On the Road: Mobile in Mobile

To see all posts from my July 31, 2015 visit to the Mobile BayBears (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my July/August 2015 trip through the Deep South, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

2015 “On the Road” landing page HERE!

Whenever I visit a Minor League ballpark, I never sit still. I am always wandering and wondering, wondering and wandering. “Where should I be right now? Who should I be talking to?” I am mobile, in other words, and on this evening I enjoyed the rare distinction of being mobile in Mobile. Hence, the headline of this post. I don’t know why I felt the need to explain it.

Anyhow, this is Part Two of this Mobile BayBears blogging saga. Part One described the wandering that took place prior to the ballgame, while this post involves that which took place during the game itself. It was July 31, and the BayBears were playing the Jacksonville Suns under a full moon.

So, you know: Play Ball!

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Beneath the hulking concrete edifice seen above, there is a concourse.

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This concourse contains many interesting things, such as a quartet of seats from the Atlanta Braves’ former home of Fulton County Stadium. Hank Aaron, Mobile native, played in this stadium for nine seasons (1966-74).

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On the right field side of the concourse, one can access the “Gaslight Park” outdoor area. And, within Gaslight Park, one can access the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum. Prior to the 2010 season, the BayBears relocated Aaron’s childhood home to this location. After renovating it, they stuffed it full of memorabilia from his life and career and opened it as a museum. (As mentioned in Part One of this post, I was there for 2010’s star-studded opening event)

Here’s the exterior of the Museum, as it looked during an earlier, brighter portion of the day.

005The Museum is open during all home games. As I approached the front door on this Friday evening, there was no one else around. No team employees, and no fans. I almost felt like I was trespassing. The door was unlocked, however, and upon entering I was greeted by a loud voice.

“Hi, I’m Henry Aaron.”

I wish that I could report that Aaron himself was there to greet me, but it was simply an introductory video playing on a loop in the front room.

042Here’s a quick Vine collage featuring some of what can be found within the Museum.

Much of the memorabilia chronicles highlights from throughout Hank’s long career.

044But even more interesting, in my estimation, is the recreation of the kitchen. This is how it looked during Hank’s childhood, some 70 or so years ago.

IMG_0080 I wasn’t in the Museum for very long, as I felt anxious to get back to the ballgame. In these situations, it is always best to be Aaron on the side of caution.

055It was now the bottom of the sixth inning, and outs were hard to come by. The BayBears batted around in the frame, which included a pitching change, and many of the at-bats were long and drawn out and punctuated by a barrage of foul balls. I mention this because, throughout the entire half-inning, a penned-in gaggle of young fans were (not so) patiently waiting for the opportunity to chase mascot Teddy across the outfield.

054After all that waiting, the chase kinda felt anti-climactic.

With no more mascot chases left to halfheartedly document, I headed up to the press box and enjoyed an inning on the air with BayBears broadcaster Justin Baker.

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Jacksonville Suns play-by-play man Roger “One Take” Hoover offered his hello from the adjacent booth.

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Being high up in the grandstand gave me the inspiration for the Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day:

I then returned to field level to interview Terry Williams, 63, “the world’s oldest batboy.” Terry, pictured here with his wife, Beverly, just completed his second season as batboy — or bat man — for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. But on this evening in Mobile, he was simply enjoying watching a ballgame as a fan.   061Shortly after speaking with Terry, the Suns wrapped up a 7-4 victory over the hometown squad. I then headed over to the BayBears dugout to interview yet another legendary Southern League batboy. This is Wade Vadakin, 36, and his father, Jeff. IMG_0089

I wrote articles about both Terry and Wade, which you can find via this handy tweet:

And that just about did it as regards my night in Mobile. In conclusion, I submit these six seconds of parking lot pretension.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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