To see all posts from my June 27 visit to the Johnson City Cardinals, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League 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).
My 2016 trip through the Appalachian League was greatly aided and abetted by the Johnson City Cardinals. General manager Tyler Parsons and exquisitely bearded assistant general manager Zac Clark had politely harassed me for years to come visit and when I finally committed to doing so they helped devise my league-wide itinerary. I spent the first five nights of the trip in Johnson City, which served as my home base as I visited the five teams in the Appy League’s West Division.
So, after all that, the lone rainout I experienced throughout the entirety of my 2016 travels occurred in Johnson City. Of course it did.
That’s not to say I don’t have anything to write about. I always have something to write about, which is probably why I’m always writing. So let’s start at the beginning.
I spent the daytime portion of June 27 with Jenna Moore of the Johnson City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Our wanderings — documented HERE — included a brief daytime stop at the Cardinals’ TVA Credit Union Ballpark. The weather, at this mid-afternoon juncture, was beautiful.
The ballpark, which underwent over $400,000 in renovations prior to the season, was looking pretty spiffy on this Monday afternoon. The below photo shows the view from the new party deck and beer garden.
By comparison, the recently-remodeled umpire dressing room looks like a five-star hotel.
Back outside, I was thrilled to see a large outfield billboard advertising Dr. Enuf (a regional “energy drink” I had been introduced to just several hours before.) I was also thrilled to see such a big cloud, which I named “Puff Daddy” in my mind before deciding that it’s really stupid to name clouds and that I should never do so again.
By the time I returned to the ballpark several hours later, for my regularly scheduled visit, Puff Daddy had dissipated and the sky had turned a more foreboding gray hue. For those hoping to watch baseball on this Monday evening, it was not an azure-ing sight.
Nonetheless, a healthy crowd of optimistic early arrivers were on hand to partake in a variety of “Buck Monday” concession specials.
The foreboding sense of doom soon gave way to doom.
At 6:40 the rains became truly torrential and cries of “Unplug everything!” were heard in the press box. The evening’s ballgame was not going to be played.
Though there would be no ballgame, I was in no rush to go anywhere because I didn’t have anywhere to go. While still in the press box, I interviewed 18-year-old Cardinals broadcaster Joey Liberatore. My story on Joey and his accelerated career path can be found HERE.
By the time I was done talking to Joey, the rain had totally stopped and an idyllic calm had taken over the ballpark. The scene was serene.
The previous afternoon in Kingsport, I had failed to write and disseminate my Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day.
I was determined not to let this happen again, so it did not happen again. With an assist from exquisitely-bearded assistant general manager Zac Clark, a new comedy masterwork was soon created.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 28, 2016
However disappointing it may have been at the time, the team recovered nicely from this Monday evening “Ben’s Biz in the ballpark” rainout. Buoyed by ballpark improvements, new ownership and a motivated front office staff, the Cardinals set an all-time attendance record in 2016 (51,855). Oh, and they won the Appalachian League championship.
Enuf’s enuf, guys!
Like the blog? Then wear the Ben’s Biz shirt!
This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my presumed return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. Last night I visited Johnson City, Tennessee, the third stop on my 10-team Appy League road trip.
June 27: TVA Credit Union Ballpark (formerly Howard Johnson Field at Cardinal Park), home of the Johnson City Cardinals (Rookie-level affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals).
Opponent: Elizabethton Twins, 7:00 p.m.
TVA Credit Union Ballpark, from the outside: (This photo was taken earlier in the day, before — cue ominous music — the rains came).
TVA Credit Union Ballpark, from within: The gates had opened, and the rains were getting close now.
Culinary Creation: The rains came, so I was unable to do my usual food overview. But let it be know, Dr. Enuf is available at the ballpark. People in Eastern Tennessee really love Dr. Enuf.
Ballpark Character: 18-year-old broadcaster Joey Liberatore, really wishing he could call a game that, instead, was postponed when the rains came.
Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: After failing to come up with a joke Sunday in Kingsport, I was hellbent on coming through in Johnson City. The rains were not going to stop me. Thanks to Cardinals assistant GM Zac Clark for providing the voice of “Socket.”
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 28, 2016
6/28: Bristol Pirates
6/29: Elizabethton Twins
6/30: Princeton Rays
7/1: Bluefield Blue Jays
7/2: Pulaski Yankees
7/3: Danville Braves
7/4: Burlington Royals
Over on MiLB.com you can read my round-up of the 2014-15 Minor League re-branding season, featuring 11 new team names and/or logos. In conjunction with this, my latest journalistic masterwork, I decided to take a look around the Minor League landscape in order to subjectively determine the team from each league that is most in need of a makeover.
We’ll start at the top of the Minor League ladder and work our way down. Perhaps, come this time next year, some of these clubs will have opted to update their iconography. Whether you agree, disagree or couldn’t care less, feel free to tell me so in the comments or on Twitter (@bensbiz).
International League: Louisville Bats (current logo in use since 2002)
This logo is a little too reminiscent of Batman, so maybe it’s time that Louisville Gotham selves another one.
Pacific Coast League: Fresno Grizzlies (current logo in use since 2008)
The Grizzlies are actively embracing their post-San Francisco identity, but the orange and black color scheme still screams “Giants affiliation!”
Eastern League: Portland Sea Dogs (current logo in use since 2003)
Southern League: Mississippi Braves (current logo in use since 2005)
Texas League: Midland RockHounds (current logo in use since 1999)
California League: High Desert Mavericks (current logo in use since 1991)
Carolina League: Carolina Mudcats (current logo in use since 1991)
Florida State League: Tampa Yankees (current logo in use since 1994)
Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (current logo in use since 1996)
As was pointed out to me when I visited Lansing: That’s not a lugnut. It’s a bolt.
South Atlantic League: Kannapolis Intimidators (current logo in use since 2001)
New York-Penn League: Brooklyn Cyclones (current logo in use since 2001)
The Cyclones seem to do everything right, so I may as well give them a hard time for not updating the logo they came into existence with.
Northwest League: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (current logo in use since 1997)
Appalachian League: Johnson City Cardinals (current logo in use since 1995)
Pioneer League: Helena Brewers (current logo in use since 2011)
In closing, I’d like to offer a tip of the cap to Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net. It’s a great source of info.