Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I started my driving vacation (in August) by taking the scenic route to the West Virginia capital through the Shenandoah Valley and then through hilly terrain in the Mountain State.  The final stretch to Charleston is along a river so it is naturally beautiful.

I was going to attend a minor league game in Charleston but I got a late start and despaired of making the game in time.  However when I got within 15 miles of the state capital I found the game on a local radio channel and it was in the fifth inning.  I hoped there were plenty of hits and pitching changes as I drove closer.

I drove by the Capitol eventually and took the next exit for the ballpark.  With about half a mile to go to the stadium, according to my GPS device, I parked for free and walked the rest of the way.

As I walked up to the park, I saw that all the ticket booths were closed.  A cop and a stadium attendant were lounging by the wide-open gate and I walked in, for free, while they gave me nary a glance.  (I would have gladly purchased a ticket if I had been able to.)

It was the seventh inning but that still gave me ample time to roam around the stadium of the West Virginia Power, a class A minor league team.  The vantage points were interesting, you could see the gold-domed State Capitol from the third base side seats and up the nearby steep hillside, above the noisy traffic going by on the Interstate halfway up, was a cleared patch of hilltop with a cemetery up there with several large monuments.

I had a hot dog and a beer, and the home team won in the bottom of the ninth when the opposing shortstop fielded an ordinary grounder near the second base bag with the bases loaded and two outs and as he went to toss the ball to the second baseman for an easy force-out to end the inning of the tie game, he just dropped the ball.  He stood there thunderstruck as the winning run scored.

The losing visitors trudged off the field glumly while the home teamers all gladhanded and high-rived.  Apparently it was the fourth straight loss for the visitors because a stadium attendant got atop the visiting team dugout with a broom and slowly swept off the dirt up there (a sweep, get it?).

Minor league baseball, it's fabulous.  The stadiums are so homey and hospitable too, with some hokum mixed in.  In this stadium they had the visitor's bullpen lined up on folding chairs set out in the blazing summer sun in the dirt along the stadium wall down the third base line while the home bullpen was in a shaded spacious area under the stands on the first base side.

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