Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Altoona Curve Experience

May 5, Cinco de Mayo, was my first chance to be part of the Curve experience in 2007. It didn’t take long to realize that the game against the Akron Aeros was just a part of that experience. The Curve, winners of the 2006 John H. Johnson President’s Trophy for Minor League Baseball’s top franchise, had a full slate of activities for the 5,124 fans in attendance.

Erik Estrada, Ponch from the hit show CHiPs, made a celebrity appearance for the second straight year on Cinco de Mayo. The Curve endearingly titled the evening “Cinco de Estrada”. Estrada was the epitome of class as he spent hours last year signing autographs and having his picture taken with hundreds of fans long after the game had ended.

Estrada enthusiastically shared his views on last year’s appearance.

“It takes 15-20 seconds to sign an autograph, say hi to someone on a phone, or give a hug. Why not do that? Fifteen seconds is nothing when it can make their day. It really chaps me when celebrities complain about that.”

Next to former player Adam Hyzdu, Estrada may be one of the most appreciated celebrities to grace Blair County Ballpark.

“I think I learned that (attitude) from my grandfather helping him sell sno-cones on the streets of Harlem when I was five years old.”

The game featured a highly touted pitching match-up. The Aeros sent #22 prospect Aaron Laffey from Cumberland, MD to the mound against Yoslan Herrera. Herrera is a Cuban defector and the #4 prospect for the Pirates according to Baseball America.

The Curve also have three other top six prospects on their roster – Andrew McCutchen (#1), Neil Walker (#2), and Steven Pearce (#6). Now is definitely the time to visit Altoona. It’s rare to have this many top prospects at one level of minor league baseball and they all may not be here together for too long.

Unfortunately, the Curve fell to the Aeros 5-1 and dropped to below the .500 mark for the season, 12-13.

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