Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Dutch

Dutchess County was settled and founded by the Dutch, of course, in the late 17th century. Over 300 years later, the Erie Sailors—then the Texas Rangers' short season Single-A affiliate—left their home in northwest Pennsylvania and moved east to the Hudson Valley. Their new home, Dutchess Stadium, is affectionately known to local residents as "The Dutch."

The Hudson Valley Renegades celebrated the close of their 16th season in the region by setting their all-time single season attendance record of 165,601, an average of 4,600 per home date. They established this mark despite an ill-fated, and tackily named, promotion they called Ball-Less Baseball on July 7.

The idea behind Ball-Less Baseball night was that only women would attend the first five innings of the game, at which point the men would enter the stadium and join the ladies. On the night in question, they ended up drawing just 2,577 fans—more than 2,000 below their season average—for their matchup with the otherwise popular Staten Island Yankees. They rationalized that it was only a Tuesday, but they drew an average of 4,415 for all Tuesday night home games not including July 7.

My father, a Renegades season-ticket holder since 1995, was not thrilled with the idea, and was one of the men who chose to defy the team's request and enter the park at game time. He then proceeded to give Hudson Valley's management a piece of his mind when interviewed by a local television reporter.

Now, I don't necessarily always agree with my dad, but he was absolutely in the right with this particular stance. His reasoning was that the concept of ladies' night means offering half-price admission and/or promotional giveaways to the fairer sex, not creating an exclusive situation for them. After all, the team did not offer to buy back his tickets in exchange for going along with their silly plan. Needless to say, the 'Gades also received a considerable amount of grief from local government.

KJ and I joined my father and his old IBM pal at this past weekend's season-ending showdown with the Oneonta Tigers. The game was also KJ's introduction to keeping score, and she caught on fast, but also found out how much there really is to learn. For a while, I thought she was going to be Renegades pitcher Alexander Colome's good luck charm, as his stuff looked nasty and he carried a perfect game into the 5th inning.

Alexander Colome vs. Alexis Espinoza
Colome lost his perfect game on a walk in the 5th frame, then saw his no-hitter slip away with one out in the 6th. An error by first baseman Eli Sonoqui later, and the shutout was gone as well, but his final pitching line (6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 9 K) was pretty impressive, despite taking the loss in a 2-0 Tigers victory.

Add Colome (7-4, 1.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP on the season) to my short list of lesser prospects whom I'll be keeping an eye on in years to come.

The night ended with fireworks off the field, although the Renegades were unable to generate any of their own on it. Despite the losing effort, Brady Williams—the son of former major league manager and current Phillies bench coach, Jimy Williams—ended his first season as a professional skipper by guiding Hudson Valley to a winning season, at 38-37.