Wall Street Journal Article on DiamondDawgs -A Dawgs Day Afternoon at the Ballpark

 The Dawgs play at Veterans Memorial Park, about 200 miles north of Yankee Stadium, in Little Falls, N.Y. This is dairy-cow country, closer to Herkimer than Cooperstown. Tommy John, the former Major League player better known these days for the elbow surgery named after him than for his pitching, was in a DiamondDawgs uniform and coaching at first base. The public address announcer sounded like the gruff actor Wilfred Brimley or his voice double.

Soon after the game started, Wilfred, as I came to think of him, told the crowd that “the owner of a red station wagon left his lights on.” A half-inning later we heard, “The lights of the red station wagon are still on.” Then, after a foul ball, despairing: “The lights are out now!”

At other times, when foul balls were hit toward cars outside the park, Wilfred would say, “Oh, that sounds like more broken glass. Better talk to those State Farm people.”

As the game unfolded, young girls with sashes identifying them as a Dairy Princess roamed the stands, handing out free cartons of milk. Contests on the field between half innings included a milk-drinking contest and a race in which the runners had to carry empty pizza boxes with a small milk can balanced on top. There was free cheese, too.

The beer wasn’t free, but nearly so by Yankee Stadium standards. A tiny concession stand sold “beer in a bag”—five cans of beer with ice in a cloth shopping bag for $12, and you got to keep the (soggy) bag.

Maybe it was the price of beer that threw me off, but for the first two innings I kept yelling, “Go, Devil Dawgs” before my daughter, Julie, reminded me that the team I was rooting for was called the DiamondDawgs. At least I had the right animal.

Ticket prices ranged from $3 to $1, but we didn’t pay a dime. A lady outside the ballpark handed us four free tickets.

Oh, about the game. It was well-played and exciting. The DiamondDawgs rallied in the bottom of the ninth with a home run but lost 5-3. They are part of the nine-team Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, which requires players to have college eligibility—no “Bull Durham”-like Crash Davises longing for their former big-league days.

I counted players from 19 colleges on the DiamondDawgs roster. These young men know how to hit, field and pitch. They are also good at sharing. Several times the upcoming batter for one of the teams would use the bat left on the ground by the previous hitter. And the bats are made of wood; no aluminum here, except for the beer cans.

Another unusual and refreshing aspect of this day, one I didn’t notice until my daughter pointed it out: We didn’t see anyone on a cellphone. How many times have you watched a major sporting event in person or on television and noticed how many people are fixated on their smartphones instead of the game? The fans who came out to see the DiamondDawgs that Sunday knew where the real action was—in front of and all around them. They didn’t need to constantly check their email or sports scores or take pictures of themselves and post them immediately on Facebook. Imagine that.

Of course, the owner of the red station wagon who left his lights on may have use his had to cellphone after the game to call for help. Then again, with the friendly crowd at Veterans Memorial Park, somebody probably had jumper cables and was glad to lend a hand.


Mr. McCoy is the author of “Did I Really Change My Underwear Every Day? One Geezer’s Handbook for (Temporary) Survival” (Sunstone Press, 2011).

A version of this article appeared August 23, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A Dawgs Day Afternoon at the Ballpark.