Another year, another ‘4 in 24’ in the books! 2016 marked the 6th consecutive youth field renovation project where four youth ball fields were renovated in under 24 hours here in the Capital Region.
Since our inaugural season in 2002, we’ve been committed to being ambassadors for the game of baseball. Now in our 15th year, that mission remains stronger than ever.
The ‘4 in 24’ youth field renovation project is a strong collaborative effort among the ValleyCats and our main partners, BlueShield of Northeastern New York and Hannaford Supermarkets. The work could not be done without their support, along with the assistance of city and league officials, and community volunteers.
This year, the four field projects we took on were Guilderland Little League, Mechanicville Stillwater Little League, Nassau Baseball Association, and Upstate Premier Baseball in Schenectady. Each presented their own challenges, but at the end of the day, the rewards outweighed them many times over.
In order to revamp four fields in less than 24 hours, it requires a lot of preparation and planning. Much of that is done by Keith Sweeney, our Stadium Operations Manager, and General Manager Matt Callahan.
Our front office is divided up into four groups, each with a team leader, and assigned to a specific field.
From there, it takes a large volunteer effort to complete the renovations. Each league has plenty of representation, city and town officials chip in their time and resources, our partners BlueShield and Hannaford send crews, and even members in and around the community offer their time to help the cause.
The efforts were also assisted by Admar Construction Equipment, The Brickman Group, Turface, and SiteOne Landscape Supplies, with these partners contributing some of the necessary equipment, materials, and volunteers.
As the morning of the renovations arrived, it was an early wake-up call for many. But none earlier than Media Relations Manager Chris Chenes, who appeared on the early morning newscast on News 10.
ValleyCats front office staff, and league/city volunteers followed shortly after, and almost everyone was present and ready to work by 7am.
By the end of the day, each field received a brand new infield playing surface, with new sod, a rebuilt pitcher’s mound and home plate, and new bases set at the correct specifications. Like previously mentioned, each location presented their own twists & turns along the way, with different types of work also required. Below is a recap of each field renovation.
We’ll start with a field that hadn’t been utilized in over 10 years, the old Bellevue Little League on 4th Street in Schenectady. The history of that location goes all the way back to 1950, when it was first constructed. The league was largely popular, and at one point there were five major teams, which doesn’t include the minor, farm, and t-ball levels.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s, the numbers began to dwindle, interest in youth baseball within the community declined, and the league eventually folded. From there, the field sat untouched for over a decade. Weeds overgrew the entire field, hills and craters formed in the outfield, the dugouts, clubhouse, and concession stand buildings were covered with graffiti, and it became just a distant memory of what it had once been.
Over the past year, Dom LeMorta & Bill Creighton of Upstate Premier Baseball took over the land, and were determined to make that field their home. With the ability to bring back a diamond in the rough, for the Bellevue community, this was a no-brainer for one our ‘4 in 24’ locations.
Prior to our renovations, Upstate Baseball & the city of Schenectady helped to tear down trees & roots along the fence line, and get rid of the weeds within the diamond. The location was now ready for the 4 in 24 renovations to begin. Here are some before photos, immediately prior to the work on Thursday.
As you can see, much work needed to be done.
When it was all said and done, the results were even greater than we could have imagined. A field that hadn’t been used in 10+ years, now looked ready for baseball!
Here’s our Snapchat (tcvalleycats) story chronicling the day’s work!
At the other end of the spectrum, you have Guilderland Little League. With over 50 teams and 500+ players, Guilderland has one of the largest leagues in the Capital Region. They serve a vital role in their community by providing opportunities for children ages 4-12 to learn and play baseball.
The league utilizes numerous fields in Keenholts Park in Altamont, and our focus was on one that needed the most repair. President of the League’s Board of Directors, Jon Phillips, says this renovation will go a long way in preparing the league for big events to be held at the complex this year.
“The Tri-City ValleyCats ‘4 in 24’ Program comes at a great time for Guilderland Little League,” Phillips said. “This support allows us to maintain some of the best athletic fields in the Capital District and will help us to prepare for upcoming showcase events the Guilderland Little League will be hosting this year such as Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run Competition on May 1st and the New York State 10 Year Old All Star Tournament in July.”
Here are the before, during, and after photos of the work:
Mechanicville-Stillwater Little League was one of our other locations, a league that serves over 250 families each year throughout the Mechanicville / Stillwater communities. With one of their fields being in serious need of repair in order to maintain a safe playing surface for the many children ages 7 through 13 who utilize the field, this was another location that fit the bill for our ‘4 in 24.’
League president John DelBalso had this to say about the work:
“The Mechanicville Stillwater Little League is thrilled to be selected for the ValleyCats ‘4 in 24’ program for 2016. These improvements will help to provide the best experience possible while improving the safety of the Field for the players, umpires, and coaches. The Board is grateful to have the opportunity to bring the George H. Pickett Fields up to the standard of excellence that both our players and communities deserve.”
Coincidentally, the name of this field is George H. Pickett Field, the father of one of our long-time ushers, Mike Pickett!
Here are some photos prior to, during, and after the renovations.
Nassau Baseball Association was our last of the four fields, a league that has a long tradition in Rensselaer County. Established in 1956, Nassau currently serves over 130 kids and includes a scholarship program for children that may otherwise be unable to play.
Some of the main needs of this field were the transition between the infield grass and dirt, the deteriorating pitcher’s mound and rubber, and the area around home plate. In order to maintain a reasonable registration cost for the families, our assistance with this project will go a long way.
Here’s what President Jeff Pearce had to say about the work.
“When our league was founded sixty years ago, the goal was to bring the game of baseball to all of the children of Nassau and our surrounding communities no matter what their skill level, family income or any other situation that may prevent a child from participating. With the help of our community, volunteers and local businesses over the past sixty years we have accomplished this goal by keeping our registrations fees one of the lowest in the capital region. Over the last couple of years our field has deteriorated to the point where it has become a safety issue for the children. With the estimated field repairs way over our available budget we were going to be forced with either raising our registration fees or and risk pushing families away or keep playing on an unsafe field. With being selected for the 4 in 24 project we will now be able to keep our registration fees at an affordable rate for all families and have a safe field to play on again. We as a league and a community could not be more grateful for this opportunity.”
Lastly, the work of the ‘4 in 24’ will be recognized during Youth Baseball Night at “The Joe” on Friday, June 24.
In closing, we’d just like to reiterate our thank you to BlueShield of Northeastern New York and Hannaford Supermarkets for their generous support of this project. Without them, this project does not get done. Also a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who helped with the hard work! Just like the game itself, it takes teamwork to get this job done.
And thank you again to Admar Construction Equipment for the heavy duty equipment, the Brickman Group for their expert field maintenance crew, and Turface / SiteOne Landscape Supplies for the mound bricks & clay, and infield conditioner.
This is by far one of our most important community initiatives of the year, as we continue to hold true to our mission of being ambassadors for the great game of baseball!
If your youth league’s field is in need of repair, our Community Grounds Crew will be working on select fields throughout the spring and summer. Apply online at tcvalleycats.com/fieldrenovations.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” –
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
March is Reading Awareness Month, and we’re doing our part to spread the word by reading to local schools across the Capital Region. Read Across America Day was on Wednesday, March 2nd, the birth date of Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss, born in 1904 in Springfield, Mass., was an American writer and illustrator best known for authoring popular children’s books including timeless classics such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
We celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday by spending some time at School 16 in Troy, as SouthPaw read a few books to Mrs. Shaer’s third grade class!
We make dozens of reading appearances throughout the year at local schools, libraries, and summer camps. Many of these appearances are in collaboration with the Ronald McDonald House and NY529 College Savings Program.
Each Sunday during the season, we hold a summer reading program where members of the ValleyCats team read to children prior to the ballgame. They are then given a copy of the books, which are donated by the Kiwanis Club of Troy.
Here are a few other photos from our most recent reading appearances:
With 2016 in full swing, our front office has kicked it into high gear in preparation for our 15th anniversary season!
Check out our newly minted 15th anniversary logo! Each star represents a championship, with the white stars being division titles, and red stars being league titles.
The logo will be featured throughout the stadium, on marketing & promotional items, merchandise, on-field caps and more!
Not only will we be celebrating our 15th anniversary, but we’ll also welcome our two millionth fan through the gates! This should occur during one of our games in the middle of July. Just as we did when we welcomed our one millionth fan in 2010, there will be tons of surprises on this night!
Another Day at the Office
There’s no down time at “The Joe” during this time of year. We’re busy hiring our interns and gameday staff members, planning our 2016 promotional calendar and events, putting together unique ticket offers, building our corporate partnerships, and continuing to be an active member in the community.
Many have asked what we’ve got planned for bobblehead giveaways in 2016, and all we can say right now is that the plans are in their infancy.
‘Cats in the Community
Mayors Cup, RPI Engineers vs. Union Dutchmen, Times Union Center
The ValleyCats “Tri-City” representatives were present at this cross-town hockey rivalry, greeting fans during the game, and throwing t-shirts into the crowd during intermission!
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) January 23, 2016
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) January 23, 2016
Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region Radiothon
Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region held their 15th Annual Radiothon, their most important fundraiser of the year, and we were happy to be just a small part of it. We brought our inflatable baseball game to Crossgates Mall for chances to win cool ‘Cats prizes for a small donation.
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) January 23, 2016
Radiothon 2016 is in the books! $134,200 and counting! Thanks to all who volunteered and donated.
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) January 26, 2016
— Frontline (@FrontlineAM) January 24, 2016
— Jordan Salinas (@jordaNNDanger) January 21, 2016
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 23, 2016
If you can read a book while you are on the treadmill, u are either superhuman or not going fast enough
— ryan thompson (@R_Thompson15) January 26, 2016
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. New Day. New opportunities… Don’t miss one. #daybydayeveryday
— Joe Musgrove (@musgrove23Stros) January 18, 2016
Now approaching our 15th season, one thing has remained a constant, and that’s our commitment to the Capital Region community. Each year we attend numerous local schools, libraries, camps, walks, fundraising events, and more, lending a hand in any way possible. This past year alone, we’ve made over 160 appearances.
Our efforts were recognized by the New York-Penn League, as we are the league nominee for Minor League Baseball’s John Henry Moss Community Service Award. The award is presented to one Minor League club for their ongoing commitment to charitable service and their support and leadership within the community and the baseball industry.
Over the last month, SouthPaw, Michelle, and other members of the ‘Cats front office have been volunteering their services at a wide array of events.
On October 28th, SouthPaw visited Wood Road Elementary School in Ballston Spa for Family Fun Night, where he read books to the children as part of their fall book fair.
The following evening, SouthPaw attended School 14 in Troy with Michelle and Elyse for their annual Red Ribbon Night. The night featured many fun and educational activities to reward students for taking the pledge to live a drug free life.
On November 5, SouthPaw ran in the annual Troy Turkey Trot mascot race to kick off the formal announcement of Troy’s annual turkey trot road race. Many of the areas notable mascots took part in the 0.05 mile race, with Trotter the turkey coming out victorious after SouthPaw sustained a hamstring injury.
The 68th Annual Troy Turkey Trot takes place on Thanksgiving morning, and is one of the largest and oldest turkey trots in the United States. For more details, or to register for the race, visit http://www.troyturkeytrot.com.
SouthPaw recovered just in time to join Pappy SouthPaw at Crossgates Mall for the launch of Macy’s Believe campaign benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation. From November 6 through December 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, for every stamped letter addressed to Santa at The North Pole, delivered to the red letterbox at each local Macy’s.
On November 10, the Troy Boys & Girls Club held their 8th Annual Pizzapalooza at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom. We cooked up our wood fired pizza at “The Joe,” then transported them to Franklin Terrace to be served. The event raised money to support the programs and services offered by the club.
On the menu…hot dog pizza!
This year, we partnered with Hannaford Supermarkets and BlueShield of Northeastern New York on the Community Grounds Crew initiative, in order to revamp many youth fields over the course of the spring, summer, and fall. Members of our staff including GM Matt Callahan, Stadium Ops Manager Keith Sweeney, Senior Account Executive Chris Dawson, and others took care of two more fields in the past few weeks. Here are some photos!
Halfmoon Little League:
Watervliet Little League:
Does your field need a makeover prior to the 2016 season? We are currently accepting applications for Community Grounds Crew projects in the spring, and now is the perfect time to apply. You could be one of four fields to receive a COMPLETE overhaul, including brand new sod in the infield, a new pitcher’s mound and home plate, bases, and much more! Or you could be selected for other field maintenance.
Photos along with your submission are highly recommended, so be sure to take them now before the snow falls. Visit tcvalleycats.com for more details.
UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS
Crossgates Mall and B95.5 Kids Club
Saturday, November 14, 9:00am – 11:00am
Crossgates Mall, lower level Lord & Taylor Court.
Come to this FREE event where your kids can sing, dance, take pictures with mascots, make crafts, play games and win amazing prizes. Shhh….don’t tell the kiddies, but we are expecting a very special guest come all the way from the North Pole! Also, enjoy cookies, hot cocoa, and a special gift from our guest!
Scout Sleepover Extravaganza
Saturday, November 14, 10:30pm – Sunday morning
Flight Trampoline Park, 30a Post Road Colonie, NY
Jump around with your scout friends and family members all night long, enjoy pizza and a movie showing before sleeping on the trampolines. SouthPaw will be there at the start to jump along! To reserve your spot, log on to trcscouting.org/sleepoverextravaganza2016
Salvation Army Kettle Kick Off
Friday, November 20, 10:30am – 11:30am
Pfeil Hardware, 63 3rd Street, Troy
SouthPaw helps the Salvation Army kick off their red kettle campaign for the 2015 holiday season!
2015 Schenectady Daily Gazette Holiday Parade
Saturday, November 21, 5:00pm – 8:00pm
State Street, Schenectady
The Chamber of Schenectady County will present the 48th Annual Daily Gazette Holiday Parade, slated to step off at 5 p.m. Saturday, November 21 in downtown Schenectady. The parade, a Capital Region tradition, attracts 20,000-40,000 spectators who will line State Street in downtown Schenectady for what is widely known as the largest nighttime parade in the Northeast. Spectators will enjoy more than 100 magical characters, floats, bands, marchers, dance troupes and decorated vehicles. Each participant is vying for our top awards!
Capital Holiday Lights Chili, Chowder and SoupFest
Sunday, November 22, 4:00pm – 8:00pm
Washington Park, Albany
Join us at the second annual Capital Holiday Lights Chili, Chowder and SoupFest, featuring many of the Capital Region’s favorite restaurants and delis. We’ll be serving up our wood fired pizza! Sample $1.00 portions as you enjoy the music of The Reverberators (“Christmas in Albany”) at the Washington Park Lakehouse. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the Lights on the Lake, all while supporting three important charities: The Albany Damien House, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region and the Alzheimer’s Association. Suggested donations are $5.00 per person or $10.00 per family. The LakeHouse will be open with Vendors and Santa.
What a tremendous 2015 season at “The Joe,” we can’t wait for 2016! As the offseason progresses, we’ll post monthly updates via ‘Cats Corner, to keep you informed on what’s going on within the ‘Cats front office. For now, keep an eye on tcvalleycats.com and our Facebook page for more frequent updates!
There is rich history of baseball here in the Capital Region, starting in 1871 with the Troy Haymakers and continuing all the way until now with the Tri-City ValleyCats. We took last night to celebrate our baseball heritage and commemorate a famous alumna of the Capital Region.
Upon entering the stadium, the first 1,500 fans were given a ticket redeemable for a Bernie Williams Bobblehead. The famous Yankee played for the Albany-Colonie Yankees from 1989 to 1990. To top of the Weekend at Bernie’s celebration, we’ll be raffling off a life-size Bernie Williams bubblehead tonight after the game. Tickets can be purchased on our website or in SouthPaw’s Den.
Before the game, we recognized the four members of the ValleyCats who represented Tri-City in Aberdeen this week at the All-Star Game: Alex Winkelman, Pat Porter, Bobby Wernes and Dexture McCall, who received the All-Star Game Top Star Honor.
Team Ferior Sports, Saratoga Eagle, Daniel Oliksowycz from the Lasalle School and 2014 Boy of the Year, Ethan Herrington from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society threw out the first pitches. The Troy Youth Choir followed them with the singing of the National Anthem.
We also had a familiar face at “The Joe” last night for the game. We were joined by City of Albany Mayor, Kathy Sheehan, who you may recognize from the 6th inning mayor’s race!
Unfortunately, the ‘Cats fell to the Hudson Valley Renegades 4-2 despite McCall (3-for-4 with an RBI and a double) and Nunez’s (RBI Double) offensive efforts. The ‘Cats return to “The Joe” tonight at 7pm to wrap up Weekend at Bernie’s. We’ll be giving away Bernie William’s posters and raffling off the life-size Bernie Williams Bobblehead!
Love was in the air at “The Joe” on Thursday night as fans celebrated Half-Way to Valentine’s Day presented by Glennpeter Jewelers. Couples young and old packed the stands to watch the ValleyCats take on the Auburn DoubleDays.
The Village of Colonie, Yajaira Bonet from Taco Bell, D Scott from Kiss 102.3, and birthday boy Dominick Siciliano, one by one, threw out the first pitches of the night. Bianca Hankle then started off the game by singing the National Anthem.
Fans enjoyed a romantic twist on the in-game promotions as the CDTA Mayor’s Race included a lovely picnic for three, the Old World Provisions Hot Dog Race featured a proposal and the Sam A. Lupo & Sons Speedie the Chicken Challenge ended with the chicken and the umpire walking off the field as friends.
After the game, married couples joined together on field to renew their marital vows. Following the vow renewal, fans enjoyed a fireworks show presented by Price Chopper Supermarkets.
Unfortunately, it was a not-so-fairy-tale ending for the ‘Cats as they fell to the Auburn DoubleDays 7-5. Despite a huge offensive and defensive effort from Aaron Mizell who went 3-for-5 with a double, hit his first professional home run and threw out a runner at the plate. Anthony Hermelyn also performed at the plate for the ‘Cats going 2-for-3 with a hit and a run batted in.
The ‘Cats return to “The Joe” this Friday to kick off weekend at Bernie’s presented by Team Ferior Sports! Friday night will be our Bernie Williams bobblehead giveaway, and Saturday we’ll be giving away Bernie posters! You’ll have the chance to win a life-size Bernie bobblehead & signed items by Bernie!
“The Joe” was filled with heroes last night…from kids dressed as their favorite superheroes, to everyday community heroes. Just Cats Veterinary Clinic sponsored the night of superheroes, and some super baseball!
First pitches kicked off early with Kevin Murray from Callahan Industries, Dr. Susan OR JC Trower from Just Cats Veterinary Clinic, Albany, Saratoga & Rensselaer County Sheriffs, Birthday Boy Gianni Salisbury and Rensselaer County Stop DWI Coordinator Jim Gordon took the mound. Following the first pitches, a Law Enforcement Car Parade took the field to honor all those who are committed to keeping our community safe. The Civil Air Patrol presented the colors and Bethacapella sang the National Anthem.
E. Stewart Jones, Hacker, Murphy teamed up with the ValleyCats to honor nine everyday people with their Home Run Community Heroes Starting Nine Award before the game. After receiving numerous nominations, an all-star Starting Nine was selected this year. Recipients included:
- Jason Krolak, Owner of New Horizons Computer Learning Center of Albany
- Peter Gannon, President of Arsenal Business and Technology Partnership
- Sean Tuckey, Readjustment Counselor and Case Manager at Albany Stratton VA Medical Center
- Tess Collins, Owner of McGeary’s Irish Pub
- Ishmael Morton, Program Director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany
- Marleah Lybolt, Student at Columbia High School
- Leah Slocum, Partner at PEAK Residential Partners Team at Realty USA
- Stefon Stillwell, Marketing Director at State Farm Insurance
- Domnigo Montes, Program Director at 15-LOVE
These Home Run Community Heroes were selected for their devotion to making a difference in their communities. The ValleyCats would once again like to thank the Starting Nine for all that they do in the community and congratulate them on their awards.
During the game, kids had the opportunity to participate in a costume contest and other superhero promotions. The excitement in the stadium helped the ‘Cats take home a 2-0 win over the Auburn Doubledays. After scoring one run in the first and another in the seventh, the ‘Cats pitching was the key to success. Chris Murphy threw five innings, allowed no runs and only four hits, walked one and struck out five batters.
The ‘Cats return tonight for Half-Way to Valentine’s Day presented by Glennpeter Jewelers. Stop by the Fan Service Center to sign up to renew your vows on field after the game. Also after the game will be a FIREWORKS show presented by Price Chopper.
It’s been a crazy two days here at “The Joe.” We started off on Monday with a night of celebration. The theme was Back to the Future: Ultimate 80’s and Healthy Living Night presented by Subway. We celebrated one of the greatest decades to date by dressing up, and rocking out. Fans celebrated everything from birthdays to bachelor parties at the game, all while learning tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Lady Strange kicked off the night playing music out front while fans entered “The Joe.” Subway, Time Warner Cable, Vent Fitness, Jesse Dittmar, Berkshire Farm, Jakob Nichols of the ‘Cats Crew, The Desmond and National Grid threw out the first pitches of the night and Massive Dynamic followed them by singing the National Anthem.
During the game, Subway gave fans a special treat by bringing their Subway car and truck to race around the warning track during the t-shirt tosses. From participating in promotions with friends, to kicking back in a suite with coworkers, and enjoying postgame fireworks presented by Price Chopper, fans had a great time celebrating with the ValleyCats.
Despite offensive efforts from Aaron Mizell, who hit a 2-RBI double in the first inning and Bobby Wernes and Dexture McCall who each batted .500 for the night, the celebratory energy wasn’t enough for the ‘Cats to take the win against the Lowell Spinners. Harold Arauz excelled on the mound, pitching four innings with six strikeouts while only allowing two hits. Although the ‘Cats lost 7-4, they came back yesterday with a strong desire to win.
On a rainy Tuesday morning, the ‘Cats prepared to take on the Lowell Spinners for the final time at home this season. Matinee Day, presented by Dig Safely NY, was delayed an hour due to weather, but the skies cleared and the game kicked off at 12pm with Dig Safely NY and Noble Gas throwing out the first pitches and Jenny Schwartz singing the National Anthem.
Summer camps filled the stands for the ‘Cats last regular season matinee game of the season. The ‘Cats started off strong, scoring four runs in the first two innings. Cheers and chants echoed throughout the stadium, rooting for the ‘Cats to take the win and stay comfortably in their first place rank in the division. Unfortunately, the ‘Cats fell to the Spinners 8-4 after giving up five runs in the fourth inning. As the ‘Cats left the field, fans exited the stadium and Lowell boarded their bus, the rain started to pour once again. With 28 wins and 23 losses, the ValleyCats remain first place in the Stedler Division, one game ahead of Lowell.
The ‘Cats are back tonight at 7pm to finish up their six game homestand against the Auburn Doubledays. It’s Superheroes/ Community Heroes Night presented by Glennpeter Jewelers. Before the game, the ‘Cats and E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy will present nine local heroes with the Homerun Community Heroes Starting Nine Award, recognizing them for their outstanding work in the community.
The ‘Cats said aloha to a 6-3 victory over the Lowell Spinners last night after a sunny offensive showing from Hector Roa and Dexture McCall.
The boys of summer arrived at “The Joe” in style for Philan“Tropic” night sponsored by Make-A-Wish. Dressed in red, white and blue jersey’s printed with tropical flowers, the ‘Cats auctioned off their jerseys to benefit the night’s sponsor
The day kicked off around 3pm as fans arrived early to participate in Sunday Funday activities. Bobby Wernes and Pat Porter read Gilbert, The Surfer Dude to young fans during Sunday Summer Reading. Afterwards, kids along with their parents, families and friends participated in pre-game catch on the field.
Connor Mahon from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Birthday Boys Cole Mellen and Theo Hackett, Zoe Bertram from ASAP, Amazing Athletes and Jaime Roberts from 98.3 TRY all threw out first pitches for the night. Logan Lieman and Evan O’Brien from the Albany Youth Soccer Recreational Program put a fun twist on the first pitch and turned it into a first kick! After Miss Outstanding Teen New York 2015, Alisa Vasquez, sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, it was officially time to play ball.
It was a beautiful day for baseball, from the clear blue skies to the breeze that swept through the stadium…it was like watching a game at the beach! To top off the beach sensation, fans enjoyed ham and pineapple, Hawaiian Pizza from Left Field Louie’s!
Throughout the game, SouthPaw’s den was packed with people. From the mystery ball sale to the jersey auction, fans wanted to take a piece of the ValleyCats home with them. The Mystery Ball sale benefitted the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Each ball was autographed by a random member of the 2015 ‘Cats, or a current member of the Astros. Fans didn’t know which autographed ball they were purchasing, but everyone left with a smile on their face. Outside SouthPaw’s Den, the jersey auction lasted until the fifth inning and the live auction kicked off in the seventh.
After the game, the ‘Cats autographed their jerseys and presented them to the winning bidders on field. Launch-A-Ball began shortly after the jersey presentations. Usually only occurring on fireworks nights, last night’s Launch-A-Ball was a special one because the proceeds benefitted the Make-A-Wish Foundation. To end the night, kids who were in attendance were invited onto the field for a post-game kids run on the bases.
Hector Roa and Dexture McCall really stepped up to the plate for the ‘Cats last night, combining for 3 RBIs in the 6 run game. Roa’s homerun into the left field berm followed by McCall’s 2-run bomb to center field rallied the ‘Cats to recover from a 2-0 deficit. Also with notable offensive showings were Bobby Wernes and Antonio Nunez each batting .500 for the night.
The ‘Cats are back tonight at 7pm to take on Red Sox overall #1 draft pick Andrew Benintendi and the Lowell Spinners. Break out your scrunchies, banana clips and wind pants because it’s Back to the Future: Ultimate 80’s and Healthy Living Night at “The Joe” presented by Subway! First pitch is at 7pm and postgame FIREWORKS presented by Price Chopper will begin immediately following the game!
With the calendar turning to August, there continues to be quite a few former Tri-City ValleyCats excelling at the big league level, as while as on the higher rungs of the Minor League ladder. Here is a look at some of former ‘Cats, how they did while playing in Tri-City, as well as how they are doing now on their journey from “The Joe to The Show,” presented by Curtis Lumber.
INF/OF Ben Zobrist (’04)
Then: Zobrist, drafted by the Houston Astros in the 6th round of the 2004 MLB Draft, made his professional debut that season with the Tri-City ValleyCats, and went on to lead the team in batting average (.339), on-base percentage (.438), and stolen bases (15), en route to being named a New York-Penn League All-Star.
Now: A two-time Major League All-Star, Zobrist was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Kansas City Royals this past July 28 for minor league pitchers Aaron Brooks, and Seth Manea, both highly rated prospects. Prior to his trade to Kansas City, Zobrist was hitting .333 (12-36), with five extra-base hits, and two runs batted in over his last 10 games.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (’09)
Then: Drafted in the 9th round by the Houston Astros in the 2009 Draft, Keuchel, like Zobrist, made his pro debut with Tri-City, going 2-3 in 11 games (10 starts), with 44 K’s in 66.2 innings that season for the ‘Cats.
Now: On July 14, 2015, Keuchel became the first former Tri-City pitcher to play in an MLB All-Star Game, when he got the start for the American League squad in Cincinnati, pitching two innings, while striking out one batter and allowing one unearned run in the AL’s 6-3 victory.
RHP Adrian Houser (’13)
Then: Houser, a 2nd round draft pick by the Astros in the 2011 MLB Draft, spent the 2013 New York-Penn League Championship season with the ValleyCats, posting a 3.42 ERA, while striking out 39 batters in 50 innings over 14 games (nine starts).
Now: The 22-year old right-hander began this season with Advanced-A Lancaster, where he struck out 55 batters in his first 49.2 innings with a 4.35 earned run average. That earned him a promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi, where he made seven appearances (five starts), before he was traded on July 30, along with fellow Houston farmhands Josh Hader, Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, to the Milwaukee Brewers for two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez, and right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers. In his first start as a member of the Brewers organization, Houser struck out six batters, while allowing three runs in five innings for the Biloxi Shuckers, earning a no-decison against the Mobile BayBears.
RHP Daniel Mengden (’14)
Then: Mengden, who was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft by the Astros out of Texas A&M, joined the ValleyCats in mid-August of 2014 after a promotion from the Gulf Coast League. He went on to make two appearances, and one start for the ‘Cats in the regular season, striking out six batters, and allowing only one run in total of 4.2 innings. Mengden then went on to contribute to Tri-City’s playoff run, appearing three times in the 2014 New York-Penn League postseason, earning a win in the Semi-Final round against the Connecticut Tigers, while striking out a total of seven batters in four frames.
Now: Like Zobrist and Houser, Mengden was also traded recently, getting sent from the Astros to the Oakland Athletics, along with catcher Jacob Nottingham, for left-handed pitcher, and three-time MLB All-Star, Scott Kazmir. Prior to the trade, Mengden appeared in 18 games (14 starts) split between the Lancaster JetHawks and the Quad Cities River Bandits. In those games, Mengden posted a 6-2 record, a 3.46 earned run average, and 84 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. Ironically, Mengden made his first start as a member of the Athletics’ organization on July 25, against the JetHawks, his former team. That didn’t faze him one bit, however, as he struck out eight batters while allowing only one run and one it in five innings en route to earning the victory.
C Alfredo Gonzalez (’14)
Then: Gonzalez, like Daniel Mengden, was a key part of the ValleyCats’ run to the 2014 Stedler Division title, and berth in the New York-Penn League Championship Series. Gonzalez, originally signed by Houston in 2008 as an international free agent, started all five post-season games behind the plate for Tri-City. During the regular season, Gonzalez hit .246, with three home runs, nine runs batted in, and five stolen bases, while throwing out 45.5% of attempted base stealers, good for second in the league.
Now: In another similarity to his former teammate Mengden, Gonzalez, a native of Santa Teresa del Tuy, Venezuela, has moved around a lot this season, but unlike Mengden, Gonzalez’s movement has stayed within the Astros organization. After starting this year with the Quad Cities River Bandits, where he hit .326 with eight runs batted in over 13 games, he was quickly promoted to Lancaster, where his strong offensive output continued, where he only lasted 27 games before he got promoted once again, this time to the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, where he made his debut on July 5. Before his latest promotion, Gonzalez posted a .340 average with two home runs and 15 runs batted in with the JetHawks, highlighted by a 2-for-6, two-home run game on May 31 against the High Desert Mavericks. His superb production has continued in Double-A, as the 23-year old has driven in seven runs, while hitting .325 with two doubles and eight runs scored, over his first 14 games with Corpus Christi.
The recent deadline trades involving Houser, Mengden and Zobrist, as well as the stellar performances of Gonzalez and Keuchel, are just a few examples of former Tri-City ValleyCats excelling throughout the Minor and Major Leagues, and there are plenty more! So check in next time to read about them in a new “The Joe to The Show,” post presented by Curtis Lumber
The ValleyCats are proud to have such a diverse group of people part of our team and front office staff. Our organization is made up of people from all corners of the world, and last night we celebrated our cultures.
Around the World in Nine Innings brought new food and music to “The Joe.” We served foods like Pierogies and Kielbasa representing Poland, Hummas & Pita representing Greece, Fried Plantains representing Puerto Rico, Egg Rolls representing China and Guiness Floats representing Ireland.
Yesterday was also Sunday Funday at “The Joe” where kids participated in Sunday Summer Reading with Johnny Sewald and Scott Whethersby. They also had the opportunity to participate in a pre-game catch on the field and a post-game run on the bases!
Throwing out the first pitches of the night was Adam Sanzone, the Schenectady Jewish Community Center, Chuck & Kelly from New Radio WGY, Chris Roberts, Frankie who was celebrating his 13th birthday and the head coach of the St. Thomas Virgin Islands Little League Team who were recognized on field before the game as well. John and Jared Lussier, finalists from our Crossgates Mall National Anthem Auditions, started the game off by singing the National Anthem.
During the game, each inning was represented by a country. Fans learned facts about the respective countries and even learned some words in Spanish, Italian, Greek and Chinese through our “Learn a New Language” Video. Fans also participated in in-between inning promotions like the Browns Barrel Race, Capital OTB Pony Hop and the T-Shirt Toss.
The excitement that packed “The Joe” last night helped the ‘Cats capture a 10-4 win over the Scrappers. Brooks Marlow was the player of the game going 2-for-3 with 2 runs, 2 doubles and 2 RBI’s. Hector Roa and Johnny Sewald also performed well at the plate last night each going 3-for-5 and 3-for-4 respectively. The ‘Cats are now away at Hudson Valley for the next three days, then off to Aberdeen, Maryland to take on the IronBirds. Don’t forget to listen live with the TuneIn Radio App!
Saturday the ‘Cats took a trip back hundreds of years to the Medieval Times for a night sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets. Four knights, each representing different sections in the stadium, competed in a series of events during the game. The winning knight received ticket vouchers for a future game for their respective section.
As fans entered the stadium they dropped off canned goods and nonperishable food items for Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger. Thanks to all of the generous donations, Hannaford collected 1,162 pounds of food! Before the game, the ValleyCats also presented a check to The Food Pantries for $1,350.
To kick off the night. Peter Maynard, Hannaford Supermarkets, Tina Uttendorfer, the World Kickball Association and the US Army Watervliet Arsenal threw out the first pitches. The Elderly Brothers followed the first pitches with their rendition of the National Anthem.
During the first inning, a lucky fan named Kevin was crowned King for the night. As part of his duties, he had to lead a knighting ceremony on the field for the Blue, Green, Black and Red knights. Following the ceremonies, he followed the knights around during the game, making sure all rules were adhered to during the competitions.
The Knights partnered with fans for in-between inning games such as the Sonic Tater Tot Toss, Deli and Brew Pizza Toss and the Capital OTB Pony Hop. For each event that the knights won, they were given a point. At the end of the night, the Blue knight was crowned the winner.
Despite Hector Roa’s two home runs, the ‘Cats fell to the Scrappers 7-4. Mahoning Valley took the lead in the first inning, scoring five runs right off the bat. Offensively, Alexander Melendez also showed a great effort after going 2-for-4 with a double and Pat Porter hitting an RBI single. The ‘Cats conclude their 6-game home stand on Sunday at 5pm.
The smell of pasta and meatballs and the sound of Italian music filled the air last night at “The Joe” as fans arrived for Italian Night sponsored by Mastroianni Brothers.
Mario and Luigi greeted the first pitches on field to start the day off. Logan Coolidge, the Mastroianni Brothers, Saratoga Eagle, Ernest Everett, Jaime Roberts, Paul Amedore Jr and John Carkner all through out the first pitches and Sophia Pasinella followed them on field for the singing of our National Anthem.
In honor of Italian Night, a pasta eating contest took place on the field in the first inning. Challengers had to eat as much of a plate of pasta, meatballs, sausage and bread as they could in one minute. Fans also took part in the Sam A. Lupo & Sons Speedie the Chicken Challenge and the Browns Barrel Race.
The ‘Cats three game winning streak came to an end last night as the Scrappers took home a 6-1 win. Unfortunately, offensive efforts from Mizell, Carrasco and Porter weren’t enough to come back from the five run deficit. After the game, the fans were treated to a Martial Arts Demonstration before the fireworks show presented by Price Chopper.
The ‘Cats are back tonight at 7pm for Medieval Times Night and Hanford Helps Fight Hunger Night. Bring a non-perishable food item to benefit The Food Pantries for The Capital District, and receive a free ticket or voucher courtesy of Hannaford. Don’t worry! If you already have a ticket to Saturday’s game, you can receive a voucher to a future game!
Pirates packed the stadium last night as the ValleyCats took on the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, the West Virginia Black Bears.
Upon entering the stadium, ‘Cats fans were given eyepatches that they were asked to wear during the game in an attempt to break the world record for the largest gathering of people wearing eye patches. Fans were also given 2015 ValleyCats team posters as a souvenir.
Before the game, fans participated in a stadium treasure hunt where kids ran around the stadium, following clues and searching for the treasure. In record time, Abigail and her family found the treasure hidden at the Top of the Hill, making them champions two years in a row.
Sponsored by TD Bank, the night started off with giveaways at the gates and the fun continued down on the field when United Way, TD Bank, Pat Gabriel, Saratoga Eagle, Tred from 99.5 The River, Kelly Brown and Albany County Executive Dan McCoy threw out the first pitches. The Capitaland Chorus took the field following the first pitches for the singing of our National Anthem.
During the game, fans participated in a frozen t-shirt contest, Sonic Musical Interlude, Browns Barrel Race and a t-shirt toss. Throughout the night, they kept the energy up at “The Joe” enough for the ‘Cats to complete their first sweep of the season!
Although they weren’t the first ones on the board last night, the ‘Cats scored four runs in the third inning that gave them the lead for the rest of the game. In each game of the series, the ‘Cats scored five runs against the Black Bears, coming from behind every time.
The ‘Cats will look to keep their streak going as they take on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers tonight at 7pm for Italian Night.