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     JOY RETURNS TO MUDVILLE white logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH

My friend Chris, the bartender at Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown, Rhode Island times his fall departure from New England directly to the yearly fates of the Boston Red Sox. If the boys from Beantown have the good fortune of making it beyond their regular schedule, Chris extends his time on this stretch of Atlantic coastline at least until the last out of postseason play. Fortunately for him, the last few years have given him good reason not to leave for his six month position in Florida any earlier than Columbus Day.

There was a time in my own life when baseball meant as much to me—a time when my daily amount of good cheer was influenced by the effectiveness of Reggie Jackson’s bat, or the defensive prowess of Graig Nettles down the third base line. For the sake of my relationship with Chris, it is probably better that my passion for the game has been somewhat diminished over the decades. Having less of a stake in the quality of play of the New York Yankees allows me to tolerate, and yes, even on occasion root for the Red Sox—especially if my next pint at Flo’s is dependent upon Chris’s watchful eye and generous hand.

With the passing of the years I’ve come to miss my personal connection to what is still America’s favorite pursuit. And from the crack of the bat, to the smell of mustard on boiled hotdogs, the taste of cold foamy lager, and the great green expanse that fills your vision when you emerge from the tunnel beneath the stands—when seen in person there is no other experience in all of sports that so totally satisfies the senses. Within the bounds of the diamond there is order, symmetry and a simple elegance. And beyond the infield are those individual aspects of design that give each ballpark its own unique appeal and personality. Cardines Field in Newport has one particular characteristic that has always found favor with me. There just happens to be an enclosed viewing area in the right field corner that connects back into the renowned and highly regarded Mudville Pub.

Last summer I was determined to watch a game from those choice seats; but much to my dismay the establishment had closed its doors due to a catastrophic plumbing failure that severely damaged the ground floor of the building. There was certainly no joy in Mudville during the 2009 season. But with each new spring equinox there is that possibility of renewal, and as I arrived at my favorite port of call in the Ocean State this past June, one of the first things that caught my eye was the open door at the Mudville Pub. Perhaps at long last I would get the chance to watch the darlings of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, (the Newport Gulls), in nighttime action at Cardines Field. Unfortunately that game was not to be; but there was an afternoon under the sun that would more than compensate for the lack of nine innings under the lights.

After some pleasant conversation, a few beers and an examination of the museum quality memorabilia at Mudville, I headed out towards one of the best backyards of any tavern in America. Flashing a business card in the hope of legitimizing my presence, I asked the gentleman who appeared to be in charge of the groundskeeping crew if I might wander about the field. A smile and a quick nod in the affirmative allowed me to cross the newly chalked line onto the ground where legends of the game had once played. Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Bob Feller, Yogi Berra, and Luscious Luke Easter were among the greats that refined their craft and artistry on this verdant turf.







Mudville Pub In Newport RI as seen in American Public Houise Review
MUDVILLE PUB IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND



Bar at the Mudville Pub in Newport, Rhode Island as seen in American Public House review
MUDVILLE'S COMFORTABLE BAR



The dugout at the Mudville Pub in newport Rhode Island as seen in American Public House Review
THE DUGOUT AT MUDVILLE PUB



The Dugout from the field at the Mudville Pub as seen in American Public House Review
THE DUGOUT FROM THE FIELD



Cardines Field from the out field at Mudvilee Pub in Newport Road Island as seen in AmericanPublic House Review
CARDINES FIELD FROM THE OUTFIELD



The Newport Gulls on Cardine's Field at the Mudville Pub in Newport Rhode Island as seen in American Public House Review
THE NEWPORT GULLS OF THE NEW ENGLAND COLLEGIATE BASEBALL LEAGUE PLAY AT CARDINES FIELD



A real Newport gull on Cardines field at the Mudville Pub in Newport RI as seen in American Public House Review
AN ACTUAL NEWPORT GULL



Somewhere between second base and centerfield I was joined by a few of the team’s feathered namesakes. What could be sweeter than the call of the gull, an ocean breeze off the bay, and a stroll across this historic ballpark? The ticking of the internal timepiece that drives my day stopped, and I was enveloped in a rare moment of calm. I thought back to those days at Yankee Stadium, and no matter how tense or dramatic the situation might be for my hometown heroes, there was always that transcendent sense of being at peace. Perhaps this has to do with the very nature of the game.

Baseball, unlike most team sports, is not about the clash of two forces in brutal opposition pitted in a frenetic race against the clock. Instead, it is about individuals bringing their own set of skills to a collective effort, with the simple goal of being a bit more successful at reaching home at the end of the day. Baseball is not sport—baseball is life!     

At some point during my bout of introspection, I became oblivious to the fact that the grounds crew had left and batting practice had commenced. I don’t know if I became a convenient target for one of the more talented bats of the Newport Gulls; but now a fly ball was heading in my direction. For one brief moment I contemplated settling under the ball; but then I remembered little league tryouts, and my less than inspiring attempts at the game. I settled instead for a good pint in the right field corner—joy had returned to Mudville!.



Taps at the Mudville Pub in Newport Rhode Island as seen in American Public House Review
A GENEROUS SELECTION OF BREWS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE MUDVILLE PUB'S TAPS




batter on Cardines Field at the Mudville Pub In Newport, RI as seen in American Public House Review
Batter on Cardines Field at the Mudville Pub in Newport, RI as seen in American Public House Review
Batter on Cardines Field at the Mudville Pub in Newport, RI as seen in American Public House Review






MUDVILLE PUB


8 WEST MARLBOROUGH STREET

NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND 02840

401-849-1408

no web site

DIRECTIONS




FLO'S CLAM SHACK


4 WAVE AVENUE

MIDDLETOWN, RHODE ISLAND 02842

401-847-8141

www.flosclamshack.net

DIRECTIONS



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