When June arrived and I realized I had yet to attend a baseball game in 2012 I realized I must remedy the situation. And so I embarked on a trip to Altoona. Earlier in the week I noted that the game on Saturday evening was scheduled to start at 7:00pm. I decided to visit the Boyer Candy Factory Outlet (I’ll write a post about this later) before the game. Since I love getting to baseball games early I arrived at 5:50–thinking there was an hour and ten minutes till the first pitch would be thrown. I was shocked at how busy the ballpark was as I walked to the box office. Normally when I arrive more than an hour before a game things are much quieter. Well, it turns out the game the previous night had been rained out, so a doubleheader was scheduled. The first game started at 6:00pm. Perfect!
I got to my seat just as the game got underway. It was an absolutely beautiful late afternoon for baseball (it would turn into a chilly evening–but still quite pleasant). I sat in the terrace level (section 214) for the first game.
One inning Curve second baseman Jarek Cunningham (yes, his name is Jarek) was hit in the forearm by a pitch, which then redirected and struck the Portland catcher, Dan Butler. Both players would have preferred this play had never happened. I took a picture of the play (see below). The batter has not reacted yet to being struck. The ball is hitting the catcher on the edge of his chest protector. I zoomed in on that for the insert on the right; you can see the ball just above the catcher’s right hand.
In the bottom of the 3rd inning I saw a great play. The Altoona left fielder, Qunicy Latimore, made a catch over the wall in left-center, bringing back a home run. It was one of the best catches I have ever seen in person. Latimore would later throw out a runner at the plate in the second game, turning in a solid day in left field.
Throughout the evening the Curve were advertising an upcoming promotion: COWBOY MONKEYS. I saw them in State College last summer, and I feel seeing a monkey wear a vest and chaps is worth the price of admission.
Late in the first game the Portland bullpen began to stir. The bullpens in Altoona are located along the foul territory in the corners. This arrangement means that when a pitcher warms up, another pitcher must stand guard to protect the catcher from foul balls that might be hit into the bullpen. In the picture below the guy wearing the jacket in the foreground is standing nonchalantly after just saving the catcher’s life by catching a vicious line drive that would have struck him in the neck. The catcher and pitcher that is warming up are oblivious to the near disaster as they communicate via sign language to coordinate pitches [notice the pitcher signaling 1 (I want to throw a fastball!) and the catcher signaling 2 (throw a breaking ball)].
The Pittsburgh Pierogies and Parrot were in town for the night, and the Pierogies raced with the Altoona bagels during a changeover–the Parrot watched. I was impressed by the effort the runners turned in. These mascot novelty races are much more entertaining when everyone is legitimately trying to win.
After the race the Parrot and Pierogies spent some time on the rollercoaster that overlooks the field.
Portland won the first game 5-3. For the second game I moved to a table on the concourse. I had brought a manuscript to revise with me, so I spread out my tables and charts, got out my red pen, and did some editing. I heard several people making remarks about me as they walked by. Things like: Look at that guy, he’s a scout. See all the papers he has? He’s charting the pitches and how fast the players run to first. Little did they know my charts and tables were about fir trees.
The second game started with a home run for the Portland lead-off hitter, Jeremy Hazelbaker, right to the base of the rollercoaster in right field. In the bottom of the 2nd inning Charlie Cutler hit a home run to the exact same spot for the Curve. The game remained tied for several innings, then Portland took a 2-1 lead (on the same play in which Latimore threw a runner out at the plate). In the bottom of the 7th (the final inning in Eastern league doubleheaders) the Curve rallied to win 3-2 in a walk off hit by Jarek Cunningham. I had an amazing view of the final play. The ballpark was nearly empty by that time. It was after 11:00pm, and it was cold. As the final inning started I walked out to the outfield seats for a different vantage point. By the time the Curve loaded the bases I was standing by the left field foul pole. That’s when the game winning hit occurred. It was a screaming line drive over third that hit right beside the chalk and scored two. It was a pretty sight.
It was a good night. I saw 14 innings of baseball, had two ballpark hotdogs, and edited a manuscript.