Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Dispatch from Bluefield, West Virginia!

Greetings from Bluefield, West Virginia, home of the Bluefield Blue Jays! The Baby Jays are the rookie-level Appalachian League affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and play their home games at Bowen Field.

I'll be calling the play-by-play on BluefieldJays.com and WHIS 1440 AM for 40 of the team's 68 games. I'll do all 34 road games and six at Bowen Field. For the other 28 home games I will be the public address announcer. A nifty PDF of the schedule that I made is here.

I got into town late Sunday night and had my first day of work at the ballpark on Monday. I toured around the yard and took some photos to post here. Opening Day is on Tuesday, June 19 at Bristol and our home opener is that Friday the 22nd. We're hoping to get a roster from the big league club on Wednesday and I'll write it up both on the Blue Jays website and on this blog.

Here are some photos from around the park:

This is the entrance, which is on the third base side of the park. You can see the top of the seating bowl on the left. The white building is where the team offices and "Bird's Nest" team store are. The Pepsi sign is where the concession stand is. Between the stand and the office is a ramp going up to the seats.

These are two plaques that hang on the ramp. The original Bowen Field was destroyed in a fire and as you can see the new one opened in 1975. The second plaque is for George McGonagle, the team president and general manager who has actually just returned in an interim role for the 2012 season.


Here's a shot of the field from behind third base. There's the lush green hill beyond the batter's eye and scoreboard in center field.

This is the third-base dugout that will hold the visiting team, while the Blue Jays will be on the first-base side. The respective clubhouses are right on the other side of the cement wall connected by a door in the middle of the dugout. Very convenient.


The seats are actually from The Big A, old Anaheim Stadium, before its renovation from 1996-98. Look closely and you'll notice something isn't quite right with them, but don't worry, it's all general admission so you don't have to have four tickets together that read 22, 4, A and 13.

Ah, the Mercer Cup! The Bluefield's big rival in everything is Princeton, WV, which is only 12 miles up the road. They happen to have an Appalachian League team as well (the Rays) and needless to say, things get pretty heated when the two clubs meet. The Mercer Cup (named for Mercer County) dates back to 1992, when Princeton was a Reds affiliate and Bluefield had the Orioles. The winner of the 11-game season series gets this massive trophy, which the Jays won last summer.

When one city wins three years in a row, that trophy is "retired" for that team to keep and a new one is put into circulation. Bluefield retired Cups in 1997 and 2001 and Princeton did it in 2007. The Rays threatened to retire it again last year with wins in 2009 and 2010. It was 4-4 with three games to play in 2011, but the Blue Jays swept three at home to take back the Cup.

I can't wait for the rivalry to continue on July 17 at Bowen Field. I hear that most fans don't care what happens the rest of the season, as long as they win the Mercer Cup. It will be exciting to see this passion and tradition that's really unique in minor league baseball.

BOOM! New uniforms are here! The Toronto Blue Jays overhauled their look this offseason with psuedo-throwbacks that are sleek and modern while harkening back to the days of Stieb, Carter, Barfield, Alomar and Henke. The home whites ("BLUE JAYS" across the chest) are in the picture above while the road grays ("BLUEFIELD" across the chest) are below.

There is also an alternate third jersey that features our new cap logo. I think all three are pretty sweet, and I'm looking forward to see which one the fans and players like the most.

I stopped by the headquarters of WHIS 1440 AM, the flagship station of Bluefield Blue Jays baseball. This is a full-page advertisement from 1939 in the Bluefield Daily-Telegraph that I thought was neat.

Finally, here's a picture of an army tank that sits outside the park down the left field line. It's part of the war memorial and entrance to Bluefield City Park.

Well that does it for now, I'll be posting updates about the Blue Jays in the next couple of days. Hopefully the roster comes out tomorrow and I can begin to tell you all about the newest bunch of Blue Jays!

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone remember a "Smitty" playing the fiddle on the WHIS TV show in 1955?