Friday, Aug. 17—Coffee in hand, I rendezvoused with Bob at The Dutch a little before 2 p.m. to follow the Renegades to Norwich, CT, and Boston for games against the Connecticut Tigers and Lowell Spinners, respectively. After loading my gear into Bob’s car and obtaining ice from the stadium kitchen for Big Red and the other coolers, we were on our way to Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich (actually suburban Yantic) around 2:30. Traffic on Interstate 84 was heavy but moving at decent speeds except for congestion around Waterbury. All in all we made good time across I-84, I-691, I-91, Connecticut Routes 3 and 2, arriving in the Norwich area around 4:30.
We stopped at a Subway on Connecticut 32 not far from the highways and the approach road to the stadium, where we bought foot-long sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and today’s editions of The [Norwich] Bulletin and The [New London] Day. We arrived at the stadium around 5, where we paid $3 to park (vs. $5 at The Dutch), and had a leisurely tailgate supper. We picked up our tickets at the will-call window and, since the gates did not open until 6, we strolled about the exterior of the stadium.
We noted a banner proclaiming that the Tigers will host the 2013 New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Aug. 13 and asked another fan to photograph us in front of the stadium with the statue of Tater the (Navi)Gator, the mascot of the former Class AA Norwich Navigators, a New York Yankees affiliate that used to play at the stadium before the Tigers relocated there from Oneonta, NY, in 2010.
At the entrance to the left-field picnic area we met up with ushers Ed and Freddie, two enthusiastic older gentlemen who reminded us a lot of Bob and Charlie, who man the season ticket gate at The Dutch. We had a nice visit with them and were pleased when they stopped by our area a couple of times during the game to see how we were doing and give us some good-natured ribbing.
Our seats were in Section 17 in the first row behind the visitors dugout, on the third-base side, which afforded us a great opportunity to chat with several of the Renegades before the game and cheer them as they came and went during it, including Jared Sandberg, Dan DeMent, Reinaldo Lopez, Geoff Rowan (who has been cleared to play), Jose Molina and Marty Gantt. “We’re here for you,” was a frequent comment from me to the Gades. We also had a nice chat before the game with a couple of folks who had had experience with the Cape Cod Summer League, in which a lot of high-caliber college players keep their games in shape between semesters.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Renegades tied the score in the second and went ahead 3-1 in the fifth. The Tigers scored three in the sixth and added an insurance run in the eighth for a final score of 5-3 to avoid being swept; the Renegades had won the first two games of the series, 2-0 Wednesday and 8-3 Thursday. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
Tonight was the first time I had seen the Renegades on the road this season, and I frequently had to remind myself that the folks in white (home) uniforms were NOT the Gades. Meanwhile, I had a few chuckles at myself for thinking some of our players were out of position.
The game was followed by an eight-minute display of fireworks, mild by Dutchess Stadium standards (no loud boomers, to Bob’s disappointment) but quite enjoyable.
Hal and Grant, who were sitting in Section 15, joined Bob and me afterward between the clubhouse door and the team bus, where we had a nice chat with Charles Epperson, who once again said he planned to use his degree in chemistry to play baseball, and several other players as they stowed their gear and boarded the bus. They were bound for a hotel in Lowell tonight and will go to Fenway Park in Boston in the morning.
Points of interest from the natural world included a growing number of moths of various sizes as the game progressed and a couple of intermittent showers that dampened us outside the stadium afterward. We saw no signs of skunks or foxes.
Bob and I finally headed out after the team bus left, making our way back down the hill to Route 32 and Interstate 395 north, which some 15 miles later brought us to Moosup, CT, where I had reserved a room for us at the Knights Inn just off Exit 89 and 155 miles from The Dutch. In the motel office we made friends with Ramsey, a friendly white boxer who really enjoyed being patted and rubbed. We spent a pleasant rest of the evening in Room 117 watching baseball on TV and part of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I finally went to bed after 3 a.m.
Next blog post: The Prospector sees his first game—a Renegades victory—in iconic Fenway Park.