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).
This man’s name is Thomas Panek. But you don’t need to call him by his full first name.
“Tom is fine,” he told me.
Tom was more than fine on this Saturday evening at Pulaski’s Calfee Park, as he had the duty and privilege of being my designated eater (the individual recruited to eat the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits).
His ballpark dinner was obtained from this concession stand, where one’s chances of getting hit by a foul ball are decidedly slim.
There’s nothing too out-of-the-ordinary in the above photo, though it is an impressive array for a Rookie-level team operating out of an 81-year-old ballpark (albeit an 81-year-old ballpark that has been extensively renovated in recent years).
Before moving to an individual rundown of the items in question, let’s get to know Tom. Originally from Toledo, he now lives in Christiansburg, Virginia and works at Tetra, the Blacksburg, Virginia-based fish food and supply company. At Tetra, Tom makes algae-controlling pond blocks.
“I’m the only one making them, so if you see a Tetra pond block, that’s me,” he said. “I make them in a room, by myself. I love it. We sell a ton of them. I know I make a lot of them.”
Tom moved to Virginia after meeting his wife, Beth, via an online backgammon game.
“We became friends, I visited her, we dated a little bit and the next thing you know we got married,” he said.
“I was a Navy brat,” said Beth, who works in a domestic violence center. “So I said, ‘I’m not moving. If you’re interested in being with me, then come to me.'”
So here we are. All caught up and with Tom about to dig into some funnel cake fries.
“They’re good, but not as crunchy as I thought they’d be,” said Tom. “They’re different.”
We then moved on to the nachos.
Beth was a big fan of the chicken fingers, saying that they were “really crunchy, with a thick crust and hot, tender chicken. All white meat. They didn’t need sauce. They were flavorful on their own.”
I would also like to note that I snapped a photo of the team’s collectible cups. This one’s for you, #cupdate aficionados.
Finally, there was dessert. From the following array of ice cream flavors, Tom and Beth selected English Toffee and Classic Cherry.
Thanks, Tom and Beth, for surveying the Calfee Park culinary scene.