On Saturday night in NBT Bank Stadium, the Syracuse Chiefs didn’t play. Instead, there was a pregame wedding, an eight-foot tall golden fork, salt potato pizza, potato sack races and taekwondo. All took place in the freshly named Tater Town, where the Chiefs changed their name to the Salt Potatoes, the Red Wings turned into the Plates and Jose “Mashed Potatoes” Marmolejos homered amid the quirkiness.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerThere was a baseball game — called Duel for the Dishes — but it was just a sideshow. As the Salt Potatoes took batting practice, a couple stated their vows on the venue’s party deck.The wedding had been planned for this specific weekend. Katie Brown, a Syracuse native, had introduced her new husband, Jared Forst, to salt potatoes earlier in their relationship because the buttery delicacy is a staple of central New York. Forst hails from Ohio and had never experienced the side dish.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He’s like addicted now,” the now-Katie Forst said.“It was kind of weird, the wedding thing,” Marmolejos “Mashed Potatoes” said. Like the rest of the Salt Potatoes, and the team itself, the outfielder had his name altered to a food for the game.The wedding took place beyond the right-field wall. Marmolejos warned them it wasn’t a safe spot.“I yelled at them, ‘Hey watch out, don’t get hit with a ball,’” Marmolejos recalled. “That was the first time I’ve seen that. That was kind of different.”Billy Heyen | Assistant Sports EditorAs game time approached and fans filed in, they had their first opportunity to take part in the starch-dedicated evening. Syracuse dished out bobbleheads, depicting a Salt Potato standing on the Plates logo, to the first 1,000 people in the stadium, in addition to season-ticket holders.One father and son pair received bobbleheads. But that’s not why they were early: The pair was in attendance to watch a younger brother perform in a pregame taekwondo demo. That meant they were walking around carrying three boxed bobbleheads. The older brother plans on keeping his saved in the box. It’s a collector’s item, after all. As the father held his bobbleheads, Master Pryor’s Taekwondo students aligned on the third-base side of the diamond. With music playing, they smashed boards with their hands and feet.That father and two sons grouping tries to make the half-hour drive to the ballpark from Palermo at least once a year. With his son performing martial arts on the field before the game, Saturday was the night.Brian Goodheart, from Phoenix, has never collected bobbleheads — but maybe the salt potato bobblehead, his first, might start a collection, he said. Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on August 27, 2018 at 11:55 pm Contact Billy: email@example.com | @Wheyen3 Goodheart can keep the bobblehead, but he couldn’t bring home the night’s biggest attraction: an eight-foot tall fork.The fork was available before and during the game for photos in the stadium’s main concourse. But minutes before first pitch, Syracuse general manager Jason Smorol walked out toward the mound with the fork in hand.Smorol called the ‘Dishes game the “single most important game in the history of minor league baseball.” In all, 6,221 fans celebrated what Smorol called “the most underrated, underappreciated side dish of all time.”And that’s why Smorol made sure the potato wouldn’t be forgotten, at least for one night.As was only fitting in Tater Town on Saturday, the first pitches were thrown with salt potatoes. The Forsts threw theirs together. They stood back-to-back on the mound and both fired strikes to Scooch, one of Syracuse’s mascots.Rochester began the “Plates” promotion last season in homage to the famed “Garbage Plate,” which originated in Rochester. The dish features macaroni salad, home fries, two hamburgers and meat sauce.Kennys Vargas is a first baseman and designated hitter for the Rochester Red Wings. Visible are the layers of a garbage plate, and the lettering “Plates” is across his chest.Chris David, from Rochester, is a super fan. His girlfriend lives in Fayetteville, so it was a multi-purpose trip down Interstate 90. He arrived at about 1 p.m., in time to make it to the Rochester team bus and have players sign his Plates flag.“Because they have this whole food rivalry thing, it’s pretty interesting and fun,” David said.Before the third inning of baseball got underway, potatoes raced potatoes.Three kids headed out to the third base line and picked up potato sacks. They stepped right in and hopped up and down the third-base side. They were cheered on by both of the usual Syracuse mascots, Scooch and Pops.A few innings later, the wedding party returned, most having changed out of their full ceremony garb. They played a variation of the hot potato game. Teams would form as pairs, and the women would lob potatoes over their shoulder for their partner to run down and catch in their potato sack.As Syracuse struggled with its bats to plate runs, fans did no better. Dizzy bat, a popular minor league gimmick, tasks children with standing over a baseball bat and put their forehead on the knob, pressed to the ground. Then, they spin around the bat 10 times. Naturally, they’re very dizzy, but in this variation, they were forced to run to pick up a potato sack.After wobbling to the potato sack, they hopped back toward their original spot next to the bats. While the kids struggled to jog to the potato sack, it seemed that dizziness affected hopping less than running — all contestants made it back to the finish line without any dramatic falls.In what seemed like the night’s secondary act, Marmolejos turned on a first-pitch fastball and sent it soaring toward the party deck in right field. It landed right where the wedding had taken place hours earlier.After the homer put Syracuse in the lead, 1-0, the Salt Potatoes’ Twitter account wrote a tweet that began “Spudnificent!!”. But the night was not to stay as such — Rochester came back to win, 3-1. With victory in hand, the Plates could now claim the night’s biggest prize.At the game’s conclusion, the Rochester Plates were granted the eight-foot tall Golden Fork. With Rochester general manager Dan Mason unable to attend, Grant Anderson was handed the fork. Anderson works as an on-field host for Rochester.He was joined in claiming the fork by two members of the Rochester coaching staff, manager Joel Skinner and pitching coach Stu Cliburn, and Salt Potatoes’ GM Smorol.On a night which featured salt potatoes, garlic parmesan salt potatoes, salt potato pizza and salt potato hot dogs on sale in the ballpark, fans were given a final perk free of charge: fireworks.Red, blue and gold illuminated the sky. Different sizes of burst and volume echoed through Tater Town. A common conclusion to a night at the ballpark. The fireworks could’ve been on any Saturday night — there were no salt potatoes.Photos by Staff Photographer Josh Shub-Seltzer Comments
PITTSBURGH STEELERS QUARTERBACK JOSHUA DOBBS checked out the game between Westinghouse and Linsly, W.Va., at Cupples Stadium, Aug. 30. He’s pictured with Westinghouse principal Dr. Bernard Taylor Jr. THE WESTINGHOUSE CHEERLEADERS Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hlFollow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier MALIK HARRIS, No. 7 in blue, is a key component of the run game for Westinghouse. A week prior, Aug. 24, the Bulldogs had an astonishing 30-13 lead after three quarters over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, at a game played at the Wolvarena in Turtle Creek. But Our Lady of the Sacred Heart scored 20 fourth quarter points to stun Westinghouse, 33-30.That’s right, Westinghouse has not scored a single point in the fourth quarter of their first two games of the season—the reason for their 0-2 record heading into their Sept. 5 matchup against City League foe University Prep, their first City League conference game of the season.“It takes maturity to finish games and we haven’t been able to do that,” Green told the New Pittsburgh Courier after his team’s loss to Linsly, Aug. 30. “It’s just finishing those games and really driving that point home that we have to finish.”Green said his team has a good amount of seniors, but “a lot of them are first-year players or second-year players, so we appear to be older than we really are. So it’s just trying to find our identity, trying to find that will from inside to finish these games, that’s the biggest thing…at some point it has to become embedded in their hearts to want to finish these games and want to get better and want to make tackles. We (as coaches) can’t want it more than they do.”Though Westinghouse has gotten off to a rocky start, this year’s squad still has a good chance to return to the City League championship game for a second straight year. They lost to Allderdice, 18-8, on Oct. 30, 2018.Green said his Bulldogs are “enjoying football, they’re enjoying coming to practice, they’re enjoying the preparation,” all the little things needed to master to hopefully, for the ‘House, have its first City League championship since 1996.Westinghouse is also enjoying having one of the top players in the state of Pennsylvania on their team—Dayon Hayes, a senior defensive end who’s ranked as the No. 3 recruit in 2020 on Rivals.com. He’s already committed to play football at Pitt.“From Day 1, in school he’s a huge leader, making sure all the young guys, even the older guys, are where they’re supposed to be, in class,” Green said of Hayes. “Then of course on the field, it’s just his natural ability to take over games and to basically take one side of the football field away is big for us from him.”Hayes lets his play do the talking. “He’s not a rah-rah guy, you probably won’t hear him say one word in the game,” Green said, “but he’s going to give 100 percent effort every single play.”Hayes, at 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, anchors a Westinghouse defense that returns eight starters, including senior free safety Khalil Jeter. The Bulldogs also return eight starters on offense, and will call upon Lanier (a senior), running backs Mike Massey (senior) and Malik Harris (sophomore), and senior receiver Cameron Jones to carry the load.While the Bulldogs relied much more on the run game last year, Green told the Courier he’s not going to worry about which attack (run or pass) will be relied on more. He just wants “hard-nosed football…I just want a team that’s going to come out and that’s going to smash into some people,” he said. “It’s going to be hard-nosed football that’s going to finish plays, finish drives and finish games.”Following Westinghouse’s game against University Prep at Cupples Stadium, Sept. 5, they’ll face Allderdice at Cupples, Sept. 12. They’ll also play Carrick (Sept. 19), Brashear (Sept. 26), Hickory (Hermitage, Pa., Oct. 4) and Perry (Oct. 11), all at Cupples.Can the Bulldogs turn things around, and get back in the fast lane to the City League championship game once again? Green believes so.“I think we’re just inexperienced, and it’s going to take some time,” he told the Courier. “Once we find ourselves, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.” “From Day 1, in school he’s a huge leader, making sure all the young guys, even the older guys, are where they’re supposed to be, in class. Then of course on the field, it’s just his natural ability to take over games and to basically take one side of the football field away is big for us from him.”Westinghouse football coach Donta Green, on senior defensive end Dayon Hayes,pictured above, a Pitt recruit and the No. 3 rated recruit in Pennsylvania for 2020. (Photos by Courier PhotographerAndre Swinton Jr.) TROY LANIER will be called upon to “quarterback” the Westinghouse offense to points and victories. DONTA GREEN is in his first year as head coach of the Westinghouse Bulldogs. (Photo by Andre Swinton Jr.)by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff WriterWhat exactly is maturity?How do you become more mature?When do you know you’ve matured?Trying to lock down a definition of maturity could take all day, though Wikipedia defines maturity as “the emergence of individual and behavioral characteristics through growth processes over time.”Moments after Westinghouse High School’s football team let their second straight game slip away after having a third quarter lead, head coach Donta Green said it all boiled down to one word concerning his players: maturity.The Bulldogs, who most high school football experts believe have a good shot of returning to the Pittsburgh City League championship game, had an 18-6 lead midway through the third quarter of their matchup against Linsly School (W.Va.) at Cupples Stadium on the South Side, Aug. 30. But Linsly fought back by scoring three unanswered touchdowns and a game-sealing interception of Westinghouse quarterback Troy Lanier to take a 26-18 win back to the Mountaineer State.