Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A taste of the majors


Playing at RFK stadium excited the minor league players even more than I thought it would. Before the start of their half of the major league/minor league double-header, the minor leaguers walked around the Diamond Club with their eyes as wide as dip cans, soaking in the tatmosphere that permeates a major league ball park.

I was expecting to meet at least a couple of players who didn't want to play at RFK because they wanted their first game in a big league stadium to be with a big league club. If there was a player who felt that way, I didn’t run into him.

To a man, the players echoed the sentiments of Potomac's Tom Wilson.

"It's awesome," Wilson said. "I just cant wait to get on the field and work. It just makes you want to work harder. You’re so close. It gives you a sense of urgency."

The only really disappointed player I could find was Potomac’s Steve Mortimer. A regular with the P-Nats, Mortimer was unable to play because of a broken middle finger on his right hand.

"It's a big-time buzz kill," Mortimer admitted. "But I’m glad to be here. I’m happy to be with my teammates. Even though I'm hurt and I'm not going to get on the field, I'm extremely fortunate."

The afternoon produced a couple of memorable moments. Both teams dressed in the same locker room – the one used by the D.C. United soccer team. When they entered the locker room, players circled the lockers searching for Freddy Adu's stall.

When the players took the field for warm-up stretching, the P-Nats went to left field, while Salem took right field. Potomac sat in the third base dugout, but its bullpen staff walked out to the bullpen behind the rightfield wall. This caught Salem's pen off guard. At they start of the game, Salem relievers headed out to the right field pen, before turning around and heading to left.

One of the drawbacks of playing the game less than an hour after the big league contest between Boston and Washington was that the Stadium crew didn't have much time to clean. The wind kicked up shortly after the start of the minor league game, blowing in a trash storm from the right field bleachers.

The teams took a little extra time between innings while the staff and grounds crew cleared the field.

Other than that, the promotion was successful enough that members of the Potomac front office sad they plan on making the major league/minor league promotion a yearly event.

For more information on this and other fun minor league baseball stories, check out MinorLeagueDugout.com.

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