Afternoon Baseball in Reading

The Reading Phillies played the Richmond Flying Squirrels this afternoon. First pitch was at 12:05. I was returning to State College from Montgomery County today, a trip that takes me right past First Energy Field. It seemed like a good idea to fit in a stop at the ballpark.

I got to the park before the gates opened. At the box office I asked for the best available ticket, which turned out to be behind the plate. As soon as the gates opened I wandered into the park and sat in the empty park, watching the grounds crew rake the infield and mark the lines. I enjoy this. There is something soothing about seeing the crisp, fresh lines being placed on the freshly raked infield.

The lines are marked before the game.

It was a beautiful afternoon for baseball.

A wide angle shot from behind the plate.

I do not sit behind the plate frequently when I go to baseball games. It was fun to see the game from that vantage point today. The picture below shows the abundance of action that is visible in a narrow window. The shortstop moves laterally from second where he had been holding on the runner. The runner takes his walking lead. The pitcher delivers. The batter stands ready. The catcher prepares to receive the ball. The umpires watch closely.

So much competition, so much drama.

The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor is a mainstay at Reading.

The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.

In the 3rd inning the Reading Phillies took a lead thanks to a Brandon Tripp 2-run home run to right.

Brandon Tripp circles the bases after a home run.

To promote healthy eating the Reading Phillies have a vegetable race. Candy is a villain. Before the race he roams the stands telling kids to “EAT MORE CANDY!” and “CANDY IS AWESOME!” During the race he attempts to sabotage things; this afternoon he delivered a flying kick to Lettuce that resulted in an impressive wipe out. Moments after this picture was taken Broccoli would stumble, allowing Cauliflower to win the race.

Candy takes out Lettuce.

The starter for Richmond, Justin Fitzgerald, did not have a good day. He threw 4+ innings and gave up 6 runs (5 of them earned). After issuing a walk in the 5th to load the bases he made an angry gesture at the umpire. And immediately was ejected. This resulted in a pitching change, with the reliever given as much time as he needed to get ready. I had never witnessed a pitcher get ejected while on the mound before.

Austin Fleet warms up.

Neal the Singing Usher has been leading “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretches in Reading for as long as I have been going to games. I don’t think he is at every game anymore, so I was happy to see him today (even if he does sing ” . . . root for the Phillies . . .” instead of “. . . root for the home team. . ..”).

Neal the Singing Usher leads “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

The R-Phils won the game 7-4. And I was back on the road en route to State College.

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