Results tagged ‘ Chattanooga Lookouts ’

On the Road: Rained Out in Chattanooga

lookout.pngUpon arriving at Chattanooga’s AT&T Field yesterday, rain was the furthest thing from my mind. Seriously, precipitation ranked dead last in my internal list of all topics that could possibly occupy my brain space.

So when I arrived at the ballpark about an hour before the 7:15 start time, I leisurely began to document my surroundings. The ballpark is in an interesting location, in the heart of downtown Chattanooga yet also set apart from it.

This is the first stadium I’ve ever been to that features an escalator outside of the stadium:

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Upon arriving at the top of this precipitous peak, one is deposited onto a concourse that wraps around the exterior of the facility.

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This concourse offers views of downtown Chattanooga:

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Fans looking for learned discourse know where to go:

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The stadium entrances lead to a wide concourse, equipped with the usual array of concession stands, restrooms, souvenir stands, and wooden mascot statues:

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There’s a heavy mascot presence at AT&T Field. I was able to capture some on film, but others proved to be elusive.

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And, of course, there are also seats and a baseball field:

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But my idyllic wanderings were soon interrupted by a furious thunderstorm, one that rendered baseball unplayable.

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So THIS was my final image of AT&T Field:

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And with the posting of that picture now complete, it becomes time for me to leave Chattanooga. Gwinnett County, GA, here I come.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Looking Out for Chattanooga's Past

Engel_seating bowl.JPGSurely you all remember Tuesday’s blog post, which detailed a day that included time spent at the Birmingham Barons’ old home of Rickwood Field as well as their current Regions Park digs.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja vu on Friday, as I experienced the same dynamic in Chattanooga. My day in this vibrant city began at the Lookouts’ previous home of Engel Stadium, and concluded with a rainout at AT&T Park (Mother Nature has a lot of nerve, tampering with my all-important road trip. Doesn’t she know I have a reputation I’m trying to establish?)

But let me tell you — visiting Engel Stadium was a real treat. This ballpark served as theEngel_barn.JPG Lookouts’ home from 1930-99, but has fallen into disrepair over the past decade. As I was researching potential article topics for this trip, I came across a story on a new group that is seeking to restore the facility to its former glory. I got in touch with Engel Foundation director Janna Jahn, who set up a visit to the stadium along with an interesting group of fellow stadium devotees:

Andy Broome: Senior Vintage Card Grader for Beckett Media, and lifelong Lookouts fan. Broome has written a novella on Jackie Mitchell, the 17-year-old girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at Engel in 1931. His website is well worth checking out, as it is a treasure trove of Engel ephemera.

engel.jpgNancy Cogar: An employee of “Choose Chattanooga”, an organization that espouses the positive attributes of the Tennessee metropolis. Cogar wants to spearhead a storytelling project that collects the Engel Stadium memories of former Lookout players and fans.   

Ray Deering: As a long-time Lookouts fan who has written columns on baseball history for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, Deering is an endless fountain of Chattanooga baseball knowledge.

Brian Wright: A wise-beyond-his-years recent high school graduate, who fell in love with Engel after breaking into the place. Wright is a member of the Engel Foundation’s board, and equipped to be a leader in the restoration efforts for a long time to come.

I mention these individuals because I believe they show the kind of diversity and unique skill sets that can make an ambitious project such as stadium restoration succeed (and many more are getting involved in the effort). Here is what they have to restore — Engel Stadium! (read my article about it HERE).

An unassuming exterior:

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Standing on the same mound where Jackie Mitchell once struck out Babe Ruth:

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In the dugout:

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From the Roof:

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Yes, this roof, which once boasted one of the country’s first press boxes (the current press box was not the original one):

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The seats, they are old and wooden:

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Just like Yankee Stadium, Engel features luxury boxes. Actually, just one:

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You’re Welcome:

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I am just now realizing how unwieldy this post would be if I tacked on pictures and anecdotes regarding my time at the Lookouts’ current home of AT&T Park. I am also just now realizing how soon the bars are going to close.

Therefore, I make a solemn promise to you, my readers, that a “part two” of this post will appear tomorrow morning. And then, I will drive to Gwinnett County, GA, in my rented Mercedes-Benz with Texas plates.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

On The Road Again

map-alabama.jpgI sure do love living New York City, but it is nonetheless crucial that I periodically leave my domestic lair in order to report live and direct from the ballpark. Only two of Minor League Baseball’s 160 teams play in the Big Apple, meaning that there are 158 cities perpetually on my list of places to visit. 

This week is my 2010 “Southern Swing’ — five stadiums in four cities over five days. Here’s the itinerary: 
June 1 — Regions Park, home of the Birmingham Barons
June 2 — 15th Annual Rickwood Classic at Birmingham’s Rickwood Field (The Barons’ former home, now the oldest professional ballpark in the entire country. 
June 3 — Joe Davis Stadium, home of the Huntsville Stars.
June 4 — AT&T Field, home of the Chattanooga Lookouts
June 5 –Coolray Field, home of the Gwinnett Braves
June 6 — Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive
The impetus for the trip was to attend the Rickwood Classic, as the ballpark is celebrating its centennial anniversary this season. To see a game in this environment is akin to traveling back in time (minus the potentially catastrophic consequences), and I’m greatly looking forward to it.

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I’ll be filing articles, blog posts, photos and videos throughout the week. If YOU have any suggestions regarding things I should check out in these cities then by all means let me know. Time will be tight, but I’m going to do my best to see as much as possible. 
And if you will be at any of above events then of course I’d like to meet you. Just look for the guy running around all over the place, like a freshly beheaded chicken who has not yet lost the ability to move its legs.
And, yes, this marks the second time this season I’ve been to Alabama (and third in the last 13 months). I promise that as time goes on I will achieve a far more balanced state visitation ratio.  
Looking forward to the trip, and looking forward to hearing from you. 
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz  

One Step Closer To the Inevitable…

golden.jpgLast week I did a post on the innovative season ticket plan launched by the Huntsville Stars and the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, in which each team would honor the other’s Season Ticket Holder cards when they face each other.

Well, this is an idea that is quickly taking on a life of its own, as last week the Stars and D-Jaxx announced that the Mississippi Braves and the Chattanooga Lookouts had entered into the agreement as well. This means that each club’s 70-game season ticket plan now includes 24 additional road games.

You realize what this is all building toward, right? No? Well I’ll tell you — This is all building toward a bold new future in which a Minor League team’s season ticket plan also includes admission to each and every away game. Granted, we’re not there yet, but we are most certainly headed down that path. Prepare yourselves.

On The Topic — Somewhat similar to the new Stars and D-Jaxx ticket plan is the arrangement that exists between the Pacific Coast League’s Round Rock Express and the Texas League’s Corpus Christi Hooks. Both teams are owned and operated by Ryan-Sanders Baseball, and as a result honor the other’s season tickets and also offer team-rate discounts at the team hotel in each city.  (thanks to Hooks’ director of ballpark entertainment Seamus Gallivan for the info)

Off the Topic, But Still Related To One of the Teams in Question — The Stars, a Brewershart.jpg affiliate, are hosting a youth baseball camp on November 8. And this camp is going to be run by none other than Corey Hart. However, the Corey Hart in question is not this Corey Hart, who currently patrols right field for the Brewers. Nor is it this Corey Hart, who scored a pop smash in 1983 with “Sunglasses at Night”. Rather, it is Brewers Minor League hitting instructor Corey Hart, whose eight-year pro playing career came to an end in 2005.

All three of these Corey Harts are worthy of respect and admiration. Just don’t get confused, is all I’m saying.   

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