Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Top 5 Reasons Last Night (Covington) Was Pretty Cool

Wow- that four hours went really quick! We are heading over to the high school for the Luray Bulldogs send off at 1:45 p.m. so I better get right back to it. When I stopped earlier there were still five spots left on the top 10:

#5.- Kip Ritenour- (Warren Sentinel) We had spent some time with Kip the night before when we were in Front Royal and we are so so thankful for anyone that takes the time to try and promote the idea of promoting the league. Kip had tried to get back a hold of me about his story this week but I didn't find the e-mail until last night when we pulled into the parking lot In Covington. When we finished delivering all of the papers last night I also found a message on the office phone from Kip.

For all of the same reasons that I discussed with the kind people in Covington last night, Kip earned one last at-a-boy award. The league is full of people that go the extra step and that is what I am trying to show people. The owners, host families, ticket takers- right down the line- they are all here for the love of the game. I am trying to shout it from the rooftops and last night I tried it from the mountaintops- come out to a park for two reasons- #1- To see a great baseball game with college players from all over the country & #2- To take in part of the community that hard working people from that community are trying to provide.

Kip gets the extra mile award tonight but he will have to share it with the guy @ #4.

#4.- Bruce Alger- Bruce always tells me that the only thing that will keep him from A Rebel game is if his little league team (that includes his older son) has a game that night. That was the case last night so I wasn't expecting to see Bruce at the park down in Covington. When I saw Katie at the game she mentioned Bruce would be coming down.
I asked about the little league game and she mentioned that the storm had rained the game out and that Bruce was going to be making the trip. The trip from New Market to Covington is 230 miles round trip- give or take and his late departure would mean he would only catch part of the game. If there was ever a night and a trip to take a free pass on being at a game with your team it was last night. Bruce arrived between 8:15 and 8:30 by my watch and did was he normally does at an away Rebel game (smiles and gives of his time to all that have the desire to visit while cheering on the New Market nine.

Extra brownie points went out when he took my daughter home so she didn't have to ride with one worn out baseball fan.

#3.- Jim & Kim Birmingham (Pine Hill,NJ)- I met the couple before the game started and we jumped right into a conversation. They were in town and both were wearing Rebel gear (They told me later that the outfits were the first ones sold for the season when the met Bruce and Lynne at the Park). The biggest thing I try and focus on is the away fans that might be there to collect a stamp on the passport so I started up a conversation.

Jim let me know they had driven down from New Jersey to see their son pitch for New Market and we talked for a few minutes. James Birmingham is listed on the Rebel site as a sophomore pitcher from Coastal Carolina and there should be a line added that says with really neat parents. Their son pitched five or six innings and during that time I made a point to let them focus on their son and the game. Someone that had driven from New Jersey to Covington to watch their son play earns BIG Around The Valley in 60 days points.

Once Jim was taken out of the game two things really neat happened. First- I was able to spend about 90 minutes visiting with them and Second- They continued to actively cheer on the Rebels for the remainder of the 11 innings. There was no drop in interest in the game once Jim was out of the game (the stress level might of dropped- but not the cheering). We talked about
a number of topics, including how much I enjoy talking about the league.

They were heading back to the Crossroads Inn Bed & Breakfast there at the ball field in New Market and would be heading back to New Jersey today. Jim was debating on whether on not to try and catch the start of the New Market game on Thursday night. The Rebels play @ Front Royal and I encouraged them both to drop in and see the "Bing". I hope they have a safe trip back and I asked them to check in and share their thoughts about their adventure!

#2.- The staff and fans at Casey Field! We arrived early because we wanted to allow time in case we had any troubles. The Rebels bus pulled in right behind us @ 5:12 p.m. and we headed inside to get set-up. Every single person we came into contact with that was with the Lumberjacks were pleasent to deal with and we enjoyed getting to meet them. Rebecca made a point to try and snap a picture of all of the volunteers doing what they do all night long. The folks at the gate asked questions about the stamping process and the promotion as well and the level of interest in the night never dropped. We were able to visit with a number of the staff and some of the fans while the players were warming up for the game.

The atmosphere was really both fun and laid back from warm-ups all the way thru the game winning hit five hours later. Rebecca got some great pictures of one of the winning fans putting on his new hat after one of the drawings. What a neat place to watch a ball game!

#1. The ownership group of the Covington Lumberjacks!- Of all the 11 ownership groups I could honestly say that before last tonight this group was the one I knew the least about and had spent the least time with. Gary "Boo Boo" Whitehead, Robert "Dizzy" Garten and as Boo Boo said- Mark "The Dog" Pifer could not have made me and my daughter feel anymore welcomed if they had given me the keys to the place. I mentioned to Boo Boo that it is tough for me to call someone I didn't really know by their nickname and he told me that he wouldn't answer to anything else. He also told me that if you spent any amount of time with Robert that he would make you Dizzy. I had to ask about Jason Helmintoller (Jim was away in Las Vegas) and why he didn't have a nick name?

Boo Boo said something about it but I will let you ask him about it when you come down to the park! From the promtion "Best Seat in The House" (a local furniture company provided two lazy boy recliners that sit by the press box) to the casual way they make you feel like you belong there. I am looking forward to coming back for the All-Star game and seeing these guys again.

Tell Dizzy congrats on his upcoming wedding (right after the season) and ask Boo Boo about anything that you might want to know about Covington. The drive down was very scenic and the amazing folks made the experience feel a bit like a night in Mayberry! Take a bow fellas- and Thanks again.......... Almost time to head north to Winchester!!!!!

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