Results tagged ‘ Mississippi Braves ’

On the Road: Keeping It Simple in Mississippi

To see all posts from my August 2, 2015 visit to the Mississippi Braves (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my July/August 2015 trip through the Deep South, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

This is Steven Ericson, a geography professor at the University of Alabama and a big fan of Minor League Baseball.


I had known Steven for several years in the virtual realm, through Twitter (@geoSteven) as well as his baseball-centric “My Geography Lessons” blog. But it wasn’t until this August afternoon at TrustMark Park that I met him in physical form. He had made the trip from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Pearl, Mississippi to serve as my designated eater (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits).

When it comes to concessions, the Mississippi Braves take an “only the basics” approach. In previous seasons they’d experimented with regional items like catfish sandwiches, but they didn’t sell well enough to justify the effort. So what Steven and I were left with on this scorching Sunday afternoon was an array of the familiar — hot dogs, burgers, pizza (from Domino’s) and the like.

022After much gnashing of teeth regarding how to make a bland situation interesting, we simply decided to take a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach. Steven, therefore, ordered a hot dog ($3) and topped it with Heinz yellow mustard. He didn’t do a very good job in making it look appetizing, however. I was like “C’mon, dude. This hot dog is gonna appear on the internet!”

038Before sitting down to enjoy his hot dog, Steven and I had our photos taken at the iSnap machine installed on the concourse.

Steven has at it:

The quote that I have from Steven regarding his hot dog-eating experience doesn’t really make sense. Maybe I wrote it down wrong.

“It’s average,” he said. “A slice of Americana encased in Americana by enjoying a hot dog at a baseball game. But, yeah, it’s just a hot dog.”

As mentioned in the above Vine video, Steven had obtained an Oxford Brewing Company “Sorority Blonde Ale” along with his hot dog. I didn’t take a picture of it, but I did take a picture of Steven taking a picture of it. He was going to post his photo on Untappd, an app presumably named by a drunk person.

040“It’s very smooth and mellow, a very tasty beer,” said Steven, of the Sorority Blonde Ale. “But it’s not as good as Hipster Repellent IPA.”

Hipster Repellent IPA: a thing that exists.

A hot dog does not a blog post make — I have a crocheted saying to this effect hanging in my bedroom — so Steven and I headed back to the concession stands. The stand offering nachos in a full-size helmet was already closed, or “Na-closed,” as it were, so he opted for a gyro. That’s pretty unique, right? A gyro at a baseball game? We were trying our best.
043Steven, eating a gyro while standing alone on concrete.


Uh, that’s boring. Steven, how about you sing about your gyro to the tune of “Wind Beneath My Wings”?

“It’s really warm. Good. Hot,” said Steven, hopefully referring to the gyro. “A mix of lamb and fresh provolone cheese. It kind of tastes like a Philly cheesesteak in a pita.”

I, meanwhile, took the opportunity to purchase an M-Braves collector’s cup. I did this to placate the #cupdate fiends out there, who harbor an unceasing desire to gaze upon images such as these.

IMG_0129While Steven and I didn’t have too much to talk about on the food side of things, we did engage in an interesting discussion about the field of geography and how it relates to Minor League Baseball. After a while, I had a realization: Why not turn this conversation into an story? So I took out my phone, hit record on the voice memo, and conducted a formal interview. THIS was the result.

CaptureSteven Ericson, Mississippi Braves designated eater turned superstar. It could happen to you, it could happen to anyone. Life is unpredictable.

On the Road: Meandering through a Sunday afternoon in Mississippi

To see all posts from my August 2, 2015 visit to the Mississippi Braves (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my July/August 2015 trip through the Deep South, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

Okay, so where was I? Oh, right. I was where I often am: wandering around at the start of a Minor League ballgame. This particular ballgame was taking place at TrustMark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, home of the Mississippi Braves. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the game-time temperature was a little over 100 degrees. Nothing new to me — I bring the heat everywhere I go.

The M-Braves, like a lot of teams in the South, don’t draw particularly well on Sundays. Church may be air-conditioned, but the ballpark definitely isn’t. TrustMark Park has 5400 fixed seats and a max capacity of 8000, but on this particular afternoon there was plenty of room in which to move.

021While wandering the concourse I discovered this iSnap photo booth. Fans can have their picture taken, for free, and then immediately have it emailed to them and/or posted on the social media platform of their choice.

023I decided to give it a try, though I clearly wasn’t ready when the picture was taken. That tomahawk in the background was driven straight through my skull.

Moving on to the picnic area, I was reminded that, despite the heat, it was a beautiful day.

025Now here’s something I’d never seen before. The M-Braves took what had been a secondary team store and converted it into the Season Ticket Holders Concierge.


Season ticket holders can come here to get that day’s free gift, obtain a snack or a drink, or simply luxuriate in the air conditioning.

028The Farm Bureau Grill, located in right field, is open for lunch on game days as well as during the game itself.

030Above the entrance to the Grill, one can find a collection of Southern League team caps. Note that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos cap was placed directly atop the team they replaced in the league, the Carolina Mudcats.


Upstairs, in this double suite, some longtime season-ticket holders were enjoying their comfortable surroundings. I felt like I was peeking into somebody’s living room.

033My visit to the suite was followed by a brief visit to the press box.



The view from above is similar to the view below. Why wouldn’t it be?


I was told that the sun sets behind third base at all Atlanta-owned Minor League franchises (Danville, Rome, Mississippi, Gwinnett). This mirrors the conditions at Turner Field.


The above photo was taken later in the ballgame, after I had spent a few innings with that afternoon’s designated eater (to be detailed in the next post). Tyler Jones was warming up for the M-Braves in the bullpen, as Louisiana native Bryton Bertrand Trepagnier looked on.

047Nothing gets fans excited for late-inning Minor League Baseball quite like a strong dose of Lil Jon over the PA system.

Neither Jones nor Trepagnier got into the game, which the M-Braves won by a score of 4-3 over the Tennessee Smokies.

049The game was played in a comparatively crisp two hours and 35 minutes, leaving me with barely enough time to compose, record and disseminate my groundbreaking and subversive ballpark joke of the day.

With the ballgame complete, kids ran the bases as water shot across the grass in programmed arcs. The sun had set on yet another day at the ballpark.


On the Road: The Land of the Braves in Mississippi

To see all posts from my August 2, 2015 visit to the Mississippi Braves (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my July/August 2015 trip through the Deep South, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

As I approached TrustMark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves, the sounds of Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” could be heard wafting from within. The ballpark sure looked like paradise at that moment, or at least as close to paradise as a shopping center in suburban Mississippi is ever gonna get.


003The Mississippi Braves play in the paradise that is Pearl. This central Mississippi metropolis has a population of approximately 25,000, but the M-Braves also draw on communities such as Jackson, the neighboring state capitol. Trustmark Park was built in 2005, in conjunction with a mammoth Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store. Only a vast expanse of asphalt separates the two.


Bass Pro Shop, towering in the distance

Upon entering the stadium, this was the view to my left.

006And this, the view to my right. From the M-Braves’ inaugural 2005 season through 2014 they were the only Minor League team in Mississippi. That changed this season with the arrival of the Biloxi Shuckers. The Shuckers are abundant in oyster imagery, yet the M-Braves are the ones in Pearl.

007Since that debut season 2005, many M-Braves have gone on to play in the Majors. At the time I visited, this number stood at 99. Most of these M-Braves, of course, have gone on to the A-Braves.


Many of these M-Braves also spent time with the D-Braves (Rookie-level Danville), R-Braves (Class A Rome and, also, now-defunct Triple-A Richmond) and the G-Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett). The Braves are, by far, the most boring organization in baseball. They own all (but one) of their Minor League affiliates, and when they own a team they name it the Braves while also injecting it with a strong dose of inherent conservatism. May their model never catch on.

Shortly after arriving at the stadium, I made my way to the vertically-inclined abode of M-Braves broadcaster Kyle Tait.


In the above picture, you may be able to see that the grass on the field is not quite up to “Paradise City” standards. Kyle explained that the team had received no rain whatsoever in July, and hadn’t experienced a rainout since June. Persistent dryness is not good for grass. There’s research out there that backs this up.

After saying a tearful goodbye to Kyle I met M-Braves media relations manager Miranda Black, who showed me around the stadium. This cozy area, also known as the home clubhouse, is one such area that I was shown.


It’s been a season of transition for the Atlanta Braves organization, and as a result of various wheelings and dealings the M-Braves experienced a tremendous amount of roster turnover. Roster turnover necessitates a great deal of logistical maneuvering on the part of the front office staff, such as scheduling photo sessions for the new arrivals.

014I spotted this sign hanging in the weight room, hoping against hope that I would be able to find any sort of spelling or grammatical error. You win this round, Braves.

017As the result of a partnership with the Mississippi lottery, that day’s winning numbers are posted in the clubhouse hallways. I can’t think of what else this would be.

018Meanwhile, out on the field, a ballgame had begun. The M-Braves were hosting the Montgomery Biscuits, whom I had seen play in Montgomery the night before. The game time temperature was a sultry 102 degrees, decidedly not paradise-like conditions.

021And thus concludes part one of this M-Braves blogging saga. Part two will be similar to part one, but the subtle differences between them will delight, confound and educate the discerning reader in equal measure.

About Last Night: Mississippi Braves, August 2, 2015

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

August 2, 2015: Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves 

Opponent: Montgomery Biscuits, 5:00 p.m. game time.

Trustmark Park, from the outside: 

003Trustmark Park, from within: 

021Culinary Creation: Uh, here’s a hot dog with mustard. What more do you want?

038Ballpark Character: Me. Why not? This was taken on the concourse, via an iSnap photo booth.
isnap1At Random: It’s been a while, so here’s a #Cupdate:


Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Next Up: 

Jackson Generals: 8/3

Nashville Sounds: 8/5

Time for a Do-Over?

Over on you can read my round-up of the 2014-15 Minor League re-branding season, featuring 11 new team names and/or logos. In conjunction with this, my latest journalistic masterwork, I decided to take a look around the Minor League landscape in order to subjectively determine the team from each league that is most in need of a makeover.

We’ll start at the top of the Minor League ladder and work our way down. Perhaps, come this time next year, some of these clubs will have opted to update their iconography. Whether you agree, disagree or couldn’t care less, feel free to tell me so in the comments or on Twitter (@bensbiz).

International League: Louisville Bats (current logo in use since 2002)


This logo is a little too reminiscent of Batman, so maybe it’s time that Louisville Gotham selves another one.

Pacific Coast League: Fresno Grizzlies (current logo in use since 2008)

frezThe Grizzlies are actively embracing their post-San Francisco identity, but the orange and black color scheme still screams “Giants affiliation!”

Eastern League: Portland Sea Dogs (current logo in use since 2003)

portlandThe “Sea Dog” in question looks like a Puritan-era rulebreaker, locked in the stockades so that all may ridicule him for his misdeeds.

Southern League: Mississippi Braves (current logo in use since 2005)

mbravesI guess there’s not much that can be done when you share the name of the parent club. Atlanta affiliates are a pretty strait-laced bunch.

Texas League: Midland RockHounds (current logo in use since 1999)

midlandThis ‘Hound looks like he would have been pals with Canseco and McGwire during their “Bash Brothers” days.

California League: High Desert Mavericks (current logo in use since 1991)

hdYou may not be able to set your watch to this logo, but at least you can hang your hat on it.

Carolina League: Carolina Mudcats (current logo in use since 1991)

mudcatsThis reminds me of the Sea Dogs’ logo. What did these poor creatures do to deserve permanent entrapment within a letter of the alphabet?

Florida State League: Tampa Yankees (current logo in use since 1994)

tampaThis is the Minor League logo equivalent of having a no-facial hair policy.

Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (current logo in use since 1996)


As was pointed out to me when I visited Lansing: That’s not a lugnut. It’s a bolt.

South Atlantic League: Kannapolis Intimidators (current logo in use since 2001)

kannapWhen it comes to this logo, my mind says “No” but my heart says “Yes.” I (not-so) secretly love it, despite, or perhaps because, it is inherently insane.

New York-Penn League: Brooklyn Cyclones (current logo in use since 2001)


The Cyclones seem to do everything right, so I may as well give them a hard time for not updating the logo they came into existence with.

Northwest League: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (current logo in use since 1997)

skvFor my thoughts on this, see: Intimidators, Kannapolis

Appalachian League: Johnson City Cardinals (current logo in use since 1995)

jccNot sure where this one falls in the bird-logo pecking order.

Pioneer League: Helena Brewers (current logo in use since 2011)

hbAs someone with celiac disease, I find this logo offensive.

In closing, I’d like to offer a tip of the cap to Chris Creamer’s It’s a great source of info.

The Never-Ending Happening

I’m posting this on a Friday afternoon, and on a Friday afternoon there’s only one way to do things: Bouillabaisse style!

So let’s do it! I’ve got lots to share with you, starting with a new logo straight from the heart of Appalachia. 


Greeneville’s new look is a response to similar changes made by the parent club and in this regard they are the Bluefield and Dunedin of 2012. (That reference is apropos, but I’m not going to take the time to contextualize it. I have a press release to quote!)

Sez the team:

The new Astros identity features a full star logo with a block letter ‘G’ in the middle of the star. The Astros home caps will feature this logo on a solid blue cap while the road caps will be solid orange.

The G-Stros (does anyone call them that?) change is permanent, so now let’s move on to something of a “one night only” variety. On July 12th, the Erie SeaWolves will be donning these nautical duds:

Niagara Jersey FBThese jerseys are the result of the SeaWolves partnership with the Flagship Niagara League, an organization that is seeking to promote its Tall Ships Festival.

I realize that this explanation raises more questions than it does answers. In brief: Lake Erie was the site of key 19th-century naval battles, and the Tall Ships festival (which does indeed feature tall ships) commemorates this history. Read more HERE.

Now we must proceed from theme jerseys to alternate ones, as the Mississippi Braves have somehow managed to fit “Mississippi” across the chest of this navy blue number:


I’d link to a press release with more info, but there doesn’t seem to be one. All I can tell you is you can buy these jerseys for $175 at the M-Braves team store. I guess in this case the “M” in “M-Braves” stands for “mum’s the word.”

Transitioning from the occasional to the regular, the new-look Buffalo Bisons recently unveiled their 2013 uniforms.

bisonzA bit more from the Bisons:

In the creation of their new uniforms, the Bisons paid special attention to popular team jerseys from the past. The use of a ‘Scarlet Red’ lettering and ‘Reflex Blue’ numbers on the front of the ‘Ice White’ home and gray road uniforms was taken from the jerseys worn by the team in the early years of Coca-Cola Field. A ‘Hitting Buster’ has also returned to the team’s official on-field cap, a look Bisons fans have long enjoyed from those first seasons at the ballpark. 

Meanwhile, one of the rarest of logo creatures was released into our midst this past week. A ballpark logo, this one for the Birmingham Barons’ currently under-construction Regions Field. I will refrain from editorializing, because words only get in the way of images.

The image:


I’ll close, as I often do, with something out of left-field (not literally, in most cases).

How’s THIS for a staff bio pic?


According to the GreenJackets, Kyle’s shiner was obtained while playing in a staff basketball game. Reminder to all: never play basketball with the staff of the Augusta GreenJackets.

Okay, this post isn’t quite over yet due to my desire to do some ponderous professional pontificating.

And what I have been pondering lately is whether or not to make some changes to this blog in regards to the frequency with which I post. These days I average about three entries a week, with each post (allegedly) having some substance in that it is at least 400 words long and often covers multiple topics.

But perhaps more timely “Quick Hit” or “Short Hop” or “Biz Quick” posts would be a good strategy to utilize as well? The idea here is that whenever some particularly news/buzz-worthy content appears, I would immediately generate a short post. The plus side is timely and engaging material and more of it, but the potential negative is that this approach would cheapen the product and make this blog just another cheap cranker-outer of disposable content.

Does this debate exist strictly in my own head? Probably. Am I talking to myself as I write this? Definitely. I guess the takeaway here is that after 5+ years and 900+ posts I care about this blog more than I’d like to admit, especially in regard to how the content is packaged and presented. So, if you have opinions on this (or any other pertinent matter), please get in touch. If you don’t have any opinions on this, that’s okay too. If I was you then I wouldn’t either.

One Step Closer To the Inevitable…

golden.jpgLast week I did a post on the innovative season ticket plan launched by the Huntsville Stars and the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, in which each team would honor the other’s Season Ticket Holder cards when they face each other.

Well, this is an idea that is quickly taking on a life of its own, as last week the Stars and D-Jaxx announced that the Mississippi Braves and the Chattanooga Lookouts had entered into the agreement as well. This means that each club’s 70-game season ticket plan now includes 24 additional road games.

You realize what this is all building toward, right? No? Well I’ll tell you — This is all building toward a bold new future in which a Minor League team’s season ticket plan also includes admission to each and every away game. Granted, we’re not there yet, but we are most certainly headed down that path. Prepare yourselves.

On The Topic — Somewhat similar to the new Stars and D-Jaxx ticket plan is the arrangement that exists between the Pacific Coast League’s Round Rock Express and the Texas League’s Corpus Christi Hooks. Both teams are owned and operated by Ryan-Sanders Baseball, and as a result honor the other’s season tickets and also offer team-rate discounts at the team hotel in each city.  (thanks to Hooks’ director of ballpark entertainment Seamus Gallivan for the info)

Off the Topic, But Still Related To One of the Teams in Question — The Stars, a Brewershart.jpg affiliate, are hosting a youth baseball camp on November 8. And this camp is going to be run by none other than Corey Hart. However, the Corey Hart in question is not this Corey Hart, who currently patrols right field for the Brewers. Nor is it this Corey Hart, who scored a pop smash in 1983 with “Sunglasses at Night”. Rather, it is Brewers Minor League hitting instructor Corey Hart, whose eight-year pro playing career came to an end in 2005.

All three of these Corey Harts are worthy of respect and admiration. Just don’t get confused, is all I’m saying.   

God Bless the USA

july4.jpgHappy Fourth of July! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than by getting this venerable blog back on track after a week in which other obligations left it sad and lonely. All other potential uses of my time seem frivolous in comparison.

Let’s look at a couple of notable Holiday happenings that are taking place in the world of the Minor Leagues. Yes, lets:

Augusta, Georgia, is located some 800 miles away from Coney Island, home of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. In an attempt to bring the fame and glamour that surrounds this event to their hometown, the GreenJackets are staging their very own frankfurter consumption competition.

Over each of the past six Thursday home games, the club has staged a hot dog-eating350_hot_dog_eater.jpg contest. And tonight, the winners of each of those six contests will battle to become Augusta’s undisputed hot dog champion.

The Championship event will take place upon the conclusion of tonight’s ballgame against the Charleston RiverDogs, and will be immediately followed by a fireworks display. Now here’s where things get really good: the winner will be able to choose between $200 cash or a trip for two to Weiner, AR. I sincerely hope that this latter option is chosen.

As a service to my readers, I have spent the last three hours (give or take two hours and 55 minutes) researching the town of Wiener, Arkansas. According to Wikipedia, this quaint little burgh has a population of just 760 people. It has located in close proximity to many other hilariously-named towns, such as Birdeye, Bono, Cash, Cord, Egypt, and Strawberry. Those Northwest Arkansasians sure know how to give their communities interesting monikers!

numbers.jpgNow, of course, hot dog eating may not be the sort of thing you’re into. Perhaps numerical-based promotions are more up your alley. Let’s travel 300 miles away from Wiener, all the way to Pearl, Mississippi. There, the M-Braves have put together the following contest:

If the fourth batter in the Braves’ lineup goes 4-4 (four base hits)
in the game on July 4th, one lucky fan will receive $4,444.00.

If the M-Braves score five runs in the fifth inning on July 5th, one lucky fan will receive $5,555.00.

Finally, if the Braves score six runs in the sixth inning on July 6th, one lucky fan will receive $6,666.00.

That’s a total of $16,665, just waiting to be won by a triumvirate of lucky fans. Here’s hoping that the M-Braves pull off all three of these statistically improbable events over the course of the weekend.


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