Believe it or not, I still have one game to blog about from this past summer. I know, I know, one of the big rules about blogging is to be timely. But instead of offering excuses as to why it’s taken me a few months to write about an amazing visit to Cleveland, I’ll just get right to it.
Every fall, my brother and I visit a different NFL stadium. This year, we went to Cleveland, and even though I drove through C-Town this past summer and went to two Indians games in 2010, I wanted to check out Progressive Field again. We were in luck, as we’d be in Cleveland for the September 25 Browns game against the Dolphins, and the Indians were also home that weekend. The plan was to see the ball game on Friday night, which was also Jim Thome Night.
The drive down was rainy, which didn’t bode well for the possibility of the game that night:
When we got into town around mid-afternoon, we could see Progressive Field’s bright lights illuminating the gray skyline:
Inclement weather not withstanding, I was pumped to hopefully see my last baseball game of the 2011 season. For me, approaching the stadium is an exciting experience. So, sitting in the car, in traffic, with this sight ahead of us was cool:
We parked a short walk from Progressive Field and by then, the skies were even darker:
No worries, though. We walked around the perimeter of the stadium, stopping briefly to take a picture of the front sign …
… my ticket …
… our tickets …
… and a pretty deserted “Rally Alley”:
After waiting in line at Gate C, and upon entering, we were handed Jim Thome posters:
The posters were neat, but with rain falling and given the size of the posters, we had to fold them to put them in my backpack.
This was my brother’s first visit to Progressive Field, so I played the role of tour guide and showed him some of the stadium’s neater features, including the Ridgid Jobsite bar:
The team shop, where we saw this game-used Indians helmet for $50:
And Heritage Park, which had a new wall honoring HOFer Bob Feller:
Unfortunately, there was no action on the field, unless you consider the tarp action:
New this season is the Food Network concession stand, which was selling a Cleveland Steak Sandwich and Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese:
Despite being pricey, I waited in line to find out both were temporarily sold out. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, depending on your point of view, it was $1 hot dog night. So we got two each …
… downed them quickly and then continued touring around. I can’t get enough of Progressive Field’s amazing scoreboard:
We also spent a little more time in Heritage Park, where my brother took a pic of me next to Feller’s plaque:
Our last stop before finding our seats waaaaaaaay up in Row X of Section 570 was a visit to the concourse overlooking the players’ parking lot; and yes, that’s a Bentley:
On the way to our seats, my brother nabbed two more hot dogs:
That’s six total dogs between us, for those keeping score. By the time we made it up to our seats down the third base line, the sky was dark, to put it mildly:
The grounds crew was in the process of putting the tarp back on the infield after removing it perhaps an hour earlier and this was the panoramic scene:
With the status of the game uncertain, Thome, his families and a bunch of dignitaries took to the field around home plate to honor the veteran who hit his 600th career home run earlier in the summer:
Here was the display on the scoreboard during the on-field festivities:
After the presentation, the Indians confirmed the night’s game would be delayed. It wasn’t all bad, though; they showed the Blue Jays/Rays game on the scoreboard:
During the Thome presentation, the team announced that the slugger will be recognized with a statue located behind the left field corner. Staff unveiled a mural of the future statue during the presentation, so we took a walk over to look at the area during the rain delay:
The game finally began following a lengthy delay, and we spent a few innings up in our seats and a few more standing behind a railing beyond right field, where we had this view:
We also managed to grab four more hot dogs …
… and Indians rally towels that were being passed out in the area:
A few minutes after being handed the towels, we got a perfect opportunity to wave them. Thome came to bat and launched his 604th career home run (and, as it turned out, his last as an Indian) over the fence in right-center, just to our right. Amazing!
Soon, we moved into the bleachers in left-center and spent the rest of the game there with this view:
All in all, it was a great game. I have no idea how many home runs Thome has left, but it was awesome to see him hit his last as a Cleveland Indian.
Now, if only Opening Day would come sooner!
I’ll have a number of other blog updates over the off-season, however. Keep checking back to see a bunch of neat extras from my 2011 road trip season.