What Is To Become of the Northern League?

Thanks to the wonder of Twitter I learned earlier in the week that the Gary Railcats were headed to the American Association to join a group of teams that used to play under the Northern League banner. Three other teams left the Northern League with Gary to go back to the American Association. They are theĀ Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Kansas City T-Bones and Winnipeg Goldeyes. This leaves a cupboard that was already sparse pretty bare. Is the Northern League done? Four of the eight teams have jumped ship. Two teams the Lake County Fielders and the Rockford River Hawks left the Frontier League last season to come to the Northern League. I would think that the Frontier League might just absorb the four remaining teams into their fold. I have yet to see what will happen there. Continue reading

A Hard Days Night

Yesterday the Railcats dropped the last game of their homestand 5-3 to the Rockford Riverhawks. I got to the game in the seventh inning so I really have no idea how any of the runs were scored. My impression though was that the Railcats seem to have the same bat supplier that the White Sox have. Strangely though I did not go to Gary to watch a baseball game yesterday. Continue reading

Glen Wins Again on Hockey Night

Last night I was in Gary yet again to watch the Railcats take on the Winnipeg Goldeyes on Hockey Night. They called it Hockey Night, but it might as well have been Blackhawks Night or Denis Savard Night. Their were probably more Blackhawk jerseys in the crowd than Railcats. Savard is shown above signing a baseball for me prior to the game. I have always liked Denis. Going way back to when I first heard of him I thought his name was Denise Savard because of the way they pronounced it on TV. It took me a while to get used to the way they said his name. The S on Savard almost sounded like it belonged on the end of his first name. Anyway I am past that now. Savard was known for his Spin-O-Rama move during his playing days. He is known best in his coaching days for getting four whole games into the 2008-2009 season before getting fired. This baseball will go great next to my Stan Mikita ball that I got signed last season. Continue reading

Playing Like a Bunch of Wookies

Last night was Star Wars night in Gary. I had just gotten back from a long trip, but I had to see what kind of people this attracted. As I walked in I saw that the line to meet the man who wore the Chewbacca suit, Peter Mayhew, was not very long so I got in the line. I handed him a ball because I collect them, and he acted like it was a bomb. He is a very tall man, but it looks like his size is starting to catch up to him. He had a lot of trouble getting around. I even resisted the urge to tell him to ‘punch it Chewy’ when he took too long to sign the ball. Continue reading

Finally I Get Paid to Attend a Baseball Game

Last night I was in Gary to see the Railcats take on the Rockford RiverHawks. I went because it was money giveaway night. The first 1,000 fans through the gates received an envelope with money in it. The envelopes contained anywhere from $1 to $100. Do you want to guess what I got? You guessed it. $1. The only good thing about getting to the park early was the fact that they were taking batting practice when I walked in. I walked out to talk to the Railcat superfan in left field, and was rewarded with a home run off the bat of RiverHawk third baseman Evan McArthur.What a way to start the night. McArthur is shown above Continue reading

Railcats Storm to the Win

Today I was bored so I decided to head to Gary to see the Railcats again. They had a Blackhawks day where if you had on a piece of Blackhawks clothing you got a discount on your ticket. They tried to do the anthem like the Hawks do, but did not quite have it going. For one 2,400 people can’t make that much noise outside, and the other is that none of them wanted any part of it. Continue reading

These Fielders Can Hit

Last night I was at the Railcats game for their first ever game against the Lake County Fielders. The Fielders are owned by movie star Kevin Costner. It was no movie ending for the Railcats though as they lost 7-3. On the second pitch of the game Fielder second baseman Amos Ramon smoked a ball over the left field wall to give his team a 1-0 lead. The Railcats tied it back up at one, but they would never be that close again. Josh Short also hit a home run that may have been the longest I have seen in a non-Major League game. His shot went off the scoreboard in left center field. That ball was a rocket that still might have been going up when it hit the scoreboard. The Railcats had one last chance at the game with the bases loaded, down 7-3, and Christian Guerrero at the plate. Guerrero worked a full count, then swang at a terrible pitch to end the inning. After that it was just a matter of completing the final innings to make the game official. Continue reading

One For the Rohde

Today I attended my second Railcats game in as many days. I don’t know if I would have gone, but a free ticket said that I would. I had a seat behind the Railcats bench, but once again the kids were all over the place so I moved to the top of the section. By the middle of the second inning I had seen enough kids walk in front of me for an entire game so I walked out to the outfield terrace. I was going for one of the picnic benches, but the wind was howling out to left so I just hung out on the fence getting cooled off by the wind. The third batter that inning Tanner Townsend pounded a liner that I knew right away had a chance. It came off the screen, and I had my first home run ball! I have been to many games, but never caught a home run ball. Technically I did not catch this one on the fly, but a ball is a ball. This was also the first ball that I have gotten that was in play. I have gotten a couple foul balls this season, but never a fair ball. Continue reading

Simon Says No To Gary

Today I had the day off so I decided to attend the Gary Railcats morning game at the Steel Yard. It was an 11:00 start, and local schools from all around were in attendance. I usually work so I can never attend these types of games. I decided to take advantage of a rare summer (it was as hot as summer) day off and take the short drive to Gary. One word of caution though. If you want to make it around the stadium or watch the game in peace this is not the kind of day for you. The concourse was the meeting place, and even the Gary police were having a tough time keeping it opened. Continue reading

Flyers Check the Railcats on Hockey Night

On a night where I was more concerned about seeing former Irish pitcher Tom Thornton and former major leaguer Felix Jose another player sprung up to steal the show. Former South Bend Silverhawk Richard Mercado got on base four out of five times last night, and really stole the show. I was focused on Jose in the on deck circle when I heard his name. It sounded familiar, and when I saw him I realized he was the former Hawk. Fitting that he would steal the show on the night the Hawks of the hockey world were featured. He is shown to the left rapping out his first inning RBI single. He has a nice swing, and was a pleasure to watch again. One player that I had never seen play before was Felix Jose. Felix played eleven years in the big leagues for the Athletics, Cardinals, Yankees, Royals, and the Diamondbacks. He also spent some time playing in South Korea. This man has had a good run. Why would he be riding buses in the Northern League playing for the Schaumburg Flyers? At tender age of 44 no less? Your answer is as good as mine. He was batting fifth, but swung the bat like a ninth place hitter. Let me take that back. He made contact like a ninth place hitter. He swung hard, but was off much of the time. He went 0-5 on the night. His first two at bats were not only strikeouts, but strikeouts that made him look very bad. He did reach on an error in the fifth inning. The picture to the right shows him striking out in the first. He just seemed a little slow on the fastball. Who am I to judge. I am 12 years his junior, and I couldn’t catch up to the high heat.

The Railcats lost the game 5-2, and much of the blame for that loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Tom Thornton. Tom was the ace of the 2006 Notre Dame pitching staff that featured Jeff Samardzija and Jeff Manship. It was looking into where he ended up that started the minor league update feature on this blog. I was excited when I saw that he would be starting for the Railcats. He got off to a slow start by giving up three runs in the first two innings. It could have been much worse. He gave up seven hits in the first three innings. He seemed to settle down though pitching a good fourth inning, and pitching out of a jam in the fifth. He gave up two more runs in the sixth, and the former Irish star was pulled from the game with two outs in the seventh. It was still nice to see him pitch, and I hope that he works out whatever he is going through right now. He had the stuff to make some hitters look silly, and then he would just leave a pitch over the plate to the next hitter. He will get to pitch in the Northern League Playoffs this year though thanks to the turnaround the team made since the beginning of the season.