With the Travelers – Day One


Travs third baseman Freddy Sandoval signs autographs for Little Leaguers before Thursday’s game.

I got up around 3 AM California time on Thursday to take a decent stab at arriving on time for Thursday night’s Travs game against Wichita. The odds didn’t look too good, as I had only a 40-minute layover at O’Hare and I doubted my camera gear would make it.

Leaving Orange County (where the airport is named after a dead Western actor known locally for his many drunk driving detentions, but that’s another story), the flight took off 45 minutes late, but thanks to strong tailwinds we arrived on-time in Chicago. Rushing to the commuter plane gate, it turned out the connecting flight was running an hour late, so plenty of time for the gear to transfer.

An hour late into Little Rock, I went straight to Dickey-Stephens Park, knowing nothing about it other than the rave reviews and some generic directions. Going over the Arkansas River, I saw the Clinton Library off to the right (hopefully I’ll get there today) and then turned left on Broadway (although the sign said to turn right). I saw the ballpark lights and headed in that general direction.

And there it was.

Wow.

To park, you go past the ballpark and through the intersection, then turn into the main lot. You actually walk under the neighboring bridge over the river, with a clearance of about six feet.

Behind the right field fence is a riverboat docked at the bank. During the first inning, it kept tooting its horn and playing calliope music, beyond the control of annoyed players, umpires, fans and no doubt Travs management.

Dickey-Stephens Park was designed with a railroad station look. To reach the clubhouses, the players exit near the right field foul pole and walk up an access ramp. A bridge designed like a trestle spans the ramp for fans to walk overhead.

The park is still a work-in-progress in a few places. A Travs Hall of Fame isn’t ready, although you can see a lot of impressive memorabilia inside the door.

The gift shop is impressive, although when you walk in the door the caps on the shelf facing the door are Yankees caps. Go figure. This is a Cardinals market, so you see just as much Redbirds memorabilia as Angels stuff. Perhaps the biggest insult to my Halo sensitivities was a Rally Monkey wearing a Cardinals jersey.

On the field, both the Travs and Wichita showed a lack of savvy running the bases, but in the end the Travs won 3-2 when Sean Rodriguez singled in the winning run. I’ll have video on-line later today, hopefully.

The wireless connection here in the motel is flaky; right now, I’m in a conference room using a network cable plugged into the wall.

Chris Hunter arrived from Rancho just as I checked into the hotel tonight. The local paper reported this morning that Travs reliever Kevin Lynch has retired, and Chris was sent here to replace him.

UPDATE June 8, 2007 2:00 PM PDTClick Here to watch Sean Rodriguez drive home the winning run in last night’s game.

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