Posts Tagged ‘hot dogs’

Take America Out to the Ball Game

Friday, July 1st, 2022
Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium. RJ Photography RJ Photography

Playing ball at Dutchess Stadium.
RJ Photography

By Bob Gaydos

It was ‘90s Prom Night. All the music was from the ‘90s. There were teenaged girls in lovely prom dresses. Their dates wore matching tuxes. There was a race against a video opponent. Sing the next line of the song. Show us your best ‘90s dance moves. Yes, musical chairs! Crown a prom king and queen. A rousing chorus of “God Bless America.” A six-year-old boy wearing a DiMaggio #5 jersey. A 66-year-old wearing a Maris #9. Another rousing chorus of “Take Me Out to ….” … Yes. The ball game.

     But not just any ballgame. A Hudson Renegades/Brooklyn Cyclones ballgame. Class A minor league baseball at its best. The future Yankees (the Renegades) hosted the future Mets at a splendid ballpark in Dutchess County, not far from the Hudson River and a one-hour commuter train ride from the big ballpark in the Bronx.

    What better way to spend a perfect summer night than with America’s traditional pastime when much of the rest of the country was participating in America’s new pastime — bickering over how serious it was that a defeated president threw his lunch against the wall because his coup attempt was not going well. A couple of thousand locals thought the same.

     The only hint of possible friction at the ballpark came when the public address announcer reported that the Houston Astros had defeated the Mets that afternoon. The hometown Renegades/Yankees fans cheered loudly. All in fun.

      Americans, I think, are desperate to have fun again. Real fun, relaxed fun, not frenetic demonstrations of rebellion against a Covid mask mandate or some other hyped display of look-at-me bravado.

     A hot-dog-at-a-ballgame kind of fun.

     Without trying to sound corny, a night out with friends at Dutchess Stadium really was a perfect antidote for what ailed me — Trumper tantrums, MAGA mania and a Supreme Court run amok. I had had the unsettling talk with myself earlier that went something like, “I’ve been promoting a pro-choice, gun control, equal rights, save-the-planet agenda in my writing for decades and yet, here we are. I need a ballgame.”

       I was right.

      The whole country needs a ball game, especially one between young men in their early 20s chasing a dream – to someday become a Yankee or a Met. I’d venture to say that, to most in the crowd, the outcome of the game didn’t matter nearly as much as simply being there.

        Even when the Renegades pitcher walked the first Cyclone batter, hit the next one with a pitch and gave up a home run on his first pitch to the third batter, everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed, having a good time, except maybe the Renegades pitcher.

       But never fear, there was still a lot of baseball to be played. And hotdogs and burgers and peanuts and popcorn and french fries and even tacos to be eaten. Local sponsors got promoted on the big screen. Birthdays were announced. Bases were stolen and home runs were hit. Three in all. 

        In the end, the Renegades won, 8 to 5.  In honor of the evening’s theme, there was dancing on the field after the game to ‘90s music under flashing colored lights. Dancing on the field!

         To top it off, since the Renegades are now an uptown team, they play the Yankees’ traditional send-the-fans-home-happy song — Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” We all knew the words.

          Start spreading the news. The MAGAs will still be there. I’ll make a brand new start of it … Tomorrow.

         Boy, did I make the right call about needing a ball game.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at     



The Old Ball Game

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

By Jeffrey Pagerockland-boulders-secondary-logo

There’s plenty to grouse about at a minor league ballgame.

Example: Those stupid mascots that prance all over the field in the time between half innings. I think a mascot with a gyrating pelvis is inappropriate at a gathering where there are hundreds of seemingly innocent kids. But if the bump-and-grind weren’t enough, the bird-like creature that represents the Rockland Boulders in Pomona also parked himself on an inner tube and appeared to be delivering a lesson on potty training. Maybe I’m too critical.

Example: Then again, maybe I’m not. The Boulders’ announcement that if such-and-such a player on the opposing team struck out, everyone in the stands would get a ticket for a free soda at a future Boulders game. Now I have no problem with someone’s yelling to an opposing player, “Swing and miss, batter! Swing batter batter batter!” Somehow that’s part of the game. But to have free-soda-if-he-fans blasted into his ears (not to mention into our ears) over the stadium sound system? That should be outlawed by any league that is remotely aware of the concept of sportsmanship.

I could go on. There was the woman who sang the National Anthem and tried to jazz up “free” as in “o’er the land of the free” and proved that maybe the Star Spangled Banner is no rollicking affair.

But enough. Let’s talk baseball, which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Boulders game.

There’s a certain purity to be found in minor league baseball that once existed in the bigs but doesn’t much anymore.

The Boulders played the Trois Rivieres Aigles from Quebec at Provident Bank Park in Pomona. It was cat and mouse for the first seven and a half innings with the score tiptoeing one run at a time, finally reaching 3-3. The Boulders needed a run; I needed a hot dog. They succeeded; I got a dog whose flavor was unlike any other frank I’d ever consumed. That is not a compliment.

The major leagues have fixated on the home run, to the near exclusion of other run-producing weapons. But as Rockland and Trois Rivieres had at it, I got a nice taste of what the game used to be about.

For example, I saw the Boulders attempt a hit-and-run play, and could not recall the last time I’d seen this exciting tactic. (The runner on first base starts running as the pitcher lets go of the ball. The batter must make contact because if he misses, the runner is toast. If the hitter succeeds and gets a base hit to the outfield, the runner could well reach third base.

Rockland tried it and failed but at least I saw the attempt. Done right, the hit-and-run is as much choreography as it is athleticism and fun to watch.

Something else you find at little places like Provident Bank Park is the sacrifice bunt to move a runner. Do they bunt at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium? Maybe not at the stadium because it’s an American League park and AL teams have the designated hitter – an abomination if you ask me – and probably figure they don’t need to ask their players to bunt.

I saw one of the Aigles lay a bunt down so exquisitely that it caught the Boulders’ infield glued in place. Keats easily could have been describing a left-handed batter pushing a bunt along the third base line when he observed that a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Back to the present. The Boulders’ bats, which had been suffering from iron deficiency anemia, finally came to in the bottom of the eighth, and the home team scored six runs with single after single. Very exciting. The Aigles picked up two runs – on a home run – in the top of the ninth, and that was it. The final: 9-5. A nice evening.

The hot dogs may taste like an alien life form, the management may make kids look like braying fools by tossing t-shirts into the stands and the children pleased for a shirt to be thrown in their direction, and we still may be blasted with a few notes from the Toreador Song, the Notre Dame Fight Song, and other adrenaline anthems after every pitch, but I’m going back.

It’s a great place to see some baseball.