Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Old Ball Game

Let's go back in time for a minute, kids. 1986. October. World Series, Mets vs. Red Sox. I was raised on Mets baseball, and I was the only kid in the 5th grade class at Kelly Lane School (if not the only kid in the entire school) hoping that the Mets would win. And win they did, in historic, dramatic fashion. My parents have all seven games of that series on tape; my mother particularly enjoys watching game 6, for obvious reasons. (And it's only recently, now that they have two World Series rings in three years, that Boston officially forgave Bill Buckner).

I still enjoy baseball, but not always of the professional variety. I like little league games, if I happen to be at the park, then just sit and catch one. (None of my friends have kids who play little league...yet). Pro games have become way too expensive with their high ticket and concession prices, not to mention the corporatization (I know that's not a word) of pro baseball. So far only the stadiums have names like Minute Maid Park and (gulp) Citi Field, but the teams, thank God, have not taken corporate names like the Citi Mets or the Tropicana Devil Rays.

(In the interest of full disclosure, let me add here that I'm attending a conference in Washington, DC next week, and one of the planned activities is a trip to a game at Camden Yards. I'm not so much excited as seeing the Orioles play as I am seeing Camden Yards, which I hear is a gem of a ballpark. You know what they say, when opportunity knocks...)

And opportunity knocked tonight. I recently got a chance at discounted tickets to a New Britain Rock Cats game. OK, the cheapest seats are $5 a pop, but I got three $8 seats for $5 each. Hey, in this economy, ya gotta find whatever breaks ya can get.

I really love the fact that I live in a state with THREE minor league baseball teams. In addition to the Rock Cats, we've got the Bridgeport Bluefish and the Connecticut Defenders. And as a bonus, I live 20 minutes from New Britain Stadium, so it's easy for me to catch a ball game whenever I want.

The Rock Cats are a real family-oriented team. At the beginning of the game, they recognize all of the little league, high school, and other community baseball teams in attendance, and they invite 'em on the field before the game starts. And, as a bonus, these teams stay on the field with the Rock Cats players during the singing of the national anthem. It's a really sweet thing to see.

It wasn't such a good game for the Rock Cats tonight. Their opponents were the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, an ironic name when you consider that the fisher cat preys on domestic kitties. But that's not the point. There were still some really good plays in the game. Both teams had a couple of double plays. There were some excellent catches of pop flies. There weren't any home runs, but a lot of grounders.

The most interesting parts of the game often happen between innings, when Lucky, who works the crowd as one of the Rock Cats' emcees, leads games and contests involving the kids. Tonight he helped lead a little league team in performing the chicken dance on top of the home team's dugout. Earlier, he called a race among a little kid (I'm almost certain he was no more than three years old) and the mascots, Rocky, Blooper, and Toner.

It was a very enjoyable evening. I left with some good pictures, which I will post later, a free t-shirt, and a free Rock Cats umbrella. This is the first time I've scored loot at a ball game! Yeah!

And the Rock Cats have a home game at 12:05 tomorrow...$5 a ticket, and I'm on vacation...hmmm...

1 comment:

Dianna said...

There was a one point a Junior Major hockey team named the Compuware Ambassidors, but they have since folded. Always felt that was a lead off though into pro-teams bearing corporate names.

At least minor league baseball teams have not taken to wearing advertising all over their uniforms the way minor league hockey teams have done.