Today the PawSox play at historic Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Are you ready for a little home run derby?
If you think the new Yankee Stadium is a launching pad (3 more HR last night to raise the total to 113), it’s the Grand Canyon in comparison to Doubleday Field.
When the PawSox hitters walk on to the field today they will probably need drool buckets because the outfield fence in Cooperstown is only 296 feet down the left field line, 390 feet to center, and 312 feet down the right field line.
Aaron Bates doesn’t need the help. On Saturday night in Syracuse, he hit a pair of long opposite field home runs (his first two in Triple-A) in the PawSox 6-2 win over the Chiefs.
Two HR in a game is not a personal best for Bates. Two years ago he became the first player in the history of the California League to hit 4 home runs in a game while playing for Single-A Lancaster.
Aaron was promoted from Double-A Portland this past Monday, and it is obvious why Boston’s minor league coaches and instructors rave about him – he has a tremendous attitude and work ethic.
His parents, JoAnn and Mark, deserve the credit for that. Sadly, his father died when Aaron was only 20-years-old.
“We were really close,” Aaron told me. “It’s coming up on five years since he passed away in 2004. I go out there and try to play really hard and have some fun because I know he’s up there watching.”
When Aaron played college baseball, he wore the initials “MLB” on his cap. That wasn’t a reference to his dream of playing Major League Baseball – it was a tribute to his father Mark Lloyd Bates.
“He worked nights so he was able to take my brother, sister and I to all of our games during the day,” Bates said. ” In high school we drove an hour and 15 minutes to get there every day and he used to take me a lot and then drive me home so we had a lot of time in the car to talk. If I had a bad game I knew I was going to hear about it for an hour, but most of the time it was all good. We really got close in my redshirt year at San Jose State in ’04 – we watched nearly every San Francisco Giants game that year during the Barry Bonds era in San Francisco, so we were talking about baseball constantly. I was really fortunate that I had a dad like him for 20 years, so I consider myself lucky to have had someone like that in my life and I appreciate it every day.”
Here in Cooperstown where the name “Aaron” represents class and dignity, the same terms apply to a 25-year-old member of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
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I hope you’ll join us for today’s broadcast beginning with the pre-game show at 1:45 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.