Caroline Smith is a senior at Cold Spring Harbor High School.

Peanuts and Popcorn and Quacker Jacks

Ducks fans drawn to more than baseball

By Caroline Smith
Greene Team Correspondent


Callie Martinez munched on a stick of cotton candy and chatted with the other girls in her Girl Scout troop, her back to the Long Island Ducks even as an outfielder dove to catch the ball.

Callie, 9, was much like the majority of the crowd of families and children who attended the Ducks game July 30, concentrating more on popcorn and foam fingers than baseball.

The best part of the games is the food,” Callie said, while her friend Jeanine West, 10, of Islip, chose the Quackers -- whistles shaped like duck bills. The two girls were with a group of about 15 Girl Scouts.

The matchup against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs sold 6,362 tickets, according to the Ducks’ Web site, but whole sections were seemingly deserted as more people were milling around the food stands than following the game.

And even when the Ducks scored their only two runs in the fifth inning, there was only a smattering of applause.

The crowd diminished as buses circled the stadium to pick up youth groups before the last out. By the end of the night, the Blue Crabs had stolen the game.

Denny McGuiness, 43, of Dix Hills, discussed the stadium. “We don’t come that often, maybe one or two games a season, but we always have good seats that are close to the field,” he said.

“The games are fun for the family,” his wife, Robin, 43, added. Their two daughters, Katie and Megan, nodded as they dug through their chicken fingers.

Even the sideshows in between innings held more interest than the game. A group of young baseball players jumped up and cheered only once, when their teammate got the chance to kick a football through a goalpost and have his face projected onto the screen above the score.

A “messiest face” contest between three people drew more groans than the Blue Crabs scoring a home run in the fourth inning.

With ticket prices ranging from $10-11, Ducks games are a cheaper way for many families to take in a game than attending Major League Baseball games. “It’s a good deal money-wise,” said usher Bill Freund.

The Ducks’ smaller stadium also allows fans to interact and feel more close-knit. “It’s a family atmosphere,” Freund said. “It makes for a more personal feeling.”

Paul DeGrocco, on-field host, agreed. “It makes for an entertaining time.”

It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and in the background, the scoreboard blared that the game was tied at two. Callie, however, remained indifferent to the baseball game as she threw her head back and giggled with her friends.

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