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Ben's Biz: Getting a taste of the Cider Donuts

Ben Hill heads to Hudson Valley for a delectable alternate identity
June 9, 2023

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, bringing Minor League Baseball business and culture news to your inbox each and every Thursday. Check out the full newsletter HERE. Subscribe HERE.

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, bringing Minor League Baseball business and culture news to your inbox each and every Thursday. Check out the full newsletter HERE. Subscribe HERE.

On Saturday afternoon, I took Beverly Road to Ocean Parkway to Prospect Expressway to Fort Hamilton Parkway to the Hugh Carey Tunnel to FDR Drive to the George Washington Bridge and then, finally, I was out of New York City. From there it was smooth driving to Wappinger Falls, N.Y., home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.

I was overdue for a visit to the Renegades’ home of Heritage Financial Park, as it had been nine years since my last appearance. Saturday was not just a random home game that happened to fit my schedule; the Renegades -- High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees -- were saluting an autumnal local specialty by playing as the Hudson Valley Cider Donuts.

Stay tuned for a more “formal” article about the Cider Donuts and the story behind that identity. But, rest assured, thousands of cider donuts were consumed by fans throughout the course of the evening. The donuts were made by Eddie Garcia, who operates a churros truck parked within the party patio located on the first-base side of the concourse.

I took that picture of Eddie in his truck after the postgame fireworks had ended and, as you can see, he was still working. He made churros in the truck, while the apple cider donuts were produced and sold out of the nearby “Dusty’s Donuts” cart.

There were also a pair of themed concession items -- Cider Donut Burgers and Cider Donut Mac and Cheese -- though demand far outpaced supply. Beanie, my Designated Eater, tried both and preferred the mac and cheese.

When the Renegades first announced their Cider Donuts identity, in November, they offered two free tickets to the June 3 game to the first 500 people who purchased Cider Donuts gear. This, I think, was the reason that so many people recognized me at the ballpark throughout the evening. People who buy a Minor League team’s alternate identity gear on the day it goes on sale and then make a special trip to the ballpark to see it debut are, generally speaking, my kind of people.

It was great talking to so many knowledgeable Minor League fans. Like Dan and Shannon, for example, who made the trip from New Jersey.

It’s always great talking to the ushers, who arguably comprise the heart and soul of any Minor League ballpark. One of the ushers I spoke with, Steve, played for the Australian Baseball Federation’s Port Adelaide Magpies in the late ‘80s.

Tom, meanwhile, ushered for the San Francisco Giants from 1999-2013. He marched in the parade after the Giants won it all in 2010, and later purchased a cast of the team’s championship ring.

Rosie, a skunk, is one of the ballpark’s newest residents. Rumor has it that there are sparks between her and primary mascot Rascal the racoon (which, down the line, may result in the creation of a new species).

All this, and there was also a baseball game. There were holes in the lineup from top to bottom, but the Cider Donuts nonetheless plated two runs in the eighth en route to a 3-2 dunking of the Aberdeen IronBirds. Aberdeen’s Jackson Holliday, No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, went 0-for-4 but looked good while doing it.

The weather on this Cider Donuts debut day was appropriately fall-like, with temperatures in the mid-60s, a slight breeze, cloudy sky and an approximately 30-minute rain shower. The below photo was taken during a particularly precipitous period, with most of the crowd -- announced attendance: 4,455 -- seeking refuge on the concourse.

The bulk of said crowd was back in their seats for the postgame fireworks, but I, like so many before me, have never taken a compelling photo of fireworks. I did find this photo compelling, however, simply because it’s quintessential Minor League Baseball: Front office members packing up Launch-A Ball equipment on a dark, smoky field following a fireworks show. Living the dream!

Thus concludes this particular dispatch from Hudson Valley, where both mascots and merch are aromatic. Hope you liked them apples, and doughn’t you worry: There’ll be more where that came from.

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.