Puppies and Baseball in Hudson Valley – What’s Not to Like?

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OK, I admit it. A bit of pandering right up front. Who doesn’t love a cute puppy? No, this was not a bark in the park evening (although stay tuned for my post on the Long Island Ducks from this same road trip). Rather, this little guy was from Happy Life Animal Rescue, a nonprofit, foster based animal rescue organization based in Patterson, NY. They had a puppy bed, er, um, table set up at the game with pamphlets and a sleeping dog for fans to check out. I forgot to write down this little guy’s name, but check out Bordeaux, who made lots of friends while walking the concourse.
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I found these guys early on during my visit to the Hudson Valley Renegades, and it was an omen of great things to come!

Renegades

The Renegades are the NY-Penn League Class A short league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays (thus the Rays logo in the photo above). They’ve been an affliate of the Rays since 1996, and have won three NY-PL championships (1999, 2012 and 2017). They play their games at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, NY. The Dutch opened in 1994, and has a capacity of 4,494. One interesting note about this stadium: with the exception of the pitchers mound and the batter’s circle, the entire playing surface is Astro-Turf. I have to admit, I am not a big fan of this. On my previous minor league visits, only one other team (Brooklyn Cyclones) has an all artificial turf setup. But I can see the advantages of this.
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An all artifical turf field:
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Once I quickly got over that, I realized the Dutch is a great place to watch a game. Not a bad seat in the house. They have some really nice picnic areas on either side of the field, and some very nice landscaping down the third base line. My pictures don’t do it justice!
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Speaking of championships, I think I did my trip backwards. Saturday evening I visted the Renegades, and Sunday I saw the Long Island Ducks. However, Sunday, the Renegades were giving away replica championship rings. Kicking myself for not going Sunday. If anyone from the Renegades staff has made it this far in my post, if you have any of the replicas leftover, let me know! Here’s a pic of the real thing!
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Another nice touch the Renegades had was a seat for the missing POWs and MIAs. Not all stadiums have this, and I am happy when they include this.
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Fun Games

I’ve found that teams are getting more creative in their between inning entertainment. The dizzy bat race is now the exception, not the norm. I didn’t get as many good photos of the Renegades’ games as I wanted, but they had some really fun bits. One involved couples, each person holding half of a pitcher and they needed to hold it together to fill a small bucket. Another was very cute, two kids had to race to see how many stickers they could put on their fathers’ faces. Loved it!
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They also had an incredible conga line, starting at either end of the stadium. I shot the video with my camera, but should have just shot it with my phone. My apologies for the herky jerky motion. But it was pretty cool!

I love making new friends!
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PSA

There has been a lot of discussion about extending the netting in both MiLB and MLB stadiums. I’ll be honest, at first I was against it. However, during a visit to the Lake County Captains, a foul ball caught an unexpecting fan in the face, and the game was stopped for about 20 minutes. Officials debated whether to bring an ambulance onto the field. During tonight’s game, one fan did catch a ball to the side of their face. No game stoppage, but it was a bit of a scary situation. Many teams across all the leagues are looking to extend the netting as far as they can, and I am now all for it!
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Food!

Now we get to the good stuff. At first glance, I thought the food options were pretty limited at the Dutch. But my first impressions were wrong! Beyond the standard ballpark fare, they had some really good options, from a fresh taco stand, to a gourmet burger place, and plenty of really nice beer options. You will NOT go hungry or thirsty when visiting the Renegades!
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They have quite a few drink options as well. There’s a really nice small bar under the stands on the third base side, as well as a beer garden under the first base lines. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a really nice outdoor bar/beer joint far down the first base line!IMG_2866IMG_2870IMG_2872

My first course was the fresh tacos. Wow! I went with one beef, one chicken. I didn’t go wrong.
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They also had an awesome grill on the first base side, with cool burgers, and HUGE hotdogs!
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One of the specials was a Cracker Jack burger. The 6oz Angus beef burger is served on a pretzel roll that’s encrusted with Cracker Jacks. The twist on a classic burger is filled with caramel aioli, bourbon bacon, pepper jack cheese and a steak sauce.
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For dessert, they do offer fried dough, which while looked very yummy, I did resist!
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Gift Shop

The Renegades’ gift shop did not disappoint. I was hoping to find something that had they Rays and Renegades logos on them. They did have this cool shirt, but unfortunately it was only in kids sizes. I did buy a variation on this, the only thing missing was the Rays logo. My suggestion would be to have this in adult sizes. They also had quite the selection of caps!

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In Game Action

The Renegades fought a hard fight, but couldn’t overcome the Ironbirds of Aberdeen. During the evening there were some close calls, and lots of action, but in the end, the Ironbirds won 11-2. Here are some good action shots I was able to capture.
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Wrap up

I always cringe when I have to travel up the I-95/Jersey Turnpike corridor to catch a game. It was a long drive to Hudson Valley but well worth the traffic and tolls! I didn’t mention it earlier, but the crowd was awesome, very friendly and family oriented. A great place to watch a game. I also love it when players take the time to stop and spend time with the fans after the game, something I find unique in minor league games. While the trip to NY was a long journey, it was well worth it, and showed what a class organization the Rays and Renegades have!
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