Specifically, Los Chivos de Hartford Dia Roberto Clemente. Or, if you prefer the plain old English version, The Hartford Yard Goats Roberto Clemente Day! Faith and I attended this game Friday night.
I wrote about the Yardgoats honoring Roberto Clemente, last year for #WATWB. I suppose I could have reprised that subject for Friday’s #WATWB post, but I wanted to write more than the few words, and the article I found is similar to the one I used last year. I’ll quote a bit of it though. In 2018, the Hartford Yard Goats played three games as “Los Chivos de Hartford” in support of Connecticut’s Latino population and as part of Minor League Baseball’s inaugural Copa de la Diversion campaign, which celebrates the diversity of baseball’s fanbase. Here’s a clip from that article:
“The Yard Goats have led the charge in recognizing our large Latino fan base” Yard Goats General Manager Mike Abramson said in a press release. “From our Spanish-language radio broadcast, Spanish-language pocket schedules, Spanish-language social media accounts, to Roberto Clemente’s retired number in the outfield, we work to ensure Dunkin’ Donuts Park feels like home to all our fans.”
Dunkin’ Donuts Park was mired in controversy. Opening day was delayed by a year due to construction problems. The contractor was fired, a new one was brought in to finish the job. Lawsuits have been filed, rulings have been issued, complaints have been lodged – but, the Yard Goats are finishing their second season in a ballpark that has been voted #1 in the MiLB Double-A league both years.
There are residents in Hartford and people throughout the State of CT who opposed the stadium and still feel it was a bad idea to build it. Some people in Hartford feel the cost was too high. Now that the State of CT has agreed to help Hartford solve its debt crisis (to the tune of over $500 million over the next 10-20 years) the number of critics has expanded beyond the city’s boarder.
I think it was money well spent.
When I moved to Connecticut, over 35 years ago, Hartford was a fun little city. There were stores, restaurants, bars, culture and lots of businessmen and women commuting into the city each day. Those people had already moved out to the suburbs. Suburban malls stripped the customer base from the downtown stores. Restaurants sprang up throughout the suburbs. Hartford’s light began to dim, and the city began to lose people and businesses. Being Connecticut’s capital city, the State purchased several empty office buildings. That sounds like a good thing, but it removed those buildings from Hartford’s tax base. The cultural institutions, universities, parks and many attractions also sit in Hartford without paying taxes. Like many small cities, Hartford needs an infusion of people. People who call Hartford home, and people who come into the city for things other than work.
Hartford needs entertainment.
I feel strongly that large-scale entertainment is one thing Hartford can deliver that the suburbs can’t steal. Baseball, hockey, soccer (all minor league, but all doing well), and as many special cultural events as the streets can handle. Life. Hartford needs life.
The stadium is one step in the right direction, but The Yard Goats have taken it way over the top. They have embraced the city, its residents and its current culture. Playing three games as “Los Chivos de Hartford” might seem silly, but it was fun! It wasn’t just a name change. It wasn’t just the uniforms. The entire stadium beamed and screamed “Los Chivos.” In addition to the ceremony to honor Roberto Clemente, there were dance groups entertaining us during the pregame period. The Yard Goats honored their city, and their city supported their team – that’s how baseball is supposed to be!
Los Chivos lost to the Trenton Thunder, but they played a good game. One really cool thing happened when one of our players hit a home run. At that point, steam rose out of the giant Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup above the scoreboard, and “Brass Bonanza” blared from the speakers. That was the theme song of the Hartford Whalers, an NHL Hockey team whose owners moved them to North Carolina. Love for the Whalers is still strong, and the Yard Goats honor that love and that history. The team colors mimic the colors the Whalers wore, and you can buy a jersey with a Yard Goats and a Whalers logo on it. I think the Yard Goats have done everything right, and I will be attending more games.