Getting to Salisbury, MD from Hagerstown took three hours and provided plenty of picturesque scenery, including a drive over the enormous Bay Bridge at Annapolis. Because I’d spent time blogging on the morning of June 28, I didn’t leave until nearly noon so I arrived about 3 p.m. for the 7 p.m. game.
Though based in Salisbury, the Shorebirds are known as “Delmarva,” which stands for Delaware, Maryland, Virginia. They play in the Single-A South Atlantic League, as did the team I watched a day earlier, the Hagerstown Suns. To read about that game, and my pursuit of getting Bryce Harper’s autograph, click here.
I checked out Delmarva’s Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on Google Maps, and it looked as though there was lots of open space beyond the outfield fence. So, as usual, I decided to go about an hour before the gates opened and see if I could get a ball during batting practice.
Here’s what the area looks like:
And here’s what I found about a minute after getting there:
It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Within a minute or two, I had three balls …
… and kept finding them about as fast as possible. In 10 minutes, I had 10 total, despite not actually witnessing a single one come over the fence. To make a long story short, I finished with an even 12, which is the most I’ve ever got in one game. With the gates about to open, I hurried around to the front of the stadium and took a peek at the players’ lot:
(I could do an entire post on the rims of Minor League Baseball players). Then, photographed the front of the stadium …
… and got my ticket:
There weren’t a ton of fans waiting to get in, so the concourse was very open at 6 p.m.:
The Shorebirds have an impressive alumni list, and their banners are displayed throughout the concourse. Here’s the pre-caveman look Jayson Werth:
This is a look from the third base side …
and here’s one from the right field corner:
I spent a bit of time in the air conditioned team shop, as I was dying from the heat after being in the full sun during BP:
Then, went to watch some players sign autographs around the Shorebirds third base-side dugout:
Arthur W. Perdue has a giant, multi-level picnic deck for groups along the first base line:
There wasn’t any group in this section the entire game, so it remained closed. Often, these groups areas are great places to sit and watch, but are routinely empty or nearly empty. I think it’d be neat if the team opened them to all the fans in the event there isn’t a group. When there’s a group that’s bought space here, by all means, block it off from the rest of the fans. But it wouldn’t hurt anyone to allow the average person to enjoy the game here, too.
Around this time, I met a longtime season ticket holder who was friendly enough to give me some tips about the stadium. We talked about baseball for a while, and I went to visit the Maryland Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame, which is inside the stadium. I didn’t end up staying long, but if you ever take in a Shorebirds game, give yourself plenty of time to check out the museum. It’s amazing. It focuses on ball players from the area, and there’s a ton of historic memorabilia:
Upon the season ticket holder’s advice I went up to the club level, which has a good concession stand and a place to watch the game:
This is my view from up here:
I checked out the first few innings of action, capturing this shot of Mike Flacco. He’s Delmarva’s cleanup hitter and the brother of Baltimore Ravens QB Joe:
I then went back down to the main concourse where I got a chicken tender basket, which was a big mistake. I should’ve tried the “better” food up top, but that’ll be on the list for next visit. The chicken was all right, I suppose, but pretty dry and there was no sauce that I could find:
I spent a little time down the third base line with this view:
In the ninth inning, I decided to duck out to see if there was a chance of finding the home run ball hit by Jeremy Nowak in the second inning. It was highly unlikely, but I thought I’d take five minutes to walk around behind the left field fence and see for myself. Here’s what I saw:
Yep, there it was! I picked it up and had the first-ever home run ball in my collection:
All in all, a very good day: A great drive to this area, which is close to the ocean, 13 balls, and a nice stadium to tour.
When I got back to my hotel, I was regretting not checking to see if the home run was significant for Nowak. So, I took a look at the box score and saw that it was his first career HR at the SAL level. He began the season in the New York-Penn League, where he had two, but was called up to Delmarva and the home run came in just his fourth game. Had I known this while still at the ballpark, I would’ve got in touch with the team and asked if he wanted the ball back. I missed out on an opportunity, but sent the team a message on Twitter afterward, so hopefully, I’ll hear back.
As much as I’m excited to have my first career HR ball, if getting the ball back would mean something to Nowak, I’d be happy to do it.