Results tagged ‘ Clinton LumberKings ’

On the Road: Deep-fried Everything in Clinton

To see all of my posts from this May 2015 visit to the Clinton LumberKings (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

As you can see, the Clinton LumberKings offer a fairly extensive concession menu.

037Upon close inspection, however, there’s one item that stands out above the rest.

The Garbage Pail.

At $8.50 this is the most expensive item on the menu, and the only one that explicitly warns that substitutions are not allowed. Per LumberKings concession manager Kathleen Ward, it generally contains “mini-tacos, chicken strips, french fries, onion rings, cheese balls, corn nuggets, poppers, corn dogs and sometimes beef sticks.”

I don’t think beef sticks were in this one, but everything else was and then some. This is the Garbage Pail, in all its glory.

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Ward is one of the creators of the Garbage Pail, the original iteration of which dates back to over a decade ago.

“We always had fried food left over,” she told me. “So we finally went to [general manager] Ted [Tornow] and said, ‘Can we just put it all together and call it the Garbage Pail?’ He said, ‘I have no problem with that.'”

She continued, “At that time it was super-small and it was, like, three bucks. … It was literally the leftovers. Cook’s choice. [Fans] didn’t get to pick, and they knew it. But they loved it, and now it’s grown to eight different things. A family of four could eat a Garbage Pail now and be very happy. And men drinking a lot of beer eat one by themselves.”

My designated eater (the individual who consumes the ballpark food that my gluten-free diet prohibits) was not a man drinking a lot of beer. Rather, my designated eater was — shocker! — a woman.  She wasn’t drinking beer, but she was nonetheless amenable to having a large heap of fried food placed in front of her.

Meet Amanda Cady.

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Amanda was at the LumberKings game along with her husband, Cory, and son, Alex.

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The Cadys were a fun family to get to know, however briefly. Cory, a machinist by trade, has amassed a collection of some 110 hats. In the above photo, he’s sporting a Fourth of July edition LumberKings cap.

“It’s a little ridiculous,” said Amanda. “The guys at Lids know him by name.”

Alex, meanwhile, is sporting a Round Rock Express cap because he loves trains. Alex, who Amanda said is a “local celebrity” at the ballpark, has autism. Amanda and Cory are heavily involved with a local organization, Strides for Clinton County Autism, raising money for special-needs teachers and other such educational initiatives.

“We just want Alex to have the same opportunities that everyone else has,” said Amanda.

Here’s a closer look at the shirt she was wearing.

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Amanda grew up in Clinton and has been going to ballgames at the Midwest League ballpark now known as Ashford University Field all her life. Her uncle, Brian Eggers, served as LumberKings assistant general manager from 1987 through 1994. Among many memories from that time, she recalled going to afternoon dinners at her grandmother’s house and playing ball in the street with members of the team.

As for the Garbage Pail, Amanda said she’s “been eating it ever since they had it.” (I wonder if, back then, she was a Garbage Pail Kid.)

The Garbage Pail is a bit monochromatic, and it can be difficult to discern exactly what lurks beneath the deep-fried breading. Amanda said she challenges herself to identify and then eat one specimen of every item before repeating herself. It’s a noble strategy.

Here, Amanda breaks down that which lurks therein. She’s a Garbage Pail expert.

You’ll notice that some of these items differ from those listed at the top of this post, but Amanda said that minor deviations are common. When it comes to the Garbage Pail, there’s always “some kind of surprise.”

Amanda’s favorite item in the Garbage Pail pantheon would be the corn nuggets.

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Yeah, corn nuggets.

And, jeez, I’m just now realizing that that’s all I’ve got from this Garbage Pail-centric portion of my afternoon with the LumberKings. Thanks to Amanda for  being a good sport and knowledgeable fried food consumer. Hopefully her appearance in this post helps spread the word that women can be designated eaters too. It need not be the male-dominated sphere that it has been thus far.

Yours in equality,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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instagram.com/thebensbiz

On the Road: Two for the Price of One in Clinton

To see all of my posts from this May 2015 visit to the Clinton LumberKings (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

Greetings once again from Ashford University Field in Clinton, Iowa. A Memorial Day doubleheader between the LumberKings and fellow small-market Iowans the Burlington Bees had just begun.

042I spent a good portion of the first game of the doubleheader sitting on a picnic bench located down the left field line.

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From this vantage point, I documented the “Garbage Pail” exploits of that afternoon’s Designated Eater (this will be written about in a separate post). Next, I spoke with ballpark mainstay Ray Gimenez.

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Gimenez has a unique story, so much so that I’ve already written an article about him on MiLB.com. In a nutshell, he was born in Cuba, raised in the Bronx and first spent time in Clinton as a member of the 1973 Clinton Pilots (who were managed by Jim Leyland). Gimenez stayed in Clinton after his playing career ended, raising a family and attending theological school. He now runs a homeless shelter in the city, and also assists Hispanic players as they learn the English language and American culture in general.

“There’s a closeness and an interaction that I’ve always loved about the Clinton stadium,” said Gimenez. “I do a lot of preaching and a lot of traveling, but I’m so glad that God allows me time to be with the game I love. I love it, man. I just love it.”

Seven-inning games move by pretty quickly when you’re immersed in conversation and/or preoccupied with concession documentation. The LumberKings won the first game by a score of 5-1.

Time for a National Anthem redux, and then on to the nightcap.

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Via a subsequent lap around the concourse, I discovered that the LumberKings are (perhaps the) only team to have an on-site lending library. I can’t say I was too impressed by the current selection, which included Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2, Titanic Survivor and Cats (“16 full-color pages inside”).

044I soon decided that chicken soup for my soul would involve actually sitting down and watching baseball. I really like how this in-game snippet turned out.

But whenever I’m in Ben’s Biz-mode, I can’t settle in and watch baseball for long. I’m always distracting myself with tasks large and small, such as the need to come up with that day’s “Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke.”

Inspiration came in the form of this sign.

045Okay, not my best work, but whatever:

Back to watching baseball, then.

046But, you know, not for long. In the fifth inning, my vantage point changed once again.

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My destination was the press box, a most foreboding press box indeed. This sign, simplified, can be interpreted as: “Scram, fans”.

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But I was no mere fan. I was an esteemed member of the national media, there to do an inning on the radio.

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The LumberKings broadcast booth was an amusing environment. and I think the above photo sums it up. #2 broadcaster Greg Mroz was on the air, and throughout his play-by-play he would throw in random asides regarding United States towns that share the same name with notable foreign cities (i.e. Moscow, Idaho). Many of  these town names were texted to him by PA announcer Brad Seward, who resides in the booth next door.

When I went on the air the following half-inning, some sort of technical difficulty ensued and we quickly went off the air. That’s life in Minor League Baseball, particularly when working in a stadium built in 1937. You’ve gotta have a sense of humor, and these guys definitely did.

With the score tied 1-1, I returned to the grandstand to watch the seventh inning. In the bottom of the frame, Taylor Zeutenhorst drew a walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Chris Mariscal’s single to right field. The LumberKings had swept the doubleheader.

And thus ended my 14-inning afternoon at Ashford University Field. I’ll let Brad Seward send you all on home.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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On the Road: Small Market Under a Big Sky in Clinton

To see all of my posts from this May 2015 visit to the Clinton LumberKings (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

Day Three of my 2015 road trip through the Midwest had me in Clinton, Iowa, for a Memorial Day doubleheader between the LumberKings and visiting Burlington Bees. It seems to be a matter of debate whether Clinton or Burlington is the smallest market in full-season Minor League Baseball. Regardless, there’s no debate that both teams are distinct anomalies within a league (and industry) increasingly populated by shiny amenity-drenched ballparks located within downtown city centers.

The LumberKings play at Ashford University Field, which opened in 1937 as Riverview Stadium. It has been renovated several times through the decades, most recently in 2006, but retains a timeless, old-fashioned feel.

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When I arrived at the ballpark, loiterers were nowhere to be found. Parking lot signage works! And here’s a rhetorical question for you: How great is a sign that says “Warning: Baseball Games Played Here”?

IMG_1243Clouds don’t obey signage, even if it is issued by a Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Many of them were loitering above the stadium, accentuating the beauty of the radiant blue sky.

007After executing a successful 180 degree rotation of my body, I took a photo of the surrounding area. This is small-town Minor League Baseball, to be sure.

009I entered the ballpark via the front office, which is identified by a sign that looks like it was made by a moonlighting park ranger.

008Apropos of nothing, but one of the first individuals I was introduced to was a visiting clubhouse manager who bears a more than a passing resemblance to Mario Batali. This celebrity chef doppelganger is named Andy, though I failed to note his last name. It’s not like I’m a professional journalist or anything.

011I also made an acquaintance with a PA booth possum.

012The PA booth is the domain of Brad Seward who, when not at the ballpark, works as director of operations for the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency.

014Fans were beginning to filter in at this point, however slowly. Due to a rainout the night before, that day’s start time had been moved up an hour in order to accommodate what would now be a pair of seven-inning games.

016The LumberKings are a community-owned team, and throughout the afternoon I spent a lot of time speaking with members of the board who devote significant time and energy to keeping the franchise healthy and viable amid a rapidly-changing Minor League landscape. These interviews, largely arranged via LumberKings general manager Ted Tornow, will be the focus of an upcoming piece on MiLB.com.

Some snapshots of the ballpark stalwarts who will be featured in the piece.

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038But, again, I’ll save that deeper dive into the LumberKings for an MiLB.com piece. Here on the blog, I’ll simply offer a lackadaisical chronicle of what, again, was a beautiful day for baseball in Clinton, Iowa.

019But before the professionals took the field, an amateur did. That amateur was a weirdo niche baseball writer by the name of: Me!

Another day, another city, another ceremonial first pitch perfect strike.

Thanks to Daniel Foley, a fellow baseball traveler who I crossed path with several times on this trip, for documenting this pitch on social media. (Note, also, mascot Louie the Lumberking poking his head out beyond the fence.) My ceremonial first pitch catcher was second baseman Nelson Ward, who has since been promoted to Class A Advanced Bakersfield. Let this be a message to players across the Minors — catch one of my ceremonial first pitches, and good things will happen to you.

Note, also, that the Midwest League is now using Richard A. Nussbaum-autographed baseballs. This past offseason, Nussbaum took over for longtime MWL president George Spelius. (I visited Spelius in his Beloit, Wisconsin, league office in 2013.)

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Play ball!

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The game(s) had begun, but this post has ended. Stay tuned for part two of this Clinton blog series, which, truth be told, will be very similar to part one. Why mess with a good thing?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Monday Afternoon: Clinton LumberKings, May 25, 2015

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

May 25, 2015: Ashford University Field, home of the Clinton LumberKings (Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners)

Opponent: Burlington Bees, 1:00 p.m. start time (seven-inning doubleheader, after the previous night’s ballgame had been rained out)

Ashford University Field, from the outside:

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Ashford University Field (from the inside):

023Culinary Creation: The Garbage Pail (a full-to-bursting smorgasbord of fried delectables)

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Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day:

It’s All Over: Nothing like a walk-off win to sweep a doubleheader.

Next Up: 

5/26: Peoria Chiefs

5/27: Cedar Rapids Kernels

5/28: Omaha Storm Chasers

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

A Break In the Action

skyhole.jpgAs the previous two posts would indicate, it’s been a big week for logos here in the world of Minor League Baseball. And there’s more where that came from — the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are unveiling new marks tomorrow, and the Omaha Royals are announcing the results of their “Name That Team” contest on Monday evening.

So, before getting swept away in yet another logo deluge, let me dedicate this post to other news and notes from the world of the Minors.

I’ll start by talking about — Me! The latest MLBlogs rankings were announced yesterday, and “Ben’s Biz” is at #12 in the “Pro” category. Thanks for your support! Also on the list is my colleague Jonathan Mayo, an expert when it comes to prospects, the MLB draft, and player development in general. Check out his “Big, Bald, and Beautiful” blog, and follow him on Twitter (@JonathanMayoB3). Together we represent the yin and yang of the Minor League experience.

Jeez, this paragraph marks four straight without a new logo. I’ll rectify that right now, as the aforementioned Omaha Royals announced today that their still-under-construction Sarpy County home will go by the name of Werner Park.

Werner Park logo.jpg

As the logo would imply, Werner is a “global logistics company”. But they’re based in Omaha, hence their naming rights deal with the Royals.

Moving on from “that which has just been given a name” to “that which still needs a name”, I would like to note that the Jackson Generals mascot is in search of an appropriate moniker.

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I’d make a few of my own suggestions, if I wasn’t so entranced by his hourglass figure and copious jowls.

But nothing entrances like the soothing glow of the small screen. On Saturday the MLB Network is airing a program that was filmed at Alliant Energy Field, home of the Clinton LumberKings. It’s called “Triumph and Tragedy: the 1919 Chicago White Sox”.

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And, hey, remember last week when I wrote about the Toledo Mud Hens customized Firefox browser? I thought it might have been a Minor League first, but as is so often the case I was wrong. The Durham Bulls had one first.

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Anyone want to send me an email letting me know that they did this before the Bulls? I’ll correct myself until the cows come home.

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

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