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Ben's Biz: Fans' favorite '23 MiLB memories

Readers weigh in with their Minor League Baseball highlights
January 5, 2024

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, bringing Minor League Baseball business and culture news to your inbox each and every Thursday. Check out the full newsletter HERE. Subscribe HERE.

This is an excerpt from the latest edition of the Ben's Biz Beat Newsletter, bringing Minor League Baseball business and culture news to your inbox each and every Thursday. Check out the full newsletter HERE. Subscribe HERE.

Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2024, in the realm of Minor League Baseball and, of course, beyond. This newsletter will gaze resolutely toward the future in the coming weeks, but today we look back at 2023 one last time.

What follows are highlights of the season that was, submitted by readers like (or who possibly are) you.

The most popular season highlight -- and by that I mean the only one submitted by more than one reader -- involved the winning ways of a Double-A team tucked into a little corner of northwest Pennsylvania.

Two of my favorite things happened with my hometown team, the Erie SeaWolves. One was them becoming the Erie Pepperoni Balls. The other was winning the Eastern League Championship for the first time in franchise history. -- Kathleen Wilson

I am from Girard, Penn., just outside of Erie, and I am so excited that the Erie SeaWolves finally won the Eastern League championship! I have waited since 1995 for them to win the championship, I am so happy! I even wrote a letter to manager Gabe Alvarez in late April when the team was struggling, saying that they were going to rally and win the championship. I was right, LOL! -- Craig Barto

Championships are great, but there’s plenty of magic to be found during the regular season as well. Troy Bradsher offered this clear and concise rundown of his standout 2023 moment:

The site -- Durham Bulls Athletic Park
The date -- 4 July 2023
The visitor -- Norfolk Tides
The set-up -- The Bulls down 5-0 going into the bottom of the ninth
The closer -- Bulls Win! Bulls Win!

The bonus - 4th of July fireworks!

For those curious, the Bulls scored all six of their runs with two outs in the 9th and won it via a full-count bases-loaded double off the bat of Osleivis Basabe.

The Las Vegas Aviators allowed fans on the field on Father’s Day prior to the game, for a “Father’s Day Catch.” That was a blast! -- Bill T.

I felt like Copa de la Diversión this year was truly outstanding compared to previous years. I love how MiLB embraces the local history, culture and heritage in a way that (I think) is more intimate than any MLB team (or other sport).

It is such a beautiful thing to learn, experience and appreciate a culture that is not your own. And in today's climate, it is often hard to access such things without hate, politicization or bigotry getting in the way.

Somehow, some way, MiLB does it and does it right. Thank you for the culture, the rich traditions, the experiences and the food. Thank you for adding a little extra pok-ta-pok in my step this year. – Joe van Gaalen

A highlight was when Scott Hennessy, manager of the Tulsa Drillers, returned from six weeks of cancer treatments to suit up and coach. -- Paul Westbrook

Related: The Drillers jubilantly announced in December that Hennessy is now cancer-free, and will return to manage the team in 2024.

No particular highlight stands out, other than my quasi-fan wife never complaining, but our 5,000-mile, two-month RV trip included 19 Minor League ballparks and two MLB parks. To a lifelong baseball fan, it was the trip of a lifetime that included more memories than I could begin to imagine. -- Richard Brinlee

My highlights of the 2023 season consisted mostly of taking my son to the ballpark. … Mostly to see our beloved Syracuse Mets, which is a consequence of our huge NY Mets fandom. I am working on a project of getting at least one card autographed -- in a Mets uniform -- of everyone who ever played for the Mets, and Minor League Baseball’s accessibility often helps that. Brett Baty, around autographer circles, was known for only signing for kids. My son was overjoyed that he could get a Baty signature for himself and another the next day that he could give to me for my collection. I mean, what father wouldn’t love that?

What really helped make the 2023 season memorable was that most of the Syracuse Mets were extremely nice guys and always willing to sign a card or hook my son up with a ball. Some of the real stand-up guys were Luke Ritter, Wyatt Young and Brandon McIlwain. Guys that really made an impression on my son and me, and guys who we will always root for no matter where their baseball careers take them. -- Scott Breslove

OK, enough looking back. It’s time to look ahead:

What are your Minor League Baseball-themed goals and resolutions for the 2024 season? I’ll include your replies in next week’s edition of the newsletter: [email protected]

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.