Next seasons’ Baseball Trip will be a little later this time, in June instead of May. One of the reasons for the change, is that we wanted to hit the Midwest League All-Star game on June 17th in West Michigan. This should be a great experience as I’ve never been to an all-star game before. This will be the hardest game to get tickets for, so I really need to be on the ball when they go on sale. The next day takes us south to Columbus, OH to check out our first Clippers game. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the stadium and franchise, so it should be a game to remember. The day after is a double-header for us. We start out with the Toledo Mud Hens for a day game. We saw the Hens back in 2007, and look forward to another great time at Fifth-Third Field. After we see the Hens, we head east to see the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and our first New York-Penn League game. Travelling in the early spring usually prevents us from making these games, since they start their season in mid-June. We stay busy the next morning, hitting the big city of Cleveland to check out the Baseball Heritage Museum. I don’t know much about this, so if anyone has been there any info would be appreciated. Next we enjoy more Midwest League action visiting the Lake County Captains in Eastlake, just east of Cleveland. Lake County and Bowling Green are the only two MWL teams I haven’t visited yet, as they transferred from the South Atlantic League a few years ago.
The next stop on our journey should be interesting, visiting Canton, OH, and just south of that the Temperance Tavern and Cy Young Museum. Again, I don’t have much info on this, so if anyone has visited there I’d appreciate your input. That’s just one stop on our way to Washington, PA to see the Wild Things in Frontier League action. Washington is an independent team, but it look like they have a nice stadium. The town was just awarded a pro softball franchise called the Revolution, too, so that’s something else to look into. The next morning, we travel north to see the Detroit Tigers’ Double-A affiliate, the Erie Seawolves. This is another team I’ve wanted to see for some time, and look forward to checking out some of the Tigers’ prospects. Another double-header for us, we go a little farther east to check out our second New York-Penn League team in the Jamestown Jammers. And..our trip concludes with the newly dubbed Akron RubberDucks. This should be a fun adventure if the weather holds, and it should be better in June. If anyone has been to this region and can recommend any other points of interest or eating establishments, I’d love to hear about them.
In a surprise move, the Traverse City Beach Bums have traded their mainstay first baseman, Chase Burch. The Bums sent Burch to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association for a player to be named later and considerations. Although he’s been a member of the Bums for the last four seasons, Burch’s career began in the AA in 2009. As a member of the Pensacola Pelicans, he hit .341 with nine home runs, and 66 RBI’s. He joined the TC team in 2010, hitting 19 home runs and 88 RBI’s. This season, Burch led the team in home runs with 15, and banged in 66 RBI’s. In the Frontier League playoffs, he hit an astounding .438 with four home runs, and six RBI’s. He is Traverse City’s all-time leader in games played with 370, at-bats with 1, 319, runs scored at 243, home runs with 66, and RBI’s with 285. Best of luck to him with his new team. Burch definitely gave the fans in Traverse City much to cheer about in his time there.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
Beach Bums Baseball Academy
Wuerfel 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.
Overall, 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.
The Traverse City Beach Bums sent six players to the Frontier League All-Star Game in Washington, PA. Scott Dunn was named the starting pitcher for the East squad, and with good reason. He recently set the record by becoming the first pitcher in the history of the FL to start 10-0 on the season, and has a 1.98 ERA. He pitched the first inning of the All-Star Game, using only six pitches to retire the three batters without giving up a hit. Taylor Wrenn was the starting short-stop for the East. Hitting .302 with 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs, and 28 RBI’s, he was an easy choice. Wrenn went 0-3 at the plate in the game, however. Catcher Marcus Nidiffer made his second straight appearance in the ASG, last night. He came in to pinch-hit in the seventh inning, going 0-1. For the season, Nidiffer is batting .252 with 18 RBI’s. Big Chase Burch made his presence felt this week, also. He was the runner-up in the home run derby, and was 0-0 in the game, with a run scored after a base on balls, and getting hit by a pitch. Burch is hitting .305 this season, with nine home runs, and 42 RBI’s. He is also among the leaders in runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, base on balls, sacrifices and hits. Pitcher Jake Sabol is 6-4 so far this season, with a 2.36 ERA. He pitched a scoreless eigth inning for the East, with one strike out. Relief pitcher Nick Capito entered the ASG with a 2-0 record and a miniscule 0.76 ERA. He has struck out 37 batters this season, keeping them to a .117 batting average against him. He did his job last night, facing one lefty hitter in the ninth, and striking him out. Unfortunately for the Bums and the East, the West won this game by the score of 4-2. Congratulations to all of the Beach Bums All-Stars for 2013, though. We look forward to seeing them play again this season.
Right-handed pitcher Phil Brua knows the Michigan ballparks well, after playing last season with the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League. This season, however, he’ll move north, and call Wuerfel Park home, as he’s signed with the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League. A native of Avon, OH, Brua played collegiate ball for the Oberlin College Yeomen. In 2010 he went 6-3 with a 2.78 ERA, and a North Coast Athletic Conference leading six saves. Brua signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, and suited up for the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League. He had a record of 7-1, with an impressive 2.70 ERA in Vancouver. He led the NWL in wins, was ninth in saves, and walked only 19 batters in 87.2 innings. In 2012 he split time between the Canadians and the Lugnuts. Between the two teams, he combined for a 5-1 record and 4.72 ERA. From Lugnuts to Beach Bums, we’ll enjoy watching him on the mound this summer. In Lansing last season, Brua played for manager T.J. Tamargo, who is the former hitting coach for the Beach Bums. Good luck this season to Brua and the rest of the Bums. As for the Lugnuts, we really look forward to being at Cooley Law School Stadium in less than two weeks rooting them on!
Photo courtesy of Whitecap Wendy
Unlike affiliated Minor League baseball teams, ones of the Independent Pro nature have a bit of an advantage when it comes to choosing their players, and setting the rosters for the coming season. Such as the Traverse City Beach Bums, as they’re already getting their roster set for the coming season, and bringing back some top guns from the last. The biggest returnee, is last seasons’ Frontier League MVP Jose Vargas (pictured). In 2012, Vargas became just the second player in the history of the league to knock in 100 RBI’s. He also hit .290, with 29 home runs, six triples, and 18 doubles. Vargas’ 29 dingers set a single season record for the Beach Bums. He went to bat 410 times, which was tops on the FL, and 78 runs scored tied him for third in the league. Playing at short-stop and third base, this will be his third season with the Beach Bums, and his durability has really been an asset to the team. Vargas has played in all 192 games in the last two seasons, which is the longest current streak in the Frontier League, and second longest in Independent Pro baseball.
Also returning to the Bums will be All-Star second baseman Ryan Still. In fact, Still was both a mid-season and post-season All-Star, hitting .301, with four homers, and 34 RBI’s. He also set a league record by earning 110 base on balls last season and led the league with 82 runs scored. Still also became just the third player in Frontier League history to reach an on-base percentage of .500 or more. The Beach Bums also return two key pitchers to the mound. In the starting rotation is Jacob Clem. Clem went 7-4 with TC last season, with a 3.02 ERA in 20 games last season. He pitched 128.1 innings, more than any other pitcher on the Bums’ staff. Returning to pitch out of the bullpen will be Matt Miller. Last season he went 6-4 with 12 saves, and a 2.25 ERA. He also tied for the team lead, throwing 41 games as a releiver. Miller walked just six batter in 64 innings of work in 2012. The kids and I are really looking forward to seeing some Beach Bums games this season, too. They really like seeing games at Wuerfel Park, and Traverse City has so many other fun things for us to do. Trevor even plans on attending a couple of baseball camps with the Bums this season, so we can’t wait for the season to start!
Top photo courtesy of The Record Eagle (Traverse City)
Bottom photo courtesy of The Leader (Kalkaska)/Greg Gielczyk
The Traverse City Beach Bums are the best team in the Frontier League. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but with a record of 64-32 at the end of the regular season, they are statistically the best. Now comes the hard part…winning the playoffs. They start their quest on Wednsday taking on the Souther Illinois Miners, and will then hopefully take on the winners of the Gateway Grizzlies/Florence Freedom series. It was probably no suprise, either, that the Beach Bums were named the Frontier League Organization of the Year. Contributing to the Bums win/loss record, was the fact that they led the league in overall attendance with 160, 581, and average attendance with 3, 491 per game. The roster also includes the winner of the Morgan Burkhart Award, given to the Frontier League’s MVP in Jose Vargas. He has broken many of Traverse City‘s offensive records this season, and was one home run short of setting a league record of 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Vargas ended the season with 29 dingers, and 100 RBI’s right on the nose. He also hit .290 for the season. The team also includes four post-season Frontier League All-Stars. Chase Burch was named as the All-Star first baseman after hitting .304 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI’s. Ryan Still was named as the All-Star second baseman, after hitting .301 with 110 walks. This set the league record for bases on ball in a season. Vargas is the league’s All-Star third baseman, for putting up his great numbers, and in the outfield, Jeff Flagg is defiantly an All-Star. He hit with power all season, knocking 20 over the wall with 83 RBI’s. Bums manager Gregg Langbehn seemed pretty proud of his team and what they accomplished so far.
“The Beach Bums are honored to be represented in several postseason categories,” Langbehn stated the the Bums website. “Like we have said all along, when you surround yourself with good people, the right people and quality players, good things will come of it. Burch, Still and Flagg all are deserving of being on the post-season All-Star team. Their contribution have been significant to this squad. Jose (Vargas) is well deserving of the FL MVP. Without question he earned that award.”
Something good also happened for Langbehn, too, as he was given the Roger Hanners Award given to the Frontier League Manager of the Year. His team’s 62 wins this season ranks fifth in the FL history books.
“As a whole, we are proud and honored to receive these awards,” Langbehn said. “It would not happen without the support, hard work, and determination of every person associated with the Beach Bums and all of our families. These are all organizational awards.”
Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums