One of my favorite baseball memories harkens back to the year 2002. I know, it’s the way back machine. My buddy Brandon had moved to Louisville to take a job with UPS. About three times a year, I’d hop on a Southwest flight or drive down for a weekend. We pretty much just sat around and jawed at each other, checked out the ladies at his complex’s pool, toured Louisville Slugger, and went to at least one Louisville Bats (Cincinnati’s AAA Affiliate) ballgame, when in season.
Minor league baseball is a different breed if you’re only accustomed to seeing games at the major league level. They really cater to the fanbase, and make it a family experience. Louisville has a classy little park built on the banks of the Ohio River, the main concourse was part of an old railroad station, and it’s view over the centerfield scoreboard is of the many bridges heading into Indiana. It’s by far, one of my favorite places to have taken in a game, and one of my favorite baseball memories.
After a Saturday of wandering some of Louisville’s arsty neighborhood’s, we headed toward downtown for the game. We didn’t have tickets, but it was pretty easy to score bleacher seats on a given night. We headed out to the small bleacher section behind the right field fence, and took in the scene. We looked right back over the grandstands at downtown, and some impressively threatening clouds rolling in. When I say black clouds, I dark as night, highlighted with occasional lightning. It was a typical late August Midwest storm baring down on us.
It sprinkled off and on through the first seven innings, which saw Louisville get the snot beat out of them. They hadn’t been the same since Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, and one Deion Sanders roamed the outfield. It was the top of the eighth when the skies finally opened up, and sent the crowd scurrying for cover. My buddy, one to never let a $7 ticket go to waste, decided we were riding this storm out. I concurred, as my stomach typically becomes an endless pit when the smells of grills reach it’s depths. We sat there for around two hours, watching the rain fall in steady streams, the crowd ever so slowly empty out and head for home, and I took in two or three too many bratwursts.
The skies finally dried up and with no crowd left, we headed down to front row seats along the Bats bullpen, similiar to Wrigley’s set up. Sadly, this is still the closest I have ever sat at a game. The game progressed through the eighth, and the Bats bullpen jumped into action. One of the Silvas, I could never get any of them straight (Carlos, Jose, Juan, etc.), began tossing as he was on a rehab stint. Brandon and I immediately began into quoting “Major League” like two teenage boys. Neither us will ever tell you we’re not emotionally thirteen. Lines like, “Nice velocity,” “Sounds like it.” fell from our lips. The catcher, and which ever Silva it was, chuckled, and we got a few rolls of the eyes.
Poor Mr. Silva never made it into the game, and as he headed toward the dugout, we began to harrass him to at least give us a batting practice ball. He turned, looked at us, and kept going, which led to more cat calls. In moment I’ll never forget, he turned around grabbed two balls out of the bag, and tossed one to each of us with this, “You guys are ridiculous.”
That we are Mr. Silva, but thanks for the memories. That ball still sits in a place of honor.
Here’s to being ridiculous over baseball.
Matt’s “From Right Field” appears every Monday on VFTB.