Observations from GreensboroThe Grasshoppers have a magnificent park in downtown Greensboro, with a truly endearing mascot named Guilford. But it was three labrador retrievers who caught nearly all of our attention on Friday night: Miss Babe Ruth, Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, and Master Yogi Berra.
Miss Babe Ruth is in likely her final season as a bat retriever for the Hoppers. She worked several innings at our game, either retrieving bats for the home team or delivering balls to the home plate umpire between innings (safely dry in a bucket). We rooted for Hoppers to get hits just so we could see her do her thing (hitters brought their own bats back to the dugout if they struck out).
Yogi's big moment was between innings when he retrieved a baseball launched into the outfield by one of those T-shirt cannons.
The other animal excitement came on the scoreboard. During rally moments, a video showed a chicken jumping several inches in the air, over and over. We were stumped for a few innings but finally realized it was A Hopper, as is most everything at the park. The usher said it does not have a name, so we proposed Hedda the Hopper.
Friday's game went crazy fast, finishing nine innings in 2:20. Even the extra innings (the game went 12) still had folks out close to 10 p.m. A base-running choice in the bottom of the ninth prevented a chance at a Hoppers win, and instead the game stayed tied until the 4-run boom in the top of the 12th.
This park (in its tenth season) leads the list of those I'll visit again. Maybe next time the family in front of us will stand up for their frequent concessions visits between innings instead of during at-bats …
Hoppers Carolinas ConnectionsOutfielder Kentrell Dewitt - Green Sea (S.C.) Floyds High and Southeastern Community College (Whiteville, N.C.)
Pitcher Josh Easley - N.C. State
Pitcher Brad Mincey - East Carolina
Pitcher Sean Townsley - High Point University