After a morning visit to Sally and a brisk couple mile walk around some walking paths in Lexington, we said so long and hopped in the car. Spent the first part of the trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway again before finally getting in some delay free back roads to Martinsville, VA. We picked this particular town because they were home to a minor league baseball that was playing a home game this evening.
Donna and I have been going to minor league baseball since the early eighties when we would drive from Meridian, MS to Jackson to see the Double A Mets play. We loved the old parks that had all kinds of character. Most started out with old concrete dugouts and concrete benches for stands. Our favorite place was Asheville where the “box seats” were metal folding chairs painted green that came with waitress service. Down through the years minor league ball has grown up and we thin not all for the good. Before, most of the teams had the names of the parent club, but since the movie “Bull Durham” and the success of marketing that teams merchandise with the distinct bull in the letter D logo every team wants a piece of that pie. The Savannah (GA) Cardinals became the Sand Gnats, my home town team the New Britain Red Sox became the Rock Cats, etc. A team of marketing people were brought in the create a cute nickname and mascot to go with it so money could be made. The stadiums themselves grew up. Leagues instituted minimum standards for seating. New stadiums had to be built or a team would move to another town. Prices went up, the $3 dollars we paid at Asheville for our box seats is now what it costs to park at the Columbia (SC) Bombers games. Instead of kids being taught to keep score to get them involved and give them something to do, now between every inning we play games, dizzy bat races, race the mascot around the bases, musical chairs, and rolling big dice for prizes. We missed the good “old” days. but still we go because it is a relative bargain compared to attending a major league game and there is still something special about hot dogs, nachos, cold beer and the crack of the bat.
We had a bad lunch experience, but the hotel was nice. They had a free internet terminal for guests to use (Ack! Dial-up, but beggars can’t be choosers.) so I checked on Lance’s Tour de France day (Ack! He lost time Jan Ullrich.) and went to the Photo Friday site to get my challenge (AK! Identity.)
After lounging in the room for a couple of hours we headed over to the ball field to watch the game. The Martinsville Astros were playing the Kingsport Mets. Well we were confronted with the past and now we are not so sure we like it. Martinsville is a short season rookie team in the Appalachian League, about as far down as you can get on the pro baseball ladder. Their stadium was small, old and looked thrown together from bits and pieces they inherited from the local high school when they got a better field. It was mix of cement bleachers, aluminum bleachers and old plastic movie theater looking seats planted on top of the dugout. There was one concession stand and the souvenir shop was a small metal building. The line-ups and league standings were hand written on pieces of paper and taped to a board. I think we may need to go to an Augusta (GA) Greenjackets, used to be Pirates, game this weekend, they are single A and have a nice 3 year-old stadium just to compare.
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