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
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Rockford RiverHawks
It looks like this was our last game of the summer…bummer. At least we had some nice weather for our last game, and a lot of fun at Wuerfel Park in Traverse City. After a full day of fun and school shopping, it was nice to chilax at the ball park. Papa met us at the game from downstate, and continued to spoil the kids rotten. Trevor hurt his ankle while on the playground, but the Beach Bum medics fixed him up with an ice-pack and wrap. Turns out he is fine, and was up and playing on it the next day. Kids are so resilient sometimes it’s amazing. We had a fun time, and I even did a little school shopping in the gift shop (nothing wrong with baseball shirts on gym day). The game itself was a slugfest, with the Beach Bums knocking three over the fence on their way to victory. Again, it’s hard knowing I won’t be at a live game until next April, but what a fun season we had together and great memories. Lucky for us, though, we live in the original Hockeytown, and games start this coming weekend. That should keep us busy through the winter until baseball starts up again. Final: Beach Bums 8, RiverHawks 6.
Ok, this may not be a game or anything, but we did visit two fun parks over the weekend, and it’s fun to compare them and determine where we will spend our time and money in the future. Our first stop was at the Pirate’s Cove in Traverse City before the ballgame. We really like the mini golf here, and we tried some new things. The bumper boats were great, with a large pool and squirt guns. Brian manned the guns to drench his brother and sister, while I drove him around. We then went to the go-carts, and Trevor was happy to find that he is now tall enough to drive himself. This didn’t go over well with Lily, due to the fact that she is actually a year OLDER than he is. I got to drive a few laps, taking Brian and Lily around, and these go-carts could really move. Lily and Trevor took a ride on the water slide, while I drove Brian around again. He wasn’t too happy the he wasn’t tall enough for the water ride, but he got over it pretty quick. Lily and I next went on the ‘zip line’. She was a little nervous when she got up to the platform, and looked down about 50-60 feet. She’s a tough girl, though, and once her harness was snapped in, she was good to go and had a lot of fun on it. I would have loved to snap a pic of that, but dropped my camera, and couldn’t get it to focus (I ended up fixing it in the van on the way to the ball game, by beating it on the dashboard..it works). Pirates Cove gets a great overall grade in my book. The next day, we visited Adventure Island in Cadillac. We also went on the go-carts there, but they seems slow compared to the ones the day before. We’d been on the bumper boats here before, but decided on to partake in that activity on this day, due to the fact that we waited almost 20 minutes with no one helping us onto the ride. The kids got to do the water slides, which was what they really wanted to do, though. Brian came up less than an inch short to go on them, and the staff wouldn’t let me go down with him. Sooo….anyone keeping score, lets compare them like this. Mini-Golf: Tie-both are good. Bumper boats: Pirate’s Cove. Go-Carts: Pirate’s Cove. Zip Lines: Pirate’s Cove-maybe unfair because Adventure Island doesn’t have them, but it’s defiantly worth a run. Water Slide: Adventure Island. Final: Pirate’s Cove 3, Adventure Island 1. No doubt, we’ll be spending more time at Pirate’s Cove next summer.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Evansville Otters: Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI
We finally made it down to Traverse City this week for our first Beach Bums game of the season. The weather was beautiful, and the kids were able to play on the play ground inside the park for a while. The kids were happy that their Papa could meet us there, too, as he always spoils them rotten. What I really like about Wuerfel Park is that the concourse goes completely around the interior of the park, so we could take Brian for ‘walks’ and he can see the entire field, while we can keep track of the game. Lily and Trevor helped out a lot watching their little brother, and were rewarded with some ice cream. Not a huge crowd for a game during the week, but that’s fine with us, as the kids needed to run around a bit. It’s hard to ask them to just sit and watch a game when they’ve been in the car for a few hours. Our next game will be Star Wars night at the Whitecaps next weekend. That should be a memorable night.
In the game, the Beach Bums broke out the bats, scoring 12 unanswered runs. The Bums were sparked by a big fifth inning rally, scoring six runs. The offense was led by shortstop Jose Vargas, who had two two-run doubles and a solo home run during the game. He ended the game 3-4 with five RBI’s. Designated Hitter Chase Birch also knocked a two-run shot over the fence in the fifth. On the mound, Bryan Banes earned his fifth win of the season (5-0). Final Score: Beach Bums 12, Otters 4.
Despite ending the first half of the season in last place, the re-vamped West Michigan Whitecaps clinched a wild card playoff spot due to their second half performance. They were a dreadfull 26-43 in the first half and have a franchise worst 76 losses overall. The ‘Caps turned things around, however, going on a 26-12 tear since July 28. This is the seventh year in a row West Michigan will be involved in the Midwest League’s post season, and the 14th time in the franchises’ 17 year history. Whitecaps’ manager Joe DePastino said there absolutely is no complacency that his team is just happy to make the playoffs after dropping to as many as 29 games under .500 in late July.
“None at all,” DePastino said. “When you’ve gone from rock bottom to where we’re at, you want to win it all. These guys want to win it. To do what they’ve done, they would be disappointed if they didn’t finish it off with a championship.”
The Whitecaps might not be favored to win the MWL title, but may have as good a chance as any team. They start tonight at home against the Lake County Captains who finished first overall in the first half, but finished below West Michigan in the second stanza. The ‘Caps played the Captains more than any other team this season (21 times!), and are 7-5 against them since the All Star break. What could be interesting here, is if Lake County activates former ‘Caps All Star pitcher Giovanny Soto who the Indians organization picked up the Jhonny Peralta deal. If the ‘Caps can slip past the first round matchup, it’s possible they could play in-state rival Great Lakes Loons who, at 90-49, have the best record in professional baseball. This won’t scare the Whitecaps too much, though, as they went 7-5 against them in the second half.
Game 1: Whitecaps 2, Captains 4
Game 2: Whitecaps 8, Captains 0
Game 3: Whitecaps 2, Captains 3-Whitecaps Eliminated
Captains go on to win Midwest League Championship
Meanwhile, north of Grand Rapids up in Traverse City, the Beach Bums are making history of their own. Ending the regular season on a three game winning streak at home, the Bums qualify for the Frontier League playoffs for the first time in their five year history. They snagged the wild card bid with a 7-0 romping of the Washington Wild Things on the 4th, and ended the regular season in dramaitic fashion beating the Wild Things again the next night 4-3. Their first playoff game is on the 9th, while hosting the Windy City Thunderbolts on September 11-12. Good luck to both teams, and I’ll be updating this post with the results.
Game 1: Beach Bums 1, Thunderbolts 5
Game 2: Beach Bums 9, Thunderbolts 2
Game 3: Beach Bums 5, Thunderbolts 3-Bums advance to Championship Series
Game 1: Beach Bums 5, River City Rascals 3
Game 2: Beach Bums 0, River City Rascals 8
Game 3: Beach Bums 2, River City Rascals 6
Game 4: Beach Bums 0, River City Rascals 2-Rascals Frontier League Champions
Photos courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps and Traverse City Beach Bums
It seems as fall is in the air, and summer is just about done. It’s an exciting time at the Major League level, but in the Minors, the seasons are winding down. For the kids, school starts on Tuesday, so we decided to head downstate and get in a couple of days of fun before it all comes to an end….
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: For the second year in a row, we end our baseball season with the Bums. My parents have season tix, so we just met them at the game, and there’s no place the they’d rather be with the grandkids than a baseball game. With their birthdays about ten days apart, we had them annouced over the PA system, which made the kids feel like celebrities. The Beach Bums are making a surge for their fist ever playoff appearance, so lots of good atmosphere for the game. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game, too, which is always a thrill. Final: TC 8, WC 4.
Adventure Island: Summer wouldn’t be summer without hitting the water park. The kids enjoyed the bumper boats, but they told us it was too cold to open the water slide. Hey, were from the U.P….nothing is too cold for us. You’ll also enjoy a pic of ol’ #94 here putting on a hitting display in the batting cages. I’m contimplating making a training video…we’ll see. The park here also has go-carts and adventure golf, both a summer must.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Hampton Pirates: I know this is a baseball blog, but I’ll throw just a little college football in here, too. Going down to watch football still didn’t stop us from visiting the baseball field there just to say hi. Hard to believe it will be seven months before baseball is played there again. The football game was fun (not as much as baseball, but at least they have cheerleaders), and we were able to dodge the rain thankfully. All in all, a good end to our summer fun. Now it’s time to track the MiLB playoffs and plan next season’s baseball trip. Final: CMU 33, Hampton 0.
Photos property of M.I.B.
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: After a fun weekend at camp the kids and I decided to catch a Beach Bums game on our way back home. We were all pretty tired, but the game gave us a chance to relax and enjoy some baseball. We’ve hit at least one game every season since the team came here in 2006, and they’re all pretty fun. Not much of a crowd for a Monday night, but enough going on to keep us entertained. In the game, the Bums won 8-3 on the back of two hits by Matt Brown, who also had a stolen base. The team had four stolen bases in the game altogether including two by J.T. Hall. Ryan Platt got the win for TC on the hill. We’ll try to get to another game here this summer, but next on our slate are the Whitecaps next month on Star Wars night. Can’t wait for that one…
Photos property of MIB
Gearing up for the 2010 season ahead, it’s fun to remember all of the fun times the kids and I have had the last few years since baseball has been such a big part of our lives. I was looking for some older pics to post, but didn’t have any luck finding much. I do have plenty others to share, though, so here’s to hoping this season’s games will be as fun as the ballgames past.
Photos property of MIB
Finishing up our last fun weekend of the summer with go-carts and water slides, we ended it watching the Traverse City Beach Bums taking on the Kalamazoo Kings in Frontier League action. This is the second to last game on the Beach Bums 2009 schedule, but for us, it’s most likely the last game we’ll see live untill 2010. Bummer.
It was a beautifull night for baseball, and the home team Bums won 5-2. The kids spent more time on the playground than watching the game, but at least it kept them busy. We opted for the lawn seats at Wuerfel Park, which has nice areas in the outfield to sit and watch from a blanket or lawn chair.
The kids each recieved a free baseball at the gate and they were able to get some players autographs on them. The only bummer was that former Major League pitcher and Bums pitching coach Roger Mason refused to sign for the kids. We were told he was ‘too busy’ and he basically turned his back on us. What a loser. You can see from the pic just how busy he was. Oh, well, we still didn’t let it ruin our last game.
Photos property of MIB
This is a really good article on Independant Pro Baseball. It lists some of the MLB players that took this route to ‘the show’. This is really eye opening, and gives a good description of the baseball played in these leagues. You can check it out HERE .
Here’s another good story about Minor League Baseball and it’s fan base. This makes me fee like I’m not alone with my obsession with MiLB ball. The writer gives you a feel of the game and environment better than I can. I was especially interested in the author’s experience in Burlington, as I plan on taking next years baseball trip to see all the teams in Iowa. You can check this one out HERE
Thinking that Jeff Williams being picked up by the Yankees was a ‘feel good’ story, maybe this one outshines it a bit. The Traverse City Beach Bums just signed infielder and former Florida Gater Brandon McArthur to patrol third base at Wuerful Park.
What’s amazing, is the path and adversity that McArthur has gone through to get to this point. His biggest hurdle was battling back from a severe head injury after a random act of violence in October of 2003 that put him in a drug induced coma at Tampa General Hospital. He was attacked outside a Gainsville night club and hit his head on the sidewalk. The doctors were’nt sure he’d even survive after having to remove 5% of his brain during two life-saving operations. When he was finally awake in November and went to use the restroom, he immediatly hit the floor, forgetting how to walk. He also permanatley lost his sence of taste and smell, as well as the names of all of his teammates. The doctors informed him he’s never play baseball again, and told his family that he would be paralyzed and unable to communicate.
Over the next year or so, McArthur would prove the doctors wrong. After regaining his ability to walk and talk, he next turned his attention to baseball-hitting off a tee, then slowly throwing, and taking batting practice.
On February 11, 2005, McArthur took the field at McKethan Stadium-as the Florida Gators starting third baseman. He and the Gators would go on to the best season in school history. They won the SEC Championship and even made it to the finals of the College World Series, eventually losing to Texas.
Unfortunately, this is not where the story ends. In his sophomore campain, McArthur would miss ten games with a deep bone bruise and reoccuring shin problems. He still went on to hit four doubles, two triples, two home runs, and drive in 20 runs. In 2007, his season would begin and end in the first game of the season. McArthur tore his ulnar collateral ligament during a routine throw to first base and had to suffer through a whole year of rehab. He would come back as a starter in 2008, though, only to rupture his anterior cruciate ligament. Playing injured, he still batted .367 with 20 RBI’s.
McArthur was granted a sixth year of eligability by the NCAA, and in 2009 he posted a career-best .338 average with 14 doubles, three home runs, and 20 walks. He was a .301 career batter with the Gators, with 36 doubles, eight triples and ten homers. He also earned the Academic All-SEC award and SEC-All Freshman Team honors.
Off the field, McArthur was even more valuable to his school and community. Here’s a small list of his activities: Florida Student Athlete Advisory Counsil, speaker for Fellowship of Christain Athletes, frequent visitor to the pediatric unit at Shands Hospital (where he re-habed), wheel-chair basketball with Special Olympians, speaker at ‘Youth Quake’ Christian youth event, member of Big Brothers, and speaker at the March of Dimes Health Conference in 2008 and participated in the Climb for Cancer Sports Camp.
Wow. I got tired just reading and typing all of that. Truely, this is a special individual who would not accept defeat in the wake of tragedy. Now he’s a professional baseball player. If the Beach Bums criteria of signing players is high character, then I think they just out did themselves. McArthur was a 2003 draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, so maybe he can work his way back up to that level.
Photo courtesy of the Traverse City Beach Bums