Day games after night games have a reputation for not being too popular among players, and I imagine that’s especially true when the day game starts before noon, rather than after it.
For me, this type of scheduling scenario is a treat. While I’ll admit that having fewer than 12 hours elapse between leaving the ballpark after a night game and returning before the next day’s game is a little exhausting, it’s always a situation I enjoy on my road trips.
After a full — and filling — first day at Rochester’s Frontier Field, I crashed in my hotel less than a half mile away, but was up bright and early on the morning of July 17 for some day baseball. The Red Wings were playing at 11 a.m. to accommodate a bunch of summer camps that would be in attendance, so I was expecting a boisterous atmosphere.
I got to Frontier Field a little before 9 a.m. and took a walk around its exterior before going inside. I’ve often expressed how much I love being inside this ballpark, but I find that the outside is pretty appealing, too. In particular, the design is impressive. For a ’90s-era facility, I find that the exterior has a lot of character. Take a look at this panorama that I shot from across Morrie Silver way, which runs roughly parallel to the third base line:
After snapping that photo, I continued along the street until I got to Plymouth Avenue, which runs beyond the outfield fence. I crossed the street and stood at the edge of a parking lot to snap this shot:
That’s the back of the video board on the left, a group picnic area under the white tent and a cool historic building on the far right, which is immediately adjacent to the park’s Gate 5. Want a closer look at the historic building? I thought so:
If the building looks like a historic firehouse, you’re absolutely right. Home to “Hose Co. No. 3,” this building opened in 1934. I think it’s outstanding that it was not only kept during the construction of Frontier Field six decades later, but also included in the design.
It’s not possible to complete a full lap of Frontier Field from the exterior, so I soon retraced my steps and went back to the main gates to enter park. Unlike a day earlier, when rain had kept me hiding in the concourse for the first part of my visit, I went straight out to the cross aisle and snapped this photo:
Then, it was time to explore the outfield area a bit. Because batting practice wasn’t taking place, I didn’t have to worry about any long home run balls smacking me in the head, and that suited me just fine. I headed to a spot just to the center field side of the visitors bullpen and took this panorama …
… and then cut across the grass berm behind the fence and looked back toward the batter’s eye:
I spent the next maybe 15 or so minutes just wandering around the cross-aisle, taking a lap through the concourse and stopping by the team shop. When the gates opened, I decided that since probably more than 1,000 summer campers would soon be descending on Frontier Field, I’d better grab something to eat before the lineups potentially got long. I had my mind set on a prime rib sandwich from the Red Osier concession stand. It’s something I’ve had before, and it’s easily one of my favorite ballpark foods ever, so I grabbed one and hustled over to the seats on the first base side to eat it:
While there are certainly flashier concession items both at Frontier Field and ballparks across the minor leagues, I love this sandwich because it’s exactly what you want it to be — a fresh kimmelweck roll topped with caraway seeds and kosher salt, a heaping pile of thinly sliced prime rib and plenty of au jus. In fact, you can see the latter floating in the tinfoil below the sandwich. I always add some horseradish to my sandwich, which adds another flavor dimension that I like. As always, the sandwich was outstanding. It’s a must-have item for anyone visiting Frontier Field. I always wish I could buy 10 of them and jam them in my suitcase to take home with me.
The park was filling up quickly, and as first pitch approached, I decided to go down to the railing above the grass berm on the first base side. It’s not far from the small bridge that I’d visited a day earlier, and provides a similar view:
For the record, the park looks fairly empty in the image above. What you’re not seeing, however, is that the stands just out of sight to the left were absolutely packed. Because of the overhang providing shade, most of the camp groups bought tickets in those sections, so the upper deck on the first base side was definitely a lively place to be all game.
As you might’ve been able to tell in the image above, it was a perfect day for baseball. Very few clouds in the sky and the sun directly overhead meant that I didn’t need to worry about rain, but it was getting pretty hot. Normally, I’d have gone to find a place to sit in the shade, but since the shady seats were packed, I decided on the next best thing — a cool drink. As you’ve probably seen in my various blog posts over the years, I’m a sucker for frozen lemonade, so I grabbed one from a concession stand behind home plate and took a seat in the sun on the third base side:
The next place I chose to sit was just to the visitors side of home plate. It’s a spot that provides a really nice backdrop beyond the outfield, as well as a perfect view of the game:
I sat there for a couple of innings, and then really needed to find some shade. I’d picked up a pretty solid sunburn two days earlier in Batavia, and didn’t want to be feeling even more burnt by the end of this game. I saw that the group that had been occupying the picnic area beyond left field had started to filter out, which meant that the gameday staff weren’t restricting other fans from entering this area. Given that it’s a covered space, I hustled over there and sat at a picnic table where I had a good view of the field, but also of the Louisville bullpen. I remained in that spot until some of the camp groups in the shaded seats on the first base side began to leave, too, and then went over there to grab a seat in the full shade with this view:
I ended up spending the remainder of the game in that spot. I didn’t have any desire to be in the sun any longer, and with another visit to Frontier Field coming up in a little more than 24 hours, it was time to just kick back and enjoy the ballgame.
Unlike a day earlier, I wasn’t in a rush to get out of the ballpark, and that meant that by the time I got to my car, there were a handful of cars in front of me. Happy to blast the A/C and wait my turn, I had a classic “only in the minors moment.” While I sat in the line, I saw a Red Wings pitcher Gabriel Moya walk through the parking lot and get into his vehicle — a white Range Rover Velar, if you’re wondering. I normally have trouble identifying minor leaguers when they’re not in uniform, but I’d watched him throw in the bullpen a day earlier and found that he was easy to recognize. The left-hander, who has since been called up to Minnesota, sat in his car like any other Frontier Field visitor, eager to get moving. As I inched closer, I was eager for the opportunity to wave him forward, but the driver immediately ahead of me must’ve had the same idea. He motioned for the Range Rover to proceed, and Moya slid into place and disappeared into the traffic a couple of minutes later.
For me, meanwhile, it was another short jaunt back to my hotel room for some much-needed air conditioning, then a quick jaunt out for a steak for dinner, and then back to my hotel to watch the MLB All-Star Game on TV.