Monday, April 3, 2017

Take me Out to the Ballgame

Fred at the newly renovated George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa Florida
Living in the Northeast Winters are long and dark. When March comes along residents are looking for signs of Spring and venturing outside in hopes of finding some despite still chilly temperatures.
One of my favorite indicators was the twang of metal bats hitting baseballs on the RPI playing field that was next to our parking lot at work.
That sound still makes me smile whenever I hear it, it has good memories associated with it.
I used to make Fred watch baseball movies with me in the Winter.
Somehow Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and Major League brought a smile to my face and made me feel warm on the coldest day.
Even now, spending our Winters in warmer places I still enjoy the game and the rituals of baseball.
One of the nice things about spending the early Spring in Florida is that pitchers and catchers report by mid-February and the rest of the team soon follows.

The Yankees played the Phillies in their Spring Training opener.
We were lucky enough to score tickets in the reserved level seating behind home plate. It was a great vantage point to watch the game and to see the players. Partway through the game we realized that we were hearing familiar voices. Fred turned around and looked into the press box to discover that we were positioned right in front of Michael Kaye and Ken Singleton.

Fred saying Hi to Michael Kay and Ken Singleton.
The Yankees won their game 9-4 and we got to see some young talent trying to make the big team.
Aaron Judge looked great at bat, bouncing a monster home run off the left field scoreboard.

Steinbrenner Field has had a renovation. You could still smell the paint on the day we visited. The stadium looks great with new seating and luxury boxes. The colors are still Yankee blue and grey and the familiar Yankee Stadium facade is still proudly displayed.

Of course we sang YMCA. (and Take me Out to The Ballgame and New York New York)
A few days later the Yankees visited Fort Myers to play in Jet Blue Stadium, Spring Training home to the Boston Red Sox.

Fenway South has a Green Monster too.
Like Steinbrenner Field Jet Blue Stadium is built with traditions in mind. From the outside the Stadium is a modern white and concrete structure that fits into it's South Florida environment.
Once you pass through the gates and get out to the field it is apparent that you have arrived at Fenway South. The Florida stadium has a green monster complete with manual scoreboard. The numbers can only be changed from the outside so between plays we were amused to watch scorekeepers run out a small door with numbers in hand one carrying a ladder for top of the inning changes. The monster has shaded seating at the top. There is also a small lawn for seating in front of the bleachers. Families with small children seemed to enjoy that open space.

Lawn seats at Jet Blue Stadium
The Yankees vrs Red Sox game was interesting in that the Yankees were playing a split squad that day. Joe Girardi brought part of the team to Fort Myers. The rest of the team stayed in Tampa to play the Detroit Tigers.
Greg Bird showed off his batting skills with two home runs.
I am happy to report that both squads won.

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