The Bus Leagues clock is running out. This past Thursday, I decided to catch the second-to-last regular-season Staten Island Yankees game: If they win this one, they clinch the McNamara Division of the Single-A New York-Penn League. Richmond County Bank Ballpark, where the Baby Bombers play, is right on New York Harbor, just steps away from the Staten Island Ferry terminal.
Boarding the Staten Island Ferry, official cruise line of the Boat Leagues, in downtown Manhattan.
On the Staten Island side: the view from the promenade that leads to the ballpark. All game long, enormous freighters like this one pass through the waters just beyond the right-field fence.
Richmond County Bank Ballpark holds more than 7,000 fans, but I guess people were having a hard time getting off work for this lazy early-September afternoon game. Attendance was officially tallied at 1,568, but that sounded like a stretch to me. Apparently the next night, the final regular-season game (in which the Yanks pounded Hudson Valley 17-5) was a 7,171-strong sell-out. (Pictured here: Yankee RHP Daniel Kapela, who would—SPOILER ALERT—earn the win today.)
But it was a good game, with the usual merriments to keep fans entertained between innings. Here, Scooter the Holy Cow is defeated by a little kid in the tug of war.
And here, better still, a man battled his son (not pictured) head-to-head to determine who could pull off a better dance to “The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies.” This guy won. Click on the image. It’s worth it, I promise you.
But for me, the best part of this game was sitting with these guys behind home plate. Diehard SI fans, they were heckling for nine straight innings—loudly talking junk to each other, the players, and the umpires, whom they knew by name. (Apparently the home-plate ump is an NBA ref in the off-season.) To me, their closeness and love of the game was not only what Bus Leagues fandom is all about: It was what New York City baseball fandom should be, and once was, about. With the new $1.3 gazillion Yankee Stadium and its hundred-dollar tickets, there just aren’t as many real fans on the major-league level anymore. They’re here, in Staten Island.
And, perhaps tellingly, their team is doing better than the major-league Bombers. With this afternoon’s 4-2 victory, the Staten Island Yankees clinched a playoff berth. Switch-throwing bullpen phenom Pat Venditte pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save of the year, quite a feat in a two-month-long season.
Thanks, Scooter. See you next year.