Deuces wild: After 18 home games in June for the Fisher Cats, divide by two and nine home games is the number for July, though there is a four-day break for the All-Star game. The Cats were back in town July 4th to start a six-game series with the Hartford Yard Goats.
Fans were recently treated to two exciting walk-off wins vs. the Altoona Curve. June 22 saw Orelvis Martinez hit a booming 9th inning sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no one out. Three days later Zac Cook singled home the winning run in the 9th after the Fisher Cats had trailed 5-4 going into their final at bat. Cook had homered earlier in the game. In a popular promotion, nine-year-old Tyler Roy picked the right day to sign a one-day Cats contract. He was right there as the players rushed the field to good-naturedly pour Gatorade on him and to back-slap the hero.
Two was an unkind number of game injuries for the Cats. A team could easily go a decade before the obscure “incapacitated runner” rule kicks in, but it happened twice to the Fisher Cats in three games. When Cats third baseman Luis De Los Santos attempted to steal third in the 7th inning of that same 6/22 game, Altoona catcher Henry Davis’ throw hit him flush on the helmet as he slid head-first, with the ball leaving the field of play. As it was feared the runner had been hit in the face, it was overlooked that De Los Santos had never reached third base. He was down for four minutes and missed several succeeding games, but was awarded home plate for the throw leaving the field. Not the way you want to score a run.
Two nights later Fisher Cats outfielder Will Robertson lined a ball over third base in the 4th inning that kicked around in the Curve bullpen for a ground-rule double, or so the umpires immediately called it. As Robertson bats lefty, and all eyes followed the ball, it was a shock when looking back to see Robertson down in a heap in the batter’s box. Not definitive what happened to a knee but this injury is more serious and Robertson is on the 7-day injury list. Similarly to De Los Santos, Robertson never touched first, but was awarded second base.
Let’s finish up June 22 by noting another victory. Folks from Auto Fair got to throw out the first pitch. First up was seven-year-old Louis Thompson who twirled like El Tiante and threw a fastball in the direction of third base, causing marketing director Maddie Saines to duck and cover. Thompson got a mulligan and was more accurate with his second throw.
We caught up with Thompson, who attends the Christa McAuliffe School in Concord, in a Fisher Cats suite celebrating his birthday.
Our conversation went like this:
“It’s my birthday! I’m seven! How old are you?”
“Take a guess.”
“My age starts with a six.”
“Sixty-nine” with no hesitation.
Spot on. Sign the kid up as a whirling dervish scout.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats President Mike Ramshaw is a people-person first and a baseball guy…Well, he says he’s not a baseball guy.
We sat down to discuss community relations, though an interview with Ramshaw is tricky. He answered my question, “Is there anything else you’d like to add, with “I could talk to you all afternoon.”
That’s a definite. A stuffed gorilla he was given sits in a corner of his office with scotch tape repair done to a foot. Magilla Gorilla has heard it all before, but he’d like to hear it again.
The club president fielded a call about an ALS fundraiser as we were walking to his office. I lost my Dad to ALS when he was 68, a sobering year younger than I am now, and Ramshaw lost a high-school friend much more recently.
Wet suit. Dunk tank. Corporate partners. The team president and his gorilla will get wet for the cause.
The Fisher Cats have a huge footprint on local, state and national charities. Clicking on the “community” tab at the F-Cats home page www.nhfishercats.com lists 20 charities. Teachers and parents: If a child reads five books outside of school work in a year, he or she can get two free game tickets through the Fisher Cats Reading Challenge. The Cats partner with the Dead River Oil Company to make a donation to the New Hampshire Food Bank for every home run the Fisher Cats hit. The list goes on.
“It’s important for me to give back wherever I can,” Ramshaw said. “Like the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. Working with my son on the fund-raising for the CHaD component of the high-school all-star (football) game is important. If you’d asked each of the players who was out there ‘What’s this for?’ each and every one of them would say ‘It’s for the kids.’”
“As a parent, it’s really important that my wife and I have instilled it’s about giving back when you can,” he added. “At the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, I feel real good about who I work with, who I work for and who we serve in the community-having an ownership group that is so supportive of giving back, and for the staff to see that too. It’s not just me. I’m only as good as everybody else who’s in this building.”
“We all work toward the common goal-fun and affordable family entertainment,” Ramshaw added.” It’s about making memories. We’re not in the business of selling baseball. It is what it is. Making memories…When you ask a person what’s one of your fondest memories they’ll tell you it’s their first time at a ballpark or their first time at Fenway.”
Ramshaw is proud of the fact that Fisher Cat ticket prices have not been increased in years and noted increasing attendance as we come out of Covid.
June was bustin’ out all over for Fisher Cats infielder Spencer Horwitz. The #30 prospect on the Blue Jays depth chart, the lefty flirted with hitting .400 much of the month, finishing at .370, and was Player of the Week for the Eastern League the second week of the month. He started July in style, with five hits in the Cats 16-0 rout of the Portland Sea dogs.
“A walk-off win is encouraging,” Horwitz said. “We’ve been playing good baseball the last month or so and to get rewarded with a win like that (the 6/25 walk-off) is always welcome.”
“June’s been a good month for me,” he continued. “A lot of hard work. A lot of adjustments.”
When asked about the consistency it takes to put together hitting streaks like the 28-game one last year at Vancouver, he answered: “The consistency in my work and in the batting cage before the game is going to translate into my game. Take care of it, put it to work, and it’s going to show up on the field.”
On left-handed pitchers: “I think I just haven’t faced that many lefties this year. I’ve never thought of myself as a platoon player, just vs. righties. I think it’s something that’s going to come, that will get better with time. I’ve never been one to miss a game because of a lefty.”
Former Cats on the prowl: Catcher Gabriel Martinez is hitting .304 for the Blue Jays through his first three weeks. He got called up after hitting .391 for the Triple A Buffalo Bisons. Max Castillo is back with Buffalo but performed admirably for the Jays in 16 days with the team. He had a 2.16 ERA in four appearances with 10 strikeouts in 8.1 innings. Tanner Morris, the most recently promoted Fisher Cat, is hitting .220 at Buffalo after a difficult start.
Extra innings: I caught the Mets and the Marlins at Citi-Field in the Queens on 6/20 and here’s what I’ll remember most about the game: Mets right fielder Starling Marte’s good-natured banter with the crowd. I realized a few innings into the game that some fans were sitting in the right field corner because of Marte.
At my advanced age, the players look like grandchildren and grandchildren can be gently spoiled, but there’s always room for a bit of added entertainment. Whatever gets the fans into the game, don’t mess things up and shows the kids are all right…Catcher Ryan Gold (“Goldie”) has twice come in to pitch the final inning of lost disasters. I’m not saying to have the players don the sumo-wrestler suits, but knowing how to work a crowd of fans or sports writers is a valuable skill that some players never learn. I’d say ask Ted Williams, but the answer would be unprintable even in his current state.
No. Go ask Casey Stengel instead. He’s still bantering away with the Pearly Gates crowd listening and laughing on every butchered adverb. You could look it up.