Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vancouver Canadians: The Season Opener

While I have been getting up early to watch the soccer on TV, soccer is not really my game. Baseball is. And so I was delighted when my daughters announced that they were taking me to the Vancouver Canadians' Season Opener at Nat Bailey Stadium for Fathers' Day. I'm writing this posting in the hope it will encourage many of you to take in a game at this wonderful ballpark.

Our team used to be Triple A, but now it's Double A...a more junior league. We're still a farm team for the Oakland Athletics, but none of that is important to me. What is important is that Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney (of A&W fame) bought the team a few years ago, and are spending a lot of money to improve the baseball experience. There's a new electronic scoreboard (thanks in part to a new partnership with Scotiabank), and the ballpark has been really cleaned up. I don 't know Jake Kerr, although his wife Judy and I served together on the VAG board, but he strikes me (pun intended) as a very classy guy. He dresses well, and has a lot of style, and it shows in what he and his partner have done with the baseball stadium. It's a very nice experience, at a fraction of the cost of going to a baseball game in a major league park, or a hockey game.One of the things that I like about baseball is that it crosses all socio-economic lines...in addition to a lot of hard core baseball fans, I ran into Vancouver historian Chuck Davis, a curator at the Art Gallery, and a prominent Vancouver property owner and philanthropist.We sat in fourth row box seats, directly behind home plate, and the tickets cost $16 each. A hell of a deal. I particularly enjoyed watching the scouts, seated immediately in front of us, with their radar guns to track the speed of the pitcher, and thick binders to record every pitch and every out. It was great to see many kids in attendance. There is even a special children's play area for younger kids who can't sit through nine innings. However, I was disappointed that although there were 4500 tickets sold, it wasn't sold out. It should have been. There needs to be more media attention.

Since last night was the opening night, a celebrity was invited to throw out the first pitch.....John Furlong. John was once a great squash player, but he'll never make it as a baseball player. But he's a good guy, and one young boy who is the grandson of a friend was absolutely thrilled to have a special 'opening night' baseball autographed by John.In addition to the game, there was the sushi roll race (only in Vancouver.... unless it's an idea stolen from Japan), the formally attired performing groundskeepers, and a few other gimmicks. After the game, which Vancouver won 2 to 1, there was a very entertaining fireworks show, which will be repeated a few times over the season. Including Canada Day, July 1.The team will be home for the next few nights...to find more details, go to http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/index.jsp?sid=t435 and there will be lots of games throught the summer, both in the evening and afternoon.

Thanks to Georgia and Claire for arranging the evening. I hope a lot more kids will buy their dad baseball tickets for next year's Fathers' Day. They won't go wrong.

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