If there’s anything more American than baseball, it’s minor league baseball. I grew up knowing only the big-league variety, although one could argue that the Cleveland Indians of the 1960s and 70s were anything but major league.
Over the past decade I’ve become a fan of minor league ball, which has enjoyed a resurgence across the nation. That’s not hard to understand. Games in the minors are more accessible. Tickets are cheap, and concession food is reasonably priced. There’s not a bad seat in most stadiums, and many franchises go all out to entertain you before the game and between innngs.
I went to John Thurman Field in Modesto last night and unexpectedly found myself among the largest crowd ever to attend a minor league ballgame there. The Modesto Nuts, the cheekily named Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, hosted the Stockton Ports. The stadium was swarming with families as scores of kids took part in pre-game karate and cheerleading demonstrations. Even better, as the second half of the California League season nears a close, the Nuts put much of their merchandise on sale outside the team store.
I couldn’t resist buying a Nuts cap. I had intended to buy the black home cap featuring team mascot Al the Almond, but these were fitted caps (only $15!) and my size was puzzlingly missing. So instead I chose the snazzy Wally the Walnut road cap shown above on the roof of the Nuts’ dugout. The cap goes nicely with the black Nuts T-shirt I received as a birthday present last summer from my in-laws.
While the crowd was alternately watching the game and being distracted by the steady stream of nachos, churros and hot dogs being brought up into the stands, the Nuts managed to defeat the Ports 4-3. Fireworks followed the game.
It doesn’t get any more American than that.