The world was supposed to be at the finger tips of the Hartford Yard Goats in 2016. A brand new stadium, paid for by the city of Hartford, and a new nickname (the Yard Goats were formerly the New Britain Rock Cats). Oh the opportunities to bring on new sponsors, sell more tickets, merchandise, etc.
Take this past Saturday, for example. The Yard Goats were to host the Erie Sea Wolves at their brand spanking new stadium in Hartford on a great summer day for baseball in Connecticut.
But there was one minor problem: the new stadium isn’t ready yet.
It should have been. The Yard Goats were to have hosted the Richmond Flying Squirrels at the new stadium way back on Thursday, April 7.
But here we are nearly three months later, and the gates at Dunkin Donuts Parks as it will be known are still locked.
Why? As was first written in Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” In this case, the “dogs” are the politicians of the city of Hartford, and the Yard Goats are the ones infested with fleas for having gotten into bed with the Hartford politicians.
You can google “yard goats stadium” if you care to read about the details, but the bottom line is that a construction company that had never built a sports stadium and was the only bidder, was hired to build the stadium that now may not be done in time for the Yard Goats to step foot in the new stadium this season.
Why aren’t the Yard Goats playing in their old stadium while the new stadium is being finished? TheYard Goat organization didn’t exactly leave New Britain Stadium on the best of terms with its landlord, the city of New Britain. Reportedly, the Yard Goats were telling the city of New Britain that they were happy playing in New Britain Stadium while secretly doing the deal with Hartford to make the move, completely blindsiding the New Britain folks. New Britain then brought in the New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League as a new tenant for this season.
Back to Saturday. The Yard Goats were playing their “home” game at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT, normally home to the New York Penn League’s Connecticut Tigers. Dodd Stadium is some 45 minutes southeast of Hartford. It was a double-header because the Connecticut Tigers needed the stadium the night before.
Sean and I made the almost one-hour drive to Norwich for the first game of the double header. We were hoping to score our first Erie Sea Wolves lineup card, but I wasn’t optimistic as Sea Wolves manager and former MLB’er Lance Parrish had blown me off last year.
The Yard Goats won 2-1 in a tidy, 1:46 7-inning game. Sean and I had a bet to see who could come up with the most game balls. Being 10 is a decided advantage as he could ask players to throw him balls, while I had to go for hit balls. I scored a foul ball and a ground-rule double, both hit out of the stadium, but Sean won it when Sea Wolves catcher Greyson Greiner tossed him a third out ball after the bottom of the sixth inning for Sean’s third gamer. We also found several balls beyond the outfield wall, most presumably BP balls, include a few ROMLBs in fair shape at best.
In this picture…
…if you look closely, you can see the Erie lineup card pinned to the bulletin board on the far end of the dugout. (You can also get an idea as to how empty the stadium was; the announced crowd was 624.)
We decided that Sean may have a better shot at getting the Erie lineup card than me so that is how we played it. It ended up not mattering as Sean was told that Parrish keeps his lineup cards. Oh well.
I had better luck at the Yard Goat dugout where I was the only one who asked Hartford manager Darin Everson for his lineup card.
We met the father of Sean Wolves relief pitcher Adam Ravenelle during the game. It was Ravenelle’s first game in uniform for the Sea Wolves as he had just been called up. He didn’t play in the game, but did play in the nightcap, a 6-4 Erie victory.
2016: 28 lineup cards (23 dugout/bullpen; 5 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 91 lineup cards (70 dugout/bullpen; 19 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)