Chad Stypmann Stepping into Knology Field in Dunedin, FL, finding my seat behind home plate, I looked up to see the smiling face of a good friend. “IF YOU CAN’T CATCH A BALL, CATCH A BUZZ”, is the booming refrain of beer vendor Chad Stypmann. Everybody seems more inclined to reconnect with big Chad than even seeing the ballplayers on the field. Whether you buy a beer from the outgoing Stypmann seems to be secondary compared with him taking your hand in his, in a warm handshake, as he looks into your eyes, and is genuinely glad to see you again. Big Chad asks, “Who’s thirsty for a beer?”, then picks up a frosty LaBatts-Weiser, and drinks it down in one gulp, to the delight of the crowd. He smiles as he offers up his genuine LaBatts in a Budweiser bottle. Then Chad stands on top of the Blue Jays dugout and leads the fans in the singing of, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, during the 7th inning stretch. This is like the Hokey Pokey, what it’s all about!

Of course there was a game too. The pitching matchup featured aces Justin Verlander for the Tigers versus Toronto’s Roy Halladay. Halladay was on my Illowa APBA League Chicago Champions team, but I dropped him when he fell on hard times, not one of my brightest hours. Verlander’s fastball was really popping the leather of his catcher’s mitt. I saw Curtis Granderson’s first big league game a couple of years ago in Detroit, still he wasn’t good enough to make the IAL. Curtis took Doc Hallady over the rightfield wall, showing off the power aspect of his well rounded game. Other highlights for me were when Blue Jay reliever Brian Wolfe struck out all three batters he faced in the one inning he threw and 20 year old Travis Snider, a Matt Stairs’ clone at 5’10” 245, pinch hitting for DH Frank Thomas, worked an 0-2 count for a leadoff 8th inning base on balls. But alas the rally and Toronto’s hopes died when Chip Cannon’s line drive to first was turned into an inning ending DP, 3-1 Detroit.

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  1. Nice stuff there TeddyB. Sounds like you had a great time catchin’ some games and some rays way down South. Glad you made it home safely. Lookin’ forward to meeting up with you at the Cell to hear more about your exploits at Spring Training ’08 in just five and a half weeks!

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