Results tagged ‘ Mobile BayBears ’

Return to the Road: History en route to Mississippi

Once again, it is time to return to the road. This latest round of posts detail my late July/early August journey through a not-inconsiderable portion of the South. The previous installment detailed my time in the general area of Biloxi. Today we begin in Mobile, Alabama, home of the BayBears.

As is too often the case on my jam-packed road trips, I didn’t really have any time to explore Mobile. (I had the time when I was there in 2010, however).

Anyhow, here’s a picture taken from an elevated location.

IMG_0092And…that’s about all I have for Mobile. I was actively mobile throughout my entire stay and didn’t really have the time to take pictures. Early the next afternoon, before leaving town, I set my coordinates for a Vietnamese restaurant. Along the way, however, I saw this.

IMG_0094As a big fan of mudbugs — or crawfish, or crayfish, or whatever you want to call them — I felt compelled to alter my plans and stop in for lunch. However, I got confused and ordered a platter off of the “fried” menu instead of the “fresh.” This would be a mistake under any circumstances, but doubly so for me given my (unwanted but necessary) gluten-free reality.

After staring at this brown mound with a mixture of shock and horror, I left the restaurant in a state of shame and disgrace.

IMG_0093My bad luck (or, more accurately, ineptitude) continued at a nearby gas station, where a serious of payment issues, gas cap snafus and miscellaneous bloopers led to a prolonged ordeal. At the end of it I was so flustered that a fellow customer had to stop me from driving away with the hood of my car popped open. It was a complicated and embarrassing situation, and that night in my hotel room I recorded a six-minute monologue about it.

I will not share said monologue. Just know that, on the road, I sometimes experience mental meltdowns. But the bad times are more than made up for by the unexpected joys.

Unexpected joys such as finding this unorthodox salt and pepper distribution system in my Montgomery, Alabama hotel room.

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The next day, I left Montgomery (home of the Biscuits) and drove onward to Pearl, Mississippi (home of the Mississippi Braves). As it just so happened (I didn’t even realize it beforehand), my planned Route 80 excursion took me across the Alabama River via the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

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The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the location of one of the most indelible moments of the Civil Rights movement. On “Bloody Sunday” — March 7, 1965 — demonstrators were viciously attacked by police (and recently-deputized legitimized thugs) as they walked the bridge while en route to Montgomery to confront Governor George Wallace about the recent police murder of protester Jimmie Jackson. Two days later, with the nation watching, the demonstrators returned and, this time, were allowed to cross the bridge in peace. These events were powerfully depicted in the 2014 Martin Luther King biopic Selma. 

And there I was, driving across that very same bridge on a sleepy Sunday morning, while en route from one Minor League stadium to another. I pulled over in Selma’s nearly deserted downtown and walked across the bridge, feeling nearly overcome with emotion (including self-loathing, for not ever taking a true risk in service of a greater good). Pettus, a former Alabama governor, was a Grand Dragon in the KKK. And now his name will forever be associated with peaceful protest in service of racial equality.

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Downtown Selma

The Alabama River

The Alabama River

IMG_0120After that welcome pit stop, it was onward toward Pearl. Misunderstanding just how rural the drive would be, I didn’t fill up my tank when I had the chance and almost ran out of gas. I don’t know where this gas station was, but I was very happy to have found it.

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Finally, I made it to Mississippi.

IMG_0123In Mississippi, I found a pork rind that, to my addled brain, looked like baby Jesus’s manger. I shoulda sold it to the Weekly World News. 

IMG_0124Thanks, Truckland.

IMG_0139And thank you, for reading.

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On the Road: Raving About Dinner and Singing for Dessert in Mobile

To see all posts from my July 31, 2015 visit to the Mobile BayBears (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 David Haney, a 21-year-old majoring in sociology and criminal justice at the University of Mobile. He was born in Connecticut, but has lived in the Mobile area since a young age. He’s also a baseball fan, and estimates that he attends “probably 30-something” Mobile BayBears games each season. After graduating he said that he’d love to “get involved in the world of sports somehow. Mainly baseball.”

030On July 31, David had found a novel way to get involved in the world of sports. For on this evening, he had been recruited to serve as my designated eater (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). We met shortly after the game began, and David spent several innings partaking of the local foodstuffs. By the end of our time together, I imagine that he was feeling quite food-stuffed.

We began with a local specialty, recently added to the menu by BayBears food and beverage director Justin Gunsaulus (who spent 2013 and 2014 with the Lakewood BlueClaws before relocating to Mobile). This is a Conecuh sausage, named after the Alabama county in which it is produced and pronounced “Kuh-neck-a.”

029“People kept requesting it in the offseason,” said Justin. “It’s native to the region, so we went out there and got it.”

David was happy to be eating this hometown staple.

“It’s as good as any sausage in America, like times the taste by 10,” said David. “It’s a ‘Who’s Your Daddy’ kind of hot dog. The taste just explodes in your mouth. It’s extremely juicy. Spicy, but not too much. But just enough so its incredible. I’ve never had one at the ballpark, but Conecuh is a Southern version of a really good hot dog. They’re great for tailgating.”

In summary: David likes this sausage.

031Next up was a barbecue pulled chicken sandwich, served with fries.

033Let’s take a closer look.

034“It’s a good mix of barbecue and brilliantly cooked chicken, bundled up together,” said David. “There’s not too much sauce, and not too much grease. Just enough to make the taste buds happy.”

Good things come in threes, so David and I then went off in search of dessert. Our quest ended on the far end of the third base side of the concourse.

036Deep-fried Oreos were procured from this sedentary vehicle, and we then found an idyllic location in which to enjoy them.

038During our brief time together, I learned that David is a musician. He plays in RamCorps — the University of Mobile brass and percussion band — and does some singing “on the side.” Earlier in the season, he performed the National Anthem at a BayBears game. With all this mind, I asked David if he would mind singing for his dessert.

He obliged, and the results were, in a word, excellent. The lyrics have been embedded within my head ever since.

“It’s just an Oreo on steroids,” said David. “Hot. Nice and sugary. There can never be enough sugar. It’s crusty on the outside, soft and smooth on the inside.”

Sing it with me, everyone: Deep-fried Oreos.

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On the Road: Mobile in Mobile

To see all posts from my July 31, 2015 visit to the Mobile BayBears (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!

Whenever I visit a Minor League ballpark, I never sit still. I am always wandering and wondering, wondering and wandering. “Where should I be right now? Who should I be talking to?” I am mobile, in other words, and on this evening I enjoyed the rare distinction of being mobile in Mobile. Hence, the headline of this post. I don’t know why I felt the need to explain it.

Anyhow, this is Part Two of this Mobile BayBears blogging saga. Part One described the wandering that took place prior to the ballgame, while this post involves that which took place during the game itself. It was July 31, and the BayBears were playing the Jacksonville Suns under a full moon.

So, you know: Play Ball!

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Beneath the hulking concrete edifice seen above, there is a concourse.

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This concourse contains many interesting things, such as a quartet of seats from the Atlanta Braves’ former home of Fulton County Stadium. Hank Aaron, Mobile native, played in this stadium for nine seasons (1966-74).

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On the right field side of the concourse, one can access the “Gaslight Park” outdoor area. And, within Gaslight Park, one can access the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. Prior to the 2010 season, the BayBears relocated Aaron’s childhood home to this location. After renovating it, they stuffed it full of memorabilia from his life and career and opened it as a museum. (As mentioned in Part One of this post, I was there for 2010’s star-studded opening event)

Here’s the exterior of the Museum, as it looked during an earlier, brighter portion of the day.

005The Museum is open during all home games. As I approached the front door on this Friday evening, there was no one else around. No team employees, and no fans. I almost felt like I was trespassing. The door was unlocked, however, and upon entering I was greeted by a loud voice.

“Hi, I’m Henry Aaron.”

I wish that I could report that Aaron himself was there to greet me, but it was simply an introductory video playing on a loop in the front room.

042Here’s a quick Vine collage featuring some of what can be found within the Museum.

Much of the memorabilia chronicles highlights from throughout Hank’s long career.

044But even more interesting, in my estimation, is the recreation of the kitchen. This is how it looked during Hank’s childhood, some 70 or so years ago.

IMG_0080 I wasn’t in the Museum for very long, as I felt anxious to get back to the ballgame. In these situations, it is always best to be Aaron on the side of caution.

055It was now the bottom of the sixth inning, and outs were hard to come by. The BayBears batted around in the frame, which included a pitching change, and many of the at-bats were long and drawn out and punctuated by a barrage of foul balls. I mention this because, throughout the entire half-inning, a penned-in gaggle of young fans were (not so) patiently waiting for the opportunity to chase mascot Teddy across the outfield.

054After all that waiting, the chase kinda felt anti-climactic.

With no more mascot chases left to halfheartedly document, I headed up to the press box and enjoyed an inning on the air with BayBears broadcaster Justin Baker.

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Jacksonville Suns play-by-play man Roger “One Take” Hoover offered his hello from the adjacent booth.

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Being high up in the grandstand gave me the inspiration for the Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day:

I then returned to field level to interview Terry Williams, 63, “the world’s oldest batboy.” Terry, pictured here with his wife, Beverly, just completed his second season as batboy — or bat man — for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. But on this evening in Mobile, he was simply enjoying watching a ballgame as a fan.   061Shortly after speaking with Terry, the Suns wrapped up a 7-4 victory over the hometown squad. I then headed over to the BayBears dugout to interview yet another legendary Southern League batboy. This is Wade Vadakin, 36, and his father, Jeff. IMG_0089

I wrote articles about both Terry and Wade, which you can find via this handy tweet:

And that just about did it as regards my night in Mobile. In conclusion, I submit these six seconds of parking lot pretension.

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On the Road: Hanks for the Memories in Mobile

To see all posts from my July 31, 2015 visit to the Mobile BayBears (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!

The last time I visited Hank Aaron Stadium, the home of the Mobile BayBears, Hank Aaron himself was in attendance. The year was 2010, and the occasion was the opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. The name of this new attraction was nothing if not accurate, as the BayBears had relocated Hank’s childhood home (he grew up in Mobile) to the stadium grounds, renovated it, and stuffed it with memorabilia from throughout his long career.

A cavalcade of baseball A-listers were on hand for this gala opening occasion. This photo, which I took after emerging bruised and bloodied from within a harrowing media scrum, includes Bob Feller, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Reggie Jackson, Aaron and Rickey Henderson. Bud Selig was also in attendance, as was Willie Mays(!). I may never be in such close proximity to baseball royalty again, at least until I am named King of Baseball 2051, and I myself am baseball royalty.

hofersOn that evening, I secured one-one-one interviews with Feller (RIP), Selig and Henderson. I was rebuffed by Reggie Jackson, however, who put his hand over my Flip Cam (remember those?) and slowly pushed it down without ever once making eye contact or speaking directly to me. The guy who Jackson was standing next to at the time — a D-backs front-office exec, if I remember correctly — felt embarrassed and tried to make small talk with me so that I wouldn’t feel like a total chump. Which I was. Which I am.

All of those memories came flooding back this past July 31, when I made a return trip to Mobile. On this evening, no Hall of Famers were in attendance. It was just a Friday night at the ballpark.

002The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum, open during all games, is to the right of the facility proper.

003Hank Aaron Stadium opened in 1997, and it is now, somewhat improbably, the oldest stadium in the Southern League. Attendance has dipped in recent seasons, at least partially due to the opening of new ballparks in nearby Pensacola and, now, Biloxi.

The most unique design feature of the stadium — and, in my opinion, not a very good one — is that the suites are on the ground level.

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The suite entrances are lined up along the field-facing side of the concourse.

023This means that everyone who is not in a suite has to take the stairs to the upper level. There’s nothing wrong with walking up a flight of stairs — it’s good exercise! — but operationally speaking, it’s awkward for there to be a disconnect between where most fans are located and many of the places they are likely to want to be (concessions, restrooms, team store, etc).

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Here’s the “Upwardly Mobile” view, from the last row of the stadium.

007And here’s the view in the other direction. Hank Aaron Stadium is located in an indistinct portion of the city, surrounded by chain stores and shopping centers and the like.

008Back down on the aisle, I ran into an anthropomorphic cup. (Too bad Reggie wasn’t back in town, as he could have been the straw that stirs the drink.)

010And then it was back to the concourse.

This photo, it’s no good. But file under “Good idea that other teams should steal.” Honor thy gameday staff, always!

014I stared at this ad for a while and could not determine weather or not it was grammatically correct.

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This was the vantage point as I approached the berm from the left field side of the stadium. It looks to be a par four.

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I do like this approach to berm seating — optional and endlessly rearrangeable.

018Meanwhile, on the field, the players were involved in an elaborate interpretive dance routine.

020It was Faith Night at the ballpark, and a decent-sized crowd had begun to get settled into their second-level seats. (And while I am a proponent of faith, I am definitely not a proponent of the insipid, lobotomized Christian pop songs that always seem to soundtrack Faith Night promotions. A deep, abiding, soul-fulfilling belief in a higher power should not be mutually exclusive with having decent taste in music).

But that’s enough of my sermonizing. The game had begun. Mascot Teddy had settled in, presumably so that he could read this series of Mobile BayBears posts. That’ll do it for this one, but more will soon follow. The season never ends.

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About Last Night: Mobile BayBears, July 31, 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!

 July 31, 2015: Hank Aaron Stadium, home of the Mobile Baybears 

Opponent: Jacksonville Suns, 7:05 p.m. game time.

Hank Aaron Stadium, from the outside:

002Hank Aaron Stadium, from within: 

007Culinary Creation: Conecuh Sausage with peppers and onions

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Ballpark Characters: Batboy Wade Vadakin (now in his 18th season) with his father, Jack (who drives him to every game).

IMG_0089At Random: The kitchen in the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum (located on the grounds of the stadium, open during every game).

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Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Next Up: 

Montgomery Biscuits: 8/1

Mississippi Braves: 8/2

Jackson Generals: 8/3

Nashville Sounds: 8/5

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Guest Post: Why I Love the Mobile BayBears

It’s time for another installment of “Why I Love,” in which Minor League fans explain what it is they love about their favorite team and why. Today’s guest writer is Brittany Callahan, who has spent countless hours at the Mobile BayBears’ home of Hank Aaron Stadium. Her father, Mike, spent 13 seasons as the team’s assistant general manager.  

To see other “Why I Love” guest posts, click HERE. And if YOU would like to write a “Why I Love” guest post, email me at benjamin.hill@mlb.com

(All photos from the Ben’s Biz collection, unless otherwise noted)

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Why I Love the Mobile BayBears, by Brittany Callahan

What is your first thought when I mention the city of Mobile, Alabama? The home of Mardi Gras? Maybe. White sand beaches? Possibly. College football dominance? Probably. Baseball, most likely, is absent from your list. But what is surprising to many, however, is that Mobile has played a huge role in baseball history. Outside of New York and Los Angeles, Mobile claims more Hall of Famers (five) than any other city in America. Those Hall of Famers — Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Ozzie Smith and Billy Williams — play a large role in making Mobile one of the most storied cities for baseball in the country.

A concourse sign honoring Ozzie Smith, one of five Mobile-born Hall of Famers

A concourse sign honoring Ozzie Smith, one of five Mobile-born Hall of Famers

Mobile’s rich baseball history can be seen before you even enter Hank Aaron Stadium, which the Baybears — Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks — have called home for eighteen years. In the shadows of the stadium sits Hank Aaron’s Childhood Home and Museum. Yes, you read that correctly. Partnering with the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and Major League Baseball, a few select BayBears staffers relocated the home that Mr. Aaron and his siblings grew up in, from its original location just a few miles away to the stadium grounds. Upon relocating, it was transformed into a museum which houses artifacts from the Aaron family as well as mementos from Hank’s journey from childhood to Home Run King. For those who want to see this remarkable piece of Mobile baseball history, tours are available before and during games as well as in the offseason.

The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

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Bob Feller, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron and Rickey Henderson, attending the opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

The BayBears continue Mobile’s tradition of excellence by being perennial playoff contenders, with many of their alumni making an impact in the Major Leagues. The BayBears were originally the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres and, during that time, they won two Southern League championships. They also sent players such as Jake Peavy (who calls Mobile home), Josh Barfield, Jason Bay and Adam Eaton to “The Show.”  In 2007, the BayBears switched their affiliation to the Arizona Diamondbacks, going on to to win back-to-back Southern League championships in 2011 and 2012. They advanced to the championship series again in 2013, attempting to earn a three-peat (something that had only been done once before in the league) but ultimately lost in the decisive fifth game. Some recognizable BayBears to have debuted in the Majors since 2007 include Max Scherzer, Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Gerrardo Parra, Mark Reynolds and Paul Goldschmidt.

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Paul Goldschmidt, smiling BayBear. MiLB.com photo

With the recent addition of baseball legends such as Tony LaRussa, Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks staff, it is not uncommon to see these famous faces walking the concourse of Hank Aaron Stadium to scout their players and coaches. Mr. Hank Aaron has even sat within his namesake stadium to take in a few ballgames while visiting his hometown.

Mobile has been a hotbed for baseball, and notable baseball players, for decades. Now, the BayBears have taken the reigns in leading the sport into the 21st century. I would be hard pressed to think of another Minor League stadium in the country where you can catch future Major League standouts in the hunt for another championship while bumping into Hall of Famers and (in my opinion) a man who can still claim to be the all-time Home Run King. Go BayBears!

Thanks to Brittany for taking the time to write this and, again: If YOU would like to submit a post for this series, then send an email to the address below. In the meantime, here’s my 2010 article on the opening of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum

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Two Items of Note

Today I have two items of note for you, and they really couldn’t be any different in tone. On the serious end of the spectrum, the Mobile BayBears have announced that a seat at Hank Aaron stadium will remain permanently empty in honor of all American soldiers who never returned home.

Section 107, row 1, seat 1:

pow mia

More, from the team:

The BayBears will hold a ceremony to unveil the seat at the home opener, Wednesday, April 10 during the pre-game festivities. Active military and veterans will be in attendance to help dedicate the seat to the over 92,000 missing American soldiers. The BayBears will be installing the seat next week.

The BayBears’ “Black Seat” initiative has garnered a lot of attention over the past 24 hours, thanks to a blog post on Yahoo’s Big League Stew blog that was then more or less re-written by a number of other outlets. There’s been an “every team ever should do this immediately if not sooner” tone to these posts, and it is almost certain that other teams will follow in the wake of the BayBears (and, moreso, the Lowell Spinners as they were the first team to do this). But such a gesture will seem profoundly empty unless it is accompanied by a season-long commitment to and engagement with the region’s military and veteran population. The BayBears, for instance, offer complimentary tickets for active duty personnel and will be staging promotions dedicated to each branch of the military throughout the season.

First things first.

And now, like a kid flipping through Mad Magazine until he sees a Dave Berg byline, we have reached the Lighter Side. I’m just going to rely on the press release for this one, courtesy of the Lake Elsinore Storm.

With the papal election process in full swing and a new Pope on the horizon, the Lake Elsinore Storm Professional Baseball Team feel they have the right candidate for the position.

 He may not be global just yet, but locally a lovable dog is revered by all. That’s right, man’s best friend, who may become God’s best friend, is throwing his bone, or hat, into the papal ring. Storm mascot, Thunder, with inspiration from the likes of Saint Peter, the Apostle, and the 264 Popes that followed, is willing to leave the luxuries of The Diamond behind for the right to serve others as the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.

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Paw-pal infallibility

There have been many recommendations on who should be the successor of Pope Benedict XVI….Thunder, though, has a leg, or two, up on the competition.

 He would be the first green Pope, already has his own Thunder/Pope mobile and children of all ages love him. As well, Thunder has been sermonizing and leading others as a beacon of Storm spirit for nearly a decade on the team’s annual Night of Fellowship (scheduled for July 12 this season).

 Thunder’s youthful exuberance and connection with the younger generation should provide a groundswell of support through social media. His friends at @Storm_baseball have started a #Paws4Pope Twitter campaign that could go viral.

 The echoing sounds of “Thunder,Thunder” is a well known cheer throughout the Inland Empire, and Popefully the people of Vatican City will be chanting in Italian “Tuono, Tuono” for years to come.  

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Now that I think about it, this blog post typifies Minor League Baseball: balancing the serious and the absurd on a season-to-season, month-to-month, homestand-to-homestand, game-to-game, inning-to-inning basis.

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Turn the Page, Part 2

As you may recall, the last post on this blog was a bountiful bouillabaisse of ripped-straight-from-the-notebook Minor League news items. Well, that’s what this post is gonna be dedicated to as well.

But before we get started with that, please click THIS LINK to read this MiLB.com article detailing my Top 10 favorite Minor League stadiums. Feedback is appreciated and encouraged, and views both complementary and dissenting will be included in a future blog post.

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And now, to the notebook!

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I’ve never been a Jay Leno fan, but nonetheless there’s always been one thing I’ve loved about his show and that’s the weekly “Headlines” segment. And wouldn’t you know it? Last month, none other than the Lehigh Valley IronPigs made an appearance thanks to this newspaper ad:

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Watch it HERE, the IronPigs reference is around the 2:30 mark.

I haven’t yet compiled my 2013 Minor League promotions spreadsheet (yes, compiling such a spreadsheet is an annual offseason task), but one giveaway item that has already caught my eye — and you know how painful that can be — comes courtesy of the Lake County Captains:

On Saturday, July 6, a Skipper Rock-N-Bobble doll featuring the Captains mascot paying tribute to Randy Newman, an inductee in this year’s class of Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame musicians, will be given to the first 1,500 fans compliments of Sysco. This year’s doll will also feature a sound clip from Randy Newman’s Burn On, which is synonymous with the Major League movie. 

Yes! A Randy Newman-themed giveaway. And one featuring a song from “Sail Away,” arguably his best-ever album (it’s certainly my favorite). Here’s hoping Randy Newman promos spread through the Minors like a fire on the Cuyahoga. How about “Salute to American Foreign Policy Night”?

It’s pretty much indisputable that the Lexington Legends possess the best team van in Minor League Baseball. Great slogan, horrible pick-up line:

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photo posted by @Irrational_Fan on Twitter

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about the Hickory Crawdads’ “Day in the Minors” fan package? This post prompted an email response from New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ media relations manager/broadcaster Tom Gauthier, who wrote:

While we don’t have a program like [the Crawdads], we do offer a program for young kids to experience a day in the life.  We work with Citizens Bank (sponsor love) to open up a handful of jobs for kids ages 6-16.  They shadow with us for an afternoon and then through the game itself. 

To read more about the Fisher Cats’ “Kids Run the Show” promo, click HERE.

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A kid, running things

Meanwhile, I’m more than happy to have kids shadow me for a day. As a veteran blogger, I will teach them how to show up to the office late and disheveled, overpay for lunch in lieu of bringing your own, and write jokes on Twitter instead of doing meaningful work.

You may remember my piece last season on the art of scorekeeping. In this piece one of the fans profiled was the pseudonym-ed “Stevo,” and I will now take the opportunity to direct you to his blog “The Baseball Enthusiast.” Stevo has just begun a series of posts entitled “For Those Keeping Score at Home,” featuring “intermediate to advanced” tricks of the trade.

I have a feeling that many readers of this blog will enjoy picking up what he’s putting down.

I’m pretty sure that the Reading Fightin’ Phils are the first team to give away their stadium, even if it is only for a day. Read all about it HERE. Or just look at this visual and wonder.

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I know that snow-covered ballpark photos are so two weeks ago, but here’s a good one courtesy of the New Britain Rock Cats. So soothing!

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In what I believe is a Minor League anomaly, the hair of Wilmington Blue Rocks mascot Rocky is real and actually grows. And once it grows long enough, he’s going to donate to Locks of Love. Click HERE to see his ‘do.

Proving that just about anything can be capitalized on by Minor League Baseball teams, the Mobile BayBears recently opened their arms to distressed travelers after the beleaguered Carnival Triumph finally limped into Mobile.

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Sez the team:

The Mobile BayBears would like to give all passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship the opportunity to visit the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum for free on Thursday and Friday February 14th and 15th.

“We understand travelers have been through a lot in the past few days,” said team spokesman Craig Durham. “In an effort to make their time in Mobile as enjoyable as possible we encourage them to come see one of baseball’s most unique museums and pay tribute to Mobile legend Hank Aaron.”

The museum will be open from 9-5 on Thursday and Friday, and all non-Carnival passengers will be able to visit the museum for the standard price of $5.

NYC still has a long ways to go when it comes to fully recovering from Superstorm Sandy, and the Brooklyn Cyclones are doing their part via their “Meaningful Mondays” initiative. $3 from every ticket sold to every Monday game will go toward a local charity — read about it HERE.

Speaking of meaningful, I’d recommend that you read these most insightful observations from former Durham Bulls staffer Matt DeMargel regarding why employers should look at Minor League Baseball experience in a positive light. 

And now I have reached the end of this notebook page and, therefore, the end of this post. I’ll conclude by sharing this Augusta GreenJackets staff bio. The legend of Dumpster the Stadium Cat continues to grow!

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Who is CatDog?

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Dan vs. Dave, Soak and Wade

As part of my unwavering commitment to always be several months behind when it comes to delivering blog content, today’s post returns to a topic that was first touched upon last week: Olympics-themed Minor League Baseball promotions!

That’s what you’re all here for, right? Then let’s do this!

In Eastlake, Ohio, the Lake County Captains satiated our nation’s pent-up desire for 1992 sneaker commercial nostalgia by staging their own version of Reebok’s Dan vs. Dave campaign. This time around, the Dan and Dave in question were Captains account executives Dan Torf and David Kodish.

Captains assistant general manager Neil Stein has more info, because of course he does:

[R]emember the 1992 Dan vs. Dave ad campaign for Reebok when those two were qualifying for the Decathalon….We decided to do our own Dan vs. Dave promo in honor of the Olympics, [beginning] when the opening ceremonies began. The two guys are competing in a Heptathalon (one event in 7 different games while the Olympics are taking place – that’s all we have at home during the Olympics). 

The resulting images were fairly ridiculous. Let’s all take a look, together as one.

While I’m not sure of the myriad twists and turns that led to the final outcome, let it be known that it was Dan Torf who emerged victorious. Here he is speaking with Grover, one of the most ebullient MCs in the biz.

Let’s just keep on rolling, because there’s always more to write about. If you have a moment to relax for a little bit, then take a deep breath and watch this stirring tribute to Mobile BayBears batboy Wade Vadakin. On July 21st, Wade worked his 1000th (!) game for the BayBears, and the team made sure that his accomplishment received ample recognition.

We have not hit upon my secret self-imposed word limit quite yet! Therefore, let’s take a look at a late-season Delmarva Shorebirds innovation. The team partnered with sponsor Pool Tech, Inc. and installed a hot tub seating area down the third base line. Fans vied for the chance to sit in the hot tub during the game via a Facebook contest, and judging by the picture below it looks like Randy Newman may have been one of the chosen few.

This is not the first time I’ve written about hot tubs at Minor League ballparks, but I can’t recall any other teams that did this in 2012. Prove me wrong, please. Or prove me right. At this point in the calendar year, all that really matters is that someone takes the time to momentarily validate my existence.

And with that gratuitous sentence, I have now exceeded my self-imposed word count. Thanks, as always, for tolerating the barely-suppressed series of OCD rituals that is this blog.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

And I Was Like “Bay Bay Bay Bay Bay Bay”

The latest and therefore greatest era in Southern League history kicked off last night, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos played the first game of their incipient existence. And while you’d think the team hasn’t been around long enough to have any enemies, you’d be wrong.

Pensacola is the proverbial hop, skip, and a jump away from Mobile, home of the BayBears, and proximity breeds contempt. This contempt has now manifested itself in the form of the “Bay to Bay Series.

Sez the press release:

The Mobile BayBears and Pensacola Blue Wahoos are proud to announce their rivalry in the inaugural “Bay to Bay Series.” Fans can expect several rivalry themed events at both ballparks this year, including BayBears fans versus Blue Wahoos fans in-game contests, promotions and series leader boards.

The Bay-to-Bay Series is the very first joint-sponsored, event-based rivalry program in Minor League Baseball. Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile and Maritime Park in Pensacola are just one hour apart from each other.

The uber-snazzy logo seen above was designed by Brandiose, who were responsible for both teams’ logos in the first place. I do wonder, however, if Mobile fans are upset that Pensacola is the “home” team while the BayBears are clearly “second”ary.

You may remember a recent post in which I heaped praise upon the Charleston RiverDogs for their latest “Be Your Own Fan” initiative, featuring marketing initiatives geared to nine unique groups of fans. The Fort Myers Miracle, who are part of the same ownership group, have now done the same.

The eight categories of Miracle fans are as follows: the prospect, the fanatic, the family, the foodie, the brewskie, the retiree, the opportunist and the event seeker.Here’s how it looks, in action:

And now that it’s a new season, I imagine that you may need something new to read (that reasoning doesn’t really make sense, but just bear with me).

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ broadcasting/blogging dean Chris Mehring has posted his club’s 2012 intro songs. These posts are always a fascinating glimpse of the zeitgeist, and illustrate the diverse backgrounds of Minor League players.  (I do find it hard to believe that Seth Miller chose “What Is Love” on his own volition, however. And, for what it’s worth, I find “Narcissistic Cannibal” to be a far better song title than actual song.)

Meanwhile, from Kentucky, we have the what I believe to be the first blog from a Minor League host mother perspective. Check it out, while I sit here and wish that there was a similar program for underachieving bloggers.

I’ll close with — what else? — dessert. These “Mini Apple Pie Bites” are available for consumption at Toledo Mud Hens games this season.

Baseball sold separately.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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