Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs. Buffalo Bisons – 6/19/16

Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple A affiliate of the Phillies), is one of the nicest minor league ballparks I’ve been to.  There really isn’t a bad seat in the stadium, unless the temperature is nearing 100° outside.  Then you’d at least want to have a seat in the shade.  My seat was not in the shade, so things got hot pretty fast.  The next time I order tickets I’m going to remember to ask for seats in Section 104 and up.  According to the usher that was working in my section, the game was a complete sellout.  I saw a bunch of empty seats though.  Those people either decided not to come because of the heat or were in attendance but hung out in the shade.

The IronPigs played the Buffalo Bisons (Triple A affiliate of the Blue Jays) on Sunday.  Former Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown currently plays for the Bisons.  So does first basemen Casey Kotchman.  Kotchman played with the Angels for awhile, and then went on to the Braves.  He bounced around with a few other teams, before signing a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.  I remember his rookies were a big deal in 2002.  David Buchanan pitched for the IronPigs, and I got to see Darin Ruf.  Future Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford was also playing.  They say Crawford’s fielding has been good, but his work at the plate could use some improving.

One way to get out of the sun was to visit their Majestic Clubhouse Store.  Compared to last year, it wasn’t stocked as much.  They could’ve been running low on merchandise because of the doubleheader they played the day before.  Either way, I picked-up a new Coca-Cola Park t-shirt and a few lanyards.  With the Little League World Series coming up in August, I’m going to need those lanyards to store pins.  One of the lanyards has a Star Wars theme to it, while the other is covered in bacon.

For lunch I had a cheesesteak.  I’ve eaten hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and pretzels at games before, but never a cheesesteak.  It was really good.  I finished it off with some chocolate ice cream.  Out of all the ballparks I’ve been to, I think Coca-Cola Park has the widest range of different food options.

The next minor league game I’m scheduled to attend is in Harrisburg on July 9th.  That evening the Senators will be unveiling a life-sized bobblehead of Cliff Floyd.  Cliff Floyd is scheduled to be there, and fans will receive a replica bobblehead.

The IronPigs ended up losing 5-3 in 10 innings.  While going through the gate I received a set of BBQ tools as a giveaway.

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Buffalo Bisons

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Remember this dude from the Angels?

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Darin Ruf (batting) A.J. Jimenez (catching)

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J.P. Crawford leading off 1st base

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Darin Ruf

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J.P. Crawford

Pin Pickups From The 2015 Little League World Series

We’re neck deep into the 2015 Little League World Series.  Games are being played, merchandise is flying off the shelves, and pins are being handed out.

Its hard to believe the first time I went to the Little League World Series I never visited any of the corporate booths.  Now its really the only reason I go.  Sure its free to watch the games, but I can do that at home in the air conditioning.  On Saturday morning I decided to make the annual trip up to South Williamsport to see what was going on.

Arriving early really helps to cut down on traffic.  I arrived in South Williamsport around 10:00 a.m. and the first game didn’t start until 1:00 p.m.  There was no traffic at all.  Before heading over to Little League, I stopped at Reptiland.  Reptiland is a zoo that you pass on the way to Williamsport.  They have a Little League pin this year.  Its a two piece pin.  One part you get at Reptiland and the other you’ll find at the Little League Museum.  In order to get one you have to fight a live gator… just kidding.  After that it was on to Dunkin’ Donuts and Little League.

Most of the corporate booths didn’t open until 11:00 a.m.  Some of these companies are making it more difficult to get pins every year.  Companies like Lance, All, Bomb Pop, and Honda require people to fill out an endless amount of paperwork in order to get a bracelet which can make you eligible for a pin.  I know companies like to collect data for marketing research, but I think in some cases its getting a little ridiculous.  Luckily some of the people working for these companies will just hand you free pins if you ask without having to go through all the red tape.

After spending about three hours at Little League eating lunch and picking up as many pins as possible it was time to leave.  As game time approached the crowd got much larger.  This might have been the biggest crowd I’ve seen at Little League.  Most likely because the Red Land team from York is playing in it.  Lots of businesses in town have specially made Little League pins.  On the way home I stopped by The Clothier and Genetti Hotel.  You could probably spend all day everyday in Williamsport during the Little League World Series and not get every pin.  There are just so many.  Some are more difficult to obtain than others.  ESPN and Oakley pins seem to be the most difficult to find.  I ended up with twenty new pins for my collection.  Just a few of them are duplicates.  About half of them I got for free.

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State College Spikes vs. Mahoning Valley Scrappers – 8/9/15 – The Bus Bobblehead Night

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A lot of fans came out to watch the State College Spikes take on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on Sunday night.  Good baseball wasn’t the only reason people came out though.  It was Jerome Bettis bobblehead night!!!  The first 1,000 fans through the gates received a commemorative Jerome Bettis Hall of Fame Gold Jacket bobblehead.  I think the coolest part of this specific bobblehead is that the platform he’s standing on is in the shape of a bus.  Jerome Bettis was once or still is involved with a company that owns different minor league baseball teams including the Spikes.  That’s why I think they did this.  Plus he was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame over the weekend too and is a PA favorite.

The Spikes went on to win 4-1 over the Scrappers.  Instead of having chicken fingers and fries, I went for a cheeseburger this time.  I could smell them on the grill while waiting to get in.  Everything in the gift shop was 20% off as long as it had black and/or gold on it.  So I picked myself up a new “Fear The Dear” t-shirt.

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LuCKy the Lion from Lion Country Kia.

Crosscutters vs. Muckdogs – 7/17/15 – Doubleheader – Bobbleheads

On Friday evening the Williamsport Crosscutters played a doubleheader against the Batavia Muckdogs.  Williamsport went on to win both games 4-3 and 8-0.  The first 1,000 fans through the gate for Game 1 received a Pat Borders bobblehead.  Pat Borders is the new Manager of the Crosscutters, and was the 1992 World Series MVP with the Blue Jays.

Before finding a seat, I took a stroll through the Saw Mill Gift Shop.  I was able to pickup three new pins I didn’t have.  The pins I found look to be leftover stadium giveaways they gave out last year.

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Jose Pujols at bat.

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Jesus Posso at bat.

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Gabriel Castellanos pitching for the Muckdogs.

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Missing the “N”.

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Pat Borders bobblehead given to the first 1,000 fans.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs. Louisville Bats – 6/28/15

For the last couple of years I’ve been wanting to see the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple A of the Phillies) play.  The IronPigs played the Louisville Bats in a doubleheader since Saturday’s game was rained out.  The giveaway was a popcorn bowl shaped like an IronPigs batting helmet.  I didn’t get one because they were for kids 17 and under.  I usually only attend games when the home team is giving out bobbleheads, but this being my first time at Coca-Cola Park the giveaway really didn’t matter to me.

The first game of the day started at 1:05 p.m. and the gates opened at 12:00 p.m.  Right before they opened the gates, a machine turned on and covered the entire crowd in tiny bubbles.  Moments later I got to see the inside of Coca-Cola Park.  My seat was right behind home plate in Section 111.  I was also sitting right in front of the cinnamon roasted almonds, pecans, and cashews stand.  In all of the stadiums I’ve been to, I don’t think I’ve seen such a variety of food.  On one side you have pulled pork sandwiches and bacon on a stick.  On the other you’ve got ice cream and fried calamari rings.  In between are the hot dogs, chicken fingers, hamburgers, pizza, pretzels, etc…  After lunch I visited the Majestic Clubhouse Store.  They sucked me in with the OYO minifigures.  I picked up (2) OYOs, (2) t-shirts, (5) pins, and a bobblehead of their mascot Ferrous.  Next month they will be releasing a new t-shirt that combines the IronPigs logo with Iron Man.

Since it was a doubleheader, both games were only seven innings long.  The IronPigs lost the first game 6-1, but won the second game 8-3.  Coca-Cola Park is overall probably one of the nicest stadiums I’ve ever been to.  I look forward to going back.

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Who wants a Pepsi?

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FeFe

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Russ Canzler

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Russ Canzler

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My girlfriend is a total pig 🙂

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Lancaster Barnstormers vs. Bridgeport Bluefish – 5/30/15

Every summer I try and get to a handful of minor league games.  Specifically on days they’re giving out bobbleheads.  This year I’ve got tickets for the Williamsport Crosscutters, Harrisburg Senators, State College Spikes, and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  On the day I go see the Iron Pigs they aren’t giving out bobbleheads, but I’ve never been to Coca-Cola Park before.  So that will be a whole new experience for me.

The Lancaster Barnstormers give out great bobbleheads.  They aren’t always of players, managers, and/or mascots related to the team either.  Many times their bobbleheads focus on historical or famous individuals from the Lancaster area.  On Saturday, May 30th the Barnstormers gave out bobbleheads of Robert Fulton to the first 1,000 fans.

Robert Fulton was born in Little Britain, PA which is located in the southern portion of Lancaster.  He is credited with inventing the first commercially successful steamboat called Clermont.  Fulton was also commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the Nautilus, which was one of the first usable submarines in history.  Early torpedoes used by the British Royal Navy were another invention of his.

The Barnstormers have two more bobblehead nights this year.  On July 18th they will be giving out bobbleheads of golfer Jim Furyk.  Johnny Weir bobbleheads will be given out on July 31st.  While I was there, I picked up a new pin for my collection too.  They should be getting a few more new pins in later this season.  Lancaster won 10-0 that night.

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Cylo!

On Location: Inside The Pro Football Hall of Fame – Canton, OH

Over the weekend I took a trip to Canton, Ohio and visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I first visited back in 1998.  That year, guys like Paul Krause and Anthony Munoz got inducted.  It was also the year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were neck and neck in the single season home run race.

Going through the Hall of Fame is a blast!!!  They’ve really changed a lot since the last time I was there.  Right after buying your tickets to get in, you’re greeted by a photographer who will take your picture in front of a green screen.  When you’re finished touring the museum, you can stop and see your pictures before leaving.  They put a whole photo package together for you.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the holy land for any football fan.  You can sit there and open every high-end football card product on the market today, and it will never come close to the fun stuff you see inside this place.  All the way from professional football’s 1892 birth certificate to memorabilia used by players today.  The Hall of Fame covers everything.

Its difficult to pick what parts of the Hall of Fame are my favorite.  Every corner I turned there was another priceless artifact.  The older memorabilia fascinates me the most.  Mainly because its a miracle that its still around.  The Hall of Fame Gallery filled with all of the inductee busts is really cool too.  That was dramatically better looking than what I remember it being.  But if I had to pick one artifact to be my personal favorite, it would probably be the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The gift shop is massive and contains every NFL themed item you could possibly think of.  I bought three new pins, lanyard, golf shirt, and a Hall of Fame mini helmet.  I also ate lunch at the Hall of Fame Cafe.  They serve lots of stuff from hot dogs and hamburgers to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

Take a look!!!

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Pro Football’s Birth Certificate – this is an expense sheet from the Allegheny Athletic Association dated November 12, 1892.  The “game performance bonus to W. Heffelfinger for playing (cash) $500.00” is the earliest evidence of someone being paid to play football.

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Jim Thorpe’s Carlisle Indians Letterman Sweater.

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(Top Middle) Arnie Herber’s sideline coat, (Top Left) Butch Gibson’s 1934 N.Y. Giants jersey, (Top Right) “Wooky” Roberts Canton Bulldogs jersey.  Also seen in this picture is the helmet worn by Link Lyman in the 1934 NFL Championship Game, game ball signed by the 1925 N.Y. Giants, and coach’s cap worn by Redskins founder-owner George Preston Marshall.

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Jerseys of Bob Waterfield #7, Bronko Nagurski #3, and Sid Luckman #42.

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Jerseys of Johnny Unitas #19 and Doak Walker #37.

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Jerseys of Jim Brown #32, Lance Alworth’s AFL All-Star jersey #19 , and Sonny Jurgensen #9.  Helmets of Dick Butkus (left), and Tommy Nobis (right).

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Jerseys of Peyton Manning #18, Reggie White #92, and Tony Gonzalez #88.  Shoulder pads of Cortez Kennedy and college helmet of Larry Allen.

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Tim Tebow jersey – this jersey was worn during the playoff win over the Steelers in 2012.  Tebow threw an 80-yard bomb to win the game 29-23.

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Miami Dolphins Perfect Season.

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The “Immaculate Reception” Turf – Franco Harris removed this piece of turf at the exact spot where the “Immaculate Reception” took place in Three Rivers Stadium.

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Toys!!!

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The inaugural Hall of Fame class from 1963.

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Jim Thorpe

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Vince Lombardi

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O.J. Simpson

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Mike Ditka

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Dan Marino

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John Madden

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Team Postcards – (Left) 1911 Nutshell Tigers of Canton, (Right) Game action from a 1900 game.

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World Football League football – they didn’t make it.

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United States Football League football – they didn’t make it either 🙂

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Player bench from the last game Vince Lombardi coached at Lambeau Field.  Green Bay, Dec. 31, 1967.

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LeSean McCoy wore this jersey, gloves, and cleats in a game against the Lions in Dec. 2013.  On that day, in blizzard conditions, McCoy ran for 217 yards setting a new franchise record.

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Vince Lombardi Trophy

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Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XLIII ring.

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“I’m ready to go in coach, just give me a chance.  I know there’s a lot riding on it, but it’s all psychological.  Just gotta stay in a positive frame of mind.” – Ace Ventura

Williamsport Crosscutters 9th Annual Hot Stove Banquet

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Its been almost a decade since the Williamsport Crosscutters held their first Hot Stove Banquet.  On the night of January 19th, baseball fans were invited to sit back, relax, eat some good food, and here stories from the celebrity guests.  This year the guest list included Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg, Denny McLain, Crosscutters Manager and 1992 World Series MVP Pat Borders, and Pat Gillick.  Other members of the Phillies organization were also there in attendance.  Phillies pitcher Ken Giles was suppose to be there, but due to a scheduling conflict he couldn’t make it.

For a ticket price of $49.00, I believe you get one heck of a deal.  That includes a full chicken dinner, salad, and cake.  Plus at the conclusion of the event you can get autographs from the guests, given you get in line fast enough.  Some guests stick around longer than others.  Its best to prioritize which autographs you want first, second, and third so you can get in that particular line early.  You never quite know when they’ll cut the line off.  I was able to snag Ryne Sandberg on my bat.

The Chinese auction had a lot of signed baseballs, bobbleheads, and pins.  I threw some tickets into three different bags for bobbleheads, but didn’t win any this time.  They were also giving away a Dellin Betances game-worn Yankees jersey that came with a COA from Steiner.

Right before the autograph session began, they made an announcement that the Phillies had a special gift for everyone as they left.  All attendees were to receive a FREE Chase Utley bobblehead on the way out.  This was an added bonus that I didn’t see coming.  I collect bobbleheads and never had one of Chase Utley before.  This specific Utley bobblehead was a stadium giveaway the Phillies gave out last season.  They must have made some extra.

Overall, it was one of the best Hot Stove Banquets they ever had.  Denny McLain’s story about how he and Tug McGraw went over to Vietnam was very funny.  The bobblehead at the end really put it over the top for me.  Try getting a full meal, autographs, and a bobblehead for $49.00 some place else.  You won’t find it.  I forgot to mention that each seat had a Taney Baseball t-shirt too.

Next year is their 10th anniversary.  I would like to see some 10th anniversary commemorative pins made up to giveaway.  One at each place setting.  Great job everyone!!!

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(Left) Pat Gillick – former Phillies General Manager & 2011 Baseball HOF inductee (Right) Gabe Sinicropi – Crosscutters VP, Marketing & Public Relations

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Pat Borders – current Crosscutters Manager & 1992 World Series MVP

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Ryne Sandberg signature on my bat

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Utley bobblehead

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Taney Baseball t-shirt

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Phillie Phanatic!

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Boomer!

Hershey Bears vs. Binghamton Senators – 12/13/14

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On Saturday night I went to see the Hershey Bears take on the Binghamton Senators.  It was Dane Byers bobblehead night!!!  I believe the Hershey Bears have the best chicken fingers and fries out of all the stadiums I’ve been to.  The Bears won 5-2.  There was a lot of scoring and a bunch of fights.  I checked out the gift shop, but didn’t find anything new.  I wish they would sell some more bobbleheads in their gift shop.  OYO needs to start making some AHL minifigures.

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Hall Of Fame Pitcher Steve Carlton Set To Sign For Annual Ephrata Lions Club Show

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The Ephrata Lions Club has been holding their annual sports card show for over 35 years.  They always have a ton of Phillies stuff and bring in a decent autograph signer.  The next show will take place on Saturday, March 28, 2015.  Former Phillies pitcher and Hall of Famer Steve Carlton will be signing autographs.  Additional details can be found on their website.

Last year I was able to find a Harry Kalas card I needed for my collection.  This is one of the last remaining card shows worth attending in my area.  I’ve been going since the 90’s.

Here are some of the past shows I’ve attended: