Tagged: Rochester Red Wings
Biz Blog Bouillabaisse: The Ambiguity of Anniversaries
According to my records, which I store in a meticulously organized and heavily guarded 52-inch filing cabinet, I have not authored a bouillabaisse blog post since January 6th. Three weeks have since passed and, thus, it is time for another one. But this will not just be any bouillabaisse, mind you. This is an anniversary logo bouillabaisse. My bouillabaisses have subcategories now. I have evolved.
‘Tis the season for anniversary logos, after all, a subset of the logo world in which there is always a strong undercurrent of ambiguity. Some teams commemorate their anniversary beginning with the year in which they began, while others start counting once a year has passed (in the way that us, mere mortals, celebrate our birthdays).
To wit: A team that began play in 1997 could, theoretically, celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016 as 2016 marks the 20th season. A team that began play in 1996 could do the same, as 2016 marks the 20th year of existence. Do you follow me? (If not, I’m on Twitter @bensbiz)
The Lake Elsinore are taking the latter approach with their California-Carolina League All-Star logo, which scelebrates the 75th anniversary of the Cal League (1941). Those in the know know that 2016 also marks the 20th anniversary of the game itself (1996).
The California-Carolina League All-Star Game gets to have its cake and eat it too on the 20th anniversary front. Not only has it been 20 years since the game was first played, but this will also be its 20th iteration (for reasons lost to the mists of time, it was not played in 1997). Furthermore! The diamond in the logo not only represents the Cal League’s “Diamond” anniversary, but it also references the fact that the game will be played at Lake Elsinore’s The Diamond.
The Rochester Red Wings’ home of Frontier Field first hosted the team in 1997, making 2016 their 20th season in the facility. Thus, the release of this logo. If I was to offer a criticism of this logo, which I suppose I am: It’s a little busy. Maybe “20 seasons at Frontier Field” doesn’t need to be in the basepaths? Isn’t that implied?
While Frontier Field first hosted the Red Wings in 1997, the facility opened in the summer of 1996 with — you guessed it — a Beach Boys concert.
Way back in December, when it was still 2015, the Reading Fightin Phils unveiled a logo celebrating their upcoming 50th season as a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate (the longest affiliation in Minor League Baseball).
The above logo was designed by Brandiose and R-Fightin Phils executive director of graphic arts and game entertainment Matt Jackson. Jackon’s job title is already too long, but if it was to truly encompass his range of skills it would be “executive director of graphic arts and game entertainment and Crazy Hot Dog Vendor” Matt Jackson.
The Visalia Rawhide are entering their 71st season as a franchise. But it is their 70th anniversary as a Visalia entity. Thus, this pastoral logo.
In conjunction with this 70th anniversary, the Rawhide are “asking people to share their favorite memories from the last seven decades of Visalia professional baseball.” Those who do so will be entered to win a trip to the California-Carolina League All-Star Game. As you may remember, that game — the 20th to be played in the past 21 seasons — is being hosted by the Lake Elsinore Storm.
And thus, we have come full circle. My work here is done.
There’s No Place But Home
My latest (and therefore greatest) Minor League ballpark road trip wrapped up in Jacksonville on Saturday. Click here — and scroll down — to see a round-up of all the blogs and articles that have been produced so far; you can sleep well knowing that there’ll be plenty more where that came from.
That trip ended in Jacksonville, the home of the Suns, who are in the midst of a season-opening homestand that can only be described as “Brobdingnagian.”
This sustained stretch of home games came about because the Biloxi Shuckers’ MGM Park won’t be ready until (at least) early June. Therefore, the Suns are playing in Jacksonville as the “road” team during their current (April 20-24) series against the Shuckers, in addition to regularly scheduled homestands from April 9-19 and 25-29th.
It should go without saying that hosting a homestand of such magnitude is an extremely taxing experience for the front office staff, who will be working unremittingly long days at the ballpark with nary a break in sight. If there’s one team that feels their pain, who have been there and done that, it’s the Rochester Red Wings.
In 2012 the Red Wings’ Frontier Field served as the primary home ballpark of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, who were forced to spend the season on the road due to an extensive renovation to PNC Field. The Red Wings’ front office ended up hosting a whopping 109 games that season, with several stretches of a duration comparable to what the Suns are experiencing right now.
The Red Wings staff, a sympathetic lot, feel the Suns’ pain and have sought to help them in their time of need via this handy list. Suns staffers are advised to print it out and put it in their wallets (or purses, or fanny packs, or what have you):
Top 10 Survival Tips for a Really, Really Long Homestand
10. Nothing but day games!
9. On-site laundry service for all employees
8. Nightly anti-rain dance to prevent doubleheaders
7. For female employees with significant others, four letters: B-E-E-R
6. For male employees with significant others, three letters: F-T-D
5. Initiate a daily post-lunch siesta
4. Daily Red Bull happy hour for the staff
3. Give mascot “body optional, head required” days
2. Hire landscaping company to do staff lawns
1. Fans pull tarp after Day 10
Thanks to Dan Mason, Matt Cipro and the entire Red Wings front office for sharing these survival tips, and good luck to the Suns as they seek to survive. I’ll have much more material from my recent Jacksonville visit, hopefully before this current homestand finally, mercifully ends.
On the Road: Reveling with the Red Wings in Rochester
(Interested in perusing all of my 2014 “On the Road” content? Click HERE to visit a continually updated “On the Road” landing page. Bookmark it, and read ‘em all!)
My end-of-season Empire State ballpark road trip extravaganza began on August 22 in Batavia, New York, home of the Muckdogs. Upon the conclusion of that evening’s game, I made the short drive to Rochester, New York, and checked in to the rather extravagant (by Minor League standards) Hyatt Regency Hotel. This put me in an amenable — nay, ideal — situation to witness some Rochester Red Wings baseball the following day at Frontier Field.
And there would be plenty of baseball to witness, as on the docket for this Saturday afternoon/evening was a Red Wings doubleheader against the the eternal mouthful that are the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The visual highlights of my walk to the stadium were already documented in a previous post. Those wanderings led me to this, my first view of the stadium.
First doesn’t necessarily equal best, of course, but my second view of the ballpark wasn’t much better.
Third time’s the charm? Not really, but getting closer.
While taking in this vast expanse of brick, I saw a sign that elucidated the Red Wings’ position on ticket scalping. (For the record, the only time I ever saw ticket scalping at a Minor League ballpark was at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver.)
This journey ’round Frontier Field’s external perimeter was not for naught. Here, finally, we have reached the front entrance and, thus, a visually appealing vantage point.
In the photo below, one can spot Rochester’s iconic Kodak Tower in the background. Construction on the Kodak Tower was completed 100 years ago, and it stood as Rochester’s tallest building until the Xerox Tower was built in 1967. (That building, of course, was a mere facsimile of other, bolder, architectural accomplishments.)
As for Frontier Field, it is not 100 years old nor has it ever held the status of being Rochester’s tallest building. The facility, which boasts a capacity of just under 11,000 people, opened in 1996. It is owned by the county, and the Red Wings, a community-owned team, are the sole tenant. I entered the stadium at 4 p.m., upon which a small squadron of game day employees combined to hand me a strip of “Legends” baseball cards, thundersticks, and a small stack of Wegman’s coupons. I attempted to reject the thundersticks overture, but was told, friendly but forcefully, that “Everybody needs thundersticks!”
Covertly, and with no small sense of shame, I abandoned my unwanted thundersticks on a nearby card table and proceeded to take in the view. The sun, reticent to assert itself earlier in the day, had regained its luminescent mojo and was emanating heat rays through cumulonimbus cloud cover. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day (and night) for baseball.
The Frontier Field concourse is not of the “open” variety, but it is spacious and sparkling.
Speaking as one with celiac disease, it is always gratifying to see a team making concessions to food allergies. This “Allergen-Free” stand was not open at the time,, but, for the record, the menu consisted of Nachos, “Worry Free” Pizza, and “Tuna Melt Away Your Cares.” Unfortunately, “Root Beer Float Away in a Sea of Allergen-Free Tranquility” was not on the menu, nor was “Fettuccine Alfredo of Cross Contamination? Don’t Be.”
These fans, meanwhile, had achieved the impossible: pre-gaming in the 10th inning.
The view from the right field berm:
The view from the same location, after rotating my body approximately 180 degrees and, for good measure, whistling a jaunty tune.
Back under the roof, I encountered what has to be Minor League Baseball’s only baseball glove-bedecked fiberglass horse. If you’d like to know more about this baseball glove-bedecked fiberglass horse, then simply click here.
During the second game of that evening’s doubleheader, the Red Wings wore these Zoo-themed jerseys. (The result of a partnership with the nearby Seneca Park Zoo.)
Hypnotically undulating Zoo Night theme jersey, Rochester Red Wings https://t.co/JQsZMcYZD3
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 23, 2014
Zoo Night and every night, one can find this over-sized avian on the concourse.
The Red Wings are the oldest continually operating franchise in all of Minor League Baseball, but throughout their long and distinguished history they have only retired three numbers.
In addition to being a number doled out to long-shot prospects during Spring Training, 8,222 is a reference to the number of Red Wings shares sold by team president Morrie Silver to insure that the team stayed in Rochester. This effort occurred in 1956, and Silver remained the majority stockholder until his death in 1974. (His daughter, Naomi, is currently the COO of Rochester Community Baseball.)
Luke Easter, #36, was with the Red Wings from 1959-64. The legendary slugger was well into his 40s at the time, having already played many years in the Negro Leagues and, later, the Cleveland Indians.
And then there’s Joe Altobelli, #26, a player, coach, manager, general manager and broadcaster who is known as Rochester’s “Mr. Baseball.” Mr. Altobelli, in statue form.
And here’s Mr. Altobelli, now in his early 80s, live and in person.
Altobelli, now retired, is still a regular presence at Frontier Field. I spent an inning speaking with him, neglecting to mention that one of my most enduring possessions is a 1983 Philadelphia Phillies National League Champions pennant. (Altobelli managed the Orioles that season, who vanquished the Phils in the World Series.) Anyhow, my feature on the long career of Rochester’s “Mr. Baseball” can be found HERE.
This conversation was arranged by Red Wings general manager Dan Mason, who was very gracious with his time throughout the first game of the doubleheader and beyond. We walked here, there and everywhere as well as up, down and around. Much of the information contained in this post is informed by his knowledge and expertise.
Like, hey, here’s the team’s “Louisville Slugger Hall of Fame.” This particular Hall of Fame has nothing to do with baseball ability, and everything to do with gastronomic endurance. If, over the course the season, a fan eats 10 half-pound hot dogs with everything on them, then they earn induction. The BBWAA is absent from the process.
A perhaps more significant accomplishment would be earning enshrinement into the team’s Wall of Fame. (Note the aesthetic similarity to the Batavia Muckdogs’ much smaller Wall of Fame, as both clubs are operated by the Red Wings.)
Among the many Wall honorees is Fred Merkle, who, as Keith Olbermann can tell you, should be known for more than just his boner.
This building, located down the left field line, used to be a fire house. A proposed stadium renovation project calls for this structure to house a Rochester baseball history museum.
On the other side of this walkway is a grass berm, where I noticed a young boy, presumably injured, using his thundersticks as crutches. Thanks for nothing, Obamacare.
And, yes, take a look at this signage. The lawn seats are fed by worm power. (They are also peanut-free, not because worms hate peanuts but so that those suffering from nut allergies have a safe place to sit).
For the record, James Beresford uses “Ghetto Superstar” as his walk-up music. Also for the record, Beresford is a native of Glen Waverley in Victoria, Australia.
Frontier Field is home to some 13000 engraved bricks, purchased by fans (at $100 per) and engraved with a personalized message. New bricks are added every year, insuring that there is always mortar love.
Some of these bricks are part of the team’s Walk of Fame, celebrating community icons such as the aforementioned Joe Altobelli.
Here’s the view from “The Perch,” a group seating area on the upper level.
Also on the upper level is Club 3000.
To create Club 3000, the team took down two walls and created what is, in essence, three suites in one. It accommodates up to 120 people and can be rented for $2000 (plus food). Note the steel beams, which denote where the walls used to be.
Also, whether the team knows it or not, Kool Keith has already written an awesome Club 3000 theme song.
Down the hall from Club 3000, one can find none other than Mr. Fred Costello in the press box. Fred plays the organ at every home game, and has done so since 1977. I wrote an article all about it.
Fred Costello on the organ, @rocredwingshttps://t.co/gJyZZzMfda
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 23, 2014
Also, while I did not mention it in the article, let it be known that Fred Costello wrote this delightfully campy Red Wings theme song. Play it loudly and play it proudly.
By the time I was finished interviewing Fred, the first game of the doubleheader was complete. The Red Wings had won by a 3-2 score, with former Moniker Madness semi-finalist Mark Hamburger earning the win and ambidextrous Pat Venditte taking the loss. The crowd was sparse at the time the first game began, but by this point a healthy throng had filed into the ballpark for the regularly scheduled evening action.
Mason took the field in order to fill the crowd in on the evening’s full-to-bursting slate of ballpark entertainment.
Said entertainment included a guest appearance by wrestler Tito Santana, who, for a fee, was signing autographs on the concourse. Santana also took the time to pose with a marginalized sportswriter. This individual, like Van Gogh and the dude who sang for Sublime, possesses a genius that will not be fully appreciated until after he has shuffled off of this mortal coil.
Santana and I were among the slate of ceremonial first pitch throwers. In this photo, you can see him admiring my form.
As Tito Santana looks on RT @john_econ_71105: Ben throwing out the 1st pitch, 8/23 @RocRedWings a strike, I’m sure! pic.twitter.com/kjnfKXrzjq
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 25, 2014
Ceremonial first pitch friends forever! (#CFPFF)
The National Anthem was performed by local brass and woodwind talent.
With the nightcap underway, Mason and I resumed walking around. Back outside of the stadium, we checked out this statue of former team president Morrie Silver. The model for the child in this statue was Silver’s grandson (and namesake) Morrie.
Oh, and I didn’t even mention that the Zooperstars! were in town on this particularly evening. I spoke with Brennan Latkovski, a core member of the Zooperstars! squad, between ballgames and he relayed the distressing news that Delta had lost the piece of luggage containing the Roger Clamens costume. He said that it was now due to arrive in Buffalo at 7:10, upon which it would be driven to the ballpark.
Spoiler alert! The Clamens costume did not make it to the ballpark in time to be incorporated into an on-field routine, but the show went on and Zooperstars! (metaphorically) brought down the house per usual. The only photo I have is this, featuring Manny Pach-uiao and Harry Canary. (Just kidding, the elephant’s name is “Elephant Presley” and, contrary to popular assumption, his favorite Fleetwood Mac album is “Rumours.”)
After witnessing the Zooperstars! in action, Mason introduced me to Mary Blasko and her father, Ed. The Blaskos attend all Red Wings home games as well road games in Syracuse in Buffalo. I spoke with them for a bit, enjoying Mary’s enthusiasm and Ed’s dry humor, and saw them again in Syracuse a few days later. You’ve got to love the super fans! (Unfortunately, well-known fan “Wing Nut” was not in attendance. I would have liked to meet Wing Nut.)
Next up on the agenda was to meet Brad Lewis, my designated eater for the evening. (You know, the individual who eats the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). Brad attended the game with his girlfriend, Kara, who, with grace and aplomb, assisted with his food consumption efforts.
Brad and I first met while attending the University of Pittsburgh, where we were both involved with the campus radio station WPTS (92.1 on your FM dial, call 412-383-WPTS to make a request). He has since returned to his native Rochester, and describes himself as “an ex-hobo chaser who has since moved on to greener pastures.” (Seriously, his previous job often put him in the unfortunate position of hobo adversary.) Kara, a native of Lansing, Michigan (hence the tattoo), has lived in Rochester for five years and currently teaches chemistry at a community college.
“I’m the brains of this operation,” said Kara. “He’s the looks.”
Brad’s task was to tackle the Red Wings’ iteration of the Garbage Plate, the Rochester culinary specialty that originated at a restaurant called Nick Tahou Hots.
Designated eater checks in, RocRedWings https://t.co/ovuInUd9YL
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 24, 2014
While there are a wide array of Garbage Plate variations throughout Rochester, the standard version is home fries and macaroni salad topped with a hot dog or hamburger and meat sauce (which Brad described as “gelatinous meat in hot oil”). Kara mentioned that she prefers her Garbage Plates with baked beans, and Brad responded that “That’s what someone not from Rochester would do.”
The Red Wings’ Garbage Plate adhered to the standard formula first made famous by Nick Tahou. (Oh, and it’s just called a “Plate,” because, technically, only Nick Tahou can sell a Garbage Plate.) Fittingly, this could be found at the Home “Plate” concession stand, one of many, many ballpark concession options.
Brad says that the best plate in Rochester can be found at an establishment called “Mark’s Texas House,” which refers to it as “The Sloppy Plate.” He had no love for Nick Tahou’s, saying “That place is physically disgusting, a gross old warehouse. I have not heard of any violent escapades taking place there in a while, so that’s good.”
As for the Red Wings’ version, Brad said that it was “above standard” for a “public” offering, and far superior to the plate sold at the Seneca Park Zoo.
Garbage Plate ruminations were interrupted by a fifth-inning rendition of “God Bless America” (Minor League doubleheaders consist of seven inning games), which was just surreal. The young girl on the mic sang it a very slow pace, paused just before the ending and then proceeding to sing the whole song again at a faster clip. She still didn’t make it to the end, pausing and then re-starting a third time before stopping abruptly. I guess you had to have been there.
Plate consumed, stretch over, Brad, Kara and I proceeded to the “Say Cheese” macaroni and cheese stand and emerged with the “BBQ Bonanza.” It was topped with pulled pork.
Brad and Kara’s smiles belied their mutual bafflement at this item.
“Is this Italian? It tastes like a marinara sauce,” said Kara.
“It is insane,” added Brad.
“It’s just very tomato-y for a barbecue sauce,” concluded Kara. “It’s okay, though. We’re still eating it.”
These eating endeavors took us right through the conclusion of the second game, which was won by the RailRiders. A post-game launch-a-ball followed, which was followed by mascot Spikes initiating the wave.
The fireworks were interesting, as not only were they shot off from behind the ballpark (standard operating procedure), they were also launched from the field.
Fireworks on the field RocRedWings https://t.co/r1RyaI2qrL
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) August 24, 2014
Afterwards, the fireworks show playlist was displayed on the videoboard. For whatever reason, the show was dedicated to Red Wings pitcher Trevor May, who ended the season as a member of the Minnesota Twins.
Hey Beef! This song is totally lousy. (And I’m saying that as someone who blasted “Boom Clap” every time I heard it in the car on this road trip.)
But for the final word on music, and this blog post, let’s return to Brad “Designated Eater” Lewis. He cites NeedleDrop as Rochester’s best record store and, more importantly, wants YOU to support Rochester free form community radio. Take it away, Brad:
WAYO 104.3 is a free form community radio station that will air every kind of music known to man. Prog, new wave, punk, reggae, hip hop…we got it all. Once the records stop spinning there is talk, news, comedy, drama and original plays. If it works as sound we’ll put it on. We are currently still fundraising with a goal of transmitting online in November and officially being on air in the new year. Check out our Facebook page and help us out. Or maybe just give a listen. Especially my show. It’s what radio was invented for.
I, for one, am looking forward to hearing Brad’s show, which still needs a name. How about “Garbage Platters”?
That’s all I’ve got, roll the credits!
On the Road: New York State of Mind, Part One
My latest (and therefore greatest) road trip took place from August 22 through August 31st, consisting largely of teams based in the great state of New York. MiLB.com articles from this trip have been appearing on MiLB.com over the past 12 days, and will continue to appear this week and the week thereafter. To check out those stories, and many others, please bookmark this handy landing page for all of my 2014 road trip writings. I’ll be glad you did.
Once my MiLB.com articles are complete, I’ll write a corresponding blog post for each of the 10 ballparks I visited. The season may be over, but so much material is still to come! Some of that material shall be delivered to you now via this post, the first in a series covering all of my non-ballpark explorations during this most recent road trip. My 10 stadiums in 10 days itinerary didn’t allow much time for such explorations, but I will share everything that I can.
August 22: Batavia, New York (home of the Muckdogs)
I left New York City on the morning of August 22, immediately setting out for the western New York town of Batavia (population 15,645). Now that the Jamestown Jammers are no longer (moving to Morgantown, West Virginia in 2015), Batavia is the only remaining charter member of the New York-Penn League. This plaque, located at the Muckdogs’ home of Dwyer Stadium, explains Batavia’s role in NYPL history:
I arrived in Batavia a little after four p.m., and had an hour or so to poke around before heading to Dwyer Stadium. I briefly considered heading to the nearby town of Elba, which, per Muckdogs general manager Travis Sick, is the epicenter of the region’s much-beloved muck:
Muck is a very dark brown soil, appearing black when moist. It is a fine, loose, fibrous form of peat that feels like sawdust when dry. Onions are the main “muck” crop because they are hardy and thrive in loose soil. Elba, a small town to 5 miles to the North of Batavia, claims to be the “Onion Capital of the World” due to the amount of onions that are grown in the muck lands.
Given my time constraints, and a desire to not make muck ado about nothing, I opted to spend my pre-game time in Batavia proper. There is a lot of history and charm in this old downtown, although the charm quotient is greatly reduced due to Main Street’s heavy traffic and pedestrian-unfriendly street crossings. Via some on-the-spot Google research, I was able to determine that the Hotel Richmond, where the New York-Penn League was conceived in a fit of National Pastime passion, once stood at the intersection of Main and Court Streets.
This is what the intersection of Main and Court Street looks like now. I wonder if the owner of this black SUV, while waiting at the stoplight, paused to consider just how close he or she was to Minor League Baseball history. My guess would be no.
While the four lanes of traffic cutting a wide swath through the center of Main Street diminishes Batavia’s charm, charm is nonetheless still in abundance. Fire hydrants, traditionally slaves to pragmatism, have style and pizzazz.
And this is the courthouse. It goes without saying, but “Genesee Justice” would make for a really good reality TV show.
Update! This is not the courthouse. Per reader Doug Schneider:
What you have identified as the courthouse is the former sheriff’s office, now headquarters to an alternatives-to-incarceration program called Genesee Justice. The court house is at the big intersection (5 and 63) just east of there.
Oliver’s “Own Make” Candies was one of the more notable businesses I encountered. (I went inside and bought some cayenne pepper-spiced caramel corn.)
Oliver’s Candies represented the zenith of my Main Street peregrinations, as after visiting I headed back toward my automobile. On my return route, I passed several points of historical interest.
Capt. Charles F. Rand was “a native Batavian….officially recognized by the Congress of the United States as the first person to answer President Lincoln’s appeal for volunteers in the Civil War.” More info on him can be found HERE.
The War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden.
I wish I had had more time to explore Batavia, in much the same way that I wished I had had more time to explore every American city that I have ever visited. But it was not to be, for duty called.
August 23: Rochester, New York (home of the Red Wings)
Upon the conclusion of August 22’s Muckdogs game, I drove 36 miles northeast to Rochester and checked in at the Hyatt-Regency. It was one of the nicer hotels I stayed at this season — I generally stay in each city’s team hotel, where the visiting players stay –, and I was able to get a drink at the bar just before it closed (being on the road is all about small victories). I also noticed something which became a pattern on this trip: people in western New York pronounce the word “complimentary” as “complimen-tary. Can anyone back me up on this?
The jerks in the room next to mine at the Hyatt were extremely loud and kept me up later than I would have liked, but such is life. Looking for something to do in the absence of sleep, I took this photo out of the hotel room window at 2:30 a.m. A friend of mine told me that this photo reminded him of Man Ray and I hope that is true. Everybody loves Ray, Man.
As for Rochester explorations, I regret to report that they were exceedingly minimal. I slept late the next morning, wrote for a nice chunk of the afternoon, and headed to the ballpark a little before three o’clock (the Red Wings were playing a doubleheader that evening, hence the early arrival). I did take a few photos on the way to the ballpark, however.
Downtown Rochester was emanating saturnine vibes on this sleepy Saturday afternoon, but, nonetheless, it was easy to appreciate the architecture amid the malaise.
25 East Main Street is an “historic site in journalism,” and deservedly so.
The Post House is another building of historical note.
Post Post House, I came upon the stadium and enjoyed a double dose of Rochester Red Wings baseball. After the game, I made it back to the Hyatt in time to get a drink at the bar just before closing. “You always come at this time,” said the bartender, which struck me as kind of comical since I had only checked in 24 hours before. As he got my drink, some tipsy ladies returning to the hotel from a bachelorette party sat at the bar and gave me a glow stick wristband. I said “Thank you,” took my wristband and drink up to my room, and did some writing in the Man Ray moonlight.
August 23: Jamestown, New York (home of the Jammers)
On August 23 I drove from Rochester straight to the Jamestown Jammers’ home of Russell Diethrick Stadium. After the game, I drove straight to Erie, Pennsylvania. I wish I had had the opportunity to explore Jamestown proper, but I did not. (If anyone wants to write a guest post on “Things to see and do in Jamestown” then you know where to get a hold of me.) There is very little I can tell you about Jamestown, but one thing I can tell you is that Jamestown is the birthplace of Lucille Ball and the town is now home to the “Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center.”
I can also tell you that I have plenty more material to share, and share it I will. But share it in this post, I won’t. Stay tuned for much more from the road.
Turn the Page, Part One
Have you ever tried to monitor the actions of 160 entities on a daily basis? That’s basically what my job is here at MiLB.com, and please believe me when I say that it can be overwhelming! Keeping track of a such a vast industry exacerbates my already quite pronounced OCD-tendencies, and leads to notebook pages such as the following:
All of this is to say — it’s time to turn the page! But before doing so, please enjoy this bouillabaisse blog post consisting entirely of news items seen on the above notebook page. Y’know, topics that I’ve kept meaning to get around to but never did (or at least never did outside of the Twitter realm).
So here you go — no segues, just news news news!
Would you believe that the Hudson Valley Renegades have not one but TWO former MLB pitchers on their front office staff? Joe Ausiano (1994-95 Yankees) has long been with the team, and he has now been joined by Rob Bell (who played for four teams over seven big league seasons). Bell, now 36, will serve as a sales account executive.
Hudson Valley: home of Minor League Baseball’s best front office softball team?
The Iowa Cubs have long prided themselves on conducting the most irreverent website polls in MiLB, but decided not to continue with the practice after their site underwent an extensive re-design (as nearly all team sites have done of late, courtesy of the tech wizards here at MLBAM).
But, rest assured, they went out on top of their poll game!
You may recall my recent post on Minor League Front Office Cliches, in which one of the cliches mentioned was “We wear a lot of hats.” This prompted @Interstate19Cap to reply, via Twitter: “I wear a lot of hats. Haha! I should work in MiLB.”
He also attached a picture of his formidable hat wall. Not quite at a St. Pete level, but close!
You may or may not be aware of my most recent “Ben’s Bookshelf” column, which had a Black History Month angle.
I recommend all six of the titles shown above (read the article, linked to above), but there’s far more where that came from. Check out this bookshelf pic, sent to me via Twitter by @BeesGal_SLC, and marvel at its thoroughness.
That reminds me — I really should read Curt Flood’s book!
On the promotion front — this, from the Altoona Curve, is worthy of attention. April 11 will be BOpening Night, a tribute to batboy Bo Forney who passed away earlier this month at the age of 21.
From the team:
Bo has been an inspiration to many with the way he lived,” said Curve General Manager Rob Egan. “He had the rare ability to make anybody who came in contact with him feel better. Bo was such a positive person, loved life, and truly enjoyed people. We miss him deeply and look forward to celebrating his life on ‘BOpening Night’ and throughout the season.”
A silent auction will take place during BOpening Night with all proceeds from the auction benefitting the American Heart Association. The auction will consist of game-used items from the Pirates-Curve Exhibition game and will include, in addition to other items, 14-game used jerseys that have been signed by former Curve players /current Pirates players.
To commemorate the life of Forney, a patch with Bo’s cartoon likeness will be affixed to all bat boys uniforms throughout the 2013 season. The Forney family will also be in attendance for BOpening Night and will throw out ceremonial first pitches prior to the game. A moment of silence will be held in Bo’s honor prior to the game as well.
This reminds me of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who last season held a ballpark service for vendor Brock Calmes. Events like these help to illustrate the deep bonds that form within Minor League Baseball ballparks, and just how meaningful the presence of Minor League Baseball within a community can be.
Last week, the Tacoma Rainiers let it be known that anyone willing to purchase 350 Opening Weekend ticket deals would receive this pyramid of Dustin Ackley bobbleheads. I don’t think that anyone took them up on it.
Next I’d like to give a shoutout to Spikes, intrepid mascot for your (or at least someone’s) Rochester Red Wings. He joins Rocky of the Wilmington Blue Rocks as the only mascots (that I am aware of) to take part in a Polar Plunge for charity.
During all 10 of their Friday night home games this season, the Charlotte Knights will be wearing 1990 throwback uniforms. Luxuriate in this image!
This initiative was inspired by the fact that 2013 will be the team’s last at Knights Stadium. 1990 was the first. Sez the team:
The jerseys, which were worn by the inaugural Knights Stadium Team in 1990, will now be worn by the current Knights team during the new “Flashback Fridays” series, which is set to commemorate 24 years of history at Knights Stadium.
To return to philanthropic endeavors, the Erie SeaWolves are now at the tail end of their “Drive to Five” initiative.
The most pertinent of the details:
Through February 28, the Erie SeaWolves will donate $25 to United Way for each new full-season ticket package purchased. If 100 new season ticket packages are purchased, the SeaWolves will double the contribution – raising $5,000 to help United Way achieve its goal to reduce poverty in our region.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys detailed analysis of industry-wide attendance figures, then you’re going to love the Number Tamer. Nobody does it better! (Or, if someone does, I’m certainly not aware of it).
As you may be aware, one of this year’s most ill-fated sporting ventures occurred in Williamsport, PA. The Federal Hockey League’s Outlaw franchise set up shop at outdoor Bowman Field (longtime home of the Crosscutters), an idea that may sound cool in theory but turned out to be a unmitigated financial disaster. The team pulled the plug on the season mid-way through, leaving everyone in the lurch, and once this happened the Crosscutters offered a quick response via this local newspaper ad:
This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but nonetheless I encourage you like Lancaster JetHawks mascot KaBoom on Facebook. Here’s why:
Speaking of inadvisable mascot feats, here’s a picture of Lake County’s Skipper, immediately after “Tackling the Tower.”
“Tackling the Tower” isn’t some sort of euphemism, but an annual stair-climbing event with (of course) philanthropic intent. Good work, Skipper!
And, my goodness, this notebook page still has a lot of stuff on it. This post is gonna be a two-parter.
Everything I do, I do it for you.
Wearing Your Guitar On Your Sleeve, and Other Innovations
I’ve got a healthy-sized stash of odds and ends Florida road trip content, and I’ll get to it as soon as I possibly can. But today’s post will be a good ol’ fashioned bouillabaisse (a word that I can no longer spell on the first attempt) featuring a mere fraction of the Minor League happenings that are fit to “print”. I can only do so much.
Let’s start with the Stockton Ports, who last season found success with their Rolling Stones theme jerseys. This year’s honoree was Johnny Cash, and the team wore — what else? — black jerseys.
Rickey Henderson, in town as an Oakland A’s roving instructor, was into it:
James Garner and his Cash tribute band provided the entertainment, and according to Ports director of marketing Jeremy Neisser they were “unbelievably amazing.”
Jerseys were auctioned off after the game, right off of the backs of those who wore them:
And, finally, what would such a promotion be without themed head shots?
It would be nothing, I tell you. Absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile, in Rochester, there’s a whole lot of something going on. The Red Wings have proclaimed that May is Baseball Month at Frontier Field, and for good reason: 27 games will be played there this month! (Including a sold-out Andy Pettitte rehab start that was moved to Frontier Field from its originally scheduled location of Batavia’s Dwyer Stadium.)
Explains the team:
The Red Wings in 2012 are sharing Frontier Field with the Empire State Yankees while their home of PNC Field in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre undergoes a season-long renovation. A total of 109 games will be played at Frontier Field in 2012.
“The only thing better than baseball is more baseball,” said Red Wings President/CEO Naomi Silver. “This unique season, and month, is one we’ll be taking about for years to come. Everyone will want to say they were a part of it.”
To encourage as many people to take part as possible, the team is incentivizing attendance throughout the month of May (despite spell-check informing me that “incentivizing” is not a word).
Fans attending one game a week during Baseball Month in Rochester will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win the grand prize of a one-year lease on a 2012 Toyota Camry.
Other prizes include lunch with Red Wings coaching staff, spending an inning in the broadcast booth, a team-signed jersey, and much more.
Let’s end with a picture of food! The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are serving “Chicken Bog Balls” at the ballpark this year, which really should be endorsed by legendary poultry consumer Wade Boggs.
Read all about Bog Balls here, and tell ’em Ben’s Biz sent ya. Assuming, that is, that someone asks.