The weather has changed for the better, and it looks to be another beautiful day on Thursday here in the Capital Region! Perfect for our 5th Annual ‘4 in 24′ Youth Field Renovation Project!
For those who may not be aware, in 2011 we embarked on an ambitious field renovation initiative where we would renovate FOUR youth ball fields, in less than 24-hours! In 2012, we expanded the ‘4 in 24′ even further by creating the Community Grounds Crew, which would assist with field renovations throughout the spring and summer.
Since 2011, we’ve renovated over two dozen fields courtesy of the Community Grounds Crew, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our corporate partners and volunteers. BlueShield of Northeastern New York has been one of the biggest supporters of the event, and Hannaford Supermarkets has joined in the efforts for 2015!
The efforts are also aided by the support of Admar Construction and Turface, who will provide the necessary equipment and materials to complete the renovations. Other support comes from the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, whose contributions come from past events held at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
On Thursday, Cohoes Little League, Coxsackie-Athens Little League, Town of Hoosick Youth Baseball/Softball League, and Niskayuna Baseball will be the latest additions to our list of renovations.
Each field will receive brand new sod, bases, a home plate and pitcher’s mound, and the baselines will be measured to the correct specifications.
Cohoes Little League is implementing a Challenger Program this season, but the host field has been damaged due to the harsh winter.
“We wouldn’t have been able to obtain the field conditions needed to support this program without assistance,” said Mike Smith, President Cohoes Little League. “This renovation will give us the opportunity for children with all abilities to have a safe place to play baseball this season.”
Here are some before photos of Cohoes Little League:
Coxsackie-Athens Little League has had a softball program for some time, which has gained popularity in recent years. Following the work of the ‘4 in 24,’ the field will be fit enough to become home to the newly formed Coxasckie-Athens Girls Softball.
“Coxsackie-Athens Little League is excited that Rainey Field has been selected by the Tri-City ValleyCats as a ‘4 in 24′ field,” said league President Steve VanHoesen. “As volunteers, preparing and maintaining the field is a perpetual struggle. With help of the ValleyCats, Isabella C. Rainey Field will once again be put back atop of that pedestal and reclaim its diamond status in the community.”
Some before photos:
The Town of Hoosick Youth Baseball / Softball League is still feeling the effects of hurricane flood damage, and their primary field is filled with sandy dirt and large stones. The infield is actually a skin infield without the proper soil. We will be laying all new grass to give it a true baseball feel!
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to have the ValleyCats organization assist us in providing the best experience possible for our youths,” said league president Tony Thayne. “After the flood a few years ago, we have done our best to recover the fields, but are still in need of help in getting them done correctly.”
Niskayuna Baseball has seen its league size grow over the past few years, which now consists of 50 teams and approximately 600 players. With the growth comes the need for greater field options and maintenance requirements.
“On behalf of Niskayuna Baseball, its Board of Directors, and most importantly the baseball community that we represent, I want to say thank you for this tremendous opportunity,” said Christopher Mennillo, Niskayuna Baseball President. “This renovation will make the playing surface more conducive for multiple age groups, expand the flexibility from a league scheduling standpoint, and better position the league to host future tournaments.”
The Community Grounds Crew has been warming up for the big ‘4 in 24′ event by assisting the Cohoes Intermediate Baseball League with installing a new pitcher’s mound & home plate:
_ Be sure to follow us through each of our social media channels on Thursday for coverage of the ‘4 in 24′ field renovations. We’ll be active on Facebook, Twitter (@ValleyCats), Instagram (tcvalleycats), Snapchat (tcvalleycats), and Periscope (@ValleyCats) throughout the day!!
We pride ourselves on being an active member of the Capital Region community, and throughout the year we partner with countless charitable organizations. In our latest ‘Cats Care Spotlight, we’re highlighting the Capital District YMCA with a visit to the Troy Family Branch.
As Troy’s Executive Director Tom Anadio mentioned, “We really are a family here,” and that’s made clear by how long the staff has been involved.
For example, Cindy Panichi, Member Service Representative at the Troy, has been with the Y for 25 years. Troy’s Wellness Director Tammy Roberts has been with the Y for 15 years, and was a recipient of our E. Stewart Jones Home Run Community Hero award in 2013.
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. They Y aims to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.
The Y is a cause-driven agency focused on social responsibility. The Capital District YMCA serves those in need with locations in Albany, Bethlehem, Camp Chingachgook on Lake George, Clifton Park, Coxsackie, East Greenbush, Glenville, Greene County, Guilderland, Schenectady, and Troy.
The ValleyCats have partnered with the Troy YMCA on the Play Outdoors program that included a drug prevention educational component, encouraged kids to stay active, and taught families about the importance of proper nutrition. This free program visited community sites throughout the city of Troy with fun activities and engaged like-minded organizations throughout the area. The ValleyCats have also visited the YMCA with players, mascots, and hosted many of their camps at the ballpark.
Each summer, the YMCA provides a safe and fun place where kids can be creative, learn new things, go on adventurous trips and be a part of something great! This coming summer, they are adding an even greater variety of trips and new specialty camps.
Through money raised during the YMCA’s Annual Campaign, they were able to provide scholarship assistance to over 30 families during Summer Camp 2014 at the Troy Family Branch. This enables everyone in the community to be able to participate in healthy life choices and activities, regardless of their financial situation.
- The Achievers Program which welcomes students from all backgrounds, and helps them develop skills, raise their academic standards, graduate from high school and focus on career goals.
- The Youth & Government Program which is designed to help teens develop an active interest and a look at the inner-workings of the governmental process.
- Swimming Lessons, Fun Runs, and more.
- LIVESTRONG at the YMCA – This group setting provides cancer survivors with a safe, supportive environment where they can participate in physical and social activities to begin the journey toward recovery.
- Pedaling for Parkinsons – A program designed to improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s Disease patients.
- Diabetes Prevention Program – This 12 month program is led by a lifestyle coach and is geared towards providing individuals with the tools needed to lead a healthy life.
How can you help?
- Get involved! Volunteer opportunities to work with kids, assist with programming, and more: Volunteer Opportunities!
- Support the Annual Campaign that runs through the end of March
We pride ourselves on being an active member of the Capital Region community, and throughout the year we partner with countless charitable organizations. In a new segment entitled “‘Cats Care Spotlight,” we’re going to be highlighting many of them.
Our inaugural post will take a closer look at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
The Albany Ronald McDonald House program opened in 1982 based on a simple idea: provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Since that time, more than 17,000 families have benefited from the comfort provided by the “House that Love Built.”
The Ronald McDonald House serves over 500 families per year, providing a home away from home for families of seriously ill children in a compassionate and home-like environment. Without the House, these already stressed families would have to spend thousands of dollars in hotel and/or gas bills just to be near their child. The Ronald McDonald House ensures that families are kept together and taken care of during the most stressful period of their lives.
Each year, our front office staff spends a morning cooking breakfast for families currently staying at the house. Here are some photos from our most recent visit.
After outgrowing the 16 bedroom house that has served families for over 30 years, RMHC recently wrapped up a $2 million “More Room for Love” expansion project to open a third house at 141 South Lake Avenue.
This expansion added 10 new bedrooms, all themed after different locations throughout the Capital Region:
Just with the 10 new bedrooms afforded by the expansion, 300 additional families will save $950,000 in lodging, food, travel and medical expenses and be able to spend an additional 12,000 more hours bedside with their child to aid in their care and speed up their recovery.
Also included within the additional 4,000 square feet of living space is four additional common areas.
Other improvements include an elevator for handicap access, 12 additional parking spots, additional kitchen and family dining space, and additional storage space.
One addition which proves to be a huge hit is “Ronald’s Toy Shoppe.” It’s a room chock full of toys, and as those children receiving treatment stay at the house, they will be able to pick one out, which will hopefully put a bright smile on their face!
The expansion project will eliminate the house’s waiting list for many years to come; ensuring that they never have to turn away a family in need due to a lack of available bedrooms.
Here are some more photos from around the main Ronald McDonald House:
True to it’s mission of helping families in need and promoting the health and well-being of children throughout the community, RMHC also embarked on two additional initiatives; the Ronald McDonald Family Room & Suite, and the Care Mobile.
Located within the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center, the Family Room & Suite are located just steps from the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units and provide families with a place to escape the stress and tension of the hospital. The Ronald McDonald House Family Room & Suite has over 10,000 visitors each year and offers a haven within the hospital for families of children undergoing treatment. These places of respite allow families to grab a cup of coffee or meal, log onto a computer, play in the children’s area or just take a much needed moment to relax all while being just steps away from their child’s hospital bed. Open from 9am to 9pm, there is a volunteer on hand to provide support and help.
The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is a dental office on wheels that houses two fully equipped examination rooms, a digital x-ray system, wheelchair lift, and a reception and medical records area. The Care Mobile provides comprehensive dental care to over 1,500 Capital Region school children each year. For many of these children, this is the only/first time that they receive dental care. The Care Mobile does everything from examinations to root canals to extractions. They also provide educational information to the students about dental care and nutrition.
Additionally, Ronald McDonald House Charities has a grant program, which provides grants to local charities that share their vision to support the health and well-being of children and their families.
This past year we partnered with the Ronald McDonald House for a fundraiser at “The Joe,” where the entire team wore jerseys designed like jockey silks, in the colors of the Ronald McDonald House. The theme of the night was “Track Night” and the jerseys were auctioned off following the game, with all the proceeds benefiting RMHC.
The Ronald McDonald House holds numerous fundraising events each year, and each is as important as the next. For a list of upcoming events, visit http://www.rmhcofalbany.org/news-events.cfm.
How can you help?
Pop Tabs – Collect aluminum tabs found on soda cans, soup cans, etc. and donate them to RMHC. RMHC then recycles the tabs and keeps 100% of the money raised for the direct operations of our local charity.
McDonalds Collection Boxes – Drop your loose change into our collection boxes at any local McDonald’s. A little change can make a big difference!
Wishlist Drive – Collect single-sized snack foods, microwaveable soups, cleaning supplies and other essential wish list items to help provide families with all the comforts of home.
Help with all your Heart – Sell $1 paper hearts at your school, business, or place of worship to help support RMHC.
Volunteer – If you have the desire to help, we’ll find a way to utilize your skills and talents. Here are some ways you can get involved:
Meal Partners provide a home-cooked breakfast or dinner for families. Your efforts will allow families to focus their time on their hospitalized child without the worry of the cost and time involved in preparing meals.
Treat Bakers make delicious treats in our kitchen to share with families residing at the House or visiting the RMH Family Room & Suite in the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center.
In-House Volunteers welcome and offer comfort to families while assisting with the day-to-day operations of the Ronald McDonald House. Your role may also involve meeting families’ needs, light housekeeping, general office and phone duties, and various seasonal tasks.
Family Room Volunteers make the Family Room and Suite (inside Albany Medical Center) safe, friendly environments for all pediatric and neonatal patients’ families. You can offer your caring support & a listening ear along with coffee, toys and movies and other comforts of home.
Care Mobile Volunteers assist the dental team by escorting children as they walk to and from the Care Mobile and their classrooms. Your calm and caring presence will also reassure students as they await their dental services.
Service Day Volunteers keep the “House that Love Built” a beautiful haven for the families who need us. Your helping hands will ensure a clean, organized, and inviting home for families staying at RMH.
Volunteers of all ages can help; however, individuals 15 years of age or younger must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
The calendar has flipped to a new year, and the ‘Cats Corner blog is back! As we prepare for the 2015 season, our 14th in the Capital Region, we’ll continue to bring you all the behind-the-scenes looks into the inner workings of our front office. We’ll keep you updated on community and special events, bring you features on our community partners and former players, plus much more! So buckle up and get ready for the ride!
After some time off during the holidays to re-energize, we came back to fresh new carpets in the office!
The clubhouse has also received new carpets, and is currently waiting to have brand new lockers installed…which will be a welcomed site for returning skipper Ed Romero, the coaching staff and players!
Our first day back in the office was Monday, January 5…which just happened to be our Vice President / General Manager, Rick Murphy’s birthday. Rick’s a big Boston Bruins fan, so it just seemed right to celebrate accordingly.
This month we introduced a promotion that is all about YOU, our fans, known as “FANuary.” We’ve invested a lot of resources into this promotion as a way to give back. And we’ve done so by creating fun and interactive ways for our fans to win some awesome prizes!
One of the main components of FANuary is the search for our biggest fan….
We’re asking for those who believe that they or someone they know is the BIGGEST ValleyCats fan, to submit to us in writing, just why they believe so. Photos are encouraged with the submissions, and the person chosen as BIGGEST fan will be featured in our 2015 baseball card set!
(Submissions can either be e-mailed to email@example.com, or mailed to “Tri-City ValleyCats ATTN: FANuary” at P.O. Box 694, Troy, NY 12180. E-mail submissions must be sent no later than Wednesday, January 28. Mailings must be postmarked no later than Monday January 26. The winner will be announced on Saturday, January 31.)
We’re also currently running a creative photo contest on Instagram, where we want to see the best leg-kick imitations of ‘Cats 2014 All-Star reliever, Ryan Thompson. Fans are encouraged to post a photo of their most creative leg-kick on Instagram using #LegKickLEGacy. The most creative photo will receive each of our 2015 specialty jerseys.
Last year we did three specialty jerseys, Stars & Stripes, SouthPaw’s Birthday, and Jockey Silks.
SouthPaw giving his own #LegKickLEGacy a shot:
Lastly, we’ve asked for our fans to decide via Facebook, what promotion they would like to see us run on Monday, August 24. We received over 80 comments with many different suggestions, and we’ve narrowed the list down to five:
1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Night
2) The Hunger Games
3) Mardi Gras on the Hudson
4) WWE Night
5) Minecraft Night
If you would like to weigh in with your suggestion from the above, click here to comment on our Facebook post.
Speaking about promotions, we’re still working very hard on finalizing our promotional schedule for 2015. But we’re happy to share that many of the same great favorites will make their return. Those include Veterans Night, Bark in the Park, Star Wars Night, Italian Night, NFL Night, Camp Days, Irish Night, and more!
Also making it’s return will be Capital Region Baseball Heritage Night, featuring the latest bobblehead addition to our Heritage Series Bobblehead Collection. So far we’ve done Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Johnny Evers. Stay tuned to find out who this year’s Heritage Series bobblehead will be! We’re aiming for an announcement by mid February!
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) August 23, 2014
We’ve had many inquiries about where our 2015 fan bus trip will take us, and we’re VERY close to finalizing those details. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s official, and before you know it we’ll be shipping up to a great city!
Wrapping up our first blog post of the new year, we’d like to fill everybody in on the latest community event we attended.
Saturday, January 17th was the Ronald McDonald House Radiothon at Crossgates Mall, and we were there along with SouthPaw to help raise money for the great work that the Ronald McDonald House does. For more information on how you can help, click here.
Our entire office wore Ronald socks prior to the Radiothon to raise awareness. We’ll also be featuring the Ronald McDonald House in a future blog post as part of our offseason Community Spotlight.
In closing, please take a few minutes to check out our latest video…SouthPaw enjoying National Hug Day!!
As winter rapidly approaches, the ‘Cats are making the most of what’s left of fall by helping to renovate the Watervliet High School baseball field. The diamond became unfit for play after going unused for two years due to the construction of a new football field at the high school, which was unveiled this fall. During that time, the JV and Varsity baseball teams played their home games at a neutral site. But come spring, they will have a brand new field to call home.
ValleyCats Assistant General Manager, Matt Callahan, and Operations Manager, Keith Sweeney, spent time at the field to rebuild the pitchers mound and home plate. They also assisted with lining up the baselines to the correct specifications, leveling the playing surface, and laying down brand new sod in the infield.
The work couldn’t have been done without the support of head baseball coach Dennis Lane, Tom Hall of Tom Hall Landscaping, and the ValleyCats Community Grounds Crew partner, Blueshield of Northeastern New York.
Finishing touches will be put on the field in the spring, before welcoming another season of high school baseball in Watervliet!
The ValleyCats next renovation project will take place in April as part of their major “4 in 24″ initiative, where four fields are renovated in a 24 hour time period. If your league’s home field is in need of a renovation, and would like to apply, be sure to take pictures of the playing surface before the snow accumulates. It’s important for us to be able to see the field conditions in order to determine the scope of the project. We’ll begin accepting applications in the very near future.
Below are some photos during and after the Watervliet renovations:
Sunday night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, 17 members of the baseball community were inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. Among the inductees were former Boston Red Sox infielder Rico Petrocelli (Brooklyn), pitchers Frank Viola (East Meadow) and John Doherty (Tuckahoe), and slugger Frank Malzone (Bronx).
Also inducted were Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully (Bronx), who received the Johnny Podres Lifetime Achievement Award, and former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who received the John Cerutti Sportsmanship Award.
Other notable names include one of the first closers in the game, Pirates right-hander Elroy Face (Stephentown), Indians outfielder Rocky Colavito (NYC), Dodgers catcher Joe Pignatano (Brooklyn), Astros pitcher Jim Deshaies (Massena), Pirates pitcher Dave Giusti (Seneca Falls), and Reds pitcher Tom Browning (Chadwicks).
Locals inducted into the Hall of Fame include baseball author Frank Keetz (Schenectady), Cleveland Indians assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro (Bethlehem), and umpire Dennis Galka (Albany).
Rounding out the inductees were two coaching veterans, 50-year head baseball coach for Eastchester High School in Westchester County, Dom Cecere, and 36-year head coach for Ithaca College, George Valesente.
We were proud to be part of the festivities, and thank the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors, led by Rene LeRoux, for organizing such a great evening.
Below are some photos from the event. To learn more about the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame, visit www.nysbhof.com.
Each month our front office staff participates in a different team building activity, and this month was painting pumpkins! (We tried pumpkin “carving” a few years ago, but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle or smell of cleaning up the remains.)
We want our fans to pick which pumpkin they like the best, then we’ll tell you whose artistic work it was! Feel free to leave some comments!
So without further ado…here are the creations!
As previously mentioned, the ValleyCats season may be over, but our Front Office staff is in full swing in preparation for the 2015 season. While Media Relations / Production Manager Chris Chenes enjoyed the warm sun at Instructional League in Florida, General Manager Rick Murphy, Senior Account Executive Chris Dawson, and Account Executive Ben Whitehead flew westward to the Sooner State, as Oklahoma City hosted the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. During the three-day event (Sept. 30 – Oct. 2), staff members from nearly every MiLB team get together for numerous brainstorming sessions. These range from discussing the best promotions of the season to interactive ways to engage our fans throughout the year.
The week began early Tuesday morning, as we loaded up two buses and headed to The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital for the MiLB Charities Community Service Project. We were treated to a tour of the state-of-the-art facility and a presentation providing information about what the center offers. We then went out to a baseball field located on the hospital grounds and played the game we love with some of the staff and patients. This was an incredible place to visit for the project and was a wonderful opportunity to spend time giving back to a great community.
Check out this video put together by The Children’s Center: Sidenote: Ben moved from Oklahoma City to the Albany area upon accepting his position with the ‘Cats, and his wife worked at The Children’s Center prior to relocation. Small world!
Interestingly enough, Oklahoma is the birthplace of several great MLB players, including New York Yankee great and Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. His restaurant, Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse, is across the street from the RedHawks ballpark. The ballpark also has a statue of Mantle, fellow Oklahoman Johnny Bench and New York native Warren Spahn, who resided in Oklahoma upon retirement.
The seminar began Tuesday afternoon and once we were inside the main seminar room, a banner hung reminding us all why we were here…
We were nominated for a Golden Bobblehead, an award given out to the top promotions each season. Our 4 in 24 Field Renovation Project presented by BlueShield of Northeastern New York was a finalist in the “Best Charity Promotion or Event” category.
For those who don’t know, the 4 in 24 Project occurs each spring when our staff sets out to renovate four youth baseball fields in 24 hours. Infields get re-sodded, pitcher’s mounds and home plate areas are rebuilt and leveled, new bases are set to proper distances and general cleanup and maintenance of the field is performed. Check out this blog post from our 2014 version of the project when we renovated fields at Schenectady Little League, Twin Town Little League, Spring Youth Baseball, and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League.
Although we didn’t come back with the hardware, we were honored to be recognized by our peers for this tremendously rewarding project. Many teams approached us at the seminar to ask about the process and we challenged all teams to spend more time in their local communities promoting the game we all love and positively impacting the youth who will be the stars of tomorrow. We would like to congratulate the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for winning our category for their HOPE Week. Also, fellow NYPL team Brooklyn brought home two bobbleheads. The Cyclones captured the award for “Best Theme Night” with their incredible “Seinfeld” Night at MCU Park. Additionally, that theme won “Best Overall Promotion/Event.”
One of the presentations was given by Ben Hill, the infamous MiLB writer who travels to Minor League stadiums each season. Ben Hill writes about his experiences on his blog (bensbiz.mlblogs.com) and presents his favorite parts of each trip during the Promo Seminar. With his trip to “The Joe” on August 29th, Ben featured us during his presentation. Keep an eye out for his blog soon detailing his night at the ‘Cats game.
After three days of idea-sharing, presentations and making many connections, the Oklahoma City RedHawks (now the former Triple-A affiliate of the Astros and current Dodgers affiliate) hosted all the attendees for the ballpark outing. Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is located in the Bricktown district of Oklahoma City and opened in 1998. It has a capacity of over 13,000 and plays host to many events outside of the RedHawks season schedule. The Bedlam Baseball Series between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University is held at the park annually, as well as many Big 12 Baseball Tournaments, high school baseball games, and even snow tubing in the winter!
Kudos to the RedHawks staff for coordinating an amazing outing and thank you for the wonderful hospitality! The feast that evening featured many Oklahoma delicacies such as fried catfish, brisket, hot links, chicken fried steak and many more delicious items!
Upon return to the Tri-City area, our staff began preparation for the 2015 season. During our Strategic Planning Meetings held Oct. 15-16, we reviewed our 2014 season at each department level and began laying the foundation for 2015. The meetings were held at the Hilton Garden Inn Troy and there was plenty discussion about new and exciting ideas to enhance the ballpark experience at “The Joe!” Thanks to the ideas generated from the Promo Seminar and our brainstorming sessions in our meetings, we are eager to skip the upcoming winter and ready to open the gates for the 2015 season! Opening Day will be here soon enough and we can’t wait! In the meantime, keep checking our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website for all the latest in ‘Cats happenings! VAMOS GATOS!
Fall has arrived in full force, indicated by the cooler temperatures, colors of the leaves, football, and of course the Major League Baseball playoffs! Here at the “The Joe,” we’ve got a rooting interest in two of the four remaining teams.
On the National League side, the San Francisco Giants feature star outfielder Hunter Pence. Pence is a 2004 alumni of the ValleyCats. Not only that, but the SF Giants roots trace all the way back to Troy, NY. You can read more about that here.
Here’s a photo of Hunter from 2004, when the ValleyCats played their annual game in Cooperstown against the Oneonta Tigers:
Also, here’s an interview with Hunter from Spring Training 2009, where he reflects on his time in Troy, and his MLB rookie season.
On the American League side, the Baltimore Orioles feature starting pitcher Bud Norris. Norris is a 2006 alumni of the ‘Cats, who actually roomed with Watervliet native and fellow former ‘Cat, Chris Salamida.
Also, the skipper of the O’s, Buck Showalter is hard not to root for, especially for those in the Capital Region. Many will remember that Buck was the manager for the Albany-Colonie Yankees in 1989, and led the team to their second consecutive Eastern League title.
In Showalter’s postgame press conference upon defeating the Tigers in the ALDS, he made mention of his title in Albany, a really cool moment for local fans. You can view the video here.
All of the postseason baseball hype just reminds us of what a great season our team had in 2014. A third straight Stedler Division title, fourth NYPL Championship Series appearance in five years, record number of wins at home (26/38), and a record number of fans (161,171) coming out to witness it all!
Unfortunately, the season did not end as we all may have liked, falling just one game short of a third New York-Penn League title, but overall it was a success.
The very next morning after the ValleyCats season ended, the players and coaching staff were gone as quick as they arrived three months earlier.
However, a select number of ‘Cats didn’t have much time to relax. Some of them participated in the Fall Instructional League in Florida, which is a league made up of lower level players from within the Astros organization. ValleyCats Media Relations / Production Manager Chris Chenes was fortunate enough to make a pit stop, en route to his vacation earlier this month.
It takes place at the team’s spring training facility in Kissimmee, Florida, where approximately 45 players are invited to participate. It’s not mandatory, but every player accepts the invitation. The purpose of the four week league is to enhance the skills of these younger players & prospects under close supervision of the Astros minor league instructors and coaches.
Other participants include players getting ready for the Arizona Fall League (which is currently underway), learning a new position, or those recovering from injury.
Each day, with the exception of a Sunday off-day, consists of drills in the morning, and a game in the afternoon against other local MLB Instructional League teams. On this day, the Astros made the hour-long trek to Viera to face the Nationals.
The Instructional League wraps up this weekend, but the players will be back in Kissimmee in just five short months, for 2015 spring training!
Back here at home, the arrival of fall means that ValleyCats Stadium Operations Manager Keith Sweeney and his crew have a lot of work to do to ready the stadium for the changing seasons. They need to break down all of the tents, take down all of the signage, move concession kiosks indoors, and clean the stadium one final time before winter.
Here are some photos of the stadium clean-up:
Even though the stadium itself is being shut down, the work of the front office staff is just gearing back up. Believe it or not, the 2015 season schedule will be released in the next few weeks, and we’ve got tons of work to do to prepare for another exciting season of minor league baseball at “The Joe!”
With the colder weather moving on in, Michelle has ordered some fantastic new ValleyCats gear to get you through the bitter temperatures! To purchase any of the below items, stop by the stadium or click here to visit our online team store.
From October through January, our clubhouse, weight room, and batting cage will remain open and available for rental. There’s a sectioned cage for multiple hitters, indoor pitching mounds, space for infield and mechanics drills, a manual-fed pitching machine, and plenty of room for conditioning, yoga, and plyometrics. For more information on how your team can rent the space for offseason workouts, contact Dave Bestle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 518-935-7311.
We’ll also be hosting our 2nd Annual Baseball Bootcamp for ages 7-13 beginning on November 3rd. The 4-week program designed by the ValleyCats coaches and trainers will provide athletes the opportunity to improve their baseball skills and fitness level throughout the offseason. The players will work on baseball mechanics to improve their fundamentals for hitting, fielding and throwing. In addition the players will also work on cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and flexibility. There will be nutritional guidance throughout the program along with other essential aspects of baseball fitness in a specially designed program by the ValleyCats strength and conditioning coaches. Click here to sign-up!
Even though his time playing for the Albany-Colonie Yankees in the summer of 1994 was short, the fact of the matter is that Derek Jeter’s path to baseball greatness runs through the Capital Region.
In 34 games with the Double-A New York Yankees affiliate, Jeter batted .377 before being promoted to Triple-A Columbus. And as they say…the rest is history.
Speaking of history, Jeter’s place in Capital Region baseball lore just adds to it’s long and storied heritage, which extends as far back as the late 19th century.
The earliest professional ball clubs in the area were the Troy Haymakers (1871-1872) and Troy Trojans (1879-1882). That list went on to include the Albany Senators, Schenectady Blue Jays, Amsterdam Rugmakers, Glens Falls White Sox/Tigers/Redbirds, Albany A’s, Albany-Colonie Yankees, and of course, the Tri-City ValleyCats.
With Jeter’s final game on the horizon, we thought it would be fitting to look back at a few different times throughout the years that we have payed tribute to The Captain.
Remember when Derek Jeter became a free agent for the first time? It was the year 2010, and all the talk was about where Jeter will end up. “Will he finish his career with the Yankees or will he move on?” was the big question.
Well, we had a little fun and decided to Photoshop Derek Jeter on a ValleyCats baseball card, to see what it would look like if he some how ended up on our team. Sure, not realistic…but funny to look at.
Each year, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown pays a visit to “The Joe” to display artifacts from the museum. Multiple times, the Hall brought Jeter items for Capital Region fans to get an up-close view of.
A side note to the above P72 model bat, is that Louisville Slugger is retiring that model number in honor of Derek Jeter. It’s the first time the company has ever done that in it’s long 130 years in the game. You can read more about it by clicking here.
This past season, the museum brought along a pair of Jeter’s batting gloves from Sept. 11, 2009 when he recorded his 2,722nd hit, setting a Yankees record.
And who can forget August 20, 2012, when the ValleyCats unveiled their Heritage Series Bobblehead Collection. The first member, Derek Jeter circa 1994.
So from the ValleyCats organization, salute 2 you Captain!
We’ve arrived at the end of baseball season here in Upstate New York, as the ValleyCats have wrapped up another spectacular summer at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. Despite falling one game shy of winning back-to-back New York-Penn League Championships, we consider 2014 a HUGE success!
On the field, we went 48-28 in the regular season and were 26-12 at home, setting a new record for home wins. For the third year in a row, we won the Stedler Division title to advance to the postseason. And for the fourth time in five seasons, we played for the league title. In Short-Season Class A ball, that’s an accomplishment of which to be proud.
From an organization standpoint, we had the best season on record, as we set an all-time total attendance record with 161,171 fans during the regular season.
Add in the 8,145 fans during the playoffs and nearly 170,000 fans attended a ValleyCats baseball game this summer. Additionally, other events such as our Friday Night Lights series, Capital Region Series, Section II High School Championships, and Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival brought our total attendance to nearly 180,000!
Once again, we cannot express our thanks enough to you, the fans, for your support this summer! THANK YOU FANS for making this season so special! Our team fed off your energy and your support is what makes coming to “The Joe” the best part of summer in the Capital Region.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from our playoff run – our first home game was Sept. 4 against the Connecticut Tigers. The ’Cats jumped out to a big lead and held on for the victory, 6-5, to sweep the series 2-0 and advance to the NYPL Championship Series.
A few days later, we took on the State College Spikes for the second year in a row with the NYPL Cup on the line. After falling in Game 1 to the Spikes in State College, Penn., we returned home with ace RHP Joe Musgrove on the hill. Musgrove shined bright, as he had all season, and led the ’Cats to a 3-0 victory to even the series.
Prior to the game, BlueShield of Northeastern New York presented a check to the Capital District YMCA as part of their season-long “Ks for Kids” promotion.
In the deciding Game 3, over 3,100 fans came out to “The Joe,” which by playoff attendance standards, is fantastic!! Prior the game, the ‘Cats were as loose as they have been all year. It may have been because they knew, that no matter what, this was their last game together.
Things got off to a shaky start, however, as the Spikes posted a 6-spot in the first inning, which proved to be too big of a deficit for the ‘Cats to overcome. State College cruised to the championship win, the first in their franchise history.
After our season ended, we hosted the ValleyCats Fall Classic, a 16U Eastern New York Travel Baseball (ENYTB) tournament, presented by Frozen Ropes of Albany.
The tournament consisted of eight youth teams, with a double-elimination format. What made this tournament so unique, aside from playing on a professional baseball field and utilizing professional clubhouses and an indoor batting cage, each player received their own headshot and walk-up music, just like the ValleyCats!
The championship was decided on Monday night at “The Joe,” with the Upstate Thoroughbreds taking home the title on a walk-off in the bottom of the 7th!
And so that signaled the end of baseball at “The Joe” in 2014, but we still have plenty of events going on throughout the offseason. This coming weekend, we have not one, but TWO walks dedicated to raise funds for great organizations.
Beginning late Friday will be our annual Relay For Life of Rensselaer County to benefit the American Cancer Society. The Relay continues through the night into early Saturday morning. Join our team, or start your own!
Later that day at “The Joe,” Make-A-Wish Northeast New York’s inaugural Walk-For-Wishes will take place. Families, friends, corporations, clubs, and schools are invited to walk together and raise funds for children in the Greater Capital Region facing life-threatening medical conditions. Click here for full details>>
We hope to see you here at one of these events or other upcoming ones. Stay tuned to www.tcvalleycats.com, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds, for information this offseason, including our schedule release in the coming months!
By Brady Farkas
Just last week I was listening to sports talk radio.
Hey, ‘Cats fans and happy Labor Day! We hope everyone is having a relaxing three-day weekend and enjoying the final days of summer. On Saturday night, we celebrated the best fans in MiLB here at “The Joe” on Fans for Life Night and GE Kids in Free! The ‘Cats game against the Brooklyn Cyclones wrapped up the last homestand of the regular season as we set a franchise record for single season attendance at 161,171. Thank you fans for making this possible through all of your support in 2014!
As soon as gates opened, our fans were greeted by the ValleyCats players and coaching staff, who met with fans for photos and autographs before our pregame ceremonies began. Mayor Kathy Sheehan of Albany was in attendance for a ceremonial first pitch, and a surprise appearance in the Tri-City Mayor’s Race! Lucy Gladstone, the granddaughter of ValleyCats president Bill Gladstone sang the National Anthem in front of our fans before the games began. There was a packed crowd at “The Joe” enjoying a beautiful night with food, baseball and end-of-summer fun!
The ‘Cats were able to celebrate a win on the final home game of the regular season, 3-2 against the Brooklyn Cyclones. In addition to the attendance record, the ValleyCats set a new record for the most wins at home in one season with 26. Good job, ‘Cats! Fans stuck around after the game for our tennis ball launch and fireworks show!
Now, the ‘Cats head towards the playoffs as a top-seeded team, earning home field advantage with the first playoff game on Thursday, September 4.Playoff tickets are available by calling 518-629-CATS or visiting the ValleyCats box office here at “The Joe!” Thank you again to all who came out to the ballpark this season to support the ValleyCats and make this summer another memorable one! Now, head out for the playoffs and keep cheering on the ‘Cats! #VamosGatos #UnoMas
Hey, ‘Cats fans! Sadly, the 2014 regular season is coming to a close here at “The Joe” with our last few games against the New York Mets affiliate, Brooklyn Cyclones. Last night was our Diamond Dig/Early Oktoberfest theme sponsored by Jewelry by Don Cook. It was a gorgeous night for baseball and for 5,501 fans to pack the stands!! There was a lot going on inside the stadium for our Ladies Night out with a postgame diamond dig, Oktoberfest food and beer specials in the Field of Dreams, and a visit from MiLB Blogger Benjamin Hill of the Ben’s Biz blog!
During our pregame ceremonies, we recognized several teams from UAlbany athletics to congratulate them on championship seasons. We also had our Employee of the Month recognitions on the field as well followed by a record number of ceremonial first pitches before the ‘Cats took the field for a 7 p.m. start.
“The Joe” had a full crowd for 9 innings of exciting baseball with a ‘Cats 3-2 win over the Cyclones! Following the game, we had our Diamond Dig for the ladies down on the field as they searched for a pair of diamond earrings courtesy of Don Cook of Jewelry by Don Cook! We ended the night with our tennis ball launch and postgame fireworks show!
With losses by the Hudson Valley Renegades and State College Spikes, the ValleyCats are now tied for the second best record with the Spikes as we’re heading towards the playoffs. Tonight is our final regular season home game on Fans for Life Night as the ‘Cats look to get the sweep against the Cyclones to move them closer to a higher seed! We hope to see you out at the ballpark to celebrate another great summer!
Hey, ‘Cats fans! The ValleyCats began a three-game series with the New York Mets affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones here at “The Joe!” We’re almost through with the final homestand of the regular season as summer comes to a close. Luckily, the ‘Cats have clinched the Stedler Division and will be making a playoff appearance very soon!
Last night, we had Home Improvement Night here at “The Joe” presented by TrustCo Bank. We set up a Home Show our concourse during the game where fans were able to visit each of the booths for a chance to win a night in a luxury suite in 2015!
Many local Mets fans came out to the park to see their affiliate team, the Brooklyn Cyclones at “The Joe” as the ValleyCats looked to snap their losing streak and finally celebrate their Stedler Division title. It was a beautiful night for 9 innings of exciting baseball! SouthPaw had a great time with Trusty the TrustCo mascot and meeting with the Cyclones players!
After coming back from behind, the ‘Cats won 4-3 with a walk-off thanks to Alex Hernandez in the 9th! The champagne came out and the ‘Cats celebrated down on the field for clinching the Stedler Division for the third year in a row. Tonight, the ‘Cats hope to continue with another win against the Cyclones on Diamond Dig/Oktoberfest Night presented by Don Cook Jewelers. The regular season is coming to a close, so head out to “The Joe” and support your 2014 Stedler Division Champs! Vamos Gatos!