My first road trip with the team has concluded and we are currently on the bus on our way home. We are three hours into a nine-hour bus ride from Lakeland County, Ohio to Lakewood, New Jersey. I am fairly excited to finally see what home is like. Throughout this entire trip, I kept hearing from everyone, "just wait till we get home." Apparently, we have GREAT fans in Lakewood and our facilities are among the best in the league. After spending that extended amount of time in the Gulf Coast League, I already feel spoiled on this road trip, but apparently it just gets better!
I have already gotten a little taste of the nature of BlueClaw fans as one of the host Moms, Cathy (sorry I'm not sure whether she spells it with a C or a K) was at all three of our games in Hagerstown. She would take her boys out to dinner after the game and all of the guys were always excited to see her. She even asked me what kind of snacks I liked and brought me a bag of snacks for this bus ride home. I was pretty blown away by her kindness and relationship with all of the guys. She is a sweetheart and definitely a superfan.
Some other new experiences that really stood out on my first road trip...
- At the end of each three game road trip, we would pay the opposing clubby for his services while we were there. This includes laundry, food spreads and maintaining the clubhouse.
The food spreads that we have after our pregame and before the actual game starts seem to be pretty standard everywhere. It's usually an all you can eat PB & J and ham sandwich free for all with some fruit and candy mixed in. Since today was an early game we had cereal with milk and Eggo's as the spread.
- There are actually fans at our games. I LOVE playing in front of big crowds and this was one factor that was missing from the GCL that really made things hard at times. We didn't necessarily play in front of any huge crowds this road trip, but some of the games had decent sized crowds of a few thousand. One of my favorite parts about being a professional baseball player is the ability that I have to genuinely make a person's day just by talking with them at a game, signing an autograph, taking a picture with them or giving them a ball. I still (and always will) remember how it felt to be a kid at a ball game and how amazing those ball players looked out there and how even the slightest gesture from one of those guys (whether it be a head nod or an autograph) would make my day and add to the grandeur of the game. It's an amazing ability and I think sometimes people forget that we all have the ability to do that, you don't have to be a pro athlete to make a positive impact on someone's day.
- The fine system is in place here and is thriving. So far I am fine free, but I feel like it's kind of like the police, if they really want to pull you over, they can find something you're doing wrong. If Dusty [manager Dusty Wathan] or any other coach really wants to, he could find something to fine you for. Luckily, all the coaches here are awesome and have a good grasp on the team despite allowing us a reasonable amount of freedom within the rules. They are all very reasonable and aren't here to baby-sit anyone, we are all men and are responsible for ourselves.