"People ask me what I do in the winter when there's no baseball," said Rogers Hornsby who began playing pro baseball for the Saint Louis Cardinals exactly a century ago, "I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
Looking out the window, I think Rogers is on to something and if you need more proof, head to Dodd Stadium in the Business Park Friday night at seven, as our Connecticut Tigers begin their 2015 Single-A season with some home cooking hosting the Tri-City Valley Cats. We're an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and the Valley Cats are with the Houston Astros if you keep track of that sort of thing but for at least this Friday night, who cares?
Here's the only thing that matters: it's professional baseball! We have a great night of family entertainment at a bargain price, right here in our own backyard. If you've been to Dodd, you know there's not a bad seat in the place and if you haven't, why not? Please do NOT give me that excuse masquerading as a reason about 'how far we have to drive to get to Dodd.' Seriously?
We actually say that with a straight face and then drive to Fenway or Yankee Stadium, spending more just to park there than we would on tickets, food and drinks for four at Dodd but still having to buy tickets, food and drinks at the Big League park (and thinking we got off cheap).
Meanwhile, back a Dodd, ticket prices, in keeping with the sport, are a steal. The beverages, soda or sparkling are both crisp and cold while the grub is great with specialties all over the concourse. Show up Friday and you'll get a magnet schedule for the Tigers' 2015 season (refrigerator sold separately) plus there're fireworks after the game. In a perfect world, there would also be pony rides but I suspect the horses get spooked by fireworks.
As you have already surmised, I love baseball, not merely because it's about the only sport I was ever any good at, because I really wasn't (I like to think I was and I'm very convincing) but because there are as many different ways to be a fan as there are fans themselves. At the Major League level, I am a Yankees fan and have been for my whole life (so far) but I will watch anyone, anywhere play anytime and will root for them if they call my town home.
I've reached an age where summers get here faster and leave sooner than they used to. The kids on both sides of the ball trying to make it to The Show seem to get younger as each succeeding summer arrives. On a good day, downhill with a following wind, I can almost remember when I was an early twenty-something so I envy the kids who've got the world by the tail (in honor of the Tigers). You have to root for them because we each in our way, have had their dream as our own.
Sunday's game in the homestand against the Valley Cats has the most daylight of any other day of this year as we get to the top of the seasonal roller coaster and make sure our hands are safely inside and we have our seat belts on, it's important to recall life is still a dark ride, every day, for all the days that remain. They take just as long if you love what you're doing or are just going through the motions so maybe we should pretend we, too, have major league dreams and aspirations.
I think Hornsby would agree. All this pro baseball is not going to play itself, so put the Connecticut Tigers' home games on your kitchen calendar, and your butt in a seat at Dodd Stadium. It's finally our season, make the most if it.
- bill kenny