Tag Archive | baseball

Sam Singer and the Sunday Schleps

SAM SINGER AND THE SUNDAY SCHLEPS

[schlep: Yiddish word meaning to carry, tote or steal]

Sam Singer worked hard every day from early in the morning to prepare food for the luncheonette until closing time on many days. However, in that day and age, Sunday was a “blue” day and most stores were closed. That was their family day.

Marcia in front of the Store

Marcia in front of the Store

Sunday was also Chinese dinner at various places they liked. One special place was “The Dragon Seed” which was a little more upscale than other local joints and Sam was friendly with the owner. This required a car trip even though it wasn’t all that far from our home. The food was delicious though even if a little more pricey than other places. It was always a treat when Sam would tell the family that’s where they were going.

 Sometimes, they went to an Italian place. Another favorite was La Bilbaina, a Spanish restaurant in Manhattan. This was definitely a car trip and it was up a flight of stairs. They loved the authentic food and after dinner looked in the gift shop window down below it. Martha would often order a dish that had a green sauce that was ripe with garlic and they would all laugh and tease her on the way home about her terrible breath!

There was also, at one time, a huge Swedish Smorgasbord that was in a hotel in Manhattan and they went there sometimes also where it was impossible not to find something for everyone.

Mr. Peanut

Mr. Peanut

They especially loved the Sundays when they would go to Times Square and just walk around looking at the sights. It was a thrill when they saw Mr. Peanut, a guy in the peanut suit and cane who walked around greeting people. They loved looking at all the schlock shops that lined the street and Sam bought Marcia these little realistic mice holding a piece of corn. She had a number of them over the years and still has one left in her miniature collection.

Mouse

Mouse

East Side

East Side

Another special trek was when they went to the East Side which is an area in lower Manhattan where Jewish vendors had small shops or vendor carts full of wholesale goods of every kind imaginable! It was a fascinating place and they bought things there if they needed them. Marcia’s enjoyed it because Sam would get her a bag of red pistachios. By the time she was finished eating them, her fingers and mouth would be bright red from the food coloring. She still loves them and they remind her of this special time, but she opts for the plain ones now. Much less mess!

Marcia at Chisolm Park

Marcia at Chisolm Park

It’s likely that Martha was the one who suggested many of these outings, but Sam had no problem shlepping everyone to them. They often went to Chisolm Park in Queens which was near the water because there were rocks between the path and the water and Jeff and Marcia would walk on them trying not to slip and fall. There was a hill leading down to the path with places you could slide down. Many of the trees were huge with many low branches that Marcia was able to climb up on them! Jeff, being the monkey he was, could climb to the very top of the trees. They would also get Button Candy from a little shack at the park. It’s hard to say why they were so much fun to eat, but they were. They also liked those little wax bottles that had colored sugary water inside. Shops also used to have chocolate candy cigarettes! They wouldn’t fly today.

They had their choice of beaches too. Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn was small, but close and they often went there in the summer. Sometimes, they would take the car out to Jones Beach which was out on Long Island. It was a huge beach and it seemed the water was a mile from the parking lot. They all had to schlep the blankets, chairs, umbrella and coolers with food all that way! Still, it was a fun  time.

Sam and Marcia a Whitestone Pool

Sam and Marcia a Whitestone Pool

Another popular place for fun in the sun was Whitestone Pool. They had a large pool for adults, two tiny pools for babies and one medium sized pool for in between kids. They would arrive early because they loved to get a spot underneath a shade tree that faced that medium pool and that was the one Marcia swam in because she wasn’t big enough for the big pool where Lynn and Jeff would go. Sometimes, Jeff would play with Marcia in the big pool so she could go down one of the slides they had and he would catch her. There was also a small playground they could play in. Other areas had picnic tables and grills for those who wanted to do that. They would get lockers and could change clothes in the locker room so they wouldn’t have to be wet on the drive home. They spent many glorious Sundays there and enjoyed it immensely.

It was a fun time going occasionally to Aunt Adele’s place for a cookout. She was a beautiful, special person and everyone loved Adele. She had a huge bell collection and took up the guitar and played us songs and sang. They also played games at the Singer get-togethers. It was always fun. The kids loved when their cousin Alvin joined the festivities because he was a ‘little person’ who was their size! He was only about 3 ft, 6 in. tall, but a grownup and would smoke cigars. He too was a smart and special person who they all enjoyed being around.

The Danbury Fair in Connecticut was an annual event they attended for many years. We have a lot of photos from that time. Marcia recalls one year in particular. She was only about five years old and that year they were selling blow up dinosaurs and she wanted one badly. However, her parents told her no. She was disappointed. As they were walking around, she saw a person coming at her dangling a cigarette in his hand and didn’t see her. The cigarette touched Marcia in the neck and she screamed! It hurt terribly, and she told her parents what happened in between sobs. They searched for a first aid station, but it took a long time to finally find it. They put something on the burn, but it was too late. Marcia still has a circular scar there. For some reason, no one else seems to remember this incident and Martha said the scar came from a bout with swollen glands. Sorry, Mom, but it looks just like a cigarette burn. The upshot was that since they felt so sorry for her ordeal, they bought her a green blow-up stegosaurus! She kept it a long time until the rubber became rotten.

Howe Caverns

Howe Caverns

One year in the 1950’s, they all took a trip upstate to visit the Howe Caverns and the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a long drive in their Studebaker with no air conditioning. Once they were out of New York City, they saw nothing but cow farms. Cows after cows. They had never seen so many dairy farms!

Marcia can remember the dark caverns and Sam holding her on his shoulders at one point so she could see. There was a small river of water that ran through the cavern and small boats they rode on. Marcia was too young to remember much more than that.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

Sam went into the baseball museum, but Martha, Jeff and Marcia waited outside and they watched a group of roosters peck the ground.  Jeff tried to annoy them and probably succeeded.

They also had their yearly trips South to visit Martha’s relatives. Often, Sam couldn’t leave work except for one week, so the others would go by train and spend a few weeks. Then Sam would drive down by himself to stay the last week.

When the World’s Fair came to Flushing, New York in 1964, it was just a short subway ride from Elmhurst. Sam bought a large packet of tickets so everyone could go over and over. Some of Martha’s family made the trip north during this time so they could experience this wonderful entertaining extravaganza. Nothing like this would ever be near Smithfield, NC. Marcia, 13 years old at the time, often went with her friends. They all went to the best pavilions time after time. It was a once in a life time event for everyone.

Swedish Good Luck Horses

Swedish Good Luck Horses

At the fair, which had an international section, there was a Swedish pavilion. Marcia was so excited when she discovered they sold the famous orange, wooden good luck horses there and there was a basketful of the tiny, tiny ones she loved. She already had a few and they were among her prized possessions. One time long before the fair, Martha took Marcia to a Swedish store in Manhattan and bought her the biggest horse they had! It was 8 inches tall while her tiny one was 1 ¼” tall. They became her favorite toys.

Martha also joined Marcia’s class on field trips and they went a few times to the Brooklyn Museum and lo and behold, they sold those Swedish horses! Marcia was so excited to be able to add a few more to her collection each time they went.

In her later years, Marcia found more Swedish horses on the internet being sold on Ebay! Not only were they different sizes, they were different colors: blue, green, yellow and pink. She went a little crazy over this fantastic find and now her collection of horses numbers 22 which includes one soft, stuffed one. The smallest is 1” tall, but the biggest is still the one that Martha bought for her.

Joe King autograph

Joe King autograph

Another time Martha took Marcia to the Hammer Galleries in Manhattan when the internationally known artist, Joe King, known as Vinciata, was going to be there. Joe King was a native of Winston-Salem, NC which made him all the more special. His paintings of people include the Queen of England and he was quite famous. They all met and he graciously gave Marcia his autograph which is very special to her and is in her scrapbook.

Sam and Martha later on went on a number of cruises, but the first one was in 1967, when Marcia was sixteen. She, along with Sam, Martha and her brother Jeff, took an Israeli cruise ship from New York up the coast and down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal where the Montreal Expo was being held. The ship docked right there so they only had to walk a short way to attend the events. They had a fantastic time not only on the ship and at the Expo, but they also toured the City of Montreal, Canada.

Expo 1967

Expo 1967

As the kids got older and were doing their own ‘thing’, these Sunday trips stopped. However, they still attended Mets games at times and Sunday was always Chinese food day. Even after Marcia moved to North Carolina where her parents had also moved, they found Chinese restaurants to eat at although they were, sadly, not quite as good as they were used to. In New York, Marcia always ate the roast pork appetizer with white rice, Won Ton Soup and sometimes egg rolls. The Chinese places in North Carolina did not have this style pork so eventually she learned to eat other dishes and enjoyed them.

Another special memory is their New Year’s Eve tradition. Martha always fixed dinner rather early in the evening, usually around 5:00 p.m.  So late in the evening on New Year’s Eve, everyone was going to stay up late to see the ball drop and they would get hungry, especially Sam. That late at night, the only thing open was Chinese take-out and maybe pizza, but he didn’t eat pizza, to take-out it was. They didn’t get a full meal, but soup, fried rice and egg rolls were no doubt a staple for a late snack. It became a tradition after doing it for so many years.

Marcia introduced this tradition to her husband Phil and he too became a big fan of Chinese cuisine. His family had never eaten it! Now, even after all these years, they have Chinese at least once a week and always on New Year’s Eve.

There are many languages of love and not all of them are verbal. Case in point, Sam never told his kids he loved them, but he showed them love every day he got up early to go to work at the Store. No one ever asked him if he liked it. He did it because he had a family to care of. He showed his love every time he took them places so they would have a good time. Was he often really too tired for this? Probably. They all saw how exhausted he would be after a long day at the Store. Still, he made the effort and they had a full and happy childhood and no one ever questioned his love. He showed it every day. All they had to do was see it. Perhaps at the time, they didn’t, but now it is so obvious. They can only hope that he knew how much they loved him also.

Our “Don Cardwell” Connection

OUR “DON CARDWELL” CONNECTION

 

Don Cardwell Mets card

Don Cardwell Mets card

For those who don’t know or have forgotten, Don Cardwell was a Major League pitcher and was with the New York Mets when they won the World Series in 1969. He was most famous for pitching a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals when he made his first start as a Chicago Cub on May 13, 1960.

But let’s backtrack and learn of a special connection the Singer/Byerly family has had with the famous Don Cardwell.

Don was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on December 7, 1935. He began his career in baseball in 1957. If you want the details of his career, just Google him.

Don Cardwell portrait

Don Cardwell portrait

It was about 1960 (it isn’t known if this was before or after his big win mentioned above) when Don was visiting his hometown and family. A cousin of his, Mrs. Greer, was a fourth grade school teacher at Griffith Elementary in south Winston-Salem. Don went to visit her at the school and during recess, pitched to her students for a while. One of those students was Philip Byerly. He and his classmates were excited and thrilled to have a real Major League Baseball player there in their midst.

Don Cardwell Mets card 2

Don Cardwell Mets card 2

In 1967, Cardwell began pitching for the Mets and stayed with them until 1970 when he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. It was during these years that Marcia Byerly lived in New York and attended or watched many a Mets game and no doubt watched Don Cardwell pitch. Sam Singer was at the final game of the 1969 World Series when the Mets won. Don Cardwell was there for that too. A dubious connection, but there’s more.

In January of 1973, Marcia’s parents, Sam and Martha, moved from New York to Winston-Salem. Sam found employment and they rented a house for a while until they later bought one.

Later that year, Marcia also also decided to leave the big metropolis of New York and moved to Winston-Salem. She worked at a bank as a teller for a while and had her own apartment.

Not long after arriving there, she met Philip Byerly at the bank. They got married soon after and began their life together.

In 1977, their world changed. Sam, only 63 years old, died instantly from a massive heart attack one night. Marcia was not employed at this time but was trying to find a job related to her art talents. She had not succeeded at this so far. When the dust cleared and the funeral over, she worried about her mother, only 56 at this time, and how she was going to make it without her husband. For some reason, this made Marcia decide to find another job of any kind so if her mother needed financial help, she would be in a position to do that.

Phil was working at a Chevrolet dealership at the time and Marcia landed an office position at a Ford dealership. At the interview she asked the lady if his working at the competition would be a problem, but apparently it wasn’t. So she began working there in Winston-Salem at Parkway Ford.

Don Cardwell with Chicago Cubs

Don Cardwell with Chicago Cubs

Can you guess who also was working there? Don Cardwell! He had retired from baseball in 1970 and no doubt wanted to do something else with his time so he was a car salesman. He was very tall, extremely personable and friendly. He and Marcia talked some about his baseball days and he still wore the 1969 World Series ring he got from that time. It was quite impressive! Phil came to visit at Parkway Ford and met with Don again. They talked about the time when Don had come Phil’s school.

Marcia later left Parkway Ford to work in the printing industry and never saw Don Cardwell again.

Sad to say, Don Cardwell died January 14, 2008.

Cardwell on the mound at no-hitter game

Cardwell on the mound at no-hitter game

However, the connection didn’t quite end there! While at a Winston-Salem Dash game in 2010, Marcia and Phil heard an older lady talking about Don Cardwell and their ears perked up. They brazenly asked her about it and it turned out she was his wife, Sylvie! We told her of our connection and she enjoyed hearing about it.

It just goes to prove, it’s a small world.

Sam Singer Takes the World Series Seriously

SAM SINGER TAKES THE WORLD SERIES SERIOUSLY

Mets charm

Mets charm

Sam loved a good baseball game and especially a “pitcher’s duel” where the runs were low and the two pitchers fought for strikeouts. He was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until they moved to Los Angeles in 1957 along with the New York Giants who moved to San Francisco the same year. Both teams deserted New York leaving them with only the Yankees in the Bronx. In 1962, the New York Mets were born and reigned at the now defunct Shea Stadium in Queens which was replaced by Citifield in 2009.

While he enjoyed football on TV also, Sam became an avid Mets fan and when the Store was profitable enough, he and his brother, Al, bought two Season Box Tickets to all of the Mets’ games. They used the tickets themselves but also treated customers, family and friends to the games.

Shea Stadium Postcard

Shea Stadium Postcard

The seats were in the first row of the first tier above the ground level seats and looked from the home plate down the first base line. They afforded a spectacular view of home plate and the field.

Shea Stadium was only a few subway stops away from Jackson Heights where the Store was, so getting there was easy and affordable. Martha, Sam’s wife, often accompanied him to games mostly just to be together because she wasn’t an avid baseball fan. One time, the game went into so many extra innings that Martha, exhausted, gave up and took the subway home alone. You couldn’t pry Sam out of the seat!

Marcia especially enjoyed the times she got to go with Sam, just the two of them. He would make up sandwiches and other snacks for them to eat at the game. Even though the Mets lost often, they had a strong, loyal base of fans and they were among them. The game is so much more exciting at the field with all the hoopla, fans and noise going on. There was the famous “Yellow Poncho” guy who wore one all the time and was often featured on the television broadcast. His seat was not too far back behind Sam’s seats. It was almost like being near a celebrity.

Sam would also watch baseball on TV or listen on the radio to broadcasts, sometimes both at the same time. As he lazed back in his recliner, he would often fall asleep and begin to snore. Woe be unto those, however, who then tried to quietly change the channel to something else! Sam would wake up and exclaim, “I’m watching that!”

“But you were snoring!” that person would reply, but put the game back on never-the-less. You didn’t argue with Sam.

You’ve heard the old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Marcia did just that. It was either go somewhere else other than the living room, or try to figure out just what was going on out there with those men in the white uniforms running around hitting a ball. She began to ask questions and Sam would explain the rules and the plays. She learned baseball that way even though she never played it.

When October came around, it was time for the long-awaited World Series. It didn’t matter much what teams were in it, it was the culmination of the baseball season and truly a Big Event.

Shea Stadium

Shea Stadium

Back then, many stadiums didn’t have lights for night games, but even if they did, many games were still played in the daytime. Sam worked days so he and Al swapped off shifts so they could each attend many of the games. But they didn’t want to miss even one minute of the World Series, so for that time only, once a year, a small, black and white television was plugged in and sat in the back of the Store with the volume up so that all of the employees and the customers could hear it. Apparently, no one minded this. It was a big deal to everyone!

Shea from the air

Shea from the air

In 1962, the Mets posted a record of 40 wins to 120 losses, the worst record since Major League Baseball went to 162-game season. They never finished better than second to last and were often “in the cellar”, but Sam stayed loyal and was rewarded in 1969 when the “Miracle Mets”, as they were dubbed, beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series. Baltimore won the first game of the series and the Mets took the next four for the decisive win.

Can you imagine the whooping and hollering that went on in that luncheonette that day? Employees and customers alike were cheering with unbridle joy that their underdog Mets had proven they could be the Top Dog.

Everyone, but not Sam. Why, you ask?

Game 5 Ticket Stub

Game 5 Ticket Stub

Because Sam was actually at Game 5 along with his son-in-law, Seymour.  Nothing was going to stop either of these fans from that last wonderful game, not even the birth of Seymour’s daughter that day, also Sam’s granddaughter. Andrea was born on October 16, 1969, the day the Mets won the World Series.

Now, that is a true baseball fan. What a special day it was that day!

Carolina Mudcats vs. Dash Experience

CAROLINA MUDCATS EXPERIENCE

(click on photos for larger view)

 Our home team, the Winston-Salem Dash, were playing the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC and we decided to take a road trip and watch them play on July 18, 2012. It was clear but hot when we gassed up my Toyota for the 2-hour trip to Five County Stadium which is east of Raleigh. It was a day game starting at noon so we left about 9:00 a.m. and arrived just a little past 11:00 a.m. Perfect timing! We were both dressed in Dash gear and I had on my bright red Bolt shirt and Bolt Hat and Phil had on his purple Dash shirt and hat signed by all the Carolina League All Stars. No doubt who we were rooting for!

Water Tower

Water Tower

The first thing you see as you near the stadium from the highway is the Mudcats’ water tower which looks like a huge baseball with the Mudcats logo. Very cute! We pulled into the vast parking lot which was not paved and paid our $5.00 which gets you a free playbill. Whoopee!

We had a nice chat with the ticket ladies while trying to figure out what seats we wanted – the most important feature being in the shade. Apparently, there isn’t much, but the first 5 rows were under the upper section and so afforded a place out of the direct sun. When our lady found out we were Dash fans, she jokingly almost didn’t sell us tickets! Yeah, right.

Entrance to Five County Stadium

They needed all the sales they could get on this weekday day game. Let’s just say the crowd was sparse, as most games at this time would be. There were a bunch of kids’ groups there and they seemed to enjoy cheering on the Mudcats even if they didn’t really know the game.

Stadium outside

We spoke with another employee about the stadium and learned it was about 20 years old, but had undergone a ton of renovation and updating in the late 90’s and beyond so now it was quite a nice stadium seemingly in the middle of nowhere. However, one of their sponsors’ signs boasted that a Wal-Mart was only one mile down the road and so civilization is nearby.

Stadium seats

Stadium seats

As you can see from the photos, the seats are a bright orange like their logo which has a catfish in it, an unusual choice of a mascot, but minor leagues are known for some strange mascots! They did have a guy in a Mudcat suit who was known as Muddy, of course. He played in some of the games and tossed out T-shirts once. In the fifth inning he signs autographs and after the game you can get photos with him (as I did). Our first stop inside was the Team Store where I purchased a Mudcats pin for my hat.

Marcia with Muddy

Marcia with Muddy

Cafe

Cafe

The theme in the ballpark concession area was fishing. I guess no surprise there. Bait Shop was the name we saw a lot among others. I was scoping out the food places and noticed that “Catfish Sandwich” was on the menu. Yes, they assured me it was really catfish too. I declined. I found another stand that sold BBQ, more to my liking.

I spoke with Bev White, a wonderful lady at the Info Booth and she saw the many baseball pins on my hat and said she and her husband, one of the ushers, traveled around to many of the stadiums also. I soon found out they will be at the Dash game next week and so hopefully she will find us to say hello.

Scoreboard & ads

Scoreboard & ads

We had some conversations with our usher, Frank, also, so I would have to say the employees we spoke with were quite friendly. Our seats were great: in the shade and the concourse apparently acts like a wind tunnel and we had a boisterous breeze cool us off. We were so close to the Dash players on deck, we could see just how big or small they really were. I said Hi to a few including pitching coach Gary Ward. I hope they appreciate that there were some fans there for them.

Scoreboard #2

There were two scoreboards, one of which posted the pitch velocity, but no pitch count or strikeout tally. However, that was not a big deal although we do enjoy those new amenities at the Dash ballpark. The entertainment though was definitely not as quite as enthusiastic and enjoyable as the Dash and some other places. They did have a few games, but much of the between inning stuff was advertisements and announcements on their Jumbotron which was more a Mini-tron. (It was quite small compared to most. Perhaps it shows up better at night.) It was okay, but maybe a little boring. No dancing girls or even dogs. I guess there’s not much you can do with a catfish.

The game was exciting and included errors, great plays, lousy plays, pitching both good and bad, lots of runs and even homers. For a short time, the mother of a Dash pitcher sat behind us and was cheering on her son. Unfortunately, he was not having a good day on the mound. She was visiting him and following the team around the area. Another Dash groupie like us.

Field

Field

Apparently, for the home team, a siren sounds with a home run and they shoot off fireworks for multiple runs with a homer. Unfortunately, we heard those a lot. Going into the last inning, the Dash were down 11-4. They did make a great offensive rally in the top of the 9th inning with 5 runs, but still fell short and lost 11-9. Ah well. This is baseball and you have to learn to accept disappointment. Can’t win ‘em all!

Speed Pitch area

Speed Pitch area

We headed home about 3:20 p.m. and hit some hard rain for a short time, but then it cleared off and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home. I give this experience 4 ½ stars.

Our Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball Experience

Our Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball Experience

Newbridge Bank Park

Newbridge Bank Park

The sky was overcast, but no chance of rain loomed over the Newbridge Bank Park in Greensboro, North Carolina on this Thursday evening of July 12, 2012. The temperature was perfect: no more heat and humidity like the week before and not even a little chilly when the sun went down. The crowd at the stadium was surprisingly good for a weekday night (5,153 attendees), but perhaps the Thirsty Thursday cheap beer was a factor. In any case, it was a great night for minor league Low A baseball. As the Grasshoppers play magazine describes it: It’s Hoppin’ Fun Fever – Catch the Bug!

My husband Phil and I parked across the street as there is no stadium parking per se, just various lots around it. Still, it was close and of course, the usual $5 fee. We picked out our seat tickets at the box office (only $8 each) and entered. Our first stop was the team store because I always try to get a pin souvenir and picked one out. Our seats in Row J were just the right height up for a good all over view and I do believe they were more ample in width than at BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem which was actually modeled somewhat after this park. Newbridge does have more rows and has a larger seating capacity which seems strange considering they are a lower ranked team.

Jumbotron

Jumbotron

Park2

Park view of downtown

I was very impressed with it overall: two lawn areas, nice Jumbotron, view of downtown buildings, beer area off to the left side if you want it, plenty of food choices and clean bathrooms. (I didn’t see a kids’ fun place, but maybe I just missed it.)

Park1

Park1

I was surprised their announcer gave out all the starting team names very early (before 6:30), but then he announced the Grasshopper players as they ran onto the field going through a large McDonalds “M”. During the national anthem, a few fireworks went off as the lady sang about the bombs bursting: a nice touch!

I had heard about the black lab that the owner of the Hoppers has trained, so I was looking forward to seeing this. At the beginning of one of the early innings, the dog (one of two actually) came out with a bucket of baseballs in her mouth and took them to the umpire! Very cute. That was only the beginning.

Miss Babe Ruth

Miss Babe Ruth

During two of the innings when the Hoppers were at bat and got a hit, the dog, Miss Babe Ruth, waiting patiently at the side of the dugout with the owner, would race out onto the field and retrieve the player’s bat that he had flung down on his way to first base (or more). She was rewarded with a treat when she brought the bat back to the owner. What a sight! And tonight was a good hit night so we saw this repeated a number of times.

Also, during a time between innings, Yogi, another black lab, would chase a baseball thrown far out into centerfield and brought it back. They had some kids lined up and whoever the dog gave the ball to got some sort of prize. This was so entertaining and different that it is definitely a big plus for this venue.

Guilford the Grasshopper

Guilford the Grasshopper

Of course, like all the teams nowadays, they have a mascot: Guilford the Grasshopper, a large, green grasshopper in a baseball shirt and funky shoes. He looks eerily similar in size and shape as Bolt, the mascot for the Dash. On the website www.aminorleagueseason.com there is a story about the factory that actually makes these mascot costumes. Check it out sometime.

So, Guilford (named after the county in which Greensboro lies) goes around mugging for the fans and also dances on the dugout at times. I was able to get my photo taken with him. He doesn’t speak (like Bolt) and one of their guys follows him around and helps with photos and such. Kids of all ages just love him!

Spaz, No. 24-7

Spaz, No. 24-7

They do have something else though that was different: Spaz, Number 24-7. Who is Spaz? He’s this local guy in a baseball shirt and court jester hat whose job title (as he put it) is the “Crowd Motivator” which sounded better than what I thought he was: “Audience Warmer Upper”. He worked the crowd all night, working them up into noisy frenzies to spur on the players, sang Happy Birthday to a fan, danced on the Dugout, helped with the games and did an all-around bang up job.

I spoke with Spaz for a few minutes and found out he has been doing this type of thing for quite a while including at Greensboro College where he went. Talking to him was a good friend who was a basketball player and I spoke more with him and found out that he used to live very close to where I did in Kernersville. It’s a small world!

Let’s talk about the food, always a favorite topic. The names of the food vendors were creative and paid homage to Greensboro’s history. There was one called “Cornwallis’ Last Stand”, another “O’Henry’s Corner” and “General Greene’s Grille”. Of course, the hot dog place was “The Dog Pound”. We had BBQ which was a nice change from hamburgers or hot dogs. Unfortunately, the fries came in a cup swimming with ketchup which I didn’t much like, but I ate them anyway. I also saw someone with a full-sized helmet full of popcorn! Wow. There were also other vendors with ice cream and other goodies so no one will starve while there, but as with all venues of this type, your wallet will shrink considerably.

Be warned also: they actually checked my bag upon entering and I was chastised for having bottles of water I had brought, but the man let me go with a warning. I was surprised they went that far to ensure you didn’t bring any food or drink inside and not particularly happy about the personal invasion.

Robert

Robert

I noticed that at the end of each inning, the ushers (in their neon orange shirts-you can’t miss’em) would come forward and stand near the playing field and then return upstairs when play began. I asked our guy, Robert, what that was all about it. They do it for a variety of reasons, but mainly safety: to keep fans from getting on the field or the dugouts, keep the aisles clear and to hopefully be a presence to deter fans from throwing items down from the upstairs seats or smoking which is not allowed. This seems like a good practice.

Now to the game and what a game it was! It had it all that night. There were 6 total errors, flubs and good plays by both teams. The Hagerstown Suns got an early 2 run lead, but the Hoppers tied it up in the 7th Inning which is where they were going into the 9th. No one scored so it went into an extra inning where the Suns got a one-run lead so we went to the bottom of the 10th with the Hoppers behind. Not good!

One man got on first due to a Sun error, 1 of 5 for the game. Two outs and up to bat came Ryan Rieger. The count was no balls, two strikes (a great pitcher’s count) but then the pitcher let the count run up full to 3 balls and 2 strikes. At this point, Phil said that pitcher had just messed up and was going to make a big mistake.  On the next pitch which right down the middle of the strike zone, we all heard the THWACK of leather meeting wood and we knew it was gone, gone gone! Up high and deep over the fence for a walk-off home run and a much needed win for the Grasshoppers. The crowd, including us, went wild with cheering! A few fireworks went off to commemorate the win. While the Hoppers were all out on the field congratulating Ryan, the owner let loose Miss Babe Ruth and Yogi who chased balls thrown into the outfield. One dog retrieved the balls while the other pooped on the grass (twice). No doubt the grounds crew here have a pooper scooper in their arsenal of tools.

It was an enjoyable and memorable night. I give it Five Stars.

Phil did remark that they didn’t have “honeys” cavorting and dancing like the Dash Pack. Typical guy. Personally, I think the dogs out-trumped dancing girls.

The DASH Experience vs. Durham Bulls

Phil

Today, May 22, 2012, Phil and I were suffering from Dash Withdrawal because our favorite team was on the road so we went on our own road trip to see a Durham Bulls day game. It turned out that they were playing the Charlotte Knights, a White Sox AAA affiliate! Naturally, we had to root for them and we also thrilled to see 4 players who used to play for the Dash: Terry Doyle (pitcher), Justin Green (Left Field), Drew Garcia (Right Field) and Josh Phegly (Catcher).

It was an easy drive to the Durham Athletic Field and sky was Carolina Blue with a few white, puffy clouds. It was warm, but not too bad and we had seats in the shade. We sat close to home plate on the first base side and realized quickly that our seats were very close to the ones in front, but it was only this row, so we moved down a row where the leg room was better.

Durham Bulls Athletic Field

We noticed quite a few differences between our Dash Ballpark and this one. The most obvious one was their scoreboard which was oddly old fashioned, perhaps intentionally. A man had to manually place the numbers in the little windows. The balls, strikes and outs were shown at the very bottom with lights. Unfortunately, it was hard to see these stats as the players obstructed our view at times. This was the only scoreboard in the entire park. They did have a screen, but it wasn’t as nice as our JumboTron. I have to say that the sound system wasn’t great and we couldn’t understand much of what was being said including their person who presided over the games (our “Sarah” equivalent was nowhere near as good as she is!).

Scoreboard

The concession stands were back behind the seats where the game was not at all visible and I didn’t see any TVs showing the game. You could hear the play by play guy, but again, it was hard to understand especially with the noise on the concourse. Of course, there were plenty of beer places!

They did have a Wool E. Bull mascot who was pretty cute as he arrived in a blue, souped-up go-cart and I did get a photo of me with him. However, he just isn’t as perky and sassy as our own Bolt. The kid’s area was far from where we were so I can’t say how it was, but there was certainly no Merry-Go-Round which is a feature of BB&T Ballpark and looks so great all lit up at night. I was impressed with the good attendance for a weekday 1:00 game. We saw a busload of people being brought in and leaving.

Me and Wool E. Bull

Much of the music was the same as ours and other things on the big screen were similar. We did note that they have 3 umpires instead of our 2. Also, they didn’t do any fanfare when the Durham Bulls team was announced like we do. It’s amazing how you don’t realize how great a job they do at BB&T Park until you go somewhere else and it doesn’t quite hit that high mark!

Our Dash Pack personnel are so personable, perky and fun! Theirs didn’t have funky names on their shirts either and weren’t around to greet patrons on their way in or out. We so appreciate that ours are always out there and so friendly.

The game went well. Terry Doyle pitched 8 innings and the final score was 5-2 Charlotte, so we were happy campers, although we were the only ones! A former Yankee player, Matsui (spelling?) was a DH for the Bulls. He is with Tampa Bay and is down here rehabbing we think.

They do have a well-stocked team store and I bought a pin as I like to collect them. We walked around the complex next to the stadium for a little bit before heading home.

It was a great experience to visit another ball park and we plan to do more when we can.

I give the Dash Experience 5 Stars and the Durham Bulls…4 Stars.