Dear Andy Milovich [Retired MiLB Front Office Legend]:
I hope I am not being too forward reaching out to you in your retirement, but I saw you responding to MiLB twitter accounts that are not o the way home, so I am betting that you still want to have some skin in the game. I saw you post a beautiful sunset at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, which made my heart soar because I will soon have my own engraved brick in Robert Grissom Plaza. Ryan Moore [President] and Hunter Horenstein [Director of Gan Engagement] seem to be appreciative of my efforts to keep their spirts up after the Pelicans were denied any Golden Bobbleheads back in 2019.
I also get to throw out the first pitch of the game I will be attending in 2021, COVID willing. It should be the social event of the season as I will be flying in with eight golfing buddies, most who happen to be grizzled California League veterans. I am sure some of my baseball writer friends will make the trek also, as well as certain Carolina League compadres. If the schedule makers are kind, perhaps the Down East Wood Ducks will be in town and Wade Howell [Vice President} will join us. Out of professional admiration, I extend an invitation to you. Perhaps we can partake in a few SHOTS like wizened MiLB road warriors are wont to do when they first meet.
I must confess, Andy, this is more than a social call. My new MiLB endeavor is to bring affiliated baseball back to Boise, Idaho in a privately financed downtown stadium while sticking it to Bobby Manfred for decimating short season baseball. Since I am not sure if I trust the current ownership of the Boise Hawks because they have flubbed three stadium locations already, my original plan was to buy them out and proceed from there. However, since I did not win that Power Ball thingy last week, I am back to rolling hobos for their recyclables at Seccombe Lake in San Bernardino, California until the jackpot swells again. Well, not me because robbing the homeless is a crime, but my associate Peacock does it because he does not know any better. Eventually, we will get there, but time is now becoming of essence because MLB expansion is coming west sooner than later.
Do not worry; I am not contacting who for fundraising. You have probably heard that I am spiritually rich, plus I run with a gang of noble outlaws that are quite adept at filling war chests. This is much bigger than baseball in Boise; it is about finally putting the blackhearted Bobby Manfred out to pasture and restoring MiLB to its high wheeling, swashbuckling days where mascot swooning was kept to a minimum. Basically, I need some old school credibility to ride shotgun on this journey. I need a man that truly understands that the bond formed between the crowd and an MiLB organization during a successful promotion is more powerful than 1000 tweets about a bat dog or a club’s BRAND Yes, social media has it place in today’s business, but HUMAN CONNECTION is what make the cash registers ring.
MiLB can be summed up with the Bus Story. In 2013, after the San Jose Giants clinched the Northern Division Championship of the California League, the team was immediately awarded with a bus ride to Southern California to play either the Inland Empire 66ers or the Lancaster JetHawks, who were playing the deciding game of the Southern Division Championship. When the bus pulled out of the stadium parking lot, the Giants were not sure who their opponent would be as the the southern playoff teams were still playing as the Southern Championship game had gone to extra innings However, the bus driver knew to go south, and he would get the final destination via his radio, so through the night the Giants’ bus went into the San Joaquin Valley as the smell of rotting corpse of Tom Joad permeated the air.
Meanwhile, the 66ers and JetHawks kept playing. And playing. And playing. Eventually, the bus came to a fork in road the Sierra Pelona Mountains– one way was San Bernardino; the other was Lancaster. The bus was forced to pull over on the side of the road, idling until the 66ers would eventually win in fifteen innings after the clock stuck two in the morning. No remembers it was Abel Baker for the 66ers who drove in Angel Rosa in the fifteenth that night, but some still picture that bus doing its Robert Frost imitation in the desert morning, wondering which way to go with miles to go before the team could sleep.
Most fans do not remember the bus story at all though. And why would they? The minors are a fresh slate each year, players, coaches, stats, and records all pulled out to sea by the tide known as the passing of time. Memories in the minors usually do not last through Christmas. Still, the bus idling in the pines of Gorman on a September night is a damn near perfect snapshot of the minors, To the east, one destiny. To the south, another. But first we must wait for other paths to catch up. And sometimes, as possibly in your case, we get back on the bus and ride into the future — or run from the law.
Are you up for the ride Andy? You do not even have to leave your desk at Sophos Marketing. This journey is spiritual, although it is a great deal more fun if one is there in person for Thirsty Thursday.
Your friend in baseball,