Having A Swine Time in the Lehigh Valley

There is much talk these days about how new media platforms have made is so that information can be conveyed nearly instantaneously.

This is all well and good. But I’m a born contrarian, so that sort of bloviating simply motivates me to move in the other direction. I believe that the best things in life are worth waiting for. And I believe that the best things in life are blog posts.  Therefore, here’s a post on my visit to Lehigh Valley — nearly two months after it happened.

Lehigh Valley IronPigs vs. Charlotte Knights @ Coca-Cola Park, June 13, 2009


I attended June 13’s contest with my friend Ted. He and I were
next-door neighbors growing up, and such rabid Phillies fans that we
spent much of the the fall of ’93/winter of ’94 throwing darts at a Baseball Digest magazine cover featuring Joe Carter. Ted was a logical choice to see the IronPigs with, seeing as how they are a Phillies affiliate, and it was he who took the photos in this post (at this point in the season, I was not aware that cameras were readily available in stores across the country and that I should perhaps buy one).

The IronPigs are in their second season as a franchise, after re-locating from Ottawa following the 2007 campaign. Despite lackluster on-field results, the team has drawn remarkably well thus far. That’s really no surprise — combine a state-of-the-art facility, dedicated front office staff, and baseball-crazy fan base and success is sure to result.

As for the stadium itself, it offers plenty of room to move. A wrap-around concourse provides a virtually limitless array of vantage points, and the overall feeling is one of spaciousness. In short, this is very much a 21st-century ballpark.

from left.JPG 



Before the game, Ted and I wandered around the team store. Here I am, inexplicably looking like a grumpy eight-year-old who just got out of bed:

baffled in team store.jpg

The IronPigs’ entertainment philosophy can be summed up in three words: more is more. On this particular evening, the team took the the field in throwback ’80s powder blue Philllies jerseys (which were auctioned off to charity after the game). The popular touring act Quick Change performed between innings, and ’80s pop culture was celebrated throughout the game. The front office staff got dressed up in their best Reagan-era attire for the occasion, including general manager Kurt Landes. Here, he and I have a chat before the game:


Quick Change performed several times throughout the game, doing routines that consist of — surprise — quick costume changes. The following photo might not provide much detail, but it’s the best I’ve got:


The presence of Quick Change inspired IronPigs mascot Ferrous to attempt a routine of his own. Not only was his pacing sluggish (“It’s a quick change, not a take-your-time change” said the PA announcer, in one of the best adlibs of the night), but he also ended up naked. I wish I had a picture of this.

During the game, Ted and I were given a whirlwind behind-the-scenes tour of Coca-Cola Park, courtesy of community relations director Sarah Marten. We went through the press box, private suites, and fully-equipped conference and banquet rooms with a remarkable rapidity, finally ending up here:

from the dugout.JPG

Sarah then led me onto the field and handed me one end of a roll of yellow streamer. I was barely able to register what was happening, but it turned out we were holding the finish line of a meat product mascot race. It was thrilling to say the least, and it was a satisfying feeling later that night when I was able to cross “hold half of finish line in mascot meat product race” off of my bucket list (next-up: go para-sailing with the former head of an Eastern European intelligence agency).

I didn’t feel nearly as good one inning later, when I dropped a t-shirt in the stands that was tossed right at me. The shirts read “I went hog-wild at the IronPigs game”, one of many, many, many pig-related puns the team employs on a nightly basis. Really, that should be a whole separate post. Or roast, as it were.

As has been the case so many times this season, in so many ballparks, the weather took a turn for the worse. After seven innings of play, the skies opened up and torrential rains began to fall. The tarp came on:


 And the tarp stayed on. After a 45-minute delay (in which fans were entertained by the Phillies-Red Sox game on the videoboard), the game was called. Final result: Charlotte 6, Lehigh Valley 4.

Before leaving, I made sure that Ted took a picture of the door to the ladies room (I have since painted my bedroom door with the same message, to no avail).

women enter.JPG

Believe it or not, I still have more in the queue when it comes to posts like these. The day when that is not the case will be a most merciful one indeed.


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