I work for an engineering and architecture firm. One of our recent projects was a new ballpark for a Frontier League team in Avon, Ohio. The Frontier League is a midwestern non-aligned league, and the Lake Erie Crushers are their newest member.
This year, our company, in the spirit of being proud of our work, decided to have our annual company picnic at the Crushers’ new park. We had a “baseball buffet” (hotdogs, hamburgers, ears of corn, [not ‘cans of corn’? Sorry, obligatory baseball joke], cole slaw, potato salad, cookies and pop) and watched a game. Our seats were great, but I don’t think there are any bad seats. We were behind the “bullpen”, an area where the pitching staff sat on folding chairs and where there was a “mound” and a “home plate” for warmups for the relievers. I haven’t been that close to a baseball player in, well, ever. The old Cleveland Stadium was a bear unless you were between first or third base and home plate, and frankly, for all I like it, Jacobs, er, Progressive Field’s not all that much better.
But this was small town America at its best, familiar to anyone who’s seen “Bull Durham” — silly sound effects, hokey promotions, lots of fan involvement and a bunch of young guys playing their hearts out at a game they love in hopes of maybe doing well enough to get a shot at The Show. It kind of reminds me of what the young Moonlight Graham says to Ray and Terence about towns where you would play baseball for their team and they’d find you a job off-season. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close — the team solicits “host families” for their players, since the salaries are so low.
Most of us never come within shouting distance of our dreams. These kids (none of them can be over 27) are at least giving it the old school try and seem to be having fun doing it. It made for a very pleasant evening.