Tagged: Tulsa Drillers

Mysteries Revealed in “108 Stitches”

During the 2012 season, the Orem Owlz became the first Minor League team to welcome Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas to the ballpark for a promotional appearance.


Photo: Orem Owlz

Then, the following season, the Owlz gave away 5000 pairs of team-logo sunglasses as part of a “most people wearing sunglasses at night” world record attempt. (The blue balls were part of a different promotion. Please ignore the blue balls).

owlz_promos_nbqtshzb_dz7aciy6These two promotional endeavors, different as they may seem, have one thing in common. This:

108108 Stitches  is a low-budget baseball comedy, executive produced by Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky and produced and co-written by his son, Jake. A raunchy and ramshackle underdog sports comedy (think Major League or Animal House), 108 Stitches involves the exploits of a fictional Orem-based collegiate baseball team. The players wear the uniforms of the real-life Orem Owlz (Class A Short Season affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels), and the baseball scenes are shot at the so-called “Home of the Owlz,” located on the campus of Utah Valley University.


The Owlz are not what they seem.

The above fictional squad is coached by one Scott Deshields (esteemed character actor Bruce Davison); meanwhile, assistant coach Kassem Bosco is played by — wait for it — Larry “Soup Nazi” Thomas. So that’s why he was in Orem in the first place!

coachesThen, later in the film, the Owlz’ “most people wearing sunglasses at night” record attempt is incorporated into the plot. It’s life meets art, or something like that.


Photo: Orem Owlz

The movie also features cameos from Owlz mascots Hootz and Holly, but unfortunately does not reference Holly’s 2012 pregnancy announcement.

Speaking of procreation, Roger Clemens has declared, somewhat incomprehensibly, that “If Animal House, Bull Durham and Major League had a threesome, 108 Stitches would be its kid.” Also, somewhat incomprehensibly, Clemens has a cameo late in the film. Here’s the trailer, which features Clemens, Hootz, Holly, the Soup Nazi, 3D Glasses and, of course, more:

If you’re interested in checking out the film, it it available for streaming via virtually every streaming platform known to man. Click HERE.

If you are desirous of even more Minor League “cinema,” then click HERE to see Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder riding a dirtbike. Or, hey, how about this: Fresno Grizzlies mascot Parker provides the mascot perspective on a hot-button social issue.

Or if lip-syncing front-office members are more your thing, then how about this video courtesy of the Tulsa Drillers?

In the Academy Awards of my mind, which take place biannually for some reason, these are all statuette-worthy efforts.



Taking a Cruise Down Video Drive

My words are my words and they’ll always be my words, but, let’s face it, my words are best enjoyed when they are used sparingly and in the service of contextualizing pictorial or video content. Today, I’ll focus on doing just this: words minimal, video content ample.

And, in keeping with October’s blogging theme, this video content shall be comprised of that which I didn’t get a chance to cover during the season. We’ll begin with this riveting pre-game ceremony out of Tulsa, in which the Drillers honored the Coon family and their three generations of military service. The eldest member of the family is 94-year-old WWII veteran Phillip Coon (introduced at the 2:05 mark), the last Native American survivor of the Bataan Death March. His first pitch is a truly inspiring thing to behold, and the Drillers deserve a lot of credit for putting together such a moving piece of Independence Day pageantry.

Those in the mood for less poignancy but more parody would do well to check out this, a far different sort of Drillers video:

Moving from the Texas League to the Eastern League, the Akron Aeros produced many a worthwhile video this season. Teams looking to promote the ballpark appearances of dance world celebrities would do well to follow this comedic template:

And then there’s Cole Cook, who, in addition to pitching for the Aeros this season, took part in a series of videos highlighting his surrealist sensibilities. Cole’s father (actor Peter Mackenzie) had a starring role in the surrealist early ’90s Fox sitcom Herman’s Headwhich perhaps helps to explain how he came to be involved in these sort of farcical enterprises:

And — hey! — look at this. In 2011 I turned the tables on Cole Cook by interviewing him. Yes, the interviewee became the interviewed:

Our downward descent of the Minor League ladder now brings us to Fort Wayne, home of Johnny Appleseed and, therefore, also the home of a Minor League Baseball team whose name references Johnny Appleseed. As part of the Tin Caps’ “’80s Night” promo, they produced this hilarious bit of performance art. Let it serve as proof positive that Minor League ballplayers are far less self-conscious than their big league counterparts:

Finally, you may recall that this past offseason I made productive use of my time by putting together a post featuring every “Harlem Shake” video produced by a Minor League team. That fad came and went, of course, but kudos to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for being the only (so far as I know) to do the “Harlem Shake” IN-GAME.

Once again: Minor League ballplayers are less self-conscious than their big league counterparts.



The Harlem Shake: A Minor Overview

Introductory paragraphs within this blog forum can sometimes be needlessly circuitous, steeped as they are in obscure references and acute self-consciousness. But not today. Today, we cut to the chase:

What follows is a comprehensive round-up of Harlem Shake videos produced by Minor League teams. 

Yes, you’re probably sick of the Harlem Shake at this point. I am too. But let’s take the long view, as historians with an interest in baseball history, viral fads and the intersection of the two will no doubt delight in stumbling upon this post at some at some unknown moment in the distant future. I am doing this for you, future historians! I always am. For it is you who will ensure my legacy.

Plus, you’ve gotta admit — Minor League teams, with their easy access to supply closets full of banana suits and inflatable ponies, make better Harlem Shake videos than most. So here we go! In no particular order, here are two dozen Harlem Shake videos produced by professional baseball teams in possession of a formal affiliation with a Major League club.

Frederick Keys — Apparently a big-headed reincarnation of Francis Scott Key regularly sits in on front office meetings:

Columbus Clippers — Warning! Includes bear-on-frankfurter violence that may be unsettling to younger viewers:

Bowie Baysox — A toothbrush can’t dance? I bristle at such a notion:

Lexington Legends — Mister would you please stop punching that pony? WATCH ON FACEBOOK.

Vancouver Canadians — As if any proof was needed that this was an international phenomenon:

Fort Wayne Tincaps — A solitary pothead gives way to a banana who loves the queen of hearts.

Lake Elsinore Storm — Yes that is an upside-down squirrel hanging from the dugout, and yes he is happy to see you:

Corpus Christi Hooks — Can’t a man bike through the office in peace? WATCH ON MILB.COM

Tulsa Drillers — Hey, no dogs in the swimming pool!

Gwinnett Braves — Team store? More like surreal fever dream store!

New Hampshire Fisher Cats — Fungo and friends “rose” to the occasion:

Lehigh Valley IronPigs — Give peas a chance. WATCH ON MILB.COM

Buffalo Bisons — Vest-wearing gentleman on the right is my favorite individual to appear in any Harlem Shake video:

Charlotte Stone Crabs — What’s to stop the Incredible Hulk from wearing a sombrero?

Fresno Grizzlies — Forget this faddish viral bastardization. Parker knows how to do the REAL Harlem Shake. WATCH ON VINE. 

Louisville Bats — This takes place in multiple dimensions simultaneously. It will blow your mind.

Bowling Green Hot Rods — I guess you could say that Axle rose to the occasion.

Delmarva Shorebirds — The Shake so nice they did it twice.

Springfield Cardinals — You know what? This is probably the  best one out of all of ’em.

Round Rock Express — All bobblehead version!

Connecticut Tigers — Shout it from the rooftop!

And, finally, there are the State College Spikes. The first Minor League team to post a Harlem Shake video, and the last to be featured in this post:


Two latecomers have entered the fray!

Orem Owlz — Holly, the Owlz pregnant mascot, wisely sat this one out.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Fans of multi-colored crustacean triumvirates rejoice!

And that’s all she wrote, folks. “She” being me, of course. I am a man. A 34-year-old man. A man who is perhaps too old to be providing you with diversions such as the above. But yet I do, and yet I did.

Do not forsake me, future historians! I do not want to believe that this has all been in vain.



Return to the Road: A Memorial and a Meal in Tulsa

It’s time for another “Return to the Road” post, in which I, yes, return to all of the road trip content that I wasn’t able to get to the first time around. My previous post in the series focused on Oklahoma City; today we move on to Tulsa.

I was in Tulsa in order to check out the Drillers at still-new ONEOK Field, and that experience is already thoroughly documented. I mean, seriously. Like, for real.

But after taking in the game on Friday evening, I spent Saturday late morning/early afternoon checking out the area surrounding the ballpark. It’s located in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, which was once known as “Black Wall Street.”  There is some serious history here, including a sickening act of mass violence that every American should know about.

My hotel was located about a mile or so from the ballpark, and as I wandered over there Tulsa felt empty and quiet — sleeping in on a Saturday after another long work week, I suppose.

The purpose of my return to the Greenwood District was to visit John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, located directly across the street from ONEOK Field.

Dr. John Hope Franklin was a civil rights activist and scholar best known for his seminal 1947 work From Slavery to Freedom. The non-profit John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation was founded in 2007, and it was this organization that envisioned and secured the funding for Reconciliation Park.

The Park memorializes the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, which is explained thusly (click to enlarge!):

Just the day before I had visited the memorial for the victims of the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, and now here I was contemplating another vicious act of violence. The motivations and methods of the two incidents are vastly different, but they are united in that they are both notable examples of domestic terrorism.

The park’s website explains that the following “represent actual images from the 1921 riot.”

“Hostility – A white man fully armed for assault”

“Humiliation – A black man with his hands raised in surrender”

“Hope – The white director of the Red Cross holding a black baby”

This is the “Tower of Reconciliation,” which “depicts the history of the African American struggle from Africa to America.”

The final word (again, click to enlarge):

Further memorializing can be found on the sidewalk outside of ONEOK Field, which pays tribute to the businesses destroyed in the riots:

Just around the block is North Greenwood Avenue, a quaint street filled with local businesses.

It was here that I found my lunch destination, one that was wholeheartedly recommended by several members of the Drillers’ front office staff: the self-explanatory “Fat Guy’s Burger Bar” (note the placement of the apostrophe; the place is named after one particular fat guy as opposed to a coalition of them).

This place is not for the faint (or weak) of heart, but the burgers were absolutely fantastic. From the website:

“We take two beef patties, put butter and cheese in between them, seal them up and then cook ’em. When it’s ready you have a burger with molten butter and cheese filling the inside.”

As you can see, most of those who have attempted to take the “Fat Guy Challenge” have failed. This is probably a good thing. The challenge: two pound patty, pound of bacon, two hot dogs, eight slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, choice of condiment and a pound of french fries.

When I was there, no one was attempting such a suicidal endeavor.

And I wasn’t about to, either. My order, in words:

The adjective above my name was the waitress’ opinion of me.

And, as it actually looked:

I’ve never been all that much of a burger guy, but this one was as good as it looks. In this new post-celiac disease era, I would have to order it sans bun. That seems a little absurd, but it would still be worth it. And the fries – those wonderful, wonderful “ballpark fries” — are okay! Not sure about which of the 16 dipping sauces are gluten-free, but I’m sure there would still be options.

And that’s about it for my supplemental Tulsa content. On the way back from the hotel I did take note of this notable piece of Tulsa architecture:

This trailer was parked in front of said building, and I would have liked to meet its owner.

The “I Believe Guy” is one Brian Jackson. From his website:

  • Brian Jackson, a Cherokee, Creek and Seminole Native American, is a Nationally known motivational speaker who uses true stories of how he has turned struggles into success. Brian has blown up over 6000 hot water bottles in his career, held the Guinness World Record for “Fastest Hot Water Bottle Burst” for over 3 1/2 years and the Guinness World Record for Blowing up until bursting 3 hot water bottles in 1 minute 8 seconds! He has been known to break walls of 2″ concrete bricks,  even on fire at times, has bent 1 1/2 ” of steel rebar over his head, torn a deck of playing cards in half in 3 seconds, and is known for making some awesome balloon animals!  His most impressive feat to date, “Heaviest Vehicle Lifted with Breath” 2520 pounds!

Somebody book this guy at a Minor League ballpark!



On the Road: Never A Dull Moment in Tulsa

My Friday evening with the Tulsa Drillers was an absolute whirlwind, and resulted in so much content that I made the executive decision to divide it into two posts. Part one is HERE, or, if you’re not inclined to click on things, directly below this one.

Part two is here, as in here now, as in RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. There is no other place you’d rather be. And it begins where any good baseball narrative should — with a ceremonial first pitch. As part of Tulsa’s Juneteenth celebrations (which commemorate the abolition of slavery in the United States) the team welcomed a pair of local Negro League icons to the ballpark.

Eugene Golden, who suited up for the Cleveland Buckeyes (among other clubs) looked much younger than his 87 years.

And then came 94-year-old Roosevelt Jackson, believed to be the oldest living Negro League alumnus.  Dressed to the nines in a suit and tie, Jackson slowly made his way to an area in front of the mound. This was the prelude to one of the most memorable first pitches I’ve ever witnessed.

When it came time for Jackson to deliver the ball, he didn’t. He just stood there, leading to an increasingly uncomfortable silence. Was he unable to muster the strength?

It turns out that it was all a bit of showmanship, courtesy of an individual who clearly knows how to play to a crowd. Having drawn out the suspense long enough, Jackson danced into his wind-up, did a full 360 degree turn on the grass, and then, with an exaggerated flailing motion, delivered the pitch.

Bravo, Mr. Roosevelt, for showing us all how it’s done. Umps and managers agreed, it was awesome.

Bro, did you see that?

After a National Anthem performance by Divas for Jesus (which, incidentally, was also the name of a short-lived Oi band I played drums for in high school), the Drillers took the field. Having them run through a greeting line of local youth baseball players was a nice touch.

Obermark, Taylor, and Slaughter: Tulsa’s number one law firm, circa 2044.

With the game now underway (it took me 1600 words over two blog posts to get to this point), I went upstairs and briefly visited with Drillers promotion manager Mike Taranto and BNSF Railways police officer Ray Tucker. The two have forged an unlikely friendship, with fireworks bringing them together. To get the scoop on all of that, please check out my article on MiLB.com (yes, many of my road trip posts have corresponding MiLB.com articles. Please support the entirety of the Ben’s Biz road trip experience, so that my existence remains justified).

Tucker’s job title, is, in actuality: “special agent in charge.” Mine is, in actuality, idiot:

This Alfred E. Neuman-esque image (which is now my new Twitter profile pic) resulted from my participation in the on-field “squeeze play” contest in the middle of the second inning. After donning the above outfit, all I had to do was sit in a chair while a sponge drenched with blue cotton candy coloring was squeezed into the pitcher perched atop the helmet.

I mean, duh.

I’m pretty sure my team won, but I was practicing transcendental meditation at the time and therefore unconcerned with temporal concerns. It did feel good to finally take that helmet off, though. (And I love the t-shirt style of the kid standing behind me.)

Upon getting cleaned up, I went back out onto the field to watch Golden and Roosevelt honored in a short between-inning ceremony.

My plan was to do a brief interview with these individuals, but then I realized I had already committed to a half inning on the radio with Drillers broadcaster Dennis Higgins. It was par for the course — me trying to explain who I am and what I do, while frequently pausing to allow Higgins room to actually call the action on the field.

The gist of it is that my name is Ben, I write about Minor League Baseball, and you should read this blog, my articles on MiLB.com, and follow me on Twitter (@bensbiz). Thank you for your support.

The view from the booth (note the colored highlighters, and read more about idiosyncratic broadcaster scorekeeping methods in this MiLB.com article).

After fulfilling my on-air duties, I met up with manager of game entertainment Justin Gorski for a brief tour of the concession options. As with Oklahoma City, concessions are provided by Professional Sports Catering. So, there was some overlap between the two parks.

Same Franx, different dogs:

The real action, food-wise, is to be found along the third base side of the concourse. There, one finds a little area dubbed “cart alley.”

As a Pitt alumni who once thought he was pretty boss, I opted for a “Pit Boss Burger.”

Clearly this wasn’t enough food, so a Firecracker hot dog (see above) and All-Star Wheat beer was added to the order as well. The beer is only available at the ballpark, and the name references the fact that the Drillers are the hosts of this year’s Texas League All-Star Game. It was a nice brew, smooth and drinkable but possessing more body than your run-of-the-mill ballpark pilsners.

Get me some napkins!

Pit Boss:


Dinner spread:

I spent the next inning and a half doing my best to put a dent in this meal (I particularly liked the Pit Boss, because pulled pork, slaw and pickles have to be one of the greatest of all topping triumvirates), but had to cut the mastication session short in order to go see cult ballpark celebrity Harry “Ruck” Caray (aka manager of video production David Ruckman) lead the crowd in the seventh inning stretch.

(Yes, somehow it was already the seventh. The entire game took just two hours and 16 minutes.)

The wig may be a reappropriated mullet from a “Redneck Night” promo, but nonetheless the resemblance is uncanny.

Refreshed from the stretch, I then headed back to the tunnel next to the home dugout to prepare for my second and final on-field appearance.

This time the game was “Nervous Nelly.” Three pedometers were strapped on each contestant (around the head and on each wrist), and the winner is he (or she) who goes on to record the most movement.

I was ready.

My opponent was a pink mohawked teenager by the name of Sergio, formidable indeed.

Once the contest started, I went into a shamanistic trance comparable to that of a Peruvian medicine man on ayahuasca. It was, truly, a spiritual journey.

And yet I still lost, 305-300. Congratulations to Sergio.

As for the next 20 minutes of my life? Suffice to say that they were not pleasant, as ballpark food followed by frenetic movement is not a good combination. But I recovered in time to make it out on to the field post-game, in order to get a fresh Launch-A-Ball perspective.

Meanwhile, in centerfield, preparations were being made for the fireworks show.

Backstreet Boys, circa 2035?

And once the all-clear was received, fireworks did indeed light up the night sky.

It was a great show, with a truly impressive finale, but as is so often the case the pictures didn’t really do it justice. I’ll close with this shot, simply because of its similarity to a Rorschach ink blot.

What’s your interpretation?

My interpretation of the Tulsa Drillers is that this is an organization firing on all cylinders — a vibrant market, beautiful ballpark, and creative and deeply engaged front office staff. Thanks for the hospitality!



On the Road: ONEOK Down, ONEOK to Go In Tulsa

As you could probably tell by the tone and tenor of the post, my Thursday night at the Oklahoma City RedHawks game was fairly sedate. I was left more or less to my own devices, and had plenty of time for leisurely wandering.

Friday night with the Tulsa Drillers was an entirely different animal. There was a sellout crowd of 8,707 (largest in the three-year history of ONEOK Field), the game was played in an exceedingly crisp two hours and 16 minutes, and I did not have a single moment of down time.

This was a good thing.

It all moved so fast that I didn’t even have time to get a proper shot of the stadium exterior — I got this one the next day before leaving Tulsa and heading to Springdale, AR.

ONEOK Field is located in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, which has a fascinating and tragic history. It was one of the most affluent black communities in the United States throughout the early part of the 20th century, but destroyed wholesale in 1921 during the devastating Tulsa Race Riots. I’ll re-visit this topic in a future post — John Hope Reconciliation Park, which explores the legacy of the riots, is located just across the street — as this one will, by necessity, focus on the present.

I made it to the stadium some 35 minutes after I had intended, even though my hotel was about a mile away. The Tulsa Tough bike race was happening in the area around the stadium, so many streets were blocked off, and my unfamiliarity with the area combined with a naturally poor sense of direction stymied all attempts to bypass the road blocks and get to the facility. Eventually I had to be talked in to the stadium by sympathetic Drillers staffers, as if I was the wife of a pilot trying to land a plane after her husband suffered a heart attack at the controls.

Or something like that. Upon arriving, promotions manager Mike Taranto gave me a quick tour of the facility. I took pictures as we walked about, and I’m glad I did because some of these areas I never visited again.

The stadium has 25 suites, 23 of which were sold on five-year contracts. Views from the suite level:

The suite interiors were classy, but generally pretty standard. Except one, which had this!

In case the glare makes it unclear, that’s a Frank Thomas “Big Hurt” pinball machine! This joins Harrisburg, State College, and Delmarva in my far-from-comprehensive list of Minor League stadiums that have pinball machines; please get in touch if you have one to add.

And long live pinball!

I was a bit disappointed that, by one day, I was missing the team’s tribute to Oklahoma legend Mickey Mantle. There was to be a replica jersey giveaway, memorabilia displays from his career, and his two sons in attendance. I did snag a replica jersey later (to be given away on Twitter, follow @bensbiz), but on this evening the only Mickey Mantle content of any kind that I was able to procure was this picture of a statue outside of the Driller’s “Tycoon Club.”

My final second-level stop was the control room, featuring top-of-the-line technology and, in a Minor League rarity that was nonetheless common with ONEOK Field’s staff and player areas, plenty of room to move.

That’s enough “reporting” from the elevated environs of ONEOK’s second level. Time to move on down…

The team installed a “splash zone” in the outfield concourse area this season — an awesome addition, although when I strolled by it had yet to be turned on.

The entire stadium was like this — in a state of suspended animation, just waiting for the hordes to be unleashed.

Inflatables! Picnic areas! Concessions! I am of the mistaken belief that exclamation marks add a sense of excitement to my pedestrian photos!

Please refrain from crude jokes

Finally, it was time to visit that area of the stadium where the magic happens.

The bowels.

The team is blessed with an auxiliary dressing room, which also serves as a one-stop shop for all your greenscreening needs.

Located nearby is an area in which, throughout the Minors, surreal images abound: the mascot dressing room.

I almost feel that it is sacrilegious to post pictures such as the following. But, in the interest of showing you, the fans, how the sausage is made here’s a shot of Hornsby deconstructed. Avert your eyes, children.

[And, nevermind. This photo has been removed at the request of the Committee for the Non-Propagation of Severed Head Mascot Photos.]

Meanwhile, mascot coordinator Vincent Pace (one of the few full-time costumed performers in the Minor Leagues) was hanging out nearby. And, apropos of nothing, he was wearing a gorilla mask.

(Blurry photo was a thoughtful artistic decision, intended to heighten the bizarre and disorienting circumstances, and in no way indicative of chronically poor photography skills).

You want more subterranean magic? Well, I’ve got it!

Here’s the laundry room — and, as you can see by the chair in the bottom left corner, this tedious task won’t deter-a-gent from getting comfortable. (Some people will like that joke, others will hate it. Call it a wash).

The basement tour continued past a storage/repair room (notice the stacks and stacks of chairs in the back), into the batting cage (where an unidentified Springfield Cardinal was taking his final cuts), and then past the weight room.

Finally, we entered the playing field via a ramp that runs past the home dugout.

The game was less than 20 minutes from its starting time, and the scene on the field was buzzing. Local dance teams performed for friends and family behind home plate, while down the first base line a concatenation of Drillers — the equivalent of a “pride” of lions or a “gaggle” of geese — were signing for fans. (The team has a policy that all non-starters sign autographs from 6:30-6:45, and the specific angle of the sun in the pictures below suggests that the time was 6:41.)

Ever since making it to the on-field area, I had been staring longingly at my recently acquired signed Hornsby photo. When, oh when, would he be enlivening our spirits with his joyous antics?

The answer, in this case, was…NOW! Hornsby burst onto to the field on his scooter, fell off of it in an exaggerated fashion, and immediately started busting out some ’70s-era dance moves. All was once again right with the world.

Hornsby also got some laughs with one of his recurring moves — giving a ball to a kid, but on the other side of the net. These kids were absolutely stymied, trying their best to get it through, and left in tears when they were unable to do so.

Just kidding. What really happened was that girl in the yellow shirt took out a Swiss Army knife and used the scissors to cut a small hole in the net. Thus, the ball was extracted. Or maybe a Drillers staffer simply took the ball and handed it to the kids on the other side.

Who really does know?

What I do know is that this post has stretched to nearly 1200 words, and we haven’t even gotten to the ceremonial first pitch yet. Therefore, this is going to have to be a two-parter from Tulsa. Stay tuned for the exciting next chapter of this seemingly never-ending serialized Oklahoma adventure!



Events of a Largely Unprecedented Nature

The unveiling of 2012 promotions has not yet reached a deluge, but it has far surpassed a trickle. And within this intermediate zone in which we currently reside, one of the most exciting (and sure-to-be-copied) new promotions is this:

But the above photo, while helpful, doesn’t really do the promotion justice. Per the team: 

The River Bandits are proud to announce, for the first time ever in professional sports in the U.S., a photo jersey auction to benefit local cancer organizations. Small squares in the Bandits players’ numbers are available for purchase, $25 each, to feature a photograph of yourself or a loved one who has been affected by cancer. The jerseys, which will be worn during the game on Friday, August 10th, will be auctioned off during the game. 

I’m sure I’ll be covering this one as it develops, but for now let’s stick with the “Quad” theme and check in on a most distressing development in Lake Elsinore.

Thunder, the mascot for the Lake Elsinore Storm, had his trusty quad stolen from a stadium storage shed! This sounds like it could be a joke, save for the legitimacy bestowed upon the situation by a local ABC news team.

The video is well worth viewing — check it out HERE.

My extensive reporting on the above topic led me to the Storm website, where I discovered the existence of the “Thunder Across Time” web series. How had I not known? This may turn out to be one of the greatest MiLB team video series of all time!

More creative use of video from the West Coast comes courtesy of the Fresno Grizzlies, who are conducting their annual National Anthem auditions in a most unique fashion.

Says the team:

If you think you have what it takes to sing in front of the best fans in Minor League Baseball at a 2012 Grizzlies home game, then upload your audition video to the Youtube between Wednesday, February 8th and Wednesday, March 14th. Winners will be chosen by the Grizzlies front office with the input of the number of video likes on YouTube.

We’re still a ways away from  having a mascot sing the National Anthem, but boy oh boy can they ever dance. The latest (and therefore greatest) example of mascot rump shaking comes courtesy of Tulsa’s Hornsby. Or, as I like to call him, “Bull-yonce.”

Funny that the video is called “All the Single Hornsbys,” as in actuality there appear to be duplicates. But at least Hornsby is a known commodity. Up there in Michigan, the Great Lakes Loons are dealing with an extremely mysterious situation.

So who really does know what’s in the box? It could be anything. Or, maybe, there’s nothing at all. There would be some precedent for that, you know.



What Goes Around Comes Around

It is happening again.

This time around, the “again” that is “happening” are two staples of the Minor League Baseball winter time news cycle: Valentine’s Day mascot delivery and snow-covered field photos.

My days of exhaustively documenting all mascot delivery offers throughout the Minors have long since passed, as I need to maintain a facade of professional growth and momentum. Nonetheless, it remains my duty to note some of the more intriguing developments in the field. For instance, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs remain the only team that offers “Pork-o-Grams” to their fan base.

Two Pork-O-Grams packages are offered, but I would opt for “Package B” as it includes both a dozen roses and a pair of pig noses. Also, I can’t help but wonder if Diggity (pictured above) is related to the self-cannibalizing fellow who has long served as the logo for Lehigh Valley-based Yocco’s Hot Dogs.

Meanwhile, I’ve got to give the proverbial head nod to the Trenton Thunder. So far as I can discern, they are the first club to include a charitable component along with their mascot Valentine’s Day delivery package. 

The $150 package includes a dozen roses, a night in a luxury suite, and “as an added “heartfelt” bonus, a 25 ticket donation will be made in your name to the Trenton Thunder Charities Tickets For Kids Program.

And now we must move on the snow-covered field photo, an enduring staple of the Minor League Baseball offseason experience. These pictures of vast white expanse are meant to convey a sense of longing, for what has been and, yes, what will be.

The current kings of this subgenre are the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, with announcer/media relations man Chris Mehring leading the charge. Last week, as Appleton WI was blanketed by snow, his Rattler Radio blog was updated by the hour with new snow-covered pics. Here’s a 4 p.m. specimen.

If there’s snow on the ground you can’t play ball, so alternate forms of recreation are needed. Fort Wayne TinCaps mascot Johnny overcame his feelings of cold-infused melancholy by dusting off the ol’ American Flyer.

And speaking of melancholy, this is certainly the feeling pervading the city of Denver after the Broncos lost to the Patriots this past weekend. The loss also scuttled the JetHawks’ planned “Tebow Tuesday” promotion, detailed in Friday’s post. That’s a disappointing turn of events, to be sure, but at least it’s the first Tebow promotion to NOT result in a cease-and-desist letter.

For example:

And that’s going to be it for today — stay tuned tomorrow for the eagerly anticipated (?) third installment of “A Quarter Century After the Cardboard.”



Operation Shutdown

This post, the 748th in the the history of this blog, will be the last you ever hear from me…

until 2012!

But, of course, I will be back. For if there is someone out there who can resist the siren call of writing about the same subject in perpetuity at levels of increasing stagnation, that person is not I.  With that being the case, let’s end the year on a high note….

It’s time for the second edition of the Ben’s Biz Twitter Top Ten! The purpose of such an endeavor is to provide a compendium of the most intriguing @BensBiz tweets and re-tweets of the past week (or three weeks, in this case). The tweets, as they appeared on Twitter, are italicized. Let’s get to it!

10. Please re-frame in the form of a question

Indeed, the @AbqTopes were referenced on Jeopardy! last night http://youtu.be/Bz2iho2ggVE

Here’s how it went down:

9. You be the judge

Harry Potter’s “Ministry of Magic” and @MemphisRedbirds — separated at birth? http://yfrog.com/ntczkhuj

8. Just sayin’ is all

Mike Cameron signs w/ @Nationals, but he’s no stranger to the area. Spent ’94 w/Prince William Cannons, where 17 of 116 hits were triples!

If he had maintained that triples rate in his Major League career, he’d currently have amassed 250 (good enough for fourth all time, just two behind Honus Wagner).

7. I really would frame this

Suitable for framing RT @EverettAquaSox: Check out this awesome holiday drawing we just got! http://twitpic.com/7vxc29

6. This was in response to the question of “What MiLB theme nights would you like to see?”

Lehigh Valley IronWarPigs! RT @andyshal: Black Sabbath night in Allentown! Bill Ward as home plate ump. Ozzy on PA. Concert after the game.

“IronManPigs” would also be acceptable.

5. Another One Rides Waits For the Bus

Great idea: seats from Indianapolis’ Bush Stadium installed at city bus stops: http://indy.st/selEY9

Photo: Indystar.com

4. Someone out there needs to stage “Free Eye Pad” night, advertising it heavily on the radio.

That’s the MiLB spirit! RT @WSDashBaseball: A team could do [Free iPad Night] if they were creative enough: http://twitpic.com/7shvkc

3. Use your doppel radar

Received an email from @GreatLakesLoons alleging that fan on left is a mulleted @BensBiz doppelganger http://yfrog.com/h465jscj Agree?

Well, do you?

2. What does it mean?

Magic in Rancho Cucamonga RT @Quakes_Baseball: Check out the Double Rainbow over the Quakes Epicenter Stadium! http://bit.ly/uxsLAa

1. Effect and Cause

This picture of @TulsaDrillers Tim Wheeler is on MiLB.com: http://yfrog.com/nxrugktj Here’s why he’s so scared: http://yfrog.com/h41s4hzj

I hope you enjoyed this most recent edition of the @BensBiz Twitter Top 10. I’m almost out of 2011 material, but not quite yet….

For what better way would there be to end the year than with a video of a mascot tackling a Christmas tree?

Actually, there’s one better way. For nothing says “holiday season” like a team-produced “Twas the Night Before Christmas” parody.

And that, as they say, will be that. Thanks for sticking with me throughout a (generally) action-packed 2011, and here’s to an ennui-free 2012!



Mundane Beginnings, Incendiary Endings

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.)

Soon to enter retirement...

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.

Ready for action

Armadillo Racing: The Cowboy Monkey Rodeo of 2012?

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!