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MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL FEVER
Celebrate with the Snakes at Hertz Field
From Birthdays to Bar Mitzvahs!
Jersey City Informer (reprinted with permission)
JERSEY CITY, NJ - Last night's baseball game between the Jersey City Snakes and the Newark Bears at Hertz Stadium saw a record-breaking crowd: exactly zero. But then, it's hard to draw much of a crowd when you lock the ballpark gates.
The stunt was the latest attempt by Jersey City's owner/manager, Kenny Quasebarth, to gain publicity for the independent single-A team. Once the game became official - five and a half innings - the attendance tally would go in the record books as the smallest crowd ever at a professional baseball game. Afterwards, fans outside would be let in for free to watch the rest of the game.
But as so often happens with the Snakes, a ball club that this year has redefined futility, the result was disaster.
In the second inning, in front of an empty stadium, the Snakes' infield turned a stunning triple play. In the third, cleanup batter Frank Decker launched a colossal 534-foot home run that cleared the ballpark wall in left, and by the fourth, Andy Nagel had hit for the cycle. Just like that, the Snakes' faithful had been deprived of witnessing one of the most extraordinary displays of hitting and fielding in a single game in baseball history.
When the gates did open, an angry crowd, frustrated by having to listen to the excitement outside the park on portable radios, entered the stadium chanting, "Rip off! Rip off!" and shouting expletives at Quasebarth.
Then it was back to classic Snakes ball.
Jake Banks' weak dribbler in front of the plate and two windmill strikeouts by Hasegawa Masahiro and Ricky Westbrook did nothing to improve the crowd's spirits. By the bottom of the ninth, a seven-run lead had vaporized into a two-run deficit. When an anemic, seven-foot pop-up by Ladell Pitts ended the game, the field was showered with bottles and cans, forcing the players to sprint for the clubhouse - at record-breaking speed.
The Snakes face the Brooklyn Cyclones Friday at 7 p.m. at Hertz for Fan Appreciation Night. The first 100 customers will receive commemorative baseballs.
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