Results tagged ‘ Round Rock Express ’

Boozin', Brawlin', 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.

rojo1.jpg
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):

yogi (2).jpg  
(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:

Thumbnail image for 102 pitch 1.JPG

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:

creamstick 1.JPG


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.

dan ready to perform.JPG

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:

brooklyn baracklyn bobble.JPG

(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:

Birmingham -- Mascot Massage 2.JPG

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

Thumbnail image for Williamsport -- Belly Buster, hot dog loser.JPG

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:

Thumbnail image for Orem Mascot Wedding Hootz sez I do.jpg

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:

102 pitch 1.JPG

 And delivers:
 
102 pitch 2.JPG

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

102 pitch 3.JPG

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.   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 393 other followers