Play Ball!

Summer is officially here in a day or so and that means a lot of things to people: picnics, vacations, grilling, gardening, shorts and sandals. Summer also means baseball.

Wednesday evening we went to the third home game of the inaugural season of our new minor league team, the Hillsboro Hops. They won their first 3-game series in franchise history, but then, everything is “history” to this brand new club. They’re a short season single A minor league team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hops memorabilia

The Portland area – Hillsboro is a city about 15 miles to our west – hasn’t had any professional baseball since the Portland Beavers left in mid-2010. The team was the Yakama Bears until last year. They made the move to Hillsboro and were renamed the Hops, the grain used in brewing beer. That’s appropriate since the Portland area is one of the micro-brew capitals of the country and they grow a lot of hops in the Hillsboro area.

It took us about 25 minutes to drive from our home to the stadium, park and walk in. It was easy to find, parking is $5 and there is plenty of it and our seats were great, just a few rows behind the Hops dugout between first and home. The crowd of 2,740 or so was friendly and well behaved, the seats comfortable, the setting very pleasant. The weather forecast was for rain, and we half expected a rain delay or rainout, but we were lucky and though rain fell nearby, providing us with a rainbow beyond left field, we stayed dry.We had a lot of fun and already have tickets to another game. We went into the team store and each picked up a cap to wear to our next game. Go Hops!

Hops header

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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18 Responses to Play Ball!

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Sounds like fun!

  2. Richard says:

    It was, Bill. Great seats, but then there’s not a bad one in the 3600 seat stadium). Hot dogs and cold beer, sitting close to the field, even a rainbow. About the 5th inning, Barbara turned to me and said “this is a blast!” It sure was, we had a great time. It had been a long time since I’d been to a baseball game.

  3. Sounds like a perfect summer night, Richard.

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    MInor League baseball is more fun than the Majors.

  5. Art Scott says:

    I’m spoiled in having a major league team – and a good one – to root for. But the hassle & expense of going to a Giants game is now more than I can handle (I’ve been to 3 games). So it’s tv for me. Years ago, in Spokane on business, a co-worker and I spent a fun evening at the Spokane Indians park, my sole experience with minor league ball. I see that Spokane is one of the Hops rivals. Dare I ask if the Hops have a costumed mascot yet, and if so, what is it?

  6. Richard, glad you had a baseball picnic. Baseball and cricket are as different as Spillane and Christie. I have stopped watching cricket because of allegations of betting and rigging, in some cases with the involvement of the players.

  7. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Sounds great, Rick. I must admit we haven’t been to either of the local minor league parks that have opened in recent years, that of the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets farm) in Coney Island or the Staten Island Yankees (a real hassle to get to from here – from Lower Manhattan it is simple). I remember the park in Portland from our one visit there.

    Art’s comment perfectly echoes our own feelings. First, to get from Bay Ridge to Yankee Stadium is a major undertaking. Second, prices have gone through the roof in recent years to the point where we’ve just stopped going. Do you want to pay $100 a ticket to sit out in left or right field with no guarantee your team won’t give up a bunch of runs in the first inning, knowing you’ve got an hour and a half trip home ahead of you?

    We don’t either.

  8. Richard says:

    Carl, it was.
    Patti, I think you’re right, except for the level of play. But it’s cheaper, easier to visit (as Art says further down) and basically a more pure baseball experience without the big league hype. We really had a lot of fun.

  9. Richard says:

    Art, I used to go to a couple of Angels games every year, but for the seats I preferred – about even with the bag on first or third sides, a couple of sections up – the price tag plus parking got too steep. So like you I’d watch on television. I still do, catching a few Mariners or Angels games during the season, then we watch the playoffs and series. I was thinking the other night, I’ve been to San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels, L.A. Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners games but to no other major league ballpark. Obviously, I’m a west coast fellow. The mascot, when he finally appears at the next home stand, will be that thing in the bottom bar of the post.

  10. Richard says:

    Prashant, I’ve only seen video clips of cricket in films and television. One of the Inspector Morse had some in it, I believe. Coming from my U.S. perspective, with American baseball so ingrained, what I saw made little sense to me, I’m afraid.

  11. Richard says:

    Jeff, one thing I can recommend, if you are traveling and have the chance, take in a minor league game. The single A level is just for coaching and developing, so the level of play is less than AA or AAA, but still fun. After all, it is pro baseball, and every player is hoping to move up.

    Travel time was small for the game Wednesday, but next time we’re going to a day game that starts at 1:15 on a Friday. The drive home will be brutal as we’ll be right in the Friday rush hour on both freeways we travel from home to Hillsboro and back.

  12. We have a Diamondbacks affiliate here in Missoula as well (Pioneer League — the youngsters) — the Missoula Osprey. I went to my first games last year, and loved it for many of the reasons already outlined by everyone else. The season opener was last night, and it was a victory. I plan to make a few games this year.

    I went to several MLB games last summer during my work travels; Boston, San Francisco, Cincinnati, San Diego, Houston. I had a great time. Hope to go to more this year. When I was in the Seattle area in the ’95/’96 years I went to bunch of Mariners games, which were great considering that was kind of their “golden” era. The Kingdome was a dump, but those games were a blast.

  13. Art Scott says:

    I’m watching a top level cricket match right now: ICC Champions Trophy England vs. S. Africa semifinal (it’s streamed on WatchESPN; have a look!). I got interested in cricket via British detective fiction (most notably Murder Must Advertise), watched it on tv when I could during my trips to England, & took in a match at The Oval in London (where this match was played). Ballparks: Cleveland Municipal Stadium (gone), many times as a kid, Forbes Field (gone) in Pittsburgh, once (Roberto Clemente won with a walk-off), Cleveland Jacobs Field or whatever they call it now, Giants AT&T Park, A’s Oakland Coliseum (now known as the Ed Norton Memorial Stadium & other rude names), Colorado Rockies Coors Field (during Bouchercon) and I think that’s it. I’d be willing to bet your mascot will be named “Hoppy”.

  14. Richard says:

    Art, you’re probably right about the name, I don’t think I’ve heard it yet. I’m pretty sure we don’t get that ESPN channel, we seem to only get ESPN and ESPN2. I wouldn’t watch the cricket anyway. I will be watching the college world series which comes on in about 45 minutes, though.

  15. Our minor league baseball team, the Buffalo Bisons, have been up and down this season. They started out winning eight games in a row, but lately they’ve been struggling. But, tomorrow night is STAR WARS night (bring your light saber!) with lots of fireworks!

  16. Evan Lewis says:

    So which hats did you get – the froggy-faced Hop or the big H? I was a fan of Class A ball in Portland back in 1977, when Jim Bouton played for the Portland Mavericks. Of course, I was more a fan of his writing than of his pitching. And I was big Portland Beavers fan circa 1990, when they were the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Glad to see baseball back, but Hillsboro is like a whole ‘nother country to us folks in the Southeast.

  17. Richard says:

    I got the H while Barbara got the light colored one that says “Hops” on the front and the hops character (really small) next to it. I actually like hers better and will pick one of those up next time we go – about 3 weeks. It takes us about 20 minutes to get there.

  18. Not surprisingly, local high school baseball coaches are excited about having a minor league team in town. The players can be role models for young baseball players, and also provide a valuable teaching opportunity.

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