Monday, August 13, 2007

The Other PG County

Woo hoo. The Bowie Baysox win again!

Saturday night I attended a Bowie Baysox Double A minor league game at Prince George’s Stadium. They are an Orioles’ affiliate.

You wouldn’t know you were in PG County out there in the country between the Beltway and Annapolis. The PG County I know is an area next to SE that I run in occasionally. It’s an area of either urban blight or suburban isolation. It does have good hills though.

I try to run it in tandem with another runner because seeing another runner is rare over there. As in, I have never seen another runner over there, except for during the one race I attended in PG County.

That was the inaugural version of the National Marathon, which partially went through that part of PG County. The irate, put-upon commuters, outraged at the traffic back-up caused by the race, yelled imprecations at practically every runner going by. No mas. The National Marathon is now safely ensconced within the four borders of the District.

But PG Stadium is a pleasant place. Built in 1994, it is modern, comfortable and spacious. Like most minor league parks, it has ample open-air concourse space in which to freely roam, which also affords good views of the action on the diamond from anywhere within the park.

The ballclub provides silly on-field contests between every inning, such as having children line up with their foreheads on the end of an upright baseball bat, spinning around it fifteen times and then dizzily trying to race to home plate. A spectacle for sure. Or "sumo wrestling" in which people in bloated latex body suits run and bump into each other in a contest of three falls. That is a particular crowd favorite.

The distance down either line is a short 305 feet, but a respectable 405 feet to dead center. Out beyond the foul pole in right is a carousel that children can ride for free during the game.

The night I went, there were several women stars of the female baseball leagues of yore holding autograph sessions, with long lines of signature seekers. It was also fireworks night. This post-game exhibit just over the centerfield fence was long, sustained, noisy and spectacular. Afterwards, they turned the lights back on and let the kids run the bases on the field. All this for just $9 a ticket for general admission.

Oh yeah, there was also a baseball game. The home team won 7-4 after falling behind to the Binghamton Mets 4-0. It was their sixth straight win. Break ‘em up!

The big Bowie Baysox first baseman, Luis Jimenez, single-handedly got his team even by clouting a three run homer in the fourth, his 16th, and then drawing a bases-loaded walk the next inning for his 58th RBI of the year. He has his own particular ritual before every at-bat. Step back, breathe deeply, bow head, be still for a moment, step in, wave bat one-handedly, grab crotch with the other, take a practice swing, and wag the bat in circles high overhead while awaiting the delivery. His routine never varied. He also made a sparkling double play in the field, fielding a sharp grounder next to the bag, throwing down to second to force a runner there and then taking the return throw to put out the batter.

Oh yeah, it was a lot of fun.

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