Sunday, September 19, 2010

Farewell to the 2010 Season

Great season. Another Division Championship. Another Governors’ Cup run. Well, it didn’t end quite the way we had hoped, but we can’t be greedy. Bulls’ Manager Charlie Montoyo provided perspective to the News & Observer:

"It's always disappointing to get to this point and not win, but when you think about it, since 1967 only four teams [including the current Bulls] have made it to the finals four straight times…so I'm not going to be mad because it's tough to get to this point."

I’ve got a great highlight reel in my memory bank for 2010:
  • The Easter weekend Exhibition Game with the Tampa Bay Rays
  • The Duke National Basketball Champs joining us for Opening Night
  • 2009 National Championship Ring ceremony
  • The May retro game at the venerable Durham Athletic Park
  • Bulls' games televised nationally on the MLB Network
  • Tobacco Road Sports CafĂ© opens atop the Blue Monster outfield wall
  • Our own beer, Bullpen Pale Ale, on tap at the DBAP
  • Canine mascot Lucky Jr. premiers
  • Charlie Montoyo chosen Manager of the Year
  • Scott Strickland receives Turf Manager of the Year award
  • A record number of wins - 92
  • South Division Championship
  • Paid attendance rebounds above the half million mark
There was yet another record…the heat! Our players and staff accomplished much of the above during the hottest summer on record in North Carolina. Time to chill…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cover Shots

Do you remember "Cover of the Rollin' Stone" by Dr. Hook?

...the thrill that'll getcha
when you get your picture
on the cover of the Rollin' Stone.

That's how I feel about the cover of Baseball America, our sport's most authoritative publication (with its offices right here in Durham.)

BA's current cover features former Bulls' pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, promoted back in August to the Tampa Bay Rays. He's in a Bulls' uniform...playing at the DBAP...with Bull City fans in the background.

Yet another tribute to Jeremy, to the Rays' organization and the Bulls bask in the glow of it all.

Just a few of Hellickson's accolades:
2009 Triple-A National Championship MVP
2010 International League Most Valuable Pitcher
2010 USA Today Player of the Year
2010 Baseball America Player of the Year

The cover of Baseball America has been good to the Bulls...

Player of the Year covers:
Delmon Young - 2005
Rocco Baldelli - 2002
Andruw Jones - 1996

Other covers:
Evan Longoria - 2007
David Price - 2009
Durham Bulls staff - 2002

Seven covers....always a thrill!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Governors' Cup w/a side of Scholarship Awards

What did you do this weekend? I watched 27 innings of play-off baseball at the DBAP, and I’ve eaten enough popcorn to impact the price of corn futures. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Bottom line: The Bulls are headed to the International League Governors' Cup Championship after defeating Louisville in the first round. Game one of the finals is in Columbus Tuesday, but we return home for game three on Thursday…and into the weekend if necessary. More baseball. More popcorn.

The Bulls - already the dominant IL team in this decade - may wrap up 2010 with a bang...and more championship bling!?!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Speaking of champions, we recognize the talented teenagers who bring you Bulls the season winds down.

We dipped into our brand new scholarship fund at the Triangle Community Foundation last week and awarded five, one thousand dollar grants for college expenses to veterans of Post 50, the Explorer Post that produces our in-house video and television broadcasts.

THANK our major contributors: Bulls' parent company, Capitol Broadcasting and our television sponsors: NC GreenPower, Chick-fil-A and 1-800-PACK-RAT.

The envelope please...ta-da...

Melissa Chamberlain - This is Melissa’s second season with the Post. She graduated Agape Corner Boarding School and is currently attending Durham Technical Community College with a 4.0 GPA, studying Arts and Communications.

James Trasatto - This is James’s third season with the Post. He is a graduate of Apex High School with a 4.1 GPA and attends North Carolina State University studying in the College of Management.

Roy “Bart” Nixon - Roy is finishing his third season with the Post. He is a graduate of the Sonshine Academy Homeschool with a 3.6 GPA and is attending Western Carolina University; studying Communication with a concentration in Sports Broadcasting.

Alex Revelle - This is season #3 for Alex. He is a graduate of the Durham School of the Arts with a 3.4 GPA and is attending NC A&T State University; studying Journalism & Mass Communications.

David Cordoze - David has completed his fourth season with the Post. He is a graduate of Jordan High School with a 3.9 GPA and is attending Elon University studying Communications.

Left to Right: George Habel, Eric Spencer (advisor), Alex Revelle, Bart Nixon, James Trasatto, Melissa Chamberlain, Mike Birling (Bulls GM), Charlotte Claypoole (advisor), Ken Bland (advisor)

You can support the Post 50 Scholarship Fund. Is it sublime or ridiculous? Buy a rubber duck for ten bucks. Find out more; click here.

Explorer Post 50 is a youth-based television broadcasting program that provides students, ages 14-20, with a unique and invaluable opportunity to gain exceptional experience in the field of television broadcasting. This program is supported and sponsored by the Durham Bulls, Fox 50 and Capitol Broadcasting Company.

The Mission - Explorer Post 50 is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of youth by providing personal growth through education, hands-on training, and career development opportunities within the communications industry. Capitol Broadcasting Company is dedicated to assisting members of Post 50 in achieving their potential, increasing their self-confidence, and developing interpersonal communication skills, while becoming socially responsible and caring community leaders.

Now in its 12th season of broadcasting, Post 50 provides the live broadcast of Durham Bulls and USA Baseball games on FOX 50’s RTN station, as well as the in-house video feed within the ballpark. Also, Post 50 provides Bulls highlights for TV5 newscasts.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Meet "Dr. B"

"I love a challenge, I love an opportunity, and I think the best time to lead is when things are difficult. Because in my opinion, anybody can lead when it's easy."

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Becoats
from a June story in the Herald-Sun

Durham's new school chief joined us at the DBAP last Sunday. Dr. Becoats tossed a ceremonial first pitch, and the Easley Elementary choir sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." That was good exposure for the kids before a sell-out crowd.

Dr. Becoats is out and about in the community...absorbing input for a Durham Public Schools strategic plan. As they say at the central office: "Dr. B needs to see..." Click here for the skinny.

Photos: Ashley Yarber

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

If sports attendance was our only economic indicator, consumer confidence would be at an all-time high!?! Consider this past weekend:
  • The Bulls sold 39,000 tickets across the Labor Day weekend. (Fri-Mon)
  • 56,000 attended the NCSU/Western Carolina season opener Saturday night.
  • Duke had a full house at Wallace Wade Stadium for the Elon game - 34,000
...and while all of those folks were filling stadium seats, the UNC fan base was tuned in to the Heels/LSU game in Atlanta. (My media insider tells me approx 136,000 adults were watching the game.)

It was a stout weekend for the local sports economy!

It's on to the play-offs for the Bulls (home game this Friday evening!!!) but let's pause to say THANKS to our fans.

The recession put a dent in our attendance last season, but a BIG Labor Day crowd propelled us into the rarefied air of 500K in paid attendance for the 2010 season.

As you would expect, corporate business is still off...but individual ticket buyers have closed the gap. There's a timely story about this in the News and Observer; click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy our 2010 FAN TRIBUTE video. We are grateful for your loyal support and patronage!!!

Video produced by John Blotzer

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Support the Sound Machine

The very famous, very entertaining band at North Carolina Central University is raising $500, fund its coveted invitation to the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade. It's expensive to move the massive Sound Machine from Durham NC to Pasadena CA.

We welcomed the band to the DBAP Saturday night. They provided accompaniment for our fireworks show, and fans were invited to text a donation to help pay for the band's cross country trek.

Percussion on the field. Pyrotechnics overhead.

It's not to late to help!
Text (above) - $10 charged to your cell phone bill, or click here.

The Marching Sound Machine drumline intersects home plate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And this speaks to the band's versatility: They performed in near darkness beneath the canopy of fireworks. Watch and listen to the NCCU Sound Machine:

Bulls' video: John Blotzer; Photos: Molly Boyce

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Manager of the Year

"I feel just like a kid. I'm about to call my mom and dad and tell them I won manager of the year. It means a lot to me."

That’s what Bulls’ manager Charlie Montoyo told the Herald-Sun Tuesday when the International League announced its 2010 awards. [Click here to check out the paper’s coverage.] The Bulls received several awards, but I'm compelled to type a few extra words about Charlie.

The man is selfless. That virtue defines his leadership style. We can learn from him.

If a top shelf coach demanded passion, hard work and commitment as player attributes, we would all nod in agreement. With Charlie, however, there’s a high level of reciprocity. How he treats his players seems to be just as important as what he expects from them.

  • Everyone plays on a Montoyo squad. You don’t languish in the dugout or clubhouse. You get your chance; you take your turn.
  • Charlie revels with his players when they’re called up. He understands the objective, shares their joy and takes the roster changes in stride.

In business, are we really excited when our best employees receive job offers? Do we engage everyone to the best of their abilities? Don’t we leave folks sitting on the bench?

Mentoring people for the “call-up.” Playing everyone. Sounds risky from a business perspective…but it sure works for Charlie on the field.

  • And he’s determined to win. Believe it or not, that’s not always important to minor league managers. Their agenda is set by the parent club. The job has a lot to do with getting individual players ready for the next step. We’ve been fortunate with both of our great managers, Bill Evers and Charlie Montoyo, that playing to win is part of their DNA…part of their teaching regimen.

So, Charlie Montoyo puts his players first, plays to win…and Charlie Montoyo is Manager of the Year.

Photo credit: Associated Press; Montoyo at Spring Training, 2010