Baseball is buzzing once again, thanks to 21-year-old Washington Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, who in his first two starts has two wins, 22 strikeouts, and thousands of new fans in awe of his effortless, fluid-like delivery and smoking 100-mph fastball. His next start is tonight at home against the White Sox. Thirty-dollar tickets that were once easy to come by at 41,546-seat Nationals Park are in high demand as fans flock to see this young and rare talent.
If you happen to be in Newport, Rhode Island, tonight, you might have better luck getting into a New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) game between host Newport Gulls and the Vermont Mountaineers at historic Cardines Field—a little bandbox of a stadium voted the fourth-best park in the United States for summer collegiate baseball by Baseball America Magazine.
Since it’s located just a minute’s walk from several waterfront restaurants, you can get a dozen littlenecks on the half shell, wash them down with a cold beer, and meander to the stadium around 6:30 p.m. to buy tickets at the door for less than five bucks. Wooden-bat summer ball is magical because you get to see young players up close who enjoy the game, are still developing their skills for the next level, and often are using wooden bats for the first time.
In 2007 Stephen Strasburg pitched in the NECBL for the Torrington Twisters, making 13 appearances in relief, compiling seven saves, a 1-0 record, and a 1.29 earned run average. Talents like Strasburg don’t come around very often, so when they do it’s fun to see them succeed as witnessed by the buzz surrounding his start this evening for the Nationals. It’s even more fun when you get to see such a talent before it becomes a star. So, even if you don’t see the next Strasburg when you’re in Newport, at the very least you’ll have an enjoyable summer evening at a Gulls game in the city by the sea.