Tagged: Auburn Doubledays

Auburn Doubledays – August 24

Here’s proof of what a baseball nerd I am: I often begin my baseball road trips with a long drive, which means I’m leaving home while it’s still dark outside. The first city on this trip, Auburn, is slightly more than three hours from my home … but I was still up at 5 a.m. and on the road a couple hours later. You can never start your baseball trip too early.

I made a bunch of stops along the way and checked into my hotel in the middle of the afternoon. You can reach much more about the hotel toward the end of the post. I had a quick late lunch and then packed up my camera stuff and was off to Falcon Park.

More baseball nerdism: I’ve already been to Falcon Park twice since 2010 and it’s such a small park that you can reasonably explore every part of it in well under 10 minutes. The average fan might arrive shortly before first pitch, right? Not me — I was there more than two hours before game time and it was so early that the parking lot looked like this:

falcon-park-empty-parking-lot

Falcon Park has one of the best parking setups you’ll find in all of baseball. The lot is free for fans and directly across the street from the ballpark gates. It really couldn’t be any better.

One thing that I enjoy doing when visiting smaller parks is to walk around behind the park and see if I can snag a ball during batting practice. If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll have seen several times that I’ve done this. Although I was hoping to get a ball, I didn’t plan to stand back there for long as I was excited to get inside and watch BP from the seats.

Falcon Park has such an intimate feel that there’s really no spot in which the players are inaccessible, except when they’re behind closed doors. As I cut through the staff parking lot on my way toward the rear of the ballpark, I could hear the sound of a man talking and looked up to see a member of the Auburn coaching staff talking to the entire team in this training building:

falcon-park-team-meeting

I didn’t want to blatantly stand there and take a photo of the team meeting, so I moved over a little to show the building and the open door without invading the team’s privacy, but the entire team was on folding chairs just out of sight from this view. This building has training equipment — you can see some medicine balls on a rack — and also serves as the indoor batting cages for use during inclement weather. It’s located in the left field corner, just behind the fence and adjacent to the Doubledays clubhouse, which is the red brick building.

After listening to the coach’s remarks for a moment, I continued toward the grassy hill behind the outfield fence and a moment later, this was my view:

falcon-park-behind-fence

I scoured the area nearly from foul pole to foul pole and there weren’t any balls to be had. I stood around for about 10 or 15 minutes and while I could hear some balls hitting the fence, absolutely nothing was flying out of the park. I thought briefly about climbing this ladder to not only watch BP, but to also take a cool photograph …

falcon-park-ladder-behind-fence

… and then decided that a home run ball in the head would be a poor way to start my trip.

Shrugging off the desire to add more balls to my collection, I followed along the edge of the ballpark until I reached the front where I snapped this photo:

falcon-park-front

Don’t you just love the look of the front of this ballpark? I think it looks super sharp.

I picked up the media pass that Doubledays broadcaster David Lauterbach had left me (thanks, David!) and walked inside the park. The area just inside Falcon Park’s main gate is a hubbub of activity during the game — a souvenir shop, several promotional tables, the concession stand and, in general a gathering place. At this point, though, it was still quiet:

falcon-park-inside-gate-panorama

The visiting Mahoning Valley Scrappers were still hitting and I climbed to the top of the bleachers on the third base side to take this panorama:

falcon-park-bleachers-pano

After watching BP for a few minutes, both from the bleachers and then from the first-row seats directly above the dugout, I decided to take advantage of the empty park and walk around. One place where I’d never spent too much time during previous visits was the party deck down the first base line, so that’s where I went next. I think you’ll agree that it offers a great view:

falcon-park-party-deck

I didn’t see any balls in this area, which was fine. My self-imposed rule is that if I find a ball inside a ballpark before the gates open, I throw it back on the field. For fun, I decided to do a little ball hunting and thought that this spot between the party deck and the adjacent standing room and kids’ play area might yield something:

falcon-park-gap

All it yielded, however, was an enormous spider web on my face. I guess this wasn’t a high-traffic area because the web spanned from the wooden deck right across to the metal fence. After a moment of frantically swiping at myself calmly removing the strands of web from my face, I decided to grab a cobweb-less seat adjacent to the field to watch the rest of BP.

One thing that was really interesting was watching Scrappers manager Travis Fryman, himself a 13-year MLB veteran and Gold Glove winner, working with third baseman Nathan Winfrey for several minutes on positioning and glove placement. Although I couldn’t hear everything Fryman was saying, it was neat to witness the lesson. Fryman even took Winfrey’s glove to reinforce a few points …

mahoning-valley-scrappers-nathan-winfrey-travis-fryman-2

… before giving it back but continuing the lesson:

mahoning-valley-scrappers-nathan-winfrey-travis-fryman

When the teaching moment ended, I shifted my attention back to the area around home plate and took a photo of this “you know you’re in the minors” moment — players loading batting practice balls into a Pep Boys shopping cart:

falcon-park-shopping-cart-balls

I milled around for the next little while before making my way down the third base line toward the Doubledays clubhouse. The players were starting to filter out and I wanted to capture some shots, like this one of third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez and outfielder Randy Encarnacion:

auburn-doubledays-kelvin-gutierrez-randy-encarnacion

I noticed that even though it was still about half an hour before first pitch, Encarnacion was already wearing his ankle guard. I made a mental note to make a joke in my blog about him looking really ready go to … and then he went out and hit a home run in his first at-bat and a bases-clearing double in his second at-bat. I guess his strategy worked!

When the home team started playing catch, I snapped a bunch of shots, like this one of first baseman Diomedes Eusebio:

auburn-doubledays-diomedes-eusebio

During the anthem, I got my only photo of Mariano Rivera III, who did not pitch in this game. He’s wearing #44 and spent the entire game in the bullpen where I didn’t have a good view of him:

auburn-doubledays-anthem

When the game began, I grabbed a seat in the front row behind the home dugout, which is where I sat a lot during my last visit. The park had an amazing atmosphere. For this game, bleacher tickets cost $1, so the bleachers were close to full and very boisterous. From my vantage point, I took this cool shot of third baseman Melvin Rodriguez calling off catcher Jorge Tillero to catch a pop-up in foul territory:

auburn-doubledays-po-up

Here’s a shot of 2015 third-rounder Rhett Wiseman just after laying down a bunt that ended up rolling foul:

rhett-wiseman-auburn-doubledays

And a pair of pictures of Encarnacion just after rounding third after his home run …

randy-encarnacion-auburn-doubledays-home-run

… and returning to the dugout right in front of me:

randy-encarnacion-auburn-doubledays

From where I sat, I had a great view of not only the field, but also of the players as they’d come and go through the dugout entrance on my right. Here’s Tillero who, despite how it looks, isn’t trying to avoid my shot:

jorge-tillaro-auburn-doubledays

At the start of the fifth inning, I went back down the first base line and took the pictures to build this panorama. Really nice sky, huh?

falcon-park-night-sky-pano

I decided to take another walk down that gap where I’d previously walked into the cobweb. It led to a great standing-room spot along the fence and, besides, I’d already gotten rid of all the web with my head, right? Well, I walked into the opening again and took another giant web in the face — uhh! To make matters worse, I looked to my right and saw this guy:

falcon-park-spider

I guess he’d been busy rebuilding the damage I caused and I was in no mood to hang out near him. I scanned Falcon Park for my next spot to hang out and decided to go up the bleachers behind home plate to beside the press box. Here, I had this view:

falcon-park-behind-home-plate-pano

Next, I left the park to capture this nighttime shot:

falcon-park-front-night

Later in the game, Mahoning Valley’s Connor Marabell blasted a home run over the fence in left center, so I ran quickly outside to look for the ball. Either it was too dark …

falcon-park-behind-fence-dark

… or someone happened to be walking past and grabbed it, but I didn’t get it. Too bad, too, because it was Marabell’s first career home run as a professional and I would’ve loved to give it back to him.

I spent the game’s last couple innings in the front row behind home plate where I had a great view of not only the action at the plate, but also the Auburn on-deck circle, which was just a few feet in front of me:

falcon-park-on-deck-circle

In addition to the great atmosphere in the park, the game itself was also exciting. Auburn won 5-2 and the teams combined for 19 hits. Lots of action to enjoy and an absolutely perfect night for baseball.

Once the game wrapped up, I was looking forward to getting back to my hotel and relaxing. As I said, I’d been up at 5 a.m. and on the go ever since. Fortunately, I didn’t have to spend long getting to my hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn. It’s located just over a mile from the home of the Doubledays, so your drive between the hotel and ballpark only takes a few minutes. The last thing you need after a long day of traveling is to spend 20 or 30 minutes driving to your hotel, right? Here’s a shot of the outside of the hotel — a welcome sight after my long day!

hilton-garden-inn-auburn-front-night

This hotel was perfect — not only for the traveling baseball fan, but for anyone visiting Auburn for any reason. My room was large and clean with free Wi-Fi, a super-comfy bed, microwave, mini fridge and a 37-inch TV, among other things. And the hotel has a ton of other amenities that I checked out, including an athletic center, pool and business center. Here’s a shot of my room:

hilton-garden-inn-auburn-room

When I’d checked in earlier in the day, the hotel’s director of sales, Rita Trenti, gave me an extensive tour of the hotel, its connected restaurant BeauVine Chophouse and the hotel conference center. One thing I noticed was how much this hotel gives you a sense of where you are. At some hotels, there’s absolutely nothing to distinguish your location, but this one is filled with photos of the local area, which is neat. We also saw an outdoor courtyard with a fire pit, which is something I don’t think I’ve seen at other Hilton Garden Inns, and walked through the huge lobby where there are complimentary “happy hour” refreshments for guests:

hilton-garden-inn-auburn-lobby

The Hilton Garden Inn is definitely the place I’ll stay the next time I’m in Auburn to see the Doubledays and if you’re in the area, you definitely won’t regret booking this hotel, either. In addition to its close proximity to Falcon Park, it’s within walking distance (or a very short drive) to restaurants, grocery stores and Auburn’s downtown scene. Here’s one last shot of the exterior after I checked out:

hilton-garden-inn-auburn-front-outside

Next up, Cleveland’s Progressive Field and the #TribeLive experience!

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Next road trip begins … now!

My bags are packed and I’m just about ready to hit the road. But first, I’m excited to share the schedule for my week-long baseball road trip that begins this morning.

Once I publish this post, I’ll be loading my car and driving to Auburn, NY, to watch the Auburn Doubledays in action against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at Falcon Park. I visited this New York-Penn League ballpark on my very first trip for The Ballpark Guide, back in 2010, and I’m excited to return again. It’ll be a great place to start my trip.

On the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 25, I’ll drive to Cleveland where I’ll have to fortune of visiting Progressive Field as a guest of the Indians at the #TribeLive experience. It’s an updated version of the old Indians Social Suite, which I visited back in 2013. This time, I’ll be closer to field level and the entire visit promises to be exciting.

Because one day at an MLB park is never enough, I’m heading back to Progressive Field on Wednesday, Aug. 26. This time, I’ll have a regular ticket and will enjoy walking around the park and checking out all the new scenery from the off-season renovations.

I normally don’t schedule off-days on my baseball trips, but I’m taking off Thursday, Aug. 27, which will help me catch up with some blogging. I’m going to be spending the day in Cleveland, so I expect to get up to some fun touristy thing(s) that I’ll likely blog about. Any suggestions? Leave them below in the comments section. I’m thinking maybe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, but we’ll see.

Friday, Aug. 28 is possibly up in the air. I’d originally planned to be in Washington, PA, to see my friend Jeremy Nowak play with his Evansville Otters teammates against the Washington Wild Things, just as I did last year around this time. As of last week, however, Jeremy is now a member of the Frontier League’s Joliet Slammers (where he’s hitting .333 with 10 RBIs in six games) so he won’t be in Washington. Unfortunately, that means I won’t get to see Jeremy this season, which will be the first time I’ve not seen him dating back to a streak that began in 2011. Anyway, Washington’s ballpark was beautiful and I really enjoyed my time there last year, so I might go to the game anyway. Or, I might find something else to do. In any case, I’ll be tweeting about my decision and blogging about wherever I end up.

On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 29, I’ll drive to Pittsburgh for the first of two Pirates games at beautiful PNC Park. I visited PNC Park last season but I’m excited to get back there again. I’ll see the Pirates in action both games against the Colorado Rockies. I’m also pumped to get to explore the city a little. I didn’t have much time during my last visit, but this time I’ll have the chance to do some sightseeing. Again, I’m open to any suggestions you want to throw my way.

As usual, I’ll be tweeting along the way and blogging as well.

Off I go!

Auburn Doubledays – July 6

“You’re up.”

With those words, Auburn Doubledays on-field presenter/entertainer Shane Truman takes a step away from me, leaving me standing in the grass a few feet in front of the edge of the pitcher’s mound at Falcon Park. I don’t dare look up to see the 1,200 or so people in attendance.

Instead, I look in at the glove of Doubledays catcher Austin Chubb, who’s crouched behind home plate waiting for me to throw out the first pitch at a professional baseball game — something that’s been on my baseball bucket list for as long as I can recall.

I take a slow windup, noting how weird it feels to throw without a glove on my left hand. As I swing my right arm, I’m so nervous it feels like Jell-o. It’s the same feeling I remember having several years ago when I started boxing and my arms would be dead after a few rounds of sparring.

Mercifully, I avoid the one thing that tarnishes a ceremonial first pitch — a bounce. The ball is high and outside to the right side of the plate, but Chubb does an expert job reaching up to snag it. I have no idea if people are clapping or booing or even watching.

Chubb jogs up to me and drops the ball in my hand. “Thanks for framing it,” I say. He just laughs and suddenly, the moment I’ve been anticipating for more than a month is over. (But I’ve got lots of photos of the first pitch later in this post.)

And so begins my second big baseball road trip of 2013.

Actually, it began several hours earlier in Auburn, New York, as I arrived at Falcon Park to watch some New York-Penn League action between Auburn and Jamestown. I’d visited Auburn back in 2010, but when team GM Jason Horbal reached out to me a couple months ago and asked if I wanted to see Falcon Park again, I took him up on the offer.

The deal was I’d throw out the first pitch for the 6 p.m. game, but a rainout the night before meant the Doubledays and Jammers would finish their postponed game starting at 4 p.m. This meant I had some time to explore the park before my big moment.

If you’ve never been to Falcon Park, it’s a great place to stop if you’re ever traveling through New York State or taking in a Triple-A game in nearby Rochester or Syracuse. Falcon Park has an awesome community feel and perhaps because the park is one of the smallest you’ll ever encounter in professional baseball, you’ll quickly feel at home. It was exciting to drive up to the great-looking front of the park and see it yet again:

falcon-park-front

I arrived just before 3 p.m. for the 4 p.m. game, grabbed my media pass and before long, ran across Jason and chatted with him for about 10 minutes. He’d been hard at work at the ballpark since 7:30 a.m. and before long, he had to run to get more pre-game duties accomplished. First, though, he introduced me to Graham Doty, the voice of the Doubledays. Graham interviewed me for the team’s blog and when that audio clip is up, I’ll share it on here.

Before long, the 4 p.m. game resumed and I was anxious to test out my new camera, which I bought shortly before this trip. It’s a big upgrade from my trusty, ol’ camera that has visited 45+ ballparks with me, and I think you’ll see an upgrade in a lot of my photos, especially the action shots. It was a blast testing out my new lenses and being able to capture better action shots, like this one of Auburn outfielder Greg Zebrack fouling off a pitch:

greg-zebrack-auburn-doubledays-hitting

Auburn starter Silvio Medina:

silvio-medina-auburn-doubledays

And his Jamestown counterpart Cesar Lopez:

cesar-lopez-jamestown-jammers

And Doubledays shortstop Wilmer Difo sliding safely into third base after legging out a triple:

wilmer-difo-auburn-doubledays

But it wasn’t just players I was shooting. Here’s Jammers manager Dave Turgeon, sporting an interesting glasses arrangement — sunglasses to watch the game AND reading glasses to check his lineup card. Not something you see everyday:

dave-turgeon-jamestown-jammers

Late in the game, I moved close to home plate so I could keep an eye on the ballpark gate. Why? Well, earlier in the day, my wife surprised me by announcing she was going to make the seven-hour round trip to Auburn to watch me throw out the first pitch! It’s amazing enough to have a wife who supports my dream of building The Ballpark Guide in a million ways, but for her to spend seven hours in the car by herself to watch me do something that takes about a second? Words fail me.

Soon enough, she arrived and I gave her my camera to practice taking a few shots, as she’d be joining me on the field to photograph my first pitch attempt. She took a handful of action shots, including this one of Jamestown reliever Jovany Lopez:

jovany-lopez-jamestown-jammers

Jamestown walloped Auburn 15-5 in the first game, scoring 14 of their runs from the sixth inning onward. With a 30-minute break before the second game, we met with Shane who handed me a game-used NYPL ball that I’d be using. The break, of course, passed quickly and before long, I was standing on the dirt in front of the Auburn dugout with Shane, with my wife close by to document everything. Shane’s first mission was to find a catcher for me, and he recruited Chubb. We all stood and blabbed a little as the grounds crew finished watering the dirt on the baselines. As we talked, I apparently worked on my splitter grip:

falcon-park-malcolm-on-field

(I’m glad I didn’t get silly and try to throw it, though.)

And then, it was out toward the mound:

falcon-park-malcolm-walking-to-mound

We still had a moment to kill before getting the cue from Graham over the P.A. system, and I’ve got to say Shane did an awesome job of keeping the conversation light and the pressure as low as it could’ve been:

falcon-park-malcolm-and-shane

And that takes us back to the start of the blog. Once I was announced and Shane backed off, I looked in at Chubb:

malcolm-first-pitch

Threw my Jell-o-armed first pitch:

falcon-park-malcolm-throwing-action

And got the ball back from Chubb:

falcon-park-malcolm-after-first-pitch

Then the three of us got together for a quick photo …

falcon-park-shane-malcolm-austin

… before Shane ushered my wife and me off the field. He had to get ready to sing the pre-game anthem — a man of many talents! We hung out in the picnic area down the third base line for a moment, where my wife got this photo of me with the first pitch ball:

falcon-park-malcolm-and-first-pitch-ball

A handful of players’ parents were gathered in the picnic area and asked how the pitch went; they could see me but from their position, couldn’t see the plate.

“I didn’t bounce it, at least,” I offered.

“We thought your form looked good,” they surprisingly said.

I spent the start of the second game reliving the entire adventure with my wife, checking out our photos and comparing who was more nervous. Then, it was back over to the seats above the Jamestown dugout to get some more action shots. This next shot wasn’t good action, but I think it tells the story. Zebrack, who I’d photographed earlier fouling off a pitch, was plunked in the head. Sitting in the front row behind the dugout, the sound was startling and Zebrack went down quickly:

greg-zebrack-auburn-doubledays

He left the game but I see that he’s played since, so I’m glad he’s all right. It was definitely a scary moment, though.

Late in the game, it was time to make a trip to the concession stand. Jason had generously given me a couple food vouchers …

falcon-park-food-vouchers

… and I settled on a grilled chicken sandwich for my first ballpark meal of this road trip:

falcon-park-food-chicken-sandwich

I was pleased to see the chicken wasn’t breaded — it was an actual chunk of chicken — and it was something I’d eat again.

We took our seats behind the dugout again and had not only a great view of the action, but also a clear sightline to the scoreboard, which was again turning in Jamestown’s favor. After a 15-5 win in the first game, the Jammers were well on their way to another lopsided win. Check it out:

falcon-park-scoreboard

The final score was 14-1 in the seven-inning game. Yikes. But the home side losing couldn’t dampen my spirits. Day one of this road trip was a day I’ll remember forever. I definitely need to thank Jason, Shane and Graham for everything they did to help me kick off my trip in fine form. Thanks a million, guys!

After the game, my wife and I drove to Syracuse for the night. Although I could’ve stayed in Auburn, I was excited to once again visit the Ramada Syracuse, where I’d stayed back in April after a Chiefs doubleheader at NBT Bank Stadium. That stay was awesome and with the Ramada about 30 minutes from Falcon Park, it made sense to visit again.

It turns out I ended up with the same room and like last time, was thrilled with its size, cleanliness and amenities. As I did during my last visit, I made the very short drive to a nearby Wegman’s supermarket to load up on some post-game snacks and breakfast items for the following morning. If you don’t want supermarket food, the Ramada is within walking distance to a number of restaurants, and also has an eatery on site. I definitely recommend this hotel if you’re on a baseball road trip in the Syracuse area. As I said earlier, Falcon Park is absolutely worth visiting, and if you’re heading to Syracuse the next day, for example, do yourself the favor of driving to the city and staying at this hotel, which is conveniently at the junction of I-81 and I-90.

Day one of my trip was a long day, so I went to sleep by 11 p.m. and when I woke up on Sunday morning, snapped some photos of the room.

Here’s the king-sized bed:

ramada-syracuse-bed

The desk area where I responded to a bunch of tweets after the game:

ramada-syracuse-desk

And the TV, entertainment unit, fridge microwave, etc.:

ramada-syracuse-tv

I checked out bright and early and got this last photo of the exterior:

ramada-syracuse-front

Time to head to see Derek Jeter and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders!

Caps I’ve Collected

If the money tree in my backyard had more foliage, I’d buy a baseball cap at every new ballpark I visit during my The Ballpark Guide road trips. But as much as it’s tempting to do so, it’s not very practical financially. Still, I’ve bought a handful of caps over the last two summers of traveling.

I typically buy a cap for a couple reasons. First, the look is important. I’m particularly partial to MiLB caps because most people in Canada have no idea what cap I’m wearing. Second, the price has got to be good. I’m not a fan of spending $40 on a hat, so if I find one that I like and is a good price, look out!

Here are the caps I’ve bought, in chronological order:

Auburn Doubledays

This was the first cap I bought on my travels, and arguably my favorite. I love the giant mustache on the ‘A’ emblem, which is the team’s alternate logo. I wore this one an awful lot until a bird had his way with it outside Syracuse last summer. (As you can see.)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

I bought this cap in September of 2010 during a visit to New Hampshire for a playoff game. The team has since changed its colors, and given that I saw the last game of 2010, this one was on sale for $15.

Harrisburg Senators

I’ve liked Harrisburg’s logo for a while, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to get this hat. The downside is it’s a little big, but I think the logo and the blue look great.

Aberdeen IronBirds

This hat was a big steal at $10, and even though it only fits comfortably when my hair is short, I’m still glad I got it. The home of the IronBirds, Ripken Stadium, is outstanding. This is a great souvenir of an awesome ballpark.

Vermont Lake Monsters

When a friend and I visited Vermont last summer, we each bought hats. I liked the white panel on the front of this one; kind of reminds of me collegiate teams’ caps. The lone strike against this one is I’m not partial to cap logos that don’t include a letter. Call me a traditionalist, but I think caps should have a letter on them.

Cleveland Indians

My brother and I visited Cleveland’s Progressive Field last fall and had to make a stop at the team shop. I like the team’s alternate logo, and given that batting practice caps are significantly cheaper than game caps, I went with this one.

PS: It feels like I’ve bought way more than five caps during my travels. Since I’ve been so responsible, I might just have to treat myself to a few more this summer!

A Few Places I’ve Been

I’ve taken several thousand photos since I began traveling and compiling research for TheBallparkGuide in the summer of 2010. (If you’re new to this blog and are curious about where I’ve visited, look at the tag cloud on the right side of the menu or click here.) The vast majority of my photos focus on the elements of each ballpark I visit, but one thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve missed getting photos of myself in most locations. I often travel alone, and while it’s possible to hold the camera at arm’s length to shoot myself, some of these photos don’t turn out that great.

That said, I’ve got a handful of photos taken at different locations that I’m posting below. Click the date to read my blog about the visit.)

The second ballpark I visited, back on July 17, 2010, was Auburn’s Falcon Park. While I was snapping shots of the front of the ballpark, the man who lives next door to the facility offered to take my shot:

Later that summer, I traveled to Cleveland for two games on Aug. 7 and Aug. 8. During the second game, I got a few autographs around the visitors dugout, and then had my photo taken by another fan while sitting on the Indians dugout:

On Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, my wife and I watched two Blue Jays games at Rogers Centre. My wife snapped this artsy shot of me hoping to catch a ball during batting practice …

… and a day later, took one of me along the fence during batting practice. I snagged two balls here:

I toured around Michigan in May 2011, and watched the second of two Detroit Tigers games on May 25. Unfortunately, this game was called because of the rain after a few innings. While the tarp was still on the field, an usher took my photo:

On June 27, I watched the Hagerstown Suns play at Municipal Stadium. Bryce Harper was hurt and didn’t play, but that didn’t stop me from finding his truck in the parking lot and taking a photo of myself in front of it:

Next, on July 2 and 3, I was in the nation’s capital to catch three Nationals games (July 2 was a doubleheader). Here’s a photo of me before the first game, down at field level:

And on the second day, up on a deck in the left field corner:

The third-last game I watched in 2011 was on July 31 at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs. Before entering the ballpark, my wife took a photo of me out front:

The Sea Dogs are the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and Hadlock Field is equipped with a mini green monster. During our visit, fans were able to play catch on the field before the game. Here’s me in front of the scoreboard:

And while throwing balls off the wall and catching them:

And pretending to relay them to the imaginary cut-off man. (I can’t lie.)

As always, thanks for reading. If you don’t do so already, check me out on Twitter.

Next Road Trip Planned

My next road trip won’t be as long as my last two, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. This one isn’t about seeing as many games as I can in a short period of time (that’ll come during my next one, beginning mid-August). Instead, my wife and I are fitting three games into a summer holiday. But don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging while I’m away.

Game #1 takes place on July 28 as we travel to Manchester to watch the New Hampshire Fisher Cats take on the Reading Phillies. As you can read about here, I watched the Fisher Cats in playoff action last fall at home. Why go back, you ask? Well, I always want to get as much ballpark information as I can for my growing website, TheBallparkGuide.com. (If you want to read a fan guide to Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the Fisher Cats, you can visit this link.) Also, the ballpark has changed names since I was there last fall, so I want to get some new photos.

Last year, I stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn with a field-facing room:

And because I can’t resist, I’ll be doing the same thing again this year. This time, however, I’m hoping to catch some BP home runs on The Porch, an outdoor bar run by the hotel that is situated directly over the outfield fence. During my last visit, the teams didn’t take BP.

I’m also keen on sampling more off the Fisher Cats’ seafood menu. Last time I was there, I had the clam strips basket. This year, who knows?

And lastly, this is a great facility and the on-site hotel is just plain awesome. Plus, the Cats are the AA affiliate of my favorite team, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Game #2 will be in Portland, Maine, on July 31. We’ll watch the Portland Sea Dogs host the Altoona Curve. I’m excited for this game because Portland’s Hadlock Field looks neat, and because fans are allowed to play catch on the field after the game. This’ll be the second time I’ll be on a field this summer. In June, I got to go on the field at an Erie SeaWolves game.

Game #3 will be on August 2, and we’ll watch the host Vermont Lake Monsters up against the State College Spikes. These teams play in the New York-Penn League, a league I’m rapidly getting through ballpark by ballpark. So far, I’ve got three official guides to NYPL ballparks up on my website: Falcon Park, home of the Auburn Doubledays, Eastwood Field, home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, home of the Tri-City ValleyCats.

It should be a great trip. Between now and then, I’ll have details on my fourth road trip of the summer; it’s another 12-day, 12-game affair that I’ve almost got completely finalized.

Thanks for reading!

Auburn Doubledays slideshow

I’ve been working with Windows Movie Maker to develop slideshows of the ballparks I visited last summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t shoot any video at any of the stadiums. From now on, I’ll be shooting HD video of each stadium and editing my footage into a video guide to share on my website, TheBallparkGuide.com, as well as this blog and YouTube.

In the meantime, here’s a slideshow I recently put together showing some of the photos from my visit to Auburn’s Falcon Park.
To read my complete guide to attending a game at Falcon Park, visit my website’s Auburn page here.