Friday, March 14, 2008

An Old Friend Visits Bicycle Stories

I might live in Tampa, but the people who have helped me shape my life are scattered around the country in places like New York and Denver. So, when one of those folks stops by my hacienda, I stop all things and cherish the time with them.

Like today with Wayne Hall. Wayne is a gifted environmentalist from the Hudson Valley area of New York state and a talented journalist who wrote newspaper stories for several decades in the area about 50-75 miles north of New York City.

I was lucky enough to work with Wayne for a paper in the mid-Hudson Valley area when I was a very young reporter and we maintained our close friendship through the years through our love for all things outdoors, baseball and the newspaper world. Here's a Bicycle Stories photo of wayne taken about three years ago.

Wayne flew from New York to Orlando to see a common friend, Hank Curtis, and took a side trip today to Tampa to join me in an outing to a Tampa Bay D-Rays/Toronto Blue Jays spring training game. We planned to drive to Vinoy Park in St. Pete with our bicycles, catch some bird life on the Bay and pedal over to the downtown ballpark for the spring game.

Here, I catch Wayne snapping off a photo of a pelican that's hanging out on the seawall. And only about 20 feet off shore were three dolphins frolicking in the water. Wayne could not believe they were so close and neither could I.

Instead of biking oveer to the game, we parked at a closer park because it was raining and strolled about 10 minutes to the game. We bought two great tickets about a half-dozen rows off the field and while walking to enter the ball yard we bumped into Stevie Henderson, the Devil Rays' hitting coach. I remember Stevie as the guy from the Reds who was traded with Zachary, Flynn and Norman for a Mets pitcher by the name of Tom Seaver in 1977. Stevie and I chatted about that and I took the time to snap a shot of Wayne with Stevie, which leads off this post.

It was drizzling on and off through the day in St. Pete at the Al Lang ballpark that's tucked into the downtown off the Bay.

Fans get very creative when it rains in order to keep dry. For example, this fella is using a giant condom for rain protection.

It's spring training for team mascots, too.

The Rays used to be called the Devil Rays but they changed their name to Rays and are trying to re-brand the team with a different logo and colors in hopes of starting over. To me, the starburst looks like a rip-off of the Seattle Mariners' new team uniform logo several years ago.

Spring training stadiums calls this "berm seating" -- berm is German for pro teams making money off fans by charging them to come in a stadium without giving them a seat.

Baseball movies questions are very common in those ask-the-fan trivia games.

People wearing shirts they're especially proud of and beer stands are very common at spring training games.

No comments: