Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fort Wayne TinCaps 11 at Lansing Lugnuts 3 (Midwest League) - August 25, 2017

The penultimate stop on my quest for minor league ballpark glory was Lansing, Michigan's capital city. Home of the Lugnuts, Toronto's Class-A affiliate, Lansing offers several tourist attractions that allow for a full day to be spent there. Just a few blocks away from the ballpark is the Capitol building, where you can take a guided tour and learn a bit about the history of the state.

Between the Capitol and the stadium is the Lansing Center, which hosts the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame. Among its many inductees are Magic Johnson and the Miller brothers of NHL fame. There is also a LeBron James jersey on display, though if you look closer, you will see it belongs to Carl Thomas, who wore #23 for the Cavs in 1997.

The Olds Transportation Museum is just a block south along the Grand River, though we did not go, instead having lunch at the Lansing Brewing Company, which is located right behind the ballpark. You can leave your car at their parking lot as long as you stop in for a beer or two before going to the game. Their sampler comes highly recommended, with 5 beers costing $8.

Once you have enjoyed your pregame meal, walk along Cedar Street to the front of the stadium. Opened in 1996 as Oldsmobile Park, the naming rights were bought by Cooley Law School in 2010. The field is sponsored separately by an insurance firm, so the full name of the venue is Jackson Field at Thomas M. Cooley Law School Stadium. It is also used by the Michigan State baseball team.

Ticket prices here are reasonable, with the first few rows of box seats costing $15, while the rest of the boxes are $12. There are bleachers down the first base line (above) for $11 and lawn seats are $9. Netting only extends to the near edge of the dugouts. Once again, Fort Wayne were the visitors and their broadcaster John Nolan provided tickets for us, for which we are most appreciative.

The concourse is covered by the suites between the bases and offers a full view of the field while you are buying your food. Concessions were typical, with the Blue Olive along first base offering Greek fare the most unusual option.

You can walk around the entire stadium, and it is recommended that you do so. The outfield contains a series of plaques that comprise the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame, which was founded in 2015 and has only 14 inductees so far, including John Smoltz.

The full stadium structure as seen from centerfield is below:

Note the view from right field, specifically the sharp angle between the outfield and benches. The ballpark is built on a narrow footprint between Cedar and Larch Streets, so the distance down both lines is only 305 feet.

In order to make home runs a bit more difficult, the fences along both lines are higher than the rest of the outfield. Also note the lofts behind the ballpark, which seem to have been just completed and looking for renters. It would be a lot of fun to spend a season living here, with everything you need (baseball and beer that is) within a 2-minute walk.

Completing the tour, I came across the starting lineup, but only for the Lugnuts, which isn't that helpful for those keeping score in the traditional sense, that is, for both teams.

The mascot here is the Big Lug, a dinosaur with lugnuts coming out of his nose and a couple of fangs. He can be seen roaming the concourse or dancing on the dugout throughout the game.

The final shadow selfie of the trip, with Duncan and Sharpy waving goodbye. Note: I have been corrected and told that they are doing the Funky Feather from Great Lakes.

Overall, I was happy to have finally added this venue to my list. Ever since Toronto had taken over the affiliation in 2005, I had wanted to visit here, but it took me over a decade to finally find time to do so. With the downtown location, several tourist attractions nearby, and the brewery next door, Cooley Law School Stadium is one of my favourite minor league ballparks and one that I hope to get back to sometime.

The Game

Fort Wayne (San Diego) sent Michel Baez, a 6'8 Cuban who signed this year and is already the Padres #7 prospect. Lansing (Toronto) had Andy Ravel (7th, 2016, above) on the hill, and he should have been called Unravel because that is what happened to the Lugnuts as Fort Wayne batted around in the 2nd, scoring six times. With Baez shutting down the Lansing offense, those six runs were more than enough, but the TinCaps added a pair in the third and three more in the fifth to really make it ugly. David Jacob (32nd, 2016) managed a 2-run shot for Lansing to spoil Baez's shutout in the fourth, and a ninth inning triple by Yeltsin Gudino (named for Boris?) led to another Lugnut run, but it was all too little, too late as Fort Wayne frolicked to an 11-3 win.

The Blue Jays and Lugnuts combined to go 0-5 on this trip. Ugh.


There were a number of classic cars out front of the stadium before the game, part of Oldsmobile Heritage Night. Some beautifully restored autos here and a great advertisement for the museum, which I'll have to visit next time.



1 comment:

  1. Waving goodbye? No sir! We're doing the Funky Feather!