On the Eve of the Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin Home Opener.

It feels like Christmas morning. I’m almost giddy, keyed up, I can’t get ready to go to sleep TOMORROW IS THE HOME OPENER IN DUNEDIN! Let me go back to the beginning and tell you how this former Pennsylvania girl fell in love with a Canadian baseball team.

I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, Phillies country. Ok, there were a few Pirates fans and even feet Orioles fans but we always looked at them like they were just a little bit “different”. Just kidding.

Back in 2007 or there about, Baseball Ross and I came to Clearwater for Phillies spring training. Back then, GPS was new, it was an add on service to your phone plan and $12 a MONTH extra. It was terrible. When we got off the Courtney Campbell Causeway, it told us to go 12 miles and turn right, the entire land mass of Pinellas County is only SEVEN miles wide! I digress, we were going to see the Phillies play the Jays in Dunedin and I put “Blue Jays” into the search bar and the GPS took us to the training fields, 2 miles from downtown.

We turned around and parked somewhere downtown and walked down Douglas Avenue to the stadium and fell in love with the quaint little town. We started thinking how we’d love to live in a place where you could walk to spring training games and Florida State League games in the summer. The seed was planted.

Eventually, we packed up and moved into a little house in downtown in 2012. We walked to every spring training game versus the Phillies here in Dunedin.

After we were established, I was appointed by the then Mayor Of Dunedin to the Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee. We worked as a citizen input group and worked with the City and the Jays to help them here in Dunedin and help both sides to craft a plan where the Jays got the renovations and new training facilities they needed. It took six years for the deal to be done, but it really was a labor of love. All of that hard work makes tomorrow’s Opening Day even more special.

We have spent the summers walking to the stadium to see the Dunedin Blue Jays play the Clearwater Threshers. Never did we ever think we would see a Major League game that COUNTED here in Dunedin. The Covid pandemic changed that.

We got tickets to the opening day game! We also ordered the virtual tickets as a momento since our tickets are e-tickets.

I’m so excited. Never did I ever think that the Dunedin, oops, Toronto Blue Jays would play a game here in “little old” Dunedin. It’s sort of like the baseball version of the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field, where the stadium is in the middle of town, there’s little onsite parking and many people end up parking in people’s front yards (for a fee) or along the streets, in church parking lots and public parking downtown.

I’ve been pinching myself. Even more so since they announced the third home stand (including games against the Phillies) will also be in “my backyard”.

Don’t think for a moment that I don’t feel bad for the fans back in Toronto. I do. I feel privileged to have gotten to know quite a few of you on Twitter and have picked up a few followers from Canada as well. I appreciate you and I want to thank you for loaning us your team for a little while.

So over the next few weeks I have at least tickets to four games (one for each team) and will be looking to do the same when tickets go on sale for the third home stand.

So my Toronto fans, know I’m taking you with me to the games, I’ll be blogging and posting pictures on my Twitter and Instagram (@BaseballBetsy).

To my Phillies followers…stick with me while I enjoy the once in a lifetime experience of being able to walk a few mere blocks to a regular season game and cheer on my hometown Jays. I don’t know what I do when the Phillies come to town!

Phillies 2020 Minor League Roster Released!

Below you will find the first edition of the Phillies Minor League Spring Training 2020 Roster

Phillies 2020 Minor League Spring Training Roster

Chace Numata, Always Smiling

Today, we heard the terrible news that former Phillies minor league catcher Chace Numata passed away from a severe head injury he suffered as a result of a skateboarding accident.

I didn’t know him that well. The summer he was in Clearwater we had two pitchers staying with us and we waited for them in the players parking lot after every game. We’d see Chace many nights skating from the stadium to his car, with that smile on his face. That smile was so warm but at the same time it seemed like he knew a secret that no one else knew. It was almost boyish and it lit up his face like the sun.

He’d see us sitting there in our car and give us that smile and a nod and continue on his way. I thought it was just a “Hello, I see you here every night” thing but to my surprise it wasn’t.

This spring he was in town with a friend for a wedding and I ran into him at Starbucks. He recognized me before I recognized him and he gave me that amazing smile!

“Hey, Betsy! How are you! It’s so good to see you!” He said as he gave me a hearty hug,

I was surprised he even knew my name. You’d have thought we’d have been life-long friends and he made you feel like the most important person in the world while he was speaking to you.

We talked a few minutes and we went our separate ways. I remember saying to Ross how amazed I was not only that he knew me by name but was also first to give me a hearty hug.

When I heard he’d passed today, the world seemed to be just a little less special without that wonderful smile in it any longer. We lost one of the good ones today.

Rest In Peace, Chace.

Is This Heaven? No, It’s Clearwater

Clearwater has done a lot in the last few years in the way of off the field entertainment. Tonight was “Field of Dreams” night and the guest of honor was Dwier Brown, who played John Kinsella in the movie.

First he played catch with Phiney:

Then threw out the first pitch:

Then he moved up to the concourse to take photos and sign copies of his book.

He is a heck of a nice guy. He was quite impressed when I told him he was in one of my favorite movies-The Cutting Edge. He told me about the filming of that movie and we also talked about my struggles at getting my book published. Before saying goodbye he stopped and took a picture with me:

All in all, it was a good time and I can’t wait to read the book. You’ll be able to see it on our memorabilia wall in one of our upcoming podcasts on our second YouTube Channel.

Meeting John Middleton-Phillies Owner

Today I was enjoying my free ticket to the Phillies game. Threshers season ticket holders are given a chance to see the Phillies one game a year. Part of a section is reserved and tickets are dispensed on a first come, first served basis. It’s a great time as you get to see a lot of your friends you haven’t seen since September.

Ross and I arrived early and walked around. I saw that there was someone garnering a lot of attention. It wasn’t a player. Phillies owner John Middleton was signing autographs. By this time, we were eating lunch and I had just sat down, so it was either abandon lunch for an autograph or let it go. Lunch won. I was sad about not getting the autograph but I really didn’t have a choice.

After lunch, I was feeling good as I’m recovering from my foot surgery so we walked a lap around the field. When we came back around Mr. Middleton was almost to the concourse and still signing.

I grabbed my “limited edition, only available for 24 hours” Topps Now card of Bryce Harper’s debut for the Phillies and asked Mr. Middleton to sign it. He did and said he hadn’t seen one nor did he have one and that he thought it was cool.

After he walked away, I realized I had a second copy in my bag. So I ran back and caught up to him and gave him the copy.

He grabbed my shoulder, smiled and said, “thank you so much that is unbelievably kind and thoughtful of you!” He shook my hand a couple times before thanking me again and heading to the owners suite.

I think so many people ask him for things that he really appreciated that someone would think to make such a gesture. I was glad to do something for the man who brought us Bryce Harper….

Speaking of Bryce Harper…stay tuned for my report on the game tomorrow…Here’s a hint…

Bryce Harper’s first home run as a Phillie

Threshers LHP McKenzie Mills to Marlins in trade for Justin Bour

Today the Phillies picked up 1B Justin Bour for cash and minor league LHP McKenzie Mills.

Mills has had a mediocre year, he has an ERA of 3.51, but is only 2-5 on the season. He’s also given up 7 home runs in 89 innings.

Here is the last picture of Mills in a Clearwater Threshers uniform last night as he walked out in the 5th inning:

This picture is from his last start at home with the Threshers last week:

May be a change of scenery will be just what he needs.

Ladies and Gentlemen Your 2018 Clearwater Threshers

Tonight is one of my favorite night of the year, the season ticket holder meet the team party. We get a picnic with the players and then they are formally introduced.

Without further ado, I give you your 2018 Clearwater Threshers HERE.

Pictures From The First Day Of Minor League Pitchers and Catchers Spring Training

Sorry for the absence over the last 10 days or so. I had to have a procedure done on my “Frankenfoot” that required rest. On the plus side, I’m able to walk now, the best since I sprained it and broke a bone just 10 days before spring training began. 

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year…the day that minor league pitchers and catchers report. Additionally, the majority of the position players are here already. I’ve known some of these guys for more than five years so it’s great to see some of my friends again.

Matt Hockenberry, now a pitching coach

Matt Hockenberry, who pitched for the Threshers last season, is now a pitching coach for one of the two Gulf Coast League teams the Phillies will be fielding this year. I love this picture as the pitchers are all former colleagues of Hockenberry’s and it’s good to see them all enjoying a laugh together before the work begins. Also in the picture from left to right: Tyler Viza, Alberto Tirado, Alexis Rivero, Garrett Clevenger, Luke Leftwich and Jacob Waguespack in the red shirt.

I took a lot of pictures all around camp yesterday as they are all during drills, there’s not much to say as the pictures speak for themselves:

Sixto Sanchez

Seth McGarry

Deivi Grullon

Alberto Tirado

Adam Haseley

Adonis Medina

Felix Paulino

Cornelius Randolph

 

Mickey Moniak and Jose Pujols

Garrett Clevenger

Edgar Garcia

Alexis Rivero

Adonis Medina

Sixto Sanchez

Adam Haseley

Malquin Canelo, Grenny Cumana, Daniel Brito and Arquemedes Gamboa

You Just Don’t See This Everyday, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Baseball Ross likes to say that he loves baseball because every game you watch, you see something you’ve  never seen before. Today, that was seeing the sons of 3 major league stars bat, 1-2-3 in Dunedin’s line up.

Today was the final regular season game for the Threshers and Blue Jays. The Jays eliminated the Threshers on Thursday night so the last three games have been less than thrilling, shall we say. There was a reason, however, that I chose to go out in the 90* heat this afternoon to watch a game that was essentially meaningless. It was the fact that the sons of three major league players batting 1-2-3 in the order.

Bo Bichette

First up was Bo Bichette,  son of Dante Bichette who played for the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox. He was a 4 time all-star who finished 2nd in MVP voting in 1995. Dante Bichette, Jr., Bo’s older brother plays for the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees AA farm team. Bo split the season between the Lansing Lugnuts and Dunedin Jays. He had 14 home runs, 74 RBIs, 42 walks and a batting average of .362.

Cavan Biggio

Second up was Cavan Biggio, son of  Craig Biggio who played his entire career with the Houston Astros. He was a 7-time National League All Star and is often regarded as the best player in Astros history. Cavan, played the entire season in Dunedin and had 11 home runs, 60 RBIs and 74 walks with a .233 batting average.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Third in the order today was Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. He is the son of Vladimir Guerrero who played for the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles. He was voted the American League MVP in 2004. Jr, had a rather impressive season starting with the Lansing Lugnuts before moving up to Dunedin. In total, he had 13 home runs, 76 RBIs and 76 walks with a batting average of  .323. The thing that struck me the most about him is that he doesn’t “act” like a star. I’ve seen him retrieve balls and hand them to the batboy (most guys just ignore them) and I’ve seen him spent a lot of time signing autographs after a game, with a smile on his face.

It’s made for an interesting second half of the season. I’ve enjoyed watching them and plan on going down to the stadium on Tuesday to see the first game of the first round of the playoffs. It may just be the first time that three sons of three major leagues play together on a team that wins a playoff game. I’m sure Stats.inc. has someone one who knows for sure, but even if it has, it’s nothing we’ve ever seen before and that’s why we love baseball.

Tim Tebow Mania-The First Game

I got caught up in Tebow mania. It was a crazy carnival atmosphere and Tebow did not disappoint. He hit a 2-run RBI single that electrified the crowd.

Tim Tebow

I put together a video that has pictures as well as video from his first at bat and the 2-run single. You can watch that video HERE.