It was during the long, cold winter that Baseball Ross and I were sitting and dreaming of warmer days. Somehow we got on the topic of “epic trips” and started brainstorming…what if…
At some point one of us said, “what if we saw every single team in the Phillies farm system in a week?” Sure, it sounded so easy when we were sitting there in the living room all wrapped in blankets (It was during the polar vortex and even here in Florida, we had wind chills in the teens) but putting it into action was a whole other story.
We scoured the schedules of all the teams looking for a time when all of them would either be at home or at an away game that would not only be an easy drive from Harrisburg (we have family there to see) but also coordinated with the pitching schedules of our favorite pitchers. What made it even more difficult is that the rotation for the Williamsport Crosscutters would be the last released, the day before their season began.
We found one week, actually 9 days, where we could see the last game of Extended Spring Training, get on a plane and fly to Harrisburg, the next night we drove to Williamsport saw the Crosscutters, then back to Harrisburg, then drove to Lakewood to see the BlueClaws, then back to Harrisburg, then to State College to see the Cutters again so we could see Feliberto Sanchez pitch, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Lehigh Valley to see the IronPigs, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Reading to see the Fightin’ Phils, then back to Harrisburg, then we hopped on a plane flew back to Clearwater and the next day see the first game of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and a Threshers game. We flew a total of 2,000 miles and drove an amazing 1,200 more. It really was a trip of a lifetime, because I really don’t want to do that all again in a week!
It was opening night. It had rained and was threatening to rain again (this would become an ongoing theme of the trip). I did a blog on that night and you can read it HERE. The downside of all the driving (4 hours in the car for Williamsport) was that it did take a lot out of me so I only did this one blog while on the trip.
We were here to see our friend, Ranfy Casimiro pitch. He’s a great kid and people never stop staring when they see us together. I’m barely 5 feet tall, he’s 6′ 8″! We are totally “the long and the short of it”.
We were lucky enough to also catch Cody Asche make a rehab appearance here in Lakewood. (This would also be a reoccurring theme as we saw him in Clearwater before we left, then Lakewood…)
The best was seeing Casimiro pitch one of the best games of his career.
I also was lucky enough to meet Jay Floyd of Phoul Ballz. He had interviewed me last year on his podcast along with Mr. Tug. (You can listen to the podcast HERE)
While it didn’t rain, it was cold, 64 degrees!
State College to see Williamsport again
Our friend Feliberto Sanchez pitched in State College against the Spikes.
For me this was sort of a homecoming. I went to Penn State, albeit the Harrisburg campus, but I have many fond memories of going to State College.
What trip to Happy Valley would be complete without a trip to the CREAMERY? If you ever go to Penn State a trip to the Creamery is a must.
State College’s stadium is right next to Beaver Stadium. It also lies in the shadow of Mount Nittany. As this was the first game, it seemed that the grounds crew groomed the mound to be a miniature Mount Nittany. It was high and seemed to have steep drop offs instead of gradual sloping sides like a “normal” mound.
We also got to see Ricky Bielski pitch
The thing that sticks out in my mind is the lightning. It only rained for about five minutes that night but the lightning was all around the stadium. Long, bright bolts of lightning were striking all around the stadium. I was amazed that there wasn’t a delay. Ironically, the next night the new Lion LED sign that was added to Beaver Stadium just across the street was struck by lightning!
There were many things on this leg of the trip that were memorable.
Three words: Aw Shucks Corn
Seriously, it’s my favorite ballpark food of all time. I am ashamed to admit I ate two ears of it.
Four words: Bacon-scented Tee-shirts
Seriously! I love bacon, but this is taking it just a little far don’t you think?
I finally got to meet @cherylpursell and @Kram209! Cheryl takes amazing pictures and Kram well he’s the biggest Pigs fan there is. He was also gracious enough to present me with a CODY ASCHE BOBBLEHEAD! (*FAINTS*)
He was also kind enough to show me around Coca Cola Park.
The funny thing was, Cody Asche was making a rehab appearance there in Lehigh Valley so we got not only to see him play again, but got to see him next to his bobble head.
I also was witness to long time Pharm-hand Tyson Gillies second to last appearance as a Pig before his release.
I got to see Jesse Biddle pitch.
I also saw my friend Carlos Alonso
I also met @Mr.Tug who was with PhoulBallz and is now the photographer of the Reading Fightin Phils! Meeting people is fun so before the night was done, @mikeyesh dropped by to say, “Hi” to Ross and I.
The next day, we flew back to Clearwater. By Friday we were up at ant Englebert field to see the GCL Phillies.
All the draft picks were there including Aaron Nola, who could be called the 3.3 Million Dollar Arm.
All the Phillies Brass were there
Nola didn’t pitch that day…
And finally to complete the trip, the Threshers game at night to catch a rehabbing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
The highlight was seeing JP Crawford in his first at bat with the Threshers.
In all that traveling we managed to see my brother, his girlfriend and my niece as well as the two girls who grew up next door next to me as a girl who are like sisters to me. We even stopped at Hershey’s Chocolate World on the way to the airport.
It was a really good trip. We never really got rained on, saw next to no traffic and had no car mishaps. We didn’t even have any flight delays, in fact our planes arrived early!
I don’t think our crazy trip could have worked out any better! That being said, I sure am glad to be home.