Tagged: New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Return to the Road: New England Fun Spots
Opening Day is less than three weeks away. Believe me, I am aware. But before debuting my 2016 road trip itineraries (coming soonish!), I’d like to finish my series of 2015 “Return to the Road” posts. (These posts, as you probably know, highlight my non-ballpark road trip experiences.)
My fifth and final road trip of the season was a late August/early September jaunt through New England. As you can see, the Vermont Lake Monsters trip was actually a one-off stop in July, but I’m going to write about it as if it was part of this itinerary. It’ll all make sense in the end.
From Norwich to New Britain to Lowell to Pawtucket, this trip was a blur. Regarding those cities I have nothing in my files regarding anything that happened outside the ballpark. It was simply a matter of keeping one foot in front of the other as I mixed metaphors while bouncing from one place to the next.
The only random picture I have from those first four days is this selfie, taken at a Vietnamese restaurant somewhere in the vicinity of Lowell.
The narrative, such as it is, begins on the morning of September 2. I woke up in Providence, where I stayed after having seen the PawSox the previous evening.
Early that afternoon, I met my friend Jake for lunch. We were comedy scene pals in NYC, but he abandoned me in favor of pursuing a modeling career in Rhode Island. Go figure.
Jake and I grabbed lunch from one of the food trucks set up in downtown’s Kennedy Plaza, and then took a seat in this rather idyllic wooded environment.
After lunch, we checked out the local waterways.
Our time together was brief. Jake had to rush off to a photo shoot, and I had to make my way to Manchester, New Hampshire.
Before leaving Providence, I checked out the site of the proposed downtown ballpark that would replace Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium. For myriad reasons, this plan has since been abandoned.
I saw a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game on the night of September 2. The following afternoon, before leaving town, I made a pit stop at a local record store.
Unfortunately, The Music Connection was closed. But now I know where I’m celebrating my next birthday.
I had better luck later on in the day, when I swung by Pitchfork Records in Concord, New Hampshire.
Pitchfork Records had a ramshackle, curmudgeonly vibe. I know I bought something, but, at this late juncture, I can’t remember what it was. Just know that if I bought it, then it had to have been good.
Deeper into the evening, I made a pit stop in Laconia, New Hampshire. You wouldn’t know it by looking at this particular photo, but this building houses one of the world’s largest collections of classic video games.
I had arrived at Funspot, the iconic arcade that was prominently featured in the 2007 documentary King of Kong. Being a weeknight in September, the place was kinda dead.
My photos do not do Funspot justice, but for people of a certain age it is a major nostalgia trip. For people of a younger age than those of a certain age, it is a blast from an unknown and now largely incomprehensible past. Coin-op is dead. Long live coin-op.
A tribute to Keith Apicary, video game legend:
And this, I assume, is a tribute to a Minor League Baseball legend:
I skipped the miniature golf.
But I did try my hand at candlepin bowling. Unlike standard “10 Pin” bowling, the balls and pins are much smaller.
Though I’m a fairly decent bowler, my candlepin efforts were abysmal. You get much less pin action than with “normal” bowling, and I could not get in any sort of rhythm. I was also confused by the fact that one gets three rolls per frame, but a spare only counts if all the pins are knocked down in the second shot. I didn’t get any spares.
Afterwards, I was too frustrated to join — or start — the party.
Minor League Baseball News Explosion!
The month began with a slew of attention-grabbing promotional announcements, but recently things have been pretty slow here in the world of Minor League Baseball. I call it the calm before the storm. Pretty good expression, right? Feel free to use it.
Therefore, now is a good time for a good ol’ fashioned bouillabaisse blog post (and, yes, for those keeping score at home, I always spell bouillabaisse correctly on the first try). If, for some reason, you need to use a restraining device while using your computer, then now would be a good time to buckle up. A bubbling stew of delectable Minor League morsels and mixed metaphors await you.
For the second year in a row, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are featuring fans on their season tickets. Pretty cool, right?
Note, also, that the Fisher Cats (who for a short but glorious period of time were known as “The Primaries”) have unveiled their “Bipartisan” Opening Day jerseys. Fans get to vote on the accompanying hat. Pretty cool, right?
Speaking of politics, eminently qualified presidential candidate Donald Trump recently issued a “53 degrees or free” guarantee on behalf of the Syracuse Chiefs. Take that, Rochester. Until this video was released, I hadn’t realized just how much Trump looks like Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol. Pretty cool, right?
David Kronheim, aka “The Number Tamer”, has released his 2015 Minor League Baseball Attendance Analysis. It doesn’t get any more thorough than this (for more on the Number Tamer, read THIS ARTICLE and/or THIS GUEST BLOG POST). Pretty cool, right?
As I think I’ve mentioned before, the California League has a 75th anniversary logo.
I bring this up because every team in the league has its own specific logo, courtesy Brandiose. Pretty cool, right?
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are one of many teams that host Scout Night ballpark sleepovers. They are the only team (so far as I know), to issue scouts their own team-logo badges. Pretty cool, right?
Update: Fort Wayne TinCaps creative director Tony DesPlaines has creatively directed my attention to the fact that his club has been doing this for years.
Update to the Update: The Vermont Lake Monsters have been doing this for years as well.
Update to the Update to the Update:
Hey @bensbiz we make a scout patch every year! Check out our 2016 version. pic.twitter.com/61FKBhry6r
— Trenton Thunder (@TrentonThunder) March 16, 2016
Update to the Update to the Update to the Update:
@bensbiz Did you just make #ScoutPatchWednesday a thing? pic.twitter.com/IgASPcuISF
— Delmarva Shorebirds (@shorebirds) March 16, 2016
Update to the Update to the Update to the Update to the Update:
@bensbiz @shorebirds @MudHens #scoutpatchwednesday pic.twitter.com/Wn58xeckHL
— Keith Meyer (@koyote19) March 16, 2016
The following item isn’t just pretty cool. It’s really cool (and something I’ll surely cover in more detail at a later date). The Harrisburg Senators are opening up a “Life-Size Bobblehead Hall of Fame” at the ballpark. Vlad Guerrero will be the first honoree, and will be attending his undulating enshrinement on April 16.
The Sacramento River Cats have announced a multitude of improvements to their home of Raley Field. Of especial note is the installation of 472 solar panels and five SMA inverters. Pretty cool, right?
It’s now time for me to say solar, farewell. But I hope we meet again. Thank you for perusing this, the latest and greatest and always-spelled-correctly bouillabaisse. It was pretty cool, right?
New Logo Round-Up: Fierce, Streamlined and Verdant
So, didja miss me? What’s that? You didn’t even know that I was gone? Ah, well, whatever. The important thing is that I’m back from vacation and now fully in “offseason mode.” I have nothing left to write regarding my 2015 ballpark travels, but, when one dwells fully within the world of Minor League Baseball, there is always something to write about.
Today, that something will be a full-to-bursting bouillabaisse concerning all of the new Minor League logos that were unveiled when I was outta sight and outta mind. Let’s get to it, lest it get to us.
Kane County Cougars — For the first 25 years of their existence, the Kane County Cougars held the distinction of “Minor League team whose primary logo looks most like a Boy Scout merit badge.” I always kind of liked it, at least because it was so out of place in the current Minor League landscape.
The Cougars unveiled an entirely new logo set on November 10. The Cougar in question, previously a blank slate upon which we could project our own emotional interpretation, is now fierce.
The logos were designed by Studio Simon, in conjunction with Cougars graphic designer Emmet Broderick. The team is now one of a select handful in Minor League Baseball whose wardrobe includes a lime green alternate jersey.
Bowling Green Hot Rods — When the Hot Rods played their inaugural season, way back in 2009, they looked like this:
And now, after just six seasons, the club has completely overhauled its look. The old logo was designed by Brandiose (then known as Plan B Branding); these new marks are courtesy of SME. I don’t really know much about SME, as they are not a firm that has had many Minor League clients. I guess I’ll have to learn.
If you’re looking for a relevant excerpt from the accompanying Hot Rods MiLB.com story, then boy are you in luck:
[Hot Rods general manager Adam] Nuse said the variety of colors and the shape of the old logo presented challenges to the team, especially when it came to merchandise.
“We’re certainly happy with [the new look]. Previously, we had a lot of different colors, and now we’re kind of focusing on the navy and the orange. It simplifies things a bit and makes it a little more modern. Our new logos are a little more symmetric than the other ones. I really liked our old logos, but they made it hard graphically — they created some centering issues — and I think our new stuff avoids those. They’re easier to fit on graphic pieces and merchandise.”
New Hampshire Fisher Cats — You may remember reading, here or elsewhere, that the New Hampshire Fisher Cats were originally called the “New Hampshire Primaries.” The franchise never played a game as the “Primaries”, however, because the local stick-in-the-mud population was thoroughly against it.
Still, the Fisher Cats continue to have fun with their what-coulda-been “Primaries” identity. Take it away, press release, and never come back:
As the Granite State celebrates the 100th anniversary of its presidential primary, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats have launched a campaign of their own, “We the Fans 2016.” The interactive campaign will allow fans across the country to participate in New Hampshire’s rich political history by casting votes for the official game hat to be worn by the Fisher Cats on Opening Day, April 14, 2016.
Voting…will take place on the new voting website, www.WeTheFans2016.com. The initial question will ask fans nationwide to determine which hat the Fisher Cats wear for the first game next season – a blue hat with a donkey logo or a red hat with an elephant logo. The two logos are throwbacks to the Fisher Cats’ original name, the New Hampshire Primaries, and will be accompanied by the team’s bipartisan jersey that is half red and half blue with ‘Fisher Cats’ in script across the chest.
This is the first time that I’ve encountered the phrase “bipartisan jersey” and I pray that it will not be the last. I voted on Tuesday morning, at which point the votes were evenly split, but at the end of the day the Donkey was winning in 48 of 50 states. One of the two states in which the Elephant was winning was New Hampshire.
Omaha Storm Chasers — Omaha’s Pacific Coast League franchise switched its name from the “Royals” to the “Storm Chasers” prior to the 2011 season. The Royals affiliation remained, however, and now it is receiving an increased emphasis via the Storm Chasers’ new uniforms.
That one on the bottom right, it’s called the “Vortex.”
The press release, the embodiment of all Earthly knowledge, contains the following quote:
“In light of the Royals’ World Series Championship, there is no better time to further connect our two franchises, part of which is shown with these new jerseys,” said Storm Chasers President and General Manager Martie Cordaro. “From adding blue to our road jersey and with an all-new alternate powder blue jersey, we are now aligned with the color-scheme of our parent club’s primary three jerseys.”
In conjunction with the uniform unveiling, the Storm Chasers also announced that they have extended their affiliation with the Royals through the 2018 season. This affiliation, which began in 1969, is the longest in Triple-A baseball.
Appalachian League — Prior to this offseason, I can’t remember the last time a new league-specific logo was unveiled. This is, most likely, because I have a bad memory. Last month, the Southern League unveiled a new logo. And, last week, the Appalachian League followed suit:
One thing that these two new league logos have in common is that they were both designed by Todd Radom.
“The goal was to create something timeless, but built with digital platforms and the varied needs of the 21st century firmly in mind,” said Radom. “The results embrace baseball’s time-honored visual culture with a verdant palette that celebrates the traditions of baseball, the sport of summer.”
“Verdant Palette” would be a great name for a college football player.
On the Road: On Your Mark, Basnett, Go!
To see all posts from my September 2, 2015 visit to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!
At every ballpark I visit, I recruit a designated eater. This individual is tasked with consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits. At Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, the home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, that individual was Mark Basnett.
Mark, an only child born on Christmas Eve, is 12 years old, in seventh grade and lives in Manchester. On the day I met him, the school year had just begun and he was none too happy about it. I think we all know the feeling.
“Trust me, summer is fun,” he said. “When summer’s over it’s like, ‘Boo.’ I don’t want to go back to school.”
Mark, who is autistic, is a regular attendee at Fisher Cats games along with his mom, Kristin. She explained in an email that “He is 12 and typically doesn’t like me around. You know, because I’m Mom.” Accordingly, Mark and I embarked on our designated eating adventures together while Kristin stayed and watched the game from her seat in front of the first base dugout.
I really enjoyed getting to know Mark, and think that you will as well. So, before we move into the meat of the post (so to speak), here are a few facts about Mark.
Favorite Food: Hamburgers “I eat them almost all of summer vacation. They’re my favorite with regular mustard. I hate honey mustard.”
Favorite Drink: Diet Coke “I love it.”
Favorite Restaurant: 99. “It serves good meals.”
Favorite (or at least most unique) Dessert: “One time for Halloween my Mom and Dad and I made a Jolly Rancher sour apple. My Dad melted the Jolly Rancher in a pan. It tasted really good.”
Favorite Movie: Pixels “Because it’s like a real-life video game.”
Favorite Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid “Because it looks hand-drawn. Maybe it is.”
Most Fun Thing He Ever Did: “Go on a Disney cruise. It was in Florida, and it sailed to different places. At the halfway point of the trip it turned around and sailed back.”
Okay, now it’s time to eat. The Fisher Cats have a variety of food choices at their concourse concession stands.
Mark wasn’t too interested in expanding into uncharted food territory and the Fisher Cats’ concessions generally emphasize the staples anyway. So we stuck to the basics, and started with a cheeseburger.
Burgers, after all, are Mark’s favorite food.
“Well, it only has cheese and mustard on it,” said Mark. “And meat. And two buns and that’s it.”
A closer look reveals that Mark’s assessment was correct.
“The best cheeseburger is hot sauce and mustard,” Mark elaborated. “But there is no mustard on pizza, because that would be weird.”
Where there’s thunder, there’s lightning. And where’s there’s a cheeseburger, there are fries.
“I eat fries like a normal human,” explained Mark. “Sometimes I lick the salt off my fingers, which some people think is weird.”
I don’t think that’s weird, Mark. I do the same thing.
As mentioned earlier, Mark loves Diet Coke. So, of course, he just had to wash down the burger and fries with his favorite beverage.
“Every time I take a sip of Diet Coke it makes the tears run down my eyes,” said Mark. “The Diet Coke tastes a lot more diet-y than the regular Coke does….Oh, man. I’m hiccuping already.”
I then asked Mark if he was interested in obtaining some dessert. He was.
“Could I have some chocolate chip ice cream? Mom and I once tried to figure it out, how not to spill it, because it was so full.”
That was Mark’s set-up. And here’s the punch line:
“You know what else is gonna be full in 15 minutes or so? This, right here.”
Mark was pointing to his stomach.
So off to the ice cream man it was. The Hood’s ice cream man, specifically. They did not have vanilla chocolate chip ice cream, so Mark had to settle for mint.
Mark, who managed not to spill this oversized offering, said that “the mint is the reason why its minty, and the chocolate chips are the reason that its chocolate chipity.”
And that was it for Mark’s designated eating experience. He thoughtfully insisted on bringing the leftovers to his Mom, explaining that “Now Mom’s kinda gonna be the designated eater.”
And, 12 years old or not, seventh grader or not, he seemed very happy to see her. The feeling was mutual.
Thanks, Mark. And thanks, Kristin. It was great meeting you both.
On the Road: Wandering Sharks and Airborne Chickens in New Hampshire
To see all posts from my September 2, 2015 visit to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!
On September 2 I visited Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Yes, it was a Wednesday evening late in the season. But I was there and I was alive and it’s always good to be alive because if you’re not alive you’re dead.
The Fisher Cats were playing their rivals to the north, the Portland Sea Dogs.
My pregame wanderings and observations were documented in the previous post. Shortly after the game began, I met up with my designated eater (you know, the individual who eats the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits), and that will be documented in the next post.
So where does that leave us now? How about here, in the Fisher Cats broadcast booth, alongside Tom Gauthier?
I spent an inning on the air with Tom, who came to the Fisher Cats after a stint with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Here, he sets the scene.
On the air with Tom Gauthier, New Hampshire Fisher Cats https://t.co/1NNOJnTSrC
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) September 3, 2015
The view from the booth.
Tom’s current broadcasting partner is Ben Gellman-Chomsky, who last appeared on this blog in a post about the 2014 Winter Meetings.
Ben and I have long been Twitter pals, at least in part because he is always up for a pun battle. Or always was up for a pun battle, as earlier this month he finally run out of patience with my wordplay compulsions. I think I need to join some sort of pun addiction treatment program.
@bensbiz you’re a monster and I won’t dignify this by adding my own puns
— Ben Gellman-Chomsky (@benjgc) October 15, 2015
After visiting the booth, I went back down to the concourse. Shockingly, the view was almost the same as it had been in the broadcast booth. It was just a little lower to the ground.
I would soon go lower still, all the way into the bowels of the stadium.
Things always get a little strange in the bowels of the stadium, it’s the Minor League Baseball equivalent of visiting the bottom of the ocean. Giant hamburgers lie in disarray in front of makeshift storage areas, which are guarded by walking bipedal sharks.
I had entered into this netherworld to gain access to the field, where I would attempt to catch rubber chickens in a bucket. These rubber chickens were thrown at me by a lacrosse stick-wielding man in a chicken mask.
I caught every rubber chicken that the man in the chicken mask flung at me.
What a great way to celebrate my 13th birthday. I hadn’t had this much fun since being born in 2002.
I then walked back up to the concourse and was greeted by a giant, floating carton of milk. This was milk of the people, not of the 1%.
The milk carton introduced me to his friend, Concourse Tractor, who turned out to be a repository of relevant information.
Hamburgers, sharks, chickens, chicken-men, giant milk, Concourse Tractor. It was all getting to be a bit much, so I decided to find a quiet place to lay down.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a hot door. So never mind taking a rest, I just kept on walking until I arrived at a deserted corner of the stadium. While within this state of isolation (my preferred state), I wrote and disseminated my Subversive and Groundbreaking Ballpark Joke of the Day.
Your groundbreaking and subversive ballpark joke of the day, New Hampshire Fisher Cats https://t.co/mFn6DfAw1W
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) September 3, 2015
A subsequent stop at the team store led me to observe that the Fisher Cats were selling apparel bearing the logo of a team that never existed: The New Hampshire Primaries.
The “Primaries” was actually the original name of the team, but after a public uproar the front office powers-that-be capitulated and subsequently decided via a “name the team” contest that an invasive species of mammal known for its wanton slaughter of domestic pets would be a better choice.
I personally love the Primaries team name and logo, and think that it is worthy of bipartisan support. Could that donkey look any smugger?
And, yes, lest I forget: There was a game going on.
It was an extra-inning game, in fact, as my notes helpfully explain that “someone hit a two-run homer to tie it in the ninth.” That someone was Shane Opitz of the Fisher Cats, whose blast over the center field wall tied the game 3-3. The tie score didn’t last long, however, as Manuel Margot singled to lead off the 10th, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Sam Travis single. This gave the Sea Dogs a 4-3 lead, and this was the final score.
Congrats, Sea Dogs. Please converge into an indistinct heap upon the center of the diamond.
But please don’t dawdle, as Launch-A-Ball awaits.
“Launch-A-Ball! Not to be confused with Lunchables, which are a delicious meal.” — actual sales pitch for Launch-A-Ball tennis balls that I had heard earlier in the evening.
It was a pretty slow night for Launch-A-Ball, but the show must go on.
And that did it for my night with the Fisher Cats. Since they’re a Toronto affiliate, does that make them a “Double-Eh” team?
Alright, fine, whatever. I’ll show myself out.
Checking Out the Inn, in New Hampshire
To see all posts from my September 1, 2015 visit to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my August/September 2015 trip through New England, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!
On Wednesday, September 2, I woke up in a hotel room in Providence. After grabbing a food truck lunch with my friend Jake and taking a short stroll around downtown, it was time to say goodbye — or “biddadoo” as the French say — to Rhode Island. Next up on the ballpark road trip agenda was Manchester, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Just as the Pawtucket Red Sox are the only Minor League team in Rhode Island, the Fisher Cats are the only team in New Hampshire. They currently enjoy a state-wide monopoly on this whole “Minor League Baseball” thing, and they also enjoy a monopoly in the category of “naming one’s self after an invasive and vicious mammalian species.”
The Fisher Cats play at a facility that is nothing if not awkwardly named: Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. It opened in 2005 (as Fisher Cats Ballpark), one year after the team relocated to Manchester from New Haven, Connecticut.
Upon arriving at the ballpark, which I prefer to refer to simply as “N Double-D S ,” I deposited my car in a lot reserved for VIPs such as myself. This lot was thoroughly protected from any wayward baseballs that might come skyrocketing out of the stadium.
I did not enter the stadium from this location, however. I traversed from the lot to a sidewalk located behind the outfield fence and began walking toward toward center field. I soon arrived at this Hilton Garden Inn.
At the back end of the hotel’s ground floor, one finds the Pavilion Restaurant. The restaurant’s patio directly faces the N Double-D S playing field. It does not include access to the stadium itself, nor does the stadium provide direct access to the hotel.
The hotel also offers rooms that look directly onto the field, though I unfortunately did not have access to that particular vantage point. Instead, I retraced my steps back out of the hotel and walked with resolve and confidence toward the main entrance of the stadium.
The main N Double-D S entrance is at the left field side of the stadium. A staircase leads up and onto the open concourse.
This is the view from behind home plate, with the Hilton Garden Inn as centerpiece. The Hood Milk sign at the far left edge of the shot (I skimmed a little bit off the side) used to reside at Fenway Park in Boston. It is not whole-ly out of place here, make sure to pass your eyes right by it.
My concourse journey culminated at the far right field side of the stadium.
In the photo below, note that there is a red cloth draped over the outfield wall. This cloth was covering Chris Carpenter’s number 29, which was to be retired during a pregame ceremony. Carpenter never played for the Fisher Cats, but he’s a New Hampshire native who went on to pitch for the Blue Jays (with whom the Fisher Cats are currently affiliated).
I also found myself fascinated by the Sign Gallery billboard next to the right field foul pole. It’s like they took elements from three separate billboards and mashed them together into one chaotic whole.
It was soon time to move from one CSI to another. Corporate Sign Identity gave way to Carpenter’s Speaking Ingagement. (Yeah, I know.)
Carpenter gave a short, gracious speech as his two kids looked on.
Fungo, who may or may not have eyes, approved of Carpenter’s oration.
Carpenter then ceded his ceremonial first pitch obligation to his son, Sam.
During the exchanging of the lineup cards, Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham was accompanied by 12-year-old Mark Basnett.
We’ll be seeing more of Mark in the very near future, as he was my designated eater that evening (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.
But, for now, it was time to rise and remove hats for the singing of the National Anthem.
And, after that, there’s nothing left to do but “Play Ball!”
What a well-oiled machine this blog is. These posts just write themselves, and that’ll do it for this one. Stay tuned for Part Two from Manchester.
About Last Night: New Hampshire Fisher Cats, September 2, 2015
This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing an on-the-spot 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, love. Let’s get to it, lest it get to us!
2015 “On the Road” landing page — including complete itinerary — HERE!
September 2, 2015: Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays).
Opponent: Portland Sea Dogs, 6:35 p.m. start time
Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, from the outside:
Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, from within: The Hood Milk sign in left field used to be displayed at Fenway Park. The Hilton hotel offers rooms with a ballpark view, and also features an outdoor restaurant from which fans can watch the game.
Culinary Creation: Designated eater Mark Basnett, 12, enjoys a cheeseburger.
Ballpark Character: Chris Carpenter never pitched for the Fisher Cats, but he is a New Hampshire sports legend. Here, he gives a speech after having his #29 retired by the team.
Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day:
Your groundbreaking and subversive ballpark joke of the day, New Hampshire Fisher Cats https://t.co/mFn6DfAw1W
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) September 3, 2015
9/4: Portland Sea Dogs
Earlier this month I posted a, uh, post that included one item of recent vintage and one left over from the 2014 season. This endeavor received a rapturous response, as most of my endeavors do, so once again I’m going to utilize this format. We’ll start with something new. It’s more of an update, really, regarding the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ “Fan Photo Contest.” The team’s pitch was as follows:
Want to see your photo on a Season Ticket? Post your favorite Fisher Cats-themed photo on our Facebook page, and it could be featured on a 2015 Season Ticket.
Well, the results are in. Fisher Cat fans such as these will be showcased on season tickets in 2015:
Joseph from Barnstead, who is ready to catch the first pitch:
A triumphant Maureen from Manchester
Ian from Manchester honors America
And so on and so forth. To see all of the winners, go to the Fisher Cats’ Facebook page. I had never seen such a thing done before in the world of Minor League Baseball — correct me if I have overlooked a similar endeavor — and think that it’s a great idea.
Speaking of great ideas…
The Dunedin Blue Jays are located one rung below the Fisher Cats on the Toronto Blue Jays’ organizational ladder. And, this past July, they made baseball history. Therefore, if you care about baseball, history and the intersection of the two, then you will be fascinated by this. I guarantee it:
DUNEDIN, FL –This past Saturday, July 19th, 2014, was a historic day for baseball, as a baseball “first” took place at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Florida. The Dunedin Blue Jays defeated the Jupiter Hammerheads 12-7 in front of an announced crowd of 1,098. But the story actually begins almost two weeks earlier and about 58 miles to the east.
On Sunday, July 6th, the Lakeland Flying Tigers were set to host the Daytona Cubs. The Flying Tigers were looking to bounce back after losing the night before at Joker Marchant Stadium. On this Sunday, though, the Flying Tigers weren’t able to get back on the winning side of things.
Because on Sunday, July 6th, in Lakeland, Florida, it rained.
A ticket from that Cubs/Flying Tigers game was redeemed at the box office here in Dunedin, marking the first time in baseball that a fan has made use of the “Universal Rain Check” policy. This policy was created at the beginning of the 2014 season by the Dunedin Blue Jays, and they are the first and only team in Minor League Baseball to offer this unique rainout program.
The program is set up so that fans from all over Minor League Baseball are able to use a rain check from any MiLB game for admission to a D-Jays game. While the promotion is open to teams from all across the minors, as expected, the first redemption came from a fellow Florida State League game.
“I think it’s awesome that someone made use of it,” said Nate Kurant, the D-Jays director of marketing and social media. “I’m grateful that our GM, Shelby Nelson, allowed us to try something unique and I’m glad that it paid off for at least one fan. Hopefully it gains a little more momentum and more fans take advantage of it, especially here in the FSL.”
Longtime Ben’s Biz Blog readers, of which there are several, will recall that the Universal Rain Check idea can at least partially be attributed to reader Peter Golkin. In 2012, Golkin wrote a guest post in which he advocated for the implementation of the Universal Rain Check throughout Minor League Baseball. This post inspired one of the most robust comments section that this blog has ever seen, an occurrence that always does my heart good.
A distinct blogging dynamic has emerged this offseason, as I find myself splitting my efforts between timely, of-the-moment topics and better-late-than-never guest posts and other leftover 2014 season odds and ends. Today’s post will be dedicated to the former category. This ain’t no Rerun, this is What’s Happening!!
Obligatory pop culture reference now complete. Let’s proceed.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are currently in the tail-end of a unique and creative ticket promotion. This promotion is pretty self-explanatory:
Here’s how it works, per the team:
Want to see your photo on a Season Ticket? Post your favorite Fisher Cats-themed photo on our Facebook page, and it could be featured on a 2015 Season Ticket. Submit photos of your family having fun at a game, smiling with Fungo at a parade, or even wearing your favorite Fisher Cats hat at the beach! Post and share your photos here. The deadline is Jan. 10!
As of this writing (the afternoon of January 9), the team had received over 100 submissions. Check it out HERE. And, for what it’s worth, here’s my submission. It was taken at an undisclosed location during a secret visit to the Fisher Cats’ home of Delta Dental Stadium. Earlier in the evening, I had visited the team store to purchase this officially licensed cap.
Kudos to the Potomac Nationals, who did not let the promotion of an integral member of their operation go unnoticed.
Woodbridge, VA–The Potomac Nationals have announced the contract of team Clubhouse Manager, Jeremy Delewski has been purchased by the Syracuse Chiefs, the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A International League affiliate.
According to Syracuse Chiefs officials, Delewski’s promotion from the Class-A Advanced Potomac Nationals to Washington’s Triple-A club was finalized in San Diego, CA during the 2014 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings.
The financial terms of this transaction have not been disclosed.
Hey! Remember when I visited the Bakersfield Blaze during the 2013 season? I really enjoyed my time there, and it resulted in what I feel was one of my best-ever “On the Road” MiLB.com articles (not to be confused with my “On the Road” blog posts from the same locale).
Anyhow, one of the highlights of my evening in Bakersfield was meeting mascot performer Ryan Salisbury, who had gotten a ride to the game via this Craigslist ad:
Ryan has now been featured in this Strongest Hearts video, which highlights his unique status as a vegan Minor League mascot. Some quotes from the video:
“Maybe it will lead to something else, maybe it won’t. But enjoy it while we can.”
“There’s a little bit of a smell.”
And, my favorite:
“You can enjoy [sports] from a nerdy background or a weird background.”
Anyhow, watch the whole thing here.
Strongest Hearts Extra; Heater the Bakersfield Blaze Mascot from Strongest Hearts on Vimeo.
And, of course, please make sure to check out my recent MiLB.com material. This week, three articles appeared:
Batting Around — My monthly (more or less) round-up of notable business developments in the world of Minor League Baseball.
Columbia Breaks Ground on New Ballpark — News story on a stadium that will be hosting a yet-to-be-officially-named relocating Minor League team. Contains plenty of insight from team CEO Jason Freier on why Columbia is “crying out” for a team.
Minoring in Business — This edition of the long-running column is a joint interview with new Midwest League president Dick Nussbaum and his predecessor, George Spelius.
Turn the Page, Part 2
As you may recall, the last post on this blog was a bountiful bouillabaisse of ripped-straight-from-the-notebook Minor League news items. Well, that’s what this post is gonna be dedicated to as well.
But before we get started with that, please click THIS LINK to read this MiLB.com article detailing my Top 10 favorite Minor League stadiums. Feedback is appreciated and encouraged, and views both complementary and dissenting will be included in a future blog post.
And now, to the notebook!
I’ve never been a Jay Leno fan, but nonetheless there’s always been one thing I’ve loved about his show and that’s the weekly “Headlines” segment. And wouldn’t you know it? Last month, none other than the Lehigh Valley IronPigs made an appearance thanks to this newspaper ad:
Watch it HERE, the IronPigs reference is around the 2:30 mark.
I haven’t yet compiled my 2013 Minor League promotions spreadsheet (yes, compiling such a spreadsheet is an annual offseason task), but one giveaway item that has already caught my eye — and you know how painful that can be — comes courtesy of the Lake County Captains:
On Saturday, July 6, a Skipper Rock-N-Bobble doll featuring the Captains mascot paying tribute to Randy Newman, an inductee in this year’s class of Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame musicians, will be given to the first 1,500 fans compliments of Sysco. This year’s doll will also feature a sound clip from Randy Newman’s Burn On, which is synonymous with the Major League movie.
Yes! A Randy Newman-themed giveaway. And one featuring a song from “Sail Away,” arguably his best-ever album (it’s certainly my favorite). Here’s hoping Randy Newman promos spread through the Minors like a fire on the Cuyahoga. How about “Salute to American Foreign Policy Night”?
It’s pretty much indisputable that the Lexington Legends possess the best team van in Minor League Baseball. Great slogan, horrible pick-up line:
Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about the Hickory Crawdads’ “Day in the Minors” fan package? This post prompted an email response from New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ media relations manager/broadcaster Tom Gauthier, who wrote:
While we don’t have a program like [the Crawdads], we do offer a program for young kids to experience a day in the life. We work with Citizens Bank (sponsor love) to open up a handful of jobs for kids ages 6-16. They shadow with us for an afternoon and then through the game itself.
To read more about the Fisher Cats’ “Kids Run the Show” promo, click HERE.
Meanwhile, I’m more than happy to have kids shadow me for a day. As a veteran blogger, I will teach them how to show up to the office late and disheveled, overpay for lunch in lieu of bringing your own, and write jokes on Twitter instead of doing meaningful work.
You may remember my piece last season on the art of scorekeeping. In this piece one of the fans profiled was the pseudonym-ed “Stevo,” and I will now take the opportunity to direct you to his blog “The Baseball Enthusiast.” Stevo has just begun a series of posts entitled “For Those Keeping Score at Home,” featuring “intermediate to advanced” tricks of the trade.
I have a feeling that many readers of this blog will enjoy picking up what he’s putting down.
I’m pretty sure that the Reading Fightin’ Phils are the first team to give away their stadium, even if it is only for a day. Read all about it HERE. Or just look at this visual and wonder.
I know that snow-covered ballpark photos are so two weeks ago, but here’s a good one courtesy of the New Britain Rock Cats. So soothing!
In what I believe is a Minor League anomaly, the hair of Wilmington Blue Rocks mascot Rocky is real and actually grows. And once it grows long enough, he’s going to donate to Locks of Love. Click HERE to see his ‘do.
Proving that just about anything can be capitalized on by Minor League Baseball teams, the Mobile BayBears recently opened their arms to distressed travelers after the beleaguered Carnival Triumph finally limped into Mobile.
Sez the team:
The Mobile BayBears would like to give all passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph cruise ship the opportunity to visit the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum for free on Thursday and Friday February 14th and 15th.
“We understand travelers have been through a lot in the past few days,” said team spokesman Craig Durham. “In an effort to make their time in Mobile as enjoyable as possible we encourage them to come see one of baseball’s most unique museums and pay tribute to Mobile legend Hank Aaron.”
The museum will be open from 9-5 on Thursday and Friday, and all non-Carnival passengers will be able to visit the museum for the standard price of $5.
NYC still has a long ways to go when it comes to fully recovering from Superstorm Sandy, and the Brooklyn Cyclones are doing their part via their “Meaningful Mondays” initiative. $3 from every ticket sold to every Monday game will go toward a local charity — read about it HERE.
Speaking of meaningful, I’d recommend that you read these most insightful observations from former Durham Bulls staffer Matt DeMargel regarding why employers should look at Minor League Baseball experience in a positive light.
And now I have reached the end of this notebook page and, therefore, the end of this post. I’ll conclude by sharing this Augusta GreenJackets staff bio. The legend of Dumpster the Stadium Cat continues to grow!
Who is CatDog?