Biz Roundup: Miss Babe Gets A Special Honor

So much for retirement. Miss Babe Ruth, one of the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ trio of lovable, bat-retrieving black labradors, announced her retirement last summer from the dog-eat-bat world of on-field promotions. The team sent her out in style, with a day-long celebration that culminated with a final trip around the bases. The bucket she used to bring water to the umpires was even sent to Cooperstown for display at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It turns out, however, that Miss Babe couldn’t stay away for long. The team announced on Wednesday that she’d accepted a new position with the club, Special Assistant to the President. Her new role is sponsored by Merck Animal Health.

“Babe is such a fixture at our ballpark, and we are thrilled she has agreed to her new role and sponsorship,” Grasshoppers president and general manager Donald Moore, and also Babe’s owner, said. “We want her to hang out and interact with our fans for as long as she feels like it. It just wouldn’t feel right without having her with us.”

Will the fame get to Miss Babe? Our J.J. Cooper will be at Greensboro’s Opening Day on Thursday to find out the answers.

Threshers Set To Welcome Two Millionth Fan

What’s the best way to spend $10 these days? One lucky fan at the Clearwater Threshers’ home opener on Friday night will go home with a tremendous return on their investment.

A night after their season opener in Dunedin, the team will kick off its home slate at Bright House Field in grand fashion. In addition to the usual festivities that come along with every Opening Day, the Threshers will welcome their 2 millionth fan through the turnstiles. The lucky fan will get the royal treatment: They’ll be showered with confetti, be interviewed on the video board, chauffeured around the warning track in a convertible and then escorted to the mound to throw out the game’s first pitch.

But wait–there’s more. The winner will receive an extravagant prize pack that includes Threshers season tickets for life, use of a suite at Bright House Field, $500 to spend at the team store, $100 to spend at the in-house Tiki bar, four tickets to a 2017 Phillies spring training game, a four-person spot in the team’s annual golf outing, four tickets to the local aquarium and more.

That’s $10 well spent.

IronPigs And Chiefs Snowed Out

The weather in the the Northeast apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that baseball season is here.

Lehigh Valley and Syracuse, the Triple-A affiliates of the Phillies and Nationals, respectively, have already announced that their four-game series to open the season has been postponed due to inclement field conditions.

Makeup dates and times haven’t been announced.

The IronPigs, the winners of the Best Food category for this year’s Best of the Minors survey, next play on Monday at Rochester. Syracuse is scheduled to resume play that day as well, at home against Rochester.

Wilmer Bobble-rama

What does Wilmer Flores have in common with Gotham City’s fictional district attorney Harvey Dent? Right now, nothing. That will change on July 31, when the Brooklyn Cyclones will hand out a bobblehead that aims to capture the Mets shortstop’s roller-coaster season.

One side of the doll will depict a sad Flores, commemorating the awkward moment last summer when he teared up in the field after he’d found out midgame that he’d been included in a proposed trade with the Astros that would have brought outfielder Carlos Gomez to New York. The trade was scuttled and the Mets eventually added outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers instead.

The other side of the bobblehead will depict the happy, triumphant Flores that emerged two days later when he hit a walk-off home run and was met with a raucous ovation from the crowd at Citi Field.

Two Wilmers, one great promotion. It’s a Two Face worth celebrating.

Tri-City Goes For Four

The Tri-City ValleyCats play in the short-season New York-Penn League, which means their season doesn’t begin until the middle of June. That won’t stop them from getting in on the fun of the start of the minor league season.

The team announced on Wednesday its intention to renovate four local youth fields–belonging to Guilderland Little League, Mechanicville Stillwater Little League, Nassau Baseball Association, and Upstate Premier Baseball–in a span of just 24 hours. The project is a combined effort among the ValleyCats, BlueShield of Northeastern New York and Hannaford Supermarkets and has been dubbed the Community Grounds Crew Program.

The renovations–which include a fresh coat of sod, renewed pitcher’s mounds and home-plate areas, infield raking and application of baselines–will begin at 7 a.m. on April 14 and carry on as long as necessary to reach completion within the specified 24 hours.

This is the sixth year of the Community Grounds Crew program.

Memphis Makes It Official

At a Wednesday press conference, the Memphis Redbirds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League formally introduced the franchise’s new majority owner, Peter Freund. He purchased a majority share of the franchise from the parent St. Louis Cardinals last month.

Later in the press conference, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak put any concerns about an affiliation change to rest by announcing St. Louis had extended its player-development contract with Memphis through 2020. The Cardinals and Redbirds have been affiliated since Memphis jumped to Triple-A in 1998.

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