The next morning, my wife and I had breakfast near our hotel at the Cleveland airport and began to plan our day. We didn’t have tickets for the day’s 1 p.m. game (it was Sunday) but planned to buy them at the ticket office. Then we had a change in plan. Our stay in Cleveland was breezing by, and there were still some things we wanted to see. My wife wanted to check out the botanical gardens, but there wouldn’t be time to do so after the day’s Indians game. So, we decided that she’d drop me off at Progressive Field at 11 a.m., then visit the gardens herself and pick me up later. I had another day to check out Progressive Field for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com.
After getting dropped off, I snapped this photo of the Progressive Field sign. I love night games, but it’s nice to attend games in the day for the good lighting for photos:
I bought a 500 Level ticket for $10. I’d spend some time checking out the upper deck, but I’d also walk around the stadium and check out other sights. Here’s my ticket shot:
Today, I walked around the full stadium and was able to find the players’ lot. Yesterday, I’d seen it from inside the stadium, but now I was standing right in front of it:
I’m guessing the Ford Focus in the foreground of the second picture belongs to an Indians staff member, not a player. I made my way back toward Gate C, as it’s the gate that opens first. I also took advantage of being there early to take a picture of some of the anti-LeBron T-shirts being sold on the corner of the street outside the stadium:
Here’s Gate C. There are a few people milling around, but I was one of the first people in line:
And here’s the roadway between the stadium and the parking garage. The Progressive Field scoreboard is on the left and bridges over the road to let people reach the garage from the stadium:
Once the gates opened, I ran into the stadium and started looking around the lower level. Today, the crowd was substantially less than the day before, I’m guessing because the previous night’s game was the team’s Hall of Fame inductions. Security was pretty lax now, so I was able to get into the Bud Light Party Deck in right field to take this picture:
I then headed down to the first base line to try to get some Twins autographs, as a handful of players were signing:
I ended up getting Scott Baker, Jesse Crain and All-Star Matt Capps on a baseball. Interestingly enough, these guys were the top three players alphabetically on the roster at the time. Here’s the ball:
As you can see, the stadium was still pretty empty as I made my way to the visitors’ dugout:
And now, I got a chance to check out an area that I couldn’t get to yesterday — the Mercedes-Benz Front Row. This area is one of the most unique in baseball. Pay for a front-row seat at Progressive Field, and you’ll have soft, padded seats and more legroom than you’d ever need:
I made my way around the front row (thankfully, unharassed by ushers) and got right behind home plate. It was neat to stand behind home plate at my second MLB stadium. Progressive Field has a beautiful view. The home run deck, enormous scoreboard, tall fence and bleachers in left; Heritage Park and the trees in center; the Ridgid Jobsite in right-center; and the seating in right. Have I mentioned that I love baseball?
Security was great in this area. I mean, there were lots of people (me included) who were browsing the area behind home plate and didn’t have tickets for the area. Cleveland’s ushers were attentive, but didn’t try to strongarm anyone for walking through this area. Anyway, I asked another fan to get a picture of me sitting on the wall just to the right of the Indians dugout:
Here’s that wall, which runs around the front row behind home plate. How about the leg room?!
I should say there was no batting practice on this day, as is often the case prior to a day game following a night game. Without BP to watch, I kept cruising the area behind home plate and took this panorama:
Then I headed over to the left field corner, where I took the photos that make up this panorama:
By this time, I was back in the area of Heritage Park, and it wasn’t as crowded as it was yesterday. I took advantage of the lack of the crowd to snap a few more photos:
The game was getting close to starting, so I once again climbed the 100-plus stairs up to the upper deck and took a look around. Up here, I had a good vantage point of the windowed restaurant along the left field line:
I grabbed a hot dog that tasted better than it looks in this photo and ate it in my seat waaaay up high behind home plate:
I was high, but with my camera’s zoom, I was able to capture the action at home plate fairly well. Here’s Joe Mauer:
And here’s Mauer on the scoreboard. As you can see, the stands were mostly empty today:
From up here, I could keep an eye on the Twins dugout:
And shoot a panorama from the upper level, roughly behind home plate:
Time for another tour. Up next is a shot of Cleveland from the upper deck, a look at the play area between Progressive Field at Quicken Loans Arena and the pedestrian bridge leading to the parking structure:
As empty as the bleachers and lower deck were, the upper deck was pretty quiet, too. This picture makes it look like a ghost town:
That said, there were several concession stands open in the upper deck, and my jaw dropped when I saw one of the condiments sections. Now, I’m used to ketchup and mustard being offered for your hot dog, and maybe some onions or hot peppers if you’re really lucky. But Progressive Field goes all out on the condiments:
For those keeping score, that’s ketchup, mayonnaise, honey mustard, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, sweet relish, Ballpark Mustard, yellow mustard and more ketchup. I kind of wish I’d known about this station earlier, when I had my hot dog. A note on Ballpark Mustard. Clevelandites are pretty specific about this mustard, from what I gather. Cleveland’s Famous Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard (its full name) was invented in Cleveland and can’t be compared with any other mustards, according to what Indians fans tell me. I tried it on my hot dog, and it’s tasty. It looks and smells like Dijon, but doesn’t have the same bite. (I bought a bottle of it in the Indians team shop for $4.)
In my upper deck travels, I found my way to this:
It’s the back of the Progressive Field sign that I took from the sidewalk when I first arrived. After taking a tour of the upper deck, I headed back down to the lower deck and walked around for a bit before returning to the upper deck. Boy, I was getting my exercise today! I snapped this picture of myself with part of the stadium as a backdrop:
Then, I noticed something exciting: On the out-of-town scoreboard in the left field fence, I noticed that the Toronto Blue Jays were no-hitting Tampa Bay through eight innings. Soon, a video update about the game came onto the scoreboard, and it was pretty exciting to follow. Righthander Brandon Morrow was pitching for Toronto, and I was more interested in following the scoreboard action than the Indians/Twins game. Morrow finally gave up a ninth-inning hit to Evan Longoria, but the Jays hung on to win 1-0. Here’s the scoreboard in the eighth inning:
The Indians game was almost over, too. I took one last panoramic shot that shows the steepness of the upper deck:
The Indians lost again, 5-4 this time, thanks in part to a two-run home run by Minnesota’s Jim Thome. You have to love being able to use a camera’s zoom. I was roughly 43 miles from home plate, but could still zoom in enough to take this photo:
With the game wrapped up, I began the downward climb to meet up with my wife outside the Indians ticket office. Pretty soon, she pulled up and we headed away from the ballpark after two great days of Indians games. I realize Progressive Field is just the second MLB park I’ve visited, but I was hugely impressed. What a great experience; one that just makes me look forward to seeing more games this summer.
After the game, we headed straight to Momocho, an awesome Mexican restaurant that’s one of Cleveland’s top eateries. We’d seen it featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and wanted to try it out. We had a spectacular dinner of a trio of guacamole (the best we’ve ever had, by far) and chips, and main courses of taquitos with wild boar and duck. Again, absolutely incredible. I had a Tecate just to keep up with the Mexican theme. After dinner, we headed back to the airport area where we were staying, and I worked on the notes from my ballpark visit to add to my guide on TheBallparkGuide.com. Watch for that guide coming soon!
Three of our six games were now done. The next day, we’d head to nearby Niles, Ohio to watch the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a Short-Season A team in the New York-Penn League.