Monday, May 23, 2005

Doubleday Field, May 23rd, 2005

The 6 AM wake-up got me to Cooperstown, New York, at a little before ten, where my mom and I waited at one of the trolley lots with about forty people, two of whom were Tiger fans. I knew then what I'd suspected for a long time: Doubleday Field was gonna be Fenway Park in the Empire State.

My mom surprised me by borrowing from my dad the official road jersey with World Series patch that we all chipped in to get him for Christamas. So she was really outclassing me in the style department.

We got to the Hall of Fame around 10 AM, with me getting in free with the membership I bought just to be able to buy tickets to this game. So, at mom's request, I left her in the line to go upstairs to the trophy, so I could get a good spot on line, and then she could join me without having to wait. When I got up there it was total anarchy. No line. Just a mass of worshippers. When mom arrived up in the trophy room, she told me that a staff member had told everyone that the trophy had already been taken away to the parade, which started at noon. So she told this guy--a lying yankee fan--that she was only there for the trophy, and could she go get her son so she could leave. This got her in for free, and she found me waiting upstairs--right by the trophy. We jammed our way close to it and took each other's pic with it. (I've seen the old girl four times now, but hadn't had my pic taken with it yet.) (The trophy, not my mom.)

Then we walked around, saw the 2004 World Series display, bloody sock and all, and as we passed back through the trophy room, we noticed a line had formed, and it was a mile long. So we just made it in time as it turned out.

At the front door on our way out were my cousin's husband and son, right where we planned to meet up. I gave my other tickets to them. (note: both yankee fans). We went to a diner, where we were forgotten about by the waitress. To the point where, when we tried to order off of the breakfast menu she'd left us with, they had stopped serving breakfast. So we had lunch.

Then we stepped outside and watched the worst parade you'll ever see. A bunch of yahoos, and then finally four trolleys full of players for like ten seconds. And the ubiquitous Johnny Pesky, along with Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio, in a car.

Interesting that the trolleys took the players right to Doubleday Field, as the mass of people pretty much walked along side them. It's kind of weird having all the players and fans arrive together at the field as one.

Our seats were front row, right by third base, in this cozy 10,000-ish seat park. I was told they'd be obstructed by walking traffic, but they weren't at all. Pretty sweet deal for an eleven dollar ticket.

We were on the Red Sox side, so we had great views of everybody warming up down the third base line.

The home run derby started at 1:00.

Payton went three for ten. Then Johnny got maybe six; he had a nice rythym for a while. Then Ortiz came up. And that's when houses started being attacked by baseballs. The park is right in the village, so it's surrounded by trees and houses with people out on the roofs. Papi was tattooing houses. Eight out of ten. A great show.

Then three Tigers didn't beat Ortiz.

All right, female Sam, it was, I don't know, The Meat or whatever, maybe Tims, and I really forget their third dude. It wasn't Nook. Darrell Evans? Matt Nokes? Chet Lemon?

They interviewed David on the field after his performance, as they did with a bunch of players throughout the day, and we could hear it over the PA.

Then the game started, and the fun really began. Johnny was just chillin' out in center, laughin' it up with the fans in the bleachers. (Remember, it was 90% Sox fans.) As he came out for the bottom of the second, he had a catch with the crowd. He'd just throw it in, and whoever caught it would throw it back. I was sitting there wondering if my yankee fan companions were thinking, "Wow, baseball can be fun!"

The starters left the game following the second, except for Youkilis, who played a lot of innings at first.

But then I noticed Trot Nixon went to coach third. And Dale Sveum got in the batter's box. And Dale laced the ball! A base hit. Dale Sveum finally gets a rousing cheer from Red Sox Nation. Amazing.

The next inning, Johnny Damon comes out to coach third. And in the inning after that, too. At one point, a guy got on first. A minor-leaguer, like the rest of the team at that point. Of course the crowd is all telling Johnny to send the guy. So Johnny starts making motions at the kid: Points at first, moves arms to the left, points at second. He does this over and over again, trying to get the kid to steal, but he isn't budging. Then there's a ground ball that the batter beats out, and the kid tries to go from second to third on the play, and gets tagged out without even sliding, ending Johnny's career as a third base coach.

Then Willie Mota came in the game to play center. The center field crowd adopted him as their new favorite. He gets a hit, and they cheer him more. He comes back out to center, the cheers get louder. They chant "Mota." Then in the eighth, he gets up as the tying run. The bleachers are serenading him, and I swear to Gedman, the guy hits a home run, right to center field. He would've been the MVP had the Thigh-gers not won it in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off homer. Or maybe Hanley Ramirez, who also played well, and had at least two hits and an RBI.

I also got to watch Manny Delcarmen warm up, which was cool.

So Manny and Ramirez were there, but Manny Ramirez was not. Neither was Schilling, but a good percentage of the team were there. I guess a bunch of pitchers weren't there, now that I think about it. I didn't see Clement, Miller, Foulke, or Embree, but maybe they just stayed in the dugout.

Bill Haselman also got an at bat in the game. And Ino Guerrero got two at bats. And if you're a minor league type, you would've been in heaven.

Anibal Sanchez was the starting pitcher. He pitched for a long time, maybe six innings. Maybe more. Maybe less. A lot, though. He pitched really well. A few little mistakes, but I liked what I saw.

And other minor league dudes were: pitcher Juan Perez, catcher Jim Buckley, (I didn't see Shoppach), Christian Lara, Bryan Pritz got an at bat, maybe Mike Lockwood (I'm checking the minor league rosters and seeing which names I remember), and I think Dustin Kelly who, like David Wells, was wearing number three.

I'll have to check my video for more names and anything else I forgot. It was cool to tape game action legally. And I pretty much got the whole home run derby.

Then my cousin's kid got to run the bases after the game, along with a thousand other kids, and high five Doerr, DiMaggio, and Robin Roberts. He's following in my footsteps on Roberts, as I went to his baseball camp at West Point when I was little, and also got to meet this HoFer. I still have that autograph somewhere.

It was a very happy scene, watching the kids run around the bases. Any creatures who don't have cell phones and are completely excited about something as simple as getting a chance to run on dirt are okay with me. It was a fitting ending to a special day. There's only one game during each regular season that doesn't count in the standings, and only two teams get to play in it (and are brought to the field via parade). I consider myself lucky to have seen it, especially since my team was playing in it, and as the defending World Champions to boot. It was all about having fun and playing ball. What baseball should be. Why Manny would miss this, I have no idea. Probably injury-related or something. But I'll never forget it. Neither will the three people I went with.

Empy from Empy's Place was at this game as well, (Happy Birthday, Empy!) out in the really fun outfield seats. See her blog for more. I'm guessing she'll have pics, and so will I. Soon. Can't say when yet. Busy. Keep checking back.

It would've been Dmitri Young (that's DaMeat to you), Craig Monroe, and Marcus Thames (The River Thames) in the home run derby. Honestly, Jere. Was that so difficult?

Oh, right, like at the beginning of Dangermouse and Benny Hill. Thames. Terrible job, me.

The Red Sox reliever doesn't spell his name Mike Thamelin, so that's threw me off. Yeah.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States