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Spain goes from US hockey to Canadians baseball

Blue Jays prospect grew up on ice, now takes the field in Vancouver
May 30, 2023

Garrett Spain grew up playing hockey in the United States, where baseball is the national pastime. These days, he's playing professional baseball in Canada. It's funny how life works out. Spain, an outfielder selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2021 Draft, is currently in

Have bat, will travel: Mike Ford's tumultuous '22

Veteran slugger played for four MLB teams, four MiLB affiliates
May 25, 2023

TACOMA, Wash. -- When Mike Ford told his current manager, John Russell, about his 2022 season, Russell had an apt response: "That's not a season. That's a career!" That about sums it up. Ford, a heavy-hitting first baseman and designated hitter, is currently a member of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.

Hops' Grammes, Ray talk fave video games

Pac-Man? Rocket League? Hillsboro teammates have opinions
May 22, 2023

HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Dylan Ray and Conor Grammes have a lot in common, at least superficially. They're both right-handed pitchers in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization who currently play for the High-A Hillsboro Hops. They both occupy a spot on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 D-backs prospects list. And, most importantly for

From heckler to PA announcer: Cole's unique path

Amplifying the improbable story of Eugene Emeralds' ballpark voice
May 17, 2023

EUGENE, OREGON -- Jill Cole didn’t apply for the job and had no prior experience. So how did she end up as public address announcer for the Eugene Emeralds, spending her evenings behind a microphone in the PK Park press box? It's kind of a weird story. “I came here

The affix is in: Jumbo Shrimp salute duct tape

Reviewing promotions director Ratz's sticky night at the ballpark
May 5, 2023

"It was my fault, because it was my idea. I suffered the consequences, so there you go." We've all expressed such sentiment during our lives. In this particular instance, the person speaking was Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp promotions director David Ratz, and the idea gone wrong was to spend three innings

Jerry! Jerry! Springer's night with the Naturals

Remembering the talk show host's visit to Northwest Arkansas
April 27, 2023

Jerry Springer, daytime TV talk show trendsetter, died Thursday at the age of 79. Springer was a huge baseball fan -- he loved the Yankees, and for a time, had season tickets for the Florida State League's Sarasota Red Sox. In 2012, he made what may have been his only

Going, going, Oregon: Previewing a ballpark trip

Traveling writer's itinerary includes Exploding Whales, Canada
April 27, 2023

This article is excerpted from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, which you can subscribe to HERE. Each Thursday brings a new installment filled with Minor League Baseball business and culture news.

Picking the best mascots in the Minors

Costumed characters that'll make you feel warm and fuzzy
April 25, 2023

In Minor League Baseball, the players come and go. The mascot remains. Mascots are beacons of stability and bringers of joy, and the combination of these two durable traits make them universally beloved. Picking favorites is a thankless task, and while no one has to do it, this writer will

Rise of the Machines? Blue Wahoos embrace AI 

On Artificial Unintelligence Night, mankind takes the evening off
April 21, 2023

Erik Bremer, broadcaster for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, says the team tries "to stay at the forefront of what people are talking about online." On Tuesday evening, that meant removing people themselves from the equation. It was "Artificial Unintelligence Night" at Blue Wahoos Stadium, during which the Double-A Marlins affiliate

Back for seconds: Even more MiLB food debuts 

Loosen your belt and grab a big pile of napkins, it's time to dig in
April 21, 2023

(This article first appeared, in modified form, in the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter. Read it here, and subscribe here to have all the fun of the Minor Leagues delivered to your inbox each Thursday.) You may have read Tuesday's article on 2023 concession stand debuts,

Step up to the plate: New MiLB food items

An aromatic roundup of notable 2023 concession stand debuts
April 18, 2023

Hungry? If not, you probably will be after reading this appetizing article. What follows is a by-no-means comprehensive roundup of notable concession items debuting in the Minor Leagues this season. There's more where this came from, so there'll be a second course if the public is hungry for it. For

Been a while: Oldest Minor League ballparks

From Florida to British Columbia, a round-up of historic facilities
April 12, 2023

The majority of Minor League Baseball ballparks were built in the 21st century. Six debuted in 2021 alone, and many more are likely to appear as the 2020s progress. But what about the ballparks on the other side of the spectrum? Those that have been around the longest? The top

Minor League promos to look forward to in 2023

As season begins, an overview of tasty theme nights and much more
April 4, 2023

When it comes to Minor League Baseball games, are you more likely to attend for the prospects or the promos? While these pursuits aren't mutually exclusive, many fans find their greatest ballpark joys within the latter: the cornucopia of theme nights, giveaways and celebrity appearances that take place at ballparks

Taking in Minor League Baseball's top views

A level-by-level appreciation of ballpark surroundings
March 31, 2023

From rugged mountain landscapes to calming expanses of water to gleaming city skylines, Minor League Baseball stadiums offer a wide variety of scenic and often truly stunning surroundings. Picking favorites is a thankless task, but what follows is this writer's level-by-level attempt to do so. Click on each ballpark's name

13 reasons we're excited for MiLB Opening Day

Prospects, pigs and celery: Staffers share their specific ballpark joys
March 30, 2023

If you're anything like us, you're excited the Minor League Baseball season is finally here. And if you're not excited, maybe it's time to rethink that position. The joys of Minor League Baseball are many and varied, a veritable "choose your own adventure" when it comes to the ways in

Herd Chronicles dives deep into Buffalo baseball

Bisons fan Brian Frank tells team stories, from 1877 to the present
October 26, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Brian Frank is on a mission that can be summarized in seven words: preserving the history of Buffalo Bisons baseball. When it comes to this storied franchise, there is a lot of history to preserve, arguably more than in any other current Minor League Baseball locale. Buffalo,

Mighty Mussels help with Hurricane Ian recovery

Fort Myers' Loveland discusses storm prep, impact and aftermath
October 21, 2022

This article is based on an interview conducted for this week's Show Before the Show podcast. To listen to the full episode, click HERE.

Yes to Yaya: Erie embraces energetic reliever 

SeaWolves' Chentouf an extroverted, exuberant fan favorite
September 16, 2022

ERIE, Penn. -- Yasin Chentouf, a bearded, long-haired and compactly built SeaWolves relief pitcher, has always had a gift for gab. It's just who he is. This propensity for loquaciousness resulted in his nickname, which he's had for the entirety of his baseball career: Yaya. "My first year playing baseball,

Riding the tube: Beloit fans float to ballpark

Sky Carp stage inaugural Rock River "Drift to the Diamond"
September 1, 2022

Beloit, Wisconsin's Midwest League team may have a fish in its name, but Sky Carp is actually a slang term for a goose. Nonetheless, the Marlins' High-A affiliate still has an affinity for, and proximity to, the water. This was made abundantly clear this past Sunday, as fans traveled to

Snappers to Sky Carp: Beloit fans stick with team 

Pat and Ken Arndt reflect on Pohlman Field's intimacy, accessibility
August 31, 2022

BELOIT, Wisconsin -- 2021 marked the end of the line for Pohlman Field, home of Beloit, Wisconsin’s Midwest League team since 1982. During that farewell campaign, the High-A Miami affiliate, then known as the Snappers, had seven full-season ticket holders. Not 700, 70 or even 17. Just seven. Pat and

MiLB at Field of Dreams gameday journal

A real-time account of a cinematically inspired cornfield contest
August 9, 2022

DYERSVILLE, Iowa -- "If you write it, they will read." As I traveled into Iowa, marveling at the grandeur of the mighty Mississippi, this sentiment echoed through my head. Whether a ghostly transmission or a convenient manifestation of my subconscious, it matters not. Cinematic inspiration is everywhere today, as the

What's up, Doc? Beloit pitcher blazes unique path

M.D. Johnson studies mechanics, fixes gloves, embraces domesticity
July 15, 2022

BELOIT, Wisconsin -- His legal name is Michael David Johnson, but these days he’s often referred to as Doc. It’s a fitting nickname for the ace of the Beloit Sky Carp, even if he’s a long way from a PhD. “In the baseball world I’ve always been known as M.D.,”

Legend of Big Joe Davis grows in Greenville

Sausage-making slugger goes yard on his bobblehead day
April 18, 2022

Joe Davis, a Texas native selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 19th round of the 2019 Draft, describes himself as “just a husky guy who plays first base.” But to fans of his current team, the Greenville Drive, and throughout the Boston organization, he’s achieved larger-than-life status. Meet

Let's get weird: Promos to look forward to in '22

A season-opening look at Minors' theme nights, giveaways, guests
April 5, 2022

What are Minor League Baseball promotions? Within the confines of this article, they have nothing to do with a player's advancement from one level of play to the next. Rather, they are the smorgasbord of theme nights, giveaways and celebrity guests that provide fans with a little extra enticement to

Full circle: Bud Fowler set for Hall enshrinement

19th-century Black baseball trailblazer grew up in Cooperstown
February 23, 2022

Bud Fowler, the first Black player in professional baseball history, grew up in Cooperstown, N.Y. He’ll return there on July 22, 2022 -- 109 years after his death -- when he receives his long-overdue induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Fowler's career, improbable and wholly unique, began in the