Saturday, August 14, 2010

Play Ball!

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Groupon for a Gateway Grizzlies baseball game, so last night Tony and I got in the car and headed to the stadium in Sauget, Illinois.

The Grizzlies play in the Frontier League, an independent minor league baseball league.  I've seen the River City Rascals, another Frontier League team that plays in O'Fallon Missouri, but this was my first Grizzlies game.  Last night was the first game of a series against the Oakland County (Michigan) Cruisers. The Grizzlies are currently third in their division, with a record of 41-33.  The Cruisers are first in their division, but their record is 45-31, so it looked like the teams would be well-matched.

 We arrived just as the gates were opening.  After scoping things out, we went to get our food.  Our vouchers entitled us to two of "Baseball's Best" food items and two bags of potato chips.  The dedicated Groupon food line was very short, and it only took a couple of minutes to place our order.  We had three choices for our "Baseball’s Best" food items:
  • A hot dog topped with bacon, onions, sauerkraut and cheese sauce.
  • Tri-colored tortilla chip nachos topped with Philly beef, roasted onions and peppers, and Monterrey Jack cheese sauce. (These were featured on the Travel Channel's show Man vs. Food. Adam Richman, the host, honored them with a second-place position on his list of favorite baseball foods).
  • A hamburger with a unique twist--a quarter pound patty with cheddar cheese and bacon between a sliced Krispy Kreme donut.  (Also featured on Chowdown Countdown, a Travel Channel show.)
Tony chose the nachos (he let me taste one-they were great), and I went with the hamburger, because I just had to see what it was like.  I'm glad I did, but I don't know if I'd do it again.  The burger was messy to eat; the meat was much larger than the donut, and the cheese and bacon made everything slide around when I tried to take a bite.  One edge of the donut was a bit charred and burned-tasting (probably because of the sugar in the glaze), but once I got past that portion the sandwich was an interesting combination of sweet, salty, and savory.  The chips came from the Billy Goat Chip Company in St. Louis. They were very good.

After we ate we found our seats, which were in the first row of a section immediately behind the Grizzlies dugout. Only a short cinder-block wall separated us from the athletes. Before the game, a parade of kids came up to the wall to ask the players for autographs.  Once the game started the pitching staff sat on a bench right in front of us. The first row of seats were at field level, so I had a hard time seeing over the players; we moved back a row and I had a much better view.

Independent league baseball is quite different from its major-league counterpart.  Between each inning there was some kind of promotion.  The craziest involved two pairs of children who ran the bases in a three-legged race, using pairs of giant tighty-whities with the team logo on the back.  The team mascot Izzy the Grizzlie threw out swag to fans a couple of times, and there was a kids parade through the stadium concourse. Another promotion, which went on for most of the game, was a 50/50 raffle.  They gave away $450, and their portion of the money went to support the players on road trips.

We left at the top of the ninth inning, but listened to the game on the radio as we drove away. The Grizzlies ended up winning 9-3.   All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening.


  1. I really enjoy going to minor league games ... most of the players are more "reachable" ...not all puffed up on themselves. Sounds like you had a good time.

  2. Sounds like fun. I would rather attend those games than major league but like both. The food was certainly interesting!

  3. Our Fresno triple A team is the Grizzlies too. They play under the SF Giants franchise. I don't understand all this ball stuff as I'm not a fan of sports. The Giants stadium is within spitting distance of the tiny apartment and it causes headaches on game days if we try to drive in or out of town. i watch the fans heading to the stadium on game days, but otherwise, I'm not a willing participant.

  4. That hamburger sounds interesting!