Woo Pig, Baseball Hogs In Swing
by Maylon T. Rice
Razorback fans love a winner and as the winter of 2009 fades into spring, the University of Arkansas men’s baseball team is a breath of fresh air in the winter of Hog fans’ season of discontent.
The new regime of Razorback football coaches narrowly missed a bowl bid at five wins and seven losses. But optimism is high after a good recruiting class for next fall.
UA Basketball, under second year coach John Pelphrey, is still a work in progress and currently on a skid in Southeastern Conference play. The 15th reunion of the flagship campus’ National Championship is past.
So baseball, baby! That’s where Hog fans can go for excitement.
Coach Dave Van Horn and his squad of baseball Razorbacks don’t disappoint. There is plenty of action with Van Horn’s signature short game … serious pitching, stolen bases and the occasional long hit home run, all components the baseball fans love to watch.
The UA’s promotion, public address and support staff does not disappoint with in-park contests as well as the usual wackiness of Razorback fans so passionate about their team.
With 22 of the first 28 games of the 2009 season at home, crowds will swell as the ping of ball-hits-bat sends baseballs flying at George Cole Field at Baum Stadium.
And as always, Baum Stadium, one of the finest in all of college baseball, has added more seats and is ready for record-breaking crowds.
Rally the Razorback RBI Girls, those, oh, so good-looking Diamond Dolls, and the usual cadre of college coeds to boot and it’s spring time, baseball time.
But back to baseball.
Serious college baseball.
Van Horn’s senior-laden team is one the Hog skipper likes to brag about. In late February the Hogs were listed in the Top 25 in the country in several polls and are picked to make a serious run at conference and post season honors.
Could this be the season the Razorbacks host a regional, super regional and dare we say it — yes, we shall — go back to Omaha for the College World Series? Hog fans sure hope so.
“This is a great schedule for our fans,” Van Horn said.
And he is right. There are 37 home games against a quartet of teams who are in the nation’s pre-season elite and the Hogs will host 15 SEC home stands.
Rivals.com picked Baum Stadium as the best college stadium in 2008. But the ever-expanding home of Hog baseball has held such honors before.
Back at the play-by-play microphone is veteran announced Chuck Barrett, a long-time favorite to those who listen to the Hogs games whether in our out of the park.
It’s family friendly and for the purist of college baseball, take it from the experts, there is no better venue than George Cole Field at Baum Stadium.
The remaining home stands for the Razorbacks are:
Missouri State — March 25
Mississippi State — March 27-29
Arizona State — April 7-8
Vanderbilt — April 10-12
Louisiana Monroe — April 14-15
Oklahoma — April 28
LSU — May 1-3
Oral Roberts — May 12
Ole Miss — May 14-16
March 25 — Pennant Night. The first 1,500nt.
March 27 — The first 1,500 fans will receive a Razorback Baseball wristband.
March 28 — Throw For Dough Contest and first 1,500 fans will receive an Arkansas Baseball sunglass case.
March 29 — The first 1,500 fans will receive a Razorback Baseball carabiner key chain.
April 7 — The first 1,500 fans will receive a mobile phone holder courtesy of AT&T
April 8 — The first 1,000 fans will receive a water bottle.
April 10 — American Airlines Pack Your Bags and Go Night and the first 1,500 fans will receive an Arkansas Baseball Glass.
April 11 — Throw For Dough Contest and the first 1,500 fans will receive a Norm DeBriyn commemorative cup.
April 12 — The first 1,500 fans will receive a set of Arkansas Baseball trading cards.
April 14 — The first 1,250 fans will receive a commemorative lapel pin.
April 28 — Assorted prizes.
May 1 — The first 1,500 fans will receive a Coach Dave Van Horn commemorative cup.
May 2 vs. LSU — Throw For Dough Contest and the first 1,500 fans will receive Razorback sunglasses.
May 3 — The first 1,500 fans will receive an Arkansas Baseball license plate holder.
May 12 — Assorted prizes.
May 14 — The first 1,500 fans will receive a Razorback Baseball Chiller Cup.
May 15 — Fireworks, Throw For Dough Contest and the first 1,500 fans will receive a 10-year anniversary SEC Champion Razorbacks cup.
May 16 — First 2,000 fans will receive a Razorback Team Photo Card. And recognition of the 1999 Razorbacks who won the school’s first SEC title. Following the game, players will be available for an autograph session.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals Gearing Up for Second Season
By Maylon T. Rice
Those folks with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals sure like Thirsty Thursdays, bobble-head nights and visiting mascots. And they are betting that fans like those special events,
The 2009 schedule of the Naturals, the Class AA farm club of the Kansas City Royals, has full a promotions card for the upcoming season starting with an Opening Night Magnet Giveaway on April 16 when San Antonio rolls into Springdale. There are promotions all the way through to the College Football night on Aug. 28.
Oh, and by the way, they also play some mean minor league baseball at Arvest Ball Park. Yes, well enough to play for the Texas League North Division Championship a year ago.
While the ball club came up a little bit short on their title hopes for an outright Texas League title, they won’t come up short on special nights, crazy giveaway and reasons for locals to head out to the ball park west of I-540 in Springdale.
On opening night, a Thursday for the record, is the only Thursday night, that is not a Thirsty Thursdays when all drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, are not sold at a reduced price. Thirsty Thursdays in 2008 seemed to be a great promotion for the new ballpark.
On opening weekend, the Naturals will also host a Pink In the Park promotion to increase awareness of Breast Cancer. That will be on April 17 along with the Friday Night Bash promotion.
A School Kids Day will be observed April 21 when Corpus Christi comes calling.
One night on the Naturals schedule that may not be a beer swiggin’ evening, might be Faith Night on May 29, when the final game of a three-game home stand with the Midland club concludes.
There will be two bobble-head nights in 2009, a very popular promotion started last year with a bobble-head figure give-a-ways of Strike (the Big Foot looking mascot for the club) and first year coach Coach Brian Poldberg.
By the way Strike’s second birthday party is set for June 12. He sure is big for a two-year-old. Have you seen the chin-whiskers on that dude?
The first 2009 bobble-head give away will be Hawaiian slugger Kila Ka’aihue on Kila’s Hawaiian Weekend, May 1-3. The bobble-head night will be May 2. A Vance Wilson bobble-head night will be June 27.
Special salute nights and other special promotions will include:
April 17-18- For canine fans in the crowd, the baseball loving dog, Jack the Diamond Dog will be back for a repeat appearance
May 13- The Arkansas State Health Department will give away umbrellas
May 16 – Blanket giveaway
May 27 and August 12 – Dancing Christopher will appear
July 10 – Harry Potter Friday Night Bash. Wizards are welcome.
August 1 – ZOOperstars will visit
August 5 – Kickball giveaway
August 14 Break-A-World-Record night
And in between all this fun and frivolity, some serious minor league baseball will be played.