On Thursday, Independence Day in the United States, 15 Major League Baseball teams (14 of them in the USA) will have Fourth of July celebrations at their ballparks. Also on Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays will host the Detroit Tigers to conclude a four-game series which began on Monday, July 1, which is Canada Day.
Baseball and the Fourth of July go together like pancakes and maple syrup, Huntley and Brinkley (I’m showing my age) and Thinel, Miller and Tochkin.
Sometimes you get a little more bang for your buck than anticipated. On July 4, 1985 the Atlanta Braves planned a huge fireworks display following their game against the New York Mets. After two lengthy rain delays and 17 innings the teams were tied at 10 going into the 18th. New York went up 11-10 with a run in the top of the 18th inning. However, with two out in the bottom of that frame; Braves pitcher, Rick Camp, homered (take that DH fans) to tie the contest at 11-11.
New York outscored Atlanta 5-2 in the 19th to claim a 16-13 victory at 3:55 AM. Many residents living near Fulton County Stadium were then awoken and reminded that only 364 days remained until the next Independence Day by the giant fireworks display.
As a hockey announcer I haven’t had the opportunity to broadcast on Independence Day or Canada Day; but, I have called contests on other holidays.
When the Oklahoma City Blazers were in the Central Hockey League someone in their front office decided it would be cool to host the Topeka ScareCrows (Former Central Hockey League team) on Halloween. As “voice” of the ScareCrows and having young kids at home at the time, I wasn’t enamored with this idea and was grateful the plan only lasted one season.
The American Thanksgiving is a great time for meals with other people and for remembering what we have to thankful for. While I called games for the Topeka Tarantulas, the team traveled to Memphis on Thanksgiving Day in 2004. We knew restaurants would not be open in St. Louis in the early evening. Equipment manager, Jim Jeans, a St. Louis native, had arranged for his family to feed the team in a parking lot in Chesterfield, Missouri. That was a wonderful bonding experience for the players.
Another bonding experience occurred during the Mavericks first season when the team was in Tulsa for a Thanksgiving night game against the Oilers. The only open establishment serving meals was a casino. Mavericks forward, Nick Sirota, was amazed at the buffet selection. The food must have agreed with the team….Sirota scored a goal and the Mavericks won 5-4 in a shootout.
I once broadcasted a Christmas evening game in Wichita between two CHL teams that could not stand one another following a bloody, fight-filled game that took place between the teams a month earlier in Topeka. Referee Jere Weber called a tight game and there was peace on earth or at least in the Kansas Coliseum.
On President’s Day this year, the Mavericks took command to defeat the Cutthroats 7-5 in Denver. Celebrating the holiday and his birthday, Mavs defenseman Dave Pszenyczny scored a goal and blew out the candles with an empty net lamplighter by wrapping the puck around the glass in his defensive zone and angling it into the empty fish net.
Sporting events can be a lot of fun on holidays.
Have a happy and safe Independence Day. Remember when making plans for New Year’s Eve, the Missouri Mavericks will be at home that evening at the Independence Events Center!