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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 canine with a resting frown brings joy with flips and 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

Bats add robo-mower to groundskeeping staff

Louisville the first pro baseball team in North America to use device
@BensBiz
May 18, 2022

One week prior to the start of the 2022 season, the Louisville Bats announced an unorthodox new hire. Now working for the grounds crew, the Husqvarna CEORA. In a press release touting their new, non-human addition, the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate declared that “With the low noise, emission-free CEORA robotic

Wings and Finns: Growing the game in Rochester

Finnish Baseball president, head coach visit Nats' Triple-A affiliate
@BensBiz
May 12, 2022

Jukka Ropponen, president of the Finnish Baseball and Softball Federation, is on a lifelong mission to grow the game in his home country. Last week, in service of this goal, he visited a Minor League Baseball team located over 4,000 miles away. Ropponen and Finnish National Baseball team head coach

Blue Wahoos superfan memorialized at ballpark  

Ro Bergman was a beloved member of Pensacola baseball family
@BensBiz
May 9, 2022

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos held a ballpark memorial service last week for Judith RoAnn Bergman. She was the team’s biggest fan. Bergman, best known by her nickname Ro, was a boisterous presence at Blue Wahoos Ballpark from the moment the team -- currently the Marlins' Double-A affiliate -- and facility

Get in the ring: Copa's Luchador teams

Wrestling identities incorporate apples, avocados and more
@BensBiz
April 27, 2022

Eighty-five Minor League teams are currently participating in the Copa de la Diversión program, adopting colorful, folkloric identities as part of a larger effort to engage with the local Hispanic community. Food and drink-related alter egos are the most common Copa motif, but six teams have combined to form a

Syracuse Mets pay tribute to Donnie Baseball

Press box attendant remembered for hospitality, stats prowess
@BensBiz
April 22, 2022

Don Mattingly, though better known, isn’t the only “Donnie Baseball” to have made a lasting impact. Syracuse’s Donald “Donnie Baseball” Johnston, who passed away on Jan. 3 at the age of 61, was nothing less than a press box legend. Prior to Thursday’s game against Worcester, the Syracuse Mets named

#9: Celebrating the legacy in Daytona Beach

On Jackie Robinson Day and every day, Tortugas pay tribute
@BensBiz
April 15, 2022

On Jackie Robinson Day, what better place to turn one's attention than the stadium that bears his name? Jackie Robinson Ballpark, home of the Daytona Tortugas, opened as City Island Ballpark in 1914 and is now the oldest stadium in all of Minor League Baseball. Jackie Robinson played there during

Then and now: California League

Star-studded circuit a Golden State of baseball opportunity
@BensBiz
April 8, 2022

Following Major League Baseball's announcement that historical league names are returning to the Minors in 2022, MiLB.com provides a refresher on each of the 11 circuits from Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Single-A -- including past champions, famous alumni and more.

Let's get weird: Promos to look forward to in '22

A season-opening look at Minors' theme nights, giveaways, guests
@BensBiz
April 5, 2022

What are Minor League Baseball promotions? Within the confines of this article, they have nothing to do with a player's advancement from one level of play to the next. Rather, they are the smorgasbord of theme nights, giveaways and celebrity guests that provide fans with a little extra enticement to

Take a gander: Beloit unveils Sky Carp name, logos

High-A club, formerly the Snappers, adopts nonmigratory identity
@BensBiz
November 15, 2021

On Monday afternoon the southern Wisconsin ballclub previously known as the Beloit Snappers unveiled its new name, logos and uniforms. The Sky Carp are here, and they're here to stay. Sky Carp is a slang term for a goose, denoting them as the aerial equivalent of the world's most common

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

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