As I reflect on some of the minor league games I have attended in the past…there are a few games that stand out above the rest. Last year I had the honor of attending a Wilmington (Wilmington, DE- Royals Single A) Blue Rocks game with a few of my closest friends. Little did we know that night we would witness one of the greatest spectacles any baseball crowd had ever witnessed. Never before in my life had I ever thought it was possible for monkeys to be riding dogs in a rodeo. That night expanded my imagination and proved me wrong!
That night at the ballpark the Blue Rocks provided their fans with a monkey/dog rodeo show!
The outfit that provides this entertainment is called “Team Ghost Rider” and they are pretty well known nationally. They travel the country mostly as sideshows in sporting events, sometimes other rodeos. But this rodeo act got their big break performing at the Blue Rocks games and brought the creativity level of a minor league promotion to a whole new level!
Team Ghost Rider is led by a rodeo cowboy named Tim “Wild Thang” Lepard. Tim was a rodeo cowboy who got injured during 1 of his shows and needed another entertainment act to extend his career. According to his website and testimony that I heard at the game his dream as a kid was to “own a monkey.” So I guess mixing his rodeo experience with his dream gave us this original and mind-blowing act that consists of monkeys riding dogs.
Team Ghost Rider’s act is actually pretty impressive. It boggles my mind how Mr. Lepard was able to train monkeys and dogs simultaneously to start a show. It makes me wonder what his house looks like…if there are monkeys and dogs roaming his yard! But Team Ghost Rider consists of usually 3 or 4 dog/monkey pairs where monkeys are strapped to the top of a Collie breed. They then perform tricks ranging from races, to one handed stands by the monkey. The signature of this act is when they monkey/dogs attempt to herd goats throughout the ballpark. This provides for some really hilarious and harmless fun. As a ballplayer I have no idea how one can stay focused when all of this is going on. Although there have been a few incidents of goats roaming too close to the ball players as they’re warming up between innings.
Team Ghost Rider tours throughout the country during the summer, appearing at a few minor league stadiums along the way. If these guys ever venture out to a stadium near you, I would highly recommend you go out and see them. They will provide you with an unforgettable night of entertainment!
People often associate something that is unbelievable with the idea of flying pigs. What kind of feeling would one associate with the idea of monkey-riding dogs?
* A personal video will be included very soon!
Baseball and the Entertainment Industry go together like Kenny Powers and Myrtle Beach. For those of you who don’t get that analogy it means that they go together quite well. There are many TV and Movie productions that have been written about baseball throughout the years. Some have been epic…some have been dull. Some funny…some sad. Some had great acting and storylines…others had the quality of a Steven Seagal movie (I’m talking to you Tom Selleck and Mr. Baseball).
One TV show that has become one of my favorites recently is HBO’s show Eastbound and Down. Eastbound and Down is about a drunken ex-baseball pitcher named Kenny Powers who finds himself in his hometown as a subsitute teacher. Powers desperately wants to make it back to the majors and will do anything to get there. The show chronicles Kenny’s journey as he tries to make it back to the majors…ranging anywhere from his interactions with people in his hometown to his experience in the Mexican Baseball League. The show isn’t for those who don’t appreciate crude and obnoxious humor but it is truly 1 of the better viewing programs out there.
In the third and final season of Eastbound and Down, we watch Kenny as he gets a job as a relief pitcher for the fictional Myrtle Beach Mermen (the really sweet logo above). Myrtle Beach is the Jersey Shore of the South and Kenny Powers is the poster boy for crude red necks everywhere…so it really gives the viewer quite the comedic experience as Kenny navigates himself through the minor league landscape.
What some people may not know is that the Mermen are based off a real minor league team. The team is based off of the Advanced Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans Baseball Team. All of the baseball seasons during the 3rd season were filmed at Myrtle Beach’s TicketReturn.com Field and brought a good deal of notority during the offseason. The idea of basing the Mermen off the Pelican’s baseball team actually came from the Pelican’s owner (and Texas Rangers owner) Chuck Greenberg. Greenberg happened to be a huge Eastbound and Down fan and when he heard that the script called for Kenny to move to Myrtle Beach…he knew that he needed to include the Pelicans organization in on the fun. Here’s a transcript for Sports Business Daily’s Interview with Chuck Greenberg, in which he describes his experience with the filming of Eastbound and Down. It’s a good read for Eastbound fans.
For all of you Eastbound fans like myself who think the Mermen gear is really awesome…have no fear it’s available! Here is the Pelican’s official Press Release of the availability of the Eastbound and Down gear as well as the link to their official Pro Shop where you can buy the official Mermen gear.
Rest assured that there will be more Eastbound and Down-related posts throughout the summer as it is arguably 1 of the best pieces of media ever written about minor league baseball…yes it’s better then Bull Durham! I will also be writing a post here or there about another entertainment pieces that are related to minor league baseball.
Keep your guys posted for more Kenny Powers-related posts in the near future!