Hammons Field, Springfield, MISSOURI
Number of states: 26
States to go: 24
Number of games: 1
First game: April 3, 2008 (Frisco RoughRiders 6, Springfield Cardinals 5)
(Click on any image to see a larger version.)
I’d never been to the Ozarks before when I arrived for the 2008 Spring Break Trip.
First of all, as you can probably tell, the place is physically quite lovely. It’s faced in the wrong direction–downtown is behind home
But in the end, there were too many problems to be ignored. Most jarringly, where were all the fans? Forecasts were grim–I’m surprised that they got the game in, actually–but the rain did hold off, and it was Opening Night, for goodness sake. Second, when it did rain (for about two minutes in the third inning), a good chunk of people took off, and many others put up umbrellas. It’s rude to put up umbrellas (there are people behind you, dammit), and
Second, we were pretty well astonished by the prices for double-A ball. (Indeed, these prices might explain why so few people had shown up.) Tickets were nearly twice as expensive as comparable ones cost us the following night in Little Rock, and
Third, the place just didn’t celebrate baseball enough. In the obligatory place-where-kids-can-run-around-and-burn-off-steam section, there was a basketball hoop and a pop-a-shot. Nothing baseball related! To be fair, when I think of basketball, I do think of Springfield. The bad news is, I think of Springfield, Massachusetts. I’m not sure why Hammons Field doesn’t have any baseball-related fun for the kids, but they don’t and it felt weird.
Finally, there was the strangeness of Team Louie. A group of four nubile young women wore windbreakers that said “Team Louie” on the back. I figured they’d be Louie the Mascot’s handlers, running around reveals that “a brief choreographed dance” is part of the tryout for team Louie. So, alas, the women were glorified cheerleaders. I don’t want my baseball teams to have cheerleaders. They take away from the baseball.
There are certainly a few positives to the place. The Cardinals have obviously succeeded in capturing the fans of this part of the state from the Royals–at least judging by the immense majority of spectators wearing red on this night. There is a good, long walk that one can take almost all the way around the stadium–way out beyond the scoreboard and onto a grassy hill invisible
So, on the whole, it was a night at the ballpark, and it’s almost impossible for that night to be a bad one. But when all was said and done, this gorgeous place left me wanting a little more. Springfield is a little bit out of the way, so I don’t see myself returning any time soon, but I do hope they make Hammons Field into a baseball experience more worthy of the physical beauty of the ballpark.
Regional feel: 7/10
Budweiser, prairie, and Cardinal red. The ballpark does fine here, although I’d like to see more about southwestern Missouri and less about St. Louis.
Too corporate and expensive to be truly charming.
OK for double-A level–nothing interfered–but what’s up with Team Louie?
Team mascot/name: 3.5/5
Louie on top, and Fetch, Louie’s pet dog, on the bottom. I’m fine with Louie, but Fetch is a pretty transparent promotion aimed at the pre-potty-trained crowd.
Not bad, but the view is a little dull.
Pavilion area: 4/5
Would have been a five were it not for the basketball.
I appreciate how carefully they put up decisions.
Not enough of them.
I’m totally ambivalent about this place, which, while pretty, left me feeling kind of flat.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
Matt Harrison–who the Rangers got in the offseason Mark Teixeira trade–pitches very well, striking out six in 5 2/3 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball for Frisco.
Chris Davis has three hits for Frisco. Diminutive Shane Robinson collects three for Springfield.
(Written April 2008.)