March 2011

4 in 24 prep and tickets are now on sale!

April is upon us, which means our ’4 in 24′ Extreme Field Renovation project is about 2-weeks away. Our Stadium Operations manager Keith Sweeney just recently completed an inspection of each field. After this long winter, he had to see what shape each field was in and see if any of them were still covered with snow. That might be irrelevant since they are forecasting up to a foot of snow in some areas of the Capital Region by Friday morning.

At this point, weather is our main enemy. For the most part, the fields need to be almost completely cleared of snow by the time the renovations begin on April 15th. There’s still plenty of time for the upcoming snow to melt, but that’s the main concern.

Here are some current photos of the four fields:

Scotia/Glenville Little League

Ballston Spa Junior Baseball

Westland Hills Little League, Albany

Scotia/Glenville Little League

Northside Little League, Schenectady

Ballston Spa Junior Baseball

The  plan is to split up into two groups and begin the renovations at 5 am on Friday, April 15th at Ballston Spa Junior Baseball League and Westland Hills in Albany. Sweeney estimates that it should take around 6-hours to do the following: Cut the sod, level the infield, square and straighten the baselines, rebuild the mound and homeplate areas and lay the new sod. More work will then need to be done with the aid of the volunteers who will rake, paint, weed wack and put on the finishing touches.

Volunteers will consist of ValleyCats staff members, league representatives and sponsor representatives from our corporate partners Friendly’s, CDTA, Price Chopper and the Brickman Group.

Following the work at those two fields, the crews will converge upon the Schenectady area and begin renovation on the Northside and Scotia/Glenville little league fields. Work will be done throughout the night to complete the project by early Saturday morning.

You can bet that by that time there will be some weary eyes, but there will definitely be a huge sense of accomplishment. It’s an amazing collaborative effort that will benefit so many of our youth playing the game we all love so much. To provide them with an adequate field to play on will be very satisfying.

For more information on the four fields being renovated, please click here. For complete ’4 in 24′ coverage, you can visit the official ’4 in 24′ page.

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Today officially marked opening day for Major League Baseball, which means baseball is back! There’s just something refreshing about being able to turn on television and catch a baseball game. Soon we’ll be able to enjoy games at “The Joe!”

To celebrate baseball’s opening day, ‘Cats individual game tickets went on sale this morning at 10 AM.  There’s been a steady influx of phone calls and people visiting the box office today to purchase their tickets. If you’re looking for seats to Opening Day on June 17th or for Independence Day on July 4th, I’d advise you to purchase those tickets as soon as possible. They are going fast for both dates.

To purchase your tickets, click here to view the 2011 schedule. Just click the ‘T’ next to the game date you want and you will be directed to the site to buy your tickets. There is a very cool new feature this year that allows you to see exactly what seats are available on a seating grid and pick your seats.

You can also call us in the office at (518) 629-2287 or visit the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium box office on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College.

If you call or visit us here at the stadium, chances are you will be dealing with our Box Office/Ticket Manager Jess Kaszeta. Here are a couple photos of Jess taking ticket orders:

Jess helping a fan purchase tickets

78 Days Until Opening Day!

CPR Certified!

In order to better prepare our office for an emergency at the ballpark, this morning our entire front office took a 3-hour CPR course certified by the American Heart Association. It was administered by John Hudson, who is an official EMT-B and also our head groundskeeper.

Many different topics were covered from first aid to the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke, what to do in a situation when someone is choking and how to perform CPR on adults, children and infants. The entire organization feels these are all very important things to know in order to keep the fans that come to “The Joe” in good hands and make them feel as safe as possible. Although there are two EMT’s on staff at every ValleyCats home game, there’s always a chance that something might happen that requires on the spot attention.

Here are a few more photos from the class, held in the home clubhouse:

ValleyCats Food & Beverage Coordinator Gian Rafaniello

John Hudson teaching how to perform CPR

GM Rick Murphy giving the chest compressions

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In other news…Major League Baseball is back beginning this Thursday and there are six games to open up the 2011 regular season. Also don’t forget that ValleyCats individual tickets go on-sale that morning beginning at 10 AM. Fans can purchase tickets online at tcvalleycats.com, by phone at 518-629-CATS, or by visiting the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium box office during regular business hours.

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A few other things to note…you may notice a bit of a different look on this blog post. MLB has utilized an outside platform to enhance the blogging experience. One of the main differences is the photos…they appear a bit smaller in the post, but link to a much larger image.

A big thanks goes out to all those who followed our Spring Training coverage from Florida. Hopefully we brought back some memories of the 2010 season and captured the essence of the Spring Training experience. Unfortunately, it looks like we lost the last few posts due to the blog platform switch, but all the photos from Spring Training have been uploaded to our Facebook page.

We also gathered much more content that you will be seeing in future posts on this blog, our website and on our video board during the season.

80 Days Until Opening Day!

Spring Training Report: Day 2

It was another hot day in Kissimmee and there was plenty more baseball action to catch. I spent the first part of the day on the Major League side, as the Astros hosted the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals had split-squad games, so Pujols stayed back in Jupiter. Former Astro and one-year Yankee Lance Berkman did make the trip. He received a good amount of applause during player introductions and also in his first at-bat. 


2006 ‘Cat Bud Norris got the start for Houston and pitched one of his best games this spring…5 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB. He will be the Astros 4th starter behind Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ.  Another thing worthy of noting is that Tommy Manzella had a pinch hit double in the latter part of the game. The Astros ended up winning the game 3-2. 

Over on the minor league side they had exhibition games against the Detroit Tigers farm clubs. Just like many of the former ValleyCats, the Tigers teams were compromised of some of the guys who played for the Oneonta/Connecticut Tigers. The same holds true for yesterday’s games against the Washington Nationals…many played on the Vermont Lake Monsters. Just don’t remind them of the fact that Vermont was in first place with a 21-9 record on July 19 while Tri-City was 9.5 games out. The Lake Monsters ended up missing the playoffs and the ‘Cats went on to sweep the Brooklyn Cyclones for the league championship.

The man on the mound when the ‘Cats won it all, Mike Ness, came into one of the games and threw 2 1/3 innings giving up 4 hits and striking out 3. The 2010 infield tandem of Mike Kvasnicka, Oscar Figueroa, Kik Hernandez and Marcus Nidiffer all played together on field one.

Before the games, Craig Biggio was once again working with the minor leaguers and from what I could see, much conversation took place between him and Kvasnicka. Yesterday it was fielding and today is was about hitting.  Astros manager Brad Mills was also standing by the cage observing. 

One last thing to note before I get into the pictures…Kik has been invited to the major league games about six times this spring and had never seen playing time until yesterday. In the Astros game against the Marlins in Jupiter, Kik pinch ran for Chris Johnson and received an at-bat in the 7th inning. He hit a sharp ground ball through the left side of the infield off of Marlins closer Leo Nunez for a single. He then scored on a Delino DeShields RBI single. The one word he used to described the experience…”Awesome!” Also in the game on Friday, J.B Shuck hit a solo home run in the second inning and Chris Wallace pinch hit for Shuck in the 9th inning, grounding out. 


Spring Training Report Day 1

Greetings from Kissimmee, FL and 80 degree weather! It feels good to get away from the cool temperatures of Troy and enter the more baseball type weather. I arrived in Orlando Thursday night around 8:30pm, picked up the rental car and headed to the Holiday Inn in Kissimmee. The place is mobbed with all types of people, some on vacation and some on Spring Break…all enjoying the summer weather and most likely Disney World, a 5-minute drive from where I’m staying. The hotel is also the same place where the Astros house the entire minor league staff…so I run into a bunch of guys in the lobby and what not. 
Wanting to do something before turning in for the night, I headed over to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The complex is huge! It’s 220 acres that hosts more than 60 sports and thousands of events for all types of athletes. When I got there the cleaning crew was just finishing up at Champion Stadium, where the Atlanta Braves had hosted the Washington National that night. So I casually walked in and snapped a few photos:
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On Friday morning I made the 15 minute drive to the Astros Minor League Spring Training complex at Osceola Heritage Park. I was greeted by Astros Player Development Coordinator Allen Rowin and Director of Florida Operations Jay Edmiston. Allen spends almost two months in Florida before heading back to Houston, while Jay mans the complex year round. I will be interviewing both of them and will post those in a later blog. 
One of the first things I did upon arriving was introduce myself to our new 2011 manager Stubby Clapp and hitting coach Mark Bailey. It was at this time when I found out that everyone calls Bailey “Beatle.” So our 2011 field staff is “Stubby, Beatle and Ruby.”
“Stubby” and “Beatle” are very excited about coming to Troy for the 2011 season and they were not short on questions about the stadium and the area. This will be the first managerial stint for Stubby and although he said he cannot guarantee another championship, he’s ready for the challenge. 
An idea being thrown around the front office since we heard Stubby was Canadian was whether or not we should play Canada’s National Anthem before the “Star Spangled Banner.” After running the idea by Stubby and finding out that his family will be in attendance at the ValleyCats home opener on June 17, we’re leaning towards doing it on opening day only. 
We also talked about planning a date for a Spring Reception similar to the one held for Jim Pankovits when he first joined the ‘Cats as manager in 2009. I’d expect it to happen at some point in May. 
(L-R) 2011 ‘Cats hitting coach Mark Bailey, manager Stubby Clapp and pitching coach Gary Ruby:
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Outside on the backfields there were two games going on versus the Washington Nationals minor leaguers. Here are a few tidbits from the day:
-Bryce Harper, Nats number one pick in the 2010 MLB draft had a pretty uneventful day, striking out and grounding out the two times that I saw him bat.
-Carlos Quevedo had a very good outing, facing 13 batters in 3.1 innings and giving up only 2 hits while walking none. 
-Craig Biggio is in town for the weekend and spent some time instructing Mike Kvasnicka at third base. He also worked with a handful of others. 
-Telvin Nash hit a long home run to left field. Not quite as long as the one he hit with the big league club at a game against Atlanta at Disney’s Champion Stadium. 
-Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane and President of Baseball Operations Tal Smith were among the many spectators watching the games.
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To give all of you a clearer understanding on how Spring Training works, I will take you through a very brief outline of the day-in-the-life of an Astros minor leaguer. 
7:00 AM: Players are picked up at the hotel by shuttle vans and brought to the complex. 
7:30-8:30 AM: The players attend informative meetings led by the Astros front office staff and coordinators.
9:00-11:30 AM: Stretching, hitting & fielding drills, cage work, batting practice and more. 
11:30-12:30 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM : Exhibition games
4:30 PM: Shuttle vans back to the hotel
Once they are back at the hotel they pretty much stay put. Since most do not have cars, many will venture out to eat at one of the handful of restaurants and fast food establishments around the hotel. 
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The highlight of the day was reuniting with almost all of the members of last years championship team. It was great to see them again after they took off less than 24-hours after spending a grueling 3 months playing almost every day, enduring some serious lows and coming back from a 9.5 game deficit to sweep Brooklyn for the New York-Penn League championship. 
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rrow I’ll be spending some time on the Major League side of the complex, as the Astros host the St. Louis Cardinals. 
Now I’ll leave you with a handful of pictures from the day…
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150_5745.JPGCraig Biggio & Mike Kvasnicka:
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Marcus Nidifers family…sporting the ValleyCats gear!
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(L-R) Jay Edmiston, Drayton McLane, Fred Nelson, Tal Smith
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Mark Bailey, Tyler Burnett
Erik Castro:
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150_5793.JPGBiggio taking it in:
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Nidiffer & Nash…both teammates in Greeneville:
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One big family

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As of today, everyone in the Astros minor league system has arrived at Spring Training in Kissimmee, FL. Position players were the last to report today and will immediately begin full squad workouts and mini camp games on the backfields of Osceola County Stadium.

Don’t forget that we’ll be in Kissimmee from March 18th-23rd providing complete coverage of your favorite former ‘Cats. If you’ve got a request, please send a tweet to @ValleyCats.

101 days until Opening Day!
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All about the Kidz!

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This past Wednesday marked the 106th birthday of Dr. Seuss, the pioneer of modern children’s literature. His birthday his celebrated through Read Across America, a national initiative that calls for every child to celebrate reading. Schools across the country participate in this program by bringing in guest readers to read to the children. SouthPaw and the ValleyCats were the guests at Carroll Hill Elementary School in Troy. 
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The fourth annual Hannaford Kidz Expo will be held this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on the concourse of the Empire State Plaza in Albany. The ValleyCats will have their speed pitch machine set up for kids to see just how fast they can really throw.
Admission is free and will feature a number of kids activities that include bounce rides, live animals, circus performers, hands-on activities, professional theater productions, dozens of costumed characters and more. More than 80 exhibitors are scheduled to attend, providing important information for parents and fun things for kids to see and do.

For more information about this event, you can call 518-474-0538 or visit www.empirestateplaza.org.

SouthPaw at the 2010 Kidz Expo:

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105 Days Until Opening Weekend

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