On the Road: Hanging with the Regulars, Watching the Irregular in Potomac

To see all posts from my June 29, 2015 visit to the Potomac Nationals (this is part two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my June 2015 trip through the Virginias, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE! 

I’m running out of ways to introduce the second part of a blog post series. It almost always begins at the start of the ballgame, and this post is no exception: A baseball game had just begun; specifically a Carolina League contest between the Potomac Nationals and visiting Carolina Mudcats at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium.

As mentioned in the previous post, this is a stadium that faces west to a degree that is less-than-ideal.

041It was a Monday, but it wasn’t just any Monday. It was Dollar Monday — $1 general admission tickets and $1 hot dogs. This led to a much larger crowd than I was expecting, which was later announced at 5,137. The concourse can barely accommodate such a robust group of buck wiener seekers.

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Among the fans in attendance was Todd Headington, who asked for a photo and later tweeted the following. This is the first time I’ve ever been called a “MiLB Hero” and, yeah, I’m bragging about it.

But the real heroes are the guys on the field. I’m talking, of course, about that evening’s roster of Intern Olympians. There was some structure to all of this, with one team competing against another throughout the night, but who needs context to enjoy absurdity? 037I guess the blue guy won. 038The denizens of the non-descending dugout were unenthused by the proceedings. 040Uncle Slam, looking for a handout. 042The sun was oppressive at the beginning of the game, but as the evening wore on it turned into an incredibly pleasant night. Yes, not just pleasant, but incredibly pleasant. It’s easy to make jokes about the Pfitz being a glorified rec league field, but tell me you wouldn’t want to be sitting in the stands on an evening like this. I dare you. 056 I mean, really. 057And speaking of rec league fields, there’s one located just across the way. I took this photo through a chain link fence located on the third base side of the stadium. 053While there were plenty of open seats behind home plate, the bleachers were booming with $1 patrons. 060That was the view to my right. To my left was a front-office observation area of sorts. 059And straight ahead was Ken’s Place, a gathering place for a group of dedicated P-Nats fans. 062Would you believe that I wrote an MiLB.com story about the denizens of Ken’s Place? I’m sure you would. I don’t know why I phrased it that way. HERE is a link to the story, and here is an excerpt:

Ken’s Place [is] a standing-room-only gathering spot identified by a banner hanging on a chain-link fence that runs down the first base line. It has the atmosphere of a local watering hole, a largely male enclave where everybody seems to know everybody else. Within this convivial locale, the trash talk, in-jokes and beer flow freely. Ken’s Place is a longstanding tribute to die-hard P-Nats fan Ken Rostkowski, a mainstay at “The Pfitz” who passed away suddenly in 2007 at the age of 46.

“We’ve all been here a long time, at least 15 years,” explained Ken’s Place regular John Foot, whose name, he said, is spelled “just like a leg.” “Kenny passed away almost 10 years ago. We had all got to be pretty good friends with him. We all met through baseball.”

During my visit to Ken’s Place, something hilarious happened. For some reason, or perhaps no reason, Cookie Monster tackled Uncle Slam during a between-inning race. Uncle was Slammed to the ground, and his head popped off. I understand that headless mascots are one of Minor League Baseball’s biggest taboos, but as a conscientious journalist I have no choice but to share.

Moving on to a less-controversial topic, it was still a beautiful night! In fact, it just kept on getting more beautiful.  IMG_1539

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The P-Nats went on to secure a 7-2 victory over the Mudcats of Zebulon, North Carolina. But even more importantly, some interns won the Intern Olympics and some interns lost the Intern Olympics and therefore some of the winning interns hit some of the losing interns in the face with a pie of some sort.

064There’s not much that can be done after that, except maybe toss a few tennis balls in the direction of various on-field targets.  065Well, actually, there was still one more thing to do. These jokes don’t write themselves.

Good night from the Pfitz.

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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