Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beaten Biscuits: Game 9 in Montgomery

An old Southern food tradition is “beaten biscuits,” so called because the dough was often whacked with a wooden tool to create air pockets that would cause the biscuits to rise.  Now that baking soda and baking powder can be added to the dough, simple kneading can achieve the same leavening effect. 

My winsome son David 

Because of my love of biscuits, I desperately wanted to include the Montgomery Biscuits in my itinerary although the most convenient dates that I proposed to the team’s staff couldn’t be accommodated.  So I went to extremes to work out a date with the Biscuits, the only team whose name is a food that is not an animal or plant. Of course, there are Stone Crabs in Charlotte (FL), Mudcats in Carolina, Kernels in Cedar Rapids, and Nuts in Modesto.  But there are no Burgers in Burlington, Fries in Fresno, or Grits in Greensboro. 
The only way to find a compatible date with the Montgomery Biscuits was for me to interrupt my crisscrossing through the Florida State League for one day's excursion into Alabama.  In effect, the inclusion of the Biscuits in my menu required
·         driving from Clearwater to Orlando after a Sunday night game
·         catching an early morning direct flight to Birmingham
·         then driving 110 miles south to Montgomery
·         singing for the game
·         returning after the game to a hotel near Birmingham’s airport
·         and catching the only direct flight back to Orlando early the next morning so that I could finally drive to Lakeland to sing for the Flying Tigers on Tuesday evening.  

 Whew!  But the travel extremes were worth it.

When I arrived at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, I became concerned about a possible distraction.   Just beyond the left-field fence I saw a train rolling along and heard its shrill whistle, certainly not harmonious with the anthem in F#.  I cringed at the possibility that another locomotive might belch its signal while I would be belting out “bombs bursting in air.”  Later as I talked with fans, I learned that occasionally anthem singers have been distracted by the coincidental serenade of the trains. Fortunately, I experienced no such difficulty.

A train passes beyond left field before the pre-game ceremonies.
At one point a former Montgomery mayor promoted the possible distraction as a distinction, offering a thousand dollars to the first hometown player who hit a homerun off a passing train.  Eventually, the mayor paid up when one of the Biscuits belted one of a boxcar.
T-Ballers preparing for their participation.
The pre-game ceremonies featured two colonels from nearby Maxwell Air Force Base throwing out the first pitch. Both were wild, their throws flattening out fifteen feet short and wide of home plate.  I hoped that my anthem rendition would follow that pattern of falling short of the target.  Others who participated were players from a local T-Ball team sponsored by a pediatric dental clinic had participated in the pre-game ceremonies, joining the Biscuits’ starters on the field at their respective positions.  When the kindergarten and first-grade kids were introduced by name and position, they were to run onto the field and sidle up to their respective Biscuit players already in place.  But when the announcer quickly read the T-Ballers’ names and positions, confusion arose.  None went to right field or shortstop: “Where are those positions?” the kids must have wondered.  Instead, a clump of them ambled happily over toward the easily identifiable second base and joyfully stood at attention while I sang the anthem.
T-Baller High-Fiving Big Mo
All of the kids received a ball that was autographed by their aligned Biscuit player.  But the highlight of their evening seemed to be their picture with Big Mo, the Montgomery mascot whose costume features a Hula-Hoop waist that creates virtual biscuits for hips. The T-Ballers’ joy was as delectable and true as beaten biscuits.
As the game started, the Biscuits hoped to smother the Jackson Generals with record-breaking homeruns as they had done the previous night by hitting five.  But this night, while the Generals commanded the air strikes by hitting three homeruns, I engaged James Anderson in lively conversation about the history of minor league baseball in Montgomery, the ballpark’s construction, the naming of the team, and Alabama’s support of AA teams (4 of the 30 AA teams in the nation are in the state).  A partner in the law firm whose offices across the street look down on the field, he has occupied the same box seats behind home plate since the ballpark opened.
He pointed out that a new law prevents all public officials from being hosted at any ballgame.  Since corporate sponsors had been able to share their seats with legislators and city magnates until last month, one consequence of the law, he conjectured, is that corporations might begin to question their expenditures for luxury boxes.  Coupled with this challenge, the downturn in the economy might reduce the number of games that ordinary fans attend.  Having seen his childhood Montgomery leave decades ago, he wants attendance at the Biscuits' games to remain a draw.  Scanning the crowd on this Monday evening, he projected that the Biscuits would be challenged to break 500, despite having two youth teams featured as part of their pre-game ceremonies. By the game's end, however, the official attendance reached 1698.  Maybe the concessions and in-game activities that feature chicken biscuits, biscuits with gravy, and biscuits with butter and jelly lured a reasonable crowd on a school night!

Although I had felt that I needed to see the Biscuits in my anthem tours, on Monday night they were simply beaten: Jackson Generals 6, Montgomery Biscuits 4.   And so was I.  Somehow, in my fatigue, I deleted all but three of my Montgomery pictures .

1 comment:

  1. Your post was interesting in light of some current events in Southern California. Four Los Angeles city councilmen, as well as Mayor Villarigosa have been fined over $30,000 for accepting tickets to events without reporting them as gifts.

    You and Bonnie be safe. Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey and Happy Easter.