By TITUS MEDLEY
Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating. I had never covered a sporting event, let alone one at a new stadium with a new team. New kid syndrome was hitting me hard when I went to the Sod Poodles press box to cover a game for the student newspaper.
“I’m with Amarillo College” seemed to be the only thing that I could say out loud. Luckily, I found an old friend, who helped me get over the jitters. Mike Higgins, a freelance reporter, introduced himself and told me he also wrote for “The Ranger” some 40 years ago. Higgins had been exactly where I was and I found great comfort in that.
The game was an exciting one. Hodgetown is built a little lower than street level, meaning the wind will catch anything hit above the stadium seats. This was a place built for home runs and I saw a lot of them.
The press room had an intensity I had never felt before. The stadium was crowded and smelled like hot dogs and popcorn. Sports have never been my favorite thing, but there is something magical about baseball on a beautiful day.
The last time Amarillo had a professional farm team was the Gold Sox in 1982. The Amarillo Sod Poodles, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, marks the return of baseball to the Panhandle and brought the construction of a beautiful new stadium along with it. Hodgetown, named for Jerry Hodge, a local business man who matched the city on construction costs, sits right at the entrance of downtown and near City Hall. Its big bright red letters illuminate Buchanan Street at night and add much needed character to downtown.
The people of Amarillo treated the Sod Poodles a lot like Higgins treated me. We remember the Gold Sox; we remember the Dillas; we have been where the Sod Poodles were their first season. I hope the support continues. Congratulations to the 2019 Texas League champions.