Sunday, May 28, 2006

Minor League Announcer is Reading’s Iron Man

The man least interested in Reading's salute to Public address announcer Dave Bouman was the guest of honor himself.

During numerous interviews leading up to his special day Bouman told reports that he was honored Reading thought enough to celebrate the milestone, but that it was really nothing special.

“For me, I'm just a guy who does his job," Bouman said. “I show up and do my job. It's no big deal, but they want to have some fanfare about it.”

For the last 28 years Bouman's job has entailed sitting in a tiny press box and telling fans who was batting, who was pitching and what special promotion was coming. That amounts to 2,000 consecutive home games. Well, about that many anyway.

Late last season Reading officials attempted to calculate exactly how many consecutive games it was for Bouman. They couldn't determine an exact number, but are certain that 2,000 falls sometime this week.

Their best estimate had Tuesday being the day, so that's when the Phillies' chose to honor Bauman.

Regardless of the date, Bouman has become an institution in cramped FirstEnergy Stadium. All within the organization are amazed at Bouman's streak.

“When I got here in the 1988 season, I learned that we had a PA announcer who, at that point, hadn't missed a game in nine years,” Reading general manager Chuck Domino said. “I thought that was an accomplishment. Here it is 19 years later and he still hasn't missed a game.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A taste of the majors

Playing at RFK stadium excited the minor league players even more than I thought it would. Before the start of their half of the major league/minor league double-header, the minor leaguers walked around the Diamond Club with their eyes as wide as dip cans, soaking in the tatmosphere that permeates a major league ball park.

I was expecting to meet at least a couple of players who didn't want to play at RFK because they wanted their first game in a big league stadium to be with a big league club. If there was a player who felt that way, I didn’t run into him.

To a man, the players echoed the sentiments of Potomac's Tom Wilson.

"It's awesome," Wilson said. "I just cant wait to get on the field and work. It just makes you want to work harder. You’re so close. It gives you a sense of urgency."

The only really disappointed player I could find was Potomac’s Steve Mortimer. A regular with the P-Nats, Mortimer was unable to play because of a broken middle finger on his right hand.

"It's a big-time buzz kill," Mortimer admitted. "But I’m glad to be here. I’m happy to be with my teammates. Even though I'm hurt and I'm not going to get on the field, I'm extremely fortunate."

The afternoon produced a couple of memorable moments. Both teams dressed in the same locker room – the one used by the D.C. United soccer team. When they entered the locker room, players circled the lockers searching for Freddy Adu's stall.

When the players took the field for warm-up stretching, the P-Nats went to left field, while Salem took right field. Potomac sat in the third base dugout, but its bullpen staff walked out to the bullpen behind the rightfield wall. This caught Salem's pen off guard. At they start of the game, Salem relievers headed out to the right field pen, before turning around and heading to left.

One of the drawbacks of playing the game less than an hour after the big league contest between Boston and Washington was that the Stadium crew didn't have much time to clean. The wind kicked up shortly after the start of the minor league game, blowing in a trash storm from the right field bleachers.

The teams took a little extra time between innings while the staff and grounds crew cleared the field.

Other than that, the promotion was successful enough that members of the Potomac front office sad they plan on making the major league/minor league promotion a yearly event.

For more information on this and other fun minor league baseball stories, check out

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Replacement umps lose control in Birmingham

Striking minor league umpires finally have an incident to support their claims.

Birmingham Barons
manager Chris Cron pulled his team off the field after three bench clearing episodes in Saturday’s Southern League game against Jacksonville. Following the third dust-up, White Sox director of player development Dave Wilder walked onto the field and reportedly told the replacement umpires they would never work in the league again.

Both Cron and Wilder were concerned that the replacement umpires had lost control of the game and feared the players would get hurt. The striking minor league umpires have contended all along that the presence of replacement umpires would be most noticeable during difficult situations. In this instance, it appears they were right.

Now, I've never been accused of being a pro-labor zealot, but it's time for major league baseball clubs to step in and get this strike settled.

Triple-A umpires make a base salary of about $15,000 per year. Lower level umpires can make as little as $5,000. They are striking in search of higher base salaries and a larger per diem.

In fairness to minor league baseball officials, they thought they had struck a deal when they left the bargaining table a couple of weeks ago, but the Association of Minor League Umpires vetoed the deal. They decided the proposed raise wasn't enough.

It's time to get back to the negotiating table.

Brawls happen in all levels of baseball and it's ridiculous to believe even the best umpires in the world can eliminate them.

But from a strictly financial viewpoint, wouldn't it be worthwhile for major league clubs to step in and double the minor league umpire's salary if that would cut down the probability of Saturday’s events happening again?

They certainly have the money. And it's cheaper than having one bean ball war injuring a multimillion-dollar prospect.

In a related note, is reporting that Durham's Delmon Young has been suspended 50 games for throwing a bat at a replacement umpire.

To read more about minor league baseball, go to

Monday, May 08, 2006

Let down in Buffalo

So our Promotion of the Day for Sunday on was a special secret announcement from the Buffalo Bisons. We had big hopes for this one. Adding a live Buffalo to its stadium seemed like a real possibility. But the Bisons brass settled on adding a female mascot with some sort of singing career.

It's possible in this age of American Idol that the world needed one more singing woolly creature, but it seems like Bisons simply chose to follow the herd with this one. In about a year or two, this new mascot will probably marry the old mascot. We won't bat an eye.

Bisons mascots are off our radar. At least until they get the first mascot divorce.

Keeping a new mascot secret - let the silence begin. Starting.... Now!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Brevard County named Organiation of the Month

Awarding the Brevard County Manatees the Organization of the Month was one of the easiest choices ever. The afternoon I spent in Brevard was one of the most enjoyable ballpark experiences I've ever had.

The attention to fun isnoticeablee as soon as you enter the park. General Manager Buck Rogers - yes Buck Rogers is the general manager of a team that plays at Space Coast Stadium - didn't grow up as baseball insider. He was a fan who said, I think we can do better. Rogers then backed up his talk.

He eventually brought his wife into the baseball business and now his daughters are on the stadium's staff. Making sure families have fun at the ballpark has turned into a family affair.

I can't wait to see what stunts they pull the rest of the year.

Read more about the craziness of minor league baseball at

Monday, May 01, 2006

Simon Says promotion falls short

Though the extra-inning game may have cost Lakeland a shot at the world record, it probably made the promotion more successful.

Lakeland Tiger
fans had to wait through two extra innings Friday night before they got their shot at breaking the world record for the largest game of Simon Says. They certainly lost some of their younger fans, but the delay meant that the game was played during a Tampa television station's late newscast.

Twice during its newscast the station went live to Joker Marchant Stadium to see how the Simon Says game was progressing. I suspect the Tigers front office will gladly trade the record for that kind of free publicity.

Lakeland GM Zach Burek is looking into another record breaking attempt later this season, possibly during the Florida State League's All-Star game. Maybe I’ll participate in that one.

For more information on the event, check out the story on