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
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
Louisville 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.
We 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.
After 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’.
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.
Next 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!
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (National League)
Great 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!
After 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.
The 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.
Despite 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…
Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals (National League)
Great 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.
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.
We 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.
Brian 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!
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.
The 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.
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
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
Just 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.
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.
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
This 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