The Best of 2011 – Part II

Last week, I explained that while I’m looking forward to the 2012 baseball season, I’m wrapping up an amazing 2011 by blogging about the bests and worsts from my travels for The Ballpark Guide. If you missed it, you can find part one here.

Let’s get to the second installment of this three-part series.

16. Best action photo: Ryan Perry

I took a number of action photos throughout my travels and while my camera isn’t the best that money can buy, I’ve got a lot of experience with shooting sports and can usually get some good shots. When I was in Detroit, I took this photo of Tigers pitcher Ryan Perry during a bullpen section. I’d say it turned out pretty well:

17. Best-looking desserts I didn’t try: Toledo

I was in Toledo on May 26 for a rare matinee game that started at 10:30 a.m. The early start time was fine by me, but it meant I was a little reluctant to dive into the delicious-looking desserts offered at Fifth Third Field:

18. Worst screaming kids: Toledo

Toledo had an impressive dessert cart, but given the game’s start time, the ballpark was full of school groups. Let’s just say my ears were ringing for much of the game. And the PA announcer’s cries of, “I can’t hearrrrr you!” didn’t help the cause.

19. Worst smoking section placement: Erie’s Jerry Uht Park

I had a good time in Erie on May 29. It was a perfect day weather-wise and I even got a foul ball. Jerry Uht Park has a number of cool features, including a standing-room area in left field. The downside? You have to forge a path through the death cloud that hovers in the park’s smoking section to make it to the left field area. See the nice photo below? When the park gets crowded, the air in this caged area is purplish-blue:

One more comment on the smoking section. It’s directly above the Erie bullpen. Figure that one out.

20. Best and worst signs: Lake County and Binghamton

One last point on my anti-smoking crusade. I saw the sign below at the main gate of Lake Erie’s Classic Park and was impressed with the club’s tongue-in-cheek warning for smokers.

Best sign:

The honor for worst sign goes to this sketchy one posted outside the main gate of Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium.

Worst sign:

And now, onto nicer topics.

21. Best on-field experience: Portland

I got to walk on the field at four ballparks this summer: Bowie’s Prince George’s Stadium, Erie’s Jerry Uht Park, Vermont’s Centennial Field and Portland’s Hadlock Field. I visited the latter with my wife and (much to her chagrin) we played catch for about half an hour. Hadlock Field has a Green Monster of its own, so I threw balls off it and fielded them. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve posted one of me misplaying a ball. In my defense, I was trying to barehand it. The invisible cutoff man was not pleased:

22. Hottest horseradish: Boog’s BBQ at Camden Yards

I had sandwiches at the famous Boog’s BBQ booth in Baltimore (say that five times fast) during both visits. I bought a giant BBQ sandwich during my first game and loaded it with horseradish. I carefully carried the enormous meal to an empty seat, bit into it and then promptly reached for a napkin to pick up my eyeballs, which had blown out of my head. If you’re ever in B’more, get a sandwich at Boog’s. But go lightly on the horse:

23. Best in-stadium museum: Delmarva’s Arthur W. Perdue Stadium

If you ever visit Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, home of the South Atlantic League’s Delmarva Shorebirds, you absolutely have to check out the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. It’s free to enter and it’s loaded with amazing baseball memorabilia from the Maryland/Delaware area and beyond. Here’s one picture that hardly does the museum justice:

24. Worst food rip-off: Large pizza at Nationals Park

For the record, I didn’t get suckered into buying this item, but I did a good double-take when I saw the concession stand’s price board. Take a look at the picture below and tell me if you’d order a full-size cheese pizza:

25. Best hotel view: Hilton Baltimore

It’s not cheap to get a field-facing room at the Hilton Baltimore, but it’s absolutely worth doing if you’re a sucker for a great view. The photos hardly do it justice, but here’s Camden Yards from my room in the daylight and at night. Click to make the pics big:

26. Best rain delay competition: Vermont

When I was at Centennial Field in August, there was a long rain delay. I walked around behind Vermont’s clubhouse and found out what players do during these sorts of delays:

27. Best former MVP meeting: Boog Powell in Baltimore

A day after his sandwich’s horseradish blew my face off, I met Powell, the 1970 American League MVP. I neglected to mention the horseradish incident to him, but did get a photo with the O’s legend:

28. Most mayflies spotted: Harrisburg

Late in the game during my May visit to Harrisburg’s Metro Bank Park, the sky got busy as roughly, oh, a zillion mayflies flew overhead. Their lifespan wasn’t much to brag about, as a ton of them dropped from the sky onto everything below. It was actually like it was raining dead bugs; I’ve never experienced something like it, but it wasn’t bad at all. Here’s the scene overhead:

29. Best ballpark song: Lansing Lugnuts

A description doesn’t do it justice, but if you’ve been to Lansing’s Cooley Law School Stadium, you’ll know what I mean. When the Lugnuts score, the park’s speakers (and the fans) sing, “GO NUTS GO NUTS GO NUTS GO NUTS LUGNUTS LUGNUTS LUGNUTS LUGNUTS.” It’s actually catching. Next time I’m there, I’m going to record it.

30. Best “Put me in, coach” moment: Speed pitch in Portland

Under the watchful eye of a few MLB scouts bunch of nine-year-olds, I paid my dollar, stepped up and threw two balls into the speed pitch netting in Portland’s kids’ play area. The gun showed 68 mph, but I’m sure that number was the result of a clerical error. The good news? I trounced those nine-year-olds. Look at this form:

Part three of this series is coming soon!

In the meantime, check out my website and follow me on Twitter.

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7 comments

  1. Craig Wieczorkiewicz

    $30 for a large cheese pizza? What a rip-off!

    I’ve encountered swarms of mayflies like that before, at Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits. Happens there every year in late spring.

    I LOVE the Lansing Lugnuts’ team song! It’s cheesy, but catchy. If anyone is interested in hearing it, there’s a link to the song in this post on my blog (toward the end): http://mwltraveler.com/2012/02/15/cooley-law-school-stadium-under-snow/

  2. Mateo Fischer

    Since you had so many things in this entry of course my comment is this: I can’t believe you stayed in the Hilton in Baltimore. Ever since I first went to that park I have wanted to stay there just for the awesome view. I suppose the Renaissance hotel in Toronto would be better, but it is more amorphous in my mind since I have never been there.
    -Mateo
    http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

  3. Malcolm - TheBallparkGuide

    Mateo: Yep, it was amazing. I’ve never stayed at the Renaissance but I think I prefer the Hilton just because the view is better. You can sort of get the Renaissance view by standing in the upper deck at Rogers Centre and I think Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful parks there is. Plus, I hate how overpriced everything in Toronto is!
    Thanks for reading!

  4. mfgoffy

    Mateo – although the view from the Renaissance in TO is ok, I cannot imagine it would come near to eclipsing the view in Baltimore.

    Good post again Malcolm. The darts picture is just too funny.

    Not sure if you have heard of Triberr. I use it for my business blog and when you get a ‘tribe’ together, it helps with sharing of blog articles etc – a great and easy way to expand your reader network. If you are interested, let me know – as I am thinking of setting up a baseball / sporting version to spread good blogs like yours (and mine of course 8) !

    http://kingofthepunditslive.wordpress.com/

  5. Mateo Fischer

    Oh, and I’ve never actually been able to know for certain, but it appeared to me, from my view in the stands of Camden Yards, that you can actually be in the gym and see the game. Is this true, or am I confusing that for another room? I know there is a terrace of sorts with chairs where you can look at the ballpark, but I always wanted to know this.
    – Mateo
    http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

    • Malcolm - TheBallparkGuide

      Mateo,
      Sorry, I somehow missed this comment when you left it. I do believe you can see the park from the hotel’s gym, and I’m almost certain you can see it from the indoor pool, too. In the first panorama from my hotel window that I posted, see the white roof in the foreground? That’s the swimming pool area.
      Malcolm

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