Very first pitch on Opening Day. And Knot Holes

Very first pitch on Opening Day. And Knot Holes

[A passerby not actually going to the game, Doug took the photo. A long time Red Wing fan, Doug says he misses the $2 blue seats at the old ball park, Silver Stadium. If it was cold, the sun nicely warmed up the $2 blue seats. 4/9/18]

OD 7 darkened

“Through the Knot Hole.” Very first pitch of the home opener. Frontier Field, 4/9/18

Recently, I re-discovered my 1975 Red Wing Knot Hole Gang card.  To be official the card had to be signed by both a parent (or guardian) and a teacher. A gang member agreed to five rules, including “I will get a drink and go to the toilet before going into stand.” and “I will be REAL SPORT and NOT RAZZ ANYBODY.”




Norman Rockwell’s “Through the Knothole,” 1958

Begun in 1927, the Red Wings Knot Hole Gang Kid’s Club has been a staple at Silver Stadium and Frontier Field.  The myth of the Knot Hole goes far back in Americana.  The idea is that children could not afford tickets to baseball games.  As a recourse, they watched games through holes in the fences.  Supposedly, the Knot Hole gang was created to remedy that inequity by providing children with affordable seats, freeing them from the eye strain of peering through the knot hole.

Watching Baseball Through a Fence – Worth Brehm

“Watching Baseball Through a Fence,” Worth Brehm, 1908

This year Opening Day was postponed three straight days. Luckily, I had some free time on Monday when the game was finally played. This seemed like the perfect day to use my pass, albeit 43 years later.

But foiled!  The ticket vendor refused me, claiming the pass had expired, I needed to be accompanied by an adult, and that — looking me over — he wasn’t sure I could be trusted to NOT RAZZ ANYBODY.  To make matters worse, I was flat broke.  I had to watch the game through the “Knot Hole.”

No ticket, no entrée.

OD 3

OD 2

OD 5

Outside looking in.

POSTSCRIPT: In yesterday’s Democrat and Chronicle, in “Playing baseball this early in Rochester makes no sense for Wings, or their fans,” Sal Maiorano makes an impassioned argument as to why the early portion of the International League season should be played in its southern cities, sparing the northern cities from frigid conditions and snow outs.

red wings

Sal offered a provocative solution.  Sal suggests we start the season in mid-April, play a week later into September, and eliminate the postseason.  At first glance, the idea is tantalizing, although upon reflection it has various flaws (that only baseball aficionados might notice.)

Ultimately, eliminating the postseason would also eliminate those rich and memorable postseason moments when only the diehards came to Silver and Frontier.

As seen in When the P.A. announcer told us Nixon had resigned. On the passing of Anna Silver and a most memorable Silver Stadium game:

My final game of 1974 was game 5 of the Governor’s Cup series lost by the Wings 8-1 on a chilly September night before only 3,596. With the best players often called up to the majors, the kids back in school and the temperatures dropping, International League playoff games are routinely poorly attended. That night was no different.

After the game, I asked the groundskeepers if I could quickly walk on the field to see what it felt like. They opened the gate. I ran over to first base, kicked it lightly like a tire on a new car, and hurried back across the spongy grass lest I overdo my privilege. Looking back now, of course, it was no big deal. It was a cold night; the sparse crowd was almost gone. So what if they let a kid run onto the field. It wasn’t as if anyone was going to take pictures on their cell phone. But back then it felt like I could have been [Red Wing’s shortstop Tim Nordbrook]


RIT Professor of Mathematics, Manuel Lopez. Raised in Cuba, Manny is a diehard baseball fan.

Another memorable moment occurred on September 14th, 2006.  My then colleague Manny Lopez of the RIT Mathematics Department invited me to join him and his wife for game three of the playoffs between the Red Wings and the Toledo Mud Hens at Frontier Field.  Sort of.  The game was actually played in Toledo, but the Red Wings invited fans to watch a live broadcast on the scoreboard.  As I recall, parking was free, you paid 5 dollars for entrance and got a hot dog.

cuba hat

Cuban national baseball team cap bought in Cuba by Dean Tucker and kindly donated to the magazine.

A couple of thousand were there. Manny and his wife are from Cuba and hence diehard baseball fans. Now living in Rochester, they are big Wings fans. They even contemplated taking an adventurous road trip to Toledo to watch in person.

In about the third inning, the skies opened up with a torrential downpour.  Many people left. But not us.  Raised in the Caribbean, the Lopez’s were accustomed to rain storms. We huddled in the seats where the roof blocked the rain, ate our hot dogs, saw lightning over the train tracks across from center field. We stayed to the soaked end in which the Wings happily won 10 – 4.

A year ago or so, I ran into the Lopez’s at Topps. We recalled the game fondly. Since 2006, they’ve had two children and can only rarely make spontaneous trips to Frontier much less adventurous road trips to Toledo. But they did say if the Wings ever make it to the Governor’s Cup finals, they’ll be there.

Nonetheless, Sal was right about not playing in early April.  Yesterday’s game was chilly and sparsely attended. Knot hole or not hole, I only stayed for the first half inning.

OD 4

Opening Day, 4/9/18. In his 4/10/18 report on the game, Sal says there were only about 700 fans for the 34 degree game. 701 if you count me.


Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/10/18



The six games Babe Ruth played in Rochester


48 years ago when Rochester saw its first “Designated Pinch Hitter”


When the P.A. announcer told us Nixon had resigned. On the passing of Anna Silver and a most memorable Silver Stadium game


Frank Robinson (1935 – 2019) and a glove signed at the 1988 Orioles-Red Wings exhibition game

The night in 1988 when a Hall of Fame flame thrower threw 151 pitches in the Triple-A-Classic at Silver Stadium


Dustin Pedroia, a 1999 lawn chair and a 2005 birthday gift from Naomi and Anna Silver


The Hat Gate game is reason enough to root for the Nationals


Waiting for baseball? Read the 2020 Rochester Red Wings Digital Yearbook “sneak peek” including Talker’s “Hat Gate”


A day at the ballpark with the Red Wings On Field Host and Sports Entertainer

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts