My cousin called about a week ago and asked what I was going to be doing on 6-6-06, I said besides waiting for the end of the world, nothing. He asked if I would like to attend a minor league baseball game in Lexington. At first I couldn’t understand why I would want to travel two and a half hours to see a bunch of kids I have never heard of play baseball when I could stay at home and watch the Yanks vs. Sox in HD. He then told me the magic words…Tuesday night is 25 cent hotdog night. I was there.
We loaded up on quarters and headed to Lexington to check out the Lexington Legends. We weren’t the only ones. It seems that the Legends ballpark has a capacity of 6,000 people but on Tuesday the capacity was upped to 9,000 people. We were packed in like sardines, well, some were.
Four of our group lucked out (including me) and got chair back seats and didn’t have to sit in steerage (or standing room only as it was known at the ballpark). It was a pitiful display to look across the wooden fence and see the scruffy, scroungy steerage fans in their rags watching the game. We were five rows off the field in $8 seats. I later found out that seats such as ours were going for over $400 a seat on eBay. It seems 25 cent hotdog night is a popular attraction.
In addition to 25 cent hotdog night, June was dairy month and Tuesday was dairy night. Outside the ballpark, the dairy council was giving away small Dixie cup size milkshakes and small cartons of milk. I was offered some free milk and I replied, “It’s so damn hot. Milk was a bad choice” and I refused.
When we first hit the scene we saw the funnel cake sellers. We all purchased one and mine and my cousins had so much powdered sugar on it, that it looked like a quick pick me up for Keith Richards circa 1972. It was damn good. On our way to our seats we spied the sausage cookers and they had the onions and peppers piled high on the griddle. It is a memory burned into my brain and I vowed to return and maul a bratwurst.
In the second inning we had a friend of my cousin’s run to the 25 cent hotdog tent. He came back later with four and we immediately sent him right back for more. I ended up eating three dogs. I still thought that if we waited long enough I could still tackle the brat, but my cousin’s special lady friend couldn’t finish her nachos and I was called upon to finish them off. Bye, bye brat. I couldn’t even think about food after that.
Anyway, we saw this kid make his first start of the season, Roger something or other. He had a cool nickname, like, The Missile or The Rocket or something. I’ve got to tell you, this kid has something. He was big and a hard thrower, he was a little long in the tooth for a Single A ballplayer, but he looked sharp. I expect him to move through the minor leagues very quickly and I predict he will make the big leagues by June 22. He struck out six batters in 3 innings, topping 90 miles an hour several times.
Somewhat seriously, Roger Clemens pitched 3 innings, gave up a huge homerun to one of the happiest 19 year olds on the planet, plunked one of the happiest 19 year olds on the planet, and left the game to a roaring ovation. He then came out for a curtain call and that was it for him.
Clemens purchased all kinds of clubhouse amenities for the team and I heard that he also made visits to local hospitals and visited kids while he was in town. That makes this whole story a little more special. He could have hid in a hotel room the whole time he was there, but he went out and showed his short time teammates how a Hall of Famer should act.
The Legends’ stadium was great looking and it had all the sights and sounds and smells that a baseball park should have. They had the usual minor league promotions. There was a dairy month Southern Belle of the Night contest to crown the Southern Belle of the Night. There were 6 to 7 girls on the field and they all had an ice cream sandwich and the first one to finish it was crowned the Southern Belle. I just assumed you would go by breast size, but I guess they didn’t have the proper equipment. Later on Clemens struck out his fifth batter and everyone in the crowd won a coupon for free windshield washer fluid. That is minor league baseball folks.
It was a good time had by all and a once in a lifetime moment for many people, including me. I will add this to the list of what may turn out to be my greatest year ever. I saw the sitting President of the USA throw out a first pitch, I am cast in a movie, and I have seen a future Hall of Famer pitch in a one time only game in what is quite possibly his last year. We have six months left in the year and I’d say that’s damn good.