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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mayors Berke, Whaley, Benjamin to Announce Mayors’ Task Force to Save Minor League Baseball


Group seeks to protect America’s beloved Minor League against MLB’s
devastating plan to eliminate 42 hometown teams
WASHINGTON – Mayors of Chattanooga, Tenn., Dayton, Ohio, and Columbia, S.C. tomorrow will announce the official formation of the Mayors’ Task Force to Save Minor League Baseball.

The Task Force will be co-chaired by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

The mayors will host a telephone news conference at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22 during the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.  

Major League Baseball (MLB) in November proposed a dramatic restructuring to cut 42 of the 160 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams. Should the plan move forward, it would devastate communities across the country and have negative impacts for all affiliated minor league clubs, as it would decrease the value of the entire league. 

Among the 42 teams targeted to fold is Mayor Berke’s hometown Chattanooga Lookouts. The team, with roots dating back to 1885, has been an integral part of the community for generations.  

The mayors will discuss formation of the Task Force, which follows on a Congressional Task Force established in December, and the strategy to continue the momentum on this issue before taking questions.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Jimmy Serrano: Former Pitcher Recalls His More Than a Decade in Professional Baseball

Right-handed pitcher Jimmy Serrano came to professional baseball with little fanfare. However, he stuck around for more than a decade and even spent some time in the major leagues. All in all, it was a good baseball career.

Serrano was drafted in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos in 1998 out of the University of New Mexico. A reliever, he posted strong numbers and progressed steadily, but never got the call to Montreal.

In March, 2002, he was traded with outfielder Jason Bay to the New York Mets, but never got to the big-league level with them. After his rights were bought by the Kansas City Royals in July, 2003, he finally landed with the team that would give him his big chance.

The Royals decided to covert Serrano to a starter after six years of strictly coming out of the bullpen. The results were strong and in 2004 the Royals gave the righty his big-league shot. Called up in August, he made a total of 10 appearances, including five starts, with the team. He more than held his own, going 1-2 with a 4.68 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 32.3 innings.

Serrano didn’t fit into the Royals’ long-term plans and he was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season. He wound up bouncing around, playing in the organizations of the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. He also played in Korea and independent ball before calling it a career after the 2009 season.

In 11 years as a professional pitcher across all levels, he was a combined 60-48 with a 3.51 ERA and 58 saves.

Keep reading for more, as Serrano discusses some of his memories and triumphs in baseball and shares what he is up to now.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?Kirby Puckett.  I grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, home of the Junior College World Series. Kirby came through when I was a kid and I followed his career in the big leagues.

Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken in the 18th round by the Expos in 1998?:  I had talked to about 10 different organizations prior to the draft and was told I would likely be selected near the 15th round. I was at my parents’ house hanging out with my brother-in-law when the phone rang. It was a scout from the Expos, a team that I had not previously spoken with, and he said ‘congratulations we selected you in the 18th round of the MLB draft, 534th pick overall.’  Then he asked, ‘are you interested in playing professional baseball?’  Of course, I said yes.  I hung up the phone, told my brother-in-law and then celebrated the news with my family.

You played for Cape Fear and Vermont in your first professional season; how much difference was their between the two experiences?:  When I went to Vermont right after the draft, I was eager to prove myself. After a short stint there, I was promoted to Cape Fear. During that promotion, my manager gave me some of the best advice that would come into play my entire career. He said, no matter what level you reach, never think you don’t belong there. There was a slight difference in levels, but I tried to stay consistent.

What do you remember most about your major league debut (against the Anaheim Angels)?: The day was filled with excitement, nervousness, and an overall surreal feeling. The strangest thing was watching ESPN the morning of my debut and seeing my name on the ticker as the Royals starting pitcher. Serrano vs.
[Bartolo] Colon.

You struck out two future Hall of Famers at the major league level-
Ichiro and Vlad Guerrero. Reflecting on that, which do you consider the greater accomplishment, and why?: They are equally tough hitters because they can hit any pitch in any count in any location.  I wish I could say that I had a strategy to strike them out but with those guys, there is no strategy. It's pretty much pitch and see what happens.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?:  Calling my family and friends to let them know that I was going to the big leagues. They were supporting me year after year and believed in me, it really felt like a group effort. Which it was.

What was it like to play in Korea?:  It was awesome! Great baseball, great teammates and I lived in a great area in Incheon. There were a few differences that I had to get used to like the 15-minute break after the fifth inning. The baseballs were not rubbed up and the pitching rubber had two levels - the actual pitching rubber and another level where your back foot goes.

What current or former player that you met or worked with were you most in awe of?:  I will say two former teammates,
Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester. We had a standing card game on our bus trips and it was myself and Mike Bumatay against Pedey and Lester.  Those guys were fierce competitors on and off the field. It was fun watching them play early in their careers and knowing they were going to be special.  However, I am pretty sure Mike and I whooped ‘em in cards!
What, if anything, would you have done differently in your baseball career?: Good question.  I am satisfied with the overall outcome from a playing perspective but if I could go back, I would probably just soak it all in a little more.  It goes by so fast and the people you meet along the way are sometimes only in your life for a week or a couple seasons. There are really great bonds built between teammates in such a short time.

What are you up to these days?:  I have worked in Technology for the past five years, honing in on the Sports and Entertainment industry.  My experience as a player has flowed over to my post-playing career and continues to open up opportunities.  When I am not working, I am raising three amazing kiddos; two boys one girl, and when I am not doing that, you can likely find me on a golf course.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Logan Darnell is On Professional Baseball's Winding Path

For players, professional baseball is a journey that takes many twists and turns. Neither the path nor the destination can ever be foretold. Someone who can attest to that is pitcher Logan Darnell , who has just completed the 10th year of a career filled with changes and achievements.

The left-handed Darnell was a sixth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Twins out of the University of Kentucky in 2010. A starter, he progressed steadily through their minor league system, winning 31 games between 2011-2013. His development paid off by getting called up to the Twins for a brief time in 2014, spanning several call-ups. Appearing in seven games (four starts), he was 0-2 with a 7.13 ERA.

His debut was impressive, as he threw three perfect innings in relief against the Cleveland Indians in a 4-2 loss on May 6th. This included his first big-league strikeout, punching out Michael Brantley swinging in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Since his time in Minnesota, the lefty has not returned to the majors. He remained with the Twins’ system through 2016 and has since pitched in the minors for the Tampa Bays Ray and Washington Nationals. He has also played abroad and in the independent leagues. In 2019, he has pitched in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and for the Somerset Patriots as the independent Atlantic League.

Just 30 years of age. he is still pitching and looking to get back to the majors. In 10 years, across all levels, he is a combined 89-77 with a 3.96 ERA. He is a talented pitcher and given him being left-handed—which gives him even more added value, there’s no reason why this can’t be accomplished.

In the meantime, he recently answered some questions about his career.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I would say Ken Griffey Jr. or Tom Glavine. Being a lefty and a Braves fan, it was a no-brainer with Glavine.

Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken in the 6th round by the Twins in 2010?: Draft day was pretty cool. Me and all my friends were riding 4-wheelers on the farm I grew up on. I didn’t want to make it a big deal. I wasn’t in much control of it, so I let it happen and got the call while I was heading back from that.

What is the "unspoken" competition like in the minor leagues where players are each working so hard to make it to the big leagues?: I truly believe if you don’t pull for your teammates and help each other grow as a player you’re missing out on some of the best parts of playing. Negative thoughts or hoping others do bad usually means you’re doing bad anyway. The key is  help others and get better, and if either one of you make it to the bigs it’s a success.

What do you remember most about your major league debut (against the Cleveland Indians)?: I remember shaking in the bullpen, trying to breathe calmly. Once I got out there, instinct took over. It happened really fast, but other than that my brother and a family friend came up and we all slept in same hotel room that night and talked about it all night.

Who is a player you played with or against you are still surprised didn't get a shot in the majors?: I’d say Nick Struck has some electric stuff out of the bullpen. He prolly should have gotten a shot. But there are so many guys good enough, but not enough spots.

What is your favorite moment so far from your baseball career?: So many great moments; the debut was fun; playing in the playoffs in winter ball in Venezuela was a blast! Throwing a combined no hitter with Trevor May was memorable. A lot of great moments with teammates I’ll remember more than a lot of the baseball accomplishments.

What are the main differences of playing in Mexico compared to Venezuela?: This is tough question because of the social distress of the country of Venezuela. Times are tough there and it is very draining mentally and physically to play there. I hope times will get better there soon because the people there deserve better. The baseball is good in both places, though.

Do you think you received a fair chance in the majors, and how badly do you want to make it back?: I think I got a chance; that’s all anyone can ask for. Whether it was fair or not gets into the category of opinion, and blaming others for things that may or may not be true. I have always said you make your own luck, and you can’t blame anyone but you for your circumstances. Just my logic. I’d love to get back for sure though; the competition is the best and the money doesn’t hurt.

What are the major differences playing in independent ball?: Indy ball is competitive now- reminds me of Triple-A before it became cool to have a ton of younger players there. Veterans and guys looking to get back in affiliate ball. Indy ball is all on you; not as much organizational rules or standards. Just show up play and do your job.

What is something from your career that you would like to do differently if you could go back in time?: If you could go back, all the mistake pitches, hanging breaking balls, homers given up, walks.. I’d prolly go back and not do those, but you also learn from those things. I wouldn’t change much; maybe complain less and be thankful more for what I had.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.