“Syracuse Chiefs star pitcher Stephen Strasburg dazzled a sell-out crowd at Frontier Field on Wednesday night.” (Kevin Fuller, Messenger Post Newspaper, 5/20/10)
Last night, I proudly stayed up to watch the entire Game 1 of the World Series, ending past midnight. I wish I cared who won. I am a Yankee fan so was rooting for New York vs. St. Louis (that would be their 6th series matchup) or Yankees vs. Dodgers (that would be their 12th matchup). Washington vs. Houston is ho-hum.
In “How Popular Is Baseball, Really” (NYT, 10/22/19)
For example, Love compares the popularity of the Washington Nationals (MLB) and the Washington Redskins (NFL). As is the case across the board, NFL teams draw from more regions.
Hence, when the Super Bowl rolls around, any given NFL team has a larger devoted base.
Given my relative indifference and seeking connection, I’ve chosen Washington because of its ace Stephen Strasburg who pitches tonight and was the central character in the Hat Gate game.¹
In the first months of the 2010 season, Strasburg mowed down batters for the Washington National’s farm teams. In late May, Strasburg was scheduled to pitch for the Syracuse Chiefs against the Red Wings at Frontier Field. Immediately I purchased four tickets for the best seats in the house: directly behind home plate and as close to Strasburg’s fastball as you can get.
The game, drawing the 8th largest crowd in the history of Frontier Field, was one its most electric. I’ve never before seen such a fastball live and so close we could see the catcher slightly wince when the ball not so much plopped into his glove but exploded. The batters looked liked they were facing Walter Johnson whose dead ball fastball was considered not only unhittable but unseeable. J Gomer tracked Strasburg on a rader gun with only two digits. The gun consistently recorded 99 but Strasburg must have hit 100 mph or more.
As Strasburg was leaving the game in the 7th inning and approaching the third base dugout, Red Wing fans in that section offered a standing ovation. Then the ovation turned to boos. From our seats, Dean, Ed, Eugene and I could not tell exactly what happened. It wasn’t until watching highlights on the news that we understood. Strasburg had failed to tip his cap to the cheering fans who responded with razzberies.
In “The Strasburg Controversy”, Democrat and Chronicle writer Jim Mandelero reviews the Hat Gate question:
Should pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg have tipped his cap when more than 12,000 fans at Frontier Field gave him a standing ovation as he left in the seventh inning Wednesday?
While the answer is yes, in Strasburg’s defense Strasburg said he wasn’t used to opposing fans cheering for him. He didn’t mean to not tip. Also, Strasburg worried that tipping would be showing up the Red Wings. By the time his pondering was over, Strasburg had reached the dugout and it was too late.
Whether or not Strasburg should have tipped his hat, the Hat Gate game is enough reason to root for the Nationals.
¹ I would really be rooting for the Nats if Bryce Harper was still on the team. Like Strasburg, Harper began his career with the Syracuse Chiefs. On April 26th, I attended the last game before his call up to Washington and got his autograph. Not have a baseball or a baseball card, I had him sign a ten dollar bill.
A while later, I realized I had a problem. How could I prove that Harper signed the $10 bill that day. The earlier an autograph is signed in a player’s career, the more valuable it becomes. I should have asked Harper to date his signature or taken a picture of the two of us. A friend did say he saw me on the Time Warner broadcast, but wasn’t sure if it was me and Harper. And doubtful the tape still exists.
Instead, on October 2nd 2013, with bill, I went to a Notary Public at the Rochester Public Library. The point was not that the Notary authenticate that the signature was Harper’s; she couldn’t. The point was simply to prove I had shown her a signed bill on October 2nd, 2013, hence the autograph could not have been made at a later date.
Unfortunately, the Notary would only vouch that I told her I was at the game (I got the date wrong but that’s a minor error). She would not vouch that I showed her the signed bill, making me cross out and initialize those line, although what I initially wrote is still visible and might be evidence enough.
If the autograph becomes valuable, I still have a strong case that it was signed by Bryce Harper on April 26th, 2012. In addition, an August 2012 article in Beckett, “Bryce Harper’s autograph evolves with time, volume,” shows how Harper’s autograph has changed over the years, hence signatures can be more easily traced to a specific time frame. Assuming the signature can be verified as authentic (not forged by my greedy hand), the way he signed can perhaps be dated to 2012.
For more on Bryce Harper signing autographs while in the minor leagues, see Malcolm MacMillan’s “My Bryce Harper Adventure” (March 1, 2012).
ON THE 1916 WORLD SERIES, SEE:Grading Kramer & Kramer’s 2016 baseball predictions