Tagged: Erie Seawolves

Erie SeaWolves – May 29

With the May 28 double bill between the Midwest League’s Lake County Captains and West Michigan Whitecaps in the books, I had one last stop of my first multi-game roadtrip of 2011: Erie.

Erie is home to the AA Eastern League’s SeaWolves, affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Today, the SeaWolves (which is a slang term for ‘pirate,’ if you’re wondering) were hosting the Reading Phillies.

Though my trip was coming to a close, I was excited to see this game, particular for the opportunity to watch Erie’s starter Jacob Turner. If you don’t know him, he’s a former ninth overall draft pick who came into 2011 ranked #15 on MLB’s list of its 50 top prospects. His signing bonus, for those keeping score, was $5.5 million.

Anyway, I drove a couple hours from Cleveland to Erie (continuing to listen to people complain about LeBron on Ohio sports radio) and got to town a couple hours before the 1 p.m. game. Erie’s Jerry Uht Park is in downtown Erie, so there are a lot of parking options. I found a covered lot for $3 less than a block from the stadium:

Jerry Uht Park has one of the most nondescript entrances I’ve seen. Actually, I think it IS the most nondescript I’ve seen. I kept looking for a big sign with the stadium’s name, but there wasn’t one:

There was this guy, however, whose eyes are so big that he’s wearing ballcaps on each one:

I took a quick tour around the ballpark, noting the surrounding area is rather nondescript:

(That building behind the ballpark is Louis J. Tullio Arena, home of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters.)

With no stadium sign under which to photograph my ticket, I took my usual shot in front of the gates, and I think the guy to my right thinks I was photographing him:

When the gates opened, the first thing I noticed was the team shop. It’s not really a store — there’s a kiosk out in front of a cubby area, but there were some neat things for sale, including a bunch of game-used bats and jerseys. The SeaWolves were selling team warmup shirts (you know, the shirts with the small logo at the neck?) for $35, which is a good deal. I thought about buying one, as I haven’t seen a better price, but I wasn’t sure about wearing something with a pirate/wolf on it.

One of the neatest features at the stadium is the giant “The Road to the Show” board, which has the names of every SeaWolves player whose made it to the Big Leagues. There are a ton of recognizable names, including Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson, plus newer Tigers such as Alex Avila and Brennan Boesch:

(Click on the image to bring up a huge version so you can see all the names.)

Jerry Uht Park is unique. Most of the concession stands and other booths and displays are in the concourse behind home plate, giving the area an exciting, happening feel.

Perhaps as a result, the third base side concourse can be dead at times:

At the end of the third base concourse is the fun zone, which has a variety of inflatable attractions:

And beside that kids area is a picnic section with a clear view of the field:

Though telling time isn’t difficult, I liked the team’s countdown to first pitch:

Unlike many MiLB parks, here you can venture beyond the outfield fence in left field and left-center to a cement concourse between the ball field and the hockey arena:

It’s a home run porch-type of area, but the only knock is that smoking is allowed, so you have that to contend with if you’re not a fan. And to get there, you have to go through the stadium’s smoking area, which is located in the left field corner (oddly, right next to Erie’s bullpen):

The ballpark has a great set of standings and stats posted behind home plate:

For the next little while, I took a wander around the stands looking at the different sites and checking out viewing angles. Down the first base line, there’s an elevator that allows people in wheelchairs to get to the field. Next to the elevator, I saw this:

A ball jammed against the fence! It was well out of my reach, and unlike last year’s excursion under the cover of darkness into the elevator in New Hampshire to retrieve a ball, I didn’t have to guts to go for this one. Sigh.

Nevertheless, I pressed on and climbed to the upper deck to take in the sight:

Up behind home plate, I took my usual panorama from this area:

When the SeaWolves came out to stretch, they were wearing pink jerseys that they’d auction off at the end of the game. I quickly made my way over to the home run porch area over the Erie bullpen to watch Turner throw:

When the game began, I found a front-row seat in an open section down the third base line. It was, I figured, prime foul ball-snagging territory. I was sitting right behind the Budweiser signs in this photo:

And in the top of the third inning, I was proved correct:

This ball was pitched by Turner and came off the bat of Reading catcher Tuffy Gosewisch. It’s in great condition, perhaps because Gosewisch led off the inning. It’s got one dirty area where it bounced in the dirt, but otherwise, it’s nearly pristine.

Having accomplished my mission of getting a ball here, I took another walk around, partly to get out of the intense sun in the area. I decided to take in a few innings from the home run porch after seeing third- and fourth-inning home runs blasted into this area. Up here, there’s a nice view of the field:

And here’s what my free SeaWolves cap looks like. The team was giving away these hats because it was anti-breast cancer day:

After a few innings of seeing nothing close to a home run, I relocated down the third base line to a lone row of seats behind the railing above the lower seating level. From here, I had a perfect view:

I had the opportunity to take some decent action shots in what ended up being an exciting game. Turner ended up with a no decision, but went seven strong and fanned eight Phillies. Though Erie led most of the game, the R-Phils scored two in the ninth the push the game to extras. But back to my photos for a second. Here’s Jordan Ellis:

And Chance Ruffin, who blew the save opportunity:

And Canadian Phillippe Aumont:

Aumont was part of the Cliff Lee deal, but struggled in his 0.2 innings of work. Still, I’m rooting for him because he’s Canadian! With Aumont on the mound in the bottom of the 10th, the SeaWolves got runners on the corners and walked off after a Adam Calderone single:

After the game, fans were invited onto the field to play catch:

I took the opportunity to go look for that ball over by the elevator, but it was gone. So, I took one last shot to prove that I was indeed on the field — look how perfect the grass is — then hopped back in the car and drove home.

One roadtrip down, three more to go!

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First road trip booked!

As I write this, I’m still debating going to Syracuse in the morning for the Chiefs game against Rochester at 2 p.m. It’s a big driving commitment, but I’m anxious to get one game under my belt in 2011. Plus, as you may have read here, I’d like to get a bit more information about Alliance Bank Stadium before I write its official guide for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com.

But, whether I go to Syracuse tomorrow or not, I’ve got my first major baseball roadtrip planned.
It’ll be 12 games in 12 days in nine different ballparks. Here’s what my itinerary looks like:
Thursday, May 19: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Friday, May 20: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros
Saturday, May 21: Lansing Lugnuts vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods
Sunday, May 22: Great Lakes Loons vs. South Bend Silver Hawks
Monday, May 23: West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Fort Wayne TinCaps
Tuesday, May 24: Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Wednesday, May 25: Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Thursday, May 26: Toledo Mud Hens vs. Durham Bulls
Friday, May 27: Fort Wayne TinCaps vs. Great Lakes Loons
Saturday, May 28: Lake County Captains vs. West Michigan Whitecaps
Sunday, May 29: Erie SeaWolves vs. Reading Phillies
Some miscellaneous notes about these games:
– I’m going to three Jays games in this roadtrip because they’re my favorite team. I’m pumped to see three different opponents in Toronto in these three games.
– I’m ultra excited to watch the Lansing Lugnuts, the A affiliate of the Jays. One of my favorite (and Canadian!) prospects, Marcus Knecht, is ripping it up for Lansing this season. As you may have read, I met him and got his autograph last summer in Auburn. The Lugnuts are giving away bobbleheads at this game, too. The player’s identity is a mystery, but given that it’ll probably be a current Jay, I’m excited.
– I don’t know much about the Great Lakes Loons, which are the A affiliate of the Dodgers. But they play at a ballpark called Dow Diamond, which looks neat in photos I’ve seen. They’re also in northern Michigan, which is new territory to explore.
– I’ve seen the West Michigan Whitecaps profiled on a couple different food-related shows and websites, thanks to their gigantic Fifth Third Burger. It’s ridiculous. Will I try to eat it? You’ll just have to keep reading the blog to find out.
– I love Detroit. I’ve only been there once, but I liked what I saw of the city. I’m stoked to visit Comerica Park, one of the most beautiful MLB stadiums in my opinion. I’m also staying at the Greektown Casino, which looks amazing and is just a short walk from the ballpark.
– Toledo has one of the best parks in all the Minor Leagues, so I’m anxious to check it out.
– Fort Wayne is the farthest I’ll visit for a ball game this season … as far as I’ve planned so far, anyway. The TinCaps play at Parkview Field, which was build in 2009, making it one of the newest parks in the Minors.
– The day after the game in Fort Wayne, I’ve got a pretty long drive all the way to just east of Cleveland, to watch the Lake County Captains.
– A day later, I’ll be a bit closer to home, in Erie, PA. The SeaWolves game will be just the second AA game I’ll attend. (The first was last fall in New Hampshire.)
I’m also thinking about some sort of keepsake to get at each new stadium. A cap? A T-shirt? I’d love to get caps from each stadium I visit, but I’ve already got enough hats I don’t wear. Any good ideas what I should get from every new ballpark?
I’ve also got a 10-plus day roadtrip planned for June, another for August and a shorter one in September. Please bookmark this blog and keep checking my website, TheBallparkGuide.com, throughout the summer