If you miss hearing “Cotton-Eye Joe” at Yankee Stadium, you can still sing and dance to it. Attending a Rockland Boulders game in their beautiful stadium at Palisades Credit Union Park, just 33 miles north of Yankee Stadium in Pomona, NY Tuesday morning is the way to spend a baseball day.
Set in the picturesque Ramapo Mountains that are a part of the forested chain of the Appalachian Mountains, the ballpark features some quirky fun things, like a short right field porch, à la Yankee Stadium, a high center field wall with a big corner like Fenway Park, a beer garden in left field and a miniature golf course for everyone that sits above the home bullpen in right field.
The Boulders play in the CanAm league which includes teams from Canada, Japan and Cuba. I spoke to recently released from the Oakland A’s organization pitcher Brenden Butler who now plays for the NJ Jackals. Brenden told me that the team pays each player $1600 per month. They will leave as early as 4am for bus trips to Canada on game days, that take about 8 hours then get off the bus and play a game.
With three teams in Canada as far away as Ottawa, that’s a long day for them. All other games in NY and NJ they drive themselves in their own cars. Thank goodness the teams they play from Japan and Cuba come here. To go through all of that these are players with a passion for the game!
Boulders fan Terrence Miller told me he has been coming to games for eight years and although he is a Mets fan and enjoys Citi field, he prefers the Boulder games because it is good baseball, is ten minuets from home, inexpensive ($5 parking) has great fireworks nights and he can tailgate with his family and friends before and after games.
Season ticket holders Margaret Ghosio and Doris Mackey told me, they love their team so much that they even root for former Boulders players that now play for other teams in the league when they come back to play against them.
Margaret has been a season ticket holder from day one in 2011 and along with Doris they hold down the loud cowbell clanking section behind home plate. Neither were baseball fans until the Boulders came to town. Doris was brought to the new stadium when it was being built by her three brothers and fell in love with the game and her team
When you come early for an 11 am start on a sweltering humid 93 degree day, with thousands of screaming kids on camp day (Loud and crazy is an understatement) and stay for the last out in a game your team is loosing 14-9 You are amazingly loyal fans.
As I said this game was camp day and the park was filled to the brim with kids from various camps in the area. In front of me, I noticed a young boy (His initials are N.O.) sitting next to a chaperone keeping score of the game. That always gets my interest as we don’t see people doing that today in ballparks.
I asked him who taught him how to keep score? He smiled and proudly said “My Dad.” When I asked him if he comes to a lot of games with his family, again with a big smile this 13 year old centerfielder / first baseman said, “My dad and I go to a lot of games.” That tells me, you don’t have to spend three hundred dollars at a ballpark to put a smile on a kids face.
That kid and what he said brought a smile to my face. It brought back memories of when I was a kid in Brooklyn. The thought of going to ball games with my dad has always been a “feel good” moment in my life.
My first game with him was to see his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers play in Ebbets Field and I know that when I take my last breath on this earth my thoughts will be of me keeping score with my dad on that beautiful summer day when I was a kid just like this kid.