Monday, May 21, 2012

Clearwater Threshers Visit

Following a day filled with exquisite beaches, an unexpected stumble into a locally renowned seafood restaurant,  we arrived at our ultimate destination for the day. Bright House Field. Home of the Clearwater Threshers.

Hit the jump to read all about it!

Even the ticket window was nice! $5 got us seats on the outfield grass, and $9.50 got you tickets in the sections directly behind home plate. It was obvious, however, once we walked in that the preferred area of seating was beyond the left field wall at Frenchy's Tiki Pavilion. We made our way towards the outfield berm area, the long way, in order to take in all that Bright House Field had to offer.

One of the best logos in all of sports!
The first thing that was unexpected was the sheer amount of people at the game. The Threshers lead the Florida State League in attendance, and this game was no oddity with a very believable announced attendance of 4,114. The Threshers team store Diamond Outfitters was stunning from the outside, with shelves and racks of clearance merchandise, including an old all baby blue on-field hat with the familiar Thresher on it for only $10! Once walking in the cool, air conditioned store, we were greeted by an incredible amount of merchandise, from Threshers, to Phillies Spring Training, and everywhere in between, including some shirts and hats from other Phillies MiLB affiliates, such as the Williamsport Crosscutters and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. I grabbed an away cap, only ran me $22, and will definitely be getting more Thresher items another time. On our way out of the store, we noticed that they had game-used Threshers and Phillies Spring Training jerseys for only $50 bucks. Now that's a steal. The Braves Spring Training jerseys at Turner Field will run you $100-125 dollars and those are the players that aren't still with the team.

Souvenir Cup!
After the team store, we walked towards the Tiki Pavilion where anyone 21+ can grab a seat, if you get there in time. The popular area has a Tiki Bar that stretches most of the section in left field, the bar itself probably being about 40 feet long. At the Tiki Pavilion, there are happy hour specials, as well as specials for all games. As well as the bar, there was a World of Beer area which, aptly named, served beer from all over the world. A 16 ounce souvenir cup ran $7 but included discounted refills and a free beer at a local restaurant after the game. The same restaurant sponsors a daily "Tweet Your Seat" promotion that gives away a $20 gift card every Threshers home game. The price for the beer was not awful considering there were at least fifty different beers on the list. The sheer variety is the most I've ever seen at a baseball game, but I hear that the Daytona Cubs have a stand that rivals this one.

The trip towards our seats was not finished without fetching some mini corn dogs at a concession stand located next to the World of Beer, that were quite delicious. The outfield grass, at first was nice, as I prefer to sit in the outfield to watch baseball games. I prefer the view to sitting near the infield. The luxury of this view was soon not worth the annoyance of many children that arrived shortly after first pitch. At first, the really nice guy that was doing security in the outfield helped us in our attempt to watch the game in peace from the outfield. In about the fourth inning, it became too much, and we moved towards the first base line where there were very few people.

Bright House Field 5/5/12
There was a small group of loyal Charlotte Stone Crabs (the visiting team) supporters that were stationed behind the Stone Crabs dugout and made themselves heard in the first part of the game as Charlotte jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after two innings. Things soon went downhill as the starting pitcher for the Stone Crabs plunked two batters in the bottom of the third, which in combination with some sloppy fielding allowed the Threshers to plate two runs. Charlotte tied the game up in the top of the fourth, only to give up the lead permanently in the bottom half on three singles and a catchers interference. The Threshers blew the game wide open in the bottom of the 6th after a near beautiful catch by Charlotte right fielder Mikie Mahtook, who lost the ball after colliding with the wall to allow two runners to score. After a monster home run in the next inning for the Threshers, the last three frames were scoreless, the result was an 8-3 Threshers victory.

Tennis Ball Toss! 
After the game there were traditional MiLB promotions such as the Tennis Ball Toss in which fans can buy numbered tennis balls (1 for $1 and 6 for $5) and attempt to throw them into, in this case, a tire that was rolled out from home plate. If your ball landed in the tire, you get all the money spent on tennis balls that night! At this game there were 3 winners that split the over $500 pot. I did not participate in this one, but I will be the next time it takes place when I'm at a game!

This was definitely my favorite game on this trip. I can see why they lead the league in attendance, as their ballpark is very, very nice. It has all the nuances of a Major League ballpark, with a Minor League feel. I would highly recommend Clearwater as a vacation destination, not only for the baseball, but as well as the beautiful beaches and the excellent seafood.

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