Thursday, May 07, 2009

Baseball Place No. 52: Huntington Ave. Grounds; and 52A: Space Coast Stadium

Cy Young is almost a mythical figure in baseball.

No one is ever going to top his 511 wins. No one is ever going to come close.
There’s a statue of Young in Boston at the Huntington Avenue Grounds on the Northwestern University Campus.

The statue of Denton True Young sits on the spot where the mound located at the early home of the Boston Pilgrims, who became the Red Sox. It’s also the site of the first World Series game.

The statue was unveiled in 1993, and I haven’t been back to Boston since 1990. So it’s on my list of places to see when we make it back East.

So I must offer a statue of another mythical figure in baseball. That would be:

Alternative site No. 52A: Mighty Casey statue at Space Coast Stadium in Melbourne, Fla.

We made two trips the Space Coast back when it was created as the Marlins spring training site.

It’s a nice enough place. They tried hard. Too hard.

The site is a classic example of what my Dad calls an “If You Build it, They Will Come” development in Florida. You build a stadium in the middle of nowhere, and hope that housing, offices and retail follow.

This will sound familiar to Mets fans, especially ones who remember when Port St. Lucie was Port St. Lonesome.

The Marlins’ stadium was pretty lonely when we were there. It was a big, shining structure that you could see for miles because there was nothing surrounding it.

The team tried to embrace the space theme, since it’s a short distance from Cape Canaveral. They tried to get cute by dropping “port” after every feature. So you had “Foodport” and so on.

But you know me. I head for the team store first. And I saw a sign reading “Sportsport.”

I sat there and looked and looked and tried to figure this out. “Sport sport?” I walked around, saw the other signs and later realized they were trying to say “Sports port.”
There was teal. Lots of teal. I'm not sure if the Nats had untealed the stadium since taking over.

It just didn’t work when they had the words all smooshed together.

Then, at their space-themed stadium, the team had an old-fashioned hand-operated scoreboard. Because you know, nothing says space like pretend old things. You’d think three would be a state-of-the-art scoreboard in that spot.

Outside the stadium, there was a neat model of the space shuttle. Very cool. And it fits with the theme.

And the other huge decoration? That would be a massive statue of the Mighty Casey, of “Casey at the Bat” fame. Friends, what does the star of a treasured but ancient poem have to do with space or a brand new expansion baseball team named after a fish?

Nothing, of course. The Marlins tried to be all things to all people. Pick one theme, because retro and space do not play well together.

That said. We had a nice time heading to see the Mets play the Fish on a St. Patrick’s day, at least until a Florida storm washed out the game.

We came back in 1999 for a the final spring game of the year, where the Marlins played their top farm team.

The Marlins scooted to Jupiter to share s spring site with the Cardinals after the whole Marlins-Expos franchise swap.

These days it’s the spring site for the Washington Nationals, but also the home of the Florida State League’s Brevard County Manatees, one of the best team name and logos ever.

And last I heard, Mighty Casey still stands, sadly out of place with his surroundings.

1 comment:

zman40 said...

I'm not sure if this link will work if you are not on Myspace, but the Wichita State Shockers have the same Casey statue in front of their ballpark.