Friday, July 27—The Renegades found out the hard way why the Tri-City ValleyCats have the best record in the league as they lost both ends of a doubleheader to the visitors from Troy, 4-2 and 7-0. ValleyCat Brian Holmes almost pitched a perfect game in the nightcap, with a seventh-inning single the only blemish. Each game was seven innings, by New York-Penn League rules.
Players and fans baked under the summer sun during the first game, a makeup of Thursday’s rainout. The Cats took an early 2-0 lead and were up 4-1 after six innings. The Gades were rallying in the seventh and appeared poised to tie the game on a grounder deep to third by Luke Maile with runners on second and third and two outs. Several friends with better angles than I had thought Luke beat the throw to first, which would have kept the rally going. But umpire Clayton Hamm thought otherwise and called him out, ending the game in a loud chorus of boos.
Whether the Renegades were disheartened by the game-ending call or Holmes was simply dominant on the mound is difficult to say, but there was no doubt that we were watching a masterful performance by the visiting lefty. Holmes, who struck out six Renegades, was perfect through six innings before surrendering a first-pitch single by Joey Rickard in the seventh. The Gades then went out one-two-three to end the contest. Meanwhile, the Cats had taken a 2-0 lead in the first and, with the aid of three triples, cruised to victory. Please click here to read the story of the games on the Gades’ Web site.
I was busy before even entering the stadium. I traded in my rainout ticket stubs for stadium scrip (good for food, souvenirs and personalizing attire), finally dropped off my check for the Eric B. Huss Memorial Outing July 28 and had a nice chat in the parking lot with Andy, a veteran lot attendant, who asked me if, since I usually arrived early, I would park in a certain area by a rail fence, which hopefully would encourage others to follow suit instead of parking in areas that would obstruct late arrivals. I told him I would be happy to help the cause.
The Fleischmans, including their son Tommy, were on hand for the first game. Tommy shared some of his adventures as ticket office manager for the Staten Island Yankees before the family decided to find a shady spot to watch the game, which wasn’t difficult; makeup day games are usually lightly attended and today was no exception, although arrivals for the regularly scheduled second game swelled the official attendance to 4,067.
Paul, seeking a change of scene from his regular seat on the first-base line, joined me in the otherwise empty first row of Section 107. We both remarked on how easy it was to hear the players and the umpires without the noise of a large crowd drowning them out. For Paul, being behind the net meant that he did not have to keep his glove handy to guard against foul balls hit into the stands, a constant concern in his regular seat.
Zolz repeatedly reminded everyone that, under a new Dutchess County regulation, smoking is no longer permitted anywhere in county parks. The Dutch is a county park, so smoking outside the stadium is now prohibited as well as inside, where it has been banned for some time.
During the half-hour break between games Paul and I followed Bob to the left-field picnic area, where he sold several bags of tennis balls for tossing after the fireworks. I enjoyed the opportunity to check out the flowers and view the stadium from an area I seldom visit. I was happy (and thankful to God) to learn that Bob and Paul had made it home safely last night and showed them the photos I took at the stadium before and during the storm.
The second game started with little fanfare and the ValleyCats were actually batting as I made my way back to Section 107. John, Colleen and Mike were on hand for the nightcap, and a friend of theirs was in Seat 7. The Interstate Battery seats were empty, so I invited her to stay as long as she liked while Paul and I settled into Seats 8 and 9. It was interesting to see the variation that a one-seat difference made in my angle of the home plate area.
Late in the game Zolz formally announced, for the first time, that getting the Prospector’s signature on a ticket stub was one of the items to collect during the ongoing scavenger hunt. I waved at the announcement, then pulled out my Sharpie, expecting to be overwhelmed by hordes at any moment. Wrong! The game ended with no visitors and was followed by a fine seven-minute fireworks display, with nice colorful sprays and plenty of boomers. Finally, as the tennis-ball toss was ending, one woman approached, ticket stub in hand. Grinning from ear to ear, I wrote “Prospector #4” (in honor of one of my old softball team numbers and Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, in my book one of the greatest players of all time and a good human being as well).
The Renegades did top the ValleyCats in one category. Competition between Hudson Valley ballboys and veteran Tri-City ballboy Charlie to reach foul balls and errant practice throws has been spirited for years. The Gades’ Nick, urged on by several fans, swept both ends of the contest, 9-2 and 13-4, aided by the fact that a majority of foul balls went toward the Renegades’ side of the field.
Out in the parking lot I had the pleasure of meeting Marty Gantt’s mother and sister, who were in town for a couple of days to see him play. The entire family plans a longer visit later in the season. Meanwhile, I told them it was always a pleasure to meet player families and acknowledged that Marty is one of our 2012 favorites.
Patty joined the gathering and I doubled tonight’s total signatures by signing her ticket stub.
Refreshments consisted of assorted chips and leftover bunless hot dogs and hamburgers. As usual, the gathering dwindled to Bob and me. After discussing a possible road trip following the Renegades to Connecticut and Massachusetts in August we left the leftover meat for the critters and headed home after midnight.
Next home game: Saturday, July 28 vs. Williamsport Crosscutters, first pitch 7:05 p.m.