NEWARK BEARS: Feeling Like Part of the Family.
Perhaps saying, "feeling like part of the family" is a bit presumptuous of me. So why don't I just tell you what my day at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium was like. I had a day off from work and the Bears were playing an 11:00am game; a perfect fit for me. So off I went to my first game in Brick City this season.
I finally settled into a seat behind the home team's dugout after my obligatory stroll and picture taking. For an inning, Bears' pitcher Eric Eden leaned on the railing pondering his team's' two run deficit before I impulsively asked him for a ball; politely of course. He kindly obliged and I was happy to have a game used, official CanAm League ball; my first.
Manager Tim Raines
Being right behind the dugout obviously lent itself to get a good, close-up photo of Newark Bears' manager, Tim Raines. I met him once before at Yankee Stadium when he was with the White Sox. But I'd never expect him to remember the occasion. And I never did get his autograph back then. So there I was, within 15 feet of him, a newly gifted CanAm baseball in hand, and nothing but air and opportunity between us.
Yea; I did it. In between innings I asked him for an autograph. I know - How immature of me. I'm forty-four years old. But baseball does that to me! I'm just a kid when I get to the game; any game.
But I had a hook! I asked him for his autograph, and by the way, I only want an autograph if I can have it out of the goodness and graciousness of an individual's heart. I don't pay for them! But I digress. I asked and Tim Raines was more than happy to oblige. He tossed the ball back after signing and as I thanked him, it was then I related to him we had a common acquaintance; my cousin, whom he spent many years together with on the White Sox. So, we had our little connection; shared a respectful hand-shake and short conversation, and for me, had a nice baseball moment with a great former player.
Now prepare yourselves, because I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Gee I hope Tim Raines doesn't get offended by me sharing this, but here it goes. He likes Mountain Dew! I know; scandalous! And he asked me to go get him one!
Pffft! Coming right up Sir! Or so I thought.
I went to the concession stand and to my bewilderment, they didn't have any Mountain Dew; not yet anyway. They were out and hadn't restocked yet. Trust me, I tried all the open stands, and even told one guy it was for Tim. The Coach needed a Dew I told him. But not even he could find one for me. There were two available soda machines on the premise. Each of them was sold out also.
I looked at my son and we both laughed. I said to him, we have to get coach a freakin' Dew, even if we have to drive all the way back to Brooklyn to find one. We went to the front gate and told the Security Person we were going across the street to get Coach Raines a Mountain Dew. I showed her my autographed ball and told her Coach was thirsty and that concessions were all out his beverage of choice. She found it very amusing and said getting back in wouldn't be a problem.
Junior and I crossed Orange Street to a deli across the way. And guess what.... No Dew! Pepsi? Yes. other stuff? Yes. Dew? No! We then peeked around the corner and spotted another sandwich shop. And yes!...they had Mountain Dew! I didn't get into what it took to get Tim Raines his Mountain Dew. I was just happy to get it done. The pleasure was all mine Tim.
Before I made my own break to the lemonade stand, Bears' coach and former MLB catcher, Ron Karkovice was kind enough to also autograph my baseball. Thank you Sir.
My lemonade was refreshing. And now I got to thinking.... There is a room in Riverfront Stadium not usually open to the public. I'll call it the Event Room. Inside are two team pictures I always wanted to photograph; one of the old Newark Bears and another of the Negro League Newark Eagles. Trying to photograph them through the window simply didn't work for me.
N.Y. Yankees farm team; Newark Bears
Negro National League ~ Newark Eagles
In search of security, I bumped into the right person; the Head of Security. He thought about my request for a second and understandably had to consider the persons currently in the room I was asking for access to. My good Man took me through the back halls and into the room, and as you can see, allowed me to take my pictures (above). Inside, I politely introduced myself to Tim Raines' wife and young children. There-in lies the reason why careful consideration was needed to satisfy my request. I related to her my Mountain Dew anecdote, and she smilingly responded by saying, "Yes, that's him." - etc. I was grateful for having had the moment and respectful of their time and looked to exit quickly and appreciatively.
But wait. There's more. By now I got to thinking, because of the time I spend blogging about this team, I wondered how far "into the Bears" the organization would allow me to get? Before long I had the pleasure of meeting Sakinah Abdul-Hakeem; Vice VP of Operations and Samantha Cetnar; Asst. General Manager of the Bears'. I told them about my blog and about the time I spend covering the team. I was asking for anything they might be willing to offer me in the way of Behind The Scenes access. I was hoping to maybe get in the press box for a picture or two or something along those lines.
They introduced me to Pat Quinn; VP of Ticket Operations. And back we went into the restricted hallways of Riverfront Stadium again. He took us downstairs leading to the players' locker room; the Coach's room; and trainer's room. There we ran into Brandon Watson; a pitcher for the Bears. Shortly thereafter, we were being escorted down the corridor leading to the area behind home plate where it's organization personnel only and took in an inning from there. Jesse Estrada, today's starting pitcher for the Bears was there watching the rest of the game and getting his arm iced up after pitching six innings of three hit baseball.
That's Pat Quinn, who was kind enough to take my son and me on a sneak peek through
the inner realms of Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium
Pat Quinn and I agreed that I could e-mail him and set up an opportunity to meet and greet players and gain some more inside access. Of course those things will have to be prearranged. But I look forward to communicating with Pat, and hopefully one day, the Newark Bears organization will be kind and accommodating enough to allow me, nothing more than a fan of the team, to cover this team like I never thought possible before.
My utmost thanks and appreciation goes out to the Newark Bears organization who provided me with one heck of a day-off from work. I went to Newark earlier today with the simple intention of taking in a baseball game. But I left there with so much more. To Samantha, Sakinah, and Pat, I thank you so much for your tremendous hospitality and for being so receptive to my baseball whims. I was in search of a simple day today, and you provided a rather spectacular one.
I wish the new ownership group all luck in turning around the Bears' fortunes. Baseball belongs in Newark. And please know this blog will be a rooting supporter.
LINK: See my game post and pictures HERE.
Mike - the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger
...and Newark Bears Fan.