If you’re like me and an avid reader of Kevin Kraczkowski’s Fish Farm reports, you may be wondering where in the world is Batavia and what is a Muckdog? Batavia is located in upstate New York about 30 miles east of Buffalo and home to the Marlins short-season Single-A team, the Muckdogs.
A Muckdog, in case you are wondering, gets its name from the “Mucklands”, which are the fertile farm areas that surround Batavia. The “dog” stems from the feral dogs that supposedly inhabit the land and hang out in the muck. So there you have it.
I was fortunate enough to attend a couple Muckdogs games last weekend on my way home from vacation. If you are in the upstate New York area during the summer months, I highly recommend a trip to Dwyer Stadium. I was able to experience the sights and sounds of minor league baseball and check out some promising young Marlins prospects.
Upon my arrival at the Stadium, and after buying my $6 ticket, I was greeted by Homer, the Batavia Muckdogs mascot.
I then made my way over to the Batavia Wall of Fame to check out current and former Major Leaguers who started their careers in Batavia. The impressive list includes names such as Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn. Current Marlins pitcher Jarlin Garcia spent his 2013 season in Batavia as well.
The food was surprisingly good. I strongly recommend the grilled hot dogs paired with a Southern Tier IPA beer, followed by a bag of popcorn for desert. It doesn't get any better than that on a summer evening.
There was a decent crowd on hand for both games with roughly 600 or so fans in attendance. The atmosphere at the park was very family-orientated as you might expect, with kids running around chasing errant foul balls. The crowd was serenaded both days during the 7th inning stretch by solo renditions of God Bless America so good it made your skin tingle.
The two games I saw were terrific: a 3-2 win Saturday evening over the West Virginia Black Bears with the victory going to Sam Perez and a hard fought Sunday matinee that found the Muckdogs on the losing end of a 3-2 final. While the Muckdogs had an impressive 14 hits over the two weekend games, the best sound off the bat came from first-year player and 19th-round shortstop Micah Brown from Lewis-Clark State.
Finally, if that doesn't wet your appetite for some summer baseball in upstate New York, this might. After Sunday’s game, a helicopter flew in out of nowhere, hovered over the field and proceeded to drop what looked like thousands of pieces of candy for the fans. Unfortunately, I was already in the parking lot and heading home. My vacation was over.