Keene State Baseball #3
You can always feel the humidity coming through the windows of the airplane every year when we touch down on the runway in Orlando, Florida. It’s always important to put a pair of shorts and sunglasses in your carry-on so you’re prepared for the 80-degree atmosphere of the Sunshine State.
Upon exiting the plane, it’s a straight line to the baggage claim and then to the parking garage where we pick up our rental vans that get us to our games and back to our resort. Vans consist of 10 players, a coach and a fun, continuous argument over which genre of music is going to play through the speakers before and after games.
Once we drop off all of our baggage at our resort and check into our rooms, we make a trip to the infamous Publix Grocery Store in Davenport, Florida. It’s at least a two-hour event. Kids scramble to decide who is getting specific foods for the room and who gets to wait in the deli line which is a 45 minute wait at best to get pounds of meat to bring to the field for lunch. The group of kids who forget to buy Ziploc bags for the sandwiches learn quick, as stuffing a sandwich in a bat bag mixed with leftover clay from the infield dirt isn’t that appetizing.
A condo at our Bahama Bay Resort consists of six guys dividing up two singles, a queen and a king size bed to sleep in. The living room contains a TV that looks like a refrigerator, a boom box with a dial radio and miscellaneous water bottles full of dip spit. Upperclassmen have learned to decide a week before the trip who is going to bring the gaming system, because it’s essential for down time. There’s nothing like preparing for your game the next day by competing against your teammate in a game of MLB: The Show with 98 miles per hour fastballs and 450-foot home runs.
On game days, we meet at the vans and carpool to the field. When we get to the field, the position players head to the dugout and the pitchers to the bullpen to carry out their respective pregame rituals. If we happen to be the home team on game day, we take batting practice first and get there earlier. On those days we typically stretch out quick and go to the cages to swing. After batting practice, the position players head back to the dugout and meanwhile the pitchers continue their pregame fun with games of two-ball.
In the dugout after batting practice, we put our cleats on and make our way out to the outfield to get a longer stretch in before we throw to get loose. Our infield/outfield (I/O) consists of outfielders making throws to bases and infielders fielding grounders. After I/O, we meet as a team in right field when the umpires get to the field and talk about what we need to take care of in order to win.
If we pitch well, play solid defense and get timely hits, we’ll be in the game when it comes down to it. The game can be extremely difficult at times because one play or one inning can make or break the outcome. What I like about the game is that it takes a team effort to win; if one person makes a mistake, someone else can pick them up.
I like the group of guys we have this year, and the chemistry and mental toughness we’ve shown over the trip is the type of atmosphere a successful team needs to have. There’s nothing like a team win after a long hard day that takes the collaborative effort of everyone on the roster.
Broadcasting the trip
I will be flat out honest, baseball is my favorite sport to call. Sorry field hockey and sorry men’s basketball. There is nothing better than my last three years calling Keene State College baseball during spring break.
The last three years on the trip have been an incredible experience for me, traveling with the team to call their games. This year, our trip began early in the morning on Thursday, March 10, at 6 a.m. We began our trek to Manchester for our flight to Orlando, taking our wonderful Thomas Transportation bus.
After the chaos of about 40 guys and coaches checking in with our bags, we made our way through security and we were off after selecting our airplane buddies for the flight.
Everyone had an early breakfast at the airport, which consisted of Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, so by the time we arrived in Orlando we were famished. We then made our way to the baggage claim and to the parking garage to get the rental vans to get us to the fields and our resort.
Upon checking into the resort, we made our way to Publix, which is one of the best grocery stores in America in my opinion. Everyone, including myself, have a total five roommates for the trip. In the grocery store we then decide strategically who is going to buy what.
Our meal allowance for the first part of the trip is 60 dollars. For the first time in my three years going on the trip, we went over the allowance and we paid over 400 dollars in groceries. Many of the things that brought this total way too high was vacation food. This included the infamous Publix ice cream, Krispy Creme donuts, chips and baked goods.
After that it was time to get down to business on the trip as the team practiced that night at a field where only three banks of lights worked. Instead of sitting there and observing like the typical broadcaster, I borrowed a glove and shagged batting practice.
That night, everyone exhausted from the long day of travel went to bed early in preparation for the doubleheader against WPI the next day. While back at the resort, the work of the broadcaster began. It involved me making sure I had enough notes and talking points for the broadcast. Also, making a rundown for the pregame show and getting stats for both teams for the broadcast.
After the first day of games I had the night off from having to phone in the stats and scoring from my scorebook as the Sports Information Director for WPI was down there. Every other night, except for one other game I had to phone in the stats to be entered into stat crew with our SID.
After completing the stats and getting update information I would be scrambling to get my game prep done. The reason is so I could have a spring break too just like the players. Once completing my game prep I would head down to the pool with the guys and swim or even just sit back and relax in the hot tub.
The experience on this trip is just like being a player; I get the same meal allowance over the course of the week just like the guys. I get the same accommodations as them. The biggest difference is I am not out on the field, I am calling what happens out on the field.
Having the opportunity to call this trip over the last three years during spring break was an honor and privilege and I will cherish so many memories from these trips.