Out with the Cold, In with the New Season

In most regions of the United States, baseball in 2014 is already underway. For those in the northern part of the country, however, snow from an unusually harsh winter is finally receding to reveal fields of grass that haven’t seen adequate sunlight in months.

The snow and cold weather put a strain not only on the grass, but on its keepers as well. With Richmond County Bank Ballpark hosting a slate of high school and college games beginning in April, new Staten Island Yankees head groundskeeper Bill Butler knows he has his work cut out for him. A 24-year professional baseball field master, Butler has plenty experience handling this sort of obstacle. “The biggest thing we have to wait for in this area of the country is the grass because of the temperatures,” Butler said. “The grass doesn’t start growing until the soil is 55 degrees, and on most years, that happens the last week of March or first week of April. Right now, we’re nearing the last week of March and the soil temperature is only in the 30s, so the grass is really behind, and you can’t force that.”

Despite the frigid soil temperatures, the preparation of the field in Staten Island is in full swing. The recent melting of snow has allowed the grounds crew to attack the dirt portions of the park, including the bullpen mounds, home plate area and infield. Looming on deck for Butler and his crew, however, is the ever-important green grass waiting to be tended to.

A veteran of more than two decades in the industry, mostly recently with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Butler has experienced both ends of the weather spectrum. The groundskeeper began his career at the Kansas City Royals’ Spring Training home in Florida, far from the New York winters. Butler also helped establish the playing field for the Atlanta Braves Single-A affiliate in Myrtle Beach, where spring begins a little earlier than in Staten Island. As with the difference in temperatures, the regional contrasts extend to type grass as well. Venturing south, you’ll find Bermuda grass at most ballparks, which is cut a lot shorter than the northern blue grass found at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

“Down south, when it gets to the fall, you plant rye grass over the Bermuda to protect it from the winter,” said Butler. “Here, there’s not a lot you can do other than leave it a little longer so you can cut off the winter kill in the spring.”

As someone who has gained much notoriety for his field designs, grass-growing temperature is the one thing Butler is looking most forward to. During a two-year stint earlier in his career, the fieldsman was the heads groundskeeper for the New York Mets in Shea Stadium where he crafted the crowning design of his career so far. Butler cut the New York City skyline into the field’s grass.

“It was cool at the time, because you’d go home and watch SportsCenter that night and you see checkerboard, stripes, checkerboard, checkerboard, stripes, stripes, and all of a sudden, it was something a little different, and nobody had done anything like that,” said Butler.

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Bill Butler’s NYC skyline design at Shea Stadium

If you think Butler’s New York City skyline design is awesome, the groundskeeper says Baby Bomber fans will be in for a treat on Opening Day as he has something special up his sleeve. But before designs and patterns can be etched into the grass, there’s still one more problem the grounds crew must take care of.

“After the snow, something that is really unique to here is the geese problem, and opposed to some other parks it is extreme,” said Butler. “I can’t control when its going to be warm enough for the grass to grow, so right now I’m just trying to get all the geese droppings off the field, then try to prevent them from coming in.”

The favorite method of goose prevention so far has been several black dog silhouette cutouts placed around the infield. The cutouts are left out to trick the potential ballpark residents into thinking there are predators roaming the outfield, making it dangerous to land. Will this remedy keep the geese away for good? Only time will tell. All we know for now is that June 13 could not come fast enough!

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Dog silhouette cutouts around the infield prevent geese from landing.

HOPE Week – 2013

On Monday, August 26th the Staten Island Yankees players spent some time at their old stomping grounds, the College of Staten Island to participate in HOPE Week.  HOPE week stands for Helping Others Preserve & Excel.  The New York Yankees’ HOPE Week initiative is an organizational effort, integrating players, coaches, and the Yankees front office to go out into communities and create a positive impact.  HOPE Week is about people helping people. The one thing everybody has – no matter where they come from, what their financial situation is or what kind of skills they possess – is time. By involving every one of our players, coaches, and the entire front office staff during the celebration of HOPE Week the Yankees are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place.

Some of the Baby Bombers finest Cale Coshow, Dave Palladino, Isaias Tejada, and Nick Rumbelow took the time to visit some of the students at “The Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program” a college based program designed to prepare people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities for adult life through higher education coursework, career exploration/preparation, self-awareness and socialization.  However there was no homework, only laughs, good times and a lot of baseball.  Staten Island Yankees players coached the students in throwing, base running, hitting, pitching and even played the roles of coaches for a friendly mentor vs. student baseball game where the students won by a landslide.

The HOPE Week players and coaches from the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program

The HOPE Week players and coaches from the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program

HOPE Week Heroes

HOPE Week Heroes

Future Staten Island Yankee

Future Staten Island Yankee

David Palladino throwing BP

David Palladino throwing BP

David Palladino giving some pitching instructions

David Palladino giving some pitching instructions

Pitcher David Palladinos first time behind the plate

Pitcher David Palladinos first time behind the plate

Nick Rumbelow showing how to throw the perfect curveball

Nick Rumbelow showing how to throw the perfect curveball

Nick Rumbelow and his Bullpen

Nick Rumbelow and his Bullpen

Isaias Tejeda playing catch

Isaias Tejeda playing catch

On Wednesday, August 28th some of the Staten Island Yankees made their second HOPE Week stop at P.S. 59 Harbor View School.

Wednesday was the first time that both students and parents were allowed into the new school.  When they eventually got to the gym they were treated to Staten Island Yankees waiting with their school’s gym equipment so they could make this the first of many memorable days at school.  Baby Bombers Charlie Haslup, Stefan Lopez, Mike Ford, Eric Jagiello, and Andy Beresford were in gym class heaven as they jumped around the school’s gym with the students and parents of the new school.

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Eric Jagielo, Charles Haslup and Scooter the Holy Cow hanging out in the gym.

Yankees Third Baseman Eric Jagielo in the race of his life.

Staten Island Yankees Third Baseman Eric Jagielo in the race of his life.

He's going for the win...

He’s going for the win…

Can't win them all!

Can’t win them all!

Scooter isn't used to people as tall as him

Scooter isn’t used to people as tall as him

Scooter the Holy Cow, Eric Jagielo, and pitcher Andy Beresford posing with an excited student

Scooter the Holy Cow, Eric Jagielo, and pitcher Andy Beresford posing with an excited student

Hope Week Heroes-Stephan Lopez (P), Andy Beresford (P_, Eric Jagielo (3B), Charles Haslup (P), and Mike Ford (IF)

Hope Week Heroes-Stephan Lopez (P), Andy Beresford (P_, Eric Jagielo (3B), Charles Haslup (P), and Mike Ford (IF)

Staten Island Yankees with a group of volunteers

Staten Island Yankees with a group of volunteers

The Staten Island Yankees having fun with some young fans

The Staten Island Yankees having fun with some young fans

The Staten Island Yankees with happy principal Carol Mongiello of the new P.S. 59 Harbor View School

The Staten Island Yankees with happy principal Carol Mongiello of the new P.S. 59 Harbor View School

On the Mound with David Palladino

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Name: David Palladino

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Bat: Right     Throws: Right

Height: 6’9″     Weight: 260 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 3/15/1993

Hometown: Emerson, NJ

High School: Emerson High School

College: Howard Community College

Twitter: @dpall22

Have you played any other sports?

Football and soccer as a kid, but in high school, basketball and baseball.

What is your most memorable moment in baseball as a player?

Getting drafted by the Yankees and winning the sectional championship in high school.

Who is your favorite major league baseball player?

Andy Pettitte because of his attitude towards the game and his hard work ethic.

How do you feel about being a part of the New York Yankees organization?

It feels amazing. It’s an opportunity not many experience. Playing for the team you love and grew up watching is truly an amazing experience.

What are your hobbies?

Pickup basketball, fishing, paintballing, hanging out with friends and family.

What family member(s) are you closest with? Why?

My brothers [Anthony, 24 and Nick, 17] and parents because I would not be where I am today without them. They support me and help me with everything I do or need.

How and why did you start playing baseball?

I wanted to be like my older brother and father, and then fell in love with the game.

What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Being able to come back from knee surgery. Overcame it by working hard and with support from family and friends.

What’s the worst physical pain you’ve ever endured?

Fouling a baseball back into my face when I was young.

What is the most played song on your iPod?

Danza Kuduro.

What is your favorite…

Food? Italian

Movie? Fast and Furious 6

Book? ABC’s of Pitching

TV Show? Two and a Half Men 

Video Game? FIFA 13/Call of Duty

Athlete? Roger Clemens/Andy Pettitte

Thing you take on the road? my cross

On the Mound with Dillon McNamara

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Name: Dillon McNamara

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Bat: Right     Throws: Right

Height: 6’5″     Weight: 220 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 10/6/1991

Hometown: Staten Island, NY

High School: Moore Catholic High School

College: Adelphi University

Twitter: @dmcnamara19

What is your most memorable moment in baseball?

Winning the Northeast-10 my sophomore year at AU.

What is your biggest career highlight?

Breaking the career saves record at AU.

Who is your favorite major league baseball player? Why?

Mariano Rivera because he is the most dominant closer of all-time.

Have you played any other sports?

Basketball. From 5 years old until college.

What kind of music do you like? What artists/bands?

Everything. Hip-hop, house, country. Drake, Mumford and Sons, Swedish House Mafia…

What was the biggest challenge/obstacle you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?

My two surgeries. Just worked hard and stayed positive.

While growing up, who was the most influential person in your life?

My father. He always motivated me to work hard.

What would you do if you weren’t playing baseball?

I’d be searching for a job in finance.

What is the most played song on your iPod?

All Gold Everything by Trinidad James

What was the last book you read?

Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly

What is your favorite…

Food? Bacon

Movie? Inception

Book? The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

TV Show? Lost

Video Game? MLB: The Show

Athlete? Mariano Rivera

On the Mound with Stefan Lopez

SIY_StefanLopez_CarouselName: Stefan Lopez

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Bat: Right     Throws: Right

Height: 6’1″     Weight: 207 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 6/04/1991

Hometown: New Iberia, LA

High School: New Iberia Senior High School

College: Southeastern Louisiana University

What is your most memorable moment in baseball?

Pitching in the 2012 Southland Conference Tournament.

What is your biggest career highlight?

Being selected for the Stopper of the Year Award in 2012 college baseball season.

Who is your favorite major league baseball player? Currently? All-time?

Wade Miley. He currently pitches for Arizona and he is just a great success story and a great person. All-time – Nolan Ryan – unbelievable pitcher.

How do you feel about being a part of the New York Yankees organization?

I feel like I’m with the best sports organization in the world, and I have a great chance to succeed.

While growing up, who was the most influential person in your life and why?

My parents were my most influential role models growing up. They taught me how to be a respectable person.

What kind of music do you like?

Country and rock. Eric Church and Mudvayne.

What was the best advice you ever received?

That hard work and respecting the people around you pays off.

If you could play catch with anyone (alive or deceased), who would it be and why?

Babe Ruth. Just to see what he was like as a person.

What is the most embarrassing song on your iPod?

Mariah Carey – Always Be My Baby.

What is your favorite…

Food? New York Strip

Movie? Law Abiding Citizen

Book? I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

TV Show? Duck Dynasty

Video Game? GoldenEye 007 N64

Athlete? Michael Jordan

Thing you take on the road? Guitar

On the Mound with Cale Coshow

SIY_CaleCoshow_CarouselName: Cale Coshow

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Bat: Right     Throws: Right

Height: 6’5″     Weight: 270 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 7/16/1992

Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma

High School: Deer Creek High School

College: Oklahoma Christian University

Twitter: @c_coshow

What is your biggest career highlight?

Being named All-State.

Have you played any other sports?

Football in high school, basketball until my sophomore year

Who is your favorite major league baseball player?

Mariano Rivera. He is successful and not showy. Plays the game and respects it.

What are your hobbies?

Golfing, fishing, watching movies, and playing with my dog.

Why family member are you closest with? Why?

My brother Zach, 24. He and I are always together and we feed off of each other.

Was there ever a time where you had a defining moment in your childhood that had a great impact in your life?

The first year I worked at a special needs camp. Those kids changed my life.

What was the biggest challenge/obstacle you’ve ever faced?

Being cut at OU.

What was your greatest struggle for you as a child?

Overcoming fear and the people that doubted me.

What was the last book you read?

Dangerous Faith.

What is the most played song on your iPod?

Home by Philip Phillips

What is your favorite…

Food? Fried Chicken

Movie? Lonesome Dove

Book? The Bible

TV Show? Swamp People/Duck Dynasty

Video Game? Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Thing you take on the road? Laptop for movies

Stepping up to Bat with Brandon Thomas

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Name: Brandon Thomas

Position: Centerfielder

Bat: Switch     Throws: Right

Height: 6’3″     Weight: 200 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 2/7/1991

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

High School: Pace Academy

College: Georgia Tech

Twitter: @brandonthomas6

What is your biggest career highlight?

Being an Academic All-American and First Team All ACC.

Who is your favorite major league baseball player? Currently? All time?

Currently – Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. They are fun to watch and have similar games.

How do you feel about being a part of the New York Yankees organization?

It is the most historic franchise and a huge honor.

In your career thus far, have you met or been coached by any famous athletes?

Davey Johnson coached my college summer ball team. He has had the biggest impact on my baseball career.

If you could play catch with anyone (alive or deceased), who would it be?

Mickey Mantle.

What is the most played song on your iPod?

TGIF by Katy Perry

Have you played any other sports?

Basketball since I was 6 and through high school.

What is your most memorable moment in baseball as a player?

Winning an ACC Championship.

What was the biggest challenge/obstacle you’ve ever faced?

Getting mononucleosis the middle of my senior year at GT.

While growing up, who was the most influential person in your life?

My Dad was an incredible role model.

What is your favorite…

Food? Grandma’s cooking

Movie? The Town

Book? Harry Potter

Video Game? Tiger Woods

Thing you take on the road? headphones

On the mound with Charles Haslup

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Name: Charles Haslup

Position: Right-handed pitcher

Bat: Right     Throws: Right

Height: 6’4″     Weight: 210 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 8/23/1991

Hometown: Easton, Maryland

High School: Easton High

College: University of Maryland

Twitter: @chaslup1

What is your biggest career highlight?

Getting 3 outs in the 10th. We hit a walk-off homerun in extras to take a huge ACC series.

What is your most memorable moment in baseball as a player? As a spectator?

Player: Having my parents come watch my first game in pinstripes.

Spectator: Cal Ripken’s 2131 game.

What are your goals as a minor league baseball player?

Give it all I have each day, and play each game like it may be my last.

Who is your favorite major league baseball player?

Lou Gehrig because of his background with ALS and Cal Ripken because of his passion and strength to play to streaks.

What was your greatest struggle for you as a child?

Growing up, my dad had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It came with its own set of struggles as I aged and the disease progressed.

In your career thus far, have you received advice from any famous athletes?

OJ Brigance told me no matter what, keep working hard and that things will fall into play.

What was the biggest challenge/obstacle you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Almost leaving baseball my freshman year at UMD because the coaches wanted to cut me. I worked hard to perfect my craft and compete.

If you could play catch with anyone (alive or deceased), who would it be and why?

My dad…growing up our games of catch became harder to have as his disease worsened.

What was the last book you read?

Game of Thrones (Book 1)

What was the first concert you ever saw?

Eric Church/Kenny Chesney

What is your favorite…

Food? pasta

Movie? Inception

Book? The Lone Survivor

TV Show? Game of Thrones/Entourage

Video Game? FIFA

Athlete? Kobe Bryant

Thing you take on the road? iPod/iPhone

Thank you Thursday – 8.8.13

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It’s been almost a month since our last Thank you Thursday post and a lot has happened since then! No, we’re not referring to the PED suspensions by Major League Baseball. The Staten Island Yankees have won 8 games and the fun hasn’t stopped at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. 

As part of our Thank you Thursday posts, we would like to share this particular thank you note that comes from one of our most loyal supporters. 

Tim,

I would like to thank you and your staff for doing a great job last night at the CYO All-star game at Staten Island Yankees Stadium.  It was a class event all the way, from meeting us in the parking lot prior to the game, setting up the kids lockers, announcing them, providing music and showing their pictures when they batted and meeting any requests we had.  It was truly a great experience and a night all that were involved with will always remember. Again, you and your staff did a great job and nothing was left to be desired. The kids loved it and had a great time. I was fortunate enough to assist coaching the Red team and it is something I will always remember. 

The Staten Island Yankees are a class organization and I’m glad to see that organizations like yours keep the kids enjoyment of the game as a top priority. Job well done!

I would also like to thank Frank and Christine Minotti and their staff  / umpires for their continued support of the CYO baseball / softball program on Staten Island.  Without their continued support of the program we would not have a program that offers the children of Staten Island the opportunity to play for a league that is fun, first and foremost.

Thank you to all of you!

Jim

Thanks to Jim and all of our loyal supporters for coming out to Richmond County Bank Ballpark to support the Staten Island Yankees and help make it the great experience it is today!

Stepping up to Bat with Trent Garrison

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Name: Trent Garrison

Position: Catcher

Bat: Left     Throws: Right

Height: 6’     Weight: 192 lbs.    

Date of Birth: 5/24/1990

Hometown: Murrieta, CA

High School: Vista Murrieta High School

College: Fresno State

What is your most memorable moment in baseball as a player?

Winning 4 WAC Championships

Besides your on the field accomplishments, what would you consider your greatest triumph and why?

Getting a college degree with a 3.0 GPA because I always dreamed about college and baseball.

What are your goals as a minor league baseball player?

To play to the best of my ability and do everything I can to help the team win.

What family member are you closest with? Why?

Twin brother because he is my twin and we both play baseball.

If you could play catch with anyone (alive or deceased), who would it be and why?

Mickey Mantle, because he was a phenomenal player.

What was your first job?

Pizza maker at a restaurant

What’s the worst physical pain you’ve ever endured?

Tearing my ACL

What is the most embarrassing song on your iPod?

“Red” by Taylor Swift

What would you do if you weren’t playing baseball?

Join Sheriff Academy to become a deputy

Do you have any superstitions? What are they?

Sticking with the same batting gloves when succeeding.

What is your favorite…

Food? Chinese/Sushi

Movie? Bull Durham

TV Show? SportsCenter

Video Game? MLB The Show

Athlete? Shaun White

Thing you take on the road? iPad & headphones

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