Friday, July 09, 2010

Cedar Rapids Baseball

In my dreams, I'd like to spend a summer with Bonnie attending minor league baseball games across the country. Maybe we'd write a book. Minor league games are much more fun than major league games these days. The players are more humble and better behaved, the stands are filled with families, and the between-inning entertainment often makes me laugh. Such was our experience attending the July 3 game between the Clinton LumberKings and the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids is relatively compact, and we were so close to the action that we saw all the plays well. And the game was a big 13-3 win for the home team.

Bonnie and I do go to games to watch every play. I even keep score. In the LumberKings-Kernels game, almost everything that could happen did. We saw a every kind of hit and almost every kind of out. We saw great catches, snappy double plays, and almost unbelievable errors. Two runners were thrown out trying to steal second. One runner was out because he was hit by the batted ball - something we rarely see. The final line score was very strange. The LumberKings scored three runs on nine hits. The Kernels scored thirteen runs on eight hits. That's more hits for the losing team. Many walks and errors made the unusual outcome possible.

Watching the game alertly is really important sitting just behind the third base dugout at just about any stadium. Bonnie and I were ready to duck the ever-dangerous screaming foul ball. We were so close. That also gave us a good view of the between inning entertainment. I had never seen a tooth fairy clean the bases nor a bloodshot-eyeball race.

Before the game, Bonnie found the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame within the stadium shop and recommended it to me. Inside were a couple of cases with relics and old newspaper articles. On one wall were team pictures dating back to 1939 when the team was called the Raiders. The city's minor league history actually dates back to the 1891 Cedar Rapids Canaries. In 1897 they were called the Bunnies, and then a few years later the Rabbits. On the opposite wall were pictures of the hall of fame inductees. I liked how many of the honored were only famous in Cedar Rapids, not just players who went on to great major league careers. I noticed among them infielder Denis Menke, one of my favorite players as a boy. I saw him playing shortstop for Houston in 1969.

My brat and my bowl of mint chip ice cream were both good. The parking was free and convenient. The weather was almost perfect. The game was filled with action. I'd gladly go again.

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