Behind the scenes at an Amsterdam Mohawks game

Year after year the Amsterdam Mohawks put together one of the best teams in collegiate baseball. But there’s more to the Mohawks than just the outstanding players who put on uniforms to play the game fondly called America’s pastime. The Mohawks’ extended family includes the people who work or volunteer each game to ensure that fans young and old enjoy their night at the ball park.

Monday night was “Free Admission Night” at Shuttleworth Park, sponsored by the River Ridge Living Center. Once again the stands were packed with fans, who all had chance to sing the national anthem, and if they chose, participate in Mohawks between-innings activities led by on-field fun director Barry Rouse. The Mohawks’ “baseball buddies” gathered behind the home team dugout, as they do every home game for the chance to run on to the field with the Mohawks players, some who will one day play in the professional leagues. The team’s official bat boys for Monday night were visiting all the way from Texas. Also a part of Mohawks tradition is the first pitch or pitches delivered by sponsors and people in the community. Just before game time, children always get a chance to shout “play ball”!

The Amsterdam Mohawks are also the people who work behind the counters at the concession stands selling hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, sno-cones, soft drinks and ice cream. They are the people who carry the sponsors signs in between innings and drive the mascot Mo Jo around the field. The team also includes the people who work in the ticket booth, announce and broadcast the games, keep the stats, sell raffle tickets, and organize games for the children. They are also the interns, who often spend their summers at the park building their college resumes.

One of this year’s Mohawks interns is Amsterdam’s Jessica Gardinier, who was valedictorian of the Class of 2017 at Amsterdam High School. Gardinier greeted fans at the main gate to the park and at the same time signed up a group of baseball buddies, whom she led on to the field for the pre-game introductions. Gardinier kept a list of between innings fun that was scheduled for the fans, and helped some of the young ones with the popular “YMCA” song. It was also YMCA night at the park, and fitness night as well, so all of the mini-events had a fitness theme. Garndinier has also managed to elude the whipped cream pies and water balloons that in the past Rouse has managed to catch many previous interns with as part of his calliope of fun. Gardinier received the Marist Presidential Scholarship and will attend Marist College in the fall with a double major in accounting and finance.

The singing of “God Bless America” has become a regular occurrence at ball parks across the country since 2001, and Monday night at Shuttleworth everyone had a chance to sing along. Following that song, young Amelia Spagnola led everyone with the singing of another baseball classic, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. There were birthday wishes and a special congratulations to a couple from Scotland who recently wed. The fun didn’t stop even when the last out was recorded as children played on the infield or had their picture taken with their favorite Mohawks player.

The Amsterdam Mohawks play at Shuttleworth Park next on Thursday, July 20 and will face the Utica Blue Sox.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.