McKechnie Field in Bradenton is a wonderful venue to watch a Spring Training game. Reminds me a bit of the old Jack Russell Stadium. The Pittsburgh Pirates minor league Mascot, the Marauder. was docile. The major league mascot was a poor imitation of the Phanatic. Lots of Phillies fans made the trek from an hour further North on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Good quality time for us bonding with D & E.
The Phils won 4-1 behind a strong start by the Vanimal, a moon shot by Luna, a long ball by J-Roll and a triple to the base of the center field wall by the Dominator. But the real story for us was off the field near where the Pirates have their tiki bar hut in the food court area.
At a picnic table we sat down with a lovely couple, the Oberholtzers, from Delaware. After exchanging “where are you from” pleasantries, the proud grandma told me that her grandson – Brett Oberholtzer – is a minor league ballplayer who’s waiting for his break into the majors. They’re still Phillies fans, but their grandson pitches in the Houston Astros farm system.
Hey, I like this kid. He’s built like me! Except I could never throw a 90 MPH fastball. Turns out that Oberholtzer (or Obie, as he’s know in the biz) was the first Atlanta Braves prospect included in the deal that sent Michael Bourn from the Astros to the Braves. You never know who you’re going to bump into in the ballpark. Good luck Brett, and to the Oberholtzer clan!