This afternoon I drove to Altoona to see the Reading Phillies play the Altoona Curve (whenever I hear Altoona I think of an oft concussed wide receiver who played for the Jets). I was very impressed by Blair County Ballpark. Any ballpark that has a rollercoaster behind rightfield gets a passing grade.
The collection of mascots the Curve put on the field is unique.
When I first saw Steamer I was perplexed. What is that thing and why is it wearing a bandanna? Evidently Steamer is modeled after a K4 steam engine that was common in the Altoona railyards in the 1800s. Diesel Dawg appears to own Bob the Baseball Dog. Bob served as a batboy once, running out to the plate to retrieve a bat. The Rally Dog liked to dance.
When the Curve took the field before the National Anthem, each player was accompanied by a youth player from different public leagues. James Boone was playing rightfield, and he ran out to his position. The poor little guy following him was running as fast as he could, but he fell way behind. When Boone arrived in rightfield he turned around and saw the kid motoring toward him. He gave him a low five when he finally arrived. I got a healthy chuckle out of it.
Two rows in front of me there was a guy teaching his girlfriend how to score a baseball game. And he was making serious mistakes frequently. He was also explaining some of the intricacies of the game to her, and he managed to make errors here too. To make it all more maddening, he was talking quite loudly the whole night (I think he wanted to be heard). I wanted to contradict him so badly, but I let it go. I covertly snapped a picture of them. The poor girl, she has no idea that her boyfriend is a baseball poser.
To make things even more interesting, I had another vocal ignorant fan behind me. Here are two unedited quotes from him, that were delivered within two minutes of each other:
Quote 1: “I’ve attended, like 50 home games this season.”
Quote 2: “I hadn’t seen a homerun all season, and they just hit three of them this inning!”
You might think: Ben, those quotes do not directly contradict themselves. Let me explain. If you attend fifty baseball games in a season and do not see a homerun, I’ll personally give you $1,000,000,000.00; I’ll wax your car every morning at 4am, I’ll floss your cat’s teeth every Tuesday, and I’ll become a Dallas Cowboys fan.
The Curve beat the R-Phils 4-1. It was a solid game, nothing spectacular, but of good quality.
After the game there were a few contests on the field (a raffle drawing, a car giveaway, and a tennis ball throw). Then the Curve pitching coach, Brad Holman, came out with his guitar and sang a song he wrote to thank the fans for coming out to games. The song was a bit country-ish and mellow, and the three mascots sat together and swayed back and forth. I enjoyed that.
When the song finished the lights went out. A short fireworks display followed.
It was a nice night to watch baseball, and I enjoyed it.
One last miscellaneous thing about Blair County Ballpark. I did not see a single vendor walking around during the game. I missed hearing voices calling out “cold beer!” and “peanuts, popcorn, Crackerjack!” and “cotton candy here!”