OK, OK, I know we still have plenty more 90-plus-degrees days ahead this year—not to mention hurricanes a’loomin’—but in so many ways, summer is coming to a close. And today’s beautiful mildness and fall-like breeze help set the tone.


The kids are back in school (or so I hear from my procreating friends on Facebook), and my drive to work is once again punctuated by various school bus stops. We’re through the season of family holidays (starting with Mother’s Day and ending with my parents’ wedding anniversary this weekend), hockey travel season and kickball both are gearing up, and lo and behold, football is back.


So with all these fall things on the horizon, we took a moment Thursday evening to bid adieu to the boys of summer by taking in one last Marauders game from their inaugural season at McKechnie Field.


I never was a huge baseball fan growing up, but I’m getting there. It helps that the Rays are doing well these days, but I think you have to have people to talk to in order to be a fan of something. Sports is very community oriented—that’s why the home-town team is such a big deal (and it’s why I’m probably not going to get into basketball any time soon). So having CCB’s cousin up and down with the Braves this year, and having various friends invested in the Rays, I’m finding my groove with the baseball fandom. Heck, the other day we actually watched the end of a close Rays game instead of the beginning of a random preseason football game. That’s progress, for us.


So the Marauders coming to McKechnie has been good timing. Since we’ve lived in Bradenton, it always seemed such a shame that that gorgeous stadium was only used for spring training and then just sat there for the rest of the year. Now it’s got a little life to it. And I know Ninth Street isn’t exactly picturesque, but this summer I could come home from work and walk to a baseball game, and I think that’s beautiful. You can smell the fresh-cut grass and hear the spikes on the dirt. You can see the whole field and get a real sense of how fast the ball moves and how the team moves. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of spending a weekday evening outside. Or any evening, really.

CCB sucks on some OT wings courtesy of the Marauders "Wing Night" promotion.

The results of game one (minor league doubleheaders only go seven innings).

It’s great to get out there and interact with people, too. Feels like a real slice of the community there at the ballpark. It’s amazing how much more rewarding that is than sitting holed up in front of the TV. Helps that the Marauders won, too. (Twice, in fact—it was a double-header.) And we stood around while players, en route to the clubhouse, stopped to sign autographs and chat with the fans.



Next year I’m buying a baseball jersey that says “Bradenton” across the front.