Tag Archives: independent league

What’s New with the United Shore League

Take Me Out to the Ball Game
May 11th is Opening Day for the 2017 United Shore Professional Baseball League Season
USPBLLogo_Primary.jpeg
Utica, Mich. – The United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), metro-Detroit’s first independent professional baseball league, will open its second season on May 11, 2017, 7:05 pm at Jimmy John’s Field in downtown Utica, when the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers face the hometown favorite, and reigning champion, Utica Unicorns. Games will be played every Thursday through Sunday until September 10, 2017.
New Team
Fans can expect an array of new and exciting sights, sounds and scents in 2017. For starters, the league has added a fourth team to the roster. The Westside Woolly Mammoths will battle it out with the Utica Unicorns, Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers and Eastside Diamond Hoppers for this year’s pennant.
mammoth1
New Ballpark Features
The league is adding new outdoor bars to its 3 picnic patio areas (Right Field Patio, Left Field Patio, and Chevrolet Pavilion). The full service bars will feature fountain soda, draft beer, and TV’s to catch all the latest scores. The league also is adding a new stage beyond the right centerfield wall to showcase the many bands that play at the ballpark throughout the season.
New Food
The league has hired new executive head chef Joseph Johnson – most recently from the Inn at Stonecliffe on Mackinac Island and The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. Joining him is David Parker, the league’s new director of food and beverage, who brings considerable experience via the Montgomery Biscuits (AA affiliate team of the Tampa Bay Ray’s), Lansing Lugnuts and The Great Lakes Loons. Also new to the food and beverage staff is Nathan Liska, assistant director of food and beverage. Liska was formerly a chef at Andiamo Restaurant and The Tiger Den in Comerica Park.
The new staff has made significant changes to the type and quality of food that will be served at Jimmy John’s Field during the 2017 season. Fans can expect a lot more cooked to order foods made with fresh ingredients—the league is even planting its own herb garden to use in its recipes. The USPBL also hired a BBQ Pit Master and will be serving fresh, smoked on site BBQ favorites such as pulled pork, wings, ribs and chicken. Fans will also be able to enjoy such wide-varying fare as: Philly Cheese Steak Nachos, Foot-Long Hot Dogs and Sausages, Garlic Fries and more.  Additionally, fans will be able to enjoy Chick-fil-A on Thursday nights and Lou & Harry’s, an East Lansing institution, on Friday nights.
New Promotions
The USPBL is all about affordable family fun and has lined-up an exciting season of promotional game days and nights, including:
  • The Human Cannon Ball
  • World Famous Team Ghost Riders (the cowboy monkeys who performed at the inaugural opening day in 2016)
  • Helicopter Candy Drops for Kids
  • The Zooperstars
  • America’s Got Talent’s Quick Change
  • Jake the Diamond Dog
  • Jimmy Buffett Night
  • Star Wars Night
  • Peanut Free Night
  • Family Campout Night
  • WCSX Classic Rock Saturdays
  • WYCD Country Music Nights
  • Heritage Nights to honor the German, Greek, Irish, Italian, and Polish communities
  • Bobblehead, Hat & T-Shirt Giveaways
  • Fireworks Spectaculars every Friday night
  • Kids run the bases after every game
A complete list of promotions and dates can be found at https://uspbl.com/promotions/.
Tickets are affordably priced and start at just $12 in the grandstand and $6 dollars for lawn. Tickets can be purchased at the box office at Jimmy John’s Field or online at https://uspbl.com/tickets/.  Parking is free.
About United Shore Professional Baseball League     
     
Rochester, MI-based General Sports and Entertainment founded the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), an independent professional baseball league, in Metro Detroit in 2015.  The league plays in the new, state-of-the-art $16 million ballpark named Jimmy John’s Field located in downtown Utica, Mich.  The first of its kind for the region, the USPBL provides a fun and exciting family atmosphere while showcasing top baseball talent to fans of all ages. The inaugural season of the USPBL, which began on Memorial Day 2016, featured three teams—the Utica Unicorns, the Eastside Diamond Hoppers and the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, from which 12 players were signed to contracts by Major League organizations. The 2017 USPBL season will feature four teams with the addition of the Westside Woolly Mammoths, and the season will begin on May 11, 2017 and run through September 10, 2017.  Additional teams and ballparks will be added in future years.

 

 

Advertisements

Introducing Coach Billy Horn

As the Atlantic League’s spring training gets underway, we want to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Billy Horn.  Billy is the pitching coach for the Long Island Ducks. He will be guest blogging about life as a coach in the Atlantic League this season.

Here is his first introductory blog.

billy horn.gif

Billy Horn – Blog # 1

Background

   I was born & raised in the Bronx, NY and always wanted to play in warm weather. In HS I played 3B, however never seeing 90+ helped me segway into becoming a pitcher down the road.
   I played at Division II powerhouse Lynn University in the Sunshine State Conference from ’98-’01. My freshman year I couldn’t hit 90+ plus AND I KNEW IT.
   Luckily I had a cannon for an arm so I decided to try pitching. I was only low – mid 80s after college and thought it was over and took “a real job”.
   I was playing in a men’s league and started throwing upper 80s. I had an opportunity to go to Italy and play in 2003. I was there 2003-2004 and played for the San Marino Titans. I was nothing special 88-91, with a plus curve – in my mid 20s and no real experience.
   Missing the Olympics that season due to injury, I came home and pitched in the Golden Baseball League for the Long Beach Armada in 2005. Having suffering a torn rotator cuff – it was all over.
   Working regular jobs and such, I hated it. Then I turned to coaching HS, then was the pitching coach in 2009 for my alma mater, Lynn University, winning the 2009 NCAA D II National Championship.
   Now doing lessons on the regular, I had to throw and long toss with the kids and I found myself 87-89 mph. In 2010, mid life crisis at age 29 kicked in and I went back to Italy to prove to myself I can do anything. Statistically it was a mess, but I showed myself what I needed to see.
   As you can see below, my career statistical totals are nothing special, but never stopped me from trying to coach.
G   GS   W – L   ERA    INN    H       K     BB   WHIP  HBP
47  27   9-12    4.40    184  193   143   64     1.39   15
   That was my last season and then a few seasons later, the Pecos League came calling for a coaching opportunity……….

Why Coaching?

   I got a call in winter of 2011 about a possible coaching opportunity while I was working a “real job”. I hated it and was “flipping boxes” in south Florida. I was selling copiers, business – business and it was the worst – we were lower than used car salesmen with cheesy 80s mustaches, fake leather booths and a real bad afta-shave! Our own clients hated us.
   When the opportunity came to fruition, I decided to say goodbye to being a nobody anymore and start signing autographs again — at least that’s what I thought.
   The Pecos League, 2012…………. Say what you want, but it has been a long standing league that has given many players opportunity in this game – and it saved my life and put me in the position I’m in today.
   I had fun there but knew that wasn’t the top stop for me. With nothing on the horizon of an upward move, I stared with the lessons and HS gig again, and of course, got tired of parents. They are the worst at the HS level – everyone’s son is the next MLB star and the coach is always wrong.
   Around that time, now long time friend, Brooks Carey, manager of the Normal Cornbelters in the Frontier League, knew Hal Lanier was looking for a pitching coach for the 2015 season for the Ottawa Champions in the CanAm League.
   Having been Hal’s pitching coach a few years prior, he knew what kind of guy Hal needed and he called Hal and said this is your guy – hire him. And of course Hal’s reply was “who the hell is Billy Horn?”
   This of course goes back to me never playing with an organization and only 4 short years of independent ball / Italian Baseball League under my belt.
   Of course we met and Hal offered me the job about a month later.
   2015, the inaugural season, despite not making the playoffs, was a personal success. Having a lot of leeway come towards the latter part of the year, Hal was teaching me about managing in independent baseball. Player procurement. Player procurement. Player procurement.

   What I learned most was this —

“When coaches are being seeked-out, a manager needs to know ONLY 3 things :
1) Can he get players
2) Can he throw BP
3) Can I live with this guy for 6 months”
That’s it! Doesn’t matter in independent ball where you played, where you coached, but if you can get players, throw BP and people like you, you’ll get a job!
   2016 was a story book season. Here, we won the CanAm League Championship, Hal was named MOY, I was of course making all the mound visits, BUT I WAS ALSO taking guys out of games, doing the plate meeting before games with the umpires and opposing manager, writing he occasional lineup, doing pregame interviews everyday and sometimes coaching 3B. All managerial duties.
   Hal was very gracious in teaching me and showing me the ropes – it was the best on-the-job training anyone could ask for – by an MLB Manager of the Year Award winner. It was a great 2 years and I’m going to miss Ottawa, the organization and my man Hal.

How Did I Get to Long Island?

   With all that being said, I knew I had hit my ceiling in the CanAm League and one afternoon I decided to “test the waters”.  Being that I was handling part of the procurement duties, I developed relationships with managers, coaches and GMs with every single club in all of Indy ball – from the Pecos / United Shores developmental leagues all the up to the Frontier, AA and The Atlantic League.
   While interviewing for an AA managing job, I thought ‘why keep all my eggs on one basket’?
  A simple text to Long Island Ducks GM changed everything.
  “Hey Mike (Pfaff). Hope all is well. If there become any openings for a pitching coach in the Atlantic League, please keep me in mind. Thank you.”
   A few moments later he replies :
“Send me your resume. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
   I was excited and thought maybe one of the other clubs maaaaaay have an opening. When he called and said Long Island was looking for a pitching coach I knew this was the opportunity for me that I was looking for.
   After a lengthy interview process, I got the call. At the beginning it was mixed emotions – leaving Hal in Ottawa but he gave me his blessing and told me this isn’t something to pass up.
   Now, about a month away from spring training, I’m really looking forward to getting there and getting to work. Long Island is also about an hour away from my hometown. Being able to coach close to home and family is also a major plus.
   I try to explain the path of coaching to young independent players that themselves and myself are in the same boat – were both trying to make it to the big leagues someday – however, if we both make it, you’re going to make a lot more money as a player than I would a coach!
   With that being said, just being in the game of baseball as a profession and not doing the “suit and tie thing” is big league enough for me.

Billy will be guest blogging all summer long about his season in the Atlantic League.

Make sure to subscribe to our email list! You won’t want to miss out on any of our guest blogs this season!