Results tagged ‘ Boise Hawks ’

On the Road: Cheesesteak and Euphemisms in Boise

To see all posts from my August 10 visit to the Boise Hawks, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

At Memorial Stadium, home of the Boise Hawks, I met a man named Sean Miller. But Sean was not just any man. Sean had volunteered to be my designated eater, consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.

img_0342Sean, who works as a branch manager for construction machinery corporation Caterpillar, is an Idaho guy. He’s lived in Boise for the past 15 years, and before that he was in Pocatello. He and his friends are big baseball fans, to the extent that they’ll think nothing of leaving Boise at midnight to hit up a Rockies day game.

“All I need is a Rockie dog,” he said.

Sean is also a big fan of the Hawks, especially since the team became a Rockies affiliate (prior to the 2015 season). He and his family have been season ticket holders for four years, a role he transitioned to after hanging up his softball spikes. When dining at Memorial Stadium, Sean said that he usually goes with the Killer Kielbasa. Today, his dining options would be a bit more varied.

We began with an order of “Redneck Tacos,” available from the “Nacho Business” concourse kiosk. Redneck Tacos consist of pulled pork, cabbage, cheese, pico de gallo and barbecue sauce. An order of three will set you back $8.50.

img_0341Have at is, Sean. Have at it.

“The pork’s really good, and I like that they have the cabbage on there. This is like a Carolina pulled pork sandwich,” said Sean. “You can’t go wrong with barbecue pulled pork.”

Next up was the Idaho Cheesesteak: provolone cheese, meat, peppers, onions and…hash browns.

img_0344Let’s go in for a closer look.

img_2633“That’ll set you free right there,” said Sean, gazing at this state-specific cheesesteak in admiration and wonder.

img_0345“You can taste the potatoes in there, and it gives it a different texture,” said Sean. “The meat’s tender, and the way they cook it with the onions and peppers? You just can’t go wrong.”

The Idaho Cheesesteak had been procured at this concession stand, located in a picnic area on the third base side of the stadium.

img_0346Next up? Rocky Mountain Oysters.

img_2637“Rocky Mountain Oysters” sounds appealing enough, but it’s just another name for deep-fried bull calf gonads. (I once enjoyed a similar dish in my pre-gluten free days, at a cattleman’s restaurant in Oklahoma City. There they were called lamb fries.)

Sean was familiar with Boise’s favorite culinary euphemism, telling me that nearby Eagle, Idaho, is home to one of the biggest Rocky Mountain Oyster feeds in the country. He also wanted no part in eating one. All of a sudden, Sean remembered he had a previous engagement with a facepainter. Ok, Sean. Fine. See you later. We’ll just have to find someone else to eat testicles.

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That person turned out to be Toby Miller (no relation to Sean), a fellow Caterpillar employee. Toby, having grown up in a family of ranchers, was far less squeamish than Sean.

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“I’m on the business end of a steer occasionally,” said Toby. “When that happens, that’s what you end up having for dinner. They’re good with a cold beer.”

He then turned to Sean, who was still getting his head painted. “See, the problem with you is that you think too much.”

Toby in action:

“I do triathlons, so this is not my usual diet,” said Toby. “I like the small ones, they taste like chicken. That’s the joke, right? It all tastes like chicken.”

God bless Toby, stepping in where Sean dared not tread.

img_0350Sean’s head did look pretty cool, though.

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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On the Road: Purple Pros in Boise

To see all posts from my August 10 visit to the Boise Hawks, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Okay, we’re in the home stretch now. After visiting four teams in the California League and three in the Pacific Coast League, my 2016 travels concluded with stops at three Northwest League ballparks. The first of these stops was Memorial Stadium, home of the Boise Hawks.

img_0322Memorial Stadium’s first base side bleachers are framed by the light towers, looking for all the world like the world’s biggest goal post.

img_0319The Idaho sky was a sight to behold on this late Wednesday afternoon, as wispy white clouds streaked across an endless blue expanse. It was hot as all get-out, but nonetheless this was still an irrefutably great day for baseball.

img_2627Welcome to Hawkstown, U.S.A.

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The bold blue sky was offset by a preponderance of purple, so long as one was willing to focus one’s gaze Earthward. The Hawks became a Rockies affiliate prior to the 2015 season, and the front office dutifully swathed large sections of the ballpark in Colorado colors.

img_2632There is purple paint on the exterior clubhouse cinder blocks, and purple paint along the wooden fence demarcating the third base side picnic area from the playing field.

img_0325This growth chart is a great way to familiarize one’s self with the current Rockies’ system, so long as you’re willing to overlook the fact that it excludes the team’s Rookie-level and Class A Advanced affiliates.

img_2626This kids play area is where all the most talon-ted young athletes gather.

img_0331The team store is located at the concourse level, just behind home plate. Hawkstown, U.S.A., baby. Hawkstown, U.S.A.

img_0335Among the items for sale in the team store is a Fruit Pickers jersey, an homage to Boise’s first professional baseball team.

img_0334While wandering amid the items for sale, I ran into the one and only Humphrey the Hawk. He is not for sale.

img_0336It was, all things considered, a slow night at Memorial Stadium. Assistant general manager Mike Van Hise told me that the previous day had been a sellout — the seventh of the season — and that attendance had been on the upswing since new ownership took over prior to the 2015 season. (The Hawks drew 114,476 in 2016, their best mark since at least 2005.) But this particular Wednesday was one of those blase dates on the schedule, with no particular promotion or group night presence to put it over the top.

C’est la vie. I kinda like low-key evenings. We all need one once in a while.

The National Anthem was sung as purple-hued players faced the deep-blue sky in contemplative thought of our country and their place within it.

img_0339I spent a good portion of the game’s early innings with my designated eater and this, as always, will be documented in the next post. As the game wore on and the sun made its descent, the ballpark took on more muted, soothing tones.

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A particular highlight of the Memorial Stadium in-game experience is the nightly Potato Race. This tweet explains it all.

The evening just kept slip-sliding away, into the inexorable, ineffable twilight.

img_0357Who knows exactly when it was, but at one point I wrote and disseminated a Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day. I now realize that I inadvertently plagiarized myself earlier in this post, by using a very similar play on words. I’m not the most talon-ted writer, so I overcompensate with puns.

The hits just kept on coming.

The Hawks were losing to visiting Hillsboro, 9-5, as they came to bat in their half of the eighth. This called for an appearance by “Rally Rocket,” the alter-ego of Hawks account executive Jon Jensen.

img_1082A Rally Rocket rally failed to materialize, however. Despite the game taking place in Hawkstown, U.S.A., the Hawks lost.

img_2649A little defeat never dampens the enthusiasm of base-running children, however. They streamed in from right field, circling the bases and then receiving a coupon from team sponsor Soda Stop.

img_2651And that did it for my evening at Memorial Stadium. Good night from the parking lot.

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***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Boise Hawks, August 10, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, when I return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. On Wednesday night I visited Boise, Idaho, the eighth stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip.

August 10: Boise Hawks (Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Colorado Rockies)

Opponent: Hillsboro Hops, 7:15 p.m.

Memorial Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0322Memorial Stadium, from within: 

IMG_0326Culinary Creation: Rocky Mountain Oysters (look it up)

IMG_0347Ballpark Character: Rally Rocket, the alter-ego of Hawks’ account executive Jon Jensen.

IMG_1082At Random: I was Fry. I lost in this race to Spud and Gem.

IMG_2660

Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (vs. Spokane, 7:15 p.m.)

August 12: Spokane Indians (vs. Eugene, 6:30 p.m.)

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

I apologize for last week’s blog hiatus, and can only hope that absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder (as opposed to withered and discolored). My brief time spent abroad was a truly memorable and meaningful experience, and one I hope to blog about when time allows. Among (many) highlights, I made my French television debut!

But now it’s time to get back into the proverbial swing of things, via an even more proverbial headfirst dive into the frigid deep end of Minor League Baseball’s Olympic-sized swimming pool. The primary issue that we’re all dealing with right now is that the season is, in fact, over (save for the waning days of the playoffs, of course).

And when something ends, the natural instinct is to take a look back on what has transpired. This translates to season postmortem highlight videos aplenty, in locales as diverse as Fresno, Brooklyn, and Tucson. But I’ll feature this one from the Binghamton Mets, who summarized not just the season but their entire franchise history in the span of 60 seconds.

But for a truly unique season wrap-up, let me direct you to this missive from the Tr-City Valleycats: Mayor’s Race Analytics. This post should do for regionally-specific mascot race analysis what Moneyball did for oversimplified and premature obituaries on the occupation of professional baseball scout.

Writes the team:

In recent years, sabermetrics have revolutionized the study of baseball and other sports. Many other fields have also been influenced by statistical analysis, including politics and elections, to name a couple. But somehow, one very important area has been overlooked by the emerging field of analytics: politicians racing at sporting events.

Click the above link for more. And, for the record, I’ll always publicize blog entries that include apropos references to the 1876 Presidential election. Keep that in mind when emailing me.

But no matter how one parses the numbers, one fact about the Minor League life is universal: You’ve got to keep entertaining until the end. Nowhere was this more clear than in Gwinnett County, as the G-Braves kept things moving even in the midst of what turned out to be a season-ending rain delay.

And what is it about the Gwinnett Braves and end-of-season waterworks? It was just last season, after all, that loyal readers of this blog were thrilling to THIS.

The G-Braves finished just out of postseason contention, robbing them of the chance to participate in that most time-honored of playoff rituals: Politician Bets!

The Eastern League Finals are currently taking place, with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a 1-1 series tie. And so much is on the line! Take it away, press release!

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch have agreed to a friendly wager on the Richmond Flying Squirrels vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats Eastern League Championship Series. Governor Lynch has wagered that if Richmond wins, he will send Governor McDonnell a gallon of pure New Hampshire maple syrup. Should New Hampshire win, Governor McDonnell will send Governor Lynch a gift basket of Virginia Diner specialty peanuts, the official peanut of the Flying Squirrels.

Governor McDonnell, expressing his love of of peanuts to a rapt Skyler Stromsmoe

But even enemies must sometimes put aside their differences and work together, as evidenced by this hilarious photo sent to me by an embedded Northwest League contact.

Yes, that would be an in-game ensemble of Boise Hawks jersey and Spokane Indians helmet. Apparently the Hawks flat-out “forgot” where their helmets were just prior to a late August ballgame.  A search ensued, and in the meantime the hapless Boise batters were forced to go to the plate wearing the cranium-protecting duds of their avowed adversaries.

(And, pleasing only myself, I just included the phrase “In the Meantime” in a bit about helmets.)

I’ve got so much more to share, and of course I’ll be doing just that in the coming weeks/months/years/eternal re-incarnated existences. But for now I’ll close with this, which I wish I had known about in time to include in my final “Promotion Preview” column of the season.

2011’s first, best, and only transvestite bobblehead:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Not Deterred by the Downturn

color bars.jpgBefore moving onto today’s post, I must make the following announcement:

Over the past year, MiLB.com’s “At Home With” team profile column has been a weekly feature on the site. In that time I have contacted nearly every club in affiliated baseball, some of whom were gracious enough not to ignore it completely.

But once the 2009 season starts, “At Home With” will go on hiatus. This hiatus might be permanent.

Therefore, if you work for a Minor League team, and would like to be featured — ACT NOW! There is ONE slot available, to run on March 26th. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Email benjamin.hill@mlb.com. I will review all correspondence related to this matter before coming to a fair and balanced conclusion. 

But if you don’t get in touch at all, you will regret your inaction for the rest of your time on this mortal coil. Every morning will start with the heartfelt lament of “Oh, what could’ve been.”

We now join our regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

…I promise, that will be my fourth and final joke about the lax regulation of industry during theBoise_Hawks.jpg 19th century. Because I have much more important things on my mind. Things such as this:

Earlier this week, the Boise Hawks announced that they will be offering “free tickets this season to those adversely impacted by the current economic downturn.”

More specifically, “unemployed members of the community” will be able to attend for free on Mondays. Let’s let the press release take over from here:

“Frankly, we’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” said Hawks President/GM Todd Rahr
“Yes, we’re a business and we have an obligation to our owners and
stockholders.  But at the same time, we’ve been a partner in this
community for over two decades and we have an obligation to lend a hand
and act responsibly in the good times and perhaps even more so in the
tough times.”

ticket.jpgTo qualify for the free tickets, the recipient will need to show an
unemployment pay stub that was issued at any time during the previous
four weeks.  Up to four tickets will be available for each out of work
fan and the tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served
basis.

The Hawks’ promotion is one of many economic downturn-inspired initiatives that have been announced throughout the Minor Leagues this offseason, and many more are sure to come. As I’ve written before, the goodwill generated by such actions should outweigh the damage done to the bottom line.

Have a good weekend, everybody. I’ll be back on Monday with a most intriguing announcement, one that will actually involve me leaving the warm embrace of New York City.