Archive for the ‘Can-Am League’ Category

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 6

What a week this has been!  Alex Rodriguez has a dramatic return from his injury with a first pitch homer on 5/8/09 and Manny Ramirez shows his feminine side by being the latest superstar to test positive for PEDs.  Still though, bobblehead promos are front and center on my end of this blog.  Here’s the lineup this week:

San Francisco Giants 5/12/09 Lou Seal (Chinese) (Mascot) – Part of a Chinese Heritage Night Promotion.  Although a Seal as a Lion Dancer is quite intriguing.

Chicago Cubs 5/12/09 Ernie Banks – First 10,000 – Cubbies go retro with his second giveaway.

Memphis Redbirds 5/12/09 Keith McDonald – First 1,000 – Another in the Redbirds alumni series.

Trenton Thunder 5/13/09 Joba Chamberlain First 2,000 6 and over – Last year they gave out a Joba for plan holders only. This time a straight giveaway.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5/15/09 Chris “Butter” Ball – First 1,000 – It’s time for the Pelicans to honor their groundskeeper following in the footstep of Trenton and Clearwater. He also boasts the title of 3-time consecutive winner of the Carolina League field of the Year!

Lansing Lugnuts 5/16/09 Carlos Zambrano – Lansing chooses to honor a no-hitter by a Cubs alumnus even though they are a Jays farm team.

Pittsburgh Pirates 5/16/09 Nate McLouth – Pirates annual All-Star bobblehead.

Tampa Bay Rays 5/16/09 Evan Longoria Figurine – This is probably the only way you can get this hot hitter to stand still, other than an upcoming bobblehead of course!!!

Texas Rangers 5/16/09 Josh Hamilton – The Rangers honor the defending HR derby champion.

San Francisco Giants 5/17/09 Tim Lincecum – First 20,000 – The Giants give the reigning NL Cy Young champ his due.

St. Louis Cardinals 5/17/09 Lou Brock Statue – First 25,000 16 and older – Continue your collection in the Cardinals bronze statue series with this one-of-a-kind replica of the Hall of Famer, just like the one that stands on the corner of 8th and Clark.

Toronto Blue Jays 5/17/09 Alex Rios – First 10,000 – This bobblehead is one of the first I’ve ever seen with a weight around the bat.

This week’s bobblehead travels take me to Trenton for the Joba bobblehead night on Wednesday. Don’t be chicken, Don’t be shy, come around and just say hi.

Butch Hobson Gets His Number Retired (Video)

I wrote early in the season about the ceremony to retire Butch Hobson’s number 17 in Nashua.  Looking around YouTube tonight, I found a video of the event:

You Can Run, D’Avilia, But You Can’t Hide

You remember the old show “Unsolved Mysteries”, right?  The one hosted to perfection by Robert Stack?  Every so often, they would go through a case, present all the weird details, Stack would wrap it up…then, out of nowhere, the word “UPDATE” or “SOLVED” or something like that would flash on the screen and we would learn that what we had just seen was, in fact, no longer an unsolved mystery.

Tonight’s Nashua Pride game featured the long awaited UPDATE on the D’Avilia situation.

To recap: prior to the season, the Nashua Pride hung numbers on the front of the press box to commemmorate important players in team history.  Glenn Murray and Butch Hobson are honored for their contributions to Nashua baseball; several others, including Curtis Pride, performed admirably in the city before returning to the major leagues.

During my two years in media relations with the Pride, I became reasonably well-versed in the team’s history, so it was surprising when I didn’t recognize the name on Number 11: the one-named “D’Avilia”, who was involved with the team in some capacity back in 1999.  I knew he wasn’t a player – a coach, maybe?  The mystery was enticing, the team staff utterly useless.  They’ve changed over almost entirely since I left in 2004, but I still made a point to ask at the last couple games I went to.  My query was always met with a blank stare and, “You know, that’s a good question, I’m not really sure.”  I realize they’re busy trying to sell the team to local businesses and fans so it can stay in business, but if you’re going to put a piece of information out there like that, wouldn’t it make sense to have a story behind it in case anyone asks?  Even the general manager didn’t know who D’Avilia was, which to me is just stupid.  Sure, it’s a small point, but it’s a small point that left me shaking my head as I walked away from at least four front office employees this season.

Anyway, the general manager (I think it was the general manager, anyway) was the least useless because he directed me to the people who could answer the question: the Boosters Club and a gentleman named Spike, who attends a good many games and used to be known for bringing a cowbell (this was before someone decided they should sell cowbells in the ballpark.  Not a good idea).  Though I had never actually spoken to Spike before, this was a no-brainer; to let the chance of learning D’Avilia’s story slip away after coming so close would have been a tragedy.

I made my move at the end of the eighth.  The Pride had just broken a 2-2 tie with a six-run rally (the eventual game-winner was hit by Edgard Clemente, nephew of Roberto) and Spike was sitting in a lower row in my section, so I figured what the hell.  I walked down, made my approach, and told the small group that I had a question and thought they were the guys to answer it.

Turns out, the name on the circle, D’Avilia, was incorrect; the actual name was Davila, with a little accent above the first “a”, and the player in question wasn’t a player, but a coach: Angel “Papo” Davila, the pitching coach early on in the Pride’s tenure.  Spike thought he had gone on to the major leagues as a coach for the Reds, hence the special circular honor.  I don’t know where he is now – he did a one-year stint as the manager at Laredo in 2007 and Google doesn’t want to tell me where he is this season.

So ends the mystery of D’Avilia.  Like many things associated with the Pride, the resolution was, in my opinion, a bit underwhelming.

The rest of the ballpark experience was typical.  Chris was invited, but unable to join us, and our friend Colleen’s invite got lost in the mail (i.e. I started sending a text but fell asleep before it was finished, then didn’t realize until later that the message never sent), so it ended up as family night: me, Vicki, and Joey.  As usual, Joey was a hit – he’s big enough to sit in the seats now, so he did that for awhile, then he turned around and hammed it up for the older couple sitting behind us, then the teenage girls sitting behind them.  And, not to get too crazy personal or anything, for the first time in awhile, my wife and I actually talked, just shot the shit about her mother and some work and other little stuff.  I called her Vicki Leigh at one point (long story) and got an actual real laugh and threat to my life, which is always nice.  So that was good.

On the down side, the concession stands were predictably light on food items.  It was the last game of the season and they had obviously ordered a bit on the low side.  When I went in the second inning, they were out of all chicken-related items and fast approaching the end of the french fries.  The reason for it was understandable – you don’t want to leave money in the freezer, especially with the team’s status up in the air for next season – but it’s still too bad that fans had to be left with a negative memory (although I DID get my italian sausage sub.  Not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t downed one more before the offseason).

Another thing about the concessions, and this doesn’t have anything to do with the team: when you’re in line, spread out.  Please.  The guy behind me tonight was so close I thought he was either gonna try to steal my wallet or wanted to spoon.  When he turned around every so often to check out the action on the field, he would actually bump into me.  That’s how close we were.  I felt like we were slow dancing at a junior high dance, only there was no principal nearby to stop over and slide us apart.

Anything else…Joey almost won a tricycle, but it went to an older kid a couple rows back…Monkey Boy was on hand to provide entertainment, but no other on-field promotions were held; it’d be easy to say that they were mailing it in on the last night with a subpar crowd, but I think the truth is that they never really figured out how to handle that aspect of their game presentation…once again, the Pride may not be back next season – the owner, John Stabile, claims to have lost $500,000 on the team this year and is looking to sell.

Obama wins again in Brockton

The polls opened early at Campanelli Stadium with a double header pushing ahead the night’s start time to 5:05 PM.  However voter turnout was strong and an early projection held true.  During the first game of the doubleheader, the public address announcer declared that with 10% of the votes tallied, Obama held a slight edge.  When all of the ballots were counted and verified (there will not be a re-count Florida), Obama had captured a majority vote of 52.3 percent.

Bobblection Week 2008 continues on Friday night in Charleston, South Carolina when the Charleston RiverDogs host the Rome Braves.  Analysts have not yet cast any projection. 

Brockton’s Bobblection was the second stop on the Bobblection Week 2008 tour.  On Wednesday in Hudson Valley, New York, the Hudson Valley Renegades saw Obama sneak away with a tight victory.

Welcome Back, Brian Daubach. We Missed You

When I went to a couple Nashua Pride games over Opening Weekend, I remember making a mental note that the team’s hitting coach was former major league slugger Richie Hebner, who also coached in Boston during my formative years as a fan. 

Maybe a week or two later, I noticed that Pittsburgh was giving away a Hebner bobblehead and thought it might be cool to talk to Hebner and get his thoughts on the honor – you know, since he was practically in my backyard and all. 

Imagine my surprise when the Pride Web site made no mention of Hebner as hitting coach.  In fact, I’m not sure his name was mentioned anywhere; I had to do a little digging to find out that he had accepted a minor league managerial position with the Baltimore Orioles.

So that was kind of uncool.  Hebner had been the big name on Nashua’s coaching staff – former Red Sox outfielder Rick Miller is the manager and longtime Nashua presence John Roper is the pitching coach – and surely would have been an interview subject of this blog at some point.  It was very disappointing.

They say that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, however, and today, He did the former.  Brian Daubach, the former Red Sox first baseman whose most perplexing and endearing qualities were his world-class mustache and maddeningly inconsistent consistency, ventured into town to lay claim to the position. 

Yeah, that’s right folks: Dauber is the Nashua Pride’s new hitting coach.

I have no strong visual evidence to support my moustache claim – there’s an interview question right there: “Did you, in fact, sport a phenomenal moustache earlier in life?” – but has the skinny on Daubach’s consistency, mostly in the form of his homerun and RBI totals (21, 21, 22, 20 and 73, 76, 71, 78, respectively, from 1999-2002).  It seemed like at least once a month, he’d go through a horrible slump, then rebound and go on a tear.  I could never get over the fact that a player like that could produce such similar numbers, year after year after year after year.

Hopefully Daubach can help the Pride’s offense find its groove: the team currently ranks last in the Can-Am League in team batting average and next-to-last in runs scored.  Whatever happens, though, I’m already looking forward to making my next trip over to Holman Stadium, and that’s the true value of an addition like this.

(Side note: how about a hand for the Pride, which is averaging 1,719 fans per game through 18 games this season?  Rumors of the franchise’s death have sandbagged operations since I worked there in 2003, and this season, the third (?) under local owner John Stabile, was rumored to really really be the last unless fans started coming out in greater numbers.  So far, unless someone’s cooking the books, it appears they are doing just that.  Great job, Pride; great job, Nashua.  Let’s keep this thing afloat for a few more years, shall we?)

The Long, Winding Road To Complete Nerd-dom

“You know, they have Monkey Boy bobbleheads for sale out front.”

Those were the words uttered by my friend Allison in the eighth inning of the Nashua Pride game last night.  She and her boyfriend, Cody, had just returned from an excursion around the ballpark with my son.  Holman Stadium is not that big, and they had found themselves on the main concourse.  Their reason for being there is unimportant: what matters is that Allison happened to see Monkey Boy, that evening’s special guest, signing autographs.  And she saw the bobbleheads.

Now, Allison is not particularly supportive of my bobblehead habit.  I bought one of Jeff Giuliano, a Nashua native who plays for the Los Angeles Kings, last week.  When the glue holding the spring gave way and the head fell almost completely off, she laughed for a full ten minutes.  But being a good friend, she knew that this was something I would enjoy, so she mentioned it.

My eyes lit up.  My wife’s face fell.  She also does not condone my bobblehead habit.

“I need to check this out,” I told her.  “I need to at least find out how much they are.”

The line was at least 75 people long and composed almost entirely of parents and small children.  It was surprisingly light on sketchy guys in their late twenties.  I wasn’t interested in an autograph or anything, so I wandered up to the head of the line, where they happened to be unwrapping bobbleheads before my very eyes.  I decided to approach a Pride employee who was standing near the table.

“Hey, I have a quick question.  How much are the bobbleheads?”

“Six dollars.”

I withdrew ten or fifteen feet to regroup and survey the line.  Still a ton of people.  Not worth waiting that long for a bobblehead.  Maybe…

“Hey, sorry, I have one more question.  Do I have to wait in line to buy a bobblehead or can I just grab one and pay for it right now, real quick?”

He looked at another employee, the one who was pulling the bobbleheads out of a bag.  She gave the okay, so I pulled my money out and handed it over.  I figured they give me an unopened box, but the guy sort of looked at me funny and I got the feeling that I was supposed to just grab one of the opened ones on the table and be on my way.

That’s when it happened: Monkey Boy picked up a bobblehead, looked at me, and made a scribbling motion with the pen in his hand.

“Want him to sign it?” someone said.

In that one moment, I went from a nerd who hopped to the front of the line to make a quick bobblehead purchase to the nerd who cut a line filled with kids to buy a bobblehead and have it signed.  That’s like seven notches higher on the nerd scale, folks. 

Monkey Boy signed my bobblehead and I got out of there as fast as I possibly could.  Back to my seat, where the first thing I saw was the “What the hell” look on my wife’s face at the sight of a small monkey clutched firmly in my left hand.  She softened somewhat when I told her the price; she softened a lot when our son decided it was the greatest thing he had ever seen and almost leapt from her seat to mine to get it.  I had to put it in his diaper bag to keep it away from him.

Oh yeah: the Pride lost, 8-1, after giving up six runs in the eighth inning.  And I still don’t know what the deal is with Davilia’s number 11.

Nashua Pride Opening Weekend Pictures

It only took a week, but I finally managed to get some pictures from last week’s Nashua Pride games that my wife and I attended.  Big props to Mrs. OMDQ, who downloads these from the camera because I’m too technologically illiterate to do it myself.

Looking at the field for the first time, Joey appeared a little unsure of what he was actually seeing.  One of my favorite parts of being a dad is watching him look at things for the first time and trying to imagine what is going on inside that little brain.

The first game we went to, Opening Night, featured a pregame ceremony in which members of the Pride team and staff received 2007 Can-Am League championship rings.  The first person introduced was former PA announcer Ken Cail, who served in that capacity for the team’s first ten seasons before moving down the highway to do radio broadcasts for the Lowell Spinners (A-Red Sox).

On hand to receive his ring was Olmo Rosario, the 2007 Can-Am League’s Most Valuable Player.  While he was standing in line, a fan in the next section raced around trying to set up an “Ol-mo” chant that seemed like it was left over from last season.  Didn’t really work out well.  Olmo is currently playing for the Connecticut Defenders in the Eastern League, hitting .319 with three homeruns, 17 RBI and 10 steals. 

After the ring ceremony was complete, they raised the championship banner on the flagpole in right field.  My wife managed to snap a picture just as the wind kicked up and made the banner wave, just like banners are supposed to do.

Game 2 of the season.  Joey hadn’t quite recovered from Opening Night.

Prior to the game, longtime manager had his number 17 retired by the team.  He was given a framed jersey and his number was hung on the wall below the press box.  As you can see, I got a picture of one of those things.

Problem was, I meant to get a picture on Opening Night and never did, so these were taken pregame, before Butch’s number was added.  Next time I go, I’ll get a shot of his number, which actually hangs directly over one of the tunnels. The numbers on this side, on the left of the press box if you’re standing with your back to home plate, belong to Joe Grahe, Milt Cuyler, Felix Jose, and Glenn Murray.  The first three used Nashua as a springboard back to the major leagues.  Murray was a longtime fan favorite who broke the Atlantic League record for homeruns with the Pride.

On this side: Mike Easler, the first manager in 1998; Curtis Pride, who used to spend about a month with the team every spring before some team realized they should have signed him already; and some guy named D’Avilia.  I wanna say his first name is Vic, but I’m not entirely sure, or why he’s up there.

And finally, we need to include a photo of the Pride mascot, Stitches…or, as I like to call him, Mr. Met North.