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