Results tagged ‘ Offseason Events ’
Hello, and Happy 2008 from all of us here at Ben’s Biz Blog (me). The Holiday season has come and gone, but there is no time to stop and lament this fact. No! For a new season is now upon us. For lack of a better term, we’ll call it the Hot Stove Season.
In the Major Leagues, "Hot Stove" has become a commonly used slang term for offseason player transactions. But in the Minor Leagues, Hot Stove Season is something else entirely. It is that magical time of year when teams host their annual "Hot Stove" Dinners, which give fans the chance to mingle with celebrity baseball guests in the dead of winter. The proceeds often go to charity, but teams are able to profit in a different manner, as "Hot Stove" events are a time-tested way to put the team in the public eye during the long, cold offseason, and serve as a means to get everyone thinking about baseball again. After all, the cruel and unyielding passage of time will soon result in it being April once again.
In honor of the Hot Stove events that will soon be taking place around the Minors (the first of which I am aware of is on January 5 in Syracuse), I now present the first-ever Ben’s Biz Blog quiz. All you, the reader, need to do is match up the team with one of its scheduled Hot Stove celebrity guests. The first person to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) the correct answers will win a prize pack consisting of items that I have found lying around MiLB.com headquarters, such as a camouflage Minor League Promotional Seminar outdoor cap. Contest is not open to friends and family of Ben’s Biz Blog, thereby eliminating 90% of my prospective respondents.
1. Clinton LumberKings A. Bobby Richardson 2. Cedar Rapids Kernels B. Mike Veeck
3. Williamsport Crosscutters C. Bill Madlock
4. Syracuse Chiefs D. Johnny Pesky
5. New Hampshire Fisher Cats E. Bobby Cox
6. Winston-Salem Wart Hogs F. Kyle Kendrick
7. Kane County Cougars G. Eric Davis
Answers to be revealed on Monday…
Citizens who hail from the fine state of Oklahoma are able to take part in a wide variety of recreational activities, but traditionally none of these leisurely endeavors have had anything to do with snow. It’s generally too warm down there for there to be any significant accumulation of the flaky white stuff.
That’s why the Oklahoma RedHawks have once again decided to take matters into
their own hands by running their very own man-made snow tube park at Bricktown Ballpark. The park is open every weekend through Dec 16 (and daily from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1), and offers snow-deprived residents of the Sooner State the chance to sit on a rubber tube and then rocket down the largest man-made slope in the country with reckless abandon (a local TV news piece on last season’s snow park can be found here).
As far as I know, the RedHawks’ snow tube park is the only one of its kind operating in the Minor Leagues. The Mobile BayBears undertook a similar endeavor in 2004 and 2005, but, alas, that is now in the past.
As usual, I would like to solicit the input of my kind and generous readership: if anyone is aware of any unique and interesting offseason Minor League events that this fine blog has not yet covered (snow-tube related and otherwise), then please get in touch!
The very first post on this fine blog was entitled "There Is No Offseason", and that is something that I truly cannot stress enough. Running a team is a year-round operation, and many clubs go out of their way to bring fans into the mix during the long, cold fall and winter months.
In fact, this weekend there are a wide variety of events taking place at ballparks around the land. To wit:
Get Your Piece of Whataburger Field — Okay, maybe this isn’t an "event", per se, but it is a reason to head to the ballbark. This week, the Corpus Christi Hooks are giving away what they call "little chunks of baseball history", in the form of grass cut-outs of the playing surface of Whataburger Field. 225 of these 18" by 24" sod rectangles will be distributed (season ticket holders get first priority), marking perhaps the only opportunity you will have in your lifetime to obtain turf that has been trod upon by the likes of Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell, Phil Neikro, and, of course, Rusty Hook the mascot.
Statehood Fireworks Spectacular at Bricktown Ballpark — On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state to enter the union (formed from Indian territory, Oklahoma is derived from the Choctaw Indian phrase "Okla Humma", which translates to "red people"). On Friday, the RedHawks will play a key role in their state’s Centennial Celebration. First, the club will simulcast the sold-out Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular Concert on their videoboard, and then host an on-field concert of their own. Finally, at 10:30 p.m., the Statehood Fireworks Spectacular will begin from center field.
Altoona Curve’s Fall Open House — On Saturday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Curve will throw open the gates of Blair County Ballpark to their loyal fans. Admission is free with the donation of a canned food item, and includes a ballpark tour, the opportunity to take some cuts in the batting cages, zany mascot antics, kids activities, door prizes, and more. Then, to commemorate the final Penn State football game of the season, a pig roast luncheon will take place (with the proceeds benefiting a local soup kitchen).
Chili Bowl Cook-Off at Grayson Stadium — The Savannah Sand Gnats are holding a mouth-watering
event on Saturday, as hungry locals are invited to stop by Grayson Stadium for the second-annual Chili Bowl Cook-Off. Hordes of area chefs will be in hand to dish out their chili, and one will be awarded $500 for possessing the best recipe. Admission is $5 in advance ($7 at the gate), and a portion of the proceeds will go toward a local food bank.
Toys For Tots at FirstEnergy Stadium — The Reading Phillies’ 10th annual Toys For Tots event, which takes place on Sunday, is
bigger and better than ever. Fans are encouraged to come to the stadium with new toy donations, which will be collected by local marines and distributed to charity. Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance, complimentary food and drinks will be available, the R-Phils’ arsenal of wacky mascots (five in all) will be on hand, a motorcycle and Jeep convoy is scheduled to take place, and much more. And, don’t forget, merchandise bearing the R-Phils NEW logo (to be unveiled today!) will be available for purchase.
Well, that will be all for me today. If you have a tip regarding any Minor League off-season events, then please send me an email.
But for those who are actually taking the plunge and committing to a government-recognized lifetime relationship, the fall and winter is the time to start planning for your special day. After all, putting together a wedding is a daunting task that requires lots of time, money, and patience. It’s such a huge undertaking that it’s often difficult to know where to begin, and it often frays the nerves of even the most hardened individuals.
Luckily, the DelMarva ShoreBirds (Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) are here to help. On Sunday, the club is holding its Third Annual Wedding Expo, a four-hour event in which representatives from all sectors of the wedding industry will be on hand to offer their services to the soon-to-be-betrothed.
According to the Shorebirds, this event will "feature everything you need to plan the wedding of your dreams– catering and reception services, flowers, honeymoon, formal wear, photography, and more!"
So, calling all couples from the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia region — show up at the Shorebirds Executive Club (located inside Arthur W. Perdue Stadium) and start assembling your dream wedding now!
Of course, a true dream wedding would be one that takes place at a baseball stadium in front of thousands of your closest friends. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies) are currently running a contest to provide fans with exactly this. They aren’t skimping on the details, either. From the club’s website:
"The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are giving away the first-ever on-field wedding at Coca-Cola Park, which
will be held Friday, August 8th, 2008 prior to their regularly scheduled home game against the Buffalo Bisons. In addition, the lucky couple’s wedding reception for up to 60 people will take place in a Party Deck during the game. Several in-game wedding-related events are planned and the evening will be capped by a spectacular fireworks display. The wedding giveaway is valued at $18,000."
Whoa! This is really the complete package, as the IronPigs have lined up sponsors to provide photography, wedding rings, formal wear, teeth whitening, floral arrangements, limo transportation, and more. Those interested in entering this contest can do so here. Good luck, and godspeed.
We are only six days away from the Pagan Holiday to end all Pagan Holidays, and it my my mission to list as many Minor League Halloween happenings as possible. The latest to be brought to my attention is the Aberdeen IronBirds’ "13th Inning at Ripken Stadium" attraction.
(Because nothing’s scarier than the 13th inning, right? By that time, managers have seriously depleted their bench and bullpen, and the game is put into the hands of mop-up men, third-string catchers, and pinch-hitting starting pitchers. But I digress…)
The club’s website calls the 13th Inning the "Cooperstown of Terror" (rumors that Pete Rose was barred from entering are unsubstantiated), and includes this incredibly entertaining description of the horrors that await:
"Relive baseball’s horrid past as you brave the bloody clubhouse of Manager Ric Flair, Aberdeen’s
notorious skipper who stumbled upon a demonic asylum of cannibalistic spirits…demons long buried, who’ve consumed his player’s souls.
Venture into the gates of **** as his tortured ghost nips at your heels behind hidden walls and twisted pits of terror."
Sounds awesome! If you (or someone you love) has attended this or any other Halloween attraction, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. I need details, people. Details.
Avid readers of this fine blog may recall my post on October 12, in
which I detailed the Halloween activities of several Minor League
clubs. Several days later, Kevin Brahm (Ticket Manager and official
blogger of the Clearwater Threshers) wrote in to add that the
Threshers host an annual Halloween party — The Boo Bash.
This year’s bash takes place on the 31st (obviously) and features a
Haunted House, a Hay Ride, a Costume Contest, and — best of all — 40
candy stations. 40! It boggles the mind.
Taking a similar angle is the California League’s San Jose Giants, who are hosting a free night of trick-or-treating on the 31st. Area young ‘uns will have the opportunity to have their photos taken with a host of non-threatening costumed characters, including Gigante, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Noddy, and the Berenstain Bears. Later, attendees will participate in an around-the-bases costume parade, and a pumpkin decorating contest is scheduled to occur.
Unfortunately, I must end this Halloween coverage on a sad note — The Salem Avalanche have been forced by city officials to close down their Field of Screams Haunted House. The team deserves credit for taking this setback in stride, however. From the press release:
"There were many issues discussed with the City," said John Katz,
Avalanche VP / General Manager. "It was agreed that the Field of
Screams was so terrifying that, if someone panicked, they would be
unable to exit safely and quickly."
In fact, according to the Avalanche, a "lost soul" is still trapped inside the Field of Screams. Again, from the press release:
Last Saturday night, one young woman dared to enter the Field of
Screams on her own. When the evening was over, one could only hear her
silent screams. "Eerie," said Josh Eagan, Avalanche Director of Horror.
"All we found was a video camera that belonged to one of the group
members." The video recording of her plight has reached legendary
status on the internet. It is currently appearing on YouTube under the
name: "The Salem Ghoul Project."
While this whole saga seems like a PR disaster of epic proportions, the Avalanche don’t seem overly concerned. The last line of the press release makes this abundantly clear:
And as for the lost soul, one can only hope that her tortured spirit
will help push the Salem Avalanche back into the Mills Cup Championship
Way to have your priorities straight, guys!
Update! — Nearly as soon as I finished mourning the demise of Salem’s "Field of Screams" was I alerted to the presence of a still-active "Field of Screams" operating in America’s Heartland.
The Swing of the Quad Cities (Class A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals) are hosting a haunted house at beautiful John O’Donnell Stadium, and — yes — it’s called the "Field of Screams" (perhaps it is inspired by the works of author W.P. "Kill"sella). Anyways…before I embarrass myself further…let it be known that the Swing are currently hiring "actors" for the Field of Screams’ final five days of operation. Make sure to take a "Swing" at this phenomenal opportunity!
Finally, let’s end this odds and sods posting with info on an event unrelated to the spectacular Pagan holiday that is All Hallow’s Eve:
— On Thursday, those who have always wished for the opportunity to sip wine with a rookie infielder
from the Arizona Diamondbacks will have their dream fulfilled, as Mark Reynolds will be the guest of honor at the Mobile BayBears Fall Classic Wine Tasting. Reynolds, a noted oenophile, recieved a promotion from the Double-A BayBears to the Diamondbacks this past May. The 24-year-old Kentucky native will pose for pictures and sign autographs at the event, which takes place at Hank Aaron Stadium’s Harbor Communications Center.
Still, not even the most rabid of fans are going to get too excited over the installation of a new playing surface. Re-sodding may be necessary, but it’s certainly not all that fun.
So, give credit to the Reading Phillies for going out of their way to create some excitement where none existed. On the last weekend of September, the club gave its old playing field a dramatic sendoff.
First, on Friday night, the club held a tribute band concert featuring Live Wire
(AC/DC), Separate Ways (Journey), 2U (U2, pictured at left), Bad Medicine (Bon Jovi), and Draw the Line (Aerosmith). The only thing that could have made the night better was a performance from Mini-Kiss, who performed at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium this past July.
But the Tribute Concert was a mere prelude to Saturday’s main event — A "Smashin’ Trashin’ Field-Bashin’ Demolition Derby."
That’s right…after the grounds crew was tied up by the front office staff (true), 50 drivers roared onto the infield and participated in a no-holds barred demolition derby! A visit to the R-Phils website is well worth the trip, as it features a highlight video of the derby (set to Edwin Starr’s "War"), an interview with beleaguered groundskeeper Dan "Dirt" Douglas, and, most riveting of all, a live webcam of the new field installation.
The team’s new playing surface will be 100% Kentucky Bluegrass, so I suppose we can expect FirstEnergy Park to be the site of an Appalachian Folk Music concert some time around Opening Day.
During the baseball season, terror at theballpark usually comes in the form of inedible concessions and disgusting displays of public affection on the Kiss Cam. It is not something that anyone willingly seeks out.
In the month of October, however, all the rules are changed. In an admirable effort to keep the turnstiles hopping (buzzing? whirring?) even after all the players have gone home, Minor League teams across the country are turning their cozy baseball digs into bona fide houses of horror. Here’s a look at some Halloween-themed events taking place throughout the Minors:
Lake Elsinore Storm “Haunted Stadium” – The Storm already possess a moderately scary team name, and have one of the most eerie (and popular) logos in all of pro sports. So, it comes as no surprise that the club is now inviting fans to visit “The Haunted Stadium” (opening tonight!). According to the team’s website, “The Haunted Stadium features live actors, loud noises, flashing lights and other scary elements designed to scare the ‘poo’ out of you”, and goes on to say that “our zombies and ghosts will not intentionally touch you.”
Well, of course they won’t. You’ve just had the poo scared out of you, and even the Undead think that’s disgusting.
Terror Park at Cooper Stadium (home of the
Columbus Clippers) – An extravaganza of horror so large that it warrants its own URL, Terror Park is back for its eighth season at Cooper Stadium. Whoever’s behind Terror Park is operating at a high level, as they claim they have the ability to “capture your fears” and then turn them loose throughout the stadium. But don’t fear, for the website later notes that “if someone in your group gets too frightened to continue, we’ll take them to child care where a Sheriff Deputy DARE Officer will supervise them”. Now, that wouldn’t be humiliating at all. Nope, not one bit.
“Black Beard’s Revenge: Curse of the Severed Head” at Prince George Stadium (home of the Bowie Baysox) – This is definitely one of the most elaborate frightfests occurring in the Minor Leagues, as the Baysox are actually offering three distinct Halloween shows. After coming face to face with the titular Severed Head, attendees are invited to tour the Haunted Hospital and then get lost in the Crazed Chain Maze. A twenty dollar bill gains attendees admission to all three attractions (which is fitting, as Andrew "Zombie" Jackson was the scariest President in U.S.history).
Durham Jaycees 35th Annual Haunted House at Durham Bulls Athletic Park – Those wondering what horrors await them at the Durham Jaycees’ annual spooktacular are just going to have to show up at the ballpark and find out. The Bulls’ press release takes a purely philanthropic angle, and focuses solely on which charities will be benefiting. The Jaycees’ highest-grossing Haunted House ever occurred in 1994, when $32,000 was raised. I wonder if the fact that there were no baseball playoffs that season had anything to do with the record turnout. What else were the people of Durham going to do? Watch hockey?
Field of Screams at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium (home of the Salem Avalanche) – As one can see from the accompanying picture, the Avalanche are a scary-looking team year-round. But in October they really do it up. According to the team’s press release, Field of Screams is “a journey through the Underworld that is the basement of Lewis-Gale Medical Center Field.” Attendees, who are referred to as “victims” in the press release, will have to navigate not only the Maze to the Underworld, but also the Graveyard, the Endless Hallway, and Vortex Tunnel. Good luck with all that, victims.
If anyone is aware of any other haunted houses taking place in the Minor Leagues, or has attended one of the above attractions, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.