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MiLB.com crew traveling to 'Field of Dreams'

Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities facing off in cornfield Tuesday night
@BensBiz
August 5, 2022

Road trip! On Sunday morning, Kelsie Heneghan, Sam Dykstra and myself will set our GPS coordinates for Dyersville, Iowa, home of the inaugural MiLB at Field of Dreams game. This mystical Midwest League contest will take place Aug. 9, two days before the Cubs and the Reds play the MLB

Love is in the air: Wind Surge inspire romance novel 

Wichita ballpark employee writes tale of love, murder, mascot races
@BensBiz
August 5, 2022

WICHITA, Kansas -- An internship with a Minor League Baseball team can result in all sorts of unpredictable experiences. For example, Jacob Koch served as the inspiration for the lead protagonist in a romance novella set at the ballpark. The novella in question is Home Run Hunter, written by Cindy

Play on: School band bolstered by ballpark food

Del City students raise funds via OKC Dodgers concession work
@BensBiz
August 3, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- At every Oklahoma City Dodgers home game, students from the Del City High School band can be found working the concession stands. The money raised from their efforts is crucial, to the extent that head band director Sean Johnson calls it "the lifeblood of our program." "Our

Living the dream: Larson earns spot in Beloit

Sky Carp broadcaster hired after winning ballpark competition
@BensBiz
July 20, 2022

BELOIT, Wisconsin -- How does one end up with a dream job? In Larry Larson’s case, he won a literal Dream Job Competition. Simple, right? Larson, a native of Rockford, Ill., is the voice of the Beloit Sky Carp. He landed the gig with the High-A Marlins affiliate after surviving

Karaoke and marathons: Seigo does it all in St. Paul

Saints' Masabuchi has led a versatile and unpredictable baseball life
@BensBiz
July 18, 2022

ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- How many laps around CHS Field does it take to complete a marathon? Seigo Masabuchi knows, because he's done it. He's done a lot of things over the course of nearly 25 years with the St. Paul Saints, all part of a baseball career that has

What's up, Doc? Beloit pitcher blazes unique path

M.D. Johnson studies mechanics, fixes gloves, embraces domesticity
@BensBiz
July 15, 2022

BELOIT, Wisconsin -- His legal name is Michael David Johnson, but these days he’s often referred to as Doc. It’s a fitting nickname for the ace of the Beloit Sky Carp, even if he’s a long way from a PhD. “In the baseball world I’ve always been known as M.D.,”

Setting the tone: Crowley provides sound for Saints

Musical director and ballpark keyboardist a tuneful St. Paul stalwart
@BensBiz
July 13, 2022

ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- There’s a lot going on at the St. Paul Saints’ home of CHS Field, in addition to whatever may be taking place between the white lines. For a representative tableau, consider this: A pig delivering balls to the umpire in the midst of a dizzy bat

Timmy Time! Beloit bat boy a ballpark favorite

Timothy Boatner Jr. adds dance routines to his gameday duties
@BensBiz
July 7, 2022

BELOIT, Wisconsin -- Timothy Boatner Jr., batboy for the Beloit Sky Carp, says he's "just a chill kid, ready for fun. And dancing is one of the things I like to do." This approach to life has led to an unlikely ballpark phenomenon: Timmy Time. When it's Timmy Time at

Sea Dogs usher radiates joy while on the job

Jimmy Knowlen, 87, is a hard-working Hadlock Field fixture
@BensBiz
June 23, 2022

PORTLAND, Maine -- Jimmy Knowlen is in his element. The 87-year-old Portland Sea Dogs usher, perhaps the most popular man at Hadlock Field, is standing in the aisle overlooking section 103. He’s decked out in a crisp pair of khakis and a neon yellow shirt denoting his status as a

Ship to stadium: Fisher Cats fly well-traveled flag

Groundskeeper Georgiadis treasures keepsake from USS Iwo Jima
@BensBiz
June 22, 2022

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- After graduating high school, Mike Georgiadis joined the Navy and traveled the world. After leaving the Navy, he became a groundskeeper and traveled all over the country. Throughout these global and domestic journeys, there’s been one constant: a unique and personally meaningful American flag. Georgiadis, currently the

Portland's Slugger the Sea Dog, a mascot with zest 

Relentless harbor seal with resting frown brings joy with flips, skits
@BensBiz
June 17, 2022

PORTLAND, Maine -- Slugger’s face is set in a permanent scowl, a countenance his spokesperson refers to as a “resting frown.” But don’t let that fixed expression fool you, as the Portland Sea Dogs’ resident anthropomorphic seal is one of the most exuberant and boundary-pushing mascots in Minor League Baseball.

Batter up: Chicken Tenders take the field

Manchester team celebrates its city's claim to culinary fame
@BensBiz
June 15, 2022

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Regional food-based alternate identities have been a popular trend in Minor League Baseball for years, but until this season the New Hampshire Fisher Cats had been on the outside looking in. “We hadn’t done any [food promotions]. We were asking ourselves, ‘What is New Hampshire?’” said Fisher

Doyon won't let Tourette's get in way of dream job

Hartford Yard Goats PA announcer thrives on mic despite condition
@BensBiz
June 13, 2022

HARTFORD, CONN. -- Jared Doyon, PA announcer for the Hartford Yard Goats, describes his style on the mic as clear and concise. So, too, is his message for those who may take inspiration from his career path: “Don’t let Tourette’s stop you from doing what you love.” Doyon, 28, was

Mr. 3000: Capps reaches milestone in Round Rock

Express broadcaster pivoted to baseball following stint with CNN
@BensBiz
June 3, 2022

ROUND ROCK, TEXAS -- Baseball is a sport that loves its round-numbered milestones, which don’t necessarily have to be related to on-field accomplishments. Note, for instance, the hoopla that surrounded April 24’s Sunday afternoon matinee between the Round Rock Express and visiting Albuquerque Isotopes. Mike Capps, the first and only

Meet bat boy 'Big Mike' Garcia, ballpark icon 

Beloved Sugar Land fixture now working in San Antonio
@BensBiz
June 1, 2022

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- If you’ve never met a batboy with his own bobblehead before, then you’ve never met “Big Mike” Garcia. He’s been a beloved ballpark presence for the past decade, establishing his reputation with the Sugar Land Skeeters/Space Cowboys before moving on to the San Antonio Missions this

How sweet it is: Sugar Land baseball evolves

From indy to Astros, Skeeters to Space Cowboys, a busy two years
@BensBiz
May 27, 2022

SUGAR LAND, TEXAS -- Located approximately 20 miles to the southwest of Houston, Sugar Land was originally established as Imperial Sugar’s company town. First incorporated as a city in 1959, it has evolved over the decades into a master-planned community of over 110,000 people. Sugar Land’s recent growth -- in

Not-so-lean cuisine: 2021 ballpark food highlights 

They came, they saw, they chowed down: Designated Eaters tell all
@BensBiz
October 28, 2021

Hungry? You will be after reading this article. During the 2021 season I visited eight Minor League ballparks, bringing my career total to 182. At each one I recruited a Designated Eater: an individual who consumes the ballpark food that my gluten-free diet prohibits. (I was diagnosed with celiac disease

From player to usher, with 40 years in-between

Williams, member of 1980 Alexandria Dukes, now FredNats staffer
@BensBiz
October 13, 2021

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia -- In 1980, right-handed pitcher Wesley Williams played his third and final Minor League Baseball season as a member of the Alexandria Dukes. Forty-one years later, he is again employed by that very same franchise. The Dukes, established in 1978, relocated from Alexandria to Woodbridge, Virginia in 1984.

Anime to actuality: Wu travels unique baseball path

Nanning, China native furthers career in Fredericksburg front office
@BensBiz
October 6, 2021

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia -- Zhancheng Wu, director of production for the Low-A Fredericksburg Nationals, was a key part of the front office during the team's inaugural season at FredNats Ballpark. He created graphics, helped produce the livestream broadcast and assembled a wide variety of original video content, often with his dog,

Pass the mic: Patriots' Paul Spychala moves on

Somerset PA announcer reflects on 23 joyous seasons in the booth
@BensBiz
September 24, 2021

BRIDGEWATER TOWNSHIP, New Jersey -- TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots, hosted its first game on June 7, 1999. Paul Spychala made his debut as the team's PA announcer that evening, beginning a 1,396-game run that came to an end on Sept. 12. After 23 seasons, six Atlantic

Somerset Patriots recover from ballpark flood

Eight days after devastating storm, Yankees affiliate returns home
@BensBiz
September 15, 2021

BRIDGEWATER TOWNSHIP, New Jersey -- Dan Purner, head groundskeeper for the Somerset Patriots, doesn't particularly enjoy being the center of attention. He says groundskeepers are like umpires: "If you don't think of us, it's probably a good thing." As the Patriots took the field at their home of TD Bank

Baby Conrad brought to life by young performer

Copeland collaborates with Crawdads to create new character
@BensBiz
September 8, 2021

HICKORY, North Carolina -- Alex Copeland, a mild-mannered 14-year-old, has a secret ballpark identity. Upon arriving at the Hickory Crawdads' home of L.P. Frans Stadium, he morphs into a fun-loving and gregarious infant crustacean. He is no longer Alex. He is Baby Conrad, Crawdads mascot. "I go around, see the

What a moment: Preserving history at Polar Park

WooSox president Dr. Charles Steinberg wants to tell team's story
August 27, 2021

WORCESTER, Massachusetts -- It's Aug. 13, and the Worcester Red Sox are hosting the Syracuse Mets at their downtown home of Polar Park. The evening's ballgame has just begun, the first of a doubleheader, and soon, team president Dr. Charles Steinberg will step out of his office to watch it.

Larry Ward, the Lookouts' veteran voice

Chattanooga icon is longest-tenured Double-A broadcaster
@BensBiz
August 18, 2021

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee -- Some nicknames require explanation, while others are self-evident. Larry "The Voice" Ward falls firmly in the latter category. Since 1989, Larry Ward has served as the voice of the Chattanooga Lookouts. He's the longest tenured broadcaster in Double-A baseball, now in his 32nd consecutive season with the

Summer Santa: FredNats usher spreads cheer

Thompson, through adversity, brings Christmas spirit to ballpark
@BensBiz
August 6, 2021

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia -- On a recent Friday evening at FredNats Ballpark, usher Bruce Thompson was stationed in front of the playground located in the right-field corner of the concourse. Most of the children he was supervising had never seen him before, yet they knew exactly who he was. "Tonight, I've