Last week was one that I will never forget in my eight years working in professional baseball. On Wednesday, June 4th, I had the opportunity to spend a day with 1968 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Denny McLain. That was a real treat for me. Being a huge baseball fan, and someone who loves the history of baseball, it was great to talk to him about his time in baseball.
McLain was a true professional. He met the media and then the fans and signed autographs for hours! Take a moment to check out my interview with Denny.
Here’s a look back at my press release:
(Uptown Charlotte, NC) – Former American League MVP and two-time Cy Young Award winner Denny McLain will meet fans and sign autographs at BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday, June 4th as the Charlotte Knights host the Rochester Red Wings in a doubleheader starting at 6:05 p.m.
McLain won 131 games over his 10-year Major League career, but is best known as being the last pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win 30 games in a season. The three-time American League All-Star won a career-best 31 games in 1968 as a member of the World Series winning Detroit Tigers. He won game six of the seven-game World Series, which went to the Tigers over the St. Louis Cardinals.
It was a special year for McClain in 1968 — and it turned out to be one of the finest pitching performances in Major League history. He compiled a marvelous 31-6 record with a minuscule 1.96 ERA in a league-high 41 games (all starts). He also led the league that season in complete games (28), and innings pitched (336.0). He was arguably the American League’s best pitcher from 1965-1969. He won back-to-back Cy Young Awards (1968-1969) and was a three-time AL All-Star over that span.
A native of Chicago, IL, McLain was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1962, however he never played for the White Sox. McLain was selected off waivers by the Detroit Tigers on April 8, 1963 and made his Major League debut on September 21, 1963 as a 19-year-old. In his first Major League game, McLain tossed a complete game and also hit an opposite-field home run in the fifth inning to beat the White Sox 4-3.
CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (18-36, 4th, 2014) (65-78, 3rd South – 2013)
@ TOLEDO MUD HENS (26-29, 3rd, 2014) (61-83, 4th West – 2013)
CHA LHP Charlie Leesman (1-4, 3.42)
TOL RHP Drew VerHagen (2-5, 4.02)
Saturday, May 31, 2014
~ Game 55 of 144 ~ Fifth Third Field ~ 7:00 PM
TODAY’S GAME: The Charlotte Knights will play game two of their four-game series against the Toledo Mud Hens tonight at 7:00 p.m. after opening the series yesterday with a tough 3-2 loss. Charlotte entered the game with a two-game win-streak but fell to 7-12 in one-run games last night. Despite scoring a run in the top of the ninth inning to pull to within one run, they dropped the opener and lost for the third time on the road trip (2-3). Charlotte is now 0-29 when trailing after eight innings and 14-16 when scoring first.
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: A sixth-inning throwing error by Charlotte starter LHP Eric Surkamp proved costly as the Toledo Mud Hens beat Surkamp and the Knights by a score of 3-2 on Friday in game one of the four-game series from Fifth Third Field in Toledo, OH. Surkamp (2-4, 5.20) was the losing pitcher despite allowing just three hits over six innings and striking out a career-high 12 batters. The NC State University product gave up three runs (two earned) and walked only one batter. He allowed a fourth inning home run to Mike Hessman – his IL leading 14th of the season. Charlotte came within a run in the ninth, but fell just short.
KNIGHTS STARTER: LHP Charlie Leesman (1-4, 3.42) will make his 10th start of the season for the Knights tonight and will make his fourth attempt at his second win of the year and 18th of his Knights career. He is coming off one of his better outings of the season, although he came away with a no-decision. On May 26 in Columbus, Leesman allowed two runs (one earned) on just one hit over six innings. He fanned seven batters and walked three. Leesman, 27, was originally selected by the White Sox in the 11th round of the 2008 draft. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, this is Leesman’s third year with Charlotte.
MITCHING IN: Jared Mitchell extended his hit streak to six-straight games last night with a single. Mitchell went 1-for-4 yesterday. More importantly, Mitchell reached base in his 18th- straight road game (started on April 8) and 14th straight overall game this season (started on May 12). During the road stretch, Mitchell has walked 14 times and has 10 hits with a .380 on-base percentage. Currently, his streak is tied for the longest active road streak in the IL this year with Matt Hague (IND), who also has an 18-gamer. Former Knights slugger Dan Johnson currently has a 17-straight game road on-base streak. For the season, Mitchell leads the Knights in both walks (30) and on-base percentage (.379). He’s fifth in the IL in walks as well.
SANCHEZ ES EN FUEGO: At just 21 years old, Carlos Sanchez continues to impress. Sanchez entered last night’s game batting .301 and coming off of a three-hit performance with a three-run triple – his fourth of the season – which is tied for second in the IL. He entered the ninth inning of last night’s game with the Knights down 3-2 and he came through with an RBI single to keep the game going. He now has 59 hits which are good for fourth in the IL this year. He has 18 hits over his last 10 games with a .400 batting average, two home runs and 13 RBIs.
DANKS RANKS: Jordan Danks passed sluggers Sam Horn, Jeff Inglin, and Mario Valenzuela for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time Knights franchise home run list on May 17 after ripping the 39th home run of his Charlotte Knights career. Danks is now just one away from tying current White Sox slugger and former Knights teammate Dayan Viciedo for seventh all-time. Viciedo hit 40 home runs. Danks is the all-time Knights franchise leader in triples (12), walks (180), and strikeouts (465). He ranks second all-time in the following categories: games played (395), at-bats (1,425), hits (370), and runs scored (207). Danks is third in doubles (80) and fourth on the Knights all-time RBI list with 179. The 2014 season is the fifth for Danks in a Knights uniform.
POWER HITTING KNIGHTS: Despite not hitting any home runs in last night’s 3-2 loss, the Knights are still in first place in the IL in home runs with 51 — four more than their current opponent — the Toledo Mud Hens — who are in second place. The Knights hit a season-high five home runs on Thursday as Dan Black hit three, and Jared Mitchell and Josh Phegley hit one each. The Knights have doubled their home run output in May from their output in April. They have hit 34 long balls as a team in May, after hitting 17 in the month of April. Their 34 home runs are six more than Norfolk’s 28. The Knights hit 10 home runs in the four-game series against the Clippers and scored 32 runs. Charlotte has enjoyed hitting in the friendly confines of BB&T Ballpark — compiling 26 of their 51 home runs at there this season.
MAY DAY: Josh Phegley had four hits in Thursday’s game becoming just the third player this season to do that (Dan Black and Carlos Sanchez are the others). Phegley went 4-for-6 with three runs scored, a double, a home run, and three RBIs. He had a hit in last night’s game and is now batting .276 on the season with six home runs and 19 RBIs. All six of his home runs have come during the month of May and 14 of his 19 RBIs have come in May.
TAYLOR MADE: Reliever Taylor Thompson earned his first win of the season on Thursday and continued his solid pitching in May. Thompson threw 2.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to extend his scoreless innings streak to 11.0 innings. Thompson has also not allowed a hit over his last 10.0 innings pitched. He last allowed a run on May 6 to Lehigh Valley at BB&T Ballpark. His last hit came on May 10 vs. Buffalo. During the month of May, Thompson is 1-0 with a 0.61 ERA in nine games (14.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 16 SO).
CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (16-35, 4th, 2014) (65-78, 3rd South – 2013)
@ COLUMBUS CLIPPERS (24-26, 2nd, 2014) (71-73, 2nd West – 2013)
CHA RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-5, 5.63) @
COL RHP Travis Banwart (3-1, 3.55)
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 ~ Game 52 of 144 ~ Huntington Park ~ 10:35 AM
TODAY’S GAME: The Knights and Clippers will play game three of their four-game series today at 10:35 a.m. from Huntington Park. The Knights have dropped the first two games of the series and three-straight games overall as they head into today’s game. This is the seventh losing streak of three or more games this season for the Knights.
GOOD MORNING COLUMBUS: The Knights are 1-2 this season in pre-noon games. Charlotte’s first 11:05 a.m. game this season took place in Durham on April 10 and the Knights lost that game 5-4. They beat the Durham Bulls 9-1 on April 23 – their first 11:05 a.m. game in BB&T Ballpark history. Their next morning game — Charlotte’s 11:35 a.m. game scheduled for April 29 in Rochester — was postponed due to rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader at BB&T Ballpark on June 4. They lost their last 11:05 a.m. game to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on May 7 at BB&T Ballpark by a score of 3-2 in 11 innings.
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: A night after hitting the game-winner, Elliott Johnson had two hits and scored two runs, Kyle Davies (2-2, 4.40) allowed four runs over 6.1 innings, and the Columbus Clippers beat the Charlotte Knights 8-6 on Tuesday in game two of their four-game series from Huntington Park in Columbus, OH.
|KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-5, 5.63) makes his eighth start of the 2014 season and will appear in his 10th game of the year with the Knights. Today’s start is his first since May 10. His last two appearances have come out of the Charlotte bullpen where he has allowed just one run over six innings of work. He is 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA as a reliever and 1-4 with a 6.47 ERA as a starter this season. In the month of April, Axlerod went 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA in five games (all starts). He is 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in May (4 G, 2 GS).
CAREER NOTES: Axelrod spent the entire 2013 season with the White Sox – his first full season in the majors – and posted a 4-11 record with a 5.68 ERA in 30 games (20 starts). He allowed 170 hits over 128.1 innings pitched. While it was the third straight season that Axelrod spent time with the White Sox, it was the first he didn’t see time with Charlotte. The California native previously spent parts of 2011 and 2012 with the Knights. Axelrod tossed the first pitch in BB&T Ballpark history on April 11, 2014 at 7:41 p.m. as the Knights opened their new kingdom. It was fitting that it was Axelrod, who entered the season with the lowest ERA in Knights franchise history with a 2.58 ERA. He enters today’s game with a 3.10 mark – tied with teammate Charlie Leesman for the fifth-best mark.
ON THE ROAD & ON BASE: Jared Mitchell had a good night at the plate on Tuesday – bumping his average up to over .200 for the first time since April 21. Mitchell, who is now batting .207 on the year, reached base in his 15th-straight road game last night going 2-for-3. His streak dates back to April 8, 2014. During that stretch, Mitchell has walked 14 times and has seven hits with a .397 on-base percentage. Currently, his streak is the third longest active road streak in the IL. Dan Johnson of Buffalo also has 15-straight, while Ramon Flores of SWB (16) and Matt Hague of IND (18) have longer streaks. For the season, Mitchell leads the Knights in both walks (30) and on-base percentage (.385). He’s fifth in the IL in walks as well.
DANKS RANKS: Jordan Danks passed sluggers Sam Horn, Jeff Inglin, and Mario Valenzuela for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time Knights franchise home run list on May 17 after ripping the 39th home run of his Charlotte Knights career. Danks is now just one away from tying current White Sox slugger and former Knights teammate Dayan Viciedo for seventh all-time. Viciedo hit 40 home runs. Danks is the all-time Knights franchise leader in triples (12), walks (178), and strikeouts (463). He ranks second all-time in the following categories: games played (392), at-bats (1,413), hits (368), and runs scored (206). Danks is third in doubles (79) and fourth on the Knights all-time RBI list with 177. He also has 42 stolen bases – which ties him for 10th on the all-time list.
ALL GOOD THINGS: Carlos Sanchez entered Tuesday’s game with a 10-game hit-streak, but was unable to keep it alive as he went 0-for-4 on the night. His 10-game hit-streak started on May 16 and he hit .372 (16-for-43) with five runs scored, four extra-base hits, one home run, two doubles, one triple, and seven RBIs over that span. It was an impressive streak and his third streak of 5+ games this season (11 games 4/26-5/8 and 6 games 4/19-4/24). Still, the switch-hitting Sanchez has a hit in 36 of his last 48 games and he hit his first career Triple-A home run on Sunday. It was the first home he hit since he launched a home run for Winston-Salem (A+) on May 4, 2012 (751 days since that home run). He’s batting .290 this year.
TY GUY: Tyler Saladino continued his hot-hitting with his second-straight three-hit game. Saladino went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. He hit his sixth home run of the season on Monday and now has a hit in seven of his last eight games (13 H over that span) and he has eight hits over his last three games. It was his fifth three-hit game of the season.
TAYLOR MADE: Reliever Taylor Thompson threw a scoreless eighth inning out of the bullpen on Monday to extend his scoreless innings streak to 9.1 innings. Thompson has also not allowed a hit over his last 7.2 innings pitched.
“HOME” RUNS: The Knights continued their home run hitting last night – launching two solo home runs. Andy Wilkins hit his team-leading ninth of the season, while Blake Tekotte hit his third. The Knights now have 44 home runs this season and only the Toledo Mud Hens have hit more (46). The Knights have hit 27 long balls as a team in May, after hitting 17 in the month of April. Their 27 home runs are the most by an IL team in the month of May. LHV and NOR are second with 24 each. Charlotte has enjoyed hitting in the friendly confines of BB&T Ballpark — compiling 26 of their 44 home runs at BB&T Ballpark this season.
CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (16-34, 4th, 2014) (65-78, 3rd South – 2013)
@ COLUMBUS CLIPPERS (23-26, 3rd, 2014) (71-73, 2nd West – 2013)
CHA RHP Erik Johnson (0-1, 4.50)
@ COL RHP Kyle Davies (1-2, 4.07)
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 ~ Game 51 of 144 ~ Huntington Park ~ 6:35
PMTODAY’S GAME: The Knights and Clippers will do battle in game two of their four-game series tonight from Huntington Park in Columbus, OH with first pitch on tap for 6:35 p.m. tonight. The Knights dropped their second-straight game Monday – falling to 0-6 in extra-inning games this year and 5-11 in series openers.
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Elliot Johnson’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th inning gave the Columbus Clippers a 4-3 win over the Charlotte Knights on Monday in the opening game of their four-game series from Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. The Clippers ripped back-to-back-to back singles in their final inning off reliever Donnie Veal (1-3, 5.56) en route to the win. LHP Charlie Leesman started the game for the Knights and was sharp over six innings. The Cincinnati, OH native gave up two runs (one earned) on just one hit. He struck-out seven batters but did not factor in the decision. Reliever Taylor Thompson threw a scoreless eighth inning out of the bullpen to extend his scoreless innings streak to 9.1 innings. Thompson has not allowed a hit over his last 7.2 innings pitched.
|KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Erik Johnson (0-0, 3.38), who is ranked by Baseball America as the 2nd best prospect in the White Sox system, will make his sixth start in 2014 for the Charlotte Knights tonight in the opening game of the four-game series against the Indians. Johnson is still looking for his first win of the season with Charlotte. Johnson made five starts for the Chicago White Sox this season before being optioned down to Charlotte on April 26. He was 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA for the Sox in five games. He appeared in 23.2 innings with the White Sox and allowed 27 hits, 17 earned runs, 15 walks, while striking out18 batters. Johnson started 10 games for the Knights in 2013 and posted a 4-1 record with a 1.57 ERA over 57.1 IP. The Mountain View, California native averaged close to one strikeout per inning in 2013 totaling 57 Ks with the Knights. The 2013 season was an impressive year all around as Johnson started in Double-A with Birmingham and finished up in Chicago. He was 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts for the Barons.|
HIT MACHINE: Carlos Sanchez continued his solid hitting yesterday and in the process extended his hit streak to 10-straight games. Sanchez, who ripped a season-high four hits on Sunday, ripped three hits in Monday’s game. His 10-game hit-streak started on May 16 and he is batting .372 (16-for-43) with five runs scored, four extra-base hits, one home run, two doubles, one triple, and seven RBIs since his current streak started. This is his third streak of 5+ games this season (11 games 4/26-5/8 and 6 4/19-4/24). The switch-hitting Sanchez has a hit in 36 of his last 47 games. Sanchez even hit his first career Triple-A home run on Sunday. It was the first home he hit since he launched a home run for Winston-Salem (A+) on May 4, 2012 (751 days since that home run).
ON THE ROAD & ON BASE: With a hit in last night’s game, Jared Mitchell has now reached base in 14-straight road games dating back to April 8, 2014. During that stretch, Mitchell has walked 14 times and has five hits with a .389 on-base percentage. For the season, Mitchell is fifth in the IL in walks with 30 and leads the Knights in both walks and on-base percentage (.382).
“HOME” RUNS: The Knights set a new single-game high in home runs this season with four in Sunday’s 10-6 loss. With the four-home run output that the Knights put up and a home run yesterday from Tyler Saladino, they are now second in the International League with 42 home runs. Only the Toledo Mud Hens have hit more home runs this season (44). The Knights have hit 25 long balls as a team in May, after hitting 17 in the month of April. Charlotte has enjoyed hitting in the friendly confines of BB&T Ballpark — compiling 26 of their 42 home runs at BB&T Ballpark this season.
DANKS RANKS: Jordan Danks passed sluggers Sam Horn, Jeff Inglin, and Mario Valenzuela for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time Knights franchise home run list on May 17 after ripping the 39th home run of his Charlotte Knights career. Danks is now just one away from tying current White Sox slugger and former Knights teammate Dayan Viciedo for seventh all-time. Viciedo hit 40 home runs. Danks is the all-time Knights franchise leader in triples (12), walks (178), and strikeouts (462). He ranks second all-time in the following categories: games played (391), at-bats (1,408), hits (367), and runs scored (206). Danks is third in doubles (79) and fourth on the Knights all-time RBI list with 176. He also has 42 stolen bases – which ties him for 10th on the all-time list.
TY GUY: Tyler Saladino went 3-for-5 with his sixth home run of the season on Monday. He has a hit in six of his last seven games (10 H over that span) and he has five hits over his last two games.
SELL-OUT CROWD #14: The Knights welcomed their 14th sell-out crowd to BB&T Ballpark on Sunday – the team’s final home game in May. A sell-out crowd is 10,200 and BB&T Ballpark hosted 10,213 fans. More than half of their games have been in front of a sell-out crowd (14 of 25 games). The Knights are first in MiLB in average attendance per game with 9,659 per game. Overall, the Knights have welcomed 241,464 fans to the Queen City this season – which is the highest in Minor League Baseball this season. Currently, the Sacramento River Cats are second overall and have drawn 211,896 fans in 27 openings. Last season, Charlotte needed 55 openings to get to 200,000 fans. The Knights welcomed their 200,000th fan through the gates on July 29th of last season. Charlotte lost that game to the Gwinnett Braves by a score of 8-3. At that point, the Knights were averaging 3,686 over 55 games (202,724 fans). The highest attendance in a season for the Knights was in 1993 when they welcomed 429,132 fans through the gates. The Knights are just 44,107 fans away from tying their attendance mark of last season (285,571).
CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (14-28, 4th, 2014) (65-78, 3rd South – 2013)
@ NORFOLK TIDES (15-27, 3rd, 2014) (77-67, 2nd South – 2013)
CHA RHP Felipe Paulino (0-2, 9.90) @ NOR RHP Eddie Gamboa (1-4, 5.40)
TODAY’S GAME: The Knights and Tides will conclude their quick two-game series today with a 1:05 p.m. game. The Knights enter play with a 5-3 record against the Tides this season after a tough 7-6 loss in 13 innings last night. The Knights are now 0-5 in extra-inning games and are 6-17 on the road this season. With a win today, the Knights will earn a series split with the Tides and will win their fourth Sunday game of the season – which would be the most wins for a day of the week (Charlotte has won three on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Charlotte reliever Nelvin Fuentes entered a tie game in the bottom of the 13th inning without having allowed a run in 18 consecutive innings. Brett Wallace broke his scoreless streak after seeing just one pitch. Wallace launched a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning, and the Norfolk Tides beat the Charlotte Knights 7-6 on Saturday in the opening game of a two-game series from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA. Fuentes (0-1, 4.50) threw one pitch on the evening and Wallace sent the offering over the right field fence for his fifth home run of the season, which broke the 6-6 tie game. Wallace finished the game 4-for-5 with the home run and four runs scored. As for Fuentes, the Puerto Rican native was promoted to Charlotte from Double-A Birmingham on May 13 with a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 16 innings. He made his Knights debut a day later and threw two shutout innings. On Saturday, Fuentes came on in relief of Maikel Cleto, who did not allow a run or a hit in three innings. The Tides moved into sole possession of third place in the IL South with the win.
KNIGHTS STARTER: MAJOR LEAGUE REHAB: RHP Felipe Paulino will make his fourth rehab start of the season for the Knights. In each of his three starts, Paulino has added to his innings count. On May 3, he went just two innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in a no decision. In his second outing, back on May 8, Paulino lost against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs after allowing seven runs on seven hits over three innings. He lost his last start on May 13 in Durham (5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO). He is currently on Chicago’s 15-day disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation. Paulino, 30, made four starts for the White Sox this season before being placed on the DL on April 28. The Dominican native posted a record of 0-2 with an 11.29 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched. He was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on December 9, 2013. The 6’3” right-hander entered the 2014 season with a career Major League record of 13-32 with a 4.93 ERA in 93 games (61 starts). He was originally signed by the Houston Astros as a free agent on July 2, 2001 and spent parts of nine seasons in Houston’s system. On November 18, 2010, Paulino was traded to Colorado in exchange for infielder Clint Barmes. He was traded again on May 26, 2011 to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations.
AFTER FELIPE: LHP Eric Surkamp, who has started five games this season, will piggyback Paulino today for the fourth time. As a starter, Surkamp was 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA (24 IP, 42 H, 19 R, 16 ER, 7 BB, 23 SO). As a reliever, Surkamp is 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three games (15.0 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 17 SO). Surkamp, 26, was originally selected in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the San Francisco Giants. He made his Major League debut on August 27, 2011 for the Giants and allowed one run over six innings pitched in a start against the Houston Astros. He appeared in six games that season with the Giants and posted a 2-2 record with a 5.74 ERA. Surkamp missed the entire 2012 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He is a product of NC State University (2006-08).
WELCOME TO TRIPLE-A: Micah Johnson was promoted to Charlotte on May 13 from Double-A Birmingham where he was leading the Southern League with a .329 batting average. In five games for the Knights, Johnson is hitting .318 (7-for-22) with a double and two RBIs. After going hitless in his first game (May 13), he has a four-game hit-streak (7 H over his last 4 G).
DANKS RANKS: Jordan Danks passed sluggers Sam Horn, Jeff Inglin, and Mario Valenzuela for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time Knights franchise home run list last night after ripping the 39th of his Knights career. Danks is now just one away from tying current White Sox slugger and former Knight teammate Dayan Viciedo for seventh all-time (40). Danks is the all-time Knights franchise leader in triples (12) and walks (172). He ranks second all-time in the following categories: games played (384), at-bats (1,383), hits (368), and runs scored (204). Danks is third in doubles (77) and fourth on the Knights all-time RBI list with 175. He also has 42 stolen bases – which ties him for 10th on the all-time list. The Austin, TX native is currently in his fifth season with the Knights.
YARD WORK: With another home run last night (Jordan Danks hit a solo home run in the eighth inning) the Knights have now hit a home run in 10-straight games – dating back to May 8 against Lehigh Valley at BB&T Ballpark. The Knights have hit 18 long balls as a team just half way through the month of May, after hitting just 17 in the whole month of April. Charlotte is now second as a team in the International League with 35 dingers. Only Toledo has more home runs this season (38).
ROAD WARRIOR: Third baseman Matt Davidson continued his hot hitting on the road this season – ripping two hits in last night’s game for Charlotte. It was his second multi-hit game of the road trip and he is now hitting .333 (6-for-18) with a run scored, one home run, one double, and three RBIs on the trip (five games). In 22 road games this season (compared to 13 home games), Davidson is hitting .238 (19-for-80) with six runs scored, six doubles, four home runs, and 12 RBIs. In fact, all of his runs scored, home runs, and doubles have come on the road this year. He’s hitting just .128 (8-for-33) at home (13 games).
2014 ATTENDANCE. The Knights are currently first in attendance in Minor League Baseball – both overall and average per game. The team is averaging 9,556 per game. The team welcomed 8,568 fans through the gates yesterday. They have 10sell-out crowds in 19 games. Overall, their 181, 557 number of fans is the most in Minor League Baseball this season. Charlotte could have had even more with a projected sell-out crowd expected on April 18 – but rain postponed that game. Last season, Charlotte needed 51 openings to get to 180,000. The Knights hit 180,000 officially on July 25 (183,081). The July 25th game was the game Andre Rienzo tossed a no-hitter in game one of a doubleheader. That’s 32 less openings this season to get to 180,000. The next closest team to the Knights right now is Sacramento, who drew 14,704 fans last night pushing their overall mark to 175,714 in 22 openings. Still, they are only avaerging 7,987 fans to Charlotte’s 9,556.
EIGHT PROMOTED IN 2014: So far this season, the Charlotte Knights have seen eight of their players promoted to Chicago. The first player was RHP Jake Petricka (April 4). Here are the remaining Knights to earn a trip to Chicago this season: outfielder Jordan Danks (April 10), RHP Zach Putnam (April 17). RHP Andre Rienzo (April 19), LHP Charlie Leesman (April 22), RHP Scott Carroll (April 27) and LHP Frank De Los Santos (May 3), and RHP Frank Francisco (May 10) have been promoted to Chicago this season. Danks and Leesman are the only two that have since returned back to Charlotte.
On February 14, 2014, most people were celebrating Valentine’s Day. That morning, I was celebrating the request of a lifetime.
As a PR director, I’m always looking for positive stories. My goal is to always find great media coverage for the Charlotte Knights. Sometimes you have to dig deep though. But on that day, what fell into my hands was something that immediately touched my life.
I sat down at my desk in Uptown Charlotte as a member of the Charlotte Knights that morning and I read a very special email.
I received an email from Philip Elmore, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class, US Navy, who had a special request. The East Mecklenburg High School graduate was currently overseas in Sembach Germany. He was stationed at the Navy Warrior Transition Program — but knew he would be coming home. He planned to arrive in Charlotte on May 9 and had an idea that he wanted to share with me. He wanted to surprise his daughter, who he hadn’t seen since October.
Elmore, who joined the Navy in 1986, had a special surprise in mind. Initially, he wanted to surprise his daughter by dressing up as a mascot and then showing his face to his eight-year-old daughter Isabella.
Just this past December at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, I watched a video of a surprise at a Minor League Baseball game. A Military dad surprised his child by dressing up as a catcher and catching their first pitch. The reveal was touching. You couldn’t help but get emotional.
When I suggested that to Philip, he agreed. He loved the idea — especially since he was a catcher in Little League!
I then forwarded his information over to Promotions Manager Matt Spezialetti, who coordinated everything with him. With Elmore in Germany, the two planned the big reveal. As the weeks went by, the anticipation began to grow. Great job Matt — this could not have been done without you.
More recently, Charlotte Knights Community Relations Director Lindsey Roycraft and Knights VP of Marketing Mark Smith helped move things along. When May 9th finally came around, there were many people at BB&T Ballpark — including Philip Elmore, very eager and excited for the big reveal.
After donning the full catcher’s equipment, Philip was ready. First, Isabella Elmore — Philip’s eight-year-old daughter — was introduced to the crowd at BB&T Ballpark. Initially, she was told by the Knights that she won a contest as a member of the Junior Knights Kids Club. When she got down to the field, she walked to the mound ready to throw out her first pitch. Little did she know that the pitch would go to her dad.
After watching a taped video from her dad on the ballpark’s videoboard, she was ready to throw out the pitch. After she did, Philip emerged from home plate and took off his catcher’s mask. Isabella noticed her dad and they embraced on the field.
It was a touching moment. I still get goosebumps when I watch it. I have seen it over 20 times. I’m sure I will watch it many more over the coming days/weeks.
It’s moments like this that make me realize just how lucky I am to be in the position that I am in. The Charlotte Knights beat the Buffalo Bisons 5-3 on Friday, but the win of the night took place on the pitcher’s mound before the game even started.
Congratulations to the Elmore family. We are so honored and privileged to be a part of your special day. It was wonderful to be able to share that moment.
Thank you Philip for thinking of us and thank you for letting us all in on one of the most memorable events ever at BB&T Ballpark. I’m sure this day will stick with many people for days and years to come.
Watch the full video on Knights TV.
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CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (10-16, 3rd, 2014) (65-78, 3rd South – 2013)
@ BUFFALO BISONS (14-10, 2nd, 2014) (74-70, 3rd North – 2013)
CHA RHP Erik Johnson (NR w/CHA) @ BUF LHP Sean Nolin (2-0, 1.96)
Friday, May 2, 2014
Game 29 of 144
Coca-Cola Field ~ 7:05 PM
|KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Erik Johnson, who is ranked by Baseball America as the 2nd best prospect in the White Sox system, will make his 2014 Charlotte Knights debut tonight. Johnson made five starts for the Chicago White Sox this season before being optioned down to Charlotte on April 26. He appeared in 23.2 innings with the White Sox and allowed 27 hits, 17 earned runs, 15 walks, while striking out18 batters. Johnson started 10 games for the Knights in 2013 and posted a 4-1 record with a 1.57 ERA over 57.1 IP. The Mountain View, California native averaged close to one strikeout per inning in 2013 totaling 57 Ks with the Knights. The 2013 season was an impressive year all around as Johnson started in Double-A with Birmingham and finished up in Chicago. He was 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts for the Barons. Johnson is a product of the University of California at Berkeley.|
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: A two-run double by Kevin Pillar in the third inning proved to be enough for the Buffalo Bisons to get by the Charlotte Knights 6-1 on Thursday in the opening game of the four-game series from Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, NY. It was Charlotte’s third consecutive loss of the season. The Knights have now had a losing streak of at least three games on three occasions this season. The Bisons added four insurance runs along the way, including three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Charlotte starter Tommy Hanson (1-2, 4.73) allowed three runs on five hits over 4.1 innings and was charged with the loss. Hanson, who was making just his third start of the season for the Knights, walked five batters and threw 87 pitches. He did not allow a run or a hit in his last outing, which was back on April 25 at BB&T Ballpark (five innings). Buffalo starter Liam Hendriks (4-0, 1.26) was sharp on the mound through seven innings for the win. Hendriks gave up one run on six hits, while striking out five batters. Relievers Bobby Korecky and Ryan Tepera each tossed a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
HR #3 FOR DAVIDSON: Third baseman Matt Davidson started the month of May with a bang – a solo home run in the fourth inning of last night’s game – providing the Knights with their only offense of the night. It was his third home run of the season and third over his last 10 games. He began the year by not homering in his first 15 contests. Davidson, who is ranked by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the White Sox system, entered this season with 80 career home runs over five Minor League seasons. He also hit three home runs in 31 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.
THE HEATH IS ON: RHP Deunte Heath (1-0, 1.53) has been sharp on the mound for the Knights this season. The Georgia native was solid again yesterday and extended his scoreless innings streak to 12.0 IP after 1.1 scoreless frames last night. He has not allowed a run since April 11 (3 R in 2 IP). Heath came on in relief of Tommy Hanson in the fifth inning and induced an inning-ending double play. He also pitched the sixth inning. Heath was the scheduled start for Charlotte on Tuesday, before rain postponed the game. He made one start for the Knights on 4/23 at BB&T Ballpark and earned the win after five scoreless innings. For his Knights career, Heath owns an 11-11 record with a 3.06 ERA in 232.1 IP. His 3.06 Knights career ERA is tied for fourth all-time in franchise history (Steve Trachsel). He also moved into sole possession of fifth place on the Knights all-time games pitched list by appearing in his 103rd career Knights game – passing Arnie Munoz and Chad Bradford (105). Next up is Ehren Wassermann (113).
MORE CAREER PITCHING KNOTES (ACTIVE): RHP Dylan Axelrod owns the lowest ERA in Knights franchise history. Overall, in 215.1 innings pitched, Axelrod is 14-9 with a 2.76 ERA. Second on the list is John Salles (2.83), while third on the list is LHP Charlie Leesman, who now owns a 2.89 ERA.
CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (10-15, 3rd, 2014)
@ BUFFALO BISONS (13-10, 2nd, 2014)
CHA RHP Tommy Hanson (1-1, 4.00) @ BUF RHP Liam Hendriks (3-0, 1.25)
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Game 28 of 144
Coca-Cola Field ~ 7:05 PM
APRIL SHOWERS…: The Knights had their series finale with the Red Wings from Frontier Field in Rochester, NY on Tuesday postponed (rain). The game was originally scheduled for 11:35 AM. Rochester won two of three games. With that being the final game in Rochester between the two teams this season, the Knights will host a makeup game at BB&T Ballpark during their upcoming series from June 3-6. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 4th (two 7-inning games, 6:05 PM first pitch of game one). It was just their first game postponed on the road this season and second overall (4/18 in Charlotte).
THE LAST KNIGHTS GAME: The Knights have not played a game since Monday. In Monday’s game, Chris Parmelee’s RBI double in the bottom of the third proved to be enough to beat the Knights 1-0 from Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. It was Charlotte’s second-straight one-run loss and the Knights are now 3-4 in one-run games this season. Rochester starter Alex Meyer (1-0, 2.70) earned his first career Triple-A victory after tossing six scoreless innings. Meyer, who is ranked as the third-best prospect in Minnesota’s organization by Baseball America, walked three and struck-out 11.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Game 26 of 144
CHA RHP Deunte Heath (1-0, 1.69) @ ROC LHP Kris Johnson (2-2, 2.86)
THE HEATH IS ON: RHP Deunte Heath (1-0, 1.69) makes his second start of the season today. In his last outing, back on April 23, he replaced LHP Charlie Leesman, who was originally scheduled to start but was promoted to Chicago. Heath allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season and the 11th in his Knights career – which has spanned four seasons (2011-present). In his Knights career, Heath is 11-11 with a 3.08 ERA – the sixth best ERA all-time in Knights franchise history. Heath started just one game last season for the Knights on July 25, 2013 in game two of a doubleheader against the Indianapolis Indians at BB&T Ballpark. Heath allowed one unearned run on two hits over 2.2 innings. His start came after Andre Rienzo’s seven-inning no-hitter in game one. In two games against Rochester in 2013, Heath did not allow a run (3.0 IP). In two games against the ‘Wings in 2012, Heath did not allow a run in six innings pitched (1 GS). In 2011, he allowed five earned runs on four hits over 3.2 innings. In his career vs. Rochester, Heath is 0-0 with a 3.55 ERA (12.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER).
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: A day after his walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning led the Rochester Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Charlotte Knights, Chris Parmelee’s RBI double in the bottom of the third proved to be enough to beat the Knights 1-0 on Monday from Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. It was Charlotte’s second-straight one-run loss. Rochester starter Alex Meyer (1-0, 2.70) earned his first career Triple-A victory after tossing six scoreless innings. Meyer, who is ranked as the third-best prospectin Minnesota’s organization by Baseball America, walked three and struck-out 11.
AXE MAN: RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-3, 4.00) started for Charlotte last night and allowed just one run on three hits over six innings. Axelrod, who struck-out seven batters and walked three, was the hard-luck loser in the 1-0 defeat. In two road starts this season, Axelrod is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA with 14 strikeouts over 11.0 innings pitched. In his Knights career, Axelrod owns the lowest ERA in Knights franchise history. Overall, in 215.1 innings pitched, Axelrod is 14-9 with a 2.76 ERA.
‘LOS IS MORE: Infielder Carlos Sanchez had one of Charlotte’s three hits in last night’s game and now has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games dating back to 4/19. In those 10 games, Sanchez is hitting .429 (15-for-35) with 10 runs scored and one RBI. Sanchez has a hit in 17 of his 24 games this season and is hitting .292 on the year (26-for-89). His 26 hits are a team-high this season, as are his 12 runs scored. Sanchez entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the 12th best prospect in Chicago’s organization.
SEVEN UP: Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez extended his hit streak to seven-straight games yesterday – finishing the game 1-for-4 at the plate. Over his last seven games, Hernandez is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with four runs scored, two doubles, one RBI, and a stolen base. Seven of his 14 hits this season have come in the first inning and he owns a .583 batting average in the first inning this season with Charlotte (7-for-12). Hernandez hit .231 (3-for-13) in four games with Triple-A Omaha before he was traded to the Knights on April 10.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Knights will have their first off-day of the season tomorrow and will head to Buffalo to open a four-game series with the Buffalo Bisons on Thursday. Currently, the Bisons are 12-10 on the season and sit 1.0 game behind Pawtucket for the top spot in the International League North Division. Buffalo and Rochester are tied for second place. Charlotte’s road trip concludes on Sunday with a 1:05 p.m. game. The Knights will then return home on Monday, as they open an eight-game homestand (four vs. Lehigh Valley and four vs. Buffalo).
LAST KNIGHTS GAME: – RHP Tommy Hanson was sharp in his second start of the year, Andy Wilkins provided the offense, and the Charlotte Knights beat the Durham Bulls 3-1 on Friday in front of 10,307 fans at BB&T Ballpark – the team’s sixth sellout crowd of the season. The win was Charlotte’s third straight as they beat the Bulls in the series three games to one. The three-straight wins are the longest by the Knights since last season (8/24-8/26) at Syracuse.
100K CLUB: The Charlotte Knights have welcomed a Minor League Baseball best 106,058 fans through the gates of BB&T Ballpark this season after 11 games. The Knights are the only team in MiLB to welcome 100,000 fans. The next closest team to the Knights in overall attendance is Louisville, who have an overall mark of 88,846 through 13 games. The Knights would have welcomed even more fans with an expected sell-out crowd on April 18th – but rain postponed that game. The Knights have six sell-outs in 11 games and are averaging 9,642 after a sold-out crowd of 10,307 last night. Last season, the Knights welcomed 100,000 fans at Knights Stadium after the game on June 2 – their 29th home game of the season. At that point, the Knights were averaging 3,451 fans per game. They welcomed 90,544 fans through 27 games and 97,427 fans through 28 games last season.
MMMM BOP: RHP Tommy Hanson (1-1, 4.00) threw five scoreless, hitless innings on Friday en route to his first win of the year. It was his first win since June 15, 2013 (W, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 8 SO) with LAA vs. NYY. The Oklahoma native struck-out six batters and walked three. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox on April 8 and assigned to Charlotte on April 19, threw 74 pitches, 44 for strikes. Hanson made his 2014 season debut on April 20th against his former team the G-Braves — in Gwinnett (L, 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR).
HIT PARADE:Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez has hit safely in his last four games after ripping two hits in last night’s game. Hernandez had two of Charlotte’s three hits on the night on Friday. Over his last four games, he has three multi-hit games, including seven hits over that span. He’s hitting .538 (7-for-13) with three runs scored, two doubles, one RBI, and four walks. In nine home games this season, he is hitting .393 (11-for-28) with three doubles, four runs scored, and two RBIs.
FRANCISCO TREAT: RHP Frank Francisco was sharp in his second outing of the season last night for the Knights. He allowed just one hit over two scoreless innings in relief of Tommy Hanson. In his two appearances this season, Francisco has yet to allow a run in three innings. Francisco was signed by Chicago on April 14.
RBI GUY: Andy Wilkins added to his RBI and home run total last night as he launched the big three-run home in the bottom of the first inning – his third of the season – to lead the Knight to the 3-1 win over Durham. Over his past three games, Wilkins has two doubles, two home runs and has driven in eight runs. He’s raised his batting average nearly 40 points and is tied with Tyler Saladino for the most RBIs on the Knights with 13. He finished the game 1-for-2 with the home run, three RBIs, and a walk.