell in her hand there? She brings it to every game and rings it in support of the hometown club, and in honor of this longstanding routine the Snappers gave away “Grace Phillips Cowbells” on June 30 (one week after I was there).
Grace had the right idea wearing that hat, as the sun was out in full force during the early portion of the afternoon. But stifling heat aside, it really was a beautiful day.
The visiting Peoria Chiefs:
A view of the grandstand:
A jokester in the bullpen messing around with his body-shrinking baseball glove:
The denizens of the bullpen are also a patriotic bunch, as they make sure to wave the flag during each and every Pohlman Field National Anthem rendition.
And upon the conclusion of the anthem came a little ditty by the CEO of Maybach Music.
America, 2013 https://t.co/E4mvZPaWqY
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 23, 2013
Nothing left to do now but play ball!
Chris Bostick and friend:
And with the game underway, it was of course time to explore the culinary options.
In advance of my visit the team actually modified the concession menu to reflect the gluten-free offerings, which I appreciated. (Thanks to community relations director Natalie Tobey for spearheading that effort.)
On the gluten-free front, I opted for this time-honored alliterative combination:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 23, 2013
But clearly there was much more that needed to be highlighted, which means that it’s Designated Eating time! I already wrote a bit about this in the aforementioned MiLB.com piece that also included Grace Phillips. Allow me to excerpt from it here, with pictures:
The Snappers are a community-owned non-profit, governed by a 17-member board of directors, and many of the gameday employees are volunteers. One such volunteer is Jon Pingel, who, along with his wife Erin, helps to coordinate the team’s concession operations. In addition to scheduling the shifts of other volunteers, the Pingels work at the concession stands at about a dozen games a season and receive a season pass in exchange for their efforts.
Pingel volunteered to be my “designated eater” for Sunday’s ballgame, sampling some of the Snappers’ concession delicacies that my gluten-free diet prohibits. After a stop at the Firehouse Grill concession shack located down the first-base line, he returned with both a Snappy Burger as well as a True Wisconsin.
The Snappy Burger is a cheeseburger topped with a brat that has been split down the middle, while the True Wisconsin is a burger topped with American cheese, nacho cheese and fried cheese curds. Wisconsin indeed.
“Is there such a thing as too much cheese?” Pingel asked rhetorically before trying the True Wisconsin, but he ultimately chose the Snappy Burger as superior because “nothing screams summer more. … It’s the ultimate ballpark food.”
Pingel in action:
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 23, 2013
After taking leave of Mr. Pingel, I was able to get this shot of Snappy in his natural habitat. Wildlife photography at its finest!
And speaking of big game hunting, the Snappers’ starting pitcher on this afternoon was 6’8″ Michael Ynoa (he has since been promoted to Stockton).
As the afternoon wore on, a storm moved in and a rain delay seemed imminent. But this rain delay, somewhat miraculously, never occurred. The baseball gods were with Beloit on this particular afternoon.
I greatly enjoyed the ambiance of Pohlman Field, and would recommend it to anyone seeking a dose of small-town Minor League Baseball. But as is so often the case with teams operating with a small staff and a tight budget, the overall presentation was a little rough around the edges. I took most of it in stride, but lost my patience a little bit when the PA announcer talked over the entirety of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” C’mon man!
Two can play at that game. https://t.co/dCuqFfkGRC
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 23, 2013
The Snappers’ took a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning on the strength of Bostick’s two-run single, and that turned out to be the final score. Good game, guys, good game.
This was followed by Launch-A-Ball, as a backpack-wearing bullpen denizen looked on.
When I’m on the road I always have so much to write about, both here on the blog and over at MiLB.com. This content overload is a good thing, but one negative aspect of it is that I can’t devote enough of my attention to that which is taking place outside of the places I visit.
C’est la vie, as the French say (when they’re giving examples of the cliched French terms that Americans actually know).
But right now? Right now I’m not on the road, nor do I have any more “On the Road” content. Therefore, today will be the first in a short series of bouillabaisse posts, in which I jump haphazardly from item to item with startling rapidity. Commence organized chaos and — warning! — some of this material is rather dated. I’m working my way through this backlog in chronological fashion.
Apropos of nothing — is R.A. Coon the best front office name in Minor League Baseball, or does Lexington’s Ty Cobb retain that honor?
— Beloit Snappers (@BeloitSnappers) March 20, 2013
(Regardless, THIS is the best blog post written by a Minor League broadcaster about someone named R.A.)
You may have seen my recent MiLB.com article about the Jacksonville Suns’ Casey Challenge, in which team president Peter “Pedro” Bragan challenges area school students to memorize the poem.
Well, speaking of the Bragans, did you know that the Suns gave away a “talking bobblehead” of Pete Bragan, Sr., the iconic team owner who passed away last season?
— Jacksonville Suns (@SunsBaseball) March 20, 2013
It really talks. Listen!
(And speaking, as I was, of “Casey at the Bat” — my favorite rendition, by far, is Tug McGraw narrating the poem while backed by Peter Nero and Philadelphia Pops Orchestra. I have it on record, and if anyone would like to assist with the LP-to-computer uploading process then let me know because I need to share it with the world at large.)
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have long had an almost maniacal propensity for pig-related puns (the Pork Illustrated game program, for example, or a conference room for “Boar”d Meetings). These days, said puns are practically avant-garde.
The team has named its frozen yogurt bar the “Soo’eyte Spot.” You figure it out.
How sweet it is! The Soo’eeyte spot frozen yogurt bar is having its grand opening tonight at Coca-Cola Park! twitter.com/IronPigs/statu…
— IronPigs (@IronPigs) April 5, 2013
I have no idea how or why this happened (and it seems to have happened on multiple occasions), but the Erie SeaWolves are most likely the only team to have a Dr. Batboy.
I would like for there to be a band named “Dr. Batboy.”
— Eric Brookhouser (@ebrook24) April 12, 2013
Meanwhile, via Visalia broadcaster Donny Baarns, this photo of multi-generational intolerance:
— Donny Baarns (@DonnyBaarns) April 14, 2013
And, that’s it for now. Much more where this came from, as soon as time allows.
To paraphrase a line from Moby Dick, Ben’s Biz Blog is “unbent from the vast corpulence of human dignity.” In other words, I can report on just about anything, no matter how ridiculous, and somehow not feel shame.
It’s a gift and a curse.
So let’s start with a strange and tragic tale out of Beloit. Yesterday evening, at approximately 6 p.m. ET, the Snappers posted the following Facebook update and picture.
Frack and Blaze have to easily be the two biggest fish in Minor League baseball. Little guy on the right is one of the “Wiggles,” there are three total.
That was the team’s last post of the day. And then the first post Thursday morning was this:
Well, we got to the office this morning and found that one of our fish, Blaze somehow made his way out of the tank. R.I.P. Blaze, you had a good run.
Does this seem fishy to anyone else? That Blaze would meet his untimely demise just hours after being highlighted on the Snappers’ Facebook page? Did he have enemies, who might have resented the attention being showered upon him?
Or maybe it was a desperate bid for freedom, an ill-advised leap toward the kind of life that fellow Minor League fish Al Tuna (of the Altoona Curve, natch) has carved out for himself. This globe-trotting aquatic vertebrae has appeared in all sorts of places lately, with the photographic evidence appearing on the team’s Facebook page.
St. Mark’s Basilica
A London Train Station
And even a taping of Conan in New York City.
Moving from fish to amphibians, you may remember that back in September I attended the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar in Myrtle Beach. At the event’s trade show, the following mascot was available to the highest bidder:
Multiple sources have informed me which team he will be with in 2011, but I’ll hold off from making the reveal (hint: the team’s name is itself aquatic). But if this was YOUR team, what would you name this guy? And how would you use him?
And now for a patented Ben’s Biz Blog tonal shift!
My new “Offseasoning” piece on Toronto Blue Jays prospect Bryan Kervin is now on MiLB.com. He missed the 2010 season after a life-threatening battle with ulcerative colitis, and is now on the comeback trail while also devoting himself to his Rise and Conquer charitable foundation.
A very interesting Minor League tale, and worth checking out.
Thanks, as always, for your time.
I was going to do a post called “Snow-cial Media”, that compiled all of the weather-related Twitter and Facebook postings I have seen throughout the day. But then I thought to myself that that was a stupid idea, and decided to write about something even more stupid instead: mascot videos.
So here goes nothin’…
In Beloit, the Snappers are once again hot on the trail of their elusive turtle mascot. It’s an enjoyable video to watch, even if I can’t quite fathom a mascot-team relationship in which the former is always on the run from the latter:
Meanwhile, out in Visalia, Tipper is spending some time out on the golf course. This is just a little “slice”-of-life video, giving you a glimpse of how mascots behave when they are away from the bright lights of the ballpark.
In closing, let me once again ask the following favor: make me a new blog head shot! Thank you.
Today is going to be one of those days where I throw a lot of stuff against the wall, just to see what sticks. So if you like to stare at walls that have stuff stuck to them (with even more stuff in a pile on the floor below), then keep reading.
We’ll start with — what else? — videos.
Videos such as the most recent edition of Omaha’s “My Offseason Life Is Average“. This is, in a word, funny (extra bonus points for the extreme brevity):
Meanwhile, some intense turtle-tracking is going on in Beloit. Better luck next time, guys.
Recently, the Gameops.com Blog did a post on Improv Everywhere, a group that stages live, public pranks. In the post, Gameops’ Jon Cudo says that he “is interested to see if any team or event operator is using any similar theatrics to amuse and confuse.” I, too, am interested in such a thing. Here’s an example of an Improv Everywhere stunt, one that could certainly be adapted to a Minor League game.
And for something completely different, check out the Lakewood
BlueClaws’ latest podcast. A suspiciously adult-sounding group of
children are treated to a dramatic story, one which explains how the
new mascot’s name came about.
Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have become the latest team to stage a “Golden Bobblehead” competition. The gist of it is that each week, the golden bobblehead will be hidden at an area business. Fans are given clues as to its location, and the person who finds it receives a 2010 VIP Experience Prize Pack. More details are HERE.
I’ll close with a ridiculous barroom idea, which came courtesy of a friend of mine. He asked me if a team has ever attempted a group rendition of the National Anthem, in which each singer was responsible for a single word of the song. That would take 81 singers and a substantial amount of coordination, but if done well it could be a very memorable publicity stunt.
Please, someone, make this happen. For I am a lowly blogger, destined to comment rather than create.
In order to, how you say, “get up to speed”, I’m going to rip a page out of my “Promotion Preview” playbook and write about a number of topics. But, here’s the catch — each of these topics will receive no less than 75 and no more than 125 words.
Wear This and You’ll Have a Ball, Girl — Anybody out there need a last-minute Halloween costume? Then head with a quickness to fresnogrizzlies.com, as the team is offering fans the opportunity to dress as the infamous “ballgirl” who was all the rage last season. You know, the one who made a spectacular leaping grab in Chukchansi Park, completely unaided by any sort of stunt cables or special effects. The costume, which costs $60, includes a Grizzlies cap and home jersey. For maximum realism, call up Jake Wald (the hapless left fielder featured in the clip) and ask him to accompany you to your Halloween party.
While We’re On the Topic of All Hallow’s Eve — Who knew? Halloween is indeed celebrated in Canada. I know this is so because the Vancouver Canadians are staging a pumpkin decorating contest. But hurry, the deadline to submit a tricked-out gourd is today. So don’t delay, and send photographic evidence of your pumpkin prowess to email@example.com…In other Halloween news, Slugger the Portland Sea Dogs mascot was looking for Trick-or-Treat partners — and he found some. Congratulations to the Wareham family of Goreham, ME, who will be accompanied in their candy-pilfering rounds by Portland’s most beloved costumed character.
The Bands, They Are A Battlin’ — Also occurring over Halloween weekend is the Stockton Ports’ first-ever Battle of the Bands. 18 aspiring music combos will take the stage at Banner Island Ballpark over the two-day extravaganza in order to showcase their kinetic musical chops and electromagnetic stage presence. In addition, each evening features a headling band as well. The Righteous and the Wicked (a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band) is scheduled to play on Friday, while groove rockers Minor Dischord close it out on Saturday. Hey guys, you should be more specific and bill yourselves as “Class A Advanced Dischord.” Anyhoo, the winner of this “Battle of the Bands” will be showered with a vast array of musical industry goods and services.
Hank’s Mobile Home Enjoys Brief Stint as a Mobile Home — Regular readers of this blog (ie those not drawn here by a picture of Lucille Ball) will remember this post, in which I detailed the Mobile BayBears’ plans to bring Hank Aaron’s childhood home to the grounds of Hank Aaron Stadium. Well, the club did just that this past week, subjecting the humble residence to an arduous seven-hour journey. I’d say that the whole thing went off without a hitch, except for the fact that a hitch was used in order to transport the house. Regardless, Hank’s old home is now scheduled to receive a six-month restoration, after which it will serve as a museum.
Pick the Improvement Picked — Oh, regular readers, I must defer to you once again. Because surely you remember this post, in which I detailed the Quad City River Bandits’ “Pick the Improvement” contest. As part of this innovative procedure, fans were given the chance to vote on a new upgrade to the River Bandits’ Modern Woodmen Park. Well, the results are in, and the improvement to be made is…drumroll please…the addition of backs to the bleacher seats. Cue the Sir-Mix-A-Lot!
Snap These Up! — Collectors of Minor League memorabilia will be pleased to know that the Beloit Snappers are offering up a plethora of game-used jerseys. Of particular note is the fact that items worn by Chris Cates and Loek Van Mil are available. Regular readers (take a bow, you guys!) will remember this post, which highlighted the fact that these teammates were the shortest and tallest players in all of professional baseball last season. My suggestion? Buy each players’ jersey, and use it as the centerpiece of a homemade exhibit that seeks to highlight the vast diversity that exists within the human race.
Wanted: An Affable Toothy Whistlepig — A previous post on this blog (which may or may not have been read by those who visit regularly) detailed the fact that the Gwinnett Braves had unveiled their new mascot. Well, that was all well and good, but now the club needs a brave and talented soul to step up and inhabit this intriguing character on a nightly basis. In order to do this, the G-Braves are holding mascot auditions on Nov. 18 at a local high school. All aspiring costumed groundhogs are invited to
Clean Sweep, the Sequel — This past March, the Huntsville Stars staged “Operation Clean Sweep”, in which fans were asked to do volunteer beautification work at Joe Davis Stadium in exchange for free tickets. The event, believe it or not, was a huge success, so the team is doing it again. Clean Sweep 2 will be held on November 1, and will give fans the chance to fullfill their lifelong dreams of doing “light cleaning, light landscaping, and painting” at a Double-A stadium. But that, of course, is not all — from the press release: “Fans will be able to taste-test an assortment of different hotdogs and
vote to decide which one will become the official hotdog of Joe Davis
Stadium for the 2009 season.” But remember — with great power comes great responsibility!
My goodness, this has been one of the longest posts in the history of this esteemed blog. I did it for you, regular readers, I did it for you. As always, get in touch with tips, questions, comments, and criticisms:
The players are pitcher Loek Van Mil (7’1″) and shortstop Chris Cates (5’3″) and the team is the Beloit Snappers. Like a snowball gently tumbling down the side of a mountain, the two have garnered an increasing amount of attention as the season has progressed (including the lead in the inaugural edition of my “Beyond the Box Score” column).
Today, in fact, the duo were featured guests on ESPN’s “First Take” morning show. The segment can be viewed here.
Now, no one asked me, but I think the Snappers should commemorate this oddity by scheduling a Chris Cates/Loek Van Mil dual bobblehead giveaway. If they did, I would be happy to grant it prime desk space next to my recently acquired Drag Kings bobbledoll.
And just because I’m a nice guy, I’m going to end this post by providing a link to another video related to the Minor Leagues. It’s better not to know what’s coming: