Best of the Week: 5/26/2019 – 6/1/2019


Former Bowie Baysox player Mike Yastrzemski hit his first Major League home run Friday night at Oriole Park for the team that wears orange and black – and against the Baltimore Orioles.

Back in March, the Orioles traded Yaz to San Francisco for LHP Tyler Herb (who is currently with triple-A Norfolk). After more than seven seasons in the minors, Yaz made his MLB debut on May 25 and is batting .280 – which is higher than pretty much all of the current Orioles.

The O’s should have kept him. And they should have promoted him long ago.

~ baseballrebecca

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Women Who Announce Baseball Games


black headset hanging on black and gray microphone

Photo by Barthy Bonhomme on Pexels.com

On March 10, 1993, Sherry Davis became the first full-time female major league public address announcer. The San Francisco Giants hired her after an open audition of 500 applicants. Davis, a Virginia native, had graduated from the College of Notre Dame in Maryland, earning her B.A. in Theater. She performed at the Norfolk Theater Center in Virginia from 1968 to 1976. Prior to working for the Giants, Davis was a legal secretary in Walnut Creek, California. She earned $75 per game.

Prior to Davis’ debut, Kelly Saunders was a substitute PA announcer for the Baltimore Orioles in June 1992 when regular announcer, Rex Barney, was recuperating from an illness. Saunders was the second female fill-in announcer after Joy Hawkins McCabe had announced one game for the Washington Senators in 1966.

The second full-time female PA announcer for an MLB team – and first African American PA announcer – was Leslie Sterling, who worked for the Boston Red Sox from 1994 to 1996. Sterling, a Harvard graduate, grew up in Washington, DC, as a Senators Fan. After leaving the Red Sox in 1996, Serling went to She entered Harvard’s Divinity School and is became the rector at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge.

When the Giants moved out of Candlestick Park in 2000, they did not renew Sherry Davis’ contract. Instead, they hired Renel Brooks-Moon. Brooks-Moon was born in Oakland, California, in 1958. She attended Mills College, where she earned her B.A. in English in 1981. In addition to being the Giants PA announcer, she also worked for radio station KISQ. She became the first female announcer of a championship game in a professional sport during the 2002 World Series.

In 2018, Marysol Castro became the first female PA announcer for the New York Mets, as well as the first Latina PA announcer and third female PA announcer in MLB. She began her career as an English teacher before attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to the Mets, she worked for ABC, CBS, and ESPN.

In addition to these stadium announcers, there only one female baseball broadcaster on national television. Jessica Mendoza became the first female commentator for a MLB game in 2015, and in 2016 she joined the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball team full-time as a color analyst. Just last week it was announced that the Mets had hired Mendoza as a baseball operations advisor; she will also continue broadcasting Sunday night games for ESPN.

Few women have done play-by-play announcing for baseball. In 1993, Gayle Gardner became the first woman to do so when she called a Reds-Rockies game. Las year, Jenny Cavnar became the second woman play-by-play announcer when she did the play-by-play for the Rockies on AT&T SportsNet.

In the 1990s in the minors, Lisa Fielding, was the PA announcer for the Rockford Cubbies of the Midwest League and Lisa Morris was the announcer for the New York-Penn League’s Hudson Valley Renegades. In 2013, the Lansing Lugnuts hired Michigan State sophomore Jennifer Swanchara as their PA announcer in 2013. Currently, the Beloit Snappers have PA announcer Chrissy Scaffidi and the Bowie Baysox have Adrienne Roberson. Roberson gets the occasional “call up” to the Orioles, such as for the Mother’s Day game.

Later this month, we’ll take a look at women announcing baseball on radio.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

Remembering Willie McCovey


Willie McCovey 2012.jpg

Willie McCovey at the 2012 World Series parade (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

There is a statue of Willie McCovey across from AT&T Park at McCovey Point in China Basin Park, San Francisco. It is now adorned with flowers and other memorabilia in honor of the man who passed away on October 31, 2018. Willie McCovey will never be forgotten in San Francisco or the hearts of baseball fans every where. I never saw McCovey play. After all, all but 11 games in his 19-year MLB career were with National League teams. Growing up in an AL town, there weren’t many opportunities to see him play. But his reputation preceded him.

According to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, McCovey was nicknamed “Stretch” due to his ability to catch throws that were wide and high. The 6’4″ player also was known for his hard hit line drives, prompting Bob Gibson to call him “the scariest hitter in baseball.” The first baseman was signed by the Giants as an amateur free agent in March 1955 at the age of 17. After four years in the minors with the Sandersville Giants, Danville Leafs, Dallas Eagles, and Phoenix Giants, McCovey made his major league debut with the San Francisco Giants on July 30, 1959. He played with the Giants through the 1973 season and then was traded to the San Diego Padres. In August 1976, his contract was purchased by the Oakland A’s. He again signed with the Giants as a free agent in 1977, where he played until his retirement in 1980. In his 22 years in the majors, McCovey amassed 2,211 hits in 2,588 games. He hit 521 home runs and had a batting average of .270. After his playing days, McCovey served as a senior advisor to the Giants for 18 more years, until his death last week.

On Wednesday, the Giants’ President and CEO, Laurence M. Baer, stated: “San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken. Willie was a beloved figure throughout his playing days and in retirement. He will be deeply missed by the many people he touched. For more than six decades, he gave his heart and soul to the Giants – as one of the greatest players of all time, as a quiet leader in the clubhouse, as a mentor to the Giants who followed in his footsteps, as an inspiration to our Junior Giants, and as a fan cheering on the team from his booth.”

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that, unlike Willie Mays and the players that had moved with the team from New York in 1957, McCovey was the first Giants superstar for the San Francisco fans: “McCovey was a San Francisco Giant through and through, arriving in 1959.” In a series of heart-wrenching tweets, Barry Bonds said goodbye to McCovey, adding: “thank you for your mentorship and unconditional love for me and my family. You will be dearly missed.”

On Thursday, beginning at 11:30 am, the Giants will hold a public celebration of life for McCovey at AT&T Park. Those wishing to offer their condolences to the family may send letters to the team at the following address: San Francisco Giants, Attention: Forever 44, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94107. Condolences may also be sent via email to  Forever44@sfgiants.com.

 

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseball Farms


Baysox' Machado GnomeWith it’s pastoral imagery, re-birth in spring, farm teams, and garden gnome giveaways, the connection between baseball and agriculture would seem to be obvious. The other day, ThinkProgress.org posted an article on Major League Baseball and the urban farming trend. According to the article, five MLB teams currently have gardens in their stadiums:

  • Red Sox: Dubbed “Fenway Farms,” a 5,000 square rooftop farm grows on the roof behind Gate A of Fenway Park. Planted there are: kale, sweet peppers, a “rotating lineup of seasonal vegetables,” and herbs.
  • Rockies: The Coors Field GaRden, also near Gate A, is a joint venture between the Rockies and Colorado State University. Plants in this 600 square foot garden include: Purple Viking potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, turnips, chard, kale, beans, and chives, as well as herbs such as parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro, dill, oregano and sage.
  • Padres: For the last four years, the Director of Field Operations at Petco Pak has grown a variety of plants in the home and visitors’ bullpens, including: peppers, blueberries, avocados, pomegranates, lettuce, beets, onions, garlic, carrots, and radishes.
  • Giants: The Garden at AT&T Park is a 4,320 square foot area whec12d51868f6da4a15c087f5bb547dceare the team grows a variety of fruits and veggies, such as: blueberries, strawberries, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, lemons, and kale.
  • Nationals: For the 2015 season, the Washington Nationals have piloted a program at their ballpark with 180 plants to grow tomatoes, zucchini, squash and herbs. The team says if it is successful, they will expand the garden in the future.

There are other interesting agricultural connections to baseball. Apparently the New York Mets were the first to plant a garden. As the story goes, a stray tomato plant grew in the Mets’ bullpen in Shea Stadium in 1969. Since it apparently brought the team some luck – and the pennant – the groundskeeper kept planting in hopes of a future Mets winnning seasons. The Orioles’ Memorial Stadium also was a good place to grow tomatoes, though ivy didn’t do too well at Camden Yards.

In 2012, the Fresno Grizzlies established the Grizzlies Community Fund’s Farm Grown program to promote Central California agriculture. The team hosts a farmer’s market during every Friday home game. The program also includes a literacy component for children as well as agricultural exhibits and displays.

And of course, the St. Paul Saints, always a little different, have corn-themed foul poles in their stadium. The team that once had ears of corn as a promotional giveaway teamed up this year with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) to feature the state’s largest crop on the stadium’s foul poles. In addition, MCGA signage is featured on the outfield walls and throughout the season the Saints will play “the world’s largest game of corn toss” between innings. And on July 25, the MCGA is sponsoring a mini bat giveaway for the first 1,000 fans.

Happy farming!

~ baseballrebecca

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Baseball Heritage: Part 2 (Countries of Origin and Other Groups)


japanese_sm (2)This year, major and minor league baseball teams have scheduled promotional nights to celebrate the racial and ethnic heritage of many Americans. Is your background Armenian, or do you want to learn more about Armenian Americans? If so, head out to Fresno California and catch the Fresno Grizzlies game on August 13.

Interested in Polynesian, Portuguese, Japanese, or Korean culture? The San Francisco Giants have heritage nights for those groups and many more. Or maybe you’re Slovenian or Hungarian. Then check out games in Lake County, Ohio, where the Lake County Captains have heritage nights for them.

Below is a list of Baseball Heritage Nights celebrating individuals for various countries and other cultural origins. Tomorrow I’ll post my final piece in this series, covering the remaining Baseball Heritage Nights.

~ baseballrebecca

 

Armenian Heritage:

8/13      Fresno Grizzlies (AAA)

 

Asian Heritage:

4/25      Atlanta Braves

 

Black or African American Heritage:

5/27      Washington Nationals

9/26      San Francisco Giants

 

Chinese Heritage:

4/29      San Francisco Giants

 

Filipino Heritage:

5/12      San Francisco Giants

8/15      San Francisco Giants

8/22      Oakland A’s

 

Greek Heritage:

5/3        Charleston RiverDogs (A)

5/8        Lexington Legends (A)

5/21      Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)

6/25      Frederick Keys (A)

7/22      Chicago White Sox

8/7        Charlotte Knights (AAA)

 

Gullah Heritage:

8/1        Charleston Riverdogs (A)

 

Hawaiian or Hawaiian Luau Night:

7/3        Great Lakes Loons (A)

7/18      Helena Brewers (Rookie)

8/8        San Jose Giants (A)

 

Hungarian Heritage:

6/6        Lake County Captains (A)

 

Indian Heritage:

5/17      Bradenton Marauders (A)

 

Japanese Heritage:

5/15      San Francisco Giants

5/29      Philadelphia Phillies

7/30      Los Angeles Dodgers

8/3        San Jose Giants (A)

8/19      Oakland A’s

 

Korean Heritage:

4/28      San Francisco Giants

 

Native American:

6/23      San Francisco Giants

7/17      Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)

8/26      Seattle Mariners

 

Polish Heritage:

5/22      Charlotte Knights (AAA)

6/9        Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)

6/13      Detroit Tigers

7/1        Chicago White Sox

8/6        Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)

8/12      Buffalo Bisons (AAA)

 

Polynesian Heritage:

6/9        San Francisco Giants

 

Portuguese Heritage:

6/6        San Francisco Giants

 

Slovenian Heritage:

8/4   Lake County Captains (A)

 

 

Baseball Heritage: Part 1 (the Big Four: German, Hispanic, Irish, and Italian)


Flyer for Italian Heritage Night with the San Francisco GiantsOne thing I love about minor league baseball is the teams’ creative ideas for promotions. Recently, Major League teams have followed suit by having similar promotions. The ones that caught my attention this year are those that I call “Heritage Nights.” This year, you can celebrate everything from Black Heritage to Slovenian Heritage at ballparks across the country.

Sociologists just love this kind of thing – especially the Baseball Sociologist! Someday I will analyze this more carefully, but for now I’ll just give you a rundown of the many heritages you can celebrate. For starters, the Omaha Storm Chasers held a generic-sounding “Heritage Night” on April 18. Its unclear which heritage(s?) they may have been celebrating, though it did include a pre-game parade featuring the St. Lucia Group (whoever they are) and a pre-game performance by a local Native American group. In addition, the Quad Cities River Bandits are holding “Global Cultural Night” on August 15, though they don’t explain what that entails. Maybe these celebrations are designed to celebrate everything.

Other teams are hosting celebrations that I’m not convinced are necessarily celebrating any sort of heritage. This include the many, many teams that are having Cinco de Mayo celebrations (though not all on May 5, or even in May), St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and Mardi Gras celebrations (such as “Halfway to Mardi Gras” night at the New Orleans Zephyrs on August 14 and “Mardi Gras Night” hosted by the Modesto Nuts on August 29).  Of course, if you don’t want to profess any sort of heritage other than “American,” you can go to “American Heritage Night” on July 2 at the Wilmington Blue Rocks. (Which, I’m guessing, is likely related to 4th of July celebrations at several other ballparks.)

Today, I’m giving you the dates for the top 4 groups – those that them most teams are celebrating: German Heritage (also includes Oktoberfest), Hispanic Heritage (or Latino or Latin American Heritage), Irish Heritage (not including St. Patrick’s Day celebrations), and Italian Heritage.

Enjoy celebrating everyone’s heritage!

~ baseballrebecca

German Heritage and/or Oktoberfest:

4/24      Charlotte Knights (AAA)

6/16      Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA)

8/7        Akron RubberDucks (AA)

8/13      Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)

8/28      Tulsa Drillers (AA)

8/29      Tri-City ValleyCats (A)

9/6        Cincinnati Reds

9/19      Los Angeles Angels

9/19      Tampa Bay Rays

9/20      Oakland A’s

9/25      San Francisco Giants

9/26      Arizona Diamondbacks

9/27      Seattle Mariners

 

Hispanic/Latino/Latin American Heritage:

5/4        Round Rock Express (AAA)

5/5        San Jose Giants (A) (this is “Mexican Heritage Night”)

5/22      Fresno Grizzlies (AAA)

6/14      Kannapolis Intimidators (A)

7/10      Charlotte (AAA)

7/18      Great Lakees Loons (A)

7/23      Buffalo Bisons (AAA)

7/27      Toledo Mud Hens (AAA)

7/31      Toledo Mud Hens (AAA)

8/3        Charleston Riverdogs (A)

8/14      Texas Rangers

8/27      Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)

8/27      Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)

9/7        Cincinnati Reds

9/13      Seattle Mariners

9/13      San Francisco Giants

9/20      Houston Astros

9/23      Washington Nationals

9/26      Chicago White Sox

 

Irish Heritage:

4/24      Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA)

4/30      San Francisco Giants

5/4        Charleston Riverdogs (A)

5/7        Quad Cities River Bandits (A)

5/17      Reading Fightin Phils (AA)

5/19      Memphis Redbirds (AAA)

6/4        Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)

6/12      Akron RubberDucks (AA)

6/24      Buffalo Bisons (AAA)

6/26      Charlotte Knights (AAA)

7/17      South Bend Silver Hawks (A)

7/18      Columbus Clippers (AAA)

7/23      Peoria Chiefs (A)

7/31      Brooklyn Cyclones (A)

7/31      West Michigan Whitecaps (A)

8/7        Trenton Thunder (AA)

8/9        Lakewood BlueClaws (A)

8/12      Tri-City ValleyCats (A)

8/14      Charlotte Stone Crabs (A)

8/23      Lake County Captains (A)

8/27      San Francisco Giants

9/5        Cincinnati Reds

 

Italian Heritage:

5/14      Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)

6/24      San Francisco Giants

7/5        Hudson Valley Renegades (A) (this is “Sicilian Saturday” to be exact)

7/10      Charlotte Knights (AAA)

7/11      Lake County Captains (A)

7/18      Chicago White Sox

8/1        Tri-City ValleyCats (A)

8/1        Oakland A’s

8/2        San Jose Giants (A)

 

Baseball Proposals


Graphic of MLB proposal costs

Source: swimmingly.com

In honor of Opening Day yesterday,  swimmingly.com posted a graphic of how much it costs to propose at each Major League Baseball stadium. The MLB average proposal cost is around $300, with prices ranging from $38.50 to $2,500, depending on where and how extravagant you want to your proposal to be.

For a rock-bottom price, propose in Pittsburgh. There it costs $38.50 to put your proposal up on the scoreboard. In Oakland, the same type of proposal will run you $85. The Yankees, of course, charge a little more – $100 for a scoreboard message. But they allow up to 10 proposals per game. The Twins limit the number of proposals per game to one (at $209).

Of course, some stadiums let you go bigger – in Miami for $500 you get a message on the scoreboard, a shot of you and your sweetie on the video screen, a PA announcement, and a dozen roses delivered by the team mascot, Billy the Marlin. (In 2012, a guy snuck onto the field and proposed to his girlfriend after she sang the National Anthem – I wonder if the Marlins sent him a bill.) For $450, the Phillies give you four tickets to the game, feature your proposal live on the video board, provide a champagne toast, and give you a commemorative DVD of the occasion.

The Dodgers offer two options. For a mere $75 you can have a message displayed on the scoreboard, or you can shell out $2,500 to have your proposal shown live on the video screen. Of course, only one such proposal per month is permitted. (Some teams limit proposals to zero per month – the Orioles, Angels, Blue Jays, Royals, and Mets just don’t bother with such non-baseball silliness.)

Interestingly, it costs less than $200 to propose at a San Francisco Giants game ($175 if you choose a weekend or “premium” game, $145 for other games). Unless you’re Kanye West, then you forget the game altogether and just rent out the whole stadium for $200,000.

~ baseballrebecca