A Guide to April Fools in Baseball

April means two things – Baseball is returning and a whole bunch of people are going to try and prank you on April Fools Day. As a result, the two tend to go hand-in-hand.

It all began with Sidd Finch

Hayden Siddhartha Finch grew up in an English orphanage and gave up a promising career playing the french horn to attend New York Mets Spring Training where he reportedly threw a pitch an astonishing 168 MPH. The news was broke in a 14-page expose by George Plimpleton for Sports Illustrated. The story was of course not true, just an elaborate prank, however the prestige of Sports Illustrated gave the story instant credibility and Finch (real name, Joe Berton) became a celebrity. Perhaps people should have paid more attention to the publishing date – April 1, 1985.

Click here to watch ESPN’s 30-for-30 short on Sidd Finch.

Sean Doolittle has his fun

Oakland A’s closer Sean Doolittle is known for a few things. He’s an All-Star pitcher, social media force and he has a great beard. He showed great patience when he delivered this prank on April Fools Day 2014.

More Facial Hair

BaseballReference.com has joined in on the facial hair fun this year. You can add a moustache, beard and/or afro to any player page. Why don’t you try giving Brad Mills a beard here.

Know of any other fun April Fools Day stories that involve baseball. Mention them in the comments below.

First Tennessee Park Sod Time-Lapse

We’re just 24 days away from baseball at First Tennessee Park and progress on the Sounds’ new home is right on schedule. Below is a little taste of the happenings at 401 Jackson Street.

If You’re Not First, You’re Last

In case you missed it, actor Will Ferrell – people know him, he’s kind of a big deal – played baseball for 10 different Cactus League teams on Thursday.

The comedian was filming an HBO special for Funny Or Die and his efforts raised close to a million dollars for cancer research. Ferrell was also honoring the historic feat of Bert Campaneris, who five decades ago became the first Major Leaguer to play every position on the field in the same game.

This isn’t the first time Ferrell has played professional baseball, making his debut as Rojo Johnson vs. the Sounds in 2010.

Ferrell made a return to baseball as the Oakland A’s shortstop and played one half inning before Billy Beane had his fun.

Ferrell would play second base for the Mariners, before heading to 8 different teams to play eight different positions.

Fanboys

Just because they’re famous in their own right, does not mean the Athletics weren’t starstruck by the former SNL star.

Shake & Bake

Spring Training Update

Before baseball comes home to Nashville, it has to make a pit-stop in Mesa, Arizona.

The Oakland Athletics’ Cactus League schedule opened up on March 3 in the newly renovated Hohokam Stadium against the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

Billy Burns takes batting practice. The Sounds outfielder is one of the fastest players in baseball. (Oakland Athletics)

Billy Burns takes batting practice. The A’s outfielder has already hit a triple this spring and is one of the fastest players in all of baseball. (Oakland Athletics)

The men Billy Beane has pegged to be his new double-play combination, Marcus Semien and Ben Zobrist, were the stars of the first game.

Semien went 3-for-3 with two home runs, while Zobrist added a double and a triple. The Athletics swept the home and home with the Giants by the scores of 9-4 and 9-2, with Semien finishing 5-for-5 between the two games.

Six-Foot-Nate

The new park wouldn’t just take a beating during the game. Oakland’s towering first basemen Nate Freiman would take a chunk out of the new scoreboard while taking batting practice.

Freiman would then hit a double off World Series MVP, Madison Bumgarner. Unfortunately for the 6-foot-8-inch slugger from Duke, he is currently suffering from a muscle strain in his back.

The Switch Pitcher

Pat Venditte is the only switch pitcher in baseball. As a result, he is breaking the internet.

In case you’re wondering, Venditte is perfect through 1.2 IP this season.

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Steve Scarsone hits grounders to Athletics’ players this past week in Arizona. (Oakland Athletics)

The Sounds’ Skipper

Steve Scarsone enters his third season as the manager of Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate, his first in Nashville. He and his staff are in Arizona helping out around the fields and preparing for a successful 2015 season.

The former infielder played seven years in the major leagues, amassing a .239 batting average over 350 games. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.

Fan Perspective: Guitar-Shaped Scoreboard Taking Form

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Since the start of the 1993 baseball season, Greer Stadium hosted one of the signature landmarks throughout all of minor league baseball: the guitar-shaped scoreboard. Fans everywhere enjoyed making the connection between Sounds’ baseball and the “Music City.” That special connection will continue when the team opens up the 2015 season in the state-of-the-art First Tennessee Park.

The video area of the scoreboard will have the area equivalent to more than 800, 32-inch television screens. The scoreboard blueprints for the project were recently highlighted on Instagram, and before long the finished product will make right field in First Tennessee Park truly breathtaking.

Stay up to date on all the construction progress of First Tennessee Park by checking the media gallery on the park’s website.

Sounds Week In Review

The opening of First Tennessee Park will take place exactly seven weeks from today. With the worst of the winter weather behind us (hopefully!), all systems are at full speed and things are really picking up.

This week was used to reveal several important announcements surrounding the Sounds’ inaugural season in the new ballpark. Fans can keep tabs with all this week’s news below.

On Tuesday, a multi-year partnership between the Sounds and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated was announced. The agreement makes Coca-Cola the official soft drink and water provider for First Tennessee Park. The partnership also includes the placement of an eight-foot statue of Coca-Cola’s iconic bottle, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, within First Tennessee Park.

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The Sounds and 102.5 “The Game” announced an extension of their partnership on Wednesday. The Game will air all 144 regular season games on either 102.5 FM or 94.9 FM. The partnership between The Game and the Sounds dates back to 2012. Jeff Hem, who returns for his fourth season as the “Voice of the Sounds”, will be behind the microphone for all games.

150225-1025-the-Game-Nashville-Sounds-2015It was announced on Thursday that auditions for national anthem singers will take place on March 14. Tryouts for promotional team members, PA announcer and on-field emcee will also take place over the next three weekends (Feb. 28-March 14).

Finally, today marked the layout of a parking plan for fans planning to attend games at First Tennessee Park this season. The plan laid out several options for fans to find their way to the park and gave references of where open lots and garages can be found.

For more information on any of these announcements, check out the Sounds’ website or visit the First Tennessee Park website to see what is new.

Pacific Coast League Changes

The Pacific Coast League is in the midst of an offseason shakeup.

When the 16-team league begins the 2015 campaign in 70 days (April 9), competition will look unlike anything the circuit has seen in the past 112 years. The opposition has been rearranged due to six clubs, nearly half the league, changing Major League affiliates. The adjustments are as follows (official releases from each team are linked):

  • Albuquerque                   Los Angeles Dodgers ——> Colorado Rockies
  • Colorado Springs             Colorado Rockies ——> Milwaukee Brewers
  • Fresno                            San Francisco Giants ——> Houston Astros
  • Nashville                         Milwaukee Brewers ——> Oakland Athletics
  • Oklahoma City                 Houston Astros ——> Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Sacramento                     Oakland Athletics ——> San Francisco Giants

Affiliation changes can bring re-branding efforts as well.

In December, Oklahoma City changed its name from the RedHawks to the Dodgers after the Los Angeles Dodgers purchased the club. The transformation came complete with a new logo and uniforms. In addition, the Dodgers’ home field, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, is slated to add a new left field deck area.

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Just last week, Nashville unveiled their new logos to the public. At the center of the rebranding efforts is an attempt to pay tribute to the world-famous Music City. The main logo features a guitar pick stylized from from an f-hole on a guitar. The Sounds also returned to their classic red and black color scheme. The alteration comes on the verge of a brand new ballpark (First Tennessee Park), set to make its debut in 2015.

Print

Tacoma and Salt Lake constructed slight logo changes as well. While neither of them did complete brand makeovers, the Bees added some new looks and the Rainiers’ did a slight tweak as well.

Redbirds

The Memphis Redbirds are receiving an overhaul on their stadium. AutoZone Park, home to the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate since its christening in 2000, is getting a $6.5 million enhancement that includes suite improvements, the addition of LED video boards, new food/bar areas and the relocation of berm seating, among other upgrades. Pictures can be viewed here. The team also revealed a brand new logo on February 5 with heavy ties to the Redbirds’ parent club.

Another pair of PCL cities, Omaha and El Paso, are hosting big events in the Triple-A realm. Werner Park, home to the Storm Chasers since 2011, will feature this year’s Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 15. Then on Tuesday, September 22, Southwest University Park, which just opened in El Paso for the 2014 season, will play host to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game.

The attention surrounding the Pacific Coast League will bring about enthusiasm and a modified look for the 2015 season as the competition in the circuit continues to evolve.

Player Perspective: First Tennessee Park Update

The calendar has turned into a new year and the countdown for baseball has commenced. Excitement surrounding the upcoming baseball season is strong with regards to Nashville’s new ballpark, First Tennessee Park. When the Sounds begin their 2015 home schedule on April 17, the team will christen the new park.

We have written about the press’ view for Opening Day, but this post is dedicated to the athletes who will hit home runs, make great plays and record strikeouts. The picture below is a view of the batter’s eye, including where home plate and the pitcher’s mound will be.

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For those looking for a full perspective of the batter eye’s, the picture below shows it all. It sure is going to be hard to beat a view of the Nashville skyline on a summer night.

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Be sure to keep up to date with all the construction photos at the ballpark’s website. Season tickets are also on sale by calling (615) 690-4487.

First Tennessee Park Tent Events

Baseball in Nashville is close to being back and we are very excited about it. The 2015 season has a lot of distinctive features to it, including a new state-of-the-art ballpark.

In order to build additional excitement about the opening of the park, the Sounds are hosting events on site at First Tennessee Park. These tent events are an opportunity to learn more about the park, gain knowledge of exclusive offers for purchasing tickets, and get an up close look at construction progress. Those interested in attending a future tent event should contact Leon at 615-690-4487 ext. 146.

Here are a few pictures we snapped at the first tent event. Be sure to check out our Facebook page for even more photos. We hope you can join us for one soon!

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Scarsone On Billy Beane, Twitter & Future Goals

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It was announced on December 2 that Steve Scarsone would be the 26th manager in Nashville Sounds’ history. The 48-year old will be entering his third season as the skipper for Oakland’s top minor league affiliate and his seventh overall season in the Athletics organization. The veteran manager compiled a .549 winning percentage over the last two years at Triple-A and has recorded winning seasons in five of his eight years at the helm.

He took some time recently to answer a few questions regarding his playing career, family and of course, coming to the South. In the third and final part of our interview with Nashville’s newest manager, we talk about Billy Beane’s busy offseason, his daughter’s presence in his social media life and future goals.

Nashville Sounds: Athletics’ GM Billy Beane has been extremely busy this offseason. How have those moves set up your job as a manager in Triple-A?

Steve Scarsone: I’m curious to see some of the players that we’re getting in these big trades. A lot of guys have a strong chance of being candidates of landing on our team.

Sometimes on the surface you may ask yourself, “What is he doing?”, but Billy is always looking for players who represent themselves on and off the field. He never looks at a player based solely on numbers.

Essentially, the A’s player is a handpicked type of guy. At the end of the day, we usually get great production out of them. I’m sure the group that comes to Nashville will be solid guys who are ready to compete and show why they belong at that level. Without a doubt, we’re going to have a strong club that continues our winning ways.

The Nashville and Oakland connection will definitely end up being a win-win for both sides. Everyone in the Athletics’ front office is trying to assemble a top-notch club. We’re going to give it all we’ve got and bring in guys to make Nashville see the trades are worth it.

Nashville Sounds: We have been following you on a Twitter for a couple weeks and noticed a strong bond between you and your daughter. She seems to be someone you care for deeply and I am sure spending time with her in Nashville is something you are looking forward to…

Steve Scarsone: My whole family is very into what I do. They’ve been around it for a while. We’re not your typical baseball family in the sense that we don’t live and die by it. We love to be around the game but there’s also many other things we enjoy to do as a family.

As far as my daughter, she doubles as my publicist. I don’t really know much about Twitter or Facebook so Leah lets me know when to reach out to someone. She follows the game and all the players on the team. Social media has helped her communicate with some of the guys. Anytime you feel like you have a personal connection with the guys on the field, it makes it a lot more enjoyable.

She keeps an eye out for me and makes sure I’m reaching out to some of them. That’s one of my main focuses. I want the players to understand that I care a little bit about their personal lives.  A couple weeks ago, Nate Freiman had a child. Leah came in and was showing me all these updates and pictures. I tweeted my congratulations to him then. She’s a great help to me with all that stuff.

Nashville Sounds: The 2015 season opens on April 9, two days before your 49th birthday. What are your future aspirations in baseball or outside of baseball?

Steve Scarsone: I consider myself a baseball-lifer at this point. I plan on being involved in the game until someone tells me I can’t be any longer. A career goal is to be a coach at the top level somewhere. If it’s a manager down the line, it would probably be one of the greater accomplishments of my life. To make a major league staff that gets to the World Series, that would be the primary goal.

A big thanks to Steve Scarsone for chatting with us and being available to answer questions. Be sure to check out part one and part two of our interview with Nashville’s manager.

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