Archive for the ‘Northern 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.

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This Week in Bobbleheads Week 3

Baseball fever is officially in regular season mode.  2 new venues have debuted for MLB here in NY, minor league reports are starting to mount and promotional schedules continue to mount.  Here’s this week’s report on the still prosperous hobby:

Chicago Cubs 4/21/09 Carlos Zambrano “No-Hitter” Statue – First 10,000 fans – Z’s feat is especially amazing considering this was to be a “road game” in a neutral site due to a hurricane in Texas, yet more like a home game since the Cubbies next door neighbors are in Milwaukee.

Mississippi Braves 4/21/09 Tim Hudson – First 500 fans – Leftovers of the Atlanta ’08 giveaway.

San Francisco Giants 4/21/09 Manny Pacquiao – The Filipino boxer’s figure is in conjunction with Filipino Heritage Night, along with it being close to his next boxing tangle.

Mississippi Braves 4/22/09 Bobby Cox – First 500 fans – Another A-Braves leftover to give to M-Brave fans.

Arizona Diamondbacks 4/25/09 Justin Upton – First 25,000 fans – This will be J-Up’s first MLB uni bobble following Norfolk’s ’08 representation in a hometown heroes series.

Cleveland Indians 4/25/09 Kerry Wood – The only problem with this bobblehead is his beard isn’t thick enough.

Fans of this blog, the hobby and baseball are going to love this Vanity Fair article regarding the economics of baseball at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/04/spring-training200904 .  Page 1 has quotes by yours truly on not only the hobby, but the cancer that is Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees clubhouse.  Continue to follow the schedule of bobbleheads past, present and future at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com/

See ya next week

Obama Victorious in ‘Vital’ St. Paul Saints’ Bobblection

ST. PAUL – U.S. Sen. Barack Obama handily defeated Sen. John McCain in the “Bobblection” held at Midway Stadium Saturday evening, before the St. Paul Saints beat the Fort Worth Cats 9-7. Obama’s strong showing in this important indicator of public opinion comes as his Minnesota campaign is gaining strength and momentum statewide. The Saints’ Bobblection track record cannot be questioned – in 2004, it correctly predicted the Minnesota results in the general election.

“Senator Obama is humbled that Saints fans recognize the need for real leadership to address the issues middle-class families are dealing with every day,” Obama’s Minnesota spokesman Nick Kimball said. “Saints fans are truly representative of Minnesota – hard working folks who enjoy a beautiful night of outdoor baseball.”

Obama’s strong showing – in what the McCain campaign acknowledged was a “vital contest” – came despite the strongest efforts of the McCain campaign to turn out in “full force” Saturday night.

Obama will build off the momentum gained from the Bobblection victory by continuing to build the strongest grassroots organization ever assembled in the state. Thousands of Minnesotans are invested in the campaign and are working in their own neighborhoods to bring real change and get our country back on track.

Obama will try to keep his streak alive tonight in Sioux Falls and with if he wins there he will go for the sweep tomorrow night in Fort Myers.

Do Jackals Only See in Black & White?

Jack from the New Jersey Jackals is either color-blind, or he is a good guy who wants to cure breast cancer. Either way, it’s nice of him to pitch in around the clubhouse:

Jack the Jackal Does the Laundry from New Jersey Jackals on Vimeo.

Thanks to reader Will for sending this along – there are a few more where this one came from!

Say Hello to your Friendly Neighborhood RailCat

Last week, OMDQ wrote a piece about the former MLB players who are hanging around the Independent leagues. That inspired the Gary RailCats to tell us about their successes in that area. We received the following email touting Tony Cogan and the rest of the RailCats roster:

“Tony Cogan is our only current RailCats player with Major League
experience, but currently we have two players that used to be RailCats
that our on Major League rosters. Relief pitcher Tim Byrdak recently got
picked up by the Houston Astros, while outfielder Nathan Haynes
currently plays for the Tampa Bay Rays. If you need more information let
me know.”

TONY COGAN: LHP

HT: 6’2″

WT: 210

B/T: L/L

HOMETOWN: Highland Park, IL

BORN: December 21, 1976

COLLEGE: Stanford University

ACQUIRED: Signed as a free agent, March 1, 2007.
HONORS: Holds the school record at Stanford for most games pitched in a
season (36 in 1997) and is tied for fifth on the school’s all-time
career saves list.selected as Stanford’s Most Inspirational Player in
1999, the year after RailCats shortstop Jay Pecci won the award at the
same school.

2007: Led the Northern League in saves with 25, setting a new RailCats
single-season club record in the process.The 25 saves tied for the third
highest total in the history of the Northern League and was the most for
any N.L. pitcher since 2004.Also pitched in the Northern League All-Star
Game in July.Earned four saves in the post-season while suffering a loss
in his only decision.Enjoyed high comfort level at the Steel Yard,
limiting opposing batters to a combined batting average of .193 while
posting an ERA of 1.61.Saw 41.1 of his 48.2 innings in either the ninth
inning or extra innings of games.At his best in the tightest spots.
Opposing batters went a combined 6 for 42 (.143) against him with men on
base and two outs.Got off to an outstanding start, posting six saves and
a win in May (RailCats played only 14 games in the month) and allowed
runs in only two of his first 15 outings.Notched 11 saves in August,
allowing just three runs in 15 games (14
innings) for the month.

CAREER NOTES: Spent most of the 2001 season in the major leagues with
the Kansas City Royals, making 39 appearances out of the Royals
bullpen.reached the major leagues in just his third season of
professional baseball after being selected in the 12th round of the 1999
draft by the Royals.Ranked fourth in the American Association in ERA in
2006.played out his option with Sioux Falls and elected free agency
following the 2006 season.Product of Stanford University, where he was a
teammate of RailCats shortstop Jay Pecci.Holds the school record at
Stanford for most games pitched in a season
(36 in 1997) and is tied for fifth on the school’s all-time career saves
list.Selected as Stanford’s Most Inspirational Player in 1999, the year
after Pecci won the award at the same school.Native of Highland Park,
Illinois and threw three no-hitters during his career at Highland Park
High School.

Thanks to Jack Cobra of Cobra Brigade for getting us in touch with the RailCats HQ.

Indy Spotlight – The Ballparks

Minor league ballparks have always been a source of fascination for me.  One of the most interesting things about working for the Nashua Pride (how many more mentions can I make of that job before the hate mail starts rolling in?) was “Historic” Holman Stadium, a city-owned ballpark that played host to a number of amateur activities (including, for many years, high school football) as well as the various professional baseball teams that rolled through the area over the years. 

Holman Stadium was, by far, the oldest ballpark in the Atlantic League; I’m fairly certain that the league’s six other venues were all built in 1998 or later.  But one thing that I always liked about Holman, and this may just be the home team bias talking, was the history that had taken place there.  It was the place where Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe had played in 1946, to become the first black ballplayers to see action for a professional team based in the United States.  Sure, the layout is terrible – the field of play isn’t visible from the main concourse, for example, so on a busy night, you could go for a hot dog and miss three innings – but there was, and still is, a certain charm to the place. 

But don’t take my word for it.  I still get all misty when I visit Fenway Park.

There are 62 independent teams in action this season, 61 of which have home stadiums.  Wikipedia lists the cost information for 20 stadiums, the year opened for 55 stadiums, and the capacity for 60 stadiums.  Using that, I put together a few lists – oldest and youngest ballparks, biggest ballparks, most expensive, yadda yadda yadda.  It’s interesting stuff, but take it with a grain of salt.  For one, the information is from Wikipedia, and two, the listed capacities aren’t always accurate.  For instance, Lancaster’s Clipper Magazine Stadium is noted as having a capacity of up to 7,500.  On Opening Night, however, they set an Atlantic League record by packing 8,485 fans into the place.  Obviously, there’s a slight difference there, probably due to standing room, but still – grain of salt.

Five Oldest Independent Ballparks
Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field (Worcester Tornadoes, Can-Am League) – Opened in 1905
Bosse Field (Evansville Otters, Frontier League) – Opened in 1915
Bringhurst Field (Alexandria Aces, United League) – Opened in 1933
Lawrence-Dumont Stadium (Wichita Wingnuts, American Association) – Opened in 1934
Holman Stadium (Nashua Pride, Can-Am League) – Opened in 1937

Four Newest Independent Ballparks
QuikTrip Park at Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie AirHogs, American Association) – 2008
Regency Furniture Stadium (Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Atlantic League) – 2008
Sovereign Bank Stadium (York Revolution, Atlantic League) – 2007
Rent One Park (Southern Illinois Miners, Frontier League) – 2007

Five Most Expensive Independent League Ballparks
U.S. Steel Yard (Gary SouthShore RailCats, Northern League) – $45 million
Sovereign Bank Stadium (York Revolution, Atlantic League) – $32.5 million
Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium (Newark Bears, Atlantic League) – $30 million
Haymarket Park (Lincoln Saltdogs, American Association) – $29.53 million
Silver Cross Field (Joliet JackHammers, Northern League) – $27 million

Five Largest Independent League Ballparks (in terms of capacity)
Desert Sun Stadium (Yuma Scorpions, Golden Baseball League) – 10,500
Ottawa Stadium (Ottawa Rapids, Can-Am League) – 10,332
Telus Field (Edmonton Cracker-Cats, Golden Baseball League) – 10,000
Cohen Stadium (El Paso Diablos, American Association) – 9,725
Haymarket Park (Lincoln Saltdogs, American Association) – 8,500

Oldest Average Ballpark Age By League
United League Baseball – 41.4 years
Can-Am League – 37.375 years
Golden Baseball League – 30 years
American Association – 26.2 years
Frontier League – 21 years
Northern League – 7.83 years
Atlantic League – 5.875 years
Continental Baseball League – 5.5 years

Largest Average Capacity By League
Northern League – 6,078
American Association – 5,833
Atlantic League – 5,678
Golden Baseball League – 5,367
Can-Am League – 4,866
United League Baseball – 4,840
Frontier League – 4,647
Continental Baseball League – 2,107

Indy Spotlight – Holding the Flavor of the Month’s – Ahem – in the Bus Leagues

When I promised last week to provide a relatively accurate list of former major leaguers that are currently listed on independent rosters, I had no idea what a task it would become.  Did you guys know there are like eight independent leagues out there?  Eighty or so teams?  Somewhere in the vicinity of 1,600 players?  That’s a lot of players.  Throw in a vicious flu/bronchitis that hit on Monday morning and it’s a miracle we’re here today, only one day behind schedule.

The list below isn’t perfect.  There have been some signings since I copied all the rosters into Word, the most obvious of which I accounted for, but I didn’t go through and enter every name into BR to see if somebody had four games of experience in 1999. 

Not surprisingly, the Atlantic League dominates this list, with 56 former big leaguers under contract thus far.  The ALPB has been one of the top independent leagues in the country for ten years now, the place where high-level talent goes when they have something to prove.  In 2001, Jose Canseco started the year with the Newark Bears (including a record crowd of over 4,800 on Opening Day in Nashua) before finishing the year (and his major league career) with the Chicago White Sox.  Two years later, Rickey Henderson took the same route, playing for Newark (literally an hour into my first day as an intern with the Pride, I tagged along with another intern who had been assigned to meet Henderson at his car) before the Dodgers came calling for the last thirty games.  And my personal favorite?  Dante Bichette, who joined the Pride in late July of 2004 after skipping two full seasons, took about a week to shake the rust off, then put on a clinic over the final month.

Will any of the guys on this list follow in the footsteps of Canseco, Henderson, Brendan Donnelly, or any of the other guys who used the independent leagues to get one more shot at the big time?  Too early to tell, but we’ll try to keep an eye on it as the season progresses.  (Some of the more interesting names are in bolded italics.  Guys that I’m not 100% certain about are listed as “possible”.)

American Association (A – AA)

Lincoln Saltdogs
Felix Jose (OF) – 1988-95, 2000, 2002-03 – Jose was the Atlantic League’s Co-MVP with the Nashua Pride in 1998.

Pensacola Pelicans
John Webb (P) – 2004-05

Sioux City Explorers
Dusty Bergman (P) – 2004

Sioux Falls Canaries
Pat Mahomes (P) – 1992-97, 1999-03

Wichita Wingnuts
Kevin Hooper (IF) – 2005-06
Dustan Mohr (OF) – 2001-07

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (AA – AAA)

Bridgeport Bluefish
Adam Greenberg (IF) – 2005 – Greenberg had one of the craziest careers ever, taking a pitch off the head during his first major league at-bat.  He left the game and has not appeared in a big league uniform since.
Alex Prieto (IF) – 2003-04
Tim Drew (P) – 2000-04 – The middle of the three baseball-playing Drew brothers, Tim and J.D. played together on the 2004 Atlanta Braves.
T.J. Tucker (P) – 2000, 2002-05
Eric Dubose (P) – 2002-06
Matt Ford (P) – 2003

Camden Riversharks
Kevin Walker (LHP) – 2000-05
Jason Phillips (1B/C) – 1999, 2002-03
Josh Rabe (OF) – 2006-07
Mike Vento (OF) – 2005-06

Lancaster Barnstormers
Matt LeCroy (C-1B) – 2000-07
John Nelson (SS) – 2006
Sendy Rleal (P) – 2006

Long Island Ducks
Tom Martin (P) – 1997-07
Jason Simontacchi (P) – 2002-04, 2007
Joe Valentine (P) – 2003-05
Brent Abernathy (IF) – 2001-03, 2005
Donaldo Mendez (IF) – 2001, 2003
Pete Rose, Jr. (IF) – 1997
Carl Everett (OF) – 1993-2006
Damian Rolls (OF) – 2000-04
Jamal Strong (OF) – 2003, 2005

Newark Bears
Bobby Hill (IF) – 2002-05
Ramon Castro (IF) – 2004
Randall Simon (IF) – 1997-99, 2001-06
Cory Aldridge (OF) – 2001
Keith Reed (OF) – 2005
Ruben Mateo (OF) – 1999-2004
Jose Herrera (OF) – 1995-96
Al Levine (P) – 1996-2005
Benito Baez (P) – 2001
Edwin Almonte (P) – 2003
J.J. Trujillo (P) – 2002
Will Cunnane (P) – 1997-2004

Somerset Patriots
Michael Ryan (OF) – 2000-05
Jeff Duncan (OF) – 2003-04
Brandon Knight (P) – 2001-02
Scott Wiggins (P) – 2002
Bret Prinz (P) – 2001-05, 2007
Andy Van Hekken (P) – 2002
Brian Reith (P) – 2001, 2003-04

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
Jeff Farnsworth (P) – 2002
John Halama (P) – 1998-2006
Adam Johnson (P) – possible – 2001, 2003
Jason Pearson (P) – 2002-03
Carlos Perez (P) – possible – 1995, 1997-2000
Dan Reichert (P) – 1999-2003
Damian Jackson (IF) – possible – 1996-2006
Greg Blosser (OF) – 1993-94 – Anyone else surprised that Blosser only played 22 games in the majors?
Eric Crozier (OF) – 2004

York Revolution
Wayne Franklin (P) – 2000-06
Pete Munro (P) – 1999-2000, 2002-04
Aaron Myette (P) – 1999-2004
Aaron Rakers (P) – 2004-05, 2007
Corey Thurman (P) – 2002-03
Dave Veres (P) – 1994-2003

Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball (A)

New Jersey Jackals
Joel Bennett (P) – 1998-99
Luke Allen (OF) – 2002-03

Ottawa Rapids
Napoleon Calzado (OF) – 2005

Sussex Skyhawks
Yohanny Valera (C ) – 2000
Walter Young (1B) – 2005

Golden Baseball League (AA)

Edmonton Cracker-Cats
Augustine Montero (P) – possible – 2006
Hector Ramirez (P) – possible – 1999-2000

Yuma Scorpions
Pascual Matos (C ) – 1999

Northern League (A-AA)

Gary SouthShore RailCats
Tony Cogan (P) – 2001

Joliet JackHammers
David Moraga (P) – 2000
Juan Carlos Diaz (INF) – 2002

Schaumburg Flyers
James Lofton (INF) – 2001 – I have an absolutely awesome story that features Lofton as the central figure.  I’ve been meaning to write it up for about two years now – maybe this blog will give me the momentum to do so.
Rontrez Johnson (OF) – 2003
Jermaine Allensworth (OF) – 1996-99
Bo Hart (INF) – 2003-04

United League Baseball

Laredo Broncos
Edgard Clemente (OF) – 1998-2000

San Angelo Colts
Matt Duff (P) – possible – 2002