University of Kentucky/Nutter Field House-Lexington, KY: What a weekend this was, the first annual Father/Son Baseball Camp hosted by the Kentucky Wildcats baseball program. After a small nap Saturday morning, Brian and I made the trek to Lexington. Upon arriving on campus and heading into the Nutter Field House, we were greeted by Wilcats’ head coach Nick Mingione. He introduced himself, and let us know where to go to get checked in. After getting all checked in and playing some catch, coach gave us all a quick run down on the weekend activities before we separated into our groups and got to work.
We started out with some fielding, which went well, then onto throwing. Brian has always had a bit of trouble with some throwing mechanics, but some of these drills really seemed to help him out. It’s fun to see the smile on his face when he does well. Same thing with the hitting drills, as Coach Fanning gave him some pointers and he was hitting off the tee really well. It was nice to get the camp off to a good start.
After the first set of drills were completed, we broke for some pizza and rest. Pizza is always a hit with the kids. When our bellies were full, the fathers and sons were separated into groups. The coaches talked to us about the family atmosphere of the Kentucky baseball program, as well as the joys and struggles of raising baseball players. The kids were taken by the players and they wrote us ‘thank you’ letters that I look forward to receiving in the mail. After a few more drills, we walked over to check out the Wildcats clubhouse. As you can imagine it was a very nice facility.
When the tour was completed, we spread out our sleeping bags on the turf and tried to get some sleep. Tried being the key word. I was really tired and drifted off, but since Brian couldn’t sleep at first, he wasn’t about to let me get any shut-eye, either. We did finally get a little sleep, and woke up to a breakfast of sausage biscuits and donuts, which wasn’t all that bad. The team provided us with a church service right there in the field house, also, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that just about all of the families attended.
Our group started the morning with a Fathers vs. Sons ballgame. This was a lot of fun, and it felt good to hit and play the field like I was a kid again, also. Brian hit the ball well and made some good plays, so he was happy. No one was keeping score, but I’m sure the Fathers plated a few more runs, at least that’s the story I’m sticking to… After some wall-ball and base running, we ended the day at the batting cages. Brian hit the ball well, and it was good to end the camp on a positive note.
I’m very grateful to the University of Kentucky, and feel blessed that I could experience this weekend with Brian. He did have fun, and I hope he looks back on this experience one day as a positive one. Camps like this just reinforce that our move to Kentucky was a good one. Also looking forward to seeing at game here this spring, as Coach Mingione seems to have something really special going on with this program.
Promotion courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats
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!
It seems as fall is in the air, and summer is just about done. It’s an exciting time at the Major League level, but in the Minors, the seasons are winding down. For the kids, school starts on Tuesday, so we decided to head downstate and get in a couple of days of fun before it all comes to an end….
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Windy City Thunderbolts: For the second year in a row, we end our baseball season with the Bums. My parents have season tix, so we just met them at the game, and there’s no place the they’d rather be with the grandkids than a baseball game. With their birthdays about ten days apart, we had them annouced over the PA system, which made the kids feel like celebrities. The Beach Bums are making a surge for their fist ever playoff appearance, so lots of good atmosphere for the game. The kids got to meet some of the players after the game, too, which is always a thrill. Final: TC 8, WC 4.
Adventure Island: Summer wouldn’t be summer without hitting the water park. The kids enjoyed the bumper boats, but they told us it was too cold to open the water slide. Hey, were from the U.P….nothing is too cold for us. You’ll also enjoy a pic of ol’ #94 here putting on a hitting display in the batting cages. I’m contimplating making a training video…we’ll see. The park here also has go-carts and adventure golf, both a summer must.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Hampton Pirates: I know this is a baseball blog, but I’ll throw just a little college football in here, too. Going down to watch football still didn’t stop us from visiting the baseball field there just to say hi. Hard to believe it will be seven months before baseball is played there again. The football game was fun (not as much as baseball, but at least they have cheerleaders), and we were able to dodge the rain thankfully. All in all, a good end to our summer fun. Now it’s time to track the MiLB playoffs and plan next season’s baseball trip. Final: CMU 33, Hampton 0.
Photos property of M.I.B.