During the final nine days of 2013, I’m going to revisit nine memorable baseball moments from the year.

Alex Rodriguez swings and misses during an at-bat for the Trenton Thunder on Aug. 2, 2013 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Alex Rodriguez swings and misses during an at-bat for the Trenton Thunder on Aug. 2, 2013 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Long before baseball players left their spring training camps in Florida and Arizona, I bought a ticket to the August 2nd game between the Trenton Thunder and Reading Fightin Phils. I wanted to make sure I got the giveaway item: a set of baseball cards recognizing the Trenton Thunder’s All-Time Team.

By August 1st, baseball cards were an afterthought for nearly everyone who was planning to go to the game. With the threat of a still-to-be-determined suspension hanging over his head, Alex Rodriguez had been sent to Trenton to continue his rehab assignment.

Alex Rodriguez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Alex Rodriguez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

When I arrived at the ballpark – at least a half-hour before the gates would open – there were already more people lined up outside than had attended a playoff game the year before. Camera crews from local cable channels were interviewing the fans about their thoughts on A-Rod.

And you might not realize it from the picture painted by the media, but Rodriguez still had his share of fans in Trenton that night. They were definitely out-numbered by his detractors, but they were there. (I was briefly concerned that my friend was going to get into a fight with one of the A-Rod fans, but fortunately calmer heads prevailed.)

Of course, you’d never have thought the cloud of scandal hung over Rodriguez’s head as you watched the crowd push closer to A-Rod when he started signing autographs on the field before the game. I watched from a safe distance and tried to get a few photos, but there were so many people around him that even that was difficult.

The announced crowd was 8,080 people, which did include some no-shows – nearly the entire row I was sitting in remained empty – but I’ve never seen more people at a Trenton Thunder game.

In the field, Rodriguez looked old, but he did successfully handle two chances. At the plate, I didn’t think he’d even get a chance to hit. He walked in his first plate appearance and I don’t think he saw one pitch to swing at.

Phillies’ prospect Jesse Biddle decided to challenge A-Rod the second time up, and Rodriguez responded with a no-doubt home run to left field. For a while, I wondered if I’d seen his final professional home run. In his third plate appearance, Rodriguez took a called third strike and came out of the game, ending the excitement for the night.

Oh, and I did get my baseball cards – it’s a nice set.

You can follow Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook or Google+, see my photos on Flickr and Instagram, and follow @PaulsRandomStuf on Twitter, where I talk about about a variety of things in addition to baseball.

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About Paul Hadsall

I'm the former editor of a weekly community newspaper in New Jersey. I've been a New York Mets fan for most of my life and I've been blogging about them, minor league baseball, baseball cards and autograph collecting since 2007. Contact me at paul@randombaseballstuff.com

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