Archive for the ‘ Family Fun ’ Category

More free baseball in TC

Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Florence Freedom (Frontier League)

wp1Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: I admit I’m a little behind on my posts. The last entry I wrote a few weeks ago, but was just able to get the pics uploaded due to computer problems and us moving into a new house! Anyway, this game was also a few weeks ago, but still fresh in my mind as it was a good one. And the ‘free baseball’ headline has to do with the tickets coming with Trevor’s baseball academy, and also the fact that this was another game for us that went into extra innings (our game in Battle Creek was extras, too). So, we’re back at Wuerfel Park, the site of the baseball academy, here to watch the big boys play. Another game where Brian spent half of it at the playground, but still had time to visit with his Papa, and meet the TC mascots Suntan and Sunburn. Trevor hung out in the outfield, but wasn’t able to wrestle a foul ball this time. Lily did what Lily does, and socialized some but spent some time with her Papa also. We had great weather, and another fun time watching the Beach Bums, this time taking on the Florence Freedom in Frontier League action. And an action packed game it was…

wp4wp2wp5wp3The Bums were down 3-0 going into the seventh inning, you see, and that’s when things started going their way. Sean Gusrang reached safe at first due to a throwing error, to start a rally. Gusrang scored on a Marcus Nidiffer double, and later scored on a sac-fly by Ryan Still, to cut the score to 3-2. The eighth inning started out with a Taylor Wrenn double for the Beach Bums. He was moved to third by Jose Vargas, and scored on a Carlo Testa single, to tie the game at 3-3. Both team threatened, but couldn’t get any runs across until the 10th inning. That’s when Wrenn got hit by a pitch, then moved to second when Chase Burch walked. That opened the door for Zach Kometani, who became the hero of the game with his walk-off single, scoring Wrenn. On the mound, Nick Capito earned with win with three scoreless innings. I hope our games next weekend will be as exiting as these! Final: Beach Bums 4, Freedom 3 (10 innings).

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The three reasons I'm the luckiest man in the world!

The three reasons I’m the luckiest man in the world!

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Learning from the Bums

Beach Bums Baseball Academy

bbba1Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: As Trevor’s Little League season came to an early end this summer due to shoulder problems, we weren’t sure if he was going to participate in this baseball academy hosted by the Traverse City Beach Bums. As his x-rays were examined, he was cleared to play, but we also found out that he wasn’t dealing with a sprained shoulder, but a broken clavicle. The bad news is that even though it’s looked to have healed, it also still causes him extreme pain. Trevor is a trooper, though, and gave the camp a go. The gates opened early, and the players came and got the kids promptly at ten a.m. After some stretching and warming up, the kids were separated into five stations. Trevor’s first station was hitting. They did soft-toss with tennis balls in the outfield. He never got under one to get it over the fence, but had a few nice line-drives. His next station was in the outfield, working on pop-ups and fly balls. The Beach Bums really had some fun and unique drills to help the kids adjust to catching a ball on the fly. This is one of the biggest weaknesses of kids this age, so I’m glad they taught them some of these manuevers. The kids’ next stop was the bullpen, for some pitching drills. By this point, Trevor’s shoulder was causing some major discomfort, so he sat this one out. I don’t think he feels like he’s pitching material anyway, as he prefers to be behind the plate. After the pitching portion of the academy was complete, his group headed in for some base-running. They did some good drills that taught them how to run through the bag at first, and round it if the ball got through the infield. The kids really liked sliding on the artificial turf, too. He ended his day doing some infield drills. The Beach Bums did a great job of encouraging the kids, even when they made an error. They reminded them that the pros make mistakes, too, and not to get discouraged.

bbba3bbba4bbba5bbba2Overall, this was a very good experience for Trevor. I think he learned a lot and had some fun. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t make it for the second day due to the pain in his shoulder. I really recommend the Beach Bums Baseball Academy, however, for anyone living in the area. There seemed to be kids from all over the northern part of the state attending. I thank the Bums for their work with the kids, I want to personally thank Jason Wuerfel for giving Trevor this opportunity! We will be back next year, and with Brian old enough to join in the fun.

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Trevor chillin' in the bullpen

Trevor chillin’ in the bullpen

bbba8bbba9bbba10bbba11bbba14bbba12bbba13bbba15Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

M.I.B. Prime Nine: Mascot Mania

Over on MiLB.com, the Mascot Mania is in full force, with ever fuzzy animal, alien, or funny looking man-thing represeting a Minor League franchise fighting for mascot supremecy. The kids and I have encountered and have been entertained by some great ones on our travels, and here are some of our favorites. Keep in mind, the list will only consist of the mascots we’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting or seeing. This list was also a lot harder to put together than you’d think, trying to narrow so many fun entertainers down to just nine. Ok, then, let’s see where they stand:

9) Rowdie-Indianapolis Indians: We’re not sure yet what exactly Rowdie is, but he sure is fun. He does a good job of getting around the stadium and getting pics with the kids.

Trevor with Rowdie at Victory Field in 2009

Trevor with Rowdie at Victory Field in 2009

8) Mr. Shucks-Cedar Rapids Kernels: Well, this guy just looks really cool. He does a nice job of getting the crowd riled up in Cedar Rapids.

2010 Baseball Trip: Day 3-Cedar Rapids, IA7) Reedy Rip’ It-Greenville Drive: Reedy is a bit of a Wally ‘rip’ off, but that’s ok with me. The Drive is a BoSox affiliate, and they get lots of ideas from them. Reedy did a great job of interacting with the fans.

Me with Reedy Rip'it

Me with Reedy Rip’it

6) Paws-Pawtucket Red Sox: Ok, another BoSox affiliate. Paws is all over the place, and is marketed very well.

PAW15) Spikes-Rochester Red Wings: Here’s another mascot that can do it all. He’s all over the field, and the concourse during the games.

2012BaseballTrip 0444) Gnate the Gnat-Savannah Sand Gnats: Gnate is really cool, and is always interacting with the fans and kids. Made my trip a little more fun.

gnate3) Loe E. Loon-Great Lakes Loons: Ok, the Loons are one of our regular teams now, so we really know first hand how hard Lou E. works. Along with Rall E. Camel, he does a super job at Dow diamond.

Lily and Brian with Lou E. Loon!!!

Lily and Brian with Lou E. Loon!!!

2) Slugger-Portland Sea Dogs: I really loved being at the Sea Dogs game, and Slugger made it even more fun. He’s just a cool mascot, in my opinion. And I guess that’s what counts on this blog…

POR71) Crash the River Rascal-West Michigan Whitecaps: Ok, was there ever much doubt? Yes, it’s a homer call, but Crash is really awesome. He makes the kids laugh and gets around the stadium well to interact with the fans. He and his buddy Franky the Swimming Pig are the best.

Brian and I with Whitecaps mascot Crash the River Rascal!

Brian and I with Whitecaps mascot Crash the River Rascal!

Ok, so there’s my take on the Mascot Mania. Be sure to go and vote for your favorites HERE. Good luck to all the masconts in my Prime 9. What’s yours?

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Another season in the books…

brill1It may be hard to believe, but it’s barely half-way through July and our Little League baseball season has already come to an end. Just when it seems the kids are starting to ‘get it’, and learn the game, the rug gets pulled out from under us. I guess when you live in a northern part of a northern state, the summer sports take a back seat to just about everything else. This is the hand we’ve been dealt, however, and it’s up to us to make the best of it. And make the best of it, we did. I am very lucky to have coached such great kids this season. We had a lot of fun, and I’m hoping that they all continue to play in the future. I really enjoy coaching at this level (tee ball), and like to believe I’m making a positive influence to their  first experiences with baseball. Before Trevor sprained his shoulder, I was having fun helping coach his team, too. Sometimes it’s easier just to be an assistant and only worry about teaching the kids baseball. If the x-rays this week prove positive, he should still be able to participate in the Beach Bums Baseball Academy next week. As for Brian, it amazes me just how good this kid can play at times. He had a great season, also, and really enjoys baseball. Sometimes he gets frustrated when the ball isn’t hit to him, but is learning how to share and be a good team-mate. He has good speed, and a good throwing arm, and is starting to get his glove on the ball. When we play by ourselves, we lose the tee and hits live pitching like a boss. So much so, that I signed him up with the Battle Creek Bombers kids club to take batting practice with the team next weekend. In closing, I’ll miss my team and playing with them every week. Even just adding more games or practices on the weekends would help all the kids out, and give me a chance to do what I love to do.

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Jumping for joy for baseball!

Jumping for joy for baseball!

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Brian can hit the snot out of the ball!

Brian can hit the snot out of the ball!

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My Tee Ball team, sponsored by 'A Therapy World'. All great kids!

My Tee Ball team, sponsored by ‘A Therapy World’. All great kids!

brill2Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Family Funday Sunday

Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Lake Erie Crushers (Frontier League)

We had two baseball waiting for us when we got to Wuerfel Park

We had two baseball waiting for us when we got to Wuerfel Park

Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: On our way back home, we decided to hit a Beach Bums game, and make the weekend complete. It was their Family Funday Sunday, with the team signing autographs, so we got there when the gates opened. We decided to go with the lawn seats for this game, which we haven’t done in a few years. We dropped out blankets out by the playground so Brian would be happy, and so we also had a nice view of the game. We were lucky enough to find two Frontier League baseballs waiting for us out there, too. Getting to the ballpark early does have it’s advantages. We also found out that the Bums do the autograph sessions after the game, so we had some time to walk around and get some pics before the action started. The game itself was great, as the Beach Bums scored four runs in the first inning, and never looked back. Jeremy Banks led TC with three hits, while Chase Burch, Carlo Testa, and Zach Kometani each collected a pair. Burch had four RBI’s in the game, and as of this post leads the league with 39. Jose Varges also had a two RBI triple in the first inning to help set the pace. On the hill, Scott Dunn was brilliant, throwing a two-hit shutout. He only gave up a pair of two-out singles, and no runners went past first base. This was also the first complete game of Dunn’s career, and he did it throwing just 89 pitches. Final score: Beach Bums 8, Crushers 0.

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The Beach Bums do more to support our armed forces than any other organization

The Beach Bums do more to support our armed forces than any other organization

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Trevor fought for a foul ball, too!

Trevor fought for a foul ball, too!

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Suntan gives an American Flag to one of our honored Veterans

Suntan gives an American Flag to one of our honored Veterans

famfun16During the game, Trevor wrestled down a foul ball, also, so we had three on the day. He really earned that ball! The Air Force was also represented, with a trailer full of recruitment material and give-aways for fans. It’s good to see our armed forces represented, and the Beach Bums do a great job supporting the troops! After the game was more fun, as Brian showed off his stuff running the bases with the other younger kids. It was then time for some autographs, and TC has a good system of having some tables set up so fans can move down the line in an orderly fashion to meet all the players and coaches. Lily and Trevor were each given a free team poster to get signed, while Brian opted to use one of the baseballs we found. The players were nice to the kids and this made it a special game for us. Just some more reasons to check out some Independent Pro teams if you get a chance. Family friendly and lots of fun. We’ll be back in Traverse City later this month, as Trevor will be participating in one of the Bums baseball clinics.

Brian running the bases at Wuerfel Park!

Brian running the bases at Wuerfel Park!

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Star Wars Night-Episode IV: A Hope for no Rain

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)

starwars2Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MIIt’s that time of year again, when myself and the little nerf-hearders head down to Star Wars Night. This year, we were back at the Fifth-Third Ballpark, with the Whitecaps as our host. Despite the weather report calling for rain, it all held off and it was a beautiful night. The kids were able to meet all of their favorite Star Wars characters, and some of the guys in the suits were pretty darn funny. They kept the sold out crowd entertained until the game started, and were more than happy to pose for pictures for the kids. This was one of the best Star Wars nights we’ve been too so far. We tried for some Whitecaps autographs, but got very few as the players didn’t walk by the fans due to the Star Wars guys.

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The most feared Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy...

The most feared Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy…

The Force is strong with these two!

The Force is strong with these two!

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Uh...caption this:

Uh…caption this:

starwars11starwars12starwars13As for the game itself, it was another dismal one for the Whitecaps. They’ve had a tough time offensively ever since Devon Travis was promoted. DH Lance Durham did go 2-4 on the day, however, but short stop David Gonzalez was the only one able to strum up an RBI. Chad Smith took the loss on the hill for West Michigan, giving up only two earned runs, though, and striking out three. Corey Knebel came in for the ninth inning, and stayed perfect so far since joining the ‘Caps. Final score: Whitecaps 1, Hot Rods 3.

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Brian with our favorite mascot-Crash the River Rascal!

Brian with our favorite mascot-Crash the River Rascal!

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Brian found some fellow Jedi to duel with!

Brian found some fellow Jedi to duel with!

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An Imperial Guard doing the YMCA!

An Imperial Guard doing the YMCA!

Lightsabers!!!!!

Lightsabers!!!!!

We also got this picture taken by MI Unlimited Photography:

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Here’s a video the Whitecaps released on their YouTube channel featuring Lily and Trevor:

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

The Boys of Summer

bri1Little League Baseball is in full swing up here in Michigan. The boys are having a great time on the field, and are getting better every time out. Lily decided to take a year off, but is still keeping busy and helps out with Brian’s tee ball team when she can. The weather has been pretty good to us so far this month, too. Brian has been hitting the snot out of the ball off of the tee, and has one of the best arms in the league. Trevor is really working hard, playing smart, and his monster 2-RBI double is probably his highlight so far. Sooo…here are a few gratuitous pics of the boys doing their thing.

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Brian certainly is a charatcer while on the field!

Brian certainly is a charatcer while on the field!

Nothing beats a snack after a ballgame!

Nothing beats a snack after a ballgame!

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trev4trev3trev2Photos property of  Minoring In Baseball

2013 Baseball Trip-Game 11: The home field advantage

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)

caps1Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: As much as I loved my time in North Carolina, it was good to be back in Michigan, and have the home field advantage. It felt comfortable to be back in my own ballpark, and to see the Whitecaps play for the first time this season. After riding in airplanes most of the day, it was nice to be in the fresh air and wandering around Fifth-Third Ballpark. We were also one of the lucky ones to get an Avisail Garcia bobble head at the gate. It was good to see the best mascot in the minors, Crash the River Rascal, hamming it up on the concourse with the kids. I wandered down and watched the Whitecaps warm up, and got some good pics of the team. I was excited to see guys like Devin Travis and Danry Vasquez in action. It was also cool to see new pitching coach Mike Henneman, who was one of my favorite Tigers when I was younger. Henneman seemed to be joking around with his staff a little, and keeping his pitchers loose. It was good to see some familiar faces and be back home, and this will go down as one of the best baseball trips ever.

We were early enough to see the Hot Rods take some batting practice

We were early enough to see the Hot Rods take some batting practice

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Jeff Holm signs some autographs for Whitecaps fans

Jeff Holm signs some autographs for Whitecaps fans

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Tigers' prospect Austin Schotts

Tigers’ prospect Austin Schotts

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Former Tiger pitcher Mike Henneman

Former Tiger pitcher Mike Henneman

The game did not go our way, and the Whitecaps home field advantage did them little good as the Hot Rods shut them right down. Starting pitcher Charlie Gillies took the loss, but had no run support. He gave up three runs and struck out three, in just over five innings of work. Both second baseman Jared Reaves and third baseman Mario Martinez went 2-4, but could not help get a run across the plate. Win or lose, however, there’s still no place that I’d rather be. Final score: Whitecaps 0, Hot Rods 4.

Devon Travis leads the Midwest League in hits

Devon Travis leads the Midwest League in hits

Outfielder Danry Vasquez

Outfielder Danry Vasquez

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2013 Baseball Trip-Game 10: It’s always Sunny in Kannapolis

Kannapolis Intimidators vs. Hagerstown Suns (South Atlantic League)

kan1CMC-Northeast Stadium-Kannapolis, NC: Wow…what to do on a day when we only have one game scheduled to attend? Well, if you’re into the nascar thing, then you would have enjoyed our experiences. Our first stop was in Concord, NC, home of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Despite the advertising of daily tours around the track, we found they were cancelled because some trucks were practicing all weekend. Great luck, so we poked around a bit and headed out. Just down the street there was a nice little car museum, so we decided to check that out. The highlight for me was seeing a couple of cars used in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (if you’re not first, you’re last…). We still had plenty of time before our game in Kannapolis, so, sticking with the nascar theme, we decided to head back into downtown Charlotte to the nascar Hall of Fame. Our experience there was ok, but decided just to head back north to Kannapolis. We arrived a little early, but noticed that the gates were open. The ballpark wasn’t really open to the public then, but I started chatting with head of ticket sales,  and he was nice enough to open the gift shop for me so we could get our souvenirs and put them back in the car before the game. The whole Intimidators staff was very friendly, and treated us well. We actually had time to take and little snooze in the car before the gates officially opened. Before heading inside, though, I took a few pics of the race car parked in front of the stadium…sticking with the nascar theme, of course. Kannapolis is the birthplace of deceased nascar driver Dale Earnhardt, and the Intimidators are named after him. Inside, we had plenty of time to explore the small ballpark before the game began. This included hanging out with mascot Tim E. Gator. The concourse was nice, and wide open. There were some good eats, too, but we just stuck with beer and hot dogs. I bought seats in the V.I.P. section, right next to the Intimidators dugout. On a two dimensional seating chart, the seats looked great, but in reality, I had a huge pole directly in front of me, and couldn’t see anything. With a small crowd, we quickly found new seats. CMC-Northeast Stadium is a nice, unique, ballpark, and was a good low-key end to our adventures in North Carolina, as I really love the South Atlantic League.

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It doesn't get more intimidating than this...

It doesn’t get more intimidating than this…

kan5kan6The in-game action started out well for the home town nine. They scored three runs in the first inning, and one run in the fourth to take a 4-1 run lead. Things would fall apart in the late innings, though, as they gave up four and five runs in consecutive innings to go down 10-4. They battled back in the eighth, scoring three runs to cut the Suns’ lead to three, but couldn’t come up with the equalizer. The Intimidators got great production our of right fielder Jason Coats, who went 3-5 with four RBI’s and two runs scored. Brandon Brennan took the loss on the hill for Kannapolis, going 6.1 innings and giving up four earned runs. Relief pitcher Todd Kibby really got roughed up, though, not even lasting one innings and giving up four runs on three walks and one hit. Final score: Intimidators 7, Suns 10.

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2013 Baseball Trip-Game 9: Dashing back to Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem Dash vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)

dash1BB&T Ballpark-Winston-Salem, NC: Ok, so we were in Winston-Salem a few days ago, and now we came back to see the Dash play in more Carolina League action. I really wish we could have stayed and explored Asheville a little more, but this is the life we’re leading on these trips. Our evening starting with an amazing dinner at Tripps Restaurant, where my dad was reunited with an old army buddy that he hasn’t seen in many years. It was an amazing experience to listen to their stories and see them catch up. It was hard to break away, but we finally did and headed to the ballpark. The home of the Dash, BB&T Ballpark, is very impressive for single-A baseball. It had a nice large parking lot, which made things easy for us to get in and out. We entered through the outfield, which is something we’ve been seeing more and more of in recent years. The modern park is very beautiful, and looked like it didn’t have a bad seat in the house. I liked the fact that the concourse goes entirely around the field, too. Thier mascot Bolt was entertaining, and played some tricks on the umpire before the game. I never saw him in the stands interacting with the fans, though, which is too bad. The ballpark is really nice, but to me it seemed a little sterile. Maybe just because it’s so new, and that we were at a game during the week without a huge crowd. Still lots of fun, and a ballpark worth visiting.

dash2dash3dash4The game saw the home team get roughed up a bit, especially early. Dash pitcher Chris Bassitt only lasted 2.1 innings, and gave up nine runs. The bullpen seemed to keep the visiting Pelicans in check the rest of the way, though. Shortstop Chris Curley led the offensively, going 2-4 on the night. Left fielder Grant Buckner, however, had the two RBI’s going 1-4. Final score: Dash 2, Pelicans 9.

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