Jacksonville Suns vs. Montgomery Biscuits

July 8, 2011 – The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (FL)

Players – Zach Quate (Biscuits), Matt Moore (Biscuits), Chris Archer (Biscuits)

A great side trip to our family vacation enabled us to witness the final Space Shuttle launch from the intracoastal shore near Titusville, FL and visit both the Daytona Superspeedway and Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona, Florida.  We wrapped up the short detour with a visit to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to watch our "hometown" Biscuits play the Suns.  Had a great time visiting with client Zach Quate and teammates Matt Moore and Chris Archer.  Also had another picture taken with our good friend Ted Giannoulas (a/k/a "The Famous Chiken"), with whom we have shared several games over the years.  And, of course, Luke had to track down Southpaw for his latest mascot photo.

Albuquerque Isotopes v. Memphis Redbirds

June 3, 2011 – Autozone Park, Memphis, TN

Players – John Lindsey ('Topes), Nick Stavinoha ('Birds), Daryl Jones ('Birds)

A great wrap-up to the first week of Summer as we were able to visit with John, Nick, and Daryl in Memphis as the Redbirds hosted the Isotopes in PCL action.  John is one of the great stories in the Minors, after making his Major League debut last September following 16 years in the Minors and Independent Leagues...a true story of patience, perseverance, and a love of the game.  Nick has been one of my boys' favorites since we were able to host him as our guest at the only memorabilia show Beyond The Dugout has ever co-promoted (two years ago in Memphis).  He also helped us work with Chris Vernon at 790 The Fox in Memphis to raise money for The Ronald McDonald House Charities in Memphis...a great guy all around!  The boys also received a tremendous thrill when Marcus Thames, who was on a rehab assignment, hit a homerun and then threw his batting gloves to Cais and Luke as he was leaving the game in the 7th inning to return to LA.  And, of course, what trip to Memphis would be complete without a stop by Huey's for the best burgers in Memphis...and a few rounds of toothpock shooting!

16th Annual Rickwood Classic

June 1, 2011 – Rickwood Field, Birmingham, AL

Players – Josh Phegley (Barons), Kyle Russell (Lookouts), Allen Webster (Lookouts)

Had a great day visting with Josh, Kyle, and Allen.  Met several former Negro League players who were honored prior to the game.  Also had the chance to meet Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  Game was won with a walk off homerun by Birmingham Baron centerfielder, Justin Greene, in the 11th inning...following an RBI triple by Kenny Williams, Jr. in the bottom of the 9th to send the game into extra frames.  Greene also was the defensive star of the game...making a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch while crashing hard into the centerfield wall in the top of the 7th inning.  Rickwood once again served as an amazing backdrop for a day of throwback baseball, as the Barons and Lookouts honored their 1961 counterparts.  For those of you who have never visited Rickwood, the oldest ballpark still in operation in the United States, it is truly an amazing place to spend an afternoon. 

Cincinnati Reds v. Atlanta Braves &

Lehigh Valley IronPigs v. Gwinnett Braves

May 29-30, 2011 – Turner Field, Atlanta, GA / CoolRay Field, Lawrenceville, GA

Players – Drew Stubbs (Reds), Michael Schwimer (IronPigs), Stefan Gartrell (Braves)

What a great start to the Summer!  Got to have lunch and visit with Drew prior to Sunday's game.  Also presented Drew with a check for a $500 donation to the Nellie B. Connally Breast Cancer Center at Houston's MD Anderson...Drew will make the presentation to the Center during the Reds' visit to Houston the first week of August.  Had a great time at the Reds v. Braves game that night...couldn't beat seats behind home plate!  Luke even tracked down Homer for a picture...that kid is a certified "Mascot Hunter"!  Finished off the evening at our favorite Atlanta watering hole...The Varsity!  Best chili dogs, onion rings, and orange sodas in the world!  Monday we were able to have lunch with Michael Schwimer, a fast-rising middle reliever in the Phillies' organization.  We are excited about adding him to our client roster.  We were also able to visit briefly with Stefan Gartrell at CoolRay Field prior to the game Monday night between the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Gwinnett Braves.  For those who have not had the chance to visit the AAA Braves new home facility, it is very nice! 

Sacramento RiverCats vs. Nashville Sounds

May 14-15, 2011 – Greer Stadium, Nashville, TN

Players – Jai Miller (Cats), Michael Taylor (Cats), Jemile Weeks (Cats), Jordan Brown (Sounds), Eric Farris (Sounds)

Great weekend visting with several of our clients.  Greer Stadium was the first ballpark we ever took my oldest son, Caison, to...13 years ago to visit with Kris Benson as he was climbing the ladder with the Pirates organization.  Kris was one of the first players we ever worked with (years before Beyond The Dugout was launched), so it was great to revisit one of our old haunts.  Had a great dinner with Uncle Jai after Saturday's game, and then enjoyed a client breakfast with Jai, Eric, and Michael Sunday morning before the afternoon game.  As a side note, Greer Stadium's guitar-shaped scoreboard is one of the coolest things to see in the Minor Leagues...very unique!

Oklahoma City RedHawks vs. Memphis Redbirds

April 19, 2010 – Autozone Park, Memphis, TN

Players – Jon Jay ('Birds), Jarrod Saltalamacchia ('Hawks), Derek Holland ('Hawks)

Great mid-week visit to our favorite Minor League city to catch up with an old friend, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was rehabbing with the 'Hawks.  We were also able to meet with Jon Jay to have a picture made with the glove from his first professional season (which we acquired thru a third party) and meet Derek Holland to have a picture made with his jersey from the Bakersfield Blaze.  After seeing all of the guys during early BP, we were able to sneak over to The Peabody for the "Duck March", and Luke got to have his picture taken with the DuckMaster and hold his cane...a true honor to a five-year-old!  Finished off the day with a stroll thru Lansky's, the personal tailor for "The King", Elvis Presley, followed by the game, and a late-night dinner at Rendezvous...the best dry ribs in America!

Midland RockHounds v. Arkansas Travelers

April 17, 2010 – Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock, AR

Players – Jemile Weeks ('Hounds)

Enjoyed meeting with Jemile for the first time...we were able to have him add 2009 Futures Game inscriptions to the items he used in that game.  As the pictures show, the day was not without it's drama as Luke ran headfirst into the steel stair railing while chasing a foul ball during BP, splitting his eyebrow open.  Thankfully, the Travs employ a great trainer who was able to get Luke fixed up...and the Travs GM, Pete Laven, donated a Travs helmet to the cause to protect Luke's "broken eyebrow" and ease his pain!  Of course, as the pictures show, the injury did little to slow Luke down once he put the helmet on...the eyebrow was no match for the energy spent in the Kids Zone!  Jemile was great to take the time to check on Luke after the game and take a picture with both boys before heading in to the clubhouse. 

2009 Memorial Day Weekend - Texas

Yankees vs. Rangers & Missions vs. RoughRiders

May 24-27 – Dr. Pepper Ballpark, Frisco, TX / The Ballpark at Arlington, Arlington, TX

Players – Cedric Hunter (Missions), Justin Smoak ('Riders), Brett Gardner (Yankees), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Rangers), Matt Harrison (Rangers)

Cais and I had a fantastic time traveling to "The Lonestar State" to visit with Brett, Jarrod, Cedric, Justin, and Matt.  Highlights included a trip to Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco to catch Cedric and Justin in action.  What a unique ballpark!  Had a great visit...had Cedric sign his Ft. Wayne jerseys and had John Whittleman and Kasey Kiker sign their Bakersfield Blaze jerseys.  Also had the chance to talk with Justin after the game and share the BTD story with him.  Followed that up the next day with the Memorial Day game at The Ballpark at Arlington featuring the Yankees against the hometown Rangers.  Able to visit with Brett before the game, see Colt McCoy throw out the first pitch, and watch Matt make a solid start on the mound.  Met with Matt after the game to get some photos with his MLB Debut cap...and with Cais.  Had dinner with Brett after the game and had a great time talking baseball...such a great guy!  Finished up the weekend with an educational trip to the Sixth Floor Museum...the least I could do since I was pulling Cais out of school an extra day!