Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fireworks over RAP

My family and I were lucky enough to be part of something special tonight. Part of an evening that we will all remember for years to come. True, this was the eighth time the HarbourCats have taken the field at RAP, but tonight this team truly became the Home Team. The recipe for the evening could not be any more extraordinary: Take the best baseball night of the year - clear skies, bright sun, and not a breath of wind - add a fantastic game - the Cats go ahead early and stay there for a decisive win - and add an after-party complete with a Cat-hosted base run for the kids, and a fabulous fireworks show to close off the evening.

Ty-Pro in the 1st Inning
The game was a masterpiece, pitched to near perfection by Ty Provencher - an early season reliever who pitched the entire night from the stretch striking out 3, while inducing 3 double plays. Dominating would be an understatement. Bend hitters had nothing going on against the mighty Ty-Pro, who chucked all nine innings mowing down Elks pitch after pitch. Not overpowering stuff, but he had Bend hitters hitting weak ground balls all night. The game also saw one of the most spectacular catches you will ever see at any level. Bend's Cullen ODwyer hit what seemed like a sure double to the gap in right center, only to have Cat center fielder Justin Burba run it down, laying flat out and flying through the air to snag it just before it hit turf. The crowd erupted as Burba did a somersault and raised his glove showing all the mighty catch had been made.

The Cats scored early on a 1st inning 3-run home run by Robby Nesovic. Um yeah, he was yesterday's starter, today's DH. He hit a ball hard off the scoreboard in center field, farther than most BP home runs. It was nice to see the Cats on the board early, and they cruised to a 6-1 victory.

As great as the game was though, what followed was even better. Quick games are becoming a trademark of this team, and with Ty-Pro wasting no time disposing of Bend hitters, the game clocked in at a speedy 2:06. Great for most nights, but not so on Firework night - which requires a significantly darker sky that what was available at 10 minutes after 9.

So queue the post-game entertainment. Onto the field came every size and shape of child under 10 for a customary run around the bases. Dozens of them lined up and started to run. Most of the 1640 announced crowd remained and waited for the fireworks to begin and watched the first few kids stroll around with tepid interest - but then it got good. 5 or 6 HarbourCat players strolled over to the third base line and began high-fiving the runners as they passed. Then as more players stowed their gear and came out of the dugout, they also joined the line. Then more and more came, until both sides of the third base line was surrounded by the entire team. Kids ran through the gauntlet of players high-fiving on each side.

And then someone on the Cats yelled "SLIDE!". The first young man hit the dirt, slid head-first into home plate, and a roar erupted from the stands. The next kid was encouraged by 2 or three Cats, and by the time the 5th or 6th kid went through, the entire team was yelling "SLIDE!!!" at the top of their lungs. Kids came from everywhere sliding into home, destroying pants and shoes in the process, but nobody cared. Each and every Cat stood with smiles on their faces, and the fans applauded and cheered on kid after kid. There will be clay rolling around washing machines all over the CRD tomorrow.

Finally the lights went off, the sky was dark enough, and a fabulous firework show - lit by hand by two energetic pyrotechnic masters - rained down on center field. Fans ooooh'ed and ahhhh'ed for about 20 minutes, along with the players - many of whom sprawled out on the grass in front of the dugout like kids at a summer BBQ.

It was as the fireworks were coming to an end that it suddenly seemed like this was more than a night at the park, more than just another game. As fans poured out of the park after the show had ended, there was nothing but positive comments, smiles and laughter, and a sense that this is now Victoria's team. This is where you need to be on a Saturday night in Victoria in the summer of 2013. Those were our guys out there tonight.

It seems the HarbourCats are home at last...

1 comment:

  1. You couldn't have said it any better!!! A wonderful game/night was had by all!! GO CATS!!!