My night with the Tulsa Drillers – May 25, 2013

When you attend games at a stadium on a regular basis, you don’t think about taking photos and sharing your experiences.  For me, this is definitely applies to ONEOK Field in Tulsa.  I have a close friend who lives in the area, so I’ve seen at least one game at the stadium each season since the ballpark opened in 2010.  Additionally, I’ve been to the stadium to watch Bedlam baseball games on two occasions.  However, I’ve only taken photographs on one previous trip.  So I wanted to make sure that I took some photos during my next trip to attend a Tulsa Drillers game.

My most recent trip to ONEOK Field was over Memorial Day weekend.  The club’s premium promotional item was a R.A. Dickey garden gnome (more on the gnome later).  Of course, a weekend game and a giveaway item attracted a large crowd, so I made sure to arrive early enough to secure one of the garden gnomes for myself.

The line waiting at the Oil Derrick Entrance at the intersection of Elgin Avenue and Archer Street.

In addition to the giveaway item, the Drillers promoted the game as part of Walk to End Alzheimer’s Night.  So players wore special purple jerseys that were auctioned off through a silent auction during the game.  So I didn’t get a picture of the team in its traditional home whites.  The home team dugout sits along the first base line where fans sitting in the River Spirit Casino Party Platform or the Coors Light Refinery Deck have an excellent view of the action.

Tulsa Drillers players sign autographs for fans before the game.

ONEOK Field is in the Greenwood District of downtown Tulsa, which is undergoing gentrification.  The district abuts the Blue Dome District, which is home to several restaurants that spurred gentrification in downtown.  Greenwood is also near the Brady Arts District, which attracts concertgoers with Cain’s Ballroom and the Brady Theater as its two main venues.

After getting my giveaway item and settling into my seat, I made sure to capture a picture of the game’s first pitch.

Tulsa Drillers left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek delivers the first pitch of the game to Frisco RoughRiders left fielder Teodoro Martinez.

Like most newer stadiums, ONEOK Field takes advantage of sponsorship opportunities.  While outfield signage is a staple of Minor League ballparks, most facilities do not sign sponsorship deals with competing companies.  However, the abundance of casinos in Oklahoma leads to multiple gaming establishments sponsoring the Drillers.

The scoreboard in left field towers over the Budweiser Terrace seats.

You can see the Osage Casino signage in the outfield contrasts with the River Spirit Casino sponsorship along the first base line.

MiLB.com is currently running a “food fight,” which allows fans to vote for their favorite local delicacy.  There are four categories: gut busters, hogs ‘n’ dogs, local legends, and scrumptious sandwiches.  The Drillers entry is the Firecracker in the “hogs ‘n’ dogs” category.  Naturally, it was a no-brainer that I had to try one.

Two fans contemplate which specialty hot dog to order.

The Firecracker is the Drillers’ featured hot dog for MiLB.com’s contest, but Franx serves four other specialty frankfurters.  I have not tried the other varieties, but ONEOK Field features locally-made Seigi’s Sausages that I have eaten at previous games.  I have had both the chicken-jalapeño and the jalapeño-cheese varieties from Seigi’s, which are both very tasty.

The Franx menu offers a variety of hot dog options.

The tradition continues with a picture of the encased meat with game action in the background.

The Firecracker Dog, which features shredded spicy chicken, pepper jack cheese, jalapeño sauce, and chipotle mayonnaise served on a pretzel bun.

From the third base line fans get an excellent view of downtown Tulsa.  The setting sun reflects off Tulsa City Hall, but the view is spectacular.

The downtown Tulsa skyline with the BOK Tower standing tall.

As I mentioned earlier, the premium giveaway item was an R.A. Dickey garden gnome.  Dickey pitched for the Drillers in 1999 when he was in the Texas Rangers system.  The club has changed its color scheme since that time, but Dickey sports the era-appropriate uniform.

The R.A. Dickey garden gnome giveaway item.

From my seats along the third base line I also took some photos of the game.  I tried taking a few shots of the Drillers’ specialty jerseys to show off their purple tops, but also wanted to capture the Frisco RoughRiders and their logos, too.

Since I started working in athletics in 2001, I have watched baseball games with a keen eye for one event.  I have been hoping to capture a photograph of “Scoreboard Yahtzee!”  I don’t know the statistical odds of witnessing Scoreboard Yahtzee!, but it’s difficult to accomplish because teams must have players wearing 11 or 22 playing in the game.  This is the first time that I’ve witnessed Scoreboard Yahtzee! during a professional game.

Scoreboard Yahtzee!

It may be biased at this point for me to say that ONEOK Field is one of my favorite Minor League Baseball ballparks, but it’s the truth.  The park has some delicious food and a good beer selection while the club has built a first-rate venue and provides top-notch entertainment.

I also enjoy the surrounding area as there are plenty of good local restaurants, some that have been featured on Food Network.  The stadium does not have a specified parking deck, instead fans must utilize street parking or one of the many lots nearby.  The stadium has a modern feel despite its downtown location, and creates a very welcoming atmosphere for fans.

Final: Frisco 3, Tulsa 1
Box Score

Georgia’s Minor League Baseball summer promotions

Summer is right around the corner as the school year finishes with Memorial Day weekend, and that means baseball season hits full stride, too.  For parents and baseball fans looking for inexpensive and fun ways to spend their summer evenings, Georgia’s four minor league teams offer a variety of promotions.  Minor league baseball is known for regular promotions like “Thirsty Thursday” or “Two-for-Tuesday,” but I wanted to focus on some of the unique promotions and giveaways that provide fans with a real reason to attend a game.  Whether you want to check out your local team or make a road trip, there are tons of reasons for fans to flock to ballparks in Rome, Savannah, Augusta or Gwinnett.  Here’s a rundown of the promotions (team-by-team):

Gwinnett Braves
Friday, May 24: Dudes vs. Foods Night
Saturday, May 25: Mini Bat Giveaway
Friday, June 7: Father’s Day Fun plus Post-Game Fireworks
Saturday, June 8: 5th Anniversary Bank Giveaway
Sunday, June 9: Public Safety Day / Touch-A-Truck
Friday, June 21: ’80s Night / Powder Blue Jersey Auction
Saturday, June 22: Jason Heyward Bobblehead Giveaway
Thursday, July 4: Red, White, and Blue Thunder Sticks Giveaway plus Post-Game Fireworks
Friday, July 5: Beach Party
Saturday, July 6: Kris Medlen Bobblehead Giveaway
Friday, July 19: Outdoors Night
Saturday, July 20: Notebook Giveaway / Camouflage Jersey Auction
Friday, August 9: Football Night
Saturday, August 10: Craig Kimbrel Bobblehead Giveaway
Friday, August 16: G-Braves Baseball Cap Giveaway
Friday, August 30: Fan Appreciation Night plus Post-Game Fireworks

Four for the Road
Friday, May 24: Dudes vs. Foods Night.  If you’ve ever wanted to test your chops, or perhaps stomach, as a competitive eater tonight is your night.  Maybe you’ll take home the Yellow Mustard Belt!

Contestants in last season’s Dudes vs. Foods contest (photo by Leslie Watts/Gwinnett Braves).

Friday, June 21: ’80s Night / Powder Blue Jersey Auction.  If you remember the Atlanta Braves playing in power blue jerseys during the ’80s with Dale Murphy patrolling the outfield and Bruce Benedict behind home plate, you will want to attend this game.  Following the trip down memory lane, fans can bid on game-worn throwback jerseys and own a piece of the 1980s.  Proceeds from the auction support Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation.

Friday, July 5: Beach Party.  There’s no need to pile the family into the minivan and trek to the coast, you can make the trip to Lawrenceville and have the beach brought to you.  Themed contests will allow fans to experience the beach without the three-hour drive.

Saturday, July 20: Notebook Giveaway / Camouflage Jersey Auction.  If you don’t have enough camouflage in your closet, here’s your chance to watch the G-Braves play in camo jerseys and bid on them after the game.  I’m sure there will be some “Duck Dynasty” fans in attendance, too.  Proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Savannah Sand Gnats
Thursday, May 23: Military Appreciation T-Shirt Giveaway
Saturday, May 25: Girl Scout Night plus Post-Game Fireworks
Sunday, May 26: TailsSpin Bark in the Park
Tuesday, June 11: Marco’s Feed Your Face: All-You-Can-Eat Pizza
Friday, June 14: Sand Gnats T-Shirt Giveaway
Saturday, June 15: Boy Scout Night plus Post-Game Fireworks
Thursday, June 27: Military Appreciation T-Shirt Giveaway / Military Jersey Auction
Saturday, June 29: Coastal Health District Healthy Heart Night plus Post-Game Fireworks
Sunday, June 30: TailsSpin Bark in the Park
Thursday, July 11: Military Appreciation T-Shirt Giveaway
Friday, July 26: Johan Santana Bobblehead Giveaway
Sunday, July 28: TailsSpin Bark in the Park
Thursday, August 8: Military Appreciation T-Shirt Giveaway
Sunday, August 25: TailsSpin Bark in the Park

Four for the Road
Thursday, June 27: Military Appreciation T-Shirt Giveaway / Military Jersey Auction.  Admission is free for active duty military personnel with an ID and the first 100 active duty service members will received a free armed forces T-shirt.  The Sand Gnats will wear military-inspired jerseys that fans can bid on following the game.  Proceeds benefit local military charities.

Digital copy of the Savannah Sand Gnats military jerseys created by OT Sports.

Saturday, June 29: Coastal Health District Healthy Heart Night.  Not ever promotion allows fans to leave the stadium with a new item.  Sometimes the promo focuses on local charities or promoting awareness, and that’s the case here.  Fans kick off the day with the Home Run 5K Trot at 8 a.m. before the evening’s game.

Friday, July 26: Johan Santana Bobblehead Giveaway.  Most minor league teams honor former players who reached The Show with a bobblehead, but the Sand Gnats are doing something unique with this giveaway.  The team celebrates its affiliation with the New York Mets by honoring two-time Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star Johan Santana with his own bobblehead, although he has never played for the team.

Sunday, August 25: TailsSpin Bark in the Park.  The last Sunday of each month fans can bring their family pooch to the park, and this is the last chance to bring your four-legged friends to the stadium this season.

Rome Braves
Friday, May 31: Beach Towel Giveaway
Saturday, June 1: Mystery Bag Giveaway
Sunday, June 2: National Cancer Survivors Day
Friday, June 7: Ladies Night
Saturday, June 8: Appearance by Zooperstars
Friday, June 21: Retro Braves Night
Saturday, June 22: Parrot Head Paradise Night with Post-Game Concert: The Swinging Medallions
Thursday, July 4: Celebrate America Night plus Post-Game Fireworks
Friday, July 5: Appearance by BBoy McCoy
Friday, July 19: Craig Kimbrel Bobblehead Giveaway
Saturday, July 20: Post-Game Concert: Slippery When Wet
Friday, August 2: Appearance by Myron Noodleman
Saturday, August 3: Post-Game Concert: The Tams
Friday, August 16: Tribute to the King – Elvis Night
Saturday, August 17: Back to School Puzzle Night plus Post-Game Fireworks

Four for the Road
Friday, June 7: Ladies Night.  Female fans will receive a night of pampering at the park.  So bring your mom, wives, girlfriends, or the cute girl at work and impress her with an opportunity to be pampered while watching America’s Pastime.

Saturday, June 22: Parrot Head Paradise Night with Post-Game Concert: The Swinging Medallions.  Fans of Jimmy Buffet already picked up on the theme of tonight’s game, and fans can bid on special Parrot Head Paradise jerseys the Braves will wear tonight.  After the game, fans can enjoy the sounds of The Swinging Medallions, the Party Band of the South.

Friday, August 2: Appearance by Myron Noodleman.  There are a variety of entertainers who visit minor league ballparks and arenas throughout the year, but everybody’s favorite nerd is among the best entertainers out there.  Tonight is your only chance to catch him at a game in Georgia this season.

America’s hippest nerd performing at State Mutual Stadium last season (photo courtesy of the Rome Braves).

Friday, August 16: Tribute to the King – Elvis Night.  Here’s proof you don’t have to be in Memphis to celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, as the Braves play tribute to Elvis.  Enjoy music from Elvis along with King-themed trivia, and fans dressed as Elvis can enter a Look-a-Like contest.

Augusta GreenJackets
The GreenJackets take a different approach to promotions.  Instead of numerous giveaways or appearances that take place on almost any night of the week, the club reserves giveaways for Saturdays and highlights deals the rest of the week.  Here’s the rundown of daily deals followed by the Saturday night specials:

Mondays: Feed Your Face Mondays (All-you-can-eat on select items until the 6th inning)
Tuesdays: Two-for-Tuesdays (Two-for-one pricing on soft drinks and draft beers)
Wednesdays: BI-LO Baseball Bingo (Play baseball bingo for prizes)
Thursdays: Thirsty Thursday ($1 soft drinks and $1 draft beers)
Fridays: Fireworks Friday (Post-Game fireworks show)
Saturdays: American Family Insurance’s Saturday Family Night (special giveaways)
Sundays: Kids Day! (Children under 12 can participate in pre-game and post-game activities)

Saturday, June 1: Tim Wakefield Statuette Giveaway
Saturday, June 8: Bark in the Park
Saturday, June 22: GreenJackets Baseball Cap Giveaway
Saturday, July 6: Appearance by the Inflatamaniacs
Saturday, July 20: Military Appreciation Night
Saturday, August 3: Pablo Sandoval Statuette Giveaway
Saturday, August 17: GreenJackets Team Photo Giveaway

Four for the Road
Saturday, June 1: Tim Wakefield Statuette Giveaway.  The club inducted former Boston Red Sox knuckleballer into its Hall of Fame this season, and honor him with a miniature statue.  The two-time World Series champion played for the club as a first baseman in 1989 in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system before converting to a full-time pitcher the following season.

Saturday, July 6: Appearance by the Inflatamaniacs.  Fans who watched last summer’s “America’s Got Talent” should remember the Inflatamaniacs.  The judges quickly booted the quartet, but fans can expect them to bring their best stuff to Lake Olmstead Stadium.  The diverse group makes its only scheduled appearance in the region tonight.

Saturday, July 20: Military Appreciation Night.  The club has not announced any special jerseys or promotions for the night, but with Fort Gordon just 25 minutes away from the stadium it is sure to be a special night to honor America’s armed forces.

Saturday, August 3: Pablo Sandoval Statuette Giveaway.  It cannot be easy miniaturizing a player nicknamed Kung Fu Panda because of his girth, but the GreenJackets have done it to honor another member of their inaugural Hall of Fame class.  Sandoval split time between first and third base while playing in Augusta during the 2006 season.  He has gone on to help the San Francisco Giants claim two World Series crowns, and earned World Series MVP honors during the 2012 Fall Classic.

Pablo Sandoval statuette (photo courtesy of the Augusta GreenJackets).

Recapping the Promotions
Whether you hit the highways for a road trip or just visit your local ballpark, you’re now equipped with information about some of the most unique promotions coming to a stadium near you.  Enjoy some of the most cost friendly family entertainment available and catch the stars of tomorrow in your own backyard!

Harry S. Truman Birthplace in Lamar, Mo.

On May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Mo., John and Martha Ellen Young Truman welcomed their first born child into the world. Harry S. Truman was named after his mother’s brother Harry Young, and received a middle initial “S” to honor his paternal grandfather Anderson Shipp Truman and maternal grandfather Solomon Young.  However the letter “S” did not specifically stand for either Shipp or Solomon.

The Truman family moved to Harrisonville, Mo., ten months after Harry’s birth.  The Trumans never resided in the house again, but Harry returned in 1959 when the State of Missouri dedicated it as part of Harry S Truman Birthplace State Historic Site.

Exterior of the Truman family home.
First-floor bedroom where Harry was born.

Marker dedicated to Harry’s accomplishments on April 19, 1959, when his birthplace became a state historic site.