Tennessee Smokies vs. Mississippi Braves (Southern League)
Smokies Stadium-Kodak, TN: This year Brian, Papa, and I decided to kick off the 2019 Minor League season in the Smoky Mountains for opening day. We were staying at the tourist trap this is Gatlinburg, so it wasn’t much of a drive up to the quaint little town of Kodak, Tennessee.
This was our first trip to Smokies Stadium, and it was definitely one I’m glad we were able to come to. The ballpark has some nice sightlines and scenery in the outfield. And, of course, Brian had to get a pic with the Smokies mascot, Homer!
As for the game, it was a back-and-forth thriller. Robel Garcia led the way for the Smokies on offence. He went 3-5 with 2 RBI’s. Jared Young also added an RBI, scored two runs, and went 2-5. On the mound, Wyatt Short earned the victory for Tennessee while Craig Brooks earned the save.
This was a great way to kick off our minor league season, It was a fun game to watch with great company and great weather. Would very much recommend a game here, and we’ll try to get in another game next time we’re in the area.
Jacksonville Suns vs. Jackson Generals (Southern League)
Bragan Field/Baseball Grounds-Jacksonville, FL: We had such a great time at Friday’s game, we just had hit at least one more! Sunday games are great, as they’re usually earlier in the day, so we didn’t have to be worried about being too tired for training the next morning. Again we got tickets that day, right behind the Suns dugout this time. I have no idea why tickets are so easy to get (not that I’m complaining), or why there wasn’t more fans in the stands for a Sunday game. We got to the this game on time, and by that I mean about an hour early. Lucky I was able to meet a couple of the Sunbeams coming through the gate, as they were pretty rare throughout the game.
Another plus about being at the ballpark early, as that we had a chance to explore some and get some good photos. I was able to get a couple panoramic from the concourse above our seats, and from the outfield.
Between innings, the SweetRight Brothers were on hand to entertain the kids. Since Brian wasn’t there, I really could have cared less, and would have preferred a performance from the Sunbeams. The kids in the crowd liked them, however, so I guess there are no complaints.
We started to get a little rain about the fourth inning, but not enough to stop the game, or stop us from enjoying ourselves. I really give the Jacksonville organization credit for just playing through a little rain. The grounds crew did come onto the field and put dry dirt on the mound and batters box, but that’s about it.
The game was another solid one for the home team. At the plate, the Suns had production from Austin Nola, who went two for three and drove in three of Jacksonville’s four RBI’s. Also going two for three on the day was Kenny Wilson and catcher Sharif Othman, who pushed across the Suns’ other run. On the hill, Kendry Flores earned the win, going five innings and allowing only one run. The Generals made a game of it late, but Sean Donatello earned the save. Final: Suns 4, Generals 2.
Another great day of baseball, and I really missed the games here in Jacksonville. This team was really a big part of me being down here ten years ago, and it was good to get back to the Baseball Grounds. I waned to get one more game fit in before flying home, but the rain spoiled that.
All photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
Jacksonville Suns vs. Jackson Generals (Southern League)
Bragan Field/Baseball Grounds-Jacksonville, FL: While in southern Georgia for some training for work, I took the opportunity to take in a ballgame or two in Jacksonville. This was my first Suns game since I was in the area for training in 2005. The ballpark hasn’t changed in a decade, as the Baseball Grounds are still a fantastic venue to watch a game.
We missed the first half-inning, due to our facility being about an hour north and having to get a car rented. I was surprised that there weren’t more fans at the game, and that we were able to get such good seats right behind the Jackson dugout. We didn’t miss too much of the action, however, as the Suns plated a run in the second inning, and never looked back.
I used the rain delay to get a selfie with the Suns mascot, Southpaw, too! This definitely made Brian jealous back in Michigan, but I bought him a Southpaw souvenir, and we’re good. I really give the Jacksonville organization and the grounds crew credit, as the field was ready to go in under an hour.
After the delay, the Suns kept playing well in victory. On the bump, Jake Esch earned the win with 5 1/3 innings of work. He only allowed three hits and struck out six, in a start they was cut off by the rain. The Suns bullpen pitched in after the rain, also with Blake Logan, Matt Tomshaw, and Sean Donatello helping secure the shutout. Offensively, Jax was led by Matt Juengel who went three for four with two RBI’s, and Austin Nola who went one for three with a home run and two RBI’s. Also pitching in: Kenny Wilson and Carlos Lopez, who each went two for four with an RBI respectively. Final: Suns 7, Generals 0.
And some video of the Sunbeams and the game:
All Photos and Video property of Minoring In Baseball
The 2013 baseball season is starting to look a little brighter for us Whitecaps fans, as Larry Parrish was officially assigned to manage the team yesterday. It seems his managing career is coming full circle, though, after managing in the bigs and at the Triple-A level, he’s back in Class A baseball where he started. Parrish’s last job was the hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves, but took off the 2012 season after he was let go in 2011. Lucky he was still available when the Tigers organization called with the West Michigan job offer.
“The Tigers called to give me an opportunity and, for me, I really enjoy the minor leagues and the teaching aspect of it,” Parrish stated in a press release. “I talked to a couple of other clubs, but I’m comfortable with the Tigers. I was with the organization for a long time and was treated well, so it was a feeling coming back to work with your family.”
Parrish started his career with the Tigers organization back in 1992, taking the helm of the Class-A SS Niagara Falls Rapids, leading the team to a NY-Penn League championship. He worked as a roving minor league hitting instructor for three seasons before being assigned to the Double-A Jacksonville Suns in 1996. He also took the Suns to a Southern League championship. A year later, he was in the bigs, as the bench coach in Detroit. He took over the reigns as manager half-way though the 1998 season after Buddy Bell was relieved of duty. He had the privilege of managing the Tigers in their last year in historic Tigers Stadium in 1999, also. He also worked as a scout for the Tigers until he took over as manager of their Triple-A affiliate Toledo Mud Hens in 2003. He was named Minor League Manager of the Year in 2005 by the Sporting News after leading the Hens to the International League championship, a feat he repeated in 2006. Parrish named that Governor’s Cup championship is his favorite coaching achievement, also.
“I would think winning the championship in Toledo after they hadn’t won it in like 40 years. That was neat for the people there and to be a part of it. It’s always nice to win, ” he stated, but also recognizes the differences between the Triple-A and Class-A levels. “There you have guys who’ve either played in the big leagues a little bit or have gone though the system. At the A-ball level, you have to have more patience. They’re going to have some great games and they’re going to have games where you go ‘Oh, Lord’. But that’s part of it. But, to me, being able to coach and hopefully teach will have an impact. Experience-wise, having played and coached in the big leagues, I know what it takes to have to play at that level. That’s the whole idea.”
Parrish has visited the Grand Rapids area in the past after surgery in 2007 and was doing some roving instruction. He was very impressed with the stadium and fan support of the Whitecaps. The Tigers director of minor league operations is very pleased with their selection, also. As far as the rest of the Whitecaps staff goes, hitting coach Scott Dwyer will return next season, while pitching coach Mark Johnson will be assigned to Class-A SS Connecticut. As a player, Parrish was a two-time Major League All-Star in 1979 and ’87. He had a career batting average of .263 with 256 homers and 992 RBI’s. He played in Montreal, Texas, and Boston, before ending his pro career with two seasons in Japan.
I know the Tigers are in the playoffs, which is very exciting, but having a guy with this kind of resume’ taking over has me excited for next season. Hopefully this will not only mean possibly more championships in West Michigan, but better prepared players working their way up to Detroit.
Top photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
Bottom photos courtesy of the Associated Press
Heading to Mobile, Alabama to watch the Central Michigan Chippewas take on Troy in the GMAC Bowl, did not really quench my thirst for some baseball. While down there we stopped by Hank Aaron Stadium, home to the Mobile BayBears of the AA Southern League, to check things out.
Southern hospitality had to have started here, as we were invited right into the offices of the BayBears. The gentelman working was nice enough to open the gift shop for us, and the stadium, so we could get some pictures. We also got to see Hank Aaron’s childhood home, which is being reconstructed at the ballpark. Unfortunately, the museum doesn’t open until April, but we could still see the progress from the outside.
My only regret about this trip was not being able to see a game played here. It is a very unique stadium, with the luxury boxes actually at the ground level. This opens things up for the regular seats to have some very good sitelines of the field. I’ve heard some complaints on other sites about this, but really how boring would things be if all ballparks were built the same. Hank Aaron Stadium is truelly an original spectical.
The museum opens on April 14, with Hank himself being in attendance. We were also told that the likes of Ozzie Smith, Bob Feller, and Bud Selig (yeah) will be there. I, unfortunately, will not probably be able to attend, but I would recommend it to anyone in that area.
For you fooball fans, CMU beat Troy 44-41 in double OT in one of the best games I’ve witnessed.
Photos property of MIB
Affiliation: Los Angeles Dodgers
League: Southern League (AA)
Home Field: AT & T Field
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Notable Alumni: Harmon Killebrew, Burliegh Grimes, Ferguson Jenkins, Trevor Hoffman, Adam Dunn, Pete Rose Jr.
Fun Facts: This franchise has been around since 1885 (that’s 124 seasons of Lookout baseball). The team played an exhibition game against the Yankees in 1931. At one point during the game, 17 year-old female pitcher Jackie Mitchell struck out Lou Gerhig and Babe Ruth. Just days after the game, MLB commisioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis voided Mitchell’s contract, stating the baseball was too strenuous for females. Mascot name is Looie. In 2009 the Lookouts won the Larry MacPhail trophy for best promotions by a Minor League Team.
The Minor League Baseball season has come to an end (sigh). Here are the list of champions from their respective leagues. Any I missed I’ll try to get updated when I can. Looked like some exciting playoffs all around. I hope some other fans got to witness any of these games.
Durham Bulls(TB) defeated Scranton/WB Yankees(NYY)
Pacific Coast League
Memphis Red Birds(STL) defeated Sacramento River Cats(OAK)
Triple A National Championship
Durham Bulls defeated Memphis Red Birds in 11 innings
Jacksonville Suns(FLA) defeated Tennessee Smokies(CHC)
Akron Aeros defeated Connecticut Defenders(SF)
Midland RockHounds(OAK) defeated NW Arkansas Naturals(KC)
Fort Wayne TinCaps(SD) defeated Burlington Bees(KC)
South Atlantic League
Lakewood Blue Claws(PHI) defeated Greenville Drive(BOS)
Florida State League
Tampa Yankees(NYY) defeated Charlotte Stone Crabs(TB)
New York/Penn League
Sctanton Island Yankees(NYY) defeated Mahoning Valley Scrappers(CLE)
Salem Keizer Volcanoes defeated Tri-City Dust Devils(COL)
Orem Owlz(LAA) defeated Missoula Osprey(PHO)
The Minor League playoffs have started, and it’s an exciting time. Bare with me as I’ll try to keep updated on all of the leagues and how the series are coming along. I’ll be adding new leagues and updating things as fast as I can.
If I missed your favorite league or team, let me know and I’ll get it posted.
Gwinnett Braves(ATL) vs. Scranton/WB Yankees(NYY) Yanks advance
Durham Bulls(TB) vs. Louisville Bats(CIN) Bulls advance
Pacific Coast League
Albuquerque Isotopes(LAD) vs. Memphis Red Birds(STL) Red Birds advance Sacramento River Cats(OAK) vs. Tacoma Rainiers(SEA) Cats advance
Birmingham Barons(CHW) vs. Jacksonville Suns(FLA) Suns advance
Huntsville Stars(MIL) vs. Tennessee Smokies(CHC) Smokies advance
Akron Aeros vs. Reading Phillies(PHI) Aeros advance
New Britain Rock Cats(MIN) vs. Connecticut Defenders(SF) Defenders advance
NW Arkansas Naturals(KC) vs. Springfield Cardinals(STL) Nats advance
Midland Rockhounds(OAK) vs. San Antonio Mission(SD) Rockhounds advance
West Michigan Whitecaps(DET) vs. Great Lakes Loons(LAD) Loons advance
Fort Wayne TinCaps(SD) vs. South Bend Silver Hawks(ARZ) TinCaps advance
Cedar Rapids Kernels(LAA) vs. Peoria Chiefs(CHC) Kernels advance
Kane County Cougars(OAK) vs. Burlington Bees(KC) Bees advance
South Atlantic League
Greenville Drive(BOS) vs. Asheville Tourists(COL) Drive advance
Lakewood Blue Claws(PHI) vs. Kannapolis Intimidators(CHW) Claws advance
Florida State League
Charlotte Stone Crabs(TB) vs. Fort Meyer Miracle(MIN) Crabs advance
Tampa Yankees(NYY) vs. Brevard Co. Manatees(MIL) Yanks advance
New York-Penn League
Lowell Spinners(BOS) vs. Stanten Island Yankees(NYY) Yankees advance Brooklyn Cyclones(NYM) vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers(CLE) Scraps advance
Salem Keizer Volcanoes vs. Tri-City Dust Devils(COL) Volcanoes win Championship 3-1