Kate was given free tickets and food vouchers for Sunday’s New Britain Bees’ home finale, so it was a no-brainer to go. And it would get better while we were at the game itself.
It was a beautiful day for baseball and New Britain drew the biggest crowd I’ve seen at a Bees game this season. Not the 3,625 listed in the box score, but maybe 1,200 people at the game.
After getting our free lunch and watching a few innings of the game, Sean and I took our usual walk around New Britain Stadium, as we almost always find one or more balls beyond the outfield fence.
We found one pretty quickly, in a wet area behind the right field wall. Sean immediately noticed it had just red laces, which is unusual at Bees games as they have almost always used red-blue-laced Atlantic League balls.
I picked it up, and it was an Arizona League baseball!
That probably wouldn’t be overly exciting to just about anyone other than Kate, Sean and I. It so happens that for at least a year, we have needed just one ball complete our collection of current MiLB league baseball, and that ball was an Arizona League ball!
The good news/bad news is that the ball was wet, but not saturated. It dried out fairly quickly, but the ink on the ball has become fainter now that it is dry: You have to look real close to see that it is an Arizona League ball. But we will take it.
As an aside, never knowing what you might find when ballhawking is a major part of the fun. Here are some of the unique baseballs we have found in surprising places:
- 2011 MLB ASG ball at a Brown @ Central Connecticut State baseball game two years ago. Brown had a bucket of them as practice balls.
- Blue Jays’ 40th Anniversary baseball at a Junior College baseball game in Connecticut in 2017. The ball, pretty beat up, was beyond one of the chain link outfield fences all by itself
- Pecos League baseballs: The University of Hartford’s baseball team uses them as practice balls.
Back to the game, the Skeeters broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the 7th and added 1 in the 9th for a 7-3 win.
Sean wanted to try for Sugar Land’s lineup card. We tried twice two weeks ago: he got shut down once and the second time, he got the card but the Skeeters were using a Bees’ card since they had run out on a longer-than-expected road trip.
Sean waiting to ask for Sugar Land’s lineup card
Sugar Land’s acting manager Raffy Montalvo initially told Sean “no” because he had some notes on the card, but when I explained the situation, Montalvo was nice enough to copy his notes (pitch counts for his 5 pitchers) and give Sean the card.
Sean was also thrown a ball by a Sugar Land player while waiting at the dugout. It will likely be our last “Atlantic League 20th Season ball.” It’s been a lot of fun having a commemorative ball being used in our backyard.
Meanwhile, Kate had planned to ask New Britain manager Stan Cliburn for his lineup card, but another boy got there first. That’s fine, we have gotten more than our share of Bees’ lineup cards the last two seasons.
2017: 35 lineup cards (20 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 157 lineup cards (107 dugout/bullpen; 47 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)