Niagara Gazette

March 29, 2009

BASE PATHS: Canisius opens a nice diamond


Say what you will about Canisius College, the Griffs excel at opening a ballpark:

A home run on the first pitch in baseball ...

And a no-hitter in the first game of softball.

Canisius unveiled its brand-new A Turf fields Wednesday afternoon, shut out UB in a three-minute inning, then sent Perry Silverman up to bat. Poing! Dinger, right over the “N” in the block italics Canisius sign in left field.

The Demske Complex retains its goofy dimensions and awkward seating, but the A-Turf looks and acts enough like real grass to fool a hungry robin. The old surface had the texture of a pool table (but wasn’t as level), lined with a crazy-quilt of boundaries for other sports, only diamond in America where coaches told infielders to play “a little to the left of the 20-yard line.”

A Turf, designed by a Canisius grad, takes the curse off the concept of synthetics. Base Paths and an off-duty pitcher spent most of the baseball game calculating which infield outs would have “gotten through” last year, and which outfield gappers would have bounced over the fence. One sacrifice actually “bit,” spinning backwards like a well-struck wedge.

As for softball, the question was, would they have been able to finish the game last year after the dousing the field took in the third inning. Mallory Aldred had Youngstown buffaloed, striking out eight in five innings. Time of game: 1:07. Length of rain delay: 2:14.

Also vastly improved, scoreboard lighting and location, which used to ensure full employment for opticians and chiropractors. Final reads: Baseball 7, UB 3; Softball 8, Youngstown 0.

           

Cactus comments

Base Paths spent the previous weekend hanging around Phoenix, at ballgames large and small. Some observations:

The Diamondbacks’ Chase Field looks more like an airport hangar than a baseball field ...

Phoenix just opened a fine new light rail system, 20 miles long, but the day Base Paths arrived, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported on a huge fare hike proposal ...

While the Cubs and Dodgers consistently sell out, overall Cactus League attendance is down, with many teams offering midweek two-for-one and free-food specials ...

While looking for Jobing.com Arena, home of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, Base Paths asked 11 people for directions; none of them were even sure what hockey is ...

On the other hand, when Base Paths asked a cop for directions to Phoenix Municipal Stadium for an A’s game, the officer reached into his shirt pocket and sold him a ticket — to the game, that is ...

If it weren’t for pawn shops, check-cashing services and self-storage outlets, Phoenix would have about the same sized business district as Ransomville ...

And even at exhibitions, Cub fans throw opponents’ homers back onto the field.

Signal back to Base Paths via pollyndoug@hotmail.com.