A summit of sorts occurred last week at…wait, what’s the beautiful riverfront park in Manchester, NH, called? When it was built in 1998, it was Singer Family Park, but recently they changed it. Riverside Yards? Elysian Field? No? Oh, right: It’s Merchantsauto.com Stadium now. Okay, as a tangent to this story, can anybody cite a crappier name for a stadium anywhere, ever?
But as I was saying, a summit of sorts occurred last week at the former Singer Family Park, with or without the help of the host New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who are currently in the cellar of the Eastern League’s Northern Division, 25 games behind first-place Trenton. No, the summit involved hanging out in the right-field bleachers with Bus Leagues bigwig OMDQ and his buddy Chris, cracking wise at the 13-7 drubbing the Cats received at the hands of the Harrisburg Senators. Well, 13-7 by the time the seventh rolled around. I don’t know about OMDQ and Chris, but my party called it a night at that point.
However, before the bloodbath, I was lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes tour from one of the Fisher Cats’ unflappable media-relations people. As OMDQ is well aware but I hardly knew, these guys work brutal hours: During the regular season, it’s pretty much 9 a.m. until the game ends, which this evening must have been very, very late.
Okay, first of all, this is a fisher cat. Fortunately for us, it’s stuffed, because apparently fisher cats are really mean. They’re the porcupine’s only predator.
A statue of the Splendid Splinter in the stadium’s Ted Williams Room. Not pictured: A New Hamphire license plate, with only the number 9 on it, autographed by the man himself.
Yours truly gripping the PA mic in the press box.
They make latex.
The back of the scoreboard, underneath the grandstand.
It was Aviation Night. That’s my girlfriend, Jen, in the background with the foam Fisher Cat claw. She was a menace with that thing.
That’s Slider, one of the two mascots. The other one is named Fungo, but supposedly he smells, so people call him Fungus.
It really is a beautiful field. The left-field wall is all brick, with a green manual scoreboard; in left center, following proud Toronto tradition (the Fisher Cats are the Blue Jays’ AA affiliate), there’s a hotel with suites looking out onto the game.
The aforementioned summit, top of the fifth. OMDQ on the left, me in the center, Chris at right. Harrisburg batted around that inning—the third time it happened during this gnarly game—scoring four runs on three hits and four walks.
OMDQ and Chris were sitting near the Fisher Cats’ bullpen in right field; we had a little competition to see who could get the most baseball-card-like photo of lefty mop-up guy Jo Matumoto. I liked this one with the leg kick. Matumoto, born in Brazil and listed as 37 years old, entered the game with the Cats trailing 13-7; according to the next day’s box score, he spun 4.1 scoreless innings. The home team almost mounted a comeback, but wound up losing by a final tally of 13-11. Nonetheless, although we were long gone, a big fireworks show followed the game. Just more evidence that the Bus Leagues are the greatest.