Saturday, May 15, 2010
Road Trip - Reading Phillies and Spam
So my wife and I are suckers for promotions. When I'm trying to convince her to go to a particular game, it's always helpful if there's a fun promotion that I can sell the game and the trip to her with. Fireworks is always good. But Spam, it turns out, is better.
Now, we've never really touched the stuff as a meal. I've got a couple cans of Spam, and a Spam bobble head, that I picked up at the Spam Museum in Minnesota one time on a trip by myself. I'm just waiting for the opportunity to take the wife.
But the Reading Phillies game with Akron from May 8 had both. There were fireworks scheduled (which we didn't get to see) and the famed Spam Carving Contest. There was also the R-Phils' Mascot Band and their Crazy Hot Dog Vendor and a band before the game made up of mascots. We caught them energetically playing
The only thing the game was missing was a 1990 CMC guy on either the Reading or Akron coaching staffs. There wasn't one. But I did track down a couple in the R-Phils' Hall of Fame. Jim Essian was there. He played 213 games for the R-Phils from 1972 to 1975, according to his plaque. He also managed the Iowa Cubs, getting him into the 1990 CMC set.
But there was also the entry for Andy Ashby, 1990 Reading Phillie and player member of the 1990 CMC set. Ashby went 10-7 with a 3.42 ERA with the AA Phillies that year, according to his plaque.
But, of course, back to the Spam. My wife and I entered the contest, purchasing two cans for $5 each. It was a fund raiser for a local charity, after all. The idea was mine, the wife was the artist. And an artist she was. She transformed those two blocks of processed meat into a creation that another competitor called "cute" and my mother-in-law called "adorable." That's right, my wife has the power to make Spam look adorable.
The idea centered on the carving contest. What do people normally carve? Pumpkins. What do they carve them into? Jack-o-Lanterns. There were some problems, of course. First was trying to make the pumpkin look like something more than a ball of Spam with a face in it. My wife added the crooked stem and a couple leaves.
Then there was the medium itself: Watch for the gristle. Trying to carve teeth in the creation's mouth, my wife encountered a tough piece of gristle. Plans had to be changed. But I think it worked out. Smoothing it all out and we had "Twice-Carved Jack."
We also had a finalist.
Out of about a dozen entries, they invited the top six onto the field after the seventh inning. We were among them. The winner got $250 cash. Another entry, a house, took the prize. We couldn't argue. Their creation showed they obviously wanted it more than we did. But we did get
a hat and T-shirt out of the deal.
All that said, we had a great time. Oh, and it was super windy. We went up to the Reading Pagoda, the R-Phils have it on their uniform sleeve, and almost got blown over it was so windy. It was still windy for the game, but it didn't translate into home runs. Reading lost 5-2.
There was supposed to be fireworks after the game, but we didn't stick around. With the wind, it was just getting too cold. After we got our hat and shirt, we packed it in. We left Twice-Carved Jack behind.
Here's another account of the contest, from Ben's Biz Blog on MiLB.com: Canned Meet Artisans Shine Once More In the group shot, my wife and I are just out of the frame, you can see part of her red coat on the left.
Video of the mascot band and some game action:
First Energy Stadium