We made our first trip to Rent One Park in Marion Illinois this weekend!
I have already mentioned the Championship Series between the Southern Illinois Miners and the Florence Freedom- but I was thrilled to have my first visit to this park occur during this exciting time.
The Miners did a great job of trying to get the local fans interested and excited. They opened their parking early lot for tailgating and if you got to the park soon enough, they waved their parking fee.
I am starting to find myself in Illinois a bit more these days, and the state is growing on me. There are some nice small communities, college towns, and historic areas. I like driving through these days.
I was exciting about visiting Marion and Carbondale on this trip. I had a great time in both areas before the game.
Back to the game.....
We did get to the park before the gates opened and there was a very festive vibe going on. Players and staff mingled pleasantly with the fans.
As fans waited in line to get in, coach John Lakin passed through the crowd on his way in.
"Thank you all for coming out" he said loudly.
AND that is why minor league baseball is so good. More specifically, that is why the Frontier League is so good. A coach will thank fans for coming out to support the team.
The Miners have several mascots. I love them all. They do have "The Green Man". He is a guy in a green costume covering his entire body. He danced around and interacted with the fans.
Like Florence, the Miners also have an eyeball race. I love this. It is just weird and fun to watch.
The Miners have a well stocked team shop but their prices are on the high end. Then again, maybe they are just waiting to mark things down after the season ends.
Hats off for the merch selection though. They did have a team set of cards (something many indy teams have stopped selling), shirts, jerseys, etc.
The Miners have a rally crew too, like most teams these days. These guys were totally pumped up for the game. They were cheering and dancing all through the game, and even in the parking lot before the game.
Most rally groups like this save their excitement for between innings. These guys were dancing on the dugouts between EVERY batter. They did slow down a bit around the 3rd inning. It did distract from the game but they get an A for their enthusiasm.
One of the cheer squad members did sing our national anthem before the game. Usually I am not a fan of all of the extra notes added these days. I like hearing it delivered in a traditional way. Well, the girl who sang it Saturday night added the extra notes but she did it melodically AND in tune. She wasn't forcing her voice to do things it shouldn't. Her voice was very capable of hitting those notes most cannot. This was possibly the best performance I saw all season.
AND congrats to the Miners for winning it all this year! Sure, you beat MY Florence Freedom to do it, but you did it with style!
I was glad to see a group of maybe 20 fans cheering for the Freedom too. I was a bit surprised that a nice group made the journey down for the game!