Last night, my wife and I took our ten-month-son, Joey, to his first professional baseball game, a Can-Am League tilt between the Brockton Rox and the hometown Nashua Pride. We weren’t sure if we’d make it, considering the rain showers that peppered the area during the afternoon, but things cleared up as game time approached and we were able to settle in for a nice (albeit cold) evening at the ballpark.
Watching my son look around Holman Stadium for the first time was both awesome and hilarious to see. I’ll have pictures tomorrow, hopefully – you could just tell he was thinking, “Alright, what in the hell is this place, and why have they brought me here?” I had high hopes of his first exposure to the crack of the bat – maybe he would instantly perk up, eyes totally focused on the field, and I would know at that moment that my boy was SUPPOSED to be a ballplayer – but alas, it was not to be. Joey’s first reaction to the crack of the bat was to continue staring down the teenage girl sitting next to my wife. A little ladies man, that one.
As shocking as it was for Joey to see Holman Stadium for the first time, it was twice as insane to enter the ballpark and not hear Ken Cail’s booming voice over the PA. As noted here some time ago, Cail, the team’s longtime PA announcer, left the position during the offseason to pursue an opportunity as a radio announcer for the Lowell Spinners, Single A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Ken was on hand to receive a championship ring during a pregame ceremony to commemmorate the Pride’s 2007 Can-Am League championship, and I ran into him at one point before the game. He sounded excited to be calling the Spinners games, acknowledging that it was a good opportunity for him, but it’s still sad to go to the ballpark and hear someone else’s voice.
(That voice, by the way, now belongs to Woody Woodland, who I spoke with once or twice a few years ago and am probably treating unfairly by comparing him to Ken. It’s not Woody’s fault he has to follow in the footsteps of the greatest PA announcer in minor league history. And no, I’m not just saying that because I told Ken about this blog and he might read this. Seriously, I’m not.)
One of the things I tried to keep an eye on through the night (well, through the six innings we stayed, anyway) was the promotional schedule, which was surprisingly light, even when you take into account that it was Opening Night. The team only ran two on-field promos that I saw, a sponsored bicycle race and a pizza toss. In all honesty, I didn’t see the pizza toss – I think I was in the team store at the time. My wife actually texted me to ask if I had the camera because she knew I wanted pictures of stuff like that. She’s a good woman, that one. They also did another between-innings thing with the mascot dancing to a song on top of the dugout, which was sort of cliched and unimpressive. I’ll be interested to watch throughout the season to see if the paucity of promotions was actually planned or if they plan on bumping their efforts up on nights when larger crowds are expected (about 1,500 announced last night, maybe 500 or so actually on hand).
I’ll have some pictures of the ballpark and festivities tomorrow, hopefully. We’re going again tonight, when the Pride honor former longtime manager Butch Hobson by retiring his number 17 before the game. Hobson left the team after last year’s championship and is back in the Atlantic League as manager of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.