Cal League Tour 2004: Phase II

Before we get started, I’d just like to extend my sympathies to the family of Doug Pappas. If you haven’t heard by now, Doug passed away unexpectedly this weekend. I knew Doug only by his work and his reputation. From those who knew him personally, I understand that we’ve lost not only a great talent but a great gentleman as well. RIP…

This month’s trip took us to Adelanto and Rancho Cucamonga. I’d been to the Epicenter on more than one occasion, but this would be my first visit to Friendly Maverick Stadium.

Saturday: San Diego to Adelanto (Or Somewhere in That General Area)

Adelanto lies 73 miles north of Los Angeles, up the I-15 and off a few miles along US-395. Rumor has it there is an actual town somewhere, but we saw only a truck stop, Bravo Burgers, and the ballpark. Conveniently, all are clustered together just to the right of nowhere and even share a parking lot.

Bravo Burgers

From the outside, the park looks like most of the other SoCal parks in the Cal League. A little older, more understated perhaps, but built along the same lines of the facilities in Lancaster and Elsinore.

Entrance to Friendly Maverick Stadium

We sat directly behind home plate, front row. If there is a better way to spend eight bucks, I have yet to find it. My pictures from inside the stadium didn’t come out too great, but if you want to get a feel for the place, check out this photo tour.

The oddest features at Friendly Maverick Stadium are the "sky boxes," which can’t be more than 20 feet above field level and which are basically brick partitions accessible only by a door in the back. Or by hopping over the thigh-high brick wall in front.

Living Large in Adelanto

Amazingly, in only the second time I’ve seen Elsinore play this year, I again saw the Storm catcher nail his pitcher in the back on a throw to second. This time it was on a pitch that scooted maybe 10-15 feet away from the plate. Runner from first ended up scoring all the way from first on a play that defies description. Incidentally, that is the “1″ there in the bottom of the eighth that proved to be the game winner.

Mavs Win

Sunday: Adelanto to San Diego, via Rancho Cucamonga

The Epicenter at Rancho Cucamonga is pretty much the class of the California League. [Bill Mitchell gives a nice rundown of the stadium, complete with pix, over at Top Prospect Alert.]

One of the cool things about the Epicenter is that it is surrounded by several softball fields. Local rec leagues actually play on these fields before, during, and after Quakes games. We sat and watched a game for a while as we waited for the stadium to open. You can actually catch the softball action from parts of the concourse inside the Epicenter. Not that you’d want to, but it’s there if you need it.

On this day, the Spam truck made an appearance.

Yummy Spam

So did an endless stream of Little Leaguers before the game. Tim Salmon, on rehab assignment, did not play. But Seattle phenom Felix Hernandez did.

Seattle phenom Felix Hernandez

Rated the Mariners’ #1 prospect by Baseball America, Hernandez featured a fastball that ran 91-94 according to the scoreboard readings, occasionally touching 95. But his command was off, and the killer breaking ball I’d read about never materialized. Final line: 4 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2 HR. Not quite what I was expecting, but even the brightest talents have their bad days.

And even the worst days at a ballgame are better than the best days most anywhere else. Next up on the tour, Stockton and Modesto…

Rancho Cucamonga mascot Tremor

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