This is a HUGE weekend for baseball in the state! You have no excuse for not going to at least one game in Kentucky! ALL of the pro teams are playing!
A VERY RARE FIVE professional games are being played in the state on Saturday. Special appearances are being made at some games; The Zooper Stars will be in Louisville, Gaylord Perry in Lexington. Bowling Green is on the field too!
I will likely be at the Florence Freedom exhibition game for the Freedom vs. the Freedom! I won't know who to cheer for!
AND, if you are in the somewhat professional baseball neglected area of Paducah, you can see two teams that are JUST outside of the state play at Brooks Stadium! The Southern Illinois Miners will be acting as the home team as they take on the Evansville Otters!
I was able to get out and catch one of the Miner's play off games last season, and I am really looking forward to making it back to their park this season. Rent One Park is a great, lively venue and Marion is a beautiful area.
Another park we stopped at on our recent road trip was Time Warner Cable Field in Grand Chute, Wisconsin (near Green Bay).
They did have some construction going on on the day we went. I was still able to have a brief conversation with one of the staff at the park. I asked about the possibility of seeing the park and if there was a team shop open.
The person that I talked to kept the conversation brief, letting me know that the team shop was closed for now and that pretty much the whole place was under construction. He mumbled something and walked off.
I know they were a few days away from opening day and all- and obviously dealing with a lot, but you would think they would still have a ticket and merch area available somewhere at the very least.
If you are a sports fan and you find yourself in this neck of the woods, my recommendation would be that you visit Lambeau Field and take their tour. They are friendly, and they appreciate the money you spend at their team shop.
For a review of a ballpark that realizes people stop by to patronize their team shop and to say hello (and that appreciates that kind of connection to baseball fans) see my previous ballpark review of Wuerfel Park in Traverse City.
One of the things about road trips is that sometimes you find yourself in an area with a cool ballpark during the off season.
When we recently travelled through Traverse City Michigan we found ourselves in that exact position.
As is my habit, I decided to still stop by the park and to say howdy to whoever was there. Luckily, the cool folds who work for Wuerfel Park and the Traverse City Beach Bums were happy to show me around a bit!
It was early in the morning on a cold early April Day. Snow was still on the ground.
It was very easy finding the teams main offices. Wuerfel Park reminds me a lot of a nice resort type place. It is the homiest park I have ever been too. VERY comfortable!
Tom Goethel, the F&B Director at Wuerfel was extremely accommodating. I told him that I would love to have a glimpse of the field and I would like to make some purchases from their gift shop if I could.
Tom very kindly took me through his office area (see photo) and out through the balcony to see their amazing diamond. Even with a ton of snow in some parts of it, you can see that this place is very special.
Tom must have the all time coolest job! My lifetime dream is to have a job where my desk is right next to a balcony (maybe 4 steps away)- with a view of a beautiful ballpark!
I cannot stress enough just how cool Tom's office and balcony view was.
I chatted with Tom briefly about the fact that I have been to some of the Bums away games in Florence. He made sure to find me a schedule so I would know when the Bums are playing in Florence this year.
There is something I really want to stress about visiting parks like this in the off season. We stopped by Traverse City expecting to see a nice little town, and a nice little ballpark. Well, we found an AMAZING CITY and one of the nicest ballparks around. We are already itching to get back to the area ASAP to see more of Traverse City, AND to see Wuerfel Park on game day.
Before I go on any road trip, I love researching the sites I plan to see, especially the baseball related ones!
Like most people I google, check wikipedia, and I check a few ballpark sites.
I also check the official site of the team, but I have to admit, I have felt very let down by the official sites lately. There is a real blandness to them these days. I don't want to use up a lot of time on my blog complaining about that, but they are all so similar these days, and generally unhelpful when it comes to the information a park visitor wants to know. There is a lot of info on ticket plans, but little info on what makes each park unique.
So, it is a treat to find books specifically about each park. As far as I can tell, Kurt Smith is the only person putting out volumes about each specific MLB venue.
The volumes are very individual, though they do cover some of the same needed information at each park. Each guide discusses ticket prices, good deals on tickets, seating sections, how to get to the park, and park food.
In my previous post about Miller Park I mentioned the traffic issues going on with I-94. Well, Kurt updates his e-guides, so he tipped me off about the travel concerns for the area before I got there!
I also mentioned that I attended a very affordable exhibition game this year at Miller Park, but Kurt's tips about tickets will come in handy the next time I am there. I like the thought of scoring a Uecker ticket just to say I did it (and to save a ton of $$$)! I also like the tip Kurt offers on a jersey/ticket deal offered by the Brewers!
Not only do the E-Guides discuss the ticket deals and how to get them, the guides offer general practical advice (he discusses the pros and cons of the various ticket options- like, are the Uecker seats really worth the price?).
Anytime I go to a new destination I want to make sure I don't miss anything. I think that is the part of the E-Guides I enjoy the most. Kurt makes sure that you don't miss anything at the park!
Sure, everyone knows about the Sausage Race in Milwaukee, but there are many other things someone could easily miss without being tipped off by a buddy. Personally, I knew to keep my eyes peeled for a unique food item in a half sized helmet thanks to the E-Guide (I love a food/souvenir combo).
The Ballpark E-Guide to Miller park also tipped me off about the tailgating that goes on at Miller Park! Even if you are not a tailgater, there is something VERY cool about the vibe that goes on before the game. You kind of have to keep the tailgating situation in mind, even if you are not participating in the tailgating, because it can influence traffic. Kurt's guide tells you what you need to know about the pregame parking lot festival, and how to be ready for it!
I came in to the park away from the front entrance. Without the E-Guide, I may have missed walking by the monument to the construction workers and Halfaer Field. BUT, since I read the E-Guide, I knew that these were sites that I had to catch as I left the park. I also knew some history behind these extra attractions!
The E-Guides are packed with simple, general tips that one might not think about when visiting a park. For example, Kurt mentions that there are many festivals during certain months in Milwaukee. He suggests being aware of this when you are booking your hotel.
I think Kurt Smith is obsessed with getting the most out of a trip to a MLB venue. He is very aware of being thrifty with money while at (and around) the park. He wants to make sure that anyone who reads his guides gets the most out of their experience.
Kurt is a great guy to know too. I have sent him some emails here and there, and he always gives a thoughtful response. As I mentioned before, I sent him a note about my Milwaukee plans before the season started when I asked about his Miller Park Guide. He sent a helpful note answering everything I had asked him, and figuring out which game to try to go to (pre-season exhibition game or 1st or 2nd game of the season). Kurt is an extremely helpful guy to get to know if you visit a new MLB park or two each year.
One last point I want to make concerning the benefits to using a Ballpark E-Guide, ESPECIALLY compared to the official team sites. With the E-Guides, you get many pros and cons of the stadiums. Kurt tells you that you might have to wait in line for hours for certain tickets. He tells you about traffic concerns. The cost of parking is covered. Kurt is very open about letting you know if he feels that a pricey, over promoted seating or food option is best avoided. He also lets you know about some bargains that might be tough to catch if you are not paying attention. You can't get that information from the official sites!
My FIRST game of the season was in Milwaukee! The Brewers played 2 exhibition games against the White Sox at the very end of March. We caught the second one on our recent trip around Lake Michigan!
I have now been to MANY parks, and believe it or not, this was my first trip to a domed facility!
I had a strange experience where I was walking around the concourse, and then realized that the field was actually right there.
I didn't have that moment where the sun suddenly hits me, after walking through a concourse and I know that I am about to see some baseball.
There is something very odd about this the first time you see it. It doesn't seem natural. At first I felt like I was watching a game inside of a gym!
AND, I do like seeing a great city skyline at a game. While at a park, I love looking out and seeing the city. Can you imagine going to St. Louis or Pittsburgh and seeing a baseball game in a dome?
But it works in Milwaukee.
It has its own unique appeal and beauty.
It was a very cold day outside while we were there. Still, taking heavy coats in to a park is always a hassle. I asked a guy in the parking lot about the need for coats inside; he assured me that we should leave them in the car. We left them in the car and that was the correct choice. It was very comfortable inside of the park.
One of the VERY cool parts about this exhibition game was the fact that you could get a GREAT seat for $10! The same seats would probably be around 50-60 during the regular season.
Getting to the game from our hotel was a bit chaotic, as there are some road work issues going on in the area, AND almost everyone uses 94 to get to the game. I was prepared somewhat for this thanks to Kurt Smith's e-guide, which offered warnings about traffic in the I-94 area. Still, it was a bit of a headache even several hours before start time. Still it was not as bad as some other areas traffic.
Once at the park but still just outside, the famous sausages from the sausage race were hanging around for photo ops! I thought that was great! The five sausages were spaced out, and getting a photo with one of them was very easy.
This park is very family friendly, and friendly in general. The fans were pleasant and cheered for the home team, but I did not hear any inappropriate comments or threats directed at the White Sox or their fans.
In fact, I saw many groups where a few in the group were wearing White Sox gear, and a few were wearing Brewers hats and shirts.
I also saw a lot of dads with their sons and daughters! VERY sweet!
I liked the fact that a parent could bring their child here with little fear of an overly aggressive crowd.
There was a lot to like about this area. In fact, I am not done talking about it, but enjoy these photos for now.
Baseball season is here again! For some reason, it seemed to me like it took longer to get here this year!
Opening day with the Legends here in Lexington was a bit underwhelming. The weather was great, but the crowd was small. Very small.
I know that many people (OK, almost everyone in the state) was home watching a little basketball game on the same night as the Legends home opener.
For me, there is something very special about the early part of the season, and game number 1. In early April, everything seems right in the world again.
AND there is something very special about having so many professional baseball teams in the area! It seemed like for years, Louisville was the only team around. Now, Bowling Green, Florence, AND Lexington all have minor league teams!
PLUS, you can take a very reasonable weekend trip to some great areas just outside of the state lines to catch games. Seeing games in Indianapolis, Sevierville, Charleston West Virginia, and Chattanooga has become an annual tradition for us.
BUT there is something so special about having your very own home town team.
Lexington is now affiliated with the Royals. I am pretty excited about this because I like the Royals. Then again, I like the Astros too, and I will always be pulling for their guys too. It was fun seeing guys like Jose Altuve come up through their system.
I always have a good time at Legends games though. To me, there is absolutely nothing more relaxing that catching a game in Lexington on a nice warm weeknight.
I like the Legends new uniforms a lot. It was time for a change and I like the change that was made!
The team has done a great job with their new merch too! I especially like the jersey t-shirts they have in the team shop now. PLUS, it looked like most of the shirts were priced at under $20, which is a bit of a rarity in baseball these days.