Tagged: Jupiter Hammerheads

On the Road: Dining at the Dean in Jupiter

To see all of my posts from this visit to Roger Dean Stadium (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Florida State League food options are generally quite spartan. While many teams in the industry are known for their overstuffed culinary bombast, those in the FSL often adhere to an austere minimalism. The league is a Terry Riley in a sea of King Crimsons.

But enough with the alienating and indulgent references. I’m here to write — and you’re hear to read — about the food offerings at Roger Dean Stadium (home of both the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals). Once Major League Spring Training is in the rear view, the facility tones downs its concession offerings considerably. This makes sense, because a typical Florida State League crowd is approximately 1/8th the size of those who flock to the stadium to watch the big leaguers play exhibition games in March.

On the night I was in attendance — April 14, for those keeping score at home — the Jupiter Hammerheads were in town. And my designated eater (you know, the individual recruited to eat the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits) was a young go-getter by the name of Stephen Goldsmith.

043

Stephen, a native of Princeton, New Jersey, is a senior at Boca Raton’s Lynn University. In fact, he’ll be graduating on Saturday (May 16) with a degree in sports management. (Lynn’s sports management program is run by professor Ted Curtis, a hands-on individual who annually brings groups of students to the Winter Meetings so that they may experience the machinations and maneuverings of the baseball industry firsthand. In this capacity, he and his students regularly makes appearances on this blog.)

This marked Stephen’s second game at Roger Dean Stadium. He said that he signed up to be a designated eater simply for the “chance to do something new when attending the ballgame.” Stephen will soon be garnering plenty of new baseball experiences, however, as upon graduating he’ll move to Ohio in order to begin an internship with the New York-Penn League’s Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Our journey began in the quiet concourse of Roger Dean Stadium.

040

The Island Grill was the only game in town, concessions-wise.

039

The sky was the limit for Stephen, who was the beneficiary of this bit of front office largesse. When Ben Hill is in town, he gets “whatever he wants, all night long.” It says so in my rider.

038

We simply ordered everything that was on the menu: a “Dean Dog,” brat, “Super Nachos” and Italian sausage.

041

Have at it, Stephen:

Stephen was able to masticate so unselfconsciously because we were in a secluded area of the ballpark. The only people around were some kids having a catch.

042

Oh, and a couple of his friends were on hand as well. That’s Morgan Goldstein on the left and Zachary Umanski on the right, both of whom, like Stephen, attend Lynn University.

044

Umanski, for the record, has now made two appearances on this blog. I’m sure he’ll be putting this on his resume.

IMG_0547 Okay, Stephen. What did you think about the bounty that had been laid before you?

“I’m a big sausage fan. I’ve had a lot of sausage,” he said. “I think this one was cooked really well. The brat was really good, too, especially in the middle portion. Just a smooth taste, and the addition of the mustard makes it that much better. The Dean Dog, it was a regular hot dog. Usually I have a hot dog with mustard but I wanted to try it with ketchup. It tasted fine.”

As for the “Super Nachos”?

“Eh, they’re just nachos.”

047

Oh, and there was Carly’s Italian Ice for dessert — which I, for one, greatly enjoyed.

049

 

I’m not sure that Stephen enjoyed the Italian ice, however. He seemed to be in a state of deep regret.

“It was good, and very filling,” he said. “I would have liked my taste buds to have been more challenged, though, because I can get a hot dog on the street.”

048Nearly a month has passed, so I hope Stephen is feeling a little better these days. And keep an eye out for him at the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ home of Eastwood Field this season. His opinions on sausage are worth listening to.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

On the Road: Earth People, I Saw a Game in Jupiter

To see all of my posts from this visit to the Jupiter Hammerheads (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

I guess I should take a moment to find out why the town of Jupiter, Florida — where Roger Dean Stadium is located — came to be called “Jupiter.” That’s a pretty strange name for a town. I don’t think I’d ever spent time in a place named after a planet in our solar system (keep your jokes to yourself).

And, wow, this is an interesting explanation. Per Wikipedia:

The area where the town now sits was originally named for the Hobe Indian tribe which lived at the mouth of the Loxahatchee River, and whose name is also preserved in the name of nearby Hobe Sound. A mapmaker misunderstood the Spanish spelling “Jobe” of the Indian name “Hobe” and recorded it as “Jove”. Subsequent mapmakers further misunderstood this to be the Latin translation of the god Jupiter, and they anglicized the name from Jove to “Jupiter”.

Too bad. “Hobe Hammerheads” would’ve had a nice ring to it. So, here we are in Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium. While the first post in this series explored the backfields and clubhouses, now we’re in the stadium itself.

Welcome.

027The above picture was taken from a camera well, from which Major League Spring Training games are filmed and then disseminated to the exhibition game-crazed masses. On the Tuesday evening I was in attendance, the media presence was sparse. Non-existent, even.

028

The press box gets packed during Spring Training, however. Especially when the Marlins were the home team, as approximately 30 reporters followed Ichiro’s every move.

I, however, am a reporter who follows no man. The only person I follow is whoever’s showing me the way to the mound so that I can throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

Just like in Dunedin the night before, I threw a perfect strike.

031

The player who caught my first pitch was outfielder Harold Riggins.

“Nice toss,” he told me. “I see you’ve been working.”

032

I’m now a Harold Riggins fan. He has the smiling-est headshot in Minor League Baseball.

rigs

It was now almost game time. Riggins and his cronies took the field for the singing of our National Anthem.

034They were joined by local youth.

035The game was underway, the atmosphere pleasant but a little lacking in energy.

036

Especially on the concourse:

040

It was soon time for my to take my nightly RMS (requisite mascot shot). This one didn’t come out all that well. But please know that this is a shark. A shark named Hamilton R. Head.

037

Usually I’m the one pestering people at the ballpark. It’s basically my job. But tonight the tables were turned. Tuesdays are “Knothole Gang Kids Club” nights at Roger Dean Stadium, and one of the recurring features of such a night is a “Knothole Gang Scavenger Hunt.”

Thus, I became the hunted.

IMG_0941It was funny — and flattering — to be approached by random kids asking to take their pictures with me. They had no idea who I am, but that’s okay. Neither does anyone else.

selfie

While not posing for selfies with local youth, I interviewed Roger Dean general manager Mike Bauer about what it’s like to transition from Major League Spring Training to the Florida State League. Some relevant excerpts from the ensuing MiLB.com story, which helps put the sleepy Tuesday night that I am currently documenting in context.

“It’s truly a challenge within the Florida State League, having two teams, because 140 games is a lot of games. You lose a sense of ‘Hey, catch ’em all’ because we’re here every day. But during the Minor League season we have a chance to let our hair down a little bit, do Kids Club activities and promotions like barbecue festivals and ‘Star Wars Night’ and all those things that the families enjoy. Whereas Spring Training is a little more black and white. It’s about baseball and the food. That’s what it is.”

“[In the Florida State League] we don’t market an equal number of Palm Beach and Hammerheads games. We market the weekends and we market the holidays however they fall, because the arrangement is that, although they’re two separate teams, financially it’s all one pot. [The Marlins and Cardinals] go in together and split everything down the middle.”

After talking with Bauer I met with my designated eater for the evening, but we’ll save that for the next post. Once that had concluded, night had fallen. How dramatic.

IMG_0938

Lottery tickets were awarded to lucky fans atop the dugout.

052And, of course, jokes were told.

I then visited the broadcast booth, witnessing Paul Heinzkill on the play-by-play.

053When I expressed confusion re: Paul’s last name, he told me “It’s ketchup [Heinz] and kill. Yeah, I’ve got mustard on my shirt but it’s ketchup.” Heinzkill then vacated the booth, and I did an inning on the radio with broadcaster Lisa Pride. Thanks, Lisa.

The view from the top:

IMG_0944

Toward the end of the ballgame, I start to get a little loopy.

Finally, I stopped by the team store.

054Merchandise manager Linda Hanson told me that this store did $1.1 million of revenue during Spring Training, with the number one selling item being a “red, adjustable, Spring Training-themed St. Louis Cardinals hat.” Approximately 8,000 of these were sold.

“We’d have a line 40-50 deep of people just waiting to get in the store,” said Hanson, adding that the merchandise could quickly be “flipped” depending on whether the home team was the Cardinals or the Marlins.

When I was talking to Hanson, the game ended. The Threshers won, 6-1, in a game that took two hours and 44 minutes to play in front of a crowd of 927.

Finally, some urinal ads for you to enjoy from the Roger Dean men’s room. Sorry that I don’t have streaming video.

IMG_0946New blog posts will keep trickling in as well. Stay tuned.

IMG_0949

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

 

On the Road: Journeying Far Afield in Jupiter

To see all of my posts from this visit to the Jupiter Hammerheads (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

Roger Dean Stadium is located in Jupiter, Florida. More specifically, it is located in Abacoa, a planned community within Jupiter that includes both residential and commercial districts as well as ample public outdoor space.

004

I barely had the chance to explore Abacoa, but my initial impression was that it was beautiful but also disconcerting. It seemed surreal to me, choosing to live within such a controlled, self-contained environment. I’m saying this as a nouveau Brooklynite who once got turned away from my local laundromat because an episode of Girls was filming there. What is real, anyway?

Let’s go check out a Minor League Baseball stadium.

002

Walking down this idyllic paved road leads one to an idyllic stadium exterior. Welcome to Roger Dean Stadium.

005

Roger Dean Stadium: it’s a busy place! This facility, which opened in 1998, is the Spring Training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. Then, during the season, it is the home of both the Cardinals and Marlins’ Florida State League affiliates (the Palm Beach Cardinals and Jupiter Hammerheads, respectively). It also hosts the rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliates of both organizations — who play on the backfields — as well as a wide variety of youth, high school and collegiate baseball tournaments. Between Spring Training and the Florida State League, the main field hosts some 170 professional baseball games a year.

006

In February of 2014, I wrote a story about all of this activity. A relevant excerpt:

Roger Dean Stadium was built in 1998 with the specific intent of accommodating two teams, and therefore each tenant has its own clubhouse, practice fields and training facilities. During its first six seasons of existence, the ballpark hosted the Cardinals and Montreal Expos, but after the latter team dissolved, a series of transactions resulted in the Marlins organization taking their place.

“What we have is a partnership between the two teams called Jupiter Stadium Limited, and I’m the general manager of that partnership,” said Roger Dean general manager Mike Bauer, going on to explain that the “Roger Dean” moniker is the result of a naming rights deal with a local car dealership.

There’s a lot of ground to cover at a place like this. Almost as soon as I arrived at the ballpark, assistant general manager Alex Inman and marketing and promotions manager Jeffrey Draluck gave me a golf cart-assisted tour of the ample back fields. Both the Cardinals and the Marlins have their own quad, as well as an additional half-field, three sets of batting cages and three bullpen mounds.

It all adds up to 110 acres of baseball-centric land. This panorama is the only photo I got that remotely comes close to conveying the vastness.

IMG_0925

Here we are on the Marlins side of the action. The half-field there on the right side is named “The Bone Yard,” after Marlins infield coach Perry “Bone” Hill. (Not to be confused with me, Ben “Bone” Hill.)

010

Bone is widely regarded as one the best — if not the best — infield coaches in baseball. Here’s a short video of him in action, filmed during 2015 Spring Training. As you’ll notice, these back fields are open to the public, giving fans a chance to see the players hone their skills in an intimate environment.

Next up was to check out the clubhouses. Specifically, the Cardinals clubhouse, as the Marlins’ clubhouse was in use by the Jupiter Hammerheads (the home team on the evening I was in town).

This locker room is used by the big league Cardinals in Spring Training. During the season, the Palm Beach Cardinals take over. Pretty nice accommodations for the Class A Advanced level, eh?

011

The clubhouse snack offerings include Grinds. I once wrote a story about Grinds.

IMG_0928

In the hallway, we passed cubbyholes stacked with fan mail for the Cardinals players. The big stack there on the left was mail addressed to Michael Wacha. Hopefully it’ll make its way to St. Louis at some point soon.

012

Also in the hallway — banners celebrating Minor League championships won by Cardinal affiliates.

It is important to note, however, that during Spring Training the clubhouses are strictly segregated by class. I was told that, one year, Cardinals Major League players (jokingly?) put up stanchions to keep Minor Leaguers from entering their hallowed ground.

IMG_0931

The Minor League Spring Training clubhouse looks like this. Once the season starts it is used by guys in Extended Spring Training and, later, the Gulf Coast League.

020

All players have access to the weight room, but class distinctions remain.

IMG_0934The training room…

021

…complete with the requisite accoutrements.

022

If a refresher course on the human anatomy is needed, then Yadier’s got you covered.

023 I didn’t get to visit the Marlins clubhouse — there were Hammerheads in there — but I was told that it’s pretty much the same as the Cardinals (minus the signage).

026 I, meanwhile, welcome you to read the next post in this Roger Dean blogging series. It will cover that evening’s ballgame, between the Hammerheads and visiting Clearwater Threshers.

Shark fight!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

About Last Night: Jupiter Hammerheads, April 14, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my ecstatically  triumphant return home, I will provide the full, multifaceted, wordplay-obsessed blog coverage that you have have come to know and perhaps even love. So let’s get to it!

April 14, 2015 — Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals (Class A Advanced affiliates of the Marlins and Cardinals, respectively). On this evening, the home team was the Hammerheads.

Opponent: Clearwater Threshers, 6:35 p.m. start time

Roger Dean Stadium, from the outside: The stadium is located within Abacoa, a planned community in Jupiter, Florida. Its grounds encompass some 120 acres; Roger Dean is the busiest stadium in Minor League Baseball.

006

Roger Dean Stadium, from within:

IMG_0938

Culinary Delight: Designated Eater Stephen Goldsmith contemplates a hot dog, brat, nachos and Italian sausage (the entirety of the menu, outside of snacks and dessert).

041 

Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Members of the Knothole Gang were instructed to get a selfie with me as part of a Kid’s Club Ballpark Scavenger Hunt. I made sure to return the favor by getting selfies of my own.

IMG_0935

Last Song Played Over the PA: An R&B/hip-hop mix kept playing into the night as the grounds crew did work on the field. I stopped paying attention after this:

Next Up: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach — today, April 15!

4/16: St. Lucie Mets

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

Pac-Man’s tour of the Minor Leagues

Hello everyone. The italicized text you are currently reading is courtesy of I, Ben Hill, proprietor of the eponymous “Biz Blog.” Though I have run many “guest posts” on this blog through the years, what you are about to read is something a little bit different. Ashley Marshall, who has been writing for MiLB.com since the 2010 season, has agreed to become a regular contributor to this blog as well as some of my regularly occurring MiLB.com content (such as the long-running “Promo Preview”).  

Therefore, when I am on the road, Ashley can keep you abreast of Minor League Baseball business and promotional happenings that I otherwise might not have had the time or sanity to write about properly. I’m considering this a win-win-win situation: I have a little bit less on my proverbial plate and can produce my “On the Road” material in a timelier fashion. Ashley, a Minor League Baseball renaissance man, gets to write more about an area of the industry that he is interested in. And you, the presumably loyal reader, get more of the material you have come to know and, yes, love. 

So who is Ashley Marshall? No one knows the answer to that question better than Ashley Marshall himself. The floor is now ceded to him, so that he may introduce himself and then, as the title of this post implies, take you on a Pac-Man inspired tour of the Minor League landscape. 

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com

profile photo cropHello and welcome to Ash’s Ben’s Biz Blog. My name is Ashley and I’m entering my sixth season as an editorial producer at MiLB.com. You’ll see my name popping up from time to time in this blog as I contribute to the site and help Minor League Baseball’s chronicler of promotions during his road trips.

You’ve probably spotted my byline atop game recaps, prospect primers, league previews and Q&A’s over the past few years. Now you’ll see me pinch-hitting on the top pro Minor League blog on the Internet. Fortunately for Ben’s loyal readers, I share a number of interests with the master of puns himself. We both love viral content, thought-provoking analysis, eye-catching designs and curated information exploring the business side of baseball.

If you follow me on Twitter — and if you don’t, then you really should rectify that right now — you will know that I love anything made from a part of a pig, as well as photography, themed jerseys and all things British. If I could take pictures of a team playing in uniforms depicting the Queen of England eating bacon on a stick, I’d die a happy man. I think a lot of other people would get a kick out of that, too. Lehigh Valley, I’m looking at you.

For my first post, however, I wanted to share something that recently caught my eye, because one Easter egg that didn’t go unnoticed over the weekend was the gem brought to you by Google Maps and Pac-Man.

The concept was simple, the execution flawless. Take existing Google Maps, turn the screen into a playable maze, transform roads and paths into a grid of Pac-dots and guide Namco’s most famous two-dimensional character to glory.

Productivity nationwide took a hit when the browser game went viral. Now it’s about the take another hit. What’s better than helping Pac-Man evade Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde in your neighborhood? How about zig-zagging your way around your favorite Minor League ballparks?

I’ll take you on a virtual tour of Pawtucket, Jupiter, Albuquerque, Great Lakes and Staten Island, while inviting you to find other maps that appeal to your baseball and gaming sensibilities.

1) Guide Pac-Man down S. Bend St, and along Division St. to help him beat the McCoy Stadium level. The running track to the northeast of the stadium presents just one way in and one way out, so make sure you bring a solid gameplan to this Rhode Island task. Red Sox Nation can’t help you here, so you’re all alone at the plate. See Blinky, hit Blinky.

pawtucket red sox map2) Roger Dean Stadium is bordered by back fields to the north, Florida Atlantic University to the south and Abacoa Golf Club to the west. The key to winning this map on Florida’s east coast is successfully navigating the traffic circle joining Central Blvd, Main St and Scripps Way. The Hammerheads may share the ballpark with the Palm Beach Cardinals, but you have this course all to yourself.

jupiter hammerheads map3) Albuquerque’s Isotopes Park sits in the heart of Central New Mexico Community College’s campus. University Blvd SE runs north-south and Avenida Cesar Chavez SE goes east-west, but the intricate combination of adjoining streets make it hard to pass this midterm exam. You’ll be going up and down more often than Joe Girardi in the eighth inning of a one-run game.

albuquerque isotopes map4) Located two hours north of Detroit between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, Dow Diamond is surrounded by roads of every side that dissect Fournie Park and lead to the Tittabawassee River. Fortunately for Loons fans, you get to avoid Rt. 20 and instead stay on Buttles and State Streets. There are no season-ending trips to the DL in this map.

great lakes loons5) Richmond County Bank Ballpark sits at the north-eastern tip of Staten Island, a stone’s throw from the Hudson River and New York Bay. The four enemies start at the corner of Hamilton Ave. and St. Mark’s Place, giving Baby Bombers fans the chance to gobble up the pellets along the waterfront before Inky and Pinky catch you in a rundown.

staten island mapNow you’ve checked out a few of my favorite MiLB mazes, why not spend a couple minutes finding your own team on Google Maps and seeing if you can get the cherries before your three lives run out. Reach out to me on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB or via email and share a screenshot of a map you enjoyed playing.

ashley.marshall@mlb.com

twitter.com/ashmarshallmlb