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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Road Trip: Trenton Thunder

Blue Jays catching coordinator Sal Fasano, right, at the batting cage before a game at Trenton's Arm & Hammer Park in June 2014. (G21D Photo)
When my wife and I were in Baltimore in 2005, the Red Sox were in town playing the Orioles.

At one point during the game, the Red Sox player walked up to the plate and tapped the catcher on the shoulder in a gesture of recognition.

I remember telling my wife about it later. The two players were Johnny Damon and Sal Fasano. Both players came up in the Royals system and played together there.

I found it cool and interesting, especially because I'd seen Fasano play years before, when my dad and I frequented Cedar Rapids Kernels games in 1994. Fasano played that year for the Rockford Royals, winning the league's MVP.

I mention all this because I had the opportunity to cross paths with Fasano again unexpectedly this past weekend. Fasano, with his distinctive mustache, served as the fill-in manager for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Trenton, NJ.
Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ in June 2014. (G21D Photo)
While Fasano has an interesting story to tell, he came along a couple years too late to be interviewed here. The reason I was in Trenton was to interview New Hampshire's regular pitching coach Jim Czajkowski, a 1990 Harrisburg Senator, and Trenton coach Orlando Mercado, a 1990 Tidewater Tide.

I had actually planned the trip around three interviews, the third being New Hampshire's regular manager and 1990 Omaha Royal Bobby Meacham. Meacham, though, was away from the team for the series, with Fasano brought in to fill in.

So, my wife and I ventured to Trenton's Arm & Hammer Park on a lightning-quick, one-day trip to New Jersey to see the Trenton Thunder.

Arm & Hammer marked our 29th different minor league park we've seen a game at, counting independent teams, Cooperstown's Doubleday Field and former Eastern League park East Field in Glens Falls.

Inside Thunder Country. Arm & Hammer Park from the park picnic area. (G21D Photo)
Speaking of East Field, the Trenton franchise originated at East Field in Glens Falls, moving to Trenton by way of London, Ont. And it was in London that the franchise made its appearance in the 1990 ProCards set as the London Tigers. (The Yankees' AA team that year was in Albany.)

Arm & Hammer, formerly named the Mercer County Waterfront Park, is celebrating its 21st season this year. But you could hardly tell by looking at it. My wife was surprised to hear it was that old when she asked. It looked too new.

And there's been a lot of history made at the park. There's a wall on the concourse dedicated to major leaguers who played at the former Mercer park. Among the names was Bryce Florie, who was a member of the 1990 Waterloo Diamonds and was just featured here. Among the other former Thunder on the wall featured here: Adam Hyzdu, Jeff Manto, Tim Naehring, Lee Tinsley, and Aaron Small.

Read the interviews:
-Jim Czajkowski, Stepped Foot
-Orlando Mercado, Hardly Slowed

Some other pictures from our trip to Trenton:
Bryce Florie's name on the Trenton concourse. The asterisk notes his stint was as a rehab assignment. (G21D Photo)
Trenton's Peter Peter O'Brien at the plate at Trenton's Arm & Hammer Park in June 2014. (G21D Photo)
One of Trenton's famous bat dogs depicted on the elevator door. We were disappointed we missed them. (G21D Photo)
Fireworks at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton. (G21D Photo)
Baltimore 2005: I believe this to be Johnny Damon hitting and Sal Fasano catching. Photo is from our 2005 trip to Camden Yards. (G21D Photo)

1 comment:

  1. Bobby Meacham was in New York for Old Timers Day today.
    I went to a Yankees-Twins game a few weeks ago. Former Yankee Eduardo Nunez came out of the dugout to pinch-run for a runner on second, and had to jog by Derek Jeter, who gave him a playful shove as he jogged by.