As might be expected, one of the my favorite things to do is visit baseball places while traveling. This time, we took a trip and three baseball spots—two museums and a Rockies game, plus seeing the outside of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium and finding a surprise at the Eisenhower Memorial in Abilene, KS.
‘I LIKE IKE’ and My Fourth Trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Sometimes there are surprises off the beaten path. On our journey to Denver to see the July 19 Colorado Rockies game, we stopped in Abilene, Kansas. We had some time to kill before we could check in to our place in Denver, so we thought we’d see Eisenhower’s library and the whole historical site of his. We decided to spend more time at the Heritage Center than the library, but while in the gift shop, I ran across a copy of Haney’s Base Ball Book of Reference. It was an unexpected surprise. For those of you who don’t know who Henry Chadwick is, well, he’s the guy who made order out of chaos in baseball. Before him, the rules were hardly universal. This little gem of a book is, essentially, the first official baseball rulebook. And it was found in Abilene, KS at Eisenhower’s library gift shop.
Then there’s the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. It’s still amazing. Some things have changed. For example, there’s now an area dedicated to the “clown” teams, teams that are/were baseball’s equivalent to The Harlem Globetrotters in basketball today. They were the clowns of the field. I wish we had teams like
this still. So many people are too serious about life in general, not to mention the excessive push to put up netting to protect people from themselves. It’s one more thing the Negros Leagues got right.
The Colorado Rockies
Let me start by saying that we stopped to see Busch Stadium in St. Louis too. And I notice a trend in modern ballparks. They all are based on the same basic design used for the home of the Detroit Tigers, Comerica Park. That said, it means it was easy for me to love Coors Field. I love CoPa. It’s a great park. The seating is good, and there are rides for the kids.
Coors Field, and all the other parks I’ve been to lack these things for kids. This lack of child friendly things like rides—CoPa has a Ferris wheel and a carousel—might be why we aren’t seeing a major increase in youth fans. But I digress…
Coors Field has batting and pitching available to kids, as well as the requisite kids play area. This was a weak one compared to parks like The Kansas City Royals’ home Kauffman Stadium. But it’s still something for the kids.
The food was fairly standard, but there are the more local fare shops in the park. I, for example, tried the Rocky Mountain Oysters. Don’t know what those are? Look it up. They were good. Not great. But good. They weren’t what I expected, but I didn’t have high hopes for ballpark food anyway.
We sat, as we always do at Major League Baseball games, in the outfield in foul territory in order to protect our kids from the dangers of foul balls. You see? Parents only need to actually parent, not be stupid. Protect your kids by sitting in safer areas! Anyway, I digress again. They seats were great. Plenty of leg room and unobstructed views.
What I LOVED about Coors Field is the pregame activity. At no other park have I walked in and found the team hitting dingers into the bleachers specifically for fans to snag. See the Rockies Dingers in this video! I was floored! They stood on the third base line near third base and jacked used balls into the bleachers. I missed two of them because I didn’t realize the overhang in centerfield would act as a barrier. Both balls, which would have bounced off the concourse, against a wall and them fallen close to me, hit the overhang and dropped about 10-15 feet in front of me, swooped up by other fans. Lesson learned! I now know what to do when I return!
The one thing I didn’t get about Coors Field is Dinger, their mascot. I didn’t know the story about Dinger, because there appears no story in the entire park about him. He’s a purple dinosaur, not a lame knock-off of that other lame purple dinosaur, but a triceratops. I later found out that Dinger is a triceratops because a triceratops head was unearthed while the crews were digging the foundation of Coors Field.
One would think this would be a HUGE marketing opportunity for Coors and the Colorado Rockies. But they’ve dropped the proverbial ball on this. Nowhere is there any plaque clearly discussing Dinger and the head they found. And, most surprising to me—and the biggest bummer ever—is that the Rockies don’t have the head on display! Why wouldn’t the team ask to put it on display in centerfield? Centerfield is a lovely area with fountains, but imagine looking toward center and seeing the head of a triceratops! That would be mind-blowing and so unique people would visit the park just to see the head. It’s marketing gold….gold the team decided they didn’t want I guess.
Overall, Coors Field rates tied for second with Progressive as one of my favorite ballparks. I just hope the Rockies finally get something more for the kids and that triceratops skull! It also didn’t hurt that I saw their 1001st win in Coors Field, an 18-4 shellacking of the San Diego Padres.
The National Ballpark Museum
This was a hidden gem in Denver. It’s a block off Coors Field, but it’s so nondescript it would be easy to miss. I can’t put into words how cool this little museum is. They have memorabilia from various ballparks throughout history. Unique things too, not the standard, run-of-the-mill stuff, but things like the foul pole from Tiger Stadium…which is actually gone now. The curator for the day we went told us that the owner is constantly trading and selling items to keep it fresh. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Denver. They even have some Negro Leagues information you don’t see in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.