Brown for the Count – Volume 6
Keys shortstop Manny Machado and second basemen Jonathan Schoop pose for the camera
As the calendar changes from August to September in a few days, the Keys gear up for their last seven games of the season on the road. This comes after the last regular season home stand of the year. It was another seven game span at home for the Keys but this time we played seven games in six days. While the action on the field was super hot, the odd plethora of weather during the week was all over the place. Despite the weather, the home stand was successful with Boys and Girls Club Night, a special Sunday double header and much more.
The Keys are having an amazing season and the last home stand had its share of big moments, major accomplishments and unexpected weather phenomena. Monday night the Keys welcomed the Kinston Indians to town for the first of a four game weekday series. It was the last kids eat free night of the year, so kids 12 and under got to enjoy a hot dog, chips, and a drink free for the last Monday game until next season. On the field, the Keys started strong and got the victory to start the week. This win was particularly special because our manager, Orlando Gomez, became the winningest manager in Keys history. After the game,Orlandowas interviewed briefly on the field and the crowd cheered for him on this special night.
It would be tough to top this milestone that was reached Monday night, but Tuesday was another night and another chance for the fans to see great action at the Grove. Before we could get to the game that night, the east coast was stunned and shook up by an earth quake. The earthquake, which measured in at 5.9, hit the east coast and hit Frederick a little before two in the afternoon. For the staff here at the Keys, no one knew what was going on for that brief time when things were shaking and rumbling. Things calmed down after that and the game that night when on as planned. Tuesday night was Boys and Girls Club Night and they had a lot of people come to the Grove for the occasion. Despite the Keys offense going quiet and the losing the game, everyone that came out still had a good time.
The day after the earthquake the Keys organization decided to knock the price down on a general admission ticket to $5.90 in honor of the quake. Then all fans that made it out to the game were given a certificate that stated they survived the Earthquake of August 2011. We were happy that so many of our fans survived the Earthquake and were able to come out to the Grove that night. It was believed that the vigorous shaking of keys from our fans during the season triggered the quake, but this was never proven. Thursday night marked the end of the series with Kinston and the Keys won the series with a win to send Kinston home in despair. It was another solid night at the Grove and we were gaining steam approaching the weekend.
Now it was time for the weekend and Friday night was looking like a gorgeous evening and the Grove was the place to be. The Potomac Nationals were coming in and they are chasing us for first place in the second half. Friday night was Art in the Park Night and we were giving away Manny Machado posters. As part of art in the park, the Keys wore special yellow and black jerseys and for one night they were the bumble keys. There were several areas in the park where artists were set up with easels. Also we had a special music performance in the fun zone before the game with a local artist. Then during the game we had a table set up where fans could bid on the bumble keys jerseys. The jerseys were a big hit and most jerseys received several bids, the biggest was that of O’s #1 prospect, Manny Machado. It was a tight contest between the Nationals and Keys and it took extra innings to find a winner. Unfortunately the Keys suffered the loss but a majority of the huge crowd stayed for the whole game and extra innings. This was the second largest crowd of the season and all of our wonderful fans that stayed for all thirteen innings were treated to fireworks. When the last of the big crowd has left the stadium it was in the eleven o’ clock hour and it was time for another fun night of fireworks cleanup. Despite our staff being drained and tired, we worked feverishly to pick up the debris and we were done shortly after midnight.
Next for the Keys was Saturday night and it was supposed to be NFL night. As the staff arrived at the stadium that morning, it was gloomy and windy since Hurricane Irene was on her way. I was out on two appearances that day, one at the Frederick Town Mall and one at the fairgrounds. The second one was cut short because of the rain that was pounding Frederick. Another employee and I headed back to the Grove to find out that due to constant rain and winds that were going to be in the area all day, the game was going to be postponed. It was to be made up as a doubleheader Sunday starting at 1:00. It was a shame to have to cancel a game on a Saturday. That meant no fireworks for Keys fans, but the rain is unpredictable and cannot be controlled. Our front office staff did our best to reach out to all our fans to let them know that we were going to have two games Sunday and we would accommodate them the best we could. With no game that night, the Keys staff was free to go home and wait out the hurricane before we had to come back to work Sunday ready for the twinbill.
Finally, just as quickly as the season had started, it was Sunday August 28th, the last regular season game at home. It would seem fitting after a turbulent first month in April that we end it with a doubleheader. The sun came out and a good crowd showed up to see two games for the price of one. These were seven inning contests and there would be a 30 minute break between them for the field to get worked on by our grounds crew. There were a lot of birthday parties at the grove that day and many children out to enjoy the last Dick’s Sporting Goods Sunday Funday of the year. The Keys fell in game one but bounced back and won game two to salvage a split in the doubleheader. Despite the split, Potomac ended up winning the series two to one. Washington Nationals catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was rehabbing with Potomac and he caught five innings in the second game. The win for the Keys was win number 79; this ties the mark for most wins by a Keys team. The Keys look to win that illustrious 80th game as they go toKinston and Wilmington over the next week.
This 2011 Keys regular season was a great one for me as an assistant getting my first taste of a full year in minor league baseball. I am excited as is everyone that the Keys are in the playoffs and hope that we can win the Mills Cup this year. I would like to thank our wonderful fans for a great season and look forward to seeing them at the Grove on Wednesday Sept 7th and Thursday September 8th. As we all get ready for the playoff run have a good week and Shake Your Keys!!