Results tagged ‘ sword swallowing ’

Fostering Intimacy Across the Digital Divide

Well, now that the hot dog furor has subsided I suppose it’s once again time for me to update this blog. So update, I will — by giving you a peek into my world.

I spend the bulk of my day in a remote corner of MiLB.com HQ, where few individuals dare to tread. It’s where the stagnation magic happens!

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Amidst the plastic cutlery and teetering tower of cans, you’ll notice an array of Minor League memorabilia. To gaze upon it is to take a trip down memory lane.

Who could ever forget Subtle Butt?

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Here lies the customized 4XL “MiLB.com” shirt I wore during my brief stint as “Giorgio the Bloggerman.”

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This shirt, which I received during my 2010 visit to Huntsville, has been worn on many a first date.

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I’m not sure why there haven’t been any second dates.

Next to the shirt, and laid atop a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pennant, is another Huntsville memento. It’s a postcard featuring sword swallower Dan Meyer, one of the most interesting people I have met whilst on the road.

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A new addition to my burgeoning pile of Minor League detritus are customized Baseband Bracelets, resting comfortably on the almighty Cave Shrimp Bobblefoot distributed by the Bowling Green Hot Rods this past season. 

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Unfortunately, Ben’s Biz Blog wrapping paper was a huge flop. I’ve got several thousand unsold crates of the stuff up at a warehouse in Poughkeepsie:

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Finally, and apropos of nothing, an unopened R.Kelly bobblehead. I plan on sending my kids to college with this thing, so long as I have kids and they attend a college that costs less than $45.

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Meanwhile, actual news just keeps happening. In case you missed it, here’s a link to my MiLB.com story on the Pensacola-Zebulon-Kinston developments. I plan on diving deeper into the ramifications of all this in 2011. 

And today it was announced that the purchase of the Triple-A Padres has been finalized.pads.gif Very little has changed since my November story on the topic, but it is likely that the team will play in Tucson for two seasons before moving to Escondido, CA (providing the ballpark there is officially approved by city council, recent events indicate that it will be). 

Two more articles of note:

– A look at a new Minor League literary effort: Dave Hoekstra’s “Cougars and Snappers and Loons (Oh My!): A Midwest League Field Guide.

A profile of Studio Simon’s Dan Simon, one of the primary players in the Minor League logo scene.

I have two more blog posts lined up for 2010, and they will be decidedly less me-centric. Thanks, as always, for reading.

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:

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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:

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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

Wiffle Ball Just Wasn't In the Stars…But Sword Swallowing Was

A Thorough Documentation of My Night With the Huntsville Stars, in Words, Pictures, and Video.

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As those of you with memories may recall, I was out of town and away from the blog for all of last week.

I had a good reason for this — the Huntsville Stars were attempting to set the world record for “Longest Wiffle Ball Game of All Time”, and I decided that it was my duty to document the action. This epic game of wiffle ball was scheduled to begin on Friday, May 15th, after the conclusion of that night’s contest between the Stars and the visiting Chattanooga Lookouts. In theory, it was to last all the way until 6 pm on Sunday.

Just one problem, though — torrential downpours and lightning storms in the Huntsville area put a kibosh on death-defying feats of Wiffle stamina. When my two friends (Frick and Frack, respectively) and I arrived at the ballpark, here is the sight that greeted us:

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That meant that the evening’s regularly scheduled plan was out of the question. There would be no Wiffle ball.

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But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s certainly the philosophy of Huntsville Stars GM Buck Rogers, who was determined to have a good time at the ballpark despite this significant setback.

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Buck, who doesn’t seem to do anything halfway, had hired the services of one Dan Meyer for the evening. Dan is a sword-swallower, and an expert practitioner of his craft. The downpour had relegated him to the team’s picnic area, giving him nothing much to do.

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By this point in the evening, the game had been called and there were only a smattering of people left in the ballpark (mostly members of the Stars’ front office staff). But the lack of an audience didn’t deter Buck, who asked Dan to give a demonstration of his skills on the outfield grass. Dan, as befits a true professional, was more than happy to oblige.

So, it had come to this. What I had thought would be a 44-hour game of Wiffle ball had somehow morphed into an impromptu on-field sword-swallowing performance in front of an audience of 15 people.

It is things like this that make me glad to be alive.

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Dan began his performance by giving a detailed explanation of the sword’s journey (“it will hit my heart in the center of my chest…”). He then swallowed the sword, giving Buck the opportunity to pull it out. Behold the video:
 

For the grand finale — the bullwhip:

Needless to say, this was the most fun I had ever had at a Minor League rainout.

And let me state the obvious: Dan Meyer is an extremely entertaining performer. I believe that this appearance in Huntsville was his Minor League debut, but he has performed the world over in a variety of (literally) jaw-dropping situations. Perhaps most notably, he swallowed a 30-inch sword underwater while surrounded by sharks and stingrays. Check it out here. He has also founded the Sword Swallowers Association International, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting this dying art.

Truly, one of the things I like most about supplemental Minor League ballpark entertainment is that it is welcoming to performers like Dan Meyer. Individuals such as Rubberboy, Dave the Horn Guy, Myron Noodleman, and Mad Chad bring vaudeville sensibilities to the masses, helping to keep alive a dying and distinctly American form of traveling entertainment.

In closing, I must acknowledge the fine work of Mr. Joseph Pisch, who took all the photos and video seen in this post. I would also like to thank Mr. Jonathan Fischer, my personal chaffeur. That’s Joe on the left, and Jon on the right. They tried to get in on the freak show theme by smashing each other’s thumbs with a hammer, but all it ended up eliciting was stares of disgust and pity. 

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Of course, there was more to my Southern odyssey than just this one trip to Huntsville. When time allows, I’ll do a follow-up post highlighting a few other memorable moments.

Until then, send me an email. and tell me why I absolutely need to visit your Minor League ballpark. I would very much like to.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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