The 2013 Midwest League All-Star Game is now just one week away. Next Tuesday, June 18, the best that the Midwest League has to offer (that are not injured or promoted) will gather in Dayton, Ohio for this year’s version of the Midwest Midsummer Classic.
The Loons are sending two players to Dayton: Carlos Frias and Tyler Ogle. They had a third in Jharel Cotton, but he has been sent up to Double-A Chattanooga. From the Nest will have more coverage next week on the actual game and festivities. For now, let’s take a look at the city of Dayton itself.
Almost anybody that has driven from Michigan to Florida along I-75 has gone through Dayton, a city sometimes known as the “birthplace of aviation” because the Wright Brothers, two of the city’s more famous denizens, did something with making airplanes or something. But there is more to Dayton than just people passing through on their way to warmer climates.
Dayton was founded in 1796 and has been built around the Great Miami River in central Ohio. It’s the sixth largest city in Ohio, but with almost 800,000 residents in the metropolitan area, it has the fourth biggest metro area in the state.
Dayton has produced a lot of people that went on to success, fame and fortune. Along with the Wright Bros, the city has produced Roger Clemens, Chris Collinsworth, Kirk Herbstreit, Brady Hoke, Dan Patrick and Martin Sheen, along with countless others.
Even though the population of Dayton has been declining since the 1960s, it turns out the Dayton is pretty vital to the economy of Ohio. Site Selection ranked it as the No. 1 medium-sized metropolis in the U.S. for economic development in 2008 and 2009. Bloomberg Businessweek has said for several years that Dayton is one of the best places in the country for the college grads looking for a job (Intern Matt in a few months). The biggest industries in Dayton are aerospace and aviation technology, exports and healthcare.
Mike-sells, the oldest potato chip company in the U.S. is in Dayton. The city also hosts the “First Four” of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament…March Madness to the layman. Dayton has hosted more tournament games than any other active venue. That’s as good of an excuse as any to play “One Shining Moment,” one of the staples of the tournament and one of my favorite things to watch every year.
The University of Dayton and Wright State are both in the city. Dayton’s mascot is the Flyers and Wright State is the Raiders. UD is the large private school in the state and has the only accredited law school in the area. Wright State has the only medical school in the area. Sinclair Community College in Dayton is also the largest community college at a single location in Ohio. Forbes ranked Dayton as the 10th best metro area in America for higher education in 2009.
One of the questions on our “Get to Know Your Loons” feature this season is what is each players favorite city to go on road trips. Every single player thus far has said Dayton, Ohio. Even though it’s in Ohio (lol jk), players in the Midwest League love going to Dayton. Fifth Third Field is top of the line, Dragons fans pack the place every night (seriously, every night) and the city is fun.
It’s worth making the trip next week if you can find a couple tickets. If not, From the Nest will be there every step of the way. Or fans can always keep up by checking in on any one of the Loons social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). See you in The Gem City next week!
We’re already nearing the end of May and schools will soon be out for the summer! The Loons season is in full swing at Dow Diamond and many of you may be thinking of coming out to a game for the first time in 2013.
Before you do come out, FTN wants to tell you about a few things that you may not have seen at Dow Diamond in past Loons seasons.
Nothing says summer time better than a Summer Shandy at a ball game. This season, the Loons are offering a wide-array of new beverages around the stadium. One place you will be able to get these drinks is at the new “Leinie Lodge.” Adirondack chairs and corn hole games are located on the concourse along the first-base line near Lou E’s Lookout at the Leinie Lodge, where you can enjoy some bottled Leinenkugel’s beer, maybe with some souvenir peanuts.
MAC MAC MAC GONE
Sure, everybody loves a hot dog or bratwurst at the ballpark, but how about a different American classic to change up your baseball palette. At the “Mac Mac Mac Gone” stand located behind Section 107, the Loons offer macaroni and cheese as a main dish which is sure to excite both young fans and long-time visitors to Dow Diamond. But it doesn’t stop at just plain mac n’ cheese; we’ve got some flavors that will throw your taste buds for a loop, including BLT, Pizza and Veggie, Chicken Enchilada and Lobster (!). You’ve got to try it!
With so much happening at Dow Diamond during a Loons game, wouldn’t it be helpful if everything you needed to know was all in one place? Now it is with the new free Loons Boomaphone App for Apple and Android devices. You can customize the app so it fits your baseball experience. Promotions, player stats and bios, or contests, whatever it is that you like, the app can give it to you. You can also participate in things happening during the game. Guess winners, sign-up for contests and even get coupons sent right to your phone. Using Twitter, fans call also send photos, answer trivia questions and request a song to be played by the Loons production staff! This is the ultimate tool that every Loons fan should have.
A lot of sporting events has a 50/50 raffle. With the help of the Michigan Baseball Foundation, so do the Loons. But instead of going home with just a couple hundred bucks (pshaw), you’ll have the chance to win a whole lot more than that if you’re chosen as the participant. During the bottom of the sixth inning at each Loons home game, you’ll hear public address announcer Jerry O’Donnell introduce the contestant for the Miller Lite Grand Slam Inning. If the Loons get the bases loaded in that inning, and someone hits a grand slam, the lucky participant will take home $5,000! You can sign up at guest services along the first-base line, or on the Loons Boomaphone App.
Growing up in the household that I did, it was inevitable that I was going to like sports. Now, did I think I would end up working for a baseball team? Not exactly.
I’m Matt and this season, I have the opportunity to be involved with Los Angeles Dodgers Single-A affiliate, your Great Lakes Loons. I’ll be your Communications Intern for the summer. Now, I’m from Grand Rapids, but as a senior at nearby Central Michigan University, I’ve begun to adopt the Loons as my hometown team.
What I hope to tell you all about is the stuff that you don’t normally hear. There won’t be quotes from our manager or players. This is me, telling you what I always wanted to hear about a baseball team. It will be what you don’t get a chance to see. An inside look at what happens in the underbelly of Dow Diamond and how everything gets done at the Loons.
For me, things began with the nerve-racking interview process, just as it does with any job. You have the bearded gem that is Chris Mundhenk, our Vice President of Marketing and Entertainment, and the hard-to-read Steve Livingston, our Communications Manager, sitting across the conference room table from you. You want the job, and you need to do everything in your non-physical power to tell them that.
Luckily, after a couple of interviews and an anxious weekend of waiting, I was able to answer a phone call that had some good news on the other end.
I had been with the team no more than a handful of days and we were in the midst of our preseason crunch before the 2013 season was to get underway. At this point, you want to learn as much about the team that you can in as little time possible.
I was introduced to what seems like hundreds of people, and no matter how hard you try, you’ll remember one or two at the most. Chris and Steve walked me through the hallways underneath the stadium, by the batting cages (which made me have flashbacks of spring break during high school before the baseball season started), and up to the suites where I would be working for the summer.
It was a little overwhelming at first, trust me.
But, I also began to realize that a baseball organization is not much different than any other place you might work. People debate whether country music is listenable, you hear a conversation about how Michigan is going break down Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, and you might even get lucky when your boss buys you pizza for lunch on a Friday. Everyone is a person just like anywhere else. Sometimes, when it comes to sports, no matter the level, we tend to forget that.
It’s only been a month since I’ve come on board, but I have loved every minute of it. Baseball has been a big part of my life since I was a little kid. I never thought I would have the chance to actually work for a team, but here I am.
AND DON’T FORGET! Be sure to interact with us here in the nest, on Facebook and on Twitter. We all want to hear from you. What do you want to know about the Loons? What about Dow Diamond? Anything at all about us, you be sure to let us know.
The Loons Opening Day Celebration Presented by Consumers Energy is just eight days away. Major League Baseball starts their schedule on Sunday night when Matt Harrison and the Rangers head to Minute Maid Park to play Bud Norris and the hapless Houston Astros. The Voice of the Turtle is about to be heard in our land.
There have been a lot of great Opening Day moments through the years, but there are a few that stand out above the rest. Let’s start with the five that just missed the cut:
- Fresh off two World Series appearances, the Yankees opened a brand new, start-of-the-art facility against the Boston Red Sox. Babe Ruth hit the first of his 259 home runs at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees won 4-1. Ruth hit third that day. Extra credit to whoever can tell me the Yankee great that hit fourth (hint, it was not Lou Gehrig).
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened on April 6, 1992 with a 2-0 Baltimore win over Cleveland. The opening of Camden Yards has affected baseball for the past two decades. It was the first retro-classic ballpark and has influenced every Major League stadium that has been built over the last 21 seasons.
- In Boston’s 1998 home opener, Randy Johnson came into Fenway Park and dominated the Red Sox for eight innings. The Big Unit struck out 15 and held Boston to two runs on two hits and the Red Sox trailed 7-2 going to the home half of the ninth inning. Then the Mariners bullpen imploded. Facing four pitchers in the ninth, the Red Sox crawled back into the game. Trailing 7-5 with the bases loaded, All-Star Mo Vaughn smoked a 0-2 pitch, sending a Paul Spoljaric pitch deep into the right-center field stands for a walk-off grand slam.
- The American League claimed Major League status in 1901. Of the eight charter franchises, the Detroit Tigers are the only team that is still in their original city and has kept their original name. Their first game in the AL was a classic. Detroit trailed 13-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Doc Casey lead off with a double and eventually Pop Dillon hit a two-out double to drive in the game-tying and game-winning runs to complete the greatest comeback in a storied history on the franchise’s first day.
- In one of the most unique Opening Day moments in recent memory, the Cleveland Indians did not play their schedule home opener with the Seattle Mariners in 2007. In fact, they didn’t play a single game in what was supposed to be a four-game set because a snowstorm came in off Lake Erie and made the surface at
Jacobs Field Progressive Field (it’ll always be The Jake to me) unplayable for over a week. The next series against the Angels was played at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Now for the top ten, including some great moments for Loons fans…
10) Ken Griffey Jr. goes yard in his return to Seattle
Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the most talented baseball players to come along in the last fifty years. He was certainly one of the most dominant players of the 1990’s and was a fan favorite in Seattle for over a decade. Griffey hit 417 of his 630 home runs as a member of the Mariners and won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves manning center field at The Kingdome.
Then on February 12, 2000, Griffey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he spent the majority of his next nine seasons. After being dealt to the White Sox at the 2008 trade deadline, he returned to Seattle as a free agent for the 2009 season. As somebody who grew up in the 90’s as a Griffey fan, but not actually a Mariners fan, I can only imagine the jubilation of that fan base when Junior announced that he was coming back to Seattle. Then in his second at-bat as a Mariner in almost a decade, he sent a Francisco Liriano pitch deep to right field at The Metrodome in Minneapolis, sending Mariners fans into a frenzy over 1,600 miles away. Griffey followed that up a week later by getting a single in Seattle’s first home game of 2009.
9) Rall E. Camel debuts at Dow Diamond in 2012
It started when a mysterious box arrived at Dow Diamond. Then Lou E. Loon found said box. The saga continued with the escape, search and recapture of the contents of the mysterious box. On Opening Day last season, April 9, 2012, Rall E. Camel officially became a member of the Loons family.
8) Three home runs on Opening Day (three times)
Watching a player hit three home runs in one game is somewhat rare. Those games don’t come along very often. They happen even less on a big stage: postseason, All-Star Game, games on national television and Opening Day. But it has happened three times on Opening Day and all three times have taken place within the last 25 years. Surprisingly, none of the players to accomplish this are anywhere near getting into Cooperstown.
The first player to hit three dingers on Opening Day was George Bell in 1988. Bell was fresh off winning a MVP in 1987 (beating Alan Trammell in a really close, something that my father’s generation of Tigers fans is still bitter about) and had hit 47 home runs the year before. Against Brett Saberhagen, who had already won one Cy Young in 1985 and would win another in 1989, Bell hit two deep home runs to the deep part of left field and hit another that was a line drive down the left field line.
The other two players to go yard on Opening Day are Tuffy Rhodes and Dmitri Young.
In case you were wondering…no, I had not heard of Tuffy Rhodes either until I starting doing research for this blog post. Rhodes was a rarely used outfielder who spent the majority of his career with the Astros and Cubs. He hit 13 career home runs, eight of which came in
1994 the season which will not be named. Three of those eight home runs were on Opening Day. Rhodes led off the bottom of the first against Doc Gooden by putting a 3-2 pitch over the fence in Wrigley. Rhodes hit two more home runs off Gooden, one in the third and another to lead off the fifth inning. Tigers fan favorite Dmitri Young also went deep three times at Comerica Park in 2005, hitting two off Jose Lima (RIP Lima time) and another off Mike MacDougal.
7) Presidential first pitch: every year since 1910
William Howard Taft, the 27th President of these United States, started a great tradition in 1910 when he threw out the first pitch of the season, tossing it from the stands to Washington Senators ace and Hall of Famer Walter Johnson. Since that time, there has been the good (W.), the bad (George H.W. Bush) and the ugly (FDR). But it’s been a long-standing tradition that is a great part of Opening Day. Barack Obama threw out the first pitch in 2010 at Nationals Park just nine days before the 100th anniversary of Taft’s first Presidential first pitch.
6) Bob Feller tosses no-hitter in 1940
The “Heater From Van Meter” broke into the majors in 1936, making his debut at the age of 17. He was an eight-time All-Star and likely would have won 300 games if he had not missed three-plus seasons in his prime to serve in World War II. Feller played before the Cy Young Award came into existence, but he was arguably the most dominant pitcher of the 1940’s and would have won a few before he retired. Rapid Robert is also the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day. Despite pitching in 47-degree weather at Old Comiskey Park, Feller shut down the White Sox and did not allow a hit on the way to a 1-0 Indians victory.
5) Loons begin inaugural season
After all the preparation that went into bringing a team to Midland and building a state-of-the-art facility, the Loons finally took the field. The first game in team history was on April 5, 2007, when they played at the South Bend Silver Hawks, winning 10-3. Future Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was on the hill to start the game for the Loons and another future big leaguer, Brett Anderson, started for South Bend. Trayvon Robinson, Josh Bell and Carlos Santana all had multi-hit games as the Loons picked up victory No. 1 in team history.
The Loons had their inaugural home opener on April 13, 2007 in front of a capacity crowd of 5,454. Future Major League pitcher Steve Johnson started and gave up four earned runs on six hits as the Loons fell to the Lansing Lugnuts, 6-2. Robinson and Preston Mattingly each had one hit in the loss. Despite losing that day, it was the first of countless games at Dow Diamond that have provided memories for thousands in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
4) Hank Aaron ties The Babe at 714
Hammerin’ Hank came into the 1974 season with 713 career home runs, just one back of all-time career home run leader Babe Ruth. The off-field stress that Aaron and his family went through in pursuit of this record has been well documented. On top of that, hitting 700 home runs is really tough to do*.
There was a school of thought that said that Aaron should sit out the opening series at Cincinnati and try to tie the record at home in Atlanta. Aaron played that first series and wasted no time in tying the record. In the first inning, he took Jack Billingham deep, hitting a home run to left-center field to tie the Sultan of Swat. Aaron broke the record four days later in the Braves home opener.
* – unless you take steroids…allegedly
3) John McSherry dies on the field in Cincinnati
This is not a top moment in that it is an inspirational moment; just that it is a memorable event and stands out among Opening Day incidents.
John McSherry started as a National League umpire in 1971. He umpired in two World Series, eight 10 NL postseasons and three All-Star Games. He was the home plate umpire in Cincinnati in 1996 as the Reds were playing host to the Montreal Expos. Seven pitches into the game, McSherry called a timeout, said some words to Reds catcher Eddie Taubensee and then moved slowly toward the Reds dugout. He then signaled for the second base umpire to assist him, but stumbled and collapsed before help arrived. McSherry died of a massive heart attack within the hour.
The game was called off. Controversial Reds owner Marge Schott didn’t help matters when she voiced her displeasure with the decision, saying “Snow this morning and now this. I don’t believe it. I feel cheated. This isn’t supposed to happen to us, not in Cincinnati. This is our history, our tradition, our team.”
2) Baseball returns
We already mentioned that season in the mid-1990’s that shall not be named, when a player strike and consequent work stoppage led to the entire MLB postseason being cancelled. It was one of baseball’s darkest hours. It took the game years to recover. Attendance wasn’t the same for over a decade.
That recovery started on Opening Day in 1995. On April 25, baseball was back. It wasn’t pretty at first. Really, it wasn’t pretty for a while. Fans booed. Fans protested. Replacement players and umpires were used. It was ugly. But the important thing about 1995 is that baseball was back. And it’s been back ever since.
Aside from the drama of the strike and baseball returning, there were great baseball moments in 1995: Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games-played streak, Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson both had dominant Cy Young seasons, and the Tom Glavine pitched a one-hit shutout in Game Six of the World Series to secure the Atlanta Braves only title of the decade.
1) Jackie Robinson
I think this almost goes without saying. The integration of baseball is probably the single biggest innovation in the last century. It has allowed thousands of players to pursue their dream of playing in Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson was the first black player to play Major League Baseball since the 1880’s and along with Larry Doby in the American League, broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues.
Wearing No. 42, Robinson made his MLB debut at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on April 15, 1947 and baseball was never the same. There were two reasons that Robinson was perfect for his role and was able to make a bigger cultural impact than other black players that would have been in his situation. The first is that he was an impact player right away and had a Hall of Fame career. That showed the American public right away that African-Americans could play baseball at an elite level and that they had to have them in the Major League. The second reason was the way that Robinson handled all the hate and bigotry that came his way. He was an absolute gentleman, when he could have lashed out at those who didn’t accept him, and for that, the game of baseball is eternally grateful.
So that’s it. Those are my favorite moments from Opening Day in the history of Major League Baseball. But the beauty of baseball is that there are moments in the future that are not on this list yet. Maybe even something special that happens this season. We’ll know soon enough. Major League Baseball starts on Sunday. The Tigers open on Monday, as does former Loon Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. The Loons open on Thursday, April 4. This is best time of the year folks. Say it with me. Baseball. Is. Back.
Pitchers and catchers report.
To baseball fans, those are the four greatest words in the English language.
For fans in Michigan and other northern parts of the country, it also represents a changing of the seasons. It means that even though it doesn’t get above freezing most days, that spring and warm weather is right around the corner.
By Wednesday, February 13, every Major League team was in camp.
Even if Dow Diamond is still covered in snow, it’s time for baseball.
For right now, it’s spring training. It’s camp stories and spring break trips to warmer climates. But the regular season starts in 45 days when the Loons open their 2013 season at home against the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
One intriguing aspect of Minor League Baseball is that most fans don’t find out who is on their favorite teams roster until the season is almost ready to start. It does make it difficult to project how a team will perform.
However, the Loons do already know what their coaching staff is going to look like. The pitching coach is former big league pitcher Bill Simas and the hitting coach is Mike Eylward. Eylward will be taking over for the man who will be the Loons manager this season: Mr. Razor Shines.
The Loons manager was once named by Maxim magazine as having “the most bad @ss name of all time.” Even though he just found out about the honor on his recent visit to Midland, he probably fits the mold of the greatest action heroes of all-time.
Shines is in his third year with the Loons and his first as manager. Despite spending a lot of time in Michigan over the last two years, the North Carolina native, who spends his offseasons in Texas, has not really gotten used to the cold. During his visit last week, he talked about players from warmer climates adjusting to colder springs than they are used to.
“No matter what I say, it’s not going to help,” Shines said. “I’m going to tell them that it’s going to be cold, but when your body feels this, that’s when you’ll adjust. Mentally, you can expect it to be cold, but once you get off that plane, it’s a bit of a shock.”
That’s the Planet Hoth. It’s not quite that cold in Michigan in April, but the average temperature on April 4 in Midland is 48 degrees (according to wunderground.com). That’s colder than most of the country and takes some getting used to if you’re from a Southern state.
Even if you see Shines in a parka on Opening Day, he’s still going to be one heck of a manager. He’s been doing this for a long time and this is the fourth generation that he has managed in, including the Phillies single-A team, the Clearwater Threshers, in 2008. That was the same season that the Phillies won the World Series. Shines got a World Series ring for his efforts. It’s massive. Like really, really big. And shiny too. Pun not intended.
“It’s going to be a fun season,” Shines said. “We have an exciting team and I can wait to get started.”
Got news for you, Razor. Neither can anybody else.
I’ll leave you with a clip that Major League Baseball used for an intro on Opening Day a few years ago, narrated by the one and only Ernie Harwell.
Opening Day is right around the corner.
For the third consecutive year, Loons blog From the Nest has wrapped its final gift of the holiday season in this ‘Year in Review’ super-post. The following scroll of lists, photos, and animated gifs (new this year!) will take you back to your favorite seat at Dow Diamond, highlighting all the special memories from 2012 and the moments you may have missed. So sit back and get your pointer finger ready to descend this triumphant post (which looks beautiful on mobile/iPad devices btw) as we give one final round of applause to the year that was, 2012.
The team entered the season in the middle of its 5th Anniversary Celebration, which launched in August 2011. Perhaps not wanting to out-do the Loons teams before them, the 2012 squad turned in a modest overall record of 67-73. The mark ranked 4th all-time in team history, led by outfielder Scott Schebler (pictured) who logged the most games played in a single season by a Loon. More records here.
A detailed recap of the most exciting Loons home games of the season (listed below).
1. ‘Rain Dancing for Rallies’ – 5.27
2. ‘Akins Echoes 2011′ – 8.7
3. ‘Sanchez’s Spotless Seven’ – 7.2
4. ‘The Sweet Sixteenth’ – 5.16
5. ‘Joe’s Birthday Bash’ – 8.28
6. ‘The See-Saw Slugfest’ – 8.23
7. ‘Win Number Five-Zero’ – 7.25
8. ‘Dickson Delivers’ – 8.13
9. ‘Shut Outs & Sell Outs’ – 9.1
10. ‘Slugging the Luggies’ – 5.27
Notable Loons Fads for 2012:
Silly bands? Stirrup socks? Mullets? Not this year. The Loons kept it pretty straight-forward when it came to leaning on style to improve their game. Instead, it was the Loons relief pitchers who took care of the club’s superstitions, transforming their bullpen area into an ever-growing shelter for baseball totems.
It started innocently enough, with Ryan O’Sullivan and company naming themselves the ‘Loon Squad’ and creating the black bands and the Lotsa Fun Looning It acronym. Petey the penguin was next to arrive, who would appear when the first reliever entered the game. The ‘pen would place the plush totem over a baseball to signify Petey protecting the ‘egg’ or the zero on the scoreboard.
After that, there was no turning back. Upon the departure of founding Loons Squad member Jason West, the boy statue emerged as a tribute. Many of the Loons said the statue resembled West. Then other obscure objects appeared like the apple-looking plush on the Powerade can above, to which we have no explanation. And finally, the Disney Princess backpack doubled as the perfect totem tote.
Celebrating Five Years:
During the season, as a part of the 5th Anniversary celebration, the Loons announced the 5th Anniversary All-Time Team, which was assembled via fan vote prior to the season. The team included a stellar line-up, like the first big-league Loon, Clayton Kershaw (who also became the first Loon to write a book in 2012), Midwest League MVPs Dee Gordon and Kyle Russell, and our favorite mustachioed manager Juan Bustabad. The team was recognized with banners on the outfield speaker poles and with this poster giveaway, presented by F.P. Horak.
In addition, the Loons production staff created Top Ten highlight reels from each of the Loons first five seasons. Here is the video for 2010 (the year From the Nest debuted).
For videos of the other four years visit here.
While the 2012 Loons did not make the playoffs, two Loons did spend part of the summer competing in a different kind of tournament bracket. Minor League Baseball’s front office must really love the college basketball postseason, because their brainchild ‘Moniker Madness’ follows the same model, pitting 64 minor league players with funny names against each other until one is crowned champion via extended fan voting periods.
This year, the Loons were represented by Texas Tech product Duke von Schamann, who qualified as a one-seed in the Farmer Works bracket. He highlighted the lowercase ‘v’ in his name to beat out Staten Island’s Danny Oh in the first round and Sacramento’s Kila Ka’aihue in the second, but the Schamann couldn’t escape the force that was Rock Shoulders. Nevertheless, Duke can hold his head high after making it to the Sweet 16, knowing that he lost to the eventual champion. Congrats Mr. Shoulders. Click here for the full bracket of names.
The other Loon making the cut for some friendly bracket-busting was non-other than Lou E. Loon! MiLB.com debuted Mascot Mania this season and Louis had some tough competition. The Ambassador of Fun made quick work of his first round opponent, Indianapolis’ Rowdie, before taking down Lexington’s Big L. In the Sweet 16, Lou knocked out the West Michigan Whitecaps River Rascal to advance to the Elite 8. Unfortunately that’s where the road ended for everyone’s favorite bird, who lost to Beloit’s Snappy D. We’ll get ‘em next year Lou. Here’s the bracket.
Joe Winker, the Loons Hero:
It was the song of the summer and you better believe that the sweet sounds of Carly Rae Jepsen would have resounded at Dow Diamond all season without Joe, but probably only once per game, and in rare cases, sometimes not at all. You see, Loons All-Star first baseman Joe Winker came through in the clutch for the 259,160 fans that came to a Loons game this summer by designating ‘Call Me Maybe’ as his walk-up song for the year.
The bold move, which received a lot of flack from his teammates, guaranteed that the song would play at least three times per game (which was not enough in April, just right in June, and probably a little worn in August). Nevertheless, the song selection is one that deserves a lot of credit, and for that Joe Winker, YOU are the Loons hero of the year. Congrats sir.
The white buffalo occasions of minor league baseball are when a prominent star of Major League baseball picks up the pine at your minor league ballpark. And while no former MLB All-Stars came through Dow Diamond on rehab assignments this season, the Loons did get to go toe-to-toe with one Joey Votto (talking with manager John Shoemaker above) on August 29 & 31 in Dayton. The Loons held Joey Bats to one hit in four at-bats over the two-game stretch, but the big leaguer did draw two walks and netted a sacrifice fly.
So Dayton may have gotten to see Joey Votto, which is pretty cool and all, but we know what they didn’t get to see: the Fox Sports Detroit girls! That’s right, Alison and Lauren made their first outing to Dow Diamond this summer and actually only visit sports venues in Michigan. Sorry Ohio, but not really. Look for these two again in 2013.
The Loons have found their way to the national spotlight in each of the last three years, first gaining momentum from comedian John Caparulo on Late Night with Chelsea Lately in 2010, then the Violet Smith phenomenon of 2011, and now the Loons mark has graced the highly reputable cable television network, TruTV. Prior to the 2012 season, our friend and former Red Wings instigator Darren McCarty was seen repping his Loons hat on the popular show, Hardcore Pawn. While they blurred out the logo in the segment, no one can deny his enthusiasm for the Loons. Or fair trade. Watch the clip here.
There she is, six seasons down and still capable of striking a pose that takes your breath away. Dow Diamond has hosted nearly 500 baseball games in its first six years and has held 600+ events. In 2012, Dow Diamond received the title of Michigan’s Best Ballpark in this ranking by web publication Stadium Venture, beating out the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park.
But the fun part about Dow Diamond is that it’s always changing as it serves as the Michigan Baseball Foundation’s main avenue in which to stem economic growth in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The 2012 season was the first allowing fans to enjoy the Great Lakes Reserve presented by Chemical Bank, constructed over the offseason. The upgrade made use of the Loons upstairs space, converting the area into 24 additional seats, sliding glass doors, and a full-service bar acting as the centerpiece.
On October 22, the Great Lakes Loons announced plans to enhance the facilities and operation’s sustainability efforts, issuing forth a goal to reduce water usage, energy usage and waste by 50% by the year 2020. Partnering in the initiative are sustainability leaders The Dow Chemical Company and Dow Corning Corporation, who have selected members of their operations to assist the Loons as they brainstorm sustainable ideas to activate at Dow Diamond as they move towards their ambitious goal. Loons fans can track the team’s annual progress here.
In conjunction with opening week of the season, Michigan Blood became the fourth business (after MBF, Loons, and ESPN 100.9-FM) to open office space at Dow Diamond. In a partnership agreement with MBF, the Great Lakes Loons, and the Dow Chemical Company, Michigan Blood opened up a donation center at the park, replacing the long-time center on Dow’s campus. The blood center, located on the third base side of the stadium’s exterior, is open weekdays year round and accepts walk ups.
And as of December 3, construction has started on Midland’s ‘East End’ development, which will serve as Dow Diamond’s newest neighbor. The first phase will feature a 212,612-square-foot, four-story building that will include business offices, a wellness center, medical space and restaurants. The project plans to have tenants move into the new building in the first quarter of 2014. Watch the construction as it happens on this webcam, updated every 12 minutes.
Kiss the Rain:
As Billie Myers once said, “Kiss the rain / Whenever I’m gone too long”, which is the exact mentality Loons fans take when the rain appears and sends the players into the clubhouse. The fans aren’t discouraged, but embrace the weather, because they know how much fun Loons rain delays can be! And this year’s game on May 27, ranked above as the best game of 2012, can also claim the title of best rain delay ever. If you haven’t seen the video, do yourself a favor and just press play.
If baseball is the peanut butter, then onfield promotions are the jelly of every minor league baseball operation, and we here at the Loons are always trying to think of the next greatest in-between-inning loontacular. This year, we added a couple to the fold along with one big surprise from Arizona.
This season, the promotions team rediscovered the effortless fun of ‘Angry Birds’ and decided to manifest the popular smartphone game in a little promotion called: Launchin’ Leprechauns, presented by Bennigan’s. It worked very much the same way as the mobile game, but instead of birds, one fan and his two frightening leprechaun friends would shoot lucky charms at the nearby tower, with the hopes of knocking off the pot of gold at the top.
Much to the delight of Loons fans everywhere, the hamster balls returned to the soft field at Dow Diamond for the first time since 2009, inflating for the Bucks Run Hole in One Challenge. Two contestants started in the outfield and raced to the the pin near home plate. The first to sink their giant golf ball in the cup won a great prize from Bucks Run Golf Club and the Great Lakes Loons.
It’s Rall E Time!:
It all started with this video of a box and a dangerously believable press release (seriously, we got a call from the coast guard).
A series of four more videos followed, chronicling Lou E.’s attempts to keep a lid on the situation, as the packing instructions specifically stated not to open until the Loons Opening Day.
Finally on Monday, April 9, the box was paraded through downtown and dropped on the field just before the national anthem. Because Lou E. was the most curious about the box’s contents, we let him do the honors.
Immediately there were questions about how a camel would survive in the northern Michigan climates and why he was given a Loons jersey to begin with. Those origin stories, along with some of the best Rall E photos from his first week can be found here. But here are some other great picks from 2012 featuring Lou E.’s newest friend.
“Always Be Prepared.” So the scout motto goes, and this future Eagle Scout is not taking any chances as he packs Rall E into his tent, knowing very well the seven-foot tall dromedary will deliver some quality laughs during the Loons annual Boy Scout Sleepover.
During his daily trip to the grounds crew area to move around some dirt and dream of the desert, Rall E was surprised to come across this little guy, reinforcing the belief that everyone wants a Mini Me.
Camels like it hot and dry, which isn’t always the forecast in Michigan. Luckily for Rall E, pitcher Ryan O’Sullivan came ready this summer with an umbrella in the bullpen for special moments like this one, which spawned a ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ poster giveaway presented by F.P. Horak. But some of the other pitchers wanted in on the fun, prompting one more photo shoot with Matt Shelton, featuring a special note from Rall E, offering up the phrase of the summer.
Dressing the Part:
Finally, one of my favorite parts of the year-end superpost is going back through all of the theme night photos and staff costumes to create this list of Top Five costumes from the year. Enjoy!
#5. While I don’t usually go for the store bought costumes, resting close to seven feet above the ground, the stoic face of this white tiger get-up, as worn by Marketing and Promotions Intern Brock Haymaker (on Circus Night), is undeniable. Well played.
#4. Director of Communications Alex Wassel as the Cheshire Cat (on Halloween Night). The blogger has some bias.
#3. Promotions Manager Matt Hoffman and Marketing and Promotions Intern Andrew Kreger as nerds (on Nerd Night).
#2. Director of Communications Alex Wassel as the Games Games Games Guy (or circus carny) from Adventureland (on Circus Night). Now I know, this might appear to be excessive blogger bias, but the fully-functional prop of a turtle-racing carnival game is well worth allowing this costume, and blogger, to get some extra recognition.
#1. Now that Lou E. Loon has his friend Rall E Camel, the full gambit of hero and sidekick costumes await. This year, the two dressed as Batman and Robin (on Superhero Night), much to the pleasure of the several junior crime-fighters in attendance.
And now here is the catch-all section as we round third and head towards home in this year’s superpost.
Every year on Chemical Bank’s Raining Money Night, a helicopter descends on Dow Diamond to release 2,000 one-dollar bills. This year we wised up to the process and sent our fearless promotions manager up in the air to snap this picture of our favorite sports venue. Pretty neat.
In a pineapple under the sea, Loons outfielder Angelo Songco introduces Baby Songco to Spongebob Squarepants, who was visiting Dow Diamond courtesy of Charter Communications.
Lou E. Loon reacts to the bugle call from the scoreboard with his racing stance, extra perky after completing his beer-cup tower on top of the dugout.
Before they hit the field, the acrobatic troop known as the Chicago Boyz were busy practicing during the game in the shelter area underneath the seating bowl. Our photographer Nick Anderson (responsible for all the photos here) captured the action from below.
We love our fans. And we love this guy! And his super elaborate balloon hat. The only way this picture could have been better is if his dome was covered, but we’re guessing the people behind him in the upper deck were having trouble seeing the field.
It’s like the Midwest League All-Star MVP O’Koyea Dickson knew something was up, smiling as Reggy the Purple Party Dude mimicked his on-deck ritual pregame with his french-fry hair and a boogie on his nose.
One of the best pre-firework entertainment troops that came through Dow Diamond this summer were the high-flying Chicago Boys. Here they are just finishing their acrobatic flips as the Loontacular begins.
ONE CHAPTER ENDS, A NEW ONE BEGINS
And now, I’ll conclude this year’s piece with a bit of sad/exciting news. With the new year comes new opportunity for your faithful Loons Blogger LoonsWassel; an opportunity that will have me leaving Midland to return to my home state of Tennessee. Indeed, after three years and 100 blog posts on the nose, I will be taking my pen to new endeavors in Minor League Baseball.
Not to fear though Loons fans, From the Nest will continue on, charting the team’s progress and other Michigan curiosities with the same amount of gusto. It just won’t be me behind the wheel. Nevertheless, I trust you’ll be in good hands going forward.
To all the FTN readers, I want to say thanks for all the likes, links, comments and reblogs. This is LoonsWassel, signing off.
Now that both the Great Lakes Loons and MLB seasons have come to an end, we all have a lot of time to kill before Opening Day 2013. To help you get through the lack of baseball this winter, Loons blog From the Nest is excited to once again roll out its list of 25 ways to keep your offseason more baseball-focused.
1. Clean and Box Your Cleats – The end of a long baseball season is usually met with a little house-keeping, and you’ll want to make sure that you shine those shoes of yours so that they don’t rust over the long Michigan winter. After cleaning, box them up for extra protection. With the right kind of care, those doubles you hit last year may become triples by next summer.
2. Mark Your Calendar for Opening Day – Turn the calendar to April 2013 and bust out a big red magic marker, because it’s time to make a hard circle around Thursday, April 4, which marks the first Great Lakes Loons home game of the 2013 season. And be saving up those one-dollar bills, because it’s also the season’s first $1 Family Feast Night, presented by Chemical Bank! For the full Loons schedule, click here.
3. Rent Baseball Movies – If you can’t be outside playing baseball, you can at least be dreaming you are. Hunker down on a sofa this winter and live vicariously through Kevin Costner or Charlie Sheen by re-watching some of the classics. Or try a new one in Trouble with the Curve, which becomes available to rent or purchase on December 18 .
4. Go Find a Real Loon – The loon, or Gavia Immer, is a water-dwelling bird that is often spotted by boaters. See if you can track one down and take a photo of the creature for us.
5. Predict the 2013 Loons Roster – This task isn’t as tough as it may seem. The 2013 Loons team will be a combination of the 2012 Ogden Raptors team, available here with stats, a few Dodgers draftees making their professional debut, and about five guys from the 2012 Loons team. Mix it together, call it your own, and then check back on Opening Day. Here was our prediction for the 2012 roster, see if you can score better than us this time around. Six of the 10 we predicted made the roster.
6. Attend an Offseason Event at Dow Diamond – Though the Loons will be in Arizona this winter, their summer home will be hosting several events throughout the offseason. The ballpark already hosted the Great Lakes Bay Brew Fest (10/6), but many more fun events are coming up like the Great Outdoors Expo, the Boat Show and perhaps a Golf Expo in spring, as well as amateur baseball prior to the Loons season. Another option would be to donate blood at Michigan Blood’s donation center here at the park (open M-F from 9am-4pm). If you can’t make any of those, create your own Dow Diamond event by contacting Dave Gomola at 837-6146. Accommodations can be made for weddings, receptions, lunches, conferences, business meetings and more!
7. Destroy a Baseball – There are many layers to a baseball, and tearing it down to its smallest part might just surprise you. I’m not promising a tootsie roll at the center, but it’s still kind of cool. Kids should seek adult supervision when using tools of palm-sized destruction.
8. Spend Some Time on YouTube – Did you know highlight videos of the Great Lakes Loons home games are available on our YouTube channel? Kill some late night’s by reminiscing about the days of summer at Dow Diamond. A few favorite videos have to be ‘The Sleepover’, ‘The Funky Feather’ and of course ‘Rall E Camel’.
9. Learn ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ on Piano – You already know the words, take your love for baseball’s timeless ditty to the next level by learning it on the ivory. Or any instrument for that matter.
10. Pick up some Loons Winter Wear – It’s going to get cold this offseason, we all know that. But just being mentally prepared isn’t going to keep you warm in February. The Loon Loft at Dow Diamond has an assortment of Loons jackets ready to keep you warm for winter while sporting your favorite team’s logo. The store will reopen for your winter needs on November 26th. Until then, shop the Loon Loft online.
11. MLB the Show – Play franchise mode with the Los Angeles Dodgers on MLB the Show and try to win the World Series with all of your favorite former Loons: Clayton Kershaw, Dee Gordon, Jerry Sands, Rubby de la Rosa and more. You can even expedite the call-up process for Loons players you’re ready to see in the show.
12. Meet up in Music City – Where can you see Peter Gammons and Buster Olney share the same hotel as Breakin’ BBoy McCoy and Reggy the Purple Party Dude? Or where can you get loads of free promotional team swag, but even more resumes? The answer: Baseball’s Winter Meetings, which takes place this year from December 3-5 in Nashville. A few of the Loons staff members will be making the trip to scout out new promotions and entertainment for next season as well as meet some of the several young professionals looking to break into the business. Come join us in Nashville and, if you would like, stay late for MLB’s Rule 5 Draft.
13. Buy a pack of Big League Chew – Hasn’t it been awhile?
14. Organize a Wiffle Ball Game – Before it’s too cold, celebrate the ol’ ball game by gathering a handful of friends for a quick game of wiffle. For the more committed, play a best of seven series, but make it more interesting by playing in seven different locations. Sure you can play on a nearby sandlot, but sometimes large auditoriums work just as well. Or parking lots. Get creative, stay safe, and swing away!
15. Apply for an MBF Grant - If you are a part of a non-profit organization based in the Great Lakes Bay Region that serves young people and/or promotes amateur sports, consider applying for a Michigan Baseball Foundation grant. MBF, a 501(c)3 non-profit charity that owns and operates Dow Diamond, has awarded a total of $507,380 in grants over five years to deserving non-profits. MBF will be accepting grant applications through February 18. Call Emily Schafer at 989-837-BALL for more information about MBF.
16. Bake Baseball Cookies – That’s right! Play catch with your mouth after using Chef Andrea’s baseball cookie recipe: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and add a little at a time to the butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and dough comes together, then cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Once you can’t wait any longer for cookies, preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll to desired thickness and use a circle cookie-cutter. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove. When the cookies are cool and ready for icing, use an old butter container or similar round object to outline the arc for the seam of a baseball. If you want, get creative with your icing decisions and use different colors for the seams, though I’d also make a few with red seams for grandpa. And then there you have it! “They’re little baseballs!”
17: Condition Your Voice to say ‘Loooooooooons’ like Jerry – Loons Public Address Announcer Jerry O’Donnell trains all offseason long, voicing radio spots and drinking warm tea, to keep his voice in tip-top shape for the Loons season. How else can one man say ‘Looooooooooooooooooooooons’ so well? Try it for yourself at home, but remember to breathe.
18. Scour your Baseball Card Collection for Loons Coaches - Half the battle will be locating these relics amongst all the other cardboard boxes that insulate your garage, but once you locate your stash, thumb through your sets for gems like Danny Darwin, Chuck Crim, Lenny Harris and Lance Parrish.
19. Catch the Loons in Training - Baseball stops at Dow Diamond in the offseason, but the Dodgers keep our Loons busy with the game in Arizona during the winter months. Take a trip to Camelback Ranch in the fall to watch future and former Loons participate in the instructional league or travel out during the spring for baseball’s Spring Training. And don’t forget to fly MBS!
20. Write Lou E. Loon a Letter! – Lou loves fan mail, especially carefully drawn portraits of everybody’s favorite bird using crayons of forest green and ruby red. Mail to Dow Diamond .
21. Try out to be an Anthem Singer – If you know the words to the National Anthem and have the voice of a songbird, then do we have a spot for you! Each year, the Loons host talent try-outs to become a pregame national anthem singer. The tryouts, usually billed as ‘Mid-Michigan’s Got Talent’ will take place in February. Interested readers should keep checking Loons.com for details.
22. Find the ‘Who’s On First’ Cache – Located at N 43° 36.524 W 084° 14.090. That’s all I can say.
23. Attend a High School Baseball Game – Either as parents or alumni, football and basketball receive the majority of our high school sports viewing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. How about organizing an all-school assembly that features a pep rally for the baseball team? Perhaps one day. For now though, start small, take a spring afternoon off and go support your local high school baseball team.
24. Report Your Progress – If you complete any of these easy baseball-related to-dos, please be a #SocialLoon and let us know about it on Facebook (Great Lakes Loons) or twitter @greatlakesloons. Seriously, I want photos of destroyed baseballs, real-life loons, baseball cards and more! Send. Send. Send. Which reader can be the first to complete them all?
25. Unbox Your Cleats – When you get to this item, the winter will be over and baseball will be here! Enjoy your clean cleats and the summer ahead! And as always, Dive In!
And now, the rest of the list. If you missed games 10 through 6, catch up here.
5. Joe’s Birthday Bash – 8.28.2012
The Great Lakes Loons celebrated the 23rd birthday of teammate Joe Winker by rallying in the eighth inning to defeat the Lake County Captains, 6-5. The birthday boy hit a home run in the sixth to pull the Loons to within one, but the real birthday magic came in the eighth when his RBI-double to left-center field tied the game at 5-5 and the following double scored him as the winning run. Mimicking Winker’s performance was third baseman Jeff Hunt, who connected for a home run in the seventh to make it 5-4 and hit the double that scored Winker in the eighth. While both men shared the same stat line of two hits, two runs and two RBI; Hunt is still waiting to make his birthday wish this February 13. Game Story / Video Highlights
4. The Sweet Sixteenth – 5.16.2012
Leading 5-4 late, the Loons allowed the visiting West Michigan Whitecaps to tie it up in the ninth and send this Loons game into the record books. After 16 innings (five hours and 22 minutes), the Great Lakes Loons outlasted the Whitecaps in the early morning to pull off a 6-5 win in the longest Loons game in team history. The final run came from an unlikely source, 0-for-7 entering his 16th inning at-bat and in the midst of a 0-for-23 skid, James Baldwin ripped a line drive down the right-field line for the game-winning double that scored Jesse Bosnik. Game Story / Video Highlights
3. Sanchez’s Spotless Seven – 7.2.2012
Making only his second start of the season, Raydel Sanchez set the tone for the Loons pitching staff by dealing seven hitless innings en route to a 1-0 shutout win against the West Michigan Whitecaps. The right-hander road the success of his newly-developed change-up, fanning four as he cruised to the eighth. Pitching coach Hector Berrios said that Sanchez’s health came into the decision to pull him from the game in the midst of his no-hitter, having already tossed 10 more pitches than he had planned. The Loons continued the no-hit bid through two more outs before the Whitecaps finally connected in the eighth. Earlier in the game, shortstop Pedro Guerrero knocked a double to center field that scored the Loons lone run. Game Story / Video Highlights
2. Akins Echoes 2011 – 8.7.2012
For anyone who read last season’s Top Ten list, you might remember Mr. Nick Akins topping it off with his ‘Moon Shot’ winner. Well, the Loons center fielder channeled his 2011 walk-off again this season with a blast that was equally exciting. With two outs and nobody on base, Akins wasted no time in his 10th-inning at-bat and delivered a towering home run to left field for the walk-off 6-5 victory over the Dragons. But the real question was, how could Akins top his celebration from last year? It may have looked pretty identical, but he did add the jersey removal part to keep it fresh. While Akins gets the spotlight, teammate Pedro Guerrero twice tied the game for the Loons to allow for the exciting finish. Once with a two-run homer in the seventh and then again with a two-out RBI double in the ninth. Game Story / Video Highlights
1. Rain Dancing for Rallies – 5.27.2012
That’s right. A rainy day at Dow Diamond proved to be the Loons most fun and entertaining game of the season. You see, the Loons defeated the South Bend Silver Hawks with a rally to win 6-4 on this Sunday in May, but that was just the cherry on top of a one-hour and 59-minute rain delay in the third inning. What transpired in the persistent rain was a full-on choreographed dance-off between the Loons and Silver Hawks. As a previous FTN post describes it, the delay included bowling, bobsled, curling, jousting, buck hunting, flower posing, chicken eating, weight lifting, roller riding, and more. Pitchers Ryan O’Sullivan, Jason West and Matt Shelton were the team’s creative leaders and have set the bar awfully high for future rain delays. Great stuff. Game Story / Video Highlights
It’s that time again! After swimming through piles of box scores, game notes and hot dog wrappers from the 2012 season, From the Nest is please to present one of our favorite lists of the year: the Top Ten Loons Games of 2012. Naturally, you can expect some walk-off wins and pitching gems on the list, but we’d be remiss not to also include birthday celebrations and team choreography. Happy reading!
10. ‘Slugging the Luggies’ – 5.2.2012
The Loons opened the 2012 season 0-3, victims of a series sweep on the road by the Lansing Lugnuts. The in-state rivals went on to finish the season with the Midwest League’s best record of 82-55, but when they visited Dow Diamond for the first time, the Loons had some unfinished business to settle. Within the first inning the Loons had a 3-0 lead on Lansing, powered by first baseman and MWL All-Star Joe Winker, who accounted for two runs in the inning and four total in his 3 for 4 showing at the plate. With 13 total hits, the Loons defeated the Lugnuts 7-1. Defensively, the Loons All-Star pitcher Jarret Martin held the Lugnuts in check with seven innings of scoreless baseball to trim his ERA to 2.91 through six starts. Full Story / Video Highlights
9. ‘Shut Outs & Sell Outs’ – 9.1.2012
With a season-high crowd of 6,052 Loons fans in attendance, the Great Lakes Loons used the arms of Joel Lima, Matt Shelton and Craig Stem to deliver the team’s final shutout of the year for the 3-0 victory. Lima delivered a quality start, fanning four Silver Hawks over six innings before Shelton racked up three strikeouts in two hitless frames. Stem picked up his fourth save with a spotless ninth. South Bend was held to one hit in the game, which came in the second inning off Lima. The Loons offense manufactured runs on a double-steal with two outs in the second, a Jesus Arredondo RBI-triple and a Nick Akins sac-fly in the eighth. The result continued the team’s strong finish, giving them eight wins in their last 10. Full Story / Video Highlights
8. ‘Dickson Delivers’ – 8.13.2012
Down to their last out of the ninth inning, the Loons forced a pair of walks to load the bases and set the table for All-Star first baseman O’Koyea Dickson, who pointed a single into right-field for the walk-off win over Lansing. Dickson finished the night 3 for 4 with one run and one RBI for the Loons, who avoided the sweep from Lansing with the 5-4 victory. The Loons also delivered some fireworks in the seventh inning, tied 2-2, facing Lansing’s first relief pitcher of the night. Scott Schebler started the inning off with a high-flying drive into the tunnel in right field, which was followed by a home run from Jesse Bosnik for back-to-back jacks. Full Story / Video Highlights
7. ‘Win Number Five-Zero’ – 7.25.2012
After surrendering a pair of home runs in the fifth inning to give Dayton a 6-3 lead, the Loons continued to battle back before sleighing the Dragons 9-7 for the team’s 50th win of the season. Second baseman Pedro Guerrero helped extend the Loons final rally with his game-tying two-run home run in the seventh inning (triggering the response from the dugout above), while Jesse Bosnik finished the job with an RBI single in the eighth. Apart from the thrilling comeback, the Loons 50th win also featured shortstop Darnell Sweeney’s first professional home run in the third inning; one inning of Mike Thomas’ spotless July (during which he went 2-0 with three saves in 11 innings for an 0.00 ERA); and Paco Rodriguez’s last game in a Loons uniform. Rodriguez pitched in six innings for the Loons in 2012 and finished the year on the Dodgers roster. Full Story / Video Highlights
6. ‘The See-Saw Slugfest’ – 8.23.2012
The Loons landed the final blow to Lansing in a late-season knock-down drag-out slugfest that featured seven lead changes. Trailing 8-7 in the ninth and facing their last out, the Loons tied the game on a wild pitch delivered by Lansing’s Ajay Meyer, which sent the home team into their 12th and final extra-innings game of the season. In the bottom of the 10th, center fielder James Baldwin drew a walk and Darnell Sweeney fought down a pitch high in the zone for a sac-bunt that moved Baldwin to second. Then with two outs, Joe Winker sliced a grounder past the pitcher’s mound that was gloved by shortstop Shane Opitz, who tossed it to first. Winker arrived safely, beating the throw, while Baldwin used his speed to wheel around third and score the game winner. Full Story / Video Highlights
To continue the journey and find out the Loons top five games from 2012, click here.