VOTE TinCaps

The TinCaps need your help — more precisely, your online vote. We’re one of 32 teams selected by Sporting News to be in their bracket to determine the Best Minor League Name.

In the opening round, we trumped the very gracious Altoona Curve (Pirates’ Double-A, Eastern League).

But now there’s no time to celebrate, as we’re on to Quad Cities. (That was said in a Bill Belichick voice in case you couldn’t hear.)

VOTE HERE.

It’s a painless process. No signing up for anything necessary. You may have to toggle through a few other “matchups” first, but that’s the worst of it.

You’re limited to one vote per IP address. For the uninitiated, that means you can only vote once on your computer, but you can also vote on your phone, tablet, beeper, etc.

VOTE_TinCaps2

 

Should we get by, voting for the “Elite Eight” will take place from Thursday into Friday. The “Final Four” round will go Friday into Monday. And then the “Championship” voting is tabbed for Monday into Tuesday. Let’s hope we get there.

At this point, everyone in Fort Wayne knows about the legend of Johnny Appleseed and the TinCaps. Let’s let all of the Internet know, too.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John…

Thanks for reading — well, only if you voted! Have a second favorite Minor League team name (after TinCaps, obviously)? Let us know in the comments, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

The Time I Saw Morgan Burkhart Homer at Fenway

Opening Day in the Midwest League is exactly three months away. At this time on April 9, the TinCaps will be in Midland, Mich., to start the season against the Great Lakes Loons. The TinCaps will then open things up at Parkview Field on Sunday, April 12, at 4:05 p.m. against the Lansing Lugnuts.

As of now, we don’t know who’ll be taking the field yet. In fact, we won’t have an idea of what players will  be until less than a week from Opening Day. Soon, though, we should know what the team’s field staff will look like.

Earlier this week, the Padres announced the coaching staffs for their Triple-A and Double-A affiliates in El Paso and San Antonio, respectively. Of note here for TinCaps fans is that San Antonio’s hitting coach will be Morgan Burkhart, who was in Fort Wayne each of the past two campaigns.

We were hopeful Morgan would be back at Parkview Field, but, as TinCaps President Mike Nutter says, it’s not surprising to learn of his promotion.

It’s funny how things work out. This news regarding Morgan came just two days after the Hall of Fame announced its elected class for 2015. So Tuesday night, I decided to jostle my memory back to think about if I ever got to see Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, or Craig Biggio play in person. Thankfully this is fairly recent history and with the amazing powers of the Internet, especially our friends at Baseball-Reference, I was able to connect some dots. And yes, there’s a Morgan Burkhart connection here. Pardon my stream of consciousness…

***

I had the pleasure of seeing Pedro Martinez pitch twice in Boston, including once when he was a Met.

The first time I saw Pedro, I don’t remember the game as much for him as I do for how it ended. It was the first game after the All-Star break in 2000 — a year in which he’d go on to win his second Cy Young in a row. This was the first time I was old enough to recall taking in a game at Fenway after I had been once before but was too young to be aware of Mo Vaughn hitting a grand slam against the A’s, or so I’ve been told.

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With my Mom and Granpa Schulz, lookin fly.

Anyway, on this night in 2000, good ol’ Bobby Jones (had to look that up) went toe-to-toe with Pedro for six innings. Each pitcher held the opponent to two runs (Pedro did that in seven, while K-ing 10).

And now my mind is blown. How did the Sox score their two runs? MORGAN BURKHART HIT A TWO-RUN HOMER TO RIGHT FIELD. I had no idea. Morgan only played in 42 career MLB games, hitting five home runs (just one at Fenway — this one!). I never thought to make the connection that I was there for one of them, and that I’d have seen him hit a bomb. Even better, my family was sitting in right field. Holy cow.

Morgan was a switch-hitter at the plate. (via BluJay.com)

Well, what I was getting to, was that in the bottom of the ninth, with the Mets up 3-2, Melvin Mora committed an error at short. With Armando Benitez on the mound, that opened the floodgates to a blown save. Brian Daubach doubled to the wall in right field to score two and the Sox walked off. It was a terrible feeling for 9-year-old me. The P.S. here is that two weeks later, the Mets’d trade Mora to Baltimore for Mike Bordick. This was all on the heels of Gold Glover Rey Ordonez being out for the year with an injury. They’d make the World Series that year for the only time in the last 28 years, so you can’t complain too much, but Bordick was out of the picture after that season while Mora made two AL All-Star teams with the Orioles.

Wow, still can’t believe the Burkhart connection. Anyone a stats wizard to figure it out? Extreeemely minuscule.

Pedro was smiling before the game as he was applauded by fans, but left the mound with a frown. (Credit Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

The other time I saw Pedro was in 2006 — my favorite year as a baseball fan. (It’s also the only year of my life in which the Mets won a division title.) And this was the best baseball trip I’ve gone on with my Dad. We took an Amtrak up to Boston from New Jersey and spent three full days up there, taking in all three games of the Mets’ series there.

The Mets entered that late-June series with a 47-28 record. They were very consistent and hadn’t lost more than two consecutive games. Until then.

In the middle game, Pedro went up against Josh Beckett and got rocked. He allowed eight runs in three innings. I just remember the crowd chanting, “Pedrooo.”

***

Randy Johnson pitching at Shea Stadium, though not the day I saw him. (Credit Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

I believe I saw Randy Johnson pitch with the Diamondbacks against the Mets at Shea Stadium on Sunday, May 30, 1999. My memory of the game: The Mets got severely overmatched and blown out, 10-1. It’s one of the only times in all my years of going to games with my Dad where he had us leave early. My Dad’s the stay-until-the-end type, but with the Mets down 10-1 after 6 1/2, and with my then 5-year-old sister Katie with us, I’m pretty sure we bolted. Checking the box, Randy struck out 10 in eight innings, while also recording two hits at the plate!

The Mets ended up with the last laugh later in the year in the NLDS, beating Johnson in Game 1 of a series they’d go on to win in four games. It was past my bedtime, but Edgar Alfonzo hit two home runs off the Big Unit in Game 1. Despite fanning 11 times, the Mets scored seven runs on eight hits against Johnson in 8 1/3. Backup catcher Todd Pratt famously won that series with a 10th-inning walk-off homer to center field. Another post script: ’99 was the first of four consecutive years RJ won the Cy Young. Wow.

***

John Smoltz pitching in Game 4 of the 1999 World Series (Credit: John O’Boyle, The Newark Star-Ledger)

I know I saw John Smoltz pitch Game 4 of the 1999 World Series at Yankee Stadium. I had to double-check the box score on that one. I did remember for sure that Roger Clemens pitched that series-clinching game for the Yanks. I also remember that I was wearing a Yankees hat and shirt that night, even though I was a Mets fan, which felt weird.

But the most lasting memory of the only World Series game I’ve ever been to is that as soon as the last out was recorded and We Are the Champions started playing, my Dad’s friend (who was awesome enough to bring us along) wanted to leave right away. Even though I wasn’t a Yankees fan, I was bummed not to be able to see the celebration. It was too cold to remember much about the game, but per the box, Smoltz only allowed three runs — all in the third — over seven innings in a 4-1 loss. I probably saw Smoltz pitch once for the Braves against the Mets in the regular season, but it doesn’t stand out.

***

I certainly don’t remember this, but Craig Biggio played collegiately at Seton Hall in New Jersey. (Via The Setonian)

Craig Biggio falls into that category of forgettable Hall of Famer. I mean, look, especially when you’re young, I think it’s normal to remember the guys who hit homers and rack up strikeouts. Thus, the first time I saw McGwire and Sosa, Johnson and Martinez, stand out. Biggio? Not so much. But, yeah, pretty sure I saw the Astros play at Shea once or twice.

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Thanks for taking the walk down memory lane with me. Now, here’s Penny Lane…

Appreciate you reading. Hopefully in the next week or so, we can tell you who’ll replace Morgan as the TinCaps’ hitting coach in 2015 and fill out the rest of the staff as well. Until then, would love to hear if you have any memories of seeing Hall of Famers, Morgan Burkhart, or anything else that feels relevant (or not). Comment below, email, or tweet @John_G_Nolan.

Hall of Fame, and Blame

(Preface: The Baseball Hall of Fame is a great institution. I like it a lot. My Dad brought my family to Cooperstown three times when I was a kid before we ever visited Washington, D.C. or Disney. With that said, I’m not as passionate about it as some others who make it an annual tradition to get riled up over. I wish I had that kind of energy. However, the season’s only so long, and the Winter Meetings are only so long, so what else are you going to talk about in early January?)

Four players were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio. This makes the Hall’s Class of 2015 the largest class of players to be inducted under the modern voting system, which began in 1958.

That tidbit is courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark (#SyracuseAlum), who has a good column explaining not only how he voted but how the current voting system is flawed. Rob Neyer of Fox Sports chronicles the issues, too.

The problem is this: Voters are currently limited to selecting 10 players per year. (Next year the number will be raised to 12.) Now, Stark is more willing to vote for “PED guys” — like Bonds, Clemens, and even Sheffield — than most, but he raises a valid issue.

Shouldn’t there be a simple yes/no vote? As in, Does Player X deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes? Or no? 

Leading up to Tuesday’s announcement from the Hall, FOTB (again, that’s Friend of the Blog) Jesse Goldberg-Strassler — voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and author of The Baseball Thesaurus, among other superlatives — conducted a mock Hall of Fame vote.

For what it’s worth, I was among the eight who voted in Jesse’s experiment. The whole “10 vs. 12 vs. unlimited” thing actually doesn’t pertain to me, because in the accented words of Mike Francesa, I’m a “hahd markah” (read: hard marker). Congrats to the following on making the Nonexistent Nolan Hall of Fame: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, and John Smoltz!

If I only had two votes (that’s another proposed voting system), I’d go Pedro and Randy. The only player I have any sentimental connection to from my youth is Mike Piazza, since I grew up a Mets fan. Yet, I made it through the day without a tissue. People who know what they’re talking about predict he’ll get in next year. Piazza was on 384/549 ballots (69.9 percent). You need to be on 75 percent to get in, so he was 28 shy.
By the way, Jeff Passan (#SyracuseAlum) is correct about this:

That reminds us of this wacky moment at Parkview Field in 2014:

That video has been viewed 474,000-plus times — the most seen TinCaps YouTube video ever. #TheMoreYouKnow

In case you were wondering, none of the four announced Hall of Famers ever played in the Midwest League.

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This seems apropos…

Do you think the Hall of Fame voting process should be changed? Who would you have voted for this year? Would like to hear, so please comment below, email nolan@tincaps.com, or tweet @John_G_Nolan. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day!

Happy New Year, and Remembering Stuart Scott

It seemed like not long ago we were wishing it was Christmas today…

and now, here we are in 2015. Happy new year! Hope you were able to spend time with friends and family over the holidays.

Personally, I was grateful to be home in New Jersey.

With my younger sisters Kirsten (left) and Katie (middle).

In Brooklyn with my friends Mario (middle) and Herb (right). We’ve known each other since kindergarten.

Meanwhile, our countdown to the TinCaps’ Opening Day on April 9 at Great Lakes is 95. Opening Day at Parkview Field on the 12th against Lansing is a mere 98 sleeps away!

Coming up this week, we’ll review all of the trades the parent Padres made involving former — and perhaps a couple future — TinCaps.

It’s also the season of ranking prospects, so we’ll take a look at what analysts are saying about the guys we’ve seen recently in Fort Wayne, plus those who could be headed here this season.

BOOYAH

I’d like to join so many others in remembering Stuart Scott, the ESPN star who died Sunday at the age of 49.

Count me among those who were initially drawn to a career in sports broadcasting in part to having grown up watching Stu on SportsCenter. My first years as a sports fan and TV viewer coincided with his rise at ESPN.

It’s been fascinating to read and watch reflections about how his style was pioneering. It wasn’t to me, because I never knew anything different. Heck, I was probably about 5-years-old the first time I heard him say “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” At the time, I didn’t think, Oh, that’s clever. No, I thought, Oh my goodness, the other side of the pillow is cooler! I need to try that trick.   

While I don’t watch SportsCenter on a regular basis anymore, I did almost daily as a little kid when Stuart was a regular fixture. It was part of my morning routine before going to school. (That’s before my routine became to sleep in as long as possible.) And I made sure to tune in last night, as Scott Van Pelt, Steve Levy, and the entire production team did a beautiful job honoring their friend.

Here’s a 15-minute ESPN-produced video remembering Stuart’s legacy.

Rich Eisen gave a touching tribute of his own.

Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch has more on how ESPN put together that obit video here.

It’s all quite powerful to digest. For me, the biggest takeaway is seeing the apparent love he had for his daughters. Also, as a broadcaster, it’s a reminder to be yourself and have fun.

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Stuart Scott was cool enough to be name-checked by Lil Wayne and be featured in music videos by LL Cool J and Luke.

Rest in peace.

Thanks for reading, and please be in touch in the comments below, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

TinCaps Hot Stove — Conversation with Mike Nutter

We figured by the end of the day we’d have something official to say about reported Padres moves involving former TinCaps and perhaps future TinCaps. Alas, no confirmations have been made. There will be plenty of time to discuss pending moves whenever they do — or don’t — happen.

To discuss things that have happened this off-season, we sat down with TinCaps President Mike Nutter. On the rundown:

– Parkview Field events

– 2014 TinCaps organizational accolades

– Winter Meetings recap

– Padres news

– Hardball Capital news

– The Holidays

Stay tuned for future Hot Stove videos later this off-season. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have some finalized Padres deals to delve into. Until then, appreciate you reading/watching, and please be in touch in the comments below, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

P.S. If you’re still shopping for the holidays, don’t forget to visit The Orchard Team Store at Parkview Field, the seasonal location at Glenbrook Square, or online here.

 

Winter Meetings Journal — TinCaps Head Groundskeeper Keith Winter

So far this week, we gave a general recap of last week’s Winter Meetings for the TinCaps’ traveling party and shared Keith Winter’s acceptance speech for winning the Single-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year Award.

Here’s more from Keith on the experience he had in San Diego…

Sunday, December 7

As our plane from Fort Wayne waited for a gate at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, our connector flight to San Diego closed just before TinCaps President Mike Nutter got to our next gate. While waiting for my carry-on after we finally docked, the pilot walked up the jetway complaining that “the gate had been available the whole time.” It seems what we had here is a serious lack of communication! We arrive in “America’s Finest City” three hours later than expected. Our subsequent rental car experience at PAYLESS made it quite clear that you do get what you pay for. The lengthy wait did give Mr. Nutter the chance to be briefed by my wife on “how there is no such thing as a free lunch” (circa 1981- Bill Hawk).

Monday, December 8

The three-hour difference in Eastern vs. Pacific time made the 12:15 PM Awards Luncheon seem like dinner. Nevertheless, after I stepped to the podium and gave my acceptance speech (see below) before the 1500+ in attendance, master of ceremonies Matt Vasgersian of the MLB Network asked the crowd for “a show of hands if they thought that Keith Winter of the Fort Wayne TinCaps is a better public speaker that three-quarters of the major league media relations directors.” A nice shout out for our club, and I guess after spending 25-years as a television broadcaster, that I should be able to break the traditional “groundskeeper” stereotype.

After the luncheon, the four sports turf award winners (AAA, AA, A, Short-Season/Rookie) participated in a seminar/workshop where we answered questions and provided insights for other minor league executives and personnel. I am always amazed at how many teams are unhappy with their field, and thankful for what we have to work with here in Fort Wayne.

Tuesday, December 9

I met San Diego Padres head groundskeeper Luke Yoder and his assistant Peter Hayes at Petco Park for lunch along with a look at the field. We had some good fellowship and sharing, but there was little to look at from a field perspective as the Padres’ “Winter Holiday Carnival” covers the entire playing surface. When that wraps up after the first of the year, next is Monster Trucks and then Motocross. Around the first of March, they will then tear out the battered turf and replace the entire playing surface. San Diego’s almost perfect year-round weather warrants use of the ballpark for hundreds of special events. It was hard to see one of baseball’s best playing surfaces reduced to a grazing ground for live reindeer.

Tuesday evening, the Padres hosted a reception for all their minor league affiliates in the home clubhouse. The food was excellent and included the best “fresh-made” Southern California tacos I have ever eaten! Got to meet and greet new Executive VP/GM, A.J. Preller, new director of player development, Sam Geaney, and spent over half an hour with newly named Scouting Director, Mark Conner, who has been a frequent visitor to Parkview Field. To say the least, the Padres are getting younger in the front office. Padres manager Bud Black and most of his staff were there along with former Padre greats such as Randy Jones (only Cy Young winner in team history), and all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. It was fun to see former TinCap player names like Liriano, Spangenburg, and Quackenbush among the name tags in the classy clubhouse. It is true, you have it made once you arrive in the big leagues!

Wednesday, December 10

The morning Baseball Chapel breakfast started the day at 8 AM, with some encouraging words from the guest speaker and opportunity to fellowship with other Christians who are living out their faith in professional baseball. Major leaguers on hand included Twins manager Paul Molitor, Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny, and former Braves great and current broadcaster John Smoltz. Of course my wife “had to” talk with Smoltz since he was a favorite our middle son as he was growing up in the 90’s. Baseball Chapel continues to be a source of encouragement and strength for players, coaches, and front office personnel in major and minor league baseball.

The closing “Gala at Petco Park” on Wednesday evening opened the concourse and field to all registered minor and major league winter meeting attendees. There were thousands of hungry AND thirsty participants, so after checking it out, I decided to enjoy our final night in San Diego with a quiet, Italian meal with my wife in downtown San Diego’s Gaslight District. If you ever have the opportunity to visit  S.D., it is definitely worth the trip.

Our thanks to Keith for sharing his journal from the Winter Meetings. If you want even better insight to the experience, ask him to compare it to the first ever Winter Meetings in ’81.

One thing that was fun for Keith, and many others, back then and stays true today is the true baseball wheeling-and-dealing that gets done. And for the first time in a while, the Padres are in the middle of it. Tomorrow we’ll try to get caught up on the most recent moves San Diego has made, which include many a former recent TinCap.

Thanks for reading, and please be in touch in the comments below, by email, or on Twitter@John_G_Nolan.

P.S. If you’re still shopping for the holidays, don’t forget to visit The Orchard Team Store at Parkview Field, the seasonal location at Glenbrook Square, or online here.

 

A Groundskeeper’s Tale: “What Mama Wants, Mama Gets”

If I ever write a book, I’ll request the publisher make the cover as ugly as possible and the pages as glossy and shiny as possible. That’s because I truly believe in the mantra that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Case in point? TinCaps Head Groundskeeper Keith Winter.

When you Google “groundskeeper,” this is the first result you get…

Willie from “The Simpsons” (via Wikipedia)

And if you were to ask me what I think of first when I hear “groundskeeper,” I’d probably say this…

So groundskeepers have that going for them, which is nice… or not so much. While stereotypes exist for a reason, you have to be quick to realize when they don’t fit. And in the case of Keith — and for that matter many other groundskeepers in baseball, golf, and all over in 2014 — the stereotype doesn’t fit. In short, Keith, who has a Master’s in Sports Administration and encyclopedic knowledge on the science behind managing a ball field, worked in television for 25 years before becoming a full-time groundskeeper.

Why are we even talking about this? Well, as previously mentioned, for the second year in a row, Keith was named the Single-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year by Minor League Baseball and the Sports Turf Managers Association. The trophy was presented in San Diego at the Winter Meetings on Dec. 8.

Again, if we’re making the mistake of going off stereotypes, you’re not expecting all that much from the 2-minute acceptance speech of an award-winning groundskeeper. At least not from an entertainment standpoint. But then you’d be wrong. Because if you know Keith, you know that he’s got the type of personality that can take over a room. And as the video below showcases, that’s any size of room. Even a grand ballroom.

In case you’re unable to watch that video, here’s the text of Keith’s remarks:

“I’m very honored to win this award for the second year in a row, and to be included among the previous two multi-time honorees. 

When our media relations coordinator (hey, that’s us!) told me that the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Parkview Field, who I represent, are the first ever repeat winner in Class-A baseball, I was humbled, because there have been, and are, many individuals who who work very hard at this craft.

Winning back-to-back is further proof of the great work of my entire grounds crew and the fantastic support of our front office and ownership group, Hardball Capital.

Most head groundskeepers in professional baseball would agree that there is some pressure that goes with the job. Whether it’s dealing with the weather, special events, and on-field concerts like Florida Georgia Line, or just getting a field ready 70-plus times, it can squeeze you a bit.

Let me conclude with a quick story about “real pressure.”

Pulling out of Disney at last year’s Winter Meetings, my bride of almost 33 years turns to me and says, “That was one of the highlights of my life!”

Now, you need to know that we raised three baseball-playing sons who competed in high school and college, so she has been to literally thousands of baseball games. 

But she says, “Hanging out in the lobby, talking to Jim Leyland, watching the MLB Network and ESPN crews, that was great!”

She turns to me and asks, “Where is it next year and what do I need to do to make sure you win again!”

Now… that’s pressure!

But any man who has been married for any length of time would agree when I say…

What Mama wants, Mama gets!

God bless, and thank you very much.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Keith Winter! The TinCaps are lucky to have Keith not only for his tremendous work as a groundskeeper, but also for his personality. I’m glad 1,500-plus people from around the country were able to see that in San Diego.

Next time on the blog, we’ll further showcase Keith’s personality as he shares his journal from his Winter Meetings experience.

Thanks for reading, and please be in touch in the comments below, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

P.S. If you’re still shopping for the holidays, don’t forget to visit The Orchard Team Store at Parkview Field, the seasonal location at Glenbrook Square, or online here.

TinCaps at the Winter Meetings in San Diego

You may have heard, the 113th annual Baseball Winter Meetings were held last week in San Diego. It was the first time in 29 years that “America’s Finest City” hosted.

As Chris Jenkins noted in the San Diego Union-Tribune, it’s an understatement to say the Meetings have changed drastically over the years. Yet, it’s still a summit of not only all MLB teams, but MiLB clubs, too.

The TinCaps were represented in San Diego by President Mike Nutter, Head Groundskeeper Keith Winter, and Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier.

In fact, Mike was quoted in that article linked above.

“We all learn from each other, spitballing with people from all over the minors,” said Mike Nutter, the 42-year-old president of the Ft. Wayne TinCaps, the Padres’ Single-A affiliate that’s made the Midwest League playoffs six straight years. “We have people come up to us and ask how we can do 33 fireworks nights in a 70-game schedule. If we hear something in talking to guys from the Lake Elsinore Storm, we can steal it, borrow it, make it our own for the people here in Fort Wayne.

“Listen, man, not everything works. We’ve come back, tried something and said, “What were we thinking?” But it’s ok; we’re willing to fail in the minors. There’s no concern that something is just stupid. Ok, maybe it is, but if you let your guard down and study concepts, you come up with good ideas.”

So while the headlines you see coming out of the Winter Meetings are about the likes of Jon Lester signing for $155 million or the TinCaps’ parent club, the Padres, trading for Matt Kemp, there’s more going on.

For example, last Monday there was an Awards Luncheon. Among those recognized? A pair of TinCaps staff members.

(We’ll have more on Keith’s award acceptance and experience in another post.)

We neglected to mention another Fort Wayne representative who had BIG FUN in San Diego.

The fact that the Padres were hosting made these Meetings extra special for the TinCaps contingent. While 29 big league organizations in San Diego held a reception for their minor league affiliates at a hotel, the Padres welcomed the TinCaps and company to a cooler venue.

A couple of other Fort Wayne-related highlights:

Populous — the architectural firm that designed Parkview Field as well as the likes of Camden Yards and Olympic stadiums in London, to name a few — held an event that featured Jason Freier as a speaker. Jason was the star of the event.

* Ballpark Digest, for the first time, held a party. Many of the top teams and operators in the country were there. The TinCaps were recognized as the top franchise in Minor League Baseball and also awarded the distinction of having the best new food item (BIG APPLE dessert). Ballpark Digest’s editor will be on hand for a game at Parkview Field in 2015 and present the awards in an on-field pregame ceremony.

Unsurprisingly, the consensus was San Diego and the Padres hit a home run as hosts.

Tomorrow we’ll share more about Keith’s travels and award acceptance. Later in the week, we’ll look at some of the headline deals around baseball and how they relate to the TinCaps. Until then, thanks for reading, and please be in touch in the comments below, by email, or on Twitter @John_G_Nolan.

P.S. If you’re still shopping for the holidays, don’t forget to visit The Orchard Team Store at Parkview Field, or the seasonal location at Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne, or online here.

Winter Wins Single-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year Award

Brian Schackow, TinCaps VP — Finance, had yesterday’s TOTD. That’s Tweet of the Day for those not fluent in acronyms made up on the spot.

For the record, most of @Schack17‘s tweets are strong contenders for TOTD. This one comes after the news that Keith Winter is Minor League Baseball’s Single-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year, sponsored by the Sports Turf Managers Association.

It comes one day after Ballpark Digest named the TinCaps the 2014 Team of the Year in Minor League Baseball. That came after Ballpark Digest dubbed Fort Wayne’s BIG APPLE the Best New Food Item in Minor League Baseball in 2014.

Those accolades were on the heels of Stadium Journey ranking Parkview Field the best Minor League ballpark in the country. That praise followed Abby Naas, TinCaps Director of Promotions and Community Relations, being recognized as the Midwest League Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year.

Lest we neglect to mention Mallex Smith was voted by fans as Minor League Baseball’s Top Offensive Player. Jake Bauers made the Midwest League’s Postseason All-Star Team.

And to bring this full circle, before Keith was named Single-A’s Sports Turf Manager of the Year for a second consecutive year, the TinCaps Grounds Crew won its fifth straight Midwest League Field of the Year.

We’ll find out next week if Brian is Minor League Baseball’s Rookie CPA of the Year… For now, it’s a chance to appreciate what has been accomplished, while preparing to achieve even greater success in 2015 and beyond.

MUSICAL GUEST

BTO, take it away…

Please reach out with any comments, questions, or concerns (?) on Twitter (@John_G_Nolan), in the comments below, or by email. Thanks for reading.

TinCaps = Minor League Baseball’s Team of the Year

The offseason has seen the TinCaps collect a number of honors so far, and today came the biggest yet. Ballpark Digest announced the TinCaps are their 2014 Team of the Year in Minor League Baseball.

This is No. 1 out of all 160 organizations in Minor League Baseball — not just Single-A. The award is based on outstanding performance in the front office combined with a major commitment to community service. You can read more on that here.

Design Credit: Tony DesPlaines

Design Credit: Tony DesPlaines

Here’s the updated list of accolades the TinCaps have received so far in 2014:

* Minor League Baseball’s Team of the Year (Ballpark Digest)

* Minor League Baseball’s No. 1 Ballpark Experience (Stadium Journey)

* Minor League Baseball’s Best New Food Item – BIG APPLE (Ballpark Digest)

* Minor League Baseball’s Top Offensive Player – Mallex Smith

* Midwest League Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year – Abby Naas

* Midwest League Sports Turf Manager/Grounds Crew of the Year

* Midwest League Postseason All-Star – Jake Bauers

* Midwest League All-Star Classic Bunting Contest Champion – Mallex Smith

Spoiler alert: I can tell you there’s at least one more to add to that list tomorrow.

If you haven’t seen it yet, this video by the TinCaps Video Duo of Melissa Darby and Jared Law does an amazing job of capturing the essence of what makes TinCaps baseball special.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your contributions to making the TinCaps the crème de la crème of minor league sports. This wouldn’t be possible without the fans who support the team. Would love to hear what you love about the TinCaps. Let us know on Twitter (@John_G_Nolan), in the comments below, or by email.

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