For several innings, it appeared that bat boy Zach might be the Irish MVP during the May 1 Notre Dame baseball game vs. Seton Hall. First, the crowd serenaded him for his 12th birthday, much to his head-ducking embarrassment. Then, with Seton Hall ahead 3-0, Zack left the dugout and easily caught a foul ball as it rolled off the overhead safety nets.
The spectators laughed and wildly applauded. And Zach’s fine play apparently galvanized the Irish players, who responded in the seventh and eighth innings with two home runs, finally earning a 5-4 victory.
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Light-hearted fun seems to be the operative phrase for games at the Frank Eck Stadium. If a conference on the pitcher’s mound lasts too long, the tick-tock music of Jeopardy plays over the loud speaker. Giveaways, trivia games and even signed baseballs for those good citizen spectators who return foul balls are standard goodies. Upbeat music between half-innings keeps things lively, as does announcer Bob Nagle.
While I arrived in time to witness some traditional pregame ceremonies, including a salute to the military with the first pitch thrown by Sgt. Adam Sanford and a fine a cappella national anthem sung by ND sophomore Connie Jones, I wasn’t early enough to get one of the chair-back seats placed a few rows up in a couple of the center sections. It didn’t really matter. While perhaps not as comfortable, just about any seat on the bleachers offers a fine view.
That close-enough-to-overrule-the-umpire vantage point is one of the things that makes attending Notre Dame baseball games such a steal. Even as a spectator, you really do feel as though you are in the heart of the action. I don’t know if the $3 bottled water is such a bargain, and the concessions are limited to the hot dog/bratwurst/nachos camp, but the $5 general, $3 youth/senior prices for the general public make the games a worthwhile investment.
One other bonus is parking. If the spaces near the baseball stadium are filled, the east end of the Joyce parking lot offers a nearby alternative.
The electronic scoreboard, which keeps fans informed of relevant game information as well as scores from other Big East games, is a definite plus. Spectators also are kept apprised by announcer Nagle of the scores of other ND events running at the same time as the baseball game. Fans at Eck had earlier heard a loud roar from the nearby Melissa Cook softball stadium, and the mystery was solved when Nagle announced that the ND softball team had won a 14-0 victory over St. John’s in a five-inning no-hitter.
The baseball game, we learned at its end, had lasted two hours and 18 minutes. An almost ideal length. Sunny skies, a great catch by the bat boy and a come-from-behind victory. To me, that was about as perfect as things could get.
Check out ND Free Pass for a spectator’s sampling of the less-heralded side of Notre Dame competitions: the rowing and the running, the putting and the spiking. Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at email@example.com.