Friday, May 20, 2022

Baseball Review //
Harvard Crimson, 0
Yale Bulldogs, 1
May 14th, 2022
Bush Field, New Haven, CT
(Ivy League)


The official box score for this game can be found here :::

https://yalebulldogs.com/sports/baseball/stats/2022/harvard/boxscore/16281


Photos can be found in a Facebook album located here :::

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.7527135030661339


The final series of games for Yale Baseball had special strings attached to them.  Not only was the field finally being dedicated to George HW Bush- though it has been noted as such in Pokemon Go for quite some time now- there was also a special ceremony announced for the retirement of Coach John Stuper.  There are several reasons to experience Yale Baseball every season in person.  One is because admission is free.  Another is because where the games are played is incredibly nice and there isn't a bad seat in the house.  And an even better reason is because the players just have this different attitude and approach to the game of baseball than other colleges have and even the majors.

But one of the big reasons why we'd also been going to Yale Baseball when we can is because of Coach John Stuper, who is one of my all-time favorite players to play in MLB and not be a part of the New York Mets.   My fun fact about Coach Stuper is that not only did he pitch in the World Series (something not every pitcher in MLB can say) but he did so as a rookie, in Game 6 which tied the series 3-3 and then the Cardinals would also win Game 7 and become Champions that year.  This was also all done opposite Keith Hernandez at first base, who I enjoy as a Mets fan as well.

When we arrived at the Yale Baseball Field, a parking lot attendant type waved and instructed me to roll down my window.  He asked if we had reserved parking or not and considering that I had no idea what that meant- parking has always been free and on a first come first serve basis- I was then told to drive down a path and we ended up parking somewhat far away.   I assume this was done because of how many fans were there and the reserved parking was likely for staff/former players/family, but not me.

Once we got into the stadium a few of the sections near the Yale dugout were roped off and you had to go through security to get into them.  It looked like they were serving food (maybe even had a bar?) but that was, of course, for the VIPs again and not me.  I didn't care.  We went and got our seats near homeplate, but in the shade because it was so hot.  As a fast forward to the end of the game: When we left, there were cars parked on the field next to the stadium.  This was easily the most fans I've ever seen at a Yale Baseball game, but honestly, they should be bringing in this many fans for every game.

In between games they did the ceremonies, noting that they expected to have Marvin Bush there (?) but instead had an audio message from Jeb Bush.   The fact that George W Bush couldn't even be bothered to show up- when he had also attended Yale and played on the baseball team- shows how much of a priority this was.   But, we didn't come here to see the field be dedicated to George HW Bush.  We came to see the final game of Coach John Stuper.

The way that this game went was like a chess match.  In the second inning, Ben Metzner got on with a double.   Carson Swank grounded out, but moved Metzner to third.   Colton Shaw then hit a long shot to right field, which was caught for two outs, but it was enough to bring Metzner home.  That was the only run of the game and it felt a lot like playing small ball, rather than going for those big innings of homeruns and just power hitting.   It was smart, not being greedy and just the way that baseball should be played.  

But the defense also held their own- on both sides.  A 1-0 game can be broken open at almost any time because it'd only take two runs to get that lead.   The pitching match of Mike Walsh for Yale and Chris Clark for Harvard should be a bigger story here, as it was largely the reason why this game was held at 1-0.  

This game was a lot of fun- and suspense- and even though they played another after it and then a third in the series on Sunday, this felt like a good note to go out on so it was the final game of the Yale season for us.   It's crazy to think that Coach Stuper had been doing this for 30 years when it feels like most people out there today haven't even been alive that long.  (For reference: When John Stuper debuted in MLB I was only two years old, but a lot of people out there reading this probably weren't even born yet)

Quentin got this giant sign that is a photo of Coach Stuper, which they were handing out and then holding up during his speech.  We also found a table that was selling merchandise (the first time I'd ever seen such a thing there!) and they had two jersey type t-shirts: one for George HW Bush and one for John Stuper.  I asked how much they were and after the salesman told me, he also said he only had XXL left and I said that was fine.  It was funny though when he asked which one I wanted and I responded slightly offended that anyone would think I wanted a Bush jersey.

The final thing we did before we left was get a signature from John Stuper on the program.  While driving there, I had thought in hindsight how cool it would've been to print the image from this game onto an 11x17 sized poster and have it signed but I also didn't know where I'd put it as my wall space is so limited now.   The fact that it was the cover of the program felt like fate and with the help and patience of Mike Walsh, Quentin was able to get the autograph he was seeking and create a lifelong memory with a souvenir he can hold onto forever.

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