An independent minor league game against the Camden River Sharks is a long way from that magical 2004 postseason. But that's not to say it's an insignificant contest. Just like the city they're playing for, the former major-leaguers on the Bears roster are fighting – play by play, pitch by pitch – for a return to past glory.
The chances of getting back are slim. Like your better financiers across the Hudson on Wall Street, the big league general managers prefer their assets with more upside. But there are major league scouts in the stands at Bears games, even this late in the season, waiting for a glimpse of overlooked brilliance that tells them to take a gamble on a quick return on their investment.
With two outs, a runner on second, and a 3-1 count, Mendoza delivers a slider that hangs in the middle of the plate. Recognizing the mistake, the batter uncoils. Smack! The ball turns into a pea as it makes its way in the direction of the Passaic. But Redman is already in pursuit, having turned his back to the ball at the crack of the bat.
Follow the ball's flight and you can't miss the big-time backdrop in the distance. Roughly eight miles in front of Redman, the financial district of Manhattan looms. From this vantage point, the silhouettes of its skyscrapers appear as anonymous gray blocks on the horizon. But their promise is clear. If Redman runs hard enough, those blocks may come into sharper focus. For now he has to stop at the base of Riverfront Stadium's outfield wall, where, after an about-face, he looks up and snatches the ball right out of the sky.
Three outs, inning over, and Mendoza's two-run lead is safe for now.
A call to the dugout
Meanwhile, Mark Skeels, then-general manager of the Newark Bears, is awaiting Redman in the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse, clutching a cellphone and a piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it.