I grew up in a sports-minded family, complete with three older brothers, and all of us played sports. I myself played Little League baseball for seven years, even though I was rather clumsy as a child, and couldn't hit my way out of a busted wet paper bag, still I loved the game so much I persisted. Above all, I loved wearing the uniform. There is no better feeling for many young kids than pulling on your first uniform as a proud member of a real, organized team. I still enjoy spectator sports to this day, particularly the high level of competition and drama at the major leagues. Still, ticket prices lately for all four major sports (that's baseball, football, basketball, and hockey to the uninitiated), have escalated to the point that for most of us they must be considered at best the occasional treat. What does the average fan do to get his fix of live professional sports? Answer: Beat the bushes (literally) and try the minor leagues! Ticket prices are much more user-friendly, and the atmosphere is so much fun, you'll find them positively addictive.
Over the years, my lovely wife the Rock Star and I have scored excellent seats for Arena Football (both Dallas Texans and Desperadoes), Texas Tornadoes Junior Hockey (faster and more intense than you might think, and they've won championships!), and best of all I think, most recently we've become fans of the Frisco Roughriders Double-A Texas Rangers-affiliated baseball team, located a mere couple of miles from our casa. It was in search of adventure that myself, the Rock Star, and our good friend The Rock drove to the beautiful 10000-seat park one recent Saturday evening.
Are you kidding? In a word: FUN! People tailgaiting in the parking lots, just like at any real sporting event. Plenty of ample, cheap parking ($5). Easy walk to your seats and not a bad seat in the house. We paid $10 apiece for seats along the right field line IN THE SECOND ROW! That does not happen in the big leagues. Kids and proud dads in uniforms everywhere. Talkative and very friendly vendors. A very active mascot (Deuce) with a female sidekick (Daisy) and plenty of minions to keep the party rolling between innings. Oh, and trust me on this, very, very high-calibre level of baseball. (It is said that the Double-A clubs are where all the top prospects are sent for seasoning.) Not to mention, a few famous names on the field appearing out of the mists of baseball history. (Former Texas Longhorn great Scott Coolbaugh is Rider's first-base coach, and John Mayberry, son of former Kansas City Royal great Big John Mayberry, is one of the Rider's star players. Not to mention former Houston Astros great Luis Pujols is manager of the rival Corpus Christi Hooks. Old ballplayers never die it seems!) All in all, an absolutely wonderful way to spend an evening.
Okay, ballpark cuisine is not exactly dinner at the Mansion, but it is cheap, good, and filling. The promotion on this night was Taste of Bob Evans. If you are unfamiliar with this name (as I was), be advised that Bob Evans has been making high-quality sausages and meats from their Ohio-based company for over 50 years, and are now the proud owners of Texas own Owens Meats, based here in Richardson. When we entered, we were given samples of brautwurst and sweet Italian sausage, and rest assured, the Italian sausage in particular is very tasty and would make a fabulous alternative to the standard hot dog. During the course of the evening, we also sampled the nachos (not enough cheese, they will give you plenty for an extra $1), pepperoni pizza (the famous Red Baron frozen variety, make sure you get them to make it fresh!), hot dogs, (both of my companions assured me theirs were quite good), and roasted peanuts (fresh and hot; nothing is worse than stale peanuts). We washed our repasts down with soft drinks, wine (they also sell some mixed drinks, like those ultra-tall frozen margaritas), and beer. (Wisely, we sought out shorter lines and discovered a girl selling bottled beer, who kindly suggested that I take one of the 16-ounce bottles rather than one of the 12-oz brands, as I would get more beer for my money. I followed her advice religiously.) Needless to say, by evening's end we were quite stuffed, and on top of that, the Riders won! How cool is that???
As stated earlier, the vendors were talkative, friendly and efficient, so much so that in the most crowded lines, they sent out extra workers to start taking and making orders in advance. Also, the Rock Star would like to report that the restrooms are among the cleanest and nicest anywhere, a fact which I could confirm when it came time for my own little visit.
WEBSITE AND OVERALL
You can stake out your own adventure at http://www.ridersbaseball.com/. Check out their promotions and their schedule, which runs from the first of April to the first of September. Do it soon, particularly before the weather gets too hot, and don't forget:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!