Front Office Friday: Helping put the “Grand” in Grandstands … Keith Sweeney!

Hard to believe that five games at “The Joe” are in the books! We concluded our first homestand of 2014 with a 3-2 record and three games that were sold out! Thank you, fans!

Two more games are on tap for the upcoming week, Monday and Tuesday, as we play host to the Vermont Lake Monsters. Monday night is our Night of Champions, complete with a 2013 Championship Ring Desktop Replica Giveaway! Tuesday, we celebrate local softball leagues and teams and finish off the quick trip home with fireworks! Still some tickets left, so come on out for a fun night of baseball!

To prep for the weekend, we’re back with our Front Office Friday series. Today’s featured Front Office member is Stadium Operations Manager Keith Sweeney. If there’s work to be done at “The Joe,” Keith and his team are on it.

Keith stands proud of the stadium he’s played a major part in setting up!

Keith is in his ninth season as a full-time employee and has been involved with stadium ops all seven years. While he was attending and playing baseball at the College of St. Rose, Keith interned with the ‘Cats in the operations role. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Sports Management in 2006. Prior to St. Rose, Keith played for Mitchell College, where he received his Associate’s Degree in Sports Management.

If you’ve seen Keith around the Capital Region, you likely have seen his son, Carter. Keith spends as much time as possible with Carter, including going to his sporting events, cheering on their favorite Boston sports teams together and bringing him to the stadium for ValleyCats games.

Here’s a little bit more about Keith…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) I started working here right after graduating St. Rose and I honestly can’t think of doing anything else besides working in sports or events in some capacity. I love being outside working on different projects so what I do here is exactly what I like to do.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) My hometown is 45 minutes south of Boston so I am an all New England fan, which would make my favorite baseball team the Boston Red Sox.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) I love them all honestly. I am the guy, especially during playoffs, who is pacing around and screaming at the TV.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I have a 7-year-old son Carter, who is the best thing that ever happened to me. Whatever he is doing for a hobby that’s what I am doing.

Q) What is your favorite genre of music?
A) Hip Hop, R&B and I have to admit I do like maybe 3 country songs!

Q) What is your favorite meal to eat?
A) Steak and Cheese preferably from D’Angelos

Q) What is your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Rottweiler

Q) What is your favorite movie?
A) The Fast and Furious series as well as the Rush Hour series.

Q) What has been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) There are many great memories here so I would have to break it into team and office. The 2010 season was the most exciting season. Most probably forget the run we had through August to win our 1st Championship and Brooklyn’s 3 game series. 2011 was a great year all around starting with the front office all the way to the interns. Besides our All-Star game in 2008 the All-Star weekend in Lowell most of us won’t ever forget.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) I don’t know if it’s necessarily a “super power” but I want to be able to teleport. I want to be in Boston at 7 watching the Sox but then be on South Beach at 11pm walking the beach.

Here’s Keith showing off a foul ball he caught at Fenway Park earlier this season!

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) SS or Closer

Q) What is your favorite quote?
A) “Figure it out!” or “Hook ’em”

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) Trot Nixon, hence why Nixon is my son’s middle name.

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Shaq, my Grandfather, and Carter

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Buy a yacht so I have a house wherever in the world I want. Set Carter and my family up with more than enough money to live on. Open a school that has the best programs in the country for children with disabilities. Lastly, open a neighborhood breakfast diner! Haha, very random I know!

Keith, you and your team have done a tremendous job getting the stadium ready for the season! We thank you for your continuous hard work and dedication to the ValleyCats!

Recap: Youth Baseball Night and Education Day at “The Joe!”

Hey, ‘Cats fans! If you made a trip to “The Joe” during our opening home stand or checked in with us on social media, you know that we’ve been pretty busy here getting the 2014 season started. Our Monday and Tuesday games were dedicated to entertaining the children, families and teachers of the Capital District through two special events on Monday’s Youth Baseball Night and Tuesday’s first ever Education Day! We would like to thank everyone who came out to the park for these events as well as all of our sponsors and partnerships that helped us make it happen.

On Monday night, the ValleyCats matched up against the Boston Red Sox affiliate, Lowell Spinners for a 7 p.m. game. We had a pre-game parade with youth baseball teams from the area that participated in our 4 in 24 Field Renovation program earlier this year, and BlueShield of Northeastern New York was invited onto the field for a ceremony to thank them for their support as our game sponsor and with our 4 in 24 project. Fans, players and all in attendance shared a moment of silence for baseball legend Tony Gwynn after hearing news of his passing earlier in the day. The stadium was sold out for this event, and in the bottom of the 9th, the ValleyCats scored with a walk-off win, 3-2 against the Spinners!


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Education Day on Tuesday was a very special event for the ValleyCats and everyone at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium. 5,507 fans were in attendance for our 10 a.m. game as a part of the first ever Education Day event with local schools in the area. It took some serious behind the scenes action to prepare our stadium for such a large crowd! Our front office staff, interns and game day staff worked hard to prepare lunches, move in bleachers for extra seating and get the field and stadium ready for such a large event. Big thanks for everyone to the time and effort it took to prepare!

Our pre-game show focused on educational activities as they relate to the game of baseball in the areas of science, math, geography and more. We showed students a video on the science of the knuckleball, and held an on-field interview with our own knuckleballer Blaine Sims. Our fans recited the ValleyCats Peace Pledge before the first pitch of the game, and signed the Peace Pledge Banner on the main concourse throughout the day. Regeneron was our lead supporting partner of the event and had a table set up at the opening gates, as well as our participating partners Transfinder and St. Peter’s Sexual Assault & Crime Victims Assistance Program at Samaritan Hospital. We are so thankful for the support we received to make this event happen! The stadium was filled with positive energy, smiles and laughter from the students and teachers in attendance. The ‘Cats fell 2-1 to the Lowell Spinners in the last game of this home stand, but we considered the day to be a “win” overall!

The next home games for the ValleyCats will be on Monday, June 23 for Night of Champions and a 2013 Championship Ring desktop replica giveaway and Tuesday, June 24 for Softball Night here at “The Joe” and fireworks presented by Price Chopper. Get your tickets today to watch the ‘Cats take on the Vermont Lake Monsters!

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Weekend Recap

Hey, ‘Cats fans! Friday’s Opening Night at “The Joe” set the bar high for the rest of our Championship Weekend festivities that took place on Saturday and Sunday. We embraced the sunshine and welcomed fans into the park for many different events on Comicon with the ‘Cats night and the Father’s Day Fan Fest! On Saturday morning, we held the Father’s Day Home Run 5K with the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club followed by a kids race around the warning track of the field. It was awesome to see so many children running with their dads to kick off Father’s Day weekend! We were lucky enough to have some of our front office and intern staff participate in the race as well. Congratulations to overall male winner Scott Mindel and overall female winner Brina Seguine, and a big thank you to everyone who came out for the race as a runner or a fan! DSC_1086 DSC_1185 DSC_1223 DSC_1265 Comicon with the ‘Cats was our theme for Saturday night’s game, which featured appearances by some of our favorite superheroes and movie characters! Fans and ValleyCats staff wore some superhero gear and visited the Comicon table and characters around the concourse. We celebrated the 239th birthday of the U.S. Army, our game day sponsor for the evening with a cake cutting ceremony and honorary first pitch. We also welcomed Colin Stevens, goalie of the 2014 National Champions Union College Men’s Ice Hockey team to congratulate him and his team on a great season! Fans were able to check out the National Championship trophy, meet Colin and take photos. The ‘Cats fell 9-3 to the Connecticut Tigers but we had a great time after the game for the ball launch and fireworks presented by Price Chopper! DSC_1301 DSC_1316 DSC_1315DSC_1330DSC_1328IMG_8276 We finished out the weekend with another fun-filled day to celebrate all of the awesome dads out there! Our Father’s Day brunch began at 11:30 a.m. right here at “The Joe” and we had events that lasted all afternoon up until game time! Families came into the park to eat, listen to live music by some local bands, play catch in the outfield and watch batting practice. Kids were able to color some #1 Dad buttons as a Father’s Day gift, and play inflatable games all along the concourse. SEFCU was our game day sponsor who had a table set up at the entrance gates, and Saint Peter’s Health Partners brought us our first Summer Readers Night and a pre-game catch on the field for Sunday Funday! Fans received a 2013 New York-Penn League championship poster on their way into the park and settled in to watch an on-field golf competition with the Colonial Acres Golf Course and a pre-game show with our media personality Sam Sigal and Friday night’s pitcher Austin Chrismon.

The ‘Cats trailed the Connecticut Tigers 2-0 until J.D. Davis hit a two-run homer and tied the game in the bottom of the 7th. Ravel Santana walked in the bottom of the 9th, followed by a base-hit by Marc Wik. Ariel Ovando then hit a walk-off single and the ‘Cats picked up their second win of the season, 3-2 against the Tigers! Tonight is Youth Baseball Night at “The Joe” sponsored by BlueShield of Northeastern New York. The ValleyCats play the Boston Red Sox affiliate, Lowell Spinners at 7 p.m. We hope to see you at the game tonight! Thank you fans for a great Opening Weekend!

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Opening Night Recap

Well, we did it! Even with the threat of a rainy evening forecast, we remained optimistic over here at “The Joe” and did all we could to prepare for whatever came our way for Opening Night on Friday, June 13th. And boy, did we luck out! The rain held off and we were able to play 9 full innings of ValleyCats baseball on Opening Night of the 2014 season. Sue Westervelt and her grounds crew at Brickman did a spectacular job of getting the field ready for game time –big thanks to them!



Opening Night featured the reveal of the ValleyCats 2013 New York Penn-League Championship banner, a pre-game performance by the Home Brewed band, a 2014 ValleyCats schedule magnet giveaway and many more fun events! We were fortunate enough to have the president of the New York Penn-League, Ben Hayes on the field with the 2013 Championship trophy and our own ValleyCats president Bill Gladstone who spoke to the fans during opening ceremonies.



Our 2014 National Anthem contest winner Jake Goodman sang for the crowd and Upstate Ford brought their promotions team and vehicles out for fans to check out on the way into the park. Fans were also able to enjoy some of our new food items at Vamos Tacos and Left Field Louie’s where we served Nine Pin Hard Cider, another new addition to our menu.



We celebrated the ‘Cats first victory of the season, a 3-2 win over the Connecticut Tigers with fireworks presented by Price Chopper Supermarkets. Fans grabbed some free Sunny D drinks and coupons as we wished them goodnight after a successful, rain-free evening. Congratulations to the ValleyCats Player of the Game, starting pitcher #40 Austin Chrismon!

While Opening Night is now in the books, we’ve still got a few more games left in this home stand! Our next game is tonight, June 14th at 7 p.m. against the Connecticut Tigers. The theme is Comicon with the ‘Cats, so feel free to dress up as your favorite comic book character! We will celebrate the U.S. Army’s 239th birthday as our game day sponsor and also honor Union College Men’s Ice Hockey Team and congratulate them on their 2014 National Championship. Check out some of our favorite photos from last night:

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Front Office Friday: The man behind it all … our VP/GM Rick Murphy!

HAPPY OPENING DAY!!! OK, OK – it’s Friday the 13th, there is a Full Moon expected tonight, and there is rain in the forecast. But that won’t stop me from welcoming you the 2014 Tri-City ValleyCats baseball season!

We couldn’t be more thrilled to open our 13th season here in the Capital Region. There are many exciting new things at our ballpark from new promotions to new concession areas to our AWESOME video board! If you can’t make it out this weekend, check out the rest of our schedule online at and find a game this season to swing by “The Joe” to see it all!

On to our favorite Friday feature – Front Office Friday! With Opening Day here, we figured there was no better person to introduce you to than our Vice President & General Manager Rick Murphy. This season is Rick’s 26th in professional baseball. It’s safe to say, he’s a baseball lifer.

Rick Murphy has seen the ValleyCats win two NYPL Championships in the last four seasons, along with several Stedler Division titles in his tenure.

Rick played college ball at Boston College and shortly after began working in Minor League Baseball. He took over as GM of the Pittsfield Mets in 1989. The team changed affiliations and became the Astros, and Rick played an integral part in the move that brought the franchise to Troy.

After running the ‘Cats from 2002-2004, Rick spent 2005 as the Chief Operating Officer for DDD Baseball, Inc., a company owned by Dan Duquette, current General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles. He couldn’t stay away long and returned to run the ValleyCats.

Since, Rick was named the NYPL Executive of the Year in 2008 and is a 2011 New York-Penn League Robert F. Julian Community & Baseball Service Award winner. He currently serves as chairman of the New York-Penn League Schedule Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors for Minor League Baseball’s BIRCO (Baseball Internet Rights Corporation), and the Albany Police Athletic League. Rick is also a member of the Board of Directors for Berkshire Hills Bancorp, the parent of Berkshire Bank.

Rick has been instrumental in developing youth baseball in the area with different promotions. He’s implemented our “4 in 24″ Field Renovation project, our “Show on the Road” promotion, helping run the concession area at Clifton Park Baseball League … the list goes on and on with how much Rick has assisted with the growth of youth baseball.

As you can see, Rick does a lot for this organization and this community. One thing Rick enjoys doing most is getting to know our fans and we wanted you to get to know him as well. Here’s what Rick had to say on our FOF questionnaire…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) College Professor

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) Boston Red Sox

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) Hockey – Boston Bruins

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) Collecting Vintage Baseball Cards

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) Celtic Soul – Van Morrison

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Sushi

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Dog – Silky Terrier

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) The Pursuit of Happiness

A signature Rick Murphy and SouthPaw pose on the concourse!

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Opening Day

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Cure Cancer

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) Center Field

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” -Harvey Mackay

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) “Yaz” – Carl Yastrzemski

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Abraham Lincoln, Knute Rockne & Steve Jobs

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Philanthropic work

Rick, we thank you for being an incredible leader and outstanding person in the community. You’ve helped turn the Capital Region into a Baseball Region. We hope the ValleyCats are here for a long time and that you are here to oversee that!

Follow the MLB Draft LIVE

Remember, at 6:45 tonight you can join ValleyCats media personalities Brady Farkas and Sam Sigal as they break down the MLB draft live as it happens.

The Astros have the No. 1 pick and they’ll tell you all you need to know about the first days action.

It’s interactive, so feel free to comment or ask questions!

Follow here:

Beginning to Feel a Draft

Good afternoon, ValleyCats faithful. My name is Brady Farkas, and you’ll be hearing from me throughout the season on this blog, as I am new to the ‘Gatos media relations and video department.

You’ll also be hearing (literally) a lot of Sam Sigal, who is the new voice of the ValleyCats for the 2014 season. He spent 2013 with the Johnson City Cardinals and we’re happy to welcome him to the Astros/ValleyCats family.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, it’s time to talk baseball.

With the MLB draft just over 24 hours away, it’s also time to tell you that Sam and I are going to be live blogging the first and second round tomorrow starting at 7:00pm. During the live chat, which we will post links and information to on,  you interact with us by asking questions, sharing comments, etc. That link is here.

Our parent club, the Houston Astros, have the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second year in a row and you may be a little curious to know about who they could take — and who could ultimately end up playing part of 2014 here at Joe Bruno Stadium.

We’re breaking down the Top 5 draft prospects, and one extra, as according to

Brady Aiken, LHP, HS

Aiken appears to be a very likely candidate for the Astros at No. 1. He’s a lefty, which could provide the ‘Stros with a top of the rotation complement to last year’s No. 1, Mark Appel, down the road.

Aiken is now sitting at 92-94 with his fastball — and has the ability to reach 97. He has a an above average curveball and good speed differential on his changeup. That repertoire gives him three viable pitches, something that is a necessity for starters at the professional level.

He helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Taiwan in last year. He limited Japan to one run in seven innings in the championship game while striking out 10.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State

Rodon was called by “the best college left-hander since David Price.” The NC State product was named to the ACC’s first-team after posting a 2.01 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 98.2 innings.

In 2013, he helped the Wolfpack make the College World Series. He struck out an NCAA-record 184 a season ago. He’s armed with a fastball at 91-94 consistently, and like Aiken, can also touch 97.

His best asset is a very good slider. With three seasons of college ball under his belt, he’s probably not that far away from being major league ready. But that’s just my assumption.

Tyler Kolek, RHP, HS

This guy is a pure fireballer. He’s topped 100 on multiple occasions this season and can sit at 93-96 consistently.

He has an above-average curve and a good slider. says his control needs time to catch up to his stuff, but being from Texas, he could be an enticing choice for the nearby Astros.

Alex Jackson, C/OF, HS

Jackson is a right-handed power-hitting catcher, something that is at a premium in the majors.

His swing can get long at times, but his power makes him a big prospect at the next level. He has a good arm behind the plate, but he could end up in the outfield also.

Nick Gordon, INF, HS

Gordon is the son of former major league reliever, Tom “Flash” Gordon, and the brother of current Dodgers speedster, Dee.

He throws low-90s on the mound but wants to contribute every day at the professional level. He is one of the best shortstops in the draft. He has a good arm, good speed, and a good enough LH bat to hit at the pro ranks.

He’s committed to Florida State, one of the top programs in the country, so you know he’s the real deal.

**Jeff Hoffman, P, East Carolina

We throw this name in for good measure. Hoffman is of significant interest to the Capital Region ValleyCat fans. Having graduated from nearby Shaker High School, Hoffman and his mid-90s fastball were a candidate for the Astros at No. 1 until the end of April, when he missed his final two starts with forearm tightness.

That tightness led to Tommy John surgery in early-May, but even with the procedure, he’s still thought to be a mid-first round pick.

He tops out at 98 with a good curveball and a developing changeup. Regardless if he’s playing for the Astros organization, he’ll be a name for Capital Region baseball fans to focus on during the draft.

Remember, visit tomorrow evening for the link to join us during our exclusive draft coverage. Meanwhile, you can see’s Top 200 draft prospects here.

“Show on the Road” Recap at North Colonie Youth Baseball Fields

Hey, ‘Cats fans! This past weekend we had the pleasure of bringing our favorite parts of “The Joe” to the North Colonie Youth Baseball Fields for our 2014 “Show on the Road” event with Hannaford Supermarkets! Our front office staff and summer interns worked hard to bring the ValleyCats experience into a youth baseball setting filled with games, giveaways and a great cookout. The Challenger Division game kicked off at 5 p.m. and the Major Division game followed at 6:30 p.m. with tons of fun between innings. Fans were able to participate in our NY 529 Puzzle Contest, Pony Hops, Hannaford Hula Hoop Hustle and many more events! Thank you to North Colonie Youth Baseball and Hannaford Supermarkets for welcoming us and helping out with this awesome night.

Check out our video highlights, as well aour favorite photos from the “Show on the Road!” :

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Front Office Friday: Started from the bottom now he’s here … Chris Chenes!

The #CatdownIsOn! Two weeks from tonight, we’ll be hosting 4,500 of our closest friends on Opening Night at “The Joe!” We can’t wait to see all of you down here to open our 2014 season. We’ve made several announcements about our new concession area, Vamos Tacos (which is awesome!), a new mobile app (which is awesome!) and our brand new, state-of-the-art LED video board (which is AWESOME!!!). So come on down Friday, June 13 with first pitch set for 7 p.m. to check out all the new additions to “The Joe.” But be in your seat early … our 2013 Championship Celebration will take place prior to the game and we want you there!

With all that said, it’s time for another Front Office Friday. Today, we feature a Troy native who loves his hometown team. Chris Chenes is our Media Relations/Production Manager and handles most duties within the media and marketing departments. Those fancy pocket schedules you’ve seen around the Capital District? Chris designed them. The web content, videos and everything else multimedia related? Chris probably produced those too. That new video board you’ll see this summer? He’s running all the graphics that pop up throughout the games.

Working hard or hardly working? When your job is to study the Astros Media Guide, it can be considered both!

This season will be Chris’ fifth in his current role. He’s been involved with the ValleyCats since our inaugural season in Troy doing a little bit of everything – literally starting from the bottom. He’s sold programs, run the music, been an usher … about the only area he hasn’t been involved in is Food & Beverage, and even then he helped redesign the signs over the concession areas.

Chris developed his skills while attending Hudson Valley Community College, where he received his Associate’s Degree in Communications. He later earned his Bachelor’s in Communications from The College of Saint Rose and continued to learn all the ins and outs of the media and production business. In fact, as a part-time gig, Chris runs the music during the Siena & UAlbany basketball games in his spare time.

And speaking of spares, he’s usually working on turning those into strikes at Olympic Lanes bowling alley. Chris is quite the bowler, but also enjoys spending time with his family and friends, golfing and traveling – your typical baseball employee hobbies.

Let’s get to know a little bit more about Chris…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) Working in the media industry in some capacity.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) The New York Yankees.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) My second favorite sport is football, and my favorite team is the New York Jets.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I’ve been bowling since I was 13, love playing golf, poker, and traveling.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I love all kinds of music. One minute I’ll be listening to Zac Brown Band, the next Frank Sinatra, and the next Jay-Z.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Has always been chicken parm. Also, homemade Pastichio (Greek lasagna)

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Definitely a dog, man’s best friend.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) I don’t watch many movies, but anything with Denzel Washington, Martin Lawrence, or Clint Eastwood.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Many moments stand out, so I have to name two of them, and both took place in 2010. First, a walk-off home run from Kike Hernandez with his family in town visiting from Puerto Rico. The other moment is when the power went out during a game, and the players and promo team kept the fans entertained with giveaways and autographs. The fireworks were also shot off during the delay.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) To fly.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) Who’s on First? Nobody? Okay, then first base. I don’t have much range, nor a strong arm.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) We live by quotes here in the office, and many of my favorites come from Walt Disney. One of them is, “The only way to get started, is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Chenes represents the ValleyCats even while bowling in his free time! (Photo courtesy of J.S. Carras/The Record)

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) It used to be Alex Rodriguez, but not any longer. I’d have to say any of the core four…Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada.

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Derek Jeter, Donald Trump, and Johnny Evers.

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Buy a condo in New York City, a house on the beach in Florida & Long Island, a new car, travel, donate to non-profits, possibly buy a professional sports franchise, and give a bunch to my parents & family. I would make sure to leave some for the future of my family, but would spend most of it while I’m living…because as my father always says, you can’t take it with ya!

Thanks for all you do, Chris! We appreciate the hard work and the time spent putting together everything from game notes to marketing brochures.

Front Office Friday: Dianna Blanchard is keeping the stadium “full”

Whew! What a busy couple of weeks it’s been! Interns began rolling into the office over the past couple of weeks, fresh out of their spring semester’s at school. The season is swiftly arriving, as we’re three weeks away from Opening Night!

We took an extra week to make sure we got all the juicy details for this week’s Front Office Friday feature. Dianna Blanchard is going on her third season as Food and Beverage Coordinator with the ‘Cats. Dianna earned her undergrad degree from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts before returning home to the Capital District to earn her MBA at Union Graduate College. While at MCLA, Dianna played for the school’s volleyball and basketball teams, and continues to play volleyball in her free time.

Dianna has full control of the concession areas at Joe Bruno Stadium!


A reminder to concession workers, this is painted above the main kitchen.

On game days, Dianna is working around the clock to ensure all the food is prepped, the food areas are ready to go, and her employees are in line. Dianna’s food areas include: Top of the Hill Bar & Grill, Field of Dreams, Picnic Pavilion, The Porch, our Luxury Suites and Diamond Club, the general concession stands, vendor carts, hawkers and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten (thank goodness she has it all in order!). We have a large game day staff and many of them are working the concession areas overseen by Dianna. In the off-season, she’s busy coming up with new menu items for our fans to try and we think you’ll like what we have to offer this year! Get ready for some delicious offerings at the concession stands!

In the meantime, let’s learn a little more about Sweet D…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) I would be on tour as a backup hip hop dancer. Luckily for the ValleyCats, I have no dance moves or rhythm.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) To me there is no one better than the ‘Cats.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) I’m a big volleyball fan. The best team is Fireballz, obviously.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) During the off-season I try to play volleyball and travel as much as I can. I also enjoy the occasional series binge watching on Netflix.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I like to sing to country and dance to house music.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Start with some tomato, basil, mozz. Then it’s a tie between my mom’s meatloaf and her mac ‘n cheese. A Philadelphia roll on the side. And end it all with a nice warm brownie sundae.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) I’ve always wanted a monkey, but realistically a lab or pug.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) My favorite sports movies are Miracle and A League of Their Own. I’ve also enjoyed pretty much every rom-com ever made.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) Every time the national anthem singer nails the Land of the Free note and the energy it sends through the stadium #Merica

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Hmm…is time travel a super power? That would be pretty cool.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) 1st base.

Dianna proudly holds the NYPL Championship Trophy from 2013!

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) On Gamedays: “Meals and Memories made here daily.”
Non-Gamedays: “Not all who wander are lost.”

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) I forgot his name…

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) James Franco, Oprah, Elvis Duran

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) I would probably put the first million into a POS (point-of-sale) system. Then, I would give some to friends and family. Then, I would probably spend a few years traveling and eating my way around the world.

Makes sense for the Food & Bev Coordinator to want to “eat her way around the world!” Thanks for putting on a great menu, Dianna! Our fans would go hungry without you!

Front Office Friday: Developing Fans for Life – it’s Michelle!

With five weeks remaining until Opening Night, the action around “The Joe” is officially into high gear! Tonight, we host the final two high school baseball games of our Friday Night Lights series. Troy and La Salle square off at 4 p.m. and Guilderland takes on Columbia in the night cap. Proceeds from ticket sales tonight go toward the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser and both games will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.

We have some exciting news that we’ll be announcing shortly, so stay tuned to for the latest on-goings.

Michelle’s smile is recognized by all fans who have visited our Fan Service Center.

One person who has been extremely busy is Michelle Skinner, our Fan Development and Community Relations Manager. Each spring, stacks of paper find their way to her desk. These stacks consist of donation requests, community appearances and merchandise order forms. Somehow, Michelle sifts through it all and fulfills as many requests and orders on a daily basis as she can.

Michelle joined the ValleyCats front office prior to the 2010 season after spending two years in Nashville, Tenn., where she was the Operations Assistant at Nashville Superspeedway. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Administration from Ball State University in 2007. Michelle also completed an internship with New York-Penn League rival Vermont.

One of the great qualities about Michelle is she’s always thinking of others. She is a member of the Troy Kiwanis and International Service Sorority – Epsilon Sigma Alpha. She runs several races throughout the year, typically fundraising for charity and exemplifies all that the ValleyCats strive to be in the community.

Michelle is a big sports fan and follows her favorite Indiana sports teams. She’s a diehard Ball State Cardinals football fan and cheers on the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. She grew an affinity for the NHL’s Nashville Predators during her time in Music City. And yes, she’s a country music fan too!

Here’s a little more about Michelle…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) If I wasn’t working for another sports team, I would want to work for a nonprofit like St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Event Planning and Fundraising.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) I never really had a favorite baseball team. Growing up I liked the Cleveland Indians, but went to White Sox and Reds games. Now I’d say the White Sox, but I mostly follow the Astros. If I keep going to Yankees games, I might mess around and become a Yankees fan…

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) My favorite sport was always basketball, I am a big Indiana Pacers fan. My other favorite teams are the Nashville Predators, Indianapolis Colts, and my Ball State Cardinals!

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I like to travel, go to concerts (Aerosmith is my favorite), “run” half marathons, and visit other ballparks. I’ve been to 25 Minor League parks and 10 Major League parks so far.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I like most kinds of music, but my favorites are Classic Rock (especially 80s Hair Bands) and Country.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) A classic steak, baked potato, and corn on the cob.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) I would like to have a Golden Retriever or Great Dane.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) I can’t pick just one, so I’ll give you my top six. I watch these over and over and they are good every time! Tin Cup, A Night at the Roxbury, Prime, Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman, and Christmas Vacation. Honorable Mention: Gone in 60 Seconds.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) There have been a lot of great moments over the past 4 seasons, but the one that really stands out was last year on Veterans Night. It gave me chills to see the Patriot Guard motorcycles and flag lines on the field during pregame.

Michelle recently completed a half-marathon as a St. Jude Hero in Nashville, Tenn.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) It isn’t a unique answer, but I would want to fly. That would really cut down my travel expenses.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) I would like to be the catcher, but trust me, they wouldn’t want me.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.” – Danny Thomas

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) I never followed baseball close enough to have a favorite. My all-time favorite athlete is Reggie Miller.

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Steven Tyler, Cher, and Danny Thomas

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) I would want to travel the world, share with my friends and family, and donate to causes that mean a lot to me.

Thanks for all your hard work Michelle and for keeping the ValleyCats top of mind in the Capital District!

Front Office Friday: The Colossus of Calls … The Sultan of Sales … The Drag Dynasty King … Chris Dawson!

We’ve reached May, which means next month baseball returns to the Capital District! With just six weeks to go until Opening Night at “The Joe,” things have been getting busier and busier in the front office. Our Friday Night Lights high school baseball series continues with the second session of games tonight. We are full go at the Clifton Park Little League concession stands. SouthPaw is getting into serious shape making rounds at all that’s going on locally. The only thing missing is ValleyCats baseball, but that will be here sooner than you know it!

Last week, we said goodbye to a long-time ValleyCats front office member, Ryan Burke, who has taken a new position with the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association.

Today, we’re introducing you to Senior Account Executive Chris Dawson. Many of you probably know him or have at least seen him each summer at “The Joe” since 2008. That was Dawson’s first season as an intern with the ’Cats. He spent the 2009 summer also as an intern and was offered a full-time position following that season. Aside from his regular duties, Dawson helps out with office morale by coordinating the majority of our team building activities.

Senior Account Executive Chris Dawson is proud to call “The Joe” home.

Dawson is a Capital District lifer, having grown up in Halfmoon – or Clifton Park, as he likes to say. He graduated from Shenendehowa High and spent a couple years right here on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College. He later earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management from Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. However, Dawson couldn’t wait to get back home to work for his hometown team.

When he’s not at the ballpark, Dawson is usually spending time with his family, though he no longer lives at home. He moved out of the homestead to Green Island and currently resides with our staff accountant Dan LaLonde. He also enjoys traveling and rooting for the Yankees and New York Giants. But we all know Minor League Baseball, and particularly the ValleyCats, will always hold a special place in his heart. After all, he is the King of the Drag Dynasty!

With that said, let’s get to know Chris a little bit better…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) Hopefully still working in sports in some capacity. I learned at a young age I wasn’t very good at playing, so I found other ways in which to be involved in sports.

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) My Dad raised me to be a Yankee fan. I have a lot of great father / son memories revolving around the Yankees. This summer will be my 10th year having Sunday Season Tickets to the Yankees.

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) My favorite sport other than baseball would be football. Growing up my brother and I both played and my younger sister was a cheerleader. You can definitely say we were a “Football Family”. My favorite NFL team is the New York Giants. The Giants are the only sports team my younger brother and I both root for; we spend a lot of time in the fall watching the G-Men with my family.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I love to travel, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation. I also really enjoy attending live sporting events and concerts. Typically my travel plans revolve around a sporting event.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) Anything that sounds good being played at a ballpark or that I can sing along to while driving.

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) Without a doubt surf and turf. I am talking a big steak, full lobster and some kind of potato concluded with a piece of cheese cake.

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Growing up my family always had a dog. I am a huge dog advocate, which is why I love our Bark in the Park event. I also know how much work they can be, which is why I don’t personally have one. Also, as you know from my roommate Dan’s bio, he’s allergic to everything under the sun. Basically, at this time in my life my ideal pet would be a pet rock. They’re easy to maintain, I can talk to it whenever I like and Dan’s not allergic to it.

A recent photo shows Dawson’s uncanny resemblance to Babe Ruth.

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) I still love the baseball movies I grew up with; Little Big League, Rookie of the Year, The Sandlot but as an adult I would probably say The Departed.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) I don’t even know where to begin. I would have to say my favorite moment would be the 2010 playoff run at “The Joe”. I had my parents and grandparents in the stands for it. Also, my younger brother was working for us in the concession stands at that time. This moment for me was really when the light bulb went off in my head that my childhood dreams to work in professional baseball had come true. Honestly anytime my family is attendance I enjoy it. It’s a huge perk of working for a team in your home community.

I also can’t leave out the day when Matt Callahan offered me my first full-time job working in baseball. That moment is one I will never forget either.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Typically Super Heroes try to be more like me. I once heard the Ninja Turtles had posters of me hanging up on their bed room walls.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) If Charlie ever retired I could probably be the Bat Boy. I also spent some time umpiring prior joining the ValleyCats staff.

Q) What song would you choose for your walk-up music?
A) I would have to say Salt ‘N’ Pepa – “Whatta Man” … but Miley Cyrus’s – “Party in the USA” would be a close second.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do” – Harvey MacKay

If you need entertainment, Dawson is your guy!

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) Don Mattingly

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) I would love to have dinner with Mark Cuban, George Steinbrenner and Babe Ruth. I would probably try and find a way to get my father a seat at the table as well and have my brother cook the meal. After the dinner I would want to hit up the town with guys like David Wells and the Babe.

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) How much money are we talking about here? First, I would give my parents the opportunity to retire. Secondly, I would bring my family, friends and ValleyCats family away to a private island somewhere for a couple days to let loose. When I returned from my trip, I would definitely talk to Rick and Bill about some investment opportunities with the ValleyCats organization. Lastly I’d buy my brother a restaurant somewhere. He’s always wanted his own place and deserves a chance.

Thanks for all your hard work and for “hitting the phones” every day! If you don’t know, now you know!

Front Office Farewell!

Each week, we’ve been posting great segments titled “Front Office Friday,” where you’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know our front office staff a bit better. As you have noticed, last week we did not post a new segment. The reason being, on Friday we said farewell to one of our longest tenured front office staff members, Ryan Burke, who has accepted a position with the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association as Membership Sales Manager.

The new position will allow Ryan to spend more time with his wife Alyssa, and nine month old son, Lucas. We are all extremely excited for Ryan and his new opportunity!


Ryan and his nine month old son, Lucas.

Ryan began with the ValleyCats as an intern in 2006, joining the full-time staff in 2007. Since that time, Ryan served as a member of the ValleyCats sales team, while also assisting with Community Relations. Growing up in Troy, Ryan’s passion towards the ValleyCats was expressed in his dealings with each of his clients and all of the ValleyCats fans, who are going to miss him just as much as we are.

We wish Ryan nothing but the best as he begins the next chapter of his life!

ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy presents Ryan with a #8 jersey for his eight years with the ValleyCats, and a framed photo of "The Joe" signed by members of the front office.

ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy presents Ryan with a #8 jersey for his eight years with the ValleyCats, and a framed photo of “The Joe” signed by members of the front office.


2014 ‘4 in 24′ Renovation Recap

Each year, our entire front office staff looks forward to the ‘4 in 24′ youth field renovations, because we understand how big of an impact it has on the local community, and on our local youth ballplayers in particular. We all have a passion for the game of baseball, which began when many of us were young ballplayers playing little league or softball, and now we have the ability to give back to today’s youth, and promote America’s national pastime.

In under 24 hours, Twin Town Little League and Spring Youth Baseball in Troy, Schenectady Little League, and Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League all received major facelifts to their playing surface. The ValleyCats front office split up into groups of four, and along with numerous volunteers from each league, removed old sod from the infield and replaced it with brand new Kentucky bluegrass, rebuilt the homeplate and pitcher’s mound, remeasured and squared up each baseline, and put in brand new bases.

None of these renovations would have been possible without the outstanding support of BlueShield of Northeastern New York, our partners in this great community initiative. The partnership was formed in 2012 with a program called the Community Grounds Crew. The program assists local youth leagues with maintenance and upkeep of their fields throughout the spring and summer, and our mission is to provide the youth of the Capital Region with a safe place to play, learn, grow, and most importantly, have fun.

Dr. Kirk Panneton, Regional Executive and Medical Director, BlueShield of Northeastern New York (L), and Matt Callahan, Assistant General Manager, Tri-City ValleyCats.

Dr. Kirk Panneton, Regional Executive and Medical Director, BlueShield of Northeastern New York (L), and Matt Callahan, Assistant General Manager, Tri-City ValleyCats (R).

Throughout this blog post, you will see the hard work that was put in by all, and the transformation that took place at each field.

We’ll start with Berne-Knox-Westerlo Little League, and their field located on County Route 401 in Westerlo. The field was damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011, and you can see that much of the dirt had washed away.


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So at the crack of dawn, crews began their magic! Westerlo4




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And this is the final product!





A bit closer to home, two renovations took place within two miles of each other just beyond the fences of Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

First, our neighbors at Twin Town Little League, just across the street from “The Joe.” Here are some before photos:

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Crews at work:

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The finished product:




And just down the road, Spring Youth Baseball. Spring has been part of the Troy community since 1955, and provides house and competitive travel baseball to children up to 12 years old.Before photos:

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Photo Apr 15, 8 31 22 AM   Photo Apr 15, 8 30 36 AM

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Photo Apr 15, 8 31 22 AM

Work in progress:







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After a few unforeseen circumstances, the field at Spring was the last to be completed at around 10pm. But it was well worth it knowing how great a shape the field will be in for the kids! Here are some photos of the finished product:

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Last, but certainly not least, Schenectady Little League. The field that received the renovation, Maietta-Buonome Field, has been home to Schenectady Little League since 1950. There is a lot of history at this field, where the teams of the ’50’s began their run to the Little League World Series three times, winning it in 1954.

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Three members of that 1954 championship team stopped by for a formal press conference recognizing the work being done at the field, and the 60th anniversary of the ’54 Little League World Series Champions.


(L-R) Chuck Caputo, Joe Loudis, and Jackie Scirocco. Loudis holds the 1954 Little League World Series championship trophy.

Coincidentally, the photo was set up in the same way as 1954, with Loudis holding the trophy, Caputo on his right and Scirocco on his left.


Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy also stopped by to celebrate the occasion. Just one day earlier, the Mayor had spoke at the championship parade for the Union College men’s hockey team, who captured this year’s national championship.


Also in attendance, ValleyCats Vice President/GM Rick Murphy, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Gerard Parisi, Nikki Peters and Sara Siddons from Schenectady Little League, SouthPaw, and a few youth ballplayers!


Here’s what the field looked like prior to the renovations:

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Work begins:

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Renovation complete!






A big thank you to Youth Build Schenectady for sending a bunch of hard working volunteers, and to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que & Ruby Tuesday for feeding everybody! Also thank you to Bob Pezzano, Director of the Schenectady School District Hall of Fame, for bringing over the World Series championship trophy and photo collages of the many memories from the 50’s.

All four renovations were also supported by Admar Construction, who provided much of the necessary equipment to complete the renovations, Turface Athletics for providing the clay bricks and dirt for the mound and home plate, The Brickman Group, and the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, whose contributions come from past events held at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

All said and done, it was another very successful year for the ‘4 in 24!’ It is such a great feeling to keep laying the foundation for the youth leaders of tomorrow, and we can’t wait to see all of the smiling faces come Opening Day!


Front Office Friday: Jessica Kaszeta – The Ticket Master

Today is one of the most exciting days during our offseason! As most of you know, we have partnered with BlueShield of Northeastern New York for our “4 in 24″ field renovation project. We, the ‘Cats front office, along with plenty of helpers, will renovate four youth baseball fields in the Capital District in a 24-hour time span. It’s a great way for us to continue supporting youth baseball leagues and interact with our fans who support us on a yearly basis. If you happen to be in Troy (Spring and Twin Town), Schenectady or Berne-Knox-Westerlo, you might see us out and about today getting our hands – and clothes – dirty.

One of the members of our front office you might run into is Jessica Kaszeta. Jess is our Box Office/Ticket Manager and any and all ticket orders go through her. But she does much more than that! This will be her fourth season with the ‘Cats and she’s helped overhaul our ticketing process, all while working diligently on other tasks within human resources and marketing strategies.

Jess has the tickets printed and is ready for the season to begin!

Jess, a native of Wilmington, Del., graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, where she was cross country runner there, as well. She then pursued her master’s at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., and graduated in 2010 with a Master of Science in Sport Management. She’s worked for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, making Jess the only front office staff member who has experience at the highest level of professional sports.

Jess loves sports, Disney World and Kesha. You’ll see what I mean as we get to know Jess just a little bit better…

Q) If you weren’t working for the ValleyCats, what would you be doing?
A) I would hopefully be working for an NFL team, also in ticket operations or possibly working for Disney; or running marathons around the country, racking up medals!

Q) Who is your favorite MLB team?
A) Philadelphia Phillies!

Q) What is your favorite sport other than baseball and who is your favorite team in that sport?
A) Football definitely, I am a huge Minnesota Vikings fan.

Q) What are some of your hobbies?
A) I frequently run, visit Disney World, or running in Disney World.

Q) What’s your favorite genre of music?
A) I am all over the board. It depends on the day, mood, etc. But I would say I am mostly country and pop/punk/alternative…and I love Kesha!

Q) What’s your favorite meal to eat?
A) McDonald’s – Hamburger, Medium Fries, Medium Coke 

Q) What’s your favorite pet or an ideal pet?
A) Bocker – my Cockapoo

Q) What’s your favorite movie?
A) Probably 27 Dresses, or something from Disney Pixar.

Q) What’s been your favorite moment at “The Joe?”
A) My favorite moments have been during our playoff runs. It’s such an exhilarating time of the season, and the nothing beats the atmosphere of post-season baseball.

Q) If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A) Probably to be able to stretch so I can reach normal everyday things like coffee mugs and clothing without a stool.

Q) What position would you play if you played for the ValleyCats?
A) First base, channeling my softball years.

Q) What’s your favorite quote?
A) “Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.” – Unknown

Jess and her Cockapoo Bocker recently completed the Furry Fun Run 5K in Saratoga.

Q) Who is your all-time favorite baseball player?
A) Shane Victorino

Q) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A) Jared Allen, Kesha, & Walt Disney.

Q) If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
A) Pay off all of my debt, buy a new car, and visit every NFL stadium in the country.

Thanks for the hard work you put in all year long, Jess! You are the behind the scenes person for our fans and their ticket to fun!


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