Saturday, August 23, 2008

Season Recap #12- The Luray Wranglers : This could take a while...

It is going to be difficult to separate out my own thoughts about this one and the actual team itself but I will give it a try. As we know the Wranglers capped off a 37-15 season by claiming their second Jim Lineweaver Cup with a 3-0 sweep over Covington. The Wranglers played 52 games between May 31ST and August 5TH with two of the games being played on the same night over in Fauquier. A total of 52 games in 51 nights plus an exhibition game vs. Vienna so we will call it 53/52 with 29 games taking place at Bulldog Field.

I missed the first 3 home games due to the Around The Valley tour stops but managed to handle the PA duties for the following 26 home games including all 7 VBL playoff games. On the road I managed to go 12 up and 12 down as many a night I was over at New Market working the web when the Wranglers were away from home. 38 nights during a 67 night season I watched the Wranglers take on the remainder of the VBL and there are too, too many stories to try and tell. I am not sure if I could even cut it down to a Top 10 because there are so many special moments.

Ed Short tossing out the first pitch after I read the amazing story of this true Hero. Getting Travis Smink to stick his head back out of the dugout for a curtain call following his efforts against Covington in game 1 of the finals. Hanging out with Seth McGuffin and Ryan Carroll up in the press box or maybe saying LIIIIIIIBBBBBBEEEERRRRTTTTT University every time Jeff Jefferson came to the plate at home. Meeting Jeff's Dad (Mr.Jefferson) or Clay Kelly's Dad Pat and of course having Clay Kelly stay at the house with us until he had to go back to Dallas baptist University.

I can't forget the post season banquet where both Buck Harman and I were mocked pretty well during a series of skits by a few Wranglers that shall remain nameless...Quality stuff

The team that Bill Turner, Buck and skipper Mike Bocock put on the field was off the charts. Once they arrived in town they simply took off. A slight bump in the road came when A. J injured his hand but the team regrouped and ran of 7 straight playoff wins to capture the crown.

The post game meal we had at the house following the second round opener against Staunton proved to be a special experience for us as well. We wanted to complete the personal cycle of helping our ball club and I believe that was the only remaining event to lend a hand to. The efforts to pull off the Vienna double header was something to remember for a long time and getting to have Rebecca help out in the press box on the nights that we were short handed was fun as well. Having Bill let me where the cap of minority owner for a stretch for a season was more than I could imagine and I remain grateful for the opportunity.

The Sunday morning before the home opener when Diane Buckley came over to the house right after we delivered the final Sunday Washington Post so we (Rebecca) could try and set-up the programs for the home opener that night. Bumping into Ryan Schimpf and Brad Painter at the Luray 7-11 as they were out looking for some late night food. These are just some of my memories from the 2008 Summer in relation to the VBL Champions Luray Wranglers...

How 'bout them Wranglers....

Season Recap #11 - The Fauquier Gators: A man on a mission

That man is Cecil Campbell and I admire his efforts and determination to make sure he keeps the dream alive. The year was 2000 and Cecil teamed up with two other gentleman, Steve Athey and Sam Johnson to form the Warrenton Fauquier Community Baseball. The group suffered a very personal loss with the UN-timely passing of Steve Athey a few years ago. Cecil joined forces with the Athey family in their efforts to continue to give back to the town and community they live in.

The Fauquier Gators are just the most visible part of their efforts to help the youth of Warrenton and Fauquier County prepare for the future. Education through Sports is the message of the day for the group and they don't veer from the path. The club started play in the Clark Griffith League before making the move to the VBL back prior to the 2007 campaign. I must admit that I didn't know the story until I started looking closer at the Gators Web Site.

I had a chance to visit with Cecil again earlier in the week and while I am not going to quote him as if we were doing an interview, just talk about the respect that I have for his and the Athey Family efforts with their community.Cecil played high school sports at Fauquier High School years ago and was fortunate enough to get recruited to North Carolina State University to play for the Wolf Pack. I must admit that while Cecil is a few years older now I think he could still put on the shoulder pads and put a hurtin on folks.

It is a great story if it ends there with a small town boy getting to play D-I football in the ACC but for Cecil the journey was just getting started. Cecil returned home to Warrenton and set up shop in his home town and went searching for ways to give back to the community. Fast forward a few years and he joins forces with Steve Athey. I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time with the Athey family during my first visit to Warrenton and that is when I was able to take the next step in my understanding of the commitment of the entire group.

The first thing you will notice when you arrive for a Gators game is that you will not be charged the $5.00 for admission. The team is run as a non-profit organization to help the town and their money is raised on other fronts. I would like to think the second thing you will notice is the sign that tells you that this is Steve Athey Memorial Field. The atmoshpere is very casual at the park and you will often find that Mrs.Athey has some home made goodies available at the concession stand. There was some great home made pie available my last time through.

The golf tournament that the Gators hold each season as a Fund Raiser is called the Steve Athey Memorial Golf Tournament with the proceeds reaching $25,000.00 last year. When the team was in search of a coach to lead the team on the diamond they didn't look very far. Paul Koch (pronounced Coke) is the High School coach at Fauquier. These guys had a dream, not a scheme and they remain on course by honoring their friend and continuing to try and reach the area youth through Sports in Education every day. A group of true Home Town Heroes...

While you are there and that $5.00 is still in your pocket you can invest in one of the top VBL team programs for a $1.00 and if you are lucky maybe Mrs. Athey made a pie that night. You should also take a good look at the outfield grass at the park as I would argue it is top of the charts in the VBL...

We crossed paths with the Gators a few times in 2008 and here is how it went:

1.June 2ND- Home- ATV-60 Tour Stop - Loss 10-4 or 6 to Luray
2.June 27TH- Away - Loss 15-5 @ Luray
3.June 28TH- Home- Swept DH from Staunton 10-2 & 4-2
4.July 5TH - Away - Dropped DH @ Covington 6-4 & 10-5
5.July 7TH- Away - Washed out @ Harrisonburg
6.July 12TH- Away - Win 4-2 @ Luray
7.July 19TH- Home - Loss to Waynesboro 6-2
8.July 21ST- Away - Split DH @ Harrisonburg 3-4 & 6-2
9.July 24TH-Away- @ Luray Win 3-2

Home (3)(4) 2-2
Away-(6)(8) 3-4-1
Total (9) (12) 5-6-1

Congrats on the 2008 3RD seed and best of luck in 2009!
Given a chance, the trek over to Warrenton is a nice ride...

2008 Recap #10: Front Royal Cardinals - A season of transition

The folks in Haymarket were not the only group to be completing their first full season running a club in the VBL. The 2008 season was the first full year at the helm for Donna Settle, Greg Brill and Company up at the Bing. The new ownership group took over towards the end of the 2007 campaign and then went to work on the 2008 campaign.

Any conversation about Front Royal MUST begin with the facilities as Bing Crosby Stadium truly is a state of the art facility. The recent make over of the "Bing" was an incredible success for both the town of Front Royal and the folks of Warren County. A must see for a VBL fan that enjoys a different look. The day we picked up Wayne Dowling from the airport least season we stopped at the Bing on the way back to Luray to show him the place. I was quick to mention that not all of them are like this...

Skipper Bob Brotherton was back for another season running the club on the field. Bob is always a great conversation and this proved to be true again at the All-Star game at Covington. Skip led his team to a late season run in 2007 that took the Cards from out of the playoffs all the way to the #6 seed. The momentum carried into the post season as they upset the #3 Luray Wranglers in game 1 but eventually lost the series 2-1.

Brotherton had the team in a similar position this season but they came up short in their late season push to make the playoffs. Our visits to the Bing brought a few things to light for ATV-60...

1. Buck and Jacob Smith completed the ATV-60 Loop in the same manner that my youngest son Chris and I had done years ago with the Northwest League. Buck was kind enough on a number of occasions to talk to reporters about what the journey meant to him and his son and for this I will always remain grateful. By the way Buck, if you are reading this your 2 copies of the latest story are in the mail to you!

2. Kip Ritenour - Ace reporter and Sports Editor for the Warren County Sentinel. There were a number of people that conducted interviews and wrote stories about the efforts here at ATV-60 but Kip gets the nod (With John Galle) for taking the time to read through the site and get an understanding of what we were trying to accomplish. Kip- give me a call if I can ever be of help to you down the road...

3. Greg Brill - Greg switched this season from PA at the Bing over to the Web-Cast so it limited our time to visit during our stops at the Bing but it is about Quality not Quantity. Greg was very supportive of the ATV-60 all season long and even took the time to share some thoughts with a write-up near the end of the season. Good Luck with your ventures down the road...

There were a number of nights that we crossed paths with the Cards and here is a quick look:

1.June 3RD- ATV-60 Tour Stop - Home - Win 9-5 over Waynesboro
2.June 5TH- Home - Loss 2-0 to New Market
3.June 8TH- Home - Loss 6-4 to Winchester
4.June 13TH- Home - Loss 7-3 to Haymarket
5.June 18TH- Away - Loss 5-0 @ New Market
6.June 20TH-Home - Loss 5-4 to Luray
7.July 2ND- Away - Loss 14-3 @ Luray
8.July 11Th- Home - 1ST Pitch with Buck & Jacob - Loss 9-4 to Haymarket
9.July 16TH-Home - Win 12-5 over New Market (W/Linda Keen)
10.July 19TH-Home-Loss 5-4 to Luray (Diane & Morgan finish)
11.July 23RD- Away - Washed out vs. New Market

8 Trips to the Bing - 2-6
3 days on the road- 0-2-1
Overall 2-8-1

Best of Luck to Donna, Greg & Company as they move forward !

2008 Recap #9- The Staunton Braves - Kay, Boyd & Steve hard at work...

I started out my thoughts on Waynesboro by comparing a game at Kate Collins to a family gathering. Along the same lines I would say that a night at Gypsy Hill Park reminds me of my time watching a ton of Class A minor league baseball. We spent 10 years out in the Greater Seattle area and during this time many a night was spent in the minor league parks around the state. From Spokane to Yakima to Everett, watching minor league baseball is a treat if you are in a ball park where the focus is on mixing fun and baseball.

Enter my first trip down to the "Park" when I was stopping by to drop off the 2008 Passports. I met with Kay and Boyd that afternoon and Steve Cox was in the park as well. The season hadn't even started yet and this amazing lady was already multi-tasking in a way that made me smile. When I was out in Seattle and Portland for those years I was managing for the New York Times. Our building were open for 90 minutes each night and during that time I had to be able to conduct business with 40+ people. It was during this time that I learned the art of multi-tasking.

I consider myself pretty skilled at this, well I did until that day I spent a hour or so with Mrs. Snyder. Kay jumped from one issue to the next without missing a step and it involved a number of people and a number of issues. I left there thinking if she works this hard at 1:00 PM before the season starts what will game night be like? I found out the answer to that question during my first stop at Gypsy Hill...

I have tried to describe the situation down in Staunton to a number of folks before they made their first trip down to the stadium. You have to see 1,000+ people sitting within 30 feet of the fence all around the ball park to appreciate it. Kay & Boyd, with a great deal of help from Steve Cox and their entire staff really have created an environment that resembles a Class A minor league ball park.

The amount of fan give-a-ways each night and the variety of food to choose from are just a few of the touches that make it stick out. The huge paved parking lot and the ample seating for the visiting team make it fan friendly for everyone that makes the trip to the park. On top of everything that sticks out about the Braves there are two notes I have to add myself...

1. Kay doesn't rest on the teams laurels for one second. The amount of time, effort and energy that this lady puts into her ball team is amazing. Sometimes I think Staunton fights the perception that she UN-locks the gate and folks from the Greater Augusta County area just drive through the park and throws out bags of money. The good fortune that the Braves have right now comes from a great deal of elbow grease...

2. Boyd has the perfect understanding of the spirit of the VBL. Yes- I am going to call it perfect because we agree on it. In between the lines the clubs should fight the good fight to win the contest being played that night but outside of the lines the clubs should be watching out for each other...

My paths crossed the Braves a few times during their 2008 season:

1. June 9TH- ATV-60 Tour Stop - Home - Win 3-1 over Harrisonburg
2.June 10TH- ATV-60 Tour Stop-Away - Loss 6-3 @ Luray
3.June 22ND- Home - Loss 2-1 vs. Luray
4.June 24TH- Away - Win 8-2 @ New Market
5.June 28TH- Away (DH) @ Fauquier - Losses 10-2 & 4-2 (Kenny & Ellen Grant finish)
6.July 5TH - Home - Ceremony for the Grants - Loss 11-5 to Luray
7.July 17TH-Away - Loss 19-5 @ Luray
8.July 23RD- Away-Loss 8-4 @ Waynesboro
9.August 1ST- Playoffs - Away Loss 6-3
10. August 2ND- Playoffs - Home - Loss 6-5

4 trips to Staunton - 1-3
6/7 road games- 1-6
Overall 2-9... I didn't help out much here...

Make sure you head down to catch a Braves game in 2009!

2008 Recap # 8 - The Waynesboro Generals- Take your shoes off and stay a while

On the diamond the Waynesboro Generals continued to find a great deal of success in the Summer of 2008. For the third year running Jim Critzer's ball club finished the regular season with a pennant and the team had a number of players named to the All-League team.

Skipper Lawrence "Big Picture" Nesselrodt captured another Manager of the Year Award but this time it was named the "Mo Weber" Award as a fitting tribute to the Legend of the Valley. The playoffs didn't go the way the Generals had hoped but I don't think it will take away from the season of fun the group had down at Kate Collins Field.

*** I hear that today is a pretty big day for the Skipper! Congrats on that...

The atmosphere down at Kate Collins is like no other in the VBL. In search of a catch phrase or a word to sum it up I came up with "Relaxed". I don't know if this was by design or if it just turned out that way but I would compare going to a Generals game to going to a Company Softball game or a family picnic. Don't get me wrong, the Generals fans support the home team in ways you can't imagine but at the same time it is just like being part of one big family.

The UN-official title of Ring Leader goes to Generals Sign Guy Mike but Mike would be quick to tell you that he is just one of many die hard Waynesboro fans. Six members of the Generals faithful completed the ATV-60 Loop and this is what opened the door for us to be able to look inside of the Family. When you come to a game at Kate Collins one of the first things you will notice is that the area is incredibly wide open. There is always plenty of room up on the hill over looking the first base line and the base lines are always doted with fans in lawn chairs.

Mike and the group that calls themselves the Cameron Crazies of the VBL (With that title it was only fitting that they signed Duke's Gabriel Saade to play short) sit in the first few rows of the bleachers just to the third base side of home plate. The group takes the time to make every General feel like their part of something special as each one of the players on the roster gets a nick name for the summer. The chants are great and the fact that they remain supportive of the Generals versus negative to the visitors makes it even more special.

It wouldn't be fair not to take the time to give a tip of the cap to Brian Lundstrom for his efforts on the P.A system. Brian adds to the Relaxed atmosphere with his approach to the crowd and to the game. Mix in Chip Crabill and Sean Youngberg calling the games for ESPN-1240 WTON in Augusta County and the locals have the opportunity to follow every Generals game on the road by radio or at Kate Collins in the stands.

One more tip of the cap goes out to Nat Nicholas and his family and friends that run the concession area for the Generals. Each trip down to the park always involved a few minutes with this hard working group. Shirley Hundley just completed her first season as Generals GM and both her and husband always proved to be hospitable during our visits to Kate Collins.

Kate Collins is an easy place to watch a baseball game and if you make the trip down to Waynesboro there is a good chance you will want to come back again...

Here is how the Generals did this year with ATV-60 in the park...

1. June 1ST- Home - ATV-60 Tour Stop - Waynesboro 16-4 over Harrisonburg
2.June 3RD- Away - ATV-60 Tour Stop - @ Front Royal - Loss 9-5
3.June 17TH-Away- Win 10-3 @ Luray
4.June 23RD-Away -Win 4-3 @ Winchester
5.June 30TH-Home-1ST Pitch for Beverly & Tabatha- Win 10-4 over Woodstock
6.July 3RD- Away - @ New Market - Win 4-1
7.July 8TH- Home- Win 9-2 (Evening with John Leonard)
8.July 15TH- Vienna Double Header @ Luray - Waynesboro wins 1-0 over Vienna
9.July 19TH- Away - @ Fauquier - Mike & Chuckie finish - Win 6-2
10.July 22ND- Home - 1ST Pitch for Mike & Chuckie - Win 12-2 over Haymarket
11.July 23RD- Home - Win 8-4 over Staunton
12.July 28TH- Away - Win 8-7 @ Luray
13.July 30TH-Away -Playoffs - Loss 2-1 @ Haymarket

5 Home Games- 5-0 record
7 Road Games - 5-2 record
1 Neutral Game-1-0 record
Overall - 11W 2L (.846%)

Friday, August 22, 2008

The 2008 Summer baseball season has come and gone so now we can ask how good was the #4 team in the country? Bill Turner and his Luray Wranglers

It is time to examine just how big of a deal it is for the town of Luray and the VBL to have the Wranglers finish the final Perfect Game Crosschecker Poll (PGCrosschecker) listed as the #4 team in the country. For the average fan of the VBL they recognize that Luray defeated the Covington Lumberjacks 3-0 in the finals to capture the Jim Lineweaver Cup for the second time in three years but the 2008 success goes well beyond that for Bill Turner's club.

The Wranglers and the VBL are part of a group known as the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB). There are 8 leagues that compete under this banner each summer and I am going to take a second and list each league and the current numbers of teams in them...

NACSB:

Valley Baseball League - 12 teams
Cape Cod Baseball League - 10 teams
Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League - 11 teams
Central Illinois Collegiate League- 6 teams
Atlantic Collegiate League - 8 teams
Southern Collegiate Baseball League- 7 teams
Florida Collegiate Summer League - 6 teams
New York Collegiate League - 14 teams

Totals- 8 Leagues / 74 teams- All East of the Mississippi River
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So the Wranglers finished fourth best out of 74 teams from all over the eastern part of the country? Nope- we are just getting started...

The next group of teams all play in leagues under the banner of "National Baseball Congress "..

This group is based out of Wichita, Kansas and includes 15 separate leagues that have their season conclude with a NBC World Series each season. The list doesn't stop with the 15 additional leagues that compete for the NBC title. The Northwoods League (14 teams) and Coastal Plains (14 teams) along with the Sierra Baseball League (founded in 2007-15 teams) are just a few of the bigger Summer Baseball Leagues that are run across the Nation each year.

The list of teams competing for the UN-official title of the country's best Summer League Team is in the area of 200 now. The efforts of the folks at PG Crosschecker to keep tabs on so many different teams from all over the US is pretty remarkable. The 6-team Alaskan League is another one of the leagues that supplies the Top 42 teams that play in the NBC World Series.

Now that I have attempted to paint a picture of just how many teams are out there competing each summer (and the list keeps growing with the addition of the 15 team Sierra League just 2 years ago), lets take a look at the accomplishments of the 2008 VBL Champions...

I was able to catch-up with the man behind the Luray Wranglers, Mr. Bill Turner and he was kind enough to share his thoughts on the Summer of 2008...

ATV-60: The Wranglers were one of a number of teams in the VBL that were waiting for a number of players to get to the Valley from Omaha (NCAA World Series), how was the early going for your ball club?

Bill Turner: After 14 games we were just 8-6 and I would of never dreamed we could reach the ranking of #4 in the country. (Note- Luray went 29-9 from there) (% .763!!!)

ATV-60: The arrival of the players from Ohio State University (Alex Wimmers, Drew Rucinski, Gus Miller and Andrew Armstrong) proved to be a windfall for the club. The VBL doesn't have a deep history with players from the Big 10 but that could change after the 2008 season. What does the ranking and the clubs success mean to you?

Bill Turner: I am very proud of the accomplishment of finishing #4 overall and I also think it was a huge accomplishment to beat the #1 team in the Nation in addition to the VBL Championship.

ATV-60: You mention the victory over the Vienna Senators when they were ranked #1 in the country. Luray won the game 12-4 at Bulldog Field just after Waynesboro edged the Senators by a final score of 1-0. I was just as impressed with your clubs ability to put on the event in such solid fashion as most folks were in your teams showing inside the lines. The entire event was put together in a matter of days, how did you get this done?

Bill Turner: As I said back then while it was happening, the support group we have here in the Luray organization is something very special. The way that the people in the community rally around this team is what makes things like the Vienna exhibition games possible.

ATV-60: The Wranglers dropped their playoff opener to Harrisonburg but then ran off 7 straight impressive playoff wins to collect the 2ND Lineweaver Cup during your tenure as the Owner of the Wranglers. When your season ended you were ranked third in the nation before finishing in the #4 spot. What are your thoughts on the system that is in place now and what do you think might help in the future?

Bill Turner : After winning the VBL Championship I was hoping to move up and thought we should of, however I am happy to be 4TH. I hope they define their system and consider the strength of the league, that would be a tremendous help to us. Another idea might be to rank the leagues and then to rank the teams accordingly.

ATV-60: Watching the 2008 Wranglers from a pretty good vantage point this summer has left me with a thought or two about the VBL and the level of competition in our Valley. You take a look at the seasons that Wimmers, Travis Smink (VMI), Rucinski and company had on the mound and one could think that this was a once in a lifetime event. Turner, Mike Bocock and Buck Harmon worked together to create a roster full of potential MLB players but in the same breath so did Lawrence Nesselrodt and the folks down in Waynesboro.

The Generals finished #20 in the final poll (At the end they expand the Top 16 to the Top 32) and there was another roster full of future pro prospects. The talent in the VBL is equal to any league in the Country right now and the fact that Luray is/was considered to be the #4 team in the country should not only help the Wranglers but should help the entire VBL.

It is time to spread the news- we play some pretty solid baseball here in the VBL! Covington swept the VBL regular season champs to reach the finals and Harrisonburg came within a run in the bottom of the ninth inning versus Luray of moving into the second round this season. The fact that we had two teams ranked in the Top 20 off 200+ clubs is like getting the keys to a new car but only if we are willing to take it out for a test spin. The accomplishments of the Wranglers this season could go a long way in helping the VBL compete with the other leagues around the country but as they say in the business- Let's shout it from the Roof Tops!


Other Notes - Ryan Schimpf (LSU) and Alex Koronis (Miami) were some of the other players that Luray was waiting on at the start of the VBL season. Ryan went on to capture the VBL Championship MVP award and Koronis posted 2 victories in about 24 hours during the 7 game run in the post season.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2008 Recap #7 - The Winchester Royals- Got Crowns?

A question/ topic of conversation that came up on a regular basis this summer was in relationship to the various parks and ownership groups. Each time I traveled to a VBL park this season I went in searching for things I would bring to my own park if I had a team. This is what I remember most about the Winchester Royals for 2008.

The summer was full of on the field highlights with Mickey Wiswall and Tyler Townsend but I tend to leave the on the field fun to those that can only share gamers with their readers. I want to talk about what makes going to a ball game a treat. I joke a great deal about Winchester (23,585) being the big city and that is only because the population equals that of Warrenton, Luray, New Market, Covington and Woodstock combined. But that is the beauty of watching a baseball game at Bridgeforth Field on a summer night.

The entire organization, from Jim Shipp on down is locked in to making folks feel right at home when you come to the park. Yes, Winchester is on the big end of the cities along with Staunton, Waynesboro and Harrisonburg but the Royals are capable of making you feel at home. During the season I over heard a number of people who made the trip North for the first time talk about the park versus the stadium of the bigger teams and I always come back to the same point- it is a cozy place to watch a game!

Then you add in the coolest position in the VBL with Brian Burke in charge of "Game Day Operations". The night of our first trip of the season to Winchester I met Brian for the first time and said to myself, what a neat idea. The combination of the position that Brian has and the effort he puts into it is pretty special. The idea of having a person available to meet and greet any and all important folks on a given night is something that sponsors,etc... will remember after the night is over.

If you managed to get by Jim Shipp and Brian Burke and you are still not convinced then you bump into Mr. Ken Hockin. Ken is listed as Webmaster for the Royals and you couldn't ask a person to be anymore helpful than Ken. Toss in Bobby McGrath and Vince working the scorers table and plus Bob Jones and Mark Sawyer calling the games on both the Web and Sports Talk 610...

My lasting memory of the Royals in 2008 will be skipper John Lowery Jr. working his magic on Mrs. Betty Phillips on our final trip North for Betty finishing the ATV-60 Loop. Betty was willing to come out and be acknowledged but wanted no part of throwing out a first pitch. By the time that Skip was done working his magic, not only was Betty out on the mound but she was throwing the first pitch to...You guessed it- John Lowery Jr.

As I have done with all of the previous teams I will list my home and away stops that involved the Royals but not before thanking Jim Shipp one more time for running a special ball club. I am sure that if Jim were here he would quickly pass the credit on to his entire organization...

In the Park with the Royals:

1.June 5TH- Home - ATV-60 Kickoff - Win 8-1 over Harrisonburg
2.June 8TH- Away @ Front Royal - Win 6-4
3.June 13TH- Home - Win 4-2 over Luray
4.June 23RD-Home - Loss 4-3 to Waynesboro in a game that ended on 6/24
5.June 26TH-Away - Loss 9-6 @ Luray
6.July 14TH -Away - Loss 6-2 @ New Market
7.July 25TH- Home- DAY GAME- 1ST Pitch for Betty - Win 5-3 over Harrisonburg

Home- 3W-1L
Away- 1W-2L
Overall- 4W-3L

PG Crosschecker Final #'s are in... Luray ends summer as #4 and Waynesboro as #20 ! Congrats to Wranglers & Generals

I just went over to take a look at the final PGCrosschecker and the Luray Wranglers dropped from 3RD to 4TH in the final poll and Waynesboro moved up from #22 to #20. Having two teams finish in the top 20 in the country goes a long way in giving the 2008 VBL season some nationwide credibility.

The poll lists a couple of key facts about the club and this weeks players were Travis Smink (VMI) and Alex Wimmers (Ohio State) for Luray while Adam Liberatore (Tenn Tech) and Brandon Sizemore (C of C) make the list for Waynesboro. The other team of note from the poll is the Vienna Senators of the Clark Griffith League. The Sens came down to Luray as the #1 seed in the country back in July when the faced both Waynesboro and Luray in a split double header.

Vienna finished #16 after ending the year at 41-14 following their 22-1 start. The Sens went 19-13 over the back half of their schedule not counting the UN-official twin bill defeats at the hands of Luray (12-4) and Waynesboro (1-0)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2008 Recap #6 : The History of the New Market Rebels

After writing the post about the VBL and the original 6 I went out in search of some history on my own and I found some on the New Market Rebels home site. One of my more interesting conversations during the season came on the night we had the first of two ceremonies down in Waynesboro. Generals skipper Lawrence Nesselrodt brought up the topic of respecting the roots of the VBL and I would be one of the first to admit I have not dug deep into the past of the VBL.

After learning that the league was at only 6 teams as recent as 2000, I turned my attention to the 6 clubs that were in place pre-expansion. I want to share some of what I found out about through this season with Bruce Alger and then the Web site. I was deep into helping out a Rebel Park for my third season when I finally got around to asking Bruce if I was correct in my thinking that the town of New Market owned the Rebels?

The conversation quickly became a modern version of Who's on First as Bruce tried to walk me through the way the team is run. I was amazed at the story and how it sounded a bit like the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. At first I assumed that Bruce owned the club and I came to this based on how much pride that Bruce showed/had every day that there was baseball at Rebel Park.

So, if Bruce didn't own the club and the town didn't own the club than who does own the club?

To find the answer you have to go back to 1947, roughly six decades ago. That is when the club was chartered as a not-for-profit community owned team as has remained such for over 60 years. The gate keepers have changed over the years but the team has remained the same. The current group of Bruce & Lynne Alger, Jim Weissenborn, Jay Hafner and Dave Beaver continue in a long line of leaders from within the community to be responsible for the well being of the towns beloved Rebels.

The story doesn't stop with the handful of above mentioned folks. The Shenandoah Valley Grandstand Managers Club was founded in 1993. I had the privilege to speak to this group at their kick-off banquet along with Austin back before the season started and it made the story start to make sense. The mission of the group is to provide support for all things relating to the Rebels. The current membership is around 125 people that are there with Bruce & Company every step of the way in trying to make every night at Rebel Park a memorable one for all the fans.

My first season helping out with the web casts for the Rebels was a banner year for New Market during the regular season. While the past two seasons haven't been quite as successful on the field they have remained so in the stands. The 2008 Rebels finished with a mark of 16-28 under new skipper Nolan Neiman with a large number (11) of the losses being of the 1 run variety. Both Dale Brannon and Kevin Dietrich returned for their third and final seasons with the Rebels as did the Legend of the Valley- Mo Weber.

My games with the Rebels in 2008:

1.Opening night @ Woodstock - Win 10-7
2.June 4TH- @ Covington- Loss 6-5 in 11 innings
3.June 5TH- @ Front Royal - Win 2-0
4.June 6TH- Home* ATV-60 Tour Stop - Loss 4-3 to Luray (Web-Cast)
5.June 14TH- Home - Washed out vs. H-Burg

6.June 16TH- Home- Loss to Harrisonburg 6-5 (Web)
7.June 18TH- Home- Win 5-0 over Front Royal (Web)
8.June 19TH- @ Luray- Loss 6-5
9.June24TH- Home - Loss to Staunton 8-2 (Web)
10.June 29TH- Home- Win 6-5 over Covington (Web)

11.July 1ST- Home - Win 9-1 over Luray (Web)
12.July 3RD-Home- Loss 4-1 to Waynesboro (Web)
13.July 6TH- ATV-60/Rebels bus ride down to Covington (All-Star Game)
14.July 13TH- Home vs. Winchester - Washed Out
15.July 14TH- Home - Win 6-2 over Winchester (Web)

16.July 16TH- @ Front Royal - Loss 12-5
17.July 18TH- @ Luray - Loss 5-4
18.July 23RD- vs. Front Royal - Washed Out
19.July 25TH-Home vs. Covington win 9-3 (Web)
20.July 26TH- @ Harrisonburg - Win 3-1

20 Nights - 9 Web Casts - 3 Rain Outs - 1 Fun Bus - 3W-4L on road / 5-4-3 at Rebel Park
8-8-3 overall mark....

Highlights- Mo's Birthday Cake/Party, Any night in the Crows Nest and listening to Tacey Hawkins sing the National Anthem before each home game. The energy of Melissa Dodge and the passion of Jay Hafner...

ATV-60 Loopsters (5) - Bruce, Kay Helsey and the Dodge Family (Noah, Melissa & Charlie)
Great coverage from John Galle of the Shenandoah Valley Herald...

Half way thru the team recaps with Waynesboro, Winchester, Fauquier, Front Roayl, Staunton & Luray still to come...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just like the NHL- The VBL has an original 6...In search of History...

The past decade has seen the VBL grow from 6 teams all the way up to 12 teams so it made me think about the phrase they use in the NHL about the 6 original hockey teams. Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs , Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black hawks and the New York Rangers.

Now lets take a look at the VBL original 6. The Front Royal Cardinals, New Market Rebels, Harrisonburg Turks, Winchester Royals, Staunton Braves and the Waynesboro Generals. I read that the VBL began play back in 1923 so there has to be 85+ years of history waiting to be told. On September 1ST over in H-Burg they will begin dismantling Memorial Stadium and with it will go years of VBL history.

The last time I was at a game at the Stadium, Kurt led an exercise from the PA stand to find the fan that was there that night that could go the furthest back in history. I am in search of someone out there who can take us back in history and give us stories about the Good Ole Days of the VBL... Do I have any takers?

Team Recap #5- Now Introducing the Rockbridge Rapids!

This will be season recap #5 in a series of 12 and today we take a quick look inside the newest member of the VBL - the Rockbridge Rapids. The red-letter date for the organization came on Friday July 11TH by way of a celebration kick-off down at Washington & Lee in Lexington.

Rockbridge joining the VBL completes an impressive decade in which the league doubled in size, going from 6 teams back in 2000 to 12 teams in 2009. The VBL added Luray and Covington for the 2001 season and then Woodstock teamed up with Loudon County (Now Haymarket) back in 2004 to push the total to double figures. When Fauquier moved over from the Clark Griffith League back in 2007 it was then the hopes of adding a 12TH team in the Lexington area.

The night I sat in the VBL Owners meeting for the first time back in September of 2007 I listened to Mr. Jim Crothers make the announcement that the hopes of Rockbridge playing during 2008 was past the point of no return. The lights that needed to be added to the stadium at Washington & Lee (Cap'n Dick Smith Field) were not going to be in place in time for the team to have a home stadium for 2008.

The VBL had a number of decisions to make and a limited time to make them about re-framing the 2008 schedule and Crothers needed to finish his efforts to make the Rapids happen. Both groups turned out to have a banner year in 2008 with Luray capturing the Lineweaver Cup and the Rapids getting the lights up and working at Washington & Lee!

I had an opportunity to visit with Jim for a few minutes when he came up to Luray for the Vienna twin bill and I came away impressed. Ken Newman is in place to be the first General Manager in the history of the club and both men are currently looking for help in every aspect of a VBL team to be ready for the 2009 season.

In my opinion the addition of the Lexington/Buena is Gold for two reasons. The first one is easy as the VBL needed an even number of teams so that they could eliminate the one team sits out each night format. The second one is the placement of the franchise...

I don't think there was a better place to put a 12TH team inside the current VBL. The team gets a natural rival in Covington and for the 1ST time since the Lumberjacks joined the VBL, they will have a team within 1 hour of Casey Field. The divisions will be a 6 team North and a 6 team South with the South having 3 great pairings. Waynesboro-Staunton, Harrisonburg- New Market and Covington- Rockbridge.

The team website is up and running at www.rockbridgerapids.com and they already have a link to John's site at http://allthingsvalleyleague.typepad.com . To learn more about the Rapids and their ground breaking efforts you should head over there and take a look around. They will be playing at home on May 31ST of 2009 and I am looking forward to watching the Rapids take the field down at Washington & Lee!

Congrats to Mr. Crothers and company for working through all of the issues that come with creating a team from scratch!

2008 Recap #4: The Woodstock River Bandits- A fun place to be!

The W's & L's (16-28) don't come close to reflecting the effort that goes into Stu Richardson's team up in Woodstock. Stu works as hard as anyone in the Valley Baseball League while drawing from the second smallest market. Woodstock lists a population of 4,229 and ranks above only New Market in size. If victories were awarded by effort of the field and in the front office then the River Bandits would be competing for the Lineweaver Cup each season.

Mr. & Mrs. Richardson are surrounded by quality people at every turn, from the Walters family to Roger & Mickey up in the press box. Craig Orndorff handles the Web Casts as well as anyone in the league and the staff makes you feel right at home from the front gate. These were just some of the reasons that we chose to kick-off our Around The Valley in 60 Days campaign right there in Central Shenandoah County.

Woodstock entered the season with high expectations after pushing eventual 2007 Champion Waynesboro to the brink before losing the final game deep into extra innings. Skipper Donn Foltz (Foltzie) was back at the helm and the future was looking bright for the home team @ Central High School. As we said earlier, the final won-loss mark wasn't what the organization had hoped for but the near no-no after being eliminated from the playoffs showed the VBL just how much fight the remaining Bandits had left.

The group runs a top-notch Golf Tourney prior to the season over at Shenvalee in New Market and follows that up with everything that a club can do to try and promote itself in a 60 day season. The view from the snack bar as you stare towards home plate rivals the view at Rebel Park but in reverse. Every time we were near the team the players always seemed to be smiling and remained eager to pose for a pic here and there.

My top 5 nights list of 2008 has to include any night where Mickey, Roger, Larry Smoot and Jeff Walters are around the press box and who could forget the pic of Travis Smink of Luray wearing a Woodstock Police Officers' hat while the Officer donned a Luray cap! Want to spend a relaxed night at the ball park?- head out to Central High School!

Our trail with Stu & Company went like this:

5/31- Home- Loss 10-7 to New Market
6/13-Home- Loss 5-3 to Covington
6/15-Home- Loss 7-4 to Luray
6/28- @ Luray- Loss 3-2
6/30-@ Waynesboro- Loss 10-4
7/7- Home - Loss 5-3 to Haymarket
7/27- @ Luray - Win 5-2

Home Record- 0-4
Road Record - 1-2
Overall Mark- 1W-6L

While I worked wonders for Haymarket (.700), I didn't seem to bring a great deal of fortune
to the River Bandits. A tip of the cap to Stu for putting the link to our site in the most visible place it could be and for getting on board early and staying to the end!

Best of Luck in 2009 to Stu & Company !

Dodgers looking for starting pitching with Penny on the shelf- Trade for Greg Maddux...

Greg Maddux will be re-joining a team for the second time in his amazing career when Los Angles announces they have added to their starting rotation for the stretch run. The Dodgers and Padres were close to making this deal back on July 31ST but San Diego wasn't excited about the prospect they were being offered in return.

Maddux has a no-trade clause in his contract but had agreed to move to either of the 3 teams near his home in Las Vegas (LA/Anaheim or Arizona). Back in 2006 Maddux joined the Dodgers for the stretch run and helped the team capture the NL Wild Card spot. The following year Maddux signed with San Diego and has pitched with the Padres for the past 1 & 3/4 seasons. A quick look at the upcoming Dodgers schedule gives me hope of catching another Maddux start here in the near future...

19TH-20TH-21ST Dodger Stadium vs. Colo Rockies
22ND-23RD-24TH-25TH @ Phili
26TH-27TH-28TH @ Washington Nationals

His normal start date would be the 20TH but it will depend on Penny's start date/slot. But with 7 straight games in the Eastern Time Zone there is no way I don't get to see him at least 1 more time this season in person!

Los Angles returns East to face the Pirates in Pittsburg( a four game set ) later in September (15TH-18TH)....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting 2 Comments on Maddux in San Diego will keep me writing a bit longer...

When we got off the plane in Salt Lake City on the way out to San Diego I struck up a conversation with a Delta employee from Southern California. The topic of our trip out to the West Coast was we were on are way to see my baseball hero- Greg Maddux pitch against the Phillies.

The nice man was in his 60's and he was quick to tell me that it was time for me to get a new hero because my guy was so soft that he could hit him now! I smiled and remembered that Mom told me to respect my elders. He wouldn't have any part of my talking about his three straight wins or the seven blown saves. "Doesn't matter- I could hit what he throws".

Bring in Ryan Howard and the Phils who are competing for the NL East crown with the Mets. Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Company couldn't do what Mr. Delta claimed he could. My guy tosses a five hit game into the eighth inning and still loses by a score of 1-0! After the game Maddux does what? Dog his team's offense or tear up the locker room? No- He compliments the efforts of Jamie Moyer (3 years older than Greg) on his effort for the night.

The pic I have of young Maddux and young Hoffman running of the field together will soon be blown up and hanging in the office. Priceless moment for sure!

I want to say THANKS for both of the comments left about the adventure. I am no different in my passion for Maddux than say Generals Sign Guy Mike is about the Generals! If he does end up trying to help out Joe Torre and the Dodgers his next few starts stand to be in Phili and/or D.C!!!

I will get back to more VBL related matters here soon but I just wanted to say Thanks for the notes!

Needing to see some baseball? RCBL Championship resumes on Tuesday night at Clover Hill

Are you needing one more trip to the baseball diamond? Good News for you if you do...

The RCBL 2008 season was dominated by the teams from Clover Hill (Bucks) and Stuarts Draft (D-Backs). Both teams finished the summer with records of 25-3 (% of .893) and now both teams have made it to the finals.

The format is best 4 out of 7 and the Bucks managed to take both games 1 & 2. Clover Hill opened with a 6-2 victory on Saturday night and then followed it up with a 9-4 victory on Sunday night. The series has a night off on Monday but they will be back playing baseball at Clover Hill on Tuesday night at 7:30 PM.

*** Stuarts Draft won game #3 by a score of 10-6 and now head home with the hopes of tying up the series at 2-2...

Luray Wranglers remain #3 in the Country in new PG-Crosschecker Poll from 8/12/08

The most recent poll is not the final one yet as there is still baseball being played in Wichita, Kansas (NBC World Series) and the finals of the Cape Cod.

The top 3 spots remain the same with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots (32-12) at the top.Youse's Maryland Oriloes (49-7) of the Cal Ripken Sr. League are still listed as #2 and then the VBL Champion Luray Wranglers (37-15) came in at #3.

Waynesboro remains ranked in the expanded poll (Doubles from 16 to 32 at seasons end) with the Generals falling from #18 down to #22. The top of the list might change as the NBC & The Cape crown champs but I believe it is great for the entire VBL to have a team once again flirt with the top of the polls...

More Tidbits from Haymarket- Notes from H-Joe

Haymarket Joe checked in this morning after reading the notes I posted about the 2008 Senators and he was kind enough so send in some add-ons...

1.Ryan Fecteau was officially named Manager just before the season ended and Ryan is already hard at work for the 2009 squad.

2. H-Joe was quick to point out the number of hard working folks that were behind the scenes all season. He mentioned Angie Plesce and all the work she put into the her role as Coordinator of the 2008 Feed The Senators campaign.

I hope you will take the time to scroll down and read the original story and also understand if there is anyone out there with notes or thoughts about the 2008 Senators- we welcome all to send something in...

Greg Maddux & The San Diego Padres vs. Phili (Photos)

Petco Park
The View from the Trolley/Train
Is it time to go in ?
Greg & His Two Sons
Greg and young Mr. Hoffman
Shagging fly balls during BP
Part of the fan section they call "The Beach"
More BP
CF- Jody Gerut
KOOZ's BP ball rolling to a stop
Classic Moment as the two sons head off the field
Greg heading to the Pen to loosen up
22 years of following him- 1ST time in a home park of his
Time to get the arm ready
Yes- from about five feet away
More Pen work
42-year old righty still has it
What a neat day at the park...
Hope there is a 2009 to come
45-year old Moyer says he is coming back-Hope Greg does too






The Friar getting the crowd ready!
Time to get the party started!
On the Mound
From right behind the Padres dugout
45-Year Old Jamie Moyer still has it going on
Maddux & Kouz
Check out the smile on that face.
Off to a Good Start
But so was Moyer...
These two vets traded zeros for the first six innings
000000 000000
Sorta making look easy...
I get to bat too...
Is it my turn yet?
I guess that means yes!

Greg...Greg & Kouz
I just need that one pitch to Burrell back
A great deal of fun for me

This message made me laugh
I'm ready for you Jamie
No magic Friday night though

Time to head to the dugout
But I'll get to do it again in 5 days!
Mr.Friars

When you pitch into the 8TH and only allow 1 run aren't you suppose to win?
What a night for both of the Vets...
Greg leaving in the top of the 8TH inning
Another quality start from a quality guy...
Hey- I know these two ladies as Linda and Rebecca stand in front of PETCO !