SPORTS JOY IN A PANDEMIC

Submitted by ub on Sat, 05/29/2021 - 20:29

Hard to believe there can be such exceptional joy, surprise, discovery, history, and sadness all wrapped up in a night at the ballpark. 

JOY: Joining the crowd for the 7thinning stretch rendition of YMCA. A year without team sports and public jubilation made it all the more enjoyable.

SURPRISE: The ballpark in Hartford, Connecticut where the Yard Goats play is an exceptionally nice stadium built for $57 million dollars that opened in 2017.

It’s the home field for the Hartford Yard Goats, playing in Double-A Northeast

We were there on the last night of severely restricted pandemic seating. At full capacity, it can hold 6,850 people, including a standing room. No apparent obstructed views.

DISCOVERY: Nice bathroom facilities. Decent food.

DISCOVERY: All concessions are credit cards only, no cash.

While this a 21st-century change, the 18 players on the natural grass field seemed little different than what was played in Yankee Stadium in the 1950s. One old Yankee was in the ballpark: Lou Gehrig on a large photo showing him playing in 1922 for the Hartford minor league team.

HISTORY: The next year he was in the Major League with the New York Yankees for an amazing 16-year career before illness ended it. He played 2,130 consecutive major league games.  For that durability, unheard of in today’s sports, Gehrig was nicknamed the ‘Iron Horse”. In 1939 doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed Gehrig with a rare form of degenerative disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is now called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Carl Ripken Jr. broke his consecutive game recording in 1995. 

The Iron Horse phrase was used to refer to train locomotives in the mid-19thcentury. For railroads buffs, ironically perhaps, the stadium is built upon space once a train yard for the New York, New Haven, and Hartford railroad, long since absorbed into Amtrak. This explains the team’s name--the Yard Goats--, which refers to the small engines, used to move railcars around to organize a train.

WINNERS & LOSERS: The impact of the internet and computerization has saved significant money for teams. The goats do not have to physically print, store and manage 360,000 home field tickets for a season. However, the printing industry has lost revenue and jobs.

By: Kenneth Tiven - Never has "take me out to the ballgame" seemed so delightful.

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