I’ve been writing about Minor League Baseball for nearly nine years now, and plan on doing so for years to come. But this season, there is a whole new way to engage with, learn about my particular area of expertise. Introducing “MiLB on the Road”, an online video series highlighting the unique and memorable innovations one can find at (or near) Minor League Baseball stadiums across the land.
I’m your host, Ben Hill.
The video above is the inaugural edition of “MiLB on the Road,” and like any new endeavor this will evolve over time as regards the specifics. (Expect future episodes to be shorter and punchier. Also, my hair will look better). But I am very excited to be making a foray into the video realm, and would really appreciate your support in spreading the word. Show it to the people in your life who are Minor League Baseball fans, and, if so moved, please disseminate across applicable social media platforms. Especially you, teams! We’re all in this together.
And while I can’t make any promises at the moment, please know that continued mentions of the best heavy rock band of all time are a goal of mine.
@bensbiz Awesome segment! Your signature move should be a Black Sabbath reference in every clip.
— Andy Shal (@andyshal) April 9, 2014
As usual, I’m interested in your feedback. What is your take on this initial video endeavor? What would you like to see included in future episodes?
Since I’m in self-promotion mode, I may as well continue in a similar vein. Last month I appeared on NPR’s “Only A Game” radio program, elaborating on my MiLB.com piece about the Spokane Indians’ partnership with the local Spokane tribe.
It was a honor and a privilege to be a guest on the show; you can listen to my segment HERE.
For more Minor League Baseball-themed NPR content, check out this episode of “On Point.” Author Lucas Mann, broadcaster Tommy Thrall, and pitcher Andrew Triggs all discuss life on the farm, and it’s an entertaining listen despite the glaring absence of one Benjamin Hill. You’ve haven’t heard the last from me, On Point! The longer I do this job, the more comfortable I become in living a life free from shame and any hint of modesty.
@bensbiz maybe another season, Ben!
— On Point – NPR (@OnPointRadio) April 8, 2014
On March 6 the charitable Photo ID Foundation held a fundraising storytelling event at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in Manhattan. I was one of the storytellers on the bill, a lesser light among luminaries such as Paul Lukas of UniWatch. (Back in my college days, I was a huge fan of Lukas’ Beer Frame zine.) Specifically, I spoke about the trials and travails of being the nation’s only gluten-free professional Minor League Baseball ballpark traveler.
Click HERE for info and photos on the event, and stay tuned for future editions (I am happy to report that, utilizing my connections from a past, and perhaps future, life in the New York City sketch comedy scene, I was able to get 18-time Moth Story Slam champion Adam Wade on the next bill).
Here’s a video recap of the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse event.
Finally, I recently joined my old friend Jon Cudo of Gameops.com for our annual chat about the state of Minor League Baseball promotions. As Mr. Cudo put it:
A blooming springtime tradition is having MILB.com writer Benjamin Hill on the podcast to talk about the upcoming season of Minor League Baseball Promotions. Ben never disappoints with a depth of insight and funny promotion examples from coast to coast.
Ben also explains why he doesn’t need to know anything more about Ninja Turtles.
Listen HERE, and be amazed at the depth and breadth of my knowledge. What me, modest?
But in all seriousness, I’ve been toiling within this comparatively obscure but deeply rich slice of the sporting landscape for quite some time now, and it is important for me to keep expanding my audience and to spread the gospel of Minor League Baseball whenever possible. If you have a radio show/TV show/podcast/(maga)zine/blog/website/storytelling event etc. and would like me to be a part of it, then please know that my answer to your query will almost certainly be yes.
Get in touch.
Suffice to say that it’s been a momentous couple of days for the United States and the world at large, with the killing of Bin Laden absolutely dominating the conversation. Not surprisingly, Minor League teams across the country found a way to respond to the news. A brief smattering:
— The Bowie Baysox issued the following missive on Facebook: In response to President Obama’s call of unity and solidarity….the first 300 fans that enter the ballpark receive a mini-American Flag.
— In San Antonio, the Missions wore their camo uniforms as part of an impromptu celebration of the military. It turned out to be quite a game, too, with David Robertson hitting for the cycle as the Missions cruised to a 17-6 victory.
— In an email received just as the blog was going to “press,” the Northwest Akransas Naturals announced that Inspired by the bravery of the Navy Seals in Sunday night’s mission in Pakistan, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals would like to recognize and thank all military members – active and retired – with free tickets to any of the next four home games at Arvest Ballpark, starting Tuesday evening.
— The Altoona Curve offered free tickets to all military members, for games on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Rumors that Steamer was part of the special ops team have not been substantiated.
The team also remarked, facetiously albeit accurately, via Twitter that “In honor of yesterday’s events, July 4th-born Jared Hughes will be tonight’s starting pitcher for the Altoona Curve.” While Hughes only lasted four innings, the Curve rallied for a 10-9 victory over Harrisburg. This put an end to their streak of 19 straight games alternating a win with a loss (!!!)
The aforementioned Harrisburg Senators are more than just the visiting team in this particular narrative. Yesterday the team made its own announcement: In light of the events of the past 48 hours, the Harrisburg Senators want to say thank you to the U.S. Armed Forces for all that they do….Beginning this Friday, May 6th through the end of the 2011 season all active duty and retired military, Air and Army National Guard, and Reservists and their family receive box seats for only $7.50 (normally $9) with their military ID.
One of the few games going on when the news of Bin Laden’s death broke was a tilt in Tucson between the Padres and Colorado Springs — on Military Night, no less. The team made the decision to announce the news over the PA, resulting in a memorable scene.
“We felt [making the announcement] was an important thing to do,” said T-Pads general manager Mike Feder. “We’ve made a major commitment to reach out to the military; we have very large Air Force and intelligence bases located near us, and there’s a huge National Guard presence as well.”
A more localized case of dedicated team and and fan support involves Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giant fan senselessly beaten into a coma on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. His plight has prompted an outpouring of giving, with everyone from Tim Lincecum to Charlie Sheen chipping in with donations to help support Stow and his family during this exceedingly difficult time.
But one of the most substantial and heartfelt fundraising efforts occurred within Minor League Baseball. Stow often worked as a paramedic at San Jose’s Municipal Stadium, and the hometown Giants therefore dedicated the entire month of April to him. Throughout the month the team raised $36,181, and the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies pitched in an additional $7,181 after holding a fundraising night of their own. That’s $43, 362 combined, which was presented to the Stow family prior to Sunday’s ballgame.
Today, as with every Tuesday, brings a new “Promotion Preview” column. Super Nintendo, bubble gum, mustaches, formal wear, “Charlie Bit Me”, Tiger Blood cocktails, and more. Always more.
And yesterday saw the 2011 debut of “Crooked Numbers“, a monthly compendium of statistical oddities and curiosities. Or, as I like to call it, “an obsessive-compulsive labor of love that I spend way too much time on even though it gets no feedback from anyone, thereby making an already sensitive writer even more sensitive.” That title was rejected by the MiLB.com higher-ups, probably for good reason.
But, today, I am asking my vast readership to do just this. Take a deep breath, ignore all outside distractions, and please give your undivided attention to this most worthy of causes:
Now in its third year, Minors Moniker Madness seeks to determine the best name in all of Minor League Baseball. Any questions you may have about this bracket-style tournament can be found in my introductory article, which is located RIGHT HERE.
When you’re ready to make your voice heard, then please head over to the polls. They are located RIGHT HERE. If you click a player’s name, then a picture, additional biographical information, and a short, ostensibly comedic blurb will pop up.
I would like it be known that I wrote all 64 of these blurbs, and it was no easy task. I was muttering, loosening my tie, and gesticulating wildly throughout the entire process, feeling like a Catskills comedian soldiering through c-list material in front of a bored after-dinner crowd. This despite the fact that I was alone in front of a computer (my usual state of being, as it were).
And, for the record, my eight favorite names in the contest (in no particular order):
Feel free to let me know your favorites. Leave a comment, send me an email, hire a skywriter, or just yell really loud. Its the thought that counts.
I, like many people who work in the sports industry, visit Joe Favorito’s “Sports Marketing and PR Roundup” blog on a daily basis. Joe is a veteran of this business, and his ability to find interesting stories and provide insightful analysis is unparalleled.
So when he got in touch and asked me to help spread the word on a project he is working on, I was more than happy to oblige. Specifically, Joe is helping the IBAF (International Baseball Federation) and USA Baseball in their campaign to once again make baseball an Olympic sport. More broadly, these entities are attempting to increase baseball awareness on a global scale.
Hey! Minor League folks! You can help with this. Says Joe:
“What do we want from all of you? Nothing other than to offer some
extra hands, eyes and ears and to help you tell your stories globally. The global aspect of the sport on all levels continues to grow, and
the upcoming WBC will help be another platform, especially here in
Our goal is to continue to supply and collect information
on a global scale, like FIFA does for soccer and FIBA does for hoops, and to
assist and find stories and collect data on a global basis that media and
all involved in baseball may be able to use.
Therefore if you
come across some great stories of guys you may have (from announcers to
trainers to scouts and coaches to players) that we can help tell anywhere, or
from particular countries that we can aggregate, please let us know. We
would love to find things like “Which organization is the most international”
so maybe there are facts and figures that you come across that may help. No
bit of information is too small, no story too trivial.
We are hoping
that the aggregate info we can collect may also help all of you in your daily
quest for more media coverage, sponsors and selling tickets as well, so if
you would like us to share info that we collect that can help you just
If YOU have any info to share, contact Joe — firstname.lastname@example.org
And if YOU would like to tout one of your sports biz-related projects, then email me at email@example.com I’m generally quite accommodating.
Now that I have promoted someone else’s project, let me know transition to the far more familiar task of promoting myself. My latest “Perspectives” piece is on MiLB.com. Please give it a read, and get in touch if you know of any ballpark regulars I could profile down the line.
Finally, this blog is currently sitting at #25 in MLBlogs’ Pro Category. This is all well and good, but there is much room for improvement. This thing is a powder keg, just waiting to explode. If only I could find a lighter, or at least a dry matchbook.
So, help me out, people. As I’ve mentioned before, I want this blog to be as interactive as possible. So, get in touch with all manner of news and notes from the Minor Leagues, your opinions, or whatever else you see fit to get in touch with. I know you’re out there — according to the fine folks at statcounter, my page views are higher than they’ve ever been. In the latest MLBlogs rankings, I’m sitting relatively comfortably at #23 on the “Pro Blogs” chart. So come feel the sun. Get in touch.
Now, as mentioned previously, I was a guest on Minor League Baseball Radio this past Wednesday night. It seemed to go well, although the fear of my own voice has kept me from listening. It is currently streaming right here. Give it a listen and let me know what you think (for those in a hurry, my segment begins right about the six-minute mark). Also, you know, I know I said “you know” way too often, you know.
Also, I would like to stress that I am always happy to do this sort of thing, be it a radio show, TV program, podcast, college lecture, town hall meeting, congressional hearing, or anything else. Just send me an email.
“Atmosphere always stands for the elimination of the artist. That is to say, the atmosphere is the artist; and when there is no atmosphere and the artist is yet there, it simply means that the machinery is creaking and the reader hears it.”
Time to oil up the machinery, tone down the volume, and look into some affordable soundproofing options! Your continued support and assistance in these matters is greatly appreciated.
So, without further ado, here are some odds and ends:
— Tonight I will be a guest on Minor League Baseball Radio. The show begins at 11 p.m., and I believe that I will be up first. So listen in, and call the studio @ 646-652-2962 if you have any pressing questions for yours truly.
— Today my first “Perspectives” piece ran on MiLB.com. Check it out here. Not surprisingly, it focuses on blogging. Please give it a read, and then take my suggestion: start a Minor League blog! Find your niche and get writing.
— Finally, there is this piece on the Bowling Green Hot Rods and their quest to decorate their team store with license plates. If you think this is the kind of story that would have made a good blog post…well, you’re right. But this is the kind of information that has got to get to the masses as we all work toward saturating the media landscape with information pertaining to the world of the Minor Leagues. That’s what we’re doing, right? Hello?
Okay, hopefully tomorrow will include some original content. Goodbye for now, and apologies for the lack of jokes in this post. It goes against every instinct I have to write a post and not include any horrible puns or plays on words.
But I nonetheless must occasionally draw my readers’ attention to the work that I do that appears on the mighty MiLB.com, such as this recent article on the effect that the economy is having on Minor League Baseball.
While this piece came out well enough, I was somewhat hampered in writing it by the fact that it was so close to the Holidays. Time was tight, and it was a bit more difficult to get in touch with people than usual. Therefore, some decent material fell by the wayside.
But what is the function of this blog, if not to provide a home for such material? For example, one of several things that did not make it into the article was an email from Andrew Seymour, the General Manager of the Vancouver Canadians. In this email, Seymour took the time to outline the ways he thinks his club is well-positioned to deal with the economy (outside of the fact that his team isn’t located in the United States, of course).
I figured I’d share the contents of this email, and include along with it an invitation to any of my readers to get in touch with lists of their own. You know, reasons why YOUR team (be you fan or employee) has what it takes to make it through the tough times.
And now, let me turn the floor over to Mr. Seymour.
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In an effort to take care of our #1 asset, our fans, we’ve
instituted a price freeze across the board. We have kept our ticket prices the same for 09 — for
flex/mini packs (which we call NatPacks), season tickets, groups and game
Our advertising prices are the same for in-stadium
advertising (and we plan to deliver more and more impressions — aka butts in
Parking is the same rate as it has been for years!
We have created a kids club at a tremendously inexpensive
rate ($20) that gets kids in for free to 14 home games (7 Sunday + 7 Monday
dates). We also have a $50 family rate for families that have 3 or more kids.
We’ve furthered our outreach in the community –we like to
see it as giving back. Now that we have a mascot, we have a much better avenue
to be out supporting the events in our immediate and surrounding communities.
This allows us to reach-out and connect with all the people we hope will take
interest in a Canadians game.
We’re also expanding our no-cost information network, in
order to help build our fanbase. From facebook to an amped-up website with
audio and video, we have a viable opportunity to reach fans everywhere.
We’ll have a number of ball park upgrades that will be
pleasant for our fans – upgrades that we won’t ask our fans to shoulder!
And whatever we do, it is always a result of having a
generous local ownership group (jake kerr, jeff mooney + andy dunn) and a first
class, dedicated staff that cares dearly for our community.
All in all our m.o. will be to deliver first class,
affordable family fun in a safe and friendly
environment. Our goal is to
provide consumers with a great value on their entertainment dollar!
Pretty solid sales pitch, is it not? Again, get in touch with similarly self-promoting screeds of your own, and I’ll do my best to post it up here on this ever-growing little niche of the blogosphere.
Folks, the bottom line here is that I need content, and its easier to have you create it than me. Let me be the conduit through which your self-expression can reach its full potential.
Hello, and Happy New Year. I hope that the just-concluded Holiday Season served as a much needed chance for rest and respite, because now we’re all right back in the thick of things. As if we never left.
But judging by the deserted state of the MiLB.com headquarters, it was rather unnecessary for me to come into work today. There are no other people here, or any other living things save for the occasional squirrel. But that’s okay with me. I thrive in solitude.
So, as 2009 commences, what is there to write about?. First off, I must dutifully piggyback off of my last post and mention that the Peoria Chiefs are the latest team to have been bitten by the Blogojevich bug. Last week, the club announced that they would be selling off “Senate Seats” for each 2009 home game. The details, italicized and in fine print for your pleasure:
they will auction off not one, but two special “Senate Seats” to each
home game for the upcoming 2009 season. Just as the United States
Senate Seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama is viewed as the
best opening in the Senate, the “Senate Seats” will be the two best
seats in the house for Chiefs games.
The seats, which are located in
the second row of section 108, are directly behind home plate and
protected by the screen sell for $10 per game. They will be available
via auction on the Chiefs website beginning Feb. 1. The auctions will
end 24 hours prior to each home game and begin at $20. All proceeds
from the “Senate Seat Auctions” will go into a pot which will be
distributed at the end the season among various local charities.
Moving on, I must commend my colleague Lisa Winston for using her finely-honed journalism skills to
decipher one of the more mysterious ballplayer utterances of all-time. On Dec. 19, Lisa ran an interview with Tigers prospect Casper Wells on her blog. In response to the question “What is the best Minor League promotion or visiting act you have ever seen?”, Wells replied that he liked “the monkey guy with the floating thing.”
No one could figure out what Wells was talking about, and it caused a many a sleepless night for those who care about such things. So Lisa dug a little deeper, and was able to solve the mystery. Read all about it here.
And, finally, because I must operate in threes — At 11 p.m. EST on January 14th I will be a guest on the weekly Minor League Baseball Radio Show. I’ll post more specific info on this in the near future, but mark your calendars now. It’s not like they were going to stay all new and shiny much longer anyway.