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A Bad Day at the ballpark

(From 1999)

Around my old office, I was known for stating the phrase "A bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."  And it's true, as I've enjoy almost every trip to a Major League or Minor League park I've gone to.

But . . . one day was an exception.  It was so terrible that it made me re-think my favorite phrase, because this particular bad day at a ballpark was as bad as anything else I've encountered.

It started innocently enough.  I decided to take my wife and three-year-old to the minor-league game between Frederick and Potomac (Carolina League) in Woodbridge, Virginia on the 4th of July, 1999.  My youngster wanted to see fireworks, and since Pfitzner Stadium isn't much more than an hour's drive from where we lived at the time, I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and let him see the post-game fireworks while I was chalking up yet another ballpark visit that season.

Well, where do I begin to list all of the things that were wrong with this visit?  It was as hot as blazes, as the temperature was well over 100 degrees when we arrived.  The crowd was huge, undoubtedly to see the post-game fireworks, and this stadium simply doesn't accommodate large crowds well (i.e., cramped walk-ways with no ventilation under the stands).  Drinking water was at an absolute premium.  The chintzy little souvenir shop was the hottest room I've ever been in.  The concession stands were a joke.  I think they must've over-charged us for the tickets, as we were on bleachers -- but the worst of it is that (after super-human effort to get to the seats) there isn't just one Section Two at this park, nor are there two Section Twos at this park . . . there are three Section Twos in this park, and about the second inning, an usher came to throw us out of the seats we were in because we were in the wrong Section Two.  The correct Section Two was also made up of bleachers, but there the ushers had done nothing to keep the aisles cleared of people so you could even get through.  It was a nightmare lugging our belongings and toddler over/around/through these sweaty bodies to get to our "seats."  Of course, they only had ushers positioned to throw us out of our wrong seats -- none were to be found to help us crawl to our correct seats.

It was a bad experience . . . and the very second that the game became official (so I could "count" the visit), we were out of there!  So, no, little (sweaty) Jody didn't get to see the post-game fireworks.

And the stadium itself isn't even worth driving a block out of your way to see!  Pfitzner Stadium has aluminum bleachers everywhere.  There is no roof/overhang to block out any of the setting sunlight (and it is blinding on the first-base side, where we were).  To say "no expense was spared on the exterior of the building" would be 100% false, as it looks like it was constructed in about three days.  Even one of the stadium employees told my wife that the owner of the team is a tightwad, and he refuses to put any money back into the facilities.

So, don't bother going out of your way to see the Potomac Cannons play a home game.  Travel a little farther, and take in a game in either Frederick or Bowie, Maryland.  There, I have a feeling you'll avoid a bad day at the ballpark.

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