On the Road: Here, There and Everywhere in Spokane

To see all posts from my August 12 visit to the Spokane Indians, click HERE. To see all my posts from my August 2016 “Out West” road trip, click HERE. To see all my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).

Spokane’s Avista Stadium was my 27th and final ballpark stop of the season, bringing my lifetime total to…well, I really don’t know at the moment, but something like 150. Sometimes all these ballparks start to blur together, forming a monolithic facility of the mind. Other times, like during this particular Friday evening night in Spokane, every moment stands out as distinct.

It was gorgeous night in a gorgeous ballpark, inside and out.

img_2737Especially on the inside.

img_2738As mentioned in the previous post, the right field foul line is a scant 296 feet away from home plate. I hope these fans brought their gloves, or are at least prepared to catch some dingers in their beer cups.

img_2739Further back from the field (but still in “catch a dinger” territory), two young fans were playing a giant game of checkers. Note that the kid in black shoes is moving a black checker, while his opponent took off his shoes and is representing his side of the board via white socks. I am convinced this was intentional.
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Heading toward center field, one finds “The Depot.” This replica train car used to be part of a restaurant, and was placed in the ballpark by a crane. It’s appropriate to the area, too, as there are railroad tracks approximately 200 years from the ballpark.

img_0417I found it hard to take photos in The Depot, as it’s very narrow.

img_0418The view, however, is incredible.

img_0419I was still wandering about with Indians senior vice president Otto Klein at this juncture of the evening. He told me the team overstaffs the ballpark, so that “customer service standards go way beyond anything anyone would expect at a game.”

“We want you to spill your beer, so you see how fast we clean it up and replace it,” he said. “You could eat off the floor, though I wouldn’t recommend it. Every day is someone’s Opening Day.”

Being chronically overstaffed allows the Indians to do things like host Baseball Bingo on an evening with over 6000 fans in the ballpark (in my experience, I’ve founf that most teams reserve Baseball Bingo for quiet weekday evenings). And if they want to check their bingo cards, fans know just where to go. There are referees positioned at the aisles.
img_2743Behind home plate, there is a candy-striped box reserved for doctors. The doctor sitting in the box is at the ready to deal with injuries from foul balls or any other fan emergency. Klein said that the box is generally occupied by an internist who receives practicum hours for his or her attendance. It never sits MD.

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Those in the doctor box get a view that, approximately, looks like this.

img_0423All Spokane Indians games are broadcast on the radio. A select few are broadcast on local TV station SWX — Right Now Sports and Weather — and this was one of them. Sam Adams and color man Bob Castle were in the Bob Robertson press box calling the game, and reporter Lindsay Joy was doing live spots from the stands. One of these live spots was an interview with me, as the game was going on, as we stood hard up against the home dugout.

I promised Lindsay I would save her from any foul balls that came her way as she faced away from the field, and fortunately we never found out if I could keep that promise (my guess is “probably not.”) The interview went well, just breezed right along, and it was fun being able to talk about who I am and what I do in such an uniquely immediate fashion.

“Down in front!” says man wearing tie-dyed shirt.

img_2764Afterward I stopped by the production truck, parked just outside the ballpark. I’m paraphrasing, but they told me that my interview with Lindsay was “the greatest moment in the history of live television.” Or at least that’s what I choose to believe.

img_2770Searching for even more “van”tage points, I traversed to the upper level.

img_0427Here’s the view from the Bob Robertson press box.

img_0429Duty called once again, however, as I was recruited to participate in an on-field paint can stacking competition. I easily could have won this thing. But, as you can see, I got greedy and greediness led to defeat. I was like a walking Aesop’s fable out there.

Despite my defeat, Doris the Spokane-asaurus was happy to see me afterwards.

img_2771As was Otto, named after real person who works for the team Otto Klein. Otto gave me his…actually, I’m going to save that joke for later.

img_2774This ballgame, against the eventual Northwest League champion Eugene Emeralds, was zipping right along. I barely had time to admire the detail and complexity of the videoboard headshots.

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I was once again in the Bob Robertson press box because I was once again taking part in an SWX televised endeavor. Sam Adams and Bob Castle, TV announcers both, had agreed to serve as designated eaters while they were broadcasting the game. This, too, was a Ben’s Biz Blog first. And since it integrated so quickly and seamlessly into the evening as a whole I’m not going to document it in a separate post. I’m just gonna keep right on rolling.

A small array of items had been assembled just for Sam and Bob.

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On the left, in the front, is deep-fried PB&J. Next to that are the Bacon Blue Cheese Fries — beer-coated fries with blue cheese dressing, mixed with cheese and bacon crumbles. And, finally, we had a Walking Taco. As the game was going on, Sam and Bob tried these items and offered their opinions while (nominally) calling the game in progress. It was a bit chaotic.

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img_2785Okay, switch.

img_2787Just another day on the job for Bob and Sam.

img_2789It was all on TV and now, of course, it’s on the internet:

Thanks to Indians public relations director Bud Bareither for helping to make what transpired above a reality.

Bud!

img_2790The ballgame was nearing its assumed conclusion, but there was still more to do. Bidding adieu to Bud and crew, I headed back to the front office. See that circle in the middle of the floor?

img_2794That’s a vintage safe, unearthed during renovations and, yet, never opened. Read all about it, and savor the mystery.

img_2792Meanwhile, on the field, the Emeralds had locked up a 1-0 victory over the hometown team.

img_0440Of course, the combination of baseball and Friday night equals fireworks. But first, the fans all sang along to “Sweet Caroline.” If there’s one thing I learned this season, it’s that “Sweet Caroline” is played at ballparks all over the country with no regard to affiliation. So, sure, a Rangers farm team in Washington state? Have at it.

I’d share my fireworks photos, but per usual they were awful. Pyro-terrible. But what wasn’t (isn’t?) awful is/was my nightly Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day, which I wrote and disseminated as fans were filing out of the ballpark.

Among the individuals filing out of the ballpark was broadcaster Sam Adams, happily toting all the leftovers from his previous on-air eating spree.

img_2799And that did it for my time in Spokane. I loved it there.

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And that didn’t just do it for my time in Spokane, it did it for my road trip out west as well as my entire 2016 traveling season. This is always a bittersweet feeling and, per usual, a fortuitous selection on a local rock radio station helped provide the proper soundtrack to my mood.

Thanks to everyone I’ve met along the way, as well as to everyone who has followed along with me as I attempt to chronicle my experiences. This marks the end of a blogging era, with a new one soon to begin.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

1 Comment

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