Monday, April 17, 2017

First Minor League Game of the Year

Being a baseball junkie,  I always try to work in a visit to the ballpark on any out of town trip or vacation my family takes.  It does not even have to be a Cardinals related team.  Any day at a major or minor league park is a good day in my book.  If you have read my past posts, you know I favor minor league games.

Back in late fall when the minor league schedules were released, I noticed my children's Easter break came during opening weekend for the Springfield Cardinals.  I have never been to any season opener, so my wife and I decided to take the kids out of school a day early to catch Thursday and Friday's games.  We arrived in Springfield around 3:00 in the afternoon.  First stop was the ticket office where I picked up our game tickets and couple of additional items.

The Cardinals ran an opening day ticket special last fall where you could buy 2 dugout seats and your choice of a 2016 promotional item for $27.  I bought 2 packages that included a Carlos Martinez and Stephen Piscotty bobbleheads.  The Martinez even has his Tsunami forearm tattoo.  I like the inclusion of each player's Double A stats on the box.

I like when different players are featured on tickets.  My son lost his that featured Matt Carpenter.  From top to bottom is Stephen Piscotty, Alex Reyes, and Carlos Martinez.  A quick check of the math shows I paid a $1 for each bobblehead.  Pretty good deal considering they sell for $15-20 plus shipping on EBAY.

The promo item for opening night was a 2017 magnet schedule.  I have seen better, but I have seen far worse.  At least it is big enough to read.

Always have to get a pocket schedule when I go to the park.

After the gates opened at 6:10, we headed for the team store.  My only purchase was the 2016 team set for $2.  We were able to watch the opening ceremony which was very similar to the one in St. Louis.  Each player rode in a truck from the center field wall to home plate, was introduced, and then took his place along the first base line for the national anthem. 
The game was not a very good one for a Cardinals fan.  #6 ranked prospect Sandy Alcantara started the game and had control problems.  While he did hit 101 on the radar gun, he gave up a first inning home run and 6 wild pitches in less than 5 innings.  The offense was also less than stellar only scoring 1 run on a solo home run by Cuban Jose Adolis Garcia.  The Cardinals lost the game 7 to 1.  The post game fireworks was also lacking.  There is a pyro plant in Springfield that sponsored the fireworks show.  It lasted maybe 5 or 6  minutes with a show that reminded me of my small county fair show.  I have seen much better fireworks in Peoria.
One of the more fun aspects of going to minor league games is getting autographs.  The Cardinals usually have 1 or 2 players at 3 different gates to sign autographs for 15 minutes after the gates open.  With opening ceremonies, none of the players were available.  There was also very little time after the ceremony for the players to warm up, so they did not sign before the game.  Since the team lost badly, most players left right after the final out.  Even if they wanted to stay, the lights went out pretty quickly for the fireworks show.  On the bright side, the weather was perfect and we had Friday's night game to look forward to.     



  1. I love minor league games. I've been in heaven since a Pirate affiliate is now a mile away from my house.

    1. I am in the middle of everything as far as the Cardinals: 2.5 hours from St. Louis, 3 hours from Single A Peoria, 4 hours from Triple A Memphis, and 5 hours from Double A Springfield. I am also 2.5 hours away from Indianapolis. Headed there this weekend to see your Triple A Pirates.