You know the Heineken commercial where a group of women is excited to see a large walk-in closet with nice clothes and shoes, only to be topped in their giddiness by a group of guys who step into a refrigerated closet filled with beer?
(If you haven’t seen it, you can do so here).
I imagine a group of PawSox players had a similar reaction when they made a field trip on Thursday to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
Chip Ambres, Paul McAnulty, Jonathan Van Every, Iggy Suarez, Sean Danielson, Rocky Cherry, and Chris George were among the players who took advantage of a private tour.
They got to see the step-by-step process of how a bat is made, and saw an area where the best pieces of wood are stashed away for superstars like Albert Pujols, Ken Griffey Jr., and Derek Jeter.
But the highlight was a shopping spree courtesy of the Red Sox.
The players were taken into a room that sounded like the “bargain basement” of a department store. It was filled with bats that weren’t quite right for the major league players they were intended for, and the Pawtucket players were free to search through the bins and keep whatever they wanted. The Red Sox offered to pay for 6 bats for each player — a nice gesture since they go for about $30 each.
As I talked to Chip Ambres about the adventure, he shared a great story that become the subject of my Fantastic Fun Fact (or Triple-F if you prefer) on last night’s broadcast.
When Chip was in high school and still using an aluminum bat, he saw a feature story on ESPN about Ken Griffey Jr. and his dad. At some point during the story, they zoomed in tight on Junior’s bat, and Chip noticed that the model number was C271. Even as a teenager, Chip has the presence of mind to think that if he ever had the opportunity to choose a model number, that would be the first one he would try.
A decade later, Chip has only used one bat as a pro baseball player — a Louisville Slugger model C271 (although his is a half-inch shorter than Griffey’s).
Pretty cool huh?
* * * * *
Relief pitcher Marcus McBeth was our guest on the pre-game show on Thursday, and one of the topics of conversation was his piano playing ability (whenever we see a piano in a hotel lobby, Marcus puts on an impromptu recital).
“I’ve been playing since I was 4 or 5 years old,” Marcus told me. “I used to bang around on it and my mom told me that if I was going to keep banging around on the piano, then she was going to make me take lessons. My mom was an accomplished pianist — she plays at a few churches back home — and admiring her talent and wanting to follow in her footsteps, I started to take lessons and she taught me a little bit after that. It’s something I enjoy doing, and knowing that other people enjoy it too makes me feel good.”
I wonder if it’s possible to roll a big piano out on to the field at McCoy Stadium. That would be a pretty cool national anthem.
* * * * *
There was good news and bad news in the final game of the Louisville series.
The good news is that the PawSox had 14 hits — their highest total in more than two weeks.
The bad news is that they left 14 runners on base and had two guys thrown out at the plate in a 5-2 loss to the Bats.
Jonathan Van Every had a single and double in his first two at-bats before coming out of the game in the fifth inning. We weren’t able to get an update on what happened during the broadcast, but it turns out that he has a sore knee. He’s been dealing with it for a few days, but elected to come out of the game last night.
* * * * *
Tonight the PawSox open a 4-game series in Indianapolis with Enrique Gonzalez looking to become Pawtucket’s first 6-game winner. I hope you’ll join us for the radio call, beginning with the pre-game show at 7:00 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is email@example.com.