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!
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 Cardinals vs North Carolina State Wolfpack (NCAA/ACC)
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: Well, I thought it would be a little bit warmer here in Kentucky, but last weekend was a little bit cool. With cold, nasty, rainy weather blasting the Midwest lately, I guess I can’t complain too much, as I’m sure we have it better than others. While the temp was a little on the cold side, the Louisville Cardinals baseball team stayed hot. Hosting ACC rival North Carolina State, we were able to get downtown and see the middle game of the series. I brought the boys with, and as usual Brian decided to head to the playground.
So, we’re back in the outfield, and that’s where we watched most of the game from. The first half of the game was definitely a pitchers’ duel. On the bump for the Cards, Drew Harrington picked up the win to improve his record to 10-1. He pitched seven innings allowing two runs, walking one, and striking out seven. Zack Burdi can in to pitch the ninth and earn the save, striking out all three batters!
Louisville was led offensively by Brendan McKay, going 2-4 with an RBI. Drew Ellis went 2-2 with a run scored and a RBI. All the Cards runs were scored in the fifth inning. Final: Cardinals 4, Wolfpack 2.
U of L is currently on a 19 game home winning streak, counting there win over Indiana last night. They ended up sweeping 10th ranked NC State, winning 2-0 on Friday, and 6-1 on Sunday. They don’t have any more regular season home games scheduled, but I’m hoping they’ll host a NCAA Regional after the ACC tournament is over. I didn’t make a video during the game, but Trevor and I did make it on TV! I re-watched the game after we got home, and found us in the upper left hand corner:
Louisville Cardinals vs Cincinnati Bearcats (NCAA)
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: Brian had to make his first appearance at a Cardinals game sooner or later, so we just decided sooner. Louisville hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats in a non-conference game, and this was a good chance to see our top-10 team in action. Brian loved the façade of the ballpark, with the arc and the big bats (we haven’t made it to the Slugger museum yet). We found seats for a little while, but migrated to the outfield so he could play on the playground.
It was a decent vantage point to watch the game, and the Cardinals were playing solid ball against the Bearcats. The home team had their Louisville Slugger warmed up for the game, scoring seven run. The Cards were led by Will Smith, who went 2-4 with a home run. Colby Finch pitched in going 2-2 with two runs scored, while Blake Tiberi went 2-4 with 2 RBI.
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
Louisville Cardinals vs Princeton Tigers (NCAA)
Jim Patterson Stadium-Louisville, KY: While down in Louisville doing some business, we had time to take in our first Cardinals baseball game. The weather didn’t feel a whole lot different than Michigan, in the high 30’s and cool, but I’m definitely not going to complain if I’m able to watch baseball in March. Jim Patterson Stadium is a great college facility, and I honestly can’t believe that the games are free here. We settled in behind the Louisville dugout, and watched about half of the game from there. The netting extends to the end of the dugout, so it was hard to get any great pics from this vantage point. We moved to the other side of the stadium, and I was able to get a few from that angle. I’m not a huge fan of too much netting, but that’s another story altogether. Despite the cold (which I’m used to) it was a fun game to watch and a good distraction from everything else that’s going on in my life right now.
On to the game itself, I was happy to see that Kyle Funkhouser was on the bump for the Cards. He ended up with the win, and tied his career-high with 12 strikeouts on the afternoon. He allowed two runs on four hits, and only walked one batter. Funkhouser also retired the last 11 batters that he faced. In relief, Lincoln Henzman came into the game and pitched two shutouts innings to earn the save. Louisville was led offensively by sophomore third-baseman Blake Tiberi, who was 2-4 with an RBI. Sophomore DH Brendan McKay pitched in with a double and a pair of RBI’s himself, while junior second-baseman Nick Solak had a single, RBI, and two walks. It was a fun afternoon, and good to get our first game in. I’m sure there will be plenty more that we’ll attend with the quality of baseball and free admission. I’m hoping to make at least one game in Michigan before we get down here and settled, but the next couple of months will be crazy for us, for sure. Final score: Louisville 4, Princeton 2.
Wake Forest Demon Deacans vs. Miami Hurricanes (Atlantic Coast Conference/NCAA)
Gene Hooks Field-Winston-Salem, NC: We were blessed with another beautiful day, as we headed north from Charlotte up to Winston-Salem for some college baseball. You might be wondering how a kid growing up in northern Michigan can become a fan of the Miami Hurricanes. Then again, you might not be. Anyway, I became a fan of the ‘U’ in the 80’s, while watching their sports teams win with attitude and swagger. You can understand my excitement, then, when I realized that the Wake Forest Demon Deacons would be hosting the ‘Canes during the very weekend we would be down there. The game took place at Gene Hooks Field, which is located just off campus next to the football field. It’s formerly Ernie Shore Field, that at one time hosted the Winston-Salem Warthogs of the Carolina League. With the Deacons taking over after the Warthogs became the Dash, and moved to their new stadium, Wake Forest inherited a nice venue for college baseball. I spent most of the game chatting with a fellow Michigander, who now coached football and baseball in the area. It was also senior day for the Deacons, with a pre-game ceremony celebrating their last home game. The rubber match of the series went to the home team, with the ‘Canes giving up six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning that broke a 3-3 tie. Despite the loss, the future looks bright for Miami as freshman David Thompson and sophomore Garrett Kennedy both hit home runs in the loss. It was still a lot of fun for me, and I really wish we could have squeezed more college games into our trip. Final score: Wake Forest 9, Miami 3.