This one’s for Chase, Steve Byrnes, and “One Thunder Road”
“Oh Thunder Road sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road …. Bruce Springsteen “Thunder Road”
This past Tuesday night, I was able to catch a truly amazing event when I got to cover the annual Celebrity Softball Game, between Dover International Speedway and Pocono Raceway, for Double G Sports. The game took place at ARM & HAMMER Park in Trenton, New Jersey, the home of the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
When I arrived at the park I could feel magic in the air. Of course, anytime I’m near a baseball park, I’m apt to feel magic. I love baseball, and just being near a baseball field, I’m apt to have a million and one memories of growing up, and paying softball or whiffle ball with my friends. Yet, this park is extra special [ I’ll share why in a moment ]. Additionally, this night was even more special because the two most recent winners of the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt, Jr [ 2014 ] and Joey Logano [ 2015 ] were scheduled to be in the house.
From the moment I arrived at the stadium everything went right. The parking attendant went out of his way to help me find a spot. He also directed me to Will Call, and helped me to find out where to get my media credentials. It was my first time at the stadium, and I think he might have detected that I looked a bit lost. I was supposed to get my credentials and head on to the field to do interviews but something happened and I ended up being sent up to the Yankees suite. At first I was a bit bummed, because I had especially wanted to meet up with Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., mostly because I remembered reading about him in a pretty extensive article in USA Today Sports. I just wanted to learn how he’s making out, and see if he’s enjoying the ride so far. [ Truth be told, I know as much about NASCAR as Joey Logano knows about baseball … but I did take in Exotics Racing while at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I also did my part following ‘The Chase’ especially when I was working on www.rideinsane.com… yet this year, I’ve been so preoccupied with drama in sports, I’ve lost sight of The Chase. ]
When I got to the Yankees suite understandably it was relatively empty. Most everyone in media was down on the field, or participating in the game. Although someone from the Thunder came up to get me to bring me down to the field, I chose to stay in the suite. I was enjoying the view from the suite, watching the celebrities on the field sign autographs, take photos, and exchange fun banter with those who were emceeing the event. I was in awe of the history in photos on the wall. The likes of Mickey Mantle, and other Yankees’ great adorned the walls. In addition, I was engaged in a pleasant conversation with the two women who were working the bar and the catering, Jen and Gina respectively. I had started up a conversation with Gina after I noticed the photo of the beautiful golden retriever on the stadium wall.
So many beautiful memories I have of my two golden retrievers, Bayley and Sandie, whom had to be sent out to Oregon after I lost access to my home for seven months due to the residual affects of Hurricane Sandy. Sadly, Gina shared that Chase, the longtime mascot of the Trenton Thunder died after having battled cancer. Chase’s full name: Chase That Golden Thunder, was a bat dog who had entertained so many fans. A quick google search you’ll find a beautiful photo of Chase with Derek Jeter at Yankees Stadium. [ I always joke about hating the Yankees, but in all honesty, every time I’m at a Yankee event, I usually find myself in awe of all the history and the present day magical moments. ]
So there I was learning all about Chase, when just before the start of the game, an announcement came across the loud speaker. There was a request for a moment of silence for a tribute to Steve Byrnes, the NASCAR anchor whom, like Chase, had lost his battle to cancer.
Somehow, things fall into perspective when you realize how so many people are suffering and there is not a darn thing you can do about it, other than give what you can and be supportive. Seeing the beautiful dogs out on the field, watching Dale Earnhardt, Jr. take a break midway through the game to show appreciation to his fans by signing autographs, puts everything into perspective. The ridiculousness of the social issues that have plagued the NFL, the greed and gluttony that sometimes overtakes some athletes as they forget about their fans, and the reason they might have once played the games they now seem to take for granted. Life is so beautiful, and so precious. Too often we forget . . . and then again, there are those of us who take the time to remember. Below you will see a photo of Chase, and one of the tweets I happened to come across tweeted earlier that day from Darrell Wallace, Jr. [ Later that night I would watch how Dale Earnhardt., Jr., Joey Logano, and Darrell Wallace, Jr., treated the media with such respect. It might not be bats that these guys are swinging on a regular basis, although Bubba looked like he might be signed by the Yanks after the way he played that night. One things for sure these guys sure were hitting home runs with the press, and their fans. Truly class acts on their part. Covering the game, was done by many people in the media, including radio stations for the Greater New York and Philly areas. Me, I think I might have focused on Chase, and what was going on ‘behind the scenes.’ It was a special night that I am not likely to forget. For the love of the game, and the love [The] Chase. ]
Update: My original article contained a photo I had taken of a dog I was told was Chase, that was on the elevator door at the stadium. After reading my article, Eric Lipsman, Senior Vice President of Corporate Sales & Partnerships for the Trenton Thunder-New York Yankees Minor League Baseball Club, shared that Chase actually passed away in July 2013 and the photo on the elevator is his ‘grandson’ Rookie. I added a different photo in memory of Chase: That Golden Thunder, and will look to do a follow up story, about Rookie and Chase’s son “Home Run” Derby. Bear with me, I’m learning a lot of new names this week. [ If you’ve not been to the Trenton Thunder games, you might want to get to the ball park this summer. It’s a really nice park, and I have a feeling you’ll have a very nice time. ]