Results tagged ‘ Florida State League ’

About Last Night: Brevard County Manatees, April 17, 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, assuming that I return home, I will provide the scintillating blog coverage that you have come to perhaps know and maybe even love. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

April 17, 2015 — Space Coast Stadium, home of the Brevard County Manatees (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers). The stadium also hosts Washington Nationals Spring Training.

Opponent: Dunedin Blue Jays, 6:30 p.m. start time.

Space Coast Stadium, from the outside:

IMG_0396

Space Coast Stadium, from within: 

IMG_1010

Culinary Delight: No Wake Zone Burger (two burger patties with crispy fried onions, bacon, blue cheese)

IMG_0436

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

I forgot to do one of these tonight. I apologize to my legions of fans. To make it up to you, here’s a Vine featuring one of the best first pitches that I have ever seen.

At Random: Men at work, kids at play. It’s all the same, really.

IMG_0431

Last Song Played Over the PA: Once again, the songs kept on playing long after the last fans had left. Here’s the last one I paid attention to:

Next Up: Jacksonville Suns — TONIGHT! — April 18.

4/19: Mama, I’m Coming Home

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: St. Lucie Mets, April 16, 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 merciful return home, I will provide the exhilarating blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, even love. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us! 

April 16, 2015 — Tradition Field, home of the St. Lucie Mets (and also the Spring Training home of the New York Mets).

Opponent: Brevard County Manatees, 6:30 p.m. start time.

Tradition Field, from the outside:

001

Tradition Field, from within:

002

Culinary Delight: Taco in a Helmet! ($6)

036

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Her name is Grace, and she loves the Mets.

033

Last Song Played Over the PA: Taio Cruz, “Dynamite”

Next Up: Brevard County Manatees — TONIGHT — April 17!

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

4/19: HOME SWEET HOME

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Jackie Robinson Game in Vero Beach, April 15, 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 possibly  triumphant return home, I will provide the exhilarating blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, even love. So let’s get to it!

April 15, 2015 — Holman Stadium, located within the historic Dodgertown complex (Spring Training home of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 through 2008).

Event: Jackie Robinson Game, between the Brevard County Manatees and St. Lucie Mets. Robinson trained at Dodgertown throughout the bulk of his career, and even hit the first home run at Holman Stadium.

Holman Stadium, from the outside: 

021

Holman Stadium, from within: Some 6,000 people were in attendance, a huge crowd by Florida State League standards, no matter what the context.

046

Culinary Delight: I skipped my usual food coverage, given that this was a one-time event. But here’s a shot of one of the main food and beverage areas. You can imagine how cramped this became once some 6,000 people were in the ballpark.

028

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Old signage is the best kind of signage.

IMG_0956

In Conclusion: Thanks, Jackie.

042

Next Up: St. Lucie Mets. Tonight! April 16!

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Jupiter Hammerheads, April 14, 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 ecstatically  triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, wordplay-obsessed blog coverage that you have have come to know and perhaps even love. So let’s get to it!

April 14, 2015 — Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals (Class A Advanced affiliates of the Marlins and Cardinals, respectively). On this evening, the home team was the Hammerheads.

Opponent: Clearwater Threshers, 6:35 p.m. start time

Roger Dean Stadium, from the outside: The stadium is located within Abacoa, a planned community in Jupiter, Florida. Its grounds encompass some 120 acres; Roger Dean is the busiest stadium in Minor League Baseball.

006

Roger Dean Stadium, from within:

IMG_0938

Culinary Delight: Designated Eater Stephen Goldsmith contemplates a hot dog, brat, nachos and Italian sausage (the entirety of the menu, outside of snacks and dessert).

041 

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Members of the Knothole Gang were instructed to get a selfie with me as part of a Kid’s Club Ballpark Scavenger Hunt. I made sure to return the favor by getting selfies of my own.

IMG_0935

Last Song Played Over the PA: An R&B/hip-hop mix kept playing into the night as the grounds crew did work on the field. I stopped paying attention after this:

Next Up: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach — today, April 15!

4/16: St. Lucie Mets

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Dunedin Blue Jays, April 13, 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 (assuredly)  triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, pun-laden blog coverage that you have have come to know and deeply appreciate. So let’s get to it!  

April 13, 2015 — Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, home of the Dunedin Blue Jays (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays).

Opponent: Bradenton Marauders, 6:30 p.m. start time

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, from the outside: Located in a residential neighborhood, approximately 600 steps away from salt water.

019

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, from within: Intimate!

040

Culinary Delight: A sampling of meat off the grill.

047

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: In case anyone forgot what day it was.

038

Last Song Played Over the PA: The Jackson Five — “ABC”

Next Up: Jupiter Hammerheads — tonight!

4/15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

4/16: St. Lucie Mets

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Tampa Yankees, April 12, 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 (hopefully)  triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, pun-bedecked blog coverage that you have have come to know and tolerate. So let’s get to it!  

April 12, 2015 — Steinbrenner Field, home of the Tampa Yankees (Class A Advanced affiliate of the New York Yankees).

Opponent: Lakeland Tigers, 5 p.m. start time

Steinbrenner Field, from the outside: Fans pass a statue of George Steinbrenner as they make their way to the main entrance. To the left of “The Boss” (your right) is Tampa’s version of Monument Park as well as a September 11 tribute.

001

Steinbrenner Field, from the inside: Cavernous would be the word.

027

Culinary Delight: The game was preceded by the inaugural “Taste of South Tampa” event, featuring dozens of local food and drink vendors on the concourse. Here’s a close-up of “Cheesy Crab Nachos,” courtesy of Pincher’s Crab Shack.

008

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Lego Steinbrenner Field!

022

Last Song Played Over the PA: Frank Sinatra — “New York, New York” (even though the Yankees lost)

Next Up: Dunedin Blue Jays — tonight! — April 13

4/14: Jupiter Hammerheads

4/15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

4/16: St. Lucie Mets

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Bradenton Marauders, April 11, 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 I visit. Then, upon my triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, pun-soaked blog coverage you have have come to expect. So let’s get to it!  

April 11, 2015: McKechnie Field, home of the Bradenton Marauders

McKechnie Field, from the Outside (I took this upon the conclusion of the ballgame, after failing to get a decent shot upon my arrival):

IMG_0875

McKechnie Field, from within: Opening Night starting lineups:

031

Culinary Delight: Pulled Pork and Mac and Cheese Sandwich, courtesy of local vendor Sonny’s BBQ ($10, the most expensive item on the menu).

056

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Robertoad Clemente:

019

Last Song Played Over the PA: Semisonic, “Closing Time.”

Next Up: Tampa Yankees, April 12

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

A Clogged-Up Competition in Bradenton

As with Monday’s better ladle than never post about the Orem Owlz, today’s missive is a blast from the recent past. This time around we travel to McKechnie Field —  home of the Florida State League’s Bradenton Marauders — which played host to the following event on July 27:

I’ll let the team explain their motivations for staging such a spectacle:

Many teams are doing promotions based on the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics; the Marauders have put their own spin on it by celebrating the “Plumber Olympics”….[L]ocal plumbing company “Plumbing Today” is sponsoring the night and providing a tee shirt giveaway to the fans in blue, green, or red.  Those colors represent which plumber those fans are rooting for…as we have a plumber representing each of those three colors.  Each of our plumbing competitors will [compete] in a series of on-field events, gaining points based on their finish in each of the competitions.  Upon our final contest we will line each of the plumbers up and don them with a gold, silver, or bronze toilet seat cover….Whichever color plumber takes home the gold will also win a special prize for all fans in attendance wearing that team’s color giveaway tee shirt.

Marauders coordinator of stadium operations Kris Koch first alerted me to this promotion, writing in an email that “it may be a little over the top toilet humor for you and your visitors’ taste.” While I appreciate Mr. Koch’s high regard for the Ben’s Biz Blog readership, I nonetheless believe that any visitors to this post will find it to be in excellent taste. (This is, after all, the blog that broke the “Subtle Butt” story.) So let us proceed unencumbered, with photos and commentary courtesy of Koch.

But first, a promotional video to whet the appetite.

Our three finalists (from left to right) Mario DePeau in Blue (France), Buzzy ‘Bare-hands’ Miller in Green (USA), and Paul McCloggin in Red (Ireland) pose for a picture with Marty the Marauder and the Plumber Olympic Torch

Fans were given t-shirts in the color of their favorite plumber when they entered through the gates

McCloggin and DePeau being introduced to the crowd pre-game

Plumbers took on challenges throughout the game, including the Toilet Paper shot put, Plunger Javelin and Toilet Seat Discus

In the end the USA was victorious as Buzzy was crowned with the Golden Toilet Seat Cover, DePeau received the silver, and McCloggin the Bronze

And there you have it, folks — a riveting account of one of the more “unique” events to occur in the Minor Leagues this season. Thanks to Koch for filling me in on the glorious details, and let this be a reminder to you: it is never too late to get in touch regarding notable 2012 promotions. Never!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Return to the Road: From Daytona Beach to DeFuniak Springs

I won’t be content until I’ve posted all of my content, so here we go with another post full of Florida road trip odds and ends. The previous dispatch ended in Lakeland, and from there I drove northeast to beautiful Daytona Beach.

Drawbridge delays added a few minutes to my travel time, but I didn’t mind:

I was in town to see the Daytona Cubs, whose team hotel is the Acapulco. I’m going to go ahead and declare this to be the best view from a team hotel in all of Minor League Baseball.

I rarely relax on these trips (or in life, come to think of it) but I did go for a swim shortly after checking in. How could I not? I did so with a full stomach, however, as on the way to the hotel I stopped for lunch at The Daytona Brickyard. It was recommended to me via a blog post comment: In Daytona you have to eat at a hole in the wall NASCAR Bar called The Brickyard. It’s right across the street from Bethune Cookman College. They have the best burgers you will ever eat in your life.

Well, okay then. Off to 747 w. International Speedway Boulevard I went:


I imagine that this place can get pretty packed in the evenings, but the mid-day atmosphere was fairly sedate.

The menu didn’t make any particular claim to burger supremacy, but when I asked the waitress she just said “We have the best burgers, that’s what we’re known for.”

So, of course, I got the burger. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but it really was good. Maybe not “greatest of all time,” but far above average. Char-grilled and nicely seasoned is all I can think to say, once again I’m coming up blank in the food adjective department. (The fries were great too, but I made the mistake of sprinkling some salt on them before tasting. They were already very, very salty.)

A burger with a checkered past.

I attended that evening’s Daytona Cubs game (read all about it), but there was still a little bit more to come from Jackie Robinson Stadium. An “Education Day” game was scheduled for the following morning, so I stopped by before heading on my way toward Pensacola.

I neglected to feature this in my previous post on Daytona, but outside of the stadium there is a statue of Jackie Robinson. (Daytona hosted Jackie and his Montreal Royals during 1946 Spring Training, one year before his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.)

Inside the stadium, there were a lot of screaming kids. This is the defining characteristic of any “Education Day” ballgame.

Elsewhere in the stadium, things were pretty sedate.

After the ballgame, I stopped by the Florida State League headquarters (located just beyond right field).

I had met league president Chuck Murphy the night before, and he told me that the offices were full of interesting (and idiosyncratic) baseball memorabilia. But, alas, no one was there. I’ll have to put a stop at FSL HQ on my to-do list for the next time I’m in Daytona.

And there will be a next time! But the rest of this day was budgeted for travel, as the next (and last) stop on my itinerary was faraway Pensacola. The drive started on 95, but brightly colored billboards advertising fresh citrus, pecans and fireworks soon caused me to make a slight detour. I absolutely love places like this:

I ended up buying a bag of honey roasted pecans, boiled peanuts, and two grapefruit. Everything was awesome, but I was absolutely floored by how good the grapefruit was (as were as the oranges, of which free samples were provided). The guy working there explained that most grapefruits are picked before they are ripe so that they will not spoil. Therefore, they are not as flavorful as they otherwise could be.

I probably already knew this, but finally having a taste of the real thing hammered the point home. I will never eat a grapefruit here in the Northeast without thinking of how much better they are in Florida — so fresh, and tart, and juicy. The sort of thing that, yes, makes you grateful to be alive.

Alligator jerky didn’t necessarily make me glad to be alive, but it wasn’t so bad that I wished I was dead. It was thoroughly mediocre.

Did you guys hear the one about Shrek-brand jerky? The taste was thoroughly meaty ogre!

[Thanks, I’ll be in this deserted office all night. (Please, someone, give me a reason to leave).]

Several hours and several listens to the new Spiritualized album later, I noticed a decrepit billboard touting the fact that Greenville, Florida (population 837) is the birthplace of Ray Charles. Therefore, I decided to stop in Greenville. It was sleepy in the way that only the South seems to be sleepy; blanketed in soporific haze, the metronome moving in slow motion as the ghosts look on disinterestedly.

I think something was off with my camera.

And, yes, there in the center of Haffye Hays Park (no relation to Soporific) was the Ray Charles Memorial. Again, I apologize for whatever snafu resulted in such low lighting.

That’s about it when it comes to interesting detours I made en route to Pensacola, but I do want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for Florida rest stops. They were clean, informative, well-designed, and the vending machines were stocked with regional potato chip brands. This one was my favorite:

The gas stations were all in order too, thanks to a department of agriculture and consumer services commissioner who won’t take guff from anyone.

I didn’t quite make it to Pensacola that evening, opting instead to spend the night in the DeFuniak Springs Super 8. There wasn’t much to do there, so I passed the time trying (and failing) to take poignant photographs of a nearby Waffle House.

I swear that I’ll eventually run out of content from this trip. But it hasn’t happened yet!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Return to the Road: Caps, Cards, and Code at MiLB HQ

As promised/threatened, I have quite a bit more Florida road trip content to share. So after yesterday’s brief respite, it’s time to hit the reset button and do it all again.

We’ll start with a blog-centric exploration of something I already wrote about for MiLB.com: Minor League Baseball’s St. Petersburg, FL headquarters. This was the absolute first stop of my trip, as it was the proverbial hop, skip and a jump away from the Tampa airport. I arrived at HQ in a most disheveled state — I hadn’t eaten anything all day, my contact lenses were giving me major problems, my GPS wasn’t picking up a signal, and my general cluelessness regarding 21st-century automobiles resulted in an inability to turn on the air conditioning.

But I made it! Minor League Baseball HQ! Located in an off-the-beaten-path office park, with swampland for a backyard; this is where the magic happens.

Immediately to the right, upon walking in the doors, one comes across this tidy display featuring an official ball from each league.

But that’s a mere prelude. I embarked upon a tour of the facility with Minor League Baseball’s director of communications Steve Densa, and we soon visited the “theater” room (used for meetings and the “Minor League University” staged twice yearly for executives new to the industry).

And, yes, that display encompassing the room’s back wall is exactly what it appears to be: caps of every affiliated Minor League team, arranged in alphabetical order. I tweeted photos of the “Hat Wall” a few weeks back, and it almost immediately set a personal record for re-tweets. People just love this thing; for a certain subset of fans it’s akin to communing with the divine.

But personally, I was more intrigued by the historical treasures to be found. This fire-proof, cinder-block encased room houses informational index cards for virtually every professional player from the turn-of-the-century through the early ’90s. A very unique and thoroughly irreplaceable reservoir of record-keeping!

Lou Pinella’s player card, with confidential info thumbed out:

There are all sorts of notable names contained in these filing cabinets, from Hall of Famers to those went on to fame in other endeavors (like actor Kurt Russell). But the silent majority are comprised of players such as Ernest Agnew, about whom little else is known these days:

More items of historical import can be found in the nearby library, a modestly appointed room comprised of all manner of books, programs, videos, and league correspondence.

But the star of the show, in my mind, was this absolutely fascinating document:

The code book! Following the instructions contained therein allowed teams to engage in surreptitious correspondence via the telegraph wires. Read on:

Here’s some representative code:

Click to enlarge

Anyone in the market for a Nazare Nascent?

(Incidentally, this book would be a great way to choose a band name. Think up a baseball term, then see what the applicable code name would be and — voila! — indie stardom is only a coquettish grin and harmoniously-strummed ukulele away).

But there’s no need to keep secrets these days at MiLB HQ — unless you’re worried that the neighbors lurking about have nefarious intentions.

 Why I otter…

And that’ll be it for me from Burning. I attended a game that night in Buckboard, and the next day made my way to Buffetted. The next post “On the Road” post will contain odds and ends from my time there.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 507 other followers