Over the weekend the US Military All-Stars played the Red Sox down at Ft. Myers.  This morning there was some good footage on the local sports cable network, NESN.  I found a few snippets of footage on NESN’s website.  Here is a link to Dan Duquette, former Red Sox General Manager, talking about the US Military All-Stars on NESN.  Note: give the site a few seconds to load the video… it will appear in the top right corner of the screen.  Also, the sound starts off as “mute” so click the mute button to turn on the sound:

http://www.nesn.com/default.aspx?articleID=5052

And it looks like former New England Patriot’s QB Doug Flutie is making a cameo appearance on the US Military All-Stars at Second Base:

http://www.nesn.com/default.aspx?articleID=5050

I like Dan Duquette’s point that the US Military brought baseball to many countries such as Germany, Italy, Korea, and Japan.  Seems fitting while the World Baseball Classic is in full gear.

Here are a few baseball cards featuring US Military All-Stars past and present:

judy

chesshir

shaw

vernon

williams

berra

Once again, more info about the US Military All-Stars can be found here:
http://www.usmilitaryallstars.us/

Along with the camo catcher’s gear, we proudly supply the team with the camouflage  batter’s helmets.

– stan

This is our second year sponsoring the USA Military All-Stars.  It’s an extended team of active service, armed forces personnel.  Between deployments they tour the country playing minor league teams,  college teams, and independent ball teams.

Custom Camo Gear

Custom Camo Gear

This weekend the team is making it’s rounds of the Red Sox, Phillies, and Tampa Bay Rays down at Spring Training.  Here is one of the posters for this weekend’s game.

special-event-boston-red-sox

Lots more information can be found at the USA Military All-Stars Website:
http://www.usmilitaryallstars.us/index.html

helmet_in_action

BH6100ST-MC Camo helmet from All-Star in action

Yes, that is the ball about to hit the helmet!

-stan

Just like last year, Jason Varitek has asked us to make some custom gear for various holidays.  On Tuesday he was sporting some fancy Kelley green and white duds in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  The gear was a nice compliment to the white and green uniforms and green ball caps worn by all the Sox players.

5Photo courtesy of www.jason-varitek.com.  You can see more great shots of the St. Patty Day gear as well as last year’s holiday fun at jason-varitek.com’s gallery.

Just like last year, each set of gear is being auctioned off to benefit a different charity.  The proceeds from the St. Patrick’s Day gear will be supporting Children’s Hospital in Boston.

To place your bid, visit the official Red Sox auction site.

Here is a close up shot I took of the embroidery on the throat guard before shipping the gear to Tek last week.

tekshamrock

Oh yeah, and Tek cranked a homer (and that’s not just the luck of the Irish).

Jose Morales and Mike Redmond of the Twins were both looking sharp in their All-Star gear, albeit not quite as festive as Tek’s.

–stan

Everyone here at All-Star was pumped to see the Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic the first time… not only because it was so unbelievable, but because we sponsor the Dutch with their catcher’s gear.  In that first game catcher Kenley Jansen made an explosive shotgun throw to toss out Willy Taveras at second to put the Dutch within one out of winning.  I’ve tried to find video recaps on the web, but with no luck.  Let me know if you find a video of Jansen’s throw.  He basically threw from his knees.  It’s so impressive.kenleyjansen

The only video of Jansen I can find is this great play at home.  You might have to watch a commercial first before seeing the action:
http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200903093969183

Then to see the Netherlands sock it to the mighty Dominican one more time, well, that was really just the icing on the cake.  True David vs. Goliath material.

dutchwbc09

All the best to the Netherlands as they face off with Puerto Rico for the Pool D title.

-stan

I got so carried away with sending “Tweets” via Twitter, that I totally put off any blog entries while I was in Arizona. I’ve got a list of insider scoops, and I’ll be writing them up as soon as I can.

The Twitter Feeds were a lot of fun because I could send them out right from each clubhouse as everything was happening. See them all here:
http://twitter.com/allstarsports

-stan

Ever since there were lockers, there has been a pecking order. Think back to your first locker. Perhaps it was in middle school or maybe high school? The location often times dictated some sort of unwritten social code. The way you decorated your locker also mattered.

Well, it’s not a whole lot different when you make it to the big leagues. Sure, players decorate their lockers with pictures of family and good luck charms.  The number of Phiten necklaces I see hanging from so many lockers is staggering.  What’s even more impressive are the mountains of footwear… several sets of spikes, several sets of turfs, two pairs of sandals (you know, one for the shower, and one for lounging around), the casual shoes, and the sport casuals or “lifestyle” footwear.  Sometimes you can feel definite turf battles. There are cliques massed in different corners, and some players hold court with their subjects.

Perhaps the most visible sign of locker room importance is the player with two lockers.  Now, some players probably do need two lockers.  For example, catchers.  They’ve got more gear than any other player on the field.  But usually the catcher’s bags are stored in the center of the locker room, down a side hallway that leads out to the field, or sometimes in a special equipment room or nook.

But more often times than not, players with two lockers don’t have enough gear to fill two lockers.   Sometimes that individual’s first, primary locker is sparsely filled.  Clearly the two lockers signify some sort of importance and/or dominance in the clubhouse because they are not serving any clear function.

-stan

Just like many days, today was a “hurry up and wait” kind of day.  You hurry up to get to the clubhouse to catch the guys before they hit the field, but end up waiting around while they finish eating breakfast, getting in one last hand of poker, or autographing balls by the box full.

The new Indian’s complex is amazing.  The layout is perfect, for both the major and minor league sides.  There’s great flow inside the complex, and there are some nice perks like the cafeteria with a veranda that overlooks a private airfield full of jumbo jets.  It’s a big step up from Winter Haven.  I also scored my first Spring Training schwag.  As a rule we don’t ask for anything when we’re in the clubhouse… especially autographs.  It’s a real privilege to be in there, and we don’t like to abuse it.  The equipment manager, Tony, gave me two killer Indian’s t-shirts.  Thanks, Tony! 

At the Indians all’s cool with minor leaguer Damaso Espino.  He’s heading to the World Baseball Classic for Panama later this month.  We’ll be sending him a set of gear in Royal/Scarlet for the WBC.

Wyatt Toregas is all set, and we’re going to do some custom work with him on his MVP helmet.  Like me, he’s got a size 7 hat size… right on the cusp of our adult/youth size helmets. 

Over at the Brewers, it was more hurry up and wait.  You might think that hanging out in clubhouses is a lot of fun, but after pacing back and forth for over an hour it gets kind of old. 

While waiting for the catchers to finish BP, I chatted up 3rd baseman Bill Hall.  He uses our Shock Jock cup.  He loves the comfort and fit of the soft, flexible sides. 

Mike Rivera, Vinny Rotino, Jonathan Lucroy, and Martin Maldonado all showed up pretty much at the same time.  So we had a round table discussion of the gear and mitts.  I gave Vinny, Jonathan, and Martin our new Titanium face mask and they all got pretty excited over it.  The four of us also discussed a forthcoming product which we’ll probably unveil in about a month or two.  Their response was very positive, similar to Varitek’s and Wagner’s comments earlier in the week.  I wish I could say more, but then it wouldn’t be top secret.

Over on the East Coast, my dad swung through the Tigers because he missed Matt Treanor yesterday.  He also saw Lou Palmisano at the Astros.  He gave them both the new FM25Ti mask, and they were pretty psyched. 

That’s about it.  “Pretty standard, really.”

–stan (jr)

Okay.  Sorry for the delay in writing, but I had to make a planned detour after seeing the Sox and Twins on Monday and before starting to see the AZ teams.  The detour involved a whirlwind tour of Texas, giving three “technical presentations” about our baseball products to about 100 store managers for one of our retail customers at three of their locations.

Here is a quick run down of my last few days:

Monday evening:
- Fly from Ft Myers to Dallas, TX
- Have a security guard wish me a happy birthday and notify me that my driver’s license has expired
- Start researching how to renew my driver’s license while not physically back in MA
- Try to renew license online… but the website is not working

Tuesday
- Spend 30 minutes on the phone waiting to speak with someone at the MA RMV… had to hang up because I was running late to:
- Give technical presentation in Dallas (which includes some of the “technical” demonstrations here: http://www.all-starsports.com/multimedia/)  
- Drive from Dallas to San Antonio with Frank, our sales rep in the area… about 5 hrs in the car.  Luckily, he’s driving, since my license is now expired.
- Spend another 3o minutes on hold at the RMV, lose cell phone signal
- Spend another 25 minutes on hold at the RMV.  About to hang up, when a real, live person answers.  He said the website should be working the next day and that is the only way to renew without coming to the RMV in person (way back in Boston)
- Oh, yeah.  Happy Birthday.

Wednesday
- Visit with an account to finalize details about getting our Custom Design Lab up and running on their site for easy online ordering
- Give technical presentation #2
- Drive another 5 hours with Frank to Houston
- RMV driver’s license website still not working.  Great.

Thursday
- Call RMV.  Wait on hold another 25 minutes.  Speak with women who agrees to overnight a “pink slip” to extend my driver’s license.  This will be sent to hotel.  But what happens if the car rental company (name kept secret) notices my license has expired?
- Give technical presentation #3
- Fly from Houston to Phoenix next to a really adorable 18 month year old who wouldn’t stop playing patty-cake with the seat-back in front of her (the passenger in that seat was not too happy)
- Take a deep breath before renting car.  Woman at desk doesn’t realize license is expired.  Phew.
- Get to rental car.  It’s only got 400 miles on it.  New car smell.
- Leave lot, hand license to security guard.  He pauses for a long time.  My heart races, I begin to sweat.  He hands back the license and tells me to have a good night.  I’m off!

Friday
- Receive “pink slip” at the hotel so that I’m legal again
- Pick up samples at the A’s and load up the car
- See Jason Giambi drive into camp with his Ferrari (see the twitter feed for pictures… http://twitter.com/AllStarSports)
- Check in with Ted P. the equipment manager and some players
- Meet up with Matt D, one of our sales reps, eat lunch, and make a sales call to a great dealer of ours in the area to discuss our football line.

That’s about that.  Now it’s time to get back to Spring Training.  Follow my somewhat “live” updates or “tweets” from inside the clubhouses at http://twitter.com/AllStarSports.

Rock on,
–stan (jr)

It’s always good to visit the Sox.  Sure, they’re our home team, but there is something unique about that locker room and club.  It’s got a totally different vibe than any other clubhouse.  Some clubhouses you can feel the egos massing in different parts of the locker room.  Not at the Red Sox.  There’s just a real good, positive, team-oriented feeling.  I can’t really describe it.  It’s just something you can feel.

First off, we caught up with Mark Wagner.  I can’t say enough nice things about Mark.  He’s been providing key insight on some new, yet to be released products for the 2010 season.  Top secret stuff.  He’s super smart, perhaps one of the nicest guys you could meet, and he’s got a cannon of an arm.  I wish I could tell you more of what we discussed, but then it wouldn’t be top secret, now would it?  
   One thing we did pass on to Mark is our knuckle ball mitt (CM3000KM).  He could have used it a few days ago when he was catching Charlie Zink… who reportedly has a nasty knuckle ball.  Kevin Cash used our knuckle ball mitt to handle Wakefield last season… and whoever gets that job this season, will probably use it, too.

Varitek is all set.  Boy are we glad to see him back at Boston.  Talk about another great guy.  Salt of the earth.  We also ran some of the new products by him, and he’s a go on those.  Just a few more final tweeks before they’re ready.  We left him with our new Titanium face mask to try out.  
   Also, keep your eyes open on St. Patty’s Day… if they’re home this year, you’ll see a colorful, festive display behind the plate.  We’ll leave it at that for now….

We’re working on a new design for Josh Bard’s MVP helmet (“hockey style helmet”).  Allegedly, the design has the blessing of General Manager Theo Epstein.  You should see that around opening day.  It’s being painted by our airbrush artist at Voodoo.

George Kottaras scooped up our CM3000XSBT… our extra small 32″ mitt (which we originally delveoped for Bengie Molina).  He’s got to have some quick hands to handle that small mitt!

Gary Tuck, the catching coordinator, can’t stop raving about our tiny training mitt.  We sent him a dozen earlier this winter, and we left him another 5 today.  Everyone who comes through his sessions leaves with a training mitt, just like a graduation present.

OK… that’s about all the time I have right now… got to catch that plane. 

–stan

Where did the time go?  Wasn’t I just here?  February 2008 doesn’t seem that long ago.  Heck, that reminds me that I need to change the title of this blog to “2009.”

This is my fourth season covering Spring Training.  My father (also named Stan) is making his 25th tour this season. 

This morning we saw the Red Sox and the Twins.  I flew in last night and I’m already back at the airport… my father will continue covering Florida, and I will be covering Arizona… after I make a 3 day pit stop in Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston for a few “technical” presentations.   

Even though we saw both teams before the clock struck noon, there’s a lot that happened.  I’ll split those up into easier, bite size snippets.

–stan

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