Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Minor League Highlight: Lowell Spinners

In 2005 my dad met me in Boston and we drove a few miles north to Lowell to watch the Lowell Spinners play the Batavia Muckdogs.

Dad's former Cape Cod League Baseball host-son, Brett Harker, was going to pitch for the Muckdogs. We were ecstatic to see him play professional ball. I was even more excited because one of my BBBF's (yeah, that's Baseball Boyfriend), Gabe Kapler, was rehabbing in Lowell.

The Spinners are part of the Red Sox Minor League System. They are affiliated as a Class A Short Season Team. As the name implies, their season is short (June - September) and for many players this is their first opportunity to play with a wooden bat (Cape League Alumni have a head start on this!) Short-A ball helps transition rookies to professional baseball; They learn a lot about conditioning and have the opportunity to play on a daily basis.

We were able to meet with Brett before the game. He had always pitched as a closer, but told us the Muckdogs were going to try him out as a starter that day.

I expressed my concern.....I was conflicted because I wanted him to do well, but I had to cheer for the Spinners and for Kapler. My dad joked that when Gabe came up to bat, Brett should buzz the tower. Brett's agent didn't think that was a good idea. We had a few laughs and then headed for the ball park.

I don't remember many details of the game except for these:

  • Brett struck out Gabe Kapler. I was proud and frustrated at the same time
  • Jacoby Ellsbury was on the Spinners roster. He wasn't a household name yet, but he also played in the Cape League the same season Brett did. Our team beat Ellsbury's team to win the championship
  • I was impressed by LeLacheur Park
  • The fans loved their home team and the Spinners did a lot to get the fans involved
  • You could feel the passion in every pitch, every at-bat
It's the thing I love most about minor-league ball; The boys are playing for the love of the game. They're playing for the opportunity to perform on the big stage. They are giving it their all to make their dreams come true.

For anyone who lives in the vicinity of Lowell (or any town that hosts a minor-league team) I urge you to take in a game. For mere pennies in comparison to going to Fenway you can experience a night of fun and good, pure baseball for the whole family.

Often times you have the opportunity to meet and interact with players. This is especially beneficial for the kids as they get to pick out a "favorite player" before they become famous. They are able to follow their journey through the professional baseball system and boast to their friends they knew "so and so" way back when he played for the Spinners.

You are able to get a real good look at those boys who may one day turn into men in front of Red Sox Nation. Former Spinners players who are now on the Red Sox:
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Clay Buchholz
Oh, and the starting pitcher for the spinners the night Brett pitched? Just two short years later he threw a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox.

If you're interested in Learning more about the Lowell Spinners come to Boston Sports Blogapalooza on Sunday, May 2nd. They will have a representative on hand.

I hope to see you there!


Phillip Broyles said...

I just read this it was a great read and its so true that the minors are fun for the family i live about an hour from the lexington legends and I go watch the greenville drive play them a few times a year just to see the up and comer sox players

Christopher Evans said...

Great read. I live in Charleston SC home of the Charleston river dogs a yankee farm team. It is so true to see some great baseball and some young talent its great and yes you can afford to go like once a week when they r in town. Saw Casey Kelly play short for the drive last year and then make his mid season switch over to pitcher. Highly reccomend all Sox fans if they get a chance check out Greenville where the Drive play a mini affordable Fenway