Results tagged ‘ Huntsville Stars ’

On the Road: Not Much of a Goodbye in Huntsville

Did you know? Each one of my road trip blog posts has an accompanying MiLB.com article. Click HERE to read my piece from Huntsville, containing information NOT included in this blog post.  

One of my most anticipated stops on this, my latest and therefore greatest ballpark road trip, was Huntsville’s Joe Davis Stadium. The Stars are currently playing their final season, as the franchise will move to Biloxi in 2015 and compete as either the Black Jacks, Mullets, Schooners, Shrimpers, Shuckers or Beacon (these are the finalists in the ongoing “Name the Team” contest).

Joe Davis is undoubtedly a dump, but dumps have character and I have always enjoyed visiting. In fact, Huntsville was one of the first places I ever visited in my “traveling ballpark writer” capacity. I went there in 2009 in order to participate in and write about the team’s attempt to play the longest game of Wiffle Ball of all time.

File photo from 2009 visit. I am now fatter.

File photo from 2009 visit. I am now fatter.

That game of Wiffle Ball never happened, due to a rainout. (But I did get to see an on-field sword swallowing demonstration, because obviously a sword swallower should be on the premises during a Wiffle Ball world record attempt.)

And, five years later, on June 5, 2014, the game in which I was supposed to attend didn’t happen either. While the weather had been pleasant during my drive from Chattanooga to Huntsville, things took a turn for the worse shortly after I checked in to my hotel.

My concern was justified. After the torrential downpour and frightening lightning subsided, I dutifully drove over to the ballpark. You know, just in case. There were a smattering of cars in the parking lot, and tickets were still being sold.

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The women at the ticket window were very welcoming — after all, this was to be my special night! Huntsville Stars GM Buck Rogers had declared June 5 to be “Ben Hill Day” at Joe Davis Stadium, with free admission to any fans residing in Ben Hill County, Georgia. Ben Hill is about six hours away from Huntsville, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting anyone to take the Stars up on the offer, but with the weather being what it was it was now a virtual guarantee that the good people of Ben Hill had stayed home. I just hope they did so of their own free will, and not because they were in jail.

postcard from vanishinggeorgia.com

postcard from vanishinggeorgia.com

Also nowhere to be found was Buck Rogers himself. Buck has been named general manager for the new team in Biloxi, so he’s splitting the remainder of this season between there and Huntsville. He, his wife Babs (an essential Stars staffer as well) and several other front office members were in Biloxi, making an already quiet Joe Davis Stadium that much more quiet. (For those who don’t know Buck, he’s a very loquacious guy.)

On the Road: Mingling With the Stars in Huntsville

Buck Rogers in his office, taken during my 2010 visit to Huntsville

Rogers and crew had picked a good night to be out of town. Within three minutes after I arrived at Joe Davis Stadium, word filtered in via the omnipresent staff walkie-talkies that the game had been “banged” (industry slang for “postponed”).

Come back tomorrow, Huntsville Stars fans.

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But for me, there would be no tomorrow. At least not in Huntsville. While I briefly considered modifying my itinerary and sticking around for the following day’s doubleheader, the weather wasn’t looking good for that one either. With a heavy heart, I made the executive decision to proceed to the next day to Rome, Georgia, as I had originally planned.

The game wasn’t happening,  but that didn’t mean that I had to leave Joe Davis Stadium. “Why not wander around and get a few final photos?” I said to no one in particular.

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The Stars are called the Stars because of Huntsville’s rich aeronautic past and present. The fact that the GM is named “Buck Rogers” is just a coincidence, however.

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What isn’t a coincidence is that the signage around the stadium is in a NASA-style font.

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If you look closely, you’ll see that the sign next to “Stars Radio” declares this section of the ballpark to be a “horn-free zone.” Casio, the team’s PA announcer, told me that he had never heard a horn in the stadium before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Yes, when I was wandering around Joe Davis Stadium I ran into a guy named “Casio” (given name: Matt Mitchell), and ended up writing a story about him. Rainout or not, this is something I had been planning on doing anyway. Casio is a local celebrity!

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The view from the press box.

031Up in the pressbox, I was reminded of a Tweet that had been directed at me the previous week. The guys at Cespedes Family BBQ were on a road trip with a somewhat similar itinerary to mine, and had been in Huntsville several days before.

Found it!

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Thanks guys. I held on to the card, filing it in my Rolodex under sub-category “individuals who have never invited me on their podcast even though I am the greatest Minor League blogger of all time and most underrated sports media entity of the last five years.” This is the second-biggest sub-category in my Rolodex, right behind “sports media professionals who never respond to me on Twitter even though that joke I tweeted at them was really clever and funny and clearly the best use of my time.”

If it sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder, it’s because I do!

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Sorry, I’ve been a bit obsessed with wordplay lately. I think it’s because I’ve been listening to M&M.

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That M&M is a bibliophile because he’s, well, red. He does most of his reading in the bathroom, but didn’t think it was funny when I nicknamed him “John Candy.” (Also, I’m going to file an expense report for the $2.50 I spent on the chips and M&Ms. Clearly it was a justifiable business expenditure.)

Anyway, I was writing about Huntsville. The game was rained out, Casio had been talked to, business cards had been found, and there was nothing left for me to do but go back to the hotel room and sulk in a desultory manner. (Is there any other way to sulk?)

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to provide more on the Huntsville Stars in this, their final season, but at least I’ve written about them plenty in the past. Click ‘em all!

Blog post from my 2009 visit 

Blog post from my 2010 visit 

Article on Buck Rogers from my 2010 visit

Article on Huntsville Stars as they entered their 2014 swan song

Guest blog post from former Stars employee Gillian Richard, on why she loves the team. 

I too, will miss Joe Davis Stadium, and this is the one moment I will never forget.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Guest Post: Saying Goodbye to the Huntsville Stars

Earlier this month I wrote a post asking for suggestions regarding my 2014 road trip itineraries. Responses flowed in (well, perhaps trickled in) via both email and Twitter, but an email I received from one Gillian Richard stood out above the rest. Richard is a passionate fan of and advocate for the Huntsville Stars and their home of Joe Davis Stadium, and as I read her email it became apparent to me that hers is a perspective worth sharing. While this may have been addressed to me specifically, it can — and should! — be read as a message to all Minor League Baseball fans: Get thee to Huntsville in 2014!

Enjoy, and after reading get thee to MiLB.com and read this blog post’s companion piece, my interview with Stars general manager Buck Rogers.

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photo: Gillian Richard

Hey Ben,

I just wanted to add my thoughts about your 2014 road trip itinerary, on behalf of the Huntsville Stars. I’ve been a Stars Fan for a long time (since birth, actually. I’m from Huntsville), and I’m really sad to see the team go at the end of the year. However, since it is the last year for the team, I think they are very deserving of a spot on your itinerary.

While the team doesn’t have the best reputation within the Minors, it holds a special place in my heart. Being in the South, baseball usually comes second to college football, but it was never that way for me, and that’s largely because of the Huntsville Stars. I grew up going to games, and I worked at “The Joe” for two summers that went by way too fast. It was at Joe Davis Stadium that I fell in love with the game, and during my second season there that I realized all I ever want to do in life is wake up and work at a ballpark. I poured my heart and soul into that summer, and I was paid back tenfold because of the people who worked there and, of course, because of the game.

 Joe Davis Stadium has a lot more to offer than it’s given credit for. Being the oldest stadium in the league has its perks, one of which is the great wildlife you can find inside the park! Gary the Groundhog was the subject of many conversations, and I think it’s safe to say he’s the unofficial mascot of the Stars. (He even has his own Twitter handle.) One of my cats was a stray I found running around after a game, so I took him home and named him Joe Davis. It just seemed like the right thing to do. There are countless other things that make the stadium unique, and I’m sure you could find several long-time season ticket holders who can share even better stories than what I’ve got. I can think of several people who feel the same way I do about this place, as a matter of fact.

Photo: Ben's Biz

Photo: Ben’s Biz

So maybe the attendance numbers aren’t as good as they could be. Maybe I spent my 20th birthday spray painting a tarp to cover a hole in the batter’s eye because the stadium is outdated. But despite those things, I can’t think of a staff or a stadium more deserving of recognition. Isn’t Minor League Baseball supposed to be about the historic instead of these brand new, high-tech stadiums anyways? About spending an afternoon in the cheap seats, appreciating the simple things in life? Focusing more on the talent and the crazy promotions than on the stadium amenities? That’s what I love about the game, anyways. And that’s what I’ve gotten out of the countless nights I’ve spent at The Joe throughout my life.

If nothing else I’ve said makes you at least consider coming to Huntsville to help me say goodbye to my team, we have a sweet used record store that’s trip-worthy! I would be more than happy to show you all Huntsville has to offer, which is more than you might think.

I don’t know if you’ll be able to make time for it, but I would appreciate you considering it. Baseball is one of those things that gets in your blood and stays forever, especially for those of us who have chosen to make careers out of loving a game. The Huntsville Stars are definitely in my blood, and even though all my merchandise will become vintage come September, I’ll never forget what the team meant to me and what a difference it made in my life.

I think I wrote this letter partially to pitch the idea of you coming for a visit, but mostly it was for me to be able to express how I was feeling about the team leaving to someone who might understand. Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing this blog. You do a great job with it, and I appreciate every post.

Gillian Richard

While I have visited Huntsville in the past, Gillian’s email really got me thinking about how a “final” visit would be appropriate. While I am not ready to announce my road trip itineraries yet (i’s need to be dotted, t’s need to be crossed, blah blah blah), I have put together a trip that does include Huntsville on the schedule. I’ll be there in early June, God willing, chomping at the bit to visit that used record store.

But, more importantly, I hope that Gillian has inspired YOU to perhaps visit the Stars in their final season. You might get to meet Gary the Groundhog, and, who knows? You might get to go on the field after a rain out and watch the general manager use a bullwhip to pull a sword out of a guy’s mouth. That’s what happened when I stopped by in 2009.

 

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Review of the Previewed

It’s Tuesday, which means that a new “Promo Preview” column is live and ready for your reading enjoyment over on MiLB.com.

I hope that folks are reading the column, and digging the new format. The amount of feedback I’ve gotten thus far has been humbling — and not in a “humblebrag” sort of way, just humbling. I haven’t heard a single word, good or bad, about it.

But on it shall go, and on this post shall go. You may recall that in the season’s first Promo Preview column I wrote about supercentenarian first pitch tosser Shelby Harris, who kicked off the River Bandits’ season with a ceremonial offering. After the ballgame, I received the following photo and recap from River Bandits’ director of promotions Shane Huff.

Not only did [Shelby] participate in a pregame interview on the field with our media relations manager, Marco LaNave, but he overhand threw the ceremonial first pitch in front of a standing ovation of 4,783! Shelby talked about his love of baseball and his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, in the interview, throwing in a comedic crack about the chilliness of the evening. He then followed that up with a very successful ceremonial first pitch. He stayed until the third inning – there we a combined 15 runs in a very lengthy second inning – and watched the game from a suite down the third base line.

Shelby, after delivering the pitch

[A]s the on-field emcee I introduced a lot of ceremonial first pitches last season, and none we as rousing and anticipated as tonight’s when Shelby took the mound. Between the media and the standing fans, it was by far one of the best experiences I’ve had since working in Minor League Baseball.

Another Home Opener of note occurred in Huntsville, as the Stars paid tribute to native son and distinguished baseball jack-of-all trades Don Mincher in a pre-game ceremony.

The Mincher family:

Oh, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Memphis Redbirds now have the largest scoreboard in all of Minor League Baseball.


And Rockey the Belly Bouncer is ready to welcome this 60×60 behemoth with open arms.

And, finally, here is the latest (and therefore greatest) addition to my slowly expanding roster of Ben’s Biz headshots. It was sent by a Florida-based operative, and comes with it’s own track listing (!)

  1. Rolling in Deep Left
  2. Southpaw Has It
  3. Turning Doubles
  4. Don’t You Remember that Rundown
  5. Set Fire to the Rain Tarp
  6. He Won’t Go Home
  7. Take It to the Alley
  8. I’ll Be Waiting in the Dugout
  9. One on Deck
  10. Late Inning LoveSong
  11. Someone Like Hak-Ju (Lee)

Keep ‘em coming, folks. Keep ‘em coming.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

An Anomalous Date Leads to Phenomenal Deals

Maybe it’s an example of my sticktuitiveness, maybe an example of stagnancy. Probably both. But, at any rate, I am able to begin today’s Leap Year post by looking at what I wrote about 2/29 the last time it rolled around.

So let’s leap to it!

San Jose's got the spirit!

The year was 2008. While most Americans were busy listening to the 10th anniversary edition of the Baha Men’s epochal Doong Spank LP, the Lancaster JetHawks made their presence felt by staging a Leap Year promo. Most notably, all fans with a leap year birthday received a box seat season ticket!

Not to be outdone, the Altoona Curve soon announced a season-long “Leip Year” celebration, all in honor of skipper Tim Leiper.

Leiper the Skipper

This one had the Rainmain-like fixation on numbers that is a hallmark of any good Minor League promotion, including the provision that if any Curve player was batting .366 after April 29’s ballgame, he (or she, you never know) would be awarded $366.

Maybe I’m just jaded, but I don’t think we’ve reached that level of inspiration in 2012. But a lot is going on. Here is a thorough (but by no means authoritative) rundown of who’s doing what how. Said rundown is in alphabetical order, but starting with “N” and then continuing back around through “M.”

Portland Sea Dogs

Most notably, the above deal includes a $29 Citgo gas card.

Trenton Thunder

$17 all-you-can-eat seats, to any game. I’m just not sure who would want to eat seats in the first place, though.

Stockton Ports

More bang for the buck than a bringing an exploding dollar bill along on a deer hunt! $29 gets four tickets to exhibition game vs. Triple-A Sacramento, four ticket vouchers to opening weekend, and two souvenir caps.

Fort MyersMiracle

Interesting twist to this one, in that the $29 ticket packages includes admission to all games falling on the 29th of the month.

Hagerstown Suns


This offer comes with a $29 concession stand credit. Beet eggs included?

Hudson Valley Renegades

Two extra games included with the purchase of a five or 10-game pack!

Huntsville Stars

A $95 savings!

Inland Empire 66ers

Buy a six or 12-game ticket pack, get an additional game free.

Lake Elsinore Storm

Self-explanatory.

This concludes THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE RECAP OF MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL LEAP DAY PROMOTIONS EVER ASSEMBLED. And yet I still don’t have my own Wikipedia page.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Moving Forward In Reverse

My original plan was to devote today’s post exclusively to food (shocker, I know), but you know what they say about the best laid plans:

They are often interrupted by a reversible hat!

The Altoona Curve announced their new logos and uniforms earlier this offseason, and the shape-shifting item seen above represents the final piece of the puzzle. Remarks the franchise:

[T]he Altoona Curve’s new home cap is believed to be the first in Minor League Baseball to feature a specially-designed, rally cap lining. When the Railroad Red cap with the new Engineer head logo is turned inside out, a bright orange lining with large black eyes is displayed to simulate the look of popular Curve rally mascot, Al Tuna.

The cap is the work of Plan B Branding, who are understandably excited by their latest innovation. I chatted briefly with company co-founder Jason Klein over IM yesterday, but all he wrote was “Al Tuna! Al Tuna!” before my connection gave out. But perhaps that’s all that was needed.

Al Tuna! Al Tuna!

But in case you were wondering, the players themselves won’t be wearing the rally caps. Curve manager PJ Forbes told the Altoona MirrorI can emphatically say no. But it is a nice touch for the fans, and it’s another way to get the fans involved, which is what it’s all about.” Which reminds me, why isn’t there a “Come to the Park in Your PJs” night on the Curve promotional calendar? It would be a great way to honor the manager while getting the fans involved. And that’s what it’s all about!

Speaking of getting the fans involved, the Huntsville Stars are going to be broadcasting games in a most interesting fashion this season:

The Stars will be replacing the traditional radio broadcast with a live web show for every home game.  The webcast, “The Living Room Show”, will bring a different level of entertainment to the ballpark, putting the broadcast in the hands, and seats, of fans. Ryan “Pokey” Hayden, a former voice of Troy University athletics, will host the show and keep things rolling. He’ll also be in charge of calling the play-by-play, and it won’t be from the press box. Hayden will be seated on a couch in the seating bowl, calling the game with the people who love it most: the fans.

I’m definitely interested to hear (and see) how this turns out. It could be the future of Minor League Baseball broadcasting, or it could be a crazy and quickly-forgotten anomaly. But it won’t be both. I’d also curious to hear YOUR thoughts. Yes, you.

Believe it or not, I have not embedded a video since MLBlogs made its momentous conversion to WordPress (who, according to the logic of Rob Neyer, must be doing something wrong). That situation is going to be rectified right now, with a video that just happened to fall into my lapse. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, here’s the offseason condensed into 118 seconds.

But the offseason, in real time, was approximately 4.2 billion years. I, for one, am glad that it ends tomorrow. It’s time to not enjoy life in a whole new way!

Oh, and that food-related post is coming soon. I think I’m going to call it “Appetite For Destruction” because how is it possible that I have never written a post with this title?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Fostering Intimacy Across the Digital Divide

Well, now that the hot dog furor has subsided I suppose it’s once again time for me to update this blog. So update, I will — by giving you a peek into my world.

I spend the bulk of my day in a remote corner of MiLB.com HQ, where few individuals dare to tread. It’s where the stagnation magic happens!

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Amidst the plastic cutlery and teetering tower of cans, you’ll notice an array of Minor League memorabilia. To gaze upon it is to take a trip down memory lane.

Who could ever forget Subtle Butt?

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Here lies the customized 4XL “MiLB.com” shirt I wore during my brief stint as “Giorgio the Bloggerman.”

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This shirt, which I received during my 2010 visit to Huntsville, has been worn on many a first date.

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I’m not sure why there haven’t been any second dates.

Next to the shirt, and laid atop a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pennant, is another Huntsville memento. It’s a postcard featuring sword swallower Dan Meyer, one of the most interesting people I have met whilst on the road.

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A new addition to my burgeoning pile of Minor League detritus are customized Baseband Bracelets, resting comfortably on the almighty Cave Shrimp Bobblefoot distributed by the Bowling Green Hot Rods this past season. 

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Unfortunately, Ben’s Biz Blog wrapping paper was a huge flop. I’ve got several thousand unsold crates of the stuff up at a warehouse in Poughkeepsie:

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Finally, and apropos of nothing, an unopened R.Kelly bobblehead. I plan on sending my kids to college with this thing, so long as I have kids and they attend a college that costs less than $45.

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Meanwhile, actual news just keeps happening. In case you missed it, here’s a link to my MiLB.com story on the Pensacola-Zebulon-Kinston developments. I plan on diving deeper into the ramifications of all this in 2011. 

And today it was announced that the purchase of the Triple-A Padres has been finalized.pads.gif Very little has changed since my November story on the topic, but it is likely that the team will play in Tucson for two seasons before moving to Escondido, CA (providing the ballpark there is officially approved by city council, recent events indicate that it will be). 

Two more articles of note:

– A look at a new Minor League literary effort: Dave Hoekstra’s “Cougars and Snappers and Loons (Oh My!): A Midwest League Field Guide.

A profile of Studio Simon’s Dan Simon, one of the primary players in the Minor League logo scene.

I have two more blog posts lined up for 2010, and they will be decidedly less me-centric. Thanks, as always, for reading.

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

Promo Year In Review, Part Four: Marvelous Miscellany

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Over the past three days, I’ve presented my picks for favorite giveaways, theme nights, and celebrity appearances of the year. Nearly all Minor League promos fall into at least one of those categories, but lest anything slip through the cracks I’ve created a fourth and final category. For lack of a better name, I’m calling it “Marvelous Miscellany.”

The following six promos don’t have much in common with one another, save for the fact that they were all exceedingly memorable. But what am I missing? Surely there were many other tough-to-categorize but eminently worthwhile ballpark events that deserve postseason commemoration — let me know!

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

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My six picks, magnanimously presented in alphabetical order.

Birmingham Barons —  Rickwood Classic/100th Anniversary of Rickwood Field

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Frederick Keys — Volt Night

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Huntsville Stars –
Car Survivor

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Mobile BayBears — Opening of Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

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San Antonio Missions — Puffy Taco, the Re-Match

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Savannah Sand Gnats — Fire Walk Around the Bases

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What can I say? It’s a random assemblage, but you know what else is random?

Life.

I’m just using this blog to illuminate universal truths. Also, to solicit feedback. Keep your promo suggestions coming, in all categories. You know where to find me.

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

A Day In the Life

tomorrow.jpgTomorrow, as it’s been said, is only a day away. And tomorrow’s tomorrow, when it becomes the present, presents a bountiful array of enticing presents to fans gracing Minor League ballparks with their presence.

Wishing to continue my reign as a preeminent prescient promotional prognosticator, I now present this truncated list of just what, exactly, is taking place tomorrow. Taken in toto, it serves to illuminate the the voluminous vitality of the Minor League landscape.

I know many of you would like to punch me in the face after reading the above two paragraphs, but you can’t. I’m light years away, and ensconced in bubble wrap. 

To the list!

Hank Conger Bobblehead Giveaway (Arkansas Travelers) — In honor of the switch-hitting backstop who suited up for the team in ’08 and ’09.

William Seward Bobblehead Giveaway (Auburn Doubledays) — In honor of NewThumbnail image for seward.jpg Yorkstate’s 12tgh governor, who suited up for the commonwealth from 1839-1842. He later served as Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln. Now he’s a bobblehead.

Three World Record Attempts (Bowie Baysox) — As detailed in this week’s “Promotion Preview” column, the Baysox are attempting to reach new heights in the categories of “Most People Sitting on a Whoopee Cushion”, “Most People Doing ‘The Twist'”, and “Most People Engaged in Simultaneous Air Guitar.”

Farmer Axle Bobblehead (Bowling Green Hot Rods) — It’s “Agriculture Night” in Bowling Green, hence a giveaway featuring a tractor-driving mascot.

Lumberstock (Clinton LumberKings) — An all-day festival featuring live music, cornhole tournaments, and plenty of food and drink. “Wood”n’t you like to go?

hooks.jpgRetro Jersey Giveaway (Corpus Christi Hooks) — An inimitable item mimicking the ’80s incarnation of parent club the Houston Astros.

Ryan Dempster Theme Jersey Auction (Daytona Cubs) — Proceeds benefit the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Family Foundation.

Buster Posey Bobblehead (Fresno Grizzlies) — If you want one of these then you better Buster move to Chukchansi Park.

Jimmy Hart Appearance (Lexington Legends) — The “Mouth of the South” attempts to devour Applebee’s Park.

Ladies Night w/ Rafe Hernandez (Mahoning Valley Scrappers) — The “Days of Our Lives”rafe.jpg star visits Eastman Field, delighting fans with hourglass figures.

Jacoby Ellsbury Bobblehead (Pawtucket Red Sox) — Free to the first 4000 fans age 14 and under. Or at least those, like Ellsbury, who can pass for 14.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Jerry Lawler Appearance (Richmond Flying Squirrels) — Because two legendary grapplers are always better than one, unless they gang up on you.

A few odds and ends before closing up shop:

– A new “Farm’s Almanac” feature is up now, about the Frederick Keys’ “Volt Night” and executive chefs in Minor League Baseball. “Volt Night”, in which Top Chef’s Bryan Voltaggio manned a concession stand, was a huge hit in Frederick (attracting a near-sellout crowd on a Tuesday night). The Baltimore Sun ran an excellent recap and photo gallery of the event.

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– For sheer wordplay lunacy, it will be hard to top the Huntsville Stars’ September 6 promotion. The game will be preceded by the “Okra Win-Free Labor Day Marathon”. 103 people will split the duties of running the race (no one will “win”, see?) and okra will be a side dish in the steak dinner following the race. Plus, an invitation has been extended to Oprah Winfrey, who once ran a marathon. The entire event should be soundtracked by THIS.

– Finally, from the “Why Didn’t I Think of That” department, the Lancaster JetHawks have passed along word that they’re planning a “90210 Night” promotion for September 2. Get it? 9/02/10. It’s been right there in front of us, all along.

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

Sit In It To Win It

car_survivor_800X275.jpgIn 2004, the Brevard County Manatees staged a “Car Survivor” contest. Five people got into a car, and six days and 23 hours later only one person remained. That person won the automobile.

Car Survivor II is now being staged in Huntsville, right outside of the Stars’ Joe Davis Stadium. The sequel, a joint effort between the Stars and Jerry Damson Honda, has just surpassed the original. Despite searing Alabama heat, lack of sleep, and limited personal hygiene opportunities, two contestants have managed to stay in the car for a full week.

Mr. Daniel Rice, 28:

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Mr. Jeremy Hatley, 18:

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These two have a lot more legroom these days, as three of the initial five contestants have left the automobile. One of these individuals was fan favorite MJ Gillikin:

But Gillikin was driven out of the automobile by Hatley and Rice, who kept her awake through a series of sleep-depriving maneuvers (anything from tapping on the hood of the car to loud sing-a-longs).

The Machiavellian maneuverings seem to have come to an end, as Hatley and Rice are at a standstill. Anyone wishing to see what the duo are up to can check out the streaming Car Survivor audio and video located HERE. It’s oddly compelling viewing. When I last checked in, the contestants were in the midst of a discussion about eating maggots. Then they were interviewed by a local TV news station. 

Hatley says he doesn’t have anywhere to be until his freshman year of college begins in the fall. Rice has a job and is married, but has the full support of his employer and spouse.
 

The contestants do receive some time out of the car, however. To do otherwise would be uncivilized. From the rules:

Every six hours, the contestants will get a 15-minute break. They can
use the restroom, freshen up, grab a bite to eat, get a drink, stretch,
etc. Each contestant must drink 128 ounces of water, soda, lemonade,
coffee (or any other liquid they prefer) every 24 hours. If they fail to
drink one gallon in those 24 hours, they are automatically eliminated.

At this point, the contestants aren’t the only ones who are worn out. The Stars’ front officeHuntsville_Car6.JPG staff has been working three hour “car guarding” shifts, including such unsavory time slots as 3-6 a.m.

“I’m bringing some classic-rock, two liter soda bottles, and No-Doz next time I’m out there [by the car],” said Rogers, who previously staged Car Survivor in Brevard County. “I’m going to be looking at those guys like, ‘You’re never getting these days back, you know that?'”

Perhaps Hatley and Rice will reach a compromise, but by now there may be too much at stake. In addition to winning the car (a 2004 Honda LX valued at $15,500, NOT the one they are currently sitting in), local businesses have contributed to a prize package that includes window tinting, the installation of a dvd player, a 55″ inch TV, jewelry, a $1000 gas card, and more.

A quick resolution to this now-interminable affair seems unlikely. With that being the case, Rogers has just one request.

“Our ratings are down, those guys are just sitting there!,” he said. “Do something stupid in there!”

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

On the Road: Mingling With the Stars in Huntsville

Thumbnail image for hstars.jpgGreetings from the Huntsville Holiday Inn. It is late at night, so late that I just threw caution to the wind and got a package of Hickory Smoked Beef Sticks and a Mello Yello from the vending machines. The slogan on this beef stick package says “Taste the Magic” but as of yet I have not been able to discern what’s so magical about Lactic Acid Starter Culture and Hydrolyzed Soy Protein.

And did you know that Elvis once stayed in this hotel? I bet you didn’t. It was on May 30, 1975, according to a plaque in the lobby. The Huntsville police stopped by his room and presented him with an honorary badge, which surely must have ranked among the top billion moments of Elvis’ life.

This is what happens at 2:09 in the morning — I start to ramble. But my main purpose incollmenter.jpg crafting yet another blog post is to post some pictures of my evening at the Huntsville Stars game. The Stars went down in defeat to the Mobile BayBears, with former facial hair cult celebrity Josh Collmenter earning the win.

But I am not concerned with game results, I am concerned with game experience. And while Huntsville’s Joe W. Davis Stadium is one of the less-inspiring facilities in the Southern League, I enjoy visiting here. One of the reasons is the chance to talk to GM Buck Rogers and his wife (and assistant GM) Babs, who are adept at creating memorable promotions and surreal moments (some of you may remember my last visit here, which was highlighted by an on-field sword swallowing).

I wrote an MiLB.com article on Buck, which can be found HERE. Here he is in his cluttered office, which he claims will be cleaned very shortly:

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The evening’s quite ridiculous promotion was that anyone flashing the “pitching sign” of five fingers and then four fingers would receive admission for 54 cents. This deal was in conjunction with local TV station Fox 54, and resulted in a nice walk-up crowd:

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Also helping attendance was “Thirst Aid Thursday”, featuring $2 20-ounce beers. Many people were ready to partake:

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I am now the proud owner of an XXL “Thirst Aid Thursday” t-shirt, which features a picture of a keg and the words “I’d Tap That”. I’d include a picture, except the shirt is currently residing on the passenger seat of my rented Mercedes-Benz with Texas plates (I’m not going to get tired of writing that). 

What I can include is this picture of the stadium rules, written in NASA-inspired outer-space font (in deference to Huntsville’s prominence in the aerospace industry). Although cut off slightly, note that rule #6 prohibits fans from bringing “nukes” into the stadium.

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Here’s another NASA-inspired sign, this one advising fans to keep an eye on the field of play. Also, there appears to be a ghostly skull hovering in the lower right hand corner: 

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I wandered around the spacious stadium throughout the first half of the ballgame, taking pictures. Some of these pictures shall now appear below, for your perusing enjoyment:

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And, of course, the obligatory concession menu:

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Being the discerning gourmand that I am (see opening paragraph), I opted to visit two specialty stands. At one I procured a lemonade, and at the other boiled peanuts. I am of the firm belief that boiled peanuts should be purchased wherever they are an option.

Finally, I am very pleased to report that for the second time in as many days I was recognized at a ballpark by a baseball civilian. In this instance it was Stars’ season ticket holder Darrell Carmichael, who sent an email after the game that concluded “you keep posting and I’ll keep reading.”

Sounds like a deal to me! Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, as I really do appreciate it. And now, having tasted the magic, I am off to bed.

See you tomorrow, Chattanooga. 

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

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