You never know who you’re going to meet on a day-to-day basis and where a conversation might go, or what it might spark inside you.
On Wednesday afternoon, while attending a minor league baseball doubleheader between the New Britain Rock Cats and the Trenton Thunder, I ran into a gentleman who made me think.
Between games, I had decided to climb up the third base grandstand to get a birds-eye view of Beehive Stadium, a smaller ballpark which sits adjacent to New Britain Stadium, and former home of the New Britain Red Sox.
Growing up as a devoted — and often heartbroken — fan of the Boston Red Sox baseball club, I knew of Beehive Stadium, as well as Muzzy Field, as the former homes of some of the team’s minor league baseball clubs.
It wasn’t until I entered the fall season of my life that I was able to visit these ballparks, though the Red sox affiliation with both stadiums were gone long ago.
Still, the heroes of my youth had played there and I was still drawn to those stadiums in a way that had me visiting the ghosts of my past.
In Bristol, former Red Sox players like Wade Boggs, Oil Can Boyd, Butch Hobson, Bruce Hurst and Bob Stanley had played there. So too did a certain catcher whose name I no longer speak because his passed ball (not Stanley’s wild pitch) helped cost the Red Sox the 1986 World Series.
New Britain had been home to the likes of Roger Clemens, Ellis Burks, Sam Horn, Mo Vaughn — just to name a few.
“Hard to believe they used to play over there, huh?” said a man wearing a Colorado Rockies t-shirt, representing New Britain’s present-day parent club since the Red Sox’s Eastern League affiliate is now located in Portland, Maine.
New Britain Stadium — despite it’s setbacks that have driven to the team to Hartford next season where the players will live on as the Yard Goats — is to Beehive Stadium what Camden Yards is to Wrigley Field.
Modern vs Relic. Today vs. Yesterday. Nice and comfortable vs. … well, like I said, relic.
After snapping my photo of Beehive, I started a conversation with the gentleman and told him of my history with the Red Sox. He was from Springfield, Mass., and also a Red Sox fan growing up.
We compared notes from the past and some how the conversation turned to me being on vacation from my job as a sports journalist to which he laughed and said, “So you come to a baseball game?”
Guilty as charged. If the spike fits, why not wear it.
This was technically my second ball game of the week as I attended the New York Mets game at Citi Field as they hosted the — of all teams — Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
I’ll probably take in another sporting event or two this week as I wrap up my third of four vacation weeks.
It’s not because of what I am though — a sports journalist.
It’s because it’s who I am.
Sports have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember — be it as a player, a coach, a referee, a sportswriter, or a fan.
If I could attend a sporting every day of my life until I drop, part of me would die a happy man.
Football. Baseball. Basketball. Hockey. Soccer. Hell, even field hockey.
If two teams are competing, I find enjoyment in being there and taking it in. I find that as peaceful and relaxing as I do sitting on a lake in the state of Maine, which I did a few weeks back, if you remember.
I’ve taken a three-day trip to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play a three-game series against the Red Sox. I’ve taken a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., to watch the Nationals play the Mets in a three-game series.
On days off, I’ve gone to see the Philadelphia Phillies play. I’ve gone to see the Red Sox play. I’ve gone to see the New England Patriots play (and couldn’t tell if the balls were deflated, but they did win). I’ve gone to see the New York Red Bulls play soccer. Twice, I’ve gone to watch college football’s Pinstripe Bowl, including the first-ever one.
I even once trekked to D.C. to see the Portsmouth Football Club take on DC United in a friendly at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
Again, that’s just me. It’s different than working, sitting there, watching and taking everything in. I’m just enjoying the ambiance and not just looking through the lens of a camera and furiously taking notes.
The world of sports is my workspace, but it’s also a place I can escape to.
And that’s one of the great things of my life that I’ve always embraced.