Gateway Grizzlies

On Monday, we went to a Gateway Grizzlies game. It was honor roll night, and Moose’s teacher had awarded him two tickets, (even though Early Childhood doesn’t actually have an honor roll), so we ordered some extras, and went to the ballpark. Grandpa and Grandma even got to come, making it a really special night.

I’d never been to a Grizzlies game before. Actually, I’ve never been to any minor league game before. Now, technically, the Grizzlies aren’t a “minor league” team, because they’re not affiliated with Major League Baseball–they’re a part of the Frontier League. I guess the best way to describe them would be as a club team–they’re professionals, but not what you usually think of when you think professional baseball players. But everything I’ve ever heard about minor league games fit our Grizzlies experience, so I’m equating the two.

W got to see the Grizzlies play the Normal CornBelters (no, I didn’t make that up!). It was a very fun experience. The park is small, and only seats about 6,000, so no matter where you sit, you’re close to the action. We had a good view of the game, and all of the other action, especially the opposition’s bullpen. And by bullpen, I mean players sitting directly in front of the stands, and warming up on the warning track.

In between innings, there were all kinds of ridiculous contests that were very fun to watch. The groundskeeper’s children racing around in human-sized hamster balls. Racing eyeballs. “Fights” involving giant boxing gloves. It was all hilarious, and to be perfectly honest, more fun than watching the actual game. Sorry Grizzlies. But the entertainment was really what made the game special.

The food at the park was also an experience. The Grizzlies are known for what they call “Baseball’s Best Burger.” Said burger is served not on a bun, but in a Krispy Kreme donut. I don’t care what they say, it’s gross–order at your own peril. On the other hand, they had funnel cake fries–delicious! They also serve brisket nachos (among other varieties), which we did not get to try, but I’m hoping to sample on our next visit. And the concessions are way cheaper than those at Busch Stadium, which almost makes up for the fact that you can’t bring any outside food into the ballpark.

Grizzlies games are also very child-friendly. The mascot, Izzy the Grizzlie, (you read that right), is constantly wandering the stands, and stops to pose with any child, (or more likely parent), who wants a photo. I should know–we took a lot of them! There’s a children’s play area in one corner of the ballpark, complete with batting cage, climbing equipment, and slides. There’s also a “kid’s parade” between innings, during which the children at the game are encouraged to parade around the park with Izzy, while chanting “Let’s Go Grizzlies!” Turkey and Bunny loved that!

Walking around the park with Moose before the game, I had the chance to look at all of the team logos for the Frontier League. This was one of my favorite parts of the night. As I wasn’t really familiar with the league, you can imagine how familiar I was with the teams in the league–in other words, not at all. In addition to the CornBelters, there are also Beach Bums, ThunderBolts, and Otters. My favorite, however, was the Joliet Slammers. I never would have gotten the joke if I hadn’t seen the logo–the name to me just implied grand slams. But, no, it’s a reference to the Joliet Correctional Center. Too funny!

It was a great night. We’re hoping to get to go back there later this season–it’s a fun, relatively inexpensive way to spend an evening as a family!