Results tagged ‘ Pawtucket Red Sox ’

Jack of All Trades, Master of One

Last week I wrote a piece on Aaron Goldsmith, who, at the age of 29, has landed a job as the Mariners #2 radio announcer after just six seasons in the Minor and independent leagues. Here’s the “cover” art:

goldsmith

Of course I’d encourage you to read the story, but the reason I’m bringing it up here in this blog forum is because I’d like to share a notable “outtake” from my conversation with Goldsmith. When I asked him his thoughts on why the Mariners hired him (out of 160 applicants), he replied that “first and foremost I hope they liked the way I call a game.”

While this should go without saying, he then remarked about an aspect of his hiring that was perhaps more unexpected.

“I have experience doing things outside of the broadcast booth, social media, creating web content, podcasts and video interviews,” said Goldsmith. “[The Mariners] were very interested in my ideas and thoughts regarding what worked and what hadn’t worked within that realm.”

Major League organizations are far more fragmented and specific in their employee responsibilities than their Minor League counterparts, and Goldsmith won’t be expected to be a technological jack-of-all-trades like he was during his stints with the Frisco RoughRiders (2010-11) and Pawtucket Red Sox (2012). Nonetheless, these skills appeared to have played at least some role in his acquisition of a much-coveted big league job and as such I believe his example in this realm can and should be one to follow.

45

A postage-stamp sized representation of Aaron’s PawSox blog

On a personal level — over the years I have become acquainted with dozens (hundreds?) of Minor League broadcasters and, certainly, Goldsmith was among those who stood out due to his proactive approach to online communication. He started Frisco’s “Riders Insider” blog in November 2010, which almost immediately established itself as one of the most informative and oft-updated blogs in Minor League Baseball. Upon getting hired with Pawtucket Goldsmith began “45 Miles From Fenway,” which in January 2013 was the highest-ranked MiLB team blog (coming in at #23 overall on MLBlogs monthly “Latest Leaders” list).

Success in such endeavors means nothing if you can’t call a baseball game, of course. But, nonetheless I believe that maintaining a strong presence in these supplementary areas (blogs, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, etc) is a crucial way to increase your visibility and, therefore, your reputation within what is quite possibly the most cutthroat occupation in all of Minor League Baseball.

I’m getting a little uncomfortable up here on this soapbox, so now seems as good a time as any to beat a hasty retreat. But, before I do so, let me reiterate that I am course interested in your opinion on this and all MiLB-related matters.

Especially broadcasters: do you believe that the development of these secondary skills is now a prerequisite of your success? Or can one still rise to the top on game-calling prowess alone?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Go West, Young(ish) Blogger

The title of today’s post is more than just a belabored play on an already mangled and misattributed quotation. It is also my way of telling you that I’m on the cusp of 2011′s first road trip!

Motivated by wanderlust and an unbeatable rental car deal, I’ll be checking out the new-for-2011 Tucson Padres before moving on to a quartet of California League teams. The itinerary:

May 11-12: Tucson Padres

May 13: Writing/Travel Day (although who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to get to a ballpark by nightfall).

May 14: Lancaster JetHawks

May 15: High Desert Mavericks

May 16: Inland Empire 66ers

May 17: Lake Elsinore Storm

I’m psyched to be making my first California sojourn as a so-called professional, and to once again get behind the wheel of a car after yet another prolonged stint of NYC public transit emasculation. Now comes the part of the post where I earnestly implore YOU to please get in touch with suggestions as to who to talk to, where to visit, what foods to try, etc. I of course have some ideas of what to write about, but as usual much is to be determined. Your feedback is much appreciated.

In particular, let me know if you have any interesting California League stories/memories. It seems like surreal things happen out there on a regular basis.

And driving a car again will no doubt lead to profound sticker shock at the pumps, something I mercifully don’t have to deal with on a daily basis here in NYC. But two teams are doing their part to ease the burden: the State College Spikes and Charlotte Stone Crabs. From the former:

From May 9th through May 20th, the Spikes will provide fans a chance to save at the pump when they take advantage of any one of seven ticket offerings. Highlighting the “Spikes Fuel Perks” ticket promotion, any fan that purchases new season tickets will earn a $100 gas card per seat bought!  


And the latter: 

Throughout the Stone Crabs season, fans will have the opportunity to purchase two reserved seats to any Stone Crabs game, along with two hot dogs, and two sodas for only $26. In addition to the ticket package, fans will receive a complimentary $5 gas card from RaceTrac convenience stores, while supplies last.

In completely unrelated news, I received the following email yesterday from Lowell Spinners groundskeeper Jeff Paolino:

I am reaching out to you to see if there is any way to find out if there are any other Military members who are currently Active or Reserve other than myself working in Minor League Baseball? Reason being, I would like to get a group initiative together throughout  MILB as representatives of both baseball and the Military.

This seems like a worthwhile endeavor, but I was unable to assist. So if you fit the above criteria (or know someone who does) then contact Jeff at jpaolino@lowellspinners.com And spread the word!

And, finally, congratulations to Pawtucket Red Sox announcer Dan Hoard — the new radio voice of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

Enjoy your weekend! For the next two days, it’ll be all we’ve got!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

In Which Tweeting Leads to Eating

sandgnat.jpgBelieve it or not, I’ve gotten a little bit (heart)burned out on Minor League food news. But the latest and greatest innovation to come down the pike is interesting not just for its colossal caloric content.

The Savannah Sand Gnats will be serving two brand-new menu items at Grayson Stadium this season, the end result of an interesting case study in fan interactivity and the power of social media. Here’s how it went down.

This past Saturday, CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell asked his huge cadre of Twitter followers to come up with “The next great ballpark food.” Impressed by the response, he then decided to compile the suggestions and put them to a vote on his blog. Savannah Sand Gnats director of communications Toby Hyde quickly reached out to Rovell, saying that his team would put the winning items (main course and dessert) on the concession menu at Grayson Stadium.

The polls opened on Monday afternoon and closed 24 hours later, a span of time in which 2500 votes were collected. And the winners are:

Chicken and Waffles (27%) and S’Mores Panini (39%)!candw.jpg

The former was submitted by an attorney in San Francisco, with the stipulation that waffles would be used as buns. The latter, meanwhile, is “Nutella, Fluff, crushed graham crackers on Italian bread, grilled on a panini press.” Not coincidentally, it was submitted by the owner of a panini business.

From start to finish, this whole endeavor lasted less than 72 hours. But in that span of time, the Sand Gnats received national publicity as well as a great new marketing angle — exciting concession items!

Rovell and the Sand Gnats have provided an easily adaptable template, and I find myself crushed by the sheer inevitability of similar promotions happening in the future.

– At this juncture in the blog post, it’s time to stop writing and let some videos do the talking. Yesterday, the Pawtucket Red Sox released episode two of their Scavenger Hunt extravaganza. I am posting this because of the absolutely hilarious performance turned in by the Tae Kwon Do instructor:

Meanwhile, this video from Hudson Valley shows that old-school arcade classics can (and in fact should) be adapted into on-field post-game live-action contests. Bonus points for the onfield host, who flat-out tells a contestant that “dude, you’re terrible.”

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

Every End Is A New Beginning

There’s just a little more than a month to go before Opening Day. Truly, the clock is ticking on the offseason:

Omaha_clock.jpg

That was the scene in Omaha recently, as a flatbed truck pulled into brand-new Werner Park whilst toting a gigantic clock featuring Vortex the stormcloud. So what this is, essentially, is a Time Vortex. Are the Storm Chasers attempting to reach out to the Dr. Who fans in the house?

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, “The Offseason” has officially come to an end. The Timber Rattlers unveiled the last episode of their weekly series today, and it’s a doozy. In addition to skillfully referencing a recent hit comedy (“Brat Tub Time Machine”), it explains mascot Fang’s strange anatomy AND features a character who happens to go by the name of “Ben Hill.” What an honor:

Over on MiLB.com, “Offseasoning” has come to an end. This was a bi-weekly column profiling players’ offseason jobs and activities, and the final installment features current free agent, Twitter champion, and all-around nice guy Michael Schlact.

I’m hoping to soon do a few articles in the “Offseasoning” mode, but this time featuring Spring Training. Let me know if you are aware of any interesting stories taking place in Minor League camp.

But while some things are coming to an end, others are just beginning (sunrise, sunset, etc etc). This is the case in Pawtucket, as the Red Sox have just unleashed a whodunit “Scavenger Hunt” onto the world.

Yes, the villain in this adventure is a gorilla wearing a Yankees hat. The Paw Sox will release clues each week that will guide fans toward a “Golden Soft Toss” ball redeemable for team-related prizes.

Earlier this week I noted some of the interesting giveaways the Altoona Curve have on tap for this season. There’s more where that came from, as yesterday the team released their Theme Night schedule. The highlight is “What We’re Watching Wednesdays,” explained as such in the press release.

lockelocke.jpgThe first “What We’re Watching Wednesday” will take place on May 4 vs. Akron and lampoon the now retired ABC phenomenon “LOST”. The team’s working title of “LOST – Locke & Locke” plays off of 2010 Curve pitcher Jeff Locke, who actually was a huge fan of the cult series, and the mysterious character John Locke from the show itself.

After attempting to decipher the mysteries of the island, the Curve will try their hand at crime solving on June 8 vs. Erie with “NCIS/CSI: Curve, Pa. – Lawglenn.jpg & Order SVU” night. Other “What We’re Watching Wednesdays” include “How I Met Your Mascot” on June 15 vs. New Britain, “Glenn’s Kitchen” (which will place Curve Manager of Concessions Glenn McComas in the role of Chef Gordon Ramsay) on June 29 vs. Reading, “Lawn Stars” (starring Head Groundskeeper Brian Soukup) on August 17 vs. New Hampshire and “Only in Curve, Pa. with Bill the Comic Guy” on August 24 vs. Richmond. That should “Git ‘R Done” for the WWWW theme series.

There might be remarkable parity in Major League Baseball these days, but no one tops the Minors when it comes to parody.

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

A Day In the Life

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

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

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

To the list!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few odds and ends before closing up shop:

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

volt.jpg 

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

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

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

Moving On Down

Thumbnail image for lad.jpgI find myself with much random material that I would like to share with you, an individual who I presume possesses at least a passing interest in Minor League Baseball game operations and promotions.

In order to create some sort of order from the chaos, I shall organize said material by level of play. Let’s start at the top of the Minor League ladder, and then move down rung-by-rung until, finally, we find ourselves back on solid ground.

This may take a few days, actually…

Triple-A

The Toledo Mud Hens established a Fifth Third Field attendance record this past Friday, and it wasn’t because of a “National Dance Like A Chicken Day” promotion that came complete with complimentary chicken hat:

chicken.JPG
No, the primary draw was Crystal Bowersox. My hopes of an exciting new fad in jewel-strewn footwear were quickly dashed when I found out that Crystal is an “American Idol” finalist who hails from Ohio. 13,200 turned out to see the up-and-coming troubador sing the National Anthem; I have yet to confirm if she later led the crowd in a spirited rendition of the Chicken Dance.

– Those same Toledo players who enjoyed the vocal stylings of Ms. Bowersox are not nearly as enamored of opposing mascots, as this item from the latest “International League Notebook” makes clear:

Durham mascot [Wool E. Bull] was pelted by water balloons from the Toledo dugout
when he
wooly.jpg appeared on the field [May 12], but it wasn’t quite as funny
when the mascot slipped on the wet grass and suffered an apparent knee
sprain.

“Just what we needed — Wool E. Bull is hurt. The training room is full
already,” Durham manager Charlie Montoyo told the
Durham Herald-Sun.


– The last time I wrote about mascot injuries, the costumed character in question was “Pops” from the Syracuse Chiefs.     Fortunately, Pops seems to be okay these days, as the only thing I have to report from Syracuse is that the team’s blog is currently featuring an amusing rundown of International League hotels.  The latest such establishment to be featured is Pawtucket’s Comfort Inn. 

– Which brings me to my next item, as the excellent blog of Pawtucket broadcaster Dan Hoard recently featured a post on Mike Cameron’s over-the-top generosity during his recent rehab stint with the club. An excerpt:

Cameron took the notion of being a big-leaguer to new heights on Thursday when he purchased a luxury box for Game 6 of the Celtics/Cavs playoff series and invited the PawSox players and coaches to join him. 

Double-A

I mentioned this in this week’s “Promotion Preview” column,but the Richmond Flying Squirrels have launched an interesting weekly promotion in this, their inaugural season: “Where’s Parney”. Writes director of promotions Christina Shisler:   

Every Friday our VP and COO, Todd “Parney” Parnell
frequents a different sponsor’s location (restaurant or bar) after the game and
our fans must track him down! We include hints throughout the week on where he
will be on our e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and website and the first 20
fans to find Parney out at one of our “Where’s Parney” sponsor locations win a t-shirt and get to hang out with the Squrirels VP!

Keep in mind, folks, that this is the man everyone is trying to find:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Richmond -- Parny Unitard beleaguered.JPG 

– Moving from Flying Squirrels to Fisher Cats (as I so often do), New Hampshire’s Eastern League franchise recently welcomed its Two Millionth Fan. Congratulations to 10-year-old Brendan Howard for his well-timed turnstiling.

– Meanwhile, in Tulsa, it appears that another mascot-themed soap opera has entered theThumbnail image for hornsby.jpg fray. I say “another”, because THIS exists in Lehigh Valley. So now we have “Bulled and the Bluetiful” and “As the Bacon Turns”. Anyone want to suggest other potential Minor League parody soap opera titles?

This particular blog post is quite like a soap opera, in fact, in that it shall end with three words that signify the promise of much more to come:

TO BE CONTINUED

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

An Action-Packed Blog for Action-Packed Times

Thumbnail image for mmmmmoooorrrre.jpgCrucial pre-post information! This week’s edition of “Promotion
Preview” is available HERE.

It
is officially crazy season, that time of year in which I spend my day
poring through innumerable emails, Tweets, Facebook updates, news
articles, phone calls and psychic transmissions all related to the world
of Minor League Baseball. Sometimes I even write blog posts and
articles, as if this was part of my job description or something.

But
this rambling prelude really only exists in order to convey the
following: I’ve got a blog backlog, and the only cure is rapid-fire
information conveyance. So pour yourself a stiff drink, put on some
Vivaldi, and spend a little quality time with the lighter side of Minor
League Baseball.

Starting….NOW!

National Cheeseball Day
was April 17, a sacred holiday that was observed throughout the land.
The Lake County Captains got in the spirit by distributing cheese and
crackers to the bundled-up fans in attendance:

Thumbnail image for Lake County Cheeseball.JPG
(photo credit: Neil Stein)

The Captains also held a contest in which fans had to guess the number of
cheesepuffs in a bulk container, with the most accurate guesser
receiving said bulk container.

And, of course, there was the
cheeseball eating contest. For the uninitiated, whenever a Minor League
team salutes a food product then it is a GUARANTEE they will stage an
eating contest involving the product (examples
this upcoming week include grilled cheese in Quad Cities and tacos in
Lancaster
).

This particular eating contest features two of
the most reluctant participants you are ever likely to see

Following a Cheeseball Eating Contest is an unenviable task, as it would
seem that all else pales in comparison. But does it? Not if you’re the South Bend Silver
Hawks
, who have kicked off their “Your Town Your Team” marketing
campaign with an immaculately produced video that details the city’s
rich baseball history.

We’re entering Ken Burns territory with
this one:

Another Midwest League franchise sporting impeccable production values
is the Fort
Wayne Tincaps
, who have applied their audiovisual mastery toward a
dramatic “Behind the Music”-style video detailing the trials and
tribulations of the legendary Bad Apple Dancers:

Having already surpassed my monthly quota for Midwest League YouTube
videos, I must now proceed to the Florida State League. The Charlotte Stone
Crabs
staged a “Golfer’s Appreciation” promo last week, an evening
that included a “Closest to the Pin” contest featuring manager Jim
Morrison and three local pros.

The skipper acquitted himself
very, very well, as this video proves:

But if it’s sci-fi that floats your proverbial boat, you may want to
take a look at how the Pawtucket Red Sox have chosen to promote their
upcoming “Star Wars” night. Behold, “Paws the Jedi”:

Finally — the Flying Squirrels era in Richmond has officially begun!
For those who weren’t able to visit the Diamond live and in person, the
following video put together by
Bus Leagues Baseball
will have to suffice:

Believe it or not, there is FAR more where this came from. I’ll resume
my Sisyphean metaphorical ditch-digging efforts tomorrow. Until then, I
remain,

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

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