Composer John Cage wrote a number of pieces with numerical titles, the best known being the exercise in atmosphere that is 4:33. Another formidable entry in the canon is 58, an expansive piece first performed in a 16th-century building with 58 arches. This, the archly written 58th edition of the Ben’s Biz Newsletter, is also expansive and site-specific. Travel with me as we journey, once again, into the heart of Minor League Baseball.
DONUT ENTER: AN EVENING WITH THE HUDSON VALLEY RENEGADES
On Saturday afternoon, I took Beverly Road to Ocean Parkway to Prospect Expressway to Fort Hamilton Parkway to the Hugh Carey Tunnel to FDR Drive to the George Washington Bridge and then, finally, I was out of New York City. From there it was smooth driving to Wappinger Falls, N.Y., home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.
I was overdue for a visit to the Renegades’ home of Heritage Financial Park, as it had been nine years since my last appearance. Saturday was not just a random home game that happened to fit my schedule; the Renegades -- High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees -- were saluting an autumnal local specialty by playing as the Hudson Valley Cider Donuts.
Stay tuned for a more “formal” MiLB.com article about the Cider Donuts and the story behind that identity. But, rest assured, thousands of cider donuts were consumed by fans throughout the course of the evening. The donuts were made by Eddie Garcia, who operates a churros truck parked within the party patio located on the first-base side of the concourse.
I took that picture of Eddie in his truck after the postgame fireworks had ended and, as you can see, he was still working. He made churros in the truck, while the apple cider donuts were produced and sold out of the nearby “Dusty’s Donuts” cart.
There were also a pair of themed concession items -- Cider Donut Burgers and Cider Donut Mac and Cheese -- though demand far outpaced supply. Beanie, my Designated Eater, tried both and preferred the mac and cheese.
When the Renegades first announced their Cider Donuts identity, in November, they offered two free tickets to the June 3 game to the first 500 people who purchased Cider Donuts gear. This, I think, was the reason that so many people recognized me at the ballpark throughout the evening. People who buy a Minor League team’s alternate identity gear on the day it goes on sale and then make a special trip to the ballpark to see it debut are, generally speaking, my kind of people.
It was great talking to so many knowledgeable Minor League fans. Like Dan and Shannon, for example, who made the trip from New Jersey.
It’s always great talking to the ushers, who arguably comprise the heart and soul of any Minor League ballpark. One of the ushers I spoke with, Steve, played for the Australian Baseball Federation’s Port Adelaide Magpies in the late ‘80s.
Tom, meanwhile, ushered for the San Francisco Giants from 1999-2013. He marched in the parade after the Giants won it all in 2010, and later purchased a cast of the team’s championship ring.
Rosie, a skunk, is one of the ballpark’s newest residents. Rumor has it that there are sparks between her and primary mascot Rascal the racoon (which, down the line, may result in the creation of a new species).
All this, and there was also a baseball game. There were holes in the lineup from top to bottom, but the Cider Donuts nonetheless plated two runs in the eighth en route to a 3-2 dunking of the Aberdeen IronBirds. Aberdeen’s Jackson Holliday, No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, went 0-for-4 but looked good while doing it.
The weather on this Cider Donuts debut day was appropriately fall-like, with temperatures in the mid-60s, a slight breeze, cloudy sky and an approximately 30-minute rain shower. The below photo was taken during a particularly precipitous period, with most of the crowd -- announced attendance: 4,455 -- seeking refuge on the concourse.
The bulk of said crowd was back in their seats for the postgame fireworks, but I, like so many before me, have never taken a compelling photo of fireworks. I did find this photo compelling, however, simply because it’s quintessential Minor League Baseball: Front office members packing up Launch-A Ball equipment on a dark, smoky field following a fireworks show. Living the dream!
Thus concludes this particular dispatch from Hudson Valley, where both mascots and merch are aromatic. Hope you liked them apples, and doughn’t you worry: There’ll be more where that came from.
ROAD TRIP! BIRMINGHAM, BISCUITS, BLUE WAHOOS, BILOXI
In one week, I will once again reluctantly depart the confines of my family’s palatial one-bedroom apartment in order to bring you, discerning consumer of content, top-notch on-the-ground ballpark reportage. To the itinerary!
June 15: Birmingham Barons
June 16: Montgomery Biscuits
June 17-18: Pensacola Blue Wahoos
June 20: Biloxi Shuckers
Listless chicken dance, Birmingham, 2013
I’ll endeavor to provide more detail about this trip in next week’s newsletter, but suffice to say it’s been a while since I’ve been to this quartet of Southern League cities (2013, 2015, 2012 and 2015, respectively).
As always: Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any suggestions regarding what to do and who to talk to in these locales, in and outside of the ballpark.
Also, if you are able to attend any of the above games and would like to be my Designated Eater (consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits), then send me an email explaining why you’re the best person for the “job.”
See you there, maybe!
Hi, this is Josh Jackson interrupting your reading to whap all of you out there in newsletter land over the head with … more reading. I host The Show Before the Show's Ghosts of the Minors segment, which no doubt has continued to haunt you even as it disappeared last week and will remain an abstract memory for the podcast episode to come this week.
In the meantime, I've been playing my part in projects like MLB Pipeline's Draft Prospects rankings and the Free MiLB Game of the Day. But you're missing me on a personal level, aren't you? Follow me here for a mini-essay once per month.
On my previous road trip, last month, I attended a Eugene Emeralds game in which they played as the Exploding Whales. And now, finally, I have written an appropriately Leviathan feature documenting this experience. This is the deepest dive into a Minor League identity that I have ever done, an approach that was made possible due to the sheer breadth of material I was able to collect.
Therefore, I implore you, to give this a read. I appreciate all who take the time to do so and, as always, await your feedback.
READ THE STORY OF EUGENE’S EXPLODING WHALES HERE
LISTEN UP: FORT WAYNE SALUTES THE DAISIES
On last week’s “Show Before the Show” podcast, Sam Dykstra and I talked with Fort Wayne TinCaps VP of marketing Michael Limmer about his team’s wide-ranging salute to the Fort Wayne Daisies. The Daisies, who operated from 1945-54, were part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). On Saturday, the TinCaps took part in a monument unveiling at the Daisies’ home of Memorial Park, and later that evening TinCaps players wore Daisies jerseys during their game at Parkview Field. It was a great way to honor a key era of their city’s -- and the nation’s -- baseball history.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 409 OF THE SHOW BEFORE THE SHOW PODCAST HERE