Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Woodling: Jayhawks avoiding Fishkill


Surely one of these years I'll be able to watch a former Kansas University baseball player perform in Dutchess Stadium.

Currently, however, I'm 0-for-2.

Dutchess Stadium is home to the Hudson Valley Renegades, a short-season Class A farm team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The ballyard is located in a small town near Newburgh, N.Y., called Fishkill, which, you must admit, doesn't lend itself well to nicknames. (The Fishkill Fishkillers, for example).

Anyway, like most minor-league parks, Dutchess Stadium is family-friendly, which is why my wife and I relish taking our grandchilden there every summer when we fly back East to see them and, of course, their parents.

As transplanted KU graduates, my older daughter and her husband always perk up when I tell them they'll have a chance to watch a former Jayhawk perform at Dutchess Stadium.

Two years ago, we were all juiced to go see Ryan Baty, who had signed a pro contract with Tampa Bay and had been assigned to the Renegades. So we made the 40-minute drive to Dutchess Stadium and : Baty didn't play.

As you may recall, Baty had been beaned in a preseason game at the D-Rays' training base in Florida and, when we were there, Baty hadn't been cleared for competition by club doctors.

Eventually, Baty did play - I'm thinking it was a week or so later - but he suffered a recurrence of headaches and dizziness and finally quit pro ball and enrolled in KU's School of Law.

At least we saw Baty in a pro uniform. We never saw Ritchie Price at all.

After Price had been selected in the 18th round of the June free-agent draft by the New York Mets and assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones, I checked the New York-Penn League schedule and noticed the Cyclones were scheduled to play at Hudson Valley on a Sunday afternoon, the perfect time for taking young children to a baseball game.

So I alerted my daughter, and she ordered tickets on the Web.

Finally, an hour or so before game time, we piled into the car - my son-in-law and grandson both wearing caps with the trademark Jayhawk above the bill - and trekked up the road eager to see Price perform in a Brooklyn uniform.

As we walked into the stadium, I purchased a program and carried it to our seats above home plate.

Momentarily, I checked the Brooklyn roster, looking for Price's name.

Nothing. No Ritchie Price.

What's going on? If he wasn't on the roster, where was he? Was he hurt? Had he been traded? Was he lost on a New York subway? Was he trapped on the Staten Island ferry?

Needless to say, we were all disappointed. When we returned home, I immediately went to the Mets' Web site and learned that Price had been transferred to the club's other short-season Class A farm club in Kingsport, Tenn.

We had missed him by three days.

Well, at least our luck is consistent. We haven't missed those former Jayhawks by much, and I guarantee you we'll keep trying until we succeed.


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