Results tagged ‘ Round Rock Express ’

Nuts On Wheels, Loons On Ice, and Baseball on the TV

During this slow time of year, you better believe that if a new logo comes my way I’m going to lead with it.

Today, that new logo is this:

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The above mark will serve serve as the official logo for the 2011 California/Carolina League All-Star Game, which you now know will be taking place in Modesto.

Some background info, from the press release:

The logo pays homage to the annual Graffiti month held every June in Modesto in honor of the classic film American Graffiti by filmmaker and Modesto native George Lucas. The logo features the Nuts mascots, Al the Almond and Wally the Walnut, in a classic car reminiscent of the 1950s.

Ah, yes, The Modesto Nuts and American Graffiti. I believe I wrote about that once. It is also worth noting that the Nuts’ commitment to the films of George Lucas has extended to the Sci-Fi franchise for which he is best known. Observe:

But back to the matter at hand: the Logo. Like the previous All-Star logo discussed on this blog, it was designed by the wunderkinds at Plan B Branding.

And since we’re talking about 2011 events, yesterday I was heartened to see one of the first promotional announcements of the upcoming season: The Great Lakes Loons will be staging six nights in honor of the Detroit Red Wings.

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The team reports:

The series, a fresh spin on the Loons successful Tigers Legends Series, will include six Loons home games paying tribute to former Red Wings greats. Three of the games will include a visit from Detroit Red Wings greats and three games will include a commemorative bobblehead of Red Wings legends.

Sounds like a excellent idea, although one question remains: What’s the difference between a “great” and a “legend”?

Such questions can be put on ice, however, for there are currently far more pressing concerns in the world of sports. Questions such as: Where I am going to watch the World Series?

Fans of the Round Rock Express needn’t worry. In honor of their big league affiliate Rangers making it to the Fall Classic, the Express are inviting fans to watch the game in style.

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Sez the team:

The Express will be hosting a Watch Party for every game of the Fall Classic in the Intel Club at the Dell Diamond. Our luxury, VIP club spans nearly 4,000 square feet and offers more than 22,000 square inches of flat-panel TV screens,
making it the perfect spot to witness Rangers’ history!

Sounds like a pretty great Watch Party, if you ask me. I’m sure it will be better than the last one I went to, as I was pressured into a buying a counterfeit Rolex that broke four days later.

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

Promo Year in Review, Part Three: Celebrity Appearances

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Minor League ballparks are hospitable places, rolling out the red carpet for sitcom stars, sexagenarian wrestlers and eccentric hurlers alike.

Today’s edition of “Promo Year in Review” features my top six celebrity appearances of the year, highlighting a half-dozen bold-faced names who graced the ballpark with their presence. But, as always, I need YOU to tell me who I’ve missed. Get in touch via email or Twitter and let me know, as suggestions for this and previous categories will be accepted through 10 a.m. Monday.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz
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My six nominees, in ever-so-sensible alphabetical order. Click on each individual’s name to see how his ballpark visit was originally covered (and, yes, they are all men. Don’t shoot the messenger).

Fresno Grizzlies — Alfonso “Carlton” Ribiero (as part of “Mad Tight ’90s Night”)

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Lakewood BlueClaws — Jeff “Chunk” Cohen (as part of “Goonies Night”)

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(note: that’s Cohen on the right, judging a “Truffle Shuffle” contest)

Oklahoma City RedHawks — Peter Mayhew (aka “Chewbacca”)

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Reading Phillies — Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins

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Round Rock Express — Rojo Johnson (aka Will Ferrell)

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Vermont Lake Monsters — Bill “Spaceman” Lee/Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd (on the same night!)

I don’t have a picture from this picture, but here are their respective Wikipedia photos:

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Duty compels me to once again mention that I need your input. What celebrities caused a sensation at YOUR Minor League ballpark this year. And — hey! — I know you’re reading. There’s no escape. Get in touch. Are you going to let my complete neglect of sexagenarian wrestlers go uncriticized?

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

After Drinking Beer On the Mound, Rojo Gets Carded

rojo1.jpgOutside of the ascendance of Stephen Strasburg, no bigger story has emerged out of the Minor Leagues this season than what transpired in Texas on May 6.

As you’ll no doubt recall, a mustachoied, jewlery-wearing, beer-swilling pitcher by the name of Biilly Ray “Rojo” Johnson took the mound for the Round Rock Express. This mysterious individual precipitated a brawl with just one pitch, and then vanished from the scene just as quickly as he came.

Rojo, of course, was Will Ferrell. 

The comedian’s memorable foray into the Minors has been commemorated with what is destined to be one of the most sought-after cards of 2010. Behold:

Rojo.JPG 

The card is part of the Pacific Coast League’s “Top Prospects” set, which, in addition to Rojo, includes 35 of the circuit’s most promising players. 3892 of these cardboard beauties were produced; here’s the breakdown:

         
2892 complete
sets belonging to the 16 PCL teams/league office

         
500 individual
cards belonging to the Cancer for College charity

         
170 uncut press
sheets belonging to the 16 PCL teams/league office

The sets belonging to PCL clubs are currently available for sale at their respective team stores. Meanwhile,Thumbnail image for rojo2.jpg Cancer for College will be making available their 500 Rojo cards at a later date. 100 of these cards will be signed and numbered by Ferrell, and can only be obtained via a donation to the organization.

Who knows what will become of the cards belonging to Mr. Ferrell? Like the hair residing above Rojo’s upper lip, that’s his personal stash.

This has been Ben’s Biz Blog post #500. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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

Boozin’, Brawlin’ and Blingin': Rojo Takes Round Rock

rojo2.jpgEarlier this week, the Round Rock Express announced that they acquired a right-handed hurler with an exceedingly unorthodox back story: Billy Ray “Rojo” Johnson.

Biographical details are scant, but here’s what we do know:

Johnson, who was born in East Texas but was raised in Venezuela, recently had his prison sentence commuted. He served time for running a smuggling ring that imported rare and illegal species of reptiles into the United States from South America during the mid-to-late 1990s. Thursday night’s game marks Johnson’s first in American professional baseball after a storied career in the Venezuelan leagues.
 
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Rojo entered the ballgame in the top of the sixth inning, and lasted just one pitch (seen above). Then, chaos erupted. Let’s go to the video (jeez, way to give away the joke, video description):
Rojo’s outfield headlock of the rampaging “number four” was an impromptu tribute to Express owner Nolan Ryan, who famously handled Robin Ventura in the same manner. The similarities end there, however: Ryan never drank Budweiser on the mound, let alone sprayed it on an angry opponent. And he certainly refrained from the illicit smuggling of South American lizards.
My indefatigable MiLB.com colleague Danny Wild was all over this story last night, working until dawn in order to bring it to the masses. Click HERE for a recap and photo gallery. Further snapshots are available on the Express’s Facebook page, and a local television news piece can be viewed HERE.
Meanwhile, Rojo’s “friend” Will Ferrell is in the Round Rock area today for the “Will Powered Golf Tournament” (which benefits College for Cancer, an organization providing college scholarships to cancer survivors). No word yet on whether “Rojo” will make an appearance, ready to show the world that his golf skills are commensurate with those he displayed on the mound.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

From 30 Rock to Round Rock?

coco.jpgI am a big fan of late night TV in general and Conan O’Brien in particular, and as this Tonight Show imbroglio has steamrolled into a bigger and bigger story one thought kept lodging itself into my brain: When is a Minor League team going to offer Conan a job?

This sort of publicity stunt is certainly not without precedent. In recent years the Huntsville Stars courted Roger Clemens, the Augusta GreenJackets went after Brett Favre, and the Toledo Mud Hens set their sights on A-Rod. Granted, Conan is not from the world of sports, but on multiple occasions he has mentioned the tongue-in-cheek job offers he has received. On national TV! Look! If a morning radio show in Fargo, ND could get a mention, then why not a Minor League team?

Well, I am glad to report that the Round Rock Express have come through. In a video posted on their website and Facebook page, the team tries to convince Conan that he would excel at a wide variety of game-day positions. Here’s hoping it catches on. 

In other news, the slow but steady release of 2010 promotional schedules has been a mostThumbnail image for Bowling Green Cave Shrimp.png heartening development. The Bowling Green Hot Rods announced theirs yesterday, eager to defend their 2009 MiLB.com Promotion of the Year title. I am happy to report that What Could’ve Been Night will return, and this year’s version includes a Cave Shrimp bobbletail giveaway. Check it out.  

Likewise, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs unveiled their promo slate. As has become the club’s habit, the press release features a ridiculous, pun-heavy quote from GM Kurt Landes.

“We’re the IronPigs — and no team exhibits more zeal to make their fans squeal,” he said.

This quote is excellent, and I’d encourage more GMs to talk in such a manner. Am I naive in assuming that all quotes had to have actually been spoken aloud in order to make it into a press release?

Thumbnail image for cyclones10.JPGI’d also like to mention an excellent contest being staged by the indomitable Brooklyn Cyclones — The “You”niform. Here’s a summary:

“The Brooklyn Cyclones are inviting young fans to participate in a
unique art contest, with the winning jersey design to be worn by the
team as a special, limited-edition YOUniform, and auctioned off after the game to support Camp Brooklyn.”
 

Finally, how can a week go by without a mention of the Lakewood BlueClaws? Answer, it can’t. Today, the team announced that seven types of hot dogs have been added to the concession menu, each one named after a Hall of Famer.   

This leads to a fun comedy-writing exercise: what hot dogs would YOU like to see named after a Hall of Famer, and why?

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

2009: The Year in Photos

cam.jpgI am ready to embrace the offseason. I really and truly am. But if I come up with a blog post idea that will let me re-visit a time when Minor League Baseball was actually played every day, then you best believe I’m gonna do it.

And today, that idea is this: to present my favorite photos that appeared on this blog during the 2009 season. I did not apply any specific criteria when making these selections, other than to ask myself “Does this photo make my inner-most being cry out in rapturous wonderment?.” If the answer was in the affirmative, then you will see it listed below. Hopefully, your innermost being will respond similarly.   

What follows are my top 10 pics of the year, listed in the order in which they appeared on this blog.

Master Yogi Berra Lets LooseOn April 21, Greensboro Grasshoppers canine mascot Master Yogi Berra had a bit of an on-field accident. The following is one of two pictures I obtained of the incident (the “clean version”, if you will):

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(Photo credit: Dano Keeney)

Ceremonial CentenarianOn April 24, Round Rock Express season-ticket holder Chris Nocera threw out the first pitch. She is 102 years old — and very determined:

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Cream Stick Gets CreamedThe Akron Aeros nightly “Cream Stick Race” was, by all accounts, a chaotic free-for-all. Here, Vanilla feigns innocence immediately after pushing Maple to the ground:

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Ready, Set, SwallowSword swallower extraordinaire Dan Meyer prepares to ply his trade in Huntsville. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for this, a post-rainout performance for an audience of 15.

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A Moo-ving ImageA key component of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ “Salute to Cows” was a mooing contest. The following picture depicts the eventual champion as he readied himself for the moo of his life:

timber rattlers moo contest.JPG 
 

Presidential Self-Love The Brookyln Cyclones gave away Obama bobbleheads as part of “Barack-lyn Cyclones” night, and the commander-in-chief went out of his way to let the crowd know that he approved:

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(photo credit: George Napolitano/Brooklyn Cyclones)

An A-peel-ing Photo —  As part of the Idaho Falls Chukars’ “Potato Night”, so-called “Spuddy Buddies” were thrown into the crowd. It was a thing of beauty:

Idaho Falls -- Spuddy Buddies Go Flying 2.JPG

Mascot MassageIn Birmingham, even costumed characters need the occasional rubdown:

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Belly Quickly BustedThis guy couldn’t even make it out of the first round in the Williamsport Crosscutters’ annual “Belly Buster” contest:

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Owlz Well That Ends Well Hootz and Holly tied the knot in a dramatic post-game ceremony in Orem, resulting in a surreal and oddly touching spectacle:

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If you have any photos from this past se
ason that you think are worthy of inclusion in this blog, then by all means get in touch. I’ll be waiting patiently for your correspondence.

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

Age Ain't Nothing But a Three-Digit Number

On Sunday afternoon in Boston, the Red Sox made headlines by having 100-year-old Arthur Giddon serve as an honorary batboy.

That’s a great story, but it was trumped by a something that occurred in the Minor Leagues on Friday night: 102-year-old Chris Norcera, a Round Rock Express season-ticket holder, threw out an honorary first pitch at Dell Diamond. 

In lieu of making lame age jokes that inevitably find a way to reference Jamie Moyer, I will now defer to the photographic evidence.

Nocera winds:

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 And delivers:
 
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And, finally, basks in the happy afterglow of a job well-done:

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The Express, no doubt inspired by Nocera’s strike-throwing capabilities, scored six runs in the first inning en route to a 7-4 victory.

If YOU are aware of further centenarian exploits occurring at the Minor League level, then do not hesitate to get in touch at benjamin.hill@mlb.com

And, on another note, let me remind everyone that I am not just a blogger. Here are two MiLB.com articles from last week that are worth sharing (the “special to” byline means that I am not exclusive to MLB.com, by the way).

A look at the job of clubhouse manager.

Pitchers umpire in wild South Atlantic League game (my favorite kind of story).

One Step Closer To the Inevitable…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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