Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 4:06 p.m.
Today I very nearly had a section to myself at Trustmark Park. (How many stadiums rhyme?) It was getaway day in the Southern League, so the Mississippi Braves closed out with the Montgomery Biscuits in a game that began at 11:20 a.m. and was delayed for a while by rain. I got there when the action had just resumed and was there with a few hundred others. The Braves led 1-0 and wound up winning, 5-2.
It drizzled a bit, but no problem. A chill wind was blowing, and it was nearly 20 degrees colder on Wednesday afternoon than it had been on Tuesday night.
I was in the first section past the Biscuits’ dugout, wearing a Boston Red Sox hoodie and a Mississippi Braves cap. I like it. It’s got an M with a tomahawk stuck through it. It was an impulse buy. It fits my head well. For part of the game, the only people in Section 118 were a man and his wife from Montgomery – they’re going on to watch the Biscuits play the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals next – and I. The left fielder tossed the man a ball when he came in. Given the Mississippi cap, I had no shot. The Biscuits are the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, and I was wearing the opponent’s cap and a big-league rival’s hoodie. I had no great rooting interest, though. I’ve known the Braves’ general manager, Steve DeSalvo, since he and the team were in Greenville through 2004. Steve and I talked while he was counting money in the gift shop.
Do you wonder why I’d stop in Jackson, Miss., for two nights en route to New Orleans? Well, I like minor-league baseball and old Southern towns. Had I gone to a major-league game today, I wouldn’t have chatted with Ozzie Timmons, the Montgomery batting coach, between innings. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to tell the Biscuits’ first baseman, Cameron Seitzer, that while his dad (Kevin) played in the majors, the player he reminds me of was Rusty Staub.
“Hey, 3-3, you ever heard of Rusty Staub?”
“He was a star in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” I said. “It’s a compliment.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Nice kid, even if he is hitting .246. He would remind me even more of Le Grande Orange if he hit better.
Staub is 70 now. He had 2,712 hits. Cameron Seitzer is 24. He probably hasn’t heard of Donn Clendenon, either. Or Jim Ray Hart. Or Bob Aspromonte.
I also go to minor league baseball games to remind me of how old I am.
It’s still not too late, sports fans, for you to call, text, email or direct-message all of your literate friends in New Orleans and tell them to stroll over to 2727 Prytania Street at 6 p.m. Thursday and get me to sign one of my novels for them at Garden District Book Shop.