Recreation Park, Visalia, CALIFORNIA
States visited: still 38
States to go: 12
First visit: July 10, 2019 (Visalia Rawhide 5, Inland Empire 66ers 1)
Everything I knew about the Central Valley in California was pretty much what I read in Grapes of Wrath. So our drive in from
And so when we got to Recreation Ballpark in Visalia, well, it was in the context of a town that still wasn’t doing much to create an impression. And then the ballpark was in a neighborhood that was not too noticeable. I usually like ballparks that are sort of embedded into a neighborhood, were one cannot really notice there’s a ballpark around save for the lights.
But there’s no two ways about it: from the exterior, Recreation Ballpark is the most aesthetically unattractive ballpark in the affiliated minors. It is literally a crescent-shaped batch of cement poured onto the ground. It looks a little like there
On the inside, the ballpark is just fine looking. When I am sitting in the seats so I don’t have to face the cement, I see the beauty of any ballpark, including a barn forming a part of the outfield wall in right-center. That was cool. No view of any sort, but that’s Central California’s problem, not that of the ballpark.
And I can’t complain about the people. The people at Visalia were simply wonderful. The staff greeted us with a “welcome to the
But, alas, simple infrastructure interfered. The seats we got were incredibly skinny. I’m still a relatively skinny dude (well, when I set my mind to it), and it was tough to position myself in these seats. Also, there was something about our front-row place that I noticed: that the row seemed to angle in to the wall to the point where, at the aisle, six-foot-three me couldn’t sit right. We tried that for a couple of innings, then moved.
The ballpark was also the only spot I’ve ever been that
The Rawhide did seem pretty desperate to get butts in the seats. Our game was a Guaranteed Win Night: if the Rawhide won, you’d get a free ticket to the game two weeks later. But, in a bit of marketing genius, a local insurance agent had a promotion insuring against that. If the Rawhide lost, then the insurance agent would give
The ballpark does nice with this history. First, they tried to make the most of that damn cement by painting California League history onto it, kind of like
So I hope that the excellent people in Visalia don’t take this score too personally. You were fantastic. But a cramped, difficult seat, a desperate vibe, and a seating bowl that Steven said would be a motorcyclist’s dream (to ride up and down) win the day. I will happily go back to see you all, but I would hope that we could meet in a new place. This is old, but not the charming kind of old. You deserve better.
Regional feel: 5.5/10
Barn was nice, and I like the plaques, but that’s about it.
The people were all quite charming, but the park was simply unattractive and run-down.
Did this well: could have done a little more at this level, and doing so would have foregrounded the fine people.
Here is Tipper with me. A great mascot and a very appropriate name.
Would have been a zero were it not for the barn.
Not a lot going on. But there are lockers.
Good on quick scoring decisions, but frequently had the wrong batter listed on the scoreboard.
Some wonderful, welcoming, fine people.
Had a great time on the whole, but I was physically uncomfortable. This ballpark is the wrong kind of old.
BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:
Rawhide pitching, led by Josh Green (two hits, eleven strikeouts, no walks in 6 innings) completely owned the 66ers. 17 strikeouts overall.
Luis Basabe goes 3-for-3.
Written July 2019.