Earl and I spent the afternoon in a charming minor league baseball stadium where the Silverhawks, the team we rooted for, lost by one run in the bottom of the ninth. As far as I know, this loss could mean the end of post-season play for the team because there’s only one more game to go in the regular season and the Silverhawks are on the bubble. The same team that won today, the Lansing Lugnuts, is back hoping to do it again tomorrow.
We’d driven to South Bend, Indiana, to attend the game because the weather promised to be perfect and we’d been to the Stanley Coveleski Stadium before and knew it was perfect too. Perfect in ways that a major league stadium can’t even fathom; perfect in ways that make attending a farm team game a completely different experience.
First, every seat in the house (think maybe 4,000) has a clear view of the action. The most expensive ones cost $7, but if you’re a family of six and don’t want to pop for that then general admission is $5. So you’ve gotten yourself into the Cove without paying as much as one bleacher ticket costs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Which means you can actually have a hot dog without taking out a second mortgage. And maybe a brewski too.
The players are young, many African-American or Hispanic, and they play their hearts out without earning a gazillion dollars or copping an attitude. They play in the hope someone will scout them and move them up the ladder with the eventual goal of reaching the major leagues. Of course, they play for the love of the game too. Hopefully their major league compatriots still feel the same way.
I’m not sure what impressed me most: the efforts of the players, although it was clear they all needed more practice, or the efforts of Cove management to engage children in the activities of the day. Between each inning there was some contest held on the field that involved children. And one little girl, Eva, ended up brushing off the dust from the various bases when the groundskeepers raked the field in the sixth inning. It might not sound like much in the retelling, but as Eva ran off the field within a couple feet of where we sat Earl yelled, “Way to go, Eva” and she lit up like the fireworks that often accompany night games. I doubt you’d see this at Yankee Stadium or White Sox Park. Yeah, I know it’s not called that these days!
This is the second minor league game Earl and I attended this season. The other was in Fargo, North Dakota, when my son and his girlfriend and the two of us went to the Fargodome to see the home team win in the bottom of the ninth. Of course, it’s more fun to win, but the ambience was the same. Just an old-fashioned slice of Americana. I’m not particularly an old-fashioned girl (er . . . read woman), but I can appreciate that slice when I see it.