President and General Manager Donald Moore with Babe
It was an incredible night for baseball. The wind was calm and made for a very comfortable night at the ballpark. It was fantastic to see the crowd out in support of Greensboro baseball. The between inning games did not disappoint either. The really do a great job of all around entertainment at the park. Dollar for dollar, there is no better entertainment deal in Greensboro.
On to the game last night…
Hickory would score first with their second batter of the night, Lewis Brinson. He would score off a wild pitch by Jarlin Garcia. When it became the Greensboro Grasshoppers turn to bat in the bottom of the first, we would see all three batters hit into the gloves of the waiting gloves of the Crawdads. The second inning would prove to be a fantastic inning for the Hoppers. They would hit two doubles in the inning causing three runners to cross the plate. Thus making the score 3-1 Hoppers on top. The Hoppers, nor the Crawdads, would score for the next three innings. In the bottom of the sixth inning, there was a “bunch of singling going on…” Austin Dean would be the first of eight Hoppers to touch first base. Five of those Hoppers would cross the plate scoring for the good guys. That would end up being our final score for the night. 8-1 HOPPERS WIN!
James Wooster, our returning Hopper from the 2011 Championship season pitched last night. He would see three batters, and no strikeouts. Jarlin Garcia was our starting pitcher seeing 18 batters and 7 strikeouts. It was so good to be back in the ballpark and hearing the cracking bats and smell the hot dogs grilling. It is a sure sign that the long nights of summer are upon us. With the zingers being thrown from the mound, and the pop of the bat as it slams a homer, to the smile of that little childs face when he meets Guilford for the first time. All of those reasons is why… IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
Welcome back, Hoppers fans! This is Jordan, with a preview of what your Greensboro Grasshoppers have in store for you this year. First off, before I dive into the games and the happenings of the ballpark Greg and I would like to thank each of you for your kindness and support throughout the last three years. It has been an eventful ride to say the least. We have seen our boys become SAL League Champions for the first time in team history. We have seen championships lost on our home field. We have witnessed Jose Fernandez, now Rookie Of The Year, sling 99 mph fastballs on the mound. I have witnessed our Hoppers fire home runs off an air craft carrier in the middle of the Charleston Harbor. These last two years have also seen new additions to the Hoppers Fan family. Greg and his wife welcomed Rorie into the world May of 2012. My wife and I welcomed Addie into the family May of 2013. We both have so much to be thankful for, and this blog is what brought us together.
Which brings us to this year… Thursday night is Opening Day! I can’t wait to smell the hot dogs and hear the cracking of the bats again. This is my favorite time of year, by far. If you are heading to the ballpark Thursday, make sure you get there early. There will be a street festival, concerts, and giveaways galore. You will see Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” singing the National Anthem before the first pitch. This year the Hoppers are celebrating their tenth season. So a lot of the giveaways and prizes will be directed around that.
This season will also bring back some familiar faces. Dave Berg is back as the Manager this year. You may remember he coached the Hoppers back to the SAL Championship game for the second year in a row, back in 2012. James Wooster, an unsung hero of the ballpark, is back… but at pitcher. An outfielder converted. And I’m sure we will see the return of… THE SAUSAGE RACES!
Greg and I will be trying to make it out to several games this year. Please come by and say hey. Get ready for some baseball and strap on your seat belts, because IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!!
Hi, Hoppers Fans — Greg here. First, I’d like to thank Jordan for everything he’s done for the blog and the Hoppers Fan community. I’m especially grateful for the dedication he devotes to the Hoppers Fan Facebook Page, which is a great place to keep up with some “quick hits” related to the team and the Hoppers Fan community. I’d also like to echo everything he said above — I’m thrilled that Opening Day is just around the corner! We’re all excited to have the boys of summer back in town. Balancing family, work, and baseball is probably going to continue to be a challenge for both of us this year, but we’re going to go out to as many games as we can and you’ll be able to read about all of our adventures at the ballpark here.
As always, this is a blog written by fans, for the fans. We love connecting with the fans. If you have any Hoppers-related stories to share, leave us a comment on the blog or on the Facebook page. We love sharing pictures, so please get in touch if you have some great Hoppers-related photos and we’ll try to share them on the blog with everyone. And if you ever see either of us at the ballpark, please come and say “hi.” One of the greatest joys we have from writing this blog is getting to meet some of the folks who enjoy reading it.
Howdy, Hoppers Fans! This is Greg, with an update on one way the Greensboro Grasshoppers are pitching in (pun intended) to support the local community. After you read this, I hope you’ll consider pitching in, too.
As you may remember, last year I became a father to a beautiful daughter, who was born two and a half months prematurely. Earlier this year, Jordan also became a father to a daughter born prematurly. Both of us are extremely grateful for the support we received from Family Support Network of Central Carolina (FSNCC), an organization whose mission is to provide support, education, and caring connections to those who have a child with special needs or those born prematurely. A few months ago, FSNCC asked me to serve on their Executive Board and I was honored to accept that invitation.
For the past several years, FSNCC has hosted a casino-themed fundraising event called Poker For Preemies. Proceeds from this event go to support all of FSNCC’s programs, not just the efforts surrounding working with NICU families like Jordan’s and mine. Because of the severe funding cuts FSNCC (along with many other non-profit organizations) has suffered due to lessening support from the state budget, the Poker For Preemies fundraiser has been an extremely important event that has helped FSNCC maintain the level of excellent programs we have been providing for many years.
By this point, you may be wondering what the Hoppers have to do with all of this. Read on and wonder no more! The Hoppers have a long history of supporting the community in various ways. They even have a “Donation Requests” page on their website, proclaiming that they “are happy to help numerous charitable organizations in the greater Triad area that are dedicated to making a difference in our community.” I’m pleased to report that they are, indeed, happy to help.
At the Poker For Preemies event, we will be featuring raffles for a number of prize baskets, each with a different theme. A few weeks ago, I contacted Joey at the Hoppers Font Office, soliciting a donation of items for one of the baskets. Joey and the Hoppers came through in spades (again, pun intended), donating over $50 worth of collectible Hoppers memorabilia and Hoppers-themed toys! They are going to fit right in with what we are calling the “Children’s Basket” — a basket full of items that children will enjoy. In addition to the Hoppers memorabilia, the Children’s Basket will help ease a rainy day with passes, gift certificates and memberships to area attractions like the Children’s Museum, Science Center, Monkey Joe’s and more!! On behalf of FSNCC, I would like to extend a huge “thank you” to the Hoppers for supporting our fundraiser with these raffle prizes to add to this basket!
The Poker For Preemies fundraiser is next Thursday, October 24, 7pm-12:30am. If you’d like to come out and support us, there is still time to buy tickets. My wife and I attended last year’s event and had a wonderful time. We even won one of the awesome prize baskets! The evening features food, music, dancing, and all sorts of casino games. Each ticket includes 10,000 chips for gaming at tables such as blackjack, craps, roulette and poker. Tables will be open from 7:30-10:30 so be sure to arrive early to get your game on! Not into cards? No problem! At any point in the evening, you can “cash” in your chips for raffle tickets. 5,000 chips = 1 ticket. Additional raffle tickets will be available for purchases. Put all your raffle tickets in the prize basket featuring the Hoppers memorabilia and you might just be the lucky winner! If you’re not able to attend the fundraiser, but would like to support FSNCC with a tax-deductible donation, we are happy to accept donations in a variety of ways.
Thanks again to the Hoppers for supporting FSNCC through their generous donation of memorabilia to be used as raffle prizes. If you are involved with a charitable organization in the greater Triad area, I encourage you to contact the Hoppers with a donation request for your charity. It really feels good to be a Hoppers Fan when you hear about some of the ways the team gets involved in the community outside of baseball.
Thank you for reading this blog entry that spent more time focusing on a non-profit organization that means a lot to Jordan and me than it did focusing on Hoppers baseball. I sincerely hope you’ll consider supporting us as well. If you’d like to learn more about FSNCC and/or Poker For Preemies, here are a bunch of links to check out:
- Family Support Network of Central Carolina Web Page
- Family Support Network of Central Carolina on Facebook
- Poker For Preemies Web Page
- Poker For Preemies on Facebook
- Poker For Preemies Tickets
- Poker For Preemies Donations (with a chance to win tickets to the event!)
Over the years of enjoying Greensboro Grasshopper baseball and writing this blog, I’ve been extremely thrilled to meet so many great people and make lots of new friends. Among these friends are Patrick Abbott and his son, Eli. Eli is a budding young sports photographer and memorabilia collector. Patrick is an encouraging and supportive dad. They’re semi-regular contributors to this blog. Earlier this week, the Grasshoppers provided Eli a wonderful experience about… well, let me turn it over to Patrick to tell the story.
Coaches Reaching Out To The Fans And Giving Back
When the season started, as usual we had no idea who the new players were or how the team would play together this season, but we did know that we had two returning coaches from 2012. My son and I decided that we would travel to Hickory on a Saturday night during the Grasshoppers opening series in April and check them out for ourselves. We even saw some familiar fan faces from Greensboro when we arrived. Saturday turned out to be a double header due to an earlier rainout. Between games my 7 yr old son Eli was approached by hitting coach Frank Moore about giving up his orange Hopper hat so he could wear it during the game. Of course, he refused to give it up. Frank continued in the months ahead to get his hat and was successful on a couple of occasions.
Last Saturday Frank offered Eli a chance to hit in their batting cage before the season was over. I didn’t give it a second thought until Frank called out to me after the game Sunday and suggested that I bring him out Monday night and before the game he would take Eli to their cages and let him swing away. I thought, “very cool” and come Monday evening Eli showed up at the game sporting his Hopper cap and wearing his batting gloves as he went through the turnstile. Frank showed up a short time later, guided him downstairs and for 20 minutes allowed him to take BP. When it was over they both walked out through the player tunnel together with Eli holding a new wooden bat that had been signed by all of the Grasshopper players while he was downstairs hitting what Frank had to offer. This took my wife and I totally by surprise. Needless to say Eli was so happy about his bat and BP experience. He has accumulated a lot of Hopper memorabilia including more player autographs and photos than any youngster needs, but being given this bat by Frank and for the players to take their time to sign it for him really meant a lot to the little guy and us. Now in his bedroom, among all of his other team memorabilia, the bat is by far the coolest.
We recognize that these players and coaches are only here for a few months and for the majority they’re off to continue their careers elsewhere after their season in Greensboro. Their priority is to play baseball and improve their skills, so when players and coaches take their time to give a little back to their fans, especially the younger ones, it means a lot. I hope that if my son should ever be on the other side of the fence so to speak, he will remember what others have done for him and give it right back. Thanks to Frank and all of the players and coaches for another memorable season of Greensboro Grasshopper baseball! You’ll surely be missed but we wish all the best in the future.
Patrick, thanks so much for sharing this story! It’s things like this that make it special to be a Hoppers Fan. I’m glad to hear that Eli had a great time taking BP, and that the generosity of the Hoppers organization made a good impression on him. That bat is a wonderful tangible souvenir, but I’m betting the memories that were made will be the highlight of the experience as the years pass on.
The Hoppers are winding down for the season, and let’s be honest — I think we’ll all be happy to put this one in the books. With just four more games to go — all away — the season will be over and the Hoppers will be watching the playoffs from their various homes. Maybe a few players will get shuffled up in the Marlins organization to help out some of the other teams at the end, but most everyone will scatter here and there, maybe playing some winter ball. Then comes the long wait until Spring Training, when we’ll be presented with a whole new team, possibly a familiar face or two, and a wonderful SAL leader board where every team in the league is in first place.
Edit: As Patrick pointed out in the comments, the Hoppers have one more home stand next week! I was looking at the calendar wrong when I wrote this. Oops! Hope I’ll be able to make it out to a game next week, and hope to see you there!
It’s been since Father’s Day since I’ve been able to make it out to the ballpark for a game. I had a free evening, and with last night’s game being rained out, today was a double-header for the Greensboro Grasshoppers against the Hagerstown Suns. I was pretty excited about being able to see a good amount of baseball and catch up with a handful of my ballpark friends. I rushed to the ballpark as soon as I could after work, and still only managed to get there a few innings into the first matchup. I had a great time hanging out with some of my friends. The baseball was just so-so. The Hoppers ended up losing both games in the double-header. The first game ended in a score of 2-6 (box | recap), and the second game ended in a score of 7-2 (box | recap).
On the field, one of the highlights for me was finally getting a chance to see the current most-talked-about Hopper: Colin Moran. Moran recently signed with the Marlins for $3.5 million and is currently playing third base for the Hoppers. He had a decent night. His defense was textbook. Offensively, he came away with a few sacrifice flies, a few RBIs, and a beautiful double. I think it’s going to be fun to follow his career, and I expect he’ll progress through the system at a decent pace. After the game, Moran took the time to sign autographs for everyone who was asking for one. That’s pretty classy in my book, especially after having endured losses in both games of the double-header.
Even though he was charged with the loss, I also enjoyed watching Austin Brice pitch the second game. For the first several innings, his pitching was beautiful. Fastballs for strikes, change ups making the batters looking foolish. But as the night wore on, he started losing control. He was finally pulled with one out in the fifth inning, after loading the bases. He’s definitely got potential, but he’s also got a bit of work to do.
I’m not sure when I’ll make it back out to a game, but it sure was nice to make it out tonight. I didn’t score the first game since I came in partway through, but here’s how I had the second one:
Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?
Very cool to see Hoppers Fan make the monthly “Latest Leaders” list for June 2013, I think for the first time. It’s also great to see our friends over at Bill On Baseball representing the Hoppers on the MiLB Pro front as well. Thanks to everyone who follows the blog, leaves comments, interacts with our FaceBook page, and hunts us down at the ballpark!
As we hit the midway point of the 2013 regular season, the All-Star Game takes center stage. The recently completed Fan Voting saw a lot of debating and campaigning in our community, and you can expect that to continue with the Final Vote looming. The biggest news around here is the return of the Trade Deadline megablog, amassing the reporting excellent of MLB.com’s team of writers to provide the very latest on the trade front ahead of the July 31 deadline. Make sure you’re following it to stay in the know this month and try out WordPress’s reblogging feature!
Latest Leaders ranked by page views from June 1-30:
View original post 787 more words
Over the last couple decades Greensboro has seen some incredible, sometimes historic ballplayers grace the diamond. Andy Petitte, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton, Bryce Harper, Brian McCann, and Ryan Howard have all brushed through Greensboro. Some of the ballplayers were on the Greensboro team that was affiliated with the New York Yankees, others played for the Marlins affiliate. Some even played on opposing teams that gave us a chance to get a glimpse at a major leaguer in a minor league ballpark. Before the season started Greg and I went to go see the movie “42” together. It tells the story of Jackie Robinson‘s entry into Major League Baseball. Phenomenal movie. I realized during that movie, that I didn’t know that much about good ol’ Jackie. So I started doing some research and anything that had his name on it, I was intrigued to read it. It wasn’t too much longer, Bill On Baseball‘s Bill Hass wrote me a message to check out his article in the Greensboro Grasshoppers game day program. It was about Jackie Robinson and his ties to Greensboro. Bill has been so gracious to give us permission to share with you guys his story on baseball’s Hall Of Famer, Jackie Robinson, and his connections to Greensboro.
Jackie Robinson And His Ties To Greensboro
by Bill Hass
Jackie Robinson’s impact on the game of baseball and society in America was immense.
I don’t think I fully understood to what extent until I wrote a story in 2004 for the News & Record of Greensboro. It focused on how the stands were segregated in War Memorial Stadium, which didn’t change until the early 1960s.
One of the people I interviewed was Spencer Gwynn, the long-time voice of football and basketball at North Carolina A&T, who summed up what Robinson meant to African-Americans in 25 words.
“Black people all over the country identified with him,” Gwynn said. “When Jackie struck out, we struck out. When Jackie stole a base, we stole a base.”
Many people don’t realize that Robinson played three times in Memorial Stadium. Or they may remember two games, in 1950 and 1951, when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Greensboro Patriots in exhibition games as they traveled north from spring training in Florida.
But the largely forgotten game, and the first time Robinson played here, came on Oct. 14, 1949. Robinson had a team of barnstorming all-stars that came to town to play against a local team of black all-stars.
Segregation of Memorial Stadium’s stands was suspended for that day. An advance story in the Greensboro Daily News noted that “a special section of box and reserved seats has been set aside for white spectators.”
That meant black fans, instead of having to sit in “their section” down the foul line behind first base, could sit anywhere.
Robinson’s presence created what Gwynn called “an electric crowd.” The official attendance was listed at 6,620 and Robinson was quoted as saying, “I know 3,000 crawled over the fences that weren’t counted.”
Robinson’s team won, 11-5. One of the opposing players was James Tonkins, a second baseman for the Greensboro Red Birds, a semi-pro team that played its games in Memorial Stadium.
“I remember he went sightseeing on old East Market Street, meeting people,” Tonkins told me. “It seemed like he went on campus (at N.C. A&T) that day.
“What fascinated me so much was how pigeon-toed he was, almost like he was walking on the tips of his toes. He was quite a guy, real outgoing. His appearance created quite a bit of interest.”
So did Robinson’s second appearance, on April 11, 1950. The Dodgers crushed the Patriots 22-0 and Robinson had three hits and two RBIs and scored twice. Attendance was 8,434, the largest crowd up until then to watch a baseball game in North Carolina.
The crowd probably was larger. Patriots owner Rufus Blanchard estimated that 1,500 youngsters slipped over the fence. One account told of 500 people “clinging perilously to tree branches and rooftops outside the stadium.”
For some reason I did not document, at least in that story, Robinson’s third appearance here. It came in April of 1951 and it’s likely the Dodgers won and the crowd was large.
I started thinking about all this after recently seeing the movie “42,” an account of 1947, the year Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues. For the most part, it was well done and a fitting tribute to what Robinson endured that season, set against the background of the social changes he helped set in motion.
The movie strived to be as authentic as possible — the physical resemblance between Robinson and actor Chadwick Boseman is uncanny — although it took some dramatic license with incidents and characters.
Two characters in the movie, both of whom are cast in a bad light, have a Greensboro connection. Dixie Walker, Robinson’s teammate, played with the Patriots in 1928 at age 17, although he appeared in just six games.
Walker is accurately depicted as one of the Dodgers who signed a petition — rejected by team president Branch Rickey — saying they would not play if Robinson was a member of the team. Although the movie implies otherwise, there is no evidence Walker gave Robinson a hard time during their season together.
In his biography “I Never Had It Made,” Robinson uses a quote from Walker that appeared in The Sporting News: “Dixie Walker summed it up in a few words the other day when he said: ‘No other ballplayer on this club with the possible exception of Bruce Edwards, has done more to put the Dodgers up in the race than Robinson has. He is everything Branch Rickey said he was when he came up from Montreal.”
Another “villain” in the movie is Pittsburgh pitcher Fritz Ostermueller. Unlike Walker, he didn’t just pass through Greensboro. He pitched for the Patriots in 1931, going 15-9, and in 1932, when he was 21-9.
In the movie Ostermueller, who died of cancer at age 50 in 1956, is shown as hitting Robinson in the head with a pitch and saying “You don’t belong here.” But there are several problems with the scene.
First, he was a left-hander, not right-handed as the movie shows. Second, research by several sources indicates that while Robinson was hit by Ostermueller’s pitch, it wasn’t in the head. The pitch may have been up and in, but Robinson was struck in the left forearm that he raised to protect himself, then fell to the ground. And there is no account that says Ostermueller shouted at Robinson.
The Dodgers are shown rallying around the fallen Robinson and shouting at Ostermueller, and accounts of the day bear that out.
Ostermueller’s daughter, Sherrill Duesterhaus, has publicly criticized the directors for unfairly portraying her father as a racist. Robinson didn’t seem bothered by the incident. In his book, the only mention of Ostermueller, whom he referred to as “Fitz,” is that during a game in Pittsburgh, Robinson noticed the pitcher had become “a little careless and relaxed.” So he stole home with what turned out to be the winning run.
Make what you will of Walker and Ostermueller. I just found it interesting that two players with Greensboro backgrounds played important parts in “42.”
There are two more indirect connections between Jackie Robinson and Greensboro. One came in 2002, when the second baseman for the Greensboro Bats was Robinson Cano, now a star for the New York Yankees. Cano told me his father named him for Jackie Robinson.
The other connection concerns Mariano Rivera, the great Yankees closer who played for the Greensboro Hornets in 1991 and 1993. Rivera, who will retire after this season, is the last player in the major leagues to wear the number 42, which was permanently retired several years ago for all teams.
It seems a fitting legacy that the now-famous number of Hall-of-Famer Jackie Robinson is being worn for the last time by future Hall-of-Famer Mariano Rivera.
That is one thing that makes Greensboro such a spectacular place to watch a game. You never know who you are watching make history. With storied names like Robinson, Jeter, Stanton, Petitte, Fernandez, it just makes Greensboro all the more fun. If you looked back in the history pages you would see that it has been and forever will be… A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!!!
Once again, we offer a sincere thank you to Bill Hass for sharing this incredible story. You can check out all of Bill’s stories on his “Bill On Baseball” blog. This story about Jackie Robinson is also set to run again in the Greensboro Grasshoppers program during their June 24-30 home stand against the Asheville Tourists and the Delmarva Shorebirds, so be sure to check it out in print when you’re at the ballpark next week!