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Frank Who?

Very few supplemental first round picks make waves during their first spring training.

Josh Hart is a bit of an exception.

On Monday afternoon, Oriole-great Frank Robinson paid a visit to Sarasota, Fla to visit with the team. However, when Baltimore’s manager Buck Showalter introduced the 19-year-old to Robinson, Hart had no idea who the Hall of Famer was.

As the son of a high school principal, it should come as no surprise that Showalter told Hart to complete a one-page report on Robinson. Nor should it come as a shock the story garnered national exposure:

Courtesy: AP

Courtesy: AP

If I were Hart, I would have been mortified. After all, his report probably included some of the following about Robinson:

-1982 Hall of Fame Inductee

- #22 on Sporting News List of 100 Greatest Baseball Players

- Finalist for Major League Baseball All-Century Team

-Two-time MVP and World Series MVP in 1966

-9th all-time in home runs (fourth-most at the time of his retirement)

- First African-American to serve as a manager in Major League History

Robinson with the Orioles courtesy: Biography

Robinson with the Orioles
courtesy: Biography

You get the drift. It’s information most baseball fans are aware of. But the reality is, some professional baseball players didn’t grow up as huge baseball fans. The vast majority played multiple sports through high school, and idolized NFL or NBA stars as kids. Some, even got to live out their dreams in multiple pro sports:

Russell Wilson Courtesy: seahawks.com

Russell Wilson
Courtesy: seahawks.com

John Elway courtesy: SI.Com

John Elway
courtesy: SI.Com

Okay, if you’re a Super Bowl winning quarterback I understand why you might gravitate towards football over baseball (Wilson was drafted by the Rockies and selected in the 2013 Rule 5 draft by the Rangers, while Elway played a summer in the Yankees farm-system, FYI).

Still, if you’re going to play baseball, a working knowledge of the all-time greats isn’t asking a lot. Especially, when a host of them have come from your own franchise.  As O’s manager Buck Showalter put it on ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning:

“It’s important that we realize there were some people that paved the way to have that strong fan base, the people that live and die with everything the Orioles do.”

A lesson Hart learned over the course of his assignment. If you’re wondering, his report earned an “A-plus” from the Orioles skipper.

Now that he’s hit the books, Hart will try and open some eyes on the field. Over 36 games with the GCL Orioles and Short-Season Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2013, he hit .218 with nine RBIs and 11 stolen bases.  Rated the No. 13 prospect in the Baltimore system by Baseball America, Hart profiles as a speed guy at the top of the lineup. But with plenty to learn, he’s likely a year away from Frederick at least.

That being said, the Keys can expect a talented group in 2014. Over the next few weeks, we’ll have our predictions, as we continue the countdown towards opening day.

Talk soon, and shake your keys!

Geoff

Turning the Lock: A Glance into the 2014 Frederick Keys

Good Afternoon Keys Fans!!!

There may still be snow on the ground in Frederick, but in 44 days, the Keys will play their first game of the season against the Lynchburg Hillcats at historic Falwell Field. It’s a lovely thought isn’t it? In the meantime, I’m sure many of you are keeping track of all the developments down at Orioles Spring Training in Sarasota. It figures to be an exciting year for the O’s, but it ought to be a banner year for the Keys as well. And as we get closer to the season, we’ll give you the inside skinny on possible Keys players, updates from camp, as well as 2014 Keys promotions and lots more! But before we get to all that, some introductions:

First off, my name is Geoff Arnold, and I am the new Broadcasting and Public Relations Manager for the Keys. I serve as one of the team’s radio voices, and work as the primary liasion to the media. This is my first year in Frederick, but my second in the Carolina League. Last year, I served as the Assistant Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. In short, I couldn’t have asked for a better indoctrination into the Carolina League. Wilmington’s fanbase was super-passionate, while the front office staff was top-notch.

As an added plus, the Blue Rocks were only a short-ride up I-95 from my hometown of Berwyn, PA. Berwyn is a suburb of Philadelphia and is roughly 15 minutes from Valley Forge (or the King of Prussia Mall if that makes things easier). And yes, for better or worse, richer or poorer, I am a Philadelphia sports fan. I’ve been crushed so many times by the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, but at the end of the day, I still love them. In particular the Phillies. My family has had season tickets for over 30 years.

Speaking of family, all are baseball FANATICS. My dad coached pretty much every one of my little league teams growing up. My mom coached my sister’s teams, while my brother and sister both played collegiately for a time. I on the other hand, played high school baseball, before switching to baseball umpiring. It was a great way to make money in college, while it provided me with my first “real” job after graduation. Before moving into the broadcast booth, I umpired in the Gulf Coast League in 2011. So if you call out “hey blue, you stink!!!” during a Keys game and see me jerk my head around? Instinctual reaction.

But that’s enough about me. This season, I’ll be joined by two other awesome guys on the blog.  I’ll start with the Garden State’s favorite son. My main man Doug Raftery, who will be my partner on Keys broadcasts this year:

DOUG RAFTERY

My name is Doug and I’m a 23-year-old from Brick, NJ, also known as “America’s Safest City” in 2006 by the Morgan Quitno survey. My house is also partly made of brick, which makes the town name that much better.

I attended Hood College just down the road and graduated with a Communication Arts degree in 2012. While there, I had the opportunity to play collegiate soccer around some knee injuries, and was President of the Student Government Association my senior year.

I’m a big ‘quote’ guy, and my favorite is “You must have long-term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures” by Charles C. Noble.

My family is extremely important to me, as my mom, Patty, and dad, Ron, still live in Brick right on the jersey shore. My sister, who is four years older than me, is in the process of getting her PhD from the University of South Carolina. She is recently engaged to my new brother-in-law David, and I can’t wait until the wedding in 2015!

I can’t wait to interact with the fans this season while on air and at the stadium! Talk to everybody soon.

CHRIS COLLETTI

Hello Keys fans! My name is Chris Colletti, the Marketing Assistant for this coming season. I along with the others here will help with this season’s blog and just wanted to give you an introduction to myself. I am a 2013 graduate from SUNY Cortland in Central New York with a major in Sport Management. As a native of Buffalo, New York I am a lover of three things: Music, Wings, and Sports. Last year I worked with the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, and I can’t wait to bring my experiences to the table here in Frederick. I look forward to meeting you all here at the stadium and I hope you enjoy the baseball this year as well as the events we are planning for you this season. Go Keys!

And there you have it. The talented trio (or duo depending on how you look at it). We look forward to bringing you Keys coverage throughout the season, and we’ll be in touch soon!

Shake your Keys!

Geoff, Doug and Chris

A Hog at Harry Grove Stadium

*WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The hog snouts have arrived. Be one of the first 600 in the gates to get yours Saturday, then meet the Hog himself, Joe Jacoby.

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Get your sundresses, wigs and garden hats ready. We’ll provide the pig noses (to the first 600 fans).

Yes, former Hog and Washington Redskins great Joe Jacoby will be in attendance for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Potomac, which will serve as our annual Salute to the Gridiron Night. He’ll be signing autographs from about 6-8 that night and all Hogettes (see picture above) are more than welcome to attend.

As I mentioned in the second sentence of this post, we’ll be giving away free hog snouts to the first 600 fans in the gates, which open at 5 p.m. More on Joe Jacoby below and you can get your tickets here. Read the press release here.

joejacoby

*If you need a Joe Jacoby reminder, it’s probably best to start with the what is maybe the greatest play in Redskins history:

It’s 1983, 4th and 1 in the 4th Quarter of Super Bowl XVII and the Redskins trail 17-13. The play call, “70 Chip,” a handoff to John Riggins right behind Jacoby, the left tackle:

Note how Jacoby blows his man off the line and flattens him, clearing the way as the rest of the ‘Skins hold their blocks. A good article on the play was published last in 2012 in The Sporting News. Jacoby’s quote in the story:

“I didn’t know (Riggins scored) until I looked up and saw him down in the end zone, because I was in the bottom of the pile in the mass of humanity that was all piled up there,” Jacoby says.

More footage of Jacoby and the Hogs blasting holes in the Dolphins’ defensive front.

*Things to know about Joe Jacoby:

  • He went undrafted out of Louisville in 1981 and signed with the Redskins as a free agent that year
  • An offensive tackle for essentially his entire career, Jacoby played all 13 years with Washington, winning Super Bowls in 1983, 1988 and 1992
  • He was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons (1983-86) as a left tackle
  • Named an All-Pro in ’83 and ’84
  • Selected to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team
  • One of 45 players, coaches and owners that have been inducted into the Redskins Ring of Fame at FedEx Field
  • Nickname during playing days was “Jake”
  • One of the original five Washington offensive linemen that became known as The Hogs, a dominant, bruising group that cleared the way for the Redskins’ rushing attack and protected quarterbacks Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien in the early ’80s through the early ’90s
  • Jacoby helped lead the way on John Riggins’ iconic touchdown run in Super Bowl XVII, in which the Redskins set a Super Bowl rushing record, one they would break five years later in Super Bowl XXII
  • Retired from the NFL in 1993 and currently coaches the offensive line at John Handley High School in Winchester, Va.\

*Did you know that after 30 years, the Hogettes retired in January?

See you Saturday. Shake your Keys. And Hail.

Tonight only at The Grove: Tim Kurkjian (life-size?) bobbleheads

When gates open this evening at 6 p.m., 1,000 of these will be given away:

If you can’t tell by its likeness, that’s a bobblehead of ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian, who will be at Harry Grove Stadium tonight when the Keys host Wilmington in a 7 p.m. game. Thanks to St. John’s Catholic Prep, we’re able to give away one beautiful bobble to each of the first 1,000 fans through the gate tonight. On Art in the Park Night, Kurkjian, the David to our Michelangelo, will be at The Grove throwing out a first pitch, signing autographs and meeting and greeting fans.

TimKBobble

*If you’d like a Kurkjian bobblehead (and of course you do), here are some tips:

1. Get here early. The earlier the better. There will be a line and it will be long, like a Chris Davis home run to straight-away center field in San Francisco.

Ok, maybe not that long, but you get my point. Get your tickets and get here early.

2. We give out one bobble per warm body through the gate, not per ticket purchased.

3. Bring some water, sunscreen, maybe an umbrella in case of drizzle. Stay hydrated and protected from the elements while you wait.

4. Bring a magazine or something to entertain yourself. Might I suggest watching Tim Kurkjian’s son, Jeff, who interned with us this summer, taste the field during the Taco Bell Sauce Race.

*Tim Kurkjian chatted with former Keys broadcaster Tim Murray on his show on ESPN980 last weekend about many things, including his Keys bobblehead. Listen here.

* In-non Kurkjian news, the Keys will be wearing these fashionable jerseys tonight and then they’ll be signed and auctioned off to the highest bidders:

photo

*Keys players also painted baseballs, which will also be auctioned off during the game.

Shake your Keys.

Blue Rocks Barking Up the Wrong Tree

The Keys take on the Wilmington Blue Rocks tonight for the second game of the three game home stand.  The opener last night was an exciting one to say the least as the Keys played the role of the comeback kids; scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Keys trailed 3-1 in the top of the 8th but thanks to an RBI single by Tucker Nathans followed by another single by Dariel Alvarez which scored two runs, and finally a two run double by Travis Adair, the Keys gained a four run lead over the Blue Rocks. Matt Hobgood got the win on the night, which was his second of the year, and Gene Escat got the save, his sixth of the year.

Howard

The Keys are handing the ball off to left hander Trent Howard, who has yet to lose a game this season. The twenty three year old has an impressive ERA of only 2.0 paired with an equally  impressive sinking fastball.  The Keys will  be facing the Blue Rock’s left hander, Angel Baez. Baez is a twenty two year old from Puerto Rico with a record of 6 and 7 and 3.17 ERA. Wilmington sure is barking up the wrong tree tonight!

The Key’s line up is looking sharp tonight, check it out!

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Want more game info? Here are the game notes -

Tonight is also the seasons last Throwback Thursday! Be sure to come out and check out the Keys players rock their Throwback jerseys for the final time.

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Be sure not to leave your four legged best friend at home on your way out the door because tonight is Dog Days of Summer brought to you by Crossroads Animal Referral & Emergency. Did you register your beloved dog? Let’s hope so because it’s the last Dog day of Summer of the season! The game is set to start at 7PM, gates opening at 6PM.

See you and your dog at the ballpark!

We need more dogs!

As stated in the video above, we need more dogs!

Tonight is the final Dog Day of Summer at Harry Grove Stadium, your last chance this season to bring your pooch to the park. Give us a call at 301-815-9906 to register and make sure to have your rabies tag certification number handy.

If you don’t swing by for tonight’ s 7 p.m. game against Wilmington, you’ll miss out on all of this:

Doggy fashion

dogfashKanine athletics

catch-dog

dog-catch-a-ball-from-snow

best-gifs-pt-14-dog-running-after-ball-catapult

Belly rubbing

And butt sniffing

Also, Keys baseball. Watch Johnny Ruettiger get creative and tie up last night’s game in the eighth.

Pirates Life for the Keys

Yo ho,  yo ho, it’s a pirate life for the Keys tonight at the Grove. Players will be turning in their bats for swords and their baseball caps for captain hats; it’s Pirate and Swashbucklers theme night! Make sure to stop by guest services to get your treasure map and help Keyote find the gold loot that’s been hidden in the stadium.

The Keys will be crossing swords the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the first of a three game series. The Blue Rocks have a record of 23-35 in the second half of the season and will be handing the ball to the twenty three right hander, Leonel Santiago. Zach Clark, also a right handed pitcher, will  be on the helm tonight for the Keys, who is looking for his first win. For  more details on tonight’s game, check out the game notes below.

Sails will be hoisted at seven with gates opening at six. Grab your bandannas and swords and come out to the stadium for a night for swashbuckling adventures! Staff and interns are ready to set sail  and will  be on the lookout for keys fans in buccaneer attire.

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Shake your keys or ye be walking the plank!

Keyote gets a birthday card

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Keyote had a great time celebrating his birthday Sunday afternoon with a whole cast of his mascot buddies.

Today, he received a belated Happy Birthday from Chloe in New Market. He took a break from reviewing Keys stats at his desk to open it:

Thanks, Chloe!

Monkeying Around At The Grove

monkeys93

Saying that tonight is a “big” night at Harry Grove Stadium would be somewhat of an understatement.  Despite losing the last five games, the Frederick Keys are back in town for seven games at the Grove.  The Keys face off against the Winston-Salem Dash tonight in the first of four games. The game is set to start at 6pm.

50 Serie Nacional-CAM-AlvarezTonight is jammed packed with more than just baseball.  Dariel Alvarez, the recent Orioles signee, is playing his first game at the Grove tonight.  He made his Carolina League debut in Potomac on Thursday, slapping a single through the middle in his first at-bat and finishing 2-for-5 with an RBI in Frederick’s 5-4 loss.  In last night’s game, he went 3-for-5 but the Keys lost 7-3.  To read more about Alvarez’s trip to Frederick, click here.

Alvarez will bat third in tonight’s lineup.  Travis Adair, who has been nothing but hot lately will bat second. He has played in eleven games in the second half of the season and he is batting .366 (15-for-41).  He is gotten just one hit in eleven at-bats batting second this season.

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Trent Howard will start for the Keys tonight. He is 3-0 as a reliever this season with a 0.62 ERA.  In eleven starts, he has yet to factor into the decision. He faced the Myrtle Beach Pelicans last week and gave up just one run and five hits in five innings.

Howard

For everything you need to know about tonight’s game, check out the game notes below.

*In addition to an awesome match-up between the Dash and the Keys, tonight is also the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo.  Confused as what that means exactly? I understand. Check out this video! There will be a full show after tonight’s 6pm game.

One of the monkeys, Megan, paid a visit to the press box earlier today.

*Tonight is also the Rubber Ducky Giveaway Night.  The first 1,000 fans to come to tonight’s game get a special Rubber Duck unlike any other.

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*The Taco Bell Sauce Race became a huge hit on our blog last week.  Two of our interns wiped out making for one of the more interesting/hilarious races we have ever had here at the Grove.  Tonight, in front of a sellout crowd, the sauce packets are at it again.  The rematch race will take place at the end of the seventh inning, so be sure to come out and check it out.  If you missed the first race, check out this article.

*Tonight is also a firework night here at the Grove! After the game and following the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo, the Keys will light up the sky beyond our centerfield fence.

Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez joins Keys

While the Keys lost their fifth game in a row last night at Potomac, the team got a boost from an intriguing newcomer.

The Orioles’ latest import from Cuba, 24-year-old outfielder Dariel Alvarez, made his Carolina League debut in Potomac last night, slapping a single through the middle in his first at-bat and finishing 2-for-5 with an RBI in Frederick’s 5-4 loss.

Alvarez was signed by the Orioles in July, several months after Baltimore signed fellow Cuban Henry Urrutia, who demolished Double-A and Triple-A pitching before being called up to Baltimore just days prior to Alvarez’s signing.

Here’s the Orioles release on his signing. From the release:

Alvarez played for Camaguey in the Cuban League from 2007-11 and Tuxpan in Mexico in 2012. In five seasons with Camaguey, he batted .297 (341-1147) with 37 home runs and 180 RBI. In 2011, Alvarez set career-highs, batting .363/.404/.613 (125-344) with 20 home runs, 81 RBI, 22 doubles and 65 runs scored in his age 22 season. In 2012, he hit .317/.355/.464 in 192 plate appearances for Tuxpan.

Alvarez is listed a 6-2, 180 pounds and was promoted from the Gulf Coast League before last night’s game. Alvarez went 4-for-9 with two doubles, a triple and a home run in three games with the GCL O’s.

*Tonight, the Keys hope to avoid their second consecutive series sweep. Knuckleballer Zach Clark starts for the Keys. More in tonight’s game notes:

*Today is Cowboy Monkey Rodeo Eve. Photos from last year’s Cowboy Monkey Night  are here and buy your tickets for tomorrow’s 6 p.m. game here.

monkeys139Shake your Keys.

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