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Say it loud: Mega Man, Minions cheer for Crawdads

Hickory's section 108 roots for the home team, heckles opposition
@BensBiz
July 28, 2021

HICKORY, North Carolina -- When a player strikes out at the Hickory Crawdads' home of L.P. Frans Stadium, it takes, on average, 21 steps to make it back to the dugout. This bit of esoterica comes courtesy of Christopher "Mega Man" Pack, Crawdads superfan and heckler extraordinaire. He, of all

Launch angle: Smokies usher has NASA past 

Eason, in search of new frontiers, went from space to the ballpark
@BensBiz
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
@BensBiz
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

In Chattanooga, fans look out for Wanda

Charismatic program vendor is a beloved ballpark fixture
@BensBiz
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

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

Ben looks back at 2019's ballpark road trips

Traveling scribe visited Fayetteville, Amarillo, Vegas and more
April 16, 2020

The best thing about Minor League Baseball? In this writer's estimation, it's ballpark road trips. With 160 teams spread out over 14 leagues and six levels of play, there's no shortage of places to visit. It's a great way to see the country, giving fans a reason to visit locales

In it for the long haul: A fan, remembered

An appreciation of Bruce Rogers, passionate High Desert supporter
April 2, 2020

On Dec. 30, 2019, Bruce Rogers died at the age of 79. Rogers, who lived most of his life in Victorville, California, was a husband, father, military veteran and heavy haul trucker who enjoyed a career highlight of sorts when he transported a stolen one-man submarine back to its rightful

Time to move on: Minors' defunct ballparks

Road-tripping writer takes annual look back at bygone facilities
January 30, 2020

Four new Minor League ballparks are opening in 2020, the most in a single season since 2009. But for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.The arrival of four new facilities means there are four ballparks that are no longer part of the Minor League landscape. This article,

Meetings meaningful for Jane Rogers

Staten Island exec returns to baseball family after cancer fight
December 10, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- At the 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Jane Rogers received the New York-Penn League's Executive of the Year. Yesterday morning, in San Diego, she finally heard the applause. Rogers, the Class A Short Season Staten Island Yankees' first -- and therefore longest tenured -- employee, currently

Designated Eater: Tim's Burger, Suns Dog

Chris Ruffner, on cusp of college, samples Hagerstown cuisine
November 1, 2019

Municipal Stadium, the home of the Hagerstown Suns, is 89 years old. As you might guess, octogenarian ballparks don't offer much in the way of amenities. But what they do offer is history, intimacy and, more often than not, plenty of charm. 

Designated Eater: A final meal in Potomac

Jennings Compton invents new item at penultimate P-Nats game
October 30, 2019

August 28th, 2019 wasn't just any evening at Pfitzner Stadium. It was the Potomac Nationals penultimate home game. The end of the season loomed and, just beyond that, a move 30 miles south to a new ballpark in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was in town to say goodbye to the Pfitz (as

Designated Eater: Daniel Rivas chows down

The Grizzly Fanatic samples tri-tip, "car"-ne asada, tacos, more
October 29, 2019

Daniel Rivas, seen in the photo at the top of this article, is a native of Laton, California who currently lives in Salinas and works as a high school math teacher. But when Daniel visits the Fresno Grizzlies' home of Chukchansi Park, he dons Ultimate Warrior-inspired facepaint and thus transforms

Designated Eater: Nando meets the Mets

Noted Syracusan samples the goods on Butter Sculptures Night
October 28, 2019

Nando DiFino is a relentlessly exuberant and deeply loyal individual. He brings people together, pays for their drinks and seeks out commonalities, all while deflecting the well-deserved praise he recieves for so consistently acting in this manner. To know Nando is to love him.

Designated Eater: Improvisations in Auburn

Cotton candy dog inventor creates new item at Doubledays game
October 9, 2019

Tom Ando knows food. Tom, a Buffalo, New York native who now lives across the border in Fort Erie, Ontario, has experience as a food and beverage manager in a variety of professional sports settings. He currently handles club-level concessions at the Buffalo Sabres' home of KeyBank Center; this job followed

On the Road: Shagging in Hagerstown

Suns co-owner Dahbura found 'key to happiness' on field
September 12, 2019

Hagerstown Suns co-owner Tony Dahbura holds a prestigious position at Johns Hopkins University, assists with his family's printing and commercial real estate businesses and freelances as a data analytics consultant. He's a man of many hats and thus goes by many names, be it Dr. Dahbura, Tony or his given

On the Road: Hagerstown's team spirit

Suns Fan Club supports players, celebrates team history
September 9, 2019

The Hagerstown Suns play in a small market and operate out of a facility, Hagerstown Municipal Stadium, that is nearly 90 years old. As a result, they regularly place at or near the bottom in South Atlantic League attendance. But in any Minor League community -- whether beleaguered, thriving or somewhere

On the Road: A fond farewell to the Pfitz

Potomac fans share memories from venerable Virginia ballpark
September 5, 2019

It's Aug. 28, the penultimate day of the Potomac Nationals' home season. General manager Bryan Holland is sitting at his desk within an office cluttered with the detritus of another long Minor League season. But this year the team commonly referred to as the P-Nats isn't just wrapping up another

P-Nats leave half-man, half-beast legacy

How bizarre bobbleheads became a Pfitzner Stadium tradition
September 2, 2019

The Potomac Nationals, based in Woodbridge, Virginia, are relocating some 30 miles down the road to Fredericksburg next season. During their 36 seasons at Pfitzner Stadium, the Class A Advanced club had six different affiliates, won four Carolina League titles and -- most importantly for the purposes of this article

Designated Eater: El Paso's many flavors

Chihuahuas food and drink draws from influences near and far
August 20, 2019

After visiting El Paso's Southwest University Field in April of 2014, one of my biggest takeaways was that the food was awesome.My next visit to this Triple-A facility, home of the Chihuahuas, did not occur until this past June. Five years later, I can report that the food is still

On the Road: Lowriders cruise into Fresno

Grizzlies' 'Copa' identity celebrates Central Valley car culture
August 19, 2019

When it came to creating a new Copa de la Diversión identity, the Fresno Grizzlies went into cruise control. Over the course of two weekends this season, the Grizzlies honored the car culture of California's Central Valley by suiting up as the Lowriders de Fresno. The Triple-A Washington Nationals affiliate is

On the Road: Potomac and Hagerstown

Ben's final trip of 2019 includes a goodbye to P-Nats, 'The Pfitz'
August 14, 2019

Between 2010 and 2018 I visited 174 stadiums, including every active Minor League park. That quest continued anew in 2019, as I visited the Minors' three new ballparks making their debut (as well as quite a few others along the way). For links to previous road trip content -- and

A long road for Las Vegas' Logan

Aviators president reflects on two-decade path to new park
August 12, 2019

In February 2018, construction began on Las Vegas Ballpark. In April 2019, the Las Vegas Aviators hosted their first game there. While 14 months is a short amount of time to build a Triple-A stadium, Aviators president Don Logan offers a different perspective."It only took 18 years to pull this off."

On the Road: Exploring Las Vegas Ballpark

Aviators take flight within sleek, shiny Summerlin surroundings
August 8, 2019

The Las Vegas Aviators, Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, play in brand-new Las Vegas Ballpark. Call them the boys of Summerlin. Las Vegas Ballpark replaces Cashman Field, which served as the Pacific Coast League franchise's home from 1983-2018. The new facility is located in downtown Summerlin, an affluent planned community

On the Road: Aviators offer 'top-flight' food

Las Vegas Ballpark concessions strive to be best of the best
August 5, 2019

When Cody Malone was hired to oversee the food and beverage operation at Las Vegas Ballpark, he had one goal in mind. "We had to be the best in class."Malone, an employee of Professional Sports Catering (PSC), spent the previous six seasons as director of food and beverage for the Tulsa

On the Road: Aviators elevate the hot dog

Local chef creates four inspired franks for Las Vegas Ballpark
10:25 AM EDT

Brian Howard is the executive chef at Sparrow + Wolf, an eclectic fine dining establishment in Las Vegas's Chinatown neighborhood that incorporates Asian, French, Mediterranean and Latin American influences. Its menu, featuring items such as wood roasted lamb neck and swordfish aguachile, has zero overlap with the sort of food