Sunday, August 25, 2013

July 6- Eugene Emeralds

March 7th was a pretty spectacular day. It was the day when the Eugene Emeralds were selling all of their brand new 2013 caps for $20 outside of the bar (@TheWebfootBar) my friend Justin owns. Having all ready scored the alternate cap back in January, and seeing how $20 is too good of a price to pass up, I bought the remaining two I needed to round out my collection. It’s days like this that cap collectors like myself love and hate as we all love to get new caps, but hate how quickly the money evaporates from our pockets. No matter. Down the road we are all happy for our purchase when we don our newly purchased caps and hear the ever-familiar, “Hey! Where did you get that cap? It’s awesome!” In the case of this cap, the fine folks at Brandiose in San Diego deserve the most credit.

For those of you who don’t know, Brandiose, or Plan B. Branding as they were formerly known, have been at the forefront of team logo design for the better part of the last decade based out of San Diego, California. The founders, Jason & Casey, started out in their college dorm room designing logos for high school teams and eventually were given their big break by the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx as they were the only team to respond to the 150 letters they sent out to every minor league team. After their first success, many more followed. They are responsible for many of the logos I have all ready written about for teams such as the: Everett AquaSox, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Stockton Ports, Lakeland Flying Tigers, Casper Ghosts and even revision for the oldest team in Major League Baseball, the Cincinnati Reds. In 2012 Jason & Casey were tapped by Emeralds General Manager Allan Benavides.

"When we started this process, we wanted to end up with something fun that fans could really associate with," said Ems General Manager Allan Benavides. "Sasquatch gives the Emeralds a face for the first time in our long history." Sasquatch biting the tree will be the emblem on the home hat while the foot-shaped "E" will serve as an alternate. The road uniforms will feature the "Eugene" script with feet on each end. Home, away and alternate uniforms will be released in the spring.

The new identity pays tribute to America's greatest urban legend, the legend of Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest. The primary logo features a Sasquatch unearthing trees behind "Emeralds" lettering. Fans will also enjoy the iconic "E" Sasquatch foot logo, and several other Sasquatch and foot related marks. A number of different options were considered including themes that involved forests, trees and various woodland creatures. "Ultimately, we felt that sasquatch was the best fit to represent the mystique of the Northwest woodlands," said Benavides.

The development process began last June when Jason and Casey met in Eugene with fans, staff and community members to learn about the stories, history, and personality of the Emeralds and Eugene. Brandiose developed the logos, uniforms and is dreaming up enhancements for the 2013 fan experience. "Eugene is a hotbed of countercultural ideas," said Brandiose's Jason Klein. "From Sasquatch sightings to hippy culture, the Ems are honoring Eugene's eccentricities with a few of their own." –

Back in November of 2012 when the Ems unveiled their new logos I was stuck in Portland for the holidays and working as was unable to attend the event. But that didn’t stop Benavides from hitting me up asking me if I wanted any of the new caps later that night. I of course said yes and they made sure to hold the alternate cap aside for me until I moved back to Eugene to finish up school this last winter. As I’ve mentioned in my previous Ems articles, they run a pretty solid program and I’m always happy to share the love in my blog posts. Kudos!

Now, as I’ve mentioned in a lot of my other “new to 2013” posts it’s hard to tell a story about a hat or player who wore that if it hasn’t been used on the field. In this case I figured it would be a cool time to share a random, but true story about Eugene that only a few people know about in keeping with the theme of Eugene’s oddball history. Since this cap is the team’s road cap, it kind of makes for an appropriate discussion piece as most of my 2012 was spent on the road; only a few weeks were actually spent in or around Eugene.

So… it was July, only a few days after I had returned to Oregon after the West Coast leg of my MLB road trip. I still had until the end of the month until my roommate and my lease expired on our apartment in Eugene so I made as much use of that as I possibly could on any random nights when I felt like going back home to visit and catch up with friends. Since my apartment was only about five blocks from the campus of the University of Oregon and about a 9-iron shot away from the bar I worked at (Max’s Tavern), I rarely ever strayed far from that area. It was some time around 9:30 PM when a few of my friends who worked at the tattoo parlor across the street rolled in and saw me drinking a few beers and enjoying whatever game was on MLB Network that night. None of them knew I was in town so they were all especially excited to see me, as I was excited to see them. Everyone had questions about my experience in New York and why I was home so early, all of which eventually was made worse by the fact that the MLB tickets commercial I was featured in was blaring on the television in the background. Most of the people I knew from the tattoo parlor weren’t fans of baseball, but all of them had grown a particular interest on account of me. At the same time, most of them didn’t have MLB Network so seeing me on TV as I sat in front of them blew most of their minds. To me, it was really uncomfortable as more people around the bar started taking notice to the fact that “the guy from the commercial” was sitting in their midst. Luckily my friends quickly realized how embarrassed I was to be “that guy from the MLB Fan Cave” and they all suggested that we head somewhere else for a few drinks and to catch up. This was something I was more than happy to oblige.

The bar they chose was a bit of a metal/punk rock/anything goes type bar called John Henry’s, which also serves as the 80s night hotspot for all of Eugene on Thursdays and a burlesque house on Sundays. In other words, the place is pretty rad. The only problem that I ever had with it is that it sits in the “Barmuda Triangle,” an area in downtown Eugene where to larger hub of popular bars reside. I’ve never been a huge fan of going to ridiculously jammed up bars, so this was definitely a pole vault out of my comfort zone. My friend Brendan got me a 32 ounce bottle of Miller High Life; yes, they serve those there, and it’s awesome. The group of five us shot the breeze, talked about what we had all been up to and I made sure not to be the centerpiece of the conversation. I just wanted to have a normal night back in the reality I was used to before I left for New York. As my MHL emptied I headed back to the bar for a refill, but ended up staying for a little bit longer than expected due to a conversation I got myself into with someone who seemed really out of place.

When I got to the bar I could see the bartender was busy so I took a seat on the only open stool and waited until I could flag them down. Just as I sat down I felt a hand upon my right shoulder and a voice ring out, “Excuse me, but you’re in my seat.” Not being the jerk who takes seemingly open seats, I got up and said I was sorry. I then followed it up with the routine, “I didn’t know it was taken, I’m just waiting to get a drink.” In all of this time I still didn’t look over my shoulder to really see who I was talking to, a constant theme in my life as I’ve always been the kind of person who does reasonable things on command like duck when someone shouts it, as opposed to looking to see what’s about to blast me in the face right before it happens. Just as I finished my comment the stranger replied, “No worries young man… what are you having? It’s on me.” At this point I chuckled and was about to say, “No worries, I got it,” but all that came out was “Nnnnn…” as I finally looked to see who I was talking to.

Dave Chappelle.

At this point I just froze and laughed some more, but then muttered out what I was originally trying to say. He then said, “No really, I’m buying.” I half-expected him to follow that up with yelling, “It’s a celebration!” in his Rick James voice, but he didn’t. Not wanting to be rude I told him what I was drinking and sure enough he put it on his tab… after he made fun of me for drinking a “32 ounce bottle of urine.” To which I replied, “You know, kids are going hard these days. And when I drink piss, I make sure it’s the finest the great city of Milwaukee has to offer.” He laughed and said, “I’ll have to remember to think of that if I find myself passed out in a bathroom stall in Milwaukee.” We then shook hands, said goodbye and I walked back over to my friends. I never bothered to find out why he was in town, but for that moment, it made me feel better about everything. I figured that at the end of the day, if I can make one of the best comedians in the game laugh, life isn’t so bad.

#50- When I marked this cap up I did under the guise that I was writing down the number on the roster for the 2013 season. Nope! It ended up being someone from 2012; however, the name alone is well worth the acknowledgement.

Goose Kallunki was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 27th round of the 2012 amateur draft out of Utah Valley State University in Orem, Utah. The son of collegiate athletes, Goose prepped at Orem High School and helped the team make it to the Region Championship in 2006 and a fifth place finish at State Championship in 2008 as a four-year starter for the Tigers. He was also a three-time All-Region and two-time All-State selection. He also played basketball and golf at Orem, earning All-Valley, All-Region and All-State honors in basketball.

At UVSU he played first and third base, becoming the first player from the school to receive All-America honors during his senior year by Louisville Slugger, National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and He was also named third-team All-America by Baseball America and Perfect Game, was one of three finalists for 2012 Dick Howser Trophy, honor nation's top collegiate player, a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which goes to top amateur baseball player, District VIII Player of the Year (NCBWA), ABCA First-Team All-Region selection, Great West Conference Player of the Year and First-Team All-Great West Conference Selection. He was quite the busy boy.

Goose’s time with the Emeralds only lasted one season for 53 games. He hit .254 with two home runs and 13 RBI in which 51/53 of those games came as the team’s first baseman. This year Goose has been moving around to various Independent League teams such as the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, the Joliet Slammers and the Roswell Invaders (minor league teams always have the best names). Between all three teams he is batting .286 with two home runs and 32 RBI.

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