MiLBing Around 2014

It's been a while since I put up one of these old-fashioned blog posts...I think that is mostly because, for better or worse, I can squeeze into a Facebook post what I used to put up here. But, for old-times sake, I thought I would turn to Blogger, as I miss my "And here I am..." launches on this page.

With Labor Day Weekend behind us, the regular season of the 2014 MiLB season is over. I could have done "And here I am..." a bunch of times this summer, as it has been a great season for me seeing Minor League venues. I've visited another seven this year, plus one more independent league game, and have seen ballgames in six new states. (Really, I've seen quite a bunch since posting this in 2011.)

I'll mention quickly that, with the Major League ballpark crusade done, I don't have any similar Minor League goals. Nope, no desire to see all of the AAA venues or all the AA venues, or even all of my more local NY-Penn (short season, single A) venues. But, there are a number of ballparks that I absolutely want to see, and plenty of others I will try to see if my travel schedule aligns with their games.

This year, I saw two more NY-Penn League Teams play at home, the Vermont Lake Monsters at Centennial Field...

and then I joined three friends at MCU Park for another game in this Short Season Single-A league. The Brooklyn Cyclones play here, in what I think is one of the very nicest stadiums and settings that I've seen...

I thought it was so cool at the latter that you can walk out of the stadium, and on to the Coney Island boardwalk, and return to the game. Great day, fun time.

Just 10 days later, I found myself taking my first dedicated MiLB road trip, planning on seeing games from Oklahoma to Iowa, straight up the heart of the Heartland.

The only problem was on day 1 of the trip, where after touring the monuments around the park

rain delayed the game, for 30 minutes at first,

then an hour, before ultimately canceling it. And I had such a great seat....

I next headed up to Wichita, where a buddy and I saw the Wingnuts play a game.

I should note, each stop on my trip featured a visit to a nice brewery, and River City Brewing Co in Wichita is a fine one...

From Wichita, I continued straight north and then turned east to Omaha. I got to wander around town, and then attended a Storm Chasers game with another friend.

I spent more time after the game and then the following morning walking around and becoming acquainted with Omaha. The tap list at the Upstream Brewery and the city from the Missouri River are shown here

So far, it was three cities, and three much different impressions of them than expected.

For as much as I had planned this trip, though, I misread my own Excel file where I color coded various possibilities of the different schedules that would allow me to see games on consecutive nights in different cities. I left myself two days between games toward the end of this trip. As a result, I could either spend more time in Omaha and Des Moines, or I could shoot all the way across Iowa and get to what was rated as the number 1 ballpark in the country this year. Naturally, I chose the latter, getting in my rental car that Sunday morning, blowing right past Des Moines, and headed over to Davenport to watch a game at  Modern Woodman Park.

Did I mention it was National Ice Cream Day, and I got to ride that Ferris Wheel? Very cool...
While a fine ballpark, a very fine ballpark in fact, I think I liked the one in Brooklyn more...

Now, once done in Davenport, I had to double back to Des Moines, but decided to make one more detour to get a quick view of another city that I had heard a lot of nice things about, Dubuque. While I enjoyed my time there,

I did short change my time in Des Moines, only getting to see the city from my hotel and the walk over to the nice ballpark in town.
Hey, that's player/manager Manny Ramirez inserting himself into the Iowa Cubs' lineup...

A few weeks later, I finally got to another fairly local venue, Joe Bruno Stadium outside of Albany, to see the first place Tri City Valley Cats play.

Finally, I concluded my MiLB tripping this year with a sojourn to Hadlock Field for a Portland Sea Dogs game. That I saw the Paw Sox in Pawtucket last Labor Day weekend created some symmetry with this last little trip (and I suppose means I need to see the Bosox's Single A affiliate in Lowell Mass next Labor Day weekend). Anyway, a nice venue was amped up by virtue of a splendid fan appreciation day display, with a "Field of Dreams" theme...

I did a lengthy FB post on this Labor Day weekend that was part NH and part ME. The link to the album and pictures I took at the game should be viewable here:

Suffice it to say, that last weekend was a perfect end to my MiLB adventures of 2014...


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