My radio partner, Jeremy Conn (AKA Jerry Love), and I made a road trip to Bowie Thursday. We broadcast our show from Price George’s Stadium home of the Orioles AA club the Bowie Baysox.
The experience took me back to my first brush covering professional baseball. In the mid and late 70’s I spent summers covering the Dodgers triple A club in Albuquerque. I still have a championship ring to remind me of the Dukes PCL title of 35 years ago.
Those were some special teams that included players like Pedro Guerrero (World Series MVP), Jeffrey Leonard, and all-star pitchers like Rick Sutcliffe, Dave Stewart and Bob Welch. The roster also included current major league managers Mike Scioscia (Angels), Ron Washington (Rangers) and Terry Collins (Mets).
As we sat behind the plate on a beautiful summer night I was reminded of how enjoyable and uncomplicated a night at a minor league ballpark could be. With apologies to the late Ernie Harwell I was front and center in “The Game for All-America”.
Minor league baseball is a 50-something year old woman sitting to my right yelling “Swing batter, batter, batter, batter!
It’s the family behind us and the woman with tears in her eyes so proud of her young boy who did such a great job singing the national anthem.
Minor league baseball is the team’s best hitter and all-star telling us he cuts grass back home in Tennessee in the off-season to pay the bills.
It’s the 32 year old catcher trying to hang on to his dream giving signals to the 20 year old pitcher whose dream is coming true.
It’s the nice guy sitting right in front of us thanking us for the tickets he won playing The Fan’s “Showdown”. It’s also the man in the wheel -chair escaping his circumstances for a few hours.
Minor league baseball is the pleasant sound of the woman stadium announcer suddenly giving way to a nine year old haltingly announcing the next batter. Its 4 youngsters in a tug-of-war between innings down the 3rd base line.
It’s the wives and girlfriends section sprinkled with young children and hopes of one day sitting in the same section in the big leagues.
Minor league baseball is the Manager coaching 3rd base, an usher wearing a Kyle Boller jersey taking us to our seats and the Ravens Super Bowl champion kicker booting a football from centerfield into the stands and the waiting hands of a fan wearing a Redskins jersey.
Minor league baseball is signage littered all over the outfield walls with the mandatory “Hit it Here” on the local plumbing store.
It’s the carousel down the right field line, a pre-game workout from 2 guys who were in the big leagues a week ago and the post-game food spread in the clubhouse.
It’s the mascot race with a crushing tackle near the finish line; check your scorecards winning number and the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
Minor league baseball is players who stay with host families, the next pitch, the next game and the next bus trip. Our trip to Bowie a nice reminder of “The Game For All-America.”
Special thanks to Manager Gary Kendall, Assistant GM Phil Wrye, Communications Director Matt Wilson and the Baysox staff who made us feel so welcome.