July 15, 2017 – Normal Cornbelters @ Florence Freedom (Tom & Kate)
[front of the Freedom card]
[back of the Freedom card]
Kate and my first ever Frontier League game. We got the lineup cards from both teams, and the Freedom card had a neat backside with pre-game workout information. We also got a Frontier League 25th Anniversary baseball.
We bid farewell to Batavia, NY on Thursday, July 15th and headed west toward Indianapolis.
On the way, we met up with a friend for lunch at a restaurant that happened to be down the street from Canal Park, home of the Eastern League’s Akron Rubber Ducks. The park was closed but I still took the obligatory pic of Kate outside the stadium.
We made it to Indianapolis Thursday around 6pm. I had thoughts of maybe making it to the Indianapolis Indians game that night, but Kate needed to help with set up for her team’s robotics competition. Things got delayed by a thunderstorm that dropped a crazy amount of rain, so we didn’t leave until 8:30pm and therefore no game.
Thoughts of going to Friday night’s game also went by the wayside as the competition went on until 7:40pm that day. We might have been able to make the last half of the game, but we were pretty exhausted and called it a day.
Saturday was the final day of the robotics competition. Our hope was to leave straight after Kate’s team finished and head to Florence, Kentucky, some two hours away, for our first-ever Frontier League game. If the competition went late, we might catch some of the Indians’ game instead, and drive down to Florence afterward as that is where our hotel was for the night.
Kate’s team ended up winning the competition, which was both great as well as a big deal. They celebrated for a while afterward, posing for plenty of pictures. We left about 5:30pm.
I had decided ahead of time that if we left by 6pm, we’d probably get to at least some of the Florence Freedom game. So we headed to Florence, getting to the stadium just before 7:30pm.
The game had started at 6:05 pm, and was in the top of the 6th inning when we got there.
The goal had been, and still was, to get one or more Frontier League 25th Anniversary baseballs that are being used this season. Along with our plan to ballhawk, I brought a few Atlantic League 20th Anniversary balls to try and trade.
As it turned out, bringing the balls to trade was a great idea. In between innings, we traded with both bullpens. We were very appreciative that both team bullpens helped us out because they easily could have said no or ignored us. So we were on the board with a couple Frontier League 25th balls!
We walked around the outside of the park and found another ball, then traded for two more for a total of five. As it turned out, there were no foul balls hit anywhere near us, so I am really glad we brought balls to trade.
A secondary goal was to get a lineup card from the game. We got two:
As an added bonus, here’s the back of the Freedom lineup card:
We have never gotten anything like this. It’s cool to see the preparation, particularly the level of detail, that goes into a single game.
The visiting Normal Cornbelters won the game, 2-0.
Days don’t get much better than this one. Kate’s robotics team won its competition, we saw a game (at least part of a game) in a new stadium for us, got a few anniversary balls, and got our first Frontier League lineup cards!
2017: 19 lineup cards (9 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 140 lineup cards (96 dugout/bullpen; 41 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)
We started collecting different baseball two or three years before lineup cards. We are up to about 120 different professional and amateur baseballs, which is great, it just makes it more difficult to find games where balls are used that we don’t already have.
That said, there should be some opportunities to add a few new baseballs to our collection this season:
MLB: Three MLB commemorative/special balls, not necessarily all from 2016 (pic below is one of a bunch of 2011 MLB ASG balls that Brown University was using as practice balls in 2015!).
MiLB: We are only missing an Arizona League ball and a Northwest League ball. Our best chance of getting one or both this year would be via a trade. Also, we hope to get at least one special/commemorative MiLB ball. The New York-Penn League All Star Game will likely be the best opportunity (pic below of a couple of 2014 MiLB ASG balls).
Independent League: We already have a Frontier League ball, but the Frontier League also started using a special ball with red-blue laces last year, so it’d be nice to get one of those. There are a few new start-up leagues planned for this season, including the relatively local Empire League.
NCAA: We already added one new Division I conference baseball, the Mountain West Conference, earlier this year, and hope to add at least one other.
College Summer League: A couple new ones would be nice, including the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.
International: One of the four World Baseball Classic 2016 Qualifiers will take place in NY (a pic of the 2012 WBC Qualifier ball is below). Hopefully, one or more of the four teams – Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan – will use their own baseballs during warm-ups. Additionally, Cuban and Japanese teams will play locally against Can-Am League teams.
Part 2 will look at our lineup card goals for the 2016 season!