From Minor League Baseball to Major Fun: Part 1

For the next four or five weekends, I’ll be making trips to local minor league ballparks. It will be nice to see some games as a fan, but that’s not the only (or even primary) reason I’m going. My mission is to make some new friends throughout baseball, learn about all the different promos other teams run and add to list of parks I’ve watched a game in.

My first stop in the 2011 season was in Manchester, New Hampshire, the home of the Fisher Cats (a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate). If the Fisher Cats had existed in 1992, I would have been ecstatic spending every single day at their stadium during the year. (At that point, my favorite color was blue, so naturally, my favorite team was the Blue Jays.) Regardless of the year it is currently, I would have (and did have) a great time there anyway.

To be completely honest, I wish I got to partake in the Nerf Gun Shootout. Their sales vp/incredibly enthusiastic Rambo won the competition, but I bet I could have given him a run for his money.

I may not have had the privilege of doing any crazy promos on the field, but at least I had to consolation of participating in an off-field one: all-you-can-eat day. The only thing better than ballpark food at a game is free ballpark food at a game, and there was plenty of it. I didn’t end up with a wacky or digestively-challenging (yes, I just made that word up) entrees, but a couple of hot dogs with sufficient ketchup were enough for me.

It was great catching up with Trenton Thunder broadcaster Jay Burnham, who I met on a similar road trip last year (when I went to Trenton and Lakewood, New Jersey to catch a couple of games). I also got to meet his new broadcast partner, Hank Fuerst, as well as the Fisher Cats’ game callers, Bob Lipman and Dick Lutsk. The Fisher Cats’ Director of Media Relations Matt Leite, was very accommodating to me, and like every other team employee I encountered, he was legitimately friendly.

I can’t make a sweeping generalization about the team after visiting for one afternoon, but I figure winning the 2010 Larry MacPhail Award for the Best Minor League Organization speaks enough on their behalf.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The Fisher Cats won (4-1), but the Thunder made it interesting in the ninth, loading the bases. Two members of the 40-man roster for Toronto had an impact on the game’s outcome. Adeiny Hechavarria had an RBI double plus a run scored, and Alan Farina got the save, entering the game with two down and the bases juiced.

Once I confirm a few things, I will have next weekend’s destination figured out. I’ll give you a clue: it’s south of Manchester, but still in New England. Part 2 will be up soon after!

As always, thanks for reading. Let me know what your favorite Minor League Baseball experience has been with a comment here!

*****

Enjoyed this post? You’ll like the rest of the “From Minor League Baseball to Major Fun” series:

Part 2

Part 4

Part 3

Part 3.5 (Believe it or not, there’s a reason for the entry entropy.)

Part 6

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