Spring Mobile Ballpark/Smith’s Ballpark, Salt Lake City, UTAH
Number of states: 31
States to go: 19
Number of games: 1
First game: July 4, 2010 (Tacoma Rainiers 10, Salt Lake Bees 4)
Most recent games: July 16, 2019 (Salt Lake Bees 12-6, Sacramento River Cats 5-8, doubleheader)
(Known as Spring Mobile Ballpark for my first visit, Smith’s Ballpark for my second.)
(Click on any image to see a larger version.)
2010 brought about perhaps the most ambitious 4th of July Minor League Baseball Road Trip in Hamann family history. The first couple of years brought us the nearest
The ballpark’s location is as excellent as you’d want any ballpark to be. Since Salt Lake City has the fortune of being west of the mountains, unlike its unfortunate PCL cousin in Colorado Springs, there are gorgeous Rocky Mountain panoramas
My family was among those lining up early, since for the first time in my ballpark travels, I had secured general admission seats for a game. We didn’t know we would be doing this trip until all other seats for the big fireworks game had sold out, so we grabbed our baseball picnic blanket, a
I knew that there would be a pretty big rush for the best spots in general admission, so we got to the ballpark early. Michelle put Steven on our monkey leash, which was admired by our line-mates. In fact, as she let him burn off steam on his leash, one octogenarian woman approached Michelle and complimented her on the choice to use the leash. She used to get a lot of lip from strangers back in the day, she said, so she was happy to see someone using it. (This was an especially refreshing compliment after a batty old bag said something shitty to us about the leash the previous day at the Boise Zoo.) Anyway, all was right with the world: we were at the front of the line, and I knew where I wanted to sit on the
But then something went wrong. About ten minutes before the gates opened, an usher came by to zap everyone’s tickets. Ours were invalid. Huh? I think they sent us multiple copies of the tickets and I printed out the wrong one. I was a little annoyed when she told us to go to the main ticket office to get everything straightened out, since we’d lose our choice spot in line that I planned ahead for. My wife–usually the one who gets upset at customer service–told me to chill out, that I could come back tomorrow if we got a lousy seat. So I said goodbye to my wonderful line spot and went to the ticket booth, who worked out the problem. We then got back to the back of the line.
Here’s where I became a big fan of the fine people of Utah.
While I was in the back of the line cursing my luck just a minute or two before the gates opened, incredibly, a woman came back to us from the front of the line and told us that nobody would mind if we went back to our previous spot.
Thanks, Utah. I deeply appreciate your generous spirit…and actively seeking us out to bring us to the spot I wanted.
We immediately zipped to exactly the spot I wanted…about halfway up the berm, about thirty feet off the foul pole. I figured that people would eventually edge in front of us, and they did…but from their spot, they had to peer through the fence. Had we been up higher, we would have had to deal with many, many people walking around, in, and out in front of us. Here, we almost never did. People mostly honored (though not always, as the photo shows) the edict to stay back from the wall, so the view wasn’t actually all that bad.
Which led me to another realization. I can barely remember what I did on July 4th before Michelle and I began this tradition eight years ago. I seem to recall two ways to celebrate. One was watching while your crazy neighbor set off illegal fireworks while listening for the cops. The other was
The Bees did a fabulous job of providing stuff to look at between innings without negatively impacting the baseball experience. There was nothing to interrupt the baseball, which was particularly important at such a high level. And between-innings distractions were rather rare as well. It wasn’t until after the game that I realized how masterful the Bees were at handling fan experience. The fireworks didn’t get started until about 15-20 minutes after the final out. In most ballparks, they might play a little music, but they mostly just make you wait.
Speaking of promotions, this particular game featured a marriage proposal. Now, I’m 100% on record as being against a ballpark marriage
Beyond this man’s marriage proposal, there were a couple ofsmall irritants I found at the ballpark. While the stadium’s positioning next to the Rockies cements its local feel, I think they could have done better on the inside of the park to make this a place more
Still, there was much to love about this place, and its high score is richly deserved. In fact, I loved it so much that I returned the next day, dropping $24 for a behind-home-plate ticket while my wonderful wife took care of the baby in the hotel. But there was a major test that night…the baby was majorly cranky, and when I got a text from wife-at-her-wits-end, I left the game in the fourth inning–before it became official. So I can only give myself credit for going to one game here, but I think I proved that, as much as I loved Spring Mobile Ballpark, I love my wife more.
I hope to return here. It was simply gorgeous.
Regional feel: 7.5/10
I’d like a little more in the concourse to tell me I’m in Utah: the baffling Hall of Fame baseball photos celebrate baseball history, but not local baseball history. Nevertheless, you just can’t argue with that mountain view.
Again, the view. The ballpark itself is not terribly unique, but it’s still lovely.
The Bees have mastered the art of well-timed promotions that do not detract from baseball. And the fireworks show is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Team Mascot/Name: 3.5/5
“Bees” is completely appropriate to Utah. The mascot himself, Bumble doesn’t do too much for me (dull name), but isn’t too bad, either.
Lovely view. Minor deduction for the ballpark itself being not gorgeous, but with the mountains, who cares?
Like the circumnagivability of the place, and the way they segregate those who want to whale on each other from those who want to watch the game. Would like a bit more local flavor.
Nodded off for a ball/strike call once, and could use some guidance on WP/PB. But fine.
Lots of great people. Wonderful human beings in the ticket line did my family and I a wonderful favor at absolutely no benefit to themselves. They made their city and state look wonderful.
Can’t argue with that first night there…a beautiful night, a fantastic pitching performance, and the best fireworks show I’ve seen at a ballgame (and I’ve seen a few).
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
The Rainiers’ Michael Pineda, a 21-year-old making only his 3rd Triple-A start, steals the show. He throws 6 perfect innings before getting knocked around a little in the 7th, but appears to be a stud in the making.
Chris Woodward and Mike Carp provide the lion’s share of the offense. Woodward gets three hits–two off battered starter Fernando Rodriguez–and Carp hits a mammoth home run over our heads in right field.
Tons of offense at my 2019 visit. Jose Rojas goes 4-for-4 in the opener with two doubles and two homers. Taylor Ward CRUSHES a ball at least 460 feet past the bathrooms in left center.
Aramis Garcia hits the game-winning 2-run homer for Sacramento in the seventh (and final) inning of the nightcap.
(Written July 2010. Revised August 2019.)
2 thoughts on “Spring Mobile Ballpark/Smith’s Ballpark, Salt Lake City, Utah”
Paul – I stumbled across your website – great stuff! I paid particular attention to your reviews of Ogden and SLC – I was the GM in Orem from 2005-07 and live now in Walla Walla, WA (partnered with some fellow Seattle-ites to found the Walla Walla Sweets, a club in the WCL. A few things I thought would help your understanding of the Utah experience:
1. The angel on LDS temples is Moroni, not Brigham Young – if you would like the details, I can provide that as well – but won’t go into that in this email)
2. The “Orem Sucks” t-shirt is tied to the rivalry with the team for sure; but that rivalry is real. Ogden and Orem are very different communities – Ogden is very blue-collar, Orem very white. Orem has made the playoffs every year of it’s existence, winning four championships, Ogden doesn’t; and with the Dodgers affiliation (Ogden) and Angels affiliation (Orem) it created a rather natural transfer of the LA rivalry that has grown as the Angels have become relevant in SoCal this past decade. Probably angrier than it needs to be, but still fun.
3. The Dodgers have been in Ogden for a long time – for many years, they had the Ogden Dodgers (Tommy Lasorda managed there) and Bill Bucker, Steve Garvey etc all had roles there. The relationship is very deep and historical.
4. The Bees are very historical to Utah as well (which you mentioned). In addition to the honey bee being the official insect of the state (the territory was once known as Deseret, and the beehive is still on the flag to represent the industry of Mormon pioneers who settled it) the Triple A club for a long time in the 50s was called the Bees. Larry H Miller (who bought the club in 2005) renamed the team the Bees (with its familiar black and gold) out of respect for his childhood memories (which was named out of respect for the importance of bees to Utah Mormons).
Look forward to hosting you at Borleske when you tour the WCL ballparks in the Pacific Northwest!
Thanks, Zachary! I’ve fixed the Brigham Young reference in the Ogden post, and appreciate the correction. I hate getting stuff like that wrong, so I’m glad you pointed it out.
Loved the writeup of the Sweets on ESPN.com!