A July 2006 trip
to Boise by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: Two die-hard Red Sox fans enjoy a night of fun at Memorial Stadium in Boise, home of the Boise Hawks baseball team.
The Boise Hawks are the Single A baseball affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Major League's National League. The Hawks have been in existence for about 25 years and before that, they were affiliated with the California then Anaheim then Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League.
Being die-hard Red Sox fans, Mom and I can be snobbish about other teams, and we didn't know if a night at the Hawks would be worth the admission fee to see them play, but we were proved wrong and were entertained by a great game and beers for the night.Unfortunately, Memorial Stadium isn't very handicapped friendly, and Mom was slightly winded climbing up the stairs, and a man on crutches was helped to his seat by one of the ushers. Anyone who is wheelchair bound can sit behind home plate below the stands near the food court.
Tickets to a minor league baseball game are cheap and you can catch some of the game's future stars at the beginning of their careers, and you aren't going broke doing it.
The food prices vary at the Hawks' games, but we got beers because of a special on Thursday night, but peanuts, Mom's favorite baseball snack, and my favorite snack, nachos, were pricey. Next time, Mom and I are smuggling peanuts and water in our bags since they don't seem to search your bags when you go into the stadium. You also can't bring cameras into the stadium, but I snuck mine in and got some shots of the game for this journal.
Memorial Stadium does not have a lot of shaded seats so be prepared to be in the sun a lot and wear appropriate protection, but most of the games during the week start at 7:15 p.m., and it is starting to cool down and makes watching the game bearable. The third base side is the best place to watch the games without getting heat stroke.
The down things about the game is the lack of parental supervision of their children. There were kids running up and down the cement stairs throughout the game, and Mom was waiting for a kid who had the wrong shoes on to take a face plant down the stairs. So, my advice is to send the kids to the play area on the first base side or keep them seated.
Hawk's Stadium is a strictly cash business, and they don't take debit or credit cards except at the ticket booth, but there is an ATM machine in the souvenir shop for you to use when it opens at 6:30 p.m. Next time, Mom will make sure she has cash beforehand, but one of the park's employees was nice to open the shop for Mom to use the ATM machine before 6:30.
Since it was rush hour when Mom left home to go to the game and needed to run an errand, we went the back roads to Memorial Stadium by going all the way down Cole Road to Goddard Avenue and taking a left. Then you take a right onto Glenwood Avenue and Hawks Stadium is on the right-hand side after Les Bois and The Fairgrounds.
For newcomers to Boise to get to Memorial Stadium, take the Cole Road (50A) exit off of I-84 and take a right from the East and Left from the West. Go all the way down Cole to Goddard and follow the directions from above.
Parking is plentiful and in a dirt parking lot, so be prepared for dust. Also there is the risk of your car getting hit by foul balls if you are parked close to the field. Unlike many of the big-league parks, Memorial Stadium is easy to get into and out of before and after games, and it only took Mom and I about 10 minutes to get out of the parking lot after the game.
Boise, Idaho has a local baseball team, the Boise Hawks, who are the Single A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Major Leagues. The Hawks have been in existence for 25 years and at first were the Anaheim (now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and before that the California Angels) Angels Single A affiliate. The Hawks who have made it big in the majors are Marlin's pitcher Dontrelle Willis and Mariners pitcher Jarrod Washburn.
So was it worth the $5 admissions price to see the Hawks in action? Stay tuned! Mom and I were pleasantly surprised that it was worth leaving our swamp coolered sanctuary and a Red Sox game on NESN (New England Sports Network) to see the local team play ball.
Mom and I got an early start to the field in order to beat traffic and get decent seats. Hawks Stadium has reserved seating, and the box seats which cost $9 sell out fast, but Mom and I decided to sit in the cheap seats where it might be cooler. After getting our tickets, it was time for food! You can't watch a ball game without beer, nachos, or peanuts. Once we got to the food court, Mom was told she couldn't use her debit card, and we had to get a nice employee of the park to open the souvenir shop to use the ATM machine inside. Once inside, we told them we were die-hard Red Sox fans who were hoping to catch Jeremy Papelbon in action. Who is Jeremy Papelbon, you might ask? He is the younger brother of Red Sox stopper Jonathan, who leads the majors in saves this season. "We need a Papelbon fix!", I joked to the employee.
It was Dollar Beer Night at the stadium that night, and in honor of a Canadian team, the Vancouver Canadians playing the Boise Hawks that night, there was Kokanee, a Canadian beer for sale along with Coors and Coors Light (BLECH!). So armed with beer and snacks, Mom and I made the climb up the stairs to our seats on the third base side. Memorial Stadium is small, so we had a good view of the action from our upper deck seats and could make out the numbers of all of the players.
A family of a Mom, Dad, and little girl sat behind us, and the mother just wouldn't shut up. Asking her husband stupid questions and talking on and on. The little girl was telling her Mom to shut up because she was embarassed, and in the row in front of "Yip and Yap," Mom and I were rolling our eyes and not looking forward to hearing this lady ramble on for the whole game.
Finally at 7:15, the game started. The noise of the fans somewhat drowned out "big mouth" behind us, and we were able to watch the game in relative peace. The Hawks were playing the Vancouver Canadians, the Oakland A's Single A affiliate. "How appropriate!", Mom said since our Red Sox were playing the Canadians parent club at home this weekend. Being Single A Short Season, this league is the league where the newly drafted players from the international, high school, and college ranks get the kinks and bad habits their old coaches and parents taught them in their youth. If the players do well in the Short Season League, they are called up to the Single A Long Season, and the Cubs Single A Long Season affiliate is in Peoria, Illinois.
The Hawks pitcher, Billy Petrick, struggled and gave up a run in the top of the first, but the Hawks pulled ahead at the bottom of the inning to lead 2-1 after one inning.
As I mentioned above, Single A is full of young players from all over the world, and there were a few familiar names in the Vancouver and Boise lineups including Jeremy Papelbon. Vancouver's first baseman is Don Sutton, III, the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, and he looked like his Dad from what I could see, but he is struggling in his first year and struck out twice in the game we saw. The Hawks had a third baseman named Joshua Lansford, who is the son of former batting champion and Red Sox, Carney Lansford, who took the batting title with the Red Sox in 1981, but tore up his ankle the next year sliding into home against the Tigers, and was replaced by future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
The game was going smoothly and the Hawks were leading 4-1 by the 5th inning. In between innings, the Hawks organization has contests on the field for fans to participate in. After a while, Mom and I considered many of these contests cheesy and gimicky and wished for a quiet time in between innings. There were little gymnasts from a local school during two intermissions who lacked form. "Katie has better form rolling over!", I quipped. During the 4th inning, the announcer came out with a big beach ball and was throwing it in the stands. I was getting ready to get some water at the food court but stuck around to deflect the ball from Mom who was sitting down. All we needed is another trip to the hospital for Mom after we vowed we were not going to see the inside of one for a long time after two surgeries in 10 months! One of my spikes hit a kid walking by! In the 6th inning, there was a stupid race of fans in potato costumes around the bases. The costumes had no eyes, and they were blindly running the bases while the Hawks were warming up. "Real smart!", Mom and I thought, "Someone could get hurt with an errant ball!"
The game was tied 5-5 in the 8th inning, and Mom was dreading the thought of extra innings because she had to be up early the next morning for work, but Tyler Colvin, one of our outfielders hit a 2-run home run to put the Hawks ahead 7-5. The Hawks reliever, Alex Maestri from Italy, shut down the Canadians and we held on to the 7-5 score. GAME OVER! Mom wouldn't have to worry about losing sleep over extra innings and we headed home. Before we left, the gabby folks behind us complimented me about my talents as a scorekeeper in my scorebook, and I was very flattered. I have been keeping score of ball games since I was a kid when Dad taught me while watching Red Sox games on TV, and the talent was used during 8 years of little league coaching.
Even without seeing Jeremy Papelbon pitch, the game was great and exciting, and Mom and I hope to be seeing some of these future Hall of Famers in action in the big leagues in the near future. Mom and I are hoping to return for a couple of more games before the season's end, but we still love our Red Sox, who lost to Oakland 7-5 that night. GRRR!!
Minor League Baseball in Boise began in 1975 when the Hawks were then known as the Boise A's, the Single A affiliate of the Oakland A's. The Boise A's existed until 1978, when a Boise baseball team became part of an independent league for one year in 1978.
From 1979-1987, baseball didn't exist in Boise in any form, and another independent team existed from 1987-1989 before they joined the then California Angels organization as the Boise Hawks in 1990. The Hawks relationship with the Angels lasted for 11 years before they became affiliated with the Chicago Cubs in the National League in 2001.
Since its inception as a minor league team, the Hawks have won four league titles in 1991 and 1993-1995 and under the management of Tom Kotchman, the Hawks won 835 games.
In 2002, Steve McFarland became manager of the Hawks and since then, the Hawks have won two Northwest League Championships and three Divisional Titles.
While its parent club, the Chicago Cubs have been mired in a curse started by a billy goat and its owner in 1908, the bad luck has not rubbed off on the Hawks', but they are trying their best to break the "Curse of the Billy Goat." On July 14, 2006, there was the "Curse of the Billy Goat Bobblehead Giveaway" at Hawks Stadium. Fans got a free Billy Goat Bobble Head doll to take home. Unfortunately, I had to work last Friday night, and Mom thought bringing the Cubs curse into our home and to our Red Sox Shrine would curse the Red Sox again. It took 86 years to break our curse, and we do not want to wait another 86 years for our beloved Red Sox to win another World Title!
The penultimate game of the season was between the Boise Hawks and the Tri-City Dirt Devils, the Colorado Rockies (National League) Single A Short Season affiliate. Mom and I arrived about 6:40 p.m. and we received a free bobblehead doll at the entrance. Thinking this was the Billy Goat Bobblehead Doll that we had thought of getting at a previous game, Mom and I were pretty excited, but when we sat down at our seats on the first base side, it was a doll of a man in an Air Force pilot's uniform. "What the heck?", we wondered. It turned out that the bobblehead doll was Scott D. Fann, a fictitious fan of the Hawks and he was in the Air Force in honor of The Boise Hawks' Fann (that's how they spelt it) Appreciation Night. Oh well, it was free!
The game went fast and furious, and it was a close game with the Dirt Devils taking an early 2-0 lead after the 4th inning, but the Hawks tied it in the bottom of the 4th with an RBI triple by left fielder and fan favorite D.J. Lewis, who goes to bat each time with the song Go, D.J. in the background. During the game, Mom was seeing people going up to their seats with big cups of soft-serve ice cream in their hands, and she was salivating. I kept telling her to get some, and I promised that I wouldn't drool over it since I can't have dairy anymore. She held her will power and survived the game without it.
The games in between innings didn't seem as cheesy as before, but the acoustics from the announcer's booth were horrible that night, and the net around the seating made it difficult to judge foul balls hit by the players. For a while there, I thought I should have brought my baseball glove, but no foul balls were hit our way that night! RATS! But then if I had gotten hit by a foul ball, I would be having a hell of a time explaining the bruises to my co-workers!
On Thursday night during the Red Sox game on NESN, Dad saw that our beloved Red Sox had a mascot, a character named Wally for the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Dad thought the Red Sox had gone to hell for bowing so low to get a mascot, and said that the Yankees did not have a mascot. "Yes they do!", Mom and I said. "George Steinbrenner (the Yankees owner)! The Big Giant Head!" Dad said that mascots were a waste of time and money and cheesy. The Boise Hawks have a mascot named Humphrey the Hawk who goes around the stands every game and is a big hit with children of all ages. During the 8th inning, Humphrey came into our area of seating, and I jumped at opportunity to have photo with him. "The ball buster shot!", Mom and I joked.
I couldn't find Larry during the game at all, and it turned out that he was off that night, and I joked with him at work on Monday morning. I told him that Art told us to get a hot dog from you, and he said that he would have if we had been there on a day he was working. Oh well!
The Hawks won the game 3-2 after a game winning double in the bottom of the 7th inning by Designated Hitter Adam Hackstedt, and Mom and I left the game happy and looking forward to more Hawks games next season. When we got home to show Dad our brag shot, he barely flinched. DARN!
Epilogue: The Boise Hawks' season ended in the first playoff season with Salem Keizer, The Oakland A's affiliate. After taking Game 1 in their playoff series, the Hawks lost three games in a row and were eliminated by the pesky Salem Keizer team. But it was a good season, and we are looking forward to another season and a possible championship next year!