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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:
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:
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:
Once again, more info about the US Military All-Stars can be found here:
Along with the camo catcher’s gear, we proudly supply the team with the camouflage batter’s helmets.
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.
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.
Lots more information can be found at the USA Military All-Stars Website:
Yes, that is the ball about to hit the helmet!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
All the best to the Netherlands as they face off with Puerto Rico for the Pool D title.
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.
In this line of business it is refreshing to work with individuals who have real convictions and stand up for what they believe. Johnny Estrada is one of these rare individuals who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.
Johnny grew up in a rough neighborhood plagued by drug and alcohol abuse. He witnessed the devastating effects that drugs have on individuals, including friends and family, and the surrounding community. Johnny chose to focus his time and energy on baseball and living a clean life. Johnny founded his No Drugs Foundation (http://www.nodrugsbaseball.com/) to promote living a drug-free life to children across the country. Through his organization he leads many community outreach programs to educate kids about the dangers of drug abuse. Hearing a similar message at an early age helped him stay away from drugs, and he’s committed to passing that message forward.
To help Johnny promote his No Drugs message, we embroider his No Drugs Foundation logo on his chest protector, leg guards, and mitt. Here are some shots that I took in the National’s locker room with Johnny (I had to be discrete because I was wearing a pass that clearly said “No Cameras”… apologies for the slight blurriness).
I find it fitting that this season Johnny is playing for the Washington Nationals. Back in the early ’80s, Washington D.C. was the birthplace of the “Straight Edge” hardcore scene. Straight edge is a genre of hardcore punk rock that promotes a lifestyle of abstaining from drugs and alcohol. D.C. bands such as The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, and S.O.A. (Henry Rollins’ first band), spawned a revolution or movement for positive values and resisting peer pressure. The beautiful irony is that what some would call harsh and destructive sounding music is in fact the foundation or rally cry for non-destructive values.
I grew up listening to Minor Threat, Youth of Today, and local Boston straight edge bands such as SSD (Society System Decontrol), DYS, and Slapshot. Central to the positive straight edge message is a core value that we are all just kids. There is a beautiful essence in that, and there is a loss of innocence when drugs and alcohol enter the equation.
(Album cover from XCLAIM records www.xclaim.com/ssd/)
As SSD says, “The kids will have their say.” There is a lot of truth in this simple statement. Johnny Estrada is doing his part to empower today’s kids with the strength and confidence to resist peer pressure and make a stand for a drug-free life. Johnny is a role model for kids everywhere (he is also a role model for other professional athletes, if you catch my drift).
On my last afternoon in Florida, I swung by the Nationals just to say hi to Johnny once again. He had just got back from the opening day ceremonies for a local Little League where he made an appearance. Like I said, Johnny talks the talk and walks the walk.
While I waited 45 minutes in the lobby of Legends Field to see the Yankees, I was psyched to see this photo of Joe Girardi proudly displayed.
This same Sports Illustrated cover from November of ’96 hangs in my dad’s office. Girardi sported our gear for years back when he was behind the plate. My father and Joe go way back.
We’re a family business, and in turn we have always taken care of players’ families… even long after they’ve left the backstop themselves. Here are a few shots of Joe suiting up his son in the gear we sent him back in January:
You can find more photos by going to the Yankees website below, clicking on their photo gallery, and then selecting the gallery titled “2/15 Girardi Spring Training.”
How cool would it be to be that young and march out onto Legends Field? Just sitting steps away in the dug out was pretty cool for me.
After seeing all the players, I dropped in and said hello to Joe on my way out. What a nice guy. We first met two years ago back when he was on the Marlins. He still gives us feedback on how to keep making our gear better and better.
You know, everyone thinks that it’s like a vacation going around to all these camps. You know, rubbing elbows with big time players, hanging around locker rooms, hearing the latest clubhouse gossip. But it’s work I tell ya!
A lot of what we do is hurry up and wait. We get up early in the morning, drive to the training facility, get through security, catch up with the equipment manager and then try to catch players before they hurry off to the field. But sometimes you’re thwarted because a few guys are taking early morning BP and then rushing out to their sessions and drills. So you wait. And you wait some more.
Depending on the level of security, I might be able to walk out on to the fields and watch some practice. Sometimes, however, I’m stuck twiddling my thumbs in the locker room.
My trip to the Yankees was perhaps the longest wait. Legends Field definitely had the tightest security of all the complexes. I had to wait for 45 minutes in the lobby before I could get into the clubhouse. Maybe this is standard practice, but I suspect that I got special treatment because they knew I’m from the Boston area.
By the time I got into the locker room, everyone had just hit the field. So I spent the next 3 hours watching practice from the dugout. I couldn’t really wander out of the dugout, and a lot of the practices were taking place on other fields. But I’m not complaining… it was pretty sweet being there.
More stories from theYankees to follow…
Folks…. sorry for the lapse in posts. Last week my father and I finished up our rounds of all the MLB teams in Florida and Arizona. After being out of the office for two weeks I’ve been playing catch up.
I’ve got more stories and more pictures. And I’ll get them up as soon as I can.