A vacation would be incomplete without some energy devoted to finding minor league baseball nearby, with “nearby” defined as within an hour in this case. Thankfully, while visiting my sister and her family in Fort Lauderdale, I discovered the Jupiter Hammerheads, Class A Advanced affiliate of the Miami Marlins, while they hosted a home game versus the St. Lucie Mets. The field, Roger Dean Stadium, serves as home field for both the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals as well as two other minor league teams. This is the only field in the country to play host to four teams.
After learning my nephew would be unable to attend due to a fever and thereby my brother-in-law too, my sister, myself, and our daughters made the hour journey to Jupiter with two extra tickets we were unable to unload with good reason. Generally, I can sell extra tickets prior to game time at a much reduced rate, but this game was postponed for two hours so demand was not high. Plus, a mobile blood donation team was on site offering two tickets to participating donors. On the bright side, we thought we were going to be an hour late when in reality we arrived an hour before the rain delay expired. So, we were able to see the entire game followed by fireworks.
In the end it was a fine game with the Hammerheads losing due to a blown call at first base in the top of the ninth. Of course, the Hammerheads also scored no runs in nine innings. The highlight of the game for me was watching my niece talk with the couple, Eileen and Gary, sitting behind us, who pretty much embraced her conversation for the entire game. This was also my niece’s first ever professional baseball game. What’s more remarkable, Eileen was born in the same home town, New Castle, PA, as my sister and I. I hope someday to take Eileen and Gary up on their offer for grits, coffee, and conversation.
And, this is why I adore the vibe only found at minor league baseball.
Fun facts from the game:
- The fireworks for the game were made by Pyrotecnico, a fireworks company headquartered in New Castle, PA and located less than a mile from our parents’ home.
- Gary attended game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Red Sox v. Mets, and saw the incredible Mets’ comeback brought on by the infamous error made by Bill Buckner.
- Gary also saw Hank Aaron play regularly in Jacksonville when Aaron played minor league ball. He told me Aaron went straight from Jacksonville to Milwaukee, where the Braves played prior to moving Atlanta. He remembered seeing Aaron hit cross-handed and also commented on the massive size of Aaron’s wrists.