Cal Ripken, Jr., the Baltimore Orioles baseball immortal (more than) once said, "you can be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball." As someone frequently accused of being childish, I always have Cal's quote at the ready. Now is the time to invoke it.
The warmer temperatures have arrived bringing with them bluer skies and longer days (feel free to create your own cause and effect relationships among them). We've observed Memorial Day, most of the kids are finished with school and even the calendar says next Monday is the "official" start of Summer.
Perhaps not so coincidentally a week from tonight, at 7:05, our own Boys of Summer, the Connecticut Tigers, take the field at Dodd Stadium for their 2016 home opener against the Brooklyn Cyclones (the baby Mets).
As you should already know, the Connecticut Tigers, Class A Short Season affiliates of the Detroit Tigers, are in the New York-Penn League (NYPL) which is the oldest Single A baseball league in the United States. But there's a little more territory involved than just the Empire and Keystone states.
There are teams from Aberdeen, Maryland, (whose principal owner is Cal Ripken, Jr.), the baby BoSox of Lowell, Massachusetts, and the Class A Short Season farm hands of the Oakland A's, the Burlington, Vermont Lake Monsters. And yes, for the geographically-minded among us, there are (of course) teams from both New York and Pennsylvania to include the Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees.
When our kids were kids, they were the perfect reason for me to head to Dodd Stadium with them back in the days of the Navigators and Defenders. Baseball at Dodd was and remains great value and terrific family entertainment.
Class A is a learning experience that forges potential into professional talent and you have to admire the efforts both teams make on the field. There's not a bad seat in Dodd Stadium, you can still follow the action while getting a burger, fries or whatever at a concession on the concourse and you don't need to take out a second mortgage to pay for a family outing at a Tigers game. For us, it's an afternoon in the sun or a nice evening under the stars but for the players, this is real-life and it's their real lives.They give it all they've got because they want to be here and do this.
I'm sure, as always, there'll be plenty of between-innings silliness to keep us entertained. And between you and me, I'm not sure we'd see adults do the Chicken Dance with their children and often their grandchildren on the roof of a dugout at one of the major league ballparks; sometimes the best fun is the fun you make yourself.
Did I mention Friday night home games have fireworks, win or lose? And next Wednesday's opening night also has fireworks because what better way to announce the greatest time of the year, baseball season? See you there (and bring your glove).-bill kenny