ballparks,  California

My night with the Lake Elsinore Storm – April 13, 2013

When you have a friend whose last name is Storm and you have the chance to watch a team called Lake Elsinore Storm, it’s a requirement to attend a game with him.  Lake Elsinore is about 90 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, where we were staying for our conference.  So on Saturday afternoon we headed out to help my friend accomplish the goal of seeing the Storm play.

After exploring a bit of the town, we arrived at the ballpark a bit before gates opened.

Sign welcoming fans to the Lake Elsinore Diamond.

So after parking the car and heading toward the main gate, we had to wait in line as a crowd was already waiting in line.  It was especially surprising because there was no promotional giveaway item at the ballpark.  The line was just fans anxious to catch an early season game on a Saturday evening.

A throng of people waiting to enter Pete Lehr Field at the Lake Elsinore Diamond.

Pre-game fun

One advantage of entering a ballpark before first pitch is the opportunity to explore, check out the cool gear in the team store, decide on food and drink options, and watch all the pre-game festivities.  In this instance I got to see both mascots on the field during warmups.

Prior to the game, Jackpot greets fans on the field. Jackpot, who is the score keeping rabbit, also operates the manual scoreboard in right field and comes out to celebrate Storm homeruns during the game.

More on the team’s primary mascot, Thunder, later on.

Ballpark sights

As player introductions concluded, my friend Storm and I settled in to watch the first pitch.

Lake Elsinore Storm right-handed pitcher James Needy delivers the first pitch to Inland Empire 66ers shortstop Eric Stamets.

With our seats just rows behind home plate, I felt like my photo didn’t show off the stadium and the fan’s view.  So later during the game I took a photo from farther up in the seating bowl, which I think does a better job of capturing the mountains that surround the city of Lake Elsinore.

An overview of the field during the second inning.

While capturing an overview of the field, I also got photos of the views down the left field line and right field.

The Storm is known for its distinctive logo that features a pair of eyes.  Depending upon personal taste, the eyes are either really cool or really creepy.  The eyes are just about everywhere in and around the stadium.  Even when you don’t think the eyes are nearby, they are!

Grubs and suds

The concession stands have a few unexpected items, but the most unique food is served in The Diamond Club.  Traditionally, I try to enjoy an encased meat.  The Storm serve a variety of meats made by Masterlink, which is a local sausage company.  I opted for the Portuguese Hawaiian Sausage over the Habanero Hot Link.

The Portuguese Hawaiian Sausage, which is topped with grilled peppers.

The Storm feature craft brews from Hangar 24 Craft Brewing, and I selected the Baseball Beer.  The Diamond Club features many other selections from Hangar 24, but I felt that I had to sample the Baseball Beer.  What else would have been appropriate on a Saturday night watching America’s pasttime?

Mugging with the mascot

After finishing my delicious beer and sausage, I was walking around the ballpark and ran into the team’s primary mascot, Thunder.  I attempted to take a selfie with my camera, and failed miserably, so I was thrilled when another fan offered to take my photo with man’s best friend.

Me with Lake Elsinore Storm mascot Thunder.

Recapping the night

Overall, the experience at the Lake Elsinore Diamond was outstanding.  Despite waiting in a long line to enter the stadium, the service at the stadium did not suffer because of the large crowd.  The staff in the team store was friendly and helpful, even offering my friend a small discount because his last name is Storm.

The on-field entertainment was unique and delighted the crowd, young and old.  The food choices covered the staples, but offered special selections for fans who want to experiment when they visit the ballpark.  The seats, which were right behind home plate, were outstanding.  Overall, the Storm provide the epitome of the Minor League Baseball experience.  Every baseball fan should attend at game at Lake Elsinore Diamond.

Final: Inland Empire 1, Lake Elsinore 10
Box Score

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