And today I want to focus on something near and dear to my heart, something that to a large extent fell through the cracks during the 2008 season. And that something is this: Beyond the Box Score.
This monthly in-season column served as a way to chronicle the offbeat, absurd, and quirky incidents that occurred in the Minor Leagues during the previous month. It was essentially Promotion Preview’s on-field equivalent. The two columns, together, represented the duality of the Minor League universe. Here they are: April. May. June. July. August.
Granted, the name “Beyond the Box Score” is overused, and we may change that for ’09. But the column will return. It must return. It is too good not to.
But, here’s the thing. I hate to be a broken record with this, but I need your help. It is impossible for me to notice all the strange things that happen in the Minor Leagues. I am rarely “in the trenches”, unfortunately. Instead, circumstance forces me to take it all in from my idyllic Manhattan observation tower. It is easy for things to get overlooked.
So – broadcasters, media relations directors, GMs, ushers, vendors, fans, etc etc etc — get in touch anytime something unexpected or unique happens on the playing field. Here are 5 examples from last season. There’s plenty more where this came from:
Well, That Was Convenient: On April 8, Lancaster and
Inland Empire played an extra-inning game that was eventually suspended
after 15 frames. During the game, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles
Dodgers executed a trade involving Lancaster infielder Christian Lara,
who had spent the ballgame on the JetHawks bench. As a result of the
trade, Lara was transferred from Lancaster’s roster to that of Inland
Empire, a Dodgers affiliate. When the contest resumed the following
day, Lara completed it as a member of the 66ers, meaning that he had worn the uniform of both teams during the course of the same game.
Gettin’ It Done on Both Ends: Portland outfielder Jay Johnson did it all in the Sea Dogs’ 17-inning, 8-7 win
over the Connecticut Defenders, on April 16. The 25-year-old pitched
two scoreless innings and then made himself the game’s winning pitcher
by blasting an RBI double off of fellow position-player-turned-pitcher
Simon Klink in the bottom of the 17th.
Well, That’s One Way to Do It: On May 5, Brevard County’s Darren Ford tied a Florida State League record by stealing five bases in a game
against Clearwater. But not only did Ford accomplish this feat in a
losing cause – he didn’t even hit safely in the contest. The
22-year-old speedster reached base on an error in the first inning and
promptly stole second and third. In the third, he then reached on a
fielder’s choice and swiped second. Ford then drew a walk in the sixth
and once again stole second and third to give him five stolen bases on
the evening. With the record in reach, Ford struck out in his final two
at-bats. It then took him 14 games to accumulate another five stolen
You Are About to Enter the Twilight Zone: Games don’t get much
weirder than Springfield’s 7-3, 13-inning win over Tulsa on July 14. In
a perhaps unprecedented occurrence, the winning and losing “pitchers” were both catchers.
The historic contest was the second game of a doubleheader, and both
teams ran out of genuine hurlers as the night wore on. Cardinals
backstop Matt Pagnozzi tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings and earned the
win, while former teammate Brian Esposito threw three shutout frames
for Tulsa before allowing four runs in the 13th — three of which came
as a result of Pagnozzi’s bases-loaded double.
His Middle Name is “Good”: Over 13 relief appearances for the Princeton Devil Rays, Chris Luck went 6-0 with a 2.25 ERA. No other pitcher on the Rays’ staff finished the season with more than three wins.
I’ll be sure to shill for this column several more times before now and Opening Day, because I want it to be the best it can be. Please help in my quest to make this a reality.