Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day 63: Haymarket Park

All photos of Haymarket Park available on Flickr.

Yesterday we said goodbye to the Rocky Mountains and hello to the Great Plains. It was a 6 1/2 hour drive from Denver to Lincoln, NE with nothing to look at except the flat land, corn, and cows. After making a quick stop in downtown Denver to make another deposit (we've raised nearly $1300 so far) we got on our way.

We arrived in Lincoln at about 6:15 for a 7:05 game. The ballpark was on the campus of the University of Nebraska with Memorial Stadium where the Cornhusker football team plays across the street. The stadium also serves as the home to Cornhuskers baseball and there were plenty of "big block Ns" and Cornhusker Big 12 Championship and College World Series appearance banners hanging throughout the stadium. Unfortunately, Haymarket Park is the type that is just surrounded by parking lots and we were unable to do any fundraising.

The Lincoln Saltdogs play in the American Association, the same league as the St. Paul Saints. The two teams will actually be facing each other in the playoffs which start on Monday. This game was the fourth independent league that Peter and I have seen on the trip, and having attended several Saints games over the past couple of years I knew it would be the best baseball of any of the indy leagues.

Yesterday was the last day of the American Association regular season and the Saltdogs presented their team awards between innings. Last night's starting pitcher Jarrett Gardner was voted pitcher of the year by the season ticket holders and gave another fine performance last night. He went 6 innings, only allowed 3 hits and struck out 5. If he keeps that up, there may be a place on an A-ball roster for him next year. The Saltdogs scratched out single runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th, then broke the game open with a Grand Slam from Pichi Balet in the 7th.

Saints games are always a blast and Lincoln was no different. Last night was the finals round of a season long promotion to give away a car. All night long, people who had qualified throughout the season were eliminated until there were only four. After the game each choose a key and the one that started the car won a year's lease. But that wasn't the best between innings game. Once again, Peter and I were selected to compete in the keg roll. This time, however, we would be competing against each other, not another team. At the end of the eighth inning we were escorted onto the field and squared off to see who could roll a keg from home plate to first or third base, and back, the quickest. Of course, I completely dominated but Peter improved significantly over last time - he didn't fall down yesterday.

After the Saltdogs wrapped up the victory with a 1-2-3 9th, we headed to an area called Haymarket Square for some post-game drinks. We had a few pints at Brewsky's where the whole Saltdogs staff also showed up. Tomorrow it's off to Iowa to stay with Peter's friend Karl near Des Moines.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 6
views from park - 5 (Nebraska campus)

view to field - 9

surrounding area - 8 (Nebraska campus and Haymarket Square nearby)

food variety - 6
nachos - 8
beer - 9 (good price, two sizes souvenir cups, Leines on tap)
vendor price - 8

ticket price - 9 ($5 lawn)
atmosphere - 7 (last game of season)

walk to park - 3

parking price/proximity - 10 (on lot for free)

concourses - 5

team shop - 4

best food - fries

most unique stadium feature - lawn seating areas

best jumbotron feature - n/a

best between-inning feature - keg race featuring us
, Homer the mascot tosses stuff into the crowd from the bullpen car
field dimensions - 325/395/325
starters - N. Cebula (SC) v. J. Gardner (LIN)

opponent - Sioux City Explorers

time of game - 2:10

attendance - 4414

score - 9-0 W

Brewers score that day - 6-2 L

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