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

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

“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.

(left) popularity of the Washington Redskins (NFL) (right) popularity of the Washington Nationals (MLB)

(left) popularity of the Washington Redskins (NFL) (right) popularity of the Washington Nationals (MLB)

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

Stephen Strasburg hits 99 mph at Frontier Field, Rochester NY (j Gomer, Youtube)

Stephen Strasburg hits 99 mph at Frontier Field, Rochester NY (J Gomer, Youtube) Gomer adds: “Strasburg lets fly with a 99 mph heater. Our radar gun only has 2 digits so he may have hit 100 a couple times.”

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.

Program, lineups and scorecard for the May 19th, 2010 game

Ticker stub, seating chart, program, lineups and scorecard for the May 19th, 2010 game attended by David Kramer, Eugene Kramer, Ed Maruggi and Dean Tucker

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.

left) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 18, 2019 (center and right) May 20th

(top left) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 18, 2019 (top right) May 19, 2010 (bottom) May 20th, 2019

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.

Thu, May 20, 2010 · Page 21

By then, it was too late for Strasburg to tip his cap. Thu, May 20, 2010 · Page 21

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.

ROCHESTER, NY - APRIL 26, 2012: Outfielder Bryce Harper #34 of the Syracuse Chiefs during a game on April 26, 2012 against the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field in Rochester, New York. 2012April_26-6053 2012 Gregory Cammett, Diamond Images

ROCHESTER, NY – APRIL 26, 2012: Outfielder Bryce Harper #34 of the Syracuse Chiefs during a game on April 26, 2012 against the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field in Rochester, New York. (Gregory Cammett, Diamond Images)

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.

Syracuse Chiefs outfielder Bryce Harper #34 signs autographs before a game against the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field on April 25, 2012 in Rochester, New York. Syracuse defeated Rochester 10-5. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Syracuse Chiefs outfielder Bryce Harper #34 signs autographs before a game against the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field on April 25, 2012 in Rochester, New York. Syracuse defeated Rochester 10-5. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

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.

(left) Bryce Harper's autograph, April 26th, 2012, Frontier Field, Rochester, NY and clipping from the Democrat and Chronicle, April 27th (right) notarized statement

(left) Bryce Harper’s autograph, April 26th, 2012, Frontier Field, Rochester, NY and clipping from the Democrat and Chronicle, April 27th (right) notarized statement

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.

SEE  Street & Smith‘s now defunct. Here is Kramer & Kramer‘s Official 2016 Yearbook

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:

Now gone from living memory, the last time the Dodgers (Robins) and Red Sox battled

19_-1916-feature

from The Babe: A Life in Pictures (1988) by Lawrence S. Ritter and Mark Rucker [Held at and scanned courtesy of the Central Branch of the Rochester Public Library.]

ON THE 2016 WORLD SERIES, SEE: Grading Kramer & Kramer’s 2016 baseball predictions

Eugene stayed up past 2:30 a.m. to watch the October 10/11th, 2016 Cubs vs. Giants

Eugene stayed up past 2:30 a.m. to watch the October 10/11th, 2016 Cubs vs. Giants

SEE ALSO

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

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

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. 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, and the CITY.  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.

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