Top 100 Baseball Blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Minor League Baseball Continues to Promote Acceptance and Inclusion Through ‘MiLB CommUNITY’ Initiative

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) and MiLB Charities, together with Allegiant, today announced that August will be designated ‘CommUNITY Month,’ presented by Allegiant, across the entire league. For the third consecutive year, the program will promote unity, understanding, acceptance and inclusion in MiLB ballparks and extend into its communities.  

Minor League Baseball created the MiLB CommUNITY initiative in 2016 in response to a collection of tragedies and tension that developed in communities across the country. Minor League Baseball parks are a place for fans to come together in a safe and enjoyable environment, providing a break from the stresses of today’s society. The MiLB CommUNITY initiative aims to go beyond activations in its ballparks and urges fans to take positive action and promote a sense of unity within their communities.  

“For the past three years, we have chosen August as ‘MiLB CommUNITY’ Month, but it is important that our teams, fans and partners extend these efforts in their communities throughout the year,” said Courtney Nehls, Assistant Director of Community Engagement for Minor League Baseball. “We hope that as fans come into our ballparks to experience a game, they always feel welcome and accepted, and leave wanting to spread those feelings to their friends, family and neighbors for the betterment of the cities and towns where they live.”    

As part of this year’s initiative, staff from participating MiLB teams will volunteer with local organizations that make a difference in their respective communities, and players will also be encouraged to make appearances in their communities and participate in local volunteer events. The Lexington Legends, winner of the 2017 John Henry Moss Community Service Award, engage their community and the entire Central Kentucky region through community service, their charitable foundation and outreach programs. The award recognizes a club that demonstrates an outstanding, on-going commitment to charitable service, support and leadership within their local community and within the baseball industry.    

“The Legends are thrilled to be a part of the CommUNITY initiative again this season,” said Andy Shea, team President & CEO. “Community involvement is an integral part of the Legends’ core values, and teaming up with Minor League Baseball through this important program enables us to impact even more members of the Bluegrass.” 

In addition to volunteer efforts in MiLB communities, at home games in August, teams will feature public address announcements, in-game promotions and photo opportunities for fans to show what CommUNITY means to them. Allegiant will also provide all participating teams with flight vouchers to use in support of the initiative’s mission. Fans can take part in the MiLB CommUNITY Month initiative on social media by using #MiLBCommUNITY. 

Minor League Baseball announced an institutional partnership with Allegiant on July 26, making it the “The Official Airline of Minor League Baseball.”     

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Friday, July 27, 2018


LAS VEGAS — July 26, 2018 — Allegiant (NASDAQ: ALGT) and Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) announced today a national partnership agreement designating Allegiant as the “Official Airline of Minor League Baseball.” 

With more than 115 current overlapping markets in the U.S., the hometown airline of cities across the country is now the official airline of America’s hometown baseball teams. “We’re beyond excited to announce this new partnership with Minor League Baseball and to become the official airline for clubs nationwide,” said Scott DeAngelo, Allegiant chief marketing officer. “Since 2001, Allegiant has flown countless sports fans to cheer on their home teams on affordable, nonstop flights, and this partnership reinforces our commitment to the 118 communities we serve as their hometown airline.” 

In addition to the designation as the “Official Airline of Minor League Baseball,” Allegiant will engage with fans through various touchpoints in the ballpark as they cheer on their favorite MiLB teams. At select games, fans can participate in Friday Fly Away giveaways for a chance to win nonstop flights to great destinations all across the U.S. Allegiant will also serve as the naming rights partner of a digital advertising network that spans multiple MiLB markets across the country. 

Other aspects of the partnership consist of inclusion in the MiLB Charities CommUNITY initiative, an ongoing program to promote unity, understanding, acceptance and inclusion at MiLB ballparks, and serving as a Presenting Partner at the 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings, the largest gathering of baseball executives in the country, Dec. 9–13, in Las Vegas. 

“Our two organizations share a collective vision for and commitment to the communities we serve,” said Minor League Baseball’s Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer David Wright. “We are proud to partner with an industry leader, and look forward to amplifying key activations and extending the partnership beyond the ballpark.” 

Since 2001, more than 80 million passengers have flown on Allegiant via nonstop, ultra-low-cost flights to destinations acros

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Minor League Baseball Announces its Top 25 Teams in Licensed Merchandise Sales

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball today announced its list of Top 25 teams in licensed merchandise sales for 2017, with the combined totals of all 160 teams setting a Minor League Baseball record with more than $70.8 million in retail sales. 

The $70.8 million total marks a 3.6 percent increase over 2016’s total of $68.3 million, which had been the highest total recorded since Minor League Baseball’s licensing program began in 1992. The numbers are based on total licensed merchandise sales from January 1 – December 31, 2017, and include the 160 teams that charge admission to their games. 

The Top 25 list includes (alphabetically, with Major League affiliate): Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies), Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays), Charlotte Knights (White Sox), Columbia Fireflies (Mets), Columbus Clippers (Indians), Durham Bulls (Rays), El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres), Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres), Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers), Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies), Indianapolis Indians (Pirates), Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins), Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies), Nashville Sounds (Athletics), New Orleans Baby Cakes (Marlins), Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals), Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox), Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies), Rochester Red Wings (Twins), Sacramento River Cats (Giants), Salt Lake Bees (Angels), South Bend Cubs, Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners), Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers) and Trenton Thunder (Yankees). 

The Albuquerque Isotopes, Buffalo Bisons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Hartford Yard Goats, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, New Orleans Baby Cakes, Reading Fightin Phils and Rochester Red Wings made the list in 2017 after not making the Top 25 in 2016. Six teams have made the list every year of their existence, or since the program began in 1993: Columbia Fireflies (two years), Durham Bulls (25 years), El Paso (four years), Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (11 years), Sacramento River Cats (18 years) and Trenton Thunder (24 years). 

Twenty-one different major league organizations were represented by teams on the list, with only the Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres placing two affiliates in the Top 25. The South Bend Cubs were the only team to make the list using the nickname of their major league affiliate. 

“Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations,” said Brian Earle, Minor League Baseball’s Chief Operating Officer. “The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.” 

Minor League Baseball’s licensing partners, led by New Era Cap, 47 Brand, Bimm Ridder, Majestic/Fanatics, Original Retro Brand, Outdoor Cap and Nike, continue to support its growth through innovative designs that meet consumer demand. 

“The increase in popularity of Minor League Baseball logos, combined with high-quality product design and superior manufacturing capabilities of these licensees, has provided MiLB with a vehicle for current and future growth,” said Earle. 

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Baseball Pioneers: True Stories of Guts and Glory as Told by Pioneering Men and Women of the Game- A Review

Baseball history hounds can never satiate their appetite for digging in deep and uncovering myriad layers of the game that fascinates them much like an Indiana Jones treasure hunt. The stories, the perspectives and the connections are endless… Endlessly fascinating. Another volume that has weighed in with some additional work is The Sweet Spot Presents A Treasury of Baseball Stories Volume 1 Baseball Pioneers: True Stories of Guts and Glory as Told by Pioneering Men and Women of the Game (Facetious Publishing, 2018; edited by Kelly Holtzclaw and Jon Leonoudakis).
Baseball Pioneers is a humble volume consisting of six interviews of various baseball figures over the course of 119 pages. Its uniqueness comes not from trying to find any “earth shattering” historical finds, but rather from drawing stories out of a diverse and not as well-known group of baseballers.
Perhaps the best-known subject is former pitcher Mudcat Grant, who had a successful and tumultuous career that was often directed by his identity as an African American man. He is one of the most intriguing characters in the history of the game and has quite a few stories to tell from his days in baseball in addition to topics like his music career and how his interracial marriage impacted his playing career.
This book also gives due attention to women, with a couple of former players with the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and a coach and an umpire all being interviewed. Their perspective helps remind the reader that baseball has a lot of interest and participation outside the all-male bubble that seems to always encase it. It’s also a sobering reminder that if it still strives to be the “American pastime” it needs to do better in providing equal access and recognition.
The length and tone of Baseball Pioneers should invite more casual readers, but at the same time shouldn’t scare off more serious scholars. Such narrative research is an integral aspect of the discipline and these subjects would most likely not be found in many other resources. If nothing else, readers will be introduced to some figures they would probably not have sought out otherwise; only broadening the fertile genres of baseball history and research.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the book being reviewed by the publisher, but received no payment or other consideration for this review.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bob Tewksbury: Former Hurler Now Pitching Benefits of Sports Psychology

During his career pitcher Bob Tewksbury was one of the best control artists in the game with the simple act of drawing a walk being about as impressive as hitting a home run off him. 20 years after his playing career ended, the right-hander is still deeply involved in the game, working with a different kind of control—that of players harnessing their mental skills to get the most out of their time in the game.

A native of New Hampshire, Tewksbury was an impressive enough prospect to draw the attention of the New York Yankees (having just finished their third season in the previous four years with at least 100 victories), who drafted him in the 19th round of the 1981 draft. Of the 10 players from that Yankees’ draft that ultimately played in the majors, only ninth-round selection Fred McGriff (52.6) had a higher career WAR than Tewksbury’s ultimate mark of 20.9.

Although he won 15 games with a 1.88 ERA in Single-A in 1982, he wouldn’t reach the big leagues with New York until mid-way through the 1986 season. However, he went on to have a strong rookie campaign that year, going 9-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 23 games (20 starts).

Plagued by injuries, it wasn’t until 1990 (with the St. Louis Cardinals) that Tewksbury resumed his career as a full-time starter in the majors. He relied extensively on his control (his 1.45 walks allowed per nine innings in his career is 22nd all-time). His best season came in 1992 with the Cardinals when he was 16-5 with a 2.16 ERA in 33 games (32 starts), made the All Star team and finished third in Cy Young Award voting.

Following the 1998 season with the Minnesota Twins, Tewksbury called it a career—as a player. He boasts a career record of 110-102 with a 3.92 ERA over 13 major league seasons with six teams.

Since putting down his glove, he has picked up books, earning an advanced degree in sports psychology and becoming well known for his work in advancing the importance of mental skills, especially as it pertains to baseball.  This has kept him working at the major league level and continuing to make his mark in the game two decades after last officially throwing a pitch.

Bob Tewksbury Interview

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: Reggie Smith. I loved his batting stance and he had a good throwing arm.
Can you describe your draft experience with the New York Yankees in 1981- How did you find out you had been selected?: A dream come true for sure-  It didn't have to be the Yankees-  I just wanted to play pro baseball. And I was lucky it was them. They had the best farm system in baseball. I really can't remember how I found out (which you think I would.).

What do you remember most about your major league debut?: About everything! But walking off the field to a standing ovation and having a 3-foot bottle of champagne in my locker after the win, which I still have at home-unopened.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?:  Wow...nice easy question. I played with many Hall of Fame players; Gwynn, Winfield, Henderson, Sandberg, Maddux, Ozzie, Pudge, Hoffman, Molitor. How do I pick one of them? Against- as a pitcher....probably (Barry) Bonds

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: My first major league win. 

Who was the best hitter you ever faced?: They were all tough. Seriously.  But I would say Bonds. 

You played for some great managers; Lou Pinella, Bruce Bochy, Joe Torre, Tom Kelly, etc... Please pick your favorite to play for and explain your choice.: Yes, I did...I was lucky.  Add Johnny Oates, also.  I would say Torre - you should buy my book to find the answer why  :) 
What are you up to since retiring as a player?: I think you know, but I finished my Master’s Degree and raised kids, Since 2004 I have worked for Red Sox and now San Francisco providing mental skills coaching to players.

How have you seen sports psychology evolve and how receptive are players and teams to it?: It's a growing field and the players receptivity is also growing.  Teams in Major League Baseball are now required to provide a mental skills resource for their players. 27 of the 30 teams have at least one person in this position.  

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Bret Boone: Recalling His Life in Baseball

The Boones are baseball family royalty with Ray, Bob, Aaron and Bret having played, and played at high levels, across three generations. The quartet combined for 5,890 hits and 634 home runs, providing indisputable statistical proof of their enormous impact on the game. Bret, who enjoyed a 14 year career as a second baseman from 1992-2005 was a star on both sides of the ball and more than did his part to uphold his family’s legacy.
Bret, the son of Bob and brother to Aaron (Ray is his grandfather) grew up in the game, as his father was in the midst of a 19-year major league career during his youth. With talent derived from genetics, hard work and the ability to be exposed to the game, Boone attended the University of Southern California (USC), where he blossomed into a star. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Mariners in 1990.
Boone made quick work of the minor leagues, earning a promotion to the majors in 1992. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds following the 1993 season, but returned to Seattle later in his career; also playing for the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins along the way.
The best season of Boone’s career came in 2001 when he hit .331 with 37 home runs and a league-leading 141 RBIs, which helped him finish third in MVP voting.
Although he had brief spring training dalliances with the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, Boone’s final major league season was in 2005 with the Twins. All told, he hit a combined .266 with 252 home runs and 1,021 RBIs in his 14 seasons. He was a three-time All Star and won four Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. He was also a key member of three playoff teams, including the 1999 Braves, who lost the World Series that year to the New York Yankees.
Boone’s son Jake may end up carrying on the family legacy for a fourth generation, as he has starred in baseball at Princeton University and was a 2017 draft pick of the Nationals. It’s hard to imagine a more formidable familial chain than the Boones, who are only continuing to build on their impressive body of work.
Bret Boone Interview:
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I never had a favorite player. I grew up in MLB clubhouses, so I really enjoyed all the players. That being said, if I picked a childhood favorite now it would be Pete Rose. It was how he played the game, and Dad for how he went about the game. He taught me how to act like a pro.

Can you describe your draft experience with the Seattle Mariners in 1990- How did you find out you had been selected?: I got a phone call from Mariners, and that year I was projected to be a top-50 pick, so when they told me I was their fifth-round pick I was pissed. Looking back now, I laugh, because as my dad told me, it doesn’t matter, cause if you’re not good enough, you’ve got to go get a job anyway. Lol

Can you please describe what influence being part of a "baseball family" has had on you; particularly with your father and grandfather having lengthy MLB careers?: When people ask me how much it helped me coming from a three-generation family I had one answer....I don’t know how much it helped me, but I know it didn’t hurt.

What do you remember most about your major league debut?: I stayed up all night; couldn’t sleep. Got on a plane; first time in first class. There was a businessman sitting next to me who asked where I was headed, and I laid it out for him. Told him I was going to the big leagues and told him to watch, and that in my 1st at bat I was gonna hit a bullet somewhere. I got to the park, did a press conference, took a few hacks, got a base hit, and RBI  off Arthur Rhodes,(same guy I got my first minor league hit off of) turned a double (play) to end the game, then a month later was sitting there hitting .197, lol. It was time to make an adjustment.

In your opinion, who was the most talented player you ever played with or against? What made them stand out so much?: Barry Bonds was the best player I’ve ever seen, no one was even close. He had an ability to slow the game down, unexplainable. Ken Griffey, Jr. was best player I ever played with.
What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: A lot of great memories. First game; first All Star game; first Gold Glove; first post season; the entire 2001 season. All great memories.

Who was the toughest, nastiest pitcher you ever faced?: A lot of great pitchers, but mid 90’s Braves (Greg) Maddux, (John) Smoltz, and (Tom) Glavine were as tough as it got.

If there is anything you could go back and do differently about your baseball career, what would that be?: Take time to sit back and enjoy what I got to do for a living. You tend to go, go, go and sometimes we fail to sit back and smell the roses. That’s my advice to all young players.

What are you up to since retiring as a player?: I coach my kids, play golf, do charity events, and do the best I can to be a great dad.

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