Me: Today I have a really big news item to share with all of you.
You: Well, how big is it?
Me: 3600 feet.
You: [Blinks incomprehendingly]
Look, I don’t know why you’re confused. I really do have a 3600-foot news story to share.
The above is a rendering of the scoreboard that, in March, is scheduled to be installed at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Per the team:
The scoreboard will be the largest HD board in minor league baseball at 3600 square feet (60’ X 60’). The current largest belongs to the Buffalo Bison, standing 80’ x 33’ (2640 square feet). The Redbirds video board also beats several of the NFL team boards installed by Daktronics. The board is made up of 1,440,000 pixels and weighs over 20 tons.
Indeed, it was just last season that the Bisons’ laid claim to the oft-contentious title of “biggest scoreboard in Minor League Baseball,” but it now appears that the Redbirds are wresting it from them. But for how long? There’s always someone out there lurking, just waiting for that opportunity to claim the throne. For now, however, pixellated supremacy belongs to Memphis.
Let’s move on from big news to old news. In fact, this is some of the oldest news I’ve ever had the pleasure of reporting. Regular readers of this blog are well aware that each of the past two Minor League seasons have included a centenarian first pitch.
In 2010, 102-year-old Chris Nocera fired a strike for the Round Rock Express.
Then, last season, 109-year-old Violet Smith threw one down the middle prior to a Great Lakes Loons game.
But 2012 will usher in a new age of elderly first pitches: that of the supercentenarian!
On March 31, Shelby Harris of Rock Island, IL will turn 111 years old. Five days later, he’ll throw out the first pitch at the Quad Cities River Bandits home opener! Harris is the oldest man in America, and it’s fantastic that the River Bandits have extended the invite and that he’s in good enough shape to do it.
—And now let’s move on to news from the department of “It was bound to happen eventually.”
The Lancaster JetHawks, a Houston Astros affiliate in the state of California, have put together a promotion inspired by the exploits of a Colorado quarterback who first made a name for himself in Florida.
After last weekend’s thrilling overtime victory against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers, [JetHawks mascot] KaBoom has convinced the JetHawks Front Office to put together a special “Tebow Tuesday” Promotion that gives JetHawks fans the opportunity to buy 15 tickets for only $15.
The Tebow Tuesday Promotion will activate if the Denver Broncos can pull off another upset this weekend against the New England Patriots. The package will only be available next Tuesday, January 17, and includes 15 undated ticket vouchers for any JetHawks home game in April. In addition, any fan who wears their Tim Tebow Jersey to the Tuesday, April 17, game against the High Desert Mavericks will have the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch and take a picture “Tebowing” with KaBoom on the field prior to the game.
And now, apropos of nothing, let’s end with a photo. This shot depicts one of the perks of being a mascot: being on the receiving end of sensuous acts initiated by Miss America contestants.
Silver Swoop of South Bend is one lucky bird:
I’m as forward-looking as the next guy (whoever that may be), but nonetheless a longing backward gaze never hurt anyone. Right? RIGHT?
I sure hope so, because recent retrospective tendencies are continuing unabated with this: a look at some of the funniest/strangest/most evocative photos to have appeared on this blog during the 2011 season. It’s a feast for the eyes, so lather up those retinas and dive right in to the unparalleled visual extravaganza that is this post.
And we’ll start with one of my favorite recurring topics: Centenarian Ceremonial First Pitches! On April 7, Violet Smith celebrated her 109th birthday with the Great Lakes Loons. 109! I still can’t get over it. This woman was in high school when the U.S. entered WWI, and has lived long enough to see Franz Ferdinand re-incarnated as a British rock group.
Take Me Out…to the Ballgame!
Segueing once again from centenarians to sky-diving bulls, this picture of the Tulsa Drillers’ Hornsby remains my favorite mascot picture of all time.
The month of May provided what was probably the most famous picture to emanate from the Minor League landscape all year. Mark Gormus of the Richmond-Times Dispatch should be commended for this one, a thrilling snapshot of “Supermom” in action at a Flying Squirrels game.
He’s not on the same level of heroism as “Supermom,” but who can forget Michael Restovich’s stint as “Cupman”?
Meanwhile, in Visalia, the Rawhide established themselves as the Cal League’s preeminent practitioners of age-based beauty contests. The winner of their “Belle of the Ballpark” competition was 96 years young, and very happy to have emerged victorious.
The Rawhide’s Cal League cohorts in Lake Elsinore capitalized on the planking craze in memorable fashion. Here, the inimitable Grounds Crew Gorilla lays it all out atop an oven.
I don’t mean to pry, mate, but how’d you get up there?
Similar posture was utilized by David “The Human Cannonball” Smith when he was shot over the outfield fence at a Lowell Spinners game.
While it would be inconceivable for a player to be shot out of a cannon (at least in affiliated ball), sometimes they do find a way to participate in the promotions. One of the most enthusiastic was Frank Pfister of the Bakersfield Blaze, who gamely chugged away after losing a pre-game “Milk-Off” to members of the aforementioned Visalia Rawhide.
But humor can be milked from any situation. After the Boise Hawks misplaced their helmets prior to a late August ballgame, the team’s hitters were forced to borrow from the opposing Spokane Indians.
I’ll close this post with what may very well be the best photo ever taken of me, the world’s
most self-loathing GREATEST Minor League blogger/itinerant solo traveler. Getting pied in the face atop a dugout while Mexican wrestling-enamored interns look on was a definite career highlight. The experience made me glad to be alive; thanks to the Akron Aeros for making it happen.
Minor League Baseball can be a beautiful thing sometimes.
My latest (and therefore greatest) Minor League road trip begins tomorrow — cue the anxiety attack! It goes without saying, then, that the blog will be dominated by “on-location” content for quite some time. But not yet! Today, let’s take our customary look at noteworthy happenings from around the Minors.
We’ll start in Stockton, as the Ports’ held-their much anticipated “Dallas Braden Bobblebelly” giveaway on Saturday. As you’ll recall, the item features the A’s pitcher (and Stockton native) simultaneously expressing his hometown pride and exposing his abdomen.
Needless to say, Ports fans were psyched about this one-of-a-kind giveaway — especially since Braden himself was in attendance. The line to get into the stadium started forming four hours before game time, quickly growing to epic proportions.
The man himself spent the evening signing the bobblebelly and schmoozing with the fans.
There are still seven weeks left in the season, but the Ports believe that their Bobblebelly giveaway should be MiLB.com’s “Promo of the Year”, and have even launched a #promooftheyear hashtag campaign on Twitter. I’m sure there are plenty of other teams who are going to have something to say about that…
But let’s save that sort of pontificating for later, and instead move across the country to Bowie, MD. The Baysox recently celebrated Festivus, an off-beat December holiday first popularized by an episode of Seinfeld. Communications manager Tom Sedlacek writes that Our Festivus celebration included Festivus poles, Feats of Stregth and the Airing of the Grievances, as well as posters describing the origin of the holiday and its role in pop culture. The Feats of Strength included arm wrestling with an intern and sumo wrestling, and some Grievances were read over the stadium speakers during the game.
Grievances included “You still haven’t ordered my silverware!” “Stop snoring so loudly.” “You never hang out with me, you only play Xbox.”
Finally, it’s time for me to feature something that has been sorely lacking on this blog in recent months: centenarians! Last Friday, 101-year-old Freda Sacket joined a local choir in singing the national anthem prior to the evening’s Toledo Mud Hens game.
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.