Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mostly good times at Hammond Stadium

Yes, Hammond Stadium at the Lee County Sports Complex, spring home of the Minnesota Twins.

This is another of my favorite Grapefruit League ballparks.

I like the layout, never sat in the stands, but there can’t be a bad seat in the house.
And everyone who works here is Midwestern friendly.

I’ve had some memorable moments in this park.

I remember covering an FSL West Division pennant race between the Charlotte Rangers and the Fort Myers Miracle a number of years ago. The Rangers were managed by Butch Wynegar, who was a pleasure to cover. Plus, I wrote him a letter and asked for his autograph when I was a kid and he sent me back an autographed photo. I still have it.

Anyway, it was a three-game series and every game went down to the ninth inning. Classic baseball between to teams of minor league dreamers who wanted to win a championship.

I had some good chats with Joe Mays, the former Southeast High star, when he pitched for the Twins at this ballpark.

Then there was the Sunday afternoon in March 2006.

I was working on a story about how Rays utility infielder Nick Green was going to play the outfield. I couldn’t get him before the game, so I waited around afterwards to ask him two or three questions.

Meanwhile, George Mason is about to take down UConn in the regional final. It’s the 11th seed about to upset the No. 1 seed, and I’m not a big UConn fan so this game is even more exciting.
Someone had a TV under the stands and I could hear all the yelling as I waited in the visiting locker for Green.

Now I liked Nick Green. Nice guy. Very approachable. Very smart. A good interview.
But he was busy shaving the back of his hands while I waited and George Mason shocked the basketball world.


One of the biggest takedowns in NCAA history and I missed it.

But no one can tell me that Nick Green doesn’t have good hands.

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