Results tagged ‘ Myrtle Beach Pelicans ’

Calling an Audible, in Blog Form

That last little run of “Return to the Road” posts was a pleasant diversion, and I hope to do it again in the near future (highlighting material from August’s trip to the West Coast). But, first, a more pressing concern: It is now time to plan 2014’s road trip itinerary, which means these offseason doldrums will soon be a thing of the past.

Cheer up, Spring is coming!

Fat3

I have a few road trip ideas in mind and  a few potential itineraries sketched out, but I would like your input as well. So, pitch me! My number one priority when it comes to these trips is to get unique and interesting material that will appeal to as many people as possible. (Ridiculousness is encouraged, but not mandatory.) So if YOUR team is planning something unique and interesting  that could result in great material for this blog and MiLB.com, then please let me know about it. Invite me out to the ballpark, and tell me about ways I can immerse myself in your interesting and unique ballpark experience. If I can work it into my schedule — time and money are finite resources at the moment — I will!

Please get in touch benjamin.hill@mlb.com. I thank you in advance; we now return to regularly-scheduled blog programming….

Russell Wilson is not only the quarterback of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, he is also a former Minor League Baseball player. The Texas Rangers acquired him from the Colorado Rockies in December’s Rule 5 Draft, and now one Rangers affiliate is doing everything they can to lure him back to the Minors. That team would be the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

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The gist of it is that if Wilson agrees to play a game as a member of the Pelicans, then the Pelicans will donate $10,000 to charity. For more information, please consult this video (warning: video contains copious footage of a shirtless general manager).

In other Super Bowl-related promo news: fresh off of their “Omaha! Omaha!” ticket initiative, the Omaha Storm Chasers announced the following promotion:

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Omaha and Peyton Manning have been connected in the news for the past three weeks, but besides general promotion for the city, Omaha sports fans have not had a reason to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Omaha Storm Chasers are attempting to add that rooting interest by offering 1,800 complimentary ticket vouchers to their July 6th game with Colorado Springs if the Broncos win the big game.

The Broncos did not win the big game, of course. Not by a long shot. Nonetheless, the Storm Chasers still gave away 480 tickets in honor of the debacle that was Super Bowl XLVIII.

480

And then, finally, there’s this. Let it be known that the Weasel approves of the Pacific Coast League’s newest entrant.

Nothing can top that bit of news. I’ll Encino you all later.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

2013 Promotions: Strange Combinations

Over the past two weeks I have spent a heroic amount of time combing through the promotional schedules of Minor League full season teams, in search of the best, brightest, weirdest and wackiest innovations that will be on offer during the 2013 campaign.

As always, this was a LOT of information to digest, especially since there are many teams that schedule multiple promotions for each and every contest. Such promo overload is the inevitable result of the industry’s never-ending quest to be all things to all people, and as an added bonus it sometimes provides unintentional comedy fodder. (The best example of this comes courtesy of an Eastern League club that shall remain anonymous, who in 2011 scheduled “Tribute to Michael Jackson” on the same evening as “Boy Scout Sleepover Night.”)

What follows is a brief list of absurd and/or incongruous promo combinations scheduled for the 2013 season. Maybe one of them will be incongruously taking place at a ballpark near you! (And, of course, if you have further examples then please send ’em my way.)

Akron Aeros — International Juggler’s Day/Thirsty Thursday

This can’t end well.

Kannapolis Intimidators — $2 16 oz Budweiser drafts/Operation Family Time (May 17)

Spending time with the family can be stressful, but the Intimidators are offering a way to take the edge off.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Hangover Night/Thirsty Thursday (May 23)

Seems like “Hangover Night” would make more sense on May 24th…

Omaha Storm Chasers — Superhero Cape Giveaway/Diaper Derby (June 8)

Perhaps unprepared Diaper Derby participants could just use the cape?

Lakewood BlueClaws — Cecil Fielder Appearance/Wing Fling (June 12)

cecil-fielder-95

While perhaps not quite as rotund as his immodestly-named son, Tigers slugger Prince, there’s no denying that Cecil Fielder was one of the largest individuals to ever don a Major League uniform. He’s scheduled to sign autographs at Lakewood’s FirstEnergy Park on June 12, during which the BlueClaws will also be staging a “Wing Fling.” Local restaurateurs will compete in a “best wing” contest, and it seems to me that Cecil would be the perfect judge. And if he’s moved to participate in the scheduled “wing-eating contest”? Forget about it…

Quad Cities River Bandits — “Ghost Rider” Cowboy Monkeys/John Deere Night (June 15)

The Cowboy Monkeys usually ride border collies, but perhaps on this special evening they could ride a tractor instead.

Frederick Keys — Meet the Team/Pajama Night (June 23)

Finally — a socially acceptable way to mingle with professional athletes in an outdoor setting while wearing a bathrobe.

Frederick Keys — Military and Civilians Night (July 31st)

Or, as I like to call it — “Everybody Night.”

Hickory Crawdads — Kids Run the Show/Unemployment Night (August 7)

Well, yeah — when kids are running the show then the adults are out of a job!

I’ve got plenty more where this came from, and I’m sorry if that sounds like a threat.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Harlem Shake: A Minor Overview

Introductory paragraphs within this blog forum can sometimes be needlessly circuitous, steeped as they are in obscure references and acute self-consciousness. But not today. Today, we cut to the chase:

What follows is a comprehensive round-up of Harlem Shake videos produced by Minor League teams. 

Yes, you’re probably sick of the Harlem Shake at this point. I am too. But let’s take the long view, as historians with an interest in baseball history, viral fads and the intersection of the two will no doubt delight in stumbling upon this post at some at some unknown moment in the distant future. I am doing this for you, future historians! I always am. For it is you who will ensure my legacy.

Plus, you’ve gotta admit — Minor League teams, with their easy access to supply closets full of banana suits and inflatable ponies, make better Harlem Shake videos than most. So here we go! In no particular order, here are two dozen Harlem Shake videos produced by professional baseball teams in possession of a formal affiliation with a Major League club.

Frederick Keys — Apparently a big-headed reincarnation of Francis Scott Key regularly sits in on front office meetings:

Columbus Clippers — Warning! Includes bear-on-frankfurter violence that may be unsettling to younger viewers:

Bowie Baysox — A toothbrush can’t dance? I bristle at such a notion:

Lexington Legends — Mister would you please stop punching that pony? WATCH ON FACEBOOK.

Vancouver Canadians — As if any proof was needed that this was an international phenomenon:

Fort Wayne Tincaps — A solitary pothead gives way to a banana who loves the queen of hearts.

Lake Elsinore Storm — Yes that is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the dugout, and yes he is happy to see you:

Corpus Christi Hooks — Can’t a man bike through the office in peace? WATCH ON MILB.COM

Tulsa Drillers — Hey, no dogs in the swimming pool!

Gwinnett Braves — Team store? More like surreal fever dream store!

New Hampshire Fisher Cats — Fungo and friends “rose” to the occasion:

Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Give peas a chance. WATCH ON MILB.COM

Buffalo Bisons — Vest-wearing gentleman on the right is my favorite individual to appear in any Harlem Shake video:

Charlotte Stone Crabs — What’s to stop the Incredible Hulk from wearing a sombrero?

Fresno Grizzlies — Forget this faddish viral bastardization. Parker knows how to do the REAL Harlem Shake. WATCH ON VINE. 

Louisville Bats — This takes place in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It will blow your mind.

Bowling Green Hot Rods — I guess you could say that Axle rose to the occasion.

Delmarva Shorebirds — The Shake so nice they did it twice.

Springfield Cardinals — You know what? This is probably the  best one out of all of ’em.

Round Rock Express — All bobblehead version!

Connecticut Tigers — Shout it from the rooftop!

And, finally, there are the State College Spikes. The first Minor League team to post a Harlem Shake video, and the last to be featured in this post:

EDIT! 

Two latecomers have entered the fray!

Orem Owlz — Holly, the Owlz pregnant mascot, wisely sat this one out.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Fans of multi-colored crustacean triumvirates rejoice!

And that’s all she wrote, folks. “She” being me, of course. I am a man. A 34-year-old man. A man who is perhaps too old to be providing you with diversions such as the above. But yet I do, and yet I did.

Do not forsake me, future historians! I do not want to believe that this has all been in vain.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Ripped From the Headlines

It can be tough to stand out within this oversaturated media landscape that we all find ourselves immersed in, but Minor League teams have become particularly adept at doing just this via the tried and true tradition of riffing on newsworthy events. In this post, please find a few offseason examples of relatively recent vintage.

Please!

Inland Empire 66ers —  Farewell to Twinkies Night

twinks

In the wake of the news that Hostess was shutting down its operations, the 66ers leaped into action and secured 1000 Twinkies before they disappeared from the shelves. With snack cakes secured, they then announced that April 5 will be “Farewell to Twinkies Night.” Per the team:

The first 999 fans in attendance will receive a free Twinkie; however there will be a silent auction for the final Twinkie to be awarded during the seventh inning stretch with proceeds going to charity.

But, of course, that’s not all:

The organization has also extended an offer to actor Woody Harrelson, who in 2009, starred as the Twinkie obsessed Tallahassee in the zombie comedy, Zombieland, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Beyond the invitation to Harrelson, the 66ers have also contacted Hostess about featuring Twinkie the Kid, Hostess’s well known mascot, in the Mascot Dash vs. the team’s own Bernie.

Hickory Crawdads — The Mayans Got It Wrong

mayanzwrong

In the wake of the world continuing on as usual post 12/21/12, the Crawdads decided that a ticket-related celebration was in order. Explained the team:

Being as we’re jubilant with relief that the earth is still spinning, the ‘Dads are offering all fans FREE Grandstand Tickets for The Mayans Got it Wrong Night on April 8.

“As part of last year’s May Mayan Mayhem promotion, we were prepared to give everyone a free season ticket for life if the world did end today,” said Crawdads Director of Promotions Jared Weymier. “But we think free tickets on April 8 AND the world not ending is a pretty good combination!”

The Crawdads are also to be commended for this out-of-left-field press release, issued in the wake of the news that New York Jets superfan Fireman Ed was retiring from going to games.

ed

In light of former New York Jets Superfan Ed “Fireman Ed” Anzalone declaring this week that he will retire from going to Jets games, the Hickory Crawdads are formally inviting him to become the new Official Superfan of the Crawdads.

Fireman Ed cited increasing confrontations with other Jets fans at Metlife Stadium as the reason why he is retiring from attending Jets games and leading their faithful in his renowned “J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets” chant. With the family-friendly atmosphere at Crawdads games, as well as the ‘Dads long-standing appreciation of firemen and all emergency responders, L.P. Frans Stadium is the perfect location for Ed to retire.

As part of becoming the Official Superfan of the Crawdads, the ‘Dads are offering Fireman Ed a free season ticket and parking pass for life, a customized Crawdads fireman’s hat and a personalized Crawdads jersey that no one will ever negatively confront him for wearing. Fireman Ed will have free reign to lead Crawdads fans in whatever chant he chooses – after all, “D-A-D-S, Dads Dads Dads” has a good ring to it!

Finally, we have this press release masterpiece from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, in which they wax indignant about New Orleans’ basketball team “copying” their name.

pelly

I’m just going to go ahead and drop a massive chunk of cut and pasted text right here. Myrtle Beach earned it with this one:

Inspired by the mind-numbing creativity shown by the NBA’s New Orleans franchise in recently announcing a surprise and out-of-left field (pun intended) name change from Hornets to Pelicans, Minor League Baseball’s Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Pelicans, the Advanced Class-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, are asking their fans to consider a sweeping re-branding and promotional effort, effective for the 2013 Carolina League season.

The re-branding and promotional plan would not only pay homage to everything New Orleans, but would provide Minor League Baseball fans from the Grand Strand an opportunity not extended to basketball fans in Louisiana — participating in selecting the team’s new nickname. Using the same level of out-of-the-box thinking used by the Hornets, nickname choices have been narrowed to Saints, Hornets, Jazz, Bayou Bengals, Ragin’ Cajuns and Voodoo, along with any other current or former sports nickname the club could poach from the Bayou State.

The re-branding plan has already affected the team’s organizational structure. Current General Manager Scott Brown, the reigning Carolina League Executive of the Year, is so inspired by the idea that he has decided to re-trace the Hornets past history and move he and his family to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he will become the General Manager of that city’s Triple-A franchise. The Hornets called Charlotte home from 1988-2002.

If fans select choose to drop the Pelicans name in favor of a New Orleans-themed moniker, the club will institute of a series of NOLA-themed promotions and ballpark changes to complement the club’s new brand:

  • The team’s home ballpark would be renamed “TicketReturn.com Field at Preservation Hall”
  • Areas of the ballpark would also be re-branded. The pond in the parking lot would be called “Lake Pontchartrain”, while patrons entering ballpark restroom facilities would be taking their personal business to the “French Quarter”
  • The club would petition city and county officials to rename streets and landmarks around the area. 21st Avenue North, which runs along the ballpark, would be called “St. Charles Avenue,” Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach’s entertainment hot spot, would become “Bourbon Street,” and, boldy, the team would call its home county “Horry Parrish.”
  • The logo of the new team name would include a fleur de lis, much in the same fashion as the current logo, which incorporates a crescent-shaped moon in the background.
  • A different NOLA-themed promotion for every day of the week would be incorporated. The lineup would feature Mardi Gras Mondays, Fat Tuesdays, Wet Wednesdays (featuring 1/2 price hurricane drinks), Thirsty Thursday (featuring Creole Bloody Marys), Big Easy Fridays (featuring the music of Al Hirt, Louis Armstrong, Aaron Neville and other New Orleans legends), Sazerac Saturdays and Voodoo Sundays (Details currently under development).
  • The team’s game night entertainment would also reflect the newly-created team image. The club’s entertainment staff would be known as the “Promotional Krewe”, jazz music would serve as player at-bat songs, legendary political strategist James Carville would be invited to serve as one of the team’s radio announcers, and the playing of the Smokey and the Bandit theme song during the 7th Inning Stretch would be replaced by “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
  • Saints quarterback Drew Brees would be invited to toss out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2013 season and a season-long “Superdome” promotion would be instituted, providing ticket discounts to anyone with a “bald dome.”
  • TicketReturn.com Field at Preservation Hall concession stands would offer traditional New Orleans foods such as poboys, crawfish, jambalaya and gumbo with classic side dishes such as red beans and rice.
  • Team merchandise would obviously include team beads, as well as NOLA-themed t-shirts, and plush dolls of mascot Splash would be turned into Voodoo dolls

If you are aware of other teams displaying a similarly Peli-can do spirit, then get in touch.

This has been Ben’s Biz Blog post #900 — here’s to more, but hopefully not 900 more. That would be overkill.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Stand in the Place Where You Work

Professional baseball bullpens have long been breeding grounds for eccentric behavior and bizarre rituals and, really, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Leave a group of bored young men to their own devices and spitting contests, impenetrable slang words and, yes, even lizard eating will result.

One particular bullpen competition that really seemed to take off this season was the in-game standing contest. The premise is simple: starting with the National Anthem, one (or more) players from each team’s bullpen attempts to stand at attention for the duration of the contest and beyond. This simultaneous exercise in endurance and absurdity was first brought to my attention via an excellent Myrtle Beach Pelicans blog post, and later in the season the Lowell Spinners produced a video that chronicled their standoff versus the State College Spikes.

Yet another standoff occurred on August 25, this time featuring the Lancaster JetHawks and visiting Lake Elsinore Storm. The following day I got an email from JetHawks director of sales and marketing Will Thornhill, who wrote in part:

[F]ollowing the National Anthem last night nobody in either the JetHawks or Storm Bullpen sat down.  After a couple innings we figured something was going on. Eventually only one player remained standing in each bullpen and it lasted throughout the ENTIRE game.  The Standoff continued 45 minutes after the game and both players were eventually carried out to center field where they negotiated a continuation….By the end of the game all of the fans sitting behind the JetHawks bullpen were standing as well, and when the game ended about 50 fans made their way to the bullpen and stood behind our pitcher.

The last JetHawk standing was Zack Grimmett, who for reasons lost to the annals of time conceded the stand-off during the first inning of the following day’s ballgame. Also lost to time was the name of his Lake Elsinore adversary [this info has since been regained from the annals of time. It was Mark Pope] — this all happened back in August and who among us can remember what happened back in August?

But to the extent that I can record this stand-off for posterity, I will. For while not necessarily of the best quality, some photos eventually emerged and I feel that it is my duty to share them with you. Italicized text is of the descriptive variety, and courtesy of JetHawks sales executive Jenn Adamczyk.

[I] first noticed stand-off while waiting for the [mascot] race to start. All but one or two in the JetHawks bullpen were standing. The Storm had one guy still up.

Later in the game — down to one JetHawks player and one Storm player

Post game; fans started crowding around the JetHawks player, cheering him on

Teammates carry both players from the bullpens to center field. At this point the clubbies from both teams brought the players dinner and were feeding them.

Other guys started playing [the card game] War on the field

End of the stand-off, called a truce. Both went home.

Truly, this was a classic moment in California League history. And since I’m still sitting here typing, I may as well take this opportunity to highlight my own moment in baseball stand-off history. Prior to the 2009 season, I traveled to Altoona and took past in the Curve’s “Last Fan Standing” competition. My mission was to keep one hand upon Diesel Dawg at all times.

I lasted 14 hours — good, but not nearly good enough. Story of my life.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Deep-Fried, Bacon-Wrapped, and Uplifting

When I wrote my celiac disease “coming out” post back in early July, I made clear that I was still ready, willing and able to post any and all Minor League food pictures on this blog. But actions speak louder than words, so let’s kick off today’s post with some deep-fried photography of a decidedly gluten-ous/gluttonous bent.

That would be a fried Snickers bar, just one of many delectable offerings that the Charlotte Knights served as part of a “Fried-day” promotion they ran this summer. The team also served fried Oreos.

And fried S’mores were also on the agenda.


And, yes, fried Zingers.

Knights media relations director Tommy Viola reported that the “Fried-day” items “sold like hotcakes,” leading him to then wonder “Hmm, maybe we should try fried hot cakes.”

A decidedly less appetizing and far more ridiculous food-related item emerged in Fort Myers last month, as the Miracle staged a “Salute to Bacon” promotion. As part of the festivities, the balls used for the evening’s ceremonial first pitch looked like this.

When I posted this picture on Twitter, it inspired former Iowa Cubs media relations director/current PR professional Andrea Breen to get in touch. She wanted to let me know that this item was being sold at the Iowa State Fair:

This delectable item was sold by vendor The Bird’s Nest, and described as follows:

The Bacon Wrapped Eggs is muffin-sized and has a layer of pancake batter, crumbled bacon, a cracked egg surrounded by another strip of bacon, then topped with cheese and cooked to perfection. It will be sold for $2.50.

There’s only one possible transition that I can think of at this point, and that is, of course, to write about sports bras. Last month, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans gave them away as part of a “Ladies Night” promotion. Take it away, press release:

Run support won’t be the only thing providing a lift at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark Thursday Night.  It’s Ladies’ Night and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans are giving away sports bras, courtesy of Carolina Coastal Plastic Surgery, to the first 200 women 18 and over.

With new sports bras in hand, ladies can then bid on “dates” with eligible members of the Pelicans front office.  All proceeds will benefit the Bruce Dal Canton Fund to support students higher education goals in Horry County.  Winning bidders can date their staff member for the last few innings of the game and then receive a prize pack including movie tickets for a real date night.  Whether or not winners take their Pelicans staff members on those dates is up to them.  In the history of Ladies’ Night, no staffer has been lucky enough for a second date.

While I don’t have any photographs of the sports bras that were given away, let it be known that “Bachelor Quattro” was very much in demand.

Okay, that’s it for me today. I wish I could end with a Zinger, something that would make you Snicker, but I just don’t have any S’more.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Wearing Your Guitar On Your Sleeve, and Other Innovations

I’ve got a healthy-sized stash of odds and ends Florida road trip content, and I’ll get to it as soon as I possibly can. But today’s post will be a good ol’ fashioned bouillabaisse (a word that I can no longer spell on the first attempt) featuring a mere fraction of the Minor League happenings that are fit to “print”. I can only do so much.

Let’s start with the Stockton Ports, who last season found success with their Rolling Stones theme jerseys. This year’s honoree was Johnny Cash, and the team wore — what else? — black jerseys.

Rickey Henderson, in town as an Oakland A’s roving instructor, was into it:

James Garner and his Cash tribute band provided the entertainment, and according to Ports director of marketing Jeremy Neisser they were “unbelievably amazing.”

Jerseys were auctioned off after the game, right off of the backs of those who wore them:

And, finally, what would such a promotion be without themed head shots?

It would be nothing, I tell you. Absolutely nothing.

Meanwhile, in Rochester, there’s a whole lot of something going on. The Red Wings have proclaimed that May is Baseball Month at Frontier Field, and for good reason: 27 games will be played there this month! (Including a sold-out Andy Pettitte rehab start that was moved to Frontier Field from its originally scheduled location of Batavia’s Dwyer Stadium.)

Explains the team:

The Red Wings in 2012 are sharing Frontier Field with the Empire State Yankees while their home of PNC Field in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre undergoes a season-long renovation. A total of 109 games will be played at Frontier Field in 2012.

“The only thing better than baseball is more baseball,” said Red Wings President/CEO Naomi Silver. “This unique season, and month, is one we’ll be taking about for years to come. Everyone will want to say they were a part of it.”

To encourage as many people to take part as possible, the team is incentivizing attendance throughout the month of May (despite spell-check informing me that “incentivizing” is not a word).

Fans attending one game a week during Baseball Month in Rochester will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win the grand prize of a one-year lease on a 2012 Toyota Camry.

Other prizes include lunch with Red Wings coaching staff, spending an inning in the broadcast booth, a team-signed jersey, and much more.

Let’s end with a picture of food! The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are serving “Chicken Bog Balls” at the ballpark this year, which really should be endorsed by legendary poultry consumer Wade Boggs.

Read all about Bog Balls here, and tell ’em Ben’s Biz sent ya. Assuming, that is, that someone asks.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Minor League MegaBytes!

Tuesday’s post began with the Erie SeaWolves and their quest to name a nine-foot tall inflatable fish. But exercises in the assignation of aquatic monikers are certainly not exclusive to remote corners of the Keystone State.

In Pensacola, the fledgling Blue Wahoos are currently staging a “Name the Mascot” contest. I’m not sure if this mascot is himself a fish, but at the very least his silhouette looks a tad platypus-ian.

The six finalists are as follows: The six finalists are: Blu, Capt. Catch, Salty, Sinker, Ono (Hawaiian for Wahoo), Kazoo.

I’d advise against the name Ono, because then the mascot will immediately be blamed if the team stops functioning well as a group. (Although, the team could give away “Plastic Ono” figurines).

Moving on to another news item with aquatic undertones — Did you know that season 3 of the HBO show Eastbound and Down was filmed in Myrtle Beach, with baseball scenes taking place at Pelicans stadium? It’s true, and the Pelicans are capitalizing by selling “Myrtle Beach Mermen” merchandise (or “Mermerch,” as I like to call it). 

Officially licensed “Mermerch” is also available at myrtlebeachmermenjerseys.com, a site that gets extra alliteration points for referring to Mr. Powers as “mercurial.” Visitors to the site are greeted with the following image, which looks like a hallucinating sailor’s interpretation of a ’70s era Seattle Mariners logo:

The show wrapped up filming for the third season just last month, and Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett spent some time on the set as an extra:

Extra! Extra!

Godett thoroughly recapped the experience on his blog, which can be seen HERE.

As you can see, the crowd was really into it:

While MB Mermen gear is all well and good, it’s another piece of MB clothing that really has caught my attention.

The Montgomery Biscuits are now offering this spiffy little number in adult sizes.

Butter Up!

People are giving Bill Simmons flak because he didn’t wear a tie when he interviewed Obama, but it is my promise to you that if I ever snag a POTUS exclusive I will show up at the White House wearing the above item (also: a fanny pack, flip flops, Akron Aeros gym shorts, and a Reading Phillies’ Richie Ashburn-style fedora. I’ve got this all planned out).

And since I’m on the “MB” theme (I didn’t plan on this theme, it’s just that my mind cannot be stopped and is in fact threatening to eat me alive as if I was some sort of anthropomorphic biscuit), my latest Minoring in Business article appeared today on MiLB.com.

It’s on the Florida State League and Spring Training, and can be seen HERE.

Next week I plan to get a bit more substantive on the blog — as it’s 2012 planning time! As always, I look forward to your suggestions as to where I should go and why.

But, for now, I’ll close this blogging week by providing an  happy update on a tragic situation from a few weeks back.

Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder’s stolen quad has been recovered!

Reports the team:

Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder is happy to have his quad back but it looks like it will need a little bit of help before he can come roaring out for game day festivities.
Last Wednesday, the team filed a police report with the local sheriff’s department that the mascot’s quad had been stolen.
After Director of Mascot Operations Patrick Gardenier retrieved the quad from the Riverside Sheriff’s station on Sunday it was found to be a bit more damaged than expected.
“They painted it all black and walked away with the ignition, the tail light, and the wheels are not aligned properly,” said Gardenier. “I hope we can get it fixed in time for the Major League exhibition game.”

In honor of this positive development, I would suggest that the Storm offer a special four-game “Quad Ticket Pack.” A portion of each sales will go to Thunder’s quad refurbishment.

And with that, another Minor League promo idea disappears into the Biz Blog vortex. Never to be spoken of again.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Year in Ballpark Food, Part II

Yesterday’s culinary compendium included copious coverage of ballpark food and regional cuisine, focusing on trips I made to Arizona, California, Ohio and Indiana.

The journey continues today, with a heavy emphasis on what may have been my favorite road trip of 2011: the Carolinas. It all started at Joseph P. Riley ballpark, the home of the Charleston RiverDogs. This is a team that has provided me with plenty of food-based news items through the years (Homewreckers! Pickle Dogs! Pig On A Stick!), and I was excited to finally make my first visit.

The team was ready for me.

Back Row: Pickle Dog, Boiled Peanuts, Palmetto Beer, Kitchen Sink Nachos Front Row: Pimento Pickle Burger, RiverDog (topped with cole slaw, mustard-based BBQ sauce, pickled okra), Pig on a Stick (foot-long corn dog wrapped in bacon).

Not the best photo, I know, but hopefully indicative of the RiverDogs’ bountiful array of creative food options. Oh, and a Philly Cheesesteak Brat eventually made an appearance.

Here’s a better view of the top-loaded “Kitchen Sink Nachos,” which are served in a pizza box.

But I focused my efforts primarily on the Pickle Dog, making sure to grip the pickle firmly from the rear so that the hot dog would not slip out.

The next day I drove to Myrtle Beach (home of both the Pelicans and the Mermen),  and en route I stopped for lunch at “Hog Heaven BBQ.” Apparently, what passes for heaven in the mind of a pig is an afterlife of eternal cannibalization.

Dismayed and confused by this concept, I instead opted for some crab.


I was admonished by various quarters for ordering seafood at a BBQ joint, and I understand those criticisms. But here in NYC a platter such as the above is (relatively) hard to come by, and I have no regrets. None!

I stayed with the seafood theme at that night’s Pelicans game, ordering up some fried clams.

The following afternoon, en route to Kinston, I went to a BBQ joint and actually ordered some BBQ. Bart’s was the name.

BBQ pork platter, with hush puppies, french fries, cole slaw and a personal pitcher of sweet tea

At Grainger Stadium that evening, I followed the recommendation of GM Ben Jones and ordered a Philly Cheese Steak, North Carolina style. “Magnifique!” is what I imagine a French fan of Carolina League baseball would say upon biting into the following:

Are there any French fans of Minor League Baseball out there? What a rare subset of fans that must be.

Much less rare is the sight of a Bojangles fried chicken joint in the state of North Carolina. As I was making my way from Kinston to Durham, I patronized the following establishment.

Being a man of perpetual movement, at that night’s Durham Bulls game I ordered a Doritos-brand “Walking Taco.”

That’s nacho typical taco, but it provided all the sustenance I needed until the following morning’s stop at Biscuitville.

Less than two hours later, I patronized another regional fast food chain: Cookout. I’ve since heard from many Cookout aficionados, all of whom insisted that milkshakes should be purchased. Duly noted, but this time around I ended up with a Cheerwine float.

One of the highlights of the following day’s travels was lunch at Zack’s Hot Dogs, a Burlington, N.C. institution.

Since I’m always a proponent of a balanced and healthy diet, the hot dog lunch was followed by a bologna burger at that evening’s Danville Braves game.

The last stop on the Carolina excursion was Winston-Salem. A pre-game meal was obtained a Bibb’s BBQ, located a proverbial hop, skip, and jump away from BB&T Ballpark (domicile of the Dash). And what a meal it was:

That’s about all she wrote from the Carolinas; but fortunately I was able to squeeze one more trip into the 2011 campaign: Maryland, home of the crab pretzel!

More specifically, the home of the cheese and crustacean-laden snack seen above was Aberdeen’s Ripken Stadium.  But perhaps an even more anomalous ballpark treat is that which can be found at Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium: pickled beet eggs!

The Hagerstown Suns experienced some drama this past season, when a light pole fell onto the field during a storm. This is where the light pole used to stand…or is it? Maybe this mark was made by a huge pickled egg!

Or maybe a huge Krumpe’s donut used to lie on that spot! After the game I went to nearby Krumpe’s Do-Nuts (open 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.) and picked up a few.

My trip, as well as my season of traveling, ended the next day in Delmarva. Needless to say, I did not leave Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on an empty stomach.

That was dinner, consisting of a “Chessie Dog” (half-pound frank with cheese, onions, peppers), Crab Dip (with three bread dipping sticks), and a Scrapple sandwich. But there’s always room for dessert, especially when it’s as appealing as the concoction known as “Sherman’s Gelati.”

And that, as they say, was that. I hope you enjoyed, or at least tolerated, this trip down recent memory lane. It provided me yet another opportunity to revive a season which is in actuality dead as the proverbial doornail, and for that I am grateful.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Recapping A Confabulous Weekend in Myrtle Beach

As mentioned in the previous post on the blog, I spent this past weekend at the 2011 Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar in Myrtle Beach.

The above photo encapsulates why it can be difficult to cover these sort of events: pictures of hotel conference rooms trade show mingling just aren’t very exciting. Nonetheless, it’s important for me to socialize with those in the industry, and to get a gauge on promotional techniques and concepts that may be popular in 2012 and beyond.

I wrote about the seminar in two MiLB stories, which can be found HERE and HERE. Unbiased third parties report that interesting information abounds in these fact-laden Myrtle Beach missives.

One of the topics touched upon is the Lake Elsinore Storm’s Grounds Crew Gorilla, winner of the 2011 “Golden Bobblehead” for “best in-game promotion.” The Gorilla made a cameo appearance at the seminar, attacking attendees with pool noodles and overturning the speaker’s table. My best attempt to document this chaotic moment:

Certainly, the Grounds Crew Gorilla was one of the highlights of my May visit to a  Lake Elsinore Storm game.

Meanwhile, at the Trade Show, Trampolines USA was selling their “Pony Hops.” These things swept through the Minor League landscape last season, and I imagine that there will be even more teams using them in 2012.

The roster of the mighty Skillville Group was on display as well, bathed in beatific blue light.

But I think this mascot was my favorite part of the trade show, a costumed creature available to the highest bidder during Saturday night’s silent auction.

At the time I took this picture, the Danville Braves were the highest (and only) bidder. I’ll have to check to see if they won, because I’d love to see this dazed and confused character at an Appalachian League baseball game.

On Sunday night, there was an industry outing to Ripken Baseball’s Myrtle Beach Baseball complex. My lens was dirty in the following photo, but I like the effect.

This marks the second time this month I was at a Ripken Baseball youth complex, with my first outing taking place in conjunction with an Aberdeen IronBirds game.

According to my hastily-scribbled notes (the only kind of notes I’ve ever made), the Myrtle Beach complex is a 10-month a year operation and devoted almost exclusively to youth, high school and collegiate baseball tournaments. There are three regulation-sized diamonds and five youth size, all on synthetic turf.

Here’s Griffith Field, where an estimated 2500 games have been played over the past six years.

All synthetic everything, even the “dirt.”

A few more shots of the surroundings, some of them taken from the back of a moving golf cart.

From there the festivities moved on to Myrtle Beach’s BB&T Coastal Ballpark, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. I had visited there in late July, but was happy to be back.

Upon entering, we were greeted with some very welcome sights.

1. Popcorn and boiled peanuts!

My two best friends

2. Beer, as poured through the Bottoms Up beer dispenser (yes, they fill from the bottom. Magnets are key). Needless to say this was good marketing, using this product in full view of curious (and endlessly thirsty) industry decision-makers.

You may recall that when I was in Myrtle Beach I interviewed noted groundskeeper Chris “Butter” Ball, during which he observed that he keeps “extreme banker’s hours” in the offseason.

Well, this offseason might be a little different:

Coming in 2012: New Playing Surface!

A buffet-style meal was set up in the right field picnic area, while down the left field line attendees could play corn hole and test their arms at the speed pitch.

As is too often the case, the demands of attending and covering an event such as the seminar leaves little time for exploring the area. But I’d like to close with this shot, as it features a business that has found a way to carry on amidst Myrtle Beach’s proliferation of neon-hued dining palaces and soul-destroying theme bars.

Harry’s Breakfast Pancakes — RIP Harry!

Next time I got to Myrtle Beach, this will be first on my list of places to check out.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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