Posted by: Ryan | May 16, 2010

Cup of Coffee

Photo of Ryan and kid at the gameThis project is about minor league baseball, but I am going to attend a number of major league games during the season. I’ll pretend that I’m a Triple-A utility infielder, called up for a cup of coffee because the parent club needs some bench depth for a game or two.

This winter I was lucky enough to be given the chance to purchase Red Sox vs. Yankees tickets – yes, it has come to that – and was further blessed by being pulled out of the Virtual Waiting Room to buy some coveted face-value seats. So we went to Boston last weekend for the game, one day before my birthday.

It was the first major league game my daughter has ever attended, although she’s been to about a half-dozen New Hampshire Fisher Cats games. Her love of the ‘Cats was sealed when a player threw her a ball during batting practice in August of last year. I’ve since gotten Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero to sign the ball, which kind of ruined the gift for her, as I won’t let her play catch with it out in the yard anymore.

For her first time at Fenway Park, I wanted to make sure that she wouldn’t get bored. I told my wife that I was willing to leave in the fifth inning, and we could take turns hustling down to the concessions with her until then: a soft pretzel one inning, ice cream the next.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how much she would enjoy the spectacle. I’ve moaned aplenty in this blog about the problems inherent in attending a big-league game: the distance from the action, the prices, the drunks, the crush of people, the throbbing sound systems. But never at Manchester has she witnessed what happened in the third inning of this game versus the Yankees.

The New Yorkers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but reserve centerfielder Darnell McDonald (talk about a cup of coffee) hit a home run to lead off the Red Sox’ half of the inning. The crowd, which had witnessed an ugly dismantling of the home team the night before, began to murmur. Dustin Pedroia got plunked by a pitch, which raised the blood of the fans even more. An out later, Victor Martinez came to the plate.

I had a feeling – everyone who has watched a lot of baseball gets these feelings – and I said to L., “If he hits a home run here, honey, this place is going to go crazy.”

She’s eight years old, and hasn’t yet fully learned that I’m completely fallible. For now, I’ll take these moments of omniscience: Martinez hit the next pitch out of the park, and the place *did* go crazy. The Full Beer-Spilling, High-Five-Attempting, Beastie Boys Shake Your Rump Blaring, Fist-Pumping Monty.

She loved it, and it did my Daddy heart proud.

We did leave in the fifth inning, before the rain delay, and before things got ugly (the final score was 13-3 Yankees; a backup outfielder pitched the last inning for the Sox). Before we left, I gave L. the Weasel Tour along the concrete walkway between first and third base – Just returning to my seat, folks – so she could take in the the brilliant base lines, A-Rod and Jeter kicking at the dirt with their spikes on the left side of the infield, the mustard-yellow foul pole where Carlton Fisk hit his home run 35 years ago (Fisk was at this game, and stood waving at the adoring crowd from his luxury box as we walked 30 feet below).

On our way out, I tried to get a glimpse of where I’ll be sitting the next time I come to Fenway, 10 days from now. It’s up on the second level. A burly security guard blocked my path and asked for my ticket, and denied me passage to the land of the truly blessed.

“Hey, is that a Fisher Cats hat?” he asked. “My girlfriend lives in Manchester, and I love going to see those games. What a good time.”

I thought about this: here’s a guy who works at Fenway Park *every home game* and still thinks going to Double A games is a good time.

“How are they doing this year?” he asked.

I’ll let you know.

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Responses

  1. Sue linked to your blog on facebook and I enjoyed this immensely. My son Eric is at a Bowie Baysox game at this very moment. I’ll have to see if they play Manchester.

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoy it. Bowie does play the Fisher Cats; I’ll see them in NH on August 6.

      Ryan Newswanger

  2. I used to work at EMU with Jennifer N-B who pointed me toward your blog (I guess you are her sister’s bro-in-law?). Looks like you have a fantastic summer ahead of you!

    Last summer I rode my bike to five minor league games and documented it in a blog – much like you’re doing here. You can check out my journey here – http://calleaguebiketour.blogspot.com/

    As a Jays fan, I’m excited to see your home team is the Fisher Cats. But as a baseball fan, I’m excited to see all the other parks your hitting up! I’ll be sure to check in from time to time.

    • Thanks, Ben. Sounds like it was a great trip! Inspiring that you were able to work off all of those ballpark calories.
      Didn’t Rancho Cucamonga play shortstop for the Padres in the mid-’70s?
      Or maybe I’m thinking of Tito Fuentes…


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