Thursday, Aug. 16—With the Renegades on the road for a week, Dutchess Stadium was clear tonight for the first round of the annual Home Run Derby, which benefits Pitch For Kids, the team’s charitable arm. As in past years I volunteered to help shag fly balls and grounders along with stadium staffers, Bob and a few other fans interested in helping a worthy cause while playing a little baseball on the same field where our Renegades play.
As the name implies, participants try to hit home runs over the outfield wall, which some of the hitters did effortlessly and repeatedly. Points could also be earned if a batted ball struck one of the assorted targets about the field.
My primary responsibility was the bucket, a ball collection point behind a screen in shallow center field. Fielders who chased down fly balls and grounders and retrieved balls hit over the wall would throw them in toward the bucket, where I caught them directly or picked them up off the grass. As the bucket filled we periodically emptied it into the ball cart by the pitcher’s mound.
Hitting and ball retrieval went on for more than three hours. For me personally it was a great thrill to be playing ball on the same field as my Renegades. Refreshments, including wraps, potato and macaroni salad, cole slaw, chips, soft drinks and water, added to the enjoyment. On the down side, I would pay for the experience through soreness of muscles and assorted other body parts that I had forgotten I had. Was it worth it? Absolutely! And I’m looking forward to the next rounds of the derby, scheduled for Aug. 27 and 30.
Bob and I inherited some leftover wraps, potato salad and cole slaw, which, combined with a few bottles of water, made a nice post-derby meal in the corral as we put the finishing touches on plans for our trip to Connecticut and Boston. Bob does not get along with provolone cheese, so he pulled it from his wrap and flung it toward the garbage bin; as luck would have it, two of the resident skunks had no such problems with the cheese and sallied forth to devour it. It even sounded to us as though they were calling to each other.
Having eaten our fill, we left the remaining wraps on a plastic platter near a light pole. Before long, my flashlight picked up the skunks chowing down on the leftovers. We respectfully gave them a wide berth and had no problems with each other.
To learn more about Pitch For Kids, please click here and then on “Pitch For Kids” in the upper right of the page.