Whitecaps Sweep Doubleheader, But Just Happy to Be Playing

Kevin Eichhorn warms up prior to the game

After five tries the Whitecaps finally were able to play a road game, and they celebrated by winning game one very easily. Game two was a little tougher for them, but they still won 6-3. One of the reasons that I wanted to see this team was to see Mark Eichhorn’s son Kevin pitch. He started game one for the Whitecaps. He seemed to be doing really well until the fifth. He gave up two runs to the Silverhawks, and was pulled with two outs in the inning. If he had been left in to get one more out he would have been the winner of the game. Since he was pulled he did not qualify. Continue reading

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Mistakes Cost Silverhawks Game One of Doubleheader

Anything on the field after the last two days is a good thing

The Silverhawks and Whitecaps had been trying to play a game since Friday night, and were finally able to do so this afternoon at Coveleski Stadium. The Whitecaps had been rained out five consecutive times. That has to be hard to handle if you are a ballplayer. With sunny skies thought they were able to get a doubleheader in this afternoon. Continue reading

Stadium Guide: Fifth Third Ballpark

Didn’t I just do one of these. It was a Minor League Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers that I just visited a couple weeks ago. That was Fifth Third Field that is the home of the Toledo Mud Hens (not to be confused with the Fifth Third Field that is the home of the Dayton Dragons). Visiting parks can be confusing. This was my second trip to the stadium located in Grand Rapids. The first was in 2005. Since that time they have added the Pepsi Stadium Club, and the Miller Lite House deck in the outfield. It really adds to the stadium. I am going to change up how I do these a little. I decided that maybe a little more info on the stadium is needed. These will constantly be a work in progress I am guessing.

The park was built in 1994 in Comstock Park, Michigan. This is just north of Grand Rapids, and is very easy to get to. A quick trip through town on 131, and once get off on exit 91 you just have to cross the street to be in the parking lot. The original name for the Stadium was Old Kent Park, but was changed for the 2002 season when Fifth Third Bank bought Old Kent Bank. After the 2005 season the stadium underwent another renovation when the Pepsi Stadium Club and the Miller Lite House Deck was installed in the outfield. They have an entrance and ticket office outside of centerfield, but the preferred entry to the stadium for me is at the home plate entrance.

Here are some of my thoughts on the stadium. This is a nice park overall. The two additions to the outfield seating area provide extra seating, as well as give the park a bigger look. Even though it is plastered with an advertisement the lighthouse in right center is a nice touch as well. With a team like name like the Whitecaps you need something like this in your stadium. This was also part of the renovation after the 2005 season. One major drawback as a person who enjoys taking pictures are the wires that come down from the backstop screen. They really get in the way of seeing the batter for most of the baseline. This is a minor point that really does not affect my overall feeling of the park. One great thing about the park is the trumpet player that goes throughout the stadium playing the music between pitches. He is constantly trying to get the crowd to yell charge, or get them fired up some other way. This is another little quirk that is just different enough to be cool. No weird sound bytes, just a man, a trumpet, and a vast array of song knowledge. The team also invites back former Tiger players to help boost attendance. This year they are having Tiger Fridays where a former Tiger player appears every Friday. In 2005 they were celebrating the 1968 team by wearing throwback jerseys, and inviting back former Tigers. They really have some nice promotions to draw the fans in.

The scoreboard in center is not flashy, but very functional. This stadium does a great job of updating pitchers and changes in the lineup which is important for someone who keeps score. I have started to take rosters for the teams because of the way some stadiums treat pitching changes. Here they have an old school board in center with a newer video board in left. Both of these are used well to add to the overall enjoyment of the game. The plunger that you see to the left of the board is an advertisement that will move up and down and light up during breaks in the game. It is not the home run apple in New York by any stretch, but the little quirks of each park is what makes them interesting.

Here are some of the ballpark stats:
Single A Affiliate: Detroit Tigers (Midwest League)
Original Cost of Stadium: $6 million
Groundbreaking: May 1993
Date of first game: April 12, 1994
Seating Capacity: 10,071
RF Line: 327 feet
LF Line: 317 feet
CF: 402 feet
Power Alleys: 375 feet
Height of outfield wall: 8 feet
Date(s) of visit: 6/7/2005; 6/12/2009

Silverhawks Cannot Find Offense

Tonight I went up to Grand Rapids to see the Silverhawks play the West Michigan Whitecaps. Part of the reason that I wanted to go was to see Fifth Third Ballpark again. Don’t be confused. The park in Toledo that I have visited twice this season is Fifth Third Field. This one in Grand Rapids is Fifth Third Ballpark. Don’t even ask about Dayton. The other reason that I went was to meet Rick Leach. Rick was a dominant quarterback at Michigan as well as a Major League Baseball player. Rick played for the Tigers and Blue Jays for most of his career before spending one year stints with the Giants and the Rangers. I of course got a ball autographed for my collection, and I also got a couple of cards autographed. The Whitecaps are having a different Tiger at every Friday home game this season. This is a great promotion that gave me an idea for a new weekly post for this blog. More on that later.

As for the game it was the first time that I have seen the Silverhawks away from Coveleski Stadium. They looked just as bad here as they did at home. In the bottom of the first a single followed by a triple and another single plated two runs for the Whitecaps. West Michigan scored again in the second inning, and that is all that they would need. The Silverhawks scratched a run across in the 8th, but it was too late. Gustavo Nunez and Brent Wyatt had a hand in all the runs for West Michigan. The real stars of the game were the defensive players. They turned four double plays, and made some great plays on defense. The great defense kept the Hawks off of the board until the 8th. In a 3-1 game, they made all the difference. They deserved to win this game, and they did. After the game the fans were treated to the end of the Pittsburgh/Detroit hockey game. I am glad that I left before the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
This was the 19th baseball game that I have seen this year. This makes the eighth professional park that I have been to as well (I have been to two college stadiums as well). With a couple of months left in the baseball season, this could be a great year for the junkie. I already know that I am going to see at least 3 other pro stadiums in July. Maybe another one next weekend when the Sox go to Cincinnati. The sky is the limit.