On the Road: A Frankfurter Chauffeur to the Bloodmobile in Trenton
As someone who lives in New York City and grew up in the northeast, the Trenton Thunder have long been a team with whom I am familiar. I first attended one of their games when I was in high school (the exact date is lost to the ages, but I almost certainly had a shaved head and was wearing a Beastie Boys t-shirt) and since I started writing for MiLB.com in 2005 I’ve made it a point to visit Trenton’s Mercer Waterfront Park at least once a season.
But here’s the thing — all of these excursions were as a fan. Despite Trenton’s proximity to my base of operations, I never quite found the time to give the team my not-yet-patented “On the Road” treatment.
Until this past Saturday, that is. Showing a level of professional commitment unrivaled in the annals of mankind, I woke up and caught a NJ Transit train running on the Northeast Corridor line. It originated at New York Penn Station and, 91 minutes later, arrived at the recently refurbished Trenton Transit Center. I’m a veteran rider of the Northeast Corridor Line, and have always enjoyed the beautiful ugliness that can be seen along the way. Or is that ugly beauty?
Usually on these trips I make a quick stopoff at Elizabeth, NJ in order to buy a Garment that’s right for me. I absolutely love the style, service and selection of the Pink Room, and wish this was the banner ad currently pulsating at the top of this blog.
But today I was unable to make a visit to The Pink Room, as there was a Trenton Thunder employee waiting to give me a ride from the train station. And not just any employee!
Now THIS is some beautiful ugliness, an intern in a hot dog suit standing in the pouring rain. From here on out, I knew that I was going to have a good day.
It’s only a 10-minute drive from the train station to the ballpark, especially when you’re hot-dogging it. And, wouldn’t you know it? By the time we got there it wasn’t even raining anymore.
Off to the left there were multiple charitable drives that were taking place, as part of the Thunder’s annual “Good Deed Game” promotion.
Sez the team:
The Good Deed Game will feature a blood drive to benefit the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, a school supplies drive to support the learning center at the East Trenton Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a non-perishable food drive to benefit the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, a toiletries drive to support HomeFront, a clothing drive that will benefit the Rescue Mission of Trenton, and new this year, a pet supplies drive to support The Shelter Animal Project.
The promotion included fan incentives, with each donation earning its own reward (read more about it in the press release linked to above).
I was very eager to give blood, because it had been a while — in fact, it was my inability to donate which had led, ultimately, to my diagnosis of celiac disease. To briefly recap: I was rejected from giving blood several times earlier this year, due to low iron levels (ie anemia). And the reason I had anemia was because gluten was damaging the linings of my small intestine, therefore making me unable to absorb iron properly.
So, anyway, it was with some trepidation that I entered the Bloodmobile. I didn’t want to be rejected again!
And I wasn’t! The nurse who tested me said “Cue the Black Sabbath, because you’re an Iron Man!” I then complimented her for making such a well-timed comic remark. “Call me Tina Fe,” she replied.
Or at least that’s how I remember the conversation going. I wasn’t taking notes, on account of the needle in my arm.
Giving blood is really easy — they extracted a pint in six and a half minutes, during which I sat in this comfortable chair and watched the very end of Mystic River (spoiler alert — one of the last shots is of a brooding Sean Penn clapping during a small town parade). I was also treated to some Powerade and a bag of Bugles, the closest thing to a gluten-free snack that they had available (“may contain wheat,” the bag said. “May”?!).
And that’s not all! I also was given a t-shirt AND got to wear an awesome bandage for the remainder of the evening. Everyone should give blood! (Unless, you know, you’re anemic due to an as-of-yet undiagnosed case of celiac disease.)
I felt fine after the blood donation, and as I made my way back outside the game was about to start (Saturday was a doubleheader, with the first game commencing at 5). While there was a steady trickle of fans buying tickets and making their way through the gate, I decided to do a quick lap around the stadium’s exterior before making my way inside.
The ticket-buying public:
The view from the front of Mercer Waterfront Park is thoroughly uninspiring…
but it’s called “Waterfront Park” for a reason. As I made my way around the side of the facility, toward the outfield, the scenery improved considerably.
The Thunder bullpen, quite literally, have their backs to the wall.
The visitors — not so much.
As much as I enjoy taking photos through chain link fences, I decided it was time to finally enter the ballpark. The steps leading up to the concourse are a most imposing sight.
And they lead directly behind home plate.
But, as always, there wasn’t much time to watch the game. Upon entering the stadium, I met up with a Biz Blog reader by the name of Jeff Vervlied. We have corresponded several times over the last year or so, and this correspondence was initially motivated by my casual mention in a blog post that I grew up in the town of Ambler, PA. Jeff lives in Ambler, and his son and daughter are currently students at Wissahickon High and Middle schools, respectively. (I attended Wissahickon throughout the entirety of my public school career, en route to achieving MiLB.com fame and fortune).
I was flattered that Jeff drove all the way to Trenton just to say hello, and even more flattered that he brought along a Lower Gwynedd baseball fitted hat! (This will be it for the Montgomery County name-dropping, promise).
But hat delivery wasn’t the only item on the agenda. There was also this:
And, 1100+ words later, that’s where we’ll leave off. There is still MUCH more to come from Trenton: pork roll, crab fries, mascot heads, hanging strollers, Bon Jovi, Van Halen tribute bands, cheese balls, Ryan Tatusko, grammar errors, Americana, coupon distribution, dizzy bat races, BBQ ribs, local wines, inclement weather, fireworks, an abundance of baseball haiku and the facilitation of awesomeness.
Keep reading and I’ll keep writing, okay?