Walsh Park-LaGrange, KY: Brian’s back with another season of Little League baseball, and he’s back with the Mariners this season (completely different team and coach, but he had success last time, so he’s happy). The season started in April, but like most of the country our April was full of rain, snow, high winds, and all around crappy weather, causing many games to be postponed. The boys are just now starting to play catch up on the first part of the season, sometimes seeing three games a week. The Mariners are 4-4 as of this posting, so they’re playing respectable ball and keeping in the hunt. A couple of games got away from them and I think they’re better than there record so we’ll see how the next half of the season turns out. Brian is doing well at the plate. He’s had four hits in his last three games, and has some RBI’s and runs scored thrown in there.
In the field he’s done well, but still frustrated at being stuck in the outfield most of the time. The coach has talked with him and tried to keep him positive, but the season is warring on him already. Hopefully he’ll get to see some action at first base sooner than later, as that’s where he likes to play and can catch the ball pretty well. He’s got good coaches this season and they are very patient with Brian’s colorful roller coaster of emotions. Keeping him positive is the key, and when he does well and has confidence he’s very productive and has fun. If he can learn more about the game and let himself have a good time, that’s what it’s all about!
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
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
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: I honestly don’t know where to start! First off, I guess we can congratulate the Mariners on winning the North Oldham Little League Rookie Division championship! It was not an easy road, and there were many good teams in this league. The Mariners finished third in their division and received a first round bye. They faced the Indians in the quarter-finals, and won by the score of 4-2, with Brian getting the game-winning RBI. In the semi-finals, they went against the Royals, a team they haven’t beat all year. The Mariners won a tough battle, however, winning 6-4 on a hot 90 degree day at noon, to head to the championship. The Mariners were down 5-0 in the first, then battled back for the win. Their opponent in the final game was the Padres, the team that won the division in the regular season. This time it was the Mariners who jumped out to a lead, 3-0 in the first, then added a pair in the middle innings. The Padres stormed back in the fifth, scoring four runs, but the M’s held them off in the sixth for a 5-4 championship victory! Here are a couple of shots of Brian in the final:
The championship aside, though, I still believe this team was the best fit for Brian. The coaches never preached winning, but focused on having the kids be positive, work hard, and have fun playing the game of baseball. From there, the winning just sort of took care of itself. I really think Brian learned more about being part of a team and earning something you’ve worked hard for, as much as he did about the game of baseball. Their coach told the boys to enjoy this, as it may be the only championship they ever win, and he could be right about that. My last year in Little League was the one and only time I’ve seen glory in all my years of playing. I’m glad he’s tasted victory, but if he keeps on playing and loving this game, it’s sure to break his heart at some point. But that’s something I’ll start preparing for next year. This big win sparked him to want to play Fall Ball and to keep working hard at the sport, so that gives us something to look forward to in a couple of months.
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Walsh Park-La Grange, KY: Brian has had no problem fitting into our new environment here in Kentucky. In fact, he suited up for the Mariners and played his first game within the first few days. I was honestly hesitant on whether to sign him up or not, knowing he wouldn’t have any practices, and playing in a more competitive league than he’s used to. Brian put all my concerns to rest after his first game, however. He went 1-2 at the plate, and played well. More than anything, his smile after the game, and the simple statement “I had fun” was all I needed to hear. Yeah, he may be a step behind some of the other players, but at the same time he is contributing to his team, and is a step ahead of others.
I also have to say that I’m very impressed with the North Oldham Little League organization, and the coaches involved. The kids play in a beautiful facility at Walsh Park as well. The coaches don’t baby the kids, but treat them like young men, and at the same time stressing for them to relax and have fun. I honestly think that he’s made more friends on the field than he has at his new school, also. Overall, this has been a great move for us, especially from a baseball perspective. They’ve had a couple of rainouts, but look to be making some games up this weekend and early in the week. I’ll post more updates as his season progresses.