It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in August, 1990, that Lissa and I saw our first baseball game in Albuquerque. We had flown in on an apartment-hunting trip before our move, and once we had things nailed down, we headed out to the ballpark to catch a game.
We both grew up in LA, as Dodger fans. The Dukes were the Dodgers’ top farm team, so it was an easy fit. We already knew about the lava beyond the outfield wall (though, hearing Vin Scully tell it, I always imagined a stadium on the edge of a volcano, not a bunch of lava rocks trucked in and piled on a gravel berm).
Nora and I took Lissa out to the park this afternoon for Mother’s Day, and it was as fine a day as the baseball gods could ever have provided. The Isotopes, successor to the Dukes we watched that summer day 19 years ago, are back in Dodger blue, and all seemed right with the world.
There is nothing quite like a warm summer’s day spent watching minor league baseball. AAA ball is high quality, but a bit more wild and unpredictable than the major leagues.
The game offered up one of those strangely quirky plays that left me scratching my head as I filled out the scorecard: a 4-9-6 putout. Runner on first, batter pops to short right, near the foul line. Runner holds, thinking the second baseman, racing over, is going to catch it. But it glances off the second baseman’s glove (4), bounding over to the right fielder (9) who makes the throw to the shortstop (6) covering second for the force.
There were an unusually large number of people in giant animal costumes marketing, among other things, a company that will fix your rain gutters (a duck of some sort), and the traditional greeting of two Little League teams (the kids get to run out onto the field and stand with their Isotope counterpart for the singing of our national anthem). They cut short the traditional playing of YMCA during the 7th inning stretch (too gay?), but at least we got one chorus in.
And the ballpark has a real organist.