On the Road: Going Nuts in Modesto

To see all posts from my August 3 visit to the Modesto Nuts, click HERE. To see all posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all “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).

After attending August 2’s game in Stockton, I immediately drove 34 miles to the southeast. And — bam! — just like that, I was in Modesto. Modesto is the home of the Nuts, and the Nuts play at John Thurman Field. This is where I spent the evening of August 3, which began under a blistering, blazing sun.

img_0107John Thurman Field, which opened in 1955, looks a bit underwhelming from the outside. But within, one finds a verdant wonderland.

img_0121The nine-hole Modesto Municipal Golf Course, which opened in 1939, is located adjacent to the ballpark. I took this photo through a chain link fence on the concourse.

img_0116

It was “$1 Wednesday,” and these fans showed up early to get the biggest bang for their bucks.

img_0117This concourse kiosk distributed complimentary sunscreen, and was complemented by another kiosk loaded with free hand sanitizer. I would like to see more teams offer such things.

img_0114As game time approached, the sun remained blistering, blazing, practically blinding.

img_0119While there’s nothing funny about getting hit in the head by a foul ball, there is something at least a little funny about this sign.

img_0122But getting hit in the head might be preferable to getting hit in the Nuts — all three of them.

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Wally Walnut and Al Almond have been around since 2005, when the team adopted the “Nuts” moniker. The nut in the middle — Shelley the Pistachio — made her debut this season.

Shelley is such a sweetheart, my favorite mascot that I met this year and maybe even my new favorite in all of Minor League Baseball. Several minutes after the above picture was taken, the mascots and I were milling about on the field in advance of the pregame ceremonies. Shelley signaled to me that she would like to see my notebook and pen, and I obliged her.

img_2278Color me smitten.

img_2280I threw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the ballgame. While I don’t have any photographic evidence of the pitch itself, I do have this picture of the immediate aftermath. It’s a near-certainty that the six individuals seen below will never again pose for a photograph together. Savor the moment.

img_2282With the requisite pregame ceremonies out of the way, it was time for the evening’s action to truly begin. The Nuts were hosting the Visalia Rawhide, whom I was slated to visit two days hence.

img_2285During the ballgame, I enjoyed a stint as a t-shirt distributor. These are the tools of the trade.

img_2287It really is harder than it looks!

But I got the hang of it eventually, shooting tightly wrapped tees deep into the evening sky.

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This wasn’t the only method in which I distributed t-shirts. Before the game began, I tweeted that the first fan to come up to me and say “Give me a t-shirt, you beautiful man, you” would get a Ben’s Biz t-shirt. One Christopher Glynn took me up on the offer. Here’s our not-at-all awkward reenactment of this momentous moment.

I also played a very important role in an on-field potato sack race, as the contestants had to slap five with me before turning around and heading to the finish line.

20160803_193115The kid in the black shirt missed my hand completely. The look on my face in the photo below is, basically, “C’mon, you can do better than that!”

20160803_193127Through it all, a game was going on.

img_2301The Nuts enjoyed a walk-off victory, defeating Visalia, 5-4, in 10 innings. This turn of events subsequently inspired my Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day.

Thus concluded my Wednesday evening in Modesto. It was — wait for it — totally Nuts.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

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