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Celebrating Juneteenth in the Minors

Teams hosting community celebrations, Negro League tributes
@BensBiz
10:00 AM EDT

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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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

Been a while: Oldest Minor League ballparks

Entering the 2021 season, a look at the 11 most venerable facilities
February 18, 2021

Nine new ballparks will make their Minor League Baseball debuts in 2021, perhaps the most ever in a single season. But what about the stadiums on the other side of the spectrum that have been around the longest? This article is dedicated to detailing just that. The Minor League Baseball

The more things change: Enduring affiliations

Amid time of transition, a look at the Minors' longest partnerships
February 16, 2021

This coming season marks the beginning of a radically different era of Minor League Baseball: 120 teams are now part of the landscape, comprised of 11 new leagues competing across four levels of play. Minor League Baseball has always been defined by change, of course, as shifting affiliations, locations and

Batting Around: New ballparks for a new era

Abundance of 2021 openings includes Worcester and Beloit
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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

Standing up for the seats in Pensacola 

Empathetic Blue Wahoos staffers assign names to plastic friends
February 2, 2021

America -- the band, not the country -- famously sang about having been through the desert on a horse with no name. Intrepid members of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos front office, having walked through a ballpark where the seats have no name, decided to do something about it. The Blue

Tick tock: Pelicans' accounts more than biding time 

Social media pro Horenstein innovates over the longest offseason
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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

MiLB memory box: Mementos from the road

Traveling writer digs deep into the archives in search of souvenirs
@BensBiz
January 21, 2021

"Do you collect anything?" As someone who has visited 177 Minor League Baseball ballparks, many more than once, I get that question a lot. The individuals who pose this query, usually collectors themselves, are curious as to whether I have made it a point to procure the same sort of

No spin zone: Phil Niekro's Minor League career

Knuckleballer's journey began in Wellsville, ended in Cooperstown
@BensBiz
January 19, 2021

Phil Niekro, 300-game winner and Hall of Famer, passed away on Dec. 26 at the age of 81. He was the best knuckleball pitcher in baseball history. Niekro, often referred to by his knuckleball-referencing nickname of Knucksie, spent 24 seasons (1964 through 1987) in the Major Leagues and pitched until

Taking a walk through Lasorda's playing days

Legendary Dodgers skipper spent parts of three decades in Minors
@BensBiz
January 14, 2021

Tommy Lasorda enjoyed one of the longest careers in professional baseball history, one that spanned from 1945 to his death at age 93 on Jan. 7. Of course, he will be best remembered as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a post he held from 1976 through 1996. Lasorda's

RIP: Paying tribute to beloved gameday employees

A remembrance of Minor League Baseball's unsung ballpark heroes
@BensBiz
January 12, 2021

From April until September, Opening Night through the playoffs, first pitch to final out, gameday employees are always there. These largely unsung individuals are part of the fabric of the Minor League Baseball experience, whether they're taking your ticket, guiding you to a seat or catering suites. If you attend

Heads up: A National Bobblehead Day celebration

From singers to swingers to snowmen, these giveaways get the nod
@BensBiz
January 7, 2021

Think the holidays are over? Think again. Today is National Bobblehead Day. National Bobblehead Day, spearheaded by the Milwaukee-based National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, was first observed in 2015. Thursday marks its seventh iteration. Minor League Baseball teams and fans are among National Bobblehead Day's most committed celebrants,