Tagged: Cleveland Indians

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!

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Game Programs

I’m a huge fan of taking in the entire ballpark experience every time I watch a game. For me, this typically means trying to snag a foul ball, getting a handful of autographs and eating some unique food. It also includes grabbing a game program and checking out what it has to offer. My stipulation, however, is that I rarely get programs if you have to pay for them. I’m not big on paying for something I’ll likely only flip through once, and if I buy one, I’m less likely to want to throw it out later.

I don’t have programs from every ballpark I’ve visited, but I have a handful that range from amazing to bland. Here’s a look at them.

Aberdeen IronBirds

For a Short-Season A franchise, Aberdeen’s “First Pitch” program has a lot to offer. For one, it’s printed specifically for the game you’re attending. (Most teams print programs per series, week or homestand.) It’s got a clean, attractive cover and a preview of the night’s game. Because the program is printed for each game, all the standings and stats are up to date, which is a huge bonus for a stats guy like me. A couple standout features in this edition of “First Pitch” were a list of IronBirds with Twitter accounts and a well-illustrated diagram of pitcher Aaron Wirsch’s four pitches, along with commentary from the pitcher himself.

Bowie Baysox

Baltimore’s AA franchise in Bowie provides a program called “Baywatch” for each home series. This one had a decent fan guide to Prince George’s Stadium, a list of former Baysox who’ve made the Major Leagues and a discussion between the team’s infielders on turning a double play.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians’ “Batter Up!” is given out free and printed for each series. Of course, you can also buy a more in-depth game program, but this one’s worth picking up. It’s got a good concession directory, a fan guide to Progressive Field and a couple interesting articles. I was also impressed with the full-page ad for Cleveland’s Midwest League affiliate, the Lake County Captains, who play just 15 minutes outside of C-Town.

Delmarva Shorebirds

A South Atlantic League franchise, the Shorebirds program “Play Ball” is one of the shortest I’ve seen. Still, it contains a couple interesting stories on Shorebirds players, a decent look at the team’s opponents and a nice, comprehensive breakdown of each team in the Baltimore Orioles system.

Fort Wayne TinCaps

Fort Wayne’s “Gameday” program is printed each homestand, which is pretty much the norm in the Minor Leagues. This one had pink as a dominant color, given the theme of the team’s homestand, Turn the Park Pink for breast cancer awareness. This program featured a thorough, five-page guide to Parkview Field’s food and interesting features such as a tutorial on how to score a game, a map showing the location of each Midwest League franchise and a couple articles about the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

New Hampshire offers an amazing fan experience, but there wasn’t anything to write home about in the “Inside Pitch” free program. The schedules, stats, rosters and promotional schedules were all handy, but they’re all things you’d expect to find here. The worst part was the ads, even though I know they’re necessary. Early in the program, 22 out of 23 straight pages were full ads. Ugh.

Potomac Nationals

The P-Nats, as they’re often called, provide a standard gameday program for free. It’s got all the things you’d expect, but a few interesting pages are the breakdown of the Washington Nationals’ farm system and a look at the Carolina League franchises. Additionally, this program isn’t overly laden with ads.

Rochester Red Wings

After spending two sentences explaining how I don’t buy programs, I’ll quickly recant that statement to say I spent $1 on Rochester’s yearbook during my first ballpark trip in 2010. Simply put, it’s one of the best programs I’ve ever seen, and for $1, it’s a real bargain. This baby is more than 100 pages long and contains a ton of interesting information — not just ads and more ads. The highlights of this edition were a look at the Red Wings’ uniforms throughout the years, an article about Stan Musial’s time as a Red Wing, in-depth player profiles, a pretty good guide to Frontier Field and an ultra-thorough map of the where to find every food item sold at the ballpark. (In case you’re wondering, the cover is damaged because I spilled water on it. Oops.)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees

The big perk to the S/W-B Yankees’ “Play Ball!” program is like the IronBirds, it’s printed for the game you’re attending. Although it’s relatively short in length, “Play Ball!” has an interesting game preview, a “This Date in Yankees History” page and an interesting section about the players to watch from the visiting team.

Toledo Mud Hens

It’s a toss-up whether Toledo or Rochester has the best program I’ve seen so far on my travels. “The Muddy Times” is amazing, and might get the nod over Rochester because it’s free. This book is giant, measuring 9.5 by 12 inches and numbering 112 pages. The pages are newsprint, but they’re thick and in full color. I love the cover shot, as well as the in-depth player and coach profiles, the 2010 season review, some good player Q&As and an awesome two-page spread on the Detroit Tigers’ top 10 prospects, written by Baseball America. This is the type of program you’d spend $5 on and still feel as though you got your value.

Washington Nationals

Like Cleveland, the Nats hand out a free game program to complement their paid program. “Inside Pitch” (which is the same title as New Hampshire’s program) is printed on thick paper, which is a definite upgrade over the newsprint in some programs. This one has an extensive Nationals Park fan guide, a guide on how to score a game and even two removable player cards (Jason Marquis and Michael Morse).

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.

Cleveland Indians – September 23

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.

Ballpark food and snacks

Ballpark food can be one of the best things about going to a baseball game. If it’s plain ol’ hot dogs and pop, it’s not necessarily noteworthy. But if it’s exceptional food, like the fare served at Rochester’s Frontier Field, it can truly improve your whole experience.

As you’ve read in previous entries, I’ve had a lot of positive food experiences at different ballparks. There are a few, however, that I want to highlight just for fun.
Rochester was my first ballpark stop in the summer of 2010, and as you can read on my website, TheBallparkGuide.com, the food I had here was perhaps the best I’ve ever had at a ballgame. In Rochester, I bought a giant Mountain Dew in a Red Wings collectible cup, which was pretty cool. On one side, it had former Rochester star Cal Ripken, Jr., and on the other side, most recent Red Wing player Joe Mauer. As you can see below, the cup was pretty large:
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In Buffalo, the Buffalo chicken wings were underwhelming. But what was neat was the ability to grab packets of Frank’s RedHot sauce at concession stands. This is the first time I’ve seen packets of this spicy cayenne pepper sauce, and it was neat to grab a bunch and add to my food. I’ve even used them at home since:
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Lastly, ask a Clevelandite about what mustard to eat, and you’ll likely have a lengthy discussion on your hands. Of course, there’s the bright yellow French’s mustard, but in C-Town, you’ve also got Bertman’s Original Ball Park Mustard and another product called Stadium Mustard. Bertman’s Original Ball Park Mustard is available in pumps at concession stands and also for sale in the Progressive Field shop. I bought the bottle below for less than $5:
cleveland-indians-ballpark-mustard.jpg

Mahoning Valley Scrappers – August 9, 2010

Goodbye, Cleveland.
On the morning of August 9 last summer, my wife and I left our hotel at the Cleveland Airport, loaded up the car and drove to Niles, Ohio, which is a little more than an hour east of C-Town and just outside Youngstown. Niles is home to the Eastwood Mall, the largest mall between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. More importantly, however, it’s home to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Short-Season A affiliate of the Indians.
The Scrappers play at Eastwood Field, which is on the same property as the Eastwood Mall, so it’s pretty easy to find. Once we navigated our way through the enormous parking lot, we came upon the ballpark. Time to begin taking photos and notes about it for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com!
Before I got too carried away taking photos of the front of the building, I wanted to quickly park and head behind the stadium to snag batting practice home runs. Just as I did at Auburn’s Falcon Park, I scouted out Eastwood Field before our trip and saw that a grass hill and parking lot was located behind the stadium. When that’s the case, you can just stand back there and pick up or catch home run balls as they leave the stadium. Awesome! (By the way, here’s my complete fan guide to visiting Falcon Park, home of the Auburn Doubledays.)
The thought crossed my mind to just park at the mall and walk up to the stadium, but evidently I’m about the 10,000th person to think of this ploy. As such, the Scrappers charge a $1 walk-in fee for fans, which is half the price it costs to park. Here’s the gate that prevents you from walking in for free:
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We decided to park and were one of the first few cars in the lot. My wife stayed in the car to read, and I immediately grabbed my glove and backpack and made a beeline toward the rear of the stadium. (I should note I did a cool, casual walk through the parking lot and past the main gate, and sprinted as soon as I was around the corner.)
I was concerned about two things: That the area beyond the fence wasn’t fenced off; and that there weren’t other fans (or worse, a staff member) gathering balls. I was in luck! Here’s what I saw when I ran around the left field corner:
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Clear, open ground! And if you look closely, there’s a ball sitting smack dab in the center of the picture. I grabbed the ball quickly and began looking around. Just behind the actual outfield fence, as is the case with many Minor League stadiums, stands a second, higher fence. This fence is covered in billboards, much like the home run fence. And sometimes, big home runs hit the second board and bounce back toward the first fence. When that’s the case, you see scenes like this one:
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I grabbed this ball and a few others in the area. Suddenly, a ball blasted over my head, hit the paved parking lot and rolled into a distant field, scattering a bunch of groundhogs that were sunning in the area. I picked up this ball, then got to thinking. If this ball rolled so far, there might be others out here, too.
Here’s the parking lot:
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It takes a big shot, or a lucky roll, to reach it. But once the ball does, it rolls and rolls and rolls all the way to the grass:
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I took the above photo after finding another ball. It’s one of my favorites of the summer. After gathering a bunch of balls, I headed toward center, where I hoped to find more balls before moving into right. I quickly noticed, however, that the bus driver from the road team (in this case, the Aberdeen IronBirds) was picking up balls on his side of the field. No biggie. I went back to my left field corner and found a few more. I ended up with 10 balls in total:
mahoningvalleyballs.jpg
I actually got 11, but threw one into the woods because it was so waterlogged and soaked in mud that it was disgusting.
Eventually, BP ended so I headed back to the parking lot with 10 baseballs weighing down my backpack. Here’s where I got my first couple photos of the front of the stadium:
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Pretty nice, right? Notice the red carpet on the left side of the first image? That’s where season’s ticket holders get to line up. Ooooh.
Here’s a banner of Travis Fryman, a longtime standout Major Leaguer and the current manager of the Scrappers:
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I hoped to get his autograph on a ball, but managers are sometimes hard to get before the game. We bought our tickets from the ticket office here:
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And got my ticket/stadium front shot, as per always:
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Once the stadium gates opened, we checked out the team shop so that I could buy a Scrappers cap. One of the team’s caps is pretty neat; it’s navy blue with two rows of teeth. It’s sort of bizarre, and since Minor League caps are priced so well, I wanted to get one. Unfortunately, the staff couldn’t seem to scan my debit or credit card and after about 10 minutes of waiting, I left without the cap. (Though I did pay cash for a Scrappers team ball that I wanted to get signed.)
My wife found a relaxing place in the shade, and I went to the conjoined clubhouses, which are in the right field corner. Both teams’ clubhouses are in one building, so you don’t have to make up your mind about which team you’ll pursue for autographs. Here’s the clubhouse door: (Gotta love the modesty of the Minors!)
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And here’s the grass hill where you can not only watch the game, but wait for players to emerge prior to first pitch:
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Pretty soon, the Scrappers pitcher came out with a strength coach and started stretching. Who was he? None other than Mitch Talbot, a Major Leaguer who was down making a rehab start. I was only a few yards away from him while he was warming up, so I snapped these shots:
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You might notice he’s wearing the cap I mentioned earlier. Pretty soon, players on both teams filed out of the clubhouse and stopped to sign autographs. I did pretty well, getting about three-quarters of the home team on the team ball:
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Pretty soon, Fryman emerged from the clubhouse no more than 10 minutes before first pitch. A few of us asked him for autographs, and he said he didn’t have time. He seemed to think twice, then said, “Well, OK.” I got him to sign an official New York-Penn League ball that I’d snagged during BP:
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After Fryman signed for a few of us, he jogged to the dugout and we went to the Bullpen Bar & Grille, located down the right field line just behind the grass hill I’d stood on for autographs. After a few days of ballpark food, I wasn’t too crazy to eat another hot dog, so my wife and I split an order of nachos. Here’s the concession:
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Before the players came out of the clubhouse to sign autographs, we saw three or four of the Aberdeen guys getting hot dogs at this concession stand. You know you’re in a Minor League stadium when the players climb over the railing, up the steps and stand in line for hot dogs.
As usual, we watched a couple innings from our seats. For this game, we were located up high on the first base side in an attempt to stay in the shade. It was one of those sunny days in which the sun climbs by the inning, and you find yourself moving up rows constantly to stay in the shade.
The majority of Eastwood Field’s seating is box seating, and there are aluminum bleachers on behind the third base line and in left field, as well as a picnic area along the right field line:
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Here are a few panoramas I took during my walk around the stadium:
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And here’s one last photo; it’s of the Eastwood Field scoreboard:
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We hit the road as soon as the game was over, because we had to drive about five hours to Toronto, where we’d stay with my aunt and uncle for three nights while catching two Blue Jays games. It was tempting to stay at the Scrappers game after its conclusion, however, as the team was organizing a LeBron James jersey-burning ceremony in the infield.
In my next two entries, you’ll read all about my two games in Toronto watching the Jays lose to the Red Sox.

Cleveland Indians – August 8, 2010

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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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Here’s Gate C. There are a few people milling around, but I was one of the first people in line:
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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:
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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:
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I then headed down to the first base line to try to get some Twins autographs, as a handful of players were signing:
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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:
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As you can see, the stadium was still pretty empty as I made my way to the visitors’ dugout:
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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:
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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?
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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:
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Here’s that wall, which runs around the front row behind home plate. How about the leg room?!
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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:
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Then I headed over to the left field corner, where I took the photos that make up this panorama:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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And here’s Mauer on the scoreboard. As you can see, the stands were mostly empty today:
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From up here, I could keep an eye on the Twins dugout:
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And shoot a panorama from the upper level, roughly behind home plate:
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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:
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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:
progressive-field-empty.jpgThat 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:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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The Indians game was almost over, too. I took one last panoramic shot that shows the steepness of the upper deck:
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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:
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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.