Results tagged ‘ International League ’
Alliance Bank Stadium-Syracuse, NY: After almost nine straight hours on the road, we were finally ready to sit down and watch some baseball. Well, we weren’t thrilled with just sitting again, but being at a ballpark we’ve never been to before gave us a chance to walk around, explore, and mingle with the local fans. Alliance Bank Stadium is a decent venue, and the weather was perfect for a Mother’s Day at the ballgame. Don’t worry, I did call my mom and wish her a very happy Mother’s Day, and got her some souvenirs from our trip. Back to the game, it wasn’t a huge crowd, and the diehards can’t understand why people don’t come out and support the local team. I tend to agree, and think some people take it for granted. Living four hours from my ‘home team’ makes me appreciate the games that I am able to make it to. We had great seats in the front row down the third base line, just past the Chiefs dugout. The early game gave us a chance to get a good nights’ sleep, and be back at the ballpark the next morning…Final Score: Chiefs 4, Red Wings 2.
I have to say, I’m really glad it’s time for the Super Bowl. Really, I am. To me, it means the end of the football season, and we can finally concentrate on baseball. The fact that this years ‘sporting’ event of funny commercials and laughable half-time shows takes place in Indianapolis, does hold a special place in my heart. The city’s football stadium (I’m sure it has a name, I just don’t care) is right next to one of my favorite Minor League venues in Victory Field. This house of baseball mastery has been around since 1996, and has been voted the best Minor League stadium in the past. While there on our baseball trip in 2009, there was a lot going on already to get the city Super Bowl sound. Out over the left field wall, we witnessed constant construction on a brand new hotel big enough to house all the players and celebrities. That didn’t distract us from seeing some great baseball, though, or taking in all of the ambiance of one the best stadiums to feature the best sport.
Victory Field has been, and will be a part of the festivities this weekend, however. So far Dan Patrick has been broadcasting his syndicated sports show from there this week. Today it will also host the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl, and will be transformed into a nightclub tonight and Katy Perry will put on a show. I’d prefer Avril, but, hey, that’s just me. Making a beach atmosphere on a baseball field in February is no easy task for the Victory Field grounds keepers, either. Along with a million pounds of sand, there will constructed a concert stage, LED robbonboards and specially constructed bleacher sections. It’s basically a giant airplane hangar, that can house a beach, stage, and fit in 5,000 rapids fans. Below is a promo pic and a good photo of the preparation being done on the field.
Here are some artists rendition of the completed beach and night club. Looks like a lot of fun to me, but he grounds crew will have their work cut out for them getting the field back to being baseball ready in a couple of months. Last year, Victory Field was voted Triple-A ‘Field of the Year’ and head groundskeeper Joey Stevenson was named Triple-A ‘Sports Turf Manager of the Year’, so there is a reputation at stake, here. In all, though, it’s good to see this field get a little publicity, even if it’s not just for baseball.
League: International League (AAA)
Home Field: Alliance Bank Stadium
Location: Syracuse, New York
Notable Alumni: A.J. Burnett, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Delgado, Ron Guidry, Roy Halladay, Fred McGriff, Denny McLain, Thurmon Munson, Dion Sanders, Hank Sauer, and Stephen Strasburg.
Fun Facts: The first stop on our baseball trip this coming season will be in Syracuse. Lots of baseball history in this town, as they’ve been sporting professional baseball since 1877 with the Syracuse Stars. The Stars fielded to Major League teams, with one in 1879 (National League) and in 1890 (American Association). Syracuse was without a team sporadically, but was mostly able to field a team either in the Eastern League or New York/Penn League. The Chiefs name can be traced back to 1934, when the Jersey City Skeeters moved to Syracuse to become the Chiefs. The current franchise came in in 1961 when the Montreal Royals, and Syracuse has had a team ever since. There have been two players in history to have four home run games under their belts. Gene Locklear did it on July 14, 1977, while Michael Aubrey hit four over the fence on May 04, 2011 against the Durham Bulls.
Logos courtesy of the Syracuse Chiefs
Working for the government, we have to pick our vacation almost a year in advance, which can cause problems in making plans, and planning trips. It used to be we had to pick our vacation days by January or December, which wasn’t bad because most Minor League ball clubs had their schedules posted by that time. Now we have to have them submitted by October, and all I can really do is pick a couple of weeks in May, and hope for the best.
This year the Baseball Gods smiled on me a bit, as I was able to put together a nice little trip in my allotted time, featuring Minor League Baseball, NCAA Baseball, and even a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There is a lot of fun and excitement for me when the 2012 schedules come out, and I can start writing games down on the calendar and see how everything will fit into place. It’s not always easy, as I like to pack as much baseball into one week as possible, but it is so much fun, and really gives me something to look forward to over the long winter months. Starting the first of the year, I can start making reservations, ordering tickets, and doing some research on the best sports bars in the areas we’ll be at. Here’s a little rundown of our plans for next May, and if the world is ending in 2012…then at least I die seeing the HOF…
The first leg of our trip takes us to Syracuse, New York, to see the Chiefs host the Rochester Red Wings in International League action (Triple-A). Our first game is a Sunday matinée at 2:00 p.m., then after a long drive it’s early to bed, as the Chiefs host the Red Wings again on Monday afternoon, with a 12:00 start time. I absolutely love doubling back to be at the ballpark in the morning when the grass is still wet with dew, and it brings so much more ambiance to the experience. No time to rest on Monday, though, as we travel to Rochester after the Chiefs game to watch the Scranton/WB Yankees host the Durham Bulls (Int. League/Triple-A). Wait..what? Yes, due to the S/WB Yanks renovating their stadium, they will be playing some home games in Rochester while the Red Wings are on the road, so we pick up an extra game due to that…thanks Yanks! I’ve always wanted to see the Durham Bulls play, too, and will probably be part of their cheering section. Ok, take a second to catch your breath…
The next stop on our trip is in fabled Cooperstown, New York, home to the one and only National Baseball Hall of Fame. This will be my first time here, and probably not be able to grasp how amazing it will be until I’ve actually seen it myself. I’ve been to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, which is breathtaking in itself, but no sport has the history that baseball does. No sport has had an impact on our country’s history the way baseball has, and right now I can’t even comprehend all the things that I will be seeing while there. I’m setting aside a full day and a half to take it all in, and maybe check out Doubleday Field and see if anything is going on there. All I can say is that I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures to share! After the second day in Cooperstown, we travel south to see the Binghamton Mets host the Trenton Thunder in Eastern League action (Double-A). I’ve heard nothing but good things about the ballpark in Binghamton, and really enjoyed all of our Eastern League games last year, so I’m looking forward to this one. Hold on, though, ’cause we’re not done yet…
The next leg on our trip takes us back west, as we stop in Rochester once again, this time seeing the real home team Red Wings host the Louisville Bats. We saw the Bats a few years ago while in Louisville, so it will be nice to see them in action again, also. After a good night rest in Rochester, we’ll keep heading west to Buffalo, New York, for a pair of games. Our first stop will be the University at Buffalo where the Bulls host the Bowling Green State Falcons of the Mid-American Conference (NCAA). This game starts at 1:00 p.m., and gives us a chance to enjoy the campus before heading downtown for the night game. Keeping with the International League, we’ll be watching the Buffalo Bisons host the Gwinnett Braves in our final game in the state of New York. I actually saw the Bisons play a couple of time back in the 90′s when I was out that way working security for the World University Games and that was my first taste of the Minor Leagues. After the Bisons game we head back to Michigan…but why stop there?
After getting back on our Great Lake State, you’d think we’d just want to get home and get some rest, right? Wrong! Plenty of time to rest later, and while we’re heading back, we go right by Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and lucky for us the Central Michigan Chippewas will be hosting their biggest rival, the Western Michigan Broncos at 2:00 p.m. in more MAC action (NCAA). After that game, we’ll hit a cross-roads. The Whitecaps will be playing that night, and we could jot down to Grand Rapids to see them play or call it a day, or trip, or whatever, and head home. In all honesty, we’ll be making that a game-time decision. If my dad’s feeling up to it, I’ll be more than happy to take in one last game. The only problem is, I usually need a vacation to rest up after all of this…but that’s what I call a good problem.
By the time this trip comes around, I’m hoping to join this century and be able to make Twitter updates from my phone or something, and if anyone is in the area for any of these games, let me know and I’ll be happy to have a ticket waiting for you at the gate. I’ll also be bringing back the ‘Logo of the Month’, featuing each of the home teams until the trip, so keep an eye out for those.
Small College World Series Championship-Southern Virginia University vs. Briarcliffe College (NY): The Ball Park-Old Orchard Beach, ME
It may be hard to believe by today’s standards, but Maine had itself a Triple A Minor League franchise right here in Old Orchard Beach. From 1984-1988 the Maine Guides occupied The Ball Park here. As a farm club for the Cleveland Indians, the Guides were a success at first, finishing second in the International League standings and fourth in attendance. The next season, however, the Guides were last in attendance, possibly due to the fact that Old Orchard Beach is more of a vacation spot with a small year-round population. By 1986, the team was not only last in attendance, but also last in the IL standings. 1987 the team became affiliated with the Philadelpia Phillies, and remained in Maine for one last season under the name the Maine Phillies. The team was then relocated to become the Scranton/Wilkes Berry Red Barons in 1988. It’s thought that three things brought about the failure of the franchise: 1)the amount of Miane Black Flies in the area 2)only one road ran in and out of the ball park causing traffic back-ups, and 3)the newer, larger ball parks were being built at this time for minor league ball. Although the stadium hosted some concerts in the 80′ and 90′s, by the 2000′s it was falling apart by the years of neglect. The stadium was shuttered, the grass overgrown with weeds and brush, and it was victimized by vandals and arson. It looked as if baseball would never be played here again until the community rallied around the Ball Park supporters to renovate the park and bring baseball back. By 2008, the stadium was ready to go, and hosted exhibition games and college games. The Ball Park will now host the Old Orchard Beach Rolling Tide, a summer college team in the New England College Baseball League, and hosed the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Baseball tournament in 2010 and this season, which brings us up to today’s championship game…
This is a baseball trip, after all, so we wanted to get an as many games as possible, no matter what the level. We were lucky enough to catch the small college World Series while passing through on our way to Portland. Number one seed Southern Virginia was playing defending champion Briarcliffe College, so we anticipated some good baseball, and the college kids didn’t disappoint. There wasn’t a real big crowd due to the continuous bad weather, but still a good atmosphere and crowd of students and players parents. Briarcliffe came out of the losers bracket to defeat the Knights from Southern Virginia in two straight games to win back to back national championships. The Ball Park itself was a nice place to watch baseball, and we didn’t have any trouble with flies in this weather, but doesn’t compare to most Minor League stadiums. I hope they have success with the Rolling Tide this summer.
Pawtucket Red Sox vs. Scranton/WB Yankees: McCoy Stadium-Pawtucket, RI
Our 2011 adventure started out in Pawtucket, home of the International League’s Red Sox, or PawSox. I really liked McCoy Stadium, as it’s a throwback to the more classic ballparks. Walking through the gates at McCoy is like taking a step back into time. The fans and staff are extremely friendly, and are more than happy to talk about the history of the stadium and the team. Some of the older staff members had some great stories. With the rain delay, we had plenty of time to explore the ballpark and get our shopping in also. My favorite park was the mural of my favorite player as a kid, Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych. The ballpark has pictures from all sorts of historic events that have taken place there, especially the longest game in pro baseball history that lasted 33 innings. Despite the fact that it had not been raining for some time, the game was called and we missed our first game to rain in the seven-year history of our trip. Some of the fans thought that the teams just wanted to hit the road early, as they played in worse weather the two previous nights. Definitely disappointing, but you don’t have to see a game here to realize how special the ballpark is, but I’m sure since the PawSox were playing the Yankees, the atmosphere would have been great.
There’s nothing like lookin to the future, and trying to come up with a trip that we can fit at least six to seven games into a five day span isn’t easy. Next May we’ll be heading east to the New England area, checking out the Minor League teams there, and even hitting a Red Sox game at historic Fenway Park. Our trip will start off on the Triple A level in Rhode Island, watching the Pawtucket Red Sox defend their home field against the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees. It will be a small taste of the Sox-Yanks rivalry, anyway. Day two of our trip we will head up north to Manchester, NH. There we will watch a Double A matchup between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and the Binghampton Mets. The third day of our trip will take us up to the great state of Maine for a pair of games. First we’ll see a night game as the Portland Sea Dogs face the Reading Phillies, and we’ll watch the same two teams go at it the next day at noon. After the day game concludes, we’ll head south for some Major League action. I know I don’t care to see baseball live at this level that often, but Fenway is a must for any baseball fan, and Boston is facing the Detroit Tigers, so it’s a chance to see our home team on the road. We also plan to take the tour of Fenway Park the next morning. Our trip will end later that night in Conecticicut, where we’ll watch the New Britain Rock Cats play New Hampshire, who we’ll be seeing for the second time. There will be plenty of other sites for us to see in this part of the country, and I plan to have a beer or two at Cheers in Boston.
Fifth-Third Field in Toledo is home to the world famous Mud Hens. Carved into the city’s downtown area, it’s a beautiful ballpark and a great place to watch a ball game. The price is right, too, as it only cost us $8 a piece for seats right behind the dugout. That was in 2007, so I’m not sure how the prices are now, but can’t imagine they’re much more. I really enjoyed the sight lines of the city, and my only regret is not sitting in ‘The Roost’, which is a group of seats actually built into a neighboring building in right field. They’ve been called the best seats in Minor League Baseball by ESPN. The gift shop is also built into that building as well. You have to arrive fairly early to get a decent parking space, but other than that this stadium is pretty flawless. Right accross the street is Tony Paco’s which is a perfect place to eat before or after the game. Both the Mud Hens and Paco’s are mentioned on the old show M*A*S*H by Max Klinger (Jamie Farr). Do you miss Klinger? Well, he’s here, doing most of the ads and publicity on the scoreboard screen. I highly recommend this ballpark to any baseball fan. The Triple-A Mud Hens play a good brand of baseball, and the fans create a great atmoshphere.
Here are some quck facts of the stadium. Built in 2002 it has a capacity of 10,300. The stadium was named one of the best MiLB parks by Newsweek Magazine. In 2006, the Mud Hens hosted the Triple-A All Star Game there.
Photos property of MIB
The Minor League Baseball season has come to an end (sigh). Here are the list of champions from their respective leagues. Any I missed I’ll try to get updated when I can. Looked like some exciting playoffs all around. I hope some other fans got to witness any of these games.
Durham Bulls(TB) defeated Scranton/WB Yankees(NYY)
Pacific Coast League
Memphis Red Birds(STL) defeated Sacramento River Cats(OAK)
Triple A National Championship
Durham Bulls defeated Memphis Red Birds in 11 innings
Jacksonville Suns(FLA) defeated Tennessee Smokies(CHC)
Akron Aeros defeated Connecticut Defenders(SF)
Midland RockHounds(OAK) defeated NW Arkansas Naturals(KC)
Fort Wayne TinCaps(SD) defeated Burlington Bees(KC)
South Atlantic League
Lakewood Blue Claws(PHI) defeated Greenville Drive(BOS)
Florida State League
Tampa Yankees(NYY) defeated Charlotte Stone Crabs(TB)
New York/Penn League
Sctanton Island Yankees(NYY) defeated Mahoning Valley Scrappers(CLE)
Salem Keizer Volcanoes defeated Tri-City Dust Devils(COL)
Orem Owlz(LAA) defeated Missoula Osprey(PHO)
The Minor League playoffs have started, and it’s an exciting time. Bare with me as I’ll try to keep updated on all of the leagues and how the series are coming along. I’ll be adding new leagues and updating things as fast as I can.
If I missed your favorite league or team, let me know and I’ll get it posted.
Gwinnett Braves(ATL) vs. Scranton/WB Yankees(NYY) Yanks advance
Durham Bulls(TB) vs. Louisville Bats(CIN) Bulls advance
Pacific Coast League
Albuquerque Isotopes(LAD) vs. Memphis Red Birds(STL) Red Birds advance Sacramento River Cats(OAK) vs. Tacoma Rainiers(SEA) Cats advance
Birmingham Barons(CHW) vs. Jacksonville Suns(FLA) Suns advance
Huntsville Stars(MIL) vs. Tennessee Smokies(CHC) Smokies advance
Akron Aeros vs. Reading Phillies(PHI) Aeros advance
New Britain Rock Cats(MIN) vs. Connecticut Defenders(SF) Defenders advance
NW Arkansas Naturals(KC) vs. Springfield Cardinals(STL) Nats advance
Midland Rockhounds(OAK) vs. San Antonio Mission(SD) Rockhounds advance
West Michigan Whitecaps(DET) vs. Great Lakes Loons(LAD) Loons advance
Fort Wayne TinCaps(SD) vs. South Bend Silver Hawks(ARZ) TinCaps advance
Cedar Rapids Kernels(LAA) vs. Peoria Chiefs(CHC) Kernels advance
Kane County Cougars(OAK) vs. Burlington Bees(KC) Bees advance
South Atlantic League
Greenville Drive(BOS) vs. Asheville Tourists(COL) Drive advance
Lakewood Blue Claws(PHI) vs. Kannapolis Intimidators(CHW) Claws advance
Florida State League
Charlotte Stone Crabs(TB) vs. Fort Meyer Miracle(MIN) Crabs advance
Tampa Yankees(NYY) vs. Brevard Co. Manatees(MIL) Yanks advance
New York-Penn League
Lowell Spinners(BOS) vs. Stanten Island Yankees(NYY) Yankees advance Brooklyn Cyclones(NYM) vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers(CLE) Scraps advance
Salem Keizer Volcanoes vs. Tri-City Dust Devils(COL) Volcanoes win Championship 3-1