On June 30th, the St. Lucie Mets were in my backyard at Fort Myers to play the Miracle. Game time was set for 4:05 pm and I made sure I planned the day around my family so that I could get to the game early. About a month earlier, I contacted the Miracle and asked for Press Credentials, and being that I have done other community events with the organization, they agreed to grant me access. I was a bit nervous without knowing what to expect with this being my first game that I would cover. I wasn’t able to land any interviews for this game, but I felt better just seeing how things went and learning the ropes of covering a professional game.
I pulled out of my drive way at around 2:00 pm for the short ride to Hammonds Stadium, I wanted to be there early so I could look around and figure out where I would be allowed to gain access and where I was prohibited. Hammonds Stadium is pretty much open to the fans, the practice fields are right next to the parking lot and you can watch indoor batting cage sessions and feel you are right there in the cage with them.
I pulled into the parking lot around 2:15 pm, parked and walked towards the ticket booth right outside the entrance to the stadium. There was a couple in front of me and I waited patiently until the ticket guy asked me if I was a scout. I looked at him confused and said, “No I am with MetsMerizedOnline, to cover the game”. He asked for my last name and gave me my Press Pass. There was my name on a press card and MetsMerizedOnline right underneath. It felt kind of weird, as if I was dreaming. I turned around and proceeded to walk towards the field where the Mets were practicing. As I am approaching, the players start to look at me, but with a look as if they either have seen me before or trying to figure out who I was. I started wondering if the way I was dressed was throwing them off. I mean I was only wearing, a polo shirt, beige khakis and moccasins, and my computer bag around my shoulder, was I wearing the familiar garb, not sure.
I made my way over to the fence and pitching coach, Phil Regan comes over to the fence and asks who I am with. I said I am with MetsmerizedOnline and he asked me to repeat myself and I did and he said “Oh Ok, because you look familiar”. Really I looked familiar to a Mets coach, I mean I get that all the time, but I was curious to know who he thought I was. Well at that moment the rains came down and it was time for me to look for some cover.
As I am walking towards the stadium, I decide to pass by the batting cages and there was a player from the Miracle in the cages, he turns towards me and smiles and says hi, I was confused again but said hi to him and kept walking. But it hit me at that moment, everyone thought I was a scout, and for a moment I felt like one, but with rain drops falling on my head, I quickly returned to reality and made my way up to the 4th floor to where the Press Box was.
I met up with Adam MacDonald, who announces the Miracle games on the team website and also helped me with my press pass. He showed me around the press box and introduced me to Alex Kushel who announces the St. Lucie Mets games on the team website. Alex was a really nice guy and told me that whatever I needed, just to let him know.
Well finally the game started and sitting with me were three scouts. I didn’t speak to them just listened in on two of them conversing on how they had to travel to the Caribbean or South America to see players, but they didn’t seem to be thrilled about it. I was still feeling in awe that I was in a Professional Press Box and no one was going to tell me I had to leave and I didn’t belong. It felt good, like I had finally arrived. Many years of writing Baseball and finally I was where I wanted to be and trying to soak it all in. I could say I looked the part. I had my iPad on with both team websites up and also Twitter so I could tweet every bit of the game. I am not sure who was actually following the highlights, but it felt good to just do it.
The game seemed to move along very smoothly, even though the Miracle would take an early lead on the Mets 1-0 and then 2-1. The Mets’ starter, Rainy Lara, was popping the mitt at about 92 MPH, but also was getting hit hard. In a game that was threatened by rain from the start, Lara worked quickly but had to pitch out of trouble for 4 out of the 5 innings he pitched. Only in the second inning did he retire the Miracle in order.
During the game I recognized a buddy of mine in the stands. He made the trip with his kids and they were enjoying a baseball game just like it ought to be. Hot Dogs, Pretzels, chasing foul balls and young kids. Well we shared text messages talking about the game. In the 5th inning, I received a text where the photo was me from behind in the press box. That kind of freaked me out for a moment and then wondered how and when did my friend Jeff sneak up to take the picture. The 5th inning ended and before the 6th could start the sky opened up again and the game was in a rain delay.
I stood up and went out of the booth and two young kids approached me, I recognized the young girl as Jeff’s daughter and figured the little boy was his son. They had two baseballs in their hands and asked me for an autograph. I laughed for a moment and told them that they were mistaken, I wasn’t anyone famous. At that moment Jeff comes around the corner of the wall with his other son and tells me I have to sign the balls. He turns to his daughter and asks her who sits in the press box and she said famous writers. I laughed again and the look on her face just willed me to sign for her and her brother. For a moment I felt famous but knew very quickly my star would stop shining as soon as they left and it did.
We waited in a rain delay for at least 45 min. The umpires got together with the grounds crew and watched the weather radar, but I wasn’t sure what the umpires saw because if you looked behind the stadium, clouds were blackening and moving swiftly towards the stadium. They decided to take the tarp off and prepare the field for the 6th inning. The Mets weren’t able provide any offense to try and tie the game, and went down quietly. At this point the game should have just been called, but they decided to have the Mets take the field trailing by 2 and not much of a chance for the game to go past the 6th. The Miracle scored again to make the score 4-1 and then the rains came along with low lightning strikes and the umps saw enough and called the game.
My first professional game was a rain shortened game, but still one to remember. I was treated very professionally and my first taste of covering a game, I can say was a success. I didn’t watch a Mets win, but I was able to see the Orange and Blue in my own backyard as a sports writer.