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A Covid-19 Baseball Experience

El Bronx, NY: This past Wednesday I was approved credentials to the last home game of the season for the Mets and used the opportunity to personally deliver two LatinoMVP awards. These were two of the last three 2019 LatinoMVP awards to be given. The players receiving these awards were, Seth Lugo, 2019 NL Relief Pitcher of the year & Pete Alonso, 2019 NL Rookie of the year.

I had not visited a stadium, or had requested credentials for this shortened Covid-19 driven season because I was not feeling it. Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on all of us and has turned everything that we once considered normal, abnormal. However, I wanted to experience a live game and visiting Citi-Field was indeed an experience.

Empty stadium except for the players is is difficult to experience (Photo Latino Sports)

I have been attending and covering games for approximately 30 years and I had gotten use to all the activities of a usual game day routine. Activities that included entering the stadium through security, to observing the vendors maintenance and kitchen personnel setting up. It was exciting watching all of the hoopla, like a circus setting up the big tent for the big show. I liked watching the fans outside waiting to be the first to enter the stadium and the players loosening up during batting practice. A stadium during a game day is buzzing from hours prior to the game to hours after the game. This was not the case as I entered Citi-Field.

The grounds around Citi-Field were as silent as a cemetery on a cold winter day. It felt and sounded like nothing going on inside the stadium, as if the team was away. Walking towards the Press Gate I did not see the usual number of police presence or fans that you normally see on a game day. If not for the fact that once I passed through a very light security process that also included a health screening where I was asked all the pertinent questions about Covid-19 and finally given a daily credential I would have never thought that a game was going to be played.

Once inside, the eerie quietness of the stadium was felt even stronger. I was able to drop off the two well-packed awards for the media department to pick up and take to the players and I proceeded to the press box. I rode the elevator up to the fifth level where the press box is located and was the only one on the elevator (that was a first for me ever in any stadium). Once on the fifth level, again other than one security person sitting in front of the broadcast room there was no one on the entire floor.

Totally empty floor that normally before Covid-19 would have been quite busy. (Photo Latino Sports)

As I walked to the press box I could not get use to the fact that it was so quiet and that I was the only person walking the floor. Being in a stadium several hours prior to the start of the game and not seeing a single sole other than a security person here and there was quite abnormal. The press box looked empty from afar. When I entered there were perhaps a total of five other correspondents sitting in their assigned seats. As I was trying to take in what I was seeing, I saw a colleague, a member of the Latino Sports Writers & Broadcasters Association (LSWBA) that made me feel a bit more comfortable. We spoke a bit about what Covid-19 has done to baseball and quickly moved on to the significance of the day. Perhaps if not for Covid there might have been something done to commemorate September 23rd, the day in 1956 when the first Dominican player took the field in a major league game (see article on this site: September 23rd Meaningful Day for Dominicans & Puerto Ricans).

After our conversation I decided that there was no way I could stay and watch a game so sterilized from what I have been use to seeing that I could not stay. I returned home and did what I have been doing, watching the game on TV. However, I felt good knowing that two NY Mets players would have a great smile on the last home game when they received their LatinoMVP awards.

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