Results tagged ‘ Williamsport Crosscutters ’

Turn the Page, Part One

Have you ever tried to monitor the actions of 160 entities on a daily basis? That’s basically what my job is here at MiLB.com, and please believe me when I say that it can be overwhelming! Keeping track of a such a vast industry exacerbates my already quite pronounced OCD-tendencies, and leads to notebook pages such as the following:

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All of this is to say — it’s time to turn the page! But before doing so, please enjoy this bouillabaisse blog post consisting entirely of news items seen on the above notebook page. Y’know, topics that I’ve kept meaning to get around to but never did (or at least never did outside of the Twitter realm).

So here you go — no segues, just news news news!

Would you believe that the Hudson Valley Renegades have not one but TWO former MLB pitchers on their front office staff? Joe Ausiano (1994-95 Yankees) has long been with the team, and he has now been joined by Rob Bell (who played for four teams over seven big league seasons). Bell, now 36, will serve as a sales account executive.

Hudson Valley: home of Minor League Baseball’s best front office softball team?

The Iowa Cubs have long prided themselves on conducting the most irreverent website polls in MiLB, but decided not to continue with the practice after their site underwent an extensive re-design (as nearly all  team sites have done of late, courtesy of the tech wizards here at MLBAM).

But, rest assured, they went out on top of their poll game!

cubbbs

It’s always about Battle Creek

You may recall my recent post on Minor League Front Office Cliches, in which one of the cliches mentioned was “We wear a lot of hats.” This prompted @Interstate19Cap to reply, via Twitter: “I wear a lot of hats. Haha! I should work in MiLB.”

He also attached a picture of his formidable hat wall. Not quite at a St. Pete level, but close!

hatttz

You may or may not be aware of my most recent “Ben’s Bookshelf” column, which had a Black History Month angle.

bhmbookshelfI recommend all six of the titles shown above (read the article, linked to above), but there’s far more where that came from. Check out this bookshelf pic, sent to me via Twitter by @BeesGal_SLC, and marvel at its thoroughness.

That reminds me — I really should read Curt Flood’s book!

bhmreadz

On the promotion front —  this, from the Altoona Curve, is worthy of attention. April 11 will be BOpening Night, a tribute to batboy Bo Forney who passed away earlier this month at the age of 21.

Bo Forney, with the Dubble Bubble

Bo Forney, with the Dubble Bubble

From the team:

Bo has been an inspiration to many with the way he lived,” said Curve General Manager Rob Egan.  “He had the rare ability to make anybody who came in contact with him feel better.  Bo was such a positive person, loved life, and truly enjoyed people.  We miss him deeply and look forward to celebrating his life on ‘BOpening Night’ and throughout the season.”

A silent auction will take place during BOpening Night with all proceeds from the auction benefitting the American Heart Association.  The auction will consist of game-used items from the Pirates-Curve Exhibition game and will include, in addition to other items, 14-game used jerseys that have been signed by former Curve players /current Pirates players.    

To commemorate the life of Forney, a patch with Bo’s cartoon likeness will be affixed to all bat boys uniforms throughout the 2013 season.  The Forney family will also be in attendance for BOpening Night and will throw out ceremonial first pitches prior to the game.  A moment of silence will be held in Bo’s honor prior to the game as well. 

This reminds me of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who last season held a ballpark service for vendor Brock Calmes. Events like these help to illustrate the deep bonds that form within Minor League Baseball ballparks, and just how meaningful the presence of Minor League Baseball within a community can be.

Last week, the Tacoma Rainiers let it be known that anyone willing to purchase 350 Opening Weekend ticket deals would receive this pyramid of Dustin Ackley bobbleheads. I don’t think that anyone took them up on it.

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Next I’d like to give a shoutout to Spikes, intrepid mascot for your (or at least someone’s) Rochester Red Wings. He joins Rocky of the Wilmington Blue Rocks as the only mascots (that I am aware of) to take part in a Polar Plunge for charity.

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During all 10 of their Friday night home games this season, the Charlotte Knights will be wearing 1990 throwback uniforms. Luxuriate in this image!

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This initiative was inspired by the fact that 2013 will be the team’s last at Knights Stadium. 1990 was the first. Sez the team:

The jerseys, which were worn by the inaugural Knights Stadium Team in 1990, will now be worn by the current Knights team during the new “Flashback Fridays” series, which is set to commemorate 24 years of history at Knights Stadium.

To return to philanthropic endeavors, the Erie SeaWolves are now at the tail end of their “Drive to Five” initiative. 

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The most pertinent of the details:

Through February 28, the Erie SeaWolves will donate $25 to United Way for each new full-season ticket package purchased. If 100 new season ticket packages are purchased, the SeaWolves will double the contribution – raising $5,000 to help United Way achieve its goal to reduce poverty in our region.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys detailed analysis of industry-wide attendance figures, then you’re going to love the Number Tamer. Nobody does it better! (Or, if someone does, I’m certainly not aware of it).

As you may be aware, one of this year’s most ill-fated sporting ventures occurred in Williamsport, PA. The Federal Hockey League’s Outlaw franchise set up shop at outdoor Bowman Field (longtime home of the Crosscutters), an idea that may sound cool in theory but turned out to be a unmitigated financial disaster. The team pulled the plug on the season mid-way through, leaving everyone in the lurch, and once this happened the Crosscutters offered a quick response via this local newspaper ad:

Outlaws_Exchange_AD

This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but nonetheless I encourage you like Lancaster JetHawks mascot KaBoom on Facebook. Here’s why:

kaboom

Speaking of inadvisable mascot feats, here’s a picture of Lake County’s Skipper, immediately after “Tackling the Tower.”

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“Tackling the Tower” isn’t some sort of euphemism, but an annual stair-climbing event with (of course) philanthropic intent. Good work, Skipper!

And, my goodness, this notebook page still has a lot of stuff on it. This post is gonna be a two-parter.

Everything I do, I do it for you.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbizb

Rain Check, Please!

I have more “On the Road” content to come — from last month’s trip down South and last week’s jaunt to Lowell — but, for now, how about something completely different? Loyal reader Pete Golkin is a proponent of an idea that I had never heard of before and, for all that I know, he invented: a universal Minor League Baseball raincheck.

The impetus for the idea is simple. Golkin, like myself (and surely many of my readers) loves visiting Minor League ballparks throughout the country. But when attending games in this context, rain checks are useless. When, if ever, will the traveling fan be able to return to the stadium in question in order to redeem them? Golkin, therefore, wants teams to issue industry-wide rainchecks that are redeemable at any Minor League stadium. This would certainly take some bureaucratic finagling, and I’m really not sure how feasible it would be. But I like the idea, and in response to Golkin’s request that I promote the idea I did him one better. I simply asked him to write the post himself.

So here we go! A poignant plea for the Universal Rain Check, written by loyal Minor League Baseball fan Pete Golkin in the form of a humorous essay:

I finally used my Williamsport Crosscutters rain check. Actually the wife deserves credit. Heading out early a few Sundays ago, she plucked the humble scrap from a kitchen shelf and inscribed these words on the back: “Please use MANGO for bkfst.”

A forgettable detour on The Road to The Show but a victory for Vitamins A, C and B6.

And that’s the problem. If your summer travel includes Priceline, tolls, a dose of the local culture (battlefields, snacks on conveyor belts, robot tobacco farmers) and a nightly topping of Minor League Baseball, ol’ Mr. Rain Check will likely land in your wallet but only to die there.

In the case of Williamsport, who could complain?  We had already soaked up a day of the Norman Rockwellness that is the Little League World Series on the town’s south end. And a third ballgame in 7 hours, even one featuring post-pubescent pros, was testing the limits of an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old jonesing for motel Nickelodeon.

Still, we waited two hours in the heavy night drizzle. The Crosscutters and Muckdogs never got past their dugouts and we left “Historic Bowman Field” —4 hours from our old Virginia home—knowing we were done there for the season. Moosic and Harrisburg were calling, to be followed by a new school year.

Historic Bowman Field

But what if that rain check wasn’t limited to Williamsport? What if I could have used it the next night in the next park down the road? For that matter, how about anywhere in Minor League ball for the rest of the year?

Call it the “Universal Rain Check” and bask in the resulting goodwill, MiLB.

OK, maybe some accounting issues would need to be resolved.

But remember, we’re talking about Minor League Baseball tickets. They’re not supposed to break the bank or become scarce–which is why you’ll never see a scalper in the parking lots at Danville, Greensboro or Richmond.

To work out the details, I suggest calling in the same accountants who said my old sliced cheese wrapper meant two-for-one admission anywhere on a Tuesday. And if I have to prove I’m an out-of-towner to get a rain check with “range,” I’ll gladly show a driver’s license. Simple stuff.

So on behalf of baseball pilgrims everywhere—at least the ones not bound for Fenway in an SUV limo–give the Universal Rain Check a shot, MiLB. It can only mean more fans up and down the road.

Oh, and while you’re at it, how about accepting MLB gift cards? I’ve got two I need to use before I lose them.

If you have any opinions on Mr. Golkin’s proposal, then, please, let them be known in the comments section. In the words of lifelong Minor League Baseball fan Mahatmas Gandhi: “Be the change you seek.”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Compelling Compendium

It’s the first Friday of 2012, and what better way to celebrate than by doing the same sort of thing I’ve always done? That’s right — it’s time for another rollicking blog bouillabaisse! This particular bouillabaisse will take the form of the third edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top 10!

The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s do this!

Follow this guy on Twitter: @BensBiz

10. Gum included

For those living in NYC, let it be known that @EconomyCandy in Lower East Side sells wax packs of ’87 and ’89 Topps for .75 cents.

My ’87 Topps-themed post from earlier this week was met with much enthusiasm, and I was very gratified to read the various emails, Tweets, and Facebook and blog comments that were issued in response. If the post got you feeling nostalgic for that era of baseball cards AND you live in NYC, then head over to Economy Candy in the Lower East Side. It is a truly wonderful establishment.

9. And speaking of ’87 Topps and how it relates to Minor League Baseball…

RT @blueclaws: @bensbiz did feature on ’87 Topps set (25th anniversary) – Claws gave out these replicas in 2010: http://twitpic.com/83hxkk

8. Offseason drama

One of my favorite Tweets from a Minor League player, ever.

RT @murraywatts: Hey lady down the street yelling at me to get out of her yard…it’s cool, I brought a bag for the dog poop

Watts to lady: "It's cool."

7. They’ve got the Clapp!

Fans of Canadian baseball icons with hilarious names rejoice: Stubby Clapp returns as @ValleyCats mgr in 2012 http://bit.ly/AwtqiT

Hopefully, Stubby will find something to get riled up about during the 2012 season. This, from last year, was classic:

6. Dance Dance Revolution

Overlooked logo sub-genre! RT @shorebirds: Check out the new Shorebirds Dance Team Logo! http://twitpic.com/832cga

Yes, check it out:

5. The Original Odd Couple

The @RPhils Opening Day bobblehead features Ryan Howard and his best friend the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor: http://bit.ly/vZPr7y

4. What to wear while Googling “Santorum”

Tis the Season! NH @FisherCats offering “New Hampshire Primaries” merch http://bit.ly/zyUNnQ (“Primaries” was team’s original name)

3. A Most A-peel-ing Individual

This year’s best Hot Stove Banquet guest? @Crosscutters welcoming Dave “The Great Potato Caper” Bresnahan http://bit.ly/Ar5Ult

If you don’t know anything about the “Great Potato Caper,” then it’s really time to educate yourself. Click on the above link to start…

2. Christmas in July, in January

On 7/27, @LCCaptains staging 3rd annual “Christmas Story”-themed giveaway. Meet “The Pink Nightmare” http://yfrog.com/h4vd4cdj

 1. Local Hero
Speaking strictly as a fan, it’s likely that @IronPigs Jamie Moyer bobblehead (wearing HS uni) will be my favorite giveaway of 2012.
True story: Jamie Moyer’s sister was my fourth and fifth grade music teacher at Shady Grove Elementary. In fifth grade she kicked me out of chorus for chronic misbehavior, and I would now like to apologize: Ms. Moyer, I’m sorry.
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Thanks for the Memories

Writing a pre-Thanksgiving post on “what I am thankful for” has the whiff of an obligatory elementary school essay assignment, but I want to get something up on this slice of the internet before it all goes (mercifully) dark for the holidays.

And you know what I’m thankful for? That I have a job that puts me in absurd situations on a regular basis. Some highlights from the 2011 season.

Racing as a Taco Bell Hot Sauce packet in Lancaster:

If you can't take the heat...

Winning the “Molar Race” in Inland Empire:

Winning a burrito-eating contest in Fort Wayne:

Emptying an entire Kleenex box in Lake County, in less than a minute:

Pied atop the dugout in Akron:

Exhibiting proper Pickle Dog-eating technique in Charleston:

Manning an HD camera in Durham:

Refereeing a flip cup contest in Williamsport:

Losing a sumo match in Bowie:

And, of course — Rally Banana-ing in Delmarva:

The point of this unbridled exercise in Holiday week narcissism is…well…I guess there is no point. But I do want to issue a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has supported these absurd endeavors of mine. And it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2012 season — please, get in touch if you have any suggestions regarding Minor League places to go and things to do.  I really do try to say “yes” as much as possible.

Finally, two stories are up today that I’d really appreciate if you checked out. First up is my story on Greg Halman, who was stabbed to death earlier this week. I talked to people who knew him at all stops on his Minor League journey, and did the best I could to write something that went beyond “I’m shocked that his happened” quotes.

Elsewhere, I have a guest column up on Baseball Propectus. It’s a pretty through overview of the Minor League mindset, and I sincerely hope it brings a few new converts into the fold.

Thanks again,

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Finding Temporary Employment in Williamsport

The need to sync up blog and MiLB.com content has caused me to take chronological liberties with this most recent road trip, which actually started on Tuesday evening in Williamsport before heading to already-written about Aberdeen.

And even though I visited Williamsport last season, this year’s trip had a different purpose: to serve as a promo intern for a day. My place of employment was to be Bowman Stadium, the second-oldest facility in all of Minor League Baseball.

Before punching in, I took a few shots of the surroundings.

Upon arriving, Cutters VP of marketing Gabe Sinicropi handed me an oversized Cutters jersey (my uniform) and put me to work. My first task was to join intern Erik Tuomisto for a most important task: wrangling up fans for the evening’s wide array of games and contests.

I wrote all about this in today’s MiLB.com piece, but it was a bit of an anxiety-inducing experience. Sizing up and approaching people is hard work (which, come to think of it, may explain why I’m single).

Being overly analytical as opposed to a man of action, I spent a lot of time documenting instead of doing.

And soon enough I had to desert my post. I was the evening’s guest on “Cutters Pre-Game Live”, an an onfield-show hosted by Sinicropi.

Knowing my affinity for pinball, Gabe asked me what my favorite machine of all time is. I enthusiastically extolled the virtues of Medieval Madness, thereby fulfilling my long time desire to talk about pinball in the presence of a New York-Penn League stadium audience.

The next question was “If you could change one thing about Minor League Baseball, what would it be?”

I drew a blank, and finally said “I love you just the way you are, Minor League Baseball” (note: not entirely true).

After the interview, Cutters coach Jorge Velandia emerged from the dugout and introduced himself.  He wanted to say thank you for an article I had written about him, which I appreciated. With this job, it’s very easy to get into the (false) mindset that no one is reading, and reminders to the contrary really go a long way.

I also enjoyed meeting Cutters manager Mickey Morandini, who I was a big fan of during his playing days with the Phillies. Here’s Mickey and his old friend the Phillie Phanatic, a special ballpark guest who entertained the fans throughout the evening.

Cutters mascot Boomer, a Phanatic disciple,  was on hand as well.

I spent the majority of the game “helping” to facilitate the various between-inning games and contests, though I have the sneaking suspicion that my myriad contributions were less than crucial.

This was “59 Seconds To Win It,” in which the contestant had to flip a cup from the edge of a table onto a water bottle.

The base of operations for the promo crew is a little alcove down the first base line, between the grandstand seating and the bleachers. It is here that the props for upcoming games are stashed, and where the various contestants hang out before getting their moment of on-field glory.

Boomer shuffled back and forth throughout, as his “Bungalow” is located just behind this area (underneath the grandstand).

And what an inviting house of respite it is!

I enjoyed interacting with the various folks who hung out at our promo base of operations. Here, intern Katie shows off a most unusual fashion accessory.

This little girl was waiting to dance with the Phanatic and Boomer in a between-inning skit. To pass the time, we made faces at one another.

This was one of the “Innings Kids”, who had the all-important job of informing fans of each new inning by parading the number around the field.  He took his job very seriously.

And — hey! — here’s my old pal Mickey Morandini.

The Crosscutters defeated the Scrappers, a key victory in the midst of a heated New York-Penn League pennant race.

I was out on the field post-game because the final endeavor of the evening was a $10,ooo challenge, in which contestants had to roll a baseball from behind second base and onto home plate. A very difficult task, and while some valiant attempts were made in the end no one succeeded.

Sorry, guys.

My recommended consolation prize would be this shirt, easily one of my favorite pieces of apparel in Minor League Baseball.

It’s hard to be in a bad mood about anything when you’ve got Boomer emblazoned across the chest.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

The Usual, With a Side of Surprise

Last week I made the observation that the Tucson Padres’ new logo would be the last unveiled this offseason.

What I meant to say was that it would be the last primary logo unveiled this offseason. Because, of course, new logos cannot and will not be stopped. Not now and not ever. The latest to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting public is this:

QCASGlogo.jpgAll of the information you need to know about the logo is contained within the logo itself, but in the interest of being redundant as well as redundant I’ll note that the Quad Cities River Bandits are hosting the 2011 Midwest League All-Star Game at Modern Woodmen Park.

And — what’s this? — the logo is NOT I repeat NOT the work of either Studio Simon or Plan B Branding. According to the press release: The logo was designed by Francis Santiquilani of FS Design. Santiquilani also designed the new River Bandits logos in 2007.

While I recover from this shocking news (a logo not designed by Plan B or Studio Simon? Is this even possible?), let me divert your attention with my new favorite photo in the always-entertaining category of “Bobblehead Honoree Posing With His Or Her Bobblehead.”

Let’s hear it for pitcher Mike Zagurski and the Lakewood BlueClaws!

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I really do not wish to be rude, but how awesome would it have been if the BlueClaws had gotten Zagurski to participate in the “Truffle Shuffle” contest during last season’s Goonies promotion?
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But I digress…

February is nearly upon us, and you know what that means — Valentine’s Day! I’ll do a comprehensive post on Minor League V-Day initiatives in the near future, but for now I’d just like to share the most romantic desktop wallpaper ever created.

This, courtesy of the Williamsport Crosscutters:

VDay Wallpaper.png

If that won’t put your special someone in the mood then I’m afraid nothing will.

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

Tis the Season For Blog Posts With Tis In the Title

191.pngWelcome to the 191st, and final, Ben’s Biz Blog installment of 2010. It’s been a year filled with love, laughs, and learning, much better than 2009′s alliterative noun triumvirate of ambiguity, ambivalence, and antipathy.

But now, like a timid jouster, it’s time to go gently into that good Knight. Before doing so, let’s take a metaphorical spin around the proverbial block in order to see how Minor League teams across the country are celebrating the holidays.

We’ll start with some photos from Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field, which is looking rather picturesque this time of year.

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Despite this not being a good time of year for apple-seed dispersal, Johnny seems to be good spirits. Any row he sits in becomes a de facto “tinpan alley.”

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Later, he got all introspective in the home dugout.

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Moving from introspection to Inland Empire, the 66ers have put together a video chronicling their wokplace Secret Santa follies. The lesson here is that traditionally-sized clothing is anathema to the mascot race.

And, by the way, the 66ers have a new blog. Check it out. Perhaps one day the team will reach the blogging heights that have been attained by the Great Lakes Loons, who recently put together a mammoth photo-heavy year-in-review post. THIS is probably the best single post done by a Minor League team this year.

Meanwhile, the Williamsport Crosscutters put together an article in which former players share their Christmas memories.

crosschristmas.gif

The best Christmas recollection comes courtesy of Evan Porter: Last year I was with my family on Christmas morning, when I got a call from former teammates Adam Buschini and Jeremy Barnes. They both just called to say how much they missed me. Made me cry, and then Poppa brought in a baby Golden Retriever puppy.

And it wouldn’t be December in the Minors without a team-produced “Twas the Night Before Christmas” parody. This year, the Bowie Baysox got in on the action. 

If you would like to be wrapped up all cozy like the infantile team employees in the above video, then — guess what? — the Montgomery Biscuits have got you covered.

Naughty, nice, doesn’t matter.

And finally — mercifully — that’s going to put an end to Ben’s Biz Blog 2010. Here’s to a magical, magnanimous, and altogether marvelous 2011.

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

So That You May Now Know the Newest News

tucson.jpgThose who work for Minor League Baseball teams have no say whatsoever when it comes to trades, free agency, and player development. Nonetheless, the flame of the industry’s hot stove is just as scorching as that which emanates from the Majors. It’s just heating up a different pot is all. 

One big piece of news was made official yesterday, with the announcement that the franchise formerly known as the Portland Beavers will be playing in Tucson in 2011 (and, perhaps, beyond). More on that can be found HERE, and rest assured I’ll be providing updates on that situation as it progresses.

And as an aside — when I first started this blog a man by the name of Benny Hill wouldbenny.jpg periodically email me his thoughts on the Tucson Sidewinders. You still out there, Benny? Your name is my name too, and I’d like to hear what you think about yesterday’s announcement. 

Far more prevalent than franchise re-location are identity overhauls, featuring new logos and, in some cases, new team names. The Lake County Captains released their new marks on Wednesday, and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers continue to churn out numerically-obsessed promotional videos in anticipation of November 12′s grand unveiling.

On an even greater scale is the Omaha Royals, who will be announcing the results of their “Name the Team” contest on November 15.

I will say once again that my choice is “Omahogs.”

As for that which has already happened, the newly re-christened Jackson Generals have unveiled the logo for the 2011 Southern League All-Star Game. As with the Lake Captains logo, this is a Studio Simon effort: 

jaxgen.jpg

Moving from logos to stadium renovations, the South Bend Silver Hawks have announced that Coveleski Stadium will be getting a $10 million facelift. 

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There will be improvements galore, but my favorite is this: “Huge fire pit for those cold days in April and May.”

Speaking of improvements, the Toledo Mud Hens are making available a customized Firefox add-on browser.

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Sez the team: The add-on is complete with a scrolling Hens’ news ticker, video and image updates, Hens’ downloads, and much, much more!

Are any other teams doing this? The Mud Hens are the first I’ve seen.

Finally, while I do my best to ignore Christmas-related endeavors until after Thanksgiving, the first item of the Williamsport Crosscutters’ “Eight Weeks of Cutters” gift guide caught my eye (and you know how painful that can be).

It’s the Boomer plush doll!

plush.gif 

And — hey! — I almost forgot: It’s Gratuitous Video Friday! Today’s selection is an old promo for “Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman!”, one of the most funny, subversive, and ahead of its time TV shows ever made.

Hey Sony! Release more “Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman!” on DVD!

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

The Legend Grows

It’s early Friday afternoon here at Ben’s Biz Blog HQ — time to finish the work week off strong and head into the weekend with verve, moxie, pep, and, above all, swagger.

Those who need a boost in any of the above categories will soon get it, as I am proud to announce the triumphant return of one of 2010′s most inspiring characters: The Confident Kid of Trenton, NJ!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cheer2.jpg

The above photo, featuring the Confident Kid and a trio of Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders, was taken during the Trenton Thunder’s “NFL Kickoff Night” promotion. I thought it was the only such photo that existed, but I was wrong.

This week a proactive reader alerted me to the fact that additional photos of the Confident Kid do in fact exist, taken by Suzette Lucas of mercerspace.com.

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(the above three photos: Suzette Lucas, mercermag.com)

In other news, the offseason continues unabated. A new Minoring in Business column went up today, an in-depth look at how teams operate while no baseball is being played. It includes the perspective of GMs, stadium ops, food and beverage, broadcasters, and more. It also answers the question of what I do in the offseason, which is ask other people what they are doing in theirs.

And, of course, Halloween’s rapid encroachment upon the national consciousness is being reflected in the Minor Leagues. In a bit of distressing news, the Connecticut Tigers announced yesterday that three Tigers scarecrows had been stolen from the front yard of the nearby Leffingwell House Museum.

ctcrow.jpg

From the press release:

The Tigers are asking that the scarecrows (and more importantly the jerseys and pants) be returned with no questions asked. They can be dropped off at Dodd Stadium or at the Leffingwell House Museum. “This really is a shame, talent wise these were some of the best scarecrows we have seen in years,” said GM Andrew Weber. “They could also really fill-out a uniform.”

In further New York-Penn League Halloween News (second only to “chilean miners” as a Google search term), the Williamsport Crosscutters are offering fans the chance to go trick-or-treating with the inimitable Boomer! (apparently, the exclamation mark is now part of Boomer!’s name, making him the mascot equivalent of the Roots’ ?uestlove).

booms.gif
The above photo indicates that Boomer! plans to dress as a mummy this Halloween, but the press release includes info that contradicts this assumption:

[Boomer!'s] costume won’t be a mystery as he stated, “I really wanted to dress up as Lady Gaga, but I’ve been told I won’t really need a costume so I guess I’m just going as BOOMER!.”
 

Jeez…In addition to the exclamation mark, it looks like Boomer!’s name needs to be written in bold-face as well. Now that’s confidence.

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

On the Road: Boomer Looms and Love Blooms in Williamsport

Wport_scoreboard.JPGI spent yesterday evening at 59-year-old FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, but that facility is a veritable spring chicken compared to that which can be found approximately two hours north.

Bowman Field, the home of the Williamsport Crosscutters, opened its doors in 1926. The 84-year-old facility is second only to Vermont’s Centennial Field in the category of “oldest Minor League Baseball stadium”, and it remains an excellent place in which to wile away one’s leisure hours.

Or one’s professional hours, as was the case for me on Monday. I arrived at Bowman about an hour before game time, after braving a hellacious thunderstorm en route. From the outside, the Stadium looks like a place that Bowser might call home.

Sorry, Mario, but the Princess is in another castle:

WPort_BowmanExterior.JPG

The entrance leads into a concourse of sorts, featuring a concession area, the team store, and the Kid’s Zone:

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From there, a narrow ramp leads directly into the seating area. It’s a very simple set-up: a covered grandstand comprises the bulk of the seating, with several rows of box seats soon giving way to bleachers. A separate bleacher seating area is located down the first base line, while down the third base line is an additional concession area and the “Cutters Cove” party area.

When I arrived, ‘Cutters director of marketing Gabe Sinicropi was just about to begin his nightly on-field pre-game show. The guest on this evening was Kelly Mazzante, a WNBA veteran from the Williamsport area:

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As a prominent local female, Mazzante was an appropriate guest given that the evening’s promotion was “Girl’s Night Out at the Ballpark.” The next pregame activity was a “Belle of the Ballpark” contest, in which five local ladies competed to win a $500 gift certificate from a local jeweler. The judges included 2009′s “Belle of the Ballpark”, a local DJ, and Crosscutters pitcher Bryan Morgado. These were the contestants, shown through the netting because they were all great catches:

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Meanwhile, ‘Cutters players took their final warm-up swings in the batting cage located beyond the third base bleachers. As the rules make clear, State College players are not allowed in this area.

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The dugouts at Bowman are located far down the base lines, next to (as opposed to in front of) the box seats.

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Boomer the mascot has long been one of my favorite costumed characters, and the first time I spied him was when he was leading the belles off of the field:

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I tried to work up the nerve to introduce myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What if he didn’t like me? Instead I just gazed at him from afar:

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That man in the yellow shirt is Rhashan West-Bey, the Crosscutters “Director of Smiles.” He is perhaps the most well-known figure in the ballpark, an ebullient individual who greets the fans, leads them in cheers, and serves as an all-around fountain of positive energy.

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The “Girls Night Out” theme continued throughout the evening. All participants in between-inning games and contests were female, player headshots featured conspicuous lipstick marks, and Beyonce was heard over the PA on many, many occasions.

(And speaking of that which was heard over the PA, at one point Fergie’s “London Bridge (Oh Snap)” blasted through the loudspeakers. Except for one problem — it wasn’t the “Oh Snap” version, and instead another four-letter s-word was heard repeatedly. That was an unfortunate mistake, but to me the most offensive aspect of the song is the extent to which Fergie is ripping off the far superior Missy Elliot.)

But inadvertent ballpark profanity paled in comparison to the evening’s considerable charms, such as the cross-dressing ways of “Lynette” the peanut vendor:

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Watching a ballgame, 1926 style:

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The home team won, 3-2, and celebration ensued:

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This carpet mascot approved of the outcome:

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And with everyone in a good mood, it was time for some romance! “Girls Night Out” continued with a post-game party at the ‘Cutters Cove, highlighted by speed dating with the players:

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The sparks didn’t seem to be flying on this Monday evening, however, with the exception of pitcher David Buchanan and this young lady. They talked for at least 30 seconds beyond their allotted one minute together:

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As those two lovebirds got lost in each other’s eyes, the Director of Smiles took it upon himself to start a dance party:

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The Macarena followed shortly thereafter:

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Soon all the ladies had disappeared from the floor, and the night ended with Rhashan and the players two-steppin’ the night away. I got the feeling that this was a common occurrence.

From here on out, everything was a blur:

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

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