A question/ topic of conversation that came up on a regular basis this summer was in relationship to the various parks and ownership groups. Each time I traveled to a VBL park this season I went in searching for things I would bring to my own park if I had a team. This is what I remember most about the Winchester Royals for 2008.
The summer was full of on the field highlights with Mickey Wiswall and Tyler Townsend but I tend to leave the on the field fun to those that can only share gamers with their readers. I want to talk about what makes going to a ball game a treat. I joke a great deal about Winchester (23,585) being the big city and that is only because the population equals that of Warrenton, Luray, New Market, Covington and Woodstock combined. But that is the beauty of watching a baseball game at Bridgeforth Field on a summer night.
The entire organization, from Jim Shipp on down is locked in to making folks feel right at home when you come to the park. Yes, Winchester is on the big end of the cities along with Staunton, Waynesboro and Harrisonburg but the Royals are capable of making you feel at home. During the season I over heard a number of people who made the trip North for the first time talk about the park versus the stadium of the bigger teams and I always come back to the same point- it is a cozy place to watch a game!
Then you add in the coolest position in the VBL with Brian Burke in charge of "Game Day Operations". The night of our first trip of the season to Winchester I met Brian for the first time and said to myself, what a neat idea. The combination of the position that Brian has and the effort he puts into it is pretty special. The idea of having a person available to meet and greet any and all important folks on a given night is something that sponsors,etc... will remember after the night is over.
If you managed to get by Jim Shipp and Brian Burke and you are still not convinced then you bump into Mr. Ken Hockin. Ken is listed as Webmaster for the Royals and you couldn't ask a person to be anymore helpful than Ken. Toss in Bobby McGrath and Vince working the scorers table and plus Bob Jones and Mark Sawyer calling the games on both the Web and Sports Talk 610...
My lasting memory of the Royals in 2008 will be skipper John Lowery Jr. working his magic on Mrs. Betty Phillips on our final trip North for Betty finishing the ATV-60 Loop. Betty was willing to come out and be acknowledged but wanted no part of throwing out a first pitch. By the time that Skip was done working his magic, not only was Betty out on the mound but she was throwing the first pitch to...You guessed it- John Lowery Jr.
As I have done with all of the previous teams I will list my home and away stops that involved the Royals but not before thanking Jim Shipp one more time for running a special ball club. I am sure that if Jim were here he would quickly pass the credit on to his entire organization...
In the Park with the Royals:
1.June 5TH- Home - ATV-60 Kickoff - Win 8-1 over Harrisonburg
2.June 8TH- Away @ Front Royal - Win 6-4
3.June 13TH- Home - Win 4-2 over Luray
4.June 23RD-Home - Loss 4-3 to Waynesboro in a game that ended on 6/24
5.June 26TH-Away - Loss 9-6 @ Luray
6.July 14TH -Away - Loss 6-2 @ New Market
7.July 25TH- Home- DAY GAME- 1ST Pitch for Betty - Win 5-3 over Harrisonburg