Canal Park, Akron, OHIO
Number of states: still 37
States to go: 13
First game: May 28, 2017 (Bowie Baysox 3, Akron Rubber Ducks 1, 5 innings)
Friends and I extended our college-reunion weekend by a day and headed up to Akron, a city I had driven past but never into, for a
Sunday matinee ballgame. After the disappointment of missing a ballgame in Erie a few days earlier, we were amped up for some double-A baseball.
Akron turned out to have a surprisingly lovely downtown, and it appeared that the downtown was created almost entirely by its most famous native, LeBron James. His enormous (then-still-Cavalier) form stares down at you from billboards nearby. Both the ballpark and the sports bar we passed time in were on King James Way. Not
basebally, obviously–as best as I can figure, the most famous baseball player born in Akron is Thurman Munson, but I don’t recall seeing an homage to him: perhaps I missed it. Would have been nicer to have the ballpark on Thurman Munson Way. But still, highpoints for local feel: tons of red-bricked factory-style buildings nearby, and Canal Park is beautifully integrated into all those.
So it was a lovely time poking around the ballpark, seeing the many great Indians who made it through Akron celebrated on pillars around the park, and chilling out with some food and some friends.
One of the best reasons to attend a game with Rob (master’s in meteorology) is that it’s very easy to know what the weather is going to bring your way. He is on his phone throughout. “Looks like there’s just a little window after this stretch of rain passes,” he said. “But after that, it will rain all night.”
Should we leave?
“No. They’ll start the game.”
So thus began the big challenge of the night: would they get five innings in?
The game began an hour late. We settled into our seats (after wiping the off). And we saw some awfully good pitching that motored the game along. Several times, between innings, what I took to be a groundskeeper for the Rubber Ducks would head out and chat with the home plate umpire, Randy Rosenberg, while showing him a cell phone. That phone likely had the same radar image on it that Rob’s did.
Fortunately for the integrity of the Eastern League standings, the game flew. Solid pitching on both sides after a bumpy first inning that led to three Bowie runs. Three quick outs. Three more quick outs. Another groundskeeper visit to the umpire. More outs. We get to the fifth: Bowie is winning. We have to get through the bottom of the fifth.
We do. Still no rain.
In the top of the sixth, however, after one out, it came down heavily. The timing proved the
God is interested in the Eastern League standings, and possibly into the Bowie Baysox. Aderlin Rodriguez managed to hit a single, but then the tarp came right back out.
Back to Rob.
“Do we stay?”
“No. There will be no more baseball tonight.”
So, while a few thousand fans stood under shelters, wondering whether it was worthwhile to remain, Rob, Matt and I sprinted as fast as our aging, 25-year-college-reunion legs would take us, and got to the car. By the time the game was called, we were already in our hotel room, playing Quickword, which I won yet again. (Note: I claim to win every game.)
So this one is official. And it was fun.
Regional Feel 7.5/10
Quite lovely. I can’t fault them the LeBron surroundings, but there was quite a bit of Akron baseball history (especially recent Indians) to be found everywhere. And it was quite nice.
Lovely red brick everywhere: I was impressed.
Mother Nature provided most of it.
Team mascot/name 3.5/5
The history of Akron as a center for rubber production means I like the name, but “Rubber ducks” feels too cute by half. So I am kinda torn on this one. The mascots, however, were really quite fun to watch during the long delay and helped quite a bit. On top is Webster, mugging for the camera. Beneath him is Rubberta, a fine excuse for a pun.
Lovely, except for some construction-related detritus beyond the left field fence.
Pavilion area 2.5/5
Like the history there, but one cannot walk around the field, which bums me out.
Didn’t have much chance to notice this, so I would imagine it was fine.
No memory of them.
One would think that losing four innings of baseball would have a negative impact on this score. But the intensity of the storm and the beauty of it rolling in actually added to the night. And it meant another few board games with my friends.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN THERE:
Orioles prospect Tanner Scott dominated for the three innings he was out there for Bowie, hitting 100 on the radar gun regularly.
Three runs on three singles and a walk–the first four batters of the game–stand up for Bowie. (There were only four more hits–again, all singles–for the rest of the night.)
Written January 2019.