Louisville Bats vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (International League)
Louisville Slugger Field-Louisville, KY: Well, first off this Father’s Day was all around a good one, but things simply didn’t go as planned. The first thing to not go as planned, was the notification I received from the Bats that game time was 6:05. Sunday games are usually at 2:05, and I’m not sure when they did the switch or why. If it’s because we’ve been battling 90 degree plus heat, then I do understand, but it messed with our plans as Brian had a baseball practice slated for 6:00, and we had planned to go to Kentucky Kingdom afterwards. If this was any other day, I would have cancelled our trip to the game, but this is Father’s Day, dammit, and I wanted to see some baseball! Brian’s mom and sister agreed to take him to practice, and Trevor and I headed to Louisville Slugger Field. And…I’ll take the kids to Kentucky Kingdom some time this week. I promise. For our second speed bump, you’ll notice how crappy my photos are, and that’s because I left my good camera in the van, and you’ll just have to suffer from the below average iPhone pics.
It was another hot day in the ‘Ville, as Trevor and I settled in, but it was an entertaining back-and-forth ball game. The Bats took a 1-0 lead in the first, as Scott Schebler hit a towering dinger into the left field stands. The PawSox battled back, however, tying the game in the third, and then hitting a home-run of their own to take the lead. It was the Bats turn to regain the lead now in the fifth, on a Juan Perez RBI double, and a Jermaine Curtis home run. On the mound, starter Stephen Johnson went five innings, giving up two runs on four hits, while striking out three. Surprisingly, it was relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz who took the loss, giving up two runs on three hits in one inning of work. Diaz had a franchise record going of 35 2/3 consecutive innings without giving up a run snapped. Well, aren’t we just good luck… Making a rehab appearance was Michael Lorenzen, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning giving up no and striking out two. FINAL: Bats 4, PawSox 5.
It was a fun game to watch, but a tough loss to take. And the last thing that didn’t really work as planned, is that the Bats advertised to ‘play catch with dad on the field’ after the game. As it was Sunday, the kids also are able to run the bases after the game. Unfortunately for us, the organization doesn’t have the foresight to have two different lines and entrances onto the field after the game. Trevor is too old to run the bases, and we just wanted to play a little catch. However, we were told we’d have to wait in the same line as the kids, which was 30-40 minutes JUST TO GET ONTO THE FIELD! Trevor and I decided just to play catch at home, and I am disappointed that we couldn’t make it onto the field. I hate to be negative, but the Bats can certainly do a better job of organizing this event. When we bring Brian with us, we’ll either have to wait in line that long, or miss the last two innings of the game waiting in line on the concourse. Anyway, it was still a good Father’s Day because of the kids, and we did have some fun. And despite the bad photos, I did remember to make a quick video during the game:
Video and photos property of Minoring In Baseball
Temperance Tavern/Cy Young Museum-Newcomerstown, OH: Tucked away, just south of Canton, Ohio, is the hometown of Cy Young; Newcomerstown. In this quaint little town, you’ll find the Temperance Tavern Museum, that celebrates not only Cy Young, but all that is historic about the town and area, including another popular sports figure to Ohioans: former Ohio State football coach, Woody Hayes. Most of all, though, we were interested in the Cy Young room of the museum, that has many old relics from the Hall of Fame hurlers career and life in Newcomerstown.
We were actually lucky to have even saw the museum, as the caretaker was ready to lock up for the day when we arrived (it was advertised at open until 4:00 pm, but was closing at 2:00 because no one had come to visit all day…except us). There was plenty of other parts of the museum to explore, also. I actually found the basement of the tavern interesting, as it contained tables and artifacts that haven’t been moved in over 100 years. The tavern was also a stop on the underground railroad, with the tunnels disguised as a cupboard. The museum wasn’t really too far out of our way, and really a fun place to stop if you’re in that area.
McCormick Field–Asheville, NC: I just want to start off by stating that I loved this game. I love McCormick Field, and this should be on every baseball fans bucket list. Another downtown stadium, so parking is a little rough. That, however is the about the only thing you’d have to worry about. The stadium is located on a large hill, or mountain, I guess, which make for some nice scenery. The whole setup of the stadium is nice, with the concourse and gift shop in a nice setting. Part of the concourse is limited by part of the mountain, also. Our seats were great, as we got the dugout suites right next to the home team dugout. This luxury comes with snacks, drinks, and a chicken dinner from Bojangles’. We really felt we were treated like royalty! It was a day game which saw some buses of school kids enjoying the game also. This helped make for a great atmosphere, as well as the loyal regulars of McCormick Field. Another unique aspect, is that one lucky fan gets to deliver the game ball via a zip line. It was fun to watch, and must have been a great experience for that fan! The fact that it was a day game make it a little warm for us, but I can only imagine how awesome a night game would be here. The home team put on a great show, and I also got my first South Atlantic League game ball. This honestly rivals Durham for the best game on the trip. You can also see McCormick Field at the end of the movie Bull Durham, where Crash hits his record breaking home run.
The game itself was a good one for the Tourists. When we saw the Drive a few days before they looked like a pretty solid hitting team, but Asheville hurler T.J. Oaks seemed to keep them of the kilter all day, as he went seven innings and only gave up the one run. The Tourists took the game over with a huge seven run fourth inning. It seemed like they were pounding doubles off the wall left and right. Second baseman Juan Ciriaco seemed to be the player of the game. Not only did he toss me the game ball, but he went 3-5 with an RBI. Rosell Herrera also pitched in, going 2-5 with a pair of RBI’s. Final score: Tourists 8, Drive 1.
Flour Field-Greenville, SC: After flying into Charlotte, we headed south for the first game of our trip. We were about five miles from the Greenville exit, though, when traffic came to a stop. Complete stop. It took us about forty minutes to go that five miles, but we finally made it to Flour Field downtown well before game time. As with most downtown stadiums parking is scarce, so if you visit here be sure to leave yourself some time. The gift shop is outside the stadium, so it’s was easy to get our shopping done and leave it in the car. The Greenville Drive is affiliated with the Red Sox, and they really embrace the Nation. The outfield at Flour Field is replicated after Fenway Park, they have their own ‘green monster’, and they even sing ‘Sweet Caroline‘ in the eighth inning. It was a good crowd with a fine baseball atmosphere, also. Lots of kids and families watching the game which is good to see. My only complaint about the stadium is that the netting extends beyond the dugouts, so it was difficult to see the game at times.
The game itself was one of the best we’ve seen. Both the Drive and GreenJackets made some great defensive plays. In a high scoring game, Greenville hit three home runs while Augusta added one. I really recommend a Drive game for anyone in the area. We had a lot of fun, with great weather, and it was a perfect way to kick off our trip. The Drive have the best on field DJ I’ve seen, too. He really kept the crowd into the game without it being too much. Final Score: Greenville 10, Augusta 6.
League: South Atlantic League
Home Field: Flour Field
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Summary: The first team we are scheduled to visit on this years’ baseball trip is the Drive, as they host the Augusta Green Jackets. This will be my first time seeing this team, though I am familiar with the South Atlantic League. I’ve seen the Savannah Sand Gnats in Georgia, and the Charleston River Dogs in South Carolina back in 2009. I’m very excited to visit Flour Field, as it looks like a beautiful ballpark. It’s located right downtown, and the ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson museum is right next door, which we plan on visiting also. The Drive franchise started out in Shelby, NC, as the Shelby Reds. The team has also been the Columbia Reds, Columbia Mets, and the Columbia/Greenville Bombers. The Drive name comes from the fact that the U.S. BMW Manufacturing plant and Michelin plant are in the area. Apparently the locals really wanted the team name to have something to do with Joe Jackson, but they went with the Drive instead. The mascot is a big frog named Reedy Rip’it, who looks a little like Wally the Green Monster in Boston. I can see myself getting a majority of Brian’s souvenirs here, though. The Drive’s secondary logo even looks a tad Boston Red Soxish. Flour Field also has a version of the Green Monster wall, also. Again, I’m really excited to catch a game here, as I am our other destinations. More to come!
Cooperstown, NY: The road to Cooperstown, New York may not be what you’d expect. In fact, it is almost a like travelling back in time, to a place without super highways and sky scrapers. The road is carved into the landscape of up-state New York, passing farms and classic homes. It’s a journey to a simpler time when baseball was king of all sports…as it should be. The town itself is quaint, with the feel of the turn of the century, but I didn’t see too much of it on the way there, as I was so excited to reach my destination…the National Baseball Hall of Fame…
The rest of the museum was sort of all over the place. It had no real flow to it, and you never really knew what you were going to see next. I’ve been to the Hockey HOF in Toronto, and I guess I was comparing that to the baseball one here in Cooperstown. I was disappointed to find that no other baseball was represented here other than MLB. Nothing on the Minor League, college baseball, international baseball (Olympics or WBC), Little League, Negro Leagues, or anything else. Even the display for the girls baseball was much smaller than I thought it would be. I did enjoy seeing some of the old memorabilia from the 1800’s and to see how the game evolved. There was plenty of room for more displays, though, and maybe recognizing some very good players and teams that will not make the Hall, but still meant a lot to the game of baseball. We had a fun time, and this was something that we just had to do to cross off our baseball bucket list, but I guess I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. And then seeing the prices in the gift shop simply just ticked me off a bit…
Cooperstown, NY: While in the Coop, checking out Doubleday Field is a must. It’s and old-time throwback stadium, but I really like it’s simplicity. They have a summer college team play there now, so it’s good to see it in use. It’s too bad I couldn’t have seen a game played here, though. We used the parking lot here, too, and just walked to the HOF.
Fenway Ballpark and Freedom Trail Tours: Boston, MA
Boston is to beautiful and historic not to poke around a bit before we headed southwest for our next ballgame. We started our day by taking the earliest tour of Fenway which was nine in the morning. Nine o’clock is pretty early when your on vacation, but I didn’t have much trouble getting motivated to see this ballpark again. We were given a history of the park and taken on top of the Green Monster. The Monsta’ seats would be a great place to watch a game, but very expensive. We were taken through the Red Sox Hall of Fame and shown some of the baseball artifacts they have inside the park. The tour concluded on the Budweiser balcony with a history of Ted Williams’ longest home run at the park. I would have liked to have gotten on the field, in the dugout and locker room, or even in the press box. They explained that they gave so many tours a day it would disrupt too much to have that traffic all day. It’s still worth it, though, just to be inside the park for a little while longer. When you leave Fenway, you feel incomplete…like part of your soul was left inside, and it’s constantly beckoning you back….
After the Fenway tour was over, we jetted down to the Boston Common to catch the next Freedom Trail tour. We were given a history of the Common, the State House, and were able to see some of the oldest cemetaries in the country. It was fun to hear the real stories behind legendary heroes Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. I guess I should have paid more attention in history class in school, because some of this stuff sounded new to me. For lunch we ate at Cheers, which still stands as one of my favorite shows of all time. The building didn’t look much like the show, but the bar itself and a lot of paraphernalia were from the set. Our time in Boston ended by seeing the U.S.S. Constitution, or Ol’ Ironsides, which was simply amazing. I really wish we had more time there, as there is so much to see and do.
Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: Fenway Park-Boston, MA
All I can say about Fenway Park and the experience of watching a game there is that you can believe the hype. In fact, I would say it’s not hyped enough. I like that fact that every game is treated like a special event. We were lucky to get to Boston a little early, and explore around the park for a little while and get some shopping in. Our hotel was right across the street, so we didn’t have to worry about parking and things like that. The gates opened about a ninety minutes before game time, so it gave us a chance to explore the inside of the park and get our free gift for being first timers. At the fan service counter we receive a little package with stickers, a Red Sox Nation bracelet, and a container with some dirt from the infield. We also ran into one of the fans we were chatting with at the PawSox game a few days before, so he showed us around a little bit, too. We were also able to get over the visitors dugout to watch some of the Detroit Tigers warm up, but not many were signing autographs for anything. As it was getting closer to game time, we grabbed a Fenway Frank and an $8.50 beer and found our seats in the outfield. To be honest, I never moved from my seat after the game started. I didn’t want to miss anything at all from this game waiting in line for food, beer, or restroom. The atmosphere was amazing, and the Fenway rendition of Sweet Caroline has to been witnessed in person. The Tigers lost a game they should have won, but I really didn’t care about the score. Despite rooting for the Tigers, we didn’t have any trouble from the Red Sox fans either. I definitely want to bring the kids here when they’re a little older and can appreciate the magic that is Fenway Park. Final Score: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3.
Portland Sea Dogs vs. Reading Phillies: Hadlock Field-Portland, ME
Here I am again…facing disappointment right in the face. The noon game here has been postponed due to ‘wet grounds’, and I miss an opportunity to see a game in my now favorite Double A ball park. Just like out rain-out in Pawtucket, this was the last game in the series and the teams got an early start to their next road game. The fact that it wasn’t even raining at game time makes it even more frustrating. The weather was better today, so I was able to get some better pics of Hadlock. I also had a friend meet me for the game who trained with me down south. We went to just about every Jacksonville Suns game available, so it would have been nice to share a beer and a ballgame again. We were able to chat with some of the staff here, who let us explore the ball park a little bit more and just talk baseball. It’s nice to know it’s not just the ball players who have to work their way up from the Minors, but the broadcasters and other staff as well. We also learned that the Red Sox are the only MLB team that has a closed circut camera in all of there affiliates to keep track of their prospects. I love the Sea Dogs logo, so they let us spend some time (and money) in the gift shop, too. The only consolation is that we were able to get a jump-start on our voyage south to Boston. We would need that extra time, as Boston treats every Sox game as an event, and the celebration start pretty early in the day.
Portland Sea Dogs vs. Reading Phillies: Hadlock Field-Portland, ME
For some reason I’ve dreamed of visiting Hadlock Field in Portland for some time, and this ballpark didn’t disappoint. It’s smaller than you might think for Double A, but it’s very cozy. You kind of feel boxed in, but in a good way…sort of like leaving the rest of the world behind when your watching a ball game. One really unique aspect of Hadlock is that the home bullpen is elevated inside the right field wall. The players have to take a set of stairs to a doorway in the wall to enter the game. The Sea Dogs also have their own version of the Green Monster, er, Monsta, with the Maine Monster in left field being a Boston Red Sox affiliate and all. This was another game with low attendance due to the horrible weather, but at least they played it. The Reading Phillies were in town and we were seated right behind their dugout. I have to give a shout out to Reading first baseman Matt Rizzotti for hitting two home runs in the game and throwing me a game ball. Things didn’t go the Sea Dogs way in the game, but they had one more game in the series to get revenge. I was really looking forward to the noon game the next day. Due to the weather I didn’t get some better pics of the stadium, but will have some in the next post because the weather was better the next day. Final Score: Sea Dogs 3, Phillies 14.