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Launch angle: Smokies usher has NASA past 

Eason, in search of new frontiers, went from space to the ballpark
July 23, 2021

KODAK, Tennessee -- In his current occupation, Stephen Eason helps people get to their seats. In his former occupation, he helped people get to outer space. It just goes to show, you never know who you might meet at a Minor League Baseball game. Eason, a self-described "good old country

Jay Bell serves as skipper of the Rocket City ship

Former MLB star guiding Trash Pandas through inaugural season
July 21, 2021

MADISON, Alabama -- Jay Bell has done a lot of things over the course of his long professional baseball career, including scoring the winning run in Game 7 of the World Series as a member of the 2001 Diamondbacks. This season, however, he's doing something that no one in the

Concourse cuts: Rocket City's ballpark stylist 

Kevin Da Barber sets up shop at Trash Pandas' Toyota Field
July 16, 2021

A hot dog, beer and a haircut? Fans can obtain all three at Madison, Alabama's Toyota Field, home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The brand-new ballpark includes a mobile barbershop on the left field concourse, overseen by local barber and business man Kevin Thomas. Haircuts are available during every

In Chattanooga, fans look out for Wanda

Charismatic program vendor is a beloved ballpark fixture
July 14, 2021

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee -- If you're making your way to the Chattanooga Lookouts' home of AT&T Field, you'll hear Wanda Goins long before you see her. Her voice, lilting yet forceful, rises above the gameday din and carries well beyond the front entrance. The phrasing has changed over the years, but

Freedom! Looking back at memorable Minors' 4th

Milestone holiday weekend featured big crowds and positive vibes
July 8, 2021

The Fourth of July is always an important date for Minor League Baseball teams, but this past weekend was extra special. After the cancellation of the 2020 season and a delayed, capacity-restricted start to 2021, this year's festivities represented both a return to normalcy and an opportunity for cathartic celebration.

The hatching: Mayflies invade Saints' ballpark

St. Paul's insect cleanup involves blowers, vacuums and shovels
July 2, 2021

The mayflies were coming. The St. Paul Saints just didn't know when. "We’re so close to the Mississippi River, and once a year, we get one really bad day," said Erik Franke, field operations manager at the Saints' home of CHS Field. "I wish we could set it on a

Encore! Emeralds again go all in on Pride Night 

Eugene celebrates LGBTQ community with colorful jerseys, bases
June 29, 2021

When the San Francisco Giants became the first Major League team to take the field wearing Pride colors earlier this month, they were following in the footsteps of their High-A affiliate. That team is the Eugene Emeralds, who, in 2019, wore jerseys featuring a rainbow flag team logo. In doing

Foul's alarm: Batted ball prompts park evacuation 

Barstad's fluke hit triggers sirens, resulting in unique delay of game
June 23, 2021

A baseball box score beautifully and succinctly tells the story of the game. But there are some things that a box score can't tell you. Take, for instance, what happened during Friday evening's contest between the Low-A Jupiter Hammerheads and visiting St. Lucie Mets. With one out in the bottom

Celebrating Juneteenth in the Minors

Teams hosting community celebrations, Negro League tributes
June 18, 2021

Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has been observed on June 19 for over 150 years. But now it is a federal holiday. Juneteenth's increased -- and long overdue -- prominence has prompted Minor League teams to stage their own commemorations. Some of these endeavors took

Crooked Numbers 2021: Return of the weird

May in the Minors includes unlikely cycles, way too many walks
June 4, 2021

Welcome to Crooked Numbers, a long-running column dedicated to Minor League Baseball on-field anomalies. The column, like everything related to the Minor Leagues, was forced to take a hiatus in 2020. But now is a time for optimism. We're one month into a new season, and it's time to once

Done waiting: Dunedin Jays finally return home

Toronto affiliate ready for first game at TD Ballpark since 2018
June 2, 2021

Tomorrow, for the first time in 33 months, the Dunedin Blue Jays will play in front of fans at their home ballpark. Like most teams in the Florida-based Low-A Southeast, Dunedin operates out of the Spring Training home of its parent club. They would normally begin their home schedule at

Best of 36: Bulls and Jumbo Shrimp cook up rivalry

'Surf and Turf' loser to give away T-shirts commemorating defeat
May 28, 2021

Despite hundreds of years of professional baseball history between the two cities, 2021 marks the first occasion in which Jacksonville and Durham have operated within the same league at the same time. It didn't take long for them to become rivals. Earlier this week, the Jumbo Shrimp and the Bulls,

Locked in from afar: Calling road games at home

Lugnuts' Goldberg-Strassler discusses 2021 broadcast realities
May 26, 2021

The Lansing Lugnuts completed their first road trip of the season on Sunday, having split six-game sets against both the Dayton Dragons and Fort Wayne TinCaps. Lugnuts broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler and his partner, Adam Jaksa, were on the call for all 12 games, narrating every moment of the action. There

Your name here: Snappers' fans christen ballpark

Beloit auctions off Pohlman Field naming rights on a per-game basis
May 21, 2021

Last week, a Wilmington, North Carolina man by the name of Bob Graff visited Beloit, Wisconsin, for the first time. The occasion? To see a game at a Minor League ballpark that had been named in his honor. The Beloit Snappers played their first and only game at Bob Graff's

Renegades go renegade after videoboard meltdown

Embracing the ridiculous, Hudson Valley utilizes low-tech solutions
May 19, 2021

On Saturday morning, Hudson Valley Renegades director of digital media and video production Zach Neubauer woke up to a troubling reality. The control room computer that serves as the hub for videoboard graphics and video had ceased to function. "Sometimes components go bad. We didn’t have a replacement and it

Fanfare for the common man at Akron's Canal Park

Ken Thompson, picked at random, gets RubberDucks VIP treatment
May 14, 2021

Last Friday, the Double-A Akron RubberDucks staged "Ken Thompson Appreciation Night." If your response to that is "Who?" then, well, that was the point. Ken Thompson was a randomly selected fan, elevated to celebrity status over the course of nine innings. The Akron native and current resident is a husband,

Welcoming the season with sanitizer, toilet paper

Carolina Mudcats and Augusta GreenJackets salute 2020 in style
May 12, 2021

2020 was a year to forget, but some Minor League teams can't help but remember. On Saturday, a pair of Low-A East clubs held tongue-in-cheek tributes to products that defined American life in 2020. The Carolina Mudcats staged "Hand Sanitizer Appreciation Night," while the Augusta GreenJackets' "Ode to 2020" was

Feeling the buzz: Meet the Sugar Land Skeeters

Erstwhile indy entity set to begin new era as Astros' Triple-A club
March 16, 2021

The Sugar Land Skeeters are entering a highly refined new era. Established in 2012 as a member of the independent Atlantic League, the Skeeters are set to embark on their debut season as the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. They are one of three previously independent entities entering the

Bridgewater to Bronx: Meet the Somerset Patriots 

Longtime Atlantic League entity becomes Yanks' Double-A affiliate
February 25, 2021

In 2021 and beyond, 11 of the 12 teams that previously had been part of the Eastern League will operate in the Double-A Northeast League. The lone newcomers are the Somerset Patriots, set to debut as a New York Yankees affiliate.

The anti-establishment: Meet the St. Paul Saints

Irreverent independent stalwart makes the leap to Triple-A ranks
February 23, 2021

Entering the 2021 season, the St. Paul Saints find themselves facing a bit of an existential paradox. Have the rebels gone mainstream? After 28 seasons of independent existence, first in the Northern League and then in the American Association, the Saints have signed on to serve as the Triple-A East

Batting Around: New ballparks for a new era

Abundance of 2021 openings includes Worcester and Beloit
February 11, 2021

Welcome to Batting Around, a long-running compendium of Minor League ballpark news. It's been a while. The previous edition of this column, featuring a roundup of ballparks that had been renamed during the 2019-20 offseason, appeared on this site 364 days ago. The facilities featured in that column have yet

Hartford Yard Goats host ballpark vaccinations

Dunkin' Donuts Park pressed into service as COVID prevention site
February 9, 2021

Throughout this extended offseason of 2020-21, Minor League ballparks continually have been utilized for civic-minded purposes. Representative initiatives thus far have included naturalization ceremonies, early voting and COVID-19 testing. On Saturday, the Hartford Yard Goats achieved a significant Minor League Baseball first in this regard, as their home of Dunkin'

'Uncle Benny': Remembering a Minors legend

Survivor and fighter Geraghty mentored Aaron and many others
February 4, 2021

The recent passing of Henry Aaron resulted in a wide-scale exploration and celebration of his legendary baseball career. These historical deep dives have led to a greater awareness of and appreciation for those who influenced who him along the way. Ben Geraghty, whom Aaron once said was "the greatest manager

Tick tock: Pelicans' accounts more than biding time 

Social media pro Horenstein innovates over the longest offseason
January 28, 2021

It's been a long offseason, to say the least. As of this writing, the last Minor League Baseball game took place more than 16 months ago. Teams have had to be more creative than usual to stay in the public eye, which has involved finding new ways to maintain relationships

Hammer time: Aaron's Minor League career

Baseball icon honed his skills in Eau Claire and Jacksonville
January 26, 2021

Henry Aaron, one of the most talented and accomplished players in the history of professional sports, passed away Friday at age 86. It is difficult to overestimate how much Aaron meant to the game, and to American society at large. As many have pointed out in the course of eulogizing