On the Road: Meeting the Mets in St. Lucie

To see all of my posts from this visit to the St. Lucie Mets (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

Stop number six on my season-opening Florida road trip was Tradition Field, home of the St. Lucie Mets. Like most Florida State League ballparks, Tradition Field doubles as the Spring Training home of the parent club.

Therefore, it is big. Very, very big.

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Tradition Field opened in 1988; it has since been extensively renovated. The facility has been known as Tradition Field on two non-consecutive occasions, making it the Grover Cleveland of Minor League ballparks. The Tradition Field moniker was first used from 2004-09, the result of a naming rights deal with the 8200-acre master planned community known as Tradition, Florida. This was followed by a three year-stint in which the stadium was known by the far clunkier name of Digital Domain Park, but prior to the 2013 season Tradition, Florida re-assumed the name.

Maybe it was all part of their master plan?

My master plan was to get to the ballpark early enough to do a few clubhouse interviews, related to the previous night’s Jackie Robinson Celebration Game in Vero Beach (which featured St. Lucie as the “home” team).

This was my view as I lurked awkwardly outside of the clubhouse while waiting for media relations manager/team broadcaster Adam MacDonald to corral my victims subjects.

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One of the individuals with whom I spoke was St. Lucie Mets pitching coach Phil Regan. Regan, 78, made his professional baseball debut as a member of the 1956 Jamestown Falcons. (That season, he pitched 229 innings. Can you imagine a 19-year-old prospect handling that kind of workload in today’s game?)

I ended up turning my conversation with Regan into a standalone MiLB.com feature, as this is a guy who has many, many stories to tell. I barely scratched the surface.

dodgertown_960_bjt7w58s_mmz7l2s3Conversations complete, MacDonald and I took a stroll around the area.

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#HeyManNiceShot

#Filter

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At some point during our wanderings, I noticed this pile of forsaken St. Patrick’s Day bases. I don’t know about you, but I had never before seen a forsaken pile of St. Patrick’s Day bases.

003This Barwis Methods Training Center, located on the premises and adorned with championship banners, is open to the public.

004

005It’s funny — the Barwis Methods motto is the same as my road trip motto. (My logo, however, features an out-of-shape 30-something male frantically stuffing pork cracklins into his mouth while staring at a laptop at 2:30 in the morning.)

006Meanwhile, back in the stadium proper, a game was getting ready to break out. This would mark the third time that I saw the St. Lucie Mets in a span of six games — on April 11 in Bradenton as well the previous night’s Jackie Robinson Celebration Game at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

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As one who grew up going to games at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia (and moved to New York City during during the Shea Stadium era) I could relate to a concourse of this nature.

008If memory serves, these two gentleman were having a conversation about the influence of Marxist doctrine in the early works of Kurosawa.

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Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for to receive one — just one! — artist’s rendering of what a “Sheriff Mascara” might look like.

Down the first base line, one finds “Mulligan’s Beach House Bar and Grill.” I’ve never seen a shark ride a surfboard before, but what do I know? I’m not from Florida. 011Beyond the bar, one finds nature. It’s a veritable Everglades back there: 013All that nature overwhelmed me, to the point where I found it prudent to visit the men’s room. This is a solid urinal ad right here — a two-ball count, then the pitch:

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#onehandedphotography

With the game just about to start, I made my way down to the field. Klutch was engaged in a game of keep-away with a blue-armed St. Lucie player. 015But shenanigans soon ended, as it was time for the singing our our National Anthem. 016Klutch then settled in to watch the game with his friends. 019It was time to, yes, Play Ball!

Coming up next in this serialized St. Lucie saga: The game-time experience, filled with plenty of unique ballpark characters.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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