Florence Mall-Florence, KY: Do to work, I wasn’t able to make to the Red Caravan down in Louisville, so we decided to make the trip to Florence to see the grand finale’ of the event. There was a pretty good crowd already when we got there, but found a place to relax. Brian was able to exert some energy in the kids play area, while Lily and Trevor took time to explore the mall for a bit. The first Reds representatives on hand were the mascots. Of course, it was imperative that Brian got to meet them all and get pictures. He already saw Mr. Redlegs at a game, so here are some of him with Rosie Red and Gapper, and Mr. Red, himself:
About 11:00 a.m. the players arrived. On hand included minor league players: Blake Trahan, Sal Romano, Chris Okey, and Shed Long. Reds alumni: Eric Davis, Tom Browning, Chris Welsh, Jeff Brantley, Corky Miller, and Dmitri Young. Current Reds: Tim Adleman, Tucker Barnhart, Scott Schebler, and Drew Storen. Reds manager Bryan Price was also there, as well as GM Dick Williams, and President & CEO Bob Castellini. The Q&A portion was fun for the adults, but the kids didn’t show much interest. When the players finally came down to interact with the fans, thing got a little more fun.
To be honest, we didn’t even stand in line to meet the major league players. The line was much too long, and not worth it yet for Brian, as he doesn’t really know the players yet, anyway. We’re more of a minor league family, anyway, so we met those guys first. As you would expect, they were all very nice and happy to sign Brian’s Reds baseball. They offered cool photos with them and the alumni against a green screen, and have the Great American Ballpark in the background when printed out. I was more happy to meet the alumni, especially Eric Davis, who I watch play for both the Reds and the Tigers when I was much younger. They wouldn’t let us get autographs from the alumni, but they did do a nice job of moving things along to keep the line moving. This was a fun experience, and as much as I’m looking forward to this upcoming season, I look forward to this event next year.
Promotion courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds
Nutter Field House-Lexington, KY: Brian simply woke up one day and declared: ‘I’m a UK fan, dad.’ Uh, ok, that’s fine, I guess. When I asked him ‘why’, he simply replied: ‘I just am.’ Again, ok. Kids are funny like that. I might not ever really know what event turned his loyalties to the Big Blue Nation, but at least it gave us an excuse to travel to Lexington for the Wildcats inaugural Fan Day hosted by the university’s baseball and softball teams.
They day started with a short clinic for the kids, then the teams split up for an autograph session. The players were separated by position (INF, OF, P, C), which made it easier for the kids to jump from table to table, and maybe converse with a player or two they share a position with. Brian even got to chat with a fellow North Oldham Little Leaguer (an alum, anyway) in Connor Heady, who is a senior infielder:
We’re still a big fan and supporter of college softball so Brian wanted to meet some of the girls and get some autographs from them, also. They were super nice to him and of course signed his poster and hat, as well as posing for a few photos. We’ll definitely try to catch some Wildcat softball games this spring. A baseball-softball double-header sounds like a good day to me, anyway.
In all, this was a great way to start out the 2017 baseball (and softball) season. College baseball is less then a month away, and we look forward to being in the stands. Oh, and Brian ran into more players in the parking lot he needed pictures with. After all, as he told them, he is the biggest Kentucky fan…Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Promotion courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats/NCAA
Whitaker Bank Ballpark-Lexington, KY: While my dad was visiting from Michigan, we decided to take a little trip over to Lexington and see what it had to offer. Unfortunately, not much is going on anywhere tourist-wise, but I definitely wanted to stop by and see where the Lexington Legends played ball, as I wasn’t able to make it to a game there over the summer.
The Legends staff was nice enough to let us have the run of the place, and take a look around the ballpark. I really like the layout of the seating and how close the seats are to the field. I can only imagine sitting in the front row would be a great experience. The capacity is about 8,000 and I was told the Legends draw well, and that really doesn’t surprise me. It was nice to just be inside a ballpark, as this is the time of year I really start missing being at the games. Being a fan of the South Atlantic League, I’ll be able to see some familiar teams play against the Legends as well. Trevor had some luck, and found a ball from the Ohio Valley Conference that must have been playing some college games there. I took just a few photos, and this is just a sneak peak at the fun we plan on having in 2017. Have a safe and happy new year, and we’ll see you all at the ballparks the spring.
It’s that time of year, again, to look back at all the fun things in terms of baseball that we accomplished. For the second year in a row, we missed out on a baseball trip, so the list won’t be all that diverse when it comes to location. That’s not a terrible thing, however, as we moved to Kentucky this year and reaped the benefits of living in an area with plenty of college, independent, minor league, and major league baseball nearby. If the list was to 10, it would have included my birthday, where I was able to spend a fun day with my boys at the Louisville Slugger Museum and a Bats game, but we did other fun stuff that made the cut. So, without further ‘ado’ let’s get to it…
9) Star Wars Night: Star Wars will always be a hit, and this year we went to the event at our new home field in Louisville. The Bats host a decent night of space adventure fun, and the game itself was a walk-off win. Even Boba Fett was there, who we missed last year, so it capped off a great night.
8) Our first Reds game: Our first Cincinnati Reds game was a great experience. We took a boat from Newport across the river to avoid traffic and parking, and that avoided a lot of my stress of visiting a Major League game. We got great seats off of Seat Geek, so we were able to get a great view of the game, and Brian got a game ball from Eugenio Suarez. It was a hot day, but worth it to take in the Great American Ballpark in all it’s glory. It’s an amazing place to watch a game, and although the Reds had a rough season, the games are always fun!
7) Whitecaps Opening Day: Opening Days are always fun, even if there is snow on the ground, and the temps are more suited for hockey. We wanted to get a Whitecaps game in before the move, and give my dad a fun birthday present at the same time. Despite the cold, we had a great time together, and every trip we make back to Michigan during the season, we will always try to work in a Whitecaps game. In a strange way, the weather was a fitting ‘goodbye’ for us.
6) Our first Cards game: Sometimes you go someplace that just feels like ‘home’. That’s exactly what happened to us when we entered Jim Patterson Stadium for the first time in early March. Before Minor League opening day, and while down doing some house hunting, we couldn’t resist taking in a ball game. This is a great venue, and the Louisville Cardinals have a good baseball program, so this was a fun game for sure. It’s hard to believe the games are free with the ACC being such a competitive conference, so no surprise they pull in some good crowds. With my love for college baseball growing with every game, Cardinal baseball will be a staple in our lives for years to come.
5) Y’All Star Game: We lucked out, as the Frontier League All Star, or Y’All Star, Game was held in Florence, KY this season. We’re pretty familiar with the independent Frontier League, spending some time at some of the Beach Bums games in Traverse City. We were able to cheer on some of our Bums, as well as players from the home town Florence Freedom. The game hosted mascots from the Reds and other Frontier League teams, as well as Jake the Diamond Dog, and Myron Noodelman who was absolutely hilarious. In all, just an enjoyable night of baseball, and we’ll definitely make it back to Florence for a Freedom game next summer.
4) Loons Uniform and Logo Unveiling: It’s not too often you are able to enjoy a baseball event in February, but that’s just what we did when the Great Lakes Loons hosted an event to showcase the teams new logo and uniforms. Along with seeing the new logos, the mascots Lou E. Loon and Ral E. Camel entertained us. Brian was able to get his face painted and took the mic to try his hand at announcing. We ended the day by taking some cuts in the batting cages under Dow Diamond. Not a bad way to spend a winter day. I also wanted to add, that the Loons took their new look all the way to the 2016 Midwest League Championship!
3) Rose Number Retirement: Everyone has an opinion on Pete Rose, and whether you love him, or hate him, he is without a doubt one of the best hitters in the history of this great game! I met my best friend in Newport, and we had a great time at the ballgame, and seeing Reds legends like Rose and Johnny Bench in the pre-game ceremony. Like him or not, I did get to witness some history. 14 forever!
2) The San Diego Chicken!: Just like the afore mentioned Bench, I grew up watching the San Diego Chicken on the TV show The Baseball Bunch. He is far and above other mascots, and the skits he puts on are flawless and amazing. The Chicken has a magical presence that keep both children and adults tuned in to his every move. He was nice enough to meet with all his fans, also, and definitely made another one in Brian. This was an amazing night at the Bats game with the Chicken.
1) Mariners win the Championship!: Brian has really prospered from the move, but nothing more than what he’s been able to accomplish on the ballfield. He was lucky enough to join the Mariners a handful of games into the season when we moved down. The league down here is very different, and a lot more competitive. Brian fit right in, however, and had a great season at the plate. He was blessed with good coaches who pushed him hard but also let the kids have some fun. Being part of this team was a great experience and I’m glad he was able to be a part of it. The championship game was probably harder on me, but the kids were able to hang on for the win.
Looking ahead to 2017: I’m really looking forward to next season, and the adventures that baseball will take us on. We’ll have a full season with the Cardinals and Bats to look forward to, and the ACC Baseball championship here at Slugger Field, also. Brian will be playing ball again so we’ll keep tracking his success as he moves up a level next season. I’m looking forward to visiting new ballparks, especially some others here in Kentucky such as Lexington and Bowling Green. I wouldn’t mind hitting the road, either, for trips to Evanston, IN or Nashville, TN that aren’t all that far away, either. Until then, I wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!
Photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Straders’s Raiders vs. Vrable’s Vikings
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: I’m still learning some of the traditions of Cardinal baseball, and a new one I’ve discovered is the Pizza Bowl. The Louisville baseball team splits into two squads for a five game series, with the losers serving pizza to the winners. This years series featured Strader’s Raiders against the Vrable’s Vikings. The Vikings took the first two game of the series, and we were in attendance for game three.
Game three really looked like the Raiders were going to break into the win column, as they carried a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. They were lead by catcher Zeke Pinkham, who hit a single, walked twice, and scored a run. Outfielder Ryan Summers and infielder Justin Levy each had one hit and one RBI. Freshman outfielder Ethan Stringer hit a solo home run, and Brian was able to snag that ball.
The Vikings made their comeback in the eighth inning on three unearned runs. Outfielder Logan Taylor had an RBI single and scored a run to lead the Vikes offense. Colin Lyman and Danny Oriente each added and an RBI, also, with Oriente hitting and RBI single in the seventh as well.
Starting on the hill for the Raiders, Michael McAvene earned a no-decision although he struck out six, walked one, and pitched six no-hit innings. For the Vikings, Nick Bennett giving up just two runs on two hits while striking out four. FINAL: Raiders 5, Vikings 4.
This was a fun day for the boys and I. We also had a productive day, as Trevor got a foul ball and a stress ball. Brian was able to snag Stinger’s home run ball! This was our last ballgame of the fall, as the team split the last two games of the series, with the Raiders winning four games to one. We look forward to the spring and more Cardinal baseball! Also exciting news I learned from my buddy the Baseball Bloggess, is that Louisville will be hosting the ACC Baseball tourney next season, also, so I’m looking to get some vacation time for that!
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: It seems as it just started, but Brian’s fall ball league has come to an end. I’m really happy that he chose to keep playing, and I think he had a good time. Honestly, I really didn’t pay too much attention to his team’s record, although I’m pretty sure they won more than they lost, and there are no playoffs. He got a chance to play some other positions, also, finding he likes to play some infield. He still needs to work on his throwing mechanics a little, but he’s fielding pretty good. Brian had a solid fall season at the dish, also. He hit well over .500, going 3-3 in two consecutive games. After that second one, he was given the game ball by his coach as player of the game. He had some good coaching this fall, as well, as they stayed very positive and stressed fun and learning above all else. He’s excited to play next year, and spring can’t come soon enough.
Black Cardinals vs. Red Cardinals
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: This past weekend has to be one of the busiest in this town that I have seen since moving down this way, since the Derby weekend, anyway. Since this is a baseball blog, I’ll be moving backwards and start with Sunday. Brian and I decided to check out a little Louisville Cardinal fall ball scrimmage, and it was a lot of fun. Simply a beautiful day and there’s not too many places I’d rather be than a ballpark. Granted, this was just an inter-squad scrimmage, and most may protest that these games don’t mean anything, but I disagree. To the kids trying to either earn a walk-on position, or a spot in the starting lineup, there games can mean plenty. I felt bad for the left fielder, who made a couple of errors, and we were within ear-shot to hear his frustrations loud and clear. Take this for what it is, just something to do, watching something we love, spending time with my little buddy. Final: Black 10, Red 4.
Now, on Saturday, there was some kind of college football going on, and I guess this could be considered the busiest day of the weekend. That’s probably why we stayed away from town. I think the whole ESPN College Gameday crew was in town, also. Although not a big football fan, I did watch some of the Louisville vs. Florida State game on TV, and was happy for a big Louisville win (63-20). It’s always good for the town and the school, and I’ve never cared much for the Seminoles much in any sport, anyway.
KFC Yum! Center-Louisville, KY: Friday was a fun day for the boys and I, also. This was both Trevor and Brian’s first WWE (I still call it WWF) show. Brian was happy to see his two favorites Bayley and Roman Reigns fight. It was a pretty good show, as the U.S. Championship, Tag-Team Championship, and Universal Championship belts were all defended. I’d much rather attend a ‘house show’ than a TV event, as all they do is talk and you don’t see as much action. We all had a great time, and will probably come again when the WWE is in town. As well as baseball, Louisville is a decent place for a wrestling fan to live, also. We have the local Ohio Valley Wrestling which is a lot of fun, and some other indy promotions in southern Indiana.
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Louisville Bats vs. Indianapolis Indians (International League)
Louisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY: Where did the summer go? It’s definitely a sad sort of day, the last day of the Minor League regular season, which means the end of 2016 baseball for the Bats. We were blessed with a beautiful day, however, so Trevor and I decided to take a walk down by the river before the game started. To our surprise, WLKY was doing a live broadcast down that way covering some Labor Day events, and we ‘just happened’ to walk behind the reporter and got on the news! Here’s the footage courtesy of Channel 32 WLKY’s YouTube (look for us at the 1:21 and 1:22 mark):
When Trevor and I were done being TV stars, we made our way into the ballpark for the last time in 2016. We had great seats, as we settled in with our $1 hot dogs and drinks on another 90 degree day.
On the mound was Keury Mella who was making his Triple-A debut with the Bats. He pitched a solid seven innings, only giving up three hits, one earned run, while giving up one walk, and striking out six to earn the win. Relief pitcher Kevin Shackelford came in to get the save.
Louisville was lead offensively by Seth Mejias-Brean, who got the Bats on the board in the 4th with an RBI base hit. He also added and RBI on the eighth inning with a triple. The go-ahead run came in the seventh, off of a Tony Renda base hit. FINAL: Bats 4, Indians 1.
Again, it’s sad that this was our last Bats game of the season, but we will still have some baseball in our future. Brian is still playing Fall Ball, and the Louisville Cardinals will probably play some exhibition games in the coming month or so, also. We might even make it back up to the Reds, but that’s still up in the air. This was a fun day with my son, and feel blessed and lucky for it!
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: Wow, I really love it down here! It’s amazing that my son can play a fall sport without it being soccer or football! The North Oldham Little League fall ball program is a good one, and Brian is having fun so far. Not quite as many kids play though, so instead of team names, they just have colors, but the coaches have dubbed their team the Blue Sharks. The fall league is more of an instructional league, with the kids being able to experience different positions every inning. We’re blessed again with good coaching, and they try to go above and beyond to help the kids out with the fundamentals of the game.
The team is 1-1 so far this season, and Brian is playing well, hitting .500 and doing well in the field. He’s been able to play a few different positions in Fall Ball, also, so it’s a little more fun and the kids won’t get bored playing in the same place all of the time. The season is just getting started, and they play through the first of October. Hopefully it might cool off just a little bit down here by then. The first couple of games the temps were still in the 90 range!
West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Lansing Lugnuts (Midwest League)
Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: Back in the mitt to visit friends and family before school starts, we were lucky enough to take in a Whitecaps game. The ‘Caps were hosting another one of our Michigan teams, the Lansing Lugnuts. It was Super Villain Night at Fifth Third Ballpark, and Brian was able to meet some of these dastardly scoundrels that give our heroes so many fits. Above, he’s with Harley Quinn, Crossbones, the Winter Soldier (who I really don’t consider a villain, he was brain-washed after all, and Bucky is really a good guy), and Poison Ivy. Below, he is hanging out with Batman nemesis The Penguin, and Spider-Man foil, The Lizard.
We were also able to catch up with Crash the River Rascal, and it was good to see him again! He also gave Bri a t-shirt.
We seemed to pick another great day to be at the ballpark, and to see some free baseball. The Whitecaps and Lugnuts would finish a tied game suspended the night before, with the ‘Nut winning this one 5-3 in the 12th inning. The scheduled game would go into extras, also. West Michigan tied the game at one in the second inning, when Will Allen scored on a Jose Azocar double, after hitting one of his own. Azocar would plate another RBI in the fifth inning, scoring Brett Pirtle on a ground out. Both team would load the bases in the 11th, but came away with nothing. The ‘Caps would have better luck in the 12th, however, as Arvicent Perez earned the walk-off RBI with a bases-loaded hit.
On the mound, Trent Szkutnik started the game giving up just the two runs. The bullpen came through also, with Drew Smith, Zac Houston, and Toller Boardman combining for six no-hit innings and 11 strikeouts. FINAL in 12: Whitecaps 3, Lugnuts 2.
Another fun game, and it’s always good to be back home. Especially seeing a game with Brian and his Papa (and even getting photo bombed by the Whitecaps staff…). With the minor league season rapidly winding down, we will definitely try to catch at least one more game in Kentucky. Here’s a video for y’all.
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball