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Kelly’s Korner: For Love of the Game

When I wake up in the morning, I have my usual routine: wash my face, make myself look presentable, get dressed, eat breakfast, make lunch, brush my teeth and I’m out the door. But sometimes I stop in my tracks and think, “Wow… I get to work at a ballpark today.” I get to smell the dirt, feel the green grass and marvel at Centene Stadium’s beauty….and this gets to happen five whole days a week!

Baseball diamonds are my sanctuary. Big, small, green, brown, grass, dirt, new and old. I can’t help but smile in the delight at such a beautiful thing. Some might call me crazy, others might label me a fool, but there is no feeling like that awe and joy when I step foot in the presence of a baseball field. It’s similar to the feeling of a rookie’s first time playing in a Major League Ballpark. It rivals the joy that Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, Ya-Ya, Smalls, Squints and other characters from “The Sandlot” feel when they play on their beat-up Sandlot. It’s a feeling of the past, a feeling of sheer happiness and a feeling of coming home.

I played softball for 15 years, but even before kindergarten when I started playing, I was at all of my brother’s ball games. After a successful high school fastpitch career I started umpiring. Now, I work for a baseball team. Needless to say, baseball has been a part of my life from the very beginning. I understand and appreciate the sense of teamwork, camaraderie and self- confidence that baseball teaches. Through trials and tribulations, championships and heartaches, baseball has helped me build character, teach me life lessons and has helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. I may not play professional baseball, but the game is still a part of me and I still carry that sense of pride and passion with me today.

What’s great about working for the Voyagers is that I have the opportunity to help others feel the same way I do. I have the chance to help this sport be a positive influence in people’s lives. I can help boys, girls, men, women, young and old feel alive when they step foot into Centene Stadium. This is what working for a ball team is all about and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share my passion.

You know, they say that baseball is a way of life. Looking back and looking forward, I think I have to agree. Without it, I’d be a different person. It’s more than just a game, it’s a sort of poetry – full of grace and poise. There’s a reason why it truly is America’s pastime.

“…The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again…” – Field of Dreams

Promo A Go-Go

As you may have already seen on GFVoyager.com, our twitter (@gfvoyagers), or the team Facebook page, the team announced the sale of single-game seats earlier today. The sale starts on Friday morning at 9 am and occurs all over the place. You can check the link for more, but basically you can call us (452-5311), visit the stadium, buy online, or buy on Facebook. I think the Facebook option is especially cool, and not just because I set it up. It’s a great way to integrate what you’re hearing about online with a way to quickly pick up whatever tickets you might want.

When you’re deciding what games to go to, one of the most important things to do is check out our promotional schedule. Not everything is on the schedule yet, and we’re constantly adding more stuff, but it’s already got a great list of special events almost every night. I thought I’d make a quick guide to hit on my favorite promotions so you can know when to pick up your tickets.

June 20 and 21: Opening Weekend, and the specials are just crazy. Obviously, and Voyager is going to want to be at the park just to see baseball, but all kinds of stuff is going on. There will be all sorts of ceremonies to celebrate the Voyager 2011 championship, and the giveaways are off the charts. On the June 20 opening day game, Howard’s Pizza magnet schedules, Ace Hardware “Wooden Nickels” – which are basically fancy gift cards worth $5 at Ace – and postgame fireworks are going to make things crazy. Game two on June 21 has maybe the coolest promo of the year: Carnahan Towing Kid’s Season Ticket T-shirts. Kids will be given a Carnahan Towing special T-Shirt. If they wear that shirt to any game for the rest of the season they get in for FREE. How’s THAT for a great promo? Free season tickets for kids!

June 25: Montana Angus Beef night. Here’s a delicious one: burgers are only $2 all night.

June 30: Free tickets for active military members as we honor our heroes!

July 4: All Voyager fans know this is a CRAZY night at the park. With over 6,000 people out for the game, it’s THE event of the day in Great Falls. Also, it’s important to remember that your 10-packs DON’T WORK ON THIS DAY. This is the one day all regular season where that is true. So if you’re a big Voyager fan and have a 10-pack or two, make sure to remember to pick up your seats for this game separately.

July 21: Ace Hardware Hat Night. A baseball classic. The perfect free apparel for the Voyager fan.

August 7: Sutherland’s Jewelry Diamond Dig. I’ve seen diamond dig nights before in other ballparks, and I think it’s just about one of the funniest promos out there. Before the game, our intrepid groundskeeper will bury a real diamond somewhere in the field’s dirt. After the game, the women of Great Falls will be armed with little spades and given free rein to dig in search of the precious gem. It’s a great friendly competition every year.

August 23: Quality Life Concepts Jersey Bag Night. Some people call them “sackpacks.” It’s those little duffel bags with drawstrings that double to keep the top of the bag closed and to sling over your shoulder like a backpack. I use them all the time for gym bags, but they also make the perfect lunch boxes, pool bag, overnight bag, carry-on, sporty purse… you get the idea. The Voyager ones are really high quality and cool, so this is a great pickup. It might be the giveaway I’m most excited about.

August 27: All Seasons Spas and Stoves Hot Tub Giveaway. Ok, I might have lied about the Jersey bag giveaway being the one I was most excited about. All Seasons Spas and Stoves is really upping the ante this year by bringing out a deluxe hot tub to the ballpark. Everybody will get a chance to look at it, but only one lucky fan will walk away with this beauty at the end of the game. That’s about as big ticker of an item as you’re going to be seen given away at a minor league ballpark.

August 30: BioLife Plasma Services Bobblehead Giveaway. Another total classic. I love collecting bobbleheads from around baseball, and this year’s doll promises to be another Voyager classic. I’ve seen the orbit bobblehead from last year, and it’s one of the cooler mascot bobbles I’ve seen. I can’t reveal the specific plans for who will be featured on this year’s bobblehead, but the staff is already working hard to outdo itself. This won’t be one to miss.

September 4: It’s the last game of the year and fan appreciation day! I can’t reveal all the specifics here yet, but Voyager fans always know there are great things to expect at the end for the Voyagers.

Remember, these are just my few favorites. Definitely check out the promotions page for more special events, plus nights like Sip ‘N Dip Lounge Thirsty Thursdays, McDonald’s We Win You Win Mondays, and all the other events. Then you can get online first thing Friday morning and grab up all the best seats to all the best games right away!

Kelly’s Korner: Revving Up

As we near the end of the month, we’re starting to prepare ourselves for the “busy” season. Any businessman will tell you that busy is good and the same goes for running a baseball team. ‘Tis the season for phone calls, meetings, arriving early and staying late.

Some of the on-going projects we’re working on are: the elementary school reading program where kids are rewarded with Voyagers swag depending on how many hours they read per week, designing ads for the program, updating our social media presence, and filling our promotional calendar. I’m in the midst of getting folks around town on board for a Home and Garden Night, BBQ wing Night, and a Bike to the Ballpark Night to add to the summer fun at Centene Stadium.

So as we gear up for what’s to come, I’ll let you wind down with some pictures of Orbit from the Ice Breaker Road Race last weekend and a picture of Billy C., our head groundskeeper, showing off his 2011 Pioneer League Championship Ring courtesy of Gretchen Swift over at Floors and More.

Visitors at the Ballpark!

We had a little fun at the ballpark yesterday that reminded everybody what enjoying baseball is all about. The great folks at the Head Start program in Vaughn brought their preschoolers out to Centene Stadium yesterday for a tour of the park and lunch. Voyager concessions manager and pro-level tour guide Sarah Connors brought them around the park and showed the kids all the best spots of the park. Sarah walked them through all the best parts of the hall of fame, the press box, the concession stands, and the field itself.

The field itself definitely looked like the most fun part. After getting to sit in the dugouts just like the players, Sarah took the kids out for a run around the bases. After that, it was a little trip down the right field line for a shot in the batting cages. All the kids got a few swings at the same tees the Voyagers use. As you can see, there were a few major sluggers among the group.

All the kids had worked up quite an appetite after all that running and hitting, so the staff fired up the grill and got some lunch ready. What better food for the ballpark than a hot dog and chips?

All in all, it looked like the kids had a great time! They were our first tour group of the year, but there is lots of room for more coming up. Sarah is ready with different tours for different ages and groups, and all the plans are very affordable. To be honest, I’d be impressed by ANYBODY who can just give that many kids lunch for what the tour cost, and we gave them lunch AND a fun day at the ballpark! All you have to do to schedule a tour is call us at (406) 452-5311.

Great Falls Historical Room Gets Well-Earned Accolades

Followers of the official Voyagers Twitter account (@gfvoyagers) may have noticed a few days ago that the Voyagers had been included on a list of very prestigious baseball clubs. On Friday, BallparkDigest.com announced its list of the 12 best in-ballpark museums in the country, and the historical room at Centene Stadium made the cut!

In fact, the Great Falls Historical Room didn’t merely sneak on the list: it placed 4th. The room finished behind only the museums at the Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field, the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark, and the home of the Arkansas Travelers of the AA Texas League. The Great Falls Historical Room, placing 2nd among all minor league baseball museums, was ranked ahead of museums at the Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, and even the legendary Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

The article unveiling the list gives big credit to museum historian and caretaker Jim Eakland. The accolades are well deserved as preserving the huge wealth of artifacts and information present in the museum has been a labor of love for Jim for many years. The Cincinnati Reds’ Museum, Monument Park, and many of the other museums on the list were results of multi-million dollar renovations and the efforts of whole crews of curators. Meanwhile, Jim has managed to accumulate one of America’s leading repositories of baseball wealth through mostly his own efforts. Anybody coming to the ballpark should make time to talk to Jim: he can tell you about any aspect of the epic tale of Great Falls baseball you would care to hear about. He’s always willing to share what he’s learned, and he’s definitely already helped me learn about Voyager history as I prepare for this season’s broadcasts.

Mention by BallparkDigest.com won’t be the only recognition Jim receives this season. The team is planning several public relations efforts starring Jim’s efforts this year. All these efforts will culminate in a special series of conversations between Jim and me which will be recorded and played live before select Voyager radio broadcasts this season. Don’t worry if you miss one: they’ll all be uploaded on this blog after they air. I’ll have more details in this space as the season nears.

So round of applause for Jim Eakland, who has received a well-earned tip-of-the-cap with the museum’s inclusion in this list. Jim’s efforts to catalogue the rich baseball history of the town are truly one of the things that make Great Falls great.

Kelly’s Korner: Don’t Break the Ice!

Presented this week without annotation!

On your mark, get set, GO! The 33rd annual Ice Breaker Road Race is this Sunday in Downtown Great Falls. Grab your favorite pair of Nike’s and join over 3,400 people for the 1 mile, 3 mile and 5 mile event. If you need a little incentive to get going, Orbit our trusty mascot, will be there cheering on runners and walkers, playing with the kids and participating in the 1 mile fun run.

For most participants, this is an event to work toward accomplishing a goal, to get together with friends and a fun way to be a part of the Great Falls community. This is true for Orbit as well but I have a sneaking suspicion the Alien is taking things one step further. Every time I walk by the training room, Orbit is training on the treadmill or working on his powerlifts. You’d think it was a crazy CrossFit workout he’s doing. Plus, I know that none of us in the office are drinking three protein shakes a day. Let’s just say to keep an eye on our mascot, he’s always got some sort of trick up his sleeve. I’ll be out there on Sunday and I expect to see some fast runners (listen for the name Matt Baker), a good costume or two (look for super hero Cord Houston) and lots of smiling faces.

The real fun will happen after the race when the loser of a long standing bet between some of my buddies will have to jump into the Missouri River. The temperature right now is a balmy 43 degrees. The Ice Breaker always brings out a good crowd. Come join in on the afternoon’s activities and support fellow friends and family in Great Falls. At the very least, make sure to give Orbit a hi-five! Happy weekend, All. Cheers!

New Draft Rules

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be spending the occasional blog post delving into past White Sox rookie drafts. Obviously the rookie draft holds an immediate influence over who shows up to play ball in Great Falls, and it should be interesting and revealing to delve into what tendencies the White Sox have in their annual draft strategy. Once the 2012 draft rolls around, we’ll already have built a great picture of what the Sox usually do, so we’ll be able to see how the deviated this time and analyze what that might mean.

Before we get into that, it’s important to note that some VERY major changes were made to the draft this season. When Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed to the new collective bargaining agreement last offseason, substantial changes in draftee compensation – and international signings – came along with the other adjustments.  In order to prepare for our analysis of past White Sox draft classes, here’s a rundown of the changes that were made.

International Spending

The White Sox have traditionally been very quiet here, so these changes may not affect who we see in a Voyager uniform as much, but they’re still a major shift. Limits are being imposed on all spending on international signings starting this offseason. This year, the limit is $2.9 million, but in later years the limit will be different for every team with winning teams allowed less and losing teams allowed more. Penalties for exceeding the limit are very strict. Teams going over by less than 5% have to pay a 75% tax on the overage. Going over by 5-10% costs the 75% tax and the right to pay more than one player a bonus of over $500k the following offseason. 10-15% over means a 100% tax and that team can’t sign any player for more than $500k, and more than 15% over means no player can be signed for more than $250k. Basically, going over your limit by more than 5% substantially hamstrings a franchise’s ability to chase highly sought-after internationals the following offseason. Players from Japan, currently signed by a complex posting system, and professional Cubans over the age of 23 do not count under this budget. The idea, as written into the CBA, is that this system will be replaced with an international amateur draft by 2014.

Amateur Draft

The draft is seeing a huge host of changes, including harder bonus slotting, a quickened schedule, and a competitive balance lottery. The spending limitations will have the most pronounced effect on the Voyagers roster, though the other changes will cause the actions of the White Sox to have a little more effect on available draft picks. Since most of the Sox draft picks become Voyagers before too long, these little changes could obviously add or subtract an extra star or two from the Voyagers’ roster any given year.

The compensation changes are similar to the ones the NFL instituted two years ago. After seeing huge bonuses handed out to guys like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the MLB decided to draw the line against the Scott Borases of the world and impose strict limits on bonuses that go to top picks.

Draft picks have always had slotted values, but these values were largely ignored in the early rounds and only used as guidelines in later rounds. These slots values will now be extremely important: each team will be given a different limit, based on total slot value, to hand out in bonuses for players drafted in the first ten rounds. Depending on what picks a team has, these limits will vary greatly. Teams may be allowed as little as $4.5 million to hand out or as much as over $11 million. Draft picks taken after the 10th round won’t count under the new limit unless their bonus exceeds $100k.

Like the international signing rules, penalties for exceeding the limit are harsh. Going over by 5% costs a team a 75% tax. A fair amount by teams are likely to end up in this region by going over by a few thousand dollars. Going over by more than 5% starts to cause extreme losses of draft picks. A 5-10% overage costs a team the tax and loss of their first round pick in the next year’s draft. 10-15% and the team loses a first rounder and a second rounder, and over 15% costs the team a 100% tax and their next two first round picks. Going more than 5% over the limit is essentially not an option for any reasonable team.

Some would expect teams to draft a couple players they have no intent of signing to save money, but new rules take that option off the table too. Any player drafted in the top ten rounds who isn’t signed has his draft slot’s value deducted from that team’s spending limit. This puts a premium on teams drafting players they know they can sign to avoid surprise limit problems. In the past, teams have generally taken care to draft players they know they can sign easily, especially in rounds 5-10, but this definitely adds more weight to that calculus. All the decisions will have to be made in less time too: the draft signing deadline has been moved from August 15 to the week of July 12, only about 5 weeks after the June 4 draft.

Agents have recently taken to demanding major league contracts for their top picks. In addition to bringing in more salary for their client, it starts a player’s free-agent clock, meaning they become a free agent 6 years after signing instead of having to fight up through the minors and then wait 6 more years before they can get a lucrative free-agent deal. This is no longer allowed. Draftee contracts can only be standard minor league deals. This only really affects the top few spots in the draft.

Perhaps the most out-of-the-box change to the draft is the competitive balance lottery. In addition to upgrades to the luxury tax system, the competitive balance lottery will give added benefits to poorer teams by offering them the chance to win draft picks in addition to their luxury tax proceeds. The teams with the 10 lowest total revenues and the teams with the 10 smallest markets – obviously there will typically be a lot of overlap between these two lists – will be entered into a lottery to win 1 of 6 “sandwich” picks added to the end of the 1st round. Teams that don’t win one of those 6 picks will have their names entered into the drawing for 6 more picks attached to the end of the 2nd. A team’s chances of winning in these lotteries will be determined by the previous season’s record. These picks will also break a long-held tenant of MLB drafts picks: they will be fully tradeable.

Effects on the Voyagers

These rule changes might affect the Voyagers less than they do the minor league franchises of most other teams. The White Sox have consistently had some of the very lowest draft spending for many years – they spent less than 3 million on bonuses last season – so they won’t have to change their strategies too much to stay under their bonus limit. As I mentioned above, they have been almost totally uninvolved in the market for big-ticket international free agents for many years as well, so don’t expect those restrictions to suddenly curtail their behavior. Forbes also recently reported the White Sox have the 10th highest revenue in baseball, so don’t expect them to be eligible for any extra lottery picks soon.

Without many effects through these changes, the biggest effect on the Voyagers’ rosters will likely be a result of any overall macro changes caused by the new rules. It is difficult to predict what these may be, however, as nobody is really quite sure and there are plenty of competing theories. The changes were made ostensibly to give smaller market teams an advantage in player development, but there are a few who have argued that the changes will eliminate an advantage small market teams have held: the ability to gamble by spending big on the draft. A small market team can never hope to sign free agents with the big boys, so their only chance to compete is to hit a few lucky drafts in a row and develop lots of young players before they all get bigger paydays elsewhere. I don’t find that alternate theory very convincing – this “draft roulette” strategy hasn’t really existed anywhere in reality and many of the big market teams are also the big spenders on draft day – but there is still dissent over how helpful the changes will be to poor teams.

Others, mostly agents unhappy with the changes, have also argued that the substantially lower amount of money available to young ballplayers will shrink the available talent pool in the draft. Agents argue that without the possibility of huge, over-slot bonuses more high school ballplayers might opt to go to college for a couple of years, or more multi-sport athletes might decide to try their hand in the NBA, NCAA, or NFL rather than playing pro baseball. These examples aren’t totally without backing: Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, for example, was given an over-slot contract from the Twins to induce him to walk away from a scholarship offer to play quarterback for Florida State. For the most part, though, examples of elite athletes equally gifted in multiple sports are few and far between. It is hard to imagine many ballplayers who would have taken $5 million to play minor league baseball instead of taking their scholarship offer to Texas would choose Texas over the allure of the major leagues just because their offer dropped to $3 million. Last, even if a few prep sluggers decide to play college ball for a few years before signing a pro contract, can we really call that a bad thing? Those players will still join the MLB talent pool someday. Now they’ll just come in having been seasoned in college for a few years, have an education, and add their talents to the exciting, if underappreciated, tapestry of college baseball. That seems like a wash, at worst, for pro baseball and a possible big gain for the college game.

While it doesn’t seem the changes will have a direct impact on the White Sox particular draft strategy, the overall effects on the landscape of the draft could be profound enough to cause a noticeable shift in MLB draft trends. As I promised 1,800 words ago, we’ll all get a good look at the White Sox tendencies over the next couple of months in this space. Once the actual draft results roll in, we might get a better idea how the new rules have changed which players show up in Great Falls.

Kelly’s Korner: Centene Upgrades and Fun Around Town

Welcome Back to another Friday on ‘the Volume,’ and that means another edition of Kelly’s Korner! Kelly has lots of fun tidbits this week including several pieces of news on the latest improvements to Centene Stadium. As we promised before, she also has checked out a few of the restaurants in Great Falls over the last couple of weeks, and she talks about a couple of her favorites. I’ll be back on Monday for your weekly Monday Minors Recap. Here’s Kelly!

Hello All,
With this springtime 55 degree weather outside and the ballpark starting to come to life after a long winter, things are starting to fall into place for the 2012 Voyagers season. I just got word of two new Centene Stadium renovations and installations to happen ASAP: landscaping to be done near the main entrance and a new bike rack to be placed by the Box Office. These improvements will be welcomed with open arms seeing as how the front of the stadium now consists of dirt and gravel and there’s no way to keep bikes secure.

I am particularily excited about the new bike rack! Moving from Missoula, where people ride their bike everywhere and even transport their children and dogs with them, it’s taking me a while to adjust to a more motor vehicle oriented Great Falls. The streets are easier to navigate here but things are more spread out, thus making it less convenient to commute on bike. With that said, I’m hoping that our new bike rack at the stadium will entice folks to strap on a helmet, clip on their reflecting light and ride on out to the games. Who knows…on a Thirsty Thursday with plenty of empty $2 domestic beer cans (what a deal!) in front of you , your bike could be your new best friend. Needless to say, I’m excited for the additions to Centene to get underway and excited for the challenge to see how many days I can ride my bike to the ballpark.
On a different note, I had the pleasure of two nice afternoons experiencing the cuisine of Great Falls. My friend Jeff suggested Boston’s Pizza for lunch. Other than the Masters on TV and my delightfully tasty fries (that surely rival those of McDonalds!), the best part about Boston’s was that they have people open the doors for you when you enter and exit the restaurant. How’s that for service?! It’s not every day you feel like royalty! My friend Derrick and I found ourselves at the Staggering Ox downtown a few days later, where I had the ever popular “Nuke” three-meat sandwich. Imagine a circular, mini loaf of bread hollowed out in the middle for all the fixins. Voila! That’s an Ox sando! With names like “Chernobyl Melt Down,” “Headbanger’s Hoagie,” and “The Beastie” you can tell the employees have fun where they work.
Well folks, I’m off to enjoy the weekend. Hopefully the sun keeps shining so I can get out on the River’s Edge Trail. Don’t forget to dust off that old Ouija Board – It’s Friday the 13th. Have a great and safe weekend!

Kelly’s Korner: Ironic Spring

Looking out the window, the snow falling down across Great Falls is really putting the lie to my idea of the start of spring from Wednesday’s post. Oh well, such is life about the 40th parallel. Kelly had similar thoughts about spring as well. Today, we sure need them. So here’s this week’s Kelly’s Korner expanding upon my Wednesday thoughts on the coming onset of spring.

On February 2nd, the Groundhog told us it was going to be a long winter, another six weeks of winter in fact. In Montana, we believe that to be true. Winter drags on, skies can be gloomy, and on the occasion when the sun shines its rays, we savor them like a found treasure. Snow seems to just keep falling through April and people still backcountry ski through July. But now that April 5th, 2012 marked the opening day of baseball… it’s officially springtime folks!!! Sunflower seeds, hot dogs, and ice cold beverages. Home runs, double plays, and strike outs. The time has come for what we’ve all been waiting for and now the grass is finally greener on our, baseball lover’s, side of the fence! Speaking of green grass, Billy our head groundskeeper, is a busy man with irrigation maintenance, fertilizing and tending to the outfield with a green thumb. Not only is he gearing up for the approaching Voyagers season but he also upkeeps the field for the three American Legion teams in Great Falls: the Stallions, the Class A Electrics and Class AA Chargers. Their seasons starts April 21st and all home games are played at Centene Stadium. So in preparation for use of the ball field, we did a little rain dance in the office. But beware and consider the words of the wise from Billy, “I did a little rain dance, put one too many steps in it, and it snowed.”

Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter, everyone. Cheers to baseball season!

A couple of quick notes before I wish you a happy Easter weekend: The oft-promised review of the rest of the White Sox system WILL come your way. It may result in a double post day on Monday, or it may simply result in my expect Monday feature having it’s maiden post delayed until Tuesday. we shall see.

Until then, happy Easter weekend everybody!

Spring is Here!

Voyagers fans, are you excited about the return of major league baseball tonight?! It’s two time zones, 3,000 miles, and like 7 climate zones away from Great Falls, from the Marlins open up against the world champ Cardinals in Miami tonight, and the world will be a little bit brighter for the next 7 month non-stop.

Even though we have to wait a little bit longer in Great Falls, there are signs of spring here too. The delightfully warm weather has brought a slight greening of the nature around town, so today Voyager groundskeeper Billy decided it was time to put the playing surface at Centene Stadium through its paces. What does that mean? It means it’s time to get this grass as green as a baseball field deserves.

So it may be early, at it may be the very first sprinkling of the season, but enjoy these pictures, Voyagers fans. Enjoy these pictures of the ballfield and dream, because the Voyagers defense of their championship isn’t very far off. We’re getting the field ready already.

There’s lots of stuff that needs to be done to get this field and those sprinklers ready. Namely, they have to be turned on slowly lest the the air that has sneaked inside over the winter should cause the whole thing to explode. Sounded like quite the sight to me, but probably too expensive to really get behind. Now that we can water the field, Billy can start to fertilize, and this grass should be ready for ballplayers to trod across it in no time. That green field is going to be an incredible sight…

As promised yesterday, the ongoing feature on the progress of former Voyagers up the White Sox system WILL continue tomorrow. I thought the excitement of the field getting ready and the big leagues starting their play was too much to pass up for one day, but Winston-Salem, Birmingham, and Charlotte will get their attention on these pages soon.