Hey ‘Cats fans! There are just about three weeks left until the home opener at “The Joe” on Monday, June 17, and the entire ValleyCats front office is full of enthusiasm, energized by the recent influx of our 2013 Intern Class.
25 current college students or recent grads have been placed into crucial roles that are vital to the success of our season. They are an extension of the management team, and will help us manage our 200+ part-time employees.
This year, we have students from many local colleges/universities as well as others. The list includes Siena, St. Rose, Union College, Ithaca College, Syracuse University, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, Northeastern, University of Akron, St. John’s and more.
Since it’s been awhile since the last post, we must briefly touch on a few spring highlights. For three Friday nights in a row, the ValleCats hosted a Friday Night Light’s series, featuring six intriguing Section II high school baseball games. Time Warner Cable Sports Channel aired the final two Friday night games live.
The match-ups were as follows:
Ballston Spa vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
Shenendehowa vs. Shaker
Fort Plain vs. Saratoga Catholic
Columbia vs. Saratoga High School
Guilderland vs. Bethlehem
Troy High School vs. CBA
The first two Friday nights were fundraisers for the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, which assists in the renovation of local youth ball fields.
The final Friday was a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.
The four teams: Guilderland, Bethlehem, CBA & Troy High all wore commemorative jerseys.
Attendance was great for each game, and lots of money was raised for the NYPL Charitable Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. Thank you to everyone who came out and showed their support!
In the meantime, the ‘Cats and BlueShield of Northeastern New York continue the great work of the Community Grounds Crew. Albany American Little League is the latest field to receive assistance, having their pitching mound and home plate areas rebuilt.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are just about three weeks left until the ‘Cats begin their 12th season at “The Joe!” This year we will welcome in our 1.5 millionth fan! The way we’ve projected it…it looks like that will occur on the 4th of July!
There are many great story lines heading into the new season. The first of which is the ‘Cats brand new coaching staff, headed by skipper Ed Romero.
Romero has plenty of big league experience, playing in 730 Major League games for four clubs: Milwaukee, Boston, Atlanta and Detroit. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Romero played in four American League Championship Series, with the Brewers in 1981-82 and Red Sox in 1986-88. He played in the World Series for the Brewers is ’82 and Red Sox in ’86.
The ‘Cats new pitching coach is Doug White. White comes from the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. He was the pitching coach for the 2008 New York-Penn League Champion Batavia Muckdogs. A cool little nugget about Doug, is that he appeared on the ABC reality TV show “Dating in the Dark” during the summer of 2009.
The new ValleyCats hitting coach is Russ Steinhorn, who is also in his first year with the Astros organization and professional ranks in general. Steinhorn spent the 2012 season with Delaware State University, where he was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
The ‘Cats will look to defend their Stedler Division title, as the Astros organization looks to put another competitive team on the field at “The Joe.” The Astros have the first pick in the MLB Draft again this year, and based upon projections…it looks like they will be taking a college player. That means there’s a good chance that person begins their career with the ValleyCats.
The front-runners for the #1 pick are Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray, San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant and Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea.
We’ll have extensive coverage leading up to the draft, which occurs on Thursday, June 6 – Saturday, June 8. ValleyCats broadcaster Matt Appel (no relation to Mark Appel) will be providing in-depth reports on ‘Cats Corner and will host a live chat during the draft, on tcvalleycats.com.
Aside from baseball, there are a few events coming up that we’d like to fill you in on.
The ValleyCats and Hannaford Supermarkets have partnered to bring the ‘Cats “Show on the Road” to East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League.
From the article on tcvalleycats.com:
After receiving numerous entries, the ‘Cats have chosen East Greenbush-Castleton Youth Baseball League as the winner. The ValleyCats will now bring their mascots, PA Announcer and promo team to put on a show worthy of “The Joe.”
East Greenbush-Castleton was chosen based upon their league’s commitment to providing a positive experience both on and off the field. Their dedicated group of parents and community partners support a scholarship program to teach sportsmanship and ensure that all of the children in their area have an opportunity to participate.
The ‘Cats will provide this entertainment on Saturday, June 8 at 7pm. Be sure to come out to East Greenbush and check out this unique promotion!
The weekend before Opening Night is packed. On Saturday, June 15 we will be hosting a Father’s Day Home Run 5k at “The Joe.” Click here for more info>>
On Father’s Day on Sunday, we will host our annual Father’s Day Brunch. This popular event proves to be a special day for the dads, and entire family. We will be holding a brunch from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. The event will include brunch, access to the field, one personalized photo souvenir per order and a Premium Box Sunday Funday Ticket for any Sunday ValleyCats home game. Click here for full details>>
Then on Monday, the ‘Cats open their 2013 season against the Vermont Lake Monsters with first pitch scheduled for 7pm. As fans enter the stadium, there will be plenty of entertainment! National Guard will have a rock climbing wall, there will be a ValleyCats inflatable baseball game, fans can show their ValleyCats pride by having their face painted and more!
Capping off the night will be an extravagant fireworks display presented by Price Chopper!
Great seats are still available for Opening Night, but they are going very fast! Be sure to secure your tickets now…click here to order.
The rain may have created a roadblock in completing the ’4 in 24′ field renovations, but at the end of the day, four youth baseball fields had their fields renovated thanks to the support of BlueShield of Northeastern New York, league and city volunteers, Turface Athletics and Admar Supply Company.
It was a total team effort to revamp the ball fields at National Little League of Albany, Green Island Little League, Hudson Valley Little League in Ravena and Menands Junior Baseball. They all had their pitcher’s mound and home plate areas rebuilt, new sod placed on the infield, base paths straightened and new bases put in.
The ValleyCats front office staff was divided into four teams, and along with volunteers, began work at 8am on Sunday tearing up the old infield sod.
The old pitcher’s mound and home plate were removed, re-measured and replaced with brand new ones:
The base paths were then measured to the correct specs and new bases were put in.
All of the sod lining the base paths, home plate and the pitcher’s mound was cut squarely.
Now for the before/after photos!
National Little League before:
National Little League after:
Green Island Little League before:
Green Island Little League after:
Hudson Valley Little League before:
Menands Junior Baseball before:
More photos of the renovations:
Thank you to all the media who covered the ’4 in 24′! We’re glad the Capital Region community was able to see the great things going on at these local fields! It’s all about the kids!
When it was all said and done 11 1/2 hours from when the project began, everyone was exhausted! But the entire project was worth it, and we look forward to seeing all the smiling faces on the kids when they have their Opening Day!
Our 3rd Annual ’4 in 24′ Youth Field Renovation Project is taking place this Sunday at National Little League of Albany, Green Island Little League, Menands Junior Baseball/Softball League and Hudson Valley Little League in Ravena.
Each of those four fields will be renovated in under 24 hours, seeing their pitcher’s mound and homeplate areas rebuilt, new sod being placed in the infield, new bases and more!
All the renovations were originally scheduled for Friday, but of course weather had to throw us a curveball! The good thing is, we are used to that.
On Wednesday and Friday we were able to get some work done in advance of Sunday. We rebuilt the mound and homeplate areas at the Menands Junior Baseball field and at National Little League. (With pop-up tents shielding the rain and sleet.)
Here are some photos:
None of these renovations would be possible without the support of BlueShield of Northeastern New York. They have been an outstanding partner, and hold the same values as us when it comes to helping out the local youth. With their help, we look forward to a long future of assisting youth baseball/softball leagues throughout the Capital Region.
Although we were only able to select four fields for the ’4 in 24′, we truly appreciate all of the leagues who sent in applications. In a matter of time, we hope to one day be able to assist each league in the Capital Region. Unfortunately we can’t do it all in one year, so please keep the applications coming.
The Community Grounds Crew Program will accept applications throughout the spring and summer, and we will try as best we can to help as many leagues as possible.
The Houston Astros have set the minor league rosters for their 2013 full-season clubs who begin their season on Thursday, April 4. Below is a breakdown of where all of your former ‘Cats will be playing throughout the Astros sytem. (some players will stay in Florida for extended spring training, and those names are not listed).
Triple-A Oklahoma City:
P- Dallas Keuchel (’09)
P- Jordan Lyles (’08)
C- Chris Wallace (’10)
OF- Jake Goebbert (’09)
Double-A Corpus Christi:
P- Jake Buchanan (’10)
P- Jorge De Leon (’09-’10)
P- Bobby Doran (’10)
P- David Martinez (’10)
P- Andrew Robinson (’10)
P- Alex Sogard (’10)
P- Nick Tropeano (’11)
C- Rene Garcia (’09)
C- Ryan McCurdy (’10-’11)
IF- Erik Castro (’09)
IF- Enrique “Kike” Hernandez (’10)
IF- Ben Orloff (’09-’10)
OF- George Springer (’11)
OF- Austin Wates (’10)
P- Travis Ballew (’12)
P- Jonas Dufek (’11)
P- Carlos Quevedo (’10)
P- Brady Rodgers (’12)
P- Tommy Shirley (’10)
P- Aaron West (’12)
C- M.P. Cokinos (’12)
C- Tyler Heineman (’12)
IF- Matt Duffy (’11)
IF- Zach Johnson (’11)
IF- Rafael Valenzuela (’11)
OF- Andrew Aplin (’12)
OF- Chris Epps (’11)
OF- Brandon Meredith (’11)
OF- Andrew Muren (’11)
OF- Preston Tucker (’12)
Class-A Quad Cities:
P- Joe Bircher (’12)
P- Kyle Hallock (’11)
P- Brian Holmes (’12)
P- Mitchell Lambson (’11)
P- John Neely (’12)
P- Vincent Velasquez (’12)
C- Jobduan Morales (’12)
IF- Chase Davidson (’11-’12)
IF- Ryan Dineen (’11)
IF- Joe Sclafani (’12)
IF- Jesse Wierzbicki (’12)
OF- Jordan Scott (’11)
So like I expected, my yearly spring training trip flew by! I was able to catch up with many former ValleyCats, current Astros and my friends within the front office. They treated me extremely well and it is much appreciated. A big thank you to Allen Rowin, Jay Edmiston, Pete Putila, Steve Grande, Paulie Burgess and the rest of the Astros staff for dealing with me these past six days.
Following the storms on Sunday, a cold front moved through the Orlando area and brought with it very windy and cool conditions (my inner meteorlogist at work again!), as evidence by Jorge De Leon all bundled up.
On Monday the Astros were hosting the Washington Nationals in a night game, a rare occurrence during spring training. Before the game I was able to catch up with Bud Norris and Brandon Barnes, two former ‘Cats looking to make an impact with the big league club this upcoming season. Norris has been named the Astros number one starter, and Barnes just found out that he has made the team. I’ll be posting my interviews with both of them before the end of the week. Bud is excited to get the nod in the Astros home opener, a nationally televised game on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball to open the Major League season. Barnes attributed his success to hard work, resilience and his faith.
ValleyCats fans should know that Bud is a huge ‘Cats fan, and even went so far as to call them “my ValleyCats!”. So be proud when you all watch him throw the biggest game of his short career, and remember that he began his professional career at “The Joe!”
For Bud’s final tune-up, he threw in a minor league game on Tuesday. Jason Castro caught him during the outing. Norris gave up some hits and a couple of runs, but you can’t read much into it. I’m sure he wasn’t throwing at 100%, as he wants to save his stuff for when it really matters.
Right after Norris threw, 2012 ‘Cats pitcher Brady Rodgers took the hill with ’12 teammate M.P. Cokinos behind the plate.
On the other field, Erik Bedard was getting his work in. Bedard has just been named the Astros number five starter.
I mentioned the weather became much cooler, and by that I mean MUCH cooler. It was actually downright freezing! Wind gusts of 50mph and temps in the 50′s created tough playing conditions, and viewing conditions.
The Astros are traveling to Tampa to face the Yankees in another night game on Tuesday, so Porter was one of many from the big league club who stopped over to watch the minor league action.
As my trip wraps up and I prepare to head home to get ready for the ValleyCats 2013 season, let me leave you with a few more photos from my last day, some great photos of your former ValleyCats!
I can now say that I’ve witnessed the severity of tropical Florida storms. All over the Orlando area on Sunday received severe storms, tornado warnings, heavy winds and a good amount of rain. It had been overcast most of the morning, with a few breaks of sunshine during the early afternoon before giving away to torrential downpours and tropical force winds and rain (my inner meteorlogist at work).
The major league game ended up being called in the fifth inning, an official game with the Astros on top 4-1. The winning pitcher? None other than 2010 Tri-City ValleyCat David Martinez. He was making his first start ever for the major league squad during spring training. Martinez had made one relief appearance earlier this spring. He gave up one earned run on eight hits over four innings of work. Most importantly, he didn’t walk a batter and struck out Justin Ruggiano and Nick Green.
Since it was a camp day for the minor leaguers, they finished early enough for many of them to catch Martinez’ start. That list included good friends and former ‘Cats Carlos Quevedo and Juri Perez.
The Astros were hosting the Miami Marlins, and it was nice to see their new hitting coach, “Bam-Tino” Martinez. I grew up a huge New York Yankees fan and Tino was one of the biggest stars during their incredible run between 1996-2000.
Meanwhile, the minor league camp day featured an interesting storyline in Jordan Lyles. He started during one of the intersquad scrimmage games and an intriguing matchup came versus Carlos Correa. He looped a ball into left center during his first at-bat and hit a triple down the right field line during his second. I can see how Correa was a number one pick, as he just looks like a big leaguer. Although it does help that he can really smack the ball and play great defense.
Following the short scrimmage games, I was able to snap a great photo of five ValleyCats from the historic 2012 season:
The full day in photos is below. I will try and post parts of my interviews with Stubby Clapp, Jesse Wierzbicki, Andrew Aplin & Catfish Elkins before I leave on Tuesday.
With the big league club on the road in Disney, it gave me a chance to spend time roaming the backfields of Osceola County Park. The Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi clubs were hosting the Tigers affiliates. I should point out that the only teams the Astros minor leaguers scrimmage are the Tigers, Nationals or Braves (The three closest spring homes to Kissimmee).
Pitchers that threw at the complex today included Jorge De Leon, Jonas Dufek, Carlos Quevedo and Jake Buchanan. Also in action was George Springer, Jake Goebbert, Austin Wates, Ben Orloff, Enrique “Kike” Hernandez, Erik Castro, Mike Kvasnicka, Drew Muren, Tyler Heineman, Chris Epps, Rafael Valenzuela and Andrew Aplin.
I mentioned yesterday the fact that walking through the halls of the minor league clubhouse, I’m constantly saying hello to dozens of old familiar faces. Something that’s hard to miss are the new motivational wall decorations. The major league clubhouse features these same signs.
Today I was able to catch up with Murilo Gouvea to talk about what it was like growing up in Brazil, playing for his country in the World Baseball Classic, and his success last season at Lexington. I also spoke with Jesse Wierzbicki and Andrew Aplin about the ‘Cats memorable 2012 season and more. I’ll be posting those interviews upon my return north.
One thing that I’ve learned over these past two days is that Carlos Correa and George Springer are very entertaining individuals with outgoing personalities. For example, while I was watching the first four minutes of the UAlbany/Duke game during lunch, he asked who I liked, then how to pronounce “Albany” and he immediately said “Go Duke!” He later asked me what the final score was and said he doesn’t really pay attention to college basketball, but just wanted to root for the opposite team.
Then while walking through the clubhouse, I was trying to move out of the way for a group of players to pass by, but Springer kept pushing me into the wall as if I wouldn’t budge. I’ve also noticed that they are always joking around with their teammates. It’s attitudes like that, that get these guys through the grind of spring training. At this point, they are all ready to begin the season.
How many times have you been to a baseball game and seen batted balls come close to hitting the lights? You’ve probably never witnessed it actually happen, but it did today. A foul ball hit a light bulb on the top of the light tower, sending a loud popping noise throughout the complex and glass falling onto the field of play. Play was halted while the the grounds crew made sure all the pieces had been picked up.
Tomorrow the Astros major league club will host the Miami Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton, Juan Pierre and Justin Ruggiano will be making the trip. One guy who will not is Troy native Joe Mahoney. He is out with an oblique strain.
Below are photos recapping my day in Kissimmee. Tomorrow’s post will feature bits from the Astros vs. Marlins, and camp day on the minor league side (intersquad scrimmages).
Hands down the best part of spring training is seeing all of our former players. I’ve now been through three full seasons as Media Relations Manager, which means about 25 players per year for a total of around 75. Granted, many have been released (an unfortunate truth in minor league baseball), but each spring that I come to Kissimmee, it seems like I say hello and shake hands every corner I turn.
Two of them include Catfish Elkins and Dan Gulbransen, the “It’s Gatorade” dynamic duo. (See video…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLhNJOX_ccA).
Today I spent the majority of my time over at the major league side, as the Astros were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals. Former ‘Cats pitching coach Gary Ruby and ‘Cats 2013 manager Ed Romero, were both on the bench. Ruby handled the pitching coach duties and Romero exchanged lineup cards. Meanwhile the Astros coaching staff was on the minor league side for the Class A games. (Minus Bo Porter, who did manage the major league game).
This was an idea Porter came up with in order to get the major league coaching staff more familiar with the minor leaguers. They don’t get to see much of them in action because most of the time the games are going on simultaneously.
Former ‘Cat Bud Norris was on the mound for the Astros in his last spring start before Opening Night on March 31. Norris will toe the rubber in front of a national television audience on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, as the Astros host the Texas Rangers to kick-off the 2013 MLB season.
Out of today’s nine starters, five were former ValleyCats. Norris on the mound, Castro catching, Altuve at second base, Barnes in left and J.D. Martinez in right. It’s great to see!
Below is my day in photographs. I must mention that longtime ValleyCats usher and valued employee Dan Carubia, spent the day with me at the complex and it was a pleasure to show him around. He is also a very talented photographer and took many great photos during the day. I will post them as soon as I’m able to.
Here’s Dan taking some photos during the major league game:
Below is my day in photos. Stay tuned for the next recap tomorrow night!
ValleyCats Media Relations Manager Chris Chenes has arrived in Florida for his yearly spring training trip, and his first stop was the Toronto Blue Jays minor league complex in Dunedin, Florida. ‘Cats former manager Stubby Clapp is now in the Toronto system and will be the hitting coach for long season Class A, Dunedin Blue Jays. Chris recaps the day below:
Spring officially arrived on Wednesday, but the weather sure didn’t portray that. The Capital Region got hit with a “winter” storm, and depending upon where you live, some received over a foot of snow. “The Joe” was covered with about six inches:
You could imagine how relieved I was to touch down in Orlando on Thursday morning. Green grass, blue sky, warm weather and spring training baseball! Arriving early made it possible for me to drive about two hours west to Dunedin. The main reason for the visit was to speak with Stubby Clapp. He led the ‘Cats to a franchise record 51 wins last season, but unfortunately fell just one game short of a championship.
Luckily for me, Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and his father Sandy were both in attendance. They serve as special assistants for the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays minor leaguers have their daily workouts and scrimmage games at Englebert Complex. This is also where the Gulf Coast Blue Jays play their home games. It is located just about 10 minutes away from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, where the major league club holds their spring games and also where the Dunedin Blue Jays call home.
On this day, the Jays were hosting the Pirates minor leaguers. It’s very hard to see, but Stubby is in the first base coaching box below.
A few more photos:
I was able to speak with Stubby for about 20 minutes and will post the interview when I return to the Capital Region next week. I can tell you one thing, he enjoyed his time in Tri-City and appreciated all the fan support.
I’ll be in Kissimmee for the rest of my trip, speaking with a bunch of former ‘Cats at the Astros spring training complex. Stay tuned to Twitter for daily updates including photos, and I will also be posting another recap on Friday night. Meanwhile, try to stay warm!
Can you believe that two weeks of spring training is in the books? There is just over a month left until Major League Baseball begins their season, starting with the Astros vs. Rangers on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, March 31. It’s a rare national television appearance for the ‘stros, but it comes with one of the more interesting story lines for the new season.
Since the Houston Astros inception in 1962, they have played in the National League. This season they will compete in the American League west division, one of the most competitive in baseball. When Astros owner Drayton McLane sold the franchise to Jim Crane and his group of investors, Major League Baseball required that the Astros move to the AL in 2013. The reason behind this was to balance the leagues, with each now having fifteen. Due to this change, more interleague games will be played each season. You can read more about the Astros switch to the AL and it’s consequences in this article.
While we’re on the subject of spring training, as the Major League team wraps up their second week, a select number of Astros prospects are reporting for the start of a Minor League mini-camp. The list includes many former ValleyCats including pitchers David Martinez, Brady Rodgers, Nick Tropeano, Vincent Velasquez, Aaron West and Brian Holmes. Catchers include Tyler Heineman and Jobduan Morales, and infielders include former ‘Cat Chase Davidson. Although no outfielders have officially been invited, 2010 ‘Cat Telvin Nash will be involved in some capacity.
Full Minor League camp for pitchers begins on March 3 and position players on March 7. Minor League games begin on March 14.
Be sure to follow Houston Astros MLB.com beat writer Brian McTaggart as he chronicles Astros spring training in his Tag’s Lines MLBlog.
ValleyCats Media Relations Manager Chris Chenes will be making his annual trip to Kissimmee from March 22-26 wandering the back fields of Osceola County Stadium. He will be talking with some former ‘Cats, taking lots of photos and will post daily recaps right here on ‘Cats Corner.
Here’s the ValleyCats 2013 calendar for the month of March featuring Brady Rodgers:
Meanwhile, here at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in chilly Troy, NY, the entire ‘Cats front office is working diligently to put together a very exciting promotional schedule for the 2013 season. We’re still putting the final touches on a few things, and are now expecting to release the full schedule in the beginning of March.
Prior to that, we have a two special announcements that we’ll be making. One involves a bobblehead, and the other is in regards to high school baseball at “The Joe!”
This past Wednesday, SouthPaw spent the morning at Crossgates Mall for the B95 Kids Club. SouthPaw helped lead kids of all ages in music, dancing and games. They spun the ‘Cats prize wheel for cool prizes and took part in crafts, facepainting and more!
Here are more photos from the event:
We’ll conclude the blog by mentioning our continued partnership with American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
Almost all of us have been touched by cancer in some way, so we’ve decided to make a difference by walking and raising money in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event at “The Joe” on September 20-21.
As Winter Storm Nemo bares down on the Northeast and everyone braces for blizzard like conditions, summer is on the minds of each ‘Cats front office member.
The newest member of our team is Jason Lecuyer, recently hired to serve as Business Development Manager. Jason is a Colonie, NY native and comes to the ValleyCats after serving in the financial services industry.
He is an avid Yankees, New York Giants and Syracuse basketball fan. He’s excited to become a member of the 2013 ValleyCats 5th Inning Drag Team and show off his great dance moves! Welcome Jason!
Now that we’ve introduced you to the newest member of our team, let’s introduce you to some new ideas that we’re thinking about for the 2013 season at “The Joe.”
As more and more former members of the ValleyCats reach Major League Baseball, it’s increasingly becoming important to honor all of those who began their professional baseball careers in Troy. From “The Joe” to “The Show” has been our catchphrase, with a dedicated page on our website and nightly reports during the season.
In 2013 we are going to expand this by creating a wall dedicated to all of the ValleyCats alumni who have reached Major League Baseball. We’re thinking about putting it right outside of the main gates to the stadium:
The exact design is still up in the air, but the above gives you an example. We’d also think about putting action shots of former ‘Cats in the windows above the wall. All thoughts regarding this project are welcome.
Promotional planning for the 2013 season is coming along well and we should be releasing our schedule within the next two to three weeks. We’re very excited about what we have planned, and can’t wait to reveal our 2013 Bobblehead Collection.
For those of you who don’t know, we will draw our 1.5 millionth fan this summer! We’ve projected the 4th of July as that special date.
Aside from our in-season promotions, we have some exciting things planned for the months leading up to our season. Once the details become finalized, we will release more information. If you’re a local high school baseball fan, be sure to stay tuned!
Time to catch up on a few recent community events the ValleyCats took part in. First, on Saturday, January 26, SouthPaw and the ValleyCats mayors spent the night at the Times Union Center in Albany for the Mayor’s Cup hockey game between local rivals RPI and Union.
This was the first opportunity that the real mayors and ‘Cats mayors had to get together as a group. The real Albany Mayor Jennings was in attendance, but not available for the photo below:
The ValleyCats mayors even took part in an on-ice edition of the mayors race:
Albany Mayor Jennings was the winner!
On January 28, the ValleyCats were asked to perform their Anti-Bullying Mascot Skit at Castleton Elementary School. This was their second performance, and it was a huge success.
We’ll cap off this post with a classic photo from 2011. ‘Cats Assistant GM Matt Callahan is an avid skier, and following a big snow storm, decided to build a ski jump in right field.
He got serious air!
Here’s the video:
Be safe in the snow!! Think Summer!
Today would have been Jackie Robinson’s 94th birthday, which gives us the opportunity to revisit Sunday, July 18, 2010. That night we celebrated the legacy of Jackie Robinson – the first African-American in the modern era to play in the major leagues.
As part of “Jackie Robinson Tribute Night” at “The Joe,” in conjunction with the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the first 4,000 fans through the gates received a Jackie Robinson Hall of Fame plaque postcard.
The Hall also brought Robinson’s original bronze Hall of Fame plaque that hung in the Museum’s famous Plaque Gallery from 1962 – the year Robinson was elected to the Hall of Fame – until 2008. In ’08, the below plaque was replaced with an updated one that further documented his lasting legacy on the game.
As you notice above, the team all wore #42 Dodger-style uniforms.
The jerseys were auctioned off during the game, with proceeds going to the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation to use for local field renovation projects.
The grounds crew even painted a red star on the field with “42″ in the middle.
Minor League Baseball President Pat O’ Conner was in attendance and threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
Staff from the Hall of Fame’s Education Department was on hand with information about the Museum’s outreach and membership programs, along with information about Jackie Robinson and key lessons from the Hall of Fame’s cultural diversity education programs.
As for the game, the ValleyCats appropriately hosted the Brooklyn Cyclones.
The ‘Cats lost the game 7-6 in 10 innings. This was just about the point in the season where the ‘Cats turned it around and began the special run towards their New York-Penn League Championship title. The ‘Cats went on to sweep Brooklyn in the championship series.
The blueprints for the new Recovery Sports Grill restaurant in Guilderland are extensive and complicated, but they are the start of something special.
Living in the Capital Region, sports fans are all aware of the Recovery Sports Grill restaurants that provide both kids and adults a great place to grab a bite to eat, relax and watch a game.
They most recently opened a new location in Queensbury, bringing their total number of Capital Region locations to seven. That number won’t last for long though, as they plan on opening their eighth location in Guilderland just in time for the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
One of the unique features about all of the Recovery restaurants is the abundance of sports memorabilia and photos that hang from ceiling to floor. If you’ve been to the Troy location, you have seen plenty of ValleyCats items scattered throughout the restaurant.
On Monday in Guilderland, they began to lay the floor graphics, and ‘Cats Media Relations Manager Chris Chenes stopped by to help pick a great spot for the ValleyCats logo!
And with that, the logos of other local and pro teams, as well as graphics of different sports were placed on the rest of the available space.
Once all the graphics (made of a light paper mesh material) are laid, another clear layer will be placed on top. The entire process takes about one week to complete.
The next step in the interior development process will be to hang photos and memorabilia on the wall. Look for a ValleyCats jersey, shown below being framed.
Then the ceiling, which is empty for now, will have numerous items hanging from every beam.
The man behind the entire design process is John Palmeri, Sports Information Director for BBL Hospitality. John is a huge sports fan, rooting adamantly for the New York Giants, New York Mets and the Tri-City ValleyCats!
Each Recovery Sports Grill has a special theme for the local sports team(s) that are closest to it. Since this location is right down the road from UAlbany, an entire wall is painted purple and gold. Of course, John is careful to make sure their cross-town rival Siena has a spot as well.
Check out this great panoramic photo of the interior (Click the photo to view it’s full size):
We’ll keep you updated on the progress as it moves along!
On Thursday, all 16 provisional rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic were revealed. Four former ValleyCats will represent their country. Murilo Gouvea (’10) with Brazil, Jimmy Van Ostrand (’06) with Canada, Antonio Noguera (’08, ’09) with Spain and Ben Zobrist (’04) with USA.
In addition, ‘Cats ’11-’12 manager Stubby Clapp will be a member of the coaching staff for Canada.
Special mention should go out to four other former ‘Cats who represented their country during the qualifying rounds, but failed to reach the first round. Douglas Arguello (’05-’06) with Nicaragua, Dayan Diaz (’11) with Columbia, Alex Sogard (’10) with Czech Republic and Ben Orloff (’10) with Israel.
The tournament begins on March 2 when Brazil faces two-time defending champion Japan in Fukuoka, Japan.
Team USA begins play on March 8 facing off against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. They are a member of the Arizona bracket that also includes Canada and Italy.
MLB Network will broadcast all 39 games. The championship series will take place March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Happy New Year ‘Cats fans! With the turn of the calendar comes the official countdown to Spring Training and then our 2013 summer season! Sure it’s going to be a cold next two months, but with the thoughts of baseball in our minds, it will warm us right up!
With that said, as of January 11 there are just 32 days left until pitchers & catchers report to Spring Training and 157 days until the ‘Cats home opener at “The Joe!”
‘Cats coaches feature fresh faces
The Houston Astros announced the ValleyCats 2013 field staff this past week, and it includes new faces. Replacing Stubby Clapp as ‘Cats skipper is Ed Romero. Romero will be the ‘Cats sixth manager since they arrived in Troy in 2002.
Stubby has left the Houston organization to join the Toronto organization. He will serve as hitting coach for the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League, taking him back to his Canadian roots. Clapp played one season with the Blue Jays Triple-A team in 2004.
Stubby on the move:
“I’m going back to hitting. I liked managing, but hitting is my passion with the game. To be part of the Toronto system again and maybe have an opportunity at some time down the line to get back to Toronto would be great.”
Doug White replaces Rick Aponte as pitching coach. White comes to the ValleyCats from the St. Louis Cardinals’ system. Last year he was the pitching coach for the Johnson City Cardinals, their Rookie League team.
Russ Steinhorn is the ‘Cats new hitting coach, joining the Astros organization from the college ranks. He was an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for Delaware State. The only returning member of the field staff will be athletic trainer Michael Rendon.
Here’s Romero’s bio from the Houston Astros 2012 media guide:
The 2012 season will be Ed Romero’s second as the manager of the GCL Astros. He previously served as the manager for Rookie Level Greeneville in 2010, bench coach for the Astros big league club in 2009, and as the Astros third base coach during the 2008 season.
Romero previously spent three seasons with the Florida Marlins (2005-07) as the organization’s roving infield coordinator. Before his tenure with the Marlins, Romero spent eight years as a minor league manager and instructor with the Milwaukee Brewers organization, including stints as a manager for Double A El Paso (1998), Double A Huntsville (2001) and Triple A Indianapolis
(2002). He led Huntsville to the Southern League co-championship in 2001. Romero spent five of those eight years with Milwaukee as its minor league infield instructor (1997, 1999, 2000, 2003-04).
Romero’s 21-year coaching career also features a six-season tenure with the San Diego Padres, including five seasons as a Class A manager and one as a minor league infield coordinator (1991). He also managed seven seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League (1994, 1996-98, 2000, 2003 and 2004).
In 730 career Major League games from 1977-90, Romero hit .247 (473×1912) with eight home runs and 155 RBI. He played in the Majors for four clubs: Milwaukee (1977-85, ‘89), Boston (1986-89), Atlanta (1989) and Detroit (1990). A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Romero played in four American League Championship Series; with Milwaukee (1981-82) and Boston (1986-88). He also played in the World Series for the Brewers in 1982 and for the Red Sox in 1986. Romero is married to Ivonne and the couple has two children, son Eddie Jr. and daughter Ariana K.
Doug White’s 2012 St. Louis Cardinals media guide bio:
Doug White is in his fifth season as a Cardinals minor league pitching coach and fourth at Johnson City. In 2008, he was pitching coach for the New York-Penn League champion Batavia MuckDogs.
White’s 2011 staff led the Appalachian League in walks+hits/innings pitched (WHIP) and combined for the second-best ERA en route to back-to-back Appy League championships.
White has extensive experience as a pitching instructor and is the founder of “Passion for Pitching” clinics he runs out of Southern California.
He recently served as a pitching instructor for a Major League Baseball International sponsored clinic in Peru. He was the pitching coach for manager Jack Clark at Mid-Missouri of the Independent Frontier League in 2004. White also was the extended spring training and Gulf Coast League pitching coach for the Expos in 2003.
White is a 2002 graduate of Arizona State University in Broadcast Journalism and is a certified personal trainer. He made an appearance on the ABC reality TV show “Dating in the Dark” during the summer of 2009.
Russ Steinhorn’s 2012 Delware State bio:
Steinhorn returns to Delaware State after spending the 2011 season at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Steinhorn serves as recruiting coordinator and plays a key role in directing the team’s offensive and defensive strategies.
In 2011 at UNCG Steinhorn, was in charge of the outfielders along with assisting with pitchers and hitters. UNCG had a 34-20 overall record and was second in the Southern Conference with a 22-8 mark in league play. Off the field Steinhorn was the camp coordinator, assisted with recruiting, academic advisement, travel and scheduling.
In 2009, Steinhorn’s first year at Delaware State, the Hornet pitching staff showed a marked improvement from the previous year. The pitchers lowered the overall team ERA 3.29 runs under his direction. Two Hornets pitchers were selected to the 2009 All-MEAC First-Team All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honors, including Dan Perkins, who was voted as the league’s Pitcher of the Year. Perkins was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. .
Prior to coaching at Delaware State, Steinhorn served as the pitching coach for the Allegany County Nitros in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. He also coached one year at his alma mater Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla. At Edgewater he coached seven players that signed NCAA Division I scholarships and four players who were taken in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Overall, Steinhorn has coached over 15 players that have been drafted or signed free agent contracts to play professional baseball.
Steinhorn graduated from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. A pitcher and utility player, he helped lead the team to four NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) National Championships. During his final season, he was 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA on the mound, while hitting .373 at the plate.
Steinhorn graduated from Southeastern University in May of 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in middle grades mathematics education and a minor in religious studies. In May of 2011, Steinhorn graudated from Delaware State University with a Masters Degree in Sports Administration.
ValleyCats Media Relations Manager Chris Chenes will be making his annual trip to Spring Training in March and will interview all the ‘Cats new coaches as well as some former players. All content will be posted on ‘Cats Corner during his daily blog posts from March 22-25.
Children’s Hospital Visit
Throughout the offseason, SouthPaw enjoys making visits all around the Capital Region, but one in particular is very special to him. That’s the visit to the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center. He enjoys cheering up the children and their families!
Strike Out Bullying!
Sticking with the theme of children, the ValleyCats mascots have been asked to perform their anti-bullying skit in front of students at Schodack Elementary School. This stems from their recent performance at School 14 in Troy. In case you missed it, here’s the video:
For more information on the ‘Cats Strike Out Bullying campaign, visit the page below:
Community Grounds Crew: ’4 in 24′
With spring fast approaching, the ‘Cats front office is busy putting together all the logistics for this years ’4 in 24′ field renovation, the kick-off event for the 2013 Community Grounds Crew program. Official information will be announced in the coming weeks and the application will be available on the ValleyCats website.
Click the link below for more information on the ValleyCats Community Grounds Crew program and the history of their field renovations.
Get ready for an exciting experience at “The Joe” in 2013! Right now we’re putting together all of the pieces for the 2013 summer promotional schedule.
This will be the 12th season of ValleyCats baseball and we’ll be welcoming in our 1.5 millionth fan through the gates at some point in early July! It seemed just like yesterday that we welcomed our one millionth fan.
Here are a few things you can expect during the 2013 season: 14 fireworks nights, two bobblehead giveaways, improved postgame launch-a-ball, new & exciting in-between inning promotions, new & improved concession items and much more! We expect to release the full promotional schedule in mid-February.
This time of year our front office staff is sifting through internship applications from college students throughout the country. As we stress each season, interns are a key cog in our operation during the summer months. Aside from receiving valuable work experience, our internship program emphasizes professional development with internal competitions, guest speakers and professional networking.
Are you a college student interested in working in professional baseball?? Check out our Internship Page for more information on available positions for the 2013 season.
Own a piece of history!
In order to provide our 2013 team with brand new road jerseys, we’re selling the old ones. That’s right, you can own the very same jersey worn by your Tri-City ValleyCats on the road from 2005-2012. That’s three Stedler Division Championship teams, one New York-Penn League Championship team and a record setting 2012 team.
All of the jerseys are being sold for just $100.
Supply is limited and going fast. Click here to see which jerseys are left.
If you’re a ValleyCats season ticket, mini-plan or flex-plan holder, stop by Joseph L. Bruno Stadium during the month of January and we’ll give you a 2013 ValleyCats wall calendar, complete with their 2013 home schedule! Supply is limited.
We’ll complete this week’s blog post with the calendar photo for the month of June. A beautiful shot during the National Anthem, with the ValleyCats standing at attention facing the U.S. Navy Color Guard. All of the photos that appear in the 2013 calendar were shot by Greg Fisher with http://www.sportsthroughthelens.com/