Results tagged ‘ State College Spikes ’
“Bark in the Park” nights — in which fans are invited to bring their dogs to the stadium — have long been a promotional staple in Minor League Baseball. The State College Spikes are one of many teams to have staged such an endeavor, with next month’s version expected to draw over 400 canines.
This success led the team to ask themselves a truly daring, and seemingly absurd, question: “What if we did ‘Bark in the Park’, but for cats?”
What resulted was “Purr in the Park,” an evening-long celebration of felines.
Given their innate anti-social tendencies and general aloofness, the Spikes knew going in that “Purr in the Park” was not going to reach the proportions of its barking counterpart. The final cat attendance total was a modest, but still respectable, 12.The cats were granted entry so long as they were on a leash or in a carrier, and were welcome throughout the concourse as well as the right field seating area.
Cats were the focal point of the in-game entertainment, of course. The scoreboard graphics all had a feline theme:
Another apropos “Simpsons” character would have been the “Crazy Cat Lady,” who surely would have enjoyed the team’s meow-centric version of the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The night also included the “Nine Lives Challenge”, in which two hearty combatants participated in challenges such as the “Warm Milk Chug” and the “Kitty Litter Dig.” I particularly enjoyed watching the “Warm Milk Chug,” as the loser in the contest is escorted off the field by a sympathetic gorilla.
But as the Spikes pointed out in their press release, not even “Purr in the Park” could keep canines out of the ballpark: Not only are the Batavia MuckDOGS the Spikes’ opponent on the field, but fans can feast on $1 hot dogs all game long as part of Dollar Dog Monday.
But the Spikes weren’t about to let the Muckdogs steal the spotlight — not on this night! The Spikes scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth before Justin Bencsko homered in the ninth, propelling the home team to a thrilling 7-6 victory.
It was victory by a whisker; anything less would have been cat-astrophic.
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 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!
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 email@example.com And spread the word!
Enjoy your weekend! For the next two days, it’ll be all we’ve got!
Okay, it’s the season now. I have the same feeling as when I returned my favorite Pixar film to the video store: I can’t keep Up!
But I’m going to try my best, disregarding any adverse consequences to mental, physical, and spiritual health. I mean, who needs those things anyway?
Mrs. Violet Smith serves as an appropriate counterbalance to this sort of fatalistic sentiment. Last night, she celebrated her 109th birthday by throwing out a first pitch for the Great Lakes Loons.
According to my records, this is the first centenarian first pitch in Minor League Baseball since the Round Rock Express welcomed 102-year-old Chris Nocera in April of 2009.
And while we’re on the topic of Golden Girls, it is well-worth pointing out that the Bowie Baysox are staging a Tribute to Betty White on April 16 (complete with Florence Dusty’s Muffin Eating Contest in honor of her recent appearance on Saturday Night Live).
The Baysox players are in complete and total support of this promotion, especially Betty White “spitting image” Xavier Avery.
Another team that is truly on top of its game when it comes to videos are the State College Spikes, who have just released a truly excellent preview of their 2011 promotions. This is the very definition of taking pride in your product — if you’re not excited then who else is going to be?
The Spikes have also recently produced one of the funniest mascot videos I’ve ever seen (“You have not done one push-up yet!”).
Another humorous video of recent vintage comes courtesy of the Inland Empire 66ers, who are proud to able to “Teach Fans How To Snuggie.” Or, more accurately, “Teaching Them How To Fleece Blanket With Sleeves.” Click HERE to check it out on Facebook.
I keep delaying a quite-substantial food post that I’ve been planning, but in honor of the weekend here’s a pic of the Lake Elsinore Storm’s new “Filthy McNasty.”
The team explains that This unbelievably big burger, which could feed four comfortably, is a two-pound burger stuffed with two hot dogs, bacon and cheese. It is then smothered in chili and topped with crispy onion straws.
But for now, the Storm have more pressing matters to attend to. Just hitting the wires is news regarding their upcoming “Sheen-Co De Mayo” night. According to the Associated Press, The promotion upset the Inland Empire Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Its president, Joe Olague, tells the Riverside Press-Enterprise it diminishes a significant day in Hispanic history.
The news never stops, I tell you. Never.
So you might as well get in touch with more. I don’t plan on living until 109 anyway.
“News” of dubious validity has been making the rounds today, not a surprise given that it is the first day of April. But what I am about to present to you is gloriously, hilariously real:
On July 11, the State College Spikes will be holding the first-ever “Purr In the Park” promotion.
“Purr in the Park” is, of course, a new twist on the canine-friendly “Bark in the Park” promotions that have spread like wildfire throughout the Minors. But dogs are generally obedient and social creatures. Cats, on the other hand…not so much. How this all turns out of course remains to be seen, but Spikes GM Jason Dambach seems confident that it’ll go off without a hitch. Or, more accurately, with one. He writes that all cats will need to be “leashed or in a portable carrier” and that there will be “cat-related promotions throughout the night” as well as tributes to the likes of Morris, Garfield, Heathcliff, and the black cat from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (“Salem!”, as I was just reminded via email).
I’m hoping that Will Feral will also be moved to make an appearance. Regardless, I will make it my duty to follow this phenomenal feline story as it evolves.
– But for now, a personal anecdote: I’ve had some friends from Sweden staying with me this week, and this morning they shared a popular April Fool’s mantra from their country. It goes “April April Din Dumma Sill, Jag Kan Lura Dig Vart Jag Vill.”
This translates to “April April You Stupid Herring. I Can Fool You Whenever I Want.”
Less than five minutes after learning this hilarious couplet, the following bit of news appeared out of Memphis:
This morning a 7’2″ pitcher from Sweden, Sloof Lirpa, signed a season-long contract with the Memphis Redbirds.
The 24-year-old pitched four perfect games while playing in the Sverige Baseball League, leading the league in strikeouts, innings pitched and maintaining an ERA under 1.00 all of last year.
Loek Van Mil was unavailable for comment.
Another team guilty of a suspiciously-timed announcement are the suddenly ubiquitous Akron Aeros, who unveiled the news that “Homer the Polka-Dotted Pigeon” will be their new mascot:
This one might actually be true, as the Aeros had fans vote on the bird’s name throughout the week via an online fan poll. And this is an industry that has created Rally Pickles, Anthropomorphic Biscuits, and a DeerBanana, so is a polka-dot pigeon really that much of a stretch?
Minor League Baseball: Making stupid herrings of us all.
It’s early Friday afternoon as I type this, a time in which my readership is likely to be particularly wary of too many words. Who wants to be burdened with the onerous task of reading when the weekend is so near?
So let’s go to the videos! I’ve come across quite a few over the past several days, and would love nothing more than to share them with you, the world-weary word-wary reader:
The State College Spikes have been innovators in the field of mystery-themed promotions, making GM Jason Dambach’s total lack of deductive reasoning skills all the more surprising.
I love videos like that: set-up, punchline, and done in under a minute. Or done in under 30 seconds, in the case of the Tennessee Smokies. This one features a guy who really knows how to make an impression.
And the brevity continues, this time courtesy of the Charleston RiverDogs. Yesterday, the team released their own version of “Cannibal, the Movie”. This one is not for the faint of heart:
The mascot angst continues in Omaha, where Stormy the would-be Storm Chaser has suffered yet another indignity.
Similar feelings of rejection have recently been felt by Wilmington’s Rocky the Blue Moose, who has had difficulty updating his look:
I’ll close things out with what is only a somewhat gratuitous video. The Baseball Project’s excellent second album was released last week, and I highly recommend picking it up. The combination of accomplished rock n roll chops and literate, passionate baseball writing is truly something to behold. Here’s the band playing on Letterman around the time their first album was released:
Last year the State College Spikes staged their inaugural “Mystery at the Ballpark”, one of the most inventive (and absurd) promotions of the year. The team produced a series of short videos that aired on the videoboard throughout the evening, each one providing a clue in the mystery of “Who Stole Ike’s Hat?” (Ike being the Spikes mascot).
On July 28, the Spikes staged yet another “Mystery at the Ballpark.” GM Jason Dambach writes that “this year’s mystery involved the Nittany Bank Nookie Monster, who is trying to find out who stole his milk and cookies (each night at the end of the seventh inning we have a Nookie Monster Milk and Cookies special for $1). The videos played throughout our game, and fans who successfully followed the clues and solved the mystery got to turn in their guess to win tickets to a future game.”
To whet your appetite for this stirring saga of dairy product and dessert thievery, I now present parts one, two, and three of 2010′s “Mystery at the Ballpark”:
A Shocking Discovery
Rough Interrogation Techniques
There’s no going back now! Watch the rest of this gripping saga HERE.
But State College isn’t the only locale in which trouble has been a brewin’. In Sacramento, River Cats mascot Dinger (aka “Sam Spayed”) is hot on the trail of his arch-nemesis Mascot Von Mascot.
Much is at stake here, as Mascot Von Mascot has stolen the magical Rally Pants regularly worn by reliever Brad Kilby.
Here are Kilby and the pants, in happier times:
Tin Caps broadcaster (and expert blogger) Dan “Elementary, My Dear” Watson reports that during July 24th’s ballgame, Burlington Bees outfielder Hilton Richardson was mysteriously replaced in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The reason became clear two innings later, when axe-wielding firemen walked onto the field and into the Bees dugout. Their mission? To rescue Richardson, who had gotten trapped in the bathroom. The rescue operation resulted in significant damage to the offending door:
From “The Watson Files“:
When they finally got the door open, Richardson was standing there, done for the night, propped against the sink, arms folded, soaked in sweat (it was humid and the heat index was about 102 at game time), thoroughly disgusted with life.
And that’s the story of how the bathroom at Parkview Field is a home-field advantage.
Thanksto Watson for sharing this anecdote, as it ends a three-year lull in the always-entertaining sub-genre of “Minor League Player Gets Locked in Bathroom” (lest we forget, Matt Elliot’s 2007 restroom entrapment was featured in the New York Times).
The final mystery that I’ll mention this afternoon involves this very blog post, as my humorous closing sentence has gone missing.
After a long night of cross dressing and speed dating, it was very difficult for me to get out of bed on Tuesday morning. But a blaring bedside radio eventually aroused me from my slumber, the “open phone” portion of a local talk show. An elderly female caller was informing listeners of a wayward rooster who lived independently on the streets of Williamsport, celebrating the bird’s ability to survive sans welfare or any other untoward government handouts.
I very much enjoyed this idiosyncratic late-morning discourse, the vitality of which propelled me out of bed, into the shower, and out the doors of Williamsport’s historic (and recommended) Genetti Hotel. My next destination awaited: Medlar Field at Lumbrano Park, home of the State College Spikes (from now on I’m going to call the ballpark MF@LP, for brevity’s sake and also because it looks cool).
Fortunately State College is only an hour away, and I arrived just in time for Tuesday’s anomalous noon start. The facility is on the Penn State campus, and owned by the University. In addition to the Spikes, it also hosts the PSU baseball team.
From the outside:
Parked just outside the stadium, down the third base line, was a fire truck.
I was hoping the fire truck was there as a precautionary measure, anticipating conflagrations that might be caused by a preponderance of blazing hot coeds. This was not the case, however, as the truck was in fact providing a cooling mist for the many youngsters who had gathered to enjoy the “Super Splash Day” promotion.
My close proximity to these future safeties was not conducive to the present safety of my non-waterproof camera, so I wandered past to other parts of this sprawling facility.
The best name in Minor League Baseball? (it’s pronounced “N-Go-Pay”):
MF@LP is located in the shadow of massive Beaver Stadium:
Emphasizing the Big 10/New York-Penn League synergy:
Not too many Minor League ballparks feature outfield seating, especially at this level, but MF@LP isn’t just any ballpark. Here’s a view from the top, taken with Mount Nittany at my back and a song in my heart:
A Spike is an adolescent deer, one whom should not be taken lightly:
But if one tires of fearing the deer, he or she can go shoot a few at the arcade (Big Buck Hunter, far right)
I eventually retreated to the press box, in order to sample a pair of MF@LP’s finest concession items in air-conditioned splendor (thanks to Spikes gm Jason Dambach for procuring these delicacies).
The Deep-Fried PB&J, topped with powdered sugar:
This innovation is known as a “Walking Sundae.” A bag of mini-Oreos is crushed, opened sideways, and topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, and two cherries:
Both of the above items can be found at “Coaly’s Cones and Treats”, a concession area named in honor of PSU’s donkey mascot:
I walked off my double dessert as the game was winding down, witnessing a ninth-inning flare-up between Spikes skipper Gary Robinson and both umpires:
Ike the Mascot turns his back on such shenanigans:
But neither Robinson’s theatrics or Ike’s all-business demeanor could inspire the Spikes to victory, as they fell to Vermont by a score of 3-1.
At this point, all that was left to do was to deposit my garbage in the proper receptacles. At MF@LP, conscientious refuse-tossing is a breeze. The environmentally-friendly facility was the first professional ballpark to earn a LEED certification, and recycling opportunities abound.
Unfortunately there wasn’t a hole marked “jokes”, because those are my favorite things to recycle. I’d tell you the one about the blind doe, except I have no eye deer what the punchline is.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods’ “What Could’ve Been Night” was voted the top promotion in all of Minor League Baseball last season, an honor that thoroughly validated the once-fringe promotional concept of alternate reality celebration.
The Hot Rods’ success has inspired at least four teams to follow suit in 2010: The Quad Cities River Bandits, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Portland Beavers, and State College Spikes. I eagerly await each and every one of these promotions, but for now we shall focus on the goings-on in State College.
For the Spikes’ just released the details of August 27′s “What If Night”, details that I will now share with you.
Ever wish you could go back in time five years? The State College Spikes
are inviting fans to do just that by turning back the clock to the
franchise’s 2005 “Name the Team Contest” – the one that ultimately led
to “Spikes” being picked as team nickname – and selecting one of the
runner-up choices to have its moment of glory.
To play up the theme of the day, the team will take the field for that
night’s game against the Batavia Muckdogs as either the Anglers, Coalys,
Furnace or Haymakers, and Spikes fans will again have the power to
decide….The winning nickname will be honored with a logo and specially-designed
jerseys, which will be worn by the players during the August 27 game and
then auctioned off to fans in attendance that night.
This contest really brings me back, as a young Benjamin Hill wrote a news article in November of 2005 detailing the selection of “Spikes” as the team’s name. This was in MiLB.com’s first year of operation, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In that regard, little has changed.
– But speaking of alternate existences — how bizarre would it be if the universe’s most celebrated Wookie was in actuality a seven-foot tall British thespian prone to making appearances at Minor League ballparks?
That’s the mind-bending reality experienced by Oklahoma City baseball fans last week, as Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew pressed the flesh and smiled for the flash at Bricktown Ballpark.
Here he is with a young Jedi:
And here he is in the dugout with RedHawks manager Bobby Jones:
No word yet on what Chewbacca would select as his on-bat music, but while we wait for this crucial information please peruse THIS LIST of personalized player intro tunes provided by the Pacific Coast League’s Reno Aces.
In an alternate reality, I am a member of the Reno Aces hoping to make it back to the bigs. Each time I come to the plate, the crowd is regaled with THIS.