Results tagged ‘ Traverse City Beach Bums ’
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.
We had a lot of fun moments this last year, and here are the best of them. It’s always hard to narrow it down to just nine, but the top few were really special and it’s fun to look back and think of the smiles on the kids faces in most of these. It’s also hard to find an order, or to really think that one’s childs’ moment meant more than an other. Read and enjoy, and I honestly hope that everyone had as much fun this past season as we did.
#9-Our 4th up North
With the kids participating in the Sault Area Little League and me coaching, we were able to be in the local Independence Day Parade. The kids had fun being seen by their friends, but really didn’t like the fact that they were throwing candy to the crowd instead of eating it. Riding on the float was fun, but it was literally a pain in the a$$ for me, as I tried to keep out of the public eye, and make sure no kids jumped off. It was good to have Trevor back in baseball and this was Brian’s first year. Lily played in the Sault Girls Softball League, but was able to march anyway because she was helping me coach Brian’s team.
#8-Back in Buffalo
Seeing the Buffalo Bisons is a great Minor League Baseball experience. I saw my first game there back in the ’90′s as my first minor league game. It was really good to be back and that my dad could experience this with me. Coca-Cola Field is a great place to watch a game and one of the best we’ve ever been to. Another first for me, was meeting felling bloggers Danny and Quinn from nybisons. They had a party night going on, too, with live music and I did drink a beer or two. I highly recommend hitting a game in Buffalo if anyone is in that area.
#7-Lily goes 6 for 6
Nothing like starting the season out on a high note. In Lily’s first game of the season, she went 6-6 in helping her team on to victory. Although she never repeated this feat, she did have multiple hit games though out the season. It was a brutal summer for these girls, as the temp was in the 90′s many times for their games. They played during the heat of the day, too, as the boys played in the evening so the heat wasn’t as bad for them. Lily had a great season, though, and this first game is something she can really be proud of herself for, as we’re proud of her! She played just about every position, but like her brother really liked playing catcher.
#6-My Loony children
In July we headed down to Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons, to see them take on he Whitecaps. This was the kids’ first trip to Midland and they were really impressed. Dow Diamond is a really nice stadium, and the playground there was a big hit. They did a lot of playing and were happy to meet Louie the Loon, the Great Lakes mascot. They also had a camel mascot, but I’m not sure what that was all about. The kids had so much fun I promised to take them again next season, no matter who the Loons are playing.
With Trevor donning the tools and working behind the plate this season, it’s no surprise that he took a liking to the Whitecaps catcher Pat Leyland. Throw in the fact that Leyland’s dad manages the Detroit Tigers, and you have a winning combination. On Sundays at the Whitecaps games, fans are invited onto the field for autographs and to play catch. We really had to seek out Leyland, though, as he was preparing his pitcher for the game. He was nice enough to take the time for a quick picture, and this really made Trevor’s day. This is how we build baseball fans, from childhood moments like this.
#4-Star Wars Night
This is one of the highlights of our summer every year. This season we decided to check out Star Wars Night at the Traverse City Beach Bums instead of the Whitecaps. They didn’t have as many of the characters around the ballpark, but the kids really had a good time anyway. They really like the Beach Bums games, as the atmosphere is really laid back. They like the playground there, too, and it’s not as crowded as some of the other ballparks we go to. They got to meet some of their movie favorites, though, like Darth Vader and Princess Leia. Thank goodness they didn’t have any from the prequels crap. I’m sure this event will be on next years list, too.
#3-The Crash Dash
Our first ballgame of the season was a memorable one. Brian was able to participate in the ‘Crash Dash’, where he raced the ‘Caps mascot Crash around the bases. Brian won, of course, because of this blazing speed, and that Crash usually gets distracted by something on third base. It was cool to see us up on the video board, too. Brian was smiling away, as he loves to win races, and Crash is his favorite mascot. I would love to see him do this next season if he can.
#2-The road to Cooperstown
The National Baseball Hall of Fame was one of the top things on my baseball bucket list (don’t worry, that prime 9 will be posted next month…). Although I admit it was a little disappointing, we still were able to see some breathtaking memorabilia from baseball’s past. Seeing some of the greats enshrined in the Hall is an experience that every baseball fan should take in. This was also something my dad really needed to see and I’m glad I was able to see this with him. We also had a chance to check out Doubleday Field, although there were no games going on that day.
#1-Rookie of the Year
This season Brian made his organized baseball debut…and took one more step toward destiny. He seems to like baseball more than any other sport so far and is really showing flashes of talent. I’m glad they lowered the starting age to four, as he was really ready to play. The problem is that he loves to hit live pitching, so hitting off a tee isn’t the biggest thrill for him, but he still does it well. The biggest thing he has to learn is team work and being a good team-mate. Being the youngest child, he’s spoiled rotten, and he has to get over himself on the field. Lily helped me coach his team and she did a great job with all of the kids, and I think it was positive for Brian, too. Trevor helped out when he could, but was busy with his own team (I was an assistant for Trevor’s team). Seeing your child take the field for the first time is so special, and if I was doing this list a few years ago, then Lily and Trevor would be #1 also.
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
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
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
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