I wanted to meet my new Saugerties Stallions teammates, and to explore the new town I will be living in for the summer. However, I took a wrong exit off the Thruway at Kingston. I found myself looking down a narrow street that held a sense of familiarity from its historical charm.
If someone had asked me to guess where I was, I would have said I must be in a historical neighborhood of Philadelphia. Quaint stone houses, street signs hanging like flags underneath a canopy. I felt a sense of déjà vu. This place was both recognizable and unfamiliar. Would that be what my summer would feel like?
My car ride that felt like a lifetime was not quite done.
Twenty-two minutes later, exit 20 for Saugerties flashed in front of me.
Passing over the train tracks opened my eyes to a new environment. This was a town like no other I had ever encountered. I could feel character thriving here, but I couldn’t quite identify my place in it.
Distinctive street art lined the main street. The street art consisted of rocking horses. Why rocking horses? I chuckled. Near where I come from, the street lights of Hershey, Pa. are in the shapes of Hershey Kisses.
Turning down Partition Street, I became confused. This seemingly historical town turned modernized, with noticeable spunk amongst the upbeat trendy bars, restaurants and hotels. I let out a sigh of relief. I knew there would be plenty to do this summer, as well as the reason I was here, baseball.
I opened my transportation lifesaver, Google Maps, and typed in Cantine Memorial Field. I drove there.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. In a world that worshipped football, this was surely a baseball town.
I couldn’t wait to be introduced to all the people who worked so hard to make this summer possible for the players, and most importantly the family I would be living with for the next two months.
My new teammates and I piled into the meeting room. An awkward tension not unlike the first day of new classes filled the room. We all sat and listened to the well-organized introductions.
After what seemed like hours, it was finally time to meet the families. Timidly, I made my way over to the Wormell family, my hosts. They quickly made me feel welcome with open arms and friendly hellos. I was impressed by their wonderful family from the start.
Gazing the room at all the other players encountering their first impressions, I felt lucky. I couldn’t wait to see their home on Blue Mountain Road, but first we players had to experience our other new home, Cantine Memorial Field, which was hosting a high-school game.
I was stunned to see the ballpark fill up fast with eager fans. With the first pitch, the atmosphere in the stands became electric. There were more baseball-hungry fans here than I get at some of my collegiate games.
This scene required a snapchat, which I sent to my Elon college teammates, making it known to them that Saugerties was a baseball community.
After the game, which was exciting, I wanted to explore my new environment further. Stella’s Station was recommended to me as a place to eat.
Walking the streets of Saugerties, filled me with curiosity and intrigue. At one point I was walking past an adult-sized Simpson family replica in one window, only to find myself looking at an elegant art gallery in another. I liked the diversity this town offered.
The trendiness of Stella’s Station didn’t seem out of place within the town any more. I absorbed the atmosphere. It was the perfect place to let loose after a long day. I peered up from my menu to find myself face to face with a large plastic hammerhead shark hanging on a wall. Eyeing the shark carefully, I ate.
Although I wanted to stay and finish watching the game on the large flat-screen televisions, it was time to move into the Wormell home.
Just before I got to Saugerties, I became aware I was going to be sharing the Wormell family with another player, Austin Bachelor, who is a right-handed pitcher like I am.
I walked up to my future room. Seeing the two beds in the room, I realized I was going to be sharing the room with Austin. Lucky for me, I was the first one in the room. I chose the larger bed. Sorry, Austin.
My first day was finally over. It had been a pretty special encounter. When you are familiar with a place, you lose sight on the little details. For me, the Hershey Kiss lights in my hometown are no longer as noticeable as they might be for the tourists.
As I begin to call this town my home for the summer, it will become more familiar to me and its uniqueness less noticeable. But right now the first impression Saugerties had left on me was one to remember.
Gavin Hellman is a 6’4” 192 pound, right-handed pitcher from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.