Results tagged ‘ Fort Wayne TinCaps ’
I never set out to be a food blogger, and, really, I’m not. Nonetheless, food is a important component of the Minor League experience, and throughout my travels this past season I did my best to document ballpark comestibles in particular as well as regional cuisine in general.
Today’s missive (which went live at lunchtime for a reason) is the first of what will be a two-part compendium of the 2011 season’s food-based posts and photos. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section and via email: What are your favorite Minor League ballpark foods, and why?
What follow are some of mine, presented in the order in which they were consumed.
My first 2011 road trip began in Tucson, home of the T-Padres. And what better way to enjoy Kino Stadium’s sunset views than with a plate of nachos from ballpark vendor El Charro? Nothing too fancy, but the freshest of ingredients combined with from-the-oven homemade tortilla chips helped to distinguish this particular platter.
The following afternoon, a reader recommendation led me to local institution El Guero Canelo. The specialty there is the “Sonoran Dog,” which I described as a “hot dog is wrapped in bacon and topped with cheese, salsa, onions, tomatoes, beans, mayonnaise and who knows what else. All of this was safely ensconced in the specially-crafted (and delicious) roll and served with a roasted pepper on the side.”
After a fleeting highway encounter with the still-elusive Biz Girl, I made my west to territories occupied by the California League’s South Division entities. One of the highlights of this leg of the journey came in Lancaster, where I was able to enjoy a non-photo shopped encounter with the JetHawks’ delectable “Sweet Po-Tater Tots.”
The Sweet Po-Taters were a mere appetizer, for then came the so-called “Stealth Burger:” a hamburger topped with pulled pork and onion rings. It was a formidable affair:
The Stealth Burger looked downright microscopic in comparison to the Brobdingnagian creation that was served to me in Lake Elsinore. Behold the Storm’s “Homewrecker,” perhaps best explained in t-shirt form.
The following month I traversed the great state of Ohio (with a detour in Fort Wayne, IN). The first stop on this particular Minor League journey was Toledo, where appropriately-named concessions manager Corey Pleasant laid out a stunning pre-game feast.
Here we have Greek Nachos (gyro meat and pita chips), Pulled Pork Nachos, and “Bases-Loaded Fries.”
But that, of course, was not all. Here’s the “Muddy Dog,” topped with chili, cheese, and onions.
And this artisanal creation is the “Bloomin’ Bacon Burger,” a 1/3 lb. grilled Black Angus beef burger topped with crispy strips of bacon, deep fried onion rings, American cheese, and bistro sauce on a fresh Kaiser bun.
And, of course, no visit to Toledo is complete without a stop at the legendary Tony Packo’s. I visited the Birmingham location before heading west to Fort Wayne, ordering a hot dog with chili, Paprika Dumplings, and a side of “Pickles and Peppers.”
After Toledo, I attended two ballgames at the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ Parkview Field. The majority of the second evening was spent with culinary director Scott Kammerer, who gave me a thorough tour of the team’s concession offerings. The tour resulted in an MiLB.com article, as well as this stunning image:
and a hot dog with “Cincinnati Chili” (the TinCaps’ best attempt to emulate the famous Skyline recipe).
The TinCaps are named after Johnny Appleseed’s iconic headwear, so this Apple Dumpling dessert was a fitting (and inspired) addition to the menu.
From Fort Wayne, I made my way back to the Buckeye State in order to visit the Lake County Captains. Food took a back seat to on-field participation during this jam-packed visit, but this was where I first became aware of the Cleveland-area phenomenon that is “Bertman Ballpark Mustard.”
Bertman’s Mustard: Responsible for the most delectable condiment globules around.
From Lake County it’s a veritable hop, skip and a jump to Mahoning Valley. It was Opening Day for the short-season Scrappers, and I celebrated the return of New York-Penn League baseball with the one-of-a-kind “Warsaw Wings.”
Deep-fried pierogies smothered in hot sauce!
A necessary cool-down soon came in the form of Handel’s Ice Cream. The flavor was called “Scrappy’s Favorite” — caramel ice-cream with bone-shaped chocolate-covered pretzels.
The Ohio excursion ended in Akron’s Canal Park, a location not lacking in death-taunting culinary options. After an exhausting evening that included a pie in the face and a stint in a dunk tank, I had both the following items placed before me.
On the left is the “Nice 2 Meat U Burger,” two 1/3rd pound patties, two hot dogs, bacon, cheese, and onions.
The sauerkraut-covered creation on the right is the “Three Dog Night,” a hot dog stuffed inside a brat stuffed inside a kielbasa.
And, let’s not forget: Bertman Mustard on top of it all!
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of this food-based season retrospective, featuring a bevy of offerings from South and North Carolina as well as the doom metal capital of the world (the state of Maryland, in other words).
Until then, send me your photos and anecdotes related to your favorite ballpark foods and regional creations. I’ll be right here waiting for you.
For mascots, there’s no escaping the spotlight. These mute yet endlessly expressive characters are the center of attention everywhere they go, and as a result they always need to be “on.” Pictures are requested, high fives demanded, and antics expected. It’s an exhilarating existence, to be sure, but not at all conducive to moments of quiet reflection and self-analysis.
Yet such moments, while rare, do occur. To capture them on camera is an exhilarating feeling, akin to a landlocked bird watcher getting an glimpse of the elusive Red Phalarope. This is how I felt during a June trip to Lake County, when I was able to capture Captains mascot Skipper in a moment of introspection.
Feeling inspired by this rare bit of photographic luck, I asked readers to please send in introspective mascot photos of their own. This request was met with an enthusiastic response, and the results are contained in this post.
What follows is the most impressive collection of introspective mascot photos that the world has ever seen.
The above individual is Louie of the Great Lakes Loons, whose powers of introspection are far greater than the average bird. Soon after abandoning his dugout perch, he went into the stands and got the fans to join him in a moment of quiet contemplation.
Another city boasting thoughtful birds amongst its citizenry is Toledo. Muddy the Mud Hen is a voracious reader, and can sometimes be spotted at the local library with his beak buried in a good book.
Muddy’s literary endeavors have increased his powers of imagination. Back at the ballpark, he sometimes gets lost in thought while resting his left arm on a railing that doesn’t even exist.
As evidenced by the picture of Skipper at the top of this post, ballpark tunnels represent a good place for a mascot to temporarily escape from the madding crowd. Here’s Phinley of the Clearwater Threshers, patriotically pontificating.
Meanwhile, in Winston-Salem, Bolt takes a moment to reflect before instigating some between-inning hula-baloo.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but I was able to get a shot of Bolt during my visit to Winston-Salem this past July. This one is perhaps less “introspective” than “fatigued.”
While in Winston-Salem, I spent time with not one but TWO blog readers who went on to email me introspective mascot photos. Matt “Possum” Campbell solicited this shot of the Danville Braves’ “Blooper,” who does his best thinking with left hand planted firmly on stomach.
Meanwhile, veteran Minor League wanderer Rex Doane sent in pictures from various far-flung locales. Our journey with Rex begins in Norfolk, where Rip Tide sometimes assumes a near-beatific demeanor.
Then we fly over to flyover country, with this behind-the-back view of Swoop of the South Bend Silver Hawks.
And, finally, we arrive in the modest environs of the Modesto Nuts’ dugout. That’s where Al Almond sometimes goes in order to escape from the nuttiness surrounding him.
Another thoughtful dugout denizen is Fort Wayne’s Johnny TinCap, whose demeanor is never crotchety even if his hobbies sometimes are.
Of course, one doesn’t need to be solitary to be introspective. Over the three seasons that the team has been in existence, Chopper of the Gwinnett Braves has established himself as one of the most empathetic woodchucks in the Minors. Here he is having an on-field heart-to-heart.
Chopper’s upright demeanor is in stark contrast to Millie of the Lowell Spinners. On the last day of the season, this canal-dwelling alligator went deep into her own headspace while sitting on a stadium bench.
Allie’s daughter, Millie, simply curled up in the fetal position in order to think long and hard about the season that had just transpired.
With this concept on the verge of collapse, it seems that I’ll have to call it a day. Of course, keeping sending those introspective mascot photos in. I am totally amenable to there being a second, third, fourth, and even fifth installment of this series.
There will be no sixth installment.
In much the same way that a bear lives off of its own fat throughout the winter, I am able to survive the lean times by relying on my great storehouse of Minor League content.
Today I’ll dip into that vast reserve in order to bring you a steaming bouillabaisse of words and images from the 2011 campaign (I just spelled “bouillabaisse” correctly on the second attempt, tying my personal best in this category).
Let’s start with our friends in the mountain foothills, that distinguished Carolina League entity known as the Lynchburg Hillcats. Last month, the team staged a NASCAR Night promotion and staged it well.
It all started in the stadium parking lot, with cars from different eras of racing history stationed therein.
Also present was the official pace car from nearby Martinsville Speedway, one of the night’s sponsors.
The evening’s guest of honor was Rex White, a legendary racer who in 1960 won the NASCAR Grand National Championship.
Meanwhile, Danny “Dale Earnhardt” Dudley was named “Best Dressed Fan.”
Between-inning games and contests were centered around the theme. Here, the green flag signals the start of the “Tire Roll”…
…while a white flag indicates the last lap of the Pool Sprint.
Moving from cars to guitars, last month the Reading Phillies welcomed a touring performer I had never before heard of: the Sauce Boss. Not only does this guy play “Florida Slide Guitar Blues,” but he cooks gumbo on stage and serves it to the audience.
Keeping with the song and dance theme, the Fort Wayne TinCaps held a ’90s Night Promotion in August that included innovations such as the following:
— The “92nd” inning, commemorating Nirvana’s release of “Smells like Teen Spirit” with a “What’s that Smell” onfield promotion.
— The strike-shortened “94th inning”, in which all promotions were stopped in the middle in memory of the MLB strike which began on August 12, 1994.
— The Titanic “King of the World” cam in the 98th inning.
And then there was this:
Even more horrifying is a ballpark character I learned about during the recent Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar: the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ “Ram of War.”
This unapologetic villain competes against children in between-inning contests, crushing their dreams and feeding off the screams:
Brilliant. The world of Minor League Baseball needs more bad guys, they make us all look good in comparison.
So much has been experienced this week in Ohio, and there is still much more to come. I’m in Mahoning Valley right now, fresh off an epic night with the Lake County Captains that will be a lot of fun to document. Saturday finds me in Akron, and then on Sunday I can finally return to NYC’s comforting embrace.
But thoughts of the Big Apple need to be set aside in favor of documenting my time in the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in this fine metropolis, with the former evening being among the most exhausting and memorable that I have ever spent in a Minor League ballpark. It was a military appreciation night doubleheader, and the team went out of their way to offer an all-encompassing ballpark experience.
An extensive write-up of the evening is available RIGHT NOW at MiLB.com, featuring a photo gallery and video links. I’ll link to the videos from here as well.
After a practice session with the Bad Apple Dance Crew (in preparation for an in-game infield dragging performance), I hustled up to the broadcast booth and spent the second and third innings on the air with broadcaster and blogger extraordinaire Dan Watson.
We did the second inning on radio and the third on television (the TinCaps broadcast all of their home games on local cable). Watson, to his credit (or detriment) often picks up on the pop culture references I scatter around this blog and as such gave me ample room to riff on important topics such as the impending release of Weird Al’s “Al-Pacalypse.”
I was also a guest on Watson’s podcast, a discussion that allowed me to pontificate on who I am, what I do, and why I do it. This is often hard to explain (the evolution of my entire career can perhaps best be summarized as “making it up as I go along”) and opportunities to do so are appreciated. You can check out the podcast HERE.
Immediately thereafter I was hustled to a table on the concourse in center field for the Qdoba Burrito Eating contest. Myself, Private Griffith and Caleb had one minute in which to eat as much of a chicken burrito as we could. I totally eviscerated the thing and made a mess, but was declared the winner.
I was paired with a season ticket-holder named Michelle soon thereafter, and the two of us were tasked with catching foot-long sandwiches atop a Subway banner. The sandwiches (in actuality a pair of t-shirts inside a Subway wrapper), were shot across the outfield from a t-shirt gun.
Michelle and I went 0-for-3 at our assigned task.
Between games of the doubleheader, there was a National Guard swearing-in ceremony.
Shortly thereafter, I was one of a seemingly endless string of first-pitch participants. No pictures seem to exist of my ceremonial offering, but let me assure you that it was a strike.
This segued into the main event, an infield-dragging dance performance as a member of the Bad Apple Dancers. We shook our proverbial moneymakers to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.”
Afterward, we posed for the following photo.
Next up was a “Guess the Attendance” contest, in which I stood atop the dugout with on-field host Brad Shank (seen in the above pic on the far right) and failed to guess the evening’s correct attendance. I was then whisked outside the stadium into the outfield groundskeeping area to participate in a “Hamster Ball” race.
These things are bizarre — you enter into them while they are still deflated, and then a leaf blower is inserted. Soon you find yourself in a disconcerting spherical plastic echo chamber, propelling yourself down the third base line with the single-minded intensity of a domestic rodent.
By the time the second game ended, it was past 11:30 p.m. But was it time to shut things down? Of course not!
The TinCaps first staged the standard “Launch-A-Ball” contest. Activate your hula hoops!
You’d think that all this would have given me more than my fill of the TinCaps experience, and you’d be correct. Nonetheless, I returned the next day and spent the majority of the ballgame on a extensive food tour with culinary director Scott Kammerer. An article all about it has already appeared on MiLB.com. Read it!
I indeed sampled everything pictured. Clockwise from bottom left: Apple Dumpling, Cincinnati Chili Dog, Brisket Sandwich, Philly Cheesesteak, Turkey Leg. It was uniformly delicious, but Brisket Sandwich with Apple Dumpling for dessert would be my recommended pairing.
As the game was winding down I got a chance to catch up with Tug Haines. A New Jersey native, Haines is spending the entire season on the Minor League trail and documenting it on his website Casual Fan. This is an endeavor well worth supporting.
Video links should be added to this post shortly, and some further Fort Wayne odds and ends may appear throughout the next week. But, for now, I must humbly sign off.
I spent Tuesday evening in Fort Wayne, taking in a doubleheader between the hometown TinCaps and visiting Dayton Dragons. It was an action-packed and thoroughly exhausting couple of hours, in which the team’s front office took it upon themselves to include me in seemingly every aspect of the game day entertainment.
A detailed recap of just what the evening entailed will appear Friday on MiLB.com, along with video and photographic evidence. And further Fort Wayne blogs and articles are sure to materialize as well.
But, for now, let me just give you the lay of the land. Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field is a most beautiful facility, the centerpiece of a $130 million downtown development project.
See that “Treetops” seating area out there in right field? It’s a group area highly reminiscent of Toledo’s “The Roost”, and features a rotating menu. As in, “rotates every couple of innings.”
The view from up there:
Meanwhile, this was the view to be had from the sixth floor of my palatial Courtyard Marriott digs.
See those curved lines in the lower right hand corner? They light up at night, and lead to the aforementioned Marriott.
But the visiting Dayton Dragons can’t be bothered with such a perilous stair-filled journey. Instead, they ride in style.
More views from throughout the stadium, provided in spectacular Bloggervision:
Johnny TinCap himself happily undulates in front of the team store, a mammoth emporium featuring a near-Lake Elsinore level of clothing selection.
The scene at the top of the first. You may notice that the TinCaps are wearing Flag Jerseys. It was Flag Day, after all.
Between games, the National Guard held a swearing-in ceremony.
I didn’t hear the TinCaps make any specific claims about the unprecedented size of their scoreboard, but nonetheless this is a big one. In the spirit of unrestrained Minor League hyperbole, I’ll go ahead and call it the biggest videoboard in the history of videoboards.
As I mentioned at the top of this post, there’s a lot more Fort Wayne content to come in the form of Friday’s MiLB.com story as well as additional blogs and articles. But, for now, I leave you with a big ol’ pile of dirt.
Thanks for everything, Fort Wayne. Lake County, you’re next.
It looks like my upcoming road trip is gonna be a good one, as I’ve gotten some very enthusiastic responses from the teams that I’ll be visiting. “On the Road” coverage will surely dominate this blog (and regularly appear on MiLB.com) throughout the upcoming week and into the next.
But before leaving, I need to solicit your opinion. The Fort Wayne TinCaps have asked me to take part in a “Bad Apple Dancer” dancing grounds crew routine, an invitation rarely extended to ballpark interlopers such as myself. I was even given the choice of what song to dance to, and I need your help in making that choice. The candidates:
Party in the USA
As always, your input is important to me. What song would best showcase my prodigious dancing skills? Let me know via blog comment, twitter, or email (deadline: Saturday at 12 ET).
And while in a deliberative mood, check out the latest in the Altoona Curve’s series of television parody videos. It’s “Curve and Order.”
The Curve video was part of their latest “What We’re Watching Wednesday” promo, followed the next day by the latest entry in their mascot stunt series: “The Stuffed Animal Hoop of Death.”
Unfortunately, I am not in possession of footage of this phenomenal feat. In the meantime, may I suggest that you check out my latest “Farm’s Almanac” feature article on MiLB.com? It’s on Chris Hatcher, vying to become the first-ever player to appear in the Major Leagues as both a full-time catcher and full-time pitcher.
Thanks for reading, and see you on the road!
What a momentous week — yesterday was Pi Day, today is the Ides of March, Wednesday is National Artichoke Hearts Day and Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day.
Minor League Baseball’s involvement with the first three of these annual milestones is minimal at best, but for St. Patrick’s Day teams are going green in a way that has nothing to do with waterless urinals, concourse recycling bins, and LEED certification.
The Savannah Sand Gnats are offering this St. Patty’s day tee, which makes it clear that insects can be Irish too:
Indianapolis is putting its own spin on the theme, as this green cap celebrates the “Luck O the Indians.”
And speaking of the Aces, the team is currently offering what I believe is the best season-ticket package in all of Minor League Baseball. Full-time students can purchase a general admission pass for $72 — that’s $1 a game!
But even cheaper than $1 a game is free, and in Fort Wayne the TinCaps are currently offering fans a unique way to score complimentary Opening Day ducats.
[T]he TinCaps are looking for eagle-eyed deputies to enforce a new staff dress code. Any fan who catches a full-time TinCaps staffer without a TinCaps logo visible on their person wins two tickets to Opening Day…Staff members must wear a visible TinCaps logo at all times for the entire month leading up to Opening Day, whether or not they are on the job. Anything from a TinCaps fake tattoo sleeve to a lapel pin is sufficient.
For truly committed fans, this shouldn’t be a problem. Just pick a staff member and engage in round-the-clock surveillance. They’re sure to slip up sooner or later.
Yesterday’s post focused on Twitter and Facebook innovations, but today I’d like to write about that which is nearest to my heart.
No, not the pericardium. Stop taking things so literally. I am talking, of course, about blogs.
A concatenation of coincidences has led me to a variety of blogs that I’d like to share with you, the loyal reader. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to add them to your daily internet routine.
Anthems and Atleticos — While serving as the Fresno Grizzlies’ VP of marketing, Scott Carter made an indelible impression on the national promo landscape en route to establishing himself as one of the most creative minds in Minor League Baseball. He’s now a front office free agent, and until his inevitable re-entry into the industry this is the place to go for trenchant observations on everything from jock jams to his mother’s well-reasoned NFL playoff picks.
And We’re Marching – Another prominent former member of the Grizzlies’ staff is Bradley Collins, an accomplished mascot who turned Parker into one of the most respected and well-known characters in all of Minor League Baseball.”And We’re Marching…” is devoted strictly to the world of costumed characters,interesting to those who wear the suits as well as those looking to understand the ins and outs of an increasingly important Minor League Baseball profession.
Bus Leagues — Okay, this isn’t a blog. It’s a sprawling website dedicated to covering Minor League Baseball from the fan perspective. These guys are enthusiastic about the Minors, to the extent that they even interview niche writers with negligible followings.
Diary of an Umpire’s Wife — Now here’s a baseball perspective one doesn’t come across too often! This blog looks at the trials and travails of the umpiring life from the perspective of a supportive significant other. Recent posts have taken an interesting look at the world of Venezuelan Winter Ball.
Docking With the Ports — After lying dormant for nearly a year (approximately a decade in blog time), Stockton’s front office has re-launched “Docking With the Ports.” Recent posts include player and front office interviews as well as Winter Meetings journals from a variety of perspectives.
The Watson Files – Okay, this is a blog I’ve known about for a while now. But Fort Wayne TinCaps broadcaster Dan Watson is writing one of the most consistently enjoyable team-affiliated blogs out there, chock full of witty and concise observations on the TinCaps, Padres, Midwest League, and pop culture. The fact that he regularly refers to me as “legendary author” has nothing to do with this endorsement.
Or does it?
Regardless, I feel compelled to point out that I just spent 30 seconds trying to remove a wayward semi-colon from this post. It turned out to be an eyelash stuck to the screen. I also feel compelled to point out that, as always, I also write for MiLB.com. For proof, check out recent efforts such as “Tribe Ready For Poignant Anniversary In Kinston” and “Nobles Goes Deep in Durham Community.”
And while jury duty caused me to miss my annual visit to the Hall of Fame press conference, I am happy to report that my colleague Josh Jackson did an excellent job writing the now-obligatory “Inductees Reflect on Time in the Minors” story.
That’s going to conclude today’s blogging efforts. I look forward to your indignant emails regarding blogs that I have neglected to champion.
Welcome to the 191st, and final, Ben’s Biz Blog installment of 2010. It’s been a year filled with love, laughs, and learning, much better than 2009’s alliterative noun triumvirate of ambiguity, ambivalence, and antipathy.
But now, like a timid jouster, it’s time to go gently into that good Knight. Before doing so, let’s take a metaphorical spin around the proverbial block in order to see how Minor League teams across the country are celebrating the holidays.
We’ll start with some photos from Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field, which is looking rather picturesque this time of year.
Later, he got all introspective in the home dugout.
Moving from introspection to Inland Empire, the 66ers have put together a video chronicling their wokplace Secret Santa follies. The lesson here is that traditionally-sized clothing is anathema to the mascot race.
And, by the way, the 66ers have a new blog. Check it out. Perhaps one day the team will reach the blogging heights that have been attained by the Great Lakes Loons, who recently put together a mammoth photo-heavy year-in-review post. THIS is probably the best single post done by a Minor League team this year.
Meanwhile, the Williamsport Crosscutters put together an article in which former players share their Christmas memories.
The best Christmas recollection comes courtesy of Evan Porter: Last year I was with my family on Christmas morning, when I got a call from former teammates Adam Buschini and Jeremy Barnes. They both just called to say how much they missed me. Made me cry, and then Poppa brought in a baby Golden Retriever puppy.
And it wouldn’t be December in the Minors without a team-produced “Twas the Night Before Christmas” parody. This year, the Bowie Baysox got in on the action.
If you would like to be wrapped up all cozy like the infantile team employees in the above video, then — guess what? — the Montgomery Biscuits have got you covered.
Naughty, nice, doesn’t matter.
And finally — mercifully — that’s going to put an end to Ben’s Biz Blog 2010. Here’s to a magical, magnanimous, and altogether marvelous 2011.