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….. off to Iowa for the River Bandits

July 23, 2017

20170721_204927….. who knew Minor League low A baseball could be so much fun?  The River Bandits adventure was made possible by our Colorado cousin obtaining his first job as staff for the ballpark…

Since Illinois is closer to Iowa than Colorado, we promised to come out for a game… Arriving Friday morning, we parked at the stadium, next to the Mississippi River, and enjoyed the walkway, bridge to Rock Island and ducks diving into the river!  DC (dear cousin) finished his morning meeting and off we went for lunch on the river, with local brewed beer of course.

DC regaled us with stories of life in the minor leagues… staff are few, so job descriptions include pulling the tarp, driving players to the airport and filling in as needed.. and not much sleep!

Back to the ballpark, we toured from top to bottom… one of the few stadiums with private club booths, amazing party areas, a raised walkway around the field… and rides!  New this year, the rides include the fabulous Ferris wheel, the ever changing colors providing a glorious backdrop to the game in play.  DC laughed as he told us how each new team to play in the ballpark this year made sure to ride the Ferris wheel before the game!

Our tour then took us inside, to parts of a ballpark we would normally never have access to, the media/broadcast booths, player areas, dugouts and even the kitchen ruled by the executive chef!  Wow, we were impressed anew at each area.

Time for us to leave so DC could get on with game day preparations… we promised to return as soon as the gates opened.  Waiting on line behind us was  a retired couple from Arizona who have spent the last several years touring all the minor league ball parks in the USA!  This trip included Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois… (for our very own Kane County Cougers).  Talk about minor league groupies!

While always exciting, we hit the jackpot in terms of a game with everything!  The approaching storm required the tarp be pulled on the field before the game even started!  A two hour rain delay passed quickly with friendly staff, great food, activities under roof, and game goers taking weather in stride.

Another advantage of a minor league ballpark is the close access to the field.  We enjoyed the play, watching the umpires, the very busy ball boy and all of it backed with the spectacular colors of the Ferris wheel.  First game ever and we were already rooting for our ‘favorite’ players, yelling at the umpire’s calls, finding ourselves featured on the kiss cam, and celebrating the victory!

But the party was not over… on Fridays: FIREWORKS… A professional display, made all the more exciting by our proximity to the field, with the night sky and the mighty Mississippi in the background…

We meandered off to our hotel for restorative sleep, but not the River Bandit’s staff.  Another approaching storm, another tarp pull… and then sleep… but not for the long, the call went out early, time to pull the tarp off the field for Saturday’s practice, warms ups and the next game!

We met DC for brekkie/brunch soaking up more stories, the history of the ballpark, the life of players and staff, and a preview of the day ahead… DC headed off to the ballpark and we headed to route 80!  Only 2 1/2 hours from the River Bandits to our Chicago suburb… I think we will return!

 

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