Minor League in Montgomery

After 12 hours on the road (taking scenic Highway 19 along Florida’s nature coast), we arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. We usually travel through Georgia to get to my mom’s house in Tennessee, but this time we decided to take a side trip to Montgomery to see the Biscuits play. The Montgomery Biscuits are the AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays and the current home of many of the young men we watched during their seasons with the Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Montgomery is the capital of Alabama and I guess I expected it to be a bustling city like Nashville or Denver, but on Saturday, there was hardly a soul in sight downtown. Another thing that struck me as odd, there were almost no buses. We saw bus stops so I know they have buses, but there were next to none running. In fact, the whole day, we saw only two, and they were tiny.

Hank Williams GraveWithout a bus to take us around town, we were stuck driving with the U-haul. This makes for fun times when going through a cemetery in search of letterboxes. I’m not a country music fan but growing up near Nashville, I know a good bit about country music and the legends that created it. Among them – Hank Williams, Sr., who is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, alongside his wife, Audrey. The gravesite is covered in Astroturf, of all things.

With the U-haul in tow, we drove around downtown looking for parking for the baseball game. When we stopped to ask a lot attendant for the best spot to park our extra-long vehicle, he opened the gate and directed us to the end of the reserved parking lot – for FREE! Since we love free things and nice people, it bears mentioning – so thank you, Mr. Lot Attendant! (It did take us a few tries to get out of the lot, but even that wasn’t a terrible hassle.)

Dreamland SignOur day in Montgomery included dinner at Dreamland BBQ, an Alabama landmark institution. Now a chain restaurant, Dreamland was started by John “Big Daddy” Bishop in 1958 after he literally had a dream that told him to open a restaurant. The sandwiches were huge, piled high with chopped pork (not pulled like you find in other Southern BBQ restaurants), with a side of the original recipe sauce that made Dreamland famous. I had Mac ‘n Cheese and Angie had baked beans. Delicious!

The Biscuits’ stadium, located near Riverfront Park, has great seats all around and a nice concourse with plenty of snacking opportunities. It’s like a mini version of a MLB stadium. We love Minor League Baseball and had an amazing time at the game. Angie even got her glove autographed. (We found that glove, along with two others and an aluminum bat, during our last dumpster run before leaving Florida. At the time, we had no idea what we’d do with them. Turns out, one came in pretty handy!)

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It’s Only $20

At the baseball game last night I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation behind us. A couple had brought their grandkids, who were visiting from another state, to the game. I know Grandpa had put a lot of planning into this outing. I know this because when we purchased our season tickets back in April this particular Saturday was the only date not available for our seats in the 3rd row – the seats where they were sitting. So way back in April, Gramps had thought a night at the game would be a great way to spend some time with his grandkids and had bought these tickets. Sadly, the kids weren’t all that grateful for the effort.

If I had to guess, I’d put the twins at 11 or 12 years old and the girl around 8. What drew my attention to them was the never-ending demands for money and the utter lack of respect for anyone or anything. After a while I began to keep a tally of every time Grandpa opened his wallet: 3 $5 chicken sandwiches, 3 $5 ice cream bowls, and 3 $2.75 sodas. In addition, Grandma had somehow managed to sweet-talk the promo gals into giving each of them a free jersey (2 of them ended up on the ground) and they had accumulated 5 foul balls (one of which was taken right out of the hands of another person). After 5 innings of whining, yelling, and just generally being annoying, grandpa finally said, “This was a waste. You’re not even paying attention to the game.” One of the boys replied, “Don’t treat us like cavemen. We know what’s going on and it wasn’t a waste, it was only $20.”

I shook my head in disgust. 62% of Americans earn less than $20 an hour. I am one of those Americans and it’s irritating to me to hear someone so young say things like, “It’s only $20”. You know they didn’t just pick that phrase out of the sky. Somewhere along the way they’ve been taught to think that $20 is a relatively small amount of money.

I wish I could say this was the only time I’ve ever encountered spoiled kids but we all know that would be a lie. They’re everywhere and unless something changes, they are the future of our society. I can’t help but feel sorry for this Grandpa. I heard him tell the boys not to take the fives out of his wallet when they were digging for ice cream money. “Why not?” one of them asked. “Because Grandma saves those and that’s how we travel to all the places we go.” Wise Grandpa! Here’s hoping some of his wisdom rubs off on those kids before they head back home.