While blogging on the topic may be new to me, I've actually been following the minor leagues since I attended a Frederick Keys game in the early 1990s. My father took me to the game -- I don't remember the exact year -- and Harry Grove Stadium was near capacity, so they opened up the "overflow seating" section for fans. To our surprise, this section was located on the warning track in right-center field. Naturally, we quickly made our way to this innovative seating (it was actually standing) area.
I was in elementary school at the time and thought our section was the coolest thing. I'll never forget when the center fielder crashed into the crowd directly in front of me while trying to make a diving catch. Who knew baseball could be more physical than football?
I don't remember the outfielder's name and I don't remember who won the game. However, I know that minor league baseball was forever etched in my heart beginning with that night because I realized that the love of the game is what motivates players at that level of professional baseball. I don't think any major leaguers would dive through fans on the warning track in order to catch a fly ball -- frankly, would they ever have to? -- but that minor leaguer didn't mind sacrificing his body.
While my childhood dream to play professional baseball never made it beyond high school, there are hundreds of minor leaguers each year that attempt to make it the majors. They put on their uniforms, take long bus trips to the middle of nowhere and get paid very little as they try to make it to the highest level.
In this blog, I hope to help people realize what it's like to be in the minor leagues. There will be several features that I hope you'll enjoy. I'm going to have different players answer survey questions about their experiences in the minors. In-depth Q&As with players will also be included periodically.
I'll post daily game previews for all of the Orioles' minor league affiliates and a nightly recap of each team's results, along with information on how players are performing at each level.
I'll update you on the fortunes of Maryland residents playing in the minors. I'll track their progress and occasionally blog about them. If you know about any Marylanders in the minor leagues that I don't include in an entry, please feel free to e-mail me and I'll write about them in the future. It's difficult to compile a list of all the local players that are participating in minor league baseball, but I'd like to include as many as possible.
The best part about O's on Deck is that you'll be able to participate in the discussion. If you'd like to share your favorite minor league stories, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll pass them along to the rest of the readers. You can also post your thoughts as comments to any of the entries. I think one of the best things about minor league baseball is the friendly atmosphere and the blog will be a similar place if you're able to share your stories with others.
Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments or thoughts about the blog. I hope you enjoy everything that you read.
I'll start things off with a survey answered by Norfolk Tides outfielder Tike Redman. He has spent parts of six seasons in the major leagues, including 40 games with the Orioles in 2007. Redman is currently hitting close to .300 for the Tides, while splitting time between left and center field.
Look for several other surveys answered by Orioles minor leaguers in the future. The surveys were distributed and returned by the teams' media relations representatives.
Name: Tike Redman
Weight: 170 lbs.
Hometown: Duncanville, Ga.
High school/college: Tuscaloosa Academy (Ala.) High School
Time in professional baseball: Since 1996
Current MLB player: Ken Griffey Jr.
All-time MLB player: Ken Griffey Jr.
Sport (other than baseball): Football
Food: Beans and Bread
TV show: Friends
Movie: The Dark Knight
1. What is one thing that you'd like the fans to know about you?
I'm a nice, good looking guy.
2. At this point in your career, what has been your favorite moment?
A game against Colorado with Pittsburgh in 2003. I had two triples (one that tied the game in the ninth inning) and I scored the game-winning run in the ninth.
3. Who is your role model?
4. In the minor leagues, what do you do for fun on a road trip?
Listen to music
5. If you could play any other position, what would it be and why?
I'd be a running back in football.