A Happy Ending

I haven’t had a chance to write much lately, but I wanted to write about one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me.

It was the last day of the Gulf Coast League and I had a baseball card that I wanted to get signed. Nick Ferdinand had been playing with the Clearwater Threshers when they had their cardset made but now Nick was coaching the GCL Phillies. I had talked to him and he said he’d be glad to sign it.

So there I was after the last game waiting where the players and coaches walk to the locker room so I could meet Nick. That was when the amazing thing happened.

After sitting out in the miserable heat for nearly every home game all summer, I was on a head nod, “how are you”/”como estas”, handshake familiarity level with the majority of the players, but what happened next just amazed me.  As I stood there waiting for Nick, almost every player came over to me and either: shook my hand, hugged me or even kissed me on the cheek! It was amazing!

It was so wonderful to know that these guys appreciated that I had been there watching all summer. Ok, most of the cheek kisses came from recipients of my somewhat famous chocolate chip cookies, but I digress.

It was almost like the ending to one of those 80’s teen movies where the hero accomplishes their goal and the others do the famous “slow clap of appreciation”.  They probably didn’t realize how much it meant to me, but it meant a lot.

I miss those kids.

 

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Introducing the 2014 Clearwater Threshers

Tonight was one of my favorite nights of the year, the introduction of the Clearwater Threshers to the season ticket holders.

It’s a catered affair and after dinner, the team is introduced to the season ticket holders. You can see the video HERE

I had fun trying to take pictures before the introductions with my friend, pitcher Colin Kleven making fun of me….

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I got a nice panorama of the team..

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I got to talk to several players and they seem like a good group of guys, I can’t wait to see them play this year.

There are a lot of benefits to being a season ticket holder other than the party, like this card:

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As a season ticket holder, this card gives us entry to any Florida State League stadium to watch the Threshers play, while they are ON THE ROAD. It’s sort of neat knowing you could conceivably go to every Threshers game for one prepaid price.

I’ll use it for the first time tomorrow night as the Threshers open the season on the road, a whole five miles from Bright House and three blocks from my house in Dunedin…

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The Gulf Coast Phillies Start the Season against the GCL Blue Jays

It’s summer here in Florida. Yesterday was supposed to be the beginning of the Gulf Coast League season with the GCL Phillies playing the GCL Blue Jays at the Carpenter Complex.

As it often happens here in Florida, we left our home just a few miles from the Complex and the sun was out and there were only big fluffy clouds. Three miles later, the sky had opened up and as we neared the Complex it was obvious that they had had a good amount of rain. The drainage culverts that were usually empty were more than half full and there was standing water in both the outfield and infield at the Complex. We were informed that the game was cancelled and that a double header would be held on Saturday at the Blue Jay’s Englebert Field. We went to a local eatery for lunch and they were without power–which may show how much worse the weather was in Clearwater as opposed to Dunedin.

Today started out beautiful, sunny and a light breeze and since we had rain last night, the temperature was good.

Cord Sandberg

Draft pick Cord Sandberg led off for the Phillies….unfortunately, he struck out. Sandberg is from nearby Bradenton and he had several fans there to see him in his first professional game. (Next week the GCL Phils will head to Bradenton to play the Pirates and I will bet that there will be a large contingent of fans to see their hometown boy. Ross and I will also hope to make the trip over the Sunshine Skyway to see Feliberto Sanchez pitch again.)

Jiwan James was up next in a rehab appearance and he singles. Followed by Tommy Joseph who was also making a rehab appearance.   There’s a pass ball and James goes to second.  Joseph walked and James to third.  Next was Nick Ferdinand…

Nick Ferdinand
Nick Ferdinand

Ferdinand hit one to center that SHOULD have been caught, but as it wasn’t  he goes to first, Joseph to second and James scores!

Next up was Robinson Torres who popped up. Next was Jose Pujols. The pitcher for the Jays throws another ball that gets by the catcher and Tommy Joseph runs home, but is tagged at the plate. (I thought he was safe, but what do I know?)

The opening day pitcher for the Phillies was Feliberto Sanchez. He’s a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic.

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Sanchez was impressive in his first start. By the end of his 3 innings, he gave up 2 hits, no runs, no walks, hit one batter and 2 strike outs. When he left the game the Phils were up 5-0.

Next to pitch for the Phils was Mark Leiter. His line 1 inning, no hits, no runs, no walks and 1 strike out.

In the fifth, Matt Soren came in to pitch and the wheels came off for the Phils. Soren looked great for the first two batters then fell apart. Soren’s final line was 2/3 of an inning, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 1 strike out. Phils still up 5-3. Ronald Mendez came in to finish the inning and pitched the sixth and gave up a run, but it was unearned as it was the result of an error. Phils up 5-4.

In the seventh, Cody Forsythe, gave up 3 hits, one run and no walks or strikeouts. So what was supposed to be the last inning of the first game of a double header…wasn’t and not by long shot. The game ended up going FOURTEEN innings.

Ricky Bielski was the highlight of the next two innings.

Ricky Bielski
Ricky Bielski

Bielski went 2 innings 1 hit, no runs, no walks, 3 strike outs. He had good command and when he started the 2nd he got behind with a 3-0 count, he got the batter to ground out to second. What impressed me is that after that 3-0 count, he struck out the next two batters.  It was good to see that during this first game of the season. I was impressed.

In the fourteenth, the Jays managed to score and ended the game. It was a hot one, 92 degrees and sunny with little to no breeze. I called it a day. I was fried by the sun, very hot and downed almost 80 ounces of iced tea to cool off!

I left game two to more hardy folk, like Baseball Ross.

In the end, it was a day that supposed to be the second game of the season, then a day with two 7 inning games and by the time it was done, TWENTY innings of baseball were in the books…I’ll bet those guys will sleep well tonight. (Sadly, the GCL Phillies also dropped the second game 3-1)