On the Road: Applying Sunblock in the Tri-Cities

To see all posts from my August 11 visit to the Tri-City Dust Devils, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” 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’ve now reached the penultimate stop of my “Out West” road trip. I don’t know if I’ll pen the ultimate blog post about this location, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

That location? Gesa Stadium, home of the Tri-City Dust Devils.

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Gesa Stadium opened in 1995 as the home of the independent Tri-City Posse. The Posse spent six years in the facility, at which point the Northwest League Dust Devils moved in. The Dust Devils spent the first 14 seasons of their existence as a Colorado Rockies affiliate. 2016 marked the team’s second with the San Diego Padres.

Oh, and for the record: The three cities referenced in the Tri-City name are “Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.” Gesa Stadium is located in Pasco.

Upon entering the facility and walking approximately 40 paces, I turned around and looked back toward where I had just been. The light poles in the parking resembled a large family of malnourished diplodocuses. 

img_0368On this evening, the Dust Devils would be facing off against the Spokane Indians. In the press box, I met Indians announcers Bob Robertson (left) and Mike Doyle.

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Bob Robertson, 87, is a broadcasting legend whose experience calling Minor League games dates back to the 1949 Wenatchee Chiefs. He spent 46 seasons as the voice of Washington State Football, as well as many years with the Spokane Indians (the press box at Spokane’s Avista Stadium is named for him). Though Bob officially retired from that role after the 2010 season, he still calls games for the team on a part-time basis.

“It’s better than sitting at home watching bad television,” Bob told me. “I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this. At my age, I could be gone any minute. I don’t worry about it, but I’m aware of it….But if the Big Guy’s looking for me, he’s gonna have to hustle to find me.”

Mike is now the Indians lead announcer, but he told me “All of Bob’s number one guys are guys who used to be his number twos.”

In the press box I also met Scott Tylinski, the Dust Devils official scorer.

img_0372I mention Scott because he’s probably the only official scorer in Minor League Baseball who also happens to be a nuclear engineer. The Columbia Generating Station is located in the Tri-Cities area, generating approximately 10 percent of the energy in Washington State.

But enough about the people in the press box. How’s the view?

img_0370As you can see in the above photo, something anomalous was occurring on the field. A screen, adorned with team logos, had been set up in front of the pitcher’s mound. Someone appeared to be carrying a podium.

Curiosity piqued, I walked down to the field and was met by what, by Class A Short-Season standards, counts as a “media horde.”

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The reason this horde had assembled was because San Diego Padres president Mike Dee was in town to announce an extension of their affiliation agreement with the Dust Devils. It took all of my willpower not to yell Beastie Boys-related queries at Mike Dee. Did he have mad hits like he was Rod Carew? Did he have attractions like he was Elvis Costello? Was he straight-up nuts like his name was Mike Bazzini?

The players reacted to the affiliation news with indifference. They probably already knew, and who cared anyway? Next season they’d probably be in Fort Wayne, living like kings.

img_0375From the field, I had a good view of Gesa Stadium’s massive sunshade. The story of how this sunshade came to be, and what it means for the team, can be found HERE.

img_0377My sunshade story filled my “articles about inanimate objects” quota for the evening, but what about the people?

Well, here’s a person, and not just any person but Erik the Peanut Guy. Erik’s the onfield emcee and, yes, late-innings peanut guy. He was a big part of my night in the Tri-Cities, and I wrote a story about him HERE.

img_2678I also became acquainted with Dusty, who is named Dusty because he is comprised largely of dust. As we all are, our corporeal forms ephemeral.

img_2674I was holding a baseball in the above photo because, yes, I had been asked to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Another night, another ballpark, another perfect strike. See for yourself:

Shortly after I put on yet another pitching clinic, displaying proper mechanics to my legions of indifferent acquaintances, the evening’s ballgame began. And that is where the next post in this Dust Devils blog series will begin. With the beginning of a ballgame. As it should be.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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