Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Night at the Cove

My buddy Eric and I went to the first Dollar Monday of the South Bend Silverhawks' season last night at Coveleski Regional Stadium (the "Cove"). It was a perfect night for baseball, with mild 73 degree weather at game time, cooling off over the course of the evening. The Silverhawks, as I have mentioned before, are the low-A minor league team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Several current Diamondbacks are former Silverhawks, as are a number of quality players from around Major League Baseball. Brad Penny, Lyle Overbay, Dan Uggla, Matt Chico, Javier Lopez, David Dellucci, Brian Bruney, Ross Ohlendorff, Chris Capuano--all are former Silverhawks.

Dollar Monday is a nice promotion to get fans out to the ballpark. Reserve seat tickets, hot dogs, and 12-oz. sodas are all one dollar apiece. It truly makes for an affordable family outing. We got there early last night, and the rush that usually coincides with Dollar Monday was taken care of by a swift move by their food service people. They already had several hot dogs ready in bins, with condiment packets available to help avoid long lines at the kiosk they normally employ. They served their dollar sodas as 12-oz. cans of pop on ice. These replaced their standard paper cups, which take a bit to fill and are clumsy to carry to one's seat. Everyone was able to get their fill and get seated before the game began. It was a 1000% improvement over last year.

The game itself was very enjoyable. Despite the Silverhawks' dismal 2-14 record, they played cleanly, with no errors and displayed skills that will serve them well in advanced play. They were hitting to opposite fields, fielding well, and the pitching was sharp. The Silverhawks scored early with a leadoff triple and a base hit to right, both executed perfectly. Although the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers tied the game in the top of the eighth inning, the Silverhawks scored to retake the lead with another triple and a sacrifice fly in the bottom half and the lead held up.

One thing you really have to watch out for in minor league games is a foul ball. The stands are so close to the field that foul balls can be especially dangerous. A guy in the stands about 50 feet from us got drilled right in the ribs by a left-handed batter. He left the stands with help in the fourth inning and I didn't see him back in his seat until the ninth.

The Silverhawks' mascot Swoop got a makeover this year. He looks less frightening (Sera will be relieved) and now has blue eyes instead of green. He has a new uniform too.

Another nice touch to the game last night was added by the public address announcer. Not only did he announce the batters and pitchers, but he also added a classic Ernie Harwell bit. Every time a foul ball landed in the stands, he said something like, "A fan from Wakarusa caught that souvenir," or "A young man from Mishawaka will take that one home." Most fans might not have caught that it was an Ernie Harwell riff, but I sure appreciated it.

With the Silverhawks victorious 5-4 in their first home win of the season, we left happy and satisfied. The evening was beautiful, shared with a good friend, and baseball was played.

What more could anyone ask?

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