Friday, August 4, 2017

Good Seats, Eh Buddy?

Story and photos by Peyton Zeigler

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - People who have been around baseball long enough will remember Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker saying in a commercial, "I must be in the front row!" Of course after that classic line is a shot of the same guy sitting in the third row from the top of the stands. 

At the last game of a four game series between the Syracuse Chiefs and the Louisville Bats, Nick Melchiore was the Bob Uecker of the night. 

"Most people, because they're not of my age, don't know what it is all about. But every now and then you come up on somebody from that period of time that says, 'I remember those commercials,'" he said. 

Melchiore sat alone, six rows from the top of the stands along the first base line. There were plenty of shaded seats to chose from below, but instead he sat using his arm as a shield from the setting sun.

His wife sat alone across the field along the third base line. He watched the game squinting into the setting sun  in hopes of catching a foul ball for the Little League team he came with. But he also recognized that the farther you sit from home plate, the less likely you're going to get beaned with a foul ball. He said his team was down below clustered together.

"That's not the way to do it. You gotta be away [from home plate] a little bit."

Melchiore likes to switch up his seats from time to time depending on what is happening in the game. Because of his former umpiring days, he sometimes sits closer to home plate to make sense of the strike zone. He says he also shifts around in the stands like he does when he's coaching. 

"I'm constantly moving, because I'm because I'm always evaluating my players."

He's on his twelfth year of coaching Little League baseball teams such as Harden Furniture (a.k.a. the Green Machine). One of his sons plays for the CNY Lightning Strikes and is set to play at Dreams Park in Cooperstown, N.Y. in two weeks.

Melchiore says just going to Cooperstown was a dream come true, but his son gets to play.

"There's the day I got married, the day that each of my boys were born, and then there's the week at Cooperstown," he smiles.

The emblem on his shirt read Cooperstown Dreams Park. 

Nick Melchiore's love and commitment to baseball doesn't have to be out in the front row for all to see. It can be seen in the vacant seats in ballparks surrounded by only a few people. And those are good seats, eh buddy?

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