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

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