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

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

[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

(left) On-Field Host and Sports Entertainer Grant Anderson, at the statue of Joe Altobelli whose ashes are interred beneath the base. Grant Anderson hosts “Pre-Game Live” interviews and on-field promotions at Frontier Field. A native of Chatsworth, CA, Grant attended Pierce College and was heavily influenced by classic TV game show hosts like Chuck Barris, Monty Hall, and Chuck Woolery. In the off-season, Grant can be found calling BINGO at senior centers, hosting fantasy drafts and bracket seedings, and serving as ring announcer for local indy pro wrestling cards. Grant joined the Wings front office in 2016. He enjoys red wine, grape vodka, the circus, listening to Canadian indie bands produced by Moe Berg and speaking in a language only Matt Cipro can understand.

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.

Provided by Grant Anderson from the 2020 Rochester Red Wings Digital Yearbook. Used with the express written consent of Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. From Waiting for baseball? Read the 2020 Rochester Red Wings Digital Yearbook “sneak peek” including Talker‘s “Hat Gate”

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.

David Kramer with Bob Feller autographed ball (Silver Stadium, 1977) at the Morrie Silver statue and at the Left Field Terrace.

(left) The glove was displayed from May 1 – June 14th, 2013 at the Rundel Library in the Pride & Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience traveling exhibition that also included Rochester Baseball Memorabilia at Central Library. The Exhibit note reads: This glove was signed at the 1989 Redwings [sic] vs. Orioles exhibition game. It is signed by Cal Ripken Jr., Frank Robinson, and Coach Curt Motton. Donated for exhibit by David Kramer. From On a Cal Ripken signed 1989 glove, prized possessions, and the Rundel Library; (center) At the 2020 Brighton Farmer’s Market from The Brighton Farmer’s Market is back. At the Game at the Corners, the boys and girls of summer hoping to play ball.; (right) Banner inside Frontier Field from 1981 when Ripken played for the Red Wings. See The 1981 baseball strike comes to Rochester. When Dave Winfield made 1.3 million a year!

Ava and Nicole with the Bob Feller ball in the Team Store.

Frontier Field ushers in front of the Horse-Hide statue near the main gates.

Preparing home fries for the Rochester-style Home Plate. A language purist, Grant bemoans that HOMEPLATE is mistakenly labeled as one word.

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.

The visitor’s bullpen before the game

The Foul Pole Patio in right field was installed in 2019.

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.

(left) David Kramer and broadcaster Josh Whetzel [Photo: Grant Anderson]; (right) David Kramer at the pitch clock console (Photo: Nate Rowan, Director of Communications]

Managers meeting with the umpire crew before the game. Umpiring can be a lonely profession.

A sponsor representative throwing, or perhaps rolling, out the ceremonial first pitch. Spikes catches.

David Kramer with Fred as the first batter of the game awaits the third pitch of the game. Fred has been going to games for so long he remembers watching Ripken play in 1981. [Photo: Mike Ewing, Assistant Director of Group Sales]

The ladies of Cloverwood from Pittsford. This was their first full game of the season. Earlier when they visited Frontier, the game was rained out, but the ladies did hang out with Spikes the mascot. Dorothy Ingram (in blue) lived near Silver Stadium and often walked to games with her brothers. Dr. Ruth Lawrence’s (far right) son was once a batboy. A reader, eye doctor Michael Raff,  recognized Nicole Boyle (in red) as one of his patients. Mike says Nicole is real gem. See A personal tour of the URMC during Meliora Weekend with Dr. Ruth Lawrence, URMS ’49 and still on the active faculty.

Grant Anderson with Spikes and Mittsy who threw soft baseballs to the crowd. (right) The Schroeders from Brighton were not playing hookey as the Brighton schools were closed for Yom Kippur.

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.

Grant Anderson with Kendall from Tonawanda in Buffalo Bisons gear and buying Batavia Muckdogs shirt. See Dustin Pedroia, a 1999 lawn chair and a 2005 birthday gift from Naomi and Anna Silver

Grant with the Smith family who played Fan Feud, guessing what kinds of Home Plates sell at the concession stand. The Feuders received Red Wing Diamond Dollars with which they may have gotten the Home Plate of their choice.

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. 

(top) Rafael Bautista #17 on deck; Ali Castillo #4 batting; (bottom) Bautista hitting three run home run in the second inning.

Adam had not been to game in too long a time. Today’s visit brought back memories of watching the Red Wings with his grandfather who donated money for a brick paver near the Joe Altobelli statue. Adam is in the military and leaves on Friday for Texas.

POSTSCRIPT

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.”

pawsox-5-25-87

Providence Business News, 5/25/87 from Says who you can’t get rich being a writer

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

1914

The six games Babe Ruth played in Rochester

1946 

70 years ago today when Jackie Robinson broke the color line at Red Wings Stadium

1969 

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

1974

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

1977, 1982 and 1986

Henry Aaron’s connections to Rochester: 1974, 1977, 1982 and 1986

1988 

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

1999

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

2010

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

2018

Very first pitch on Opening Day. And Knot Holes

2020 

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

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, the CITY and Lake Affect Magazine.  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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