Tuesday, July 3—I turned 65 today, which officially makes me an old buzzard/codger/geezer/whatever, although I didn’t feel any more exhausted than usual. Son Dave wished me a happy birthday when we met briefly in the doorway, daughter Margaret left me a “Happy Birthday Dad” note on the kitchen counter and e-mailed me a followup, and daughter Kathleen posted greetings on my Facebook page in addition to her earlier invitation to an upcoming combined Father’s Day/birthday celebration.
The Renegades were hosting the Cyclones after a heartbreaking 7-6 11-inning loss in Brooklyn Monday night. A record crowd of 5,523 was on hand to celebrate Independence Day and a contingent of World War II veterans, cheer for the teams (mostly for the Renegades, although there was a vocal Brooklyn contingent in the left-field grandstand) and enjoy a fine (and loud) seven-minute display of fireworks afterward.
It was a splendid evening at The Dutch except for the fact that the Renegades fell to the division-leading Cyclones for the third straight night. Brooklyn took a 3-0 lead in the third, the Gades promptly tied the score in their half of the inning and then went ahead in the fifth. The Cyclones went ahead in the seventh, the Gades promptly pulled even again, but Brooklyn, assisted by the last of four Hudson Valley errors, pushed across two unanswered runs in the eighth to make the final score 7-5 and drop the home team to 9-7, three games back in the McNamara Division. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
In keeping with the day-early celebration of the 236th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence (the Renegades are in Vermont tomorrow), patriotic themes abounded, from the presentation of the colors before the game by a contingent from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to the music that accompanied the fireworks. The most poignant moment came in the middle of the second inning, when the crowd gave a standing ovation to more than two dozen veterans of World War II as Zolz announced their names.
Regular stadium activities were part of the evening as well. I got to do the Chicken Dance in the middle of the third inning, we turned our head gear backward, rally-cap style, in the home ninth, and youngsters were allowed to run the bases after the game, even though the field was somewhat obscured by clouds of fireworks smoke that lingered in the still, humid air, accompanied by a distinct acrid smell.
I continued reconnecting with friends from seasons past. While waiting for the lights to come back on after the fireworks, I heard an unmistakable voice call “Prospector!” John was a stadium fixture for years before he went into banking and then commercial real estate. As Lurch, his persona at The Dutch, his tasks included motivating the crowd to cheer for the Renegades. He was extremely successful, thanks in large part to his enthusiasm and his commanding presence (he tops me by several inches and I’m 6-foot-2); in other words, when he appeared in front of your section and told you to shout “Let’s go, Gades!” you shouted “Let’s go, Gades!”
In the parking lot I congratulated Bev on Marty Gantt’s sharp leadoff single in the ninth. She thanked me for telling her, because at the time she had been involved in the 25th anniversary party of friends in the left-field picnic area and had not seen it. She also called Bob, who had left earlier, and had me tell him the details, which I was happy to do. I congratulated Marty when he emerged from the clubhouse and, after he mentioned that he had been having problems at the plate, suggested that he try to replicate whatever he did in the ninth, when he lined the first pitch over the second baseman.
Marty has been hitting the ball fairly well but slightly under it, resulting in too much height and not enough distance. In his first three at-bats tonight he had the unusual accomplishment of flying out to each outfielder—center, left and right, respectively.
Bob Hand, Paul, Hal, Grant and I had a nice chat with the umpires, including our agreement that they had correctly called a couple of close plays, including a runner who touched the plate before a high tag. Jacob Dallas, from Missouri, and Tim Haromada, from Ohio, were happy to talk baseball with us and seemed to appreciate a relaxed welcome, which umpires do not always receive. They declined our offer of refreshments, having just feasted in the clubhouse on a chicken pasta dish—a much better meal than they often get, they noted.
The Gades were scheduled to leave early Wednesday for Burlington, VT, for three games with the Lake Monsters, followed by three games with the Auburn (NY) Doubledays. After an off day for the New York-Penn League July 10 they will return home to face the Batavia (NY) Muckdogs Wednesday, July 11, first pitch 7:05 p.m.