Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Day 65: John O'Donnell Stadium
All photos of Davenport and John O'Donnell Stadium available on Flickr.
Today was Day 2 in scenic Iowa, as we made our way east to the Illinois border to watch the Swing of the Quad Cities, an A-ball affiliate of the Cardinals. The team/region is called the "Quad Cities" because there are four cities around of similar size all next to each other, two on each side of the Mississippi River. After a lunch with Karl and a stop to blog, we parted ways and headed to Davenport around 2:30. We arrived at around 5:15 and walked around the park, which is right on the river, and then set up for fundraising. We only made $8, which was to be expected from an A-ball game I guess.
The park is annually voted one of the best in minor league baseball, which is the main reason we came - that, and the Swing of the Quad Cities have the coolest name and uniforms ever. There is only a grass berm in the outfield and no seats, so the park boasts breathtaking views of the Mississippi and the Centennial Bridge from just about everywhere in the stadium. It was really cool to watch the bridge inning by inning as the sun was setting. Davenport has a rich history of minor leaugue baseball and has had teams nearly every year since the 1900s, and John O'Donnell Stadium has seen a lot of these teams come and go - the Dav-Sox and the Quad Cities River Bandits to name a couple. Besides being located right on the river and the bridge, the park is also conveniently located adjacent to train tracks and two methadone clinics, which certainly all contribute to the overall din and atmosphere of the stadium in their own unique ways.
I visited this stadium almost one year ago to the day while I was working in Madison, and I seem to remember having a much better time last year. First of all, the river was ridiculously contaminated with algae and the field was swarming with these strange large bugs that looked kind of like dragonflies. Secondly, the team shop was horrible - no helmets, no balls, and no jerseys smaller than an XL. I guess this was kind of a blessing in disguise though, because I would have definitely purchased one and I don't have the money to do so. There were also no souvenir cups. This all put me in a pretty bad mood before the game even started, but once play started, I perked up a little. The team features two very active and entertaining mascots, Rookie Raccoon and Clyde the Monkey, and the Swing put up five runs on the starting pitcher for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Kernels were a little slow all evening, as their bus arrived only 30 minutes before first pitch because it broke down on the Interstate. Also, the between-inning entertainment was pretty special, and I caught a homerun ball in the 9th inning! Also, the first baseman for the Swing was named Dorn, so we both had a pretty good laugh about that the whole game. The best and most surprising part by far was when the Klement's Sausages made an apprearance in the bottom of the 7th for a race, albeit only three of the five.
The Swing won the game 6-3 behind a solid pitching performance by Brandon Dickson. He went 7 and gave up only 2, and it was certainly a relief to see a starting pitcher in the Cards organization finally toss a decent outing. Lead-off hitter Jose Ramirez for the Swing had two hits to finally bring his average over .200. Despite a lead-off homerun by Matt Sweeney in the 9th (which I caught) the Kernels ended up falling short. Tomorrow we're sticking around the Davenport area and have decided to drive 20 miles to attend another bonus game in Clinton, as it should be an inexpensive way to kill time before heading to the Field of Dreams on Wednesday.
park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 6
views from park - 10 (Centennial Bridge/river)
view to field - 9
surrounding area - 5 (downtown and rehab centers nearby)
food variety - 6
nachos - 6
beer - n/a (we did not have beer because it was expensive and a hassle to get a wrist band)
vendor price - 7
ticket price - 5 ($7 GA is pretty pricy for the minors)
atmosphere - 4
walk to park - 7 (can walk along river)
parking price/proximity - 10 (across the street for free)
concourses - 7 (nice views to bridge)
team shop - 2
best food - pork chop sandwich
most unique stadium feature - the view!
best jumbotron feature - random zooming in by camera guy on people
best between-inning feature - Racing Sausages make a cameo appearance
field dimensions - 343/400/318
starters - Kellly Shearer (CR) v. Brandon Dickson (QC)
opponent - Cedar Rapids Kernels
time of game - 2:28 (plus 17-minute delay for broken-down bus)
attendance - 1505
score - 6-3 W
Brewers score that day - off