Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 25: Historic Grayson Stadium

All photos of Savannah and Grayson Stadium available on Flickr.

We had another early day today; although it was only a 4-hour drive to Savannah from Southern Pines, it was our first of two consecutive noon-start Camp Day, which meant we had to leave at around 6:30 AM. It was a pretty decent drive through South Carolina (although Erik wouldn't know since he slept for 3:50 of the 4 hours), and we arrived at the park around 10:45 and set up our donation table. I felt like we would have made a killing in Savannah, since Habitat was started in Georgia, but since 95% of the attendance was scouts and children under 12, we only made a few dollars.

When we noticed that the mercury reading was much higher than the average fastball on the pitch speed board, we knew we were in for a special afternoon at the ballpark. Our saving grace was that it was a short game and we were under shade, as the temperature reached 107 degrees by game's end. We got excellent GA seats for $6 and sat about 10 rows behind homeplate. In front of us were at least a dozen scouts, all wielding radar guns and clipboards. To our left and right was what we determined to be the "players' ladies" sections. And of course, all around us, were around 1500 screaming kids in neon shirts, all hoping to get squirted or hosed down by the Sand Gnats staff on this hot day. The stadium itself reminded us a lot of Bosse Field in Evansville - covered seats, old structure, wide aisles, lots of foul ground. There were only two vendor stands and a very small team store, but it was a very nice park for an A-ball team. It was also in a very nice area; the stadium is actually located inside of Daffin Park, which is laden with other ball fields and century-old willow and oak trees, making the view from the park and the walk to the park very scenic.

The game was a very quick pitcher's duel, which was won by the Sand Gnats 1-0. The starter for the Gnats threw 7 innings of 1-hit ball (the scorekeeper charged him with 3 hits, but two were clearly errors by the shortstop). The pitcher for the Green Jackets faired well too, also tossing 7 strong innings. In the end, a 4th inning double on a misjudged ball by the left fielder was all that the Gnats needed to secure the victory. The Gnats' catcher Pena was supposed to be the player to watch, as he is one of the top prospects' in the Mets organization, but he was 0-4 on 4 first-pitch swings. After the game, we met a cool guy who drove down from Myrtle Beach to watch ball; he was a huge fan of the trip and told us about how he tried doing it back in the 80s, so we gave him our webpage address.

We actually came to Savannah just as much for the city as we did for the ball team, so we are sticking around for a couple hours after we're done blogging and walking through the downtown, full of Federalist and plantation-style homes that date back many years. Tonight it's a 6-hour drive to Tampa to catch another matinee ballgame tomorrow at the Trop.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 5
views from park - 6 (nice views of willow trees)
view to field - 9
surrounding area - 3 (downtown is about two miles away)
food variety - 3
nachos - 3 (stale chips, very small portion)
beer - 4 (good price, low variety)
vendor price - 8
ticket price - 8
atmosphere - 6
walk to park - 5
parking price/proximity - 10
concourses - 1
team shop - 3

best food - burger
most unique stadium feature - hand-operated scoreboard
best jumbotron feature -
the "Gnat Signal" shown by some Gnats players
best between-inning feature - kid in giant toothbrush costume comes out and scrubs homeplate in 5th

field dimensions - 290/400/290
starters - Nelson Portillo (SAV) v. Aaron Cowart (AUG)
opponent - Augusta Green Jackets
time of game - 1:55
attendance - 1390
score - 1-0 W
Brewers score that day - (play tonight)

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