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Feeling fortunate to see Lasorda manage the Dodgers

March 16, 2008
BRADENTON, Fla. — Between baseball and travel, it was a busy week for us. While the Pirates enjoyed an off day Tuesday, we journeyed three hours across the state to the East Coast, and took in ballgames at Jupiter and Vero Beach.

Altoona friends Tom and Nancy Moore hosted us (Lanes, Cambergs and Perrys) at their vacation home in St. Lucie, and it was an enjoyable couple of days. The eight of us, plus Marlin and Carol Berry, saw the Cardinals and Orioles play to a 2-2, 10-inning tie at Jupiter on Tuesday, then had dinner at the Abby Road Grille.

Before returning to Bradenton, we caught the Nationals’ 10-4 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday at Vero Beach where Jean and Joan were able to get Tommy Lasorda’s autograph. Lasorda, the Hall of Famer, is managing the club for a couple of days while Joe Torre and some of the other team members are in China for some exhibition games.

The Dodgers are heading for Arizona next spring after training for 60 years at Vero. Rumor has the Orioles taking over the facilities at Dodgertown, but it just won’t be the same not seeing the likes of Lasorda, Sandy Koufax and Maury Wills on the Vero premises.

While the Bucs were beating the Yankees and Billy Crystal in Tampa on Thursday, we stayed back in Bradenton, venturing out to Pirate City where the Bucs played Double-A and Triple-A minor league games against the Reds. After some time at the pool, it was off to Primo’s in Sarasota for some outstanding Italian food.

On Friday, the Bucs hosted the Reds in a game that started in 64-degree temperatures and a light rain. The McKechnie Field lights were even turned on before it was over, and Jason Delaney and Jonel Pacheco, ticketed for the Curve this season, some late-inning action. Altoonans Leo Walter, Joe Fatigante and Pete Quintili Jr. were spotted in the stands, and longtime friend Charlie Hess, who now calls Chambersburg home, also is in town for some baseball. Following the game, we went to one of our favorite eating spots, Barnacle Bill’s in Sarasota.

Early in the week, before heading to the East Coast, we saw the Pirates fall to the Twins, 8-4, at McKechnie as Matt Morris was roughed up for three homers. Former Curve players Randy Ruiz and Howie Clark saw action for the Twins while Joe Mauer, Craig Monroe and manager Ron Gardenhire signed autographs for Jean and Joan.

The Phillies also were here early in the week, and the Pirates scored an 8-5 win behind solid pitching from Ian Snell, who has looked good so far. Curve original owner Bob Lozinak and old buddy Dick Graupensperger took in the Bucs-Phils game, as did former Altoonan Joe Francis, who has lived in Pittsburgh for several years.

The World Champion Red Sox make their only appearance at McKechnie on Sunday and the Blue Jays are in town Monday. Next Wednesday, the Yankees will be here for the first-ever night game (the Reds’ March 7 game was rained out), and the Reds will be here again next Friday.

Hard to believe, but less than three weeks remain in the Sunshine State before we head back to Altoona.

Until next week ...

Jim Lane is a retired sports editor of the Mirror. He writes from Florida in February and March.

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