50 Cent Vs a Buck Three-Eighty

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The day finally arrived for me to throw out the first pitch at a Lancaster Barnstormers’ game. Brother X was in town for the big event, and my friends John and Jim also came in from NY to bear witness. Debbie was also there providing moral support.

Debbie was the first to arrive and we picked up John at the train station around noon. Shortly thereafter we were in my backyard hoisting the first of many beers. I didn’t want to embarrass myself when I threw out the first pitch at 7 p.m. so I alternated between beer and water all afternoon. Brother X and Jim arrived a little later and the party was underway. Then we saw the first flash of lightning and the rain started coming down. We retreated to the porch, while I tried to figure out the odds of it raining every time I invite people to Lancaster.

We sat watching the rain come down for a couple hours and then it cleared up. So, we headed for the ball field. The Barnstormer colors are red and black, but when we got to the game it looked like we were in a sea of green. It turned out that it was Donegal School night and the entire school was there with their parents all wearing green Donegal shirts.

I asked the ticket takers where I was supposed to go because I was throwing out the first ball and they directed me to Section 9, the section behind the Barnstormers dugout. We were seated in section 10, so it was a short walk. I checked in with the guy running things and he asked me my name. My name wasn’t on his list. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling disappointment or relief when he then said, “That’s okay. We’ll get you in.”

It turned out that the Donegal School had several students lined up to throw the first pitch. They introduced the first one, who was a pitcher on the high school team. The green crowd roared as he fired in a strike. Next there was a girl from the school’s girl team. She blazed a fast ball over the plate and the green crowd roared some more.

Next up was a young kid in a wheel chair from the primary school. They positioned him a few yards from the plate and he rolled a strike right over the plate. The green crowd, and everyone else in the stands rose to their feet and went crazy cheering for the young man.

Tough act to follow, but that’s what I had to do. I was next. The green crowd settled down and I could hear Brother X, Debbie, John, and Jim cheering for me. Maybe I should have put that word “cheering” in quotes, because chanting “Let’s go, rag arm,” might not necessarily qualify as a cheer, but I was loving it.

They led me to the mound and I asked if I could cheat a few yards since I was a senior citizen. They told me I could throw from anywhere I liked. I decided that since this might be the only time I would be able to stand on the rubber at a professional ball field, I would pitch from there. I didn’t care if I threw a strike.  I just didn’t want to bounce the ball, so I picked a target about two feet over the catcher’s head, gripped the ball for a fastball and let it fly. It bounced just slightly in front of the plate, just a little outside, and the catcher made a nice scoop to prevent a wild pitch. They gave me the ball as a souvenir, and I returned to my seat.

Brother X was still laughing. “You bounced it. HA HA.”

A while back he threw out the first pitch at a Long Island Ducks game and he practiced for a month beforehand. He threw a strike when he threw out the first pitch, so, he was in a position to gloat. I was just glad that I managed to get the ball to the catcher.

At least the Barnstormers crushed the Ducks in the ball game winning 11-4.

The next day Brother X called me up. “I’m calling to apologize,” he said. “I made fun of your pitching, but you’ve got to be way better than the rapper, Fifty Cent. You could probably be a buck or a buck three-eighty.” I hadn’t heard that expression in decades, a buck three-eighty. When we were kids and somebody asked us how much something cost, we would always say “a buck three-eighty” as a nonsense answer.

I didn’t know why I was being compared to a rapper, so he told me that he was watching the news and Fifty Cent threw out the first pitch at the Mets game last night and missed the plate by about 20 feet. He almost took out a cameraman in the process. My pitch was better by about 19 feet.

So, I’ve already decided to try it again next year, but next time I’m gonna aim 4 feet over the catcher’s head.

I’ll post more pictures when I get them, but until then, here’s the clip of Fifty Cent and his attempt to throw out the first pitch.


Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Designated Slushie


With Clipper Magazine Stadium just a 5-minute walk from my apartment, and the extremely low cost of field-level box seats, I’ve been going to a lot of Lancaster Barnstormers baseball games. I’m especially fond of the Tuesday night games.

Tuesday night is free t-shirt night for the first 1000 fans. I think they only have about 1000 fans, so, basically, everyone gets a free t-shirt. Tuesday night is also Dollar Dog Night. Hot dogs for a buck all night long. So, I don’t cook on Tuesday nights anymore. Plus, they have $2 draft beers between 6:30 and 7:30. You can only buy two at a time, but the seats all have cup holders, and since there are plenty of empty seats, there are also plenty of empty cup holders.

Debbie and I had a plan. We would each get 2 beers at 6:30, 2 more at 7:00, and 2 more right before 7:30. That would be 6 beers apiece. That should get us through a 9-inning ballgame. The other 9 seats in our row were empty, so we had enough cup holders for 11 beers. Plenty.

The four beers we got at 6:30 were gone well before 7:00, so we headed for the beer stand. “They’re only allowed to sell 2 beers at a time,” I said, “so let’s both go up and get 2 more beers.” I gave her money for the beers and she got on line behind me.

I was served my two beers and I started to walk away, when I heard from behind me, “One.”

“One???” Was that the umpire I heard, or did my beer-guzzling partner already forget the plan.

“Are you sure you don’t want two,” I turned to say to her as I walked to my seat.

When she got back to the seat, she only had one half-empty beer in her hand, but in the other hand she had a handful of hot dogs, so, no harm no foul. I was willing to make a few extra beer runs for the team as long as she was making sure that we were well fed. So before 7:30 I made another hot dog run and 2 more beer runs. We were in very good shape, beer-wise, but I had missed most of the first two innings. It was the top of the third. The other team was up, and the kid behind me is suddenly screaming something at the top of his lungs. I can’t make out what he’s saying. A woman in the row in front of me turns to give the boy a “do you have to be so loud” look, but he keeps on chanting. The batter grounded out, and the stadium got quiet again.

Two-three innings later the kid is shouting again. I still can’t figure out what he’s saying. I asked the man in front of me if he knew what was going on. Maybe the kid is related to the batter. The man in front of me explained that the kid was chanting “Slushie.” The opposing batter at the plate was the “Designated Slushie.” If he struck out, the section that was cheering the loudest would get free Slushies.

I had consumed quite a few of the beers by this time, but I still had quite a few sitting in cup holders further down the row. I figured they were starting to get warm, and I might be able to McGiver some way to use the free Slushies to keep the beers cold. So, now, me and the kid behind me are both yelling “Slushie” at the top of our lungs. Several more kids joined in. Debbie joined in, and the woman in front of me quickly moved to a quieter section. If you can’t take the Slushie, get out of the kitchen. We were loud and proud.

The batter struck out, but nobody came around with Slushies for us. So, the next time the Designated Slushie came up we doubled our volume. He got a single that he stretched into a double. I think we awoke the sleeping giant inside the .217 hitter.

I think that we awoke security, too. Never before had they heard such cheering to win a simple Slushie. They brought out t-shirts, nurf balls, and rubber balls with the “Stormers” logo, and just started firing them at us to keep us quiet. I leapt for a t-shirt, but since you can’t slide a dime between my shoes and the ground when I jump my highest, I only tipped it and it bounced to a guy behind me. He immediately smiled and tossed it to me. I caught a rubber ball and in the same spirit of generosity tossed it to a young fan. A nurf ball bounced out of my hands into the seat in front of me. I grabbed it and tossed it to another little kid, who also dropped it, but his sister got the rebound and gave it to him. Our section was really having a good time and we still had beer left.

The Stormers went into the bottom of the ninth trailing by a run. They didn’t manage to score. So, they lost the game, but they did get enough men on base to give Debbie and me time to finish the rest of the beers. You’ve got to love them for that.

It took us about 45 minutes to make the 5 minute walk back to my place. Maybe instead of a Slushie they should offer a designated driver to the fans who are cheering the loudest.

Go Stormers.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,



Swinging in the Rain

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Debbie and I went to see The Buddy Holly Story last week and the Lancaster Barnstormers home opener this week, and I now extend a formal apology to Maria for saying that she might be a weather jinx. It’s now obvious that I’m the one attracting rain. Maria was not even in the state of Pennsylvania on either occasion and it poured both times.

The first time, we just got wet. The second time, we danced.

A few hundred children were on the field singing the Star Spangled Banner when it suddenly started pouring. If the game was on, the umpires would have stopped the game, but nobody stops the National Anthem, so the kids kept singing. The crowd (and I use that term loosely) in the stands ran for cover. Debbie and I stayed there.   By the time the song was over we were drenched. It was still pouring but by now we couldn’t get any wetter, so we stayed there. The public address announcer played music to amuse the crowd while they waited for the rain to stop. We danced to the music. We both have bad hips and we probably looked more like a crab walking than a couple dancing, but that amused the crowd even more.

I know that I’m a little crazy, and I suspect that Debbie is even crazier, but the two of us together are Crazy Squared. Like my old friend Walter Geheogen use to say, “Three of a kind wouldn’t beat that pair.”

The sun came back out, but it kept raining for a few more minutes. Debbie and I continued to dance. Finally, the clouds went away and the announcer played, “Here Comes the Sun.” We danced the last dance.

An usher lady came running up to us with a towel and wiped down our seats. It was a kind gesture, but absolutely useless, as we were wetter than the chairs. I thanked her profusely anyhow, and we took our seats.

To put things in the right context, I only live 3 blocks from the ball field and we started drinking at my house long before the first pitch was tossed. We were probably hammered by the time our rain dance began. I think we would have done it even if we were sober, though.

We were the only ones at the game who remembered to bring cow bells, the official noisemaker of the Barnstormers. We were loud enough to make up for them, though.  Bruce Dickinson would have been proud.


They might have been able to concentrate better when I wasn’t playing the cow bell, though.  They got back-to-back homeruns while I was in the men’s room. The “Stormers” won the game 4-2.  There were supposed to be fireworks after the show, but they were cancelled due to the weather, so, on the way out, they gave everyone a free ticket to another game. They gave Debbie and I six tickets. It may not have been Dancing with the Stars, but I think we impressed the judges.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,