As a hardened veteran of the anthropomorphic pork beat, I’m rarely phased by any of the news which emanates from this durable sub-genre of the Minor League Baseball experience.
But the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are really taking things to the next level. First came the announcement that “Barbie Q” had been added to the team’s stable of meat racers:
Barbie-Q will be racing against Hambone, Chris P. Bacon, and Diggity this season, and despite her newness on the scene she has already been granted a rare form of immortality:
This mammoth installation is called — what else? — Mt. Porkmore. On Tuesday the team asked fans to come up with a caption for the above image, and while many of the respondents didn’t quite seem to grasp the concept of “making a joke”, there sure were some good ones.
I think my favorite was “Do you smell what the rock is cooking?”, but one Dave Johnson deserves special mention for his submission of “We should give Dave Johnson from Bethlehem, PA some free Iron Pigs tickets.”
UPDATE: The team has since chosen a winning caption. One that is, in my mind, thoroughly “meaty”-ocre:
“Don’t take them for granite.”
But Pork isn’t the only thing cooking in the Keystone State. On Tuesday, the State College Spikes announced that Ted Batchelor would be making a Friday (July) the 13th appearance at the inimitably named “Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.” I’ve written about Ted Batchelor quite a bit on these virtual pages, but in case you need a visual refresher:
I have always been and always will be an advocate of the quixotic endeavor, and greatly appreciate that Minor League Baseball as an industry supports them as well. Batchelor’s goal is to be lit on fire in all 50 states — why not help him out?
Moving on to that which is only metaphorically incendiary, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have released the first in a series of videos promoting their Opening Day bobbleheads. I believe this is the first time that “Kill Bill” has been parodied within the Minor League landscape:
I also believe that, with this, the Omaha Storm Chasers have become the first team to make an online video stylistically inspired by the classic film era.
I’ll close with this random bit of uber-impressive information:
You may recall that way back in April I wrote about a post which mentioned the four Pacific Coast League announcers that had called at least 2500 games. Eight months after the fact, Toledo Mud Hens director of public relations/broadcaster Jason Griffin wrote in with this:
Jim Weber has been calling Mud Hens games since 1975…he has called 4,720 Toledo games in a row without missing a SINGLE broadcast…if you assume a game of 2:40 that is 45,312,000 seconds of play-by-play.
Whoa! Has any active Minor League broadcaster been able to log that many seconds? Please write to me in September with your answers!
This is me, in Inland Empire, dressed as a Molar Racer.
The reason I’m showing this picture is because it features my Sony Webbie camera, which has accompanied me on all road trips that I’ve ever undertaken while under the employ of MiLB.com.
We’ve been through a lot, Webbie and I, but I’m now ready to end our relationship. I have become increasingly disheartened with the quality of the photos, especially if movement and/or low lighting is involved. It’s time for an upgrade, but to what?
Does anyone out there have any recommendations? I need something lightweight, easy-to-use, durable, (relatively) cheap, and capable of taking photos worthy of appearing on the number one Minor League Baseball promotions/game operations/travel blog on the internet (I mean, if it’d be good enough for them then it would be good enough for Ben’s Biz Blog.)
I know that many of my readers are far more tech-savvy than I, so let’s hear it! What should be the next Ben’s Biz Blog camera of choice?
Technologically-minded endeavors certainly have their place, but it’s the simple pleasures that what make life worth living. And pleasures don’t get much simpler than that which was covered in Monday’s post: armadillo racing.
Upon seeing said post, one of my embedded contacts within the Tulsa Drillers front office sent the following photos. Apparently, Sparky Sparks and his team of racing armadillos are regular ballpark visitors.
Armadillo racing is undoubtedly thrilling, but not quite as thrilling as stuntman Ted Batchelor. The last time that Batchelor appeared at a Minor League ballpark was 2009, when he ran the bases while on fire following a Savannah Sand Gnats game.
Batchelor, who recently set a Guinness World Record for longest “on fire run” (492 feet), wrote me to report that he has one team booked in 2012 (I’ll let that team make the announcement) but that he “needs many more!” (This is, after all, a man with a stated goal of getting lit on fire in all 50 states.) Check out his website for more info.
But while lighting a man on fire is still a relatively rare occurrence in the Minor Leagues, fireworks are about as common as it gets. And what better way to promote an increased fireworks slate than with a parody of the song “Fireworks”? Take it away, Akron Aeros!
Perry-dy is more like it!
Fireworks displays are a tried and true Minor League Baseball entertainment staple and an absolutely crucial component of most promotional schedules. Nonetheless, I don’t write about them often because there quite simply isn’t much to say.
Still, I have to note the following: The Toledo Mud Hens will be staging 31 (!!!) fireworks shows this season — Starting May 6, the team will launch pyrotechnics after every weekend night game as well as a midweek display on June 22.
Can any team top this total? The runner-up, so far as I can tell, is the Reading Phillies with 29 shows.
Keeping with the topic of fireworks, the Kane County Cougars (employers of “Mr. Kaboom”) recently unveiled their Fireworks Theme Night Music for the entire 2011 season. In addition to generic entries such as “patriotic” and “popular”, the team will also be staging explosive tributes to Star Trek, Harry Potter, Wilco, Coldplay, and Star Wars. But my favorite fireworks theme night that I’ve come across hails all the way from Jupiter, as the Hammerheads will be cranking out the AC/DC on July 2. If any other teams have released such info then make sure to send it my way.
And speaking of fire, I’d like to note that stuntman Ted Batchelor will be taking his act to Myrtle Beach on April 9. As you’ll no doubt recall, Batchelor is the peerless individual who ran the bases while on fire in Savannah last season. I have it on good authority that Myrtle Beach won’t be the only ballpark in which he appears this season, but don’t want to steal the thunder from any teams who have yet to announce an imminent Batchelor appearance.
Myrtle Beach has a few other noteworthy promos on the schedule — notably the first-ever “Eastbound and Down” theme night as well as a “Salute to Rec Specs” celebration. Hopefully this image will make its way on to the scoreboard that evening:
Regular readers of this blog are used to my familiar combination of text and pictures, but today I’m gonna Flip the script.
Utilizing a heretofore unknown amount of technological savvy and perseverance, I am able to bring you a series of Flip Cam interviews from the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Our first subject is a man who I have gone out of my way to champion — stuntman Ted Batchelor. Speaking from his booth at the Trade Show, Ted explained how he hopes Minor League Baseball will play a large role in his fiery 2011 goals.
Moving from fire to guns, I was very pleased to see the latest offering from the self-explanatorily named tshirtguns.com
It’s a stress ball-shooting gatling gun! Mastermind Tim VanderBerghe explains.
And, finally, I feel compelled to spread the word when it comes to Huppo (pronounced Hoop-o). Could it be the Subtle Butt of 2011?
Perhaps Chafe Utley can endorse this product, or maybe they can use the music of Mary Chafin’ Carpenter as a soundtrack to their commercials.
I’ll have more Flip Cam interviews tomorrow, after arriving back within New York City’s comforting embrace. I’ll close with this anonymously submitted picture, featuring a Winter Meetings job seeker crashed out in the Swan lobby. I think we’re all feeling this way:
And now I’m off to the annual Winter Meetings Gala, for all the free food and drink I can handle. For those in the industry, this will be your last chance to tell me how great this blog is. Please, my ego needs fuel for the dark and lonely months ahead.
Thanks for everything, Orlando. Over and out from the Coronado.
The annual Baseball Trade Show is one of the highlights of the Winter Meetings, featuring a sprawling cavalcade of vendors selling a veritable cornucopia of baseball related goods. The show is accessible via this entrance, leading to an escalator that brings one into the depths of National Pastime consumerism.
And once one gets down there, there is a LOT to take in. My guess is that the Trade Show encompasses 3.2 billion square feet.
And once you start wandering, it’s easy to get disoriented. The images just fly by in an kaleidoscopic whir (these next two shots courtesy of MiLB.com photo prodigy D. Wild).
And check out these “Player’s Packs”, shaped like ball caps and available in backpack or cooler form:
Stormy, one of the new mascots of the Omaha Storm Chasers, was on hand.
No one complimented me on my earlier reference to Stormy being “anemometer-ically correct”, but yet I still find the inner strength and self-confidence to pose in front of giant jerseys.
The above was a non sequitur in a post filled with them, the perhaps inevitable result of writing after an extremely long day of huffing and puffing through the vast confines of the Orlando Swan and Dolphin Resort (it doesn’t help that this internet connection is slower than Kevin Slowey pitching in a slow-pitch softball league in Penn-slow-vania).
So let me make it clear that I have much more content to share in the near future, including a variety of Flip Cam interviews that I am (tentatively) quite pleased with. One of my interview subjects is none other than Ted Batchelor, the stuntman who ran around the bases on fire in Savannah last summer. He and his wife Debby were manning a booth at the trade show, attempting to convince teams to add him to their 2011 promo calendars (in conjunction with his goal of being lit on fire in all 50 states).
My suggestion to all teams is to wholeheartedly embrace this imminently worthwhile and distinctly American endeavor.
The previous post on this blog featured an interview with stuntman Ted Batchelor, who had been hired by the Savannah Sand Gnats to run the bases at Grayson Stadium while engulfed in flames.
At the time I talked to Batchelor, this stunt had not yet happened. But due to the inexorable passage of time, now it has. Further details can be found in a forthcoming story on MiLB.com, but for now please luxuriate in the following video and photo from Saturday night’s unprecedented jog around the basepaths.
The Hottest 37 Seconds You Will Ever See:
I spoke with Batchelor again this afternoon. He is very interested in performing at Minor League parks across the country, in conjunction with his goal of being lit on fire in all 50 states. Also, he would still very much like to be ignited after being hit by a flaming baseball. Clearly, these are dreams that need to be realized.
Check out HIS WEBSITE for booking info.
And it all started with a dream — literally.
“When I was a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to be a stuntman but I had never done anything with fire,” said Batchelor, speaking from his hometown of Chagrin Falls, OH. “But one night I had a dream where people were betting me to dive off of a waterfall while on fire. The next day I was in class, creative writing, and I ended up writing a poem about my dream…My friend got a hold of it, started showing it to people, and the next thing I know he’s my manager, taking $5 and $10 bets on whether I was going to do this or not.”
Over $400 was collected (Batchelor says he needed the money to cover prom expenses), and on May 20, 1976 history was made. Batchelor was lit on fire and dove off of Chagrin Falls, staying inflamed for a total of 12 seconds. He repeated the feat for the next nine years, getting arrested in each of the last five. In 2006, for the first time ever, the town of Chagrin Falls officially gave him permission to do the fire-jump.
“It was the 30th anniversary [of the first jump], and they said yes for historical reasons,” said Batchelor. “Chagrin Falls is a little town, sort of like a New England town in that they are very into their history.”
Getting lit on fire has served as the bread-and-butter of Batchelor’s long career as a stuntman, and he currently holds the Guinness World Record for “Longest Full Body Burn Without Supplied Oxygen” while also playing a key role in coordinating the record for “Most People on Fire at the Same Time” (17, breaking the mark previously held by a dozen inflamed Spaniards).
Batchelor’s longest full-body burn clocked in at an amazing two minutes and 57 seconds. In order to attain such longevity, he applies a fire resistant gel to his body and then swaths himself in several layers of cotton and wool clothing. The biggest challenge is breathing properly, he says, with the key being to “get the flames behind me when I breathe.”
Not surprisingly, Batchelor’s compulsion to set himself on fire has resulted in the occasional injury. He says the worst occurred several years ago, when he suffered steam burns on nine parts of his body after wearing clothes still damp from a performance the night before.
“My wife was upset about it, but I wasn’t,” said Batchelor. “To me, it was inevitable, and I’m at peace with it…The absolute worst thing was that as the burns were healing I got poison ivy while weed whacking. That was just brutal.”
Batchelor still performs fire stunts all over the globe, but his upcoming stop in Savannah has special significance.
“I’m surprised I’ve never done this at a baseball stadium, because I always wanted to,” said Batchelor, who estimated that his trip around the bases would take 45 seconds. “In my senior year of high school I kept trying to convince my coach to have someone light the ball on fire and throw it at me so that I could catch fire and then run the bases. He would just look at me, like ‘No way.'”
At Grayson Stadium, Batchelor will be assisted by a five-person crew that includes his wife, Deborah, and son Grant. The latter will be stationed at second base with a fire extinguisher, “just in case.” If everything goes as planned, the stunt will climax with a headfirst slide into home.
“I do everything head first, it keeps the flames away from my mouth,” said Batchelor.
A mouth full of fire is one the many hazards of the full-body burn, a stunt which Batchelor says is “really stupid, and not something I think anybody should do.”
But he’s not planning on stopping anytime soon.
“When I was 17 and first started doing this, one of my neighbors was pretty irked by it,” recalled Batchelor. “He’d say,’What kind of future are you going to have? Is this something you’ll be doing when you’re 50?'”
“Well, I’m 51 now. What’s driven me through the years is the desire to keep improving. You can never master fire.”