Fortunately, I was spared the frustration of watching the Mets game on Monday. I spent the evening in Reading, watching the Altoona Curve defeat the Reading Phillies 7-1.
Passing thunderstorms made for a wet wait before the game started, but by 7:05 p.m. they had cleared the area. This was my first trip to
First Energy Park First Energy Stadium Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium, and it’s set up differently than the ones in the New Jersey area. Two hours before game time, they open the gates so fans can enter a plaza that provides access to most of the food vendors and the gift shop. On Monday night, a Jimmy Buffet tribute performer was playing acoustic music during the thunderstorm for pre-game entertainment. The actual seating area doesn’t open until one hour before game time.
The other difference is player access. The home and visiting clubhouse doors open onto the concourse – players have to walk through the same area the fans are in to get to the field. I got a few 2012 Eastern League All-Star cards signed by Altoona Curve players before the game; the crowd of autograph seekers waiting by the Reading door was a little bit too much for me.
The Phillies’ top pitching prospect, Trevor May, started the game for Reading. He did not have a good night. In the first inning, he surrendered back-to-back solo home runs to Altoona’s three and four hitters, Adalberto Santos and Matt Curry. In the fifth inning, he gave up a pair of two-run homers to Santos and Ramon Cabrera. Reading’s only offense was provided by Darin Ruf‘s second inning solo homer. Because of travel distance, we called it a night at 9 p.m., after five innings were complete. Altoona added one more run after we left to make the final score 7-1.
The Reading Phillies offer a variety of in-between innings entertainment that is a staple of minor league baseball. One of their mascots is the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, a man who runs around in a costume designed to make it appear that he’s riding an ostrich while firing hot dogs into the crowd. I don’t quite understand the appeal, but he seems very popular.
In keeping with local ties, they also had a couple of guys come out onto the field in a train engine and fire t-shirts at the stands from an air cannon. (Unfortunately, they had about as much accuracy as the average 2012 Mets relief pitcher – only about a third of the shirts reached the seats.) I was most amused by the veggie race, a promotion intended to promote healthy eating by dressing people up as vegetables and having them race around the warning track while someone else dressed as “evil candy” tries to hinder them. Keep in mind that this is a ballpark that’s scheduled a “Gluttony Night” promotion on August 13th and offers a 24-scoop ice cream dish.
Here are some photos from my night at the ballpark: