Florence Freedom vs. Traverse City Beach Bums (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: Second double-header in as many days due to a rain-out the night before. Again, because I’m so far behind, I’ll be combining both games into one post. We settled in to see the Freedom take on one of my old teams from Michigan, the Beach Bums. My dad was pulling for TC all the way, but I was torn a bit (or more accurately, didn’t really care much as long as I was watching a good game). The stadium in Florence is nice, and usually has a pretty baseball savvy crowd, with Cincy just across the river. It was another game without much of a crowd, however, mainly due to the possibility of rain.
The first game was a close one, and one my dad was happy with the outcome of. Leading Florence offensively was Daniel Fraga, who went 2/4 with two runs scored. Jose Brizuela drove in four of the Freedom’s five runs, and also went 2/4. On the mound, Tony Vocca took the loss, pitching 5.1 innings of the shortened game. He gave up all six runs on ten hits, while striking out five. FINAL (7) game 1: Freedom 5, Beach Bums 6.
In the second game, the home team was able to even the score. On the bump for the Freedom Cody Gray pitched all seven innings, only allowing three hits and striking out seven. He was helped on the offensive side by Andre Mercurio, who went 3/3 with an RBI. Jordan Brower pitched in going 1/2, also. FINAL (7) game 2: Freedom 4, Beach Bums 1.
It was a fun night of baseball, and really the seven inning games move along pretty quickly. We enjoyed the ballpark and I still would like to get the kids up here for a family Sunday game. The next posts will be starting the games at the ACC Tournament, and I’ll also use some space to plug my social media, as you can follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @minorbaseball. You can see real time photos instead of having to wait for me to finally get all of these posts up!
Photos and video property of Minoring In Baseball
East vs. West (Frontier League)
UC Health Stadium-Florence, KY: This week was the annual All-Star Game for the Frontier League, nicely dubbed Y’All-Star Game this season due to it being held down here in Kentucky. This was our first game in Florence, and in my opinion, they have a nice little stadium.
When we entered, we were met with a barrage of mascots! We got to meet Big L from the Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League), Wild Thing from Washington (Frontier League), and, of course the lovely Rosie Red from Cincinnati!
We had great seats in the front row, and I’m glad we didn’t sit behind the dugouts. It’s my pet-peeve, and really the only negative about this ballpark is that the netting wraps all around the ends of each dugout, which doesn’t give a great view of the game.
It started out as a pretty hot day, but as the game started we got a little cloud cover and a breeze that made it a perfect night for baseball. I tried to get some better photos while we still had sun-light, though.
And this is Y’All Star, the Florence Freedom mascot for this season. I think their mascot is usually an eagle, but he wasn’t present at this game. Maybe they’ll bring him back next season. Y’All Star is based on the famous water tower by the Florence Mall:
In the game that was going on, the East was actually winning 3-1 for most of the game, until the West hit their stride in the seventh inning. Here’s a quick video I did before the wheels fell off for the East.
But before I get to that, lets insert a selfie of Trevor and I. Like I said, we had really good seats:
The West added on a couple of more runs, and the East just couldn’t get back into it. Sorry I don’t have more names and stats for the game listed, but if you’re interested you can read the full review from the Frontier League’s website HERE. Below, the West celebrates their Y’All Star Game victory! FINAL: West 11, East 4.
This was simply a fun night, and I really enjoyed the show the Frontier League put on. They really didn’t have anything exciting going on before the game, but they did make it into a three-day event. I could only get this night off work, so we missed out on the softball game vs. the Chicago Bandits and the home run derby the nights before. We’re definitely planning another trip to Florence for a game. I’ll leave you with a video of part of the fireworks show that I shot on our way to the car:
Videos and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Joliet Slammers (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: While back visiting family in Michigan, we decided to take in a Beach Bums game, the defending Frontier League champions. It seemed like we brought some of the southern heat with us, as the temps were pushing the upper 80’s, but the nice cool breeze off of Lake Michigan turned it into a perfect night for baseball. Brian remembered that the Slammers gave him a baseball last year, so he was actually rooting for the visitors.
The way the game started out, I thought it would be a high scoring affair, but then the pitchers settled in, and the game moved by pretty fast. At one point, 10 Beach Bum players were retired in a row. Lucky for TC, Jacob Lanning was on the mound, as he pitched a complete nine inning game for the win. He gave up only one run in the first inning, on seven hits, and he struck out two.
Anyway, the Beach Bums scored one run in the first inning on a Will Kengor RBI double that scored Jose Vargas. Then in the fifth inning, Jeff DeBlieux hit a double of his own, this time scoring two to put TC in the lead for good. It was good to be back in Michigan, if only for a few days, and I’m sure this isn’t the end of us enjoying some games up here. We look forward to our next game in Kentucky, though! FINAL: Beach Bums 3, Slammers 1.
West Michigan Whitecaps-2015 Midwest League Champions
Monday night the Whitecaps held on to beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 3-2 in a decisive game five to win the Midwest League crown. This is the teams first championship since 2007, but manager Andrew Graham won the title as a catcher for West Michigan back in 2004. The ‘Caps split the first two games at home, getting shut out 5-0 in game one, and coming back with a 4-1 win in game two (the one that we were at). They dropped a heart-breaker in game three, when the Kernels earned a 3-2 walk-off win in the ninth inning. Never giving up, the Whitecaps held on to win game four 2-1 and game five 3-2, on the back of relief pitcher Joe Jimenez.
In the final game, Ross Seaton earned the win on the mound, holding the Kernels to only two runs. The Whitecaps scored their runs on RBI’s by Francisco Contreras and David Gonzalez, while the third run was scored by Contreras on a wild pitch. Jimenez struck out the side on the ninth inning to secure the victory, and championship! As memorable as this season has been, we were lucky to get down to a handful of games to see the Whitecaps play. With Larry Parrish retiring in Toledo, I fully expect Andrew Graham to be promoted, unless the Tigers’ organization brings in someone to take over just at the Triple-A level. I think he’s done a great job with this team the last two seasons, and wouldn’t mind him sticking around. Congrats again, to the Whitecaps! You can read more on their championship win on the Midwest League website HERE.
Traverse City Beach Bums-2015 Frontier League Champions
The Beach Bums defeated the River City Rascals by the score of 4-1 last Friday night to win the Frontier Cup. The Bums swept the Rascals 3-0 in the best of five series, and were 6-0 in the postseason. In the ten year history of the ball club in Traverse City, this was the second time making to the finals, being defeated by River City back in 2012. The Bums literally went from worst to first this season, winning a club record 56 games as they advanced to the palyoffs for the fourth time since 2010. Injuries plaqued last seasons team, including Frontier Cup MVP Jose Vargas. Vargas was also the hero of game two, with a walk-off base hit to give his team a 6-5 win, and complete the comeback when they were down 5-1. Manager Dan Rohn, a Central Michigan alumni, did a great job with the team this season, and I think the Beach Bums are lucky to have a veteran coach at this level. Congrats to the Beach Bums, and were at least able to make it to a couple of games this season, including the last weekend of the regular season that started their nine-game winning streak. You can read more on the Bums title win on the Frontier League website HERE and at the Record Eagle website HERE.
Photos courtesy of the Whitecaps and Record Eagle
Traverse City Beach Bums vs Frontier Greys (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park- Traverse City, MI: On our way back north, we decided to pass through Traverse City to catch a Beach Bums game. It had been raining most of the day, so we got to the ballpark about 15 before the game when we made our decision to go. I guess all the other Bums fans had the same idea, as there was a huge line for tickets. In fact, they finally decided to open a second ticket window about 20 minutes after the game started. In all, we waited almost an hour and missed three innings of the game before we finally set down on the outfield lawn.
I strayed a little to get a few photos, but was called back when some a-hole kid threw sand in Brian’s eyes. I don’t know why the Bums insist on having sand in the playground. Something like shredded tire would be so much safer and cleaner. I understand the beach theme, but don’t think it’s as important as safety. Brian was fine, though, as Trevor took care of him. Life is a little easier with a big brother watching your back.
With missing a few innings and the playground drama, it hard to get invested in the game. This was a pretty good game, as TC took an early lead (that we missed), and the Greys stormed back to take a 3-2 lead.
The Bums would complete the comeback win with a walk-off in the tenth innin with Reggie Dawson’s bunt scored Jay Austin. Lawson had two hits on the night, Austin two RBI’s. On the mound Rob Blanc earned his first win as a Bum, while Bret Dahlson earned the save. Not the best night, but at least it ended on a good note. Still blessed to be at a ballgame with my kids. With the Bums, Whitecaps, and Lugnuts all in the playoffs, we hope to make it to one more game. Here’s a video, too:
College Football-CMU vs OSU
Also over Labor Day weekend we caught some football, as the Central Michigan Chippewas hosted the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Mt. Pleasant. The Chips fell 22-13, but we had a fun night and at least it didn’t rain during the game like it did all day.
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Joliet Slammers (Frontier League)
Wuerfel Park-Traverse City, MI: The summer of rain continues, but we didn’t let it ruin our baseball fun over the weekend. Although it rained most of the weekend, the weather cleared up enough to take in our first Beach Bums game of the season. Our experience started off on a good note, as Brian got a game ball from the Joliet Slammers before the game even started. I guess it’s good to make the right friends, as he was chatting with the guys in the bullpen.
The game was a good one for the home team. The Bums scored three runs in the second inning, and never looked back on their way to victory. Offensively they were led by Jay Austin, who had four hits and was just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Jeff DeBlieux pitching in with a triple and 2 RBI’s, while Jake Rhodes and Greg Harisis each had hits. In the fifth inning, Graham Ramos hit and RBI single, and then scored on a double by Yazy Arbelo. On the bump, pitcher Kramer Champlin threw seven strong innings for the win, allowing four hits and no runs. Final score: Beach Bums 5, Slammers 1.
After he ran the bases, he met up with a couple of the Slammers players to thank them again for the baseball. He was going to stand in line for the Beach Bum autographs, but he was tired and we still had a long drive ahead of us. This was a fun game, and the impending rain kept it a very small crowd. We were lucky that the rain held off for us, and I’m hoping to get back to TC soon. It’s a good ballpark to visit since one our way down state one way or another.
Photos and videos property of Minoring In Baseball
Traverse City Beach Bums vs. Normal CornBelters (Frontier League)
Weurfel Park-Traverse City, MI: It was time for the kids and I to make a trip to Traverse City for some fun and baseball. We hit the Beach Bums game early, so the boys were able to search the outfield and found four baseballs from batting practice!
We still have some time before the game, so we were able to watch some warm-ups and the boys got to visit with their Nana. She doesn’t make it to too many games anymore, so it was a special day to have her there.
The game itself was a good one for the home team Beach Bums. They got off to a good start, as Sean Gusrang hit a two-run homer to put the Bums up 2-0 in the first. The rally was continued by Yazy Arbelo, who doubled, and was hit home by a Jovan Rosa two-bagger. On the mound for TC, Alex Phillips earned the win, striking out three and only giving up six scattered hits. Final: Beach Bums 4, CornBelters 0.
After the game, Brian didn’t feel like running the bases, but the boys lined up for autographs from the team. The Beach Bums give the kids a free team poster to get signed.
While in Traverse City, we also had time to visit one of our favorite summer hang outs, Pirates Cove. The kids and I took part in some go-cart races, bumper boats, and the water coaster. Sometimes I think we just have too much fun together, but feel lucky and blessed to have this time with my kids and family!
Langbehn to Cleveland: Manager Gregg Langbehn has left the Beach Bums organization to take a job with the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball. He will be in charge of the new instant replay system in Cleveland, and report to the Indians’ bench on what calls should be challenged. He’s worked in organized baseball with the Houston Astros, but not at the major league level.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and challenge to be in the big leagues and one that I couldn’t pass up,” Langbehn stated on the Beach Bums website. “I’m really excited about it.”
Langbehn is the most successful manager in Beach Bums history, compiling a record of 267-212 in his five-year run with the club. He led the Bums to three playoff appearances including the Frontier League championship series in 2010. His 2012 season was one for the record books, as the Bums’ 64 wins was the third most in league history, and the best record for the organization. He was named the 2012 Frontier League Manager of the Year, and managed the 2012 and 2013 East All-Star teams.
Team president and CEO Jason Wuerfel also stated on the Bums website: “I’m excited. Any time a player or one of our coaches moves on it’s a real compliment to our organization and the area. We sincerely thank Gregg for the job he’s done over the last five years and we part ways as friends.”
Rohn promoted: With Langbehn leaving for Cleveland, this opened the door for bench coach Dan Rohn to take the helm of the Beach Bums. He started with TC in 2011 as a special assistant, then was promoted to bench coach in 2013. He is a native of Alpena, Michigan, and played ball down at Central Michigan University for the Chippewas. Rohn played in the pros for 13 seasons, including three in the majors. He began his minor league coaching career back in 1990 as hitting coach for the Triple-A Portland Beavers. Rohn went on to become a four-time MiLB Manager of the Year winner, in the Double-A Eastern League (2000), and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (2001, 2004, and 2005). He worked in the bigs with the Seattle Mariners as an administrative coach, and last managed the Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s of the PCL in 2010. This seems to be a great situation for both Rohn, and Traverse City.
“I’d really like to thank the Wuerfel family for the opportunity. I love the chance to work in the city that I live in,” Rohn stated on their website. “We have a strong ball club coming in this year; I’m really looking forward to putting a winning team on the field.”
It’s by great coincidence that Rohn was residing in TC, and that his wife teaches at a nearby arts academy. Matt Pulley will return as the Bums hitting coach, but the rest of Rohn’s staff has yet to be named. Jason Wuerfel seems very thankful that Rohn was available, also, as stated on the website.
“We are very fortunate to have a manager with his qualifications. There are a lot of good managers in this league but none with the experience Dan has. Dan will manage the team professionally on and off the field; the timing is perfect, we are just very fortunate.”
Again, this seems like a win-win situation for all involved. We’d like to wish all the best to Langbehn in his new journey, and we’ll be at Wuerfel Park cheering on Rohn and his Beach Bums whenever we get a chance this summer.
Photo property of Minoring In Baseball
The Arizona Diamond Backs have purchased the contract of hurler Johnny Omahen from the Traverse City Beach Bums. In his first and only season of indepandant league baseball, Omahen went 8-9, with a 3.37 ERA in 21 starts. He also led the Traverse City squad in strike-outs with 78, only gave up two home runs, and his 115 innings pitched were a personal best. The right-hander was the second man in the Bums rotation, just behind Frontier League All-Star Scott Dunn. This will be Omahen’s second stint in affiliated baseball, being drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2011 out of California State University San Marcos. His pro career started with the Gulf Coast League Marlins, then the Jupiter Hammerheads, going 4-1 with an impressive 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings, while only surrendering one home run. He was released after a rough season with the Greensboro Grasshopper in 2012, where he went 1-5 with a 5.24 ERA. Miami’s loss was the Beach Bums gain, however, and now the Diamond Backs. The Beach Bums COO Jason Wuerfel will miss Omahen in their rotation, but seems to wish him the best.
“While it’s tough to lose a pitcher of Johnny’s caliber,” Wuerfel stated on the Beach Bums website, “we are pleased to see his ability recognized. He’s a first class young man.”
There’s a chance we might see him in the Midwest League this season, with Arizona’s affiliate the South Bend Silver Hawks. If we do, we’ll certainly wish him our best.
Photo courtesy of the Frontier League
I have to admit that 2013 was pretty good to us, and I’m probably going to miss it. We had a rocky start to the baseballs season, with some rainouts in Lansing (along with freezing rain, ice, snow, and so on), but after that it was sunny days ahead for us. It was really difficult to narrow a list down to just nine, as far as the fun things that we participated in this year. In reality, the whole trip through North Carolina could be listed (especially Greensboro and Asheville), it was so much fun. We have some fun things planned for 2014, but you’ll see how hard it will be to top our 2013 list. I am very thankful that we had such a fun year, and that my kids, and my dad, and I could spent this time together.
9) Meeting the Fox Sports Detroit Girls: It’s no secret, we love the FSD Girls here! They do a great job of representing our local teams here in Michigan. The kids and I were lucky enough to meet them at a Grand Rapids Griffins game earlier this year. They were very nice to the kids, especially Brian, who they signed a baseball and his hat for. With luck, we might run into them again at a ballgame next season, maybe at the all-star game or something.
8) Double-Header in Midland: Like I stated, our baseball season got off to a rough start. Here in Michigan, we had a horrible spring that was cold, rainy, and snowy. On this day, though, we took advantage of a rain-out to catch at double-header on a Sunday afternoon at Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons. The first game, or games, of the season are always special, and this one was no different. It was still a cold day in early April, with the temperature about 30-40 degrees, but we stayed in the sun and it was pretty nice. The Loons mascots Lou E. Loon and Ral E. Camel entertained the kids between games. We brought the kids’ Papa along for his birthday, and it was a great way to kick-off our 2013 baseball year.
7) The ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson Museum: I really loved visiting Greenville, South Carolina. The city made such an impression on me that I’m trying to get a transfer down there. Can you imagine a state where you can play catch outside almost ten months out of the year? It’s a very beautiful and historic town, with plenty to do for any sports fan. First, we dropped by Flour Field to watch the Greenville Drive, which was a great time. The next day was a thrill visiting the ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson Museum. The family that runs it is very nice, and knowledgeable about Jackson for sure. It was a fun experience that I highly recommend for anyone in that area.
6) Back in Battle Creek: It’s hard to believe, but we this is the first game we’ve seen in Battle Creek since the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays packed their bags and moved up to Midland. We were down here in 2010, but got rained out, unfortunately. This is where it all began, though, here at C.O. Brown Stadium. The start of the baseball trip, and my love for minor league baseball. This was the kids first game here, too, as well as the opportunity to see the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League. The day itself was special, because we were able to spend some quality time with family down there. Plenty of family was in attendance to see me throw out the first pitch, too (a beautiful strike, by the way). Lily and Trevor really enjoyed trying out their Twinkie Dogs, as well. It was super hero night, and Brian was able to chase the costumed staff across the field between innings with the other kids. He also participated in an on-field game that he did great at. This was all-around one of the best baseball days anyone could ask for.
5) Star Wars Night: Well, this will probably make the list every year. This year we were back in West Michigan for the Whitecaps game. There were plenty of characters on hand from that galaxy far, far, away to entertain us this year, too. We were able to get pictures with Boba Fett and all the Imperial Stormtroopers, as well as Darth Vader himself. All the kids got lightsabers, and Brian didn’t have any trouble finding other kids to play with. After the game, the lights went out and we enjoyed the fireworks as this special night came to an end.
4) Running the Bases: Being on the field is always fun, and Brian was able to do a lot of that this summer. As mentioned in #6, he was able to run through the outfield and do a race in Battle Creek. Along with that, he ran the bases at the Loons game in Midland, and the Beach Bums game in Traverse City. The kid is a little speed demon, and he had to slow down so not to lap some of the other kids. As a parent, it’s so much fun to watch your kids having such a good time. At least having some baseball experience under his belt, he knows which way to go.
3) Training for Trevor: Despite a shoulder injury that kept him out half of his Little League season, Trevor was able to take part in a couple of baseball clinics. The first one was put on by Major League Baseball Alumni. Former players like Doug Mirabelli, Roger Mason, Dennis Rasmussen, and Rob Ellis were there and did a great job teaching the kids. They were all very patient and helped many of the kids one-on-one. The second clinic was the Beach Bums Baseball Academy in Traverse City. Trevor was able to learn first hand from the Bums’ players and coaches. He was a little limited to what he could do due to his shoulder, but still had a great time. I wish they had stuff like this when I was a kid.
2) The Durham Bulls Experience: Seeing the Durham Bulls was on my baseball bucket list for a long time, and now I can finally cross that off. The Bulls really don’t disappoint, either. It was a beautiful day, and a wonderful game to watch. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is an amazing place to watch a baseball game, and seeing the Bulls during the 25th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham was an awesome experience. The Bulls have to be one of the most recognized baseball logos in minor league history due to the movie, and a game here should be on every fan’s bucket list. We even visited the old ballpark where they filmed the movie, and they still use it for local games.
1) Coaching the Boys: Yeah, this one is personal. Being able to coach my kids in baseball is one of the highlights of my life, not just this year. Lily decided to take a year off, and I really missed watching her play. The boys had a fun season, though, even with Trevor’s injury. Brian made some big improvements, and is hitting the ball better than any five-year-old should. The kid has a rocket arm, too. Being at the local ball fields three or four nights a week is something I’m truly grateful for.