Where has summer gone?

It seems like it was only days ago that I attended my first baseball game in a year and a half. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I attended my first baseball game in Lancaster?

No. No, it was not. Those were in May and June. Labor Day is next week. Halloween is right around the corner.

Time seems to have no meaning any more. “Gray, lumpy oatmeal,” is how I’ve jokingly put it. A consequence of a year and a half of working from home? The grinding, repetitive nature of my work for Diamond? A COVID brain fog? Is it really a joke?

In any event, this weekend was my last weekend on City Island for the Harrisburg Senators’ 2021 season. (They have one more weekend at home before the season’s end, but I made plans to visit my parents that weekend — assuming that Lynchburg hasn’t fallen victim to the COVID super-spreader event that is Liberty University.) I knew it was coming; the number of future events in my Senators ticket account kept ticking down by one as the summer wore on. I started with seventeen tickets, and now there are none. (Two of those seventeen were rainouts — June 30th and July 17th — and I’m going to contact the team this week, while they’re in Erie, to see if I can use them between Labor Day and visiting my parents when Bowie is in town.)

Two foul balls were hit at me today; I gave both balls to kids sitting in the bleachers. The young ballhawks who patrol the landing beneath the bleachers were out in force last night, but today wasn’t well attended.

I have no commentary on the weekend’s games against the Hartford Yard Goats. I’m going to post some pictures instead.

Additions to FNB Field

There were two major additions to FNB Field, the home of the Senators on City Island this year, one happy, one sad.

The happy one…

Ryan Zimmerman bobblehead statue at FNB Field
The Ryan Zimmerman Bobblehead Hall of Fame Statue

Ryan Zimmerman, longtime Washington Nationals player, played for the Senators after being drafted by the Nationals in 2005. He was added this year to the Harrisburg Senators Bobblehead Hall of Fame, depicted in a vintage Senators uniform and holding the World Series trophy, commemorating the Nationals’ 2019 World Series victory.

He was supposed to be inducted last year, and the statue bears a June 2020 induction date, but COVID scrambled that. I have the regular bobblehead that was given out a few weeks ago.

The sad one…

Plaque dedicated to Mark Butler, Senators owner and Ollie's founder, who died after the 2019 season
Plaque dedicated to Mark Butler (1958-2019), owner of the Senators

Mark Butler, the founder of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, purchased the Senators in 2015. He died in late 2019. This plaque, overlooking the field, is dedicated to his memory.

Saturday’s Game

The Senators have been hapless this year. It happens; the Nationals’ farm system, until the July sell-off, was rated the weakest in baseball. The Hartford Yard Goats have been equally hapless. The two bottom dwellers in their respective divisions met for six games.

The Senators jumped out to an early lead in Saturday’s game, coughed up most of the lead as the game wore on, then tacked on some runs late.

Senators players warming up pre-game
Senators warming up pre-game
The third inning, Senators at bat
The third inning, the Senators at bat

The Sights of City Island

There’s more to City Island than a baseball field. There’s a train! There’s a river paddleboat, the Pride of the Susquehanna!

The train approaches FNB Field
The train approaches
The Pride of the Susquehanna motoring south in the distance near Harrisburg's shore
The Pride of the Susquehanna heading south under full power

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Sunday there was a surprise visitor from Pokémon Island among the Senators players…

A large Pikachu plush sits along the baseline as the Senators players warm up
Pikachu hangs out with the Senators players as they warm up
Third baseman Ian Sadgall carries the Pikachu plush with him to the dugout after signing a few autographs for fans
Ian Sagdal carries Pikachu with him to the dugout

Pika! Pika!

Entertaining the Crowd

If Saturday’s game was all Senators, Sunday’s was all Yard Goats. Hartford took the lead in the top of the first with a home run and never looked back.

Senators mascot Rascal fires up the crowd with a flag pre-game
Senators mascot Rascal fires up the crowd with a flag pre-game
Harrisburg's First and Best All-Male Dance Team -- several team executives -- entertain the crowd with a dance routine between innings
Harrisburg’s First and Best All-Male Dance Team

I liked the Yard Goats’ light green uniforms with blue undershirts. The combination is, I believe, based on the colors of the Hartford Whalers (a professional hockey team now in Raleigh, North Carolina as the Carolina Hurricanes), and while the light green is a bit nontraditional as baseball uniforms go, I thought it looked pretty sharp.

Yard Goats players line up in the infield to celebrate their victory
The Yard Goats, celebrating their win on Sunday
Kids running the bases post-game
Kids running the bases post-game

The Senators changed the intro/hype film they play on the video board pre-game this series. The film they had played all season celebrated the Nationals’ 2019 World Series victory and players that had come up through Harrisburg — Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Victor Robles — by intercutting footage of the players when they played at FNB Field and footage from the World Series. As a Nationals fan, I loved this. Watching it, I felt excited and happy — and also a touch sad, given where the first three players are (Injured List, following thoracic outlet surgery; with the Los Angeles Angels; traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively). It was replaced this week with something much less exciting — the Senators in action, backed by a Foo fighters song. I didn’t dislike it, but it’s a significant downgrade.

Harrisburg at Night

The state capitol dome, seen from the Walnut Street Bridge
The state capitol dome, seen from the Walnut Street Bridge
FNB Field and the Pride of the Susquehanna, as seen from across the Susquehanna River on Front Street
FNB Field and the Pride of the Susquehanna, as seen from across the Susquehanna River on Front Street

The baseball season isn’t over, by any means. There’s still a week of games with Bowie, the Lancaster and York seasons don’t end until mid-October this year, I’m even tempted by the Congressional Baseball Game in late September.

But today still felt like an ending — my last weekend here until next April — and I lingered a little longer.

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