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Baseline Study
by Haven James

Minor league baseball remains way up there on the best-bang-for-your-entertainment-buck chart. And our local Hudson Valley Renegades not only lead their division of the New York Penn League, they clearly have a shot at the championship this year. Climbing back from their readjustment after the departure of their charismatic manager, Bump Wills, and the change of ownership from the Texas Rangers to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Renegades demonstrated real promise once again as they battled the Erie Sea Wolves last week at Dutchess Stadium.

Thursday evening marked the Third Annual "MousePad Night" sponsored by NetStep Access Service, one of the area's leading Internet providers. The
Tanya Polacco, Robb Kinnin, Stefan Kinnin
first 3,000 fans through the gate received a commemorative Renegades mouse pad and got the opportunity to see NetStep's number one nethead, Robb Kinnin, throw out the first pitch. Accompanied to the mound by his double in miniature, son Stefan Kinnin, Robb's performance synched with the progress of the team as this year; he actually got the ball to the plate.

Media sponsor of the night was WPDH-FM, 101.5, and their sports guy burned one in to the plate to kick things off. From then on out, it was pure excitement from the box seats to the bleachers as the teams matched their bats through 10 innings.

This is the fifth season for the Renegades at Dutchess Stadium. They play short-season, Single A ball as part of the McNamara Division of the New York Penn League. This translates into a season which runs from mid-June through the beginning of September and features roughly seventy-five games. The stadium is an excellent facility, there isn't a bad seat in the house and ticket prices range from $4.50 to $7.50 and $3.00 for children under 14. Of course, there are hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, nachos, popcorn, cotton candy, hot pretzels, ice cream, a variety of beverages including beer and lemonade made with real lemons, and these, too, are affordable. Basically, you can go to a ballgame and bring your entire crew, eat, drink and be merry, and spend significantly less than going to a movie at the mall.

And there's a lot of personality to the experience. Obviously first is that this is the Devil Rays' only SS Single A team so all of their hot picks are sent here first as they start their climb to the Bigs. That baseball you get signed today just might.... But, the atmosphere and camaraderie is just as important; the fans really get into the games. Racoon mascots Rookie and Renee add the cartoon color, the management and sponsors run all sorts of promotions and games with prizes throughout the events, and the foot-stompers in the general admission bleacher seats raise quite a roar as things get tense.

And, things can get tense. Thursday's game was the last of a four game series with the Sea Wolves. The Renegades had dominated, winning the first three games both away and at home. The Sea Wolves wanted to win one, kind of like the Mets scraping out one victory on the Yanks in the recent subway series. Only problem is, everytime they pulled ahead, the Gades fought back. Clearly the superior team, the Renegades' infield stayed tight, and groundballs to third made it to first for the outs. No errors on the Gades' part. At bat, Luis Cruz launched missiles toward the fence as he raised his team leading homerun stats. Travis Miller came through with a bomb as inning by inning the Gades added runs. Tied in the ninth, the game went to extra inning and then it happened.

Up in the 10th, the Sea Wolves put one on the board. Renegades batters looked confident as they entered the bottom half of the inning, but all of the sudden the strike zone changed. Low and inside pitches that ruffled the uniforms at the shins started getting called as strikes. Outrage spread like wildfires through the stands and on the field. It might not have been so critical except for two factors. First, this team is in the hunt for the playoffs and every win really counts, and second, the shift in the zone was so obvious as to insult all concerned, leaving the impression that the umpires were tired and just wanted to go home. The game ended with the Renegades manager screaming his way down the right field line yelling at the two men in blue as the Renegades were robbed of what should have been a big win and a sweep of the Erie team.

Oh well... In the end the unfortunate twist of fate only heightened the impact of how good these teams have become and how knowledgeable and devoted the fan base is. The Renegades will get over it and return to win another day for sure, and we'll be there to watch their first real shot at the championship of the New York Penn League. Go Gades!

For game info and tickets there are many options. The telephone number for the box office at Fishkill's Dutchess Stadium is 838-0094. The Renegades have a web site at and receive e-mail at

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on July 1, 1998

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