On August 29, 2015, a party of 11 Smoky Joe Wood Chapter members watched as Rock Cats Stadium hosted the final night game in New Britain Rock Cats history. It was the penultimate home contest of the 20th and last season of the (AA) Eastern League team at this ballpark.
The pregame marketing was all about Justin Morneau, who was on a rehab assignment from the Rockies. The former AL MVP did not disappoint this night.
Present in the first two rows directly behind the plate (section 206) were SABR members Bill Ryczek, Paul Hensler, Steve Krevisky, Tom Monitto, Norm Hausmann, Tom Zocco, Rudy Urban, Karl Cicitto, and Larry Howard with his lovely family. Bob Wirz brought along friend Joe, who was the groundskeeper at historic Yale Field. Alan Cohen greeted us and then spent the game in the Press Box doing his job as a data stringer for MiLB.
In terms of non-baseball fun, Rudy Urban got off the best one-liner of the night: “Did you hear about the dyslexic devil worshipper? He tried to sell his soul to Santa.”
The baseball highlights were even stronger. It was a picture perfect night as 6,429 packed the house. Rockies prospect Jeff Hoffman, a rookie who moved through A+ and AA this year, struck out five Portland Sea Dogs consecutively. Hoffman’s line for the night: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 0 ER and 9 Ks.
Justin Morneau provided the margin in this 2-1 Rock Cats victory. The Minnetonka, Minnesota, native belted a towering home run over the right field wall off Justin Haley in the 4th inning. Just one more dinger to go with his 88 in the minors and 241 in the bigs.
The night ended on an odd note. Prior to striking out to end the game, Seadog Tim Roberson argued at length that he’d been hit by a pitch. Portland coach Billy McMillan soon joined the argument. The delay was a long one, giving fans time to formulate the chant, “THROW HIM OUT! THROW HIM OUT!” McMillan was then ejected. And Roberson fanned to end it.
CHAPTER NOTES: It was decided that the next breakfast would move to September 19, still at the Hamden Town House. The October 24 general meeting has been moved to Middlesex Community College.
See you on the 19th in Hamden for our next chapter breakfast. All baseball fans are welcome. Learn more at SmokyJoeWood.com.
— Karl Cicitto