Tour of Play Day #4
“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”
The Daytona Tortugas were the very first MiLB team to reach out and extend a catch-playing invitation. I couldn’t believe it when I first read the tweets.
My goal has been to find my cool stride by the time I’m 50. Their simple act of social media support made me feel like one of the cool kids.
“Reaching out to you was an easy risk,” Luke said. “Playing catch, making connections and building relationships, that’s kinda what baseball is all about.”
From 1993 to 2014, the Daytona team was the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Cubs organization.
“There were about fourteen former Daytona players on the team that won the World Series in 2016,” Luke said. “We became the Tortugas when we affiliated with the Reds in 2015.”
The Daytona Tortugas play in Jackie Robinson Ballpark in a stadium that was built in 1914.
“On March 17th of 1946, this was the field where Jackie played his first game as a member of the Dodgers organization. He was with the AAA team, the Montreal Royals, and wore number 9 before he made it to the majors the following year,” Luke said.
To shellibrate Jackie’s connection to the game, the Tortugas are permitted to wear the number 9 on their uniforms on Jackie Robinson Day. Throughout the stadium, the numbers 9 and 42 are often seen side-by-side.
Yesterday, with a win over the Palm Beach Cardinals, the Tortugas became the first half champions of the North Division in the Florida State League. It was a first for the team. I had been planning to attend the 10:30 midweek game while the girls went to the beach but, unfortunately, the game was cancelled due to field repairs. The field crew was hard at work taking care of the recently re-sodded infield.
“It just didn’t take,” Luke said.
Luke is the radio broadcaster for the Tortugas and coordinates all the social media. With a degree in broadcast journalism from Quinnipiac University, his dream job is to be the radio voice of the Red Sox. My hope is that he remembers me when he makes it to the majors. It would be epic to play catch in the shadow of the Green Monster.
“I last played catch with my roommates in college, I don’t know why I stopped playing. Just never made the time,” he said. “I don’t even own a glove anymore.”
Luke borrowed the new Wilson and we walked to left field as Jamie and the girls spent time with Shelldon, the mascot whose secret identity will remain a mystery.
He told me stories of growing up in a family full of sports fans. His dad played basketball professionally in Italy. He and his brothers followed suit as basketball players and fans, but Luke is the biggest baseball fan in the family.
I marveled at being on this field situated in the middle of City Island and regretted not buying tall socks to wear for the game of catch. I teased Luke about working professionally in baseball without owning a glove and we made a deal before I left.
- Before season’s end, Luke will get a glove.
- The Tortugas will just keep winning the rest of the season, all the way to the championship game.
- Somehow, some way, I’ll get back to Florida for the championship game.
Luke sent us on our way with an incredible gift, my own Tortugas #9 t-shirt.
After catch, my family returned to the beach and the ocean, where we jumped into the rolling waves, I spotted a dolphin, and SPF 50 prevented further sunburns.