Sunday, June 14, 2009

Breakfast, Baseball, and other Things That Begin with B

Back in 2007, Jason Intreiri, Nick Angotto and I famously traveled to Florida to broadcast the Greenwich-Naples game on WGCH. For some reason, I promised myself that I would visit a Waffle House in the Naples area for breakfast. Jason agreed and was soon hooked (and I recall Nick found it mighty taste as well).

The legend grew from there. I continued to rave about it, but lamented how far it was from the home base to the nearest location. One day, we said, we would return to the Waffle Houses of Pennsylvania, Maryland or other lands far from home.

Tim Parry hopped on board and brought along friend Sheryl Rosen. Jason Intrieri was happy to return, and provided our wheels (a big thanks to my good friend). But it couldn't just be breakfast. We had to make it interesting. about some baseball!?

Initially the idea bounced between a game in Lehigh Valley, as their IronPigs were hosting the Charlotte Knights. Sheryl was especially fond of the idea of buying a t-shirt that said "IronPigs" on it. I favored the idea of going to see the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees but figured I wouldn't make a big deal about it. In the long run, it made no difference. The I-hams (cute, no?) were nearly sold out and the Yankees just didn't seem to excite. So we came up with Plan B - The Reading Phillies. The Phils were hosting the Harrisburg Senators and giving away a cool camouflage hat.

Our plan was set.

I'll spare you the gory details (it's been a long day and I'm fried). Tim had car problems (that's why Jason drove), we had rain in the morning, and other minutiae like that. What mattered was that we arrived at that oasis of breakfast heaven just after 10 AM...

I think we all agreed that it was worth the trip. Our cardiologists might not agree. This, incidentally, is the location on Airport Road in Allentown.

They take cleanliness seriously here!

Onto Reading for some baseball, and bonus baseball at that! Thanks to rain, the Senators and Phillies needed to finish up their previous game, suspended after nine innings tied at one. The Senators would win in 11 innings. The Phillies would win the regular game, using some late heroics to do so.

Full disclosure: we were gone by the end. It had been a long day and we feared the traffic and drive that awaited, so we were gone by the 7th inning stretch.

FirstEnergy Stadium is a gem. Open for baseball in 1951, the stadium is proof that what is old can be new again. A recent article called it the 3rd best in Minor League Baseball, and it would be hard to argue.

This is the courtyard area in back of the stands on the first base side. All the necessary items are there - play area, mini golf(!), autograph area, and lots of food (including one dollar hot dogs on this day). This is what Yale Field could have looked like, and the way all franchises should go - this shows local flavor, and lots of character.

Among the other bargains? How about a free program, with scorecard? It's small, but big enough to do the job. There are plenty of amenities everywhere. We wandered the whole place. We stood in the left field stands during the pregame.

I'd love to go to a night game there as well. I imagine it would be a nice place to spend a summer evening.

You couldn't go wrong. Our seats were down the first base line, next to the bullpen in the second row. They cost $11. You didn't want to leave your seat (they were long rows) and admittedly, the guys in front of us didn't seem too fond of our loquaciousness.

Whatever. Maybe we seemed like out of towners (we did).

The stadium has a pool in the right field corner, and picnic areas on the third base side. In short, it mixes the old with the new, but it doesn't feel like an old ballpark in terms of comfort.

Oh and Tim had one of those days. The team's masterful in-game entertainment crew shot off squishy balls and T-shirts. Tim got one of each, and was nice enough to give the ball to me to bring home to Sean, who also got a commemorative cup and a hat (both courtesy of Jason). Jason also posed for a picture with a player, center fielder Quentin Berry.

The rest of the pictures are here.

Incidentally, I took some road pics as well (including one from inside the ballpark today) and will upload them soon. I've got a mother load to put up!

I didn't quite think the day would go so efficiently and so quickly, but somehow we were back in Greenwich by 7:30 and I was home just after 8:00. No, we didn't go to the Reading outlets (that's OK) but it just goes to show that Reading, PA is very reachable from Carmel, Greenwich, and other parts of the metro New York area. The trip can be done in about three-and-a-half-hours.

A great day. Minor League baseball rocks (and breakfast was mighty good too).

1 comment:

Tim Parry said...

So when's the encore? We hittin' Allentown?