YOUR Boise Hawks are In Bloom with St.Luke’s Children’s Hospital

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YOUR Boise Hawks have been patiently waiting for their trip to St.Lukes Children’s Hospital and it finally happened yesterday. Michael Heesch, Stephen Bruno and Dan Vogelbach went to St.Lukes and visited with the children on the fourth floor. They handed out hats, baseballs, helmets, balloons, foam fingers (Bruno’s favorite) and flower arrangements that the boys put together themselves at In Bloom Tuesday morning.

Vogelbach along with Nathan Dorris, Hunter Ackerman and Rock Shoulders all went to In Bloom where they learned the proper way to arrange flowers and the importance of giving back to the community. Host mom, Diane Laubengayer, put together this fun activity and was their teacher for the day. For Shoulders the importance of this trip was “just trying to keep the children happy and hopefully giving them the strength to pull through the tough days.” While some children might only be in the hospital a short time, others are there for long-term treatment for up to a year.

The trip to St.Lukes started in the Play Room where there is an inside play area as well as a rooftop playground with bouncy balls, teeter-totter, and a play house. The boys played kick ball with one little boy and spent time with the families. Vogelbach was excited to see the first little girl come in; he immediately went for his flower arrangement and gave it to her. I have never seen a smile so big, both on the face of the little girl and on her father’s.

We also got to meet a teenage boy who has grown up in a family of soccer players. He just started playing baseball last year and is a right handed pitcher, he was extra excited to meet Heesch. His first question was “What is your best advice for a pitcher?” The response he got, “Never let yourself have a bad day, and throw strikes!”

The visit seemed to open the hearts and minds of the players, Humphrey, and the staff who went along on the visit. The children’s hospitals are close to my heart and I encourage all of you to take the time and show your appreciation for someone today!

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Randomly Reminiscing

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Sitting around the conference table last week, the other staff members and I started laughing about memories from this season, Wilson Contreras doing the Dougie, Humphrey doing the Dougie, practical jokes, etc. We talked about the walk off homeruns, the road trips, etc. I tend to give insight on the players and their lives on and off of the field, but what about HawksTown USA as a whole, players, fans and staff alike?

As I am sure it can be assumed, Jeimer Candelario, or J.Candy’s, walk off homerun was at the top of everyone’s list for the highlights of the 2012 season. At the top of my list was being dared by my boss, President and GM Todd Rahr, to call Candelario J. Candy out on the field. I did it and it stuck! For the players it seemed to be the walk off wins, road trips, and the first career homeruns for some that highlighted their season together.

Fans seemed to enjoy the walk offs just as much but two fans had specifics. According to Daniel Hart, the best part of the 2012 season was when Contreras taught the crowd how to Dougie during his post-game interview on the field, this would also be one of my highlights. For Jessica Jones it was her 4th of July proposal here at Memorial Stadium that will forever be a season and lifetime highlight.

For Thomas Wolff, one of our Ticket Sales Assistants, the highlight of the season was Coach Mark Johnson being tossed. “I like when the coach yells then goes bye bye … but on a serious note, Mark Johnson’s dedication to the ballclub has been my favorite memory. With many questionable calls by the umpires, Mark Johnson has consistently showed his support through his animated arguments to the point where he had to be removed from the game. Go Hawks!”

For others of us, it was a little girl full of energy and love, Megan Johnson, Mark Johnson’s daughter. She was only here for the first half of the season but she touched many hearts in the time she was with us here in Boise, especially Jinny Giery, Elizabeth Griffin and I. My favorite memory would have to be going down before the post-game interviews and talking to her for the last 2 innings, whether she was stealing my phone, playing with my hair or drawing on my notepad, she was a joy to be around, we all miss her.

Many of us also enjoy the fireworks. For one, we have the best fireworks in town and two it’s a great way to celebrate a Hawks win! Elizabeth loves this promotion the most. “I love the Fireworks nights! The fans love it and it is a great feeling when the show is over and they scream and clap!”

Other memories are a little less serious and a little more comical. “I liked when Elizabeth tried to see if the magnet still worked after the rain storm during Blues, Brews, and BBQ.”This would be Greg Marconi’s highlight of the season, so I will have to let you ask him more about that, it is a funny story, I suggest that you take the time to ask him for more details!

Jake Abbott, in the press box, has a different view of things. He had a few highlights including “When Casey announced Marco Hernandez as Marco Polo. Thomas doing the Hair Guitar all alone… you killed it by the way Thomas! JD getting punk’d with the North Boise Little League games on Sunday’s in the fall and Elizabeth ordering a mojito.” While two of these are self explanatory the last two may need to be explained, but again, I will let you ask about it! I am positive Jake would love to share with you.

Mike Safford, our radio broadcaster, had a tough decision. Mike travels with the team, so he had a few more memories to choose from.  “1. Sitting on the side of I-84 for six hours on our way to Spokane, 2. My trip to the Pacific Ocean in July (team is 19-10 since), 3. Eating Sweet & Spicy Wings nearly every night with Hal the Bus Driver at Applebee’s on the road, 4. – PJ calling Bill Buckner Buck Billner”

Overall Staff Favorites

“J.Candys’s walk off win.” – Staff

“Totally empty stadium, “Call Me Maybe” playing over the loud speaker, and Gregory Marconi in the press box dancing… then announcing, “Now batting, number #25, Shaun Cooper!” – Staff (ask to see the video)

“When the crowd encouraged one of our young anthem singers to keep going.” –Staff

 “Ann Hutton sharing her dance moves.” –Staff

“Jinny falling in the Diamond Club and Elizabeth’s uncontrollable laughing about it.” –Staff

“Boise Hawks Pizza Boy … Todd Rahr.” – Staff

Ins and Outs of Iannazzo

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YOUR Boise Hawk, Matt Iannazzo, is a striking pitcher to watch. It may be his size or maybe it is just the personality, confidence, and passion that he puts into every pitch, but there is something magic there. Iannazzo is a 22-year-old lefty who left his mark on the University of Pittsburg setting school records with 28 wins and 342 innings pitched.

Before playing for Pittsburg, he got his start at the age of 5 playing on his older sister’s, Cori’s, baseball team. It wasn’t “allowed,” because he was too young, but because his father was the coach, they made it happen. Iannazzo started out playing with a Ninja Turtle glove because it was the only left handed glove that his parents, Jeff and Karen, were able to find. I guess it worked!

Leaving Pittsburg, Iannazzo was not a First-Year Player Draft pick and while it was exciting to be signed, it was also a letdown getting passed up in the draft. It was a frustrating process for Iannazzo as he sat and watched names go by of people he had played with and against in college but never saw his appear. “I was discouraged after the draft but getting signed still gave me a great feeling of accomplishment, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass by.”

Not only is Iannazzo a good teammate on the field, he is a good guy off of the field as well. I spoke to his road-trip roomie, Eddie Orozco, who said that he would consider Iannazzo a great friend and teammate. Orozco also let me in on the fact that Iannazzo loves Michael Buble, he is the controller of the remote control and he cannot sleep with the television on because he pictures it in his mind. “He is a great guy. One thing about him is that he loves to have fun and he can take it as much as he dishes it out, which is unlike a lot of people.”

Iannazzo was a Communication and History double major at the University of Pittsburg. If he wasn’t playing baseball he would want to spend his time on Sports Radio or Television. His parents are both teachers and have influenced him in many ways, more than he can put to words. “I love to play baseball and I love being out on the field, but I also take great pride in being a good person and a good friend, it is something that both my parents and sister instilled in me.”

Iannazzo likes to joke around and keep it loose as much as he likes to help out as much as he can on the field. “I’m living my dream right now and I’m going to do whatever is takes in what I can control to go as far as I can in this game.”

Sticks & Tricks

Even when you know what you want, the options can be overwhelming! Who knew there could be so many choices when it comes to finding your homerun bat? Brands, weights, diameters, length, material … these are all things that have to be given thought when deciding what to try next.

Changes happen when it just doesn’t feel right for some and, for others, when they have a bad at bat. For YOUR Boise Hawk, Izaac Garsez, it is all about how it is weighted and feels in his hands. “I’ll switch it up if I’m not swinging it well.” Rock Shoulders goes bat by bat. “If I get a hit in my last at bat I keep using that bat, but if not, just whichever one feels good at the time.”

Shoulders prefers an i13L 34inch 32oz bat while Trey Martin orders his bats by selecting a big barrel model like C243 or I13. “I like the weight in the barrel so I know where the head of the bat is at all times.

I also asked about routines in the on deck circle and before stepping into the batter’s box because with Martin I always noticed something a bit different with his routine. “Before I start walking to the plate I squat and say something, depends on the day and time what I say, then I stretch my hamstrings, walk up, and take a deep breath.” Shoulders routine is a little different; it consists of putting pine tar on his bat and then rosin. “I grab my bat, take my time getting ready, take a couple of dry swings and then once the batter before me gets a hit I start to walk to the plate, crack my back, mess with my batting gloves, tap my toes on the ground then when I get to the box I dig my back foot in, smooth out the dirt and I’m ready to go.”

Next time you watch someone at bat check out what they do before they get in the box and while they are on deck. It is quite interesting to think about what might be going through their heads during any given move and what leads up to the perfect at bat and ends with the perfect hit!

Road Rage to Road Wins

Chalk it up to winning or the fans at Memorial Stadium, but YOUR Boise Hawks seemed to have a new swag as they stepped out on to the field for last night’s game. Could it be the team’s chemistry, getting used to the road trips, or just bringing home the wins in general?

The first half standings did not represent the talent that we have in the organization this year. YOUR Boise Hawks finished in third place with a 13-25 overall record and just 3-16 on the road. This half seems to be bringing those numbers to a screeching halt. We are currently in first place with an overall record of 13-5 and 6-2 on the road, going 4-1 in their series with the Everett AquaSox who were in first place after the first half of the season.

There was a lot of excitement on the road this past week as YOUR Boise Hawks had three players with a two-homer game and others with four hits in a game. Dan Vogelbach is currently tied for the league lead in long balls with a combined fifteen homeruns this season between the Arizona League and Boise.

Rock Shoulders also had a good series on the road hitting a grand slam last week. “I think the biggest reason with the road game wins is us knowing what to expect on the road as far as fans and stadiums go and it also really helps that everyone kind of has a routine on the road now.” Eddie Orozco shares much of the same opinion with a road routine but he also says it is the new found consistency in all three phases, hitting, pitching and defense. “Our ability to win on the road has been huge! Each guy has found ways to contribute on a daily basis, we are fighting to win and compete no matter what the score is.”

Felix Pena showed his talent going five innings giving up no runs and just two hits with four strikeouts at last night’s game. After a nine hour road trip home and another win, I’d say something must be clicking for the team!

Bus Rides and Break Downs with YOUR Boise Hawks

The Boise Hawks haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to road trips this season. From the breaking down of buses to their disappointing performances on the road, the 2012 season has been nothing short of a long and tiring journey on the road.

In the first half of the season YOUR Boise Hawks went 3-16 on the road with their bus breaking down a time or two and also having no AC for one trip. No excuses, but I wondered if this might go hand in hand with one another. Eddie Orozco, who has been here most of the season, gave me the inside scoop on what it is really like on the road with YOUR Boise Hawks.

“First off, bus rides are not fun at all. Typically they are done overnight where you do your best to try to get as much “sleep” as possible but it’s not even close to good rest.” Eddie described the atmosphere as being like that of a library, keeping the noise to a minimum. He says the guys usually listen to music; it is common courtesy to keep the bus quiet so the guys can get as much rest as possible. “The bus rides take a toll on your body, you’re typically stiffer those days and have a few more pains but if you can find ways for your body and mind to overcome the bus rides it shouldn’t negatively impact performance.”

Tayler Scott gives another perspective, “I like road trips. I like to travel and it’s good bonding time with the team.” Scott has been here the full season and has experienced every bump in the road, from the AC breaking to the bus breaking down on multiple occasions. “The bus can get really hot and you can’t sleep as well as you want to.” For Scott, breaking down ends up being like sitting around a camp fire. Stranded on the side of the road for hours allows groups of them to sit around and bond while enjoying the fresh and usually cooler air.  “We talk about everything and tell stories.” Scott has been one guy the road trips have failed to trip up, his record in the first half was actually better on the road than home at Memorial Stadium.

Maybe the unfortunate circumstances YOUR Boise Hawks have had on the road don’t hinder their performance but rather improve it in the long run. These guys are young to the game, the road game, their bodies are still getting used to the schedule that they endure every day, even more so when they are on the road. As Orozco said, if they can learn to overcome the situational circumstances it will only make their game stronger. Time will tell in the second half with 11 road games still ahead of them!

Getting the “Big Kid” to the Big Leagues!

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“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing!” This is a quote by George Bernard Shaw that I believe rings true for YOUR 6’5,” 245 pound, Boise Hawk, Michael Heesch. Heesch is a big kid at heart and has a welcoming hand for his fans. He doesn’t care what the activity is, he just enjoys being out with the people who are supporting him and his teammates. “I remember how big of a deal it was to have a professional player speak to me as a kid. I try to put myself in their shoes and I know they look up to us.”

Heesch has been on a few appearances since being here in Boise, and by a few I mean the majority. He never needs to be asked; he is the first to volunteer, never complains and always has a smile on his face. From signing autographs pre-game, to eating lunch at an assisted living facility, Heesch is committed to his job, both on and off of the field.

Growing up in Chicago, Heesch always dreamt of being a professional baseball player for the Chicago Cubs. “I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole life and did a history project on Wrigley Field.” He got started in baseball with a tee ball bat his sister had laying around, played college ball at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and is now with the Cubs organization here in Boise. “Just to get drafted was cool, but being a fan for so long and knowing you have a chance to help make or break the team was great.”

If he wasn’t playing baseball, his time would be focused on being a high school history teacher. “History wasn’t a favorite for anyone in high school; my goal was to make it fun again with movies, activities, etc.” One of Heesch’s favorite off-season activities is to read. “It’s peaceful and relaxing.” He has participated in 2 of the 3 KeyBank Reading Tree events we have had this year and the kids love him. Heesch enjoys reading history books along with The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings.

Heesch is a happy guy. He says that part of his success is to “Focus on details and hard work, but the ability to not over analyze things.” He tries to joke as much as possible and he doesn’t let himself have a bad day. “Some people complain about the long bus rides or the heat outside, I’d rather do this every day for the rest of my life than have a 9-5, behind the desk job.” No complaining.

Fun Fact: He still watches Disney movies, cartoons and wishes he could be Batman (still at the age of 22).

Most Shocking Fear: “Massive swarms of bugs.”