Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Welcome Bradenton Marauders

The Bradenton Marauders, the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate in the Class A Florida State League made their semi-debut last night with an intra squad game held at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. The intra squad game was open only to season ticket holders of which I am one. The Marauders 25-person roster was revealed recently in a story in the Bradenton Herald. This team moved to Bradeton from Lynchburg Virginia where, last year, they were the champions of the Carolina League. I am hoping they can repeat that kind of history here.

Their first regular season game will be held tomorrow night, April 8, 2010 at McKechnie against the Fort Myers Miracle. Chris Cates, the 5'3" dynamo at shortstop for the Miracle is back on the field this year for the Miracle. I'm hoping he makes it to the show, if only for a day, just because of his determination. Chris is the only player in the Florida State League that the Marauders will play this year that I flatly refuse to heckle out of respect for him.

Tomorrow night I will be firmly planted in Section 1, Row 1, Seat 1, my designated home for the 70 Marauder games played in Bradenton this year. My sister and brother-in-law are coming with me to witness the inaugural game.

The picture above shows the first pitch of the Bradenton Marauders existence from my seat. As you can see its the best possible place for a former catcher to sit in a ball park. Its also prime real estate for doing some serious heckling, which is my intent.

Before the game began I stopped in the Team Store and purchased my Marauders baseball cap (form-fitted ones cost an incredible $30). I also picked up a inaugural season t shirt for $20. With my season ticket status I get 10 percent off on anything purchased from the store. The sword shown above might be cool for a Buffett concert so I need to consider that, and the Bradenton Marauder baseball license plate will certainly find its way to the front bumper of my car before the season is over.

I saw several Sarasota Reds fans from last year, including the kid who took all the pictures. He was still wearing his Reds cap. I should have done that also. It was good to see him again.

In about the fourth inning of the game a guy walked up to me and said "You're the heckler aren't you?" I said "excuse me?" He said "You're the guy who sat behind home plate in Sarasota last year and harassed whomever we played relentlessly. That was you wasn't it?" It was.

His name was Mike Anderson, a retired Department of Defense employee who spent a great deal of his career in the Pentagon. I may have actually met him in 1993 on San Nicholas Island, one of the California Channel Islands because he worked at the Point Mugu Naval Weapons Center when we were doing work on San Nicholas. I wonder if he remembers me kicking out the tube on the television in the San Nicholas airport departure area when I was overwhelmed by Rush Limbaugh's audacity and had to strike back?

This picture shows "my" heckling seat at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Its the seat on the aisle in the front row. I sat there for 50 games last year cheering on the Reds and heckling anyone who tried to beat them. It didn't work!

Mike used to sit behind the Reds dugout in Sarasota and watched and listened to me go after whomever the Reds played. I appreciated him saying "You were never vulgar. You were always funny as hell, and you never let up for nine solid innings."

Mike, that's what hecklers do.

I'm excited that the minor league season begins tomorrow night. As I've told others, I much prefer minor league ball to the Show because I get more enjoyment out of watching a kid making $1500 a month play his heart out than watching Alex Rodriquez get paid $21,000 each INNING to be a primadona.

More reports as the Marauders inaugural season unfolds.


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