Tagged: Omaha Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers’ Four Day Frenzy: Day One
Only in Minor League Baseball.
That five-word phrase applies to a lot of the strange things that go on in the industry, and it definitely applies to what the Omaha Storm Chasers are up to this week. “Four Day Frenzy” is taking place now, during which the front office staff is combining to work 84 straight hours at their home of Werner Park (located in the Omaha suburb of Papillion).
The 84-consecutive hours of work is — what else? — an homage to the .384 average posted by Storm Chasers outfielder Jose Martinez in 2015 (a modern-day Pacific Coast League record). It is also a way for the Storm Chasers (a long-time affiliate of the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals) to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the imminent start of Spring Training.
The Storm Chasers’ front office has agreed to keep a journal chronicling their collective “Four Day Frenzy” experience, which may very well be a chronicle of their collective descent into madness. Time will tell.
This, the first installment, is courtesy of director of marketing and communications Rob Sternberg.
Four Day Frenzy: February 15. Day Shift
84 straight hours to melt this snow. #4DayFrenzy #StirUpTheStorm🌪 pic.twitter.com/q72Vm6BcEM
— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) February 15, 2016
It’s just before 9 p.m. in the suburbs of Omaha, and the first “overnight team” rolls into the ballpark to chants of “Four Day Frenzy! Four Day Frenzy!” Alex Jerden and Brandon Simmons from our group sales department were on their way in, while mascot coordinator Taylor Edmonds was on his way home. Taylor joined in this impromptu rally cry, along with a few other exhausted staff members. Even after a long day, the enthusiasm was contagious, and for a moment I considered heading back in and joining the first of the three overnight teams. They will be reporting to the Werner Park ticket office to stuff 2016 Storm Tracker Boxes (for 72-game package holders) with tickets and parking passes until 7 a.m.
#FourDayFrenzy rolls on @WernerPark with Storm Tracker Ticket Stuffing Party Night 1. #StirUpTheStorm pic.twitter.com/5DC5lo0jqo
— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) February 16, 2016
It is moments like these when I think of how incredible it is to be part of a Minor League Baseball staff. It’s an environment that instills an unmatched work ethic from sports marketers on any level. It’s a platform where you can take an offhand idea, like we did a few months ago, and build a four-day event in the middle of February that garners camaraderie and momentum that will carry our organization through these last dog days of winter and through Opening Day.
That said, in the middle of all that fun, my moment of night shift enthusiasm somehow subsided. There will be other opportunities to join in over the next three days, as each night a different team clocks in. The game we promote is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’ve still got over 70 hours to go.
The “Four Day Frenzy” that inspired the impromptu parking lot chants includes the overnight shifts as well as a multitude of daytime promotions and events at Werner Park. The frenzy will last until Thursday at 8 p.m.; the 84-hour total pays homage to the record-setting .384 batting average of Storm Chasers Outfielder Jose Martinez in 2015. Each day highlights some of the value promotions at Werner Park, including Wiener Wednesday (25-cent full-sized Hebrew National Hot Dogs), Thirsty Thursday and the all-new Tallboy Tuesday.
There are also events like today’s Gameday Staff Job Fair, which featured a celebrity drop-in by Storm Chasers Skipper Brian Poldberg. Over the next three days, Trivia Night, Senior Bingo and a Spring Training Skills Competition for kids ages 5-12 headline the promotions.
Wednesday will feature the Storm Chasers staff participating in community relations activities like serving lunch at the Open Door Mission and dinner at the Ronald McDonald House. Storm Chasers fearless leader, president Martie Cordaro, will also be reading at a number of elementary schools in the morning.
Day one was a success. The building is still standing, at least as of this writing. We welcomed in a record number of applicants to our annual Job Fair. Our media relations manager Andrew Green scheduled front office staffers to meet with at least five local media outlets interested in seeing what this madness is all about. The Storm Front team store filled up with with fans capitalizing on dynamically priced gear. And the Werner Park ticket office officially welcomed in a still untotaled number of new 2016 Ticket Package holders, who were inspired by the storm that’s been stirred up thus far.
We’ll look to keep the ball rolling through the night and into tomorrow. The social media baton will be passed around as we continue through the week. Follow the updates, posts, tweets, and snaps to see if, and how, we’re surviving.
Check in throughout the week for more Storm Chasers’ Four Day Frenzy updates. Until then, I remain:
Return to the Road: Record Stores and Rest Stops in the Midwest
The previous post in this “Return to the Road” blog saga covered the first half of my May 2015 trip through the Midwest. This post finishes the job, detailing my non-ballpark wanderings as I moved from Peoria to Cedar Rapids to Des Moines to Omaha.
I arrived in Peoria on the night of May 25 and thus had some free time in the early afternoon before attending May 26’s Chiefs game. When I have a small window of free time in a city that I’ve never been to, I find a record store to visit. It’s just what I do, as I’m a creature of habit.
This is Ribbon Records, a hybrid record and vintage clothing shop which, according to this blog post, is in a building formerly occupied by Murray’s Department Store.
The hours of this place are kind of spotty, but luck was on my side. May 26 was a Wednesday.
Ribbon Records had a lot of used records, as well as books, DVDs and random cultural ephemera.
At Ribbon Records, the stacks were alive. I ended up buying a small pile of albums, four of which I can recall immediately at this moment.
Richard Pryor: “Wanted” (he is a Peoria native, after all)
Hank Williams: “Sings ‘Kaw-liga’ and Other Humorous Songs”
Motley Crue: “Too Fast for Love”
Nancy Sinatra: “Movin’ with Nancy”
That Nancy Sinatra LP is produced by Lee Hazlewood, and if you ever see Nancy and Lee’s names together on the same album then do not think. Just buy!
The only other things I can tell you about my time in Peoria, outside of the ballpark, was that I ate lunch at Lorena’s….
…and, afterwards, got unreasonably excited when Eminem came on the radio.
On Thursday, May 27, I drove from Peoria, Illinois, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Along the way, I picked up the necessary provisions.
It is obscene how much I enjoy pork cracklins.
I also bought “Warheads Sour Dippin’ Pucker Packs,” simply because I am always on the lookout for Fun Dip derivatives.
I’m not sure where the following photo was taken, but clearly it was a beautiful day in which to loiter at a rest stop.
A rest stop is one thing, the “World’s Largest Truckstop” is another. How could I not visit?
I can’t verify the “world’s largest” claim, but there is no doubt that this truck stop was gigantic. This picture doesn’t do it justice, as this place was too big to be encompassed by a single photo.
I strongly considered buying a T-shirt as a means to show off my vague awareness of nature and Native American culture.
Instead, I bought this four-CD set:
The cover art is inexcusably awful, but this is a well-curated and thoroughly enjoyable set of ’50s, ’60s and ’70s truck-drivin’ country songs. “Giddyup Go, Daddy.”
I spent the evening of May 27 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, leaving the city early the next morning. Cedar Rapids, I hardly knew ye.
May 28 was devoted to an Iowa Cubs matinee in Des Moines and then an Omaha Storm Chasers game in the evening. The next morning, before flying out of Omaha, I stopped at Almost Music. I somehow failed to take a photograph of this establishment, so here’s one from the Yelp page.
Almost Music, while small, was well-organized and featured a lot of off-the-beaten path kind of stuff for the heads and weirdos in your life. I picked up an R. Stevie Moore record (“Delicate Tension”) as well as a CD from local emcee Macey Yates (I had asked the guy at the counter to recommend an Omaha artist completely removed from the Saddle Creek universe).
And then? Then I went home. There are a lot of things I like about living in New York City, but you don’t get to see nearly enough bird’s nests. Thanks, Midwest, for the memories.
Biz Blog Bouillabaisse II: The New Batch
Yesterday’s bouillabaisse blog post focused exclusively on anniversary logos. Today, the bouillabaisse returns for the more wide-ranging grab bag of the Minor League odds, sods, bits, scraps, leftovers, debris and remnants that you (may) have come to love. If you’re a fan of divers and sundry, then you’re definitely in the right place.
Let’s begin by returning to yesterday’s topic, as I neglected to include the Lancaster JetHawks’ 20th anniversary logo.
The JetHawks will be celebrating this Diamond milestone throughout the season, perhaps most noticeably with their “20th Anniversary Mondays” promo (in which ticket prices are rolled back to what they were in 1996). May I suggest a promotion in which they ask fans to submit their best Lancaster-area dust storm photos from the last 20 years? This could be called “Show Us Your Haboobs.”
Yesterday (or Wednesday, for those keeping score at home), the Columbia Fireflies unveiled their uniforms. The Fireflies are the Mets’ Class A affiliate, replacing the Savannah Sand Gnats.
Interestingly, the Fireflies’ press release does not include the phrase “glow in the dark.” But, yes, portions of this uniform will indeed glow in the dark. Entities across the internet were quick to celebrate this fact.
Get ready to glow in the dark with the new @ColaFireflies jerseys: https://t.co/DrTUz8bdfH pic.twitter.com/pb7zYIKYrg
— Cut4 (@Cut4) January 27, 2016
Let it Glow! Columbia Fireflies unveil new uniforms incl. glow in the dark caps Our post: https://t.co/bWOCJC1P7Gpic.twitter.com/lAYTRf0Nx0
— Chris Creamer (@sportslogosnet) January 27, 2016
Question: Are the Fireflies the first Minor League team to have uniforms that incorporate glow-in-the-dark elements?
Last week the Omaha Storm Chasers announced the winners of their annual bookmark design contest, which the teams says is “the highlight” of their “Hit the Books” literacy program. I am including this photo of the winning designs because the overall winner’s name is “Brooklyn Bratetic” and that has to be one of the coolest names I’ve ever heard.
Note, also, that one of the other winners is named “Koa Stonebraker.” Kids in Omaha must be cooler than kids in other places.
You may recall that, early last month, the Norfolk Tides unveiled new logos. These logos prominently featured a seahorse, and now that seahorse has a name. His name is Triton.
You may also recall (but more likely you never even knew) that January 21 was “Squirrel Appreciation Day.” The World’s Fastest Squirrel, long a part of the Lake Elsinore Storm’s usual gang of idiots, was one of the prime recipients of this nationwide outpouring of appreciation.
It’s #SquirrelAppreciationDay… and we do! Do you? pic.twitter.com/RL5zTQBpuK
— Lake Elsinore Storm (@Storm_Baseball) January 21, 2016
Oh, and wouldn’t you know it? I have just been reminded of another anniversary logo that I forgot to include in my previous post: The Tri-City ValleyCats are celebrating their 15th season. If my calculations are correct, each white star in the logo equals one season, while each red star equals four seasons.
Now that this post is properly bookended, I’ll bring this latest (and therefore greatest) bouillabaisse session. Stay tuned for more, if you’re into that sort of thing.
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: Wrapped, Stacked, Smothered and Deep-Fried in Omaha
To see all of posts from my May 28, 2015 visit to the Omaha Storm Chasers (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
Shortly after May 28th’s Omaha Storm Chasers game began, I rendezvoused with a fan by the name of Paul Biler.
But Paul was not just any fan. Paul was that evening’s designated eater (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). I picked the right man for the job.
Paul is “from Toledo by way of Utica,” but has lived in Omaha since 1997. His family made the move to Nebraska after his wife got a job as a private investigator for a health insurance company. Paul now works for Mutual of Omaha, but he also has an extensive background as a radio deejay. His most recent work in that regard was for Omaha oldies station KGOR, but for the majority of our time together his mouth would be used for the consumption of food. That, in a nutshell, is why Paul volunteered to be designated eater in the first place.
“I can eat,” he said.
Our journey began with the “Cor-dog-o”, a new addition to the Werner Park concession menu. It is named in honor of general manager Martie Cordaro, who became enamored with it after it was originally served as a Nashville-inspired “Eat Your Opponent” specialty item. I’ll defer to the press release:
OMAHA, Neb. – This season the Omaha Storm Chasers are bestowing their President and General Manager Martie Cordaro with the highest honor a Minor League Baseball team can give: naming a hot dog after him. The “Cor-Dog-O” is one of many new food items fans can try this season from Ovations Concessions at Werner Park.
A concession item that was long overdue, only the “Cor-Dog-O” can truly reflect the “interesting” personality and style of Martie Cordaro. The specialty item consists of two hot dogs, pulled pork and coleslaw wrapped in a tortilla shell, one of the only hot dogs at Werner Park that is not served in the traditional hot dog bun.
A closer look:
“Oh, that is good,” said Paul after his first bite. “I only got the dog side of it, but I can definitely taste barbecue sauce.”
He then took another bite, leading him to declare that “the pulled pork is wonderful.”
When informed by Storm Chasers executive chef John Schow that the barbecue sauce used was local favorite Cookies (a molasses-based sauce), Paul was enthused.
“If you’re having a party, put a pound of Vienna sausages in the slow cooker and then throw some Cookies on it,” he said. “Cook it for four hours, and then it’s perfect.”
Next up was an item that can be procured at “Poldberg’s Philly Grill,” named after Storm Chasers manager Brian Poldberg.
That item is the “Ruben Philly” — chopped corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, rye and 1000 island dressing on a hoagie bun. It’s served with a Schwartz-brand pickle and chips (made in-house).
Oh, man. Let’s take a closer look.
“The corned beef is nice and lean, and there’s a good zing from the dressing,” said Paul. “Definitely, a heart attack in a bun.”
We then moved on to the Champ Burger, created by Schow in 2013 after the Storm Chasers won the PCL Championship. It consists of three 1/3 pound patties, bacon, ham and onion rings.
“The beef is good, cooked all the way through,” he said. “And the onion rings are really good, too. But I’ve never been too much of a burger eater.”
Schow was enamored with Paul’s eating efforts, and eventually told me “I want a photo with that guy.” So, here you go:
Schow, like a lot of food and beverage guys I’ve met in this industry, absolutely loves working at the ballpark. It’s a casual environment that allows plenty of room for fun and experimentation.
“It’s a sweet gig,” he told me. “I mean, killer.”
And, clearly, he’s doing killer things with it. Hopefully not in the literal sense, but items like this will certainly accelerate one’s path to the boneyard:
This is the Midwest delicacy known as the “Frenchee” — American cheese on white bread, deep-fried.
“Is the bread Rotellas?” asked Paul, referring to a beloved Omaha bakery.
“Of course it’s Rotellas,” replied Schow.
These two were definitely on the same wavelength.
“Say a prayer for me,” added Paul, overwhelmed by the amount of food he was now dealing with.
“Sir, I have a couple times already,” replied Schow.
If you want a Frenchee outside of the ballpark, Paul mentioned that local restaurant Don and Millie’s is known for them.
“It’s hot, definitely something you want to break open and let cool for a while,” said Paul. “It could use more cheese. Mostly I’m tasting bread.”
But that was a rare criticism of what was clearly a fantastic culinary experience.
“The food here is great,” said Paul. “I’ve been to a lot of ballparks where the food is pedestrian, but here there’s a lot of stuff that’s unique to the Omaha area.”
I’m writing this post some three weeks after visiting Omaha, but for all I know Paul is still at the ballpark making his way through what was a most prodigious dinner. He sure had his work cut out for him.
Oh, and for the record: I would like to commend the Storm Chasers for offering gluten-free hot dogs at the ballpark. I enjoyed one later in the ballgame.
On the Road: Walking Off a Memorable Day in Omaha
To see all of posts from my May 28, 2015 visit to the Omaha Storm Chasers (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
Okay, so where was I?
Oh, that’s right. I was at a Minor League Baseball game. A Pacific Coast League Baseball game, to be exact, though I was nowhere near the Pacific Coast. Welcome back to Werner Park, home of the Omaha Storm Chasers.
I spent the first several innings of the ballgame with one Paul Biler, the evening’s designated eater. We’ll get to him in the next post.
After parting ways with Paul, I played a few holes of miniature golf on the concourse. The course, new this year, costs $3 to play.
After sinking a birdie (or was it a bogey?), I snapped a photo of a couple making out on the berm. I wasn’t intending to.
I was accompanied by general manager Martie Cordaro throughout these wanderings. He pointed out that the scoreboard shoots flames after each home run as well as after each Storm Chasers victory. See those propane tanks hooked up in the back there?
I made it a goal for the evening — to take a photo of the flaming scoreboard. I’d already missed an opportunity in the third inning, when I was otherwise engaged with Mr. Biler, when Francisco Pena hit a solo shot.
Beyond the scoreboard is an impressive array of flags.
The blue flag on the far left celebrates the American League champion status of the Kansas City Royals, but it should not be overlooked that the Storm Chasers have won back-to-back Pacific Coast League championships. Here’s Martie modeling his 2014 PCL championship ring on one finger, and a giveaway replica ring on the other. Can you tell which is which?
One of the many benefits of inhabiting a large acreage stadium is that Wiffle Ball fields can be installed on the premises.
I was gonna be all snarky about the sponsorship, like “Yeah, of course, because nothing says “backyard games of Wiffle ball” like a jewelry retailer. But I’m slow on the uptake — this is a diamond company sponsoring a diamond. Genius! (Yes, genius. This is the internet, where hyperbole reigns and words have lost their meaning.)
The field is real grass; the Storm Chasers have already replaced the sod twice. The blue metal poles in the sign seen above were taken from the team’s previous home of Rosenblatt Stadium.
Continuing the lap around the concourse, one finds the “Downdraught Bar.” The regulars do their part to “Stir up the Storm.”
Picnic area, coming soon!
Here in the left field corner, we find the loneliest seat in the ballpark. A row of one. (Cue up Nilsson, not Three Dog Night.)
The Mike Jirschele Dugout Suite, named after longtime Omaha manager-turned-Kansas City-third base coach, is located down the third base line.
I kept running into this bottle cap dude. This was the last game of the homestand; shouldn’t he only appear during the opener?
We then made a press box pit stop, where Martie did an inning on the radio. Sure, fine, leave the big-time visiting celebrity on the outside looking in.
I passed the time perusing the old yearbooks hanging on the walls.
The view from the Cambria first base party deck.
These women were having a great time up there.
With the ballgame winding down, I paid a visit to section 118. Jerry Strawn, a well-known figure at the ballpark and in the Omaha community, passed away suddenly during the offseason and his fellow fans paid tribute with a seat bearing his catch-all catch phrase. Read all about it on MiLB.com.
Jerry Strawn, in his signature Cubs/Storm Chasers jersey.
In honor of Jerry Strawn. Hey Buddy!
The Storm Chasers scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to knot the game at 5-5. Time for extra innings on this, the last day of what had been an exhausting road trip. At this point no fewer than four Storm Chasers had hit home runs, and I had yet to capture an image of the flaming scoreboard.
The Storm Chasers won it in the bottom of the 10th. Orlando Calixte doubled to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a sac bunt and scored on a Lane Adams single. This marked the second PCL walkoff victory I’d seen that day, the Iowa Cubs in the afternoon and the Storm Chasers at night. Let’s review:
And, hey! Flaming scoreboard. My night was a success.
My jokes are usually not a success. But I ‘m gonna keep making them.
And that’ll be all from Omaha. I had a great time, and I’m not lion.
On the Road: Yesterday Hits Today in Omaha
To see all of posts from my May 28, 2015 visit to the Omaha Storm Chasers (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
The last time I was in Omaha was September of 2010, attending the final game at Rosenblatt Stadium. The city’s Pacific Coast League team, then known as the Royals, was slated to move to a new stadium in the nearby town of Papillion the following season. As part of this 2010 visit, I swung by the stadium construction site and got a sense of what this new facility would look like.
I think my favorite image, though, was this: piles of warning track dirt, looking like sand dunes on another planet.
Cut to May 28th, 2015, when I ended my Midwest road trip with a visit to this same location. Much had changed.
The stadium, now known as Werner Park, is home to the Omaha Storm Chasers. If nothing else, the parking is ample.
A statue out front pays tribute to noted Nebraskan Bob Gibson.
The Storm Chasers have a large cadre of mascots, but I’m not sure if this one is part of the official roster. Regardless, he (she? it?) was there to greet me when I arrived.
During my exploratory lap around the ballpark, I noticed a group of well-dressed men standing in the outfield. I have no further information to offer.
The area surrounding the ballpark still possesses a rural feel. However, Storm Chasers general manager Martie Cordaro reports that 150 houses are under construction in the immediate area, as well as additional commercial and recreational development.
The home and visiting clubhouses are located in left field, with a ramp leading across the concourse and down onto the playing field. The Storm Chasers clubhouse is on the right, as in toward center field.
If this random grouping of individuals doesn’t scream “Minor League Baseball” then, really, I don’t know what does.
I then made my way onto the field, so that I could observe the pregame ceremonies at close range.
Kids love to mess with Casey’s tail.
While Vortex likes to mess with people (I incorrectly identified Vortex as “Stormy” in this Vine video. I hope that the Omaha mascot community can find it in their hearts to forgive me.)
Six seconds of Stormy https://t.co/PsoNndaZR5
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) May 28, 2015
This is Stormy. He’s anemometer-ically correct.
Now here’s an idea that other teams might want to steal. Before every Storm Chasers game, a young fan accompanies manager Brian Poldberg to home plate for the exchanging of the line-up cards.
During the singing of our National Anthem, the Storm Chasers players were accompanied by a veritable gaggle of local youth athletes.
And then it was time to, yes, Play Ball.
It was a gray Thursday night, decent but far from ideal conditions for baseball. Martie told me that, the day before, the team had experienced what he deemed to be the best weather in Werner Park history. And, on top of that, the team had staged a star-studded “Salute to the Kansas City Royals” promo in honor of their long-time parent club.
“You should have been here yesterday,” said Martie, echoing a sentiment that has been expressed to me by Minor League general managers across the land.
But it wasn’t yesterday. It was today. In the next post of this Storm Chasers saga, I’ll cover the today that was in further detail.
About Thursday Night: Omaha Storm Chasers, May 28, 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 return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, even love. Let’s get to it, lest it get to us!
May 28, 2015: Werner Park, home of the Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals)
Opponent: Tacoma Rainiers, 6:35 p.m. game time
Werner Park, from the outside:
Werner Park, from the inside:
Culinary Creation: The “Reuben Philly” (chopped corn beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, 1000 island dressing, rye hoagie bun)
At Random: Minor League Baseball, summarized
Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day:
Your groundbreaking and subversive ballpark joke of the day https://t.co/JRkAjIGPj6
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) May 29, 2015
It’s All Over: Thanks to a cameo appearance at Principal Park in Des Moines en route to Omaha, I saw two Pacific Coast League victories in the same day.
Matt Szczur three-run walk-off homer for @IowaCubs Pandemonium ensues. https://t.co/3gjOR2ZUMW
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) May 28, 2015
The second PCL walk-off I’ve seen today! @OMAStormChasershttps://t.co/Xkj5jOVcvM
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) May 29, 2015
5/29: Travel Day, return home to cat yelling at me
5/30: Seeing the Who in Forest Hills, Queens
5/31: Sleep for 37 hours consecutively
Calling an Audible, in Blog Form
That last little run of “Return to the Road” posts was a pleasant diversion, and I hope to do it again in the near future (highlighting material from August’s trip to the West Coast). But, first, a more pressing concern: It is now time to plan 2014’s road trip itinerary, which means these offseason doldrums will soon be a thing of the past.
Cheer up, Spring is coming!
I have a few road trip ideas in mind and a few potential itineraries sketched out, but I would like your input as well. So, pitch me! My number one priority when it comes to these trips is to get unique and interesting material that will appeal to as many people as possible. (Ridiculousness is encouraged, but not mandatory.) So if YOUR team is planning something unique and interesting that could result in great material for this blog and MiLB.com, then please let me know about it. Invite me out to the ballpark, and tell me about ways I can immerse myself in your interesting and unique ballpark experience. If I can work it into my schedule — time and money are finite resources at the moment — I will!
Please get in touch email@example.com. I thank you in advance; we now return to regularly-scheduled blog programming….
Russell Wilson is not only the quarterback of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, he is also a former Minor League Baseball player. The Texas Rangers acquired him from the Colorado Rockies in December’s Rule 5 Draft, and now one Rangers affiliate is doing everything they can to lure him back to the Minors. That team would be the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
The gist of it is that if Wilson agrees to play a game as a member of the Pelicans, then the Pelicans will donate $10,000 to charity. For more information, please consult this video (warning: video contains copious footage of a shirtless general manager).
In other Super Bowl-related promo news: fresh off of their “Omaha! Omaha!” ticket initiative, the Omaha Storm Chasers announced the following promotion:
Omaha and Peyton Manning have been connected in the news for the past three weeks, but besides general promotion for the city, Omaha sports fans have not had a reason to root for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Omaha Storm Chasers are attempting to add that rooting interest by offering 1,800 complimentary ticket vouchers to their July 6th game with Colorado Springs if the Broncos win the big game.
The Broncos did not win the big game, of course. Not by a long shot. Nonetheless, the Storm Chasers still gave away 480 tickets in honor of the debacle that was Super Bowl XLVIII.
And then, finally, there’s this. Let it be known that the Weasel approves of the Pacific Coast League’s newest entrant.
Pauly Shore replied “That’s perfect! That’s sick!” when asked by What’s Up magazine about the Chihuahuas team name. pic.twitter.com/bhKJLjSk1H
— El Paso Chihuahuas (@epchihuahuas) January 28, 2014
Nothing can top that bit of news. I’ll Encino you all later.
I like doing things in threes — if only because it gives me a semi-legit reason to use the word “triumvirate” — but sometimes three just isn’t enough. And sometimes, sometimes is now. That’s the case now, as in right now, as in right now you are reading this not-at-all gratuitous, unnecessary and insufferably self-satisfied intro to, yes, an unprecedented fourth consecutive bouillabaisse blog.
Get ready for yet another cavalcade of new and/or notable items from around the seemingly inexhaustible world of Minor League Baseball! No segue!
If you’ve been following the NFL playoffs over the past several weeks, then you’re aware that Peyton Manning often yells “Omaha!” prior to having the ball snapped to him. This inspired the Omaha Storm Chasers to call a promotional audible:
31 #Omaha calls by Peyton last Sunday mean you can purchase a 9-Game Sunday plan for $31! http://t.co/7RZ4aTvphd pic.twitter.com/GrJVEsq2eX
— Omaha Storm Chasers (@OMAStormChasers) January 21, 2014
I’ll quote from the press release, if only because it is more existential in nature than most press releases of its kind:
This upcoming Sunday will be the first without football since last September 1 and after the Super Bowl on February 2, sports fans will have a Sunday void until the next NFL season begins. To help occupy this opening, the Omaha Storm Chasers are offering specialty “Omaha! Omaha!” Plans that will feature a majority of Sunday home games throughout the 2014 season for only $31 or $55.
Inspired by the 31 “Omaha” audibles by Peyton Manning in the Denver Broncos AFC Championship win over the New England Patriots on January 19, the Storm Chasers are offering Box Seat Tickets to 9 Sunday Games for $31 (or about $3.43 per game).
Omaha Storm Chasers Baseball: Occupying the Void since 2011!
Regular readers of this never-faltering blogging empire are aware that I am a big fan of absurdist avant-garde interpretations of Minor League Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derbies. (See Quad Cities River Bandits, Reading Phillies, Charleston RiverDogs, and Altoona Curve). On Thursday, the Wilmington Blue Rocks — hosts of this year’s Carolina League/California League All-Star Game — announced that they will be getting in on the act as well.
Press release excerpt in 29…28…27…26…25…24…23…22…21…20…19…18…17…16…15…14…13…12…11…10…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two…one:
[The Blue Rocks will be] the first Minor League baseball club to host a Home Run Derby where players bat from the outfield and try to hit the ball into the stands behind where home plate normally resides. That is the highlight of the Hitting Challenge that will open the California League/Carolina League All-Star Game festivities….on Monday, June 16.
The hitting challenge will feature some of the best young prospects in baseball from both the Carolina League and California League competing in two events. First there will be a hitting contest featuring targets that players will have to hit in order to earn points. Then there will be a home run derby. Fans will have the opportunity to catch any dingers off of these sluggers’ bats as the Blue Rocks will flip the field at Frawley Stadium. A new batting cage will be installed in center field and derby contestants will be awarded homeruns by hitting balls into the seating area.
Last month I received an email from WordPress, service provider for the entire MLBlogs network, regarding my 2013 “Year in Blogging.” For what it’s worth, I wrote 128 posts in 2013, to bring the grand total to 1,026. This was less than in year’s past (the blog began in October of 2007), but I’d like to think what I lacked in quantity I made up for in quality? Maybe?
Not surprisingly, food-related posts brought in the most traffic. March’s write-up on the Charleston RiverDogs’ new food additions was this year’s most widely “read” post, followed by a similar post on West Michigan. And coming in at number three was a post that is now almost four years old, on the RiverDogs’ “Pickle Dog”! (I think this is because a picture from that post has been widely circulated on Pinterest.) Number four was the post that detailed my 2013 road trip itinerary — I think people actually read that one, rather than just looking at the pictures — and at number five was yet ANOTHER post featuring a Charleston RiverDogs food item.
I think the lesson here is that I should write more about the RiverDogs, but at the moment I have no new culinary information to share. So how about this video from the team’s annual holiday party, in which co-owner Bill Murray delivers his “State of the Team” address.
For more Charleston RiverDogs’ content (Bill Murray-related and otherwise), check out Josh Handler’s “Baseball from the Box Office” blog. Handler, a “rising front office professional” spent last season as a RiverDogs intern and I met him at the Winter Meetings.
Okay, I’ll stop with the gratuitous RiverDogs mentions. But for how long? Let’s return to the 2013 Year-End Blogging Report, which included the following information regarding the search terms that led people to visit Ben’s Biz.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for canadian tuxedo, ben’s biz blog,bens biz blog, skateboard, and brett favre.
The lesson here is that a picture of Brett Favre in an all-denim outfit riding a skateboard would be blog traffic gold. Can someone doctor one up for me?
Finally, a big thanks to those who have read this blog through thick and thin, especially 2013’s top 5 commenters. Take a bow Minoring in Baseball, Possum187, Dom Latkovski (Zooperstars! founder), Jordan (who may or may not be related to me) and the Charlie & Dave Army.
Okay, I’m officially out of material. Bouillabaisse mission complete!