A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wild Pitches

I wasn't expecting SEVEN GAMES! This has been fun!

I really think it is fun watching the World Series, and counting the guys that I watched playing in the minors. I was able to catch some of these guys playing in the New York Penn League. They have REALLY made it now!

It has been a strange Series though.

I have been a little let down this year with the coverage of baseball. The World Series is going on, but it seems that most of the sports shows are covering football more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old Tiger Stadium- Detroit MI

While I was in the Detroit area, I took a quick moment to circle the area where the old Tiger Stadium was . I know some in the area were trying to preserve the park. I have been told that there are still efforts to keep the diamond and a bit of the area land up.

I fear this might be a lost cause. Obviously not much is left.

Monday, October 17, 2011

RFK Stadium, formerly DC Stadium in Washington, DC

It is a bit hard to believe, but this venue is still in use! It was the home of the Senators from 1962-1971 and the home of the Nationals from 2005-2007.

The back of this postcard reads:

D.C. Stadium located at 22nd Street, N.E. and Capitol Street Bridge. In season, the Washington Redskins and Washington Senators play home games here. Stadium features parking for 12,000 automobiles and has a seating capacity of 43,500 for baseball games and 50,000 for football games.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wild Pitches

I am dragging from watching these extra inning late night games right now! Man, the Brewers, Cards, Tigers and Rangers all look good!

I like to keep the focus of this blog on lesser known players, strange books, and the minor leagues. I like little known facts and the obscure.

Still, I want to take a moment to tip my cap to the very mainstream magazine, Sports Illustrated. Have you picked up the latest issue? If you look around, you can find subscription deals for way less than a buck each. They even tossed in a Colts jacket with my subscription.

There is a great article about the teams that played past the Red Sox and Braves to make it to the playoffs.

Another article talks about how interesting baseball might be if there was a tournament at the end of the season to determine the weakest team in baseball. That team would get demoted to AAA. The winner of the AAA playoffs would get bumped up to the majors. Yeah, there are some logical issues, but there would be ways to work around that. Yes, I know this would never happen, but I REALLY like this idea. Again, read Grant Wahl's Scorecard in SI for more on this interesting idea.

Chris Ballard and Owen Good contribute a very thorough article on Jack Swift, the last 30 game winner in the minors. EASILY one of the best baseball articles I have read in some time. If you love stories about lesser known and forgotten players in baseball, here you go!

I guess, there is a bit of an underdog baseball theme going in this week's SI!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

San Diego Chicken and the West Michigan White Caps

Previously I went on about how great of a time I had seeing the West Michigan White Caps. My time in Grand Rapids was especially exciting because the greatest promotion in all of baseball was there on on our night at the park. Obviously I am talking about the Famous San Diego Chicken.

I posted about the Chickens appearance in Indianapolis some time ago. He is still pulling many of the same gags, but they just get funnier each time you see them.

I mentioned seeing him to a friend recently. My friend said something about it not being the same guy anymore. I corrected him and told him that the Chicken is still Ted Giannoulas, just as he has been for over 3 decades now.

You have to love the chicken. He has been appearing for forever now, and he is extremely fan friendly. He sticks around after the game to sign autographs for everyone. He does have a merch table at the games (I picked up a cool Chicken bobble head for a very reasonable $10).

Oh, Grand Rapids has a very cool connection to the Chicken in a political way! I toured the Gerald Ford museum, and they have an old mask of Ted's on display! How cool is that?

A tip of my yellow 21 cap goes out to the White Caps for being such a great organization and hosting the legendary mascot!

And, thanks to the Chicken for being so consistently great! I think we are all hoping to catch the San Diego Chicken at many more games!

Monday, October 10, 2011

West Michigan White Caps- Fifth Third Ballpark

Grand Rapids Michigan has something really special going with their team.

The area gives a lot of support to the West Michigan White Caps.

The fans and the venue both have much more of a AA feel than an A feel. This is a nice, slick venue with a very modern atmosphere.

Plus, the White Caps are affiliate with the Tigers, who play just up the road.

These guys have had some attention over the past years because of unique food items (including a huge burger).

I had a nice pork sandwich and potato salad myself. It was really good.

I know this might sound odd, but I felt like this organization wanted to make everything "really good."

Let me explain a bit. I have been to some parks that have a unique museum or statue. Maybe they have a great gift shop. BUT, they might have a very mediocre menu selection. Sometimes parks are excellent in one area, but not so good in another.

That was not the case here. I felt that this team was just really well managed in every area. On a scale of 1-10, EVERY area was at least a 9. The staff was helpful and friendly. They have a well stocked gift shop with unique items. Parking was easy. I checked out their promotions schedule. It was packed.

If I had to take a non-baseball fan to a minor league park somewhere... anywhere... and I wanted them to have the best experience they could possibly have.... I would take them here.

Its a newer park and all, so obviously you wouldn't have the charming history of an older park, but you would have all of the modern comforts.

Even without the history of an older team, they still have signs up mentioning current MLBers who have played, in the past, for the White Caps.

Oh, and Grand Rapids is just a really nice area. They have a nice downtown area with the cool Gerald Ford Museum, and they have the Fred Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (I will get reviews for those sites up on my other blog). Those attractions, along with the White Caps can justify a 7 day trip to Grand Rapids.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wild Pitches

I am a huge fan of low level professional baseball. I really appreciate the drive of the guys at the lower divisions, hoping that they can keep climbing up. I especially love the unaffiliated minor leagues. It is still professional, but it is VERY low.

I recently read that a very unsettled Frontier League team out of Michigan (it has moved around and even operated as a travelling team) will be moving to London Ontario.

I am so excited about this move! The last time a Frontier League team was in that area, they had the all time coolest name in all of minor league baseball (they were the London Werewolves!). This team will be playing at the same historic field that the Werewolves occupied, Labatt Park.

I read an article recently about an amateur team that also occupies that facility. The team is upset about the new Frontier League team coming in to play their games, and ultimately to compete for the local fans attention.

A few local fans in the area did comment, and it appeared that they felt both teams deserved support.

I do hope that the amateur team continues to get lots of local support. I also hope that the baseball fans in London realize that a Frontier League team in their area is very cool and beneficial.

The Frontier league has evolved a great deal since the Werewolves pulled out of town a decade ago. The league is expanding, and the teams are drawing fans.

Personally, I have an affiliated team within a few miles of my house. I see that team 10-20 times a year. I drive a lot during the summer to catch other minor league teams. The closest Frontier League to me is an hour away. I go to several of their games each year too.

The Florence Freedom are about 70 miles from my house. I look forward to the weekend games when I have a moment to drive to the area for an evening game. The Florence area is nice. There are several book stores, sandwich shops, and a couple of other local businesses I visit while I am there.

I usually have 1-4 friends I meet for the games too, and we spent a lot of time in the Florence area. We also spend money.

I figure the local economy appreciates my time in the area. I appreciate the fact that Florence has a Frontier League team.

I have spent a lot of time (and money) in minor league towns. I know lots of other people that also visit minor league towns, and support the area businesses.

Off the top of my head, I know that the last two seasons I have supported the local economy in Kansas City KS, Washington PA, Bridgeport, CT, and York PA on road trips to see independent teams.

I have never driven out of the way to see an amateur team.

I hope London thinks about the benefits to their local economy (and, I think the town is thinking that way, as they have OK'd the team to come to town). There are minor league baseball fans out there that are going to come to your area and spent money because there is a professional team there.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tony Packo's- Toledo OH

Tony Packo's, in a lot of ways is the signature of Toledo. If someone tells me they drove through town, I will always ask if they stopped there.

There are several locations in the Toledo area, but I always stop by the original, or the one right across from the ballpark. In fact, part of the Mud Hens experience, in my opinion, includes going to Tony Packo's before the game.

The restaurant is famous for it's autographed hot dog buns proudly displayed on the walls.

The restaurant across the street from the Mud Hens has a lot of baseball memorabilia displayed. It almost serves as a local baseball museum. They have some gorgeous panoramic photos of old parks in the area, and actual park relics on display.

And the food is tasty and unique. The vegetable soup is perfect. There is a taste to it that reminds me of Tabasco, but without the heat.

They care about the quality of their hot dogs too. In fact, they are some of the best around. I love hot dogs, and these are some of the best.

If you are traveling in or through Toledo, you have no excuse for not stopping here!


Here is a link to an older post of mine on my other blog:


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lansing Lugnuts

We took a moment to stop and see the Lansing Lugnuts on our recent road trip.

This is an interesting park in an interesting area.

This is one team that has taken the naming rights thing to an entirely new level. Try to say this without getting confused-

The venue formerly known as Oldsmobile Park is now known as Jackson Field at Thomas M. Cooley Law School Stadium. I have a feeling that locals are probably having a tough time saying it. More importantly, I bet locals are having a hard time remembering it. I am guessing that the park will still be called by it's old name, or the locals will simply generically say, "Lets go see the Lugnuts."

Hey, as a fan of minor league baseball I do try to take note of who has a sign up at the park. If a company is supporting minor league baseball, I do try to think about that.

Then again, I think about how cool it is that Victory Field in Indianapolis has proudly not sold it's naming rights. They are in a bigger market though, with a lot of local fan support.

Still, this is a nice little park that is fun. The staff was great.

Right across from the park are some nice condos and businesses. I have always had a fantasy of living in a nice little place like Lansing, directly across from a park.

I love cool art and cool baseball related statues, and the Lugnuts have them! One piece of art was hard to explain, but interesting.