Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bowling Green Hot Rods 0 at Dayton Dragons 12 (Midwest League) - August 22, 2017

The Dayton Dragons have been one of minor league baseball's most successful franchises, selling out 1,188 consecutive games through 2016, which means every game played at Fifth Third Field. The stadium opened in 2000 when the Dragons moved from Rockford, and has a capacity of 7,230 seats. Average attendance exceeds 8,000 though, as the team sells lawn seats that seem to be unlimited. Sold out doesn't mean filled to the brim however, as many tickets are owned by season seat holders who aren't there for every game and there are empty seats around.

The ballpark is located on the northeast edge of downtown. Parking on the street is metered until 6 pm, perfect for a night game. If you do get there early, it is a penny a minute to park.

As we drove down from Fort Wayne, there was a bit of rain and the forecast was slightly worrisome, but by the time we arrived, it had cleared up and there were no concerns about a postponement. We bought the $17 seats (lawn seats are $9 but ushers check for sneaks) and sat near the top of Section 106 at first base. The entire seating section is protected by netting, so if you want a clear view, you will have to use the lawn.

The concourse is wide and has a good array of concession stands. Jumbo dogs are only $3.75 (as is a Cincinnati Coney) and there are excellent craft beers for $7 at Milano's. Pick up a free program before heading to your seat.

Before the game, I did a quick lap around the concourse. The scoreboard sits above left field and includes lineups, always appreciated by those who keep score.

There is a scary slide behind the batter's eye.

The view from centerfield with a few buildings in the background. The white building is still under construction it seems; there is a bar called Lock 27 that has yet to open but promises to be a good pre-game venue. Other spots just south of the ballpark include Southern Belle Tavern and Canal Street, whose sandwiches are definitely better than your typical ballpark fare.

There is an upper level here, rare for this level of baseball, and it is not reserved for the suites or club seats, so you can wander around here as well. There are two colours of seats here: maroon and green, though I never found out what the differentiating factor was.

Along the concourse are banners celebrating past Dragons who have gone on to the majors, including Canadian Joey Votto. I didn't notice much else here in terms of history or other displays, but I wasn't looking to hard, preferring to relax on this night rather than explore every nook and cranny.

Sharpy and I were sitting next to a friendly foursome who knew quite a bit about Canada. When I told them about the trip, she went and got a member of the Dragons staff who gave us free hats and first game certificates. A nice touch and thanks to the Dragons for the hospitality.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time here. Fifth Third Field is a big ballpark for this level, but it works very well and the fans are some of the best I've encountered. It seems as if the neighbourhood is beginning to develop around it, and as that happens, the ballpark will become even more of a destination. Dayton is a great little city with a lot of history (see below), and the Dragons are a good way to spend the evening after doing some touring.

The Game

Bowling Green (Tampa Bay) was in town to take on the Dragons (Cincinnati) and this one was over quick. Dayton scored 3 in the second, another 5 in the fifth, and 3 more in the sixth to keep the home fans happy. An insurance run in the 8th made the final 12-0.

The stars were Dragon starter Tony Santillan (2nd round, 2015, Reds #14 prospect) who yielded just a single through 5 innings, and reliever Alex Webb (a Surrey native drafted in the 9th round out of UBC in 2016), who got the save after throwing 4 frames, with a 9th inning double his only mistake. It was nice to cheer a home team win after that weekend at Wrigley.


The Reds must have a good scout in Canada, as there were two other Canucks on the roster in addition to Webb. Bruce Yari (24th, 2016, out of UBC and a Waterloo native, thus making him the first pro player to represent both my universities) and Malik Collymore from Mississauga (where I also lived as a kid), who was actually drafted by St. Louis in the 10th round in 2013 and spent a year in the Australian Baseball League.

Before heading to the game, we spent some time at the Aviation Heritage National Historic Park where the Wright Brothers spent their time developing their airplanes. Most people think of Kitty Hawk as the first flight, but the two men were from Dayton and actually the first motorized flight happened here, about 8 miles outside of town at Huffman Prairie Flying Field.

There is also a Wright Brothers Memorial (below) near the Huffman Prairie Interpretative Center. From here, you can see the field in the distance, though it is tough to get a good picture.

The Air Force Museum and Aviation Hall of Fame are also in Dayton, as is the Wright-Patterson AFB, so aviation geeks need to spend a couple of days here to see everything.

Next Up

The rest of the trip is going to be busy with two games today (Lake County and Toledo) and tomorrow (Detroit and Great Lakes) before I finish off the active minor league ballpark list with Lansing and West Michigan on Friday and Saturday. As always, updates will be posted here when I get around to it.



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