Results tagged ‘ Charleston RiverDogs ’

On the Road: Haute Cuisine and Lowcountry Gourmet in Charleston

The Charleston RiverDogs are known for many things, and chief among those many things is food. As longtime readers of this blog are aware, I have made an annual habit of dedicating a preseason post to their new concession options. And when I last visited Charleston in 2011, food and beverage overseer Jon Schumacher laid out a spread that included a Pimento Pickle Burger, a RiverDog, a Pig on a Stick corn dog, Kitchen Sink Nachos and, of course, the Pickle Dog.

charleston20-20pickledogThe Pickle Dog is no longer offered at RiverDogs game, sadly. And, even more sadly (from my self-centered  perspective) Schumacher has left the team in order to open a restaurant of his own. This new establishment, Harold’s Cabin, is co-owned by RiverDogs co-owners Mike Veeck and Bill Murray.

But the RiverDogs food tradition has been ably carried on by current food and beverage overseer Josh Shea and his assistant Jay Weekley, who continue to roll out new items such as this:

023This may look like a corn dog — which would make sense, because it is — but it’s not just any corn dog. Playing off of one of Charleston’s signature dishes, this is a Shrimp-N-Grit Corn Dog.

Of course, I would not be the one consuming such lowcountry ballpark specialties. That job, as always, goes to my designated eater. In Charleston, this individual was one Frank Monterisi. I took the below photo of Frank before tutoring him in the basics of food posing technique. Namely, do not block the entirety of the foodstuff with one’s hand.

024Frank, originally from New York, moved to North Carolina along with his family in 2003. A graduate of Clemson University, he relocated to Charleston in 2007 and currently works as a math teacher at a community college.

“Teaching runs in the family,” said Frank, a RiverDogs season ticket holder. “Being a math teacher is like being a politician. You walk in on the first day and half the people hate you already. I try to do it so that math isn’t like the other four-letter words that people use.”

There would be no four-letter words used on this evening, math-related or otherwise. As a great man maybe once said, “You can’t talk when your mouth is full.”

The Shrimp-N-Grit Corn Dog was brought to our plastic picnic bench location by Jay Weekley, who explained that it is made with yellow stone grits, smoked gouda and shrimp. This mixture is then breaded in hush puppy batter and served alongside a tomato gravy dipping sauce. Like many items in American retail history, it sells for $9. Weekley said that the team sells approximately 25 per ballgame, “which is pretty good for a brand-new item.”

Frank, who prepared for his designated eating assignment by consuming just five Frosted Mini-Wheats earlier in the day, said that the dipping sauce was “amazing” and that the breading was “not too heavy and not too soft.”

He then washed it all down with two alcoholic milkshakes.

027These might not be much too look at, but they were a lot to taste. On the left is an Apple Pie Shake — Angry Orchard cider and vanilla ice cream mixed with an actual apple pie from Charleston’s Mudd Pie Girl Bakery.

“This is fantastic,” said Frank. “There’s the old saying ‘American as apple pie’ and baseball is the national pastime. So what’s better than an Apple Pie milkshake?”

I think Frank should get a part-time job writing ad copy for the RiverDogs.

On the right is a Palmetto Biscotti Shake — Biscotti cookie dough, vanilla ice cream and Palmetto espresso porter beer. Frank praised the “rich, almost coffee-like taste,” but I think he still had his mind on the Apple Pie Shake.

It was then time to lighten things up via the Harvest Salad, which, par for the Minor League Baseball course, is served in a helmet and feeds 2-3 people.

030“We introduced this last year,” said Weekley. “Everybody seemed to be doing Quadruple Bypass Burgers and things like that, and we wanted to go healthier. We use hydroponic lettuce — it’s never in the soil — hollow out the core, fill it with quinoa and top it with fresh fruit and feta cheese.”

032“A lot of people think of salad as rabbit food,” said Frank, who is not a rabbit. “But the fruit adds a nice element and then you mix it with the cheese, it’s like seven food groups in one. It’s nice to see ballparks going away from the norm.”

But there are many ways in which to deviate from the norm, some ways more healthy than others. Shea soon arrived bearing a Double Chicken and Waffle Burger, and this thing looked so good that I had him explain it for posterity.

“My experiences were high and they were met,” said Frank. “As a Yankee, chicken and waffles have become my favorite food since moving to Charleston.”


Yankee tasted, Yankee approved.

There was no time for further reflection, for Jay Weekley is a relentless man.

039In Jay’s right hand (on your left, dummy) is a Hawaiian Dog. It is topped with pineapple relish, pineapple, red onions, pickled okra, “a little cilantro grown here at the stadium” and house-made lemon aioli. In Jay’s left hand (that would be your right, hockey puck) is a Southern Kimchi Dog. That one has shredded collard greens, locally-made kimchi, sweet piquant peppers and a ginger-soy dressing.

A closer look, for all you closer-look fiends out there:

038Frank said the Hawaiian Dog has “that sweet and sour taste to it” while the Southern Kimchi Dog was like “an Asian twist on sausage and peppers.”

Frank, like me, is a single man. That makes me an expert in online dating profile pictures, and I do believe that this would be an excellent one. Good luck out there, Frank.

040Things had, by now, crossed over into the realm of the ridiculous. Next up was one of the RiverDogs’ new rice bowls. The Southwestern Chicken Bowl, to be exact, consisting of yellow rice, chipotle chicken, house-made corn salsa, cilantro coleslaw, black beans and lime crema.

I took a closer look. Too close, probably.


“It’s definitely got a kick to it,” said Frank. “The best way to describe it is ‘Loaded Nachos without the nachos.'”

Loaded Nachos without the Nachos is simply “Loaded”, which is how Frank felt at this juncture.

IMG_1243Fortunately, Frank had hit the end of his designated eating run. Asked to sum up his experience, he snapped to attention delivered a final summation.

“There was food variety for all. Everything’s great.”

Now that I think of it, has anyone checked on Frank recently? For all I know, he could still be passed out on a plastic picnic table. But like most endeavors that end in such a fashion, I’m sure it was all worth it.


On the Road: Corn, Dogs in Charleston

To see all my posts from my May 9 visit to the Charleston RiverDogs, click HERE. To see all of my posts from my May 2016 Carolinas Road Trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right). 

When this Charleston RiverDogs narrative left off, I had just thrown a ceremonial first pitch perfect strike. This flawless spherical missive gladdened the hearts of all in attendance on this Monday evening at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, but while a lesser man would have rested on his laurels I immediately got back to work. The first several innings of the ballgame — an eventual 8-3 RiverDogs victory over the visiting Hickory Crawdads — were spent with my designated eater. This will all be documented in the next post. When that task was complete, I rendezvoused with promotions director Nate Kurant (formerly of the Dunedin Blue Jays) at a location on the third base side of the ballpark. Once there, I was immediately reminded that this Monday — like all Mondays in Charleston — was “Bark in the Park” night.

IMG_1244It was also, regardless of canine admission policies, a beautiful night. A beautiful night…for baseball!

IMG_1246The majestic dog seen two photos above was on the verge of competing in a “sit or stay” on-field contest against another massive (albeit fluffier) canine. The goal was to be the first dog to obey his (or her) owner’s command to sit and stay in a hula hoop placed on the field. Neither contestant seemed too interested in this endeavor, but it was the other, fluffier, dog that won. Another great moment in Charleston baseball history, I’m sure.

One great moment begets another, as Nate and I proceeded to the control room in order to oversee the debut of a Bark in the Park-themed “Simba Cam.” The goal was to have fans hold their dogs triumphantly in the air — ala the Lion King — but really everything was fair game. Lots of laughs were had by all, particularly when a woman held up her corn dog (as seen in the right hand monitor).


“That went as well as we could have hoped,” said one control room denizen after all was said and done. In Minor League Baseball, as in life, this is always the goal.

I then returned to the third base dugout, in order to participate as a contestant as a between-inning ribbon dance contestant. I’d be representing the third base side of the stadium, competing against a counterpart on the first base side. As always, the victor would be decided by applause.

Upon reporting for duty, I was told that I’d be dancing while dressed as an ear of corn. The justification for this nonsensical wardrobe choice was something I’ve heard time and time again while visiting Minor League ballparks: “Why not?”


In time-honored Minor League Baseball between-inning contest fashion, getting in the corn suit was a case of “hurry up and wait.” The pace of the game noticeably slowed down (there was a pitching change at one point), and the third out of the inning started to seemed like it would never come. In lieu of plotting a coherent and crowd-pleasing ribbon dance strategy, I sat around and took selfies while lamenting my latest ludicrous stint in ballpark purgatory.

Almost immediately after posting the above tweet, responses like these started appearing in my timeline. I don’t think I look all that much like Ben Roethlisberger, but I guess the dissimilarities are less apparent when wearing a corn suit. Call me Ben Roeth-Biz-Berger.

Finally, after tens of minutes of anticipation, I took the field for the big dance-off. While waiting, I had been given the following advice by a RiverDogs promo staffer: “Start dramatically, with slow, big moves. Then really get going and end with a power move.”

I guess that’s what I was going for here?

At any rate, I lost the ribbon dance-off by a significant applause margin, as apparently my first base side counterpart was the Mary Lou Retton of vegetable suit dancing. He started things off with a series of cartwheels while I was tip-toeing around plotting for a payoff that never came.

Still out of breath but no longer wearing a corn suit, I joined RiverDogs broadcaster Matt Dean for an inning on the airwaves.


Hey Matt! IMG_1255

Once my time with Matt was said and done, there was almost no baseball left to be played. As the RiverDogs put the final touches on their victory over the Crawdads, I posed for a picture with RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray.

When there was only one set of footprints in the infield dirt, it was then that Bill Murray carried me.

IMG_1257I also paid a brief visit to the RiverDogs concourse “Memory Booth”, which is a pretty cool idea.

054There is an iPhone camera mounted in the booth. Fans who step aside are simply instructed to press the camera icon and then relay their favorite Charleston baseball memory. I guess my favorite memory is that time I danced on the field while dressed like a piece of corn. Remember that?

Profile2While on the verge of leaving the ballpark, it occurred to me that I had not yet written and disseminated a groundbreaking and subversive ballpark joke. I quickly pressed Nate into service, using his last name (Kurant) as the punchline. Brilliant, as usual.

There was one more interesting — and unexpected — element left in my evening. Upon leaving the ballpark, RiverDogs operations director Philip Guiry asked if I wanted a ride to my hotel. Next thing I knew, I was riding in the breeze in the back of an ’82 El Camino.

Thanks for the ride, Philip. And goodnight, Charleston.



On the Road: Have Ball, Will Travel in Charleston

To see all my posts from my May 9 visit to the Charleston RiverDogs, click HERE. To see all of my posts from my May 2016 Carolinas Road Trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right). 

About a week before I embarked on my road trip to the Carolinas, I received a package in the mail from the Charleston RiverDogs. In said package was a pristine South Atlantic League Baseball, along with a note from RiverDogs mascot Charlie T. RiverDog. “Hi Ben,” it read. “Please return this ball to the Charleston RiverDogs on May 9, 2016. Redeem for one first pitch at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.”

I’ve never been one to disregard politely-worded written requests, especially when they come from Minor League mascots, so I dutifully put the ball in my road trip luggage and it traveled with me from New York City. On May 9, as scheduled, the ball and I arrived in Charleston.

After a short walk along the coast (more or less) from my…

001…I arrived at the abundantly leafy front entrance of the ballpark.

003Once I got the to the gates (which had not yet opened to the public), I heard a voice from on high. “Ben Hill,” the voice said. The voice belonged to Riverdogs director of operations Philip Guiry, who, after stringing lights among the trees below, was doing his best not to electrocute himself.

IMG_1229Long-time readers of this blog may remember Philip from my 2013 visit to the Bakersfield Blaze, with whom he held the lofty title of assistant general manager. At the time, he told me that he would be the “Quasimodo of Sam Lynn [Stadium, home of the Blaze], painting fences and changing light bulbs when no one else is here. You can bury me in center field.”

Life apparently got in the way of those ambitious death plans, because here he is in Charleston. Before resuming his cord untangling duties, Philip made a point of showing me an unlikely mural which can be found on the concourse: Charlie T. RiverDog at the Last Supper.


This mural was painted by an artist by the name of Andy Nelson, who Philip told me “Just shows up and crashes at the stadium, hangs out and paints, and then shuffles off.”

It’s easy to miss, however, as it is located on the inner portion of a concession kiosk conglomeration.

007Philip had work to do, so he asked promotions director Nate Kurant for advice on how to get rid of me.

009They needn’t have worried. Taking inspiration from Andy Nelson the peripatetic muralist, I just sort of shuffled off. Here’s what the concourse looked like, shortly after the gates opened.


Mondays are “Bark in the Park” nights, which are always a crotch-sniffing good time.


The first base side of the ballpark features a scenic view of the swampy Ashley River surroundings.

015Clearly, it was a beautiful night. A beautiful night…for baseball.

012My wanderings then brought me to the press box. Shortly after entering, Nate yelled “Ben! Fox! Fox!” I just assumed he was letting everyone know that I am a total fox, and maybe he was. But, if so, his urgent exhortations had a dual purpose as there was an actual fox running across the field. After fumbling about with my camera, I snapped this photo just as the fox was about to disappear into the dugout.


011After recovering from this brief encounter with wildlife, my wanderings resumed. These two young boys were practicing their synchronized berm-running routine.

018My next stop was the field of play because, if you’ll recall, I had a first pitch to throw.

019Charlie T. Riverdog, the ball-mailing mascot, was waiting for me.

021I summarily threw a first pitch strike.


How do you know that it was a strike? Because I never lie.

When this narrative resumes, a game will have just begun. But, for now, I’m just gonna shuffle off.


About Monday Night: Charleston RiverDogs, May 9, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write an on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, love. Let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

May 9: Joseph P. Riley Park, home of the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees)

Opponent: Hickory Crawdads, 7:05 p.m. start time

Joseph P. Riley Park, from the outside:

003Joseph P. Riley Park, from within: 

018Culinary Creation: Take it away, Josh Shea:

Ballpark Character: Another day, another “Bark in the Park” promo.

IMG_1245At Random: 

IMG_1252Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

May 10: Myrtle Beach Pelicans

May 12: Columbia Fireflies

May 13: Carolina Mudcats


Opening Day 2016: New Ballpark Food!

Yesterday, I kicked off the 2016 season with a requisite bouillabaisse blog post. The “bouillabaisse” in such posts is metaphorical, but today all food references are literal. Let’s take a look at some new ballpark eats.

We’ll start with my old pals the Charleston RiverDogs. Longtime food and beverage boss John Schumaker has left the team in order to open his own restaurant, Harold’s Cabin, which is backed by team co-owners Mike Veeck and Bill “Yes, that Bill Murray” Murray. Nonetheless, the RiverDogs, led by food and beverage director Josh Shea, keep on keeping on with innovative ballpark cuisine

This, for example, is no ordinary corn dog. It’s a “Shrimp-N-Grit Corn Dog.”

Shrimp_N_Grit_Corn_Dog_640Also, there’s this: “Biscotti cookie dough with vanilla ice cream, caramel syrup, and Palmetto espresso porter brew.”


In Akron, my old pals the RubberDucks have unveiled this season’s “Extreme” menu items.


From left to right we have:

The Squealer: Half-pound foot-long hot dog stuffed with pulled pork and cheddar cheese, then wrapped in bacon and deep-fried, and drizzled with barbeque sauce.

The European Vacation: Foot-long bratwurst on a pierogi bun, topped with fiery feta cheese spread and roasted red peppers.

Meet Your Maker Quesadilla: Triple-decker quesadilla with three jam-packed layers-layer one has hot dogs, Texas jack chili, and cheddar cheese; layer two has hamburger and American cheese, and layer three has chicken tenders, poutine gravy, and cheddar cheese.

The Squealer, ready for its close-up:


In Jacksonville, my old pals the Suns are now under the same ownership as the RubberDucks. Hence, the team’s “FUNdamentally Different” concession approach.

sunsMy best attempt to identify the following items begins now. Moving clockwise:

Buffalo Chicken Bites in a Waffle Cone, Chicken and Waffles, Chicken “Limp” Biscuit (as good as a Korn dog?), Pork and Slaw Dog, Philly Dog. The last item, bottom left, appears to be a plain ol’ hot dog.

Also of note: The Suns have renamed two of their concession stands in honor of local sports icons: Singh for Your Supper (golfer Vijay Singh) and Sweet Tea-bow.


My old pals the Lakewood BlueClaws have long held a “Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese” mascot race, and this season they’re honoring all three complementary food components in bobblehed form. Nonetheless, my old pals the Trenton Thunder have perhaps taken in the lead when it comes to the prominent category of “New Jersey baseball team most dedicated to the celebration of pork roll.”

This season, the Thunder have a “Pork Roll Paradise” food stand at the ballpark.

rollMoving clockwise yet again, we have:

Oink, Cluck and Moo — a classic pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich. Served, as all Ween fans know, on a kaiser bun.
Thunder Dog — A hot dog with pork roll slices and American cheese on a torpedo roll.
Pig Pen — Chopped pork roll, pulled pork and bacon bits atop mashed potatoes.
Hog Steak — Chopped pork roll with Cheez Whiz on a torpedo roll.

Perhaps inspired by the Thunder, the BlueClaws recently unveiled their own pork roll-inspired creation:


My old pals the West Michigan Whitecaps are no strangers to attention-getting food items. This year’s Fan Food Vote winner hasn’t garnered the viral acclaim of the Baco or Fifth Third Burger, but nonetheless it exists. Existence is the most important thing.

This is the “Dutch Love” — turkey pot roast, cheese curds and fries in a pita wrap.



And here’s a weird one out of Fresno, where my old pals the Grizzlies are offering “Hot Cheetos Dusted Fries”.

image1 (2)


What better place to end than with a weird one? I’ll follow up with an accompanying drinks post in the near future, so if you’ve got something to share on that front then please get in touch. Also, my 2016 road trip itineraries are coming soon. Promise.

The Shadow Knows

Today is Groundhog Day. As a strong proponent of doing the same thing again and again, I thought I’d go ahead and write a blog post dedicated to how the world of Minor League Baseball is celebrating this most hallowed of rodent weather prediction holidays.

We’ll start in Pennsylvania, of course, as the Keystone State has long served as the spiritual center of Groundhog Day. In State College, located 75 miles east of Punxsutawney, the Spikes have announced the following initiative:


The offer of bonus vouchers on McDonald’s Flex Books are a superfluous tie-in; the justification is that they give “fans multiple ways to enjoy Groundhog Day over and over again.”

More relevant is the offer of free admission to people named “Phil” on August 2. The Spikes mention that this offer extends to “Phil Collins, Phil Mickelson, Phil Jackson, Phil Simms and Dr. Phil”, but that “no current or former members of the Philadelphia Phillies will be allowed in free that night.”

I think some former Phillies should question this policy. Like, if Desi Relaford showed up and was like “Hey, give me a free ticket” I bet the Spikes would oblige.

The Altoona Curve are located even closer to Punxsatawney than are the Spikes. Last season, they even gave away a Groundhog Day bobblehead and had Phil out to the ballpark.

punxedWhile the Curve won’t be making your Flex Book dreams come true, they did acknowledge their special relationship to Groundhog Day.

They also released a new commercial:

Frisco RoughRiders vice-president Jason Dambach is a Punxsutawney native and former Curve and Spikes employee. So I’m going to go ahead and check in on the RoughRiders to see if they are celebrating the day in a notable way.

Well…this is notable, I suppose.

Another team I think of when the search engine that is my brain conjures up “Groundhog Day Minor League Baseball” are the Charleston RiverDogs. Team co-owner Bill Murray was the star of Groundhog’s Day, as you may recall. Let’s see what they RiverDogs are doing.

Okay, so here’s a tweet.

That’s all I’ve got, but in the interest of total thoroughness I’ll do a quick run through my Twitter feed to see if I missed anything….

Update: I didn’t really miss anything, save for this.

If any teams were omitted from this post, please know it is because I did so intentionally and in fact don’t like your team and will never visit.

In closing, here’s a scorching track from underrated ’70s rockers Groundhogs.

To the Victors, Go the Spoils: Spikes Seek Powerball Winners


These were the winning numbers in yesterday’s largest-ever Powerball drawing, which was won by three (currently anonymous) individuals. This supremely lucky triumvirate will now split an estimated $1.5 billion dollar jackpot, a windfall that will be accompanied by a new, unexpected perk:

The State College Spikes — Class A Short Season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals — have invited the three winners (who bought tickets in Chino Hills, California, Munford, Tennessee and Melbourne Beach, Florida) to attend July 3’s “Billionaire’s Ball.”

PowerballBillionairesPer the Spikes:

As part of the festivities, all three winners are invited to come to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and pick the promotions of their choice for that night.

The Spikes will make every effort to fulfill any choice each winner makes while adhering to applicable laws and regulations.

“All of our fans would love to have the chance to share a billion-dollar jackpot, but it’s not too often can you have that and do whatever you want at a ballpark,” said Spikes General Manager Scott Walker. “If they want to bring out giraffes, or have the Spikes wear all-plaid uniforms, we’ll do everything we can to try and make that happen. We’re excited to find out what the Powerball jackpot winners want to do at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.”

I’m not sure if having carte blanche at the ballpark would lead me to create an evening of giraffes and plaid, but to each his own. Maybe the Spikes could get this kids clothing store to sponsor it.


Anyhow, the Spikes’ “Billionaire’s Ball” will also feature fanfare for the common man. The team reports that “Fans can also participate in an array of fun giveaways that night based on the winning numbers, including:

  • 4 first pitches
  • 8 Bullpen Box tickets
  • 19 T-shirts
  • 27 boxes of popcorn
  • 34 hot dogs
  • 10 special “Spikes Power Packs.”

Finally, the night will feature an appearance by David Smith, the Human Powerball Cannonball. There’s never not a good time to post a Human Cannonball video.

The Spikes are encouraging the three “newly minted tycoons” to call them at 814-272-1711 to get the “Ball” rolling on this promotional endeavor. What are the odds that one of them picks up the phone? I’d put it at something like one in 292 million, but, hey, ya never know.

*  *  *

While the Spikes were looking for the Powerball winners today, the Charleston Riverdogs engaged in the far more manageable task of identifying the losers.

See? It pays to play.

Charleston RiverDogs 2015: Food Explosion!

An annual tradition here in the land of the Biz Blog — or Bizbloglandia, as some have taken to calling it — is to dedicate a post to the Charleston RiverDogs’ latest food offerings. And for good reason! In recent years, the RiverDogs have graced us with Beer Shakes, the Homewrecker Hot Dog, the Pickle Dog , the Pig on a StickPimento Pickle Burgers, duck and venison sausages and much, much more.

The team’s culinary landscape is overseen by John “Schu” Schumacher, food and beverage director of the Goldklang Group (of which the RiverDogs are a part). Schu, in conjunction with his Charleston compatriots Josh Shea and Jay Weekley, have created the following new concession items for 2015. I’ll let Schu, whose text is magically italicized, take it from here:

Josh, Jay and the crew worked especially hard over the off-season to come up with some incredible new menu items and hopefully some popular jaw-droppers. In no particular order: 

Brisket Ramen Bowl: 


Ramen noodles sautéed with an orange teriyaki glaze, julienned snow peas, carrot ribbons & green onions. Topped with sliced smoked brisket and a hardboiled egg.

Turkey Wings and Pork Rind Basket


Two slow smoked 1/2 pound turkey wings with a blackberry sage BBQ sauce served over in-house cooked pork rinds.

We are especially excited about these two items:

Chicken N Waffles: 


Chicken tenders stacked between a Belgian waffle and drizzled with a smoked honey and Sriracha glaze.

A Knot to Remember: 


A giant 24 ounce soft pretzel served in a pizza box with marinara, garlic butter and cheese sauce for dipping. 

Meanwhile, for vegetarians with an appetite…

Summer Harvest Salad (feeds 2-3 people):


An entire hydroponic butter leaf lettuce head stuffed with a buttery quinoa mixture. The mixture includes grape tomatoes, edamame, fresh herbs and carrots. Topped with sprouts, sunflower seeds and a creamy avocado dressing.  All served in a replica baseball helmet.

For dessert:

Shock Top Creamsicle Beer Shake


Shock Top beer blended with vanilla ice cream, OJ and orange flavored simple syrup.

While pictures are not yet available, Schu would also like to let it be known that these three items will be served as well:

Low Country Taco: Smoked pulled pork, slow cooked collards, and mac n cheese layered into a flour tortilla and topped with a Memphis style BBQ sauce. 

Southern Kimchi Dog: Collard greens, kimchi and sweet piquante peppers tossed in soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Piled on top of a Hebrew National hot dog and finished with a garlic Sriracha sauce.

Chocolate Covered Pepper Bacon

When it comes to chocolate-covered pepper bacon, it seems that no explanation is necessary.

Thanks, as always, to Schu for providing me — and by extension, you — with another batch of delectable food information and pictures. Schu make the world a better place.

In other news, my first road trip of the season is imminent. If you’ll be at one of the following locations, or have recommendations regarding who I should talk to at the ballpark, or suggestions regarding what I should check out in the general area, or anything else at all, then please get in touch.

April 11: Bradenton Marauders

April 12: Tampa Yankees

April 13: Dunedin Blue Jays

April 14: Jupiter Hammerheads

April 15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

April 16: St. Lucie Mets

April 17: Brevard County Manatees

April 18: Jacksonville Suns

Minor League Teams to Do All Sorts of Ridiculous Things

Oh, man. Today has been one of those days. Minor League promotions are being announced at a fast and furious clip, and I can barely keep up with it all. Let’s start with the Frisco RoughRiders (recently rebranded and under new ownership) who have announced a “Full House” theme night on June 12:

A bit more info, from the RoughRiders:

“Full House” themed videos, skits and games will entertain fans throughout the night.  Additionally, the Riders will hold a contest where one lucky fan will win a free trip to San Francisco.  A spectacular fireworks show will follow the game, accompanied by classic music from the ’90s. 

You Oughta Know, however, that the RoughRiders are not the only team to be hosting “Uncle Joey” at the ballpark this season. The Richmond Flying Squirrels are doing the same on April 14. There was originally another person included in the below image, but I cut it out:


It is also worth noting that the Flying Squirrels have a “Many Faces of Robin Williams” theme jersey on their promo schedule, but no images of that have yet been released. Stay tuned.

Another notable promo that needs accompanying pics — pronto! — is the Charleston RiverDogs “Bobble Boobs” giveaway during August 22’s “Breast Cancer Awareness Night.” This item, which really perks up the team’s schedule, was announced this morning. I immediately got excited:

No one seemed to find this joke funny, either, but per usual I am undeterred:

The RiverDogs also announced a “Bill Murray Tune Squad” jersey giveaway on April 25. Murray, of course, is the team’s co-owner and “Director of Fun.”


In case you need a “Tune Squad” reference point (full disclosure: I did):

Meanwhile, the Lowell Spinners unveiled this. Maybe the evening will also include a free Buffet, featuring “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” and “Insufferable Drunk Baby Boomers”:

And, not to be missed, the Spinners have also announced that a “Balking Dead” zombie bobblehead will be part of the promo calendar as well:


Finally, ICYMI (I don’t have time to type “In Case You Missed It”), the Jackson General unveiled these a-Baum-inable Wizard of Oz theme jerseys on Friday:

Ben’s Biz Blog: Still the original, still the best, still inexorably encroaching upon middle age while writing about some of the most ridiculous stuff imaginable.

Guest Post: Why I Love the Charleston RiverDogs

It’s time for another installment of “Why I Love,” in which Minor League fans explain what it is they love about their favorite team and why. Today’s guest writer is Paul Worley, a long-time supporter of the “abstraction otherwise known as the Charleston baseball club.” 

To see other “Why I Love” guest posts, click HERE. And if YOU would like to write a “Why I Love” guest post, email me at

Why I Love the Charleston RiverDogs, by Paul Worley

(All photos by Paul Worley, unless otherwise noted)

Charleston sunset, as seen from the RiverDogs' home of Joseph P. Reilly Ballpark (Ben's Biz file photo)

Charleston sunset, as seen from the RiverDogs’ home of Joseph P. Reilly, Jr. Ballpark (Ben’s Biz file photo)

Despite what the tourist brochures may tell you, Charleston, South Carolina, is largely a screen for the projection of history. Little could be said to still happen there. The city has stepped outside of the flow of time, as intentionally anachronistic horse-and-carriages echo down streets that are hardly large enough to accommodate the late-model sports cars owned by the men and women who fly back twice a year to take in a bit of salt air from meticulously reproduced antebellum verandas.

As someone who left Charleston to go to school in the mid-’90s, I return home to find that others have moved in, knocked out the walls and rearranged the furniture. Everywhere, that is, with the exception of the ballpark. Bill Murray (yes, THAT Bill Murray, a.k.a. the RiverDogs’ Director of Fun) and the rest of the Goldklang Group brought changes to the team, but as much as possible they have really left things the same. That’s why I love the RiverDogs.

The narrator of Louis D. Rubin Jr.’s 1979 short story about Charleston baseball in the 1930s spends his time in-between innings observing a little train over the outfield fence at College Park, one of the oldest Minor League parks in the country and the RiverDogs’ original home. He tries to catch it coming or going, but never can. He looks up and it’s there, or looks up and it’s gone. The train is either at the station or it isn’t. The train never moves or changes, but it does. It’s an apt metaphor for the team.


In my lifetime, the abstraction otherwise known as the Charleston baseball club has had several names: Patriots, Pirates, Royals, Rainbows and RiverDogs. Before that, the club was known as the Rebels, the Palmettos and the Quakers. Pro baseball in the city was founded in 1886 by two teams: a member of the Southern League of Colored Baseballists called the Fultons; and a Southern Association team known as the Seagulls. Unlike most teams then, the genealogy of the Riverdogs doesn’t lead us back to a single man or single team, but to the segregated legacy of the Jim Crow South that, through baseball, results in a kind of unity. White and black, they’re all founding fathers of Charleston baseball.

The RiverDogs play at Joe Riley Park, shortened by most fans to “The Joe.” Built in 1997, it’s among the new wave of parks whose architects, taking a cue from Baltimore’s Camden Yards, wove the park into the city. From the backside you can look out over the marsh leading onto the Ashley River with Citadel faculty housing tucked beneath a few oak trees on the shore off to the right. The outfield fence is lined with trees hiding the river just beyond with a tall building or two finishing out a modest skyline.


While the RiverDogs go to great lengths to capture the attention of the casual fan, the team has etched South Carolina’s baseball history into the park itself. Camden’s own Larry Doby has his number 14 retired out on the centerfield wall, the forlorn hero of Pickens County, Shoeless Joe Jackson, has a small beach named for him just beyond the right field foul line and there is a “Scouts Hall of Fame” located along the main concourse. Every year, during “Larry Doby Heritage Weekend,” the team hosts members of the Cannon Street All-Stars, an all-African-American Little League team from Charleston who, in 1955, were denied the opportunity to play in the Little League World Series because they’d won all of their games in the segregated South by forfeit.


Before they were a Yankees affiliate, the RiverDogs were one of the original franchises associated with my favorite team, the Tampa Bay Rays, which means I cheer for certain “Yankees as Riverdogs” while still hoping that New York’s American League baseballers finish somewhere north of 100 losses. After all, while they come and go and by definition are trying to get somewhere else, it’s the players who make the Charleston experience meaningful.

Hall of Famers, all-time greats and MVPs have played with the Charleston club, and their names are easy enough to find. I’m a big fan of former RiverDogs catcher Francisco Arcia, who, during a “kids day at the (water)park” a few summers ago, walked around the bullpen area with a Super Soaker hosing down everything within 100 feet of him.


Dante Bichette, Jr. once impressed me with his knowledge of vintage minor league uniforms (I was sporting a Durham Bulls jersey from the mid-1990s signed by former RiverDog and Bull Elliot Johnson). I particularly enjoy talking smack to players in Spanish, and I’ll forever remember the pitcher (name withheld) who turned around to me in the middle of a game and asked me bluntly, “Y tú, ¿quién eres?” My scorecard from that game notes that this conversation lasted from two outs in the top of the fourth until the seventh inning stretch. My favorite Charleston ballplayer of all-time is the late Tom Saffell. His best memory of playing in Charleston occurred during the 1946 season, while running from first base to second on a routine ground ball. The shortstop, having made the pivot and overanxious to get the runner going to first, drilled Saffell, who was trying to break up the double play in the usual way, square in the head. This happened twice in the same game. There should be a plaque somewhere in the park to honor Saffell and the bungled routines that make life memorable.

Players present constantly intersect with players past, and you get the impression that if you could read them correctly, 30-year-old scorecards and discarded tidbits from the news would reveal tomorrow’s starting lineup. Walt “No Neck” Williams managed the Rainbows, so it’s unsurprising that Mason Williams, his nephew, would one day turn up in the RiverDogs outfield. Rob Refsynder had a few choice words for University of South Carolina fans after his Arizona team defeated USC in the 2012 College World Series, so naturally Charleston was his first stop after the Yankees drafted him. If L.J. Mazzilli is starting for the visiting Sand Gnats, expect Lee Mazzilli to materialize in the park. When Dante Bichette, Jr. was with the team, you could look up during the inevitable late August thunderstorm rain delays and find Dante Bichette, Sr. seated two rows up from you, eating a hot dog, drinking a Diet Coke and waiting out the rain with the rest of us who never played an inning beyond Little League.


During the South Atlantic League All-Star Game festivities that were held in Charleston in 2012, I had a chance to speak with the Director of Fun himself. He told me that slip-and-sliding on a tarped field during a rain delay is the best thing in the world, and that if I ever got the chance I should go for it. In honor of Rubin, Saffell, and Arcia, and Cannon Street, and the Fultons and the Seagulls, the next time I’m in Charleston I’ll take him up on it, if only to tell the cops who arrest me, “With God as my witness, Bill Murray told me it was all good.” Because it’s better than good, and it’ll always be home. That’s why I love the Charleston RiverDogs.


Thanks to Paul for taking the time to write this and, again: If YOU would like to submit a post for this series, then send an email to the address below. In the meantime, here’s my 2011 “On the Road” post detailing my Charleston RiverDogs experience.