On the Road: Much S’more to Love in Savannah
The previous missive in this low-stakes blogging odyssey ended in Asheville on a Saturday night, and my next order of business was to be in Savannah on a Sunday afternoon. As you can see from this road trip map (made by MiLB.com’s ace editorial team), I had a lot of driving to do in a very short amount of time.
I felt so rushed on Sunday morning that I almost forgot to do a road trip hotel room review on Vine (a new tradition), but after a coffee and cracklins-fueled journey I did indeed make it to Savannah’s Grayson Stadium in time for this Mother’s Day matinee. And let me tell you, when you’re in Savannah you definitely know you’re in Savannah. The landscape, it’s just different, and a lot of that has to do with the flora and fauna.
The Sand Gnats are a Mets affiliate. Or, should I say a Pal-Met-to affiliate?
These are the idyllic grounds of Savannah’s Daffin Park, of which Grayson Stadium is a part. The stadium is located across the street from this upbeat amateur facility.
I’d say that Grayson, despite being 87-years-old, has a fairly youthful and optimistic outlook as well. (For much more on my Grayson stadium experiences, please read my MiLB.com piece! My MiLB.com pieces are the hand-rolled cigars that perfectly complement the glasses of single-malt Scotch that are the blog posts).
As I walked to the stadium, I could hear Andrew W.K.’s “I Love New York City” playing from inside. This created a welcoming atmosphere for a Big Apple-dweller such as myself, even though the price of admission was far less than anything that would be found in NYC and the surrounding tri-state area.
Prior to my arrival, the Sand Gnats held a contest on Facebook to find my designated eater (you know, the fan who samples the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits). It was a pretty cool looking contest:
Unfortunately the winner (one Joey Chiarello) wasn’t able to make it for whatever reason, so the team recruited an intern in his stead. Hank Garcia was his name, food and beverage was his game, and almost as soon as I walked through the gates he suggested that some eating should commence.
Who am I to argue? Our first stop was this unassuming concourse stand.
But the item that Mr. Garcia walked away with was anything but unassuming. The Godfather (list price $10) consists of Italian sausage, cheesesteak, pepper, onions and jalapenos. It is a huge mass of sandwich.
Garcia and the Godfather:
A closer look:
Garcia praised the Godfather, noting that the savory sausage was a perfect complement to the saltiness and spice of the cheesesteak and vegetables.
“It results in a plethora — wow, I just said plethora — of flavors,” he said. “Sorry, I just watched The Three Amigos.”
You’d think that Garcia would have been done after the Godfather, but no. Dessert was on the agenda as well!
“It’s Italian Panini bread with Nutella, marshmallow fluff, crushed up graham crackers and powdered sugar,” explained Garcia. “Then, after it’s warmed up in a Panini press, chocolate syrup is added on top.”
This six seconds of video, via Vine, is all you need.
If you thought this food and beverage tour was over, then think again! Like most old stadiums there is limited room for concessions at Grayson, but the team still found some room for the hard stuff.
Garcia ordered and off-menu specialty, and I’d suggest that if you’re of age and at a Sand Gnats game then you do the same. This drink consisted of Horchata (a sweet, rice-based Mexican drink) and Red Hot cinnamon whisky.
“It’s like a liquid Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” explained Garcia.
While I could not immediately ascertain whether or not this concoction was gluten-free, I went ahead and gave it a try (read: gulped it down). My verdict is, word-for-word, the same as Garcia’s on the S’mores Panini: Delicious! (You watched the Vine video, right?)
I chased down the “Liquid Cinnamon Toast Crunch” with a certifiably gluten-free offering: Michelob Ultra cider. That, too, was tasty (despite what my perpetually angst-ridden expression might lead you to believe).
A couple drinks to start my work day had me seeing things.
That fluorescent amphibian soon disappeared beneath a patch of foliage, leading me to believe that it was a hallucination with the power to later manifest itself within the realm of digital photography. I blinked, and it was gone.
This wall, located on the stadium’s third base side, has an interesting history. Read about it on MiLB.com! Less interesting but more scenic is this, the most beautiful front office in all of Minor League Baseball!
Inside, it’s perhaps not quite as beautiful. The master bedroom of this enshrouded shack has been transformed into the main office.
The bathroom (note the shower stall on the right) is now a storage area. No one ever said that working in Minor League Baseball is glamorous!
The front office is located behind a courtyard and picnic area, which provides views of the action from down the third base side.
It was while in this area that I spotted a real-life Sand Gnat.
That would be Gnate, who like a real G moves in silence like lasagna. A cartoonish and altogether more intimidating version of Gnate can be seen on Grayson’s brick facade.
And, yes, the team is named “Sand Gnats” for a reason. These six-legged nuisances are known to swarm over the stadium at night, although they made themselves scarce on the afternoon I was in attendance. THEY KNEW BETTER THAN TO OFFEND A BLOGGER.
But anyway, there was a game going on amidst all of this wandering. Really!
A rather sparse Mother’s Day crowd was taking in the action (Savannah is a church-going town, I was told, so Sunday has always been a difficult draw. The social demands of the holiday only seemed to exacerbate the problem).
I spent much of the afternoon with Sand Gnats director of sales Jonathan Mercier, seen here at the base of “Land Shark Landing” while radioing his co-workers that “the blogger is under control.”
Land Shark Landing, which opened on July 4, 2010, is certainly one of Grayson’s more modern-seeming elements.
Meanwhile, many of the fans chose to sit beneath one.
But no matter where you were sitting, or what you were doing, there was no doubt that it was a beautiful day in Savannah.
Up close and personal:
As you can discern somewhat in the above pic, Grayson boasts an interesting press box. While I’m no stranger to roof top press boxes (Hagerstown and Vancouver spring immediately to mind), this was more of a roof bottom press box.
I was intrigued, so Mercier and I headed up there. I took pictures at various stages of this arduous journey.
The path to the professionals:
I was pretending that these guys were the pilot and co-pilot of a flying stadium spaceship. Set coordinates for family-friendly entertainment!
This picture doesn’t do it justice, but the press box walls were recently re-painted in a rather striking light green hue (about the same color as the lizard featured at the beginning of this post).
Sand Gnats graphic designer Vince Caffiero was the man responsible for this interesting choice, and when I asked him about it he shook his head slowly from side to side.
“I’m getting a lot of flak,” he said in a deadpan tone. “So much flak. It’s not fair.”
As it turned out, the path from the press box was almost an exact approximation of what I have dreamed that the path to the afterlife will look like. (The fans, in my vision, are the people I’d have to leave behind within this earthly realm.)
It turned out, however, that there was to be another stage to our journey.
The roof! The roof! The roof is 100% free of any sign of fire!
I didn’t want to get too close to the edge, so I laid flat on my stomach, extended my arms out in front of me, and took the following shot.
Finally ready to retreat to the stands, I snapped a picture of this fan-friendly view.
Back at sea level, my ballpark tour continued. Mercier and I looped past the verdant batting cages and visitor’s bullpen en route to a truly exclusive view.
This is the rear end of a pig!
As aviator pig, if you want to be specific about it.
“From the stands it looks professional, but seen from below it’s definitely amateur hour,” said Mercier of his and his co-worker’s pig-mounting abilities.
View from the pig:
To the left of the pig one can find the manually-operated scoreboard.
For when things really get out of hand.
The view of what’s in front of the scoreboard is a little bit better than the view of what’s behind it.
With the game winding down, I headed to the seats — nay, benches — located behind home plate in order to watch the game like a normal person. While there I was photographed with a prop.
This bat — named “The Phoenix” — is the source of much mayhem and mirth within the Sand Gnats front office. To make a long story short — an argument erupted between Caffiero and ticketing manager Joe Shepard over the offseason, regarding just who it was that the bat belonged to. In response to this bickering the bat was hidden from both of them, and now both parties are being subjected to taunting photos such as the one seen above.
And so it goes.
And so it went. As I was posing with heavy lumber the game ended, with the visiting Rome Braves earning the win.
And even though it was Mother’s Day, the moms assumed picture-taking duties as their kids ran the bases.
But as for me? I’m a man done. A man done blogging. Over and out from Savannah.