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.
Jack McKeon Bobblehead I received tonight…
Tonight was Jack McKeon/Steve Bartman night at the ballpark. For those that don’t know who Jack McKeon is… He’s a legend around these parts. Jack was nicknamed “Trader Jack“. He is a former Major League Baseball manager. McKeon played baseball for the College of the Holy Cross. In 2003, he won a World Series with the Florida Marlins. When he took over as manager of the Marlins in 2011 at age 80, he became the second oldest manager in major league history. McKeon previously managed the Kansas City Royals from 1973 to 1975, the Oakland Athletics in 1977 and 1978, the San Diego Padres from 1988 to 1990, and the Cincinnati Reds from 1997 to 2000. From 1981 to 1990, he served as general manager of the Padres, forming the team which won the 1984 National League pennant. McKeon was named National League Manager of the year in 1999 and 2003. The latter award was a result of leading the Marlins, who had a record below .500 when he took the job as their manager during the season, to a World Series victory. With that victory, he became, at 72, the oldest manager to win the World Series, winning against the New York Yankees.On October 2, 2005, just after the Marlins won the last game of the 2005 season, McKeon announced that he would not be returning the following season. McKeon led the Marlins to three of the six winning seasons in franchise history.
Again, even to say he’s a legend, might even be an understatement.
What tonight was about, was something that occurred ten years ago. Tonight was “Have any of you ever heard of Steve Bartman?” Yeah, me either… He apparently is a fan, beloved by the Florida Marlins organization. I have searched the internet, talked to staff at the ballpark, and did some research of my own, on this Steve Bartman guy. And furthermore, why would the Hoppers have a night shared for a Legend, and someone no one has ever heard of?
So, I went to Wikipedia, and here’s what I found…
The Steve Bartman incident occurred during a Major League Baseball playoff game between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins on October 14, 2003, atWrigley Field in Chicago. In the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, with Chicago ahead 3–0 and holding a 3 games to 2 lead in the best of 7 series, several spectators attempted to catch a foul ball off the bat of Marlins’ second baseman Luis Castillo. One of the fans, Steve Bartman, reached for the ball, deflecting it and disrupting a potential catch by Cubs outfielder Moisés Alou. If Alou had caught the ball, it would have been the second out in the inning, and the Cubs would have been just four outs away from winning the National League pennant. Instead, the Cubs ended up surrendering eight runs in the inning, giving up the lead. They went on to lose the game, 8-3. When they were eliminated in the seventh game the next day, the “Steve Bartman incident” was seen as the “first domino” in the turning point of the series.
In the aftermath of the incident, Bartman, a lifelong Cubs fan, had to be escorted from the stadium by security guards, and received police protection for a time when his name and address were made public on MLB message boards. The next night, back at Wrigley Field, Florida overcame Kerry Wood and a 5–3 deficit to win 9–6, and win the pennant. The Marlins would go on to win the 2003 World Series, beating the New York Yankees four games to two.
The Cubs have not won a playoff game since the incident. They did not reach the playoffs in the three subsequent seasons, were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 NLDS, were swept again by the NL West champions LA Dodgers in the 2008 NLDS, and missed the playoffs from 2009 on.
News footage of the game showed him surrounded by security as passersby pelted him with drinks and other debris. Bartman’s name, as well as personal information about him, appeared on Major League Baseball’s online message boards minutes after the game ended. As many as six police cars gathered outside his home to protect Bartman and his family following the incident.Afterwards, then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich suggested that Bartman join a witness protection program, while then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush offered Bartman asylum.
So… the connection? Jack Mckeon was the Manager of the Marlins that night. To the baseball community, it’s because of Steve Bartman, that Jack McKeon shows off that beautiful thing we like to call the World Series Championship ring.
Since it was Jack Mckeon/Steve Bartman night the games were likewise themed. In the between inning promotions, you would have someone dressed as Steve Bartman run on the field and disrupt or interfere with the game. It was rather humorous. During the sausage race, a look-a-like came on the field and distracted the hot sausage so that sage could claim its first win of the season!
Also, happening tonight was the HoppersFan baseball giveaway. Josh Royster was our winner, along with Chris Johnson, from High Point. Josh Royster won a Christian Yelich autographed baseball and Chris took home a Jose Fernandez autographed baseball. Both of these balls were game used balls. Please stay tuned for our next promotion and giveaway!
Even though tonight was a loss, it is because of men like Jack McKeon and because we have the best fans in all of baseball… It just makes it A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
(Photo Credits: Wikipedia (Steve Bartman Incident) and Jordan Stowe)
(Resources: Wikipedia: Steve Bartman Incident)
Hickory Crawdads Stadium Opening Day
The image above is what is becoming a familiar sight on Opening Day for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Since their inaugural season, 2005, the Hoppers have sent their starting pitcher to the mound 4 times to open the season. In 8 seasons, they are 4-4 of starting the season on Opening Day. That being said it is not uncommon around these parts to have a delay or postponement opening day. What is uncommon, in fact unprecedented, is being cancelled due to snow and sleet.
Scott Lyman, RHP
Today’s game in Hickory was set to be a great matchup. Scott Lyman, returning for his second year in Greensboro, was set to take the mound. This right hander will start out the season to improve on his 3 game win record and 6 losses. He threw 62 strikeouts out of 74 innings pitched. I’m very interested to see what kind of heat he can throw this year.
I’ll be armed with my camera and scorecards this season, to bring you all the latest action, scores, and fan highlights from each game. Greg, I believe, will be joining me this year a bit more, and WOOT WOO IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!!!
And for those of you wondering where your favorite Hoppers are… Here’s the list as of today.
Jose Fernandez– MIAMI MARLINS, Brent Keys— GSO Grasshoppers, Tony Caldwell— GSO Grasshoppers, Collin Cargill– Jupiter Hammerheads, Jose Urena– Jupiter Hammerheads, Wilfredo Gimenez– Jupiter Hammerheads, Noah Perio– Jupiter Hammerheads, Ryan Fisher– Jupiter Hammerheads, Austin Barnes–Jupiter Hammerheads, Josh Adams– Jupiter Hammerheads, Austin Nola– Jupiter Hammerheads, Matt Smith– Jupiter Hammerheads, Ryan Reiger– Jupiter Hammerheads, Ryan Goetz– Jupiter Hammerheads, Isaac Galloway– Jupiter Hammerheads, Aaron Senne “In the City”– Jupiter Hammerheads, Adam Conley– Jacksonville Suns, Marcell Ozuna– Jacksonville Suns, Danny Black– Jacksonville Suns, Rand Smith– Batavia Muckdogs
Don’t forget to click on your favorite player to link up to see the latest news, stats, and more! If your favorite player is not listed please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to locate that player for you. Thanks!
Many of you remember Jose Fernandez as the guy that showed up from Cuba to sling fastballs at the upwards of 100 mph. Jose also holds the distinction of providing the SAL League with their first no hitter of the season. And first ever in Greensboro’s history. You may also remember him from earlier in Spring Training he slung a 101mph fastball at Giancarlo Stanton’s helmet. Stanton was treated and later returned to swing another day. Jose is the number one prospect for the Miami Marlins Organization and was expected to start the 2013 season with the Marlins. He was sent down to the Minors Camp March 13. He is expected to start for the Jacksonville Suns.
“He was impressive,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He was exactly how everybody described him. Everybody said that I’d be impressed, and I was impressed with everything — the way he handled himself, the way he pitched, his command, his presence. His mound presence is great. You can tell he’s a competitor. He wants it. And that’s what you want. Those are the type of guys you want in the organization. His day will come.”
“I’m 20 years old,” Fernandez said. “I just can’t be upset. I pitched six innings, didn’t give up a run. I knew, I was going to get sent down, I was ready for it. … They told me, ‘Hopefully this is the last time.'”
Our second installment of this super fan segment finds me talking to one of our Thursday night and Monday night regulars, Lee Clark. Lee is a super guy as well. He is currently working at Ruby Tuesday and he lives in Kernersville, NC. To our far away fans, Kernersville is about 30 minutes outside of Greensboro. You may ask, why is he a fan on Monday and Thursday nights. I’ll tell you why, one dollar beer and hot dogs! I first met Lee back in 2011, up on Natty’s Hill through a then mutual friend of ours, Jonathon Flournoy. I had the opportunity to chat with him a bit recently, and he had this to say…
HoppersFan: How long have you been coming to the ballpark?
Clark: I’ve been coming to the ballpark since it opened.
HoppersFan: What has been your favorite giveaway?
Clark: My favorite giveaway was the replica championship rings
HoppersFan: What was your favorite in between inning game?
Clark: The burger build that I won after falling flat on my face at the very beginning (which I have video of…)
HoppersFan: Do you have a favorite Grasshopper player?
Clark: Has to be woooooosterrrr lol or marcell ozuna
HoppersFan: Is there a particular person on staff or fan in the stands you want to give a shout out to?
Clark: Of course i’d love to give a shout out to my Thirsty Thursday crew. We sit at the same spot on the hill every Thursday zack, lauren, flournoy, and alex.
This concludes this segment highlighting our super fans. If you would like to be included in our Super Fan spotlight please contact me via our facebook page. Our Next installment will be Monday evening when we highlight Debbie Rodriguez. She is a Texas Ranger by birth, Miami Marlin by choice. She is a season ticket holder as well. You can usually find her with a sign or at the tunnel ready to throw an encouraging word at our Grasshoppers. She is a super fan for sure. Till Monday… WOOT WOO! IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
Between the threat of thunderstorms, a hundred degree heat, and the holiday weekend the stands sat a little empty today. If they had been there they would have witnessed Aaron Senne hit a perfect game at four hits and four at bats. They would also have witnessed Wooster’s superman catch over the Mercedes sign in midfield for the 3rd out in the 9th. Had that hit not been caught out of the sky the game would have been over in nine, with the Hickory Crawdads on top.
Aaron Senne had a phenomenal game today with four hits at four at bats. A Ryan Goetz homer out to right field looked like it made a u-turn at the sun, before coming back down. John Shultz had a good day as well, having 3 hits on 6 at bats and sliding in to score a run in the second. Between Ryan Goetz homer in the first and Shultz score in the second, the Hoppers would not be able to mount anything for another 10 innings. The Hoppers would go down 4-2 to the Hickory Crawdads.
Starting pitcher on the mound today was Jose Urena. He would sling six innings, allow five hits and 3 strikeouts. He would be relieved by Daniel Oliver who would pitch two innings, allow no hits and two strikeouts. Greg Nappo would start out the ninth inning and pitch three innings, allowing one hit and three strikeouts. Losing pitcher on the day was Chris Shafer. He allowed four hits, no strikeouts, and the two winning runs.
With the loss today the Hoppers drop to 51-30 overall and 5-6 in the second half. The Hoppers are still only 3 games back courtesy of some other losses around the league this week. The Hoppers will be back at home tomorrow night facing the first place Hickory Crawdads. Hope to see you out there, and remember, WIN OR LOSE, IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
(Photo Courtesy of Don Moore)
With an on field temperature of 102 degrees at the first pitch, to say it was hot was an understatement. Spaz always does a seat upgrade during every game promoting LAZY-BOY recliners. He has dubbed this “the best seats in the house”. These “best seats” consist of four recliners at the top of the seating bowl behind home plate. Tonight, the “best seats in the house” clearly was out in the SUNBRELLA zone located in right field. Sitting there underneath umbrellas with an ice cold Mountain Dew, a great friend, and baseball. What’s better than that? Yeah. A win would’ve capped it off, but when you have secured the northern division playoff spot, I’m okay with just enjoying games for the sake of enjoying them.
Tonights game was enjoyable from a Hoppers standpoint as well. I got to witness Austin Barnes slam his 4th home run tonight! Which I love seeing guys like that perform well. Aaron Senne and Austin Barnes hit homers tonight. Both great guys doing great things in the diamond. Tonight was Aaron’s 3rd homer in four nights. That is quite the accomplishment! Hoppers were facing the Hickory Crawdads, which coming into tonight were 7-2 in the second half, and are currently in first place. Needless to say, the heat wasn’t the only struggle our boys were going to have to overcome.
Pitchers tonight were the newly acquired Scott Lyman, who pitched 5.2 innings, allowed 8 hits and four strikeouts. Greg Nappo threw 1.1 innings, allowed 3 hits and 4 strikeouts. Nappo would be relieved by Jose Rodreguez would pitch 1 inning, allowing 1 hit and 1 strikeout. Brad Mincy then came up to finish off the night, allowing 2 hits and no strikeouts.
The big hitters of the night were, Aaron Senne with a two run homer to right field. Austin Barnes slamming his homer in the bottom of the ninth. Aaron Senne went 3-4 tonight and Austin Barnes went 4-1, with his home run being his lonely hit on the night. Ryan Goetz also went 3-1 on the night. Hoppers fell to the Crawdads to a score of 11-4. With this loss the Hoppers drop to 4-5 in the second half standings and currently three games back. Come and check out your Hoppers tomorrow for another scorcher. Temperature tomorrow is predicted to be around 105. Maybe, it’ll be just hot enough to steam some Crawdads. As always, this is Jordan Stowe, and IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!