Gillaspie has spent most of the last 2 seasons with the Grizzlies, batting .289/.368/.447 with 25 home runs and 110 RBIs. Gillaspie led Fresno in walks with 66 in 2011.
The Wichita State product was selected 37th overall by the Giants in the 2008 Draft.
Soptic was drafted by the White Sox in the 3rd round of the 2011 Draft out of Johnson County (Kan.) Community College. The Leawood, Kansas native spent all of 2012 with Single-A Kannapolis, appearing in 27 games. He was 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA (26er, 43.1ip) and 36 strikeouts against 29 walks. He also had 16 wild pitches. Opponents batted .176 against Soptic last year.
The right-hander was rated as having the best fastball in the Chicago farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season.
Hector Sanchez wore #43 for the Grizzlies in 2011 when the catcher made his Triple-A debut. The Venezuelan (pictured above with Nick Noonan) played in 46 games with the Grizzlies in ’11, batting .261 with 26 RBIs.
Sanchez also played for the Grizzlies in 2012 on MLB Rehab assignment.
He is one of the 17 of the 25 Giants on the 2012 World Series roster who has also played for the Grizzlies in their careers.
Opening Day is April 4th at Chukchansi Park.
The 2013 season will be Linden’s second consecutive season with the Giants organization as he spent all of 2012 with Fresno. The 12-year veteran also played in the Dominican Winter League this past offseason, batting .256 (23-for-90) with 7 home runs and 13 RBIs over 29 games with Estrellas de Oriente. The 7 homers were tied for the third-most in the league. He also carried a .393 OBP and .522 SLG with Estrellas.
Last season, Linden moved atop the Grizzlies’ all-time leader board in several offensive categories, including hits (563), home runs (83), and RBIs (310). The native of Edmonds, WA has played in 558 games over six seasons with the Grizzlies since 2002.
For most – if not all – players, a career in the minors is undesirable. Linden probably has that same mindset, but he never let it show with the Grizzlies in 2012. He was a professional all year, helping Fresno finish with a winning record and mentoring up-and-coming players as they knock on the Major League door.
Today is Presidents’ Day, or officially known as Washington’s Birthday. For some, it’s that second Monday they have off in February. In reality, though, it is a day that honors the 44 Presidents of the United States. The day was first celebrated as a federal holiday on the birthday of George Washington in the 1880s.
Thank the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill from 1968, though, for the Monday off. The bill moved a number of federal holidays to Mondays so workers had some long weekends.
To help get you through your day off – and in honor Presidents’ Day – here is a list of former Fresno Grizzlies who share a surname with past POTUS (or is it POTUSi?).
Josh Tyler (1998, 2000-01)
Shares name with the 10th US President, John Tyler (1841-45)
Tyler was a utility player for the Grizzlies during their inaugural season in 1998 and again later in 2000 and 2001. Tyler even made three appearances for the Grizzlies as pitcher over the 2000 and 2001 seasons. He allowed three runs over four innings in the three games. In fact, during the 2000 season, Tyler played every position except shortstop. His last professional season was with Fresno in 2001. He batted .287 in 77 games with the Grizzlies in 2001, but he carried a .404 batting average in August, his final month in pro baseball.
John Tyler could be viewed as utility player for the United States government. Tyler manned many different positions, including state legislator, governor, US representative, US Senator, Vice President, and then, of course, President. Tyler was the first person to succeed as President of the United States due to the death of the incumbent as William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia while in office.
Brian Johnson (1998)
Mike Johnson (2003)
Share name with 17th US President Andrew Johnson (1865-69) and 36th US President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69).
Two Presidents had the last names Johnson as did two former Grizzlies. First up is Brian Johnson. The catcher appeared in five games with Fresno on MLB Rehab. He had two home runs in his short time with the Grizzlies, including one of his homers being a part of back-to-back-to-back home runs to begin the fourth inning on August 4th. Among Giants fans (and Dodgers fans for that matter), Brian Johnson is remembered for this.
Mike Johnson spent parts of five seasons in the Majors (1997-2001) with the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 17th round of the 1993 Draft. The native of Edmonton spent all of the 2003 season with Fresno, making 30 appearances (including four starts) and going 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA. Mike Johnson closed out his career pitching in Korea and independent leagues, including his hometown club Edmonton in 2007, 2009, and 2010.
Andrew and Lyndon were Presidential relievers as both took over as President due to their predecessors’ assassinations.
Lyndon has a more direct tie to the game of baseball: he played in high school.
Brian Wilson (2005-07)
Shares name with Woodrow Wilson, 28th President (1913-21)
Brian Wilson’s time with the Grizzlies was pre-beard; some fans might not be able to recognize the tenure in more ways than one. Wilson was a standard arm out of the bullpen in his first season with Fresno in 2005, making nine appearances and going 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA and no saves. In 2006 and 2007, however, Wilson’s role as a closer began to take shape as he saved 18 games for the Grizzlies over the two seasons.
Woodrow Wilson is recognized for being a leader of the Progressive Movement, helping see legislation pass such as Federal Reserve Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, Federal Farm Loan Act, and an income tax. While Brian isn’t necessarily a leader in baseball’s progressivism, his actions are seen as newer to the traditional ways of baseball (i.e. The Beard).
Darren Ford (2011)
Shares name with Gerald Ford, 38th President (1974-77)
These two Fords can be known for one thing: quickness. Darren was 10-for-10 in stolen base opportunities with the Grizzlies in 2011. He primarily served as pinch runner for the Giants in 2010 and 2011 due to his speed on the base paths.
Gerald’s time in office can be described as quick in that his 895-day presidency is the shortest of all US Presidents who did not die in office.
The two also share the bond of football. Gerald was star linebacker and center for the University of Michigan’s national championship teams in 1932 and 1933. Darren, meanwhile, was a standout in football as well as baseball – and track – at Vineland High School. Darren received his fair share of college letters for football, baseball, and track.
Evan Bush (2006)
Shares name with George H.W. Bush, 41st President (1989-93) and George W. Bush, 43rd President (2001-09).
The father-and-son presidential duo has direct ties to baseball. George H.W. played for the Yale baseball team and participated in the first two College World Series. George W. was part owner of the Texas Rangers, serving as managing general partner for five years.
Evan Bush was one-and-done when he came to his baseball career. After being drafted by the Giants in 2006 out of Alabama, Bush played in 32 games with Short-Season Salem-Keizer. He played in three games for the Grizzlies that same season as a late-season replacement while other Grizzlies were summoned to San Francisco for a round of September call-ups.
Evan Bush quit pro baseball after one season in 2006. Since, he has been a collegiate coach, earning top junior college and top assistant coach honors from the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association. He is currently an assistant baseball coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Prior to UAH, Evan coached for three seasons at Bevill State Community College in Fayette, Alabama.
The 52nd Anniversary Hot Stove Gala may have faced a last-minute change, but the evening itself went off without a hitch.
The Hot Stove Gala benefits the Fresno Grizzlies Community Fund (GCF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that spearheads efforts to assist, reward, and support worthwhile causes throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley.
In addition to the dinner, the event includes raffle prizes and a silent auction to help raise money for the GCF. Through just the raffle and silent auction, over $7,000 was raised.
The money raised helps the GCF’s many community programs, such as Wild About Reading, Junior Grizzlies, and Farm Grown. The support for the GCF by fans each year helps it impact lives for the better all over the Central Valley.
As with previous Hot Stove Galas, one of the highlights of the night is the Q & A session with the guest speakers. The 52nd Anniversary Hot Stove Gala featured San Francisco Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner, Grizzlies manager Bob Mariano, Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister, and Giants pitcher George Kontos.
Each of the guest speakers had a tie to the Fresno area. Gardner was raised in Fresno, attending Clovis High School, Fresno City College, and Fresno State before ascending to a 13-year career in the Majors. Fister is also a local product as the Merced native attended Merced Junior College and Fresno State.
Mariano and Kontos, meanwhile, were with the Grizzlies in 2012. Mariano guided the team to a 74-70 record – the franchise’s only fifth winning season in its 15-year history. Kontos spent the first two months of the season with the Grizzlies before his promotion to the Giants, where he became a strong asset in the World Series-winning bullpen.
The guest speakers took part in nearly an hour-long Q & A session, which was hosted by the evening’s master of ceremonies Paul Loeffler. Plenty of great stories were shared by the four guest speakers, including Mariano’s expectations for the 2013 Grizzlies, Fister’s over-the-top focus when he is on the mound, and Kontos’ thoughts on how he went from a late trade acquisition prior to Opening Day to becoming a World Series champion.
Kontos was a late substitution for previously announced guest Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong was dealing with an eye infection on Thursday, and everybody felt it was best he didn’t make the trip.
There were awards presented during the night as well. Niko Pacheco (Bullard HS) and Rachel Rodriguez (Central HS) were presented with the Gus Zernial Male and Female Athlete of the Year award, respectively. Jay Pruess and his Kerman High School baseball team garnered the Coach of the Year and Team of the Year awards. Gardner was surprised with the 2013 Al Radka Award, which is given to an individual who helps the community through the game of baseball.
The Fresno Grizzlies want to thank everyone who attended the Gala as well as the guest speakers for helping make the night memorable. Now, it is time to start the baseball season!
By Camille Moultrie
How do you get your students Wild About Reading? Parker can show you how reading and fun can go hand in hand.
Parker danced and celebrated with the students and faculty at the Easterby Elementary assembly recently for their outstanding reading achievements! The students won two laptops for their school’s library through the Grizzlies Community Fund’s Wild About Reading program. Easterby won the laptops by having the highest attendance of all Wild About Reading schools at their assigned game during the 2012 Grizzlies season.
Easterby students partied the morning away with Parker and even got to see their teachers boogie on stage as well!
The Wild About Reading Program is a fantastic way to get students thrilled about reading and the chance to cheer on our very own Fresno Grizzlies! Each student enrolled in the program is challenged to read 10 books over five weeks. If a student reaches the goal, then he or she receives two free tickets to a Grizzlies game.
Over 90,000 Central San Joaquin Valley students are enrolled in the Wild About Reading program in 2013. Also, as part of the program, each student receives a free Farm Grown magazine, which features the short story “Parker Goes To The Farm.”
We are still accepting schools, however, for 2013. If you are interested, please call the Community Fund at (559) 320-2547.
Did you hear? Ryan Vogelsong and Doug Fister will be the guest speakers at the 52nd Anniversary Hot Stove Gala. The event is on Thursday, February 7th at the Fresno Convention Center in Downtown Fresno.
The Hot Stove dinner, which benefits the Fresno Grizzlies Community Fund, will be filled with plenty of conversations about the World Series and playing baseball in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
So why did we choose Vogelsong and Fister – and they graciously accept – to be speakers? Let’s break that down:
- Vogelsong was the Grizzlies’ Opening Day starting pitcher in each of the last two seasons. Both starts had different reasons, though. In 2011, the right-hander was giving what seemed to be one final shot at being a Major League pitcher. He impressed the Giants over two starts with the Grizzlies and was the player selected to replace Barry Zito in the starting rotation. In 2012, Vogelsong started the year with Fresno on Major League Rehab assignment.
- Vogelsong is one of the 17 of the 25 Giants on the World Series roster who have worn both a Grizzlies and Giants uniform. Vogelsong, being that he was drafted by the Giants and groomed in the organization with a stop in Fresno, is one of the Farm Grown stars on the Giants.
- Vogelsong first pitched with the Grizzlies in 2001 (that’s the Beiden Field era). While 1
7 of the 25 players from the Giants’ World Series roster at one time played for the Grizzlies, Vogelsong is the only one who can claim he wore the purple and black jerseys (for what it’s worth). Vogelsong made 10 starts for Fresno in 2001.
- Vogelsong’s story is one all fans would want to hear. The former Giants draft pick also pitched in his home state with the Pittsburgh Pirates before going on a journey to Japan for three seasons with two different teams. Once he returned from Japan in 2010, he spent allof the first season in Triple-A wondering if he would ever get the opportunity again to pitch in the big leagues. Since then, Vogelsong has been named a National League All-Star, honored with the Willie Mac award winner and won a World Series. Not bad considering his path.
- Fister faced the Giants in game two of the 2012 World Series. Fister allowed only one run over six-plus innings, striking out three and walking one. He suffered the loss as the Giants beat the Tigers 2-0.
- Fister was first drafted by the Giants in the 49th round of the 2003 Draft, but he elected not to sign.
- Fister is from Merced, California and went to high school at Golden Valley High in Merced, which is about 50 minutes from Downtown Fresno.
- Fister attended Merced Junior College and Fresno State. He pitched for the Bulldogs from 2005-06, and he earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a senior in 2006.
- In his Fresno State athletics bio, he listed his biggest athletic thrill (before he was a pro) was pitching at “SBC Park,” or now known as AT&T Park, home of the Giants.
- While he has never pitched in Chukchansi Park in his pro career, Fister has faced the Grizzlies twice. He faced the Grizzlies at Cheney Stadium in 2009 when he was pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers.
Little known fact: Parker, everyone’s favorite mascot, moonlights as a movie critic. Read below for his take on Parental Guidance, in theaters on December 25th.
On December 19th, the Grizzlies front office, some season ticket holders chosen via a random drawing and over 100 of our closest friends (chosen by the Fresno Beehive) were fortunate to get an early look at the movie Parental Guidance).
First, let me say the movie was GREAT! And when I say great, I mean elegantly told and hilariously written. (I guess I could have said that the first time.)
But I’m not here to critique the entire movie. That’s up to the professionals).
I’m going to share my thoughts on the most important parts: me…and the Grizzlies playing at Chukchansi Park.
My shining moment came during the Kiss Cam scene. I’m not going to spoil it, but someone does kiss another person (surprise!). I have to say, I looked great on the big screen.
There are some other great shots of the game at Chukchansi Park. An aerial shot of the stadium in Downtown Fresno. Artie walking out one last time through the centerfield gates. All beautifully captured by the movie crew.
Billy Crystal…er, I mean, Artie Decker was hilarious calling the action. Now, he is no Doug Greenwald, but Artie did hold his own. He had some great one-liners, keeping listeners on their feet (or on their seats, I suppose, since most people listen to the radio sitting down).
The unfortunate part is Artie’s time with the Grizzlies is short-lived in the movie. The baseball broadcaster of 35 years is fired because he cannot Tweet, poke on Facebook or the worst yet, #Hashtag. Clearly, Artie’s character did not consult those close to him because I have demonstrated I am capable of all those things, as seen here and here. My consulting fee is negotiable, in real-life or in the movies (I like food. Lots of it. It always goes straight to my midsection.)
We could have kept Artie as the voice of the Grizzlies even longer. I am here to entertain fans in the stadium as well as through the social media networks. Writers failed to recognize this (or they did, but it doesn’t go well with their entire plot line. I vote the latter.). We even have a bobblehead of him as a fan giveaway. Clearly, Fresno fans wanted to see more of Artie (Side note: could the actual Grizzlies give away this Artie Decker bobblehead in 2013? Stay tuned…).
Artie’s misfortune does breathe new life into his personal life, though. In the end, Artie Decker’s broadcasting career brings his family together. Even when he signs off after every game with a “Lights out, Alice,” you could feel his love for his family even from afar. The unexpected exit from the Grizzlies proved to be for the better in Artie’s life. The lessons learned are something I highly approve.
The movie and special screening showed me I also enjoyed spending time with my Grizzlies family. I can’t wait for the 2013 season to start, but until then, you can see Grizzlies baseball at Chukchansi Park at a theater near you. Go see Parental Guidance. It’s worth it.