Okay, the title on this one is misleading. Unlike George Washington, who famously crossed the Delaware River in a key Revolutionary War moment not far from Trenton’s Arm & Hammer Park, I did not actually cross the Delaware. Not even close. But I did go into the Delaware to fish out our one and only Eastern League All Star Game ball!
Sean and I made the trip to Trenton, NJ for the annual East vs. West game, our first visit to the home of the Trenton Thunder. The stadium was packed, particularly given that Tim Tebow was playing in the game.
Sean is dealing with some leg issues and getting around isn’t easy, so we didn’t try very hard for a BP ball, especially knowing they were using regular Eastern League balls.
We still managed to get on the board before the game started when former Yankee Scott Bradley, one of a few to throw ceremonial first pitches, tossed me his ball afterward. I thought for sure it’d be one of the ASG balls they were supposed to be using, but it was not. It was an out-of-the-box new, regular Eastern League ball. Nice, but not what we were looking for.
We ballhawked outside the stadium for the first few innings. I had a good chance to get two balls in the second inning, hit within a couple of minutes of each other, but another guy managed to beat me to both. As it turned out, that was okay because they were both regular EL balls.
That’s the confusing/awful part. The guy who got both balls saw another ball come out earlier in the game that ended up on some netting above a kids’ play area where it was un-reachable. But you could clearly see that it was an ASG ball. So why were the other two balls not ASG balls?
I’ve heard of them running of out ASG balls later in the game and then using regular balls. But this was the second inning.
We also talked to a guy who got a game HR ball later in the game, and it was also a regular ball. His guess was that one team was pitching ASG balls and the other pitching regular balls. I don’t know if that was the case, but they definitely were mixing the balls during the game.
Hanging out inside the stadium for a while, a stadium employee gave Sean a ball but it was also an Eastern League ball. I’m not sure if it came from the game or not, but we were 0-for-2 in terms of the ASG ball.
An inning later, a long foul ball was hit down the RF line that left the stadium.
As you can see in the picture above, the Delaware River runs alongside the first base line, and isn’t far from the stadium.
When we walked around the stadium before the game, I could see that it would be possible, if not likely, that a foul ball could end up in the river. In some spots, there was no more than 15 yards from the stadium fence to a small fence before some undergrowth and then a short but steep drop to the river.
Half jokingly, I said to Sean that it might not be the worst idea to hang out down by the river and wait for a ball.
Back to the foul ball down the RF line mentioned above.
I wasn’t overly optimistic, but decided to go check it out. There were some ballhawks outside, and I had no idea where the ball actually ended up, but knew there was a chance it made it down to the river, and it could have gone unnoticed.
I had to go down a little bit to find a spot where I could get down to the river bank, but once I did, it was easy to walk along the bank of the river as the water level was low.
I wish in hindsight I had taken pictures, but they were the furthest thing from my mind at the time. I walked along the river for maybe 100 yards, looking into the water near the bank along the way.
Sure enough, I eventually saw something bobbing in the water, maybe 15 feet out. As I got closer, I realized it was a baseball.
It was probably two feet deep, so I had to take off my sneakers and socks to wade out to get it. As I was, the ball seemed to start taking the flow down river, luckily not too quickly. So I rushed out and grabbed it. I turned it over, and sure enough it was an ASG ball!
Our wet 2018 Eastern League ASG ball, back in the stadium
It took me at least 5 minutes to get it, maybe longer, so the ball was wet. It took a bit to dry out, and the seams puffed up a bit. But the face of the ball is in great shape, so no complaints.
We watched the game through the end of the 7th inning, with no other ball opportunities. It was getting late, Sean had had enough, so we decided to leave.
Interestingly, two balls came relatively near us as we left including a home run, but there were more ballhawks outside, so we didn’t have a chance to snag either. As it turned out, they were both regular Eastern League balls.
The game was tied after 9 innings, and eventually was decided by a mini home run derby, which would have been fun to watch.
It never would have worked for us to stay late enough to try for a lineup card, but there was a tinge of disappointment when I saw a Twitter posting of the dugout lineup card later that night.
Maybe next year!
We bid farewell to Batavia, NY on Thursday, July 15th and headed west toward Indianapolis.
On the way, we met up with a friend for lunch at a restaurant that happened to be down the street from Canal Park, home of the Eastern League’s Akron Rubber Ducks. The park was closed but I still took the obligatory pic of Kate outside the stadium.
We made it to Indianapolis Thursday around 6pm. I had thoughts of maybe making it to the Indianapolis Indians game that night, but Kate needed to help with set up for her team’s robotics competition. Things got delayed by a thunderstorm that dropped a crazy amount of rain, so we didn’t leave until 8:30pm and therefore no game.
Thoughts of going to Friday night’s game also went by the wayside as the competition went on until 7:40pm that day. We might have been able to make the last half of the game, but we were pretty exhausted and called it a day.
Saturday was the final day of the robotics competition. Our hope was to leave straight after Kate’s team finished and head to Florence, Kentucky, some two hours away, for our first-ever Frontier League game. If the competition went late, we might catch some of the Indians’ game instead, and drive down to Florence afterward as that is where our hotel was for the night.
Kate’s team ended up winning the competition, which was both great as well as a big deal. They celebrated for a while afterward, posing for plenty of pictures. We left about 5:30pm.
I had decided ahead of time that if we left by 6pm, we’d probably get to at least some of the Florence Freedom game. So we headed to Florence, getting to the stadium just before 7:30pm.
The game had started at 6:05 pm, and was in the top of the 6th inning when we got there.
The goal had been, and still was, to get one or more Frontier League 25th Anniversary baseballs that are being used this season. Along with our plan to ballhawk, I brought a few Atlantic League 20th Anniversary balls to try and trade.
As it turned out, bringing the balls to trade was a great idea. In between innings, we traded with both bullpens. We were very appreciative that both team bullpens helped us out because they easily could have said no or ignored us. So we were on the board with a couple Frontier League 25th balls!
We walked around the outside of the park and found another ball, then traded for two more for a total of five. As it turned out, there were no foul balls hit anywhere near us, so I am really glad we brought balls to trade.
A secondary goal was to get a lineup card from the game. We got two:
As an added bonus, here’s the back of the Freedom lineup card:
We have never gotten anything like this. It’s cool to see the preparation, particularly the level of detail, that goes into a single game.
The visiting Normal Cornbelters won the game, 2-0.
Days don’t get much better than this one. Kate’s robotics team won its competition, we saw a game (at least part of a game) in a new stadium for us, got a few anniversary balls, and got our first Frontier League lineup cards!
2017: 19 lineup cards (9 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 140 lineup cards (96 dugout/bullpen; 41 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)
There’s Frozen the movie, and then there’s Frozen the baseball game.
Frozen the baseball game took place on Saturday, April 9 in Reading, PA. The Reading Fightin Phils of the AA Eastern League were hosting the Portland Sea Dogs.
Other games in the area — including those hosted by the Baltimore Orioles, Wilmington Blue Rocks and Trenton Thunder — were all canceled due to the rain/snow/cold. Sean and I were on our way to Washington DC to see the Capitals’ season finale Sunday night. We had originally planned to go to the blue Rocks game, but changed our plans when that game was canceled and the Fightin Phils game was still on.
It was both of our first times at FirstEnergy Stadium. It looked like it would be a fun stadium to be at on a warm summer evening, but this night didn’t quite fall into that category.
The box score says the 6:04pm game time temperature was 35 degrees with 13 mph winds. It also said that the attendance was 5,273. I can guarantee that the temperature wasn’t 35 by the end of the game, and that there probably weren’t 273 fans left, never mind 5,273.
We kept warm by running around chasing foul balls, getting six without trying too hard.
At the end of the game, a 6-2 Portland victory, Sean headed to the Portland dugout while I tried to hit up the Fightin Phils for a lineup card. Reading coaches blew me off but Sea Dog manager Bobby Meacham Sean hooked up Sean with the Portland lineup card.
As you can see from the above picture, we decided to wait until we got to the hotel room to take pictures, rather than in the cold.
The Sea Dog lineup card isn’t anything special. But since we had failed to get a Sea Dog lineup card in 2015 — we were told that then-manager Billy McMillon didn’t give them out — it was a good score to get one.
Here’s a better picture of the lineup card, as well as the gold Cole Hamels bobblehead giveaway from the game.
Lineup Card Stats
2016: 3 lineup cards (2 dugout; 1 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 66 lineup cards (49 dugout; 15 “official batting order”; and two “relief pitcher usage”)
Leagues: American League; National League; Eastern League; Carolina League; New York-Penn League; Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; Cape Cod League; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); and Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL)