On the Road: Delusions of Grandeur and Natural Splendor in Great Lakes
The last post on this blog ended as posts on this blog so often do — with the resounding belch of a local morning radio DJ. That memorable moment occurred just before the start of a late June ballgame between South Bend and Great Lakes at Midland’s Dow Diamond, and that is where this narrative resumes.
The fans were settled in, and it was time for some Loons baseball.
These fans didn’t have to wait long to have something to cheer about, as the Loons scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to an easy 10-1 victory. And every time that the Loons score, a ballpark dance ritual known as “The Funky Feather” commences.
It’s real easy to do, check it out:
Here’s the Funky Feather in action:
Funky Feather @glloons https://t.co/L4HFYRNJuv
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 25, 2013
In the midst of this sustained period of rampant gesticulating, myself and Loons entertainment and marketing VP Chris Mudhenk embarked upon a quick tour of Dow Diamond. The facility opened in time for the 2007 season after a construction period of just 364 days, housing a team that is owned by the non-profit Michigan Baseball Foundation (the Loons strive to make as much money as they can, just like any other team, and the profits are funneled back into the community via a series of annual grants).
One recent addition for 2013 is the Midland County Sports Hall of Fame (or McShof, as I like to call it), located outside of the front entrance.
This picture doesn’t really convey the extent of it, but this past autumn a major development project began directly across from the stadium. Offices, bars, restaurants and retail space shall soon be in abundance.
This picture’s even worse, but I am including it only because this building houses the “Dirk Waltz Body Shop.” It would be nearly impossible to have a name better than “Dirk Waltz.”
But anyway…I was talking about the Dow Diamond.
Since I’m really on a roll with the unremarkable photos, I’d now like to share this.
This shadow-enshrouded picture displays the entrance to the Michigan blood donation center, located within the stadium itself but run independently of the team. This is the first-ever blood donation center to be located in a stadium, and a very cool and altruistically-minded additon to the facility (yes, that misspelling was intentional. Like the blood donation center itself, I want my writing to be typo-positive).
At this stage of the tour I was getting antsy, in that I was in an area that any old fan could just walk right on up to. But I’m Ben’s Biz! A celebrity! I need unrestricted access to parts of the stadium that the average fan will never see, as this establishes my inherent superiority as an individual.
All of this is to say, we soon descended into the bowels of the stadium and I got really excited by the size of the Loons’ promo supply area.
This box was once used to house a rally camel, or, more specifically, Rall E. Camel.
I’m telling you, most teams would kill for this kind of storage space. Literally, they would commit an act of murder for it.
To paraphrase one of my favorite protest chants: This is what 50,000 feet of removable flooring looks like:
Meanwhile, out in the open air, one could find a most familiar Minor League tableau.
Up on the second level, everything was copacetic as well.
That’s Brad Golder and Jared Sandler calling the action on ESPN 100.9, a team-owned station whose offices are on the press box level. In addition to the Loons the station broadcasts a plethora of local high school and collegiate action.
“To have this sort of mouthpiece for the franchise is huge,” said Mundhenk. “I can write copy, send it up, and within an hour its live if it needs to be.”
Up here is where the promo brainstorming magic happens. Here are some of the ideas that were bandied about for an upcoming “Most Interesting Mascot in the World” promotion.
Speaking of this allegedly “most interesting mascot,” he could be found in the stands hamming it up with the crowd.
And a robust crowd it was, particularly for a Tuesday night.
This robust crowd got to witness the professional debut of 2013 first round draft pick Chris Anderson, chosen by the Dodgers with the 18th selection overall.
But far be it for me to pay attention to this emerging phenom, as I myself am an emerging phenom as well. While Anderson put up a couple of zeros on the scoreboard, I was engaged in the task of autographing various items for members of the Loons grounds crew.
All joking aside about my “celebrity” status, it really was an honor to be asked to sign something. Thanks, guys!
Uh, yeah, in the above photo I am indeed holding up a pair of pantyhose with a baseball inside. Soon, this pair of pantyhose was placed over my head.
Same old same old @glloons https://t.co/WrdWyIVELP
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) June 26, 2013
Usually this is only the sort of thing I do in the privacy of my own home, but in this particular instance I was a contestant in a between-inning game called “Wrecking Ball.” Instead of trying to explain how this game is played, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Wrecking Ball is a fun game to play and it provides humorous visuals and it can be done on the cheap, so I recommend that all teams add it to their between-inning arsenal.
At this stage in the ballgame there wasn’t much left for me to do but wander around on my own, and that’s just what I did.
Fire pit panorama!
On Michigan summer evenings, it stays bright outside for a long, long time. This picture, taken at 9:30 p.m., captures one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever see at any Minor League Baseball stadium, ever.
Like a solid classic rock playlist, Big Pink soon gave way to Deep Purple.
And with that appealing image of unfettered beauty, I wish you good night from Midland.
Thanks for having me!