[9/16/21 Rochester Red Wings Team Store. Nicole Boyle, Director of Merchandising (left) and Team Store Associate Ava (right) with David Kramer. Nicole and Eva say hats are the biggest sellers. Photo: Grant Anderson. Except where indicated, photos by David Kramer] SEE ALL RED WINGS ARTICLES AT END
In Waiting for baseball? Read the 2020 Rochester Red Wings Digital Yearbook “sneak peek” including Talker‘s “Hat Gate”, you met Grant Anderson, the Red Wings On Field Host and Sports Entertainer where he kindly reprinted my article in the 2020 digital yearbook, provided a history of Red Wing yearbooks and tips on how to keep score.
I had never met Grant in person until he invited me to the Thursday matinee game against the Buffalo Bisons. On Thursdays, the Red Wings play as the Rochester Plates with funky on-field caps and jerseys that include images of a fork and a Garbage Plate™ style plate. Along with a cool press pass, Grant gave me a tour of Frontier Field. During the game, I watched him host promotions and generally entertain the crowd.
Yesterday was my first game since Opening Day in 2018. Sort of. That day, I brought my 1977 Knot Hole card that apparently had expired. Due to an unfortunate lack of funds, I had to watch the game from outside the stadium.
The ushers concurred that Thursday was perhaps the best day of the season for a baseball game: temperature about 70 degrees, no humidity and bright sunshine flecked picturesquely with a few stray clouds.
Even perfect days, however, have one dark cloud. I own a glove signed by Cal Ripken Jr. at the 1988 Orioles-Red Wings exhibition game. The glove and a ball Bob Feller signed for me in 1977 at Silver Stadium were to be prime photo op props for my day at the ballpark. Unfortunately, while I brought the ball, due to a mix up, the glove was unavailable.
Grant showed me additions to the ballpark since that last visit in 2018. For the first time, the bullpen now has artificial turf and is equipped with a TrackMan video camera that monitors every pitch and every motion for all bullpen sessions.
I visited the press box, meeting broadcaster Josh Whetzel. In stereo fashion, I listened to Josh’s pregame show live and on my hand held SONY radio. I fiddled with the pitch clock console. In Triple-A, if no runner is on base, the pitcher and batter have ten seconds to get ready, otherwise an automatic ball or strike is called. If a runner or runners are on base, the pitcher has 20 seconds to deliver. Once time is called, both teams have 30 seconds to get ready. Josh says the rule has limited effect on the game because it’s rarely enforced and players learned how to game the system.
Kendall, a recent graduate from Williams College now teaching in Tonawanda and a volunteer baseball coach at Hilbert College, was chosen to play a version of Wheel of Fortune called Plates of Fortune in which he had to guess a baseball term. A huge baseball fan who has visited minor league stadiums all over the northeast, Kendall came to Rochester to watch his hometown Buffalo Bisons. Kendall correctly guessed HOME RUN DERBY, using his Red Wings Diamond Dollars to buy a Batavia Muckdogs shirt, his other favorite team.
I watched the Plates’ Rafael Bautista timing the pitcher as Ali Castillo batted. The result of Bautista’s preparation was a three run home run.
On the picture perfect day, I bicycled to the ballpark. On the way home, I heard Josh tell us the Red Wings/Plates prevailed 5 – 3 over the Bisons.
In May 1987, I was given a tour by of McCoy Stadium by Ben Mondor, then owner of the now defunct Pawtucket Red Sox. In an article I wrote for the Providence Business News, one PawSox quipped memorably: “There’s no sex in the minor leagues.”
A year later the classic minor league baseball film, Bull Durham (1988), was released. According to Bull, there is lots of sex in the minor leagues. I guess that forlorn Pawsoxer kept getting thrown out at home plate.
OTHER RED WING STORIES
1977, 1982 and 1986