Aberdeen, Md. – The Aberdeen IronBirds, Class ‘A’ short season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, today unveiled a new team logo. The logo will make its national merchandise debut at the Baseball Winter Meetings on Monday, December 3 in Nashville, Tennessee.
“This logo represents a new era of IronBirds baseball in Aberdeen,” said Cal Ripken, founder of Ripken Baseball. “We have a lot of exciting plans for 2013, while continuing to remain true to our core mission of creating memorable experiences in and around the game of baseball.”
Newly branded hats and t-shirts are currently available online and at “The Hangar,” the official merchandise store of the Aberdeen IronBirds. Shop Now
“The IronBirds are evolving to continue to remain on baseball’s leading edge,” said Bill Ripken, co-founder and executive vice president of Ripken Baseball. “This is why we wanted a fresh new look and feel to connect with families, and resonate with fans of all ages.”
Season ticket packages are currently available and offered through full season, half season and 9-game ticket plans.
“We look forward to providing our fans and the community with another ten seasons of the most affordable family entertainment in the region,” said Aaron Moszer, General Manager of the Aberdeen IronBirds. “We’ve had 2.5 million fans through the turnstiles so far, and we’re looking forward to the next 2.5 million.”
For more information or to order 2013 season ticket plans, please call 410.297.9292.
Words From Squeege
By: CJ Harbach
Remember fans, streaking is strictly prohibited at Ripken Stadium. Anyone violating this rule will be ejected from the game!
There are certain phrases or moments which lodge themselves in our memories and absolutely refuse to be forgotten. The “Ferrous streaking bit” is just one of several thousand memories from Aberdeen that will not quit my brain. I can still recall Ferrous launching out of his seat and sprinting into right field while tearing his shirt and trailing it off his arms. Of course, while Ferrous was taking his glory lap, I and my fellow Flight Crewmen were sprinting after the mascot, diving and dodging, trying to be hilarious. Which we were, in my biased opinion.
Maverick was 23-years-old when he hired me and my best friend Mars (both 16-years-old) to join the elite Flight Crew ranks in 2005. From what I can remember, the criterion for employment was the ability to act like fools and it doesn’t seem like much has changed. If you knew me and Mars, there was no acting …period. And for some reason, they kept us around for five summers. I think it was because fans loved us, and we loved the fans. To push the point, when I was at Ripken Stadium, “CJ” was my alias. To this day, I’m still known as Squeege and receive warm greetings from season ticket holders.
In our five summers here, Mars and I saw four different Flight Crew leaders: Maverick, Nat, Luke Flywalker, and JC. We were around when both Zach Britton and Joe Mahoney were just beginning their professional careers and Ferrous did not have a paratrooping cousin named Ripcord.
Seven years have passed since my first summer, with only a two year reprieve, and now I’m 23-years-old, an intern, and working alongside Maverick. Along with the memories, there are some rules Ripken taught me that I’ll never forget:
1. Always be aware of your surroundings. In the ballpark, this is used mostly to eye foul balls. In the practical world, not only can this rule keep you from crossing the street unawares, but ironically, it can also help you avoid foul balls or footballs or anything else a brother might jokingly throw. I don’t know what every other family is like, but in my family, this is necessary.
2. Be friendly and helpful to everyone. Be it fans, ushers, or other employees, this rule not only made me lasting friends, but it continues to keep me fed. As a Flight Crew member, I was fed in candy by my many usher friends and even some season ticket holders. As an intern this summer, clearly these guys still know how to bribe me!
3. Work hard because your performance will be noticed– especially by friends and family whose sole mission is to catch you slacking off …much like my family, so it’s better to just work hard.
4. Keep in contact with anyone you can from past workplaces, schools, teams, etc. because those connections will come in handy someday! Friendships among coworkers allows for a special kind of relationship. You work together, therefore you deal with the good and the bad together. On another note, sustaining friendships gives reason to visit wherever the friendship originated. I.E. I will probably always have free tickets to IronBirds games!
5. Be prepared to roll with the punches because adaptability is not only key to survival, it is key to almost entirely avoiding embarrassment. This is especially true when working in sports– any sports. In my experience with the Flight Crew, because we were on a strict schedule and subject to the outcome of the game, the old saying, “if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, don’t bother showing up,” certainly qualifies.
Whether you use my advice or make me out as a wannabe with as much credibility as The Boy who cried Wolf, remember that this stadium and the people working for it are wonderful. This place has seen me through my awkward high school years and my bizarre discovery years in college, and I was welcomed back as an intern without question.
You can offer the guys at Conrad’s Crabs all the Bill Ripken autographs you want they will not tell you what is in their custom crab seasoning. I learned this first-hand, sitting across from Conrad’s manager Ben Pardew. Pardew is of a different breed of Marylander. Going into this interview, I saw myself as a seasoned veteran of the Chesapeake shores—a real waterman. It turns out I’m nothing more than a weekend chicken necker (this is not a term of endearment). Pardew is the antithesis of the recreational crabber, a professional of the highest order and he’s pretty serious about crabs.
For the recreational crabber, a day on the water with little to show for it is nothing but a part of the game. For professional watermen and crab operations, the failure to produce a quality product is murder on the bottom line.
“It’s very easy to lose money on crabs…there’s a lot of overhead,” explained Pardew.
In addition to paying for staffing, suppliers, and even their own vessels, all crabbers are subject to what Pardew calls “dead-loss”. Sadly, many of our bay’s favorite crustaceans will perish before making it to the stainless steel steaming vats, thus rendering them useless and inedible. To prevent this dead-loss, many operations will actually pre-steam their crabs in order maximize profits but at the expense of freshness and flavor.
“We take pride in the fact that we sort every crab to make sure it’s heavy, it’s full of meat and we steam it fresh to your order,” said Pardew.
To do things the way Conrad’s wants, the practice requires a serious investment on their part in addition to the already expensive process of steaming on premises. The existing space within the crab pavilion at Ripken Stadium was never set up for on-site steaming so the company invested a significant amount of money in a steaming trailer designed exclusively for Conrad’s. Upon seeing the trailer parked outside the clubhouse for the first time, I realized my vintage Navy surplus steaming pot had just been put to shame. Pardew realizes as we finish our first interview that my gaze keeps drifting towards the bushel baskets of local upper bay crabs. He looks at me like my best friend used to do when he’d find a hornet’s nest behind the shed and his eyes spring to life…
“You wanna see it?”
The preparation of crabs at the ballpark is similar to the method you would use at home with only a few slight modifications. Once the crabs are sorted they are then shocked. This method keeps the crabs intact during the steaming process. Science fact of the day: blue crabs can actually drop their claws when threatened! Therefore, shocking the crabs keeps them from falling apart. The crabs can also pull the claws off each other in the steaming vats, which is fine when you’re steaming at home but not so great when you’re going for that crab house style presentation. Let’s face it, when paying for crabs you want the whole crab.
Next, the crabs are then placed, not poured, into the steaming vats and the delicate work of turning each crab shell up begins. Pardew’s assistant Jeff points out that when the crabs aren’t turned, water collects and ruins the crab.
Finally, seasoning is then added in layers to the crabs—a ritual much like pouring butter on movie theater popcorn. Once covered and hooked up to the industrial hot water heater and steam system, that bit of Chesapeake magic begins to take over. Beneath the steel lid, the ‘beautiful swimmers’ turn from green to orange. Much like the backyard the lawn chairs provide the perfect setting for Jeff and I to talk about baseball, wives, the state of public schools and just about anything else two guys can talk about in twenty-two minutes. There are no strangers around the steaming pot.
The addition of new vendors at Ripken Stadium such as Conrad’s, The Charred Rib, and Roseda beef, mark a new chapter in the stadium’s food operations much like the vendor makeover that has occurred at Oriole Park the past two seasons. As family entertainment dollars remain at a premium in the region, stadiums must provide the maximum bang for the buck. For many employees and season ticket holders who eat at the ball park on a regular basis any addition of a healthier option is welcome. Pardew perks up when mentioning the salmon salad served at the crab shack and believes that traditional stadium food may enter a bit of decline at some point as families continue to think more about their dollars and health. Pardew adds “I think that’s one reason (this) stadium is a different stadium than anywhere else because we have crabs and food that is different than stadium food that’s a huge reason they are successful here.”
Conrad’s Crab & Seafood Deck is open to all Ripken Stadium patrons and maintains a full selection of fresh local caught seafood dishes. You can visit their Parkville store at 1720 E. Joppa Rd.
By: CJ Harbach
Exiting the IronBirds dugout, Manny Hernandez sported an easy smile and a relaxed attitude just a few hours before game time. And why shouldn’t he? He has already accomplished his objective for the 2012 season.
Last week, on August 19th the outfielder turned 20-years-old, and three days later was promoted. On the 21st, Hernandez was called up from the Orioles Gulf Coast League in Sarasota to play in the New York Penn League at Aberdeen.
Hernandez was signed as a non-draft free agent out of his hometown in Guatemala three years ago when he was only 17-years-old. He spent a season in the Dominican Summer League in 2010, and from the 2011 season until August this year in the GCL.
“I was young and everyone was much older than I was,” Hernandez said about signing in 2009. “I was playing hard and doing my work when they said I was good.” On his promotion, “I didn’t think I was going to come to Aberdeen. I had two injuries in the GCL. I sprained my left wrist and was hit by a pitch in my right.”
Although there has yet to be a Guatemalan in the major leagues, Hernandez has plans to be the first. Like his teammates, playing in the major leagues is his primary goal. Hernandez knows of only four other Guatemalans in the minor leagues, none of which are as far along in the MiLB system as him. Two players are in the Orioles system, one in the rookie league in Gulf Coast and the other in the DSL. Of the remaining, one plays for in the Pittsburg Pirates organization, and the last was released from the San Diego Padres organization.
Hernandez’s most recent goal of becoming an IronBird by the end of the 2012 season was recently accomplished, while his next immediate goal in the future is to play for the Frederick Keys.
It was only 15 years ago when Hernandez realized that baseball was his passion and he began without using traditional baseballs. “I was five-years-old and I used to play in my grandma’s garden, hitting lemons with a broom. She was mad every time she caught me,” Hernandez joked.
Before coming to the States, Hernandez was sent to Puerto Rico to play little league and spent some time playing baseball at school while living with his mother.
Off the baseball diamond in Guatemala City, Hernandez liked to test fate with extreme sports. He largely spent time practicing sports like surfing, bungee jumping, Mixed Martial Arts, and plans to take on sky diving. “When I was a kid, I was playing baseball and fighting. My little brother is like that, too.”
“I have very good support from my family. My mom is very happy, but sad. She cries every time I talk to her. She keeps saying, ‘You made it, you reached your goal,’” Hernandez said while touching the tattoo of his mother’s name he placed on the inside his left forearm.
Wrapped around his right forearm, is the tattoo of a rosary with the cross on the inside, which matches the colorful rosary found around his neck. “I wear it as a promise to a friend who passed away.” To give an idea of his character, during our ten minute interview Hernandez stepped in between me and two rouge foul balls that careened towards the IronBirds clubhouse. Living with his mother must have had a positive effect.
At just 18 years of age, Aberdeen IronBirds LHP Josh Hader is looking forward to proving himself on the mound for the ‘Birds.
After Hader displayed eye-catching numbers in his senior year at Old Mill, going 10-0 and posting a 0.39 ERA, he quickly became aware of all of the scouts scattered amongst the crowd. Hader says, “it was about half way through the season, I mean I didn’t really pay attention to the stats but just all the publicity and all that I was getting it kind of hit me and I’m actually doing something right and could be going far with it”.
Hader, a three-year varsity athlete, threw two no-hitters at Old Mill and can throw up to 89 mph.
Hader states, “My junior year I actually broke my ankle … so I felt like I needed to improve a lot and stick to hard work and all that and it obviously shown and I improved a lot. I mean speed, agility, everything just overall as a player mentally and physically”.
Confident in his decision to be drafted out of college Hader says, “I always wanted to play baseball even as a little kid wanted to go as far as I can with it and I had the opportunity so I took it. I mean I had a lot of help with my decision with Tony Saunders, he gave me a lot of help with what I should do and all that other stuff…helped me out a lot”.
Before arriving at Aberdeen, Hader played for the GCL where he went 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA.
Hader says his time playing for the GCL helped prepare him for Aberdeen, “Getting used to the level of baseball, it’s a lot harder and just got to stick to it. I mean GCL was definitely a grind…waking up that early and working in the heat and all that. Just got to stick through it and hard work paid off. Still got to work hard and get to the next level”.
Hader admits that there are added pressures playing with and against older players drafted out of college but says, “We’re all here doing the same thing, playing baseball…young or old just got to get the job done”.
Hader is enjoying the perks of being able to play in Maryland and says, “All of my friends are able to come watch me play and just a lot of support, a lot of support coming from all them” and adds that “it just felt good, just to know that I could stay by my family and friends, just to know that all my coaches and everybody can come watch the games, just a great feeling”.
In June, Hader was able to play in the 2012 Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Camden Yards. Hader started the game for the the South and after the South beat the North, 4-3, Hader received the trophy for the team’s most valuable player.
With hard work, determination, and confidence Hader is setting his sights on one day returning to The Yard and commanding the mound once more.
By: CJ Harbach
Game entertainment is a staple in minor league baseball. Fans hold high expectations-not only for the game, but for the man holding the microphone, throwing the t-shirt, and picking a dance battle with the team mascot. For the IronBirds, that man is Shawny Shawn. He may look like a self-proclaimed “goofball watching baseball,” but he is unique to Aberdeen.
Even after a deceptively long day’s work, Shawny gave up twenty minutes of his time at 10:30 to talk about exactly that: his long day’s work. He had since retired the performer title for the night, but still couldn’t resist cracking jokes and playing the comic role.
For various reasons, most importantly being his brothers enrollment at the University of Maryland, Shawny spent nearly four year passing Ripken Stadium on 95 and applied for the position of game entertainer three seasons ago in hopes of finally seeing the inside, even though he disliked Maryland weather.
“I said, I think this stadium is the one on 95 that I always drive by. At the very least, hopefully I’ll have my interview there and can finally see I can see what it looks like,” Shawny said.
Given his history, it’s clear why Shawny shows no sign of embarrassment in Aberdeen. Shawny began his career as an unpaid “fan entertainer” in which he was simply a “goofy fan” who was repeatedly put on camera. From there, he worked in Arena Football for the Philadelphia Soul and then for the Philadelphia Phantoms in the American Hockey League. Before graduating college, Shawny worked as an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Being on a dugout in front isn’t embarrassing to me. When I get everyone cheering and that leads to a base hit, that thrill will always mean more than the worst embarrassment,” Shawny said.
In addition to publicly being the game entertainment, Shawny is officially the Associate Producer of the IronBirds Radio Network. When the Birds are on the road, he is in charge of the audio levels for the radio broadcaster, Tim Murray. He also troubleshoots any potential problems, ensures the correct advertisements are played, and sends the broadcaster information to keep Murray abreast to situations as they occur.
“I was originally asked to come in and push some buttons. But I said, let’s try to make it more professional in terms of making out own in house commercials. Even though we’re only on the Internet now, why not produce the show like we were on AM/FM radio?” Shawny said.
For Shawny, fan entertainment is all about buying into the team and becoming a fan, regardless of previous loyalties. “The fun part about this level of baseball is that it’s developmental. The fact that I saw Manny Machado here and now I see him with the Orioles is a thrill for me.”
Coming straight from his internship with the Philadelphia Flyers, Shawny intended to build onto the work left by Maverick, Nat, and previous Flight Crew leaders in a way fans and employees had never seen.
“My style is that I take my job way more seriously than I should,” Shawny said. “I go home after games and think about the bits that failed and of the chances we missed to get the crowd hyped. In the end, fans say ‘You throw t-shirts and dance on the dugout.’ That’s what my job looks like, exactly.”
“I’ve been in those seats, and I know there are people who don’t want to clap every two seconds and there are people who don’t want to yell and scream,” Shawny admits. “But those same people, at some point are happy to join. So I have to create the environment as a facilitator and get fan involvement. I might be leading it, but the fans are running it.”
“What’s with the donuts?” is a question that is not new to Kevin Gausman. Unless you’ve been living in exile, you probably know at least two things about the 21-year-old: 1) that he was the number one pick in the Orioles 2012 draft, and 2) he has a fondness for powdered donuts.
Like a true atypical ballplayer, Gausman’s dreams of playing professional baseball were completely unique to his experiences. They began with an agreement made by his great-great-grandfather and the College World Series.
“He put in the lights at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium and he made a deal with them that the only way he would do it is if they give him eight tickets behind the third base dugout, front row, for the rest of its existence,” Gausman said. “I got to go to the College World Series every year since I was five. And then I got older and started playing some baseball tournaments out there and really kind of learned the game through that.”
His history with the College World Series is one explanation why Guasman opted out of signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers when they chose him in the 6th round of the 2010 MLB draft out of Grandview High School in Centennial, Colorado. “I felt like if I went to college I would have the chance to fulfill my dreams of winning the National Championship and playing at Rosenblatt Stadium.”
On his career at Centenial, “I didn’t know that much about pitching and I was more of just a thrower. I threw hard and had a good arm, and had success in high school because the competition in Colorado wasn’t that good,” Gausman stated. “I felt that I really needed to mature not just as a pitcher, but as a person and after just two years at Louisiana State University, I feel like I’m pretty much prepared for what’s going on in my life right now.”
Gausman’s friendly tone and willingness to bare his soul left no question about why he loved his time at LSU and considered returning for his junior year instead of signing. “I always liked the southern aspect; the Deep South always fascinated me. That’s what I think makes LSU such a special place, not just how good of a baseball program they have. I think it’s the southern hospitality that they just emulate in everyday life.”
Playing currently for the Frederick Keys, Gausman’s never made it to the College World Series with LSU. Because of the amount of pitching he did in college, his innings have been limited since his start in the Orioles organization, only being allowed to pitch about three innings per game.
“For me, it’s kind of frustrating. It’s a little different, but I know why they’re doing it. They’re trying to keep me as healthy as I possibly can be,” Gausman said. “I definitely agree with it, but at the same time I’m always going to be one of those guys that want to throw a complete game.”
For good luck, the 1st round draft pick eats four white powdered donuts in between innings in the dugout. “I mean, I’m always hungry,” Gausman joked. “I eat a lot but never gain any weight. So that just feeds into what I do. I always tell people that it keeps me on a sugar high the whole game.”
He also has an extensive routine when putting on his baseball socks, always crow-hop his first warm up pitch at the top of the frame, and will not step on the foul line when leaving or returning to the dugout.
On his superstitions, “certain guys have certain things, and every pitcher is a little weird. I guess that’s just my thing. It puts you in a mindset where you’re comfortable… and puts you in a place of confidence. [My routines] remind me that it’s just a game. They are something that I’ve been doing for a really long time and I’m not going to stop doing it when I have success,” Gausman said.
By: CJ Harbach
With the exception of a short season in t-ball as a child, where I received the “Most Improved” award which I am still very proud of, I have very little experience actually playing baseball. After that I spent a short and disappointing period playing softball, and quickly moved on. While I may not have played baseball, I have spent large amount of my life watching it. My family used to have season tickets to Orioles games and both of my brothers have been playing baseball all their lives, almost exclusively. To add to my baseball watching credentials, I even held a part-time job for five summers at Ripken Stadium, and then returned a few years later to partake in my current internship.
My point in all that is to establish myself as an expert in observing stadium activities, however delusional I may be?? To be clear, I am not an expert in baseball, no matter how many games I’ve watched. I can’t kid even myself in pretending that I used to pay attention during games. I definitely love this sport, but I spent most of my time at games judging the food options and observing the entertainment instead of watching game.
Because of my bizarre relationship with the sport and my time at Ripken Stadium, I pointlessly have high standards at any baseball park– and it has nothing to do with the team. Thankfully, I was not disappointed at the Cal Ripken World Series 2012 Championship game Sunday night. The entire complex at the Ripken Academy is a sight. The structure alone is impressive, but if you add in the personal facets that can only come with a serious event like the World Series, it is downright incredible.
If you have never been to a game during the Cal Ripken World Series, make it a priority next summer. I mean, come on, it’s free and it supports youth baseball. Just do it. I went with another intern in my department for the purpose of writing this blog and ended up fascinated by the park and the goings on.
The Championship game pulled a huge crowd, for good reason. The seats were packed, but don’t sweat, there was no lack of seating. Cal Sr.’s yard holds the traditional stadium seating, in addition to grass seating (where yours truly sat). Picnic tables could be found near the Mansion House (a.k.a. The Marriot), where there were also spectators watching from the few balconies. Each seat in the house had a respectable view of the game, so no one could miss out on the action.
For this game, the stadium was turned into a giant playground. As well as the actual playground found over the left field wall, there was a carnival in place, complete with a few rides and games with prizes. Yes, I did see a few giant stuffed animals and inflatable green aliens dragged around the park.
For me, what made the game even more legitimate was the on-field entertainment performed by Buddy Lee. As a former Flight Crew member and an already noted delusional expert in stadium activities, I appreciated the CRWS want to entertain in between innings. And entertain they did! Not only were the games comical and worthwhile, but Buddy Lee was easily able to get the crowd interested and had all five umpires dancing to the “YMCA” in center field. I cannot forget to pay respect to Ripcord, the IronBirds mascot, for donning a CRWS jersey and performing his mascot duties like a champ.
The most heartwarming sight was the devoted cheering sections and wide range of fans who attended. Both Japan and the USA had large and distinctly audible followers that were prepared to support the players every movement. In addition to the participant’s fans, the game obviously attracted the other CRWS teams who were noticeable in their own team jerseys. The event also brought in various little league players who flaunted their team uniforms and pooled together in the grass behind the outfield wall, gloves and all, to catch any homerun that dared leave the park.
Most importantly, a great game was played by both Japan and the United States. Each team was awarded with medals following the conclusion of the game, and I’m sure both felt a great sense of accomplishment throughout the series. The Cal Ripken World Series gave every team involved a taste of the major leagues and that is a totally worthwhile feeling.
Mav’s day with Team Australia
By: Jay Szech
All I know is that everything on that continent will kill you. Or so countless Discovery Channel documentaries and nature shows have led me to believe. I can’t help but think that the world is conspiring against me and my future travel plans. Every year Team Australia makes its way to Aberdeen, Maryland for the Cal Ripken World Series. I think of how much I’d love to visit and then Shark Week starts, instantly convincing me that mayhem lies just yards away from the Aussie coast. The dugout, field, and spectator area are filled with people who survive there every day. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, maybe I just watch too much TV.
It’s a humid ninety-two degrees when I arrive at the field to Australia take on Japan. The vibe coming from the opposing dugouts could not be more different. Team Japan approaches the game the way a surgeon prepares to open a heart. The smiles are few and far between. This team has been drilled into nearly robotic like perfection. Even the team’s cheering section rivals anything seen on America’s Got Talent. After a few innings it’s clear that today’s matchup is all about Japan, but the Aussies seem to take victory or defeat with a smile, and then prep for what’s next. Win or lose they come to play.
One of the toughest aspects of being involved in the tournament is the travel involved. According to Team Australia Director, David West, the kids often travel better than the coaches, but it’s adjusting to local sleep patterns that really becomes of the most critical components of the competition. “When we arrived what we wanted to do was make sure they get over the perceived jetlag. We get them straight up around 7:00 in the morning after the long haul then we go down to the field for a live training run, grab some lunch, come back do another bit of fieldwork and keep them up till about nine and they hit the sack. We do this continuously until they become accustomed to the right sleep patterns.” This is easier said than done as often the boys are waking up at 3 AM.
Australia’s manager Bob Nilsson finds that the distractions off of the field often prove difficult for teams traveling from 27 hours away. The family activities, attractions, and events scheduled for the entertainment of the teams are the toughest challenges a manager can face. “They have so much fun off the field that some days you can’t get them to think about baseball, which is kinda tough. On the plus side of that they get to play teams like Mexico, Japan, and the Dominican Republic. For most of these athletes from the International pool, this will be their first time in the United States and seeing things that they have only read about or seen on television.
Nilsson can relate to these youngsters and brings an air of legitimacy to a game in Australia that has seen its popularity rise and fall and rise again. Nilsson was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1978 however never went through their minor league system and played in the Australian Baseball League, becoming one of it’s greatest stars. Upon retiring in 1998 he coached junior league baseball but found that the 11/12 year-olds responded better to the coaching and was one of the major contributors to the beginning of the Australian national team in 2000. “Everything that I enjoyed off the field as well as on, I just try to get these boys to feel it. It’s a passion thing,” says Nilsson.
While most of these ballplayers are committed to baseball as their primary sport, parents have explained that the long hours and travel are the choice of their son and that it purely is based on passion for the game. Parents also feel the economic sting, as there are no major baseball equipment companies operating in Australia, therefore equipment is shipped in and ultimately more expensive. The cost may be worth it though as currently there are five Australians on MLB rosters and more in the minors. Nilsson was quick to point out the role that Major League Baseball has had in partially financing the current six-team league in Australia and the impact it is having on the kids who are baseball fans. “It’s good for Australia…what happens then is all these young kids finally see, instead of watching it on TV they get to go see it live.” Much like growing up in the shadow of Camden Yards and being a 10 minute train ride from seeing baseball heroes as large as life, Australian youngsters now have the opportunity to learn by watching and finally embrace their homegrown heroes.
Leading into the All-Star break, 3B Torsten Boss was struggling at the plate. In his final six games prior to the two-day hiatus, Boss went just 3-for-22 at the plate with one extra-base hit. Following the break, Boss hit the ground running. In Wednesday night’s 8-3 loss to the Lowell Spinners, the Lowell, MI native went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and scored all three of the Birds’ runs. Boss finished up the three-game set 4-for-9 with a double, two home runs, and a stolen base. The former Michigan State Spartan scored six of the IronBirds’ 10 runs in the three-game series in Lowell, MA.
The Orioles’ 8th Round pick in 2012 is currently hitting .261 with 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 24 RBI. Boss leads the IronBirds in seven offensive categories; home runs, RBI, walks, runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, & OPS. The Lowell, MI native has also played in a team-high 51 games this season.