Sunday, March 24, 2013
March 24- Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Originally I was going to do a post on one of my many San Francisco Giants caps, but I decided to wait until tomorrow when I have more time to write it up. Instead, I’m rolling with the 2012 Pensacola Blue Wahoos home cap/batting helmet. I realize this is a bit of jump; however, upon looking over and reorganizing all of my New Era caps on account of the fact that I’m crashing at my parents’ place for a bit, I ran a little short of time. This little cleaning project also gave me time to recount how many caps I actually have.
As of now the number stands at 244. For the last couple of weeks I thought I was hovering around 260, so being so close is a little bit of a mixed blessing. It’s good for the sake that I’m at least close to my estimate, but being 16 hats shorts is basically saying that I will be without two weeks of posts. More importantly, if I’m going to hit my goal of a post-a-day, I really need to get my finances in order to achieve my goal.
For those who are unaware the Blue Wahoos are a AA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds in the Southern League. Last season was their “debut” season as they were formerly the Carolina Mudcats from 1991-2011. In 2010, businessman Quint Studer bought the Mudcats franchise amid a complicated series of purchases and moves in order to bring a Double-A team to Pensacola, Florida. The franchise would become the Blue Wahoos for the 2012 season. In order to settle this purchase, Studer facilitated the relocation of the Kinston Indians Class A team to Zebulon, where they took up the Mudcats name. In total, the arrangements cost Studer around $2 million. As you’ll begin to learn from these posts, the Minor League ownership game is quite a lucrative business. Teams come and go, much like the players that make up their rosters.
This hat, as I mentioned above, was one of two hats used during their home games, and the logo was featured primarily on the front of all of the teams’ batting helmets. It’s definitely one of the cooler ones to be released within the last five years; however, unlike the Eugene Emeralds who released three new hats for this season, there is one player worthy enough to mark up this cap after only one season.
#4-51: Billy Hamilton, at least the modern day version, is being called the next coming of Rickey Henderson. Personally, as an Oakland Athletics fan, I won’t go as far to say that, but the kid is mighty fast. On August 21, 2012 Hamilton broke Vince Coleman’s 30-year-old Minor League stolen base record of 145. Hamilton’s final number on the season stands at 155; however, only 51 of his stolen bases came during his time in Pensacola. Hence the numbers: 4 for his jersey and 51 stolen bases. While this may seem like kind of jerk move on my part, I assure it’s not. I will give commentary on the first 104 stolen bases in July as I have a personal story that pertains to his time with the Bakersfield Blaze prior to his promotion.
I think what’s most amazing about this stat is that it’s taken 30 years to break it. Base stealing, unfortunately, is a dying strategy on baseball today. For example, the last person to register 100 or more stolen bases in a season was in fact Coleman in 1987 with the St. Louis Cardinals. The next highest after that; Henderson with 93 in 1988. 70 pretty much became the benchmark after that, and only guys like Marquis Grissom, Kenny Lofton, Tony Womack, Scott Podsednik, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Reyes have hit that.
Hamilton is only 22-years-old, while the list above is filled with guys who didn’t hit their fleet of foot until they were 26 or older, with exception of Reyes who was 23. Hamilton still has a lot of time to make it to the Show, just as long as the Reds can find room for him within the lineup.