Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ogden Raptors


My first game in Utah, which we got to after 9 days of adventure hiking in the southern part of the state.  5 National Parks, amazing sights and challenging hiking.  Ogden is a little bit north of Salt Lake, and like much of the Salt Lake valley, the eastern side has impressive mountains overlooking the city.  Thankfully, the architects decide the outfield should face the mountains, so this park has some incredible views, and they got even better as the sunset made the mountains look redder than normal. As in much of Utah, the people were nice.  When we were waiting in line to get tickets, someone came up and gave us his extra.  Thanks! This being a rookie-ball level game, I wasn’t expecting a huge park.  And it wasn’t.  A great size, and it had a good number of fans.  Maybe because there was the “Raptor burger”!  A hamburger with a sausage on top? Sounds great!  Jack McDowell was a pitcher for the White Sox back when I was growing up, and he is the coach for the Raptors.  He has his work cut out for him with these rookies.  I saw a guy run through his stop sign, and get thrown out by a mile. Coach was not happy!  I do like that on the visitors dugout it says “Prey” on top.  The hat is also pretty cool, with the raptor climbing out of the O.   The crowd was relatively engaged, and it had some of the same type between inning promotions as normal.  This was a fun place to see a game, and the view definitely helped!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Richmond Flying Squirrels


We hit the ground running this morning to get to a 12:05 game in Richmond.  We actually ended up getting into the city around 11, so we tried to drive around downtown a little bit.  This was virtually impossible, due to every street being either one way, blocked, or having red lights.  Very difficult.  That said, the VCU campus looked old. The statehouse was kind of boring.

Anyway, the ballpark.  It was easy to find because it is huge and it is concrete, and it is more concrete.  $3 Parking, onsite and easy to get in and out of.  The exterior is not particularly attractive, but there was a $1 mini-golf course on site, very basic, and a place it looked like you could rent out for a party ahead of time, basically a picnic shelter with a bunch of tables. 

The concourse is kind of hidden behind the stands.  There are two levels, and this place could hold 9000+ people.  There was 4423 announced attendance.  It looked even emptier than that.  And the top 10 rows were tarped over with logos.  Their team store I did very much like in the fact that there were huge windows that you could see the field from the store.  The team name is the Flying Squirrels, so this is a hat I had been looking forward to!  They market that fun name well, with a tough looking mascot, and branding all over the place.  Good luck to them, I hope they do better business than they did that day!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lynchburg Hillcats


Outside of Lynchburg, there is the National D-Day Memorial.  For $7, we were able to go and view this very well kept, informational and moving memorial.  9 acres of plaques, flowers, statues and granite. Tomorrow being Memorial Day, they were setting up chairs for something.  It apparently has been around since 2001, and is very much in the middle of nowhere(Bedford VA).  We stopped in downtown Lynchburg, which calls itself “Hill City”.  Well named.  Lots of hills to climb up and down.  This was a Sunday afternoon at 1pm, but the downtown seemed very empty.  But it had a lot of potential, and a  lot of historic buildings.

The Hillcats’ stadium had free parking, and was nice brick on the outside, looking very much like the early 2000s minor league park that it is.  Or at least it was refurbished then.  Apparently it has been around since the 40s,  One of my favorite parts of this park was the general admission tickets.  There was a lawn area out the right field foul line, but 90% of the tickets were GA, including the seats right behind home plate!  One of the few ballparks where the screen goes all the way to the ground rather than a solid wall for the backstop. And the overhang of the press box was huge, so basically all of the seats behind home plate were in the shade!  Kind of reminded me of Damaschke Field in Oneonta.  There were some people sitting on the metal benches in the sun.  Not sure why.  Food was good, although they only had one permanent stand open.  But there was a small enough crowd that that wasn’t an issue.

Another wonderful mountain view, this time past left field. Although since the seating seemed lower than the ball field the mountain views were a little obstructed. In the guide book they handed out for free (thank you very much) they said they had installed  state of the art video screen in 2004. I think it was the state of the renaissance. Not that there’s a problem with that. I love Wrigley and the lack of the video screen. Nice dark green hat with Hillcats logo on it. The team store was nice with a very helpful attendant.

The game only lasted 2 hours and 8 minutes, due in part to the fact that the Hillcats pitcher pitched a five hit shut out. Tim Anderson went 0 for 4 with 2 errors for the Winston-Salem Dash.

Overall I really enjoyed this game experience. For a small stadium it really delivered. They didn’t try to do more than they needed too. I got to high-five their mascot, Southpaw. Good family friendly atmosphere that Lynchburg should be proud of.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Salem Red Sox

Well, I have a new partner in my travels, Ms. Stephanie Gagnon. Thanks for indulging me, dear!  So Salem… Due to the Memorial Day weekend, I get a three day weekend!  We left early, since we didn’t know for sure where we were going to be camping that night.  Roanoke Mountain Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway was our goal.  We got sidetracked by the Booker T. Washington National Monument, which was somewhat of a recreated farm where he was born into slavery.  Good little museum, worth a 13 mile jaunt off of the main road.  When we got to Roanoke Campground, apparently they have closed it.  National Park cutbacks I’m guessing.

Anyway, we find another campground and then head into Salem to the Red Sox.  This is a high-A level farm team for the Red Sox.  Going to the stadium was easy to find, and ample onsite and free parking!  A bit concrete looking from the outside, but it looks like a nice big stadium.  The tickets are higher priced by 2 bucks if you buy it on game day.  I think that is kind of lame, but I think that is starting to be more common in minor league parks.  The ticket windows seemed small as well, though there ended up being 8 cashiers.  The line was long, by moved along nicely. Only four ticket takers though. We got into the park and first noticed the mountains past the right field fence.  I am a sucker for mountains, and especially as a backdrop for a baseball game.  The stadium seemed quite clean, with nice blue fold up seats and ample leg room.  It looked huge, but the listed capacity was only 6400.  There are no lawn seats, all general admission is just the upper level seats.  The bull pens were located in a funny spot, rather hidden from half the spectators.  The food was good, I had a Midwest Twister Dawg, which was hot dog with barbecue sauce, wrapped in bacon with cheese on top.  As awesome as it sounds.  Except it too us an inning and a half to get it!  Their food selections, while tasty, did not have enough capacity to handle a crowd of 6100  The beer selection was not bad, and 6.25 for a craft draft, not abnormal for a ball game these days.  They had a really nice open are behind home plate, under the skyboxes.  It had a brick bar, and some tables you could sit at or stand at while still watching the game.  It made it feel nice and open when you entered the park.  The Team store was nice enough, but also another slow moving and long checkout line before the game. We went back in the fifth inning to get the hat, and they only have the 59fifty NewEra fitted hats that I don’t really like.  Bummer.  Basic hat, a red S in the Boston Red Sox font on blue back ground, red brim.

The ball game was back and forth, with Salem tied 5-5 going into the ninth.  Potomac scored a run in the top of the ninth, making it 6-5 Lynchburg got a runner on, got him to third with one out.  I then made a comment to Stephanie that she should work on learning to tell if the ball was a homerun of the bat, without having to look out in the outfield at the rest of the play.   Right on cue, walkoff homerun!!!!  Salem wins, 7-6.  After the game, they were showing a movie on the scoreboard.  It was SUperhero night at the ballpark, so it was The Avengers.  The scoreboard was really small, and we didn’t really feel like staying.  It looked like only a few hundred were staying for the movie.

Overall, a nice experience

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Akron Aeros


Ahh Akron, home of Lebron James and Rubber Town USA or something like that.  Actually a nice looking downtown, there was also a Italian-American festival going on a block away from the stadium, a nice park, a few restaurants scattered around.  This park reminds me totally of Greensboro.  But the hats.  argh. Only fitted ones.  Why teams do that I don’t know 49-40 New Era hats.  BOOO.  Anyway… a hot summer Sunday afternoon.  The capacity was 9500, seemed like about 1000 were there.  I hope that there are usually more people there.  I can imagine it would be a nice atmosphere.  Also better players.  The pitcher was throwing 65mph breaking balls, and they were getting hit.  Hard.  And then his fielders decided not to catch either.  So not he best team.  The Indians of the future, hard at work!

And their food.  Lots of good options, crazy options.  Including ‘Three Dog Night’  A hot dog in a sausage in an Kielbasa.  Incredibly awesome.IMG_20130714_142054  And for like 8.50, it better be awesome!

So Akron, you have a nice ballpark, but get more fans!!

Cleveland Indians


Well, there is a song that said, “Cleveland Rocks!”  It did well for me.  The Rock and Roll HOF was quite well done, with a ton of memorabilia.  They also did the history of music justice, going all the way back to Robert Johnson and the blues, giving them all the credit they deserve.  And the museum is well laid out, which I appreciate. 

But onto Progressive Field, originally called Jacobs Field, home of the Indians.  Sold out game against the Tigers.  They were playing for first place and while I did wear an Indians hat, I couldn’t help but root for the Tigers.  Before the game, there is an alley where different events are going on, music, magic, etc.  Good idea.  The stadium is right next to the Cavs’ arena, and near some good restaurants (I went to the Winking Lizard).  I got there when the gates opened, and was able to see the Tigers take batting practice.  Fielder and Cabrera were knocking it out like its their job!  A beautiful park with a nice view out past left field (see the sunset picture).  With a sold out stadium, it is easy to realize how little legroom stadiums have!  It was dollar dog night (again) and they were trying to set their record for most dogs consumed.  I think they posted like 50000+ as of the 8th inning or so.  65K was the record.  Either way, that’s a lot of dogs.  I contributed 4 to the good of Cleveland.  The game was a good one for Detroit, they won 6-0.  Then the fireworks show.  It was July 5, and a Friday, so you can believe they brought out the big ones.  It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  I also love how the lights are positioned above the stadium, with those tall stanchions.  Great job Cleveland, you have great energy at your stadium!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mahoning Valley Scrappers

Mahoning Valley Scrappers are outside of Youngstown, Ohio.  The stadium is at the edge of a mall.  With all that free parking available, they fence off an area for themselves and charge $3.  Someone tried to walk in and were still charged $3.  weird.  But it was $1 dog and beer day and $1 GA tickets!  So there were plenty of people, even for a Short Season A (Indians affiliate) game.  A pretty good fireworks show after the game as well.  A nice park though, good fan involvement and another great hat.  They have plenty of food options, and the Kielbasa was quite good.