“This sure beats the heck out of Yankee Stadium,” the guy behind me said. While I haven’t yet been to the current manifestation of Yankee Stadium, I can say that the State College Spikes have a perfectly fine minor league ballpark. There are certainly better ones–minor league parks that do beat the heck out of Yankee Stadium, including one quite nearby–that I’d like him to see. But still, there is plenty
The park is unquestionably good-looking and unquestionably Central Pennsylvania. The beautiful Mount Nittany provides the view beyond center field, and if one looks back past the home plate grandstand, Beaver Stadium stands watch over the scene. Indeed, much like at closer-to-home PK Park in Eugene, the Spikes have a deal with
The Spikes are named not after a railroad, as I thought, but after a young male deer with single spikes as antlers. The mascot, named Spike, is just fine. His handler was a young woman named Jane Doe,
The Spikes did a few things that I wasn’t a fan of. They did tend to view the team a little too much as a promotions-transferrence-device: pimped out a few things between pitches. I was thankful that the strike-out-for-a-free-Big-Mac
And perhaps the worst moment of the night was during the first pitches.
They had a first pitch by the parents of a police officer who had been murdered during his last shift before he left the force. He had plans to get a degree and move on to a second career. The PA announcer was perfect: giving the story its own tragic due. The
Then the worst transition ever.
“It’s also ’90s night here at the ballpark, and for our next first pitch…you all remember The Shermanator from the American Pie movie? Here’s Chris Owen!”
I have no issue with having a respectful First Responders night or a wacky ’90s night. But someone somewhere should have seen that incredibly awkward moment coming. That was a fumble, and it all could have been avoided.
To sum up, they could have turned it down just a tiny bit.
Matt, Rob, and I were joined by Special Guest Ryan at the park that night: Ryan, who is a regular State College Spikes viewer. We sat directly behind the Auburn Doubledays dugout that day, which I always enjoy. Jake Randa, who I took to be a child of Joe Randa since he was born in Kansas City in 1998 (a quick Google search confirms this), was especially chatty and smiley. He’d be the kind of guy I might enjoy playing with. And there was plenty to celebrate for Auburn too, as they cruised to an easy victory. And we were having bizarre conversations. At one point, somehow, we
In any event, it was fun. It was lovely. And it was baseball with my friends. Worth a trip. But Spikes: tone down the promotions just a bit, okay?
Regional feel: 8/10. Mount Nittany in the distance, State College Creamery, Penn State everywhere: well worth it.
Charm: 2.5/5. There were moments it had a chance, but the marketing kept getting in the way.
Team Mascot/Name: 3/5. The Spikes and Spike did very little for me, but Jane Doe was fantastic. I liked that they made her into a deer.
Aesthetics: 2.5/5. The ballpark itself isn’t that special aesthetically, but has some nice views.
Pavilion area: 2/5. We couldn’t walk all the way around, either on the inside or the outside. And the cool stuff, like the past Spikes who made the majors, was distant from the field.
Scoreability: 5/5. Really great here: whoever was in charge was really on top of it.
Fans: 4.5/5. This would have been a perfect score because of Ryan, but then drunk guy said he could break all of our knees.
Intangibles: 5/5. A great, fun night with friends.
BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:
Doubledays center fielder Rafael Bautista led the attack with 3 hits and 2 runs.
Carlos Soto tripled and scored for the Spikes.
Written July 2016.