Results tagged ‘ Harrisburg Senators ’
Opening Day is upon us! Long-time readers of this blog know that my sentiments regarding a new baseball season can be summed up in four words.
I’ve got plenty to share with you over the coming weeks — a couple of “Return to the Road” posts, a couple of “Why I Love…” guest posts, and, of course, the reveal of my 2014 road trip itinerary (I’m going on four trips in 2014, with the first one kicking off HERE on April 28).
But it’s Opening Day! What better way to start the season than with a good old fashioned full-to-bursting bouillabaisse post? Doesn’t the mere thought of that make you want to dance?
In Lansing, meanwhile, the Lugnuts are asking “Guess What Day It Is?” They do not mean Opening Day, however.
The Lugnuts, in their own words:
Every Wednesday home game at Cooley Law School Stadium is Hump Day, with half-off drinks from 7 to 8 p.m. and a special appearance from Humphrey, a live camel!
Humphrey’s night will begin by delivering the first pitch baseballs out to the field. Afterward, he’ll saunter over to the west gate for pictures and petting. Lugnuts fans will also have the opportunity to win a camel-ride.
Other activities include a Hump Day t-shirt toss and a special “On the Hump” trivia segment featuring Lugs pitchers.
Limited-edition Lugnuts Hump Day merchandise is currently available at the Nuts and Bolts store.
I just hope that Humphrey the camel toes the line when he’s on the field. Any untoward protrusions could be embarrassing.
Prior to first pitch deliveries, be they camel-related or otherwise, the playing field will be bustling with batting practice activity. When such activity concludes, time is of the essence. Think any Minor League teams will be able to operate at a greater speed than that displayed by the University of Tennessee?
But, of course, there are going to be times when no games are going on and the playing field is entirely deserted. During these occasions, unwanted nocturnal guests may see fit to make a visit. But not in Fort Wayne, who have a coyote on the case.
— Fort Wayne TinCaps (@TinCaps) March 11, 2014
Another way to ward of unwanted guests: continuous on-field aerial surveillance!
Ballpark opponents aren’t necessarily unwanted guests, as their presence is a necessary component of the competitive experience. Last season I wrote about the Harrisburg Senators, who allow male fans to express their disdain for the visiting team via the time-honored act of urinating on the logo. I happy to report that, in 2014, the Senators have combined all of their Eastern League opponents, putting them all on blast via one urinal cake.
Pee on them all indiscriminately!
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) April 1, 2014
As we embark on yet another Minor League Baseball season, please remember: I remain the greatest of all time.
One of my recent posts included a write-up on the Omaha Storm Chasers inherently ridiculous “Managerial Cell Phone Night.” Today, as a chaser to that shot of absurdity, I have a recap of Omaha’s April 15 Jackie Robinson Day promotion. Jackie’s legacy is celebrated throughout MLB every year, as you well know, but in the Minors it’s a bit more scattershot. It’s great to see teams like the Storm Chasers go above and beyond, setting a template for others to follow.
I’m now going to turn the floor over to Omaha promotions director Ben Hemmen, who provided the words and pictures you’ll soon see below.
The Omaha Storm Chasers, as part of the celebration on April 15th for Jackie Robinson Day, honored the baseball legend who broke the color barrier in 1947 by wearing specialty Omaha “42” jerseys and officially retiring the number 42 at Werner Park.
The Storm Chasers recognized our annual “Chasers-Robinson Scholarship” winners as well as 42 local educators, and invited more than 4,200 school children from North and South Omaha to All About Kids Day presented by the Home Run Foundation of Greater Omaha.
Sharon Robinson pre-recorded a “Welcome” message that was played during the game, thanking the Storm Chasers for wearing the specialty #42 jerseys and describing to the children the legacy that her father left behind for them to follow. Also during the game, educational facts about Jackie Robinson were displayed on the videoboard to focus on his importance to both the game of baseball and society to all of the kids in attendance.
Finally, all of the game worn, player autographed #42 jerseys were put up for both silent and online auction. All proceeds from those auctions ($3,690) were donated to our Home Run Foundation of Greater Omaha. The Home Run Foundation of Greater Omaha runs our Chasers FUNdamentals program which teaches intercity and underprivileged youth the game of baseball.
Meanwhile! It’s Tuesday, meaning that a new Promo Preview column is out on MiLB.com. Included therein was this:
Harrisburg Senators (Eastern League) Mayfly Umbrella, May 4
The Senators play on Harrisburg’s City Island, surrounded on all sides by the Susquehanna River. This aquatic environment is a haven for pesky mayflies, which have long enlivened the ballpark atmosphere by electrocuting themselves en masse in the stadium lights and then raining down onto the fans below. Instances of insect corpse bombardment have greatly decreased since a roof was added to the grandstand of the stadium prior to 2010, but nonetheless the Senators want to make sure that their fans are prepared. The first 1,000 fans attending Saturday’s ballgame receive an umbrella emblazoned with the team’s alternate “Mayfly” logo, because if you’re going to get rained on by dead bugs, then you might as well have a sense of humor about it.
Perhaps it’s a bit anti-climactic, but since this is the first insect corpse deterrent giveaway item I’ve ever heard of I feel obligated to include a picture.
I was in the midst of a brief vacation when the Lehigh Valley IronPigs unveiled their video game urinals, and my silence when it came to covering this momentous bit of news led to a barrage of emails, texts and tweets along the lines of “You saw this, right? You’re not dead, are you?”
Saw it I did and dead I am not! And to prove to you, the demanding consumer, that I can still be trusted as your “number one” source for urinal-based Minor League news and imagery I now present to you an exclusive look at the urinal cakes that can be found within the men’s rooms of the Harrisburg Senators’ home of Metro Bank Park. These “leaked” photos are presented alphabetically.
Akron Aeros — An affiliate of the Cleveland Indians? More like an affiliate of the Pee-veland Indians!
Altoona Curve — The Curve play at People’s Natural Gas Field? More like Pee-ples Natural Gas Field!
Binghamton Mets — B-Mets? More like the P-Mets!
Bowie Baysox — Bowie Baysox? More like the Flowie Baysox!
Erie SeaWolves — Erie Seawolves? More like the Erie PeaWolves!
New Britain Rock Cats — The Rock Cats used to play in Beehive Field? More like the Rock Cats used to play in Pee-hive Field!
New Hampshire Fisher Cats — New Hampshire Fisher Cats? More like the New Hampshire Flusher Cats!
Portland Sea Dogs — Portland Sea Dogs? More like the Portland Pee Dogs!
Reading Fightin Phils — Reading recently re-branded itself? More like Reading recently pee-branded itself!
Richmond Flying Squirrels — Richmond Flying Squirrels? More like the Richmond, uh, Peeing Squirrels!
Trenton Thunder — Both Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte have played for the Thunder on rehab? More like both Derek Pee-ter and Andy Pee-titte have played for the Thunder on pee-hab!
I’m not sure if encouraging your male fans to urinate on visiting team logos constitutes cruelty to the opposition. If so then I’m sure Harrisburg will be hearing from PEETA about this.
And- hey! — turnabout is fair play. What team out there is going to obtain a Senators’ urinal logo? Pee on this!
But for what it’s worth, the Senators aren’t the only team to have engaged in a little bathroom humor as of late. As part of their recent “nautical re-branding,” the Lake County Captains re-named their restrooms the “Poop Deck.”
Don’t blame me — I’m just the messenger!
(Special thanks to Senators director of digital and new media Ashley Grotte for going beyond the call of duty in order to provide me with the photos in the Eastern League urinal collage seen at the top of this post. “I had to explain to people numerous times why I was wandering around in the men’s restrooms” she wrote in an email.)
I didn’t do a blog post yesterday because I was lacking a proper lead story to give it that necessary “oomph” right on out of the gate.
I’m still lacking one. But since silence equals death in the blogging game, carry on I must. So how about a late-arriving introspective mascot pic to start things off? This one features Rascal of the Harrisburg Senators, sharing a heartfelt moment with the team’s director of stadium operations.
The offseason is a particularly good time in which to engage in such idle contemplation, but not if you’re a sentient piece of commemorative bronze. As documented in a two-part blog post, “Millsy” the Carolina League Championship Trophy has been feverishly taking in the sights of Frederick (home of the Keys, 2011 Carolina League victors).
“Although I have come back to the town that I have enjoyed so much, it has been lonely sitting in the office since September 16th, when the Keys won the title,” writes Millsy, perhaps the world’s only literate trophy. “I took it upon myself to escape the inner sanctums of the Keys front office to go on adventures of my own around Frederick and now you get the chance to see them!”
Thus far, the highlight of Millsy’s adventures has been a pilgrimage to the final resting place of Francis Scott Key.
A more traditional way to pass the time during the offseason is to create an Office-influenced offseason video series called — wait for it — The Offseason. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were the first to launch such an endeavor, and the most recent to follow suit are the State College Spikes. Episode One, commence!
While the aforementioned Timber Rattlers have retired their version of The Offseason, the team continues to break ground in the lucrative field of recurring Minor League offseason videos. As previously noted, this year’s initiative is a series of “Spot the Difference” videos. On this, the latest installment, I was able to spot exactly one difference. A truly pathetic showing.
Meanwhile, we are just a few short hours away from the unveiling of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos logo — what will almost certainly be the most notable and attention getting mark of the offseason. While awaiting this momentous occasion, may I suggest that you pass the time with a bit of “Mascot Donkey Basketball?”
I’ll see you on Monday, the first weekday of the “Wahoo Cool” era of Minor League Baseball.
Metro Bank Park, home of the Harrisburg Senators, is located on City Island and surrounded by the Susquehanna River.
One of the perpetual perils of such an aquatic location is flooding, and last week the stadium got hit and hit hard. This aerial view is truly breathtaking:
The most unfortunate thing about the flooding was the timing of it all — it occurred in tandem with the Eastern League semi-finals, forcing the Senators and opposing Richmond Flying Squirrels to play the entire series in Richmond (the Senators were promptly swept in three games, scoring three runs total).
Some more images, courtesy of Sens GM Randy Whitaker. The lower the water level, the more recent the shot.
The Senators offices have re-opened and the phone lines restored, but access to the ballpark is still restricted. There is a LOT of cleaning up to do, but the good news is that structural damage is minimal. Metro Bank Park, which underwent a plethora of renovations prior to the 2010 campaign, was built to withstand such aquatic intrusions.
As you may recall from my visit last season, the stadium concourse is ringed with submarine-style doors. That women’s restroom was well-protected!
Since I’ve now got water on the brain, now seems as good a time to check in with your good friends and mine the Everett AquaSox. The team is recently began their weekly offseason “Meet the AquaSox” video series, a great example of simple and engaging offseason content.
Here’s the latest edition, featuring squirrel-emulating Aristocats fan Patrick Brady:
And speaking of the cinema, throughout this past season the Lakewood BlueClaws produced a series of movie-themed “Catch of the Day” game programs. Truly, some of the best graphic design to be found in the Minors.
Could someone please do a movie poster parody entitled “Aguirre, the Wrath of Blog” with my face superimposed over that of Klaus Kinski’s? I’d really appreciate it!
I’ve written about literally thousands of promotions in my time here at MiLB.com, but it nonetheless took until yesterday until a team finally stepped up and staged this:
The team doing the saluting was the Harrisburg Senators, who had a very good reason for doing so. As the press release so helpfully explains:
This past week, the City of Harrisburg experienced a water main break that affected downtown Harrisburg and City Island. It took a couple of days for city workers and contractors to fix the problem, but fix it they did. After the problem was corrected, the New York based contractors were asked what caused the break. The answer, beavers.
That was all the motivation the Senators needed, and they soon announced a promotion honoring “all fans with a connection to beavers.” This sub-demographic includes the following:
The Senators are giving fans a free box seat if they can produce proof their last name is Beaver or they are from or currently live in Beaver, PA. But that’s not all, the Senators will also give a free ticket to anyone with the last name of Cleaver, in honor of the television show Leave it to Beaver. And if you’re named Theodore, Ward, June or Wally, you can purchase a box seat for just $5. Not to be left out, graduates of Beaver College can also purchase a box seat for just $5.
The Senators are planning special events on Monday including a Dam building competition, a Beaver Cleaver look-a-like contest and a “blind race” since beavers have a terrible sense of sight and depend on smell and sound.
Moving from beavers to quarter-ton garden gnomes, the Reading Phillies recently delivered a life-size and copiously bearded Ryan Howard to one Amy Vandehei of Rosemont, PA (the winner of an Opening Night drawing).
More photos and info can be found on Tommy Viola’s “Philling You In” blog, and this report from WFMZ-69 is well worth watching. The next 550-lb giveaway on the R-Phils schedule is Crazy Hot Dog Vendor on July 10.
Continuing on in the “unorthodox figurines” category — in the wake of last week’s “Ken Griffey Jr. Spirit Bobble-Arm” giveaway, the Inland Empire 66ers have hidden five “gold” versions throughout the surrounding community. More details to be released soon, but in the meantime here’s a gold KGJ doll doing whatever it is a gold KGJ doll does.
Meanwhile, non-gold real-life KGJ is currently back in the Cal League for a two-day stint, assisting High Desert Mavericks players as part of his full-time consultant gig with the Mariners. The Mavs’ opponent during this time are the aforementioned 66ers, who KGJ played with in their previous incarnation as the San Bernardino Spirit. Meanwhile, Ken Griffey Sr. currently serves as manager of the Cal League Bakersfield Blaze. Got all that? I hope so, because there’s no time for further explanation.
Finally, it looks like the Boston Pops w/ Kenny Loggins Minor League ballpark tour has some company this season. Yesterday the Big Apple Circus announced a brief mid-July itinerary, featuring the mind–bending quintet of Mongolian contortionists, the cavorting canine troupe of American trainer Jenny Vidbel, a phenomenal hand–balancing act by Bulgarian–born Andrey Mantchev, the awesome artistry of the Wuqiao Acrobats from China….and the Big Apple Circus’s very own star clown, Grandma!
The stops on this Minor League extravaganza include Syracuse (July 13), Rochester (July 15), Lake County (July 17) and indy league Lancaster, PA (July 19). The tour was put together by ESI Concerts, responsible for the aforementioned Boston Pops ballpark tour as well as the annual Principal Family Fun Fest.
Number one on my Minor League Ballpark tour wishlist is, of course, Weird Al Yankovic. Please don’t forget that June 21 is the “Al-Pocalypse”, and that it is therefore your duty to ignore all my pleas to schedule a Weird Al promotion on this date.
The Mascot Camp Part II article can be found HERE. And the blog post is, of course, here. As in where you are right now. How convenient.
Before getting into Saturday’s game-day mascot experience, I figured I’d do well to share a few more pictures from camp.
Practicing the Dance Routine, set to “The Twist” (Fat Boys and Chubby Checker, 1988):
Practicing with props as veteran mascot Bryan Althouse (Toro the Bull) looks on:
The campers honor America, on field before the game:
See that hole in the back of Giorgio’s shorts? That’s because they used to belong to a horse mascot, with the hole accommodating a tail.
We were celebrities:
The Keystone Krew posing after the anthem:
In addition to pre-game, we performed on the field several times throughout the evening. Most notably, we assisted special guest Sgt. Slaughter with his efforts to pump up the crowd. While waiting for a third out that was a long time coming, Slaughter passed the time by engaging in a staring contest with a tiger.
The most rewarding, but also most exhausting, portions of the evening were when we were let loose to roam the ballpark:
See that kid in the maroon shirt? For whatever reason he was a big-time Giorgio the Bloggerman fan. He followed me around throughout the evening, getting several pictures and autographs. That kid was great.
He can be spotted in this photograph as well:
Oh, Giorgio was wearing a ref jersey because of a skit that we had just performed. He refereed a Mascot Dizzy Bat Race, calling for an instant replay upon its conclusion. The race was then run again in slow motion (I don’t think this concept translated very well, but you can never go entirely wrong with a Mascot Dizzy Bat Race).
It’s hard fo
r me to overemphasize just how tiring mascot work is, and I don’t think I’d ever worked up such an all-encompassing sweat. Being in that suit is like being in a sauna, I could feel myself melting away as the night wore on.
This picture was taken in the sixth inning, at which point I called it a night. From there on out I left the mascot work to the professionals:
The sixth and final stop on my most recent road trip was Harrisburg’s Metro Bank Park, a facility that has been almost entirely remodeled over the past two seasons. The $45 million dollar renovation transformed the ballpark from this:
On Saturday I was there as a mascot, an experience that will be detailed in a post and article later this week. The following afternoon, I had the chance to check things out sans body pod and vision-impairing fake head. Needless to say, it was an entirely different (and far more comfortable) perspective.
I arrived early and met gm Randy Whitaker for a pre-game tour of the facility. One of the first things we checked out were the suites that ring the top edge of the grandstand seating area.
The view from the front:
The view from behind amply showcases the Susquehanna River and Harrisburg skyline:
And the view inside:
In order to provide the best possible view from the suites, the outdoor press box was nudged to the right (“TV and radio are great, but they don’t pay the bills,” said Whitaker):
And then there’s the Press Box Club. A $30 ticket includes a padded seat behind home plate and all-you-can-eat food in the bar and restaurant located directly behind the seating area.
While $30 tickets are pricey by Minor League standards, the food is excellent. Sunday’s offerings included an omelet station, but I opted for breaded pork chops, string beans, and grits (!!!). It was some of the best food I’ve ever had in a Minor League ballpark (albeit not as memorable as a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich) My photos of the food offerings at the Press Box Club were substandard, however, and deleted by third-party Ben’s Biz Blog quality control arbiters.
And speaking of “sub”standard, the ground-level concourse area is ringed with submarine-style sliding doors designed to protect the stadium from flooding (Metro Bank Park is located on City Island, surrounded on all sides by the Susquehanna, and flooding is a legitimate concern):
That is one well-protected Women’s Restroom!
But it’s one thing to mention that the ballpark is located on an island, it’s another thing to show it. With an hour to go before game time, I went outside to explore the area outside of the stadium.
The Walnut St. Bridge is located directly outside of the ballpark, commemorated with this relentlessly self-deprecating historical plaque:
Okay, we get it: it’s old, closed to automobiles, heavily damaged, and known by a derogatory nickname. It’s also a scenic way to get to and from the ballpark:
And while cars have been banned, horses are still welcome:
I soon stumbled upon this statue, which houses a time capsule buried in conjunction with Harrisburg’s 1960 centennial celebration:
Greetings to Future Harrisburgers!
In a shaft, directly beneath this monument in a metal cylinder is contained a documented history of Harrisburg from its early beginnings along with evidence of the way of life of our time.
It is our fervent hope that you will bring them to light during 2060 prior to your bicentennial celebrations, sort them out and again inter some of them along with your own for evaluation of future generations.
May God Guide Your Endeavors!
If anyone would like to accompany me to Harrisburg’s bicentennial celebrations (I’ll be 81 and hopefully still kicking) then please send an email. I’m serious — it never hurts to plan ahead!
But anyway…I walked back to the ballpark across a far less pedestrian-friendly adjacent bridge, taking in the sight of yet more bridges:
Back on the island, overlooking the (limited) parking area:
Approaching the stadium, the atmosphere resembles an old-fashioned amusement park. There are train crossings, carriage rides, batting cages, and an arcade:
But your enemies closer:
The Spot, a Harrisburg fast food institution, has a stand in the area underneath the third base bleachers:
Views, views, and more views:
The bleachers down the third base line were spared in the renovations, and therefore serve as a reverberating metal link to the past:
Dugout Suites, Dugout Dancing:
C Battery wins a controversial recycling-themed mascot race:
But there was nothing controversial about the Sens’ decisive 13-4 victory:
All that was left for me to do was watch the kids run the bases in the enervating heat:
And then, finally, I was able to return to New York City’s comforting embrace.
The Pennsylvania Road Trip is done, but there is more to come: Look for a Mascot Camp, Pt. II article and blog on Friday. Until then, I’ll be trying to resurrect what little (if anything) remains of my social life.