Question: What has four days, seven games and seven different ballparks?
Answer: My first baseball road trip of 2012!
Nope, I didn’t make a typo. I’ll be on the road for only four days, but I’ve put a lot of time into planning this trip to include seven games in seven locations. As always, I’ll be blogging along the way and afterward, writing guides to each ballpark for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com.
There should be plenty of highlights on this trip, so let’s get to it and look at my schedule:
Monday, May 21: Akron Aeros at Trenton Thunder 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 22: Louisville Bats at Lehigh Valley IronPigs 10:35 a.m.
Tuesday, May 22: Sugar Land Skeeters at York Revolution 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 23: Greensboro Grasshoppers at Hagerstown Suns 10:35 a.m.
Wednesday, May 23: Carolina Mudcats at Frederick Keys 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 24: Harrisburg Senators at Altoona Curve 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, May 25: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Buffalo Bisons 7 p.m.
As you can see, it’s a pretty ambitious schedule, but I’m taking advantage of three matinee games (which are common during the school year) to pack a lot of games into a short timeframe.
Some notes about this road trip:
- I plan to meet Baltimore Orioles prospect Jeremy Nowak when I’m in Frederick. If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll know that I retrieved Nowak’s first South Atlantic League home run last season when he played for the Delmarva Shorebirds. His girlfriend tracked me down, I sent her the ball and she gave it to him for Christmas. Anyway, I’m super-pumped to meet Jeremy.
- The York Revolution are the first independent team I’ll see since I began traveling for TheBallparkGuide.com. York plays in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which has a ton of former MLBers in its ranks. Because I haven’t fit independent games into my schedule thus far, I haven’t added an indy ball section to my website. But I plan to do so to help out any baseball fans who are interested in seeing what independent baseball has to offer.
- Five of the seven ballparks I’ll visit are new to me. I’ve been to Hagerstown’s Municipal Stadium and Buffalo’s Coca-Cola Field in the past. This year, I’m returning to Hagerstown (the site of last year’s Bryce Harper autograph adventure) because it works out with my schedule and to Buffalo because Coca-Cola Field has installed a humongous LED video board since I was last there.
- After this trip, I’ll have been to eight of the 12 Eastern League ballparks. I hope to visit at least three of the remaining four later this summer.
I’m counting down the days until I hit the road, but I’ll have a lot more blog content coming between now and then, including a list of fun goals for this trip and more. If you plan to be at one of these games and want to say hi, send me an email, catch me on Twitter or leave a message below.
Finally, thanks to everyone for reading and visiting my website. Please check the site and remember that your visits and ad clicks help me pay for future road trip adventures!
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll probably remember an entry I wrote last month about Baltimore Orioles prospect Jeremy Nowak. For the full story, click here.
Here’s a picture I took of Nowak when I saw him with the Delmarva Shorebirds last summer:
Anyway, as you’ll see in the story, Jeremy said that when I’m able to get to one of his games, he’ll hook me up with some tickets. I haven’t met him yet, but doing so is high on my list of things to do this season. And it gets even better — Jeremy is playing for the High-A Frederick Keys, which is a team I didn’t get to see play last season. As you can see here, my road trip last June/July took me all around Maryland (Aberdeen, Baltimore, Bowie and Salisbury) but just because of the way the schedules lined up, I wasn’t able to see a Keys game.
Right now, I’m looking at a number of road trip options that will get me to Frederick. This trip probably won’t be a two-week one like I took a couple times last season, but I hope to see at least one Keys game and a couple others around it. I’ve already been to all the ballparks closest to Frederick, and my goal is to include a few others that I haven’t visited so I can write guides to them for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com.
I don’t have any dates finalized, but my guess is this trip will include these teams and parks, in no particular order:
- Frederick Keys – Harry Grove Stadium
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Coca-Cola Park
- Reading Phillies – FirstEnergy Stadium
- Hagerstown Suns – Municipal Stadium
- Harrisburg Senators – Metro Bank Park
I went to Municipal Stadium and Metro Bank Park last summer, but the other three will all be new territory. Both ballparks had lots of cool features. Metro Bank Park is new:
And Municipal Stadium is old:
But I loved them both. Best of all, I’m looking forward to meeting Jeremy and hopefully writing another cool blog entry about it. I will have my schedule for that trip posted soon. If you plan to be at one of the games, leave me a note in the comments or send me an email and hopefully we’ll get to say hello.
As for Jeremy, he’s playing very well in Frederick. It’s his first stint in High-A, and he’s hitting .308 with 16 hits and five RBIs in 13 games, which is good for second on the team in hits and batting average. He’s hit in the two slot a bunch of times this season, so it’s cool to see the faith the team has in his ability.
As far as other trips, I’m still figuring things out. But don’t worry, I’ll be taking some this spring/summer and will blog about it when I’ve got things narrowed down.
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone for reading and visiting my website, TheBallparkGuide.com. My hits and ad revenue are continuing to climb because of your visits and ad clicks. The more, the better — it’s all helping me pay for these trips! Thank you.
And remember, if you don’t already, please follow me on Twitter.
I just finished a really cool page on my website that will help everyone see not only where I’ve been on my travels, but also provide an opportunity to easily read my blog entry about that adventure.
If you’re familiar with my website, you might have visited the Game Archive page, which lists every game I’ve been to since I started the site. That page is here.
But now, I’ve turned each of the dates next to each entry into a link. If you click on any of the dates, you’ll be redirected to my blog entry about that day. Neat, right? I think so.
So if you ever want to know if I’ve been to a certain ballpark, just check the Game Archive page. And to read about my visit, just click on any of the links. It’s that easy!
As always, thanks for reading.
If you’ve been following this blog for a period of time, you’ll know that it’s just one of my projects. My main project is my website, TheBallparkGuide.com. I use this blog to share my travel adventures and other information, and my website to share guides to every ballpark that I visit.
The process of compiling information for my website’s fan guides is fun, but it’s also time consuming. Right now, I’ve got comprehensive guides to 17 MLB and MiLB parks on my website, and I’m currently working on a handful of other guides that will be up soon. (The Portland Sea Dogs are next!) My goal is to have a new ballpark on my site each week.
Admittedly, it’ll take a while to visit every affiliated park, but in the meantime, my website is still a great resource if you’re planning a baseball road trip this season. Check it out and if I’ve written a guide to somewhere you plan to go, I guarantee you’ll find it helpful.
Each ballpark’s guide is broken down into several categories:
- The ballpark itself
- Getting to the ballpark
- Finding your way around
- Where to sit
- What to eat
- How to get a ball
- Autograph tips
And for the Minor League parks, I’ve also written a brief history of each team.
On each park’s page, you’ll also see a list of the closest ballparks, which is useful if you want to take in other games while you’re visiting the area.
As you check for the team of your choice on the home page’s menu, the team name will appear in light gray if I’ve written a guide to that ballpark. If it’s in dark gray, as most are at this point, there’s no guide just yet.
Lastly, please know that visiting my website really helps out. The more hits I get, the higher my site rises in Google’s rankings and the more money I earn that I can use toward future trips. I’ve got a lot of worthwhile ads on my site, including Holiday Inn — so if you’re planning to visit a new city, click the Holiday Inn ad and book your hotel right then and there.
If you enjoy reading about my travels, please bookmark my website, TheBallparkGuide.com, and check it periodically. And if there’s a link that appeals to you, please check it out, too.
Thanks for your support!
If you’ve been reading this blog over the last couple months, you’ll have seen a number of posts talking about different highlights from the 2011 season. The 2012 is now underway, and soon, I’ll have road trip plans to share.
Today, though, I want to share a few multi-signed balls that I got signed during my travels in 2010. It turns out that while I mentioned them on the blog way back when, I didn’t show any images.
My road trips for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com, began in July 2010. That summer, I went to a number of ballparks, including Auburn’s Falcon Park, Rochester’s Frontier Field and Mahoning Valley’s Eastwood Field.
At each of those games, I was lucky (and persistent) enough to get a ball signed by several guys on each team. Part of the appeal of looking back at Minor League autographs is you never know whose signatures you’ll get. I keep a list of the guys I get to sign for me so that I can follow their careers.
Without further delay, here’s the Rochester Red Wings ball:
The sweet spot belongs to manager Tom Nieto:
Nieto was let go by the Red Wings at the end of a rough 2011 season.
On the panel below, you’ll see the autographs of Brian Dinkelman, Trevor Plouffe and Anthony Swarzak:
All three guys have spent time with Minnesota, Rochester’s parent club, in 2011. Dinkelman even hit .301 in 23 games with the Twins.
On the next panel, it’s Jose Lugo, Glen Perkins and Pat Neshek:
Lugo currently plays in the Minors in Atlanta’s system, Perkins appeared in 65 games for the Twins last season and Neshek had 25 appearances with San Diego last year.
When I was in Auburn to watch the Doubledays, I managed to get 16 players on a single team ball.
Below the Doubledays logo are Dayton Marze and Matt Johnson:
Marze rose through Toronto’s ranks to Class-A Lansing last season, while Johnson is still in Short-Season A ball.
On this panel, you can see the sigs of Lance Durham, Yudelmis Hernandez, Sam Strickland and Jack Murphy:
Durham spent 50 games with Lansing last season before being released, Hernandez has struggled at the plate and spent all of 2011 in rookie ball, Strickland went 3-1 largely as a relief pitcher in Lansing and Murphy rose through Toronto’s farm system all the way to a short stint with AA New Hampshire in 2011.
I can’t recall the second signature on this panel, but the other names are Tyler Powell, Steve McQuail, Matt Nuzzo, coach C.J. Ebarb and Marcus Knecht:
In 2011, Powell moved up to Class-A, McQuail stayed in Short-Season A, Nuzzo was in Class-A and Knecht was a star in Lansing. He’ll start the 2012 season in High-A Dunedin.
On the last panel, the players who signed are Daniel Webb, Shawn Griffith, John Roberts and Gustavo Pierre:
Three of these four guys have moved up in the Toronto system. In 2011, Webb was with Lansing, Griffith was in Lansing and Dunedin and Pierre spent part of the season in Lansing. Roberts did not play in 2011.
Finally, I got 14 autographs on a Mahoning Valley Scrappers ball before I watched the team play. Since then, it’s been neat to occasionally follow these players’ progress, too.
Takafumi Nakamura signed under the team’s logo:
He reached as high as Class-A Lake County in 2010 but did not pitch in 2011.
On the sweet spot, you’ll see the signature of Indians pitcher Mitch Talbot, who I saw during a rehab start:
He split 2011 between AAA Columbus and the Indians.
The next panel belongs to Dan DeGeorge, Brian Heere, Jordan Cooper and Casey Gaynor:
DeGeorge made it up to AA in 2010 and last year, began the season in High-A before being released and ending up in the independent Atlantic League. Heere and Cooper spent 2011 with the Class-A Lake County Captains, while Gaynor played with indy-league Newark.
On the next panel, you can see the sigs of Aaron Fields, Tyler Cannon and J.D. Reichenbach:
Fields spent 2011 in Class-A, but Cannon and Reichenbach both had pretty sharp climbs up the organizational ladder in 2011. Cannon went from Class-A to High-A to AA, while Reichenbach rose from Class-A to High-A to AAA.
I’m not certain about the second-lowest autograph on this final panel, but the other names are Chase Burnette, Kyle Smith, Kevin Fontanez and Jordan Casas:
In 2011, Burnette split time between Class-A and High-A, Smith went from Class-A to High-A to AAA, Fontanez began 2011 in Short-Season A but soon went to Class-A and AA and like many of his teammates from the 2010 Scrappers, Casas made it to Class-A in 2011 and even spent some time in High-A.
As you might have noticed, by Rochester ball had a lot of guys who’ve at least spent some time in the bigs. Since the other two balls were from Short-Season A teams, those guys are still a ways off. But it’ll be interesting to follow their progress and see who gets there first. I’d say that overall, the guys whose autographs I got climbed the ladder well in 2011.