Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: OKC Redhawks

Catching Up With Bombs, Pags and the Walrus

Mather and Wallace meet up at 1st base

Okay, first things first:  I know Brett Wallace doesn’t like that nickname, so I am not going to repeat it (again)….but it made for a catchy title this morning while I was adequately caffeinated.

My local AAA ballpark was hopping this weekend, full of former Cardinals.  The Colorado Springs Sky Sox were in town for a series against the OKC Redhawks and one glimpse at the Sky Sox roster had me grabbing the kids for the Friday night festivities.

My kids love Joe Mather — I admit, they probably caught that bug from me – and Joe is now with the Colorado Rockies organization playing with the AAA Sky Sox.  As usual, Joe was not an eager autograph hander-outer, and he burst from the dugout pregame without so much as a look towards the stands to his right where a small minion of mostly older men were waiting with baseball card catalogues.

Joe and the kiddos

The kiddos are accustomed to this as getting Joe to venture towards the stands has challenged them before, but they’re persistent – and having me prodding them on with confidence that Joe would LOVE to sign for them seems to boost their persistence.

This time we had a special memento for Joe to sign – a photo that he took with us the last time he was in town (as a Memphis Redbird, still part of the Cardinals family.)  With a little help from Mom, my kids did finally coax Joe over and as hoped, we got a smile out of him when he saw their 8×10.  I snapped another quick photo of the three off them before Joe had to get his game face back on, and we had ourselves another Mather story to add to their baseball memories.

We alone cheered on the Sky Sox that evening, three lonely voices in the crowd, but the kids were having a blast with it.  The Sox lost. And no, they don’t wear high socks.  (I know, I know… someone needs to nudge the Sky Sox and tell them that high socks should be mandatory with a name like Colorado Springs SKY SOX.)

Sunday offered another chance to head back to OKC’s Bricktown Ballpark and test out some new camera equipment on one of my favorite subjects: ballplayers.  Former Cardinals?  Even better!

Pagnozzi catching

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Colorado Sky Sox roster (and why would you?) you’ll be surprised to know that Joe is playing among friends.  Matt Pagnozzi is catching and Clayton Mortensen is a pitcher.  As an added bonus, former Redbird Brett Wallace (now with the Houston Astros) was manning 1st base for the OKC Redhawks after being sent down to AAA earlier in the month.

Ah, the Astros… but that’s a different subject. 😉  (My local OKC Redhawks, former Texas Rangers AAA ballclub, became the AAA affiliate of the Astros this season.)

This weekend’s fun gave me a good reason to dig up a little information on these former Redbirds and share some photos of the boys.

So, here ya go!

Joe Mather

First, of course, we start with Joe Mather (“Joey Bombs”):

Joe Mather (buddy of Brendan Ryan, remember?) played with St. Louis in 2008 and 2010.  His 2009 season was hampered by recovery from surgery for a broken bone in his left hand, injured September 2008.

Joe played with AAA Memphis from 2007 through 2010.

In November of 2010, Joe was selected off waivers by the Atlanta Braves and played in 55 games with the club before being granted Free Agency June 23rd.

On July 7th, Joe signed as a Free Agent with the Colorado Rockies.  Since joining the Rockies, Joe has batted .346 with 5 home runs and .928 OPS in 36 games.

Matt didn't like the called 3rd strike over the weekend

Matt Pagnozzi (“Pags”)

Matt was drafted by the Cardinals in 2003 and made his first appearance with AAA, catching for Memphis in 2007.  In 2010 Matt hit .242 in AAA and during his service with the big club in 2010 (15 games) he batted .359 with his first Major League homerun.

Matt became a Free Agent in November 2010 and signed with the Colorado Rockies.

This season Matt is batting .262 with 3 homeruns while catching for the Sky Sox (44 games).

Wallace holds Mather on 1st

Brett Wallace (if he has a new nickname, I’d love to know what it is. For now, I’ll just say he is NOT the “Walrus”.)

Brett was drafted in 2008 by the Cardinals and was playing in AAA Memphis in 2009.  On July 24th, 2009 Wallace was part of the trade with the Oakland Athletics that brought us one of my personal favorites, Matt Holliday.

In December 2009, Brett was traded again, to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Then, in July 2010, Wallace was traded to Houston where he made his Major League debut July 31, 2010.  In 2011, he played 101 games with the Astros before his recent move back to AAA (OKC Redhawks).  His 2011 MLB batting average is .268 with 4 homeruns.

It was a great weekend of baseball.  And great to see Joe. 😉

A Dream Come True….

Go take pictures of ballplayers over the holiday weekend?

 Why, yes… of course I will
Who am I supposed to take pictures of? 
Don’t worry… here’s a list.
And so began my first photo assignment, taking pictures of the AAA Omaha Royals for i70baseball.com during last weekend’s series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks.
The opportunity to take pictures with the freedom a press credential provides was an offer dreams are made of. Yet there I was, headed into a ballpark where I had been many times, with a media pass, player access and roaming privileges. I could hop into photo wells alongside the dugouts to get those up-close bench shots shielded from public view.  And when the players were stretching and tossing balls before the game, I had the freedom to walk right out onto the field. As a fan who has always been stuck behind the gate, the thrill of experiencing baseball from beyond that jail was hard to contain.
Admittedly, I was nervous. Would I mess up?  Get in trouble?  Do something wrong?  Would I stand out like the rookie I was?
Before heading out on my inaugural media pass adventure, I had decided on several personal rules of conduct.  I wanted to make a good impression, but I also wanted to make sure this would not be my last chance to attend a game with a press credential.
Rule #1: No Cheering from the press box or photo wells.
Rule #2:  Do not dress like a fan.
Rule #3: Maintain professional distance.
… Rule #3 didn’t last very long!  😉
The weekend was quite an adventure for a baseball-loving gal such as myself.  I met broadcasters, got tips from a real pro photographer from Baseball America, met the Royals’ superstar prospect and cheated on my Memphis Redbirds for just a few days.
And like any good lead in should, I hope this leaves you wanting to read more.
Today i70baseball.com published the full story of my media pass adventure including pictures and stories about the fun I had photographing the boys of the AAA Omaha Royals.
You can read more by clicking the link:  “The Omaha Challenge
Or by copying/pasting this address:  http://www.i70baseball.com/?p=3225
Thanks for reading!
This weekend I will be even more excited to use my second media pass when our Memphis Redbirds (aka Babybirds) take on the OKC Redhawks in the best-of-5 American Conference Championship playoffs.  Games 3 through 5 will be played in Oklahoma City starting Friday.
GO MEMPHIS!!!!!
And GO CARDS!  😉
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