Mike Lansing Field, Casper, WYOMING
Number of states: 32
States to go: 18
Number of games: 1
First game: July 3, 2013 (Casper Crosscutters 8, Northern Colorado Toros 0)
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My 2013 visit to Casper marked the first time I had to invoke the “in the event there is no affiliated baseball in a state” clause in my minor league state quest. Casper had had a Pioneer League team for
First and foremost, I think that I like affiliated ball because it’s easier to follow the story arc. From Pulaski to Tacoma, I know that every ballplayer has the same goal: to play for the Mariners. I can get a good sense of how things are going with the insert of any decent minor league program: give me a guy’s age, stats, draft slot, and most recent team, and I’ll be able to tell you (with some margin of error) where the guy is with relation to his goals and how things are going for him. In independen
Casper offered me a different brand of ball, however: college wood-bat league. The quality of ball was not that high, at least as far as I could see. I don’t want to pretend that the low minors are always scintillating baseball: there are certainly some blown plays. It felt like there were far more
That said, the Cutthroats provided a fine night of entertainment. They had an appropriate number of promotions for low-level
And they were college kids. Before the game, as I meandered around the ballpark taking photos, the team was engaging in a juvenile contest—a stupid-boy game that anyone with a Y chromosome understands the appeal of.
The ballpark was fine: adequate, not great. I could see why the Rockies would rather have been in another facility (although I’ll have to wait at least a year before I can
I enjoyed the light Rocky Mountain thunderstorm that blew across before first pitch: it reduced the temperature
And then I met Brian.
Brian marks a milestone for me: the first time I have been recognized—stone cold—for my website. He came up and said “Hey, you’re from tomsballparks.com!” We corrected the name, but he had it figured out from my Mariners shirt and my Hillsboro Hops hat…that gave him the clues, and my photos of myself did the rest. This was the closest I will ever come to being a celebrity, so my wife left me alone with Brian for quite a while. He had served as the Casper Ghosts’ mascot for a number of years and was a regular at Cutthroats games, and gave me some of his perception on what went down that caused the Ghosts to flee to Colorado. We talked minor league ball for a while, and in the process, he quoted at least a dozen of my minor league pages.
All in all, while the ballpark was lacking in a few areas, it was a splendid night for a million more important reasons than the ballpark itself. It’s a long way from Washington to Wyoming, but Casper and the many great people I encountered there made it worthwhile.
Regional feel: 6/10
Not terrible, but not great either. There’s a hodgepodge of local history to be found, but nothing that screams “Wyoming” in the view (just a couple of hotels and generic office buildings).
Small-town charm in a number of ways. I loved the family feel, the autographs, the way the wife of the owner runs the gift shop while carrying her son on her hip…quite a lot going on here.
I’d have liked a little more on this level, but I still liked the show.
Team mascot/name: 3/5
I didn’t see a mascot, but I can cut the team some slack there due to what were clearly shoestring budgets. “Cutthroats” was a cool name: threatening, but locally appropriate (it’s a fish).
Some nice high-plains light, but again, not much of a view. The place is more utilitarian than anything else. Middle-of-the-road.
Pavilion area: 3.5/5
Huge, expansive areas to walk around, but not a lot there, as shown:
Not much help here–was occasionally confusing. Again, this might just be a product of the level. That’s the breaks.
Sorry, Brian, and sorry, awesome couple we talked to: couldn’t give it a perfect score because I was harassed by a drunk fan in the bathroom while I was trying to get my 4-year-old son out of a locked stall. (Thankfully, the drunk’s friend whisked him away, and thankfully again, I was able to clamber on the floor to rescue my firstborn.) Here’s a picture of the nice couple, parents of Northern Colorado Toro shortstop/pitcher Mike Lewis. We talked to them at great length about the league and how it works.
Dude! I was RECOGNIZED, people were nice…and then there was a whole night of autographs for my kids. I left the park feeling wonderful, and you just can’t argue with that.
BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:
Cutthroat Jamie McCaffrey (of Corban University in Oregon) will become my litmus test for the quality of this league, as he totally owned the Toros on this day. He pitched a five-hit shutout, walking none and striking out 16. Sixteen. If he flames out in the very low minors, or doesn’t get drafted, that will tell me something.
Third baseman Julian Cronk (three hits) and first baseman Blake Loran (a double and a triple) led a 13-hit attack for the Cutthroats.
Written July 2013.