On my way back to Stillwater for the school year I took a somewhat scenic route to watch some baseball games, and see some sights along the way. My first stop on the way from Georgia was Tuskegee, Ala., where I saw Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. Both sites were especially compelling because of the role they played within American – especially African-American – history. However, back to one of the primary reasons I took circuitous route to return to graduate school: attending a Montgomery Biscuits baseball game at Riverwalk Stadium.
The stadium is built into a former railroad building, which is clear from the signage at the corner of Coosa and Tallapoosa streets. The building still bears decorative signage dating from 1898 as home of the Western Railway of Alabama.
The view from home plate does not provide fans with a spectacular view, but there is a nice scoreboard in left center and fans get a nice, open view of the field. The signage in the outfield isn’t obsessive, so fans can watch the game for the sake of watching a game without being inundated with advertising.
The crowd was almost nonexistent when I went to the game, and I’m not sure why. It was a Wednesday night in August, so it’s not a prime game-night but I expected the crowd to be better than what I saw. Official attendance listed the gathering at 1,681. I won’t argue about attendance figures, but there were not that many folks in the stands from what I saw.
Anyway, onto the food. With a team called the Biscuits and being in the South, I had to try the biscuits at the ballpark. The biscuit stand is on a wide concourse immediately behind home plate, so you can’t miss it. I had a few options for my biscuits, but settled on plain biscuits for a handful of reasons. #1: I didn’t want to eat JUST biscuits, so I couldn’t get chicken biscuits or biscuits and gravy and feel like I could eat something else. #2: I almost went for the strawberry shortcake biscuits, but passed when I learned that the strawberries were not fresh and came from a can. By default that meant I had to get plain biscuits and cover them with butter and either syrup or jelly.
Growing up in the South I’ve had biscuits with honey or jelly quite often, but I’d never had biscuits with syrup until this night. I faced a difficult decisions: Alaga syrup or Yellow Label. After taking into consideration some sage advice from the veteran biscuit seller and sampling the two varieties, I opted to mix and match. So I combined the yellow label with the original cane flavored syrup for a delicious treat.
For my sustenance I opted for a foot-long red hot sausage at the Sausage Shack. I love encased meats, so I had to go for the locally-made sausage. I’ve never heard of Conecuh before, but I was very pleased with their meat. Yes, insert inappropriate meat joke. I got my sausage topped with grilled peppers and onions and added sauerkraut before topping it with just a touch of yellow mustard.
I also tried another beer from Back Forty Beer Co., which is based in Gadsden, Ala. I tried their Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale previously (read my visit to Regions Park for more details), so I decided to stick with the local craft brew and branched out with their Naked Pig Pale Ale. It was a good pairing with the spicy sausage, and I’m glad I stuck with a brand I already knew.
The food I missed out on were Dreamland BBQ nachos, but I had them at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., a few weeks prior to this trip. So I didn’t feel the need to sample them again, but many folks told me to try something from the South of the Border cart because it was the best bang for my buck. So maybe next time I’ll experiment with Mexican food at an Alabama ballpark.
Food is always great, especially when it’s unique to the ballpark or region. However, I think the best moment of the game was getting my photo taken with Biscuits mascot Big Mo – the biscuit lovin’ beast. I don’t know how to describe him, and some friend said he looked like an anteater. I guess it just goes to show you that some creatures are beyond description, and you just have to love them for what they are.
The game moved along fairly quickly as the Biscuits rallied in the 9th to claim a 2-1 victory over the stunned Jackson Generals. A dribbler down the first base line left the pitcher and first baseman confused as to who should cover the base and who should field the ball, so the runner on second raced around the bags as the batter dove head-first and under the tag of the first baseman to give the home team the win. It was a great finish to the game!
Regardless of how the game’s score, I loved my experience at Riverwalk Stadium. It is a great location in downtown with ample street parking nearby, and it wonderfully incorporates an old building into a newer structure. To top it off, the Biscuits’ staff plays up the aspects that make people fall in love with Minor League Baseball.
Final: Jackson Generals 1, Montgomery Biscuits 2