Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Star Struck in Peoria

I have mentioned many times before how I love minor league baseball.  The atmosphere, cost, and overall entertainment at a minor league park is a great value.  Depending on what level you see, the quality may not be the best but the players are giving their all in the hopes of making the big leagues one day.

This past weekend my son and I made our second trip this year to Peoria to watch the Chiefs play.  My wife and daughter were at a dance competition in Ohio, so I took my 11 and 15 year old nephews with us.  They are both Cardinals fans who attend a handful of games each year in St. Louis.  The only minor league game they have attended was a Memphis Redbirds game in 2014.  We attended the Friday night and Saturday night games.

I will apologize in advance for the lack of pictures in this post.  In my hurry to pack I forgot to throw in the digital camera, and my phone is not even worth trying to use.  We arrived Friday night at 6 right when the gates opened.  It was advertised as Yadi Molina t-shirt night for fans 13 and over, but the shirts were not shipped on time.  We received 3 vouchers instead.  The ticket taker did not even ask my 11 year old nephew his age, just handed him the voucher.  I hope the shirts will be available when we go back the end of July.   Each boy brought along a Chiefs logo sheet to get autographs on.  Our seats were 3 rows off the field next to the Chiefs dugout.  When we got to our seats, All Star pitcher Jake Woodford was signing for a couple of fans.  Both nephews were able to get him. That was the only auto for the day, but we did come up with a few other things.  In between innnings we caught a tshirt and a foam baseball.  During the 3rd inning, Chiefs cather Jose Godoy broke his bat.  My 11 year old nephew thought it would be cool to get it.  I told him that sometimes they give them out after the game, but it is not a guarantee.  At the end of the 8th inning, he made a sign that read " Jose, can I please have your broken bat?".  Since we were within 10 feet of the Chiefs dugout, he stood by the steps with his sign.  I was shocked to see Godoy walk right over and hand him the bat.  The look on his face was priceless.  Even if we did not go to another game, his weekend was made.  The Chiefs won the game 5-4, and had a great fireworks display after the game.  I would say Friday was a success.

Saturday's game was a 5:00 start.  Before the season started, I bought 2 batting practice experiences.  The Chiefs do not open BP to the public, but for $60 we got 4 field level seats and the chance to get in at 2:00 to watch the team stretch, take infield, and BP.  My nephew brought along his bat in the hopes Godoy would sign it. Here is a quick rundown of what the 3 kids got to do:
1) Chiefs reliever Tyler Bray pulled my 11 year old nephew into the bullpen and caught for him.  Also gave him a few tips on pitching.
2) Between the 3 boys, they retrieved 23 ballls.
3)  Jose Godoy autographed the bat he gave away the night before.  Great guy who gave a beautiful signature where every letter was legible.  (Once again sorry for no pics)
4)  Both nephews got close to 10 signatures on their logo sheets. 

During BP we sat by the steps to the Chiefs dugout.  It was great to watch the boys interact with the players while they were waiting to hit or coming back into the dugout.  I cannot think of one guy that did not say hi, give them a high five, or an auto.  I know it is low A ball, but it is great to see players still being friendly.

My son and I did get some autos for ourselves throughout the 2 days.
Jake Woodford signed during the Signature Saturday pregame autograph session.

Ryan Helsley also signed during the auto session.

Edmundo Sosa signed twice for us.  Once was during BP, the other pregame on Saturday.

I also had a photo of the 7 Chiefs who made the Midwest League All Star Team.

Brennan Leitao was the toughest player to get.  He did not dress for either game, but was in the stands charting pitches both nights.  I did not bother asking on Friday night because I thought I would get him during BP.  He was out there at the start to stretch, but did not stay to shag in the outfield like some of the other pitchers.  After the bottom of the 8th inning, my son and I waited until he finished his paper work and asked if he had time to sign.  He was polite and said after the game.  I have no problem with this, so I returned to our seats and watched the final inning and a half.  The Chiefs were trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th.  They managed to get the tying runs on base, but Sosa flew out to end the game.  In the excitement of the game, I forgot to work our way closer to the section Leitao was sitting.  We were halfway across the stadium from him when the game ended, so we missed him.  We made our way outside the stadium to the player's entrance in the hopes we could catch him.  We waited maybe 5 minutes when Leito came out and said he owed me an auto.  Once again another example of how courteous the Chiefs players were all weekend.


  1. Gotta love the difference between the big leagues and the minors! Great story and a great weekend.

    1. It is a lot of fun, cost a lot less than going to St. Louis, and is only about 30 minutes farther.

  2. No camera needed-the description of you alls experience is lets us know I need to get to a Minor League game soon-San Jose Giants are nearby-hopefully I can get my wife to go with, otherwise I will do so.

    1. I would make the trip a must. Too bad you do not have any Cardinal teams close.