Saturday, August 20, 2005

Minor Trip, Major Fun

Last Friday night I went with a co-worker to a minor league game in Stockton. He's been doing projects there for a while, and he's been bugging me all season to go out with him to catch a Ports game. Now, I'm not much for minor league ball, as I pay attention only to the major leagues, but this might be a fun trip. My family was out of town visiting relatives, so I took him up on it. It's only the second minor league game I've ever seen.

The Stockton Ports are the single-A California League affiliate of the Oakland A's. Stockton, as you might know, is the town known as Mudville in the classic piece of baseball literature Casey at the Bat, which first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1888.

Well, the quality of play certainly wasn't up to the big league standard. There were a few things I saw that you'd never see in the bigs. And there were many promotions and stunts between innings that you'd also never see in the bigs. Hokey, corny stuff... but it was fairly fun. There was the $2 Heiniken beer special, called "Beer Batter." The PA announced during a certain visiting player's at bat that if he struck out, Heinikens would be $2 for 10 minutes. We discovered that one by accident. Each half inning, the fans were included in stunts and contests. Trying to break the headlights of an El Camino pickup with a baseball, wins a prize. Kids racing around the bases in opposite directions. Golf chip shots from the top of the dugout into a hoop. Eating contests, three legged races, etc. One announcement went like this: "Attention please! Will the owner of a silver Toyota with license plate ABC123 please report to such and such. Your car is the dirtiest in the parking lot. You've won a free car wash compliments of Mike's Car Wash."

All in all, it was pretty good fun, but I still prefer the majors.

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