The first-half of the 2010 season was memorable in a lot of ways. The Boise Hawks set some personal records, made national news, and made an impact on the community.
Like most journalists, I always have my digital voice recorder handy. Over the course of the first-half of the season, I was able to catch some pretty funny quotes from former and current Boise Hawks players.
Here’s a list of some of my favorites. Hope you enjoy them!
“A buddy of mine owned a fireworks stand and he did a big fireworks show every year. Well one year, the stand caught on fire and there were mortars going off everywhere.”
Former Hawks OF Runey Davis on his 4th of July memories.
“I remember when I was 12 years old, I got turned down by a girl on the 4th of July. I tried to approach a girl at a local fireworks show and got rejected. I’m still in the process of recovery but I am back to where I want to be (laughs).”
Former Hawks RHP Corey Martin on his 4th of July memories.
“I actually didn’t finish the pitch the right way; I was turned around once I let the ball go. But I was able to see the ball come at me and I got my glove down there in time to snag it. A friend who plays for Salem-Keizer sent me a text last night and said “I’m at a bar and you made it onto Top Plays!”. It’s always been a dream to make it on Sports Center.”
LHP John Mincone on making ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays”.
“I was actually worried. I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan my whole life and I grew up in Chicago and went to Northwestern University. A lot of my friends got on me pretty good about being a Cardinals fan drafted by the Cubs.”
LHP Eric Jokisch and his reaction to being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
“At first I was just excited to be drafted. Then when I found out it was the Chicago Cubs, I figured it would be a great organization to move up in because we haven’t won a World Series in so long (laughs).”
2B Pierre LePage on career advancement with the Cubs.
“My host family has been wonderful. They make me breakfast in the morning, help me with my laundry, and they even make my bed for me. It’s actually a little better than life at home (laughs).”
Former Hawks OF Matt Szczur on life with his host family.
“It’s a lot nicer going back to a home than a hotel in Mesa, AZ.”
RHP Aaron Kurcz on the living conditions (host families) in Boise.
“When I told a lot of my friends I was going to be a professional baseball player they were like “I’ll see you in Chicago.”
2B LePage on the misconceptions that people have about minor league baseball.
“I came from such a small school (I had 25 people in my graduating class) so there wasn’t much competition and I was able to throw fastballs and do whatever I wanted. Once we got to college, the kids got bigger. I mean, look at that guy (points to Matt Szczur).”
Jokisch on the transition from high school to college baseball.
“Matty Ott set LSU single-season saves record in 2009. In his first appearance, which wasn’t a save situation, I could tell he was kinda nervous,” said Gibbs. “I tried to calm him down as much as I could with words, but I could still tell he was nervous. As I was jogging back to home plate, the “Chicken Dance” was playing. So I was like “why not” and I got behind home plate and started doing the “Chicken Dance”.
C Micah Gibbs reflecting on his playing days at Louisiana State University.
“I think he hit that ball 500 feet!”- Corey Martin
“Nah, more like 700.”- Myself
Corey’s post-game reaction after giving up a home run on July 3rd.
“A.J, from now on when we are winning, you stay in the clubhouse! I’ll manage the game, you stay here (laughs).”
Hawks Manager Jody Davis on A.J. being a possible “bad luck charm”.
“It’s called planned obsolescence. They make minor changes to a product that should have come with it 3 years ago so idiots like you will buy it.”
LePage’s reaction to LHP Austin Kirk buying the iPhone 4.
“Brandon, you need to get on base. Everyone in the stands is getting drunk because of you!”
Jody Davis on 3B Brandon May being responsible for 4 consecutive beer batters in Eugene.
“Jesus, could you please tell Larry (Suarez) that I need him to fill this packet out as soon as possible.”- Myself
“(Laughs) You know he speaks English, right?”- Jesus Morelli
Me asking Hawks OF Jesus Morelli to translate to someone who speaks English.
“This is why you are single; you spend your free time looking up fantasy baseball statistics.”
Hawks Director of Sales Andy Simon assessing my “dating life” (or lack there of).
“There was so much excitement and adrenaline that people were yelling in the dog pile on the field. Louis Coleman, who was the SEC Pitcher of the Year, closed it out for us. I don’t think there is anyone in baseball who was more of an automatic win than him. When we were in the dog pile it’s kinda funny; he kissed me on the forehead and said “I love you man” (laughs). It was a little weird.”
C Gibbs talking about winning the 2009 College World Series.
“The night before the first playoff game I pitched, I was walking through the bar. I never drink the night before a game, especially when I am pitching. I see Lou Pinella and he says “sit down and have a beer with me”. At first I said no but then he said “what’s the worst that could happen? We are down 0-2 in the series. If we lose, we go home. Stay here and have a couple of beers with me; no need to rest.” I ended going 8.2 innings and we won.”
Hawks Pitching Coach Jeff Fassero on his memories of Lou Pinella.
“He struggled to find the plate early in the inning. I was just going up there and making sure that I got a good pitch to hit. He called a ball in the previous at-bat that was the same pitch that he threw me in this at-bat. I guess being short does have some benefits.”
2B LePage on a drawing a bases-loaded walk to beat Spokane on July 19th.
Thanks to Hawks photographer Scott McDaniel for the photos!
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant
One down, six more to go. No, I’m not talking about the bills that are due (it’s expensive living on your own). I’m talking about the remaining home stretches left on the Hawks 2010 schedule.
This being my first home stretch, I got to say things went pretty darn well. I only messed up the starting lineups once (and was quick to correct it) and we had minimal issues, although the Internet has decided it will only work when it wants to. “Hicks and Chicks” night was a huge success that netted our highest attendance of the season, and the Hawks are currently third in terms of average attendance in the Northwest League!
Unfortunately, three of our highest attendance nights resulted in loses for the Hawks. Salem-Keizer spoiled the fun with 5-2, 11-0, and 9-1 victories on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But even though the Hawks had some struggles for the opening home stretch, there is a silver lining to the cloud. The reason? The Hawks are about ready to get an injection of young, talented players who could really give the club a boost.
The Hawks have plenty of established talent. 3B Brandon May is currently in the Top 5 in the Northwest League in home runs (2) and he leads the league in RBI with 11. RHP Corey Martin is second in the Northwest League with three saves and CF Kyung-Min Na has made enough plays to have his own Sports Center “Top 10 Plays”.
Getting on base and keeping people off base has been the issue up to this point. The Hawks are batting .204 as a team and on the mound, they have a league high in ERA (4.40) and WHIP (1.60), two categories you don’t want to be first in. The solution to this problem? Bring in three, Top 13 draft choices who feature all the physical tools to contribute to the Hawks now, not later.
RHP Aaron Kurcz (10th round selection) will be joining the Hawks after spending most of 2010 at the College of Southern Nevada, where he went 3-3 with an 4.11 ERA. The 6’1″ Kurcz has a plus fastball that hits around 92-94 mph and his curveball is also a strong pitch in his arsenal. Between those two pitches, he was able to hold the opposition to a .225 batting average while striking out 52 in 35 innings at Southern Nevada.
The Hawks will also get a 6’3″ LHP with a great fastball, curveball, and change-up in Eric Jokisch. Jokisch is a Cubs’ 11th round selection out of Northwestern, where he went 5-7 with a 4.39 ERA. Jokisch comes to Boise with an impressive resume. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2008. Having a tall lefty in the pitching staff will be a welcomed addition to the Hawks, who only have three other lefties.
In the field, the Hawks will add even more speed with the addition of IF Pierre LePage, a 13th round draft choice out of University of Connecticut. LePage swiped 29 bags this season at Connecticut and he hit .327 with 3 home runs, 57 RBI, and three strikeouts in 278 at bats. LePage has hit at least .300 in each of his three seasons at Connecticut.
Now that you know the players, the big question is how they will impact the team? LePage should make an immediate impact. He is a complete player and with the speed and ability to get on base, he should help provide some stability at the top of the order (the Hawks have changed their leadoff hitter in the lineup four times).
Kurcz has already made an appearance this season with the Hawks and based on what we know, he could be a solid reliever. In Sunday’s win against Eugene, Kurcz pitched a scoreless inning of relief and struck out two while surrendering no zero walks. Kurcz could be the bridge that the Hawks are looking for to spell either Alvaro Sosa or Corey Martin in the 9th inning.
Jokisch is the only one of the bunch that we have not seen in action up to this point. Jokisch has the physical make up that managers covet. He’s tall, a lefty, and he has three solid pitches, including a deadly change-up. It’s more than like they will try Jokisch in the rotation and feature three lefties, alongside John Mincone and Austin Kirk. But if Jokisch is switched to the bullpen, he could be a great compliment to lefty Marcos Perez . Only time will tell.
Usually when you lose three out of five games, there is not a lot of reason for optimism. But if the draft picks gel with an already solid nucleus of players, the Hawks could be a favorite in a tight division race. And with the current playoff structure the way it is, every win counts.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant
Normally when you get beat 11-0, there is not really a lot to cheer about. But when you make a play that lands you in ESPN Sports Center’s “Top 10 plays”, there is a little reason to celebrate. At 11 p.m. last night, all of us were relaxing in the Hawks Nest when Marketing/Media Relations Manager Kristen Nimmo hit me with news I couldn’t believe.
“I just had 3 people text me and John (Mincone) made it into Sports Center’s Top 10 Plays”! At that point, I almost dropped my Kilian’s Irish Red and shouted at the top of my lungs, “We made it to Sports Center!!”
At first, I thought our 11-0 blowout was some kinda record and for whatever reason, ESPN wanted to have a little fun with a Single A Short-Season team (would have been a really cruel joke, I might add). But they (like the 3,500 fans in attendance) were wowed by Hawks Starting Pitcher John Mincone made they Play of the Year when he caught a line ball, behind-the-back, and threw it to First Baseman Richard Jones to close out the Top of the 4th inning.
John, who couldn’t believe he made it into the Top 10, described the sequence of events that made him a popular man for most of the local media today.
“I saw the ball come back at me but I didn’t finish the pitch the right way. I was turned around and luckily I was able to get my glove down there in time and snag it,” said Mincone.
The second part of that play was getting the ball to first baseman Richard Jones in time. From where he was at, Mincone had to quickly recover to get that throw off.
“I knew I had it, but the crowd began to cheer and had to collect myself and get over there and make the throw to first so I didn’t throw it away or do something stupid,” said Mincone.
This is Mincone’s first time making it into the national spot light. “This has always been a dream of mine,” said Mincone (with a smile). “Last night my girlfriend and her family was at my house and they were watching the game when it happened. I found out at midnight last night that it was actually on Sports Center. One of the guys that I know on Salem-Keizer actually texted me and said “I’m at a bar right now and it’s on!”, said Mincone.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know John over the last week and I for one am glad a good player and guy like him had his chance to be recognized. The night wasn’t picture perfect by any stretch, but making it prime time is a great feeling!
If you didn’t get a chance to see the video, here’s the link
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant
Opening Week is finally here! With all of the talk and preparation, no one can prepare you for the real thing. Hawkstown has been a busy place this week; everything from free Papa Murphy’s pizza, to big purple guys, to Pitcher John Mincone and Humphrey the Hawk having an epic showdown in Wii Baseball. This week has been a whirlwind of events and the funny thing is that we are only two games into 38 home games this season!
Having lived through two Opening Nights, I have to admit that this one paled in comparison to last season’s with the Indianapolis Indians. From the time I came into the office at 8:30 a.m., the office was in a state of organized chaos. From hanging banners and televisions in the Sky Box, to trying to find extra tables and chairs, I had plenty to keep me busy.
Aside from minor glitches (which are bound to happen on any given night), things ran extremely well. The sell out crowd of 3,438 got a great show that included fireworks, plenty of entertainment, and great food from Home Plate Food Services. Even though the Hawks lost to Salem-Keizer 5-2, there were some bright spots on the field. Hawks Relief pitcher Carlos Rojas showed off an impressive curveball that struck out three Volcanoes. Carlos has one of the better curveballs that I have seen and with time, he could find himself working his way up the ladder.
Whether it was the four stolen bases or the back-to-back home runs by the Volcanoes, they prevailed and took the first game of a five game set against the Hawks. After recovering from a long and busy night, we were back at it on Tuesday only this time, we had a little fun with the nice people at the Garden City Library.
Hawks Pitcher John Mincone and local Boise legend Humphrey the Hawk, made an appearance at the Garden City Library yesterday. John read three stories to a plethora of young Hawks fans and Humphrey provided some entertainment, even challenging John to a game of Wii Baseball!
Whether it’s on the Wii or on the mound, John had his pitches working for him as he struck out Humphrey on multiple occasions in rout to a 1-0 victory. But John got plenty of time in as he was challenged by multiple kids and he was even taken deep with a home run by a kid who had to be around five or six years old!
After we had a workout with the kids at library, it was game two of our five game set and needless to say, the bats had more punch than Mr.T in Rocky III. The crowd of around 2,000 watched the Hawks score runs in five consecutive innings in rout to a 6-2 victory. Third baseman Brandon May started it off with an RBI double in 1st inning and from there, the Hawks never looked back. Left fielder Alvaro Ramirez hit a two-run home run and first baseman Richard Jones hit a monster shot over the right field wall in the 3rd.
Last night was also a historic night for designated hitter Chris Huseby (who also spends time as a relief pitcher) and catcher Jeff Vigurs (who earned his first start after being drafted in the 22nd round of this year’s draft). Both guys got their first professional hits in the bottom of the 2nd and Vigurs also managed his first professional RBI and stolen base in the same inning! Vigurs earned the Northwest Dodge Dealers Player of the Game as he went 3-4 with an RBI, R, and SB.
Tonight should be just as exciting and entertaining as last night. Pitcher John Mincone will look for redemption tonight and with an offense that is beginning to find it’s groove, it would be hard to bet against the Hawks. If this home stretch has taught me anything up to this point, always expect the unexpected.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant
Well, the sun is finally beginning to shine in Boise and the temperature is finally hitting the 80’s. I know what you are thinking; perfect baseball weather. Well, for the first time since September, we can finally watch someone other than the Boise Hawks office staff take the field (and trust me, this is a blessing!).
The Hawks 2010 roster flew into the city today around 12:53 p.m. and they were welcomed with “GO HAWKS” chants and plenty of cameras and microphones (one of those microphones happened to be mine). For 15 returning players, this is pretty much business as usual. But there are a handful of newcomers that will get to show Hawkstown just how much skill and talent they possess, and I for one am looking forward to next Monday (Opening Night).
The complete roster is online at http://www.boisehawks.com, but I wanted to take a few minutes and give you a rundown of some the guys I talked to and what they had to say about the upcoming season.
One of the first guys I interviewed was pitcher Austin Kirk. Austin only spent a week and a half in Boise last year, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two appearances. “I enjoyed my time in Boise last season while I was here. I am looking forward to being back here and finally playing in front of some fans,” said Kirk, a 2009 third round draft pick.
Austin was not the only pitcher that I had a chance to talk to. Rookie pitcher Joseph Zeller, who was drafted in the 28th round of this year’s Draft, has been getting his frequent flyer miles in the last couple of days.
“I’m excited to be playing professional baseball, but it has been kind of a whirlwind because I just got to Arizona and then a couple of days later, I flew out here,” said Zeller.
Infielder Brandon May is also experiencing Boise for the first time. Brandon spent a lot of time in Mesa, Arizona last season in the Cubs rookie league, after being drafted in the 36th round of the 2009 Draft.
“I’m just excited to play in front of fans again and have that real minor league baseball experience. I went to the University of Alabama and we had a great fan base there. And from what I have heard, Boise has a great fan base too and playing in front of that is exciting,” said May.
One of the hardest things to do in sports is predict the outcome of the season before a game is even played. Even worse, it’s hard to know what product you will put on the field after only having met these guys for 15 minutes in a crowded airport terminal. This team on paper looks like it has the potential to win a lot of games this season and give people their money’s worth. These guys have the power hitting (OF Runey Davis, IF May), the speed (OF Kyung-Min Na, IF Arismendy Alcantara), and the pitching (Kirk, John Mincone) to make the 2010 season a good one.
Till next time..
Media Relations Assistant