Sean and I headed over for the first game of a Sunday afternoon double-header between the North Shore Navigators and Bristol Blues of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) at Muzzy Field in Bristol, CT, best known as the home of ESPN.
It was a good game, with the Blues holding a 2-1 lead going into the final inning.
The Navs tied it up and had a runner on second base with one out. The batter hit a slow roller to third, and the third baseman faked a throw to first and then threw to third where the runner had rounded the base, catching him in a pickle. It looked like the runner was dead to rights, but the Bristol third baseman stayed in the baseline, got in the way of the runner to an extent, and was called for obstruction, which allowed the runner in the pickle to score what would turn out to be the game-winning run. (You can watch the play here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNZpRZUrOII&feature=youtu.be&a= — at about the 2:05:15 mark).
Bristol manager Ronnie Palmer argued the call initially, and then after the next batter came to bat, hurled an f-bomb at the umpire who made the obstruction call, which got him ejected.
Palmer getting his money’s worth with the umpire after being ejected
Palmer raced out onto the field and argued with the umpire for a couple minutes before eventually leaving the field.
The Navs needed a great catch by their left fielder up against the outfield wall in the bottom of the inning to hold on for a 3-2 win.
Sean got a couple balls. One was hit to the area where a blues band named “Murray the Wheel” was setting up to play between games of the double-header. We had been on the other side of the field, and when we came over an inning later, I noticed the ball sitting in their area. I told Sean he could ask them for the ball if he wanted, but that they may want to keep it.
They gave Sean the ball, and even signed it for him, not that Sean was looking for the signature. But thanks to Murray the Wheel for hooking Sean up!
Sean got another, non-signed ball, too.
It’s the first regular season ball I have seen from any league that has the year (2018) on the ball. Very cool!
We also got a lineup card from North Shore manager Todd Alford after the game. Alford seemed like a good guy, and we talked for a couple minutes about the crazy obstruction play that helped his team earn the win.
2018: 8 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 2 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup”)
Lifetime: 165 lineup cards (112 dugout/bullpen; 49 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 2 “today’s lineup”)
Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS. MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).
The Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) held their All Star Game at Muzzy Field in Bristol, CT, conveniently just one town away from where we live.
I took the day off and headed over for gates opening at 3pm. There were maybe a dozen or so people there at 3pm, mostly family members. On the field, the players were taking part in a pro scouting day.
It was essentially held like a tryout of sorts, an opportunity for pro scouts to closely look at the players. For example, outfielders fielded a few balls each and throw to third or home. Infielders took a variety of ground balls. It was interesting to watch.
Outfielders fielding and throwing from right field to third base
Meanwhile, I was on the lookout for ASG balls. Sean and I had already gotten three during a regular season game the previous week, which took away some of the suspense of getting the first ball, which I found outside the stadium, beyond the right field fence near a pickup truck.
There were no kids around to start, and I was able to easily find three easter eggs.
Can you spot the ball underneath the bleachers in this pic?
Batting Practice started around 4pm. There were still few people around, so I was able to get a couple balls hit over the fence.
A few kids started to appear and shortly thereafter FCBL employees finally started to track down balls, so I headed beyond the RF fence / stadium fence where a few more BP homers were hit.
In all, I ended up with 10 balls, two of which I gave away. Here is what they look like:
The FCBL just started to use special ASG balls last year. It’s a unique, cool ball to get, especially with the blue-red laces.
I decided to leave after BP, satisfied with what I had seen and having gotten a few balls, and knowing it would become a zoo by the time the HR derby started.
Sean and I headed over to watch a few innings of our local Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) team, the Bristol Blues, play last night. It’s the first game Sean has been able to manage since his concussion in December, even if it was only for a few innings. That alone was a big deal.
The Blues are hosting next week’s FCBL ASG.
We plan to go as they will be using special ASG baseballs for the second straight year.
As it turns out, we don’t need to go in order to get a 2017 FCBL ASG baseball because they were using them during last night’s regular season game.
Why would they be using them before the ASG? If I had to guess, they must have bought extras and probably have been using them for a while, because I’m pretty sure I saw a couple in the Bristol bullpen.
Whatever the reason, it was awesome to get one last night, although I am sure we will still go to the FCBL ASG.
We didn’t stay for long as I didn’t want to push my luck with Sean.
Here’s a look at last year’s and this year’s FCBL ASG balls.
I like this year’s logo better than last year’s, but overall, I’d give the slight edge to last year’s ball just because of the blue-green laces. You just don’t see balls with blue-green laces.
We are going to recap 2016 in three parts: lineup cards, baseballs and miscellaneous. We will start with some of the miscellaneous souvenirs we got at games this year.
Kate, Sean and/or I went to 39 games in 2016 (not counting LL and HS games): three MLB, six college, three college summer league and the rest (27) minor league games.
We don’t specifically go to games for giveaways, but it worked out that we walked away with a few such items aalong with some other interesting souvenirs.
In April, Sean and I went to our first ever game at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Phillies. It was as cold a baseball game as I can ever remember being at. Along with the visiting Portland Sea Dogs lineup card, we also got a “gold” Cole Hamels bobblehead.
We went to a double-header of sorts the next week: a Hartford Yard Goats @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats game in the afternoon, and a Baltimore Orioles @ Boston Red Sox game that night. Sean got a bat from a Yard Goats player in the afternoon (we were never able to figure out whose bat it was) and a Big Papi “bling” giveaway that night.
We have to fast-forward to July for our next giveaway a Tim Collins bobblehead from the Futures Collegiate Baseball League All Star Game. Collins is a relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals who grew up in Worcester, MA, which is where the FCBL ASG took place, so they decided to give away a bobblehead. The bobblehead is pictured below along with a State College Spikes lineup card we got from a game against the Connecticut Tigers earlier in the day, a FCBL ASG ball, NYPL ball and MLB Florida Spring Training ball we found at the Spikes-Tigers game.
In August, Sean was given some bubblegum by York Revolution pitcher and former MLB first round draft pick Scott Rice, which was really cool.
The real fun came in September, when Sean scored a pair of minor league hats. The first came from Connecticut Tigers pitching Coach Ace Adams after Connecticut’s season finale. Sean is wearing the CT Tigers hat below.
The second hat came from New Britain Bees infielder John Dziomba after New Britain’s season finale against the Somerset Patriots. Sean decided to wash the hat after we got home.
We were far luckier than we deserved to be in 2016!
I took the day off and Sean and I went to a State College Spikes @ Connecticut Tigers matinee game at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT.
The Tigers won 4-0. We got a couple of games balls, one of which we gave away. Sean also got a post-game toss-up without really trying from an unidentified Tigers player.
Our goal was to get the Spikes lineup card. It would be our 100th career lineup card, which is incredible given that 1) we have gotten 99 of them since the beginning of the 2015 season; and 2) we have never bought a lineup card.
We asked State College manager Johnny Rodriguez for his lineup card after the game. He said no, he needed to keep it, so I asked him for the official batting order cards. You can’t see into the dugouts well, so I couldn’t see what he was doing, but next thing I know, he’s handing us a lineup card. I figured he had changed his mind. Awesome!
We headed over to the Tigers dugout and asked Mike Rabelo for his lineup card, which he happened to have in his hand, but he ignored us just as he did two-three times last season.
But all was good. We had the Spikes lineup card, our 100th. It’s not the prettiest lineup card we’ve ever gotten, but it’s our first Spikes card and first from any team in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
The surprise came in the car when I looked at the card more closely. It was from the previous night’s game!
For whatever reason, I guess Rodriguez could give us the previous day’s lineup card but not the current day’s card. We would have preferred the card from the game we were at, but oh, well. It was good to get one of them.
During the game, we walked around the OF wall as we always do at Dodd Stadium. In the past, we have found ROMLBs, a 2014 MLB Playoff ball as well as NY-Penn League, Eastern League and Northeast Conference balls.
The first ball we found was exactly what I was hoping we might find, a 2016 FL Spring Training ball! It was water-logged, but has already dried out decently and the logo is pretty good all things considered.
[Sean outside Dodd Stadium as we were leaving, with the previous day’s lineup card.]
From Norwich, we headed an hour north to Worcester, MA where the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) would be holding its All Star Game that evening at Fitton Field on the Campus of College of the Holy Cross.
When we entered the stadium, the players were being evaluated by roughly 30 pro scouts. Specifically, the first basemen were going through the process of fielding a series of ground balls and making some throws. It was interesting to watch.
Our hope was to score one or more FCBL ASG balls that were to be used, but we didn’t know if they would be used just during the game, or for batting practice and the Home Run Derby, too. We also didn’t know if we would be allowed to stand behind the outfield wall for BP and/or the Home Run Derby.
It turns out that most of the balls used for BP and the Home Run Derby were in fact ASG balls. And while they kept announcing that all balls must be returned for continued use, they didn’t police it very much. During BP, there was an employee hanging out getting balls hit over the LF fence. We stuck to CF, and he didn’t bother us. We got a few ASG balls during BP.
[The bottom of the ball, which can’t be seen in this picture, has the FCBL logo.]
We were beyond the LF fence for the first half of the Home Run Derby and pretty much had it to ourselves and got a few more ASG balls. Then an employee came by and nicely told us we couldn’t be out there, so we left. By that point, we had snagged several ASG baseballs anyway.
The game started half-an-hour late and we had a 75-minute drive home after a long day of baseball, so we left after the 5th inning.
Kudos to the FCBL folks, and the host team, the Worcester Bravehearts for putting on a great event. There was also a Tim Collins bobblehead giveaway. Collins was a Worcester Tech High School star who is now a member of the Kansas City Royals, although he hasn’t played since 2014 due to injury. There was a nice crowd on hand, and lots of stuff for kids to do outside the stadium.
One somewhat funny story. During the game, I gave an ASG ball to a man with about a 2-year old who had a baseball glove. I walked away but turned around to see the man give the ball to his son. His son immediately wound up and threw the ball before the father could stop him – that’s what you’re supposed to do with a baseball, right? Unfortunately, it hit a woman in the back of the neck. I am all but certain she was not hurt, but she turned around with a startled/unhappy look. I figured it was a good time for me to leave at that point!
37 lineup cards (28 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 100 lineup cards (75 dugout/bullpen; 23 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)
Kate, Sean, cousin George and I traveled to Bristol, home of ESPN, to watch the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs take on the Bristol Blues in a Futures Collegiate Baseball League game at historic Muzzy Field earlier this week.
Muzzy Field has been used since 1912 and most notable was home to the AA Bristol Red Sox from 1972-1982. Also of note, Babe Ruth and the Yankees played a game there, as did other barnstorming MLB teams of that era.
I went to a game at Muzzy Field last year, and they’ve updated some things since then. Most notably, there are now areas on the first and third base lines that allow you to stand right near each dugout.
The Blues jumped all over the Dirt Dawgs early and won 9-4. After the game, we easily scored both lineup cards:
Both are the generic FCBL lineup cards, although they are quite nice with the FCBL logo watermark. The only real difference is that the Dirt Dawgs kept score on their card.
2016: 27 lineup cards (22 dugout/bullpen; 5 “official batting order”)
By far the biggest lineup card disappointment during the 2015 season came in late June. I went to the June 23 Braves @ Nationals game, which was delayed about a couple hours by weather and didn’t end until roughly midnight. There were hardly any kids there by the end of the game, and few fans in general, so I seized the opportunity to get a Nats 10th anniversary commemorative ball from umpire Sam Holbrook after the game. I then headed up the 3rd baseline and caught Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez as he made his way from the bullpen into the dugout. I asked him for the bullpen lineup card, which he appeared to be carrying in a binder – and it looked like a nice MLB lineup card! – but he said no, he couldn’t give it to me because he needed it, or something like that. But he then said that If I was at tomorrow night’s game, he would give me that card. I had already planned to go the next night anyway, so that worked for me. I thanked him and that was that.
So I went to the Braves @ Nationals game again the next night, and after the game – another Nats victory over the Braves – I caught Perez as he was walking in from the dugout just like the previous night. I politely asked him for the bullpen lineup card and he ignored me. I asked again a little louder and mentioned our brief conversation the night before, but he still ignored me. I’m all but certain he heard me as two players walking near him turned to look at me. I asked one more time, but Perez never looked my way, eventually disappearing into the dugout.
No player, manager, etc. owes me anything. When we get a lineup card, which happened far more than not in 2015, it is great. But we were turned down several times this season, too, and that’s also fine. This one just stung because Perez had said he would give me one, then he ignored me. So it goes.
Other than that, June was another great month lineup card-wise. Among the highlights were getting an Akron Robber Ducks lineup card, a couple more Senators cards with the neat watermark, our first New York-Penn League lineup card courtesy of the Tri-City Valley Cats, getting lineup cards from the Trenton Thunder and Bowie Baysox, and getting our first summer college baseball league lineup card from the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL). The FCBL card is nice, 11” x 17” and also has a nice watermark.