On Saturday, September 10, I went out to Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip to watch an Atlantic League showdown between the hometown Long Island Ducks and the visiting Camden Riversharks. As I took my seat along the first base line, I knew that I was rooting for the team with the best record in their division (34-20). I would also soon learn that I was attending the 600th sellout in Ducks' baseball history with a beyond-capacity crowd of 6,349.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Ducks took an early lead powered by a 2-run home run off of the bat of second baseman Ray Navarrete. As the ball flew out of the park, the crowd roared and the skies beyond the wall in centerfield lit up with fireworks. It seemed at the moment that the packed house was in for an epic ballgame. However, after that, the Ducks would give little more reason for the fans to cheer. Sloppy play in the field, struggling offense, and relief pitching that would yield a seemingly endless barrage of hits proved to be a recipe for a 9-3 loss to the Riversharks. One frightful moment came when shortstop Javier Colina was hit in the helmet by an errant fastball. The crowd gasped as he dropped to his knees holding his head with both hands. He stayed in that position for a few moments before walking to first base in a daze, unaware that he was being given a respectful ovation.
While the game itself may have been a little disappointing, a trip to the ballpark is still very entertaining. All kinds of activities happen of the field between innings. A few highlights are the Hot Dog Race (in which 3 hot dogs engage in a foot race down the third baseline for a cause), the Seventh Inning Stretch (when the Hauppauge Camber Choir sang beautifully-harmonized versions of "God Bless America" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"), and, of course, the always lovable antics of team mascot Quacker Jack!
After the last out of the game was recorded, all attention turned to the skies above Bethpage Ballpark for the Grucci Fireworks Extravaganza! In the crisp September air, the starry night was transformed into a kaleidoscope of bright blasts. Colorful, loud, and very exciting!
"Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones."