Results tagged ‘ Tucson Padres ’

The Year in Ballpark Food, Part 1

I never set out to be a food blogger, and, really, I’m not. Nonetheless, food is a important component of the Minor League experience, and throughout my travels this past season I did my best to document ballpark comestibles in particular as well as regional cuisine in general.

Today’s missive (which went live at lunchtime for a reason) is the first of what will be a two-part compendium of the 2011 season’s food-based posts and photos. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section and via email: What are your favorite Minor League ballpark foods, and why?

What follow are some of mine, presented in the order in which they were consumed.

My first 2011 road trip began in Tucson, home of the T-Padres. And what better way to enjoy Kino Stadium’s sunset views than with a plate of nachos from ballpark vendor El Charro? Nothing too fancy, but the freshest of ingredients combined with from-the-oven homemade tortilla chips helped to distinguish this particular platter.

The following afternoon, a reader recommendation led me to local institution  El Guero Canelo. The specialty there is the “Sonoran Dog,” which I described as a “hot dog is wrapped in bacon and topped with cheese, salsa, onions, tomatoes, beans, mayonnaise and who knows what else. All of this was safely ensconced in the specially-crafted (and delicious) roll and served with a roasted pepper on the side.”

After a fleeting highway encounter with the still-elusive Biz Girl, I made my west to territories occupied by the California League’s South Division entities. One of the highlights of this leg of the journey came in Lancaster, where I was able to enjoy a non-photo shopped encounter with the JetHawks’ delectable “Sweet Po-Tater Tots.”

Maple Syrup Dipping Sauce!

The Sweet Po-Taters were a mere appetizer, for then came the so-called “Stealth Burger:” a hamburger topped with pulled pork and onion rings. It was a formidable affair:

There's a burger under there, promise.

The Stealth Burger looked downright microscopic in comparison to the Brobdingnagian creation that was served to me in Lake Elsinore. Behold the Storm’s “Homewrecker,” perhaps best explained in t-shirt form.

Suitable for sharing

The following month I traversed the great state of Ohio (with a detour in Fort Wayne, IN). The first stop on this particular Minor League journey was Toledo, where appropriately-named concessions manager Corey Pleasant laid out a stunning pre-game feast.

Here we have Greek Nachos (gyro meat and pita chips), Pulled Pork Nachos, and “Bases-Loaded Fries.”

But that, of course, was not all. Here’s the “Muddy Dog,” topped with chili, cheese, and onions.

And this artisanal creation is the “Bloomin’ Bacon Burger,” a 1/3 lb. grilled Black Angus beef burger topped with crispy strips of bacon, deep fried onion rings, American cheese, and bistro sauce on a fresh Kaiser bun.

And, of course, no visit to Toledo is complete without a stop at the legendary Tony Packo’s.  I visited the Birmingham location before heading west to Fort Wayne, ordering a hot dog with chili, Paprika Dumplings, and a side of “Pickles and Peppers.”

After Toledo, I attended two ballgames at the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ Parkview Field. The majority of the second evening was spent with culinary director Scott Kammerer, who gave me a thorough tour of the team’s concession offerings. The tour resulted in an MiLB.com article, as well as this stunning image:


In addition to the hallucinogenic turkey leg seen above, highlights included delectable brisket sandwiches…

Philly-style cheesesteaks…

and a hot dog with “Cincinnati Chili” (the TinCaps’ best attempt to emulate the famous Skyline recipe).

The TinCaps are named after Johnny Appleseed’s iconic headwear, so this Apple Dumpling dessert was a fitting (and inspired) addition to the menu.

From Fort Wayne, I made my way back to the Buckeye State in order to visit the Lake County Captains. Food took a back seat to on-field participation during this jam-packed visit, but this was where I first became aware of the Cleveland-area phenomenon that is “Bertman Ballpark Mustard.”

Bertman’s Mustard: Responsible for the most delectable condiment globules around.

From Lake County it’s a veritable hop, skip and a jump to Mahoning Valley. It was Opening Day for the short-season Scrappers, and I celebrated the return of New York-Penn League baseball with the one-of-a-kind “Warsaw Wings.”

Deep-fried pierogies smothered in hot sauce!

A necessary cool-down soon came in the form of Handel’s Ice Cream. The flavor was called “Scrappy’s Favorite” — caramel ice-cream with bone-shaped chocolate-covered pretzels.

The Ohio excursion ended in Akron’s Canal Park, a location not lacking in death-taunting culinary options. After an exhausting evening that included a pie in the face and a stint in a dunk tank, I had both the following items placed before me.

On the left is the “Nice 2 Meat U Burger,” two 1/3rd pound patties, two hot dogs, bacon, cheese, and onions.

The sauerkraut-covered creation on the right is the “Three Dog Night,” a hot dog stuffed inside a brat stuffed inside a kielbasa.

And, let’s not forget: Bertman Mustard on top of it all!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of this food-based season retrospective, featuring a bevy of offerings from South and North Carolina as well as the doom metal capital of the world (the state of Maryland, in other words).

Until then, send me your photos and anecdotes related to your favorite ballpark foods and regional creations. I’ll be right here waiting for you.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Saying Hi to Yet Another Tucson Ballpark

Hello from Lancaster, CA! I can see Clear Channel Stadium (home of the JetHawks) outside of my hotel room window, but before heading over there I wanted to return mentally to Tucson in order to do a quick post on the yin to Kino Stadium’s yang.

Hi Corbett Field.

As detailed in my story on the subject, Tucson’s professional baseball situation is complicated. I’d suggest that you give it a read, but in a nutshell: the city has two viable stadiums. The Tucson Padres play in Kino, part of a sprawling complex on the city’s south side. Hi Corbett is in the center of the city, located within Reid Park (which also includes a zoo, concert stages, a rose garden, recreational areas, ponds, waterfowl and a whole lot more).

Hi Corbett has hosted Major League Spring Training, Pacific Coast League Baseball, and, most recently, the independent league Tucson Toros (the team is currently on hiatus in the wake of the T-Padres arrival, but that could change soon). Upon arriving at Hi Corbett, I took some shots of the stadium’s exterior while trying to figure out how to gain entry.

The concourse, as viewed through a gap in the front gate.

Fortunately I soon ran into Toros general manager Sean Smock, who gave me a tour of the stadium. The seating — heavily sloped and close to the action — is in stark contrast to Kino’s far superior square footage (a blessing and a curse — this results in a far more intimate and energetic environment, but one lacking the range of movement, multiple vantage points, and many points of sale on offer at Kino).

The Toros logo, through the mist:

Major League was filmed here. You may remember Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn emerging through this door.

This locker room, now housing visiting teams, was in the movie as well.

But after the latest round of renovations, the home locker rooms are superior (the photo doesn’t do it justice, but the home locker room has far more natural light and a much higher ceiling).

Ah, the luxury and privacy of the professional baseball lifestyle.

Since I can’t end this stadium tour with a shower photo, here’s one more from the field.

And, for good measure, here are three friends I made upon leaving the stadium.

Actually, “friends” is pushing it. We were acquaintances at best; but “passing strangers” would be most accurate.

And that it’ll be it for baseball-related Tucson-content. Next week will be all Cal League, all the time.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On the Road: Into the Friar in Tucson

Maybe it was a sign from God. I was all set to do this post last night, but a mysterious note slipped under the hotel room door informed me that “due to an unexpected emergency,” there will be a “transformer replacement performed by Tucson Electric Power.” Thus, come 2 a.m., power would be lost and my wi-fi connection rendered useless.

You may have won that round, hotel general manager Helinda Lizarraga. But nothing can stop me from blogging. For yesterday I spent an action-packed day in Tucson, visiting Hi Corbett Field before taking in Thursday’s game at Kino Stadium. Please, by all means, read my story about the city’s professional baseball situation HERE.

It really is a tale of two ballparks here, and in a future post I’ll share some pictures of Hi Corbett. But for now, please enjoy this depiction of the Tucson Padres baseball experience.

Ticket prices are reasonable, as they are throughout Minor League Baseball.

But, please, leave your guns at home.

But there is plenty of parking for any and all fans arriving via mototcycle.

Yesterday’s ballgame was a Thirsty Thursday, and from the start there was a lively atmosphere that had largely been missing from Wednesday’s contest.

Eegee’s frozen fruit drinks are a Tucson favorite, and in the Thirsty Thursday spirit could be had for just $1.

The National Anthem was sung by Joint Venture, an acapella group composed of four elderly gents.

Trevor Hoffman was in town, along with Brad Ausmus and Mark Loretta, in a special advisory role. Hoffman threw out the first pitch (to the strains of “Hell’s Bells”, of course) and then watched the first few innings from the T-Pads dugout (third from left). I spoke with Hoffman later in the game, which should be available on MiLB.com shortly.

The T-Padres logo really seems to be catching on with the fan base, and those looking to exhibit their passion for the city’s newest professional baseball incarnation could do so here.

But as for the real “Kino Bambino,” he found himself upstaged by the Zooperstars throughout the evening (doing a surprise “sneak preview” performance in advance of their performance tonight).

Harry Canary vs. Ken Giraffey Jr.

Momentarily an afterthought, Kino Bambino decided to check out the concession items.

The views from afar:

In a nice touch, all six victims of Tucson’s recent shooting are memorialized in banners on the right and left field fences.

Kino offers plenty of room to wander, as evidenced by these two shots from Wednesday.


For more perspective, and to better contextualize tomorrow’s post on Hi Corbett, I once again bring your attention to my MILB.com story.

But, for now, the sun sets on Kino.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

On The Road: Checking In From Tucson

It has been an unfathomably long day, the way days are when they involve thousands of miles of travel and multiple time zone changes. But before shuffling off this mortal coil (that means going to bed, right?) I wanted to provide decisive evidence that I did indeed make it to today’s Tucson Padres game.

This was taken from Kino Stadium’s upper level, at sunset. Goodbye sun!

And hello baseball!

This was an evening that involved the three Fs…

Food (the “Charro Nacho” platter at ballpark vendor El Charros)

Foliage (if I was a botanist I’d tell you what these are, but since I’m a baseball writer I’ll tell you that they were on stadium grounds)

Friars (more specifically T-Padres mascot Kino Bambino, leading the crowd through the motions of a subversive disco anthem)

The fourth F of the evening is fatigue, meaning that this will be the shortest “on the road” post in Ben’s Biz Blog history. But tomorrow (Friday) is a full day in Tucson, so there is plenty of content yet to emanate from the beautiful confines of Kino Stadium.

Until then, good night.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Creating News By Responding To It

Suffice to say that it’s been a momentous couple of days for the United States and the world at large, with the killing of Bin Laden absolutely dominating the conversation. Not surprisingly, Minor League teams across the country found a way to respond to the news. A brief smattering:

The Bowie Baysox issued the following missive on Facebook In response to President Obama’s call of unity and solidarity….the first 300 fans that enter the ballpark receive a mini-American Flag.

– In San Antonio, the Missions wore their camo uniforms as part of an impromptu celebration of the military. It turned out to be quite a game, too, with David Robertson hitting for the cycle as the Missions cruised to a 17-6 victory.

– In an email received just as the blog was going to “press,” the Northwest Akransas Naturals announced that Inspired by the bravery of the Navy Seals in Sunday night’s mission in Pakistan, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals would like to recognize and thank all military members – active and retired – with free tickets to any of the next four home games at Arvest Ballpark, starting Tuesday evening.

– The Altoona Curve offered free tickets to all military members, for games on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Rumors that Steamer was part of the special ops team have not been substantiated.

The team also remarked, facetiously albeit accurately, via Twitter that “In honor of yesterday’s events, July 4th-born Jared Hughes will be tonight’s starting pitcher for the Altoona Curve.” While Hughes only lasted four innings, the Curve rallied for a 10-9 victory over Harrisburg. This put an end to their streak of 19 straight games alternating a win with a loss (!!!)

The aforementioned Harrisburg Senators are more than just the visiting team in this particular narrative. Yesterday the team made its own announcement: In light of the events of the past 48 hours, the Harrisburg Senators want to say thank you to the U.S. Armed Forces for all that they do….Beginning this Friday, May 6th through the end of the 2011 season all active duty and retired military, Air and Army National Guard, and Reservists and their family receive box seats for only $7.50 (normally $9) with their military ID.

One of the few games going on when the news of Bin Laden’s death broke was a tilt in Tucson between the Padres and Colorado Springs — on Military Night, no less. The team made the decision to announce the news over the PA, resulting in a memorable scene.

“We felt [making the announcement] was an important thing to do,” said T-Pads general manager Mike Feder. “We’ve made a major commitment to reach out to the military; we have very large Air Force and intelligence bases located near us, and there’s a huge National Guard presence as well.”

A more localized case of dedicated team and and fan support involves Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giant fan senselessly beaten into a coma on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. His plight has prompted an outpouring of giving, with everyone from Tim Lincecum to Charlie Sheen chipping in with donations to help support Stow and his family during this exceedingly difficult time.

But one of the most substantial and heartfelt fundraising efforts occurred within Minor League Baseball. Stow often worked as a paramedic at San Jose’s Municipal Stadium, and the hometown Giants therefore dedicated the entire month of April to him. Throughout the month the team raised $36,181, and the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies pitched in an additional $7,181 after holding a fundraising night of their own. That’s $43, 362 combined, which was presented to the Stow family prior to Sunday’s ballgame.


– And now, the moment in which none of you were waiting for: me promoting my own material. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

Today, as with every Tuesday, brings a new “Promotion Preview” column. Super Nintendo, bubble gum, mustaches, formal wear, “Charlie Bit Me”, Tiger Blood cocktails, and more. Always more.

And yesterday saw the 2011 debut of “Crooked Numbers“, a monthly compendium of statistical oddities and curiosities. Or, as I like to call it, “an obsessive-compulsive labor of love that I spend way too much time on even though it gets no feedback from anyone, thereby making an already sensitive writer even more sensitive.” That title was rejected by the MiLB.com higher-ups, probably for good reason.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Closing Out Opening Day

The final wave of Minor League home openers are taking place throughout the country today and tomorrow, with many of them qualifying as bona-fide galas.

The Reading Phillies certainly had a lot going on. The club rang in a new era yesterday, as fans finally got a chance to check out the many improvements  made to 60-year-old FirstEnergy Stadium as part of a $10 million renovation project. Churgers were chomped, the mascot band rocked, and the first 3500 entrants received a “Ryan Howard Garden Gnome” figurine.  But one fan got to take home a 550-pound life-size version. Behold:

And behold some more:

Meanwhile, the Omaha Storm Chasers play their first game ever at Werner Park tonight tomorrow!

Update: In a disappointing but perhaps fitting bit of irony, the Storm Chasers had to postpone their home opener due to inclement weather.

The first 2500 fans receive welcome mats emblazoned with the stadium logo, and one of the guests of honor is none other than part-owner Warren Buffet. The Opening Day festivities started early this morning, with the Weather Channel broadcasting live from the stadium between 6 and 9 a.m. Say what you will about the new team name, but suffice to say that no national broadcasts would be taking place at the home opener of a Minor League team named the Royals (save for Will and Kate-obsessed British tabloid television, but they’ll broadcast from just about anywhere).

Another Pacific Coast League opener of especial significance is going down in Tucson, as the Padres play their first game at Kino Stadium after re-locating from Portland. The evening will begin on an emotional note, as the team is staging a stirring tribute to local heroes:

With Opening Night falling just three months after the tragic events of January 8th, the Tucson Padres will honor many people associated with the shooting. The following five people will throw ceremonial first pitches:

 Colonel Bill Badger: Retired Army Colonel who helped tackle the shooter on January 8th

 Daniel Hernandez: The intern who helped save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

 Patricia Maisch: Tucson resident who helped contain the shooter after he was tackled

 Roger Salzgeber: Tucson resident who helped tackle the shooter on January 8th

 Joe Zamudio: Tucson resident who jumped on the shooter to contain him

In a similarly community-minded move, the San Jose Giants have dedicated the month of April to critically-injured fan Bryan Stow. Stow, who was attacked at the Los Angeles Dodgers home opener and suffered serious injuries, has been a familiar presence at San Jose’s Municipal Stadium.

Reports the team:

The San Jose Giants will collect donations throughout the month of April to benefit the fund established to support Bryan and his family with a special tribute planned for Opening Day, April 14th at Municipal Stadium.

 “Bryan has contributed so much to the safe operation of Municipal Stadium. He has been the first person to respond to any injuries in our ballpark and has provided outstanding medical assistance to all of our fans.” said Jim Weyermann, President and CEO of the San Jose Giants. “He is a member of our family and needs our help and prayers. We intend to be there for him in the same way he has been there for our fans, hand in hand, working together to make sure that he and his family don’t have to go through this alone.”

One of the beautiful things about attending a Minor League Baseball game is that there is equal room for wacky and the somber. But when it comes to blogging about it all, I often struggle to find an appropriate tone when dealing with such disparate subject matter in the same post.

That said, I’d like to close the blogging week by bringing your attention to one of my favorite press releases of the year. In Tuesday’s post I wrote about the Lancaster JetHawks’ “Sweet Po-Tater Tots”, and the very next day this appeared.

Between Taters and Later

Benjamin Hill, a national reporter/blogger for MILB.com, the official website of Minor League Baseball, recently included the JetHawks Sweet Po-tater Tots in a blog entry on premier new food items throughout Minor League Baseball.

That’s me all right — a national reporter/blogger who will now spend the weekend showing skeptical club doormen a crumpled print-out of the JetHawks press release.

“Of course I’m on the list. Don’t you know who I am?”

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

Keys, Kino, Bambino, Reno

At this time of year I feel like I’m manning the laser cannon in Space Invaders, blasting away  at the relentless Minor League news stories falling methodically from the sky like so much alien detritus. No matter how adept my aim, however, I am always destroyed in the end.

But enough with the life metaphors, as Opening Day is approaching and there is simply no room for existentialist fatalism. There’s a new mascot to write about!

The costumed character in question is a relative rarity on the Minor League scene, as he is based on a Key historical figure, one whose martial maritime (mis)adventures inspired our National Anthem. Meet Frank Key of the Frederick Keys, based on Francis Scott Key and sponsored by the Tourism Council of Frederick County:

Frank Key, who joins long-time mascot Keyote at Harry Grove Stadium, will have his own adult fan club. Those who join “Frank Key’s Army” receive perks such as discounted merchandise and concessions, exclusive Q and A’s with staff and players, and the always enticing prospect of “unique fan experiences.”

In other mascot news, Tucson’s recently-unveiled Friar character now has a name: The Kino Bambino.

The team explains this Ruthian character thusly:

The long lost brother of the San Diego Padres’ Swinging Friar roamed the desert and arrived in Tucson for the March 25th Spring Training game. He dazzled the 11,000 fans that day, dancing and waving to screaming fans. The Tucson Padres front office marveled at their luck – the brother of the Swinging Friar showing up just weeks before the season!

Then the only question was – what to call him? After sorting through the hundreds of suggested names, one stood above the rest, the Kino Bambino. His name has a strong connection to the Tucson region, while also honoring the most famous baseball player of all time. The Kino Bambino, and Kino Stadium, are named after Father Eusebio Kino, the man who established 24 missions in the southwestern United States in the late 1600’s.

Quite fitting that a mascot with a religious background would come to the team after wandering in the desert. Kino Bambino is both on and from a mission.

From Keys to Kino to…uniforms? Sure, why not?

The Asheville Tourists unveiled their lunar-based logo some time ago, but it wasn’t until last week that the world got a look at the unis.

Click HERE for more pics, but I’ve got no time for such finger-activated endeavors. For the Reno Aces have unveiled some new gear, time to switch to ALL-CAPS:

Team-issued explanation:

For all road games, Reno will wear a gray and navy cap, which includes a new logo that features the Reno “R.” The team will debut this new cap during the April 5 exhibition game against the University of Nevada at Aces Ballpark.

Also, the Aces will wear an alternate white cap for select home games this season.

But before you can talk about logos, you have to have a name. Pensacola’s Southern League entry will begin play in 2012 (having re-located from Zebulon, NC), and the team is now accepting submissions in a “Name the Team” contest.

The only thing I can come up with is the “Pensacola Wars” and that’s not even funny. But what else is new?

benjamin.hill

twitter.com/bensbiz

From Tucson Arizona All the Way To Reynosa

To paraphrase Neil Young: “Hey Hey My My, Logo News Will Never Die.”

The latest development within this eternal Minor League news subgenre hails from Tucson, as the T-Pads unveiled their uniforms yesterday.

Tucson_3unis.JPG

The three variations depicted above, from left to right:

Home: White jerseys and pants, with “Padres” written across the front in the same font thetpadlogo.jpg San Diego Padres wore from 1978-1984.

Military: [T]he Tucson Padres are wearing camouflage military jerseys for Sunday home games and other appropriate military holidays…As a gesture of support for the Tucson military community, the San Diego Padres are giving these game worn jerseys from 2010 to the Tucson Padres for the 2011 season.

Road: Gray jerseys and pants, with “Tucson” scripted across the front in the same font the San Diego Padres wore from 1978-1984.

And then there’s the cap:

Tucson_cap.JPG

[A] Tucson version of the Swinging Friar, with a replica of the San Diego Padres mascot using a “Tucson” bat. The Tucson Padres cap is navy blue, with the friar logo outlined in white.

As you’ll recall, the T-Pads’ retro desert-themed logo was unveiled in January. Yesterday’s uniform announcement completes the look, and is just the latest in what has been a rapid-fire offseason for the PCL’s newest entry. My recent Minoring in Business feature takes a look at the club — how it came to be as well as its future — and can be read HERE.

And since we’re on the indestructible topic of logo news, take a look at the Nashua Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

NashKnights.JPG

The Silver Knights are unaffiliated and amateur and therefore out of my jurisdiction, but I am including them because the team’s operations are being overseen by the Lowell Spinners. The logo is the work of diehard Parisian baseball fan Aurelien Durand, who first came to the Spinners’ attention after he submitted well-regarded logos to the New York-Penn League and NYPL All-Star Game logo contests.

Finally, baseball journalist Alejandro Aguerrebere recently sent me an email containing Mexican League logos. What better time than now to share a few?

Take ‘em on out, boys:

Mexican_tigres.JPG

Mexican_piratas.JPG

Mexican_broncos.JPG
Mexican_puebla.JPG
benjamin.hill@mlb.com
twitter.com/bensbiz

Tucson Throws Back, Moves Forward

I’ve learned never to say never in this crazy game called life, but I can say with a strong degree of certainty that THIS will be the last new logo unveiled this offseason:

tucson_logo.jpg

Yes, the Tucson Padres now have an identity. It is indebted to the San Diego Padres duds of yore (1978-84, specifically), and also incorporates Tucsonian elements via the mountains and cacti. In a 2010 first (save for the Kannapolis Intimidators alternate mark), the logo was NOT designed by either Plan B Branding or Studio Simon. Rather, it was the work of the San Diego Padres Creative Services Department.

Tucson_specs.JPG

T-Pads merch won’t be available for several more weeks, due to the fact that the logo just received official approval. For more on the logo and recent Tucson developments, click HERE. For some background on why a Pacific Coast League is back in Tucson in the first place, click HERE.

In a nutshell, the team will play in Tucson for at least two seasons after moving from Portland. The plan is to then move to Escondido, CA. Stay tuned.

And since I’m on the topic of logos, surely one of the most memorable marks to have been unveiled this offseason is the Asheville Tourists’ “Mr. Moon”.

Thumbnail image for Mr. Moon.JPG

Well, now Mr. Moon needs a name.The Tourists want suggestions, with entries judged based on creativity, regional relevance and family-friendliness. The first thing that comes to my mind is “Keith”, and your response to that should be “Who?”

Ah, nevermind. I’m out of here.

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 452 other followers