Results tagged ‘ Canaligator ’

A Discussion Involving Homebody Bobbles, Elderly Even-Toed Ungulates

canalbobble.jpgNine days ago, when the Earth was young and men were men, I wrote on the topic of the Lowell Spinners’ “Search for the Missing Canaligator.” I wrote about it RIGHT HERE, in fact. 

The premise was simple: the team hid a special Canaligator bobblehead somewhere within Lowell city limits. Then, a series of clues was incrementally released. Said clues revealed the wayward bobblehead to have remarkably little ambition, as most were focused on how Canaligator likes to stay indoors and hang out near the ballpark.

And, lo and behold, he was hiding at the team gift shop. A fan with a most detective-like name, Matt Savage, was the first to roust the Canaligator bobblehead from its hiding spot. In exchange for these Herculean efforts, he will be rewarded with four tickets to the team’s upcoming alumni dinner, every bobblehead the team gives away in 2010, and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a game next season. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

In other news, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs recently announced that they have formed a “club” for the team’s more aged supporters — The Silver Pigs. I almost wish I was 29 years older, just so I could call myself a “Silver Pig”.

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Membership to this esteemed institution costs $25, and includes a t-shirt, seat cushion, an invitation to play some bingo, and a ticket to Silver Pigs group night on August 31 (complete with ballpark tour).

I am hoping that South Bend institutes a similar program, just because they could call it the Silver Silver Hawks. Obviously, it takes very little to amuse me these days.

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

On Location In Lowell — the Sequel

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(Lowell’s motto is even embossed on its trash cans)

Earlier in the week, I crafted a post that detailed my time at LeLacheur Park — home of the New York-Penn League’s Lowell Spinners.

But my time at the ballpark represented just one aspect of my Lowell getaway, as I was also able to spend time in the city itself. This was easy enough to do, as my base of operations was the Brew’d Awakening coffee shop in the heart of downtown Lowell. I took advantage of that establishment’s strong coffee and even stronger internet connections, en route to cranking out articles and blog posts of unparalleled irrelevance excellence.

Fortunately, I was able to wrest myself away from the unforgiving monster that is my laptop long enough to go on some explorations. Most notably, on the afternoon of July 8 I received a one-on-one guided tour of the city courtesy of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This tour gave me much-needed perspective regarding Lowell’s history, and how it came to be the city it is today. And, perhaps most importantly, it helped to contextualize the Spinners’ baseball experience.

Why the team is called the Spinners in the first place? And why their logo is a baseball bat wrapped with yarn?

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Lowell was founded in the 1820s, and played an important role in America’s Industrial Revolution. The city is named after Francis Cabot Lowell, an industrialist who spearheaded the campaign to turn the area into an all-in-one textile manufacturing center. Raw cotton shipped from the South was transformed into fine cloth through the processes of carding, spinning, and weaving.

Hence, the Spinners.

While Lowell is no longer a manufacturing epicenter, there are many purveyors of yarn and fine cloth in the downtown area. There is also a quilt museum, which, if I was my Mom, I most certainly would have visited.

The Spinners’ Mascot is Named “Canaligator”. Why?

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Visiting Lowell dashed my naive hope that the city would be full of alligators. As it turns out, alligators do not live in New England at all. Their personalities do not generally mesh well with the Puritanical stoicism that characterizes the region’s human population. “Canaligator” is instead a nod to the fact that Lowell boasts the largest system of canals in the United States. These canals were used as a direct source of power for the mills.The canals are well worth checking out, and guided tours are available. I took such a tour:

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Lowell has a lot of charm and personality due to the way that its industrial past meshes with the post-industrial present. Today, many of the mills have been converted into condos. Pretty cool place to live, right?

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This walkway leads straight to LeLacheur Park. Somehow, I was able to get lost on said walkway on my return home from the stadium that night.

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One of the boarding houses where New England farm girls were housed after re-locating to Lowell:

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A look at the mills on display at the American Textile History Museum:

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Statue of painter James Whistler, one of Lowell’s most famous natives (Jack Kerouac was born here as well):

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And, finally, one of the most charming gas station signs that I have seen in a while — Haffner’s in downtown Lowell. Their motto? is “It Kicks”:

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I’d like to thank Lowell Spinners GM Tim Bawmann for arranging the tour, and Kristen Deveau of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau for providing it.

It occurs to me that this is the sort of thing I should do more often. After all — the only way to truly understand a team is to b
e able to understand the community in which it plays.

Don’t worry, though. I’ll be back tomorrow with video of a flatulent mascot, or something along those lines. I’ve got a paycheck to earn and a reputation to uphold.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

On Location in Lowell

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As regular readers of this blog may recall, I spent a week in New England earlier this month. During my time in this beautiful part of the country, I was able to visit both the Lowell Spinners and Vermont Lake Monsters. I was not “on assignment”, per se, just motivated by the desire to visit that which I write about.

What follows are a variety of observations and images from the nights of July 7 and 8 at Lowell’s LeLacheur Park.

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On both nights, I enjoyed a pre-game dinner in the so-called “Gator Pit”. This picnic area primarily services season-ticket holders, those attending a game as part of a group outing, and free-loading media types:

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Vegetarians Beware:

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As for the stadium itself, one has room to maneuver. The open concourse provides plenty of vantage points from which to view the game.

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The Spinners are one of the best draws in the New York-Penn League, with a sell-out streak that I believe dates back to the late 19th century. But during the two days I was in town the weather was horrible. Mid-afternoon downpours led to soggy conditions, and the temperature was in the low 60s. Needless to say, it did not feel like July. But that did not deter appearances by INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTARS.

On July 8 (as well as the 9th), the national anthem was sung by Cassandra De Rosa. She is a cousin of Spinners vice president of corporate communications Jon Goode — and also a bona-fide Italian pop superstar. Check out her website HERE.

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This woman was big time, but nonetheless had no problem posing for a picture with the suit-wearing assistant general manager of the visiting team (Tri-City’s resplendent Vic Christopher) and a making-it-up-as-he-goes-along baseball writer:

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When it comes to game presentation, the Spinners definitely ascribe to the “more-is-more” philosophy. Hardly a moment goes by without a sound effect, video clip or song snippet. These guys are really on their toes:

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And, of course, the mascot is a big part of the action. I can’t recall the premise here, but here’s Canaligator-as-Superman:

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The team also provides an ever-changing roster of “Spinner-tainment”. One of the acts when I was in town was this grandmaster of “Simon Says”. In a sing-song drill sergeant cadence, he systemically eliminated those who did not do what Simon said.

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The first night I was in town, I threw t-shirts into the crowd while riding in the Spinners’ Scooby Doo-influenced “Mystery Machine.” I was not pleased with my performance. I had four t-shirts to throw, and got rid of them much too quickly. I spent the
final 30 seconds of my ride feeling quite ashamed, as the eager, enthusiastic crowd stretched out their arms toward me in anticipation of what I could no longer provide.

Spinners fans, please forgive me.

The following video comprises the first footage ever shot with my new “Webby” camcorder (meaning, of course, that there is nowhere to go but up). It contains a variety of Spinners moments — including exclusive Mystery Machine footage —  and concludes with the special gift bestowed upon me by Spinners media manager Jon Boswell, left over from the club’s recent Politically Incorrect Night:

Big thanks to editing maestro Joe Pisch for putting together the above video, and big thanks to the Spinners for their hospitality. At this point I’ve learned not to promise a specific timetable when it comes to this blog, but rest assured there is more to come from Lowell.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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