Return to the Road 2015: Trip Three, Chapter Two
The previous installment of my “Return to the Road” series of blog posts covered my time in Richmond on June 25 and 26th. On the afternoon of June 26th, I left Richmond and drove straight to Norfolk’s Harbor Park for that evening’s game between the Tides and Toledo Mud Hens. That was a horrible drive. I got stuck in horrific traffic en route to a tunnel whose name I do not care to remember, and by the time I arrived at the ballpark I could barely think coherently.
The next day, my mind had returned to an acceptably functioning state. Before embarking on the 200-mile drive to Lynchburg, I set my coordinates for — you guessed it — a record store. This is The Groove Record Shop, located on the ground floor of a new(ish) apartment building on Granby Street.
I was greeted at The Groove by Paul Levine, the store’s amiable sexagenarian owner. He told me an abbreviated version of that which is explained in this local news article — namely, that the original Groove Record Shop opened in 1949 and was owned by parents, with the store eventually moving to Granby Street. When Levine opened up the “new” Groove in 2014, it marked a triumphant return to Granby Street after a 46-year hiatus.
Why can’t I ever take a good picture when I’m inside a record store?
The Groove’s overall selection was solid but relatively sparse: All vinyl, both new and used. I picked up a used copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” and a slightly damaged early Bob Seger record (“Smokin’ O.P.’s”, which is unfortunately not a reference to on-base plus slugging percentage).
After leaving The Groove, I briefly admired Granby Street’s faded historical signage.
Shortly thereafter, I pulled in to the Virginia Diner. Because, you know, it’s a Legend in a Nutshell.
In Waverly, Virginia, I found Cowling’s BBQ.
This was North Carolina-style barbecue, with a vinegar-based sauce. I prefer a vinegar-based sauce, especially when it’s atop a pile of succulent pulled pork.
After that, things are kind of a blur for the next couple of days. I attended that evening’s (rained-out) Lynchburg Hillcats game, and was on the road the next morning for a pleasant Sunday drive to Salem. After seeing the Salem Red Sox that afternoon, I visited a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I forget the name of this Mexican restaurant, but after doing a little internet research I’m going to guess that it was El Toreo.
At any rate, this is the most absurd amount of food I’ve ever ended up with after placing a single order.
I live in NYC, which also has terrible traffic, but the difference is that you can live in NYC without a car. I don’t understand how people can live in suburban D.C. and not have the traffic drive them insane. Their tolerance for daily suffering is greater than mine.
On June 30th I finally left the confines of Virginia, crossing the state line into Maryland en route to West Virginia to see the Black Bears. Along the way, somewhere in Maryland, I stopped at a convenience store and bought the local Dutch delicacy that is the beet egg. (I was already aware of beet eggs as a result of buying one at a Hagerstown Suns game I attended in 2011.)
Beet eggs are naturally reddish-purple in color, as a result of being pickled in a beet-based brine, but for some reason the eggs I bought listed “red food coloring” as an ingredient. This just makes them redder, I guess.
After witnessing June 30’s West Virginia Black Bears game, I drove straight to Pittsburgh and arrived late that night. I went to college in Pittsburgh (Pitt, class of 2001) and still have friends there, so this was a good opportunity for a quick visit.
When in Pittsburgh, visiting Jerry’s Records is a must. An absolute must. As I’ve written before (and will write again), it is the world’s greatest record store.
This is the main room of the store, but there are several other rooms and thus plenty more records beyond what can be seen in this picture.
I contemplated buying this album and sending it to Wisconsin Timber Rattlers broadcaster (and noted ’70s TV aficionado) Chris Mehring. Instead, I just took a picture. I mean, why would one buy a Kojak album instead of watching him on the Telly?
And on and on it goes. Jerry’s is a goldmine, and I bought a bunch of stuff. I won’t bore you with the details. There have been too many of those already.
Thank you for, once again, for returning to the road with me. I’ve got two more trips left to write about in this manner, which should then lead to the announcement of my 2016 travel itinerary. Is it ever not the season?
To see all posts from my June 29, 2015 visit to the Potomac Nationals (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my June 2015 trip through the Virginias, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!
This is Tony Jaeger.
Tony’s last name does not have an umlaut, but his name is pronounced as if it was the first two syllables of herbal liqueur Jagermeister (which does have an umlaut). He said that bartenders sometimes give him free shots of Jagermeister, which is good, because it’s not a drink that he likes enough to actually pay for.
But Tony wasn’t attending this Potomac Nationals game so he could drink, or at least that wasn’t the primary reason. He was attending it so he could eat. Specifically, he was to serve as my designated eater (you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). He was joined at Pfitzner Stadium by his girlfriend, Katie. They met on eHarmony, and have been dating for six months.
Tony, an El Paso native, lives in Washington D.C. (about a 45-minute drive from “The Pfitz”). He works for a non-profit organization that aids those recovering from addiction, managing the property and also assisting with activities.
“I’ve watched him do bingo,” Katie said.
Katie, meanwhile, had been an elementary school teacher for the last decade. She recently resigned, however, saying that it’s “a longer day than I get paid for.”
Tony and Katie are both baseball fans. He has a share of a Washington Nationals season-ticket plan, regularly rides his bike to games and follows the team’s affiliates online. Katie, who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, is a Baltimore Orioles supporter. She also supported Tony’s designated eating endeavors.
“I’m excited; he likes to eat,” she said. “And I like this stadium. It’s what baseball is really about. I’m glad we’re here.”
The three of us were standing in the Cafe Area, a concession and picnic area located just past the main entrance. The Cafe Area had a fairly wide-ranging menu, including, yes, a bacon boat.
The Cafe Area also had a tremendous line, one so long that I have to show it over the course of two photographs.
We were in search of “The Codfather,” a fried fish sandwich obtainable at the tent on the left. There was no line to speak of at this tent, thank goodness. The mighty Ben’s Biz does not deign to wait in lines.
And here’s a short video:
Designated Eater checks in, Potomac Nationals https://t.co/ws9f5OhD6a
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 29, 2015
“Thank God for the cole slaw, otherwise it’s just fried seafood in a hot dog bun,” said Tony, of the Codfather. “It’s good, tasty, if someone was looking for something substantial. I would add cocktail sauce.”
Okay, what’s next?
“Let’s look for the enigmatic,” it says in my notebook. I’m not sure who said that, but it captures our collective spirit at that moment. Specifically, we were looking for the enigmatic “National Burger,” which had been suggested earlier in the evening by P-Nats general manager Josh Olerud. But where could this burger be obtained? It wasn’t in the Cafe Area and it wasn’t in the same tent location in which we had located the Codfather.
As we bravely plunged into the crowded concourse area, our fates uncertain, I heard a voice call my name. It was P-Nats food and beverage manager Aaron Johnson, and in his hand was the mysterious National Burger. The enigmatic had been located, and all was right with the world.
Johnson explained that the National Burger consisted of a pub burger topped with two slices of American cheese (one white and one yellow) and a Nathan’s hot dog. Beneath the burger, serving as the base, was a layer of french fries.
“Since our team name is the Nationals, we figured we’d do something all-American,” Johnson said.
Tony wasted no time getting down to business.
“Oh, that’s good,” he said. “I couldn’t taste the potatoes, but cheese, burger and hot dogs captures the taste buds. And it’s not falling apart. If there was [an eating] challenge with this, I’d do it. And I’d get it again, if I could find it.”
And with that, Tony had completed his designated eating duties. He and Katie were free to return to their seats, which were located right behind home plate (courtesy of the P-Nats).
“They’re excellent seats,” Tony said. “I was telling [Katie], ‘Baby, this is the closest you’re ever gonna see home plate.'”
To see all posts from my June 29, 2015 visit to the Potomac Nationals (this is part two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my June 2015 trip through the Virginias, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!
I’m running out of ways to introduce the second part of a blog post series. It almost always begins at the start of the ballgame, and this post is no exception: A baseball game had just begun; specifically a Carolina League contest between the Potomac Nationals and visiting Carolina Mudcats at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium.
As mentioned in the previous post, this is a stadium that faces west to a degree that is less-than-ideal.
It was a Monday, but it wasn’t just any Monday. It was Dollar Monday — $1 general admission tickets and $1 hot dogs. This led to a much larger crowd than I was expecting, which was later announced at 5,137. The concourse can barely accommodate such a robust group of buck wiener seekers.
Among the fans in attendance was Todd Headington, who asked for a photo and later tweeted the following. This is the first time I’ve ever been called a “MiLB Hero” and, yeah, I’m bragging about it.
— Todd Headington (@AskShazam) June 30, 2015
But the real heroes are the guys on the field. I’m talking, of course, about that evening’s roster of Intern Olympians. There was some structure to all of this, with one team competing against another throughout the night, but who needs context to enjoy absurdity? I guess the blue guy won. The denizens of the non-descending dugout were unenthused by the proceedings. Uncle Slam, looking for a handout. The sun was oppressive at the beginning of the game, but as the evening wore on it turned into an incredibly pleasant night. Yes, not just pleasant, but incredibly pleasant. It’s easy to make jokes about the Pfitz being a glorified rec league field, but tell me you wouldn’t want to be sitting in the stands on an evening like this. I dare you. I mean, really. And speaking of rec league fields, there’s one located just across the way. I took this photo through a chain link fence located on the third base side of the stadium. While there were plenty of open seats behind home plate, the bleachers were booming with $1 patrons. That was the view to my right. To my left was a front-office observation area of sorts. And straight ahead was Ken’s Place, a gathering place for a group of dedicated P-Nats fans. Would you believe that I wrote an MiLB.com story about the denizens of Ken’s Place? I’m sure you would. I don’t know why I phrased it that way. HERE is a link to the story, and here is an excerpt:
Ken’s Place [is] a standing-room-only gathering spot identified by a banner hanging on a chain-link fence that runs down the first base line. It has the atmosphere of a local watering hole, a largely male enclave where everybody seems to know everybody else. Within this convivial locale, the trash talk, in-jokes and beer flow freely. Ken’s Place is a longstanding tribute to die-hard P-Nats fan Ken Rostkowski, a mainstay at “The Pfitz” who passed away suddenly in 2007 at the age of 46.
“We’ve all been here a long time, at least 15 years,” explained Ken’s Place regular John Foot, whose name, he said, is spelled “just like a leg.” “Kenny passed away almost 10 years ago. We had all got to be pretty good friends with him. We all met through baseball.”
During my visit to Ken’s Place, something hilarious happened. For some reason, or perhaps no reason, Cookie Monster tackled Uncle Slam during a between-inning race. Uncle was Slammed to the ground, and his head popped off. I understand that headless mascots are one of Minor League Baseball’s biggest taboos, but as a conscientious journalist I have no choice but to share.
The P-Nats went on to secure a 7-2 victory over the Mudcats of Zebulon, North Carolina. But even more importantly, some interns won the Intern Olympics and some interns lost the Intern Olympics and therefore some of the winning interns hit some of the losing interns in the face with a pie of some sort.
Post-game pies in the face, Potomac Nationals Intern Olympics. https://t.co/KptjGWo9lx
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 30, 2015
There’s not much that can be done after that, except maybe toss a few tennis balls in the direction of various on-field targets. Well, actually, there was still one more thing to do. These jokes don’t write themselves.
Your groundbreaking and subversive ballpark joke of the day, Potomac Nationals https://t.co/MxUSUVcpfw
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 30, 2015
Good night from the Pfitz.
To see all posts from my June 29, 2015 visit to the Potomac Nationals (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my June 2015 trip through the Virginias, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!
The Potomac Nationals were the penultimate stop on this, my pen-penultimate road trip of the season. The P-Nats, as they are known colloquially, play in G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium. This facility is known colloquially as “The Pfitz.”
The Pfitz is located in Woodbridge, Virginia, part of the greater Washington D.C. area. Driving in this heavily congested area gives me Pfitz, but I allotted myself plenty of time to make the trip from Salem and made it to Woodbridge uneventfully. After arriving at the listed alliterative address of 7 County Complex Court, I parked my car in a lot largely occupied by Prince William County government vehicles. After changing my shirt (yep, yet another instance of stadium parking lot toplessness), I looked around and was at first confused as to where the stadium actually was.
The Pfitz opened in 1984, and has not aged all that Orwell. P-Nats owner Art Silber has been working for years to finance a new stadium, an effort I covered in some detail during the offseason, and its days appear to be numbered. But despite the long-articulated deficiencies of this no-frills Carolina League facility, I was immediately charmed by it.
Uncle Slam wants you to, per industry operating principles, enjoy an evening of affordable family-friendly fun.
In the adjacent ticket office, I became acquainted with a triumvirate of recent P-Nats giveaway items: Wilson “The Buffalo” Ramos, Michael Taylor Flattop figurine and the Jayson Werth Beard-A-Rine. All of them make perfect sense and do not need to be explained.
We now transition from big names to a small concourse.
Pollowitz doesn’t dress like this every game, or at least I don’t think he does. The P-Nats were staging the “Intern Olympics” on this Monday evening, an event of great pomp and pageantry that required costumes such as the above. Weiners could be seen everywhere.
Finally, mercifully, I made it out onto the field of play. The Pfitz is a minimalist amalgam of seats and bleachers.
This, allegedly, is the best seat in the house.
There is little relief from the sun, however, a situation that is exacerbated by the Pfitz’s less-than-ideal orientation. It’s not at Bakersfield (or even Batavia) facing-the-sun levels, but still pretty bad.
The start of the game was still more than half an hour away. Thus, it was an ideal time to conduct an interview. This, here, is Thomas J. Rhoads, a Towson University professor and author of the recently-published The Call Up to the Majors: A Proximity-Based Approach to the Economics of Minor League Baseball.
I’ll write an article based on my interview with Thomas, as soon as I get the chance (as you may have noticed, I’m having a real hard time keeping up with my travel schedule this season). But I’d recommend checking out his book if you’re interested in the business of Minor League Baseball (although, fair warning, it is priced at an academic rather than mass audience level). From the back cover:
This book explores the unique relationships between professional baseball teams and the unique ways professional baseball teams are organized in North America with a primary focus on how proximity can and does impact consumer demand.
After taking the photo of Thomas seen above, I turned to my right and found myself in proximity to this quintessentially Minor League Baseball tableau.
Toilets, stanchions, plastic chairs and beer ads: Welcome to Minor League Baseball pic.twitter.com/pebR1zApdg
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 29, 2015
Okay, enough stall-ing, it was time for the game to begin. The starters hustled out onto the field for the National Anthem.
As for me, I’ll take my sweet old time finishing up this Potomac Nationals blog series. It’s not like I’m leaving on my next trip in a couple of days or anything. Stay tuned…
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!
June 28, 2015: G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium, home of the Potomac Nationals
Opponent: Carolina Mudcats, 7:05 p.m. game time.
G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium, from the outside:
6/30: West Virginia Black Bears
I’ve been spending a lot of time recently looking at Minor League Baseball promotional schedules, as it is imperative that I know what’s going on once the season is underway. And if there’s one that I can say about Minor League Baseball promotional schedules, it’s this: They are not created equal. This post is dedicated to sharing the highlights off of some of the best 2015 promotional schedules I have perused thus far.
Fresno’s Pacific Coast League club, entering the first season of its “Growlifornia” marketing campaign, is calling this “the most comprehensive and diverse promotional schedule in the history of the club.” The Grizzly details:
Highlights include the Fresno Philharmonic Brass Quintet playing Star Wars music on Star Wars Night, the social experiment that is “Pay What You Want Night” and, most crucially, a Biz Markie “Sing-A-Long” during which the eccentric hip hop icon will lead the crowd in a stadium-wide rendition of “Just A Friend.” (Here’s hoping there will also be time for the Biz to do his version of “Bennie and the Jets.” Because I need to prove how cool I am, I’d like to note that I have a Biz Markie “Bennie and the Jets” flexi-disc 7″ that was included within the second issue of the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal magazine.)
And as if all of the above wasn’t enough — and isn’t it? — on Monday the Grizzlies unveiled their March Madness-style “Fresno Famous” bobblehead tourney. This is a great initiative, and clearly a lot of work was involved in order to make this a “thing.”
After careful perusal of the bracket, I have decided to endorse the “Waving Lady on 41” as my choice for the Fresno Famous bobblehead. Read all about her.
Remember last season when Myrtle Beach Pelicans general manager Andy Milovich sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while undergoing a prostate exam?
Milovich’s stunt garnered national attention and kickstarted an “Ice Bucket Challenge”-style in-game prostate exam trend within the industry. And now, on June 21st, the Pelicans are giving away this Father’s Day “Bobblefinger.” Note the sponsor:
Perhaps the Lehigh Valley IronPigs should be credited with an assist on this one, as the club has already established a tradition of giving away foam fingers on “Prostate Exam Awareness Night.”
Another highlight of the Pelicans’ promo schedule is July 26’s “Christmas Vacation in July.” The first 1000 fans receive a “Cousin Eddie-style alpine hat,” and the team will be wearing these Griswold-inspired jerseys.
Hey, Pelicans, you play in a tourism-centric town. As part of this promo, you should offer special discounts to fans visiting from Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Meanwhile, in Altoona, the always-innovative Curve have unleashed an array of superbly creative bobbleheads modeled after some of their most distinguished recent alumni.
Tony “Elementary” Watson:
.@AltoonaCurve promo sked also includes Punxatawney Phil bobblehead, complete w/ rare non-Groundhog’s Day appearance by the creature himself
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) February 23, 2015
Yeah, yeah. I know:
I spelled “Punxsutawney” wrong in my last tweet. I seem to do that over and over again, as if trapped within an endlessly repeating reality.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) February 23, 2015
While individual visuals are not available, I would also like to nod in the general direction of the Potomac Nationals. Their promo schedule is spectacular:
The P-Nats’ exceedingly verbose press release includes this passage on bobbleheads:
[Giveaways include] a Steven Souza Jr. “The Catch” figurine commemorating his no-hitter clinching web gem behind Washington Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann on the final day of the 2014 regular season (Saturday, June 13th), a Michael Taylor “Flattop” Major League Debut bobblehead with faux hair (Saturday, June 20th), a Wilson Ramos hybrid half-man, half-buffalo “Buff-A-rine” (Sunday, July 5th), The Goonies 30th Anniversary “One-Eyed Willie” bobblehead (Saturday, August 1st).
That Goonies promo is sure to be one of the most ballyhooed theme nights of the year. As you can see in the top left corner of the above graphic, Corey Feldman (who has probably aged a bit since that photo was taken) will be in attendance. There will also be the aforementioned “One-Eyed Willie” bobblehead, as well as theme jerseys and a post-game screening of the film.
And, not to be lost in the (truffle) shuffle, there’s this:
The P-Nats will also be hosting tentative “body improvement” nights including Hair Removal Night, Tattoo Appreciation Night, and Skin Tag Removal Night.
I’ll end this post with a Trigger warning: On June 18, the Round Rock Express are giving away this awesome bobblehead featuring Willie Nelson and his guitar:
As I have often mentioned, the offseason content on this blog can be characterized as an ongoing battle between the old and the new. The urge to share new Minor League initiatives and ideas must do constant battle with the desire to give belated coverage to that which I didn’t get around to writing about during the season itself.
But why must this dynamic always be framed in oppositional terms? Today’s post represents an attempt at reconciliation, so that the old and the new may transcend temporal concerns in favor of taking up residence within the eternal now. It’s a perfectly logical approach.
Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. The Bowie Baysox, like many teams, are offering a variety of romantic ticket packages in honor of this occasion. But, unlike many teams, they are also offering a vitriolic “Love Bites” anti-Valentine’s Day package featuring secondary mascot Rocko.
Per the team:
The Rocko’s Love Bites Pack is $55 and perfect for the downtrodden on what can be a quite depressing holiday. This lonely hearts package includes four SINGLE game General Admission Baysox tickets to enjoy by yourself, a Baysox Foam Claw signifying your ripped out heart, a Black Baysox Mini-Bat to fend off any nearby happy couples, six black balloons to denote your singular unromantic status, and a pint of ice cream with a special Baysox bowl to help alleviate your sorrows.
But that’s not all, for Rocko will also help those in unhappy relationships hit the killswitch.
Fans can have the frustrated fish do the dirty work for them and deliver his Love Bites Pack within 25 miles of the stadium to help you part ways with a significant other.
If anyone takes Rocko up on this offer, then I have but one request: Make sure you get it on video.
Remember back in June when the Potomac Nationals hosted a “Beard-A-Palooza” weekend in honor of Jayson Werth?
Well, I have obtained photos of the festivities (by “obtained” I mean the team sent me some). Here, a pair of front office staffers engage in a beard-tasting competition.
This old and new coexistence experiment seems to have gone pretty well. I think I’ll do it again in the near future. In the meantime, make sure to check out the new edition of “Ben’s Bookshelf” over on MiLB.com. It features three highly-recommended Minor League Baseball-themed books:
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.
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.
The viciously cold temperatures that accompanied this week’s much-ballyhooed “Polar Vortex” aren’t exactly compatible with ideal Minor League Baseball conditions, but that didn’t stop the Potomac Nationals from having a little frigid fun at the ballpark. On Tuesday and Wednesday the team held its first-ever “Polar Plunge.”
The P-Nats described the event thusly, while also noting that EMT personnel and warming blankets would be on hand (in my opinion, it’s not a true promo unless EMT are on the premises):
While temperatures plummet in Northern Virginia and around the country, the Potomac Nationals encourage fans to participate in the first annual two-day P-Nats Polar Plunge at Pfitzner Stadium on Tuesday, January 7th and Wednesday, January 8th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm each day.
Nationals fans will have the opportunity to win full general admission season tickets to the upcoming 2014 season if they stay submerged for a total of five seconds inside the home clubhouse ice bath tub which will be wheeled into the first base dugout.
The first 20 people to arrive for the P-Nats Polar Plunge will be eligible to enter the frosty ice bath.
Northern Virginians with hardy souls, including team vice-president Josh Olerud, took the plunge.
Among the photographic highlights were these. My only question is “Where you at, ladies?”
Via email, P-Nats media relations director Bryan Holland offered his thoughts on his team’s sub-freezing shenanigans:
The first annual P-Nats Polar Plunge allowed us to bring some levity to the sweeping arctic temperatures, and also connect with our fan base in a fun way amidst the winter season while reminding them that baseball is right around the corner.
After a terrific turnout for the inaugural plunge, we intend on hosting this event annually and perhaps we will up the ante next year on the prize, but also the length of submersion.
And please disregard my previous “Where the ladies at?” comment. As I was putting this post together Holland sent over this video, which proves that ladies plunged into the icy abyss with equal levels of enthusiasm.
For the record, I am a longtime participant in Coney Island’s annual Polar Bear Plunge. In order to finally put an end to the deluge of requests I receive via email and Twitter to “please post a topless photo of yourself,” here’s a picture of me welcoming 2014 in style.
That photo is sure to result in a spike in traffic. Speaking of which, the State College Spikes also capitalized on this week’s spate of cold weather. On Monday, an email including the text excerpted below landed in my inbox:
If you can’t beat the Arctic Blast predicted for Central Pennsylvania, then why not embrace it?
That’s the attitude the State College Spikes and local partner DQ Grill & Chill are bringing to area residents who will be dealing with some of the coldest weather to visit the region in decades on Tuesday.
With high temperatures predicted to be in the low single digits and wind chills forecast to be as low as 32 degrees below zero, the Spikes have announced that the club will be handing out complimentary slices of DQ’s famously-refreshing ice cream cake between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Those brave enough to endure the elements for a cool treat on Tuesday can claim their free slice of DQ ice cream cake by visiting the front door of the “Off the Rack Outfitters” Team Store….anyone who visits will receive 30-percent off any one Spikes merchandise item.
A healthy smattering of fans did indeed endure the elements, as the tweet ably proves.
— State College Spikes (@SCSpikes) January 7, 2014
In non-cold weather news, I believe that a lot of this blog’s regular readers will enjoy my most recent feature on 2013 Minor League attendance. Within the article one can find a link to David Kronheim’s annual report, a cornucopia of ballpark facts and figures worthy of some serious study. Read it over the weekend, and get back to me.
Oh! And for what it’s worth: let it be known that the P-Nats, in addition to staging this offseason’s best cold-weather promotion, also possess Minor League Baseball’s best-named manager.