On the Road: A Hit and Run and Hits and Runs in Pulaski

To see all posts from my July 2 visit to the Pulaski Yankees, click HERE. To see all my posts from my June/July 2016 Appalachian League Road Trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

We have now reached the second post in this Pulaski blog series; the ballgame is underway at Calfee Park. But don’t take my word for it, take it from the 1000-word equivalent that is this picture.

img_0101And here’s another picture, for good measure.

img_0104At one point, fairly early in the ballgame, I overheard a snippet of staff member conversation: “Somebody hit the visitor’s bus and drove off, so the police are down there.”

I went “down there” to investigate.

I don’t know if the parking lot bus-smasher was ever apprehended, but I do know that the Pirates were peeved.

I had seen the Bristol Pirates the previous week at their home ballpark of Boyce Cox Field. That game was an error and wild pitch-laden comeback victory over the Greeneville Astros. This game, however, was even wilder. At the end of five innings, the Yanks and the Pirates were knotted 10-10.

img_0105The above is a photo of the Calfee Park videoboard, which I believe is the first videoboard in the history of the Appalachian League. Kevin Cornelius, the man batting at the time, only played 13 games for Pulaski. He compiled a 1.326 OPS and was summarily promoted to Class A Advanced Tampa.

A recurring theme of my Appy League trip was being corrected on my various mispronunciations. It’s “Appa-Latch-in League”, not “Appa-lay-shin League”, for example. And when referring to the “Elizabethton Twins,” make sure to put the emphasis on “Beth.” “Pulaski” is another name I butchered, as I was pronouncing it “Pull-aski.”

Fortunately, Cole the batboy was there to set me straight. Watch and learn:

While the weather earlier in the day had been mediocre at best, it turned out to be a beautiful night for baseball in Pulaski.

img_1839Eventually, I made my way to the “Left VIP Tower.”

img_1845

While there, I interviewed David Hagan. Hagan and his partner, Larry Shelor, bought the team and the ballpark after the 2014 season. My article about the subsequent turnaround in the team’s fortunes can be found HERE.

img_1846I spoke with David for the better part of an hour, and still there was baseball left to be played. Bristol scored two in the sixth inning to take a 12-10 lead, but the Yankees countered with one in the seventh and two more in the eighth to go up 13-12.

Bristol answered back in the ninth. A sacrifice fly tied it up 13-13 and then Victor Fernandez hit a two-run double to open up a 15-13 lead for the visitors.

The Yankees were not about to go quietly. Isiah Gilliam hit a two-out double, and Cornelius followed with an RBI single. Then, this happened:

A line out to third to end the ballgame.

The 15-14 score conjured memories of the most painful baseball game I ever watched in my life. A tip of the cap to Pulaski media relations intern Jarah Wright, who kept a coherent scorecard throughout the madness.

img_1853After the game I paid a visit to the wall cat, a lawn ornament that has long resided just to the right of the right field foul pole. General manager Blair Hoke told me that the wall cat was removed during stadium renovations and, when it wasn’t immediately restored to its longtime home, “we got more hate mail about that than we did about anything else.”

img_1855Before making a feline for the exits, I wrote and disseminated a Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day.

Good night from a Calfee Park bathroom.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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