On what is the last summer holiday, a word about the meaning of this day.
The American Labor Movement is sometimes forgotten in the story of our nation’s history, but this great nation was built by the hard work of ordinary folks. Workers had to fight â€“ and sometimes die â€“ for things we take for granted like minimum wage and maximum hours laws.
I used to have a bumper sticker on my classroom wall that said: “The Labor Movement: People who brought you the weekend.”
Lot of truth to that.
CLEANING OUT THE SUMMER NOTEBOOK
Brooklawn (N.J.) won the American Legion World Series championship, blasting Petaluma (Ca.), 10-0, in a mercy-rule title game in front of more than 6,000 fans at Keeter Stadium in Shelby (N.C.).
The folks in Shelby are claiming a new attendance record, but that’s nonsense. Here’s what they did: if 6,000 paid for a doubleheader â€“ single admission â€“ they counted it twice. So 6,000 became 12,000, which is, of course, silly. Funny thing is, the attendance was fabulous as over 60,000 did attend.
The military presence at the World Series was overwhelming … Dave Greenleaf, a National Legion official scorer who has attended just about every World Series over the last 25 years, said that this military presence only occurs in North Carolina … outside the stadium were tanks, missile launchers and all kinds of military vehicles … too much.
One night, two men were recognized who won Medals of Honor … great, but the description of what they did, including the number of people they killed and how they killed them was over the top … it isn’t just me … Dick Jonckowski, the National Legion PA guy called it ridiculous … at times it seems like baseball became an afterthought … given all that, the Series was spectacular, the venue was first-class and the people were as nice and as welcoming as you will find.
The concerts by Ronnie Milsap and Sarah Evans were tremendous … I’m no country music fan, but they were great, as was the food and drink at both the VIP reception with Milsap and the Banquet of Champions which featured Evans … easy to see why the Legion is at Shelby through 2019.
Only thought is that right now it’s a matter of civic pride for the locals to go to the games … most of the fans were locals who sat on their hands most of the time … as the years go by, I wonder if the pride will hold up … be interesting to watch.
After leaving Shelby, I spent a week experiencing the joys of Walt Disney World … great place to forget all your troubles … the weather was great … even the daily afternoon thunderstorms were mild … Typhoon Lagoon was great and dinner at Les Chefs de France in Epcot was terrific. But I digress.
After the WDW respite it was on to Atlanta for a couple of games with the Cleveland Indians… the Braves won both, 2-0 and a walk-off 3-2 job … but the ticket prices are what got me. Ridiculously cheap.
Get this. I bought a ticket 25 rows directly behind the Braves’ dugout. That ticket at Yankee Stadium is 100 bucks, at Fenway, it’s $90 … in Atlanta, it’s $16 … you read that right.
This is not some small market franchise … this is a big time franchise that draws very well … yet the ticket prices are goofy … the next night I had a field box seat, 15 rows off the field, two sections past the Braves dugout … $25.
While I was at a hotel near the park and didn’t have to pay for game parking, the most expensive parking at Turner Field is $15. The only place you can park for that at Yankee Stadium is in the Harlem River … and at Fenway? Please. For $15 you park in Springfield.
When I go to a ballpark, I talk to most anyone … and my first night in Atlanta I was in this fabulous bar/eatery in centerfield at The Ted and struck up a conversation with Phil and Jordan, two 20something fans … Phil is 26 and in the National Guard and while he was wearing a Braves shirt â€“ which embarrassed him, he said â€“ he is in fact, a die-hard Yankee fan … never know what you’ll find deep in the Heart of Dixie.
The three of us shot the breeze about baseball, politics â€“ they were kindred spirits â€“ and had a ball. Phil has been to the old Yankee Stadium but not the new one … he talked about going to the 1999 World Series with his dad in Atlanta and enjoying the Yankee sweep that year … I caught up with the two of them in the eighth inning again.
Their seats were in the last row of the center field section, an arm’s length away from the aforementioned bar and grill … doesn’t get much better than that.
Turner Field is as nice a park as there is … clean, great sight lines, wide, comfortable seats and concession stand prices that do not require one to remortgage the house … got a foot-long dog with chili and a large adult beverage for $15 bucks … for those of us used to the extortion in da Bronx and in Beantown, that’s cheap.
Relatively speaking, of course.
When Craig Kimbrel, this week’s Greatest Closer Of All Time comes in, the place goes berserk with the playing of “Welcome to the Jungle,” flashing lights, and assorted electronic histrionics … I prefer “Enter Sandman” and as I told the Braves fans sitting near me, if Kimbrel’s doing it 15 years from now, then we can mention him in the same breath with the Great Mariano.
Shout out to usher Thelma, who told me she refused to pay $22 for seats in the upper deck at the Ted for six of her friends â€“ and she works for them! … “Hmphhh, I told them I’d pay $9 (price on some promotion days) ’cause that’s all they’re worth.” … gotta love Thelma.
Back to Legion for a second … Branford came up a pitcher and a couple of bats short in the World Series … but Branford loses only three players from this year’s club … teams from the Northeast don’t fare too well in the rarified air of the World Series … State Director Craig Zimmerman said that Connecticut’s rules make it tough for teams from our state to win nationally.
In other parts of the country, the state high school organization doesn’t interfere with Legion ball … in Connecticut the interference is real … a high school kid can’t play simultaneously for a Legion team … in some other states, the high school team and the Legion team is the same … in Connecticut a high school coach can’t coach the same kids in Legion in the summer … some other states don’t care.
In New Jersey, for example, a Legion team can claim a parochial school as its base school … if Middletown did that, it would have first dibs on every kid who goes to Xavier … but Connecticut rules forbid that.
Also, in other states, players are allowed to play AAU ball, travel ball, whatever, then show up for the local Legion team at tourney time … and there were teams in the World Series who had players do exactly that … but not in Connecticut … in this state, you have to commit to a team and while that might make it tougher to compete at the national level, I like the Connecticut approach a lot.
Fact is, it isn’t until the regional tourneys start that every team in the country plays by exactly the same rules. That ought to be fixed.
Just a reminder that if there is someone you believe ought to be in the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame, all nominations are due Tuesday, Sept. 10 … nominations for the East Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame are due the same day,
East Hampton High and East Haddam Legion pitcher Marvin Gorgas is in Taiwan this week competing in the Under-18 World Championships. Spain, Italy, Australia and Cuba are in the USA’s pool. The medal game is Sept. 8 … Gorgas is verbally committed to UConn. He is a senior at East Hampton High.
Next up: Fall sports, and high school football opens with Staples at Xavier on Wednesday, Sept. 11 and East Lyme at Middletown (Sept 12).
Fasten your chin straps.