The Baby Bombers are not some radical toddler terrorist group; they are instead the ‘A’ Ball team the Staten Island Yankees, one of the farm teams for the New York Yankees, or Bronx Bombers. Hence, Baby Bombers. The initial draw for me was that I’d seen photos of the stadium the SI Yankees play in, and it has a gorgeous view of lower Manhattan. Not only that, you take the Staten Island Ferry to get there, and on the way to the game it passes within shouting distance of the Statue of Liberty.
I’d never been to a minor league game before but when friends of ours asked if we’d like to join them we said yes, and we are so glad we did! ‘A’ ball, for those of you unfamiliar with minor league baseball, is the lowest level of professional ball. Then, if you are good enough, you move up to ‘AA’ and then ‘AAA’ and finally, the very best get to go to The Show = the major leagues. (A great tutorial for all this is the movie “Bull Durham”. The Durham Bulls are another ‘A’ ball minor league team, and those in the know say the movie is very realistic as far as baseball life in the bus leagues.) The guys on the Staten Island Yankees play because they love the game and are hoping for a shot at the majors. They get paid very little and usually have regular jobs in the off season.
We sat on the left field line just behind the bullpen. The relief pitchers were so close I could have reached out and tapped any of them on the shoulder.
It was fun to cheer the team – their opponents were the Brooklyn Cyclones – and by the end of the game I had a favorite player in the form of one of the relief pitchers by the name of Dustin Hobbs (great last name for a baseball player), 21 years old out of Yavapai College and wearing number 34.
#34 looks like a big leaguer. When I first saw him I thought maybe he was doing a rehab stint (recovering from injury, not addiction) with a minor league team, but no, he’s a regular on the roster. There’s something about him that makes me think he has what it takes. But what really intrigued Joshua and I was that he doesn’t speak. Ever. At first I thought maybe he was deaf, but he hears well enough, responding to things people said without watching them while they spoke. He used a pen and notecards sometimes, writing or taking out a pre-written note, other times using hand gestures and facial expression to convey his thoughts. It was fascinating. I never figured out the deal with his lack of voice (and couldn’t get any answers on Google, either). But when he got called in to pitch the 9th inning (the Baby Bombers were down 9-2 at that point and desperately needed good relief) we did our best to let him hear us. He allowed one hit but no runs, got a pop out, a ground out and a strike out. Not bad.
Aside from the game itself, minor league ballparks are all about entertainment. We got free hot dogs and drinks with our $14 tickets, as well as free hats. And in between each inning there was entertainment – a 50’s dance competition, a pass the bat contest and a contest wherein three babies were given a taste of lemonade and then judged by the crowd on who made the best lemon face. Good stuff.
After the game, despite a final score of 9-4, we were treated to a pretty good fireworks show, and then the kids got to go down on the field and run the bases, which if you ask them, was the highlight of the night. They were first in line, so in the blurry photo I have, Maya is in the middle of the two kids at home plate, and Ben is just about to disappear behind the guy standing to the left of home plate.
By the time all was said and done we caught the 10:30 ferry back to the city and decided our next visit would be for a Sunday afternoon game later this month. Sitting on the ferry, watching the city lights and Lady Liberty, we all felt lucky to live in a place with so much right at our fingertips.