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Adventures in Grass Roots Summer Baseball

The dog days of summer may have started a little early in the Northeast U.S. The first heat wave has arrived but hopefully it won't last more than a week.

I always tell people up here that if you lived in Texas and other parts of the Southwest
you face months of steamy weather where the temperature may not go below 100 even at night. Air-conditioning becomes a must, though it is an unnatural way to live IMHO.

I got my first taste of the New England College Baseball League on a warm Tuesday night July 18. The visiting Mystic Schooners held off the Danbury Westerners in a wild 17-15 affair.

A hitting star for Danbury was first baseman Griffin Dey from Yale who belted two HR and had six RBI. He did commit two errors. Ah baseball - the only sport where the bad and the good are ALWAYS built in.

Outfielder Giovanni Dingcong, formerly of Manhattan's Beacon HS now at St. Thomas Aquinas College, contributed two hits for the Westerners, but the power of U Santa Barbara's third baseball Tommy Jew and the rest of the Schooners proved too much.

The Westerners play in Rogers Park that adjoins a Danbury middle school in a complex of many other fields. Ticket prices are very reasonable - $5 and $3 for seniors and I think also the youngsters, and the $3 hot dog was quite good.

My mini-trip ended the next afternoon with another "pitchers' battle" at the new Dunkin' Donuts Stadium in Hartford. The home Colorado Rockies affiliate Yard Goats came from behind three times to whip the Orioles' Double A Bowie Bay Sox,

The Yard Goat is the small locomotive that connects cars to fancier trains and the Hartford locals have taken a liking to that metaphor. The franchise had to travel all last season because of delays and legal problems with the new stadium.

The new structure is well worth waiting for. The sight lines and concessions are first rate. I recommend a visit to the left field corner where you can get a great view of the entire field. The nearby barbecue is worth tasting, too.

The foul lines are only 325 feet from home plate and the left field power alley is a ridiculously short 362 feet. Center field is only 392 away and the ball was flying out on this steamy summer afternoon.

Rockies prospect Drew Weeks blasted two key home runs in the Yard Goats' come-from-behind win. Reliever Matt Pierpont got the win by silencing the Bay Sox hot bats for two innings.

That's all for this edition - here's hoping you stay cool and keep rooting for your team(s) and always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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