Whitesburg KY

Cold weather didn’t stop fun at ballpark

In baseball parlance, this column was scheduled to be a double header featuring both the Lexington Legends opener a couple weeks ago and grandson Tyler K. Ochs’s (a/k/a TKO) Richmond Little League opener last Saturday. Unfortunately TKO’s game was rained out and the reschedule may be snowed out this week.

But that’s okay because I enjoyed the Legends’ opener so much that I will have no problem getting a newspaper article out of it alone, nor do I expect any problems in filling this space when the weather finally allows Tyler’s team to take the field. Our grandson will be pleased to know that he doesn’t have to share the column stage with the big guys.

Back in early March, my friend and neighbor, Steve McKnight, emailed to ask if I was interested in going to the Legends’ seasonopening baseball game that was coming up on the evening of April 5. Steve is one of a rapidly growing list of people who have come to realize that it’s useless to call our place unless you need to talk to Loretta. But, even though I usually can’t understand a word folks say on a telephone, I can communicate by email with no problems as long as an oversized keyboard and a personal computer are available. I can’t hold a phone steady enough to send a text message but I’m usually fine if I’m sitting at my desk.

Anyway, after warning him that Mr. Parkinson’s behavior was untested when dealing with large, outdoor crowds, I told Steve that I’d love to give it a try and, within the hour, he had procured our tickets online. I went to the Legends’ website seating chart and discovered that our section 5, row 3 seats were only three rows back from the ball field at eye level with the batters who would be swinging 30 feet from where we would be sitting beside the first base line.

Points East

Sure enough, that’s exactly how it panned out. We had, arguably, the very best seats in the stadium. I would not have traded seats with players in the home-team dugout until about the 7th inning when my long johns and wool socks commenced failing to do their jobs.

When we got there around 7:15 p.m., the centerfield thermometer was displaying 50 degrees. By 9:00 the temperature had dropped to 46 and flirting with 45. I’m pretty sure they had a heater in the dugout and I commenced envying it. Even Steve was suggesting that we should have worn double sets of long johns and two pairs of socks. My feet would have been more comfortable in insulated hunting boots and the battery-operated electric socks somebody gave me for Christmas back in the ‘90s. Only trouble with those socks was the C-cell batteries only lasted about 2 hours and packing enough extras made a heavy load for an all-day trip afield.

Despite less than ideal weather for baseball, “5,576 people and 51 dogs” were in attendance according to the announcer and at least 2,000 members of the crowd were under 12. One bundled up little girl in front of me cheered loudly for every Legends batter, even those that struck out, and the Charleston S.C. RiverDogs had a pitcher who made that happen more frequently than we Legendeers would have liked.

Speaking of dogs, one of the highlights of the game for me was Tech, the bat dog. Tech is a Belgian Malinois, sort of a shorter-haired, down-sized German Shepherd, who showed up for the Legends in the second inning and began retrieving bats at every opportunity. The crowd, including yours truly, went wild.

Then, around the bottom of the 8th inning, someone broke a bat, the barrel of which went flying into right field. Someone, down the row from me, yelled, “That’s one the dog the dog bit.”

Before we run out of space here, I probably should tell you that the Legends won the game, 3-2, thanks to good pitching and Seuly Matias, the right fielder, who hit two homers and drove in the other run. Kansas City Royals fans (the Legends are a farm team for the Royals) will most likely be seeing him soon because he is currently batting .348, has 4 homers and already has 9 RBIs. If you want to see him live, you’d better get to a game real soon because, I suspect, he will, very soon, be just a memory in Lexington.

I can tell you, for sure, that I plan on going back as soon as the weather warms up enough to shed my long johns. If I can’t talk Steve McKnight into it, I’ve raved enough about this outing that I believe it’ll be easy to convince Loretta to take me out to the ball game and sing along at the 7th inning stretch.

Take me out to the ballgame

Take me out to the crowd

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks

I don’t care if I never get back

So it’s root, root, root, for the home team

If they don’t win, it’s a shame

It’s one, two, three strikes you’re out

At the old ballgame

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