Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kannapolis team might not intimidate but park shines

Tuesday's score was Hickory 10, Kannapolis 3, but a game with 13 runs and five errors by the hosts won't get my attention.

What did get my attention was a broken bat from the Intimidators' Jacob Morris that flew into our section during the first inning. The man sitting behind me snagged the barrel and gave it to me, and batting coach Rob Sasser offered the handle from the dugout. So now I have a bat used by a professional baseball player. What's the big deal, right? 

It represents talent, and it makes me want to follow Harris'  career. There is something about Class A ball that makes us root for these underdogs, many of whom will never see the majors but most of whom do love the game enough to travel half the year. They live four and five to an apartment just to be able to pay the rent, and live in places where landlords won't rent month-to-month … and all of that. It's a life we might envy on one level, but we mostly don't envy the low pay and the tedium and the hard work parts of it. 

Highlights from Kannapolis

A Chevy chassis with No. 3 artwork sits at the park's entrance, in memory of Dale Earnhardt, whose purchase of a share of the team in 2000 sparked a name change from the Piedmont Boll Weevils to the Intimidators (chosen by a fan vote).
Three jersey numbers are retired at this park: 50, 3, and 42. Earnhardt was No. 3 and Jackie Robinson No. 42, but I was stumped on No. 50. Turns out it was for John Henry Moss, who was president for 50 years of what is now the South Atlantic League. Every team in the league has retired it.

Mark your calendar: Bark in the Park is June 1. This is a gorgeous park and the dogs will love it.

Bingo drew more boos than cheers. At least no one forgot about the free space.
I met a player's parent. Starting pitcher Tyler Barnette's mom was in my section. We sympathized when he struggled to adjust to the plate umpire's strike zone, as did every pitcher.

Loved hearing Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" after a steal.
The Hickory lineup included Joe Jackson, who was batting .412 coming into the game. He's from Greenville, S.C., and The Citadel, and is the great-great-great-nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who died in Greenville in 1951.

Kannapolis Carolinas Connections

Pitcher Tyler Barnett - Hickory High, UNC Charlotte
Pitcher David Putman - Duke
Catcher Jeremy Dowdy - Raleigh Wakefield, Appalachian State


Anonymous said...

I love reading what fun these baseball games are! You seem to find many ways to become personally involved in the game and the people you meet. Sounds like a great way to spend an evening!

Julie Ritterskamp

Bill Kiser said...

You forgot to mention who's managing the Intimidators this season ... :)

Ellyn Ritterskamp said...

It just didn't strike me as interesting that Pete Rose Jr. was the manager. If it had been Pete himself ... :)

Bill Kiser said...

Just wait until Charlie Hustle starts showing up ...

Drew Nivens said...

Ellyn, I was sitting behind the man who gave you the broken bat. The player's name is Jacob Morris. Just thought I would make that correction since you want to follow him. Glad to have you in K-town!

Ellyn Ritterskamp said...

Drew, thanks so much for catching that! I wrote it down right, and had the scorecard, but somehow just flubbed it anyway. It's corrected in the original post.

I'll bring friends back to your wonderful park soon.


Mrs. Hempel said...

I love how you delicately describe the umpire's strike zone, Ellyn. nicely done