Brown for the Count – Final Edition
The 2011 Frederick Keys baseball season was an exciting one full of new records, star prospects, and great times at the Grove. It would only be fitting in this great season that the Keys would make a big push through the playoffs. When the dust had cleared and 7 teams had been eliminated, it was the hometown Frederick Keys that stood tall as the 2011 Carolina League Champions! It was a great run but it did not happen over night, so we will look back at the 2011 playoffs.
The first round of the playoffs featured the Keys welcoming the Potomac Nationals into Harry Grove Stadium. With Potomac not being that far away we had several Nationals fans come toFrederickfor games one and two. Game one was on Wednesday night and a gloomy cloud cover settled over the stadium early in the night. The game started on time and the Keys got off to a fast start, grabbing a comfortable lead through five and a half innings. The rain started coming down in the fifth and sixth inning and after a while, the umpires called for the staff to put the tarp on the field. We waited for a while watching rain torch the tarp and the outfield grass. After a meeting between coaches, umpires, and the groundskeeper, they made a decision to call the game final after the six innings that were played. This meant the Keys were victorious and up one game to zero heading into game two the next night.
The next day, Thursday, would be the planned day for game two of the series. During the day it did not look good; it was a combination of cloudy skies and periods of heavy rain. The staff worked feverishly during the day to have the tarp on and do what we could to prepare for the game. We opened the gates at six to allow our loyal Keys fans to come into the stadium. However, after a constant period of rain, the Keys had no choice but to call the game and move it to Friday night. The Keys and the Nationals would take the field Friday night and the weather was warmer, there was no rain, and it was an ideal night for baseball. The problem on this night was the Keys bats were ice cold and the Nationals took game two.
As the weekend approached, the Keys would go to Potomac and look to win two in a row and win the series on the road. At the same time, the Keys staff stayed busy by working In the Streets. It is a day long street fair on the streets of downtownFrederick. The Keys were there with their prize wheel, inflatables, and the always fun loving Keyote. The whole full time staff took turns working the event and it was a fun time for all the people ofFrederick. As the staff had a Saturday night and Sunday off, the Keys took care of game three but fell short Sunday in game four. The series was going to the maximum that it could and the Keys would host a pivotal game five Monday night. Monday night came and it was go big or go home for the Keys and they sent their most dominant pitcher of the second half on the mound. The Keys used a big first inning and solid pitching to hold the lead and the Keys won the game which meant they were heading to the Carolina League Championship against the Kinston Indians.
As a member of the front office staff as an assistant this year, it is great to work here a year when the Keys were championship bound. Also with extra games we added earlier in the year and five playoff games this would mark games 77 and 78. The Keys virtually played a full number of home days that the big boys of the majors play. It was a long year, we had worked a lot of hours but we knew we had to provide a great time and a solid work effort for two final nights. Game one was on Tuesday night and the Keys looked to come out of the gate fast and take the series lead. This was stalled by a great effort by the Indians who won the game and took the one to zero lead in the series. Then, drained on energy and emotion we had to play another game the next night. As 6:30pm approached, the rain came and it came hard. The staff and fans watched on the concourse as the rain pounded the area for almost three hours. The players were in the dugout or the clubhouse waiting to see if we would get this game in. Then, after looking at the radar it was decided that the rain would be leaving the area and we could start this game at 10:05. It took a full staff effort to get the tarp off, squeegee the water near the bullpens, and ready the infield for the game. When it was all said and done, the field was ready, the fans that stuck around rooted hard and the Keys played their hearts out that night. The Keys trailed in the eighth inning but mounted a comeback and scored two runs in the inning. The Keys won the ball game around 12:45 in the morning. It was a long night for everyone but it was worth it because the series was tied at one.
The Keys hopes of winning a title would have to be done on the road because the next three games were in Kinston. The Keys swung the bats real well on Thursday night and won the game. Then it came down to Friday night September 16th. The Keys had their eyes on the Mills Cup and nothing would stop them. The Keys scored early in the game and then had to sit out an hour rain delay. After the delay, the Keys finished out the Indians and were the Champions of the Carolina League for 2011! I would like to congratulate the team on a job well done and for everyone involved in this season. It was a great year and it ends with the cup.
This was an exciting year of Frederick Keys baseball; it had its share of crazy games, great players, giveaways, promotion, and famous celebrities. I hope through my perspective and recaps of everything that went down this year that the fans got a different view of things. The world of working in minor league baseball has been a great experience for me. It has its highs and lows but in the end I can take the experience and build on it moving forward. As the off season approaches I hope that the fans continue to support the team proudly and it won’t be long till games are back at the Grove. So enjoy the fall and winter months and always Shake Your Keys.