Yesterday — the second game of my seventeen Harrisburg Senators games of the 2021 season.

Not to mention, my second game of the year — and this week! — seeing the Richmond Flying Squirrels. This year, the affiliated minor leagues feature six-game series between opponents, running from Tuesday to Sunday, instead of the normal/traditional three- or four-game series. I don’t know if this is an experiment on Rob Manfred’s part, a consequence of COVID (a contact limiting measure?), or an effort to limit travel time. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet; it’s weird to attend a game on Tuesday, then see a game on Saturday against the same opponent.

The Senators redid the entrance to FNB Field over the offseason. I like it — you climb the Washington Nationals’ logo to enter the park. This year, they added the Harrisburg Senators logo.

Entrance to FNB Field, showing the Nationals and Senators' logos on the stairs

One thing I did not notice Tuesday night was this banner celebrating the Nationals’ 2019 World Series victory, showing Juan Soto and Trea Turner when they were Senators. Unfortunately, it did not photograph well. I like it.

A 2019 World Series banner hanging on the concourse

In light of the CDC’s guidance this week that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to mask in public settings, MLB relaxed mask requirements in minor league ballparks. As a consequence, last night was the first time in over a year I spent any significant time around a large number of unmasked people. It was both weird and refreshing.

I still have not found my Cookie Monster mask. I must have left it at the office.

Curse you, Red Baron!
Curse you, Red Baron!

There was a t-shirt giveaway; it’s a nice shirt, but I doubt I’ll ever wear it. It was a warm afternoon, mid-seventies. I wore a t-shirt an shorts. I didn’t bother to bring a hoodie.

The Senators won, 6-3, and I want to talk about the top of the sixth inning.

Nick Wells came on in relief for the Senators with a 4-1 lead. His inning got off to a rough start with a walk, a single, and a sacrifice bunt to move the two baserunners into scoring position, then he loaded the bases with a walk. Heliot Ramos, the San Francisco Giants’ number three prospect, made solid contact on the first pitch… and the ball settled into the glove of right fielder Nick Banks in shallow center, and Banks’ strong throw to the plate kept Andres Angulo from scoring from third.

Based loaded, two outs. Left fielder Jacob Heyward came to the plate. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he connected and crushed the ball to center. Senators center fielder Cody Wilson was on the move. Was it going to be over his head? It was! Wilson leaped…

…he caught it, diving toward the warning track!

Heyward had rounded first. His fellow Squirrels had crossed the plate. And Heyward saw Wilson pop up, holding the ball, and he stopped and fell into a crouch.

He, like everyone in the park, knew, with absolute conviction, that he’d have tied the game if Wilson hadn’t made that play.

He waited by the first base bag for Wilson to run in front the outfield. How could he not? That’s the kind of play you acknowledge, tip your cap, give your props. I thought there might be a fistbump, though with COVID precautions perhaps that was never likely.

Cody Wilson passing Jacob Heyward as he runs back to the Senators' dugout
Cody Wilson passing Jacob Heyward

The Junior Presidents Race returned this season. In it, four children dress up as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt and have a short race through the outfield.

The Junior Presidents are ready to run their race in left field
The Junior Presidents getting ready to race

It’s cute. There was a collision between two of the kids last night.

I do miss Bingo, Bongo, and Steve, the racing monkeys, though.

And, how can I not mention the Harrisburg Senators Sea Shanty? They showed it on the video board before the ninth inning, and it got a smattering of applause from the crowd. I’m going to need an mp3 of this.

I think I’m going to have to try an Under the Bridge Hard Cider the next time I’m there, which will be Thursday.

As mentioned, the Senators won last night 6-3. Jhon Romero came out of the bullpen for the ninth in a non-save situation, then gave up a 2-run home run with two outs.

The Altoona Curve come to Harrisburg on Tuesday with the Senators on a 3-game win streak. They’re 4-8, which is not an insurmountable hole, certainly not this early in the season.

Some other photos:

Pre-game warm-ups
The Senators warming up
The top of the first inning
The top of the first, Tim Cate on the mound for Harrisburg
Squirrels mound conference in the bottom of the third
There’s a lot of people in the Squirrels’ mound conference
Sunset over the Susquehanna
Sunset
Jhon Romero pitching to Vince Fernandez, top of the ninth inning
The top of the ninth; Romero is about to give up a 2-run home run to Vince Fernandez
The Senators celebrating their victory
Happy handshakes on the field
Plaque for Jimmie DeSong, a major league pitcher of the 1930s from Harrisburg
Plaque for Jimmie DeShong behind the concourse on the third base side
Downtown Harrisburg at night
Downtown Harrisburg

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