It was a spur of the moment situation. I was home alone, sitting at my laptop, trying to figure out what I wanted to do for lunch. There was Thai food, there was a bagel shop, there was a new pizza place I’ve yet to try, there was Round Table Pizza (which I love, and which has better-than-you’d-expect hot wings). Then, a tweet came across my feed from the Tacoma Rainiers. This weekend is Throwback Weekend, and on Saturday they were playing as the Tacoma Giants (1960-1965), with cool old school Tacoma Giants hats going to the first 1,000 fans in attendance (black back for 2/3 of the circumference, white front for 1/3 of the circumference, orange letter T with black outline, orange button on top, and orange curved bill. Here’s a photo if you can’t picture it.
I wanted that hat as soon as I saw it. I also figured a 5:05pm game at Cheney Stadium would be more fun than going to a movie (which was my original plan; I can still see A Quiet Place anytime), so I jumped at the opportunity.
Wanting to get there early enough to get a good parking spot, and ensure I got my hat, I left my house at around 3pm. I live about 3 and a half miles from the stadium through town, so I wasn’t worried about the drive. But, I wanted to gas up my car and get cash from my bank, so I wanted to get a jump on that, as the park opens up 90 minutes before gametime. When I got to the gas station, I found something seriously wrong with my car; even though I clearly had less than a quarter of a tank, the gas pump was reading it as if my tank was full after less than a gallon had been put in. Figuring this was some error with the car’s sensor, I tried to pump more gas into it and it started gushing out of the opening. This was … a new problem for me. I’ve never heard of this happening before. I paid for what little gas I’d pumped and sat in my car, weighing my options.
Option 1 – go to the bank, get my cash, and go to the game anyway. I have a 2017 Prius that I just bought in December, and while I didn’t have a ton of gas, I surely had enough to get me to Cheney Stadium and back, with enough left over to go back to the dealership for repairs.
Option 2 – go to the dealership right then and see if by the grace of God they could sneak me in today.
Considering I knew I had to be in Lynnwood the next day, I figured I didn’t have enough gas to get me there and back. I didn’t want to drive my 1980 Camaro to Lynnwood and back because I’m trying to not put a ton of miles on it anymore. I couldn’t skip out on going to Lynnwood, because it was for a going-away dinner for a buddy of mine who’s moving to Cleveland of all places. And, I didn’t know when I’d have the time after that, as I have to work during the week (and commute back and forth to Seattle at that). So, I went straight to the dealership. Fortunately, they gave me a loaner, so I’m able to get around until they’re able to look at my Prius, which wasn’t going to happen for at least a couple days.
Luckily, I was in and out of there in time to still go to the Rainiers game. I got there around 4pm – which is about 30 minutes later than I’d wanted – but they had plenty of hats left over, so I didn’t come away with nothing.
Boy, I’ll tell you, Cheney Stadium is really nice! For less than $30, I was 7 rows up, just to the third base-side of home plate (basically between the dugout and home plate). Here’s a photo of my view. I guess they have tickets as low as $7? It’s a remarkably good deal, any way you slice it (especially when you compare it to Mariners games at Safeco Field).
You’re not getting away with cheap food though. It’s not ridiculously expensive, but you get the idea. I paid, I dunno, $6-$8 for a footlong hot dog, and around that price for a footlong corndog. I didn’t walk around pricing everything, but that’s the idea. I also didn’t get any beer, so I have no idea what that was running, but I’m sure it wasn’t free. If I would’ve gotten a seat in the first four rows (or thereabouts) behind home plate, it looked like they had a bunch of free food and/or waiters walking around taking your order (presumably for drinks?). I don’t know what those seats cost, but it could very well be a nice deal with the food spread factored in. Also, while Cheney doesn’t have regular outfield seating you’d find at Safeco, there are some field-level seats out in left field that look pretty slick. Imagine if the Safeco bullpen areas had a net in front of them instead of a wall, and you could just sit there; I don’t know what these tickets cost either, but I know I want to try it sometime.
If you just want a cheap, fun day at the ballpark though, you’ll find plenty of seats with sick views of the field for less than $20. There’s also a little grass hill down the first base line where I assume you sit the cheapest. And, I think there’s like a party deck place or something that you can get a seat in, with close access to alcohol stands and whatnot. I dunno, check out the website and figure it out!
Casey Lawrence got the start in this one, and an error by the first baseman cost him a possible double play (it for-sure cost him one out, and one of the two runs he gave up that inning). Overall, he wasn’t super sharp, but he finished his day by getting 7 strikeouts for his last 7 outs; he went 4 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned, officially). Josh Smith followed, going 3 innings, giving up 4 runs (2 earned, thanks to a bad error by the right fielder); Dario Alvarez went the final 2 innings, giving up 1 run.
Down 7-0 in the bottom of the 6th inning, the Rainiers mounted a rally, loading the bases on singles before a sac fly and a 2-run error made it 7-3. The Rainiers made it interesting in the bottom of the 8th, but could only add on one more run. The Sacramento River Cats extended the lead to 8-4, and the Rainiers couldn’t do much of anything against a guy throwing 96 mph smoke in the bottom of the 9th.
I kept score of the game in the little program they were handing out (of course, I had to buy a Rainiers souvenir pen, because I always forget to bring my own pens to these things when I’m by myself and want to keep score), which I haven’t done in ages. I still get a kick out of it, because I’m a boring dork, but that’s neither here nor there.
I’m planning on going to a lot more games in the future. I mean, I might as well, right? I’m living in Tacoma for the foreseeable future, and I’ve got a lot of free time to myself. Not enough time to warrant season tickets (or any of the season ticket packages, as I never know when other plans might crop up), but still, I hope to take advantage of more of these spur of the moment type deals.
It’s a pain in the ass for people from up north to come down to Tacoma, and I get that; I make that drive at least 4 days a week when I find myself visiting Seattle for work or leisure. But, if you’ve got a day to kill, it’s highly worth your while. Tacoma’s got a lot of cool things going on; great bar scene, great food spots if you know where to look. Come early and stay late! You can’t let the concept of shitty I-5 traffic run your whole life!