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What's in a name? Rochester's baseball legacy

Morrie Silver, named after grandfather, dedicated to Red Wings
November 3, 2022

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Morrie Silver, director of communications for the Rochester Red Wings, has a name that looms large in the city's baseball history. He's carrying on a multi-generational Red Wings legacy started by his namesake grandfather, whose biggest accomplishment was nothing less than saving the franchise. The Red Wings,

Space Cowboys soar with bountiful brisket, more

Sugar Land Designated Eater tackles Howdy Dog, 'cosmic' dessert
October 27, 2022

This post marks the first installment in a recurring Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter offseason series, detailing the concession highlights at each Minor League ballpark that I visited in 2022. At each stop of the way, I was joined in culinary solidarity by my Designated Eater, a local fan who consumes

Herd Chronicles dives deep into Buffalo baseball

Bisons fan Brian Frank tells team stories, from 1877 to the present
October 26, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Brian Frank is on a mission that can be summarized in seven words: preserving the history of Buffalo Bisons baseball. When it comes to this storied franchise, there is a lot of history to preserve, arguably more than in any other current Minor League Baseball locale. Buffalo,

Barnacle Barb, mateys: Erie's pirate emcee

SeaWolves' Szelinski develops sassy, seafaring alter-ego
October 14, 2022

ERIE, Penn. -- Early in the 2021 season, just a few games into her new job as the Erie SeaWolves' on-field emcee, Cailyn Szelinski had an idea. "Makeup and costuming is a hobby of mine," she explained. "So I asked [the SeaWolves front office], 'Hey, look, I'm crazy enough to

Wichita's Crane advocates for blind, disabled

Wind Surge employee joined by guide dog, Vaughn, at the park
October 13, 2022

WICHITA, Kansas -- As fans approach the entrance of Wichita’s Riverfront Stadium, home of the Wind Surge, they are greeted by a pair of friendly faces: Andrew Crane and his guide dog, Vaughn. Crane, who has cerebral palsy and was born blind, was one of the first gameday employees hired

Navarro travels unique path to OKC Dodgers

Chicago native started Minor League career after serving in Navy
October 5, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- On November 8, 2009, the Arizona Cardinals rolled to a 41-21 victory over the Bears at Chicago’s Soldier Field. For the majority of the 62,000 fans in attendance, it was a game to forget. Not so for A.J. Navarro. The Bears may have been underwhelming on the

Field of Genes: Rochester's father-son team

Red Wings' ballpark grounds crew headed up by Buonomo duo
September 23, 2022

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Gene and Geno Buonomo are separated by one letter and not much else. Gene is the head groundskeeper for Triple-A Rochester while Geno, his son, is the assistant groundskeeper. As for how Geno came to Gene's line of work, it must've been in the genes. Right? "Uhhh,

Field general: Rosoff goes from Army to Erie

West Point graduate balances careers in baseball, military
September 21, 2022

ERIE, Penn. -- When Double-A Erie catcher Jon Rosoff steps to the plate at UPMC Park, an Army running cadence song plays over the PA. This anomalous walk-up music, more evocative of boot camp than ballgame, encapsulates Rosoff's dual existence. Since signing with the Tigers organization in 2018, he's balanced

Yes to Yaya: Erie embraces energetic reliever 

SeaWolves' Chentouf an extroverted, exuberant fan favorite
September 16, 2022

ERIE, Penn. -- Yasin Chentouf, a bearded, long-haired and compactly built SeaWolves relief pitcher, has always had a gift for gab. It's just who he is. This propensity for loquaciousness resulted in his nickname, which he's had for the entirety of his baseball career: Yaya. "My first year playing baseball,

Snake bites: Timber Rattlers chef elevates cuisine

Behrman caters to Appleton appetites with diverse ballpark menu
September 9, 2022

APPLETON, Wisconsin -- It's one hour before game time, and Charles Behrmann is busy. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers executive chef is working out of a spacious ballpark kitchen, stationed in front of a battery of sizzling deep fryers and frequently checking on the various items baking in the adjacent ovens.

Snappers to Sky Carp: Beloit fans stick with team 

Pat and Ken Arndt reflect on Pohlman Field's intimacy, accessibility
August 31, 2022

BELOIT, Wisconsin -- 2021 marked the end of the line for Pohlman Field, home of Beloit, Wisconsin’s Midwest League team since 1982. During that farewell campaign, the High-A Miami affiliate, then known as the Snappers, had seven full-season ticket holders. Not 700, 70 or even 17. Just seven. Pat and

Visiting Bricktown's Oklahoma Sports HOF

OKC Dodgers' ballpark also houses shrine to Sooner State greats
August 24, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- "Astronauts, country music stars and athletes, we seem to just spit 'em out." That's Justin Lenhart's succinct summation of Oklahoman occupations that have made an outsized impact on American culture. As curator of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Lenhart's focus is on the "athletes" portion of

Ball hogs: St. Paul's porcine baseball legacy 

For as long as they've existed, Saints have celebrated pigs
August 19, 2022

ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- During their inaugural 1993 campaign at Midway Field and in every season since, the St. Paul Saints have employed a ball pig whose job is to deliver baseballs to the home plate umpire. These saddlebag-wearing dugout messengers are the most prominent aspect of a gameday experience

Hubbard brothers take hands-on approach in Tulsa

Drillers owners inspired by fan-friendly legacy of their father, Went
August 17, 2022

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Prior to a Tulsa Drillers game late last month, Jeff Hubbard was stationed just inside the front entrance handing out bobbleheads and breaking down the cardboard boxes they had been stored in. His brother, Dale, could be found on the streets outside, shuttling fans in a golf

Local 'Ghosts' bring Field of Dreams to life 

Iowa-based baseball group has long and improbable history
August 12, 2022

DYERSVILLE, Iowa -- On Tuesday afternoon, prior to the inaugural MiLB at Field of Dreams game, a group of men wearing 1919 Chicago White Sox uniforms emerged from the same cornfield depicted in the movie. This pinstriped contingent were members of the Ghost Players, a group that played a huge

MiLB at Field of Dreams gameday journal

A real-time account of a cinematically inspired cornfield contest
August 9, 2022

DYERSVILLE, Iowa -- "If you write it, they will read." As I traveled into Iowa, marveling at the grandeur of the mighty Mississippi, this sentiment echoed through my head. Whether a ghostly transmission or a convenient manifestation of my subconscious, it matters not. Cinematic inspiration is everywhere today, as the crew traveling to 'Field of Dreams'

Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities facing off in cornfield Tuesday night
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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