Number of states: 40
To go: 10
Number of games: 1
First game: August 5, 2022 (New Hampshire Fisher Cats 6, Richmond Flying Squirrels 1)
Click on any picture to see a full-sized version.
One benefit to New England is how small all of the states are. Rob, Matt, and I spent our first couple of nights on the 2022Worcester, and New Hampshire. So much easier than it would be in the West (which is to say impossible). There’s a ton of baseball, affiliated and otherwise, that is accessible and which still allows one to sleep in one’s own bed. I’ve got to give a thumbs up for that.
I crossed the 40-state mark for minor leagues in New Hampshire on a hot August night in 2022, sitting in the front row right by third base. Double-A baseball–my favorite level–played out in front of us. The three of us got out our scorebooks.
“Are you guys scouts?”
Man, as often as I am asked that, I still find it surprising every time. I was probably wearing my Julio Rogriguez sherzy and a Reading Phillies cap (my go-to cap for the college buddy tour). Matt and Rob were unquestionably equally nerdy in Twins and Phillies garb, respectively. How is it possible that someone would assume that is our work outfit? I am not too expert in scouting, but when I think of a scout, I think of someone sitting behind home plate with a radar gun wearing a short-sleeved polo adorned with a team logo. How in the name of God could someone think we were scouting out by third base? Do scouts buy mini-bats?
Still, this kind of thing does often lead to a conversation. The guys started talking to us about the ballpark and the history, which I appreciated.
That’s not the kind of history I want to experience at the ballpark. Delta Dental ballpark did a good job of
I also found the ballpark to be physically and architecturally interesting. It is just about impossible to notice there is a ballpark there, for starters: it is tucked behind and into a hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn shields the entrance to the ballpark, making it hard to find: within the ballpark, we can see patio seating for the hotel lounge: a strong home run to left could land in one of their drinks.
Before the game, I walked along the path that squeezes between the third-base side of the ballpark and the Merrimack River.
Yeah–I’ve seen better, but I appreciate the effort.
The game itself was a bit of a snooze. Matt and Rob, in about the sixth inning, went off to find an IPA. I know Matt prefers a seat a little ways back, where I prefer to be close enough to make a play if called upon. but when Matt said he was going off, I
Matt, gracious guy that he is, said “Oh, it’s no big deal. We’ll be back.”
Matt missed my message. I made eye contact.
“No, Matt. If you find a new seat, you should text me so I can join you.”
Matt looked at me, and looked at guy-who-had-dominated-every-1990s-major-leaguer-in-New-Hampshire next to me.
“Oh. We’ll be sure to text you.”
That’s how I got to spend at least the last couple of innings with my buddies…in some quiet.
In the end, I think that Delta Dental Park was a tweener. Too old to be gleaming and modern, but not old enough to be charming. It had some quirks, and it had a sense of history, but I can barely remember it as I write this nine months later, and that’s not a good sign.
Regional Feel: 7/10
The historical stuff on the pavilion was appreciated. Look! It’s Gustavo Chacin!
Charm 2.5/5. It’s a tweener.
I didn’t get a shot of Fungo the Fisher Cat, but a fisher cat (a weasel-like mammal native to the area) is a fantastic name for this team.
We have a view of a hotel and a sort-of-view of the river-ish if you get way up high. Not quite right. But I do like the hidden nature of it: like a surprise ballpark. I wonder how much nicer this photo would have been without that giant Hilton Garden Inn:
Pavilion Area 3.5/5
Scoreability 2.5/5. I missed a couple of decisions.
Fans 2.5/5. Nice enough people, but I’ve never had to manufacture a reason to flee someone before.
Intangibles 2.5/5. Not a great game, and it was kinda hot.
BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:
Fisher Cats’ pitching, led by Ricky Tiedemann and Gabriel Ponce, shut down the Flying Squirrels’ bats for the day.
Cameron Eden, whom I had seen four times prior as a Vancouver Canadian, knocks in three and homers.
Ryan Gold and Sebastian Espino, also guys I had seen as Canadians, also homer. I have now seen Espino homer in two leagues, thousands of miles apart. Maybe he needs to pay me to start showing up.
Written May 2023.