Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hartford Yard Goats 4 at Trenton Thunder 1 (Eastern League) - August 3, 2016


One of my goals this summer was to attend a Hartford Yard Goats game at Dunkin' Donuts Park, which was to be the newest stadium in the northeast. But the developer was late in delivering (apparently because the city wanted changes), and after a lot of public bickering, the project was shut down. Now the two parties are in court while the Yard Goats play the entire season on the road, using other nearby minor league ballparks for their "home" games. It is a colossal embarrassment for all concerned, and doubtless the Colorado Rockies, the team's parent club, are not impressed with the stupidity and incompetence displayed during this debacle.

So with Hartford no longer an option, I decided to check out the Yard Goats on the road. The easiest Eastern League venue to get to is in Trenton, less than two hours from NYC on New Jersey Transit, and the Yard Goats had an afternoon game there on Wednesday, so there I went.

From Trenton Transit Center, you can walk about 25 minutes to get to the stadium, or take the River Line light rail two stops to Cass Street and walk from there. The River Line only runs once every 30 minutes during the day, with rush hour trips occurring every 15 minutes, so plan accordingly. The $1.60 fare is worth it as the area between the station and the ballpark is not very nice. Unfortunately, the train I took from NYC was delayed about 30 minutes en route due to a signal problem, so I didn't arrive until just a few minutes before first pitch, thus limiting the number of pictures that I took.



Arm & Hammer Park was opened in 1994 as Mercer County Waterfront Park, with that name lasting until 2012, when Arm & Hammer purchased the naming rights. The field is named separately after Samuel Plumeri Sr., father of Thunder owner Joe Plumeri. There is a nice statue of Samuel with two children right in front of the stadium



The park is located next to the Delaware River, and the right field fence is deliberately kept low to provide views of the water and Pennsylvania beyond. The rest of the fence is high to block the view of Route 29 which passes by right outside.



Tickets here are $13 regardless of location. For a day game, only the top row is partially shaded, and these seats will fill up quickly. Of course, it was also camp day and there were several groups of kids in attendance, including one that filled up much of the section I was in. But I didn't want to move and bake in the sunshine, so I stuck it out, and had a few interesting conversations with the youngsters as the day went on, mostly about my scorebook.



Due to my late arrival, I did not tour the park (I had been here in 2001, so this was not a new venue for me). Trenton is the Yankees affiliate and they did have a farm report, which included each team's place in the standings. Happy to report that not a single Yankees farm club is in first place!



I'd like to get back here for a night game sometime and relax a bit more and take a look around. It is a decent ballpark, but not ideal for a day game with no covering. It also would be nice to have a cheaper ticket option as $13 is a bit much to sit down the lines for a AA ballgame.

The Game

Sam Howard (Colorado's 3rd-round pick in 2014 and #21 prospect) started for Hartford, while Ronald Herrera was on the hill for Trenton. The Yard Goats scored in the first on an error and two singles, and added two more in the second on two singles and a double. Jose Rosario homered for Trenton in the bottom half of the inning, and things settled down from there, with both pitchers escaping jam after jam as the innings passed by. Hartford added some insurance in the 8th, again with the help of a Trenton miscue and Jerry Vasto (24th, 2014) closed it out for the Yard Goats, earning his 14th save of the season (10 of those when he was with Modesto) as Hartford won 4-1.

Vasto earns my Player to Watch award mostly due to his minor league stats over three seasons, including 128 strikeouts over 103.2 innings and a 1.03 WHIP.

Notes

The Yard Goats have three "home" games in Trenton in mid-August and all tickets are $5 for general admission for each game. Well worth a visit if you are in NYC around that time and want to get away for a day.

Every Yard Goat player's face was replaced on the video board with the face of a goat. Not original but still very amusing.

Best,

Sean

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