The Muckdogs lost. Big time. The final score of tonight's big match with Jamestown was a blowout: 13-4.
The Jammers (44-29) now sit a mere half game back of Batavia (44-28) in the Pinckney Division.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn won again, to maintain a half-game lead in the wild card race.
All-in-all, a bad night at Dwyer Stadium.
Or was it?
Tonight was "Bill Kauffman Night." Bill threw out the first pitch, autographed books for fans who gave the correct answers to trivia questions, and his daughter and a friend sang the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful."
I sat with Kauffman and his friends and family in the third-base bleachers. It was a good lesson in what it really means to attend a minor league baseball game in a small town.
It isn't all about the game. It's about the camaraderie, shared memories and hearty laughs.
That said, not a single significant play was missed by the group and the level of baseball knowledge was higher than I've found in big league stadiums where I've seen games.
If that experience in "Little Elba," as General Manager Dave Wellenzohn calls it, could be captured in a marketing message -- if more families and groups of friends could better appreciate how much fun an evening at the ballpark can be, win or lose, the Muckdogs would sell out every game.
As much fun as the evening was, the highlight might have been meeting local legend John Hodgins.
After the fifth inning, when Wellenzohn thanked The Batavian for its sponsorship of the team in 2008, and pointed out that I was sitting with the "Little Elba" group, Mr. Hodgins came over and introduced himself.
I cringed at first. I thought he was going to complain about our "fly swat" post, poking fun at a cartoon he drew for the Daily News. Nope, he said. That didn't bother him at all. He's just curious about what we're doing and wanted to meet me. That, my friends, is quite a complement.
I've seen Hodgins art work. I'm impressed. I hope to own some of it some day. I'll feel honored for a long, long time that he wanted to meet me.
I also got to meet in person for the first time Russ Stresing. We chatted for ten minutes or so as the game drew to a close. That, too, was cool.
So, you see, a night at the ballpark is more than just about the game. It's also about the people.
You should go.
Yes, the division crown isn't wrapped up yet, but there is hope: The Muckdogs, sitting in the cat bird seat, have two home games against State College (18-54) who seem hardly to even be going through the motions anymore, while Jamestown must play third-place Williamsport (38-34).
After the game, however, Wellenzohn and the Red Wing's Dan Mason insisted that State College needs to be taken seriously. There's no guarantees. With that said, you really need to get out to Dwyer Friday and Saturday and support the team.