Bowie Baysox – June 26

After a great experience at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, it was time to take a step up the Baltimore Orioles organizational food chain with a stop in Bowie, MD. Pronounced “Boowie,” this team is called the Baysox, plays at Prince George’s Stadium and is the AA affiliate of the Orioles. They play in the Eastern League, and this is the fourth Eastern League ballpark I’ve visited. (I should hit five more later this summer.)

As great as baseball road trips are, I’ve found in the past it’s easy to experience a bit of a letdown three or four days in. There’s lots of driving, lots of ballpark food and late nights. Sometimes, all this can combine to make you feel a little lethargic, and I was determined not to have that happen in Bowie.

I found the stadium easily, parked for free and took a quick shot of the front:

Then, I took my usual walk behind the outfield fence to try to find a ball. Up to this point, I’d gotten at least one ball in each of my three games and 10 total. It’d be nice to keep that streak intact for a few days longer.

On my way back, I could see the action on the field:

I stopped briefly to take a shot of the players’ lot:

Then, quickly found two balls; an Eastern League one and an MLB one:

Further searching yielded nothing, so I returned to the front of the stadium, took this photo and bought my ticket:

The pavilion in front of the ballpark was pretty crowded. Why? Because it was a team signing day; everyone but the starting pitcher was set up at tables throughout the concourse, and you could walk from table to table to get autographs. Pretty cool. Here’s what it looked like:

This is another reason I love Minor League Baseball. If this type of promotion happened in the Bigs, the place would be bonkers. You’d get about two autographs in an hour, and spend the rest of the time crammed in line and being jostled by annoying, middle-aged men trying to get autographs to sell on eBay. Here, you get the chance to talk to the players if you like, line up for about 15 seconds per guy, and move on. It’s perfect.

I got the entire team (except the starting pitcher) on a ball, which I’ll photograph and blog about at a later date. The guys were pretty friendly, especially manager Gary Kendall, who I talked to for a few minutes. I was wearing my Aberdeen IronBirds cap, and he managed the IronBirds over the last few seasons, so we talked about that. The team also has former Big Leaguers Denny Hocking and Einar Diaz as coaches.

After the signing, I went out onto the field, which was open for fans until 45 minutes before first pitch. This is the second field I’ve been on this summer; the first was in Erie, another Eastern League team. Fans were playing catch and it was neat to walk around out there:

Just before the time was up, I went back up to get a shot of the crowded playing surface:

With some time to kill before first pitch, I took in the various sights of the stadium, including a kids’ play area, complete with inflatable games and a merry-go-round:

Today’s opponent was the Binghamton Mets, a team I’ll see on the last day of this current road trip. A few of the guys were signing and others were warming up, so I went to check it out. This is Allan Dykstra (no relation to Lennie):

And this is Jordany Valdespin. I’m pleased with how this photo turned out:

Finally, here’s manager Wally Backman, who played for the Mets in the 1980s:

Today’s weather was hot and sunny, so I wanted to stay in the shade as much as possible. There isn’t a ton of it at Prince George’s Stadium, but I found a covered picnic area down the third base line. It was mostly empty, and I just sat on a table with a good view of the action:

After a while, I took a wander back around the ballpark to watch from behind home plate:

It was after 3 p.m., and I still hadn’t had lunch. Don’t get me wrong — ballpark food is cool. But after eating it daily for a few days, you get to start dreading it. A lot of it’s tasty, but most of it so heavy that it gets a bit gross after a while. That said, I was curious about the cheese-stuffed, Old Bay-covered pretzel. I love Old Bay seasoning, and in prime seafood territory, it was cool they used the seasoning even without seafood. I’m happy to report this was a tasty snack:

The sun started to subside around the fifth inning, so I went down to field level and found a spot down the third base line with this view:

Once there, I just relaxed and watched the game. I’d made good notes for my website earlier, as the gates opened 1.5 hours before first pitch because of the autograph signing. As a result, I had a lot of time to just enjoy some baseball, which is exactly what I did. After the game, kids and parents were allowed to run the bases, though I resisted the temptation.

I took one last look around the stadium, noting a neat feature. The press box area is open, and relatively low to the field. As there’s no window protecting it, the wall in front of the desks has seen some damage from foul balls:

A unique touch!

Right after the game, I made the drive north to Hagerstown, MD. I didn’t have a game planned until the following day, when I’d head to Municipal Stadium to catch teen phenom Bryce Harper!

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