July 8th, 2009

Whitecaps Update


All Star Hero
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:West Michigan Whitecap Ronnie Bourquin (recently promoted to the AA Erie Sea Wolves) blasted three run homer in the fourth inning of the Midwest League All-Star Game to put the East up 5-0. With runners at the corners, he lifted a 3-1 count pitch over the fence. The East went on to beat the West 6-3.

“I’m not a guy that usually hits a lot of home runs, I’m usually a gap to gap guy and I’ve come close on a lot of balls that I’ve hit”, he stated.

Bourquin was accompanied to the All-Star game by five other ‘Caps players. Pitchers Casey Crosby, Jared Gayhart, Maruicio Robles, and Tyler Sthor, along with second baseman Brandon Douglas made the trip to Clinton, Iowa.

Back To The Playoffs: This is the fourth straight season the Whitecaps have clinched a playoff berth in the first half, and the sixth straight in the playoffs. The Whitecaps have seen post-season action in 12 of the last 15 seasons.

MLB Debuts: Two former Whitecap pitchers have made their MLB debut with the Tigers. Alfredo Figaro (2008) made two starts with Detoit, while Luke French (2005-06) has made one start and is scheduled for at least one more.

Players of the Week: Whitecaps third baseban Ryan Pounds and right-handed pitch Luke Putkonen have been named the Midwest League’s Players of the Week respectively. This is the first time in the 15 yr. history of the ‘Caps that they swept the awards.

Pounds is batting .285 with two home-runs and a team leading 48 RBI’s. In a game last week versus Dayton, he went 3-5 and drove in six RBI.

Putkonen is 5-4 with a 3.98 ERA. He’s struck out 71 batters in 86.1 innings this season so far. Last week versus South Bend he through a complete game shut-out.

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Photo property of MIB

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It’s Gone…It’s…Gone…

 
OldTigerStadiumAbove.jpgAbove is a picture of Tiger Stadium in Detroit while in it’s heyday. This is about the time I went to my first baseball game back in 1977. Now this grand old stadium stands in ruins, pictured at the bottom all torn down.

On June 8th the restraining order barring demolition was not extended, and almost immediately destruction commenced on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
It’s unfortunate that my kids will never lay eyes on one of the greatest ball barks in history. How the city of Detroit and it’s politicians can simply turn their back on this historic monument and the fans that still love it I’ll never understand. Many tried to save it, to earn money to keep the hounds off of it. There were plans to turn it into a Minor League stadium, or a ballpark for youth baseball. All shot down.
 
Now, as I write this, nothing stands in that famous corner, but rubble and memories. It’s like the death of an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time, but you still knew was out there. At some point I’ll take Lily, Trevor, and Brian to a game at Comerica Park where the Tigers play now, but it won’t be the same for me. Some things, like Tiger Stadium, can never be replicated.
 
Photo courtesy of the Detroit News 
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Making The Best Of It

While being sent away for training down south, all you can really do is make the besgnate-daddy.jpgt of it. I did this by taking in some great Minor League Baseball action in some historic cities with great baseball atmospheres.

Charleston RiverDogs: I was able to make it to two games of the RiverDogs here in Charleston, South Carolina. They are Single A in the South Atlantic League. It’s always nice to be at a ballpark for the first time and ‘The Joe’ as they call it is a nice place to watch a game. It’s pretty big ballpark, but you still got a great view from anywhere. I was shut out at getting a game ball and the Dogs beat and lost to the Lexington Legends.


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riverdogs.jpgSavannah Sand Gnats:
Luckily the Sand Gnats were also in town while I was down here, this time playing the Charleston RiverDogs (maybe they’re thinking I followed them). I love Grayson Stadium, though, as I was here back in 2005 when I was training in Brunswick then. Always a good time in Savannah, and the Gnats played well losing a close game Tuesday night and winning in extra innings the next. I’d love to bring the family down here at some point.

Sorry the picture quality is so bad, but had to pick up a desposable camera while down there. They’re better than nothing, I guess.


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gnats.jpgPhotos property of MIB

2009 Baseball Trip


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oldspark.jpgTues. May 5-
South Bend, Indiana: Our first trip to Coveleski Stadium in South Bend pitted the home Silver Hawks against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. We fought off the rain all week, and it started here with some drizzle, but the rain actually held off and we got the whole game in. Trevor made the trip with us this year, and he was uccessful in getting two game balls. The stadium is a little plain, but cut into the ground which I like and had good seating. We had good seats in the front row.
  victoryfield.jpg Thurs. May 7-Indianapolis, Indiana: We experienced out first rain out Wednesday, but if one of our games was to be missed, that would be it because we planned on returning to Victory Field on this day for a morning game anyway. The Indians played the Scranton/WB Yankees in a double header starting at ten in the morning. Again, rain threatened us, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. The home town Indians got beat both games, but this is a great ball park and we would love to back here again. Pictured is me and Trevor in the upper deck. Trevor got a fowl ball here, too.
 
Louisville, Kentucky: Heading to Louisville Slugger Field for a night cap, gave us a record setting three games in one day. We did it, though, and enjoyed every second. As nice as the park is in Indy, this one is just amazing. The facade is build into an old rain road warehouse and it’s just another great place to watch a ball game. The Bats beat up on the visiting Rochester Red Wings, too. We got another foul ball, as I took Trevor to the play area, it just happened to bounce in there to me. We’ve been having lots of luck with this. This is another AAA ball park I would love to visit again. Pictured here is Trevor from the outfield, but out seats were front row down the third base side. Not a bad seat in this house, though.
 
Friday, May 8-Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum: This was just awesome seeing how these famous bats are made. We got to hold unfinished bats of some of the best players in the game today, and saw older bats swung by the likes of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. The factory tour was interesting and we each got a souvenir mini-bat when it was all over. Lots of stuff for kids, so Trevor had a great time, too. I highly recommend this to anyone in the Louisville area. A ballgame and the museum are a great combination. I dropped a little coin at the gift shop here, too.
 
Fort Wayne, Indiana: We can at least say we were at Parkview Field during it’s inaugural season here in 2009. The newly named TinCaps also helped by beating the Peoria Chiefs, too. This is a beautiful park, and maybe the class of the single ‘A’ circuit. Really nice sight lines around Fort Wayne, too. As you can see by the pic, we were right next to the TinCaps dugout and got a game ball here, too. Still lucky on the weather front, as it rained when we got here, but actually cleared up for the game. Trevor got to run the bases afterward which made it even more special for him.
 
Sat. May 9-Lansing, Michigan: Ending our trip in our home state. Like most of the days, it rained all the way up to Lansing, so we dreaded that we’d get this far and miss some baseball. The ‘baseball gods’ must have been looking out for us, as is cleared up as we got to Michigan State. In probably the best ball game we saw, MSU beat Prudue 6-5. Oh, yeah, you guessed it, Trevor got a foul ball at the newly remodeled McLane Stadium also. Our trip finally ended at Oldsmobile Park featuring the Lansing Lugnuts and the Beloit Snappers. The ‘Nuts got beat and it was a bit cold, yet we’re happy it didn’t rain and we got the game in. This is the only game we got shut out on getting a foul ball. We were all pretty tired by this time, but stayed for the post game fireworks, which seemed like and fitting end to our trip.
 
This is the first year we missed a game in Grand Rapids watching the Whitecaps, but we’ll be down there later this summer. Next year we’re looking into heading to Iowa or maybe the other teams in Ohio we haven’t seen. It’s never too early to start planning.
 
 
Photos property of MIB 

 

RIP Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych

thebird.jpgA few months ago in a tragic accident, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych lost his life while working on a truck on his farm in Massachusetts. The details of the accident arn’t as important as the fact that he was only 54 years old, and left behind a wife and daughter. Our prayers go out to his family and friends.
 
I was actually only four years old when he made his major league debut. I can still remember how much fun he was to watch as a kid. I went to my first Tigers game in 1977, a year after Fidrych won the Rookie of the Year award, and made baseball fun again for so many fans. Due to injury, I never did see him pitch live, but that didn’t stop him from being my favorite player back then, and even now. One of my most prized possessions is an old baseball card of him that my mom cut off the bottom of a Twinkie box. The price guides will tell you it’s worthless. It’s bent, beat up, and doesn’t fit the mold of a ‘mint’ baseball card. To me, though, it represents a part of my childhood. I used to carry that card in my back pocket everywhere I went when I was in gradeschool. It was as important to me as my Star Wars toys that I cherished at the time.
 
I did have the pleasure of meeting Mark in 1995 at a card show in Mt. Pleasant. He was great with his fans and signed a card for me. I have always wanted my kids to meet him, tfidrych-walbeck.jpgoo, but that isn’t going to happen now. I did actually send him two cards in the mail to sign for Lily and Trevor (before Brian came along). He was nice enough to sign them and send them back. Mark is Lily’s favorite player, too, basically because she’s heard all of the stories from me and has seen all of the things I collect of his. All I can do, I guess, is keep telling the stories, showing the pictures, try to keep his legend living on. Pictured to the right is Fidrych at a Whitecaps game on 70′s night in 2007. So Rest in  my opinion, the Bird is STILL the word.
 
Pictures courtesy of MLB

Welcome

MILB.jpgWelcome to ‘Minoring In Baseball’. On this blog I will be covering mostly the West Michigan Whitecaps and some other of my favorite Minor League Teams. Every year I go on a baseball trip that takes me to woderfull ballparks around the midwest and gives me the opportunity to meet the great fans that frequent those parks every summer. I’ll be starting out by playing some ‘catch up’ on games and events that have already gone down this season.

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