Bats & Birthdays Vol. 1

28298497151_560718372a_zLouisville Slugger Museum & Factory-Louisville, KY:  While the Louisville Slugger Museum was celebrating its 20th birthday, I was celebrating one of my own.  It seemed like a perfect fit for both of us to celebrate together, so the boys and I made a trip to the city for a day of baseball fun.

28377280755_57ce53e0a7_zWe arrived, and got into the factory tour right away.  They don’t allow any photography during the factory portion, but it was interesting seeing how the bats were made.  Trevor and I had been here before way back in 2009, but it was still fun for him to see it all again, and understand it now that he’s a bit older.  And of course Brian ate it all up, and loved seeing the whole bat-making process.

27760721824_0a1fc8fc0f_zAfter the tour, we checked out the permanent exhibits at the museum.  There are many relics and bats from the all-time greats of this sport!  Below, Brian looks good with Hank Aaron’s bat, and he’s grown up with stories of ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson, so he was a little in ‘awe’ of ‘Black Betsy’.

28377286595_d9601e8373_z27760724344_1ffb819fff_zHere’s Trevor with the Sultan of Swat himself, along with Babe’s best bat ‘Darlin” below that.  I still have a great pic of the two when Trevor could barely see over the bat stand!

Trevor and the Babe
Trevor and the Babe

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As a Tiger fan, I don’t think the Justin Upton signing was a great deal, but I do love his flame-tempered bat!  And below that, the third bat down was used by the greatest Tiger of them all, one of the best hitters in history, Ty Cobb.

28094772180_aa59da16d5_z27760726114_f728545ee8_zAnd now Bri is hanging out on this big glove…

27760731774_c7d1cfc393_zNext we hit the cage!  Brian did his best Hammerin’ Hank impression.

28343911776_8c85d1c127_z28298567271_fb154117c7_zThen I tried to do a little laser show myself…

27761611293_864ea45ee2_zNext we checked out the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Oddball exhibit, which is here in Louisville temporarily.  It contains some cool stuff, but not everything in it pertains to baseball.  The photos are of Yankee Stadium made of toothpicks, and a real ‘double-header’, a two-headed calf.  I highly recommend this factory tour and museum for any baseball fan in the area.  It’s definitely worth going out of your way for, also, as it’s one of the best baseball places I’ve been to, second only maybe to the actual Hall of Fame.  The history of the company is so rich, especially all of the great players who have swung Louisville lumber.  I’m glad the museum and I could celebrate our birthdays together!

28094852760_59e6998634_z28343978766_d7ca6542e6_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

14 Forever

Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (National League)

27648843650_f9e7ac8140_zGreat American Ballpark-Cincinnati, OH:  What a day for fans of Pete Rose!  And what a weekend, for that matter.  We were lucky enough to be in attendance when the Reds retired Pete Rose’s #14 on Sunday.   It was a hot day, but worth to be in the presence of some of the greatest players in history, including Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Barry Larkin.  His induction into the Reds Hall of Fame, and his jersey retirement were a long time coming, so the crowd was pretty hot for Pete, also.  Rose gave a great speech, and was very humble, and thankful to his teammates, manager Sparky Anderson, and especially to the fans.  Here is the video I took of his speech:

Here are some more photos of the ceremony.  The Hit King looks calm and cool as always, even in the 95 degree heat!  I like the one where he’s about to give Bench a good bro-hug!

27648864620_a34646e2d5_z27314306163_6caf9bfb43_z27893142806_9bba8ce28f_z27648924610_4b1f9af768_zAfter the ceremony, the game got underway.  It was a good one for Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.  He pitched eight scoreless innings, while scattering only five hits, and struck out five.  DeSclafani even knocked in a run to help his own cause!  Closer Tony Cingrani came into the game to close the door, and ensure Cincinnati’s first shut-out of the season.

27893198096_6b056cf29a_z27893204786_ec417fc9ee_zAnother big winner of the day, was Mr. Redlegs during the mascot race:

27315351024_b0948ab816_z27850515111_e91053abdc_z27314425693_79a098a0ac_zThe Reds were led offensively by Jose Peraza, who went 2-4 with a run scored and a stolen base.  Catcher Tucker Barnhart pitched in as well, going 2-3 with a walk and an RBI double.  Jay Bruce also added a solo home run in the win.  FINAL:  Reds 3, Padres 0.

27315319804_2edb36757a_z27314437103_b78a034dbb_z27314433433_c7741676bc_zDespite the heat, it was a fun day at Great American Ballpark.  I’m glad I was there to witness Charlie Hustle’s  jersey retirement, and a rare Reds win.  I was only able to score tix for the upper level to this game, but made sure my buddy and I were in the first row, so I was able to get some decent photos.  On my way home, I went up and down the dial, but just couldn’t find WKRP on the radio…

27309276563_5dca361e79_zVideo and photos property of Minoring In Baseball

 

 

Seeing Reds

Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals (National League)

27487344795_e6719bf9d8_zGreat American Ballpark-Cincinnati, OH:  I have a new best friend, and it’s name is Seat Geek.  It’s nice to live in an area where you don’t have to make plans too far out, as there are many places to catch a ballgame, and some days you have choices.  When I woke up early Sunday morning, I checked out my app, and found fourth row tickets to the Cincinnati Reds game for only $9 each.  I know the Reds aren’t exactly having the best season, but this was still a good deal in my mind, since it’s a ballpark we’ve never been to before.  It was a day game, so God forgive me, we missed church, and drove just over an hour to Newport, KY.  Now, Newport is a nice little town right on the Ohio River right across from Cincy, and after lunch were able to take a boat shuttle across the river to the game.  It was pretty awesome, and only $5 a person.  It’s better than paying and dealing with a parking garage, anyway.

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A quick video:

The Great American Ballpark is a beautiful stadium, and it has a great baseball atmosphere.  We were able to poke around a bit before the game, as there is lots to see once inside. Brian liked the play area, and especially the little fan ball field that he was able to play on.

27388392432_77912139e9_zWe made it to our seats, and I was more than happy with our view! These are the kind of seats I’m used to at the Minor League venues. The boys were pretty much in ‘awe’, as this is the biggest stadium that they have ever been to.

26878323724_3ce932d8ba_z27452929326_0248537cfc_z26878327264_b35a96b0dd_zBrian has a new best friend, too, and his name is Eugenio Suarez.  When he was in the Detroit system, we saw him play as a member of the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps, and Brian just happened to be wearing a ‘Caps shirt.  Suarez noticed it (I’m guessing, really, don’t know for sure, but..) he looked at Brian and threw him a game ball.  Not bad, kid, a ball at your first MLB game!

26878325664_f50276c0fc_z26879694684_a7e6edd0fb_zBrian made another friend, too, as he noticed Mr. Redlegs up on he concourse, and of course, we had to run up there for a photo op with him!

Brian with Mr. Redlegs
Brian with Mr. Redlegs

Oh, yeah, and all this time, there was a ballgame going on, too.  The Reds actually jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the 2nd inning.  Pitcher Jon Moscot couldn’t hold the lead for his team, however, as the Nationals got all over him in the fourth inning scoring five, then the Nats scored five more over the next two innings.  Moscot got the hook, but Daniel Wright didn’t do much better, giving up three runs in 1.1 innings and he ended up taking the loss.

27454451086_306dbe48b4_z27212070570_a8c32d9bb3_z26881181203_fdd8ef4954_zThe Reds really made a comeback, however, scoring three runs in the seventh and one in the ninth to cut the lead to one. Tyler Holt lead the way offensively, going 3-5 with two RBI’s.  Jay Bruce chipping in, going 1-3 with two RBI’s and two runs scored, while Brandon Phillips added three hits and an RBI.   FINAL: Reds 9, Nationals 10.

27417120661_7466a21cb8_z27390074422_5c3673c06e_z26879839954_f24102900d_zI also have to give a shout out to Kyle Waldrop, who we saw play in Louisville last month:

27417167111_a0c706cded_zAlso, I didn’t forget to take another video of the game and ballpark. I can’t wait until our next game here!

Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball

 

 

 

Kelly & Maybin join Whitecaps HOF

This is a switch, we met Don Kelly while with the Tigers, instead of back when he was with the Whitecaps!
This is a switch, we met Don Kelly while with the Tigers, instead of back when he was with the Whitecaps!

Tonight the West Michigan Whitecaps will add two more players to it’s prestigious Hall of Fame, as alumni Don Kelly and Cameron Maybin return to Grand Rapids for the 22nd annual Whitecaps Community Foundation Winter Baseball Banquet. Maybin is returning to the Tigers organization after being traded to the Marlins in the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. He was a first-round pick of the Tigers in 2005, playing his first full pro season in West Michigan in 2006, hitting .304 with nine home runs, 69 RBI’s, and 27 stolen bases. Maybin also played in the 2006 MLB All-Star Futures Game, and help lead the ‘Caps to the 2006 Midwest League Championship while being named MWL Prospect of the Year.

Kelly played for the Whitecaps way back in 2002, and was an 8th round pick of Detroit in 2001. He went on to hit .286 with 59 RBI’s, and was also the starting shortstop in the Midwest League All-Star Game that season. Kelly is mostly known for being a super-utility player, and has seen action at every position on the field, including pitching an inning or two. Other ‘Caps alumni scheduled to be at tonight’s banquet are Wynton Bernard, Nick Castellanos, Jeff Ferrell, Montreal Robinson off of the Tigers’ Caravan. Other Tiger players, coaches, and personnel that will be there include Al Alvila, Alan Trammell, Matt Boyd, Tyler Collins, Michael Fulmer, Anthony Gose, Shane Greene, Blaine Hardy, Bryan Holaday, Jose Iglasias, Mark Lowe, Drew VerHagen, Alex Wilson, Wally Joyner, and Omar Vizquel. That’s a lot of baseball guys under one roof, and one day when I win the Powerball I’ll be able to get tickets for the kids and I too attend. The Whitecaps Community Foundation does a lot of good in the Grand Rapids area, though, so it’s nice to know the money is being well spent.

Photo property of Minoring In Baseball

Maybin returns to Tigers

23165167916_0238810b6a_zJust when I start complaining that the Tigers keep trading away some of my favorite prospects and Whitecaps alumni, they do something like this. And totally redeem themselves! Friday night Detroit acquired Cameron Maybin from the Atlanta Braves for relief pitcher Ion Krol and Gabe Speier. With the loss of Rajai Davis to free agency, Maybin fills that gap nicely as he can play for center and left field.  He had the best season of his Major League career in 2015, batting .267, with 10 home runs, 59 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. Maybin was originally dealt to the Florida/Miami Marlins in the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers in 2007, so there’s no way I can complain about how that deal turned out! Speier did pitch in 33 games for West Michigan this season, however, posting a 2.86 ERA while earning four wins, to two losses.  We wish the best to both he and Krol with the Braves organization.

A Whitecaps program that Maybin was nice enough to sign for us in 2006.
A Whitecaps program that Maybin was nice enough to sign for us in 2006.

Maybin played with the Whitecaps during the 2006 season, helping the team win the Midwest League Championship. He hit .304, with 20 doubles, with 69 RBI’s and 27 stolen bases on the season. I wasn’t running the blog back then, and didn’t think to take any pictures of the kids with him (and no camera on my phone, either…), but Maybin was nice enough to sign some items for us. He signed a baseball card each for Lily and Trevor (Brian wasn’t even BORN yet…), and a Whitecaps ball and program. He was really nice to the kids then, and we’ve continued to be fans and track his career. It’s good to have him home, back in Detroit, and I hope he can contribute and help the Tigers return to their winning ways.

23165167596_d66c608334_zPhotos property of Minoring In Baseball

Tigers draft Gibson

With their 160th pick, the Tigers drafted Cam Gibson out of Michigan State.
With their 160th pick, the Tigers drafted Cam Gibson out of Michigan State.

The Detroit Tigers have drafted Cam Gibson in the 5th round with their 160th pick. Not really ground breaking news, other than the fact that Cam is the son of Tiger legend Kirk Gibson. Like his father before him, Cam is currently attending Michigan State University. Of course it’s unknown at this point if Cam, who just finished his junior season, will return to MSU or join the Tigers organization. As a junior, he had a career-best 10 doubles and 17 stolen bases. He hit .294 while hitting five home runs and posting 32 RBI’s. We had a chance to see Cam play back in 2013 when he was a member of the Battle Creek Bombers.

Drafting family members of current and former Tiger players and management is nothing new. In fact, Detroit just drafted RHP Ryan Castellanos in the 25th round (760 overall), who is brother to third baseman Nick Castallanos. Over the seasons we’ve seen the likes of Pat Leyland, Colin Kaline, Nick Avila, and Ben Verlander in West Michigan, all relatives to others in the Detroit organization (and I’m probably missing a few). Out of their top picks, though, I think that outfielder Christian Stewart and pitcher Tyler Alexander have the best shot at cracking the Whitecaps roster right out of the draft.

Photo property of Minoring In Baseball

Michigan opening a Baseball Hall of Fame

MiHOFThis summer, the Great Lake State will be opening it’s very own Baseball Hall of Fame. The location will be at the Lansing Lugnuts’ Cooley Law School stadium, in left center field on the outfield wall. The idea came last year, when the Lugnuts started a $26.5 million renovation to their ballpark. Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson helped to conceive the idea, realizing there is no such place yet.

“We said, why don’t we do it,” Dickson told MLive.com. “Sometimes it’s amazing what you stumble upon with a little but of luck.”

The Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame will start with 10 members in its inaugural class. It will include plaques with images of the inductees, as well as the when and why they were inducted. The Hall will include players and coaches native to Michigan, as well as those who came to our state and ‘contributed significantly and positively within the national pastime.’ The Hall won’t be limited to just major league players, either, and could include a little league team, high school or college players, and coaches.

“We’re looking for people who have made an outstanding contribution to baseball in the state of Michigan across all levels”, stated Dickson.

There is a very impressive selection committee in place, looking to seek out the worthy candidates from our state.  Along with some of the great players from the Detroit Tigers, I would love to see pitcher Jim Abbott selected, as he was one of my favorite players growing up. Michigan also has a great history of amateur baseball, as the very first College World Series was played in Kalamazoo, and the Stan Musial World Series being played in Battle Creek. C.O. Brown and Arch Flannery would be good bets, also, as they were responsible for bringing the series to BC back in 1937.  I definitely can’t wait until June 27th, when the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame opens its doors.

Logo courtesy of Michigan Hall of Fame/MLive.com