Happy MiLB Opening Day, fellow baseball fans! As you may have expected, I’m going to be busy traveling the Midwest League again this week as the season kicks off. While any plans could be changed at the last minute, here are the games I’m eyeing:
Tonight I’ll be at the season opener in Appleton, where the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will take on the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Fox Cities Stadium. My love of bobbleheads made me choose this game. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of baseball in Appleton, the Timber Rattlers are giving away five different bobbleheads decorated with the caps and jerseys from five different years in the team’s history: 1953 Appleton Papermakers, 1960 Fox Cities Foxes, 1983 Appleton Foxes, 1995 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and 2011 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. I’m hoping to get the Papermakers bobblehead. You can see a photo of all five bobbleheads here.
(Had I not already made plans to go to Appleton, I might have gone to the Quad Cities instead today. The River Bandits will be celebrating their 2011 Midwest League championship in style with a pregame parade, a championship pennant giveaway, $1.11 berm tickets and a first pitch thrown by the oldest man in the United States, 111-year-old Shelby Harris of Rock Island. I requested that the River Bandits send me photos of the festivities for use on this website; in the meantime, you can see a photo of the 2011 Midwest League championship trophy here.)
On my way home Friday, I’ll stop in Beloit to watch the Snappers take on the Peoria Chiefs, and more importantly, I’ll get my first look at a pair of top Minnesota Twins prospects, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario.
On Saturday I’ll be in Clinton to see the LumberKings take on the Burlington Bees and to get what may prove to be the coolest giveaway I get this year, an autographed Taijuan Walker Baseball America cover. That sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?
I’ll be in Cedar Rapids for Kernels Opening Day on Monday, when the first 1,000 fans through the gates will get a Mike Trout bobblehead and a chance to win a baseball autographed by Trout.
Finally, I plan to go to a game of the opening series in Peoria to see the Chiefs take on the River Bandits. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Peoria team, tickets will cost only $3.50 for club box seats and $2.50 for lawn seats (the prices during the team’s first season, when they were known as the Peoria Suns). Chiefs players will wear throwback 1983 Peoria Suns jerseys throughout the series.
Of course, I’ll be tweeting live updates from all those games via my Twitter account, @MWLtraveler, and write about my experiences at them later on this website.
After that I’ll be staying home for awhile to finish my book about the 16 Midwest League ballparks, although I will continue to provide updates about what is going on in the league during that time (and probably escape to a game or two, too). At this point, I’m hoping to have the book done and out by the Midwest League All-Star Game; I will keep you all updated here and on Twitter.
One more thing: If you haven’t read the posts already, you may want to check out my four-part series about early-season Midwest League players to watch.