Probably my favorite moment of our family’s enjoyable Saturday night trip to see the Vermont Lake Monsters came when my older daughter gained new perspective on the quality of her internship here at this newspaper.
Not all work at the Independent is as glamorous as it appears when readers see us at school board meetings, zoning hearings and ribbon-cuttings.
No, some of our work is drudgery, like transcribing 45-minute recorded interviews. That’s a task that takes a couple hours and is like watching a rerun, except it takes almost three times as long to do so.
But the three Lake Monster interns enjoy unique work at the University of Vermont’s Centennial Field. When out of the public eye I’m sure they’re learning the ins and outs of marketing, event management and making drinkable coffee.
On game night, however, the trio dance on top of dugouts with a guy dressed in a fuzzy green mascot suit, shoot Fairpoint Communication T-shirts into the crowd with a giant sling shot, and dress up as a hot dog and ketchup and mustard bottles and stage a race around the basepaths to help sell MacKenzie tube steaks.
Observing this, Kaitlyn said something that I’ll translate as, “I’d rather transcribe a four-hour interview for the fifth time.”
I imagined a conversation this fall when a Lake Monster intern is back at college with his two buddies.
“What did you do this summer?”
“I interned at J.P. Morgan. I learned about mortgage derivatives, hedge funds and how to sabotage the world economy.”
“Well, I worked at UVM’s agriculture program learning how to feed the world after you send it spiraling into another Great Depression.”
Then they turn to the Lake Monster intern.
“I wore a pink tutu and dressed as the tooth fairy and helped a 5-year-old clean off first base with a giant tooth brush to promote Delta Dental.”
Hey, it was all in good fun, and more than 2,700 people showed up to watch the shenanigans, and some baseball. That’s a pretty good crowd, about 7 percent of the population of Burlington.
But for the most part, fans were strangely quiet. Possibly this was because the Lake Monsters were playing the Lowell Spinners, a Boston Red Sox affiliate. The four of us didn’t know which team to root for, the local guys or the guys who might someday play for the Major League team we support.
The loudest it got was when the not-so-jumbotron operators asked for noise, and a good 10 percent of the crowed erupted in half-hearted cheers. The optimistic noise-o-meter on the screen almost reached its upper limit. I think they were trying to teach the interns something about marketing.
The screen also showed pictures of the crowd provided by a roving cameraman. Because we sat in the front row and because the game went into extra innings, we got our 15 seconds of fame twice. Thankfully, the women in the family are far more photogenic than I.
The screen also offered photos of the athletes when they came up to bat. But instead of their updated stats, such as one might see at a Major League game, it showed when their teams acquired them and in which round of the annual Major League draft.
Now, that was fine for some players. For Lake Monster catcher Bruce Maxwell it read “R2, 2012,” because the Monsters’ parent team, Oakland, picked him in the second round of this year’s draft of amateur players.
But for others, not so much. Some guys’ info read along the lines of “R47, 2008.” It was like they were the last guys picked for kickball at recess and the Lake Monsters were broadcasting it to everybody.
For a while, the game looked like it was being played by the guys picked last. The Lake Monsters made three errors in the first inning alone, and escaped allowing only one run in part because a Spinner named Kendrick Perkins (yes, just like the former Boston Celtic, and even from the same home state of Texas) got himself picked off second base. I’ve seen the Mount Abe and Vergennes boys look better up at Centennial Field.
Soon everyone settled down and started pitching and fielding well. Monster Chris Bostick looked Major League ready at second base, and a Spinner pitcher from the Dominican Republic built like former Boston and Dominican all-star Pedro Martinez (and wearing his number) delivered the ball like former Red Sox great Luis Tiant, turning his back to home plate before whipping the ball homeward. They were fun to watch.
I am pretty sure the Centennial Field seats aren’t Major League ready. After 10 innings, I would have confessed to driving that suspicious pickup truck recently spotted in Panton if I knew one of the teams would score a run and win.
After 12 innings, three out of four in our posse agreed, and we left. We heard the Monsters win as we hit Shelburne on Route 7 when Perkins dropped a fly ball in right. Maybe he should have stuck to basketball.
Or maybe he should have entered the interns’ Ben & Jerry’s milkshake-drinking competition.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]