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As I was driving in to work yesterday I was doing my normal thing and listening to the news on the radio.  Overall, it was the same things you hear every day, and I actually began to tune it out because there was nothing new or interesting.  Then, my ears caught a story that got me thinking all day.

Apparently Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, one of the leading publications on the business aspect of sports, had just released their rankings of the 239 markets in the U.S. that are homes to minor league franchises of various and sundry types.  They apparently looked at continued support of the local teams vis-a-vis the various economic factors (i.e. unemployment, average income, etc.) in the region.  The thing that caught my attention was the fact that the Harrisburg/Hershey market had been ranked first of the 239. (check the rankings here)

This isn’t a major surprise, I suppose.  I mean, we do have the 10 time Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears right here in my backyard, but it was an interesting news item.

The real point here, though, is it got me thinking about the role sports in general, and minor league sports specifically shaped my early life and relationships.

When I was a kid we moved around alot, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past.  But, one thing that always seemed to be there was my dad taking us out to the ballpark every once in awhile.  It didn’t matter whether it was the Richmond Rifles for hockey or the Nashville Sounds for baseball (to name just two of the many teams I got to see), the point was we were there together.  We were out there cheering on the home team, chowing down on stadium hot dogs (a food I am convinced may well be what the Greeks meant when they said “ambrosia”), sucking down sodas, and just being the guys (and girls, sorry mom and Vicki). Those were formative moments.  They were moments that tied us together and made us closer with the shared memories.  They were moments I will cherish forever.

My dad took me to Chicago Bulls games during the Jordan era and the home opener the year the Carolina Panthers officially moved into what was then Ericsson Stadium.  But, somehow sitting watching the Richmond Braves or Charlotte Checkers play will always stick out in my mind more.  There’s just something about a minor league game that the majors can’t touch.  There’s a bonding that took place, lessons that were taught, and relationships and memories that were built that will always be special.

Every time I have the chance to walk into Metro Bank Park on City Island to watch the Harrisburg Senators or into the Giant Center to watch the Hershey Bears, I remember those games with my family, and it brings a little smile of nostalgia to my lips.

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2 Comments

  1. I remember the Sounders! And through college I liked going to the Wizards games in DC, until MJ joined the roster and we couldn’t even afford nosebleeds anymore…

  2. Yeah, Jordan will do that. If you’re ever in town during the season we should check out a Bears game.


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