Well baseball fans today is opening day for the vast majority of teams across minor league baseball, although my teammates with the Akron Aeros opened our season yesterday with a 9-5 victory over the Bowie Baysox in the first of out nearly 30 meetings this year. It was a pretty blustery affair, with temperatures down around freezing by the end of the game, but I guess that is to be expected of Ohio in April. Each opening day is a unique experience and in the spirit of the moment, I’d like to share some of my opening day memories with you.
My first opening day experience in professional baseball, despite being at awful Russell Dietrick Park in Jamestown, NY might be my favorite. Of course, the fondness with which I remember this particular opening day had very little to do with the actual experience of the day, which was actually pretty dismal, and everything to do with the experience that led up to it. Having signed with the Indians in August 2005 I spent a month in Winter Haven, FL for the instructional league, reported to Winter Haven for spring training and finally got stuck in extended spring training for the full two months. So for those of you keeping track at home that is the first 4+ months of my professional career in Winter Haven, one of the crappiest places on earth. Combine that with the excitement of making my professional debut and it was a memorable time, despite the unmemorable place and circumstances.
Opening day with the Lake County Captains in 2007 was a very unique and memorable experience. It was on the road in Charleston, WV in one of my favorite minor league ballparks. The stadium is built right into an old refurbished warehouse that houses the locker rooms, batting cages, a restaurant and the team offices. Throw in its location in downtown Charleston (a pretty cool old town) and the setting is pretty sweet, but I digress. What makes this game so memorable was the fact that in about the 3rd or 4th inning it started snowing pretty heavily and only got postponed once a handful of balls were put in play and absolutely nobody had any idea where they went.
Last year with the Kinston Indians I encountered probably the most ridiculous set of circumstances for an opening day. It was a fairly nondescript opening day until the third inning when a city wide power outage turned off the lights and suspended the game. The problem was compounded by weather wiping out our next two games, so it was a rather inauspicious start to the year.
And that brings me to last night, which was a nice opening day experience if also not extremely out of the ordinary. About two seconds after one of my bullpen mates finished saying that it was going to be hard for Carlos Santana to live up to all the hype he has received early on this year, Carlos launched one off the batter’s eye in centerfield. That about does it for this installment, but check back soon for more.
Hello again and for the last time from sunny Arizona. Today was the last day of spring training before breaking camp early on Sunday (as in 4 am early, the Indians don’t mess around) for Akron, Ohio. So my next installment will probably be coming to you live from the Canal Park clubhouse while I wait around to see if they can clear the two feet of snow off the field and get the game in (just kidding… hopefully), so look forward to that. As for actual baseball, I had my last outing of the spring Thursday and went out on a high note with two good innings, capping off a spring completely devoid of any road games–a “perfect spring” if you will.
With the obligatory baseball coverage out of the way, I’m going to devote some time to a completely unrelated topic. As I’m sure literally dozens of people across America are aware, April is National Poetry Month. Now I realize that reading poetry is not exactly at the top of the list of things that most people tend to spend inordinate amounts of free time doing, but it is a rewarding and engaging way to invest some spare time now and then in place of watching television or playing video games. As the great American poet Robert Frost once said, “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat,” and amongst the many books I read over the course of the year the poetry tends to be some of the most impactful and memorable. Not being a poet myself (sad to say), I won’t make an extensive attempt to describe the virtues of poetry, but for those of you who are interested in learning more I’ll give you a list of some of my poetic favorites that would provide a great starting point. I would also direct you to the website for the Academy of American Poets at poets.org, where you can find information about poets and poetry, get information on events in your area, and sign up for the poem-a-day feature to get a poem from an American poet delivered to your email inbox everyday (one of the few emails I look forward to reading on a daily basis). Enjoy.
I first stumbled across Stephen Dunn about two years ago and he his books have quickly become some of my favorite reading material. His best known book is Different Hours which won the Pulitzer prize for poetry, and he has a number of other excellent books including Everything Else in the World, Between Angels, and what is probably my favorite collection of poems–The Insistence of Beauty.
Time and Materials, by Robert Hass
Repair, by C.K. Williams
Alive Together, by Lisel Mueller
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
Radio, Radio, by Ben Doyle
The Wasteland, by T.S. Eliot
Simple Language, by Jennifer Barone
Failure, by Philip Schultz
Floating City, Anne Pierson Wiese