The morning of Thursday, May 24 came very quickly. It was the final day of my road trip, and given that I’d averaged about four hours of sleep per night over the last few days, the 5:30 a.m. alarm was a bit of a jolt. But if there’s one thing that makes me move quickly in the morning, it’s knowing there’s a baseball game to attend.
I was in Frederick for the night after the previous day’s Keys game, and my day would begin with a two-and-a-half hour drive to Altoona. The Curve, who are the Eastern League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, were playing a 10:30 a.m. game, and I’d arranged to have a stadium tour with Mike Passanisi, the Curve’s director of communications. The tour was scheduled for 9 a.m., which meant I wanted to get on the road by 6:15 a.m. or so. The route from Frederick to Altoona includes many small back roads, and the drive was painfully slow. I can tell you I was thrilled when this appeared ahead of me:
Yep, Peoples Natural Gas Field, straight head! I ended up being 10 to 15 minutes late to our tour because of ridiculous traffic, so I parked quickly in the parking garage behind the outfield fence …
… and hustled along the sidewalk to get to the stadium as quickly as I could:
When I picked up my media pass, I went upstairs to the press box, where I had this view while I waited for Mike:
Mike arrived a few minutes later, and despite his busy morning, made time to take me around the stadium and show me all the highlights. We checked out a few of the suites, including this one:
And then went down to the field, which never, ever gets old:
After we were on the field, we went through the tunnel to tour several places most people don’t get to see. But you will now! We went through the batting cage/training area, where a number of Curve players were getting loose:
I took a picture of this funny sign posted outside the room above:
We then went into the press conference room, which definitely has similarities to the rooms in MLB stadiums:
I was tempted to sit at the desk and shout, “No comment!” but decided to repress that urge so the tour could continue.
Next up were the home and visitors’ clubhouses, which were outstanding. Both were full of players, so I obviously didn’t take any photos, but it was definitely a highlight to see. Afterward, we climbed up to the concourse where I documented the team’s 2010 Eastern League championship banner:
A banner with the team’s 2005 opening day roster:
(Sorry, but as a Jays fan, I need to point out Rajai Davis and Jose Bautista.) This banner was part of a series around the concourse of each opening day roster in the Curve’s history. It’s the first type of display I can recall, and I think it’s a great way to pay tribute to past teams and players. Really cool. The concourse is also lined with banners of past stars, including Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen. I love how the banner combines a picture of him then and now — really smart:
The tour zipped right along, but it was great talking about the stadium’s features with Mike. I’ll be highlighting more of them when I write the official fan guide to Peoples Natural Gas Field for TheBallparkGuide.com.
After our tour, I went up to the second deck on the third base side to capture the stadium in panorama form:
If you missed the roller coaster behind the right field fence, look again. It’s not part of the ballpark, but it’s still one of the coolest features you’ll see at any park. The roller coaster is part of Lakemont Park, an amusement park just beyond the ballpark’s fences. The roller coaster you see here …
… is called the Skyliner, and it’s one of four in the park. The park’s crown jewel is the Leap-the-Dips coaster, which opened in 1902 and is the oldest in-use roller coaster in the world.
After being up top, I continued wandering and captured a shot of the sign out front of the park:
Mike said the new logo on the sign was just a week old (Peoples Natural Gas Field was called Blair County Ballpark through last season) and the new sign isn’t completely finished. Soon, bricks will be added to make the sign more in line with the ballpark’s design.
By this time, Mike had re-appeared on the field with a Curve player who was fielding questions from fans over the PA system. It was a neat thing to see — fans asking about his favorite subjects in school, his favorite holiday, etc., certainly improves the player/fan connection. I definitely think more teams should do this:
As I continued walking, I spotted the players’ parking lot behind the first base side of the stadium:
With, of course, a Range Rover:
Range Rovers seem to be the popular choice among ballplayers. In fact, I wrote a blog entry a while back about players’ vehicles, and it’s a fun read.
I then changed direction and headed down the third base concourse, where I stopped to check out the team’s “Road to the Show” alumni board:
Here’s a close-up of a couple years:
I also checked out the Rail Kings party deck in the left field corner, which offers a great view of the park and also includes small TVs built into the fence so that you can watch the game broadcast or check out how the Pirates are doing:
The bleachers in left field also provided a perfect view, and I decided I’d spend a few innings out here once the game started:
The kids’ area at Peoples Natural Gas Field included inflatable games …
… and arcade-style attractions:
I went to check out the team’s store down the third base line:
And as the game began, captured this quick shot of the ballpark’s impressive scoreboard:
All this walking worked up an appetite, so after spending the first inning in the outfield bleachers, where I had a close-up view of the team’s mascot Al Tuna (get it?) …
… I decided to get some breakfast/lunch. Mike had earlier recommended the Curverogie, a new menu item for 2012:
While this sandwich is certainly excessive, it was delicious. It wasn’t skimpy on the ham, and while the perogie sort of got lost, the ham, cheese and onions were tasty:
After eating, I documented my media pass, as I’ve been doing during each stop on this trip:
Then, it was time to find a seat along the third base side so I could capture some of the action on the field. Here’s Altoona starter Shairon Martis, who was solid through six innings and got the win:
And Curve third baseman Jeremy Farrell, who’s the son of Blue Jays manager John Farrell:
Before long, it was time to hit the road. I had to sneak out of this ballgame a little bit early so I could drive the four hours or so north to Buffalo for that night’s Bisons game at Coca-Cola Field. I absolutely hate leaving a game early, but sometimes it’s necessary to fit into my schedule. All in all, it was a great visit to Altoona. The park, built in 1999, is fantastic and if you’re in the area, it’s definitely a must visit.
Up next is the story of my visit to Buffalo later on May 24.
It’s fitting that my 100th post on this blog is about an outstanding ballpark visit and one that I’ve been looking forward to for months. I began an exciting May 23 with a trip to Wilmington, DE, to watch the Blue Rocks take on the Potomac Nationals at beautiful Frawley Stadium. And after the game was done, I zipped quickly to Frederick, MD, where the plan was to watch the Keys in an evening game.
I arrived extremely early — before 3:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. game. The Keys were graciously providing me with a media pass for this game, and when you’ve got a pass hanging around your neck, you can come and go as you please. So, I wanted to take advantage of as much time at the park as possible. Plus, as you’ll know if you’ve read this blog, this game was my chance to finally meet Keys outfielder Jeremy Nowak. (I’ll include a photo of him in this post, but I’m going to write a separate post about meeting him. It was that awesome.)
When I pulled into the ballpark, the parking lot was almost empty, save for the players’ cars and staff vehicles. I’m almost certain I was the first fan in the area:
Harry Grove Stadium has a large pavilion in front of the main gates, but there wasn’t anything happening just yet:
(I should say the pavilion has one of the coolest features I’ve ever seen. You know those fake rocks that are actually speakers for you to place in your garden? The garden here has these speaker-rocks that play the team’s radio broadcast. I love when a team thinks of little things like this that make a difference.)
I quickly picked up my media pass at the will call window:
And then took a photo of the pass:
I took a quick peek inside the ballpark to see that Jeremy was in the starting lineup. Sure enough, he was hitting third, where he’d been hitting for the previous several games:
As you probably know if you’ve read other accounts of my travels, I like to start each visit with a walk around the outside of the park. There’s always the opportunity to find a baseball, of course, but the tour also provides different perspectives on the park. So, I headed down the pathway to the right of the main gate:
See the red fence in the above photo? The visiting Carolina Mudcats were hitting in a cage here because the uncooperative weather meant the tarp was on the field. The fence was difficult to see through, but the thwack sounds emanating from behind it were unmistakable. When I got halfway along the fence, I saw this:
The ball must’ve somehow flown out of the batting cage, despite all the protective netting. I picked it up and was pumped to see it was an Official Carolina League ball:
This is the first Carolina League ball in my collection, which now includes balls from eight leagues. For a complete rundown of some of the coolest balls I’ve collected on my travels, check out this blog post.
After finding the ball, I stuffed it in my backpack and continued walking toward the outfield, where I could see the visitors on the tarp-covered field:
I scoured the area outside the center field fence for any balls that might’ve been hit in a previous batting practice session or game, but didn’t come up with anything. But when I made it to the left field corner, where I could see the Mudcats with ease …
… I saw another Carolina League ball, which I grabbed. Afterward, I made it back to the pavilion in front of the park, where there still wasn’t much going on:
So, I decided to head in and tour around. I would be meeting assistant GM Adam Pohl for a tour later on, but in the meantime, I took the opportunity to scout out the nearly-empty ballpark. As you can see here, the sky had quickly become extremely dark and foreboding, and I wondered if the night’s game would even get started:
You can tell from the time on the scoreboard that there was still a ton of time to wait until the game’s start time:
I spent the next while touring the park, taking in sights such as the batting cage area:
The suite level:
And the empty seating bowl …
… before the sky opened up and it began to rain. As the rain fell around me, I retreated to this row of seats, which was protected from the elements by the overhang:
I started to get the impression that not a pitch would be thrown, but I kept my fingers crossed and sent out Tweets like this:
And, eventually, this happy one:
Eventually, I met up with Adam in the team’s office and we started our tour. While I was still in the office, I snapped a quick picture of the framed jerseys of former Keys Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters:
The tour itself was great. I always love meeting baseball people and talking about the ballpark and the game. Adam was really proud to point out a number of accessibility improvements made at Harry Grove Stadium over the recent years, including large, open spaces on the concourse for wheelchairs:
As they always seem to do, the tour flew by, and before long, Adam had to go to the press box to continue getting ready for the game. We agreed to meet in the radio booth at the top of the fourth inning for my on-air interview. Adam is also one of the team’s broadcasters, so I looked forward to speaking with him again.
I was anxious for the Keys to come out onto the field, but used the time to take photos of some of the park’s attractions, including a great kids’ area that includes inflatable games:
And a merry-go-round, almost identical to the one at Bowie’s Prince George’s Stadium:
Soon enough, the Keys hit the field, and I spotted Jeremy:
And the video board in left-center came to life, which boded well for the evening:
It certainly wasn’t a perfect day for baseball, but after Miss Maryland shot-putted a ceremonial first pitch toward home plate …
… we were ready to play ball!
It turns out that I saw a lot of the Keys last year when they were members of the Delmarva Shorebirds. I visited Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in June and saw Nowak, Mike Flacco (brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe) and several others. Here’s Flacco:
Richard Zagone got the start for Frederick. Check out his high leg kick:
I decided to spend the second and third innings sitting behind home plate, where I enjoyed this view:
In the top of the second, Carolina’s Delvi Cid smashed a pitch over the fence in left-center, and while I was tempted to run and see if I could find it, I didn’t want to be all soaking wet from rummaging through the grass and out of breath when I got to the broadcast booth for my interview. Still, I wondered if the ball was sitting out there, just waiting to be claimed.
Before long, it was up to the broadcast booth to reconvene with Adam and talk about my website and my visit to Harry Grove Stadium. It was a lot of fun and went by quickly. We had our photo taken together afterward:
Like the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Keys graciously provided me with a media meal voucher, so I had my choice of dinner once the interview was done. First, though, I ducked out the main gate and hurried toward the area beyond the outfield fence to look for Cid’s ball. I ran stealthily through the soaking wet grass …
… which I regretted quickly, and then behind the fence where I looked all over for the ball …
… but couldn’t find it. I guess someone had gotten there before me.
When I got back inside, I took a quick photo of the Carolina League Championship Trophy, which the Keys won last season:
And then, it was time to eat! Unfortunately, many of the concession stands were closed by now (it was around the sixth inning) because the crowd was very thin and the rain was picking up again. I’d hoped to try something unique, but settled for a pair of hot dogs, which were a welcome reprieve, given how I was cold and wet:
There wasn’t much baseball played after I finished my dinner. A heavy downpour began around the seventh inning, and the game was called after seven innings were complete. The Keys were on top handily, 7-2. As for getting to meet Jeremy, it was awesome. I’ll have a blog dedicated to that soon. I hung out for about 20 minutes after the rain delay began, taking a series of pictures to make up this panorama:
When it became clear that the game wasn’t going to resume, I hit the road. Although the entire night was great, I was quite wet at the end, so I was looking forward to getting to my hotel. Fortunately, I was staying at the Hampton Inn Frederick, which is located just a few minutes from Harry Grove Stadium. This is one of those nights that I wouldn’t have been up for driving a half-hour to my hotel after the game, so if you’re visiting Frederick for a Keys game, I’d definitely recommend you stay at this hotel. Here’s how it looks from outside:
When I checked into my room, I was super pleased at how it looked — large, clean and with a king-sized bed, sofa, desk and flat-screen TV:
The room’s bathroom was also amazing …
… and despite the hotel’s close proximity to I-270, it was very quiet. As an added bonus, there are a ton of eateries (which are a staple of every baseball road trip) within walking distance, including T.G.I. Friday’s and IHOP. It’s the perfect spot if you’re in Frederick for a baseball road trip.
There’s no doubt I was pumped about my entire road trip, but I was secretly (well, I suppose it’s not a secret any more) especially looking forward to May 23. This day would include games in Wilmington and Frederick, and each visit would include a half-inning on the respective home teams’ radio broadcasts, talking about TheBallparkGuide.com. Plus, in Frederick, I couldn’t wait to meet Jeremy Nowak, who you’ll probably know if you’ve followed this blog for a while. That said, I got on the road very early on the morning of May 23 and drove southwest from Trenton to Wilmington. As I left New Jersey and crossed into Delaware, I got to drive over the enormous Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is more than three miles long:
The game between the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Potomac Nationals (who I saw last year at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium) was scheduled for 11:05 a.m., and I pulled in to Frawley Stadium just before 9 a.m. As you might expect, the ballpark’s lot was mostly empty and there weren’t many people around. (I even beat a few of the Blue Rocks players to the park!) I took the opportunity to photograph the front of the park …
… and also shoot some photos to turn into this panorama:
The Blue Rocks were awesome to deal with prior to my visit, and were leaving a media pass for me at the will call window. Unfortunately, I was so early that the window wasn’t open yet …
… so I decided to use the time to walk around and document the park’s surroundings. One of the neat things to see is a statue of former Negro league star Judy Johnson, who spent the latter portion of his life in Wilmington:
The pavilion in front of the park also has plaques honoring Wilmington’s Vic Willis, a hall of fame pitcher, and Bill McGowan, a hall of fame umpire. I set out to take a walk around the outside of Frawley Stadium, heading to the left of the front pavilion …
… and down the side of the ballpark …
… until I got to an opening in the left field corner where I could see the tarp-covered field:
With no batting practice, I didn’t expect to find any balls behind the outfield fence, but scoured the area anyway. The area looked like this:
I even got right under the scoreboard and aimed my camera up to take this neat shot:
Eventually, I got to the first base line, where there was another spot from which the field was visible:
To the right of the main pavilion, sits the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, which was closed, unfortunately:
The pavilion in front of the park is very picturesque. You can tell the stadium crew puts a lot of care into maintenance, and the vast flower gardens are a testament to that:
After I finished the circuit, I looked up at perhaps the grayest sky in history. This photo isn’t an error — it’s actually a shot of the sky above the park:
Fortunately, it never did rain during the game, and it actually turned into a hot, sunny day. The ticket office still wasn’t open, and while I could’ve gone into the team’s office and asked to pick up my media pass, I wasn’t in a huge rush. I climbed the long ramp up to the concourse level …
… where I could see that the tarp was still on the field:
After a while, the will call window opened and I received my pass and went into the park. I took the elevator up to the concourse, and during my ride, had a little chuckle at this sign, which is posted inside the elevator:
Ha! As you can see from the panorama below, by the time I’d entered the park, the team’s staff had just finished removing the tarp:
I was supposed to meet Jeff O’Connor, the team’s assistant director of broadcasting/media relations, who would introduce me to Joe Valenti, the team’s director of marking. Joe would give me a tour when he had a few moments, so I kept my fingers crossed. While I waited for Jeff, I took a short walk around the concourse. Like the other games on my trip, I got in early enough that there wasn’t much going on. The Blue Rocks players were hanging out around the dugout:
And the seating bowl was very quiet:
The Blue Rocks, who are associated with the Kansas City Royals, have had a number of MLBers come through over the years, including Zack Greinke:
Still killing time, I went down to field level and took this shot, looking up at the press box and suite level:
By now, most of the Blue Rocks were out. Check out their high socks in the photo below:
Another neat thing to note is that while they were wearing their Wilmington batting practice caps before the game, they actually switched into their Kansas City Royals caps for the game. Is this the norm? I’ve never seen an MiLB team wear an MLB cap.
While I’d yet to get my tour of Frawley Stadium, I could already tell this was an impressive facility. Not only was it immaculate outside and in, it included a number of unique features that I hadn’t seen elsewhere, including HD TVs listing the items on the concession menu:
Right after I took the above photo, I met up with Jeff who took me deep into the heart of the ballpark and introduced me to Joe, who was just starting to give a tour to three high school students from Philadelphia, who were doing a project on the Minor League Baseball experience. The tour was absolutely amazing. It included several stops that most fans will never get to see, although I’m excited to share them with you here. Our first stop was one of the storage rooms under the concourse. This room included a ton of items the team uses for promotions …
… signed photos of several celebrities who’ve visited the stadium over the years …
… and the costumes for Rocky, the team’s mascot:
From there, our tour headed to the home team’s clubhouse area, where I snapped a quick shot of the players’ bats:
Then we went under the stands, directly behind home plate. This area isn’t fancy, but go through the opening in the center of the photo, and you’re on the field right behind home plate:
I believe this is the door the umpires use, and it’s also used by the promotions staff. Once we went through the door, we walked onto the field. That’s Joe in the lead and one of the high school students right behind him:
Here’s what the field looked like from here:
The home dugout:
When we were standing here, Blue Rocks manager Vance Wilson came by and shook our hands and welcomed us to the ballpark. I wish I’d gotten a photo with him, but if you know baseball, you’ll probably know Wilson’s name. He played eight years in the Major Leagues with the Mets and Tigers. After being on the field, we went back under the stands and saw the indoor batting cages, which were doubling as a meeting spot for the team’s gameday staff:
We continued down this path …
… until we ended up in the umpires’ room. Incredible! Their little room is small, and one wall is lined with lockers where their gear hangs:
On a table in the center of the room, there was a box containing some rubbed-up official Carolina League balls:
And in the middle locker stall, there was a jar of Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud, which is the mystery mud used throughout professional baseball:
The mud also comes from the area, I believe. The company doesn’t reveal the exact location, but does say the mud is from a bank of a tributary of the Delaware River. Visiting the umpires’ room was a definite highlight. When I took a tour of Baltimore’s Camden Yards last summer, I saw the umpires’ room from the outside, but this was the first time I’ve ever actually been in one.
After touring the lower level of the ballpark, we climbed up to the suite level, and went into the main suite, where I took this panorama:
The tour just flew by, and after a while, Joe needed to get back to his pre-game duties. I really appreciate how accommodating Jeff, Joe and the Blue Rocks were. Thanks, everyone!
Left to my own devices, I set off to look around the park a little more. There was still a chunk of time until the game was set to begin, so I had plenty of time to explore. I decided to climb to the top of the general admission bleachers on the third base side to take this panorama:
Eventually, the Potomac Nationals, who’d been out stretching earlier, returned to the field and I caught this cute picture of Rick Hague and Randolph Oduber signing autographs:
I was scheduled to join Jeff on the team’s radio broadcast for the top of the third inning, so I decided to cool my jets for the first couple innings and just watch the game. I found a spot behind home plate with this view and chilled until it was time to head to the press box. Although the protective netting is an obstacle to good photos, I thought this one of Wilmington’s Guelin Beltre attempting a bunt turned out well:
Just before I was due in the radio booth, I went up to the press box where I snapped a photo of a picture of Johnny Damon, who’s perhaps the most famous Blue Rock of all:
The interview with Jeff went well. It’s always a little nerve-wracking, but it was fun to talk about my website with Jeff, who was really easy to talk to. The half-inning just flew by, and after it wrapped up, we got our photo taken:
Jeff also surprised me with a voucher to have lunch compliments of the team, so I scouted out something that looked delicious, and found this menu:
I settled on the Rocky’s Crab Burger, which was a burger topped with crab meat and Old Bay seasoning. The photo below isn’t the most exciting, but the burger was tasty and definitely something I’d order again:
Remember Joe, who gave me the pre-game tour? Before long, he was out on the field, leading one of the between-inning games:
Once I’d finished eating, I moved a little closer to the field and started taking some action shots. Here’s Potomac starter Matthew Grace, who took the loss:
Wilmington starter Tyler Sample, who picked up his first win of the season:
The visitors’ dugout:
Blue Rocks reliever Jon Keck, who got the hold and was promoted the following day to AA Arkansas:
Remember how I mentioned that the Blue Rocks were wearing Royals caps? Here’s the proof:
P-Nats cleanup hitter Justin Bloxom, who struck out on this pitch:
Soon enough, there was a close play on the field that got reversed after an umpire discussion. You’ve got to love call reversals, because the team that gets burned usually loses it, and that’s exactly what happened. Potomac’s Adrian Sanchez was initially called safe on a close play at first, which brought Wilson out to contest the play:
And after the umpires had a short conference, Sanchez was called out, which ticked him off …
… and brought P-Nats manager Brian Rupp out to complain:
The atmosphere may have been tense, but it was quickly lightened up when Goofy made an appearance:
The play didn’t end up affecting the game either way. Wilmington scored a run in the fourth and added two insurance runs in the eighth to win 3-0. The second the game wrapped up, I dashed out of Frawley Stadium, jumped in my sauna-like car and punched Frederick’s Harry Grove Stadium into my GPS.
After the completion of the morning’s Lehigh Valley IronPigs/Louisville Bats game, I drove back to the Trenton area for the night game between the Trenton Thunder and the Akron Aeros, who are the AA Eastern League affiliates of the Yankees and Indians, respectively. This day marked the first time I’ve watched two different games in two different locations in one day — perhaps the only thing better in baseball than a traditional doubleheader. Although I had time to check into my hotel in Trenton, I decided to head straight to Mercer County Waterfront Park, and arrived around 3 p.m.
On Google Maps, it looks like this ballpark is perfect to give you a shot at snagging some home run balls during batting practice. When I got back to the area behind the outfield fence, though, I was early enough that the players weren’t hitting just yet. So, I waited here:
After a short while, BP still hadn’t yet started, so I decided to go to the front of the park, get my press pass, take some photos and wander for a bit. I like what the team has done with the area around the stadium. There are a ton of banners recognizing former Thunder players, including Nomar Garciaparra:
You wouldn’t normally associate Garciaparra, a longtime Red Sox player, with a team affiliated with the Yankees. But Garciaparra played in Trenton in 1995 when it was a Red Sox affiliate, and hit .267 with 47 RBIs and 35 steals. This is what the front of the ballpark looks like …
… and here’s the scene in panorama form:
After I picked up my press pass, I noticed a coach bus to my right, and saw the Aeros unloading:
I also took a photo of my press pass, which was provided by Bill Cook, the team’s director of public relations:
Like the other teams on this trip, the Thunder were very accommodating and I’d meet Bill later on.
Once I toured for a while, I began to hear the bats cracking on the field, so I peeked through the fence and saw BP was getting underway:
I headed quickly back to the area behind the right field fence and waited. And waited. And waited. The problem was, no one was hitting home runs. I heard a lot go off the wall and while some may have gone out in left, nothing came my way for a very long time. Eventually, I heard a giant splash and turned to see a ball floating in the Delaware River behind me:
This is a neat feature of this park — the river is so close behind the fence that a home run can actually land in the water on the fly, much like at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. With the river right behind you, this area is picturesque and sort of reminds me of how the Merrimack River runs right by New Hampshire’s Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The lone knock on hanging out for BP balls is that the grass is completely covered in goose turds, so it’s impossible to avoid stepping in some. After about 45 minutes without a shot at a ball and with my shoes in need of some wiping, I pulled the plug on trying to get a ball and returned to the front of the park. As I did in Lehigh Valley earlier in the day, I used my press pass to get into the park early and walk around. Again, it was awesome having the place virtually to myself, with the exception of the staff. Look how deserted the concourse was:
And the same goes for the seating bowl:
Watching BP is one of the best things any baseball fan can do. Not only does it enhance your enjoyment of your visit, but you always learn something and get a better appreciation for the skill of the players. It’s difficult to see BP at the Minor League level because parks don’t open early enough. So, I took advantage of the situation and sat on a picnic table and just took it all in:
Soon enough, the Aeros came out to get warmed up:
Check it out — 5:02 p.m. and still an hour to go before the gates opened. I was in heaven!
I moved all around the park during BP, including down to field level on the first base side where I took this panorama:
And then I moved behind the first base dugout to get some close shots of the Aeros hitting:
At 5:30 p.m., I went to the home plate concourse to meet Bill, who’d agreed to give me a tour of the park. We were outside at one point and he pointed at the large party suite that looked out onto the field. He said the room was decorated with Yankees memorabilia, and as I peered through the glass, I could see a Phil Hughes Yankees jersey displayed. “That’s neat — Phil Hughes,” I said. Bill smiled and said there was a more impressive jersey for me to see. When we went into the suite, I got a close-up shot of what was stitched inside the jersey’s collar:
And took a second photo:
Yep, an authentic Babe Ruth game-worn jersey! The jersey was given to the Thunder by a big-time Yankees collector, and it’s simply one of the coolest things you’ll ever see at any MiLB park. Although the rest of the suite’s items might pale in comparison to the Ruth jersey, they are still very impressive. How about a signed shot of Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit?
Or an Andy Pettite signed jersey from a rehab start:
Here’s a signed photo of Yankees legends Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly:
The tour with Bill was great. We looked around a number of areas of the park and talked baseball, which is always great. It was really nice of him to give me the pre-game time because unless you’ve been around it, you can’t imagine how much work goes into prepping for a game. Everyone wears a ton of hats in order to make your visit to the ballpark enjoyable. Thanks again for your time, Bill!
After Bill and I parted ways, I checked out the Thunder team shop, which blended Thunder merchandise with Yankees stuff:
And I also looked through a number of game-used bats that were on sale, although I didn’t buy one:
At 6 p.m., the park’s gates opened and the concourse started to fill up:
Soon, the players came out and began signing autographs along the base lines. While it was tempting to go get a ball signed, I resisted the urge. Technically, having a press pass means you can’t ask for autographs, and while I could’ve removed the pass and no one might have been the wiser, I thought this would be a bush league play. So, no asking for autographs on this trip for me. But several fans, including those getting Abraham Almonte’s signature, were crowded around the dugouts:
A few minutes later, I saw something pretty cute. Like the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Thunder have a golden retriever who comes out onto the field and carries a basket in its mouth. I’m not fully aware of the official role of the dog — I think it delivers a ball to the umpire, perhaps? — but the kids love it. (Update: A reader, Ben, told me that the dog is an honorary bat “boy” for the first inning, and come to think of it, I’ve seen this at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in New Hampshire, too. Thanks, Ben!) Anyway, the dog came out and sat on the grass for a few moments, and when Trenton’s Corban Joseph came over to give the dog’s belly a scratch, the dog flopped over completely:
Shortly before the start of the game, I figured it was time to get something to eat. Nearly everyone I talked to said to try the crab fries at the Chickie’s & Pete’s concession stand, which is located on the third base side. I love seafood, but had never heard of crab fries. Would they be fries topped with crab meat? That’s what I was picturing, so I was a little confused when I picked up my order and it appeared to be regular fries with Old Bay seasoning covering them:
They also included white cheese dip, and while everything was good, I’m not sure if I see the huge appeal. Let me know if I’m missing something. Thankfully, the cup of fries was large, so it took me a while to eat everything. The game began as I stuffed my face, and I moved behind home plate after I was finished eating to take this panorama:
While I was there, a player hit a long foul ball that flew over the third base concourse and right out of the park. There didn’t seem to be a flurry of fans running for the exits, so I walked quickly over to where it left the park, looked out and saw this:
I also saw a man and his kids heading toward it, so I was a few moments too late. Since I was in the area, I found a seat on the third base side and started shooting some action photos, which is something I want to do more frequently this season. Here’s Akron starter Paolo Espino, who had a brilliant 2011 season but ended up with the loss on the night:
Aeros third baseman Kyle Bellows:
A cool shot of the Trenton dugout:
And what would’ve been a great action shot of Abraham Almonte sliding into third base, if not blocked by Espino, who was backing up the play:
Trenton catcher Jose Gil (I think) making contact:
After a couple innings seated on the third base side, I switched over to behind the first base dugout, where I enjoyed this view:
The game itself was entertaining. Trenton led from wire to wire, but Akron scored single runs in the seventh and eighth to narrow the deficit to 3-2, which is how the game ended up. Trenton’s pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts, too.
I spent the last inning up in the concourse behind home plate, where the view was great. My camera gets a little grumpy in the dark, but I took this shot, which I think looks neat:
By the end of the game, I was pooped. It’d been a very long day with lots of sun and a ton of excitement. But the next day would be awesome, too! I’d be in Wilmington, DE, and Frederick, MD, for two games and two radio interviews. I’ll have those blog posts up as soon as I can!
Day two of my first baseball road trip of 2012 began early, although not quite as early as day one, which you can read about here and here. I woke up at my hotel just outside of Trenton, and made the 1.5-ish hour drive north to Lehigh Valley, PA, which is home to the AAA IronPigs. They were playing a matinee game at 10:35 a.m., and it would be the first of two games in two cities for me this day.
I got to the stadium roughly 2.5 hours before game time. I always like to get there early to tour the outside and take in all the sights, but given that the IronPigs were hooking me up with a media pass to this game, I thought I’d use the pass to get in early and check out the stadium before it got crazy crowded with the thousands of school kids who were coming to the game.
When I parked, I noted that the parking lot at Coca-Cola Park is somewhat far away from the park, but quickly saw that if you don’t feel like walking, you can get chauffeured in a golf cart. What a great idea! Here’s the scene as I walked from the lot toward the pavilion in front of the stadium:
I love when teams get the names of the roads around the park changed to baseball words. Coca-Cola Park is at the junction of Home Run Lane and Long Drive:
Off the top of my head, I know that New Hampshire’s Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is on Line Drive, Harrisburg’s Metro Bank Park is on Championship Way and I’m sure there are others, too.
I quickly went to the will call window and picked up my media pass, and then went to the west entrance of the park …
… and walked right in. Now, being so early, the only people around were staff, so I basically had 30-40 minutes to wander the park myself and take in all the sights. It’s hard not to go nuts when you get this opportunity. Yet, I resisted the urge to run and shoot photos like a madman. Instead, I started methodically working my way down the third base concourse, where I saw a number of cool sights, including:
The IronPigs’ alumni wall of players who made it to the Majors:
A mini-putt area:
And a cool tiki bar-style area in left field:
Coca-Cola Park has a concourse that surrounds the whole field, so you can take laps around the park. But when I got to center field, an usher quickly gave me a big “Whoa” and pointed upward. I looked way up and saw this:
Two workers were making a last-minute repair to the enormous Coke bottle atop the scoreboard. It vibrates when the IronPigs score a run, and I’m guessing it needed a bit of tightening or something before it could be deemed operational for the game. Since I couldn’t pass under it, I retraced my steps and headed back down the third base concourse toward the home plate area. When I got to the dugout on the third base side, I turned back to face the Coke bottle and got another view of the repair work:
Wow, so much to see! The park was still empty except for a ton of staff bustling around, so I took pictures of the cool seating area right behind home plate:
The press box:
And even bar chairs complete with IronPigs logos:
Pretty soon, the IronPigs and Louisville Bats came out to stretch, and I took a quick detour into the team’s huge store:
It’s got virtually anything you’d ever want if you’re an IronPigs and/or Phillies fan:
After checking out the store, I went back outside and saw the gates still weren’t open, which meant I still had a great opportunity to scour the park and take in everything. I did just that and before long, hordes of school kids began to stream in. I always have to chuckle about ballgames designed for school outings. If I’d gotten to do this as a kid, it would’ve been great. But what amuses me is how the kids are already bonkers because of they get a day off school, but then you add soft drinks, ice cream and cotton candy to the equation (at 11 a.m.) and the decibels quickly go up. As you can see from this next photo, the multi-tiered picnic area on the third base side was filling up with school groups:
But before the park got too crowded, I took this panorama:
After I’d taken a good chunk of time moving around the main concourse, I figured I’d put my media pass to good use and do some exploring that I wouldn’t otherwise get to do. That meant climbing up to the suite level and seeing what was what. Remember the photo of the seats directly behind home plate? Here’s what they look like from up here:
There’s a group party deck at each end of the suite level and suites all along the level except for the middle, which has a swank bar area. There’s also an aisle that runs in front of the suites, so I ventured along it …
… where I eventually came across a series of sheets taped to the wall showing the IronPigs’ transactions and roster and the Bats’ roster, as well as a scorecard:
My favorite was this hilarious addition to the transactions sheet:
Once I’d walked through the outside portion of the suite level, I went inside and took in the surroundings, including the bar area in the middle:
And some neat focal points including the jerseys of past IronPigs who’d made the AAA All-Star Game:
An eye-catching timeline of the team’s history:
Baseballs mounted to read LV:
And plaques for the team’s pitcher and hitter of the year:
I ducked back outside for a minute, just in time to see media relations director Tim Doohan on the video board:
Tim was the person who not only hooked me up with my media pass, but also was very accommodating before (and during, as it turned out) my visit. I took this picture so I could recognize him if I saw him. (It turns out he doesn’t look pixelly in real life!)
I’d seen enough upstairs for the moment, so I zipped back down and basically retraced my steps from earlier. I always find that when you make additional passes through different areas, you notice things you missed earlier. One of these was a clever photo board featuring photos of IronPigs fans wearing their team gear in different spots across the globe. You name it, and there was an IronPig fan there at some point:
In center, I watched both starting pitchers warm up. Coca-Cola Park has a unique bullpen setup. They pens are stacked, which is different than most MiLB pens, which are either located down the lines or else in each corner. One interesting thing I noticed was that the visitors’ portion had an open chain-link fence while the home side’s had a barrier over the fence. Here’s the dividing line:
Being 6’3″, however, means that I can see over most obstacles, so I was able to take a few pictures of Lehigh Valley starter Dave Bush, who’s won more than 50 MLB games in a career dating back to 2004. I always enjoy watching pitchers from up close. He was spending a lot of time fine-tuning his breaking ball, and it was filthy. Bush is in the first picture and in the second one, he’s joined by catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who hit a foul ball that I caught last summer in Erie’s Jerry Uht Park:
Soon enough, it was time for some big pre-game ceremonies …
… and then, time to play ball!
I saw that the standing room area in right-center wasn’t too occupied, so I headed there to watch the first inning, and I couldn’t resist documenting my media pass:
By now, I was hungry so I took a walk to the outfield concession stand and ordered the All Star Sandwich, which is pastrami, cheese sauce, coleslaw and fries on a bun:
The benefit to this sammie is that it contains every food group — meat, processed cheese and deep-fried stuff. At least I think that’s what the food groups are, aren’t they? The sandwich was good. Not quite enough to crack my top 10 all-time ballpark food list, but it was tasty. If it’d had a few more slices of meat, it might’ve pushed Classic Park’s pulled pork nachos out of the 10 spot.
As the game progressed, I continued moving around and taking photos. I got a bunch of Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg, who’s pictured here on the right:
An oh-so-close-to-being-great-if-it-was-sharper shot of speedy outfielder Kyle Hudson stealing second base:
And a bunch more action shots, including another of Bush:
A swinging strike from Louisville’s Kristopher Negron:
Kevin Frandsen attempting a bunt:
Louisville catcher Corky Miller:
The action itself was exciting. Bush threw a complete-game, five-hitter as the IronPigs won 2-0:
Next up will be a blog about my excitement-filled visit to Trenton. Coming soon!
After my long drive through Syracuse, Binghamton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which you can read about here, I finally arrived in the Trenton, N.J., area. With a Lakewood BlueClaws game scheduled for the evening and a Trenton Thunder game set for the next day, I wanted to stay somewhere central to both areas. I picked Hamilton, which is maybe 10 minutes outside Trenton and only about 25 minutes from Lakewood. Perfect. And the hotel I visited was perfect, too. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Hamilton, which I absolutely recommend if you’re taking a baseball road trip to the area and want to see one (or, even better, both) teams.
Here’s the outside of the hotel:
(I love the look of this hotel from the outside, and I was extra glad to see it after sitting in the car for so long.)
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might be familiar with my hotel elevator theory. Basically, the premise is that if the elevator’s clean and well maintained, the hotel will be the same. And vice-versa. As expected, the Hilton’s elevator definitely passed the test and I was also glad to see a big, spacious room awaiting me:
Finally, in addition to being mutually convenient to Lakewood and Trenton, the Hilton Garden Inn Hamilton is in a perfect area if you’re visiting from out of town. There’s a large shopping complex on the other side of the street and a T.G.I. Friday’s just across the parking lot. I was able to pick up a late lunch without straying far at all. I’m picky when it comes to hotels, but this one really lived up to its billing. I’ll definitely stay here again when I’m back in the area. (I’ve stayed at Hilton Garden Inns in a handful of cities, including the one in Manchester, N.H., and I’ve had nothing but great experiences.)
And I may be back sooner rather than later. If you saw my Tweets on Monday, or follow the Lakewood BlueClaws, you’ll know the team’s game Monday night was rained out. When I left the hotel to go to the game, the team’s Twitter feed said the game was still on, as planned, and the tarp was being taken off the field. But when I arrived, I quickly got the feeling that something was amiss. The parking lot was virtually deserted and there didn’t seem to be much life to the ballpark. I should say that it was drizzling, but not pouring. As for that deserted feeling, this is what I saw when I pulled into FirstEnergy Park:
Not exactly promising, is it?
I parked and took a walk toward the pavilion in front of the ballpark. I seemed to be the only lifeform in the area:
Before going to the will call window, I headed to the left field corner, where I could see an open gate. As you can see from this photo, the tarp was on the field, but a couple players were throwing:
I quickly went back to the front of the park and was told at the ticket office that the game was indeed cancelled. Still, I picked up my media pass as a cool souvenir:
Yep, the BlueClaws were kind enough to hook me up with a pass for the game, which is very much appreciated. As I stood in front of the park contemplating what to do next, I could hear the cracks of some bats and knew that at least one of the teams was in the indoor batting cages, just beyond this door:
By now, the steady drizzle had me pretty wet, so I decided I’d go back to the car, return to the hotel and blog for a bit. And then I had a better idea. Heck, I’d driven nearly nine hours AND had a press pass to get into the park, so I went back to the open gate, walked onto the third base concourse and saw the visiting Delmarva Shorebirds were stretching and having a bit of a team meeting:
Obviously, it wasn’t raining so hard that the players couldn’t be on the field. I realize, though, that cold, wet days are dreadful for any team. Yes, the game could technically be played, but no fans would turn up. Better to reschedule for a new day.
Anyway, upon walking in, I quickly saw that FirstEnergy Park is beautiful. The concourse winds its way all around the field, so you can walk laps. I love parks like this — far better than those in which the concourse ends at each foul pole, I think.
I set out to walk behind the outfield, stopping briefly to take this panorama:
Then I went behind the batter’s eye …
and toward the right field corner:
It was extremely cool having the park to myself:
Once I’d taken an entire circuit, I went back outside and took another bunch of shots of the front of the park, including this one:
As I walked across the grass (big mistake — major soaker) I found my first ball of 2012! Interestingly enough, it’s an official NCAA ball, which makes sense because FirstEnergy Park hosted the NCAA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament just a few days earlier. Here’s the ball:
With nothing left to see, I hopped back in the car and headed back to my hotel. Another perk of the hotel? It’s less than a mile from an Outback Steakhouse, and I always like to hit an Outback once during each trip. Mission accomplished.
So in all, it wasn’t a wasted day. It was a long day, granted, but I still got to tour around a ballpark, stay in a great hotel and eat a giant steak for dinner.
When my alarm beeped at 4:20 a.m. today, it signaled the start of my first road trip of 2012. And despite the ridiculous hour, I was full of energy as I loaded the car and hit the road. As you may know by now, I’m just starting a road trip that includes seven games in seven ballparks in just four days. The whole itinerary is here, if you want to check it out.
While the evening’s game in Lakewood, N.J. was the priority, I figured I might as well add quick stops at a few other ballparks to liven up my eight-hour drive. My route took me through some familiar territory, so I couldn’t resist making a few detours.
My first stop was at Syracuse’s Alliance Bank Stadium, which I’ve visited twice in the past. If you’re interested, you can read about those visits here and here. It was still early when I pulled up to the ballpark, and it was a welcome sight — my first ballpark of 2012!
This Welcome to Chiefsville sign has been erected since I last visited:
And while I was there, I couldn’t resist taking a quick self-portrait with the auto timer on my camera:
The Chiefs are on the road, but there were a number of presumably injured players’ vehicles in the parking lot:
I’m assuming the players are rehabbing, which makes me impressed with their dedication, as it was only about 8 a.m.
Another hour down the road, and I arrived in Binghamton, site of NYSEG Stadium. I visited there last year, and given the rumors about the Mets’ potential relocation, this might be the last time I see the ballpark:
Like the Chiefs, the B-Mets are on the road, but there were still a number of players’ vehicles in the lot:
(Looking for big rims is the best way to identify a player’s car, I’ve learned.)
NYSEG Stadium was still quiet at this hour …
… and so were the streets around the park:
It’s pretty sweet that Alliance Bank Stadium and NYSEG Stadium are so close to each other, right? Well, drive another hour south, and you’ll come across PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. I visited here last year, but I was really excited to see it again. As you might know, the stadium is undergoing a major renovation that has forced the Yanks to play all of 2012 as a road team. The plan was to park and walk around to check out the changes, but upon arriving, it was clear that visitors weren’t encouraged:
Not to be thwarted, but also not really wanting to break the rules, I headed for the lookout point on a road high above the park to see what I could see. Last year, I took this photo:
And from roughly the same spot today, here’s what the park looks like:
Wow! As you can see, work crews are in the midst of tearing an awful lot of the stadium apart:
The upper deck looks a bit like it’s from a ghost stadium:
The team’s championship and player banners have certainly seen better days:
In general, most of the stadium was rough looking …
… but it was encouraging to see a number of people busily working away:
Oddly enough, the grass is still in immaculate shape and the PNC Field logo behind home plate is pristine:
Today’s lunch was to be the only lunch or dinner on my road trip that I wasn’t scheduled to be at a ballpark. And because it was approaching noon, I ducked over to a nearby Quiznos and grabbed a sub …
… and now I can say I ate this meal with baseball as a backdrop, too!
After lunch, I resumed the drive to New Jersey, and the weather, which had been iffy all morning, quickly got worse:
Eventually, the rain let up a little — enough for my Grade 2 self to take a photo of a sign marking the small town called Buttzville:
I checked into my hotel around 3 p.m., hung out for a bit and then jumped in the car again for the short drive to Lakewood. As you might guess from the time of this post, the BlueClaws game was rained out. But that didn’t stop me from checking out the ballpark and coming across a number of cool things. I’ll sum up my visit in my next post, which will come either later tonight or tomorrow.
If you’re new to this blog, thanks for stopping by. Please follow me on Twitter to catch the latest from my road trip adventure!
By this time next week, I’ll have already seen two games during my first road trip of 2012. Can you guess that I’m counting down the days in a big way?
If you’re new to this blog, I thought I’d post the road trip schedule again, and as I think you’ll agree, it’s going to involve a terrific amount of baseball in a short period of time:
Monday, May 21: Delmarva Shorebirds at Lakewood BlueClaws 6:35 p.m.
Tuesday, May 22: Louisville Bats at Lehigh Valley IronPigs 10:35 a.m.
Tuesday, May 22: Akron Aeros at Trenton Thunder 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, May 23: Potomac Nationals at Wilmington Blue Rocks 11:05 a.m.
Wednesday, May 23: Carolina Mudcats at Frederick Keys 7:05 p.m.
Thursday, May 24: Harrisburg Senators at Altoona Curve 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, May 24: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Buffalo Bisons 7:05 p.m.
The plan is to get up very early on Monday morning and drive nearly nine hours to Lakewood, N.J., where I’ll watch the BlueClaws at FirstEnergy Park. As you know, I love to get to the ballpark a couple hours before the game, so I’ll do my best even though it’ll be a long drive. As an added bonus, I’m going to get to spend some time in the press box during the game and perhaps get a tour of the park.
I’ll be staying in the Trenton area Monday night because first thing Tuesday, I’ll head to Allentown, PA, to watch the IronPigs in a matinee game. Once that one’s wrapped up, it’s back to Trenton to catch the Thunder. The Thunder have graciously agreed to give me a tour of Waterfront Park, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
Wednesday, May 23 will be a big day. Not only will I get to watch the Wilmington Blue Rocks in matinee action, I might even get mentioned on the ballpark’s video board! I realize things get hectic on game days, but the team has told me this is a possibility, so I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed — and my camera ready. As I’m writing this post, I just got word from the Blue Rocks that I’m going to get to be interviewed on the team’s radio broadcast in the top of the fifth inning. Outstanding!
Once the Wilmington game has wrapped up, I’ll hop back in the car and zoom to Frederick, MD, where I’ll attend a Keys game. I’m really pumped for this one because I’m getting to meet Keys outfielder Jeremy Nowak, whose name you’ll know if you follow this blog. If not, check out this link. And here’s a picture of Jeremy that I took last year as he signed autographs as a member of the Delmarva Shorebirds:
What could make this visit better? How about a tour before the gates open and a half inning in the press box being interviewed on the game’s broadcast? Needless to say, it’s going to be an outstanding day. And I see that Frederick’s Harry Grove Stadium has crab on the menu, and if it’s anything like the crab cake sandwich I had last year at Aberdeen’s Ripken Stadium …
… I am going to have a full stomach.
On Thursday morning, I’m going to have to be on the road very early for the drive to Altoona, PA. Not only is there a third matinee game in three days that I get to attend, the team expects it’ll be able to give me a tour that morning before the gates open. After the game, I’ll drive straight to Buffalo, where I should get to Coca-Cola Field shortly before the gates open. At this game, I plan to meet up with some of the bloggers from NY Bisons to say hello, so that should be fun. If you haven’t seen this blog, check it out. These guys are all over Buffalo baseball and provide several entertaining reads every week. I’ve been to Coca-Cola Field in the past, but I’m looking forward to seeing it again — especially now that the park has the biggest scoreboard in the Minor Leagues.
So, yes, it’s going to be a full four days, but I’m obviously really looking forward to it. The opportunities to get tours of the parks and time on-air are absolutely outstanding, so I’ve got even more reasons to be pumped for this trip. The schedule is so packed that I won’t have a ton of spare time for sightseeing, but I’ll try to see some cool places and share photos.
I’ll be blogging as much as I can while I’m away, as well as updating my adventure on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading and please be sure to check out my website, The Ballpark Guide, for guides to MLB and MiLB parks. I’ve got guides to more than 20 parks listed on the site now, with more coming soon. And if you find the guides helpful, or just enjoy following my travel adventures, please visit this page and consider making a donation to help out the cause.
A week ago, I blogged about five goals I have for my first road trip of the 2012 season. If you missed that post, check it out here.
My first day of travel, May 21, is rapidly approaching, so here are five more goals I hope to accomplish.
6. Be interviewed during a game broadcast
Not only would this be an awesome opportunity to spread the word about my website and this blog, it would be a lot of fun, too. Without being too much of a tease, I’ll have some great news to share about this goal very soon.
7. Get 50 autographs
This one might be a little challenging. Three of the games I’m attending are school days, which means the parks will be crawling with kids. I’ve got to average a little more than seven autographs per game to hit this goal, so it’ll be interesting to see how I manage. I don’t know exactly how many autographs I got last summer, but it was definitely at least 50.
8. Buy a hat
It sounds simple, right? But I’m a bit picky when it comes to hats. Last year, I bought a handful, which you can see here. I’m not sure which hat I’ll get on this trip, but I plan to add at least one to my collection.
9. Have my photo taken with a player
For all the autographs I get, I never stop to get a photo taken with a player. I think this would be a neat thing to have for my blog. I’ll obviously get a photo with Jeremy Nowak when I’m in Frederick, but I’ll try to get a photo with another player or two during my travels.
10. Have some unforeseen fun adventure
This is pretty vague, but one of the beauties of my road trips is that sometimes, I stumble into something unexpected and awesome. In Fort Wayne, the TinCaps GM gave me a personal tour of Parkview Field that included a visit to the clubhouse. At Salisbury’s Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, I retrieved Nowak’s first South Atlantic League ball that eventually got returned to him (as you probably know about by now!) and in Baltimore, I got to meet 1970 American League MVP Boog Powell:
Hopefully, something extra exciting will transpire, and I’ll be able to blog all about it!
I absolutely love traveling to new cities to watch ballgames, and then blogging about my experiences on this blog. It’s awesome to share photos and stories and connect with so many of you. I’m counting down the days until my next road trip, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a bit of information about how you can help me with my travels.
If you enjoy reading this blog or have found TheBallparkGuide.com helpful in the past when you’re planning your own trip, please consider making a small donation to help me out. Being on the road so much adds up, and with your donations, I’ll be able to travel even more and share more great adventures.
On my website, I’ve not got a “Contribute” button, which you’ll see on the right side of the page, just under the Facebook and Twitter links. Clicking on it will take you to a new page where you can make a donation. Or, if it’s easier, you can just click this link to see the page in question.
Once there, you can make a donation with PayPal, and it doesn’t have to be big. Every donation adds up and helps me hit the road for more exciting adventures to share. Thank you.
And speaking of adventures, my next road trip is fast approaching. You can read the schedule here, if you haven’t already seen it. In the days leading up to the trip, I’ll have some cool news to share, too. And I’ve still got some more road trip goals that I’ll blog about soon.