Count Minor League Baseball among the few who think the Nationals should take their time before promoting Stephen Strasburg to the big leagues.
While Strasburg's record-setting days may be ahead of him in Washington, he's certainly helped some minor league teams reach new heights during the first seven weeks of his professional career. Three of Strasburg's seven starts between the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League have resulted in attendance records for the home team (his April 27 outing in Reading was a makeup game from a rainout the night before and thus did not have an announced crowd).
Strasburg is scheduled to make his third start since being promoted to the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs tonight at the Rochester Red Wings' Frontier Field. As has been the case most everywhere Strasburg has gone this season, the game has been the talk of the town in Rochester.
The Red Wings had sold over 9,000 tickets by lunch time and it appeared only a steady afternoon rain could put a damper on the evening's festivities and prevent Rochester from reaching its standing-room-only capacity of 13,500.
"It it was sunny, it would be crazy here tonight," Red Wings general manager Dan Mason said this afternoon as rain continued to fall three hours before game time. "The buzz that this young man has created is something we haven't seen here for awhile."
As Major League Baseball prepares to honor its place in history at Saturday's Civil Rights Game in Cincinnati, perhaps it is time MLB also paid respect to the man responsible for this annual event.
No, it is not MLB vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon, no matter how many times Bud Selig says otherwise this weekend. It's Dave Chase, the former Triple-A Memphis Redbirds general manager who first dreamed up the idea of a Civil Rights Game on his drive home from the ballpark and then worked tirelessly with MLB (and Solomon, in particular) to make it a reality.
Yes, Solomon had Selig's ear. And without Solomon pushing MLB brass for its approval, the Civil Rights Game likely wouldn't have become an event so popular that big league clubs are now lining up to host it.
But something seems a little disingenuous that on a weekend MLB honors its role in the civil rights movement, it ignores the one played by Chase in creating what MLB now touts as one of its signature events.
There simply was not enough space in my 900-word article on Astros announcers Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond to include all of the great tales about their adventures in the minors en route to their current major league gig.
They each spent 12 years in the minors, enough time to hone their craft in relative anonymity. It was also more than enough time to experience most everything the minors could throw at a person.
Giving plasma to make ends meet, sleeping out of your car, living in the umpire's clubhouse and transporting prisoners from the local jail to help out a short-staffed groundscrew. These were included in the article. Below are a few more details that did not make it into print.
Many of the obituaries running on Tigers legend Ernie Harwell state that he is the only announcer ever to be traded, when Dodgers owner Branch Rickey dealt for him out of the minors. Dave Raymond may care to differ. After all, his stay with the Charleston RiverDogs came to an end when Mike Veeck swapped him with the St. Paul Saints broadcast team.
The road trip could not have come at a better time.
The Triple-A Nashville Sounds departed for an eight-game trip on Monday after the final two games of its homestand were washed out by the flooding that devastated so much of the team's hometown.
Greer Stadium survived the storms with little damage, and Sounds director of communications and operations Doug Scopel suggested that the field may have been playable on Monday if needed. But getting away was the best solution–crowds likely would have been sparse as the city cleaned up from storms that left at least 18 dead.
"When you have something this severe and tragic, weather wise, it will not only affect the baseball business, but any other business going on," Scopel said.
The Sounds weren't the only team impacted by the weekend storms. Their opponent, the Memphis Redbirds, endured a rough weekend in Nashville while its ballpark back home was flooded with rain.
The International League announced a new award it will debut this season honoring those who work behind the scenes to make minor league baseball such a success.
Longtime Toledo Mud Hens broadcaster Frank Gilhooley has been named the first recipient of the Spirit of the International League award. Gilhooley, in his 24th season in Toledo, will be recognized by the Mud Hens on May 24 during "Frank Gilhooley Day" at Fifth Third Field.
“Frank epitomizes exactly what we had in mind when establishing the Spirit of the International League Award,” International League president Randy Mobley said in a release. “With his humble and pleasant approach, Frank is an extended member of the family for Mud Hens fans listening on the radio.'
The award seeks to recognize those who "work tirelessly to enhance the fan experience and significantly contribute to the overall success of the production that is today’s minor league baseball game," the IL said in a release.
Tireless work certainly seems like an appropriate description. In recent weeks, I've spoken to several people from around the minor league community about the long hours and hard work it takes to make it in the business. Long hours for little pay seems like part of most any job description in the game, so it would seem such an award is deserved.
"During a baseball game these days there are many, many individuals in and around our ballparks who impact the fan experience," Mobley said. "Some are visible and others are not so visible, but each and every one of them is vital to the success of the operation of their team and this League. With the creation of this award we will look forward to annually recognizing an individual who has clearly demonstrated a fan-centered approach on a daily basis."
Beginning in 2011, each International League team will be able to nominate a person from its staff for the award. The IL will select the winner.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog