Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: I’m not talking about the doomsday prophecy, but last weekend was the second-to-last game for the Whitecaps, and most likely our very last game of the 2012 season. It’s always bitter-sweet to see a season come to an end, but we have a lot of great memories to look back on. This was another memorable game for the kids and I, as we were able to get onto the field again and see some of the players and coaches. Brian really wanted to see Crash the river rascal one last time, so that was our priority! We didn’t have much of a chance after that for playing catch or getting many other pics with the players, but I did get one with the kids in front of the dugout. Brian was able to play on the playground and jump around on the ‘bouncy house’, which burns up some of his energy (Lily and Trevor are too big for the playground…where does the time go???). The kids Papa and Nana were able to join us, too, so it was a great day spent with family at the ballpark. I’m really going to miss the sunshine and the green grass, as fall, and soon winter, will be blasting us with the reality that we live up north. I was really glad we were able to make this trip, though, with school starting and two birthdays within ten days of each other, this was definitely a ‘no frills’ trip. Don’t worry…I still fed them and even got them their ice cream!
The game itself was a fun one, as the ‘Caps built and early 5-run lead on the Dragons. That was no easy task, either, considering that Robert Stephenson was on the mound for Dayton, who was the Cincinnati Reds first round draft pick last year and the organizations top pitching prospect. For West Michigan, Zach Maggard hit a two-run double in the second inning, to put the ‘Caps up 3-0. In the third inning, Jason King and Patrick Leyland each had RBI singles to put them up 5-0. Eugenio Suarez gave West Michigan some insurance, with an RBI triple in the sixth inning. The Dragons came back to score a few runs off starter Jeff Ferrell, but he held on for the win. Ferrell is now 4-1 in his last six games. Michael Torrealba pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save. In all, the Whitecaps ended up with 15 hits in the game, with five doubles and one triple. It’s good to see them playing hard, even though they won’t be making the playoffs. I still can’t believe that it will be another six months at least until another baseball game. This was an end to and extremely busy week for us, that saw Trevor turning 10, his first football game, and a couple of trips to the county fair. The kids last hurrah before school starting up. Final: Whitecaps 6, Dragons 4.
Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: Well, it was that time of the summer again, when I packed up my scruffy lookin’ nerf-herders and headed downstate for our annual ‘Star Wars Night’ trip. This year we decided to check out our favorite characters from a ‘galaxy far, far, away’ at the Traverse City Beach Bums instead of in Grand Rapids at the Whitecaps. The kids were excited, and had fun meeting the characters. There weren’t nearly as many as we’ve seen in the past at the ‘Caps, but we had a good time regardless. They had Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers, an Imperial Officer, and the lovely Princess Leia on hand. I would have liked to have seen Boba Fett and maybe some droids, but maybe next year. It was pretty hot and there was an impending storm, so it could be that limited some of the costumes and attendance. Lucky for us we made it through the game without a drop on us! In the game itself, the Bums were taking on the Southern Illinois Miners. TC was leading up until the 5th inning, when the Miners stormed back to take the lead. Scott Dunn took the loss on the mound for the Bums, giving up two runs, and striking out three in 4 2/3 innings. Final: Miners 5, Beach Bums 1. May the Force be with you…
A trip to Traverse City wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Pirate’s Cove. It was a beautiful day out, and the kids and I were lucky enough to spend it doing the zip line, bumper boats, go-karting, and the water coaster. I had to fudge Brian’s age a little so he could drive his own kiddie kart, but he did a great job, and is actually a better driver than his mom… Anyway, this was a great day, a day spent with family (we met Papa and Nana at the ballgame) and fun, and one you feel very lucky to have had. I feel lucky to be able to do this for my kids, and hope we can take in at least one more game before school starts.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Swift Field-Village of Bay View, MI: This is something I’ve wanted to see for a while now, but trying to find out when and where these games are taking place can be a challenge. The kids and I travelled to Petoskey over the weekend to see one of the games of the Kilwins Fudge Bucket Classic tournament, featuring the hometown Mossbacks and the Regular Base Ball Club of Mt. Clemens, also known as the Mt. Clemens Regulars. The tournament does have a website, but it still states the participating teams and schedules are still to be determined, despite the fact the games are all over. Lucky for me, though, one of the participants answered one of my e-mails and let us know when and where the games were. When we arrived at the game, there was a small crowd, and I’m sure that they would have some more fans will just a little advertising. The kids are I thought this was a lot of fun, and there were picnic tables for us to sit at and a park for the kids to play on, too, when they weren’t watching the game. The game was played basically in an open field, with ‘bases’ that I assume were just bags filled with sand or something. The most amazing thing is that in the 1860′s era, there were no baseball gloves, and seeing these guys catch and field bare-handed is quite impressive. A few line-drives smacking off open hands can really bring you into the reality of the game. Make no mistake, these guys know how to swing the ‘timber’, as well, and can run the bases pretty effectively. There were many ‘tallies’ scored during our time watching the game. Going back to the beginning, though, the game starts with both team lined up on the field and the one umpire explaining the rules and so on. The home captain welcome the visiting team and thanked them for coming before the home team introduced themselves. The visiting team captain then thanked the home club for having them, and the visitors were announced. There is just the one umpire who sits at the scorers table, and the game is played on the honor system. The umpire is only called upon if there is a dispute. Although these games are played for fun, they are very competitive and everyone plays hard. These games are so much fun to watch, and I highly recommend them to any baseball, or base ball, fan. The kids got a kick out of the old uniforms and style of play, and were impressed with the players making plays without gloves. I wish I could report the results of the tournament, but we only stayed to watch the first game, and results are not posted on the website or their local newspaper. I guess the one thing that these players have in common with the trail-blazers of the mid 1800′s is that they play this game for fun and pride. No large contracts or scandals here…
As Brian wrapped up his T-Ball season a week before, Lily and Trevor ended their softball/baseball seasons, too. Lily had a very good year, and did great at the plate. She had many multiple hit games. She liked to play catcher, but did play other positions in the field, too. The coaches get them playing all around to get a feel for everything. The coaches in the Sault Girls Softball league are all from the local high school team, so the kids get a solid and consistent amount of coaching. The league is run by the high school softball coach, and it really does a good job of building the girls skills. Lily had a lot of fun this summer, but because her games were during the day, it was so hot for her. Many times these girls toughed it out in 80-90 degree heat with the sun beating down on them. Lily also helped me coach Brian’s T-Ball team and did an excellent job. She had parents coming up to her and telling her how impressed they were with how she dealt with the younger kids. I am so proud of her, and am convinced there is nothing this girl is not capable of!
Trevor had a lot of fun this season, and for sure wants to play again next year. After taking a year off, he finally got his swing going and had some solid at-bats. He played catcher at the beginning of the season, but took over the third base slot for most of the year. He really likes the hot corner, and made some really good plays over there. I’m really proud of him for all of the work he puts into his playing. He hustles on the field and works very hard in practice. When I have extra time, he’s always up for playing catch or hitting a few baseballs. I really enjoyed being a coach on this team, too. This was a great bunch of kids and I hope they all come back and play next year. You might not believe that you can become attached to some kids after only a few months, but you definitely can. Especially with all of the unique personalities. Looking at the yellow unis, it’s hard not to compare them to the Bad News Bears…
Brian just finished up his first year of organized baseball, and I think we can call it a success. We had a lot of fun, and I think he learned something about teamwork. He likes to hit live pitching, so trying to convince him to hit off the tee was a challenge at first, but he continued to hit the ball very well all season, so that really helped his confidence. The T-Ball teams were very small this season, which is good so we can focus on the individual kids more and they don’t do a lot of standing around during practice or games. It’s so important to keep them moving and busy, so they don’t lose interest. Brian’s teammates were great, and I’m sure they had a lot of fun as well. I was honored to be their first coach in organized baseball and will miss them, too. Next season can’t come soon enough, but I can focus on Trevor and Lily as they finish up their last week of baseball/softball. Again, the end is bitter-sweet, and I am so proud of him!
Independence Day Parade
Sault Ste. Marie, MI: The kids and I spent our 4th of July by participating in the Independence Day parade here in town. We were representing the Sault Area Little League division of Little League Baseball. We had a lot of fun waving to the town folk and handing out candy. We were lucky enough to be one of the first floats in the parade, so when we were done, the kids were able to get some candy themselves and see the rest of it. The night ended with some decent fireworks and a fun day as a family. I hope all my fellow bloggers had a fun and safe holiday, also!
Dow Diamond-Midland, MI: For a little early holiday, the kids and I headed down state to Midland to see the West Michigan Whitecaps on the road taking on the Great Lakes Loons. The kids have never been to Dow Diamond until now, so it was a special game for them! It was the annual ‘Bark in the Park’ event, so fans were able to bring their dogs to the game. We don’t have a dog, but since Brian was on a leash, we figured it was close enough! They had dogs performing tricks between the innings, too, and the kids couldn’t stop laughing after one of the canines did his, uh, ‘business’ right on the field. The poor grounds crew was kept pretty busy! The kids were able to meet the mascots Lou E. Loon and Rall E. Camel, so they were really happy with that. Dow Diamond sports a really nice playground, too, so that kept them busy for a while.
The game itself was a quick one, and the Whitecaps’ bats were a little sleepy. In fact, the Loons had a no-hitter going into the eight inning until Steven Moya broke it up with a base hit. The ‘Caps would only manage one more hit in the 1-0 loss. A little frustrating, since they beat the Loons 8-5 the night before, and the night after. Before the game, we ate at Logan’s Roadhouse, and my steak burger and chili was some of the best I’ve ever tasted! The kids loved eating peanuts, and throwing the shells on the floor, too. Nice touch, imo. Despite the loss, we still had a great time, and will probably try to get to another game here soon, or next season. Our next game planned is Star Wars Night at the Traverse City Beach Bums. Final: Loons 1, Whitecaps 0.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
We haven’t been to a live ballgame since my baseball trip, but the sport is still part of our everyday lives. With two boys in baseball, and a daughter in softball, I spend over ten hours a week at the baseball fields here in town when you add up the practices, games, and time we get out just by ourselves. Add that to a 40 hr. work week, and all the single dad jobs of laundry, dishes, cooking and cleaning…and it makes for one busy and tired daddy. On this Father’s Day weekend, I couldn’t be happier to be doing all of those things. Being a father is all about sacrifice, but the rewards for the sacrifices are continuous joy and unconditional love. Being able to coach my kids is one of the biggest joys of my life. This is one of the few things in this world that I actually know, and it feels good to pass on my love and knowledge of the sports. Giving back does feel pretty good, and all the kids on our teams are good kids, and it’s fun coaching all of them. Lily is now in girls softball, so I can’t coach her anymore, but she is actually helping me coach Brian’s T-Ball team. She is great with the younger kids, and has a ‘take charge’ attitude. She is simply amazing. Brian is having a lot of fun in his first year of baseball, too. At four years old, they only play once a week, but it introduces him to the sport (well, he already knows it pretty well…), and gives them a chance to be on a team. Before you think that i’m forcing baseball on my kids, I’m really not. Trevor wanted to play soccer last year, and I supported him and was at every game. This season he’s just trying to re-learn baseball and get his swing back. He’s doing a good job, and has been playing catcher and third base. Both boys actually are wearing yellow this season, so it’s all good. They look pretty good sporting it, too!
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: Well, my ex was actually nice enough to drive my kids down state so they could join us for our last game of the trip. I was so happy to be reunited with my babies again, you have no idea!!!! My mom was able to join us, too, for this game, and due to medical reasons this is her first game in some time. It was Sunday, so that meant family day, and the kids could get in free with their Crash’s Kids Club passes. We were also able to get on the field to get some autographs and pics with some of the players and mascots. Brian loves to see Crash and Frankie, and the players are great with all of the fans, especially the kids. It was still extremely hot, but I had the foresight to get us seats under the over-hang and out of the sun. The kids still spent some time on the playground, though. The Whitecaps fell behind 4-0, but battled back on home runs by Dean Green and Steven Moya. Kyle Ryan pitched for the ‘Caps, and did a solid job. This game was so much fun, and it’s just one of those days that you’re so thankful for. This was the perfect finale for our 2012 baseball trip. We have more games on tap for this season, but will start looking into potential trips for next year. Final: Whitecaps 5, Silver Hawks 4.
Battling the constant unpredictable weather, the 2012 Little League season is finally under way. We’ve started with some indoor clinics before we get the teams set and play outside in a week or two. Brian is just four, and will be tackling t-ball for the first time. The first year kids only play once a week and we’re just getting them to have fun with the sport and learn some of the basics. Trevor is trying to get back in the swing of things after taking a year off to play soccer. He’s excited to be playing baseball again, though, and we’ve invested in some of the catcher’s tools for him to be behind the dish. The last time he played he was seven, and in a coach-pitch league. This year as a nine-year-old he’ll have to adjust to having his peers throwing at him. He’s developed a pretty good swing, though, so I’m not too worried about him at the plate. This should be a really fun season, as I plan on managing Brian’s team and being an assistant for Trevor’s. Lily starts her girls softball league at the first of next month, too, so it looks like we’ll be spending plenty of time at the ball fields!