Results tagged ‘ Spokane Indians ’

On the Road: Here, There and Everywhere in Spokane

To see all posts from my August 12 visit to the Spokane Indians, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Spokane’s Avista Stadium was my 27th and final ballpark stop of the season, bringing my lifetime total to…well, I really don’t know at the moment, but something like 150. Sometimes all these ballparks start to blur together, forming a monolithic facility of the mind. Other times, like during this particular Friday evening night in Spokane, every moment stands out as distinct.

It was gorgeous night in a gorgeous ballpark, inside and out.

img_2737Especially on the inside.

img_2738As mentioned in the previous post, the right field foul line is a scant 296 feet away from home plate. I hope these fans brought their gloves, or are at least prepared to catch some dingers in their beer cups.

img_2739Further back from the field (but still in “catch a dinger” territory), two young fans were playing a giant game of checkers. Note that the kid in black shoes is moving a black checker, while his opponent took off his shoes and is representing his side of the board via white socks. I am convinced this was intentional.
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Heading toward center field, one finds “The Depot.” This replica train car used to be part of a restaurant, and was placed in the ballpark by a crane. It’s appropriate to the area, too, as there are railroad tracks approximately 200 years from the ballpark.

img_0417I found it hard to take photos in The Depot, as it’s very narrow.

img_0418The view, however, is incredible.

img_0419I was still wandering about with Indians senior vice president Otto Klein at this juncture of the evening. He told me the team overstaffs the ballpark, so that “customer service standards go way beyond anything anyone would expect at a game.”

“We want you to spill your beer, so you see how fast we clean it up and replace it,” he said. “You could eat off the floor, though I wouldn’t recommend it. Every day is someone’s Opening Day.”

Being chronically overstaffed allows the Indians to do things like host Baseball Bingo on an evening with over 6000 fans in the ballpark (in my experience, I’ve founf that most teams reserve Baseball Bingo for quiet weekday evenings). And if they want to check their bingo cards, fans know just where to go. There are referees positioned at the aisles.
img_2743Behind home plate, there is a candy-striped box reserved for doctors. The doctor sitting in the box is at the ready to deal with injuries from foul balls or any other fan emergency. Klein said that the box is generally occupied by an internist who receives practicum hours for his or her attendance. It never sits MD.

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Those in the doctor box get a view that, approximately, looks like this.

img_0423All Spokane Indians games are broadcast on the radio. A select few are broadcast on local TV station SWX — Right Now Sports and Weather — and this was one of them. Sam Adams and color man Bob Castle were in the Bob Robertson press box calling the game, and reporter Lindsay Joy was doing live spots from the stands. One of these live spots was an interview with me, as the game was going on, as we stood hard up against the home dugout.

I promised Lindsay I would save her from any foul balls that came her way as she faced away from the field, and fortunately we never found out if I could keep that promise (my guess is “probably not.”) The interview went well, just breezed right along, and it was fun being able to talk about who I am and what I do in such an uniquely immediate fashion.

“Down in front!” says man wearing tie-dyed shirt.

img_2764Afterward I stopped by the production truck, parked just outside the ballpark. I’m paraphrasing, but they told me that my interview with Lindsay was “the greatest moment in the history of live television.” Or at least that’s what I choose to believe.

img_2770Searching for even more “van”tage points, I traversed to the upper level.

img_0427Here’s the view from the Bob Robertson press box.

img_0429Duty called once again, however, as I was recruited to participate in an on-field paint can stacking competition. I easily could have won this thing. But, as you can see, I got greedy and greediness led to defeat. I was like a walking Aesop’s fable out there.

Despite my defeat, Doris the Spokane-asaurus was happy to see me afterwards.

img_2771As was Otto, named after real person who works for the team Otto Klein. Otto gave me his…actually, I’m going to save that joke for later.

img_2774This ballgame, against the eventual Northwest League champion Eugene Emeralds, was zipping right along. I barely had time to admire the detail and complexity of the videoboard headshots.

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I was once again in the Bob Robertson press box because I was once again taking part in an SWX televised endeavor. Sam Adams and Bob Castle, TV announcers both, had agreed to serve as designated eaters while they were broadcasting the game. This, too, was a Ben’s Biz Blog first. And since it integrated so quickly and seamlessly into the evening as a whole I’m not going to document it in a separate post. I’m just gonna keep right on rolling.

A small array of items had been assembled just for Sam and Bob.

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On the left, in the front, is deep-fried PB&J. Next to that are the Bacon Blue Cheese Fries — beer-coated fries with blue cheese dressing, mixed with cheese and bacon crumbles. And, finally, we had a Walking Taco. As the game was going on, Sam and Bob tried these items and offered their opinions while (nominally) calling the game in progress. It was a bit chaotic.

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img_2785Okay, switch.

img_2787Just another day on the job for Bob and Sam.

img_2789It was all on TV and now, of course, it’s on the internet:

Thanks to Indians public relations director Bud Bareither for helping to make what transpired above a reality.

Bud!

img_2790The ballgame was nearing its assumed conclusion, but there was still more to do. Bidding adieu to Bud and crew, I headed back to the front office. See that circle in the middle of the floor?

img_2794That’s a vintage safe, unearthed during renovations and, yet, never opened. Read all about it, and savor the mystery.

img_2792Meanwhile, on the field, the Emeralds had locked up a 1-0 victory over the hometown team.

img_0440Of course, the combination of baseball and Friday night equals fireworks. But first, the fans all sang along to “Sweet Caroline.” If there’s one thing I learned this season, it’s that “Sweet Caroline” is played at ballparks all over the country with no regard to affiliation. So, sure, a Rangers farm team in Washington state? Have at it.

I’d share my fireworks photos, but per usual they were awful. Pyro-terrible. But what wasn’t (isn’t?) awful is/was my nightly Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day, which I wrote and disseminated as fans were filing out of the ballpark.

Among the individuals filing out of the ballpark was broadcaster Sam Adams, happily toting all the leftovers from his previous on-air eating spree.

img_2799And that did it for my time in Spokane. I loved it there.

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And that didn’t just do it for my time in Spokane, it did it for my road trip out west as well as my entire 2016 traveling season. This is always a bittersweet feeling and, per usual, a fortuitous selection on a local rock radio station helped provide the proper soundtrack to my mood.

Thanks to everyone I’ve met along the way, as well as to everyone who has followed along with me as I attempt to chronicle my experiences. This marks the end of a blogging era, with a new one soon to begin.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

On the Road: Soaking it in, in Spokane

To see all posts from my August 12 visit to the Spokane Indians, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

As I walked into Avista Stadium, the longtime home of the Spokane Indians, a team employee greeted me with the following announcement.

“Free raffle tonight! Don’t do anything. Just be present.”

I knew it was gonna be a good night.

img_0392Truth be told, I knew it was gonna be a good night before I even walked inside. Outside the ballpark, the all-female band “Too Many Men” was kicking out some minimalist rock jams. It all seemed so very “Pacific Northwest,” aligned with my ’90s-era indie rock stereotypes of the region, like if this band started writing original songs they’d probably get signed to K Records.

As I entered the ballpark, director of public relations Bud Bareither came down to greet me. Earlier in the season, Bud had alerted me to the presence of the Indians’ late ’80s “team photos taken at the local mall” baseball card sets. So, I was already a fan of Bud.

Bud!

img_0393Bud quickly passed me off to Indians senior vice president Otto Klein, who was very generous with his time despite it being a busy Friday night. Otto had a lot to tell me because, when it comes to the Indians, there’s a lot to talk about. Avista Stadium opened in 1958, and professional baseball in the region dates back to the 19th century. The Indians, currently a Rangers affiliate, have been members of the Class A Short Season Northwest League since 1983; prior to that they were a Pacific Coast League entity.

In 1958, corporate naming rights were an unheard-of phenomenon. The ballpark was then known as the “Interstate Fairgrounds.”

img_0396The Indians’ front office is decorated with photos, paintings and collages detailing the team’s long history. This tri-panel shows Tommy Lasorda (manager of the 1970 Indians, considered by some to be the greatest Minor League team of all time), Tommy Davis (who hit .345 for the Indians in 1959 at the age of 20, just prior to the start of an 18-season MLB career) and Levi McCormack (whose father was a chief in the Nez Perce tribe).

img_0398The Hall of Fame Plaza sits outside the ballpark, honoring Cooperstown-enshrined individuals with Spokane connections. Lasorda, Don Sutton and George Brett are three such individuals.

img_0402“We’ve got a lot of stories to tell, and we do our best to celebrate them,” said Klein.

The “Indians” name is, of course, a potentially problematic aspect of the team’s rich history. There are distinctions that need to be made between celebration and exploitation, between paying tribute and racist caricature. Klein told me that, in the ’90s, new ownership was sensitive to these concerns and erred on the side of caution. While the Indians name remained, the team presented itself without any overt references to Native Americans. The result was non-controversial (“respect through exclusion,” was once how I heard it referred to), but resulted in a profound disconnect.

In 2006, the Indians partnered with the local Spokane tribe and rebranded themselves with the full support of the tribe. Uniforms and ballpark signage are in the tribe’s Salish language (despite the fact that Salish has never been a written language). I wrote a story on this relationship in 2014, and was grateful for the opportunity to finally see it in person.

This sign provides a good overview. Please excuse the glare.

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img_2734Otto had to take a break from our pregame tour so that he could do a radio interview with Spokane broadcaster Mike Doyle.

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As you’ll recall, I met Mike at the previous evening’s Tri-City Dust Devils game (Spokane was the visiting club). At that ballgame, Mike was joined in the booth by 87-year-old local broadcasting legend Bob Robertson. Bob wasn’t in attendance this evening, but his presence is always felt.

img_2724In fact, Mike calls the games from Avista Stadium’s “Bob Robertson Press Box.” It’s easy to tell which booth is Mike’s. On a brader level,  I feel that any Minor League broadcaster who’s with the same team for three or more years should get his own logo.

img_0428The Avista Stadium concourse underwent an extensive renovation in 2014, and this centralized concession ares was one of the improvements.

img_0406And, jeez, it sure took long enough. This post has thus far been comprised of 13 photos, one Vine and over 700 words, and we’re just now making it to the playing field.

img_2725The ballpark offers views of rolling hills giving way to the mountains of Idaho. Note, also, that there is a converted train car in right field — The Depot — that serves as a group hospitality area. Oh, and while you’re noting things, also also please note that it’s just 296 feet down the right field line. I feel like, given an aluminum bat, I might even be able to hit a baseball 296 feet. (At least if it’s a golf ball I’m hitting with the aluminum bat.)

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Just another day in the life of the Spokane Indians.

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And a particularly beautiful one at that.

img_2744Of course, there’ll be more where this came from. Please stand by.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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About Friday Night: Spokane Indians, August 12, 2016

On Friday night I visited Spokane, Washington, the final stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip. After a not-so-brief travel and sleep delay, I now provide the following brief recap. There will be far more to come on the blog regarding this trip, as well as my previous Appalachian League excursion. 

August 12: Spokane Indians (Class A Short-Season affiliate of the Texas Rangers)

Opponent: Eugene Emeralds, 6:30 p.m.

Avista Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0392Avista Stadium, from within: 

IMG_0424Culinary Creation: Bacon Blue Fries (beer-battered fries with blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles and bacon crumbles)

IMG_2777Ballpark Character: Doris the Spokanosaurus

IMG_2771At Random: The Indians are long-time partners of the Spokane Indian tribe; signage throughout the ballpark is in the tribe’s native Salish language.

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Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

Up Next: 

This trip is over!

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Mall Ballers: The Spokane Indians’ Brief Run of Baseball Card Brilliance

It’s a very busy time of year for me, on a personal and professional level. It can be tough to keep track of everything that’s going on, and I often feel overwhelmed. But every so often something comes along that requires immediate attention, something so hilarious and bizarre that it trumps all else. This is one of those things:

For the ’87, ’88 and ’89 seasons, the Spokane Indians team card set featured players posing at the local NorthTown Mall. I can say, without hyperbole, that these are the greatest Minor League team card sets of all time. With perhaps a little hyperbole, I can say that these are the best baseball cards of all time.

cardsThis noteworthy bit of decades-old absurdity was brought to my attention via the Indians themselves, who recently posted an article on the team website about just how these card sets came to be. The whole thing is well worth reading, so click HERE to read it. A few notable excerpts:

Rather than having the players and coaches pose at Avista Stadium, [the team] took the players to the NorthTown Mall – who sponsored the set – and had them pose at various merchants throughout the mall.

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Manager Steve Lubratich, the man responsible for creating a lineup and managing a bullpen, is posed next to a cardboard cutout of Whitney Houston, arm draped over her shoulder – perhaps not the best way to command respect from his players. Pitcher Jay Estrada is casually leaning on a shelf full of women’s clothes, outfielder Greg Smith is all smiles next to a display of aquatic shampoo, and future major leaguer Dave Hollins can be found hanging out in the food court next to a tub of popcorn.

Steve Lubratich

“At the time players were staying at the Gonzaga dorms and didn’t really have access to cars, so the chance to get out and explore the mall for the afternoon was well received,” said [former Indians general manager Tim] Leip in a recent interview. “All the merchants in the mall treated the players well and for some players it was their first time at a big mall.”

Bobby Sheridan

It was my first baseball card so I thought maybe that’s just how it was,” said 1988 outfielder Nikco Riesgo, who posed with a Spokane Indians pennant outside a sports store on his card. “It was a great way to meet the fans. We might have seen the whole city of Spokane that day, and we were treated like the Beatles. It was the perfect place for us to interact with people.”

Saul Soltero

Indians communications coordinator Bud Bareither was kind enough to send along the photos seen above, as well as those seen below. Please, continue to enjoy:

Kevin Higgins

Tony Lewis

brian cisarik

Mike Humphrey

Being made aware of the existence of these baseball cards certainly brightened my day. I hope that it brightened yours as well. And, in related news, I am now $3 poorer.

Capture

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Flipping the Script

The use of Native American imagery within the world of sports is a controversial topic, as teams like the Cleveland Indians and (especially) the Washington Redskins are under increasing pressure to abandon names and/or logos seen as culturally insensitive. But the Spokane Indians have found a way around this problem, collaborating with the local Spokane tribe to adopt a look that celebrates, rather than denigrates, the people it purports to represent.

This season, the club will wear a jersey in which “Spokane” is written in Salish script.

salish

The collaboration between the Spokane Indians and the Salish tribe is nothing new, but the above jersey represents a significant development. In fact, this partnership will be the topic of my next Minoring in Business article, running on MiLB.com tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Speaking of teams sporting a name inspired by their region’s Native American population, the Syracuse Chiefs recently unveiled this:

But that’s not the only interesting historical sporting overview that I’ve recently found via Twitter. Behold:

But as much as some things change, others remain constant. On 3/14 the Bowling Green Hot Rods held a “Pi Day” promo, in which tickets were sold for $3.14 for three hours and 14 minutes, beginning at 3:14 p.m. (And, as an added bonus,  fans who bought the tickets in person were offered free slices of pizza “pi”.)

I was curious as to how this promotion was received, and Hot Rods assistant general manager Ben Hemmen satiated my curiosity thusly.

National “Pi” Day was a BIG hit in Bowling Green. In just three hours and fourteen minutes (3.14), we sold over 600 tickets at the box office or over the phone to games for this upcoming summer. The Power of “Pi” will definitely be something that we look at using next season to tie in a promotional opportunity for our fans.

Among the many items on team to-do lists at this time of year is adding new situationally appropriate song selections to the music database. For help with this endeavor, one enterprising rookie-level P.A. announcer took to Reddit. The resulting discussion is well worth reading.

This blog is also well worth reading, in my less-than-humble opinion, and I thank you for having Reddit.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Running With Weiner Dogs

There are few ironclad truisms here in the cutthroat world of Minor League Baseball blogging, but one of them is this: there’s never a bad time for a bouillabaisse! So here we go with just that — a collection of random ingredients that, once stirred together, combine to make for a hearty virtual meal.

After hours and hours of not looking, let’s start with the biggest piece of news that I can find with no effort: for the first time ever, the results of the Goldklang Group’s bobblection (in which fans express their presidential preferences via bobblehead) did not correspond with the result in the subsequent election.

Romney won the 2012 “Bobblection” by a final tally of 6-4, but, as we all know, he was unable to acquire a similar margin of victory on Tuesday night. I, for one, am shocked — when the distribution of competing ceramic souvenirs at a Minor League Baseball game is unable to foretell the outcome of momentous national events then I think it’s time for all of us to take a long look in the mirror in order to determine what other of our deeply-held assumptions have turned out to be erroneous.

Erroneous assumptions such as this one: mascots don’t have birth certificates.

Upon seeing that Spokane Indians mascot Otto was running for president, I mentioned to the team via Twitter that his candidacy was invalid due to lack of proper documentation.

The Indians hemmed and hawed around the issue, saying that the certificate had been “misplaced” amidst their ongoing stadium renovations. At first I was skeptical that such a certificate had ever existed, but these feelings were partially mitigated by a tweet I soon received from Lexington Legends’ promotions coordinator Lauren Shrader. This tweet (which included the hashtag #theyarepeopletoo) featured photographic proof of mascot Big Elle.’s birth certificate (Big Elle, as you can see, weighed 150 pounds upon emergence from the womb).

At any rate, I fully expect that the forthcoming offspring of Orem mascotz Hootz and Holly will be properly documented. Holly’s pregnancy is progressing along nicely, as evidenced by this sonogram photo that was posted on the team’s website. Per the Owlz:

After a recent checkup at the doctor’s office, we are happy to report the baby and Holly are both healthy and the due date is on schedule for Opening Day! Hootz and Holly have decided to wait and find out if it’s a boy or a girl until after it is born.

And speaking of whatever the he*k it is that I’ve been talking about:

You have almost certainly read my recent MiLB piece on the Lake Elsinore Storm and their surreal stable of on-field costumed characters, as it was the talk of the internet for weeks on end. And, while you were reading said piece, I bet you said to yourself, “I wish that there were more surreal images accompanying this piece, so that I could fully bask in the surreality of it all.”  And, furthermore, you probably then clicked on the photo gallery accompanying the article so that this urge could be satiated.

But just in case none of the above very likely occurrences took place, I now present you with a quartet of my favorite Lake Elsinore mascot images. They are surreal!

Thunder racing a trio of weiner dogs.

The Rally Cop rallies.

The Grounds Crew Gorilla loses a race to Ace the fastest squirrel in the world.

Collage!

What’s that in your pants, gorilla? What’s that in your pants?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

I apologize for last week’s blog hiatus, and can only hope that absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder (as opposed to withered and discolored). My brief time spent abroad was a truly memorable and meaningful experience, and one I hope to blog about when time allows. Among (many) highlights, I made my French television debut!

But now it’s time to get back into the proverbial swing of things, via an even more proverbial headfirst dive into the frigid deep end of Minor League Baseball’s Olympic-sized swimming pool. The primary issue that we’re all dealing with right now is that the season is, in fact, over (save for the waning days of the playoffs, of course).

And when something ends, the natural instinct is to take a look back on what has transpired. This translates to season postmortem highlight videos aplenty, in locales as diverse as Fresno, Brooklyn, and Tucson. But I’ll feature this one from the Binghamton Mets, who summarized not just the season but their entire franchise history in the span of 60 seconds.

But for a truly unique season wrap-up, let me direct you to this missive from the Tr-City Valleycats: Mayor’s Race Analytics. This post should do for regionally-specific mascot race analysis what Moneyball did for oversimplified and premature obituaries on the occupation of professional baseball scout.

Writes the team:

In recent years, sabermetrics have revolutionized the study of baseball and other sports. Many other fields have also been influenced by statistical analysis, including politics and elections, to name a couple. But somehow, one very important area has been overlooked by the emerging field of analytics: politicians racing at sporting events.

Click the above link for more. And, for the record, I’ll always publicize blog entries that include apropos references to the 1876 Presidential election. Keep that in mind when emailing me.

But no matter how one parses the numbers, one fact about the Minor League life is universal: You’ve got to keep entertaining until the end. Nowhere was this more clear than in Gwinnett County, as the G-Braves kept things moving even in the midst of what turned out to be a season-ending rain delay.

And what is it about the Gwinnett Braves and end-of-season waterworks? It was just last season, after all, that loyal readers of this blog were thrilling to THIS.

The G-Braves finished just out of postseason contention, robbing them of the chance to participate in that most time-honored of playoff rituals: Politician Bets!

The Eastern League Finals are currently taking place, with the Richmond Flying Squirrels and New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a 1-1 series tie. And so much is on the line! Take it away, press release!

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and New Hampshire Governor John Lynch have agreed to a friendly wager on the Richmond Flying Squirrels vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats Eastern League Championship Series. Governor Lynch has wagered that if Richmond wins, he will send Governor McDonnell a gallon of pure New Hampshire maple syrup. Should New Hampshire win, Governor McDonnell will send Governor Lynch a gift basket of Virginia Diner specialty peanuts, the official peanut of the Flying Squirrels.

Governor McDonnell, expressing his love of of peanuts to a rapt Skyler Stromsmoe

But even enemies must sometimes put aside their differences and work together, as evidenced by this hilarious photo sent to me by an embedded Northwest League contact.

Yes, that would be an in-game ensemble of Boise Hawks jersey and Spokane Indians helmet. Apparently the Hawks flat-out “forgot” where their helmets were just prior to a late August ballgame.  A search ensued, and in the meantime the hapless Boise batters were forced to go to the plate wearing the cranium-protecting duds of their avowed adversaries.

(And, pleasing only myself, I just included the phrase “In the Meantime” in a bit about helmets.)

I’ve got so much more to share, and of course I’ll be doing just that in the coming weeks/months/years/eternal re-incarnated existences. But for now I’ll close with this, which I wish I had known about in time to include in my final “Promotion Preview” column of the season.

2011’s first, best, and only transvestite bobblehead:

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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So What’d I Miss?

One of the only drawbacks of going on the road is that the abundance of “on-location” content leads to the neglect of the usual Minor League news and notes that this blog is known for.

But the plus side of said neglect is that I always have a lot to write about upon my return. So with the Carolina coverage now in the rear view mirror (for now), let’s take a look at what I missed.

Let’s start with a theme jersey that has already garnered significant attention across the blogosphere: On August 13, the Memphis Redbirds will wear these jerseys in conjunction with “Organ Donor Night.”

An out-of-body experience

The purpose of the evening is to encourage fans to sign up to be organ donors — a worthwhile cause if there ever was one. But this being Minor League Baseball, it doesn’t stop there. A local music store has donated a keyboard organ that will be given away, and heart-healthy food packs will be distributed so that fans can keep that particular organ operating at an optimum level.

I would also suggest that THIS gets played during the game.

And staying with the RedBirds for a moment. You may recall that back in February they hired local psychic Rhonda Manning to predict the team’s “Guaranteed Win Night.” Manning chose August 1, and what a choice it was. The Redbirds overcame a six-run deficit over the game’s final two innings, capped by Shane Robinson’s two-out walk-off grand slam! 

Clearly, this is a team in touch with the supernatural.

And believe it or not, I have even more news related to the always-rich “walk-off grand slam” sub-genre. Ruben Sierra, Jr. hit a game-winning four-bagger for Spokane on July 27 — on “Grand Slam Giveaway Night.” As a result, a lucky fan won a brand-new Ford F-150.

Sierra and the truck-winning fan, getting doused

Keeping within the hospitable confines of Washington state, let’s check out this offering from the so-called “AquaSox Boys,” featuring four footloose and fancy-free members of the Everett ballclub.

The above video is approaching 20,000 views, thanks in no small part to the Backstreet Boys themselves tweeting the link out to their still-formidable fan base.

And since we’re on topic of “aqua,” you might recollect that back in March the Bowie Baysox unveiled an alternate logo that would be worn during Friday home games.

This:

As of last week, this  fish has a name: Rocko. (I don’t know about you, but I’ll finally be able to sleep at night, knowing that this important matter has finally been resolved.) And while no one has opted to have Rocko indelibly inked upon their body as part of the Baysox’s recent “Tattoo Night,” 1000 fans did receive temporary “Rocko” tattoos.

And two fans went ahead and got the Baysox logo permanently affixed to their bodies. Here’s one of them:

Baysox staffers, meanwhile, took a less permanent route.

All fans with visible tattoos received half off admission, and several of these fans competed in body art-related between-inning games and contests. Menacing stares abounded.

I hope that no one was hurt.

That’ll be it for today, but there will be more tomorrow because there’s always tomorrow and there’s always more. In the meantime, please check out the latest and therefore greatest edition of “Crooked Numbers.” It is a labor of love, and each month after it comes out I have delusions of grandeur regarding the amount of people who will read it and show it to all their friends.

And, for more timely Minor League news than this blog is able to provide, follow me on Twitter. It’ll be great!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Snowman Decimation Immortalized (and Other Seasonal Happenings)

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that a lot of snow has fallen from the sky this week. For Minor League teams, it can be tough to capitalize on a weather phenomenon so antithetical to ideal baseball conditions. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try!

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are certainly capitalizing, as now is a most apropos time to unveil a snow-themed Opening Day bobblehead. 

It’s Scooter Vs. The Snowman!

scootersnow.JPG

This truly unique item was inspired by the Rattlers’ Opening Day snowout this past season. With no game to play, the players took to the snow-covered field in order to let off some steam. And during this unsupervised free time, Scooter Gennett unleashed a brutal attack upon a hapless snowman.

wisconsin snow 3.jpg 

And now, that moment has been immortalized for all time! The “Scooter Vs. The Snowman” bobblehead will be given away to all fans attending Opening Day at Fox Cities Stadium on April 7. Hopefully it will inspire a “player vs. inanimate object” bobblehead subgenre.

Gennett’s snowman attack took place more than nine months ago, but fans of the now will be gratified to know that there are plenty of more recent snow-covered ballpark photos floating around the internet. My colleague Danny Wild has done the world a tremendous service by compiling many of them in an MiLB.com photo album, but it’s the ones from Spokane that really stand out.

Avista Stadium will be hosting an outdoor junior hockey league game this weekend, resulting in a fairly stunning ballpark transformation. 

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A far more informal winter sport conversion can be found at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, as Tri-City ValleyCats assistant general manager Matt Callahan recently took to the outfield slopes. Do not try this at home (assuming your home is a Minor League Baseball stadium).  

And then there’s snow-covered FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, a 60-year-old facility in the midst of an extensive $10 million renovation project.

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The snow has temporarily slowed down the pace of the project, giving stadium denizen Ryan Howard Garden Gnome a rare opportunity for wintertime solace and reflection.

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It’s like the old saying goes: There’s snow place like gnome!

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

(Not A) Permanent Vacation

Aerosmith_-_Rocks.JPGCue up the Aerosmith, because I’m Back in the Saddle Again!

And then keep playing the Aerosmith, because I’m a Dude Looks Like A Lady as a result of nine months without a haircut. But enough about me, let’s Keep This Train A Rolling by returning to The Same Old Song and Dance.

Minor League “Business” News!

I sure picked a good week to take off, because not all that much happened in this lil corner of the world. I was expecting to be inundated with material but was instead merely nudged.Still, I have enough to comprise yet another “omnibus” post, although this particular vehicle is of the single-decker variety.

— The Bradenton Marauders unveiled their logo several months ago, but last week they took the next step by showing off their team uniforms at a pep rally. The press release is HERE, and the uniforms can be viewed HERE.

In other late-breaking logo news, the Syracuse Chiefs are commemorating 50 years of community ownership in 2010. This is the only logo I have ever seen that features a number wearing a headdress (usually numbers wear berets or visors):

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— Hey, have you ever wanted to see a giant gliding rodent affixed to the top of a scoreboard? Me neither! Yet, duty compels me to post this latest image out of Richmond, if only because I am now aware that there are Wawas in Virginia:

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— The Spokane Indians won’t be powered by gliding rodents next season, but they will be fueled by just about everything else. The club announced yesterday that they will be using renewable energy in 2010, including but not limited to wind, geothermal, and biomass. Read all about it HERE. In addition to being good for the environment, this news is a godsend for environmentally conscious hecklers who can now sarcastically thank batters every time there is a swing and miss (because that’s wind power, see?)

— Team promo schedules are being announced at a fast and furious rate, and today’s highlight is a bobblehead that details the growing relationship between Timber Rattlers mascot Fang and Brewers mascot Bernie. Last season, the costumed characters came together as a result of the affiliation agreement between the two clubs:

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In the ensuing year, these two unlikely comrades apparently developed a comfortable rapport. Witness the Timber Rattlers 2010 Opening Day bobblehead, which commemorates the new beach seating area at the Rattlers’ Time Warner Cable Field:

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Yes, Fang is a snake, and, yes, he possesses arms and legs. Far be it for me to reconcile this cognitive disconnect.

— Meanwhile, the Reading Phillies will be hearing from my lawyer. Today the team put out a press release listing their “Top 10 Promotions for 2010“, apparently unaware that the words “top”, “10”, or “promotions” cannot appear in the same sentence without the express written consent of Ben’s Biz Enterprises (a subsidiary of Monsanto, fyi).

But I’ll let my legal team handle that breach of protocol, and simply report that one of the aforementioned “Top 10” is a Tribute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor! Behold:

Thumbnail image for reading 3.jpgThe first 2,000 kids who enter the ballpark
for the 6:05 p.m. game will receive a Crazy Hot Dog Vendor look-a-like
t-shirt. Think “tuxedo t-shirt”, but instead each child that wears it
will look just like the beloved Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. In addition, all
Redner’s R-Phils Kids Club members will have the chance to perform on
the field with the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor during a special pre-game
celebration. And to top the tribute off, R-Phils players will actually
wear Crazy Hot Dog Vendor look-a-like team jerseys when they take the
field against the Harrisburg Senators for the game
(ed note: !!!!!!!!)

The next “Ed” note I receive will most likely be from Mr. Begley, in protest of my ill-informed take on renewable energy. Look, man, I’m doing my best.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz