ballparks,  Oklahoma

My night with the Oklahoma City Dodgers – July 4, 2017

There are a lot of pluses and minuses to regularly visiting Minor League Baseball stadiums.  The biggest minus for me is that I only starting blogging about my ballpark visits consistently five years ago.  So I haven’t blogged about all the stadiums I’ve visited over the years.  However, that is also a plus because it gives me incentive to re-visit and blog about those parks.

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is one that I originally visited in 2009 while in graduate school at Oklahoma State University, but I hadn’t started blogging about my stadium visits at that time.  So when planning my summer road trip to visit my wife’s family in Oklahoma, I wanted to be sure to visit the stadium.

Over the eight years since my first visit to the stadium, a lot has changed.  The name changed from AT&T Bricktown Ballpark to RedHawks Field at Bricktown (2011) to Newcastle Field at Bricktown (April 4, 2012) to the current moniker the next day.

The team itself also changed affiliations since my initial visit.  The team was a Texas Rangers affiliate (until 2010) and then became a Houston Astros club (2011-14) and ultimately became affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2015).

The change in affiliation and ultimately ownership resulted in the team becoming the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2015, as L.A. Dodgers minority owner Peter Guber bought the club (read more details here).

Despite multiple changes through the years, one thing has not changed.  The beautiful view fans get when walking up to the stadium’s main gate.

Stadium’s main gate (a.k.a. Johnny Bench Plaza).

There are two murals that flank the main gate.  The art installation is called “Bricktown Experience” and depicts facets of the area’s community.  In the word’s of Susan Morrison, the artist who created these mosaic murals in 2000: “The juxtaposition of old Bricktown and that of modern skyscrapers suggest a physical and spiritual connection between the two.  By placing 1890 motifs alongside present day images, a visual metaphor is created that evokes the timeless connection between past and present.”

The exterior of many stadiums can be rather ho-hum, but Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark celebrates the Hall of Fame careers of a trio of baseball players with ties to Oklahoma.

The statues are a great way to celebrate the state’s baseball heritage, but they are not the only pieces of art outside the stadium of note.  Along the third base line there is a row of six busts celebrating players like “Bullet” Rogan and Lloyd Waner.

A collections of busts outside the stadium celebrate native Oklahomans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

While the team store isn’t usually something to celebrate, unless it has an unusual name that is a terrific pun, I thought the wraparound stickers were noteworthy because of the clear connection between the Oklahoma City affiliate and its parent club in Los Angeles.

The exterior of the team store plays up the club’s relatively new partnership.

After walking around the stadium for a few minutes and capturing photos of the numerous statues, Katie and I finally entered the ballpark.  We walked around the concourse taking in the sights and contemplating our choices at the concession stands.  Before we delved into food, I was particularly struck by the amount of images depicting Oklahoma City’s and the state’s baseball history.

The concourse also features a couple of signage pieces celebrating the team’s more recent history.

The Esurance Call Up Worthy marker celebrating former players who have made their Major League debut.

One of the coolest things about attending Minor League games is getting to see future stars, and the #CallUpWorthy marker celebrates those players.  Another cool part about MiLB games (at least for me as a geographer) is getting to see geographical representations of a MLB’s Minor League affiliates.  Not very stadium has something, but I really enjoyed the display at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

A banner along the first base line shows the distance from Oklahoma City to each of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ other affiliates.

As we were not hungry just yet, I snapped pictures of the starting lineups and the Pacific Coast League standings entering play that night.  Like some other clubs, Oklahoma City displays the starting lineups and league standings on TV screens instead of writing them out on dry-erase boards.  I’m still unsure how I feel about teams using TV screens to display the lineups.  It is certainly easier for the staff to use the electronic format, but as a fan I felt like I was blocking the walkway waiting to get a photo of both lineups and the league standings.  Granted, I probably wasn’t in anybody’s way.

After capturing the lineups and league standings, we waited around a few minutes because it was almost time for the game to begin and I wanted to capture my usual photo of the first pitch from behind home plate.

Oklahoma City Dodgers starting pitcher Madison Younginer delivers the first pitch to Iowa Cubs center fielder Jacob Hannemann.

After snapping a picture of the game’s first pitch, we found our seats along the first base line and enjoyed some of the game.

After watching a couple of innings, we decided it was time to get something to eat.  So we checked out the concourse to weigh our dinner options.

Most of the concession stands have the standard ballpark fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, and more.  There are some unique options at Burgertopia and Franx, although these are both chains found at baseball stadiums.  So it was difficult for me to choose something that I felt was truly unique to this particular stadium.  After much debate, I opted for…

Porker Hot Dog, available at Franx, is a foot-long dog covered in pulled pork BBQ, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw.

The Porker Hot Dog was good.  It wasn’t anything super unique, as I’ve seen this style of hot dog throughout the South (yes, we can kind of call Oklahoma part of the South).  Don’t get me wrong, I’d encourage others to order it and I’d have it again myself.  However, in my stadium journeys I try to find something that is truly unique and reflects the local culture and cuisine.

I finished my hot dog while catching up with grad school friends who met us at the game.  However, these friends were late buying tickets and had to purchase general admission seats because the Fourth of July game is almost always a sell out for the Dodgers.  So instead of trying to find spots for four of us, we chatted and walked around the stadium a bit as I took some photos.

As we walked around the stadium, I was able to capture a few more photos of the game action.

The Dodgers were greeted with raucous cheers after winning the game.  However, I attended a game on the Fourth of July.  So people were there to see fireworks.

The start of the fireworks extravaganza following the game.

I didn’t get many great photos of the fireworks, but it was an awesome display.  It was a national holiday, and it was clear the Dodgers went above and beyond to celebrate America.  However, I saw something this night that I haven’t seen before at other games featuring a fireworks display.  I saw players sitting on the field with their wives and girlfriends and children enjoying the show.

Players, their wives, and children watching the fireworks on the field after the game.

It was awesome seeing the players and their families watching the fireworks display.  It’s a great reminder that no matter how old we are that it’s always special to watch a fireworks display.  It also reminds me of why I enjoy attending Minor League games.  There’s always something new to discover and a memory to be created at every single baseball stadium.

Final Score: Iowa 2, Oklahoma City 5
Box Score

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