Full confession: Today was my first spring training game of the year at McKechnie Field. I almost missed the entire 2010 pre-season -- heresy!
For the past three years, the Pirates' arrival at McKechnie has been a rite of passage into spring on this blog. And I didn't need a reminder, but the sights, sounds and aromas were phenomenal today. Sure, the Pirates got pounded 11-1, as John Lembo notes here on Facebook, but that didn't change the joy on most folks' faces. Here's a glimpse into that crowd during a classic scramble for a foul ball.
Photographer Grant Jefferies was shooting the game for the Herald, and he captured a wonderful story with this photo of Marilyn Jones-Doxey. That's "Jonesy," one of the players on the Rockford Peaches team in the historic and ground-breaking All-American Girls Professional Baseball League! (Think "A League of Their Own.")
According to the Women's Sports Foundation website, Jonesy was a pitcher and catcher, and helped the Rockford Peaches win the league championship in 1950. She was traded to the Battle Creek Belles in the middle of the next season. But Jonesy had the last laugh when she pitched a no-hit-no-run game against her former teammates. She had a 2.79 lifetime ERA.
Jonesy honored the McKechnie crowd today by throwing out the first pitch (actually, the second, but who's counting?). The ball didn't quite make it to home plate, but her spirit filled the stadium.
Sometime after the first inning, I went to check out my old season-ticket seats, and my longtime seatmates are all up north this year. But the updates and prognoses were all good -- and John and Betty can rest assured. Their pals bought their season tickets to make sure they can return next year.
And I see two season tickets back in my possession next year. What was I thinking?