If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll likely recall the awesome adventure I had with Baltimore Orioles prospect Jeremy Nowak. If not, take a couple minutes to read part one and part two of the story. I’m confident that you’ll agree it’s one of the feel-good baseball stories of 2012. I’m anxious to see where Jeremy gets assigned to start the season and after a very impressive 2013 campaign in High-A Frederick, I’ll enjoy following his career again this season.
I’ve collected baseball cards on and off since the late 1980s, and when I learned last fall that Jeremy was featured on a number of cards in the 2012 Bowman Chrome set, I knew I had to collect as many as I could. It’s been fun to add a bunch of his cards to my collection over the last several months, and while I’m always scouring eBay for new additions, I thought I’d share the eight different cards I have now.
Here we go:
On the left we have Jeremy’s base card, which you’ll notice reads “1st Bowman Chrome Card,” as it’s his first appearance in any official (rather than issued by a team) baseball card set. On the right is the Refractor version of the card, which is Topps’ fancy way of saying it’s shiny. If you look at the two cards together, you’ll notice that the base card has a white border and the Refractor has a metallic border. It also shimmers in the light when you tilt it.
Next up, and pictured above, are the Xfractor and Blue Wave Refractor on the left and right, respectively. The Xfractor, you’ll see, is metallic like the Refractor, but is made up of squares, which didn’t really come through in the scan. The Blue Wave Refractor looks awesome when you move it in the light. As I understand it, this card wasn’t available in packs — you had to send your package wrappers in to Topps, which would then send you packs of Blue Wave Refractors.
The above two cards are pretty cool and one is serial numbered. Experienced collectors will know what this means, but if you’re new to the collecting game, it means each card has a unique number stamped on it. On the left, the Green Refractor isn’t numbered, but it’s a fairly rare pull. On the left, the Blue Refractor is numbered 86/250, which means that Topps only produced 250 of this card and mine is number 86.
The final two cards are the rarest of Jeremy’s cards that I have so far. As you might guess, the Purple Refractor is the one on the left. It’s numbered 97/199, which means that it’s rarer than the Blue Refractor. And finally, on the right, you’ll see Jeremy’s short-print variation. Each card in the 2012 Bowman Chrome set has a short print, or SP. These cards aren’t numbered but the rumor is that only about 75 of each exist, making them extremely rare. As you’ll see, the photo is of Jeremy in the Orioles home uniform, which is doctored, unfortunately. The other cards feature him in Baltimore’s Spring Training uniform, but unless I’m mistaken, the SP card is Photoshopped.
There are still a handful of Jeremy’s cards in the set, including cards numbered out of 50, 25 and even 5! I recently bought one numbered out of 50 on eBay, but the seller had to refund me because he lost the card. Here’s hoping he tracks it down. Rarer cards that I’ll likely never encounter are the four printing plates used to make the card (each numbered out of 1) and the Superfractor, which is numbered out of 1, too. The Superfractor sold several months back in the neighborhood of $165, and because many collectors are obsessed with hanging onto Superfractors, I don’t know when it’ll hit the market again.
For good measure, he’s the back of Jeremy’s card:
Even though the fronts are all different, the backs are basically the same. The back was neat to read; I had no idea about his 35-game hitting streak in college, for example. Finally, I can’t resist adding that if you check out his 2011 home run totals toward the bottom of the card, one of those five long balls is the one I retrieved!
Thinking about the whole adventure with Jeremy just makes me even more excited for Opening Day and my baseball road trips this season. I’ve got some great trips planned and can’t wait to share them on here in the coming weeks. (And I hope to see Jeremy play again and, if I’m lucky, maybe meet his family at one of the games.) As always, if you get a kick out of what I do, please follow me on Twitter and/or visit The Ballpark Guide; every visit to my website helps support my travels, and I really appreciate all your support!
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post detailing all the shirts I’d bought or picked up in stadium giveaways during my 2011 road trips. I didn’t get as many shirts in 2012, partly because I didn’t attend quite as many games and partly because I’ve got to pull back the reins on my T-shirt collection. If you saw my closet, you’d know what I mean.
Anyway, I still managed to add a half-dozen shirts to the collection this year.
Here they are in the order in which I bought ‘em:
I’ve been to Tri-City’s Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on two occasions, 2010 and 2012, and I loved the experience each time. When I visited in 2010, the ‘Cats were hosting the Brooklyn Cyclones in the first game of the New York-Penn League championship, which Tri-City eventually won. And when I got back to the park this past August, one of the items that caught my eye in the team shop was a long-sleeved T-shirt commemorating that title. Here’s a close-up of the front of the shirt:
And the back, which has a fun pun:
The Detroit Tigers are one of my favorite MLB teams, and given that I really like the look of their NYPL affiliate’s uniforms and logo, I had my mind set on buying something from the Connecticut Tigers’ team shop during my visit. A few items stood out, but when I saw this Connecticut Defenders T-shirt on the remainder rack, I had to grab it. The Tigers have played in Norwich, CT, since 2010, but before that, the city was home to the Double-A Defenders from 1995 to 2009. As you might’ve read in my last post, I’m interested in military history, so the sub design is cool. And I couldn’t resist the price tag of just $3:
Some shirts quickly become among your favorites, and this Lowell Spinners pullover is on that list. As you might remember from last year’s post about clothing, I bought a Binghamton Mets pullover in 2011. That shirt was a replica of what the players wear on the field, but this Spinners item is made by Majestic and is exactly what the players wear. I love the look and feel of these pullovers (who thought this blog would turn into a fashion critique?) and will be on the lookout this summer for other pullovers like it:
And here’s a close-up of the stitched logo beneath the collar:
Toronto Blue Jays 1
I hit two Jays games in September and because all my Jays stuff features the old logo, I wanted to get something featuring the current design. Before the game, I stopped and bought this Brett Lawrie jersey T-shirt:
And here’s the back:
Toronto Blue Jays 2
I ended up wearing the Lawrie T-shirt for both games, but in the second game at Rogers Centre, the team was giving away player jersey T-shirts because it was fan appreciation weekend. There were a number of guys featured on the shirts, and I ended up getting J.P. Arencibia. It’s neat to have a white jersey T-shirt to contrast the blue one, and even neater that Arencibia wasn’t traded away in the off-season. Except for the hardware store logo on the sleeve, you’d never know this wasn’t the type of shirt sold in stores:
True, I didn’t visit D.C. this summer, but last year, my brother got me a gift card to the MLB Shop for Christmas, and I’d been hanging onto it until I found something I really wanted. Just before Christmas, I bought this Bryce Harper jersey T-shirt. If you’re new to this blog, check out this post to see why I’m such a fan of Harper. Here’s the front:
And the back:
I’ve still got a bunch of cool things to blog about this off-season before I start revealing my road trip plans for 2013. If you’re planning any trips yourself, check out The Ballpark Guide to learn how to make the most of your ballpark visits and, as always, you can follow me on Twitter.
One of the greatest things about taking baseball road trips – other than the baseball, of course – is the opportunity to check out various sights on my travels. I wasn’t able to do much sightseeing on my road trip in May; seven games in seven cities in four days pretty much eats up the spare time. But when I way away for a little more than a week in August, I had enough time to check out a few interesting things.
As you might have read a while back, I stopped at a number of NCAA baseball facilities during this trip, but those stops weren’t the only times I pulled my car off the road and grabbed my camera.
I ended up with a good chunk of spare time on August 21 and 22 while in Boston for a Red Sox/Angels game and a tour of Fenway Park. During the day, I took a few hours to check out some of the city’s neatest tourist attractions, although I realize I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg of the great things to see and do in Boston.
My first stop was the Charlestown Navy Yard:
It’s less than four miles from Fenway Park and has a ton of interesting things to see, especially if you’re into ships and history. I wandered around for a bit and looked at the sights, including TD Garden, home of the NHL’s Boston Bruins:
One of the piers in the area is named after Sen. Edward Kennedy:
Some of the buildings were neat, too. I don’t know the story on this one, but it’s an interesting shape and looks to have been around for a long time:
After touring the area, I went to check out one of the main reasons for my visit – the USS Cassin Young, a World War II-era destroyer. I won’t try to summarize the ship’s history, but if you check out the Wikipedia link, it’s a cool read. It’s lucky I was able to check the ship out, too; it was closed just a couple weeks later for repairs. Anyway, here’s a look at the front of the ship as it sits in the dry dock:
Upon taking the shot from the front, I walked down the pier along the side of the destroyer and took this shot looking back toward the bow:
Then, it was onto the ship — all for free, I might add, which is neat. (As I said, I love touring around new places, but I don’t always want to spend big bucks, so this sightseeing adventure was ideal.) I wandered around the deck of the Cassin Young, taking pictures like this:
And this plaque, which tells the incredible story of captain Cassin Young:
Once I’d thoroughly explored the ship, I went back to the pier, where I stopped to take this picture honoring the USS Boston:
And then it was over to the Charlestown Navy Yard’s prime attraction, the USS Constitution:
I expect you’ll have read about this impressive ship in history class, but if not, here’s a recap. Boarding the Constitution is surprisingly free, too, but you have to go through an airport-style security screening station. Yep, the whole deal — pockets emptied, belt off, backpack open, etc. It’s no joke, but I was glad to get waved through into the pier directly adjacent to the ship, which is where I took this picture:
There was a guided tour about to begin, so I hustled to get on board before the group did, which gave me a few minutes with relatively few people around. Here’s a shot looking down at the row of “Old Ironsides’” cannons:
Meticulously coiled ropes:
A dizzying shot looking up the mast:
(I’m so glad I wasn’t a sailor in the 1790s.)
The ship’s wheel (or wheels? Any naval experts out there?):
Here’s an interesting thing about these cannons. When they fire, they recoil so fiercely that they need to be tied to the ship. Check out how strongly they’re reinforced:
As I wandered around, I could hear the tour guide yelling below the deck. He was pretending to be an old sailor, complete with 1800s-era lingo; lots of “ye,” “olde” and perhaps the odd “matey.” (I may have made that last one up.) Anyway, the yelling was loud enough that I was glad I wasn’t on the tour, and as I started to make my way toward the ramp that led off the ship, a woman actually climbed up a ladder from below the deck to get away from the tour. I looked at her quizzically, given the prevalence of “No Climbing” signs, and she said to no one in particular, “That was a bit much.”
After getting back to the pier, I took a few more shots of the ship, including this one:
It was an absolutely glorious sight. I’m interested in military history and this is arguably the most famous ship in American history. If you’re in Boston to visit Fenway Park or for any other reason, give yourself a treat and visit the Charlestown Navy Yard.
On the morning of August 23, I packed up and headed out of Boston for the 200-mile drive to Wappingers Falls, N.Y., which is home to the New York-Penn League’s Hudson Valley Renegades. (Despite all the sightseeing, let’s not forget that this was a baseball trip.)
Any football fans here? If so, you’ll enjoy this next series of photos. My next stop was Foxborough, MA, home of the New England Patriots. The Pats play at Gillette Stadium, which is part of an enormous complex called Patriot Place. In addition to the stadium, there are a bunch of nice shops, restaurants and other things to see. The Pats were hosting the Philadelphia Eagles that evening in preseason action, so there were a few fans milling about. Otherwise, given that it was a weekday morning, it was quiet, as you can see in this shot that shows some of the shops/restaurants in the foreground and Gillette Stadium looming in the background:
The first thing I wanted to see what the stadium itself, which you’ll see here, complete with the trademark tower:
Next, I went to the gate at one end of the field. I couldn’t get closer than this, but it was neat to see inside:
At this point, two fans in Eagles jerseys yelled “PATS SUCK!!!!” at me. (That’s one exclamation point for each degree of my annoyance.) I should note I’m not a Patriots fan nor was I wearing any Patriots gear.
If you’ve seen the Patriots play on TV, you’ll recognize these pedestrian bridges from which the team’s three Super Bowl banners hang:
I did a lot of walking around; it was an absolutely beautiful day and given how I eat on baseball road trips, I bit of exercise is never a bad thing. There were lots of stairs to climb, which was also some welcome exercise. Here’s a giant set of stairs next to the CBS Scene sports bar:
Next, I stopped in the gift shop, which was full, as you might expect, of Patriots stuff – much to the chagrin of the Eagles fans. How do I know? Because I saw them in the shop, too, yelling “PATS SUCK!!!!” at everyone. Stay classy.
And then it was back outside for a few more shots, including this one of me partway up that giant staircase, with the stadium in the background:
And a panorama of the front of Gillette Stadium:
I quickly ducked back to my car to have a few snacks, as all the walking I’d done had me famished. After gorging myself on something that probably wasn’t healthy, I went back to the stadium to check out The Hall at Patriot Place, an outstanding Patriots museum. Again, I’m not a fan of the Pats, but this was incredible. I’ll just include a few highlight shots here, with the tip that if you’re in the area, check out The Hall at Patriot Place.
Bill Belichick’s hoodie:
Tom Brady’s parking space sign:
AFC Championship trophies:
A replica of the check Robert Kraft signed to buy the Patriots for $15 million. Probably a good investment, don’t you think?
Speaking of replicas, how about a replica huddle? Here are dummies of Randy Moss, Tom Brady and Danny Woodhead, plus the New England O-line. I walked into the gap between the players and could hear recordings of Brady yelling plays. It was awesome:
Toward the end of the tour, I saw the team’s three Lombardi Trophies:
And got to try on a replica of D-lineman Richard Seymour’s Super Bowl ring. It was significantly too big for my thumb, and if you’re wondering, that’s a replica hand holding it. I’m not actually that close with Mr. Seymour:
One of the highlights of The Hall was seeing the player equipment, and just how huge it was. The cleats worn by linemen will make you do a double-take, but given that they’re all behind glass, it’s hard to take a photo that shows context. On the way out, however, there were shoe prints in the floor to show different players’ shoe sizes. I don’t recall whose shoe print this is, but I’m a size 11:
As I left the building, staff members were already setting up gates for the evening’s game, as you’ll see here:
I hopped back in the car, resisted the urge to stop at the nearby Olive Garden for some soup, salad and breadsticks, and hit the road. But don’t worry – the sightseeing wasn’t over just yet!
After being in NFL mode for a couple hours, my next stop put me back into military history mode. I made the short drive to Fall River, MA, to visit Battleship Cove. I love the name of this place — while most historical sites have an official-sounding name, this one’s name says exactly what it is. I can just see the organizing committee: “Let’s take a cove, put a battleship in it and call it … hmmm … Hamburger Cove? No, that’ll never work. How about Battleship Cove?”
Anyway, I’ve been on a bunch of warships over the years, but I’ve never actually been on a battleship, so this was exciting. The highlight of Battleship cove is the USS Massachusetts, another WWII-era ship. It played a key role in several pivotal Pacific campaigns, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf. But the Massachusetts isn’t the only vessel in Battleship Cove. It’s also home to the USS Lionfish, a submarine, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a destroyer, the Hiddensee, German corvette, two PT boats, a landing craft and a bunch of other neat stuff.
After I parked, I caught my first glimpse of some of the vessels:
That’s the Kennedy to the left, the Lionfish in the middle and the enormous Massachusetts in the back.
Here’s the WWII-era landing craft, which would be utterly terrifying to ride on:
And a giant propeller, which you’ll notice has been made idiot-proof with an inflatable noodle:
When you’re traveling alone, self-portraits are the norm; here’s a shot I took of myself in front of the Kennedy:
After checking out the two PT boats, which were housed in a large building, I went out to the pier and toward the Kennedy, stopping to take a picture of this airplane, which had two rather disconcerting signs, as you’ll see:
I’m not a huge fan of live ammunition, so I continued along toward the destroyer, which was directly ahead. On the way, I stopped to browse a big historical timeline, which contained this awesome speech bubble:
Bad spelling aside, I boarded the Kennedy and took this shot as I walked around the decks:
And this one after going inside the ship:
Back out on the deck, I captured the Lionfish and the Massachusetts. The latter of which is so big that it’s hard to fit in a single frame:
Speaking of the Lionfish, I went to it next:
And then on to the Hiddensee:
From the Hiddensee, I took this shot of the Massachusetts, which shows just how freaking huge it is:
I boarded the Massachusetts next, and before I start sharing pictures of it, here’s a shot looking back at the Hiddensee and Lionfish:
Now, as for the Massachusetts, here’s the first shot I took of one of its main gun turrets. To put the size into perspective, note the size of the life preserver:
Here’s me in front of the guns:
(My head would easily fit inside the barrels of these guns, and I’ve got a big head.)
Everything on this ship was amazing; look at the care that went in to the deck, for example. See all these wooden plugs? Countless man hours, I’m sure:
It was sobering, as I walked the decks, to think how this ship was built to kill people while other ships were build to kill this ship’s sailors. Reminders were never far away:
Remember the shots of the other ships from the bow, looking backward? Here’s how the Massachusetts looks in comparison:
Like I said, enormous. I like this shot, which looks forward from one of the upper decks. You’d feel invincible on this ship, wouldn’t you?
Here’s a shot looking upward from the deck:
This chart was neat, I thought. It’s a diagram of Japanese fighters and bombers so that American anti-aircraft gunners could know what they were shooting at:
Finally, one last shot of the main guns, which were mind-boggling. They’re absolutely gigantic and hard to describe in words and photos:
I spent nearly 90 minutes at Battleship Cove. It would’ve been nice to spend a little longer, but I had to get back on the road to get to New York for the evening’s game.
The morning of August 24, after watching the Hudson Valley Renegades play the Connecticut Tigers, I got ready to drive home. First, though, I wanted to stop in Newburgh, N.Y., to check out the headquarters of Orange County Choppers. I used to enjoy watching American Chopper during its first few seasons, and given that OCC is less than eight miles from Hudson Valley’s Dutchess Stadium, I couldn’t resist swinging past.
If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know that the business semi-recently built a new, giant headquarters:
I was early enough that the showroom had just opened and I virtually had it to myself, which was neat. The first thing I noticed upon entering the showroom was a New York Yankees-themed bike. I don’t know if this bike was one of the featured builds on the show or not, but here’s the bike:
And check out the gas tank, which is autographed by a ton of Yankees:
At a glance, I can see Joe Girardi, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mel Stottlemyre and Mariano Rivera. Derek Jeter was also on there, but his autograph is on the other side of the tank. How many guys can you recognize?
Here’s a shot of the OCC showroom:
If there’s one custom chopper you associate with the OCC brand, what is it? For me, it’s the fireman bike, and I’m guessing you picked that bike, too. Here it is …
… along with a ton of fire department badges hats, shirts and helmets from across the country, and a special jacket made for OCC’s Paul Teutel, Sr.:
(Obviously, it’s not no sleeves.)
As for the badges behind the bike, here’s a closer look. You’ll see they’re not just from fire departments; police, paramedics and government agencies from the U.S., Canada and many other nations are represented here:
Just browsing the bikes was loads of fun. I recognized several of them from the show, but others were new to me.
The Ferrari bike:
The POW-MIA bike:
The Christopher Reeve Foundation wheelchair-accessible bike:
Although you can’t get in the actual shop where the show is filmed, you can look in through a bunch of windows, which is neat. As I said, I was early, and it was early enough that the shop was empty and all the lights weren’t even on yet:
Would you like to see more of this type of sightseeing post? I visit sights like these when my schedule allows it, and I can write more of these posts if you’re interested and enjoy them. Please let me know in the comments below. Thank you!
Last year, I blogged about the guys on the MLB Top 100 Prospects list that I got to see in 2011, and although I didn’t catch quite as many games in 2012, I thought it’d be fun to look at the 2013 list that was just released. If you’re curious about that list, you can see it here.
On my 2011 travels, I saw a bunch of the top guys in the minors, including Bryce Harper, Jacob Turner and Travis D’Arnaud.
After seeing four guys in the top 25 last year, it took a little longer last season to see my first guy on the 2013 list. How long? Yikes.
44. Taylor Guerrieri – Hudson Valley Renegades
I saw Guerrieri pitch for the Renegades during the outstanding Futures at Fenway doubleheader in August. The second-best prospect in Tampa Bay’s system behind only Wil Myers, Guerrieri gave up one earned run and four hits in his three innings of work. (Both teams were rotating pitchers pretty quickly, I’m guessing to give guys a chance to play at Fenway.) As for a photo? I was sitting up in the Budweiser deck for much of this game, so I snapped a shot of the right-hander when he was on the video board:
96. Jose Iglesias – Pawtucket Red Sox
I was fortunate to see Iglesias on back-to-back days in August. On Aug. 18, he had a hit and a walk during his team’s Futures at Fenway game against the Buffalo Bisons, and a day later, went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt against the Bisons. As for that sac bunt? I was in the right place at the right time to capture it:
98. Aaron Hicks – New Britain Rock Cats
On Aug. 16, I watched the Rock Cats host the Richmond Flying Squirrels and Hicks led off for New Britain. He had a nice game, too, with a double, a walk and his 28th stolen base of the year. He also scored a run and was caught stealing. Hicks is so speedy that he eluded my camera.
100. Gary Brown – Richmond Flying Squirrels
In the same game that I saw Hicks lead off for New Britain, Brown led off for Richmond. He was better at the plate than Hicks but not quite as good on the basepaths; Brown went 3-for-4 and scored a run but was caught stealing. He gets the last laugh over Hicks, though. Brown ended up with 33 steals on the season, which is one more than Hicks. I didn’t get a close-up shot of Brown, but here he is in center field from far away; I’m posting this amateur hour picture just for fun:
So, four guys in the top 100. Not very good, right? The funny thing is that while I saw a lot of great prospects back in 2011, a bunch of the guys I saw that year also made the 2013 list. Below, you’ll see the guys I saw in 2011 along with their 2012 team and, in brackets, the team I saw them with in 2011:
6. Travis d’Arnaud – Las Vegas 51s (New Hampshire Fisher Cats)
13. Christian Yelich – Jupiter Hammerheads (Greensboro Grasshoppers)
21. Nick Castellanos – Lakeland Flying Tigers (West Michigan Whitecaps)
41. Mason Williams – Tampa Yankees (Staten Island Yankees)
55. Rymer Liriano – San Antonio Missions (Fort Wayne TinCaps)
91. A.J. Cole – Burlington Bees (Hagerstown Suns)
Lots of people who check out this blog are regular readers who visit once in a while or whenever I make a new post. Others find this blog by searching for something and coming across a page or image in their search results.
While I’m especially thankful for those who read what I write regularly, I’m always amused when I see the search terms people have used to find me. I’ve Tweeted some of them in the past, but have always wanted to put together a lengthier list of some of my favorite terms. Given that it’s the off-season, I thought now would be appropriate.
When it comes to people finding my blog, I’m forever grateful to this guy:
Without having watched Bryce Harper, met him and gotten his autograph …
… I’d have thousands of fewer hits. That’s because a ton of people have come across my blog by searching for Harper, and it’s not just him that people are after. Some common search terms?
- Bryce Harper truck
- Bryce Harper hair
- Does Bryce Harper have a girlfriend?
- Bryce Harper cleats
- Bryce Harper autograph
In fact, people have found this blog by searching for a total of 31 different terms, including those above, related to Harper. Also, four of my blog’s top eight search terms are related to him.
(For the record, while I blogged extensively about his truck and autograph, I’ve never mentioned his hair, cleats or whether or not he has a girlfriend.)
But it’s not just Harper that has drawn people here. The top five teams people have searched to come across this blog are the Lansing Lugnuts, Harrisburg Senators, Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays and New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Sometimes, people are curious about ballplayers themselves. Aside from Harper, Justin Verlander, Jose Valverde, Rick Porcello, Jim Thome and Max Scherzer are the most-searched players for this blog.
People are also interested in the ballparks themselves, which is great, given that’s what this blog is primarily about. The top five searches are Metro Bank Park, Parkview Field, Alliance Bank Stadium, Rogers Centre and Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, with an honorable mention to Progressive Field.
Once in a while, readers come here not for a ballplayer at all. In 2011, I met Orioles head groundskeeper Nicole Sherry …
… and lots of people found me by searching her name.
Plenty of visitors have stumbled across me searching for Orioles prospect Jeremy Nowak, who was at the center of my most memorable adventures in 2011 and 2012:
(Some curious people even found the blog by searching “Jeremy Nowak salary.”)
And occasionally, terms I mention in passing bring people here — terms like Detroit abandoned buildings, Fox Theatre, Ferris wheel, Welcome to Michigan and sweet ride.
Other times, I see search terms that make me shake my head, as I’ve never written about them. Like what, you ask?
- Brandon Morrow wife
- Interview thank you card note or letter
- Golf carts for sale
- Inflatable sun mouth
- Bruce Wayne game-used bat
Some people have found me by searching in Spanish: De que ano es?
While others have stumbled here without being strong at spelling: Vermont Lake Monster suvenire
Some people have asked simple questions: Can you take cameras into Fenway?
And others have used terms that defy explanation: T-shirts design awwsome and brain injury and fort and back
This one made me laugh out loud: Stolen turkey sandwich
But it’s not as hilarious as this one: Balls coming down from sky at Fisher Cats game
Or this one: Are you normal or nuts?
I’m always keeping an eye on the wacky and wild ways people stumble across this blog, and I’m curious to hear any other bloggers’ odd search terms.
If you’re reading this post, thank you.
Thanks for checking out this blog, whether this is the first time you’ve stopped by or you’ve been reading about my adventures for years. Due to your readership, I’m thrilled to say that The Ballpark Guide placed 13th in the MLBlogs Top 100 for 2012, which has earned me this snazzy logo:
You can see this logo on the top of the menu on the right side of the page, where it’ll remain for the duration of the year. Back in 2011, I placed 34th, so I’m ecstatic about the jump up to the 13th spot. I normally finish between 10th and 15th in MLBlogs’ monthly rankings during the season, but slip back a bit during the off-season, as I’m obviously not taking baseball road trips. All this to say that an overall finish of 13th is really exciting. I’ve got my sights set on a top 10 spot in 2013, so please keep checking back. Also, if you click the Top 100 banner on this page, you’ll get a list of the top 100 MLBlogs, and you’re certain to find some great blogs to follow, regardless of where your baseball interests lie. There’s not a day that goes past in which I don’t read at least someone’s MLBlog, and there’s a lot of excellent content to enjoy.
Although 2012 was a great year for The Ballpark Guide, 2013 has been off to an exciting start, too. As some of you know, I studied journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and in the current issue of the school’s alumni magazine, there’s a photo and short write-up about me! Here’s the cover of the magazine, which features Muhammad Ali, one of my all-time heroes, which makes it extra exciting:
The write-up about me is in the Class Notes section, which is the section I always enjoy reading most. It contains various updates from different alumni:
But wait! I’ve got one last neat thing to share. A few months ago, a Portland, Maine law firm called Troubh Heisler got in touch with me because its staff had seen my fan guide to Hadlock Field, home of the Eastern League’s Portland Sea Dogs, and liked the panorama shot I’d taken. The law firm was in the midst of revamping its website and wanted to use the picture, given that it wanted banner shots of Portland scenes and the fact that it’s the Sea Dogs’ law firm.
So, if you go to the Troub Heisler website, you’ll see scrolling photos at the very top. Wait for a few to pass and you’ll eventually see the one I took. Or, if you’d rather see it right here, here it is:
And if you click the “Resources” link on the home page, you’ll come across a list of community resources and you’ll see The Ballpark Guide is under the “Special Recognition” header. Pretty exciting!
Anyway, thanks again for all your readership and comments. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that if you enjoy this blog, please check out The Ballpark Guide and tell your baseball-loving friends about it if you can. I know I’ve said it before, but your visits to my website help me pay for my trips, and I really appreciate all your support.
Here’s to an exciting 2013!
Last offseason, I blogged about my baseball collection from my first two summers of traveling for The Ballpark Guide. Since then, I’ve been to several additional ballparks and have managed to add a bunch more balls to my collection:
By the end of last year, my collection totaled 59, and with the 19 balls I added this year, I’m now up to 78. This means I shouldn’t have any trouble reaching 100 during one of my road trips in 2013.
(Before you get too excited to tell me that 78 balls isn’t a lot compared to a bunch of other collectors, I’ll remind you that I’m not a ballhawk. I like trying to get a ball at each of the parks I visit, and I occasionally enjoy trying to snag one during BP. I don’t ask for balls and I don’t compete with others. If I’m lucky enough to get one, I’m happy. If not, I’m not going to shed any tears.)
One of the things I enjoy about my ball collection is breaking down the different leagues represented on each ball. I’ll provide the totals in a moment, but first, here’s the rundown on what I got this summer:
Major League Baseball: 4
New York-Penn League: 4
Eastern League: 4
Carolina League: 3
International League: 2
Cape Cod Baseball League: 1
National Collegiate Athletic Association: 1
All this means that my totals are now up to:
Major League Baseball: 26
New York-Penn League: 19
Eastern League: 10
International League: 5
Midwest League: 4
South Atlantic League: 4
Carolina League: 3
Minor League Baseball: 2
Minor League Baseball Practice Ball: 2
Northwest League: 1
Cape Cod Baseball League: 1
National Collegiate Athletic Association: 1
The three oddest balls I’ve collected during my travels are from the Northwest League, Cape Cod Baseball League and NCAA — odd, given that I haven’t been to games from any of these leagues. I found the Northwest League ball during batting practice in Vermont last year, the Cape Cod league ball during BP at a Hudson Valley Renegades game this past August and the NCAA ball sitting in the grass in Lakewood, N.J., while I was wandering around during a rained-out BlueClaws game.
Of the 12 minor leagues between Short-Season A and Triple-A, I’ve got balls from seven of the leagues. Anyone else have balls from this many? If so, let me know about it in the comments below, and if you’ve got a blog post about it, include that, too.
This year, I decided that before each of my road trips, I’d blog about a list of goals that I hoped to accomplish. I did pretty well on my May road trip goals and in case you missed it, listed some goals for my August road trip, too.
I’m largely pleased with how I did goal-wise on this trip. It would’ve been nice to knock off a couple more, but I always try to create some challenging goals to keep things interesting.
Here’s a recap:
1. Get to the top of the Green Monster
Woo hoo! This was the biggest goal for me, and I was lucky to accomplish it. One awesome reader of this blog, Mike, offered to take me up to the Monster as his guest. (Thanks again, Mike!) That didn’t work out, but I was able to take a Fenway Park tour, where I made it all the way up top:
2. Eat something that cracks my ballpark top 10
The jury’s still out on this one. Plus, I’m going to unveil my new top 10 (and possibly top 15) in the new year, so you’ll see the details then.
3. Buy something that says ‘Fenway Park 100 Years’
I really like this logo and was glad to get this hat. I also got one additional thing featuring the logo, which I’ll include in my post about clothing that I got this summer.
4. Get interviewed on one team’s broadcast
This didn’t work out, unfortunately. But, I’m excited to say that I’ve already got one on-air interview loosely scheduled for 2013!
5. Visit a bunch of touristy attractions
I hit a number of cool places in Boston and a few other areas. I’m going to blog about those adventures in the new year, but in the meantime, here’s a picture of me before I boarded the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston:
6. Visit 10 non-MLB/MiLB ballparks
As I recently blogged about, I visited four of these parks on my trip, so I fell short of the 10 I’d hoped to see. Seeing 10 was definitely doable, but it was pretty time consuming, so I decided to scrap this goal early on.
7. Get 10 autographs
I thought I’d have better luck with this goal, but all I managed were three autographs from the Futures at Fenway game:
8. Buy at least one team’s hat
I really wanted to get a hat on this trip, and after I bought my Futures at Fenway hat, I decided to pass on a second hat. So, I didn’t really accomplish the goal, but I still got a hat, so I’m happy.
9. Get 10 baseballs
I’m not a ballhawk, but I do like to try to get a ball whenever I can. I’m happy to say I accomplished this goal with 13 balls:
10. Have some unforeseen fun adventure
Aside from getting up onto the Green Monster, two things stand out from this trip:
a) Sitting in the Lone Red Seat at Fenway Park:
b) Writing my name on Pesky’s Pole:
Nearly a year ago, I spent a bunch of time scanning and posting all my tickets from my baseball road trips in 2010 and 2011, and I think it was a neat look at how different teams do their tickets. If you haven’t seen that, you can view that post here.
And then, after my first road trip from this past summer, I blogged about all the media passes I received. You can read all about it here.
On my second road trip of 2012, I was fortunate enough to get media passes to most of the games, but occasionally bought my own ticket. All this means that in this post, I’ll have a combination of media passes and tickets to share with you.
The first game of my August road trip was in Troy, N.Y., to watch the Tri-City ValleyCats. I meet the team’s media/production manager Chris Chenes for a pre-game tour, and as he gave me my press pass, he said, “One to add to your collection. I saw your blog entry about media passes.” It was a cool moment, and thanks again, Chris, for everything. If you’re interested in the ValleyCats or the New York-Penn League, you can follow Chris on Twitter.
Here’s the Tri-City pass:
The next day, I drove to New Britain, CT, to watch the Rock Cats. I didn’t get a pass for that game, so here’s my ticket:
A day later, I was in nearby Norwich, CT, to see the Connecticut Tigers, and they were kind enough to give me a media pass:
Next up was Boston, where I watched the absolutely outstanding Futures at Fenway doubleheader. I bought my own ticket for this event, but it was well worth it for eight-plus hours in Fenway Park. For some reason, this ticket has decided to grow legs and is hiding from me. When I’m able to solve this troubling conundrum, I’ll post the ticket here.
After visiting Fenway for the first time, I made the short drive to Pawtucket, R.I., to see the International League’s Red Sox, and got this awesome press pass:
Then, it was back to the New York-Penn League to watch the Lowell Spinners, who gave me this pass, which was on a neat Spinners lanyard:
Twenty-four hours after seeing the Spinners, it was back to Boston to watch the Red Sox host the Angels:
If you read my blog entry about the BoSox game, you might recall that I paid $15 more to park than I paid for my ticket. Ugh.
A day later, I checked out Fenway Park in a tour, which you can read about here. The pass, as you can see, has the same background as a game ticket, but with different lettering:
The last game of my August road trip was in New York’s Hudson Valley to watch the Renegades. The NYPL team keeps it simple with its press passes:
In September, I caught two Blue Jays games against the Yankees. I’ve been to several Jays games in the past, and if you clicked the first link in this entry, you’ll see a handful of tickets to Rogers Centre. Nonetheless, here are the two tickets from a few months back:
(I should note that when I dug through my backpack to find the Jays tickets, I also found a granola bar that the team was giving away to people before the game. Time to get snacking.)
When I was planning my August road trip, I spent a lot of time checking out Google Maps, and was intrigued to see how many university campuses were along my route. I planned to take the opportunity to make a few stops along the way and check out some of the schools’ baseball facilities. (Apparently, the nine games in nine days on my trip weren’t enough baseball to satisfy me.)
Originally, I hoped to visit 10 or more non-MLB/MiLB parks, and I included this plan in my August Road Trip goals. After visiting a handful, I decided to forgo the attempt to get to 10. It was doable geographically, but was adding on a lot of time to my trips — head off the main route, find the school, drive around the campus until I found the baseball field, find a place to park, walk around taking photos, etc.
Why the interest in collegiate baseball, you ask? As you probably know by now, I love not only the Major Leagues, but also the lower levels of the game. In Canada, if a high school even offers baseball, it’s played on a field that is laughable. Many universities don’t have baseball, but those that do typically use fields that wouldn’t be up to par with American high school fields. Long story short: I wanted to marvel at some nice fields.
All that said, my first stop on August 15 was the State University of New York at Canton, in Canton, N.Y.:
The school’s baseball team, the Kangaroos (more commonly known as the ‘Roos), plays in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, which is comprised of 82 small institutions.
The SUNY Canton campus was virtually deserted (being August, of course) and after I found the athletic area, I parked my car and began to look around. Of course, a coach happened to walk by just as I was standing alone in the middle of the empty area, and he asked if I needed anything. I explained what I was up to and he said to feel free to enjoy the sights. Before I got to the baseball field, I walked past a beautifully maintained soccer (and lacrosse, I think) field:
The soccer field was cool to see, but I was on a mission, and soon I came across the baseball field’s scoreboard:
And baseball field:
Since no one was around, I stood at home plate for this shot:
Then, over to the dugout (hardly a “dugout,” but you know what I mean) on the third base side to show the field from this angle:
And finally, a look down the first base line; you can see the bullpen mounds just to the right of the foul pole and the bullpen plates in the foreground:
I get the impression this field is modest by U.S. collegiate standards, but it was exciting to check out.
My next stop was St. Lawrence University, which is also located in Canton, N.Y. St. Lawrence is known for its elite hockey team, but I was more interested in seeing the baseball facility. The St. Lawrence Saints play at Tom Fay Field, and belong to the Div. III Liberty League. Here’s my first look at the field:
And this is what it looks like from behind home plate:
As you can see, the dugouts are very nice:
Overall, this was a pristine facility, despite being several months removed from the school’s baseball season. When I was packing up to leave, this row boat, presumably from the school’s crew team, caught my eye:
Notice any issues with the hull? How about this closer shot?
Next up was Clarkson University in nearby Potsdam, N.Y.:
It’s also known for its hockey and has a huge rivalry with St. Lawrence. The Golden Knights baseball team plays at Jack Phillips Stadium on Snell Field, which I found easily:
The protective netting behind home plate was still up, so you’ll have to excuse it in the following panorama:
But, as you can probably tell, it’s an immaculate field with impressive dugouts:
I even caught a photo of this little fella on the netting:
After spending a bit of time at each of these three schools, I had to get back on the road to drive to the Albany area, where I’d watch the Tri-City ValleyCats at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium that evening.
The drive was much longer than it should’ve been, thanks to things like this:
But I did have some beautiful sights along the way:
And some snacks to help occupy the time:
The morning after the ValleyCats game, I had a bit of time before I drove to New Britain, Connecticut, to check out the Double-A Rock Cats in action that night. I stopped at Albany’s Christian Plumeri Sports Complex, which is used by teams from The College of Saint Rose, and numerous other local organizations, I imagine:
The school’s team, also called the Golden Knights, plays in the Div. II Northeast-10 Conference. Here’s a panorama from behind home plate of the absolutely beautiful ball field:
The grandstand and press box:
One of the bullpens:
And a shot looking out over the complex from atop the baseball grandstand:
The entire facility was just outstanding, and I hung out for quite a while, walking around the taking in the sights. It was virtually deserted, too — just a couple people walking their dogs.
I’ll have more photos from the road in an upcoming post. Next time, I’ll be taking a step back into history in Boston and looking at some very cool sights related to military history.