Sunday, August 28, 2022

Vanderbilt Commodores 63 at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 10 (NCAA Football, Week 0) - August 27, 2022

For reasons not germane to the story, I found myself visiting friends in Hawaii this week. They live on the Big Island, which has no major sports to speak of, but Oahu is home to the University of Hawaii and they had a football game on the season opening weekend. Southwest recently introduced $39 one-way inter-island flights, so I booked a round-trip ticket and off to Honolulu I went.

The Rainbow Warriors play out of Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, a temporary home on campus after Aloha Stadium was condemned last year. Opened in 2015, it currently has a capacity of 9,300, though this will increase to 17,000 next year. It is walkable from Waikiki, taking about 45 minutes; there are buses available as well. Nestled in between the other campus sports facilities, it is difficult to get a good exterior picture. The shot above is from just inside Gate 6.

Because the venue is used for other sports, there is a track that separates the sidelines from the field. On the visiting sideline (above, with the Vandy cheerleaders and Mr. Commodore), this is a typical oval track, while on the Hawaii side, there is also a straight track for shorter races, making the seats rather far from the action. As well, for this 4:30 local start, the sun was shining into this side for the first half, making them less than ideal seats for pasty white guys like me. 

Fans can walk down the home sideline and actually watch the game from here, although it is not recommended as your view is often blocked by the players and other event staff. The visiting sideline is not open to fans, for obvious reasons.

Stan Sheriff Center, the domed home of Hawaii basketball arena is just west of the complex; it is one of the 280 or so hoops venues that I still need to visit.

I picked up a seat in the southeast end zone, a temporary structure that consists of benches built right over the track. Sitting high up, I was the beneficiary of a breeze that kept things cool, though regular application of sunscreen was necessary. In the second half, I moved down and wandered around from spot to spot.

The highlight here is the variety of food, most of it local and all served from food trucks. Like much of Hawaii, the menu is somewhat overpriced, but there are some unusual options such as street corn, butter mochi, vaifala drinks, and that Hawaiian staple, poutine. Yes, there was one (presumably Canadian) guy proffering poutine; I did not try it, preferring to eat afterwards at a local establishment. Many of the trucks had long lines before the game and at halftime, so if you do want to get something, come a bit earlier or watch from the sidelines and wait for the crowd to dissipate after kickoff.

It will be interesting to see how the venue handles the increased capacity next year, as it was quite crowded with the game sold out. The venue has a small footprint and I would expect some major changes if they expect to handle 17,000 fans. 

The Game

Vanderbilt, the worst team in the SEC over the past couple of seasons, was a 9-point favourite for this nationally broadcast battle, which was the head coaching debut of Timmy Chang, who was Hawaii's quarterback 20 years ago. The Warriors were pumped before the game as they assembled in the end zone, and they turned this energy into a touchdown on the first possession, an 8-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with Dedrick Parson rumbling 37 yards to the end zone. Was an upset brewing? 

Umm, not quite. Vandy tied it late in the quarter when Mike Wright tossed a 1-yard pass to Will Sheppard and then on Hawaii's first play of the ensuing possession, Parson fumbled and Anfernee Orji returned it for a touchdown. The Warriors kicked a field goal but the Commodores replied with a touchdown when Wright (running with the ball below) crossed the line from a yard out to make it 21-10 at the break.

Vanderbilt started the second half with Re'Mahn Davis running for 39 yards before being horse collared to add another 15 yards to the gain. After an 11-yard run, Rocko Griffin scampered the final 10 to complete the three-play drive in just 56 seconds. The Warriors gave up the ball on downs and Vanderbilt scored in just 1:49, with Davis doing the honours from 12 yards out. Then Parson fumbled again and the ball fell into the hands of CJ Taylor, who had an easy 14-yard run for Vanderbilt's second scoop and score to make it 42-10 and end any doubt. After Hawaii failed another fourth down attempt at the Commodore 13, Wright ran the first play for 87 yards, a remarkable display of speed as he pulled away from the Warrior defenders. Vandy added two more touchdowns to complete the annihilation 63-10.

There was a brief rain that drove most fans away midway through the fourth quarter, but I stayed just to take a picture of the final score. There was a sizable contingent of Vanderbilt fans that were very glad they made the trip too and I have to say that if you are a college football fan, a trip to Hawaii is a must if your team is lucky enough to be the visitors.


This was my second event in Hawaii; back in 2006 I saw the baseball Rainbows play San Diego State (managed by the late Tony Gwynn) at Les Murakami Stadium. And like I said, I plan to return for basketball.

Each of the school's athletic teams was allowed to pick its own team nickname back in 2000: football, men's volleyball, golf, and tennis became the Warriors; men's basketball and swimming & diving remained Rainbow Warriors; baseball team became the Rainbows. In 2013, the nicknames of the men's sports teams were once again standardized, and all male teams at the university are now referred to as the Rainbow Warriors. The women's teams are known as the Rainbow Wahine, as Wahine is Hawaiian for woman.



Saturday, August 20, 2022

Boxscore Bizarreness

I attended the Blue Jays 9-2 win over the Yankees on Thursday night and afterwards, was perusing the boxscore. I noticed that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 1-5 with 3 runs and 3 RBIs. A three-run homer got him his RBIs, while he reached base twice on a fielder's choice, scoring both times. When I was younger, in the days before the internet, I would study boxscores on a daily basis, and that 5-3-1-3 boxline seemed unusual to me. I decided to check out how often it had occurred in MLB history, using Baseball Reference's Stathead tool. I was surprised to see that Guerrero was only the 11th player to achieve this specific combination. The first was Dots Miller in 1911 for Pittsburgh against Philadelphia; ten years later Rabbit Maranville did it, again for the Pirates against the Phillies. The most recent to do so before Guerrero Jr. was Andrew Benintendi, now a Yankee, who recorded this rarity four years ago as a member of the Red Sox. Between 1937 and 1999, it happened only twice: Al Dark in 1953 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1970. But what really caught my eye is that in the other 10 games that it happened, the player's team scored at least 10 runs. So by plating just 9 runs, the Blue Jays and Guerrero made baseball history, a fact I tweeted about and nobody noticed.

OK, I realize that these bizarre boxscore bulletins may not be for everyone, but I find them fascinating. And with a year's subscription to Stathead, I'm going to get my money's worth. So read on if you enjoy the truly trivial.

First, a note. The vast majority of boxlines feature 5 or less at-bats and that is what I am going to focus on. An 8-1-0-1 boxline is obviously rare (happened once if you care: Yankee Paddy Baumann on July 10, 1917 in a 17-inning game). I'm looking for things that are unusual in a normal game and here are a few I found.


The Moses Malone boxline, kind of. This has happened 31 times, but none have come since Brennan Boesch did so at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2011. Of those 31, 30 played for the winning team, with Mo Vaughn the outlier as his Mets lost 11-8 at Montreal on September 13, 2002. Lyman Bostock achieved this boxline while hitting for the cycle as a Twin just 20 days after the bicentennial; two years later he was murdered while visiting an uncle in Gary, Indiana after playing a day game at Comiskey Park. 

None of these players hit four homers on the day, but four of them hit three, including Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Yaz, who did so just two months before Bostock. George Hendrick, the first overall pick in 1968, also did this with Cleveland in 1973 but he did not make the Hall of Fame.


The next logical step is to find players who went 5-for-5 while scoring 5 times and driving in 5. Of course, it has happened 5 times, the first in 1921 when Earl Sheely managed it for the White Sox in a 20-15 win over Detroit. It then happened twice in 1930 (Bibb Falk, who did it without even homering, and Al Simmons) and twice again in 1977 (Larry Parrish and Steve Garvey), with St. Louis the opposition both times. By this measure, it should happen twice in 2024. And although 6-6-6-6 has never happened, 6-6-6-7 (Shawn Green's four-homer game in 2002) and 6-6-6-5 (Edgar Alfonzo in 1999) have happened once each.


It is not unusual to have more runs than at-bats for a player in a game, and even less unusual to have more RBIs than at-bats. But to have both is somewhat uncommon, as shown by the fact that going 3-for-3 with 4 runs and 4 RBIs has only happened 21 times in the regular season. Bill Dahlen did it in 1904 in just 7 innings; Frank Schulte followed in 1911 and is still the only one to do so without the benefit of a home run, accomplishing it in 1911 with the Cubs. It happened 11 times until 1954, and then only once over the next 36 seasons, (Jerry Turner in 1976) before it reappeared on back-to-back days early in the 1991 campaign, when Kevin Mitchell and Felix Jose did so. It has happened 10 more times since then, most recently in 2018 when Phil Ervin of the Reds entered the club. It also happened twice in the postseason: Babe Ruth in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series (that's the one the Yankees lost in Game 7 when Ruth was caught stealing for the final out); then A.J. Pierzynski did it in the opening game of the 2005 ALDS. 

As for 4-5-4-5, it happened exactly once: Lou Gehrig 1928 on the strength of two triples and two home runs.


The countdown boxline (4-3-2-1 is way too common to be included here). I guess you could add a walk to make it 5-4-3-2-1, as these days, boxscores often include walks and strikeouts, but I am too much of a purist to do so, preferring a boxline to have four numbers and no more. Anyway, this has happened 77 times in the regular season, starting with Ed Delahanty in 1901. Delahanty died two years later, after falling into the Niagara River and being swept over the Falls; he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945. 

After Delahanty, there were two more in 1901, then it took 11 years before Home Run Baker did it in 1912, and then another nine year hiatus, followed by 19 occurrences over the following 16 seasons. It didn't happen at all between 1966 and 1979, but has really picked up lately, with 14 since 2010, including Luis Arraez this year. Of those 77 players, 3 were on the losing team. Interestingly, the only postseason occurrence was in a losing effort when Dustin Pedroia's Red Sox fell to Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the 2008 ALCS.

Enough is Enough

Of course, there is much more you can look up using Stathead, such as most runs without a hit (5, happened twice with the most recent being Joe Morgan in 1976) and most RBIs without a hit (4, Ben Petrick in 2000 with two RBI groundouts, a sac fly, and a bases-loaded walk). But I am going to end it here.

There are two things I particularly enjoy about studying the search results: the random distribution of timing, i.e. there will be clusters of the event over a few years and then it doesn't happen for two decades; and the collection of players - some Hall of Famers, some solid stars, and a few guys that I never heard of. Next time you attend a game, look at the boxscore for anything unusual, you never know, you might have seen baseball history.



Thursday, August 11, 2022

Roadside Rarities

Over the past two weeks, we drove 2,115 miles, the majority of which was on US, state, and county highways, with perhaps just 10% on interstates. This enabled us to see a number of roadside attractions that actually attract few people. Living in New York, it is always nice to get away from crowds and these back roads allow you to do just that; there are times you can drive ten miles without seeing another car. Here are a few of the oddities we stopped at along the way.

Lewis & Clark Visitor Center

We started in Omaha, where you can find the Lewis & Clark Visitor Center less than a mile away from Charles Schwab Field, home of the College World Series. This the National Park Service (NPS) headquarters for the Lewis & Clark Trail, and it contains artifacts from the expedition, including taxidermied animals that are over 200 years old. Just next to it is the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which spans the Missouri and takes you into Iowa. The state line is marked on the bridge, so you can stand simultaneously in both states, as my daughter demonstrates below. There is even a playground at the Iowa end to make the crossing worthwhile for your little ones.

World's Largest Popcorn Ball

The key to finding these offbeat attractions is to plan a route that avoids interstate highways. We drove from Omaha to St. Paul over two days, and Google Maps suggests I-80 and I-35. That 380-mile drive takes about 5.5 hours, and is about as dull as they come. Instead, we plied the back roads through corn farms that added a bit of time to the journey but took us through places such as Sac City, where you can find the World's Largest Popcorn Ball, a relatively new addition to the roadside attraction list as it was created in 2016. Next to it is a museum and historic village that has some old buildings and period relics from a century ago.

Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption

From Sac City to West Bend is just 66 miles through corn country, but it is well worth the drive. Depending on the route you choose, you may even go through Pocahontas. Anyway, West Bend's most famous attraction is the Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption, a religious shrine that is truly an incredible work of art. There are nine grottos in all, telling the story of the life of Jesus, each constructed from rocks, shells, fossils and minerals. There is also a museum and a playground. And a church, naturally. The picture below doesn't capture the magnitude of the structure; read the official page for more details and photographs.

Green Giant

On our way to St. Paul, we drove through Blue Earth, Minnesota and stopped at the Jolly Green Giant Museum and Statue. The museum has a collection of advertisements and merchandise through the years, along with artifacts from the canning factory. The statue was created to commemorate the completion of I-90, when the east and west parts met here back in 1978. There are two Golden Stripes (reminiscent of the Golden Spike) along I-90 near rest areas that can also be viewed.

After that, we attended the Blue Earth County Fair where my daughter entered an ice cream eating contest. Joy is being told to eat all the ice cream you want when you are 4. Of course, she only ate a few spoonfuls, so Mommy and Daddy got their share too. 

World's Largest Crow

Belgrade, Minnesota, had a centennial in 1988 and needed something to commemorate it. With Crow Lake nearby, why not the World's Largest Crow? Why not indeed. There is much more here, including all 50 state flags plus national flags from the countries that provided much of the immigration to the area over a century ago, and picnic tables. Underneath the crow is a tiny museum that explains how this came about. 

Corn Palace

The town of Mitchell, South Dakota is known for one thing: its Corn Palace. Yes, all of those murals are made from cobs of corn, and there are more inside. Even better, the building serves as a basketball court and games are held here regularly. I don't think any college teams play here, but at some point, I would love to see a game inside.

Mitchell has one other fascinating attraction at the Prehistoric Indian Village, which includes the world's only Archeodome (a domed building over a working archeological site) and has a sand pit where kids can dig for arrowheads.

Badlands National Park

This is certainly not off the beaten path, but still not as busy as other national parks like Yellowstone. Just a few miles south of Wall (home of Wall Drug) along SD-240, it costs $30 to enter for each vehicle, or you can buy the annual National Parks pass for just $80. Stunning geography here as you drive the loop road, with many pullouts where you can get out of your car and walk around. There are longer trails as well, but with temperatures reaching 108F, hotter than our daughter has ever experienced, we did not take them. 

Afterwards, we took I-90 for what should have been a short drive to Kennebec, where we were staying for the night, but a massive storm passed through and we had to pull over as visibility was no more than a few feet. It was extremely windy and after the storm passed and we started driving again, we saw several big rigs and trailers that had blown over. On the bright side, we caught a rare double rainbow in Kennebec.

Fort Randall Dam

The Missouri River has 15 mainstem dams along its 2,341 miles, which help control the flow of the water and provide electricity and irrigation. One of those is the Fort Randall Dam, located near Pickstown, South Dakota. The resultant lake is used as a recreation area, and there is a visitor center here that has quite a bit of useful information, as well as a playground. 

The dam is named for nearby Fort Randall, which was a military post from 1856-92. Sitting Bull was held here for a couple of years. All that remains is a chapel (in the distance below), a sundial, and some ghosts. There is a path through the old fort with interpretative signage that gives quite a bit of detail and this place is worth stopping by for 30 minutes if you are in the area.

Drive-thru Phone

In Lake Andes, SD, just outside a small restaurant where we got more chislic, I saw an unusual sight: a drive-thru phone booth. From what I understand, traveling salesmen back in the day needed these to make quick calls on their rounds. I don't know how many are left, but they are pretty much obsolete these days and I was glad to see one before they are all gone.

We saw many more things on the trip, each unique and offbeat in its own way. We also avoided fast food restaurants and found plenty of local diners and eateries that are cheaper and much better. With Google Maps and Roadside America, it is easy to discover dozens of attractions for your next trip. Stay off the highways and see the country, you will enjoy yourself much more!



Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Kansas City Monarchs 4 at Sioux City Explorers 8 (American Association) - August 8, 2022

After watching the Sioux Falls Canaries on Wednesday, I took my family on a trip through South Dakota, avoiding sports for the better part of a week. We spent a few nights near Yankton, in a serene setting next to the Missouri River, and just over an hour away from Sioux City, Iowa, where I would attend the final game of the trip. The Explorers had a rare Monday tilt that fit perfectly with our schedule and so I made the short trip alone, arriving about an hour before first pitch. Parking is free in the lot, and you might want to leave your car as far away as possible because windshield damage is a distinct possibility.

The Explorers, often referred to as The X's as you can see above, play out of Mercy Field at Lewis & Clark Park. The name is a combination of corporate sponsorship (Mercy Medical Center, whose funding helped with recent renovations) and local history. The Lewis and Clark expedition came through Sioux City back in 1804 and Sergeant Charles Floyd passed away near here; there is a monument in his honour just a short drive away. Of course, the Explorers nickname is also connected to the expedition.

The stadium opened in 1993 to house the newly created franchise and is the first built specifically for independent baseball. Capacity is just 3,630, second least in the American Association, ahead of only expansion Lake Country's 3,600-seat Wisconsin Brewing Company Park, which I hope to visit next year. Tickets start at $10 for general admission, which was all you needed on this night.

There is not a lot here, with standings and starting lineups posted along with the league leaders in a variety of statistical categories.

There is a small tribute to Dave Bancroft, who was born in Sioux City in 1891 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971, a year before he passed away.

As you can see above, Monday night baseball was not a huge draw, and there was only one concession open. Fortunately, it had chislic available. "What is chislic?" you might ask if you are not from the area. A few days before, we stopped in Kennebec and ordered this South Dakota specialty at the Prairie Dust Bar. It is generally cubed meat (steak, lamb, venison) sprinkled with a variety of spices that includes seasoned salt, and then deep-fried. It is similar to saikoro steak in Japan, and equally delicious. Despite being the most expensive item on the menu at $12, it was a no-brainer to order it and it was great. If you want a simple recipe, try this one; I cooked it using dashi salt and lime juice soon after we got back to New York and it was superb.

The concession also has a special called "Eat Our Opponent", where a food representing the opposing team is offered. With the Kansas City Monarchs visiting, it had to be BBQ, and sure enough, it was a KC BBQ taco that was offered for $9. I wouldn't want to go when the Sioux Falls Canaries are in town. 

Inside the seating bowl, there are two levels separated by a walkway, with perfect symmetry from what I can tell. It also has the most typical ballpark dimensions: 330 feet down both lines and 400 to center.

There are benches down both lines, though no real need to sit there on a night with just 1,190 on hand. But if you wanted a foul ball, these seats were your best bet.

The ballpark is situated in an industrial area and US-75 runs just beyond the outfield fence, providing a distraction during the inning breaks if you like counting trucks.

Overall, Lewis & Clark Park is as simple as they come and quite the change from the newer parks sprouting up across the country. If you want a quiet night at the ballpark, go to Sioux City and relax. Just don't forget the chislic.

The Game

As mentioned, the Kansas City Monarchs were visiting. Before the 2021 season, the T-Bones renamed themselves in honour of the Negro League team as part of a partnership with the Negro Leagues Museum, and they immediately won the championship. They are no slouches this year either, lying second in the west, about 12 games in front of the Explorers. But it was the home team who came out flying off KC starter Lewis Thorpe (warming up below), scoring a pair in the first, adding one in the second on a homer from Chase Harris, and then plating two more in the third.

The Monarchs got on the board in the fourth when Casey Gillaspie and Gio Brusa (who was traded from Lake Country two days before) hit back-to-back jacks, and they got within one an inning later. They would have tied it up, but Gillaspie was thrown out at home on a Brusa single. Thorpe remained in the game in the fifth and gave up two doubles and a single that put Sioux City up 7-4. The X's added an unearned run in the sixth and that was it as they upset KC 8-4.

The scoreboard amusingly had the words Camera Shy for any player whose photo was not available. Given the player movement in these independent leagues, there were a few of these.


The Monarchs had recently signed Mallex Smith, who led the majors in stolen bases in 2019, and he made his fourth appearance for the team. He was also the beer batter; if he struck out, all beers were a $1 for the rest of the half-inning. In his first four plate appearances, he grounded out, singled, lined out and walked. Once last call had passed, he struck out. Thanks for nothing Mallex! 

There is also a promotion where bottles of soda are a buck for a half-inning if a selected Explorer batter gets a hit; on this night it was Danry Vazquez and he singled in the first inning. Rather than wait to see if Mallex would strike out in his next at-bat, I raced down to get my cheap Pepsi, beating the crowd, which soon overwhelmed the poor concession staff.

Kansas City also has Matt Adams, who was my Player to Watch back in 2010 when I saw him at Quad Cities. I found it fascinating that I saw him on the way up and on the way down, both times in Iowa. He was a member of the Nationals when they won it all in 2019. Unfortunately, Adams was ejected after arguing a called third strike in his second plate appearance.

This was my final independent league game of the season and the 35th of the 46 MLB Partner League ballparks for me to visit. Hagerstown will join the Atlantic League in 2024 (a year later than planned), so I have 12 left (3 each in the American Association and Atlantic, 4 in the Frontier, and 2 in the Pioneer). I'll try to see 8 more next season, though these leagues are rife with franchise movement, so who knows what will happen.



Thursday, August 4, 2022

Winnipeg Goldeyes 7 at Sioux Falls Canaries 2 (American Association) - August 3, 2022

After witnessing a four-hour marathon in Fargo, I drove my family south to Sioux Falls, sticking to the back roads and stopping at Wahpper, the World's Biggest Catfish (below, in Wahpeton, ND) and Pipestone National Monument on the way. This was a conscious decision to avoid interstate highways and visit roadside attractions and National Park sites as much as possible. We did quite a bit of this and I will post separately on the topic later.

We also did not book hotels in advance so as to not have to rush from place to place. Even if we didn't get to Sioux Falls on Wednesday, there was a Thursday afternoon game. In the end, however, we arrived in Sioux Falls around 5 p.m. and were able to use points to book a room at the Sheraton, which happens to be right next to Sioux Falls Stadium, home of the Canaries of the American Association. So after checking in and grabbing a beer at the hotel bar, I walked over to the Birdcage to watch my first baseball game in South Dakota. 

After the late game the night before, my daughter was not allowed to join me for this one, so I picked up a single ticket for $12, much cheaper than Diamond Club seats behind the plate which are $31. Before entering, I took a picture of the stadium structure from outside, which is quite unusual in that you can see the seating bowl through the opening. Not sure I would park my car there either, but on this night, I didn't have to worry.

Inside, you get a better idea of how the concourse separates the outer structure and the seating bowl.  There is one large concession stand serving a good variety of food, as well as a taco stand that is partially visible in the photo below. There are other concessions, but they were closed on this night that saw just 1,326 through the doors.

There was an interesting promotion called "Anything But a Cup", where fans could bring any item from which to drink, as long as it wasn't a cup. Not having brought anything, I thought I couldn't participate, but turns out they were selling helmets that hold 16 ounces of liquid. In a happy coincidence (or a brilliant marketing strategy), beer cans hold 16 ounces and the server poured beautifully, as you can see.

The stadium was opened in 1964, extensively renovated in 2000 and received new artificial turf for this season. With a capacity of 4,462, it ranks 8th in the 12-team circuit, just behind Fargo (4,513) and Lincoln (4,500), the two other ballparks I had visited so far on this trip. The Canaries rank second-last in attendance this season, averaging just 1,247 fans per game, about 200 more than the Sioux City Explorers, who would be my last stop.

Despite the relatively small footprint, there are a few things worth noting at the Birdcage. In case you forget which state you are in, there is a painting of South Dakota with a number of state symbols. Mount Rushmore is on the other side of the state, about 5.5 hours away along Interstate 90.

There is also another instance of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame and one of the inductees honoured here is Gary Hughes, who worked with several organizations including the Expos. He was responsible for discovering Marquis Grissom, Cliff Floyd, and Delino DeShields among many others. He passed away in 2020 and his ESPN obituary is worth reading.

The team also has four retired numbers on the fence, with the most notable being Pat Mahomes, whose claim to fame is now being the father of some quarterback who won something big a couple of years ago.

The starting lineups are available, though I don't recall seeing the standings or league stats. With Sioux Falls in last place in the West Division, this may be intentional.

Inside the seating bowl, there is a walkway that separates the two levels of seating. Most of the seats are chairbacks, but there are some general admission benches as well.

Looking at the photos above and below, you can see how the stadium is asymmetrical, with suites along the first base line, while there is nothing above the third base seats. As well, the seats past first base take up quite a chunk of the expansive foul territory, while those past third base do not.

Instead, it is a berm that juts out into foul territory there; this is a prime foul ball area that is populated by youngsters who have to be perpetually reminded by a patient usher to sit down behind the netting, lest a wicked line drive take off their heads. The view from the berm is below; I just spent half an inning here but appreciated the different angle it gives.

The fence also has some unusual characteristics, as you can see below, along with my shadow below the Canadian flag. Dimensions here are 313 down the left field line, 410 to center, and 312 to right.

Looking back over right field, you can see the entire stadium structure. I really like this view as it shows all the different seating areas; it is quite the hodgepodge but it works really well.

The mascot is Cagey (that is his name, he is not necessarily secretive), an anthropomorphic canary who looks ready to rumble in the photo below. 

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the ballpark is the strikeout counter. Whenever an opposing batter fans, a gentleman in the press box affixes a K to a rail above the seating bowl and slides it down. I happened to be sitting just next to it and was completely oblivious until a Winnipeg whiff, at which time the first K rattled down the rail, to my great surprise and delight. Below you can see strikeout number 5 on the way down; the blank tile is for a strikeout looking.

Finally, the view from the top row behind the plate; you can really see how large the foul territory is, even with those seats and the berm angling in past the bases.

Overall, I had a great time at Sioux Falls Stadium, helped by the fact that my hotel was about 100 feet away so I could enjoy those helmet beers. And in a rare case, I had to root for the visitors, though quietly so as to avoid retribution from Casey.

The Game

Why was I cheering for the opposition? The Winnipeg Goldeyes, the only Canadian entrant in the league, were the visitors. This meant that I got to hear O Canada! in South Dakota, which brought a tear to my eye. The gentleman performing then whipped through The Star Spangled Banner in what had to be the fastest rendition I have ever heard.  Anyway, the Canaries were sporting their bright yellow "Birds" jerseys, as you can see on starter Joey Pulido below. Winnipeg went with Luis Ramirez, who last pitched with Hartford in 2017 and seems to have been out of baseball until he resurfaced with the Goldeyes this season.  

The first two innings were scoreless, but Hidekel Gonzalez led off the Winnipeg third with a homer to get things going. The Canaries got that back in the bottom half when Jabari Henry, in his fifth season with Sioux Falls, knocked home Zane Gurwitz, and they took the lead in the fourth when Henry doubled home Kona Quiggle, who I had seen at Grand Canyon three years before. But Pulido fell apart in the fifth, when a leadoff walk was followed by four straight singles and a fielder's choice that resulted in four runs and an early exit for Pulido. Max Murphy added a 2-run homer for Winnipeg in the 7th and that made the final 7-2 for the Goldeyes, as you can see below.

Oh no, you can't see the final score because the scoreboard operator turned off the score the millisecond the game ended. Aaaarrrgggghhhh. Well, you can see the clock that proves I stayed until the end. Ramirez got the win despite giving up 11 hits in 6.1 innings and picked up his league-leading 9th victory of the campaign.


There was another interesting promotion since Winnipeg was in town: Dead or Canadian. The contestant was given a celebrity name and had to guess if that person was dead or Canadian. It was a bit unfair when Alan Thicke was mentioned.

This was my 340th baseball diamond at which to see a game and 930th venue overall. Which means that 36.6% of my venues are baseball diamonds. How's that for a meaningless statistic?