Saturday, January 31, 2009
Florence Freedom, KY
I have enjoyed the Frontier League for some time. This is a cool league that seems young, but it has been around for a very long time in terms of pro-baseball leagues. Sadley, the only original team in its original location (the Paints) from the leagues 1st day has moved for the 09 season. Thats sad, but it says a lot about the longevity of the league.
The Freedom started paying near Cincy in 03. In 04 they started playing their home games at Champion Window Field which is right off of I-75. They have a huge electronic billboard/sign that is visible from 75.
The team has had some notable managers (Tom Browning and Pete Rose Jr. for a very short period of time). Check out this great web site on the history of the team: http://flhistory.gofreeserve.com/
Honestly, the Frontier League is considered to be about the same level as single A. The players are at the lowest level of pro-baseball. Many of them will get dropped quick too. A good FL player can stick around for up to 4 years, or, hopefully, they can get picked up to play in affiliated baseball. A player with a low batting average or high ERA can get booted very quickly. The games in Florence can get pretty sloppy at times, and I mean that in a very good way. These are scrappy players, with a lot to prove. They are eager to run, throw, and make big plays. They do not play as catiously as the guys in the big ball park up the road. You are going to see some errors, stolen bases, and some wreckless plays. For some reason, I have seem more managers tossed in this league too! I love that!
Champion Window Field is a very comfortable park near Cincy and in Florence. I have never been hassled by the staff here, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. The young players are flattered when you ask for an autograph. Ushers aren't constantly telling people to get back to their seats. It's almost like a casual party here.
Lat year, the Freedom added a second mascot, Belle, who has been known to encourage kids to dance on the dugouts. Belle is a big pink oversized muppet (I love huge muppet mascots!). She is almost a show herself. She is extrememly animated, and may be just a little less showy than the Chicken or Birdzerk. Belle is worth the price of admission herself. Liberty, the other mascot has been around a bit longer. Plus, with the smaller minor league crowds, and the way Belle and Liberty work the room, there will be plenty of time for a photo op at the game you attend.
With the exception of the "Florence Ya'll" water tower, there is not much of a skyline view in the area. Thankfully, the park was built facing away from the city. There is a very nice, relaxing, green "skyline" over the oufield wall. You almost feel like you are in a much more rural area watching the game.
For $6 you can get a lawn seat. Bring a blanket and you are set for a very relaxing evening. You can get a great seat anwhere in the park for about $10 or less.
Something else that I really appreciate about this team is their gift shop. They have a nice selection of merch, with better prices than most lower level teams. I think a T-shirt is usually in the $12 range. They don't gouge here.
I love the area around the park. They have the famous Florence Mall, which is a fun place to kill time before a game. There's a cool craft store and Toys-R-Us there too. I love the Qdoba in the area. I walked up to the door about 15 minutes after they had closed, and turned around to leave. The manager came out and told me and my friend that he would be happy to help us out, even offering to let us stay in the dining room. The Barnes & Nobles has a nice selection of regional books.
Going to a Freedom game is very affordable. Plus, these guys appreciate your support. This can be said of any minor league team, but especially of ones in the Frontier League; you get a LOT more for your money at a Freedom game than at a Major League game.
why not go
My wife can think of some reasons not to go, but she is wrong! Wait, don't tell her I said that. Seriously, Florence is a nice family day trip.