Results tagged ‘ Frontier League ’
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
Baseball just might return to Kalamazoo, Michigan yet. The city sent out a request for proposals, and the league that responded was the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is a collegiate wooden bat league, the same one that the Battle Creek Bombers are in. The team would play at Homer Stryker Field, recently re-named Mayor’s Riverfront Park. The NL now has 16 teams, and is based in Rochester, Minnesota. All the players are NCAA eligible, are not paid, and use wooden bats just like the pros. If the deal goes through, a new team could move into Riverfront ballpark by this fall, with plans to start play in 2014. From the pictures, it looks like the ballpark has been kept up, but it still may need some work. Sean Fletcher, director of the Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department, is optimistic.
“The big thing is just getting it game-ready, inspecting it, routine maintenance and getting ready for a team to play ball,” Fletcher told the Kalamazoo Gazette.
The city wants at least a three-year contract, with the team managing all aspects of Mayor’s Riverfront Park, including field maintenance, concessions, merchandising, and advertising. It’s a pretty tall order, and the city should find out within the next few weeks if the Northwoods League will grant them a team. I think it’s fitting that a summer college team would call Kalamazoo home, since it’s the sight of the very first two College World Series. Having a natural rival in Battle Creek won’t hurt either. In fact, in my opinion, if these two communities would have worked together and built a ballpark between the cities off the highway, their Midwest League team would not have moved to Midland. Battle Creek hosted the Michigan Battle Cats, Battle Creek Yankees, and Southwest Michigan Devil Rays before the team left in 2006 to become the Great Lakes Loons.
Kalamazoo did have two recent teams in the indy pro Frontier League. The Kalamazoo Kodiaks played from 1996-1998, before moving to London, Ontario, to become the London Werewolves. The Kalamazoo Kings played at Homer Stryker Field from 2001-2010. The team stated they would cease operations for the 2011 season, but never started up again. It’s too bad I never had the chance to get back to Kalamazoo and see the Kings play. I did see them up in Traverse City playing the Beach Bums, though. Having a new team would give me a second chance to get down that way and see some more baseball! Some fans from the area state that the ballpark isn’t in a great part of town, but I doubt the city will consider building a new stadium for this league, but I wish them all the best in getting a team.
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
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.