Results tagged ‘ Bowie Baysox ’

Opening the Floodgates

This week I have been aware of a distinct shift in the tone and tenor of the national Minor League Baseball conversation. Valentine’s Day promos and borderline insane snow-related ticket deals are on the way out, as the primary focus is now on the 2015 season that soon will be. Promotion schedules are being released at a rapid clip, and as a result Opening Day know feels like a tangible thing as opposed to a vague abstraction.

What I’m trying to say here, as always, is that I have a bunch of random new Minor League promos to share with you. So share them, I will:

My prediction is that, by the end of 2015, we’ll be so sick of 30th anniversary Back to the Future celebrations that a future pop culture Terminator will go back in time in order to insure that the movie doesn’t get made at all. But for now, let’s celebrate this rising promotional trend. The Biscuits will be wearing these theme jerseys on June 27, for example:

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Knights will have a Delorean on the premises.

charlotteknightsd

While currently lacking a distinct visual to go along with it, the Bowie Baysox announced that, on July 19, they will be giving away a Babe Ruth bobblehead in which he is wearing the uniform of the 1914 (Minor League) Baltimore Orioles. This is, in a word, great.

bb

(As for that “Touch a Truck” event, my hope is that the Baysox release a promotional “trailer.” For far more truck puns, courtesy of myself and several Minor League broadcasters, go HERE.)

Also lacking a distinct visual, but also great, is this August 6 eggs-travaganza in Toledo:

Bacon & Eggs Night

Fans will have a sizzlin’ good time at the first ever ‘Bacon and Eggs Night’ at Fifth Third Field. Things will heat up when the Hens take the field wearing egg-themed jerseys and hats against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who will be wearing their popular bacon-themed jerseys.

Thanks to a “last-minute” recruiting day commitment, the Bowling Green Hot Rods are pleased to announce that Ickey Woods will be visiting the ballpark on August 15. Per the team:

Woods will sign autographs, mingle with fans, and showcase his signature celebration….His appearance will be joined by specials on cold cuts, and Woods will lead Bowling Green Ballpark in an attempt to break the record for the most “Ickey Shuffles” done simultaneously in one location.

ickey

The Sacramento River Cats are capitalizing on on our nation’s apparently insatiable appetite for ’90s pop culture nostalgia via this “Legends of the Hidden Temple” theme jersey:

Speaking of ’90s nostalgia, you probably heard about this one already. The Brooklyn Cyclones are staging “Saved By the Bell Night” on June 24:

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You’ll have to use your imagination for now, but the Richmond Flying Squirrels are giving away Joe Panik “Panik Buttons” on July 21.

Star Wars promotions have become an epidemic throughout Minor League Baseball. The Buffalo Bisons, one of many teams to tie a theme jersey into the evening’s attractions, will be wearing “Jedi Robes” on July 18.

jedi

In what is certainly one of the cruder promotions of the year, the Midland RockHounds are wearing these black gold-splattered duds during August’s “Oil Field Weekend.”

oil

(For what it’s worth, I am a much bigger fan of locally-oriented theme jerseys such as that shown above. Pop culture jerseys have their place, but as a general rule I believe that clubs should give precedence to that which highlights the uniqueness of their own community. And, certainly, Midland is a unique baseball market.)

Finally, we have the Lakewood BlueClaws. On May 22, two days after David Letterman signs off from the airwaves, the team is staging a promotion in honor of the iconic late night host. If you’re wondering why they would do such a thing, then simply consult the BlueClaws’ Top 10 List.

Letterman

This post represents a mere smattering (is there any other type of smattering?) of the notable promotions that will be staged in 2015. Stay tuned, as there will be (too) much more where this comes from.

Can Minor League Baseball be stopped? No, it cannot be stopped.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Now and Then

As I have often mentioned, the offseason content on this blog can be characterized as an ongoing battle between the old and the new. The urge to share new Minor League initiatives and ideas must do constant battle with the desire to give belated coverage to that which I didn’t get around to writing about during the season itself.

But why must this dynamic always be framed in oppositional terms? Today’s post represents an attempt at reconciliation, so that the old and the new may transcend temporal concerns in favor of taking up residence within the eternal now. It’s a perfectly logical approach.

New! 

Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. The Bowie Baysox, like many teams, are offering a variety of romantic ticket packages in honor of this occasion. But, unlike many teams, they are also offering a vitriolic “Love Bites” anti-Valentine’s Day package featuring secondary mascot Rocko.

Bowie_Baysox_Anti_Valentines_Day_3n38r26k_pf52kbby

Per the team:

The Rocko’s Love Bites Pack is $55 and perfect for the downtrodden on what can be a quite depressing holiday. This lonely hearts package includes four SINGLE game General Admission Baysox tickets to enjoy by yourself, a Baysox Foam Claw signifying your ripped out heart, a Black Baysox Mini-Bat to fend off any nearby happy couples, six black balloons to denote your singular unromantic status, and a pint of ice cream with a special Baysox bowl to help alleviate your sorrows.

But that’s not all, for Rocko will also help those in unhappy relationships hit the killswitch.

Fans can have the frustrated fish do the dirty work for them and deliver his Love Bites Pack within 25 miles of the stadium to help you part ways with a significant other.

If anyone takes Rocko up on this offer, then I have but one request: Make sure you get it on video.

Old:

Remember back in June when the Potomac Nationals hosted a “Beard-A-Palooza” weekend in honor of Jayson Werth?

beardolympics_fugth0o0_r4n99jyh

Well, I have obtained photos of the festivities (by “obtained” I mean the team sent me some). Here, a pair of front office staffers engage in a beard-tasting competition.

Beard tasting“Beard vs. Food” eating contest: 

Beard vs foodTo the victor go the spoils:

Beard vs food winnerLongest beard competition:

Longest beardStrongest beard competition:

Strongest beardOnce again, to the victor go the spoils (maybe this guy won because his opponent, upon further review, was deemed to not have had a beard in the first place):

Strongest winner

This old and new coexistence experiment seems to have gone pretty well. I think I’ll do it again in the near future. In the meantime, make sure to check out the new edition of “Ben’s Bookshelf” over on MiLB.com. It features three highly-recommended Minor League Baseball-themed books:

bookshelf_5cnz06dg_vrrspcpwbenjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Guest Post: Beer Running in Bowie

Back in April of 2013, a Ben’s Biz Blog reader by the name of Mike Bryan sent me an email that read, in part:

As someone who loves Minor League Baseball and collecting autographs as well as road trips I look forward to your posts. However, I’m disappointed that you are missing out on a great promotion not too far from your NYC location. If you do not have any Memorial Day plans I think you should schedule a trip to Bowie, Maryland and write about about the 1K beer run that [the Baysox] do. 

I was unable to make it Bowie for the 2013 1K Beer Run, but invited Michael to write a guest blog post about it if he so desired. He took me up on this offer…eventually. This past May, 13 months after he first got in touch, he sent me a detailed recap of the 2014 version of the event. By this time I was on the road, neck deep in my own ballpark endeavors, and thus unable to find the time to run it here on the blog. But now here we are, in January of 2015, the depths of the offseason, and I finally find myself with the opportunity to post Mike’s Bowie Baysox 1k Beer Run recap.

So here it is, some eight months after he sent it to me and 21 months after he first got in touch. Ben’s Biz Blog — The Pace is Glacial!

Mike Bryan (left) with friends  Andrew Renison (center) and Mark Taylor

Mike Bryan (left) with friends Andrew Renison (center) and Mark Taylor

Mike writes:

May 4th was the first of two Bowie Baysox 1K Beer Runs for the 2014 season. It also happened to be the date for my fiancée’s bridal shower. Since the bridal shower was an all-girls event, I was able to head to Bowie with a couple of friends and my dad to participate in the wonderful 1K Beer Run.

The Baysox began this tradition last year; participants start by the first-base dugout and run, jog or walk around the entire baseball field. After completing the first lap you receive a beer to enjoy on your second lap around the field. However, if you are trying to win the race — which my friends and I were — you do not really enjoy the beer. We are all out of shape from our glory days of high school, so sprinting around an entire baseball field and then chugging a beer is no easy task. After completing your beer and the second lap, you are then handed another beer to enjoy or chug before finishing your final lap around the field. Once you have finished the race you receive your final beer to “enjoy.”

run

Having already participated in this event in 2013, I decided to employ a different strategy to try and win the run. Since I am not the best beer chugger in the world, I decided to simply shotgun the beers after each lap. Although for about 4-5 seconds I felt terrible, I was able to quickly get back to the running part of the race.

Full page photo

It was a three-horse race throughout the run and my friend Andrew Renison and I were able to pass another participant by the left-field foul pole as we were heading in for the final turn. Once we passed him it was a two-horse race and I was able to edge out a victory right at the finish line. Some may say Andrew let up to let me win, but we will never know.

Full page photoAs the winner of the event I was able to throw out the first pitch. Unfortunately, that did not go so well as I tried to throw it as hard as I could. It landed right in the dirt, and, as Bob Uecker likes to say, it was “just a bit outside.”

Full page photo

Throws before hose

Despite the horrific first pitch we were all able to still have a good time at the rest of the game. Bowie won, 8-5, behind home runs by Christian Walker and Dariel Alveraz, two of the Orioles’ better prospects.

During the game we were able to enjoy the wonderful food and beer selections that the Baysox had this season. Over the last couple of years the team has really expanded their craft beer selections, serving local beers such as Loose Cannon and Flying Dog. In addition to the great beer selection, they have a couple of unique food items that we tried out. We had a hot dog stuffed with macaroni cheese and Old Bay seasoning sprinkled on top as well as an Old Bay sausage, which were both phenomenal. Then again, anything with Old Bay on it tastes great.

Old Bay Mac Cheese Hot Dog

After lunch and some more beers we moved on to dessert. For our last meal we tried out some S’mores, which were one of the best desserts I have ever had. The best way to describe them is “similar to a S’mores Pop Tart, but better.”

Smores

Unfortunately I was not able to defend my title for the next race, on June 21st, since I was on my honeymoon. But I’ll definitely participate again next year and look forward to you visiting Bowie on one of your next road trips as well!

A big thanks to Mike for taking the time to write this guest post. For the record, I did visit Bowie on a 2011 road trip; hopefully I can make it again in 2015. 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

2013 Promotions: 10 Alliterative Bobblehead Giveaways

There are few, if any, things that I like more in this world than the sound repetition device that is alliteration. Examples of it abound here on (ahem) Ben’s Biz Blog, perhaps my favorite being a post titled “Charlie Crist Cancellation Causes Costumed Crustacean Candidacy.” I should have retired immediately after writing that.

But, no, here I remain. My personal predilection for alliteration has led me to peruse 2013 promo schedules for examples of it in bobblehead form, because what better way could an able-bodied 34-year-old man possibly make use of his time?

1. Bowie Baysox — Jim Johnson, July 22

The Bowie Baysox have the honor of leading this post, for they are the only alliteratively-named team giving away an alliterative bobblehead. Their honoree is Bowie-turned-Baltimore pitcher Jim Johnson, who was born in June in the town of Johnson City.

And would you believe in that in addition to the Jim Johnson bobblehead, July 22nd is also “Mutt Monday” at the ballpark? And that the Baysox are playing the Akron Aeros? It’s almost too much too take.

mutt

 

The Gwinnett Braves also get a very special mention in this post, as they are the only team with TWO alliterative bobbleheads on the promo calendar.

2. Gwinnett Braves — Brandon Beachy (April 6) and Freddie Freeman (May 18)

Yes, a Brandon Beachy Braves Bobblehead! It boggles the brain!

And now the rest!

3. Richmond Flying Squirrels — Brandons Bobblehead (Belt and Crawford), April 5

belt

 

This bobblehead is doubly alliterative in that not only is it a Brandon Bobblehead, but one of the Brandons is Brandon Belt. A Brandon Beachy Braves Bobblehead followed by Brandon Belt, right here on Ben’s Biz Blog. My life’s work is nearly complete.

4. Rome Braves — Henry the Hot Dog, April 20

Will Henry come covered in condiments?

5. Frederick Keys — Manny Machado, May 11

manny215_vsaowp3q

This May a multitude of Manny fans, many men and maybe many more women, will flock to Frederick in order celebrate Monsieur Machado’s manifold splendor.

6. Reno Aces — Brett Butler, May 25

bb

 

A bounteous booty of Brett Butler bobbleheads bestowed upon Reno’s resplendent residents as a means of creative championship commemoration.

7. Sacramento RiverCats —  Chris Carter, June 23

Chris Carter, a Californian, consecrated by the ‘Cats. Cool.

8. Harrisburg Senators —  Stephen Strasburg, July 15

It’s Military Monday and the bobblehead is mini. Stephen Strasburg’s scintillating skill set stays sky-high.

9. Clinton LumberKings — Mitch Moreland, August 3

Mitch Moreland matriculated at Mississippi.

10. Memphis Rebirds — BBQ Bobblehead, August 16

Memphis is mum regarding the scintillating specifics of this “BBQ Bobblehead,” but what we do know is that it is taking place during a “Fred’s Family Friday” promotion.

My work here is done.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Harlem Shake: A Minor Overview

Introductory paragraphs within this blog forum can sometimes be needlessly circuitous, steeped as they are in obscure references and acute self-consciousness. But not today. Today, we cut to the chase:

What follows is a comprehensive round-up of Harlem Shake videos produced by Minor League teams. 

Yes, you’re probably sick of the Harlem Shake at this point. I am too. But let’s take the long view, as historians with an interest in baseball history, viral fads and the intersection of the two will no doubt delight in stumbling upon this post at some at some unknown moment in the distant future. I am doing this for you, future historians! I always am. For it is you who will ensure my legacy.

Plus, you’ve gotta admit — Minor League teams, with their easy access to supply closets full of banana suits and inflatable ponies, make better Harlem Shake videos than most. So here we go! In no particular order, here are two dozen Harlem Shake videos produced by professional baseball teams in possession of a formal affiliation with a Major League club.

Frederick Keys — Apparently a big-headed reincarnation of Francis Scott Key regularly sits in on front office meetings:

Columbus Clippers — Warning! Includes bear-on-frankfurter violence that may be unsettling to younger viewers:

Bowie Baysox — A toothbrush can’t dance? I bristle at such a notion:

Lexington Legends — Mister would you please stop punching that pony? WATCH ON FACEBOOK.

Vancouver Canadians — As if any proof was needed that this was an international phenomenon:

Fort Wayne Tincaps — A solitary pothead gives way to a banana who loves the queen of hearts.

Lake Elsinore Storm — Yes that is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the dugout, and yes he is happy to see you:

Corpus Christi Hooks — Can’t a man bike through the office in peace? WATCH ON MILB.COM

Tulsa Drillers — Hey, no dogs in the swimming pool!

Gwinnett Braves — Team store? More like surreal fever dream store!

New Hampshire Fisher Cats — Fungo and friends “rose” to the occasion:

Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Give peas a chance. WATCH ON MILB.COM

Buffalo Bisons — Vest-wearing gentleman on the right is my favorite individual to appear in any Harlem Shake video:

Charlotte Stone Crabs — What’s to stop the Incredible Hulk from wearing a sombrero?

Fresno Grizzlies — Forget this faddish viral bastardization. Parker knows how to do the REAL Harlem Shake. WATCH ON VINE. 

Louisville Bats — This takes place in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It will blow your mind.

Bowling Green Hot Rods — I guess you could say that Axle rose to the occasion.

Delmarva Shorebirds — The Shake so nice they did it twice.

Springfield Cardinals — You know what? This is probably the  best one out of all of ’em.

Round Rock Express — All bobblehead version!

Connecticut Tigers — Shout it from the rooftop!

And, finally, there are the State College Spikes. The first Minor League team to post a Harlem Shake video, and the last to be featured in this post:

EDIT! 

Two latecomers have entered the fray!

Orem Owlz — Holly, the Owlz pregnant mascot, wisely sat this one out.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Fans of multi-colored crustacean triumvirates rejoice!

And that’s all she wrote, folks. “She” being me, of course. I am a man. A 34-year-old man. A man who is perhaps too old to be providing you with diversions such as the above. But yet I do, and yet I did.

Do not forsake me, future historians! I do not want to believe that this has all been in vain.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Whole Lotta Love b/w Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On

Starting any piece of writing with the formal definition of what will then be discussed is as hackneyed as it gets. But when has an aversion to the hackneyed ever stopped me before?

Hashtag (noun) — The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

While this may be old news to the more social media-adept among us, I included the above definition (taken from the Twitter Help Center) as a way to bring everyone up to speed regarding a technique that I’ve been using more and more as a means to gather news and opinions from the disparate corners of the MiLB universe.

hash

A hashtag, albeit a stylized one

For instance, I established the #MinorLeagueFrontOffice cliche hashtag as a means to collect said cliches, and the result was the “Minor League Front Office Cliche” compendium that you may have read (and may have even enjoyed) last week.

And while I did not originate the #mascotlove hashtag, I suggested to teams that they use it within all of their Valentine’s Day tweets chronicling the amorous travels of their gift-delivering mascots. Searching through tweets with the #mascotlove tag, one can find images such as the following:

@ReadingFightins: Here is a photo of the @CrazyHotDogVendr on one of his many Valentine’s Day deliveries this afternoon. http://ow.ly/i/1wFBI  #mascotlove

chdv

@BowieBaysox Here is a great video compilation from @Branden_Roth of all the Valentine’s deliveries Louie made today #mascotlove http://youtu.be/MId_uKXGw7Y

@DurhamBulls A dapper Wool E. Bull making the rounds today delivering#ValentinesDay Wool E. Grams. #mascotlove pic.twitter.com/gMdqIuBe

wooly3

And on and on the #mascotlove went, but at this point I think you get the general idea.

Meanwhile, the Harlem Shake has been a gargantuan internet trend over the past week. While its power is now waning, mercifully, the #HarlemShake hashtag provides a seemingly infinite list of individuals and institutions who did their own version.

This includes Minor League teams, of course, with the State College Spikes the first out of the gate. The Connecticut Tigers soon followed suit, and other teams to post their own versions include the Columbus Clippers, Vancouver Canadians, Lake Elsinore Storm, Tulsa Drillers, Buffalo Bisons, Round Rock Express, Delmarva Shorebirds, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Gwinnett Braves, Corpus Christi Hooks, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Lexington Legends, Bowie Baysox and Frederick Keys.

As for a favorite? Choosing one is a near impossible task. But I’ll go with the Connecticut Tigers, due to their creative use of outdoor environs. Also, the “roar” at the end of the song is very fitting given the team name.

[10 minutes later]

I can’t seem to post this. So watch it HERE.

And as for a video I actually CAN post, how about Round Rock’s bobble-centric version?

If the demand exists, I will follow up this post with a compendium of all MiLB Harlem Shake videos. It won’t be one of the prouder moments of my life.

Finally, there’s this: inspired by the Brooklyn Cyclones’ freewheeling “Ask Me Anything” blog posts, I have instituted an #askbensbizanything hashtag. As the name would imply, feel free to ask me anything (the weirder, the better) but please keep in mind that this is a family publication. Thus far the questions have trickled in at a glacial pace, but when have I ever let a profound disinterest on the part of the reading public ever get in the way of anything?

I look forward to your continued queries, however few and far between they may be.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Thanks for the Memories

Writing a pre-Thanksgiving post on “what I am thankful for” has the whiff of an obligatory elementary school essay assignment, but I want to get something up on this slice of the internet before it all goes (mercifully) dark for the holidays.

And you know what I’m thankful for? That I have a job that puts me in absurd situations on a regular basis. Some highlights from the 2011 season.

Racing as a Taco Bell Hot Sauce packet in Lancaster:

If you can't take the heat...

Winning the “Molar Race” in Inland Empire:

Winning a burrito-eating contest in Fort Wayne:

Emptying an entire Kleenex box in Lake County, in less than a minute:

Pied atop the dugout in Akron:

Exhibiting proper Pickle Dog-eating technique in Charleston:

Manning an HD camera in Durham:

Refereeing a flip cup contest in Williamsport:

Losing a sumo match in Bowie:

And, of course — Rally Banana-ing in Delmarva:

The point of this unbridled exercise in Holiday week narcissism is…well…I guess there is no point. But I do want to issue a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has supported these absurd endeavors of mine. And it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2012 season — please, get in touch if you have any suggestions regarding Minor League places to go and things to do.  I really do try to say “yes” as much as possible.

Finally, two stories are up today that I’d really appreciate if you checked out. First up is my story on Greg Halman, who was stabbed to death earlier this week. I talked to people who knew him at all stops on his Minor League journey, and did the best I could to write something that went beyond “I’m shocked that his happened” quotes.

Elsewhere, I have a guest column up on Baseball Propectus. It’s a pretty through overview of the Minor League mindset, and I sincerely hope it brings a few new converts into the fold.

Thanks again,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: A Night of Singing and Sumo Wrestling in Bowie

The Bowie Baysox play in an extremely congested area of the country, in terms of both population density and professional baseball franchises. This is a team that plays in the backyard of not one but two Major League franchises (the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals), while also competing with an indy league entity located less than 30 miles away.

The stadium itself is similarly besieged, as it’s located behind a massive shopping center on state route 301. But once one gets beyond these rectangular shrines to rampant consumerism, a much more comforting sight emerges:

The facility is called Prince George’s Stadium because the team plays in Prince George’s County, MD. The Prince George in question was a member of Denmark’s royal family, longtime proponents of the efficacy of the designated hitter rule.

Prince George’s Stadium opened in 1994, after the Baysox had played their inaugural 1993 season in the none-too-intimate confines of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

Fans waiting to get into the park had to pass through one of the narrowest stadium entrance ways I had ever seen, but once on the inside there is plenty of room to move.

And yes, that is a light house you see out there. These are the Baysox, after all, with the body of water in question being the Chesapeake. And whenever a Baysox player hits a home run, the lighthouse lights up (as lighthouses are wont to do) while a foghorn blasts.

And to the right of the lighthouse is a carousel, the centerpiece of an inflatable-laden kids area.

The Baysox’s nautical connections are also emphasized by their new “pitching fish” alternate jersey, worn during Friday home games.

The fish’s name is indeed “Rocko,” the winning entry in a name-the-fish contest.

“[Rocko] is a combination of the Rockfish or Striped Bass and the Oyster Toadfish,” explained the team in a press release. “Those two species were selected because both thrive in a healthy Bay.”

The team was indeed wearing these jerseys on the evening I attended, but I failed to get shots that clearly convey this. But I did get some shots from the concourse-level press box, where I watched the game begin.

A bobblehead of mascot Louie keeps a watchful eye over all the denizens of the press box.

But his eye is not quite watchful enough to prevent the occasional foul ball from leaving a mark.

The real Louie could often be found atop the dugout, taking in the action.

It was “Autism Night” at the ballpark, featuring informational displays on the concourse and a special “quiet room” in the suite areas.

One thing that I appreciated (and that I think all teams should d0) was this informative concourse display. Here are all the ballpark food options, laid out simply and clearly.

The Black Angus stand seemed to be the most popular. Looking back on it, how did I not order a “Pickle on a Stix”?

More standard items were located down the first and third base lines:

One of my favorite pieces of outfield signage could be found in left field.

No player has yet managed to “drain” that curiously colored clogged sink, but the team does occasionally stage a between-inning promo in which contestants throw footballs through the toilet seats mounted atop the wall.

A Whoopie Cushion would be a good prize for that particular contest, items which happen to be available in the team store. My guess is that these are leftovers from the annual “Most People Sitting On A Whoopie Cushion” world record attempt.

The Baysox also utilize the outfield in their nightly “Home Run Challenge,” the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. While my pictures are quite indistinct, the object was to hit baseballs off a tee over the right field fence.

That would have definitely been a fun contest to participate in, but I soon had my chance to get in on the between-inning action. During the seventh-inning stretch, I joined on-field host Brandon Kaiser in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Video of this has recently emerged on YouTube. If you have 58 seconds to spare, well, here it is:

But my work wasn’t done. After completing my off-key rendition of baseball’s most beloved song, I was ushered into the front office. This is what awaited me.

It had to happen eventually. In fact, I’m surprised it even took this long.

Meet “BennyHilla,” between-inning sumo wrestler:

You get into these things by lying on your stomach and then shimmying inside. Putting shoes on at that point is impossible; thank goodness for interns. This was all accomplished in plenty of time, fortunately, so I relaxed in the stands while waiting for my moment of on-field glory.

Then this kid came along, and you can just see it in his eyes: he wanted to punch me. So I let him.

My opponent was Communications Manager Tom Sedlacek, aka…man, I’m blanking on his wrestling name. It had something to do with “Minnesota.”

And whatever his name was, Sedlacek beat me easily in the best of three series. My “pedal backwards and then duck” strategy was no match for his sheer brute force.

But even in defeat, I was a star. After the match, Sedlacek and I were asked to sign autographs! This was one of my favorite autograph requests this season, second only to when I dressed as a molar in Inland Empire and signed as “TOOTH.”

And while some kids had wanted to punch me, this one just wanted a hug.

That’s life for ya — sometimes you get punched, sometimes you get hugged. But either way you’re getting something. And on that note of faux-profundity, I bid you a kind adieu.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

So What’d I Miss?

One of the only drawbacks of going on the road is that the abundance of “on-location” content leads to the neglect of the usual Minor League news and notes that this blog is known for.

But the plus side of said neglect is that I always have a lot to write about upon my return. So with the Carolina coverage now in the rear view mirror (for now), let’s take a look at what I missed.

Let’s start with a theme jersey that has already garnered significant attention across the blogosphere: On August 13, the Memphis Redbirds will wear these jerseys in conjunction with “Organ Donor Night.”

An out-of-body experience

The purpose of the evening is to encourage fans to sign up to be organ donors — a worthwhile cause if there ever was one. But this being Minor League Baseball, it doesn’t stop there. A local music store has donated a keyboard organ that will be given away, and heart-healthy food packs will be distributed so that fans can keep that particular organ operating at an optimum level.

I would also suggest that THIS gets played during the game.

And staying with the RedBirds for a moment. You may recall that back in February they hired local psychic Rhonda Manning to predict the team’s “Guaranteed Win Night.” Manning chose August 1, and what a choice it was. The Redbirds overcame a six-run deficit over the game’s final two innings, capped by Shane Robinson’s two-out walk-off grand slam! 

Clearly, this is a team in touch with the supernatural.

And believe it or not, I have even more news related to the always-rich “walk-off grand slam” sub-genre. Ruben Sierra, Jr. hit a game-winning four-bagger for Spokane on July 27 — on “Grand Slam Giveaway Night.” As a result, a lucky fan won a brand-new Ford F-150.

Sierra and the truck-winning fan, getting doused

Keeping within the hospitable confines of Washington state, let’s check out this offering from the so-called “AquaSox Boys,” featuring four footloose and fancy-free members of the Everett ballclub.

The above video is approaching 20,000 views, thanks in no small part to the Backstreet Boys themselves tweeting the link out to their still-formidable fan base.

And since we’re on topic of “aqua,” you might recollect that back in March the Bowie Baysox unveiled an alternate logo that would be worn during Friday home games.

This:

As of last week, this  fish has a name: Rocko. (I don’t know about you, but I’ll finally be able to sleep at night, knowing that this important matter has finally been resolved.) And while no one has opted to have Rocko indelibly inked upon their body as part of the Baysox’s recent “Tattoo Night,” 1000 fans did receive temporary “Rocko” tattoos.

And two fans went ahead and got the Baysox logo permanently affixed to their bodies. Here’s one of them:

Baysox staffers, meanwhile, took a less permanent route.

All fans with visible tattoos received half off admission, and several of these fans competed in body art-related between-inning games and contests. Menacing stares abounded.

I hope that no one was hurt.

That’ll be it for today, but there will be more tomorrow because there’s always tomorrow and there’s always more. In the meantime, please check out the latest and therefore greatest edition of “Crooked Numbers.” It is a labor of love, and each month after it comes out I have delusions of grandeur regarding the amount of people who will read it and show it to all their friends.

And, for more timely Minor League news than this blog is able to provide, follow me on Twitter. It’ll be great!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Happenings in the 209, 301, and 419

My latest (and therefore greatest) Minor League road trip begins tomorrow — cue the anxiety attack! It goes without saying, then, that the blog will be dominated by “on-location” content for quite some time.  But not yet! Today, let’s take our customary look at noteworthy happenings from around the Minors.

We’ll start in Stockton, as the Ports’ held-their much anticipated “Dallas Braden Bobblebelly” giveaway on Saturday. As you’ll recall, the item features the A’s pitcher (and Stockton native) simultaneously expressing his hometown pride and exposing his abdomen.

Needless to say, Ports fans were psyched about this one-of-a-kind giveaway — especially since Braden himself was in attendance.  The line to get into the stadium started forming four hours before game time, quickly growing to epic proportions.

The man himself spent the evening signing the bobblebelly and schmoozing with the fans.

There are still seven weeks left in the season, but the Ports believe that their Bobblebelly giveaway should be MiLB.com’s “Promo of the Year”, and have even launched a #promooftheyear hashtag campaign on Twitter. I’m sure there are plenty of other teams who are going to have something to say about that…

But let’s save that sort of pontificating for later, and instead move across the country to Bowie, MD. The Baysox recently celebrated Festivus, an off-beat December holiday first popularized by an episode of Seinfeld. Communications manager Tom Sedlacek writes that Our Festivus celebration included Festivus poles, Feats of Stregth and the Airing of the Grievances, as well as posters describing the origin of the holiday and its role in pop culture.  The Feats of Strength included arm wrestling with an intern and sumo wrestling, and some Grievances were read over the stadium speakers during the game.

Feats of Strength

Grievances included “You still haven’t ordered my silverware!”  “Stop snoring so loudly.”  “You never hang out with me, you only play Xbox.”

I guess there was a lot of gray area when it came to what constitutes a grievance.


Finally, it’s time for me to feature something that has been sorely lacking on this blog in recent months: centenarians! Last Friday, 101-year-old Freda Sacket joined a local choir in singing the national anthem prior to the evening’s Toledo Mud Hens game.

101!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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