Today Rebecca and I start cross the half way point of our adventure! After we visit the Winchester Royals it will be 6 Down & 5 to go. We headed out at 5:11 p.m. for the 51.1 mile drive from our house in Luray. The start of the trip was delayed by 2 minutes while Rebecca ran back in for the two hats we needed. Each night one of us wears the hat of the home team and the other wears the visiting teams cap.
The first stop on the journey was at the Bentonville Foodway Supermarket (15.5 miles) and what we found makes the Top Ten in the #10 spot. The only reason it is at #10 is because it is the third straight day Kip made the list.
#10- We stopped in B'Ville because that was the closest store on the way to Winchester that I knew would have a copy of this week's Warren Sentinel. The paper comes out on Thursdays and I wanted to see the article that Kip had written.
You know the feeling when you are doing the laundry and you find a pocketful of money in your pants pocket that you had forgotten about? That should give you an idea of how THRILLED I was with the coverage that Kip provided. To say that Kip did his homework would be like saying Michael Jordan could play a little hoops. The hardest part of doing interviews is trying to get the jist of the idea across to someone. It was very clear to me that Kip had spent some time on the blog and understood what we are trying to accomplish. If you live in the Warren County area please take the time to read the story. And, Kip, if you are ever in Luray, lunch is on me.
We bought a second copy of the paper because I knew Teresa would be in Winchester and she would be just as happy with the article.
#9. Rain, Rain now I need you to stay away- From the first day I mapped this out I wanted to be able to do it in 11 straight days more than I care to admit. I knew this was next to impossible because I would need a series of breaks to go my way and none to go against me.
Problem #1-The VBL uses all of the Mondays on the calender after the first one for rain dates so there would be no games scheduled on the second Monday (6/9). The stops in Luray and Staunton would have to come on the days following the break unless there were rain outs.
Problem #2- I didn't just need a rain out, I needed a Staunton Braves home game rain out. I promised I would not flip flop dates so the only way I could do 11 in 11 vs. 11 in 12 would be if Staunton had a home rain out that would be rescheduled on 6/9. That is what happened last night (Wed.) when the Braves home game was pushed back to Monday 6/9. The fact that Staunton would be at home on 6/9 means I can go to visit Kay & Boyd on Monday and wrap the adventure back up in Luray on Tuesday.... 11 in 11 !!!
Problem #3-I still need to have no further rain issues between here and Tuesday to keep the record clean. The forecast for Winchester showed a threat of thunderstorms but we dodged a bullet or should I say rain drops so we live to play another day!
#8.- We were back in the car after our final thanks to everyone that was so so kind at 9:59 p.m.
We show up about 1 hour early to each game and always stay until the last out and we have seen the game end after 11:00 p.m. on three of the first five nights, so being in the car before 10:00 was like finding a $20 bill in the other pocket of those same jeans.
#7.- We love running into a good friend of the promotion - and that happens each time that Teresa Wease and her Turks are the visiting team. Teresa always has a smile and a story or two that she will share and tonight was no different. She has been fighting a string of unforeseen glitches this season and tonight was no different. The Turks made the trip north up I-81 on a chartered bus and the air conditioning went out on the team. If that had happened last week it would have been no biggie but last night was a touch warm, to say the least.
The Royals staff did a nice job supplying the Turks players with cold towels in the early stages of the game as they tried to recover from their steamy ride up. We will be stopping in Harrisonburg on Saturday night for our 8th stop of the 11 and we are looking forward to spending an evening with the Turks and their fans then.
#6.- PA man Andy Kiser- Andy earned double kudos for his efforts working with us last night. He is in his rookie season on the job with the Royals which would have made this his second night of work. Night 2 on the job would be tough enough before someone walks in with a bunch more activities to give you.
The first set of kudos comes from his reading the notes and asking questions about the info, and then getting the word out to the fans. At the start of each night I will tell the person who greets me that the single person with the biggest effect on our success for the night is the PA person. The level of interest of the crowd is directly tied to the electricity in the voice of the person reading the announcements and Andy came thru for us all evening.
The second pat on the back comes from the way he treated my daughter. I am very old school about how people treat my children. Any time someone is nice to any of my children I make it a point to say thank you very much.
Each night as soon as we get in the car I ask Rebecca her favorite things about the evening and she didn't take long to rattle them off after Winchester: According to Rebecca...
A. "I want to come back and sit thru another game with Andy because he was so nice all night. He even took the time to look up which Luray game he would be working and said he would save me a seat." Way to go Andy! Thanks, again.
Bobby [McGrath III] seemed like a really good guy. He and the other guys made me feel comfortable in the press box - I never would've thought that could happen." She may or may not have also mentioned that he was easy on the eyes, too. I might get in trouble for adding that last part but Bobby was great to chat with all night as was his side kick Vince DiBendetto.
Now to the Top 5!
#5.- Mr. Todd Thompson- Todd is a hero of the promotion and then some. If you have noticed the large posters for the promotion at Bridgeforth Field or anywhere else around the league, we can thank Todd for that. The budget for the Around The Valley campaign had come 100% out of the fund I set aside after covering the league for two years until Todd stepped in.
Todd owns a pair of shops- (1 in Winchester and 1 in Front Royal) called Impressions Plus. The handle all types of office supplies, copying, printing and laminating. I had done business in the past at his shops in Winchester and Front Royal but not enough to warrant the donation of the set of posters he gave our family. Todd has long-standing ties to the Winchester team and the community and we consider him a big part of our Around The Valley tour. One final THANKS goes to you!
#4.- This one has to cover both the staff of the Royals and the leaders of the organization. Having not lived in the Valley but for a few years, I don't always know the long standing history of the league or the individual clubs. Before my trip to the park last night, my experience with the Royals was tied to one night in their press box as a reporter for the NVD and the a minutes at the league meetings. I was a nobody stringer up there for the first time and nobody knew who I was but that didn't stop them from treating me like an old friend.
I had spoken with Royal GM/League Treasurer Jim Phillips, Todd Thompson (League Executive Vice President) and Mr. Jim Shipp but I knew little about their organization before last night. Every member of their staff kept in constant motion and were in constant search of the next hand to shake or problem to solve. The flow of the entire group was similar to watching a orchestra or a ballet. They seldom stood still and were always trying to make the fans' visits a little more enjoyable.
The Visa commercial were the entire flow of the store is rolling along until someone tries to write a check- that is what watching this group was like but the person knocking off the balance was nowhere to be found. Where was the conductor of this fluid show? I met him last night and his name is Brian Burke. It is 12:45 a.m. and I need to finish so I can go deliver papers so I will save much of my thoughts on Brian for a later feature story.
#3.-When I pitched the idea to the owners last year I asked for one thing and one thing only and last night I was able to see my hopes in action. I have always believed that the average fan would never forget the thrill of throwing out the first pitch at their home park. When we arrived at the park we were quickly introduced to Brian and after a few minutes he asked about my interest in throwing out the first pitch. I smiled and asked him if my daughter could have the honor.
Rebecca is 17 years old (almost 18 here soon but I don't like to think about that) and has already completed her first year at UVA. She does not excite easily but while we were waiting to go to the mound I swear she was almost giddy. Brian was great the entire time and even recruited starting catcher Gerry Neufang (South Fla CC) to let her warm up. Gerry was also great and he promised he would take care of her when it was time to go out there.
She only stepped two feet in front of the rubber and got the ball to just a few inches off the plate. Gerry was true to his word and short hopped the ball cleanly for her and then gave the ball back to her. Brian made her day by saying he would rate the effort in the Top 10 of the first pitches in his time at the park (which includes all first pitches since 2001, thank you very much).
Two hours+ later he made her smile 1 final time as we headed out by asking her if she needed to ice down her right arm. I would say drive to Winchester for no other reason than to meet these people but I still have two more reasons to give you.
#2.- #1 Both of these stories are perfect examples of what we are searching for and I want to take the time to write them as so- let me go run some papers and I will be back with the final thoughts on our night in Winchester!
Note from ATV's "Ace Photographer"
I will most definitely be putting some more pictures of these amazing folks up but first I need to get a wink of sleep. I took tons of pictures and I want to make sure I put good time into editing them the way they deserve.