Results tagged ‘ Tri-City Dust Devils 2016 ’

On the Road: A Spin Through the Concession Stands in Tri-City

To see all posts from my August 11 visit to the Tri-City Dust Devils, 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).

Minor League Baseball is, often, a family affair. Therefore it made sense that, when I visited the Tri-City Dust Devils, I had a whole family of designated eaters. This is Theresa and Joe Scott, flanking their son, Hunter. As designated eaters, the Scotts would be tasked with consuming the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.

img_0381The Scotts live in Pasco, so close to Gesa Stadium that they could walk to it if they wanted to. Joe was born and raised here, Theresa moved to the area when she was seven. Joe works for the BNSF Railroad as a labor hostler, a job that includes tasks such as refueling the trains and changing the brake chutes. He’s been with BNSF for 14 years; both his Dad and his uncle work there.

Baseball factors heavily into the Scott’s summers. Theresa is president of the Pasco Little League, Joe coaches and Hunter plays second base and shortstop. The family are Dust Devils season ticket holders and members of the booster club, and in that capacity they host players during the season (at the time I visited they were hosting reliever Mark Zimmerman, though he was soon promoted to the Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm).

Hunter, while not attending school (he’s in the fifth grade) and playing second base, is a member of the local 4H club. He told me a sad story about a pig he had been raising, who had escaped from his enclosure, couldn’t get back in and died of heat stroke (this is a desert climate, remember).

“He was a good pig,” said Hunter. “I was gonna name him Bacon.”

“That’s what we told him, ‘Don’t give it it a real name,'” added Theresa. “You don’t want to get attached.”

Bacon wasn’t on the menu this evening, but pulled pork was. This is the Grand Slam Burger, in which the burger is topped with cheese, barbecue sauce and pulled pork.

img_2685Joe took care of this one.

“It’s good,” said Joe. “The pulled pork and burger combination was something I wasn’t so sure about. I’m a big pork guy, and raised pigs growing up, but wasn’t expecting them to go together.”

img_0388Hunter, whose favorite restaurant is Red Robin, likes to get chicken fingers at Dust Devils games. He said he likes them because they’re “nice and crispy.”

img_0386Hunter also got a hot dog, as it was “Dollar in Your Dog Night.” Who knows, he could get rich!

Well, close enough. Hunter ended up with two $1 food vouchers.

img_2690Theresa is fan of the garlic fries, remarking that “the Mariners are known for their garlic fries, where I learned to love them, and I was so excited when they were brought to the Dust Devils.”

(None of my garlic fries pictures came out well at all. Cameras, like vampires, don’t like garlic.)

img_0385That probably would’ve been enough food, but why stop with “enough”? This is America. Hacienda Del Sol, a local Mexican restaurant, has a kiosk at the ballpark. I went to this kiosk and procured a chicken nachos with everything.

This is so stupid:

We got the “everything” nachos despite Joe’s stated aversion to sour cream and guacamole. He said that he could work around it.

img_2692Theresa affirmed that these nachos are “better than normal ones” and that they regularly recommend Hacienda Del Sol to people visiting from out of town.

“If they’re looking for something a little different I say ‘Oh, you want the nachos,'” she said.

Hunter didn’t want the nachos. Or, maybe he did, but he had more important things to do. Namely, running in the nightly “Dusty’s Dash,” in which hordes of kids chase mascot Dusty across the field.

img_2696Theresa and Joe, then, had the nachos to themselves.

img_2693If you’re ever at a Dust Devils game, you might want to give them a “Tri.”

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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On the Road: A Whirlwind of Activity in the Tri-Cities

To see all posts from my August 11 visit to the Tri-City Dust Devils, 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).

(August 11, part two) We now commence with my second, and second-to-last, post from Gesa Stadium in Pasco, Washington. Gesa Stadium is the home of the Tri-City Dust Devils, Class-A Short Season affiliate of the San Diego Padres. On this particular Thursday evening, the Dust Devils were taking on the Spokane Indians.

img_0378In the above photo, you’ll notice the playing field’s distinct demarcation between sunny and shady. This sunshade, located on the first base side and mentioned in the previous post, has a lot to do with that. Most crucially, it renders the third base side bleachers habitable.

img_0380During a between-inning break, I joined Dust Devils emcee Erik the Peanut Man for an on-field interview.

This interview was a lot of fun, albeit rushed in the way that most between-inning endeavors are. This was the distinct highlight:

Nailed it, indeed! Still basking in the glow of my ad-libbing success, I adjourned to the camera well adjacent to the home dugout. My friend and co-worker Jared Ravich, one of the first designated eaters in Ben’s Biz Blog history, happened to be there as well. I one day hope I can be as cool as him.

After meeting with my designated eaters — this, of course, will be chronicled in the next post — I transitioned to a food-based endeavor of a different sort. Erik the Peanut Man, who sells peanuts in addition to being the onfield emcee, recruited me as his apprentice. He even had a hat, personalized apron and bow tie at the ready for me. Erik the Peanut Man is nothing is not prepared.

Erik, an employee of the Dust Devils since their 2001 inception, knows what he’s doing.

I didn’t, of course, but I did make one sale that seemed largely motivated by pity. My stint as a vendor also served as an inspiration for the evening’s Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke.

“Good job,” said Erik. “Good job.”

img_0389I then went from peanuts to the press box, spending an inning on the air with Dust Devils broadcaster Chris King.

Chris has a good view of the action, as broadcasters usually do.

img_2703At this point in the evening Jared was in the press box as well, equipped with a camera that can take 360 degree photos. I can’t embed the picture he took here on the blog, unfortunately, but check it out HERE. It’s fairly amazing.

The Dust Devils fell to Spokane, 2-0, and afterwards kids ran the bases with an enthusiasm that could not be quelled by the home team’s defeat. I then interviewed Erik for an MiLB.com story, and in so doing found a Dust Devils collector’s cup in the stands. Here ya go, #cupdate fiends:

img_2705Afterwards, in the deserted stadium, I reflected on (and my photos reflected off) a long-ago incarnation of Tri-Cities professional baseball. Cal Ripken, Sr., managed the 1965 Tri-City Atoms; this photo shows Cal and some of his players along with their young children. One of those young children is, of course, Cal Ripken, Jr.

img_2707En route to the parking lot, I saw a man in a Dust Devils uniform huddled in discussion with a few non-uniformed cohorts. It turned out to be Dust Devils coach Jonathan Meyer and members of the stadium ops crew, planning a Nerf gun ambush on the front office.

Only in Minor League Baseball, folks.

Earlier in the evening, Erik had told me that he as his Dust Devil cohorts aspire to make Gesa Stadium “the friendliest ballpark in the Minors.” That sounds like something any team would say, and, certainly most ballparks are friendly environments. But Gesa Stadium stood out to me from start to finish, in that nearly everyone I interacted with (fans and front office) exuded a genuine, easy-going warmth. Maybe I just happened to be there on a good night, but this sense of connectedness and camaraderie permeated the environment and went a long way toward my overall enjoyment of what, all things considered, is a fairly pedestrian ballpark. I had never been to Washington’s Tri-Cities before, and I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I left with the distinct impression that it’s a good region to live, work and, of course, watch baseball. Thumbs up to Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. Thumbs up to the Dust Devils.

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz

On the Road: Applying Sunblock in the Tri-Cities

To see all posts from my August 11 visit to the Tri-City Dust Devils, 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).

We’ve now reached the penultimate stop of my “Out West” road trip. I don’t know if I’ll pen the ultimate blog post about this location, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

That location? Gesa Stadium, home of the Tri-City Dust Devils.

img_0365

Gesa Stadium opened in 1995 as the home of the independent Tri-City Posse. The Posse spent six years in the facility, at which point the Northwest League Dust Devils moved in. The Dust Devils spent the first 14 seasons of their existence as a Colorado Rockies affiliate. 2016 marked the team’s second with the San Diego Padres.

Oh, and for the record: The three cities referenced in the Tri-City name are “Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.” Gesa Stadium is located in Pasco.

Upon entering the facility and walking approximately 40 paces, I turned around and looked back toward where I had just been. The light poles in the parking resembled a large family of malnourished diplodocuses. 

img_0368On this evening, the Dust Devils would be facing off against the Spokane Indians. In the press box, I met Indians announcers Bob Robertson (left) and Mike Doyle.

img_2667

Bob Robertson, 87, is a broadcasting legend whose experience calling Minor League games dates back to the 1949 Wenatchee Chiefs. He spent 46 seasons as the voice of Washington State Football, as well as many years with the Spokane Indians (the press box at Spokane’s Avista Stadium is named for him). Though Bob officially retired from that role after the 2010 season, he still calls games for the team on a part-time basis.

“It’s better than sitting at home watching bad television,” Bob told me. “I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this. At my age, I could be gone any minute. I don’t worry about it, but I’m aware of it….But if the Big Guy’s looking for me, he’s gonna have to hustle to find me.”

Mike is now the Indians lead announcer, but he told me “All of Bob’s number one guys are guys who used to be his number twos.”

In the press box I also met Scott Tylinski, the Dust Devils official scorer.

img_0372I mention Scott because he’s probably the only official scorer in Minor League Baseball who also happens to be a nuclear engineer. The Columbia Generating Station is located in the Tri-Cities area, generating approximately 10 percent of the energy in Washington State.

But enough about the people in the press box. How’s the view?

img_0370As you can see in the above photo, something anomalous was occurring on the field. A screen, adorned with team logos, had been set up in front of the pitcher’s mound. Someone appeared to be carrying a podium.

Curiosity piqued, I walked down to the field and was met by what, by Class A Short-Season standards, counts as a “media horde.”

img_0373

The reason this horde had assembled was because San Diego Padres president Mike Dee was in town to announce an extension of their affiliation agreement with the Dust Devils. It took all of my willpower not to yell Beastie Boys-related queries at Mike Dee. Did he have mad hits like he was Rod Carew? Did he have attractions like he was Elvis Costello? Was he straight-up nuts like his name was Mike Bazzini?

The players reacted to the affiliation news with indifference. They probably already knew, and who cared anyway? Next season they’d probably be in Fort Wayne, living like kings.

img_0375From the field, I had a good view of Gesa Stadium’s massive sunshade. The story of how this sunshade came to be, and what it means for the team, can be found HERE.

img_0377My sunshade story filled my “articles about inanimate objects” quota for the evening, but what about the people?

Well, here’s a person, and not just any person but Erik the Peanut Guy. Erik’s the onfield emcee and, yes, late-innings peanut guy. He was a big part of my night in the Tri-Cities, and I wrote a story about him HERE.

img_2678I also became acquainted with Dusty, who is named Dusty because he is comprised largely of dust. As we all are, our corporeal forms ephemeral.

img_2674I was holding a baseball in the above photo because, yes, I had been asked to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Another night, another ballpark, another perfect strike. See for yourself:

Shortly after I put on yet another pitching clinic, displaying proper mechanics to my legions of indifferent acquaintances, the evening’s ballgame began. And that is where the next post in this Dust Devils blog series will begin. With the beginning of a ballgame. As it should be.

***

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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About Last Night: Tri-City Dust Devils, August 11, 2016

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll write a quick blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, when I return home, I’ll provide the multifaceted blog coverage that you have come to know and perhaps even love. On Thursday night I visited Pasco, Washington, the penultimate stop on my sprawling 10-team California-Nevada-Idaho-Washington road trip.

August 11: Tri-City Dust Devils (Class A Short-Season affiliate of the San Diego Padres)

Opponent: Spokane Indians, 7:15 p.m.

Gesa Stadium, from the outside: 

IMG_0365Gesa Stadium, from within: 

IMG_0370Culinary Creation: The Grand Slam Burger (topped with barbecue pulled pork)

IMG_2685Ballpark Character: On-field emcee/late-innings peanut vendor Erik Mertens

IMG_2677At Random: I’m going to go ahead and declare this to be the biggest sunshade in Minor League Baseball.

IMG_0380Your Groundbreaking and Subversive Ballpark Joke of the Day: 

MiLB.com articles from this trip thus far: (Read ’em all!)

At the Helm in Sacramento

It’s Churros Time in San Jose

Marty is Doing Well in Visalia

Up Next: 

August 12: Spokane Indians (vs. Eugene, 6:30 p.m.)

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benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

instagram.com/thebensbiz