Rochester Red Wings (New York)
Triple A affiliate of Minnesota Twins, International League
This is the team we have lived with since we moved to Rochester in 1998. (Well, not literally, but we know this stadium very well!) The Red Wings have played at Frontier Field since 1997 and have been a great source of pleasure for us when we’re not on our road trips. Before 1997, the Wings played at Silver Stadium, named for the man who “saved baseball” in Rochester.
The Red Wings are famous and unique among ball clubs, first because the team has been playing in Rochester in the International League since 1885. Only five other professional sports teams have played for the same league in the same city uninterrupted since the 1800s: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals (Brei).
The second reason Rochester is unique is that they are famously loyal to parent clubs. In the almost 140 years of the team’s existence, they have belonged to only three teams. They became the affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929. In 1960 they moved on to the Baltimore Orioles, which ended in 2003, when they joined the Minnesota Twins organization.
Another unique aspect of the Red Wings is that they are publicly owned. When the Cardinals wanted to sell the team and the stadium in 1956, the “72 Day Miracle” occurred. A local businessman, Morrie Silver, organized Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. (RCB), then publicly sold shares in the organization in order to raise money to buy the team and stadium. In 72 days enough money was raised and since RCB still owns and operates the club, the Red Wings are one of the few professional sports teams owned by its fans and investors. Naomi Silver, Morrie’s daughter, is now the CEO of the organization and she carries on the family tradition quite well.
Then there is the longest game in professional baseball when Rochester played the Pawtucket Red Sox for 33 innings—eight hours and 23 minutes. The game lasted over the course of three days. It started at 7:05 pm April 18, 1981, was called at 4 am the next morning, then completed on June 23 when the Red Sox won 3-2. Calvin Ripkin was playing for Rochester at the time and Wade Boggs played for the Red Sox, both of them future hall-of-famers.
We also have to state that Frontier Field offers the largest food variety of all the parks we have seen. A sample of the offerings include shaved beef sandwiches, BBQ pork and chicken, sub sandwiches made to order, salads, wraps, macaroni and cheese, angus beef hamburgers and Philly cheesesteaks, gourmet desserts, handmade potato chips, and a booth offering several delectable Italian items. We have never seen such a variety at any other minor league club. So if baseball AND food are your thing, you need to get to Rochester.
The park also offers one item that the city of Rochester is noted for: the “garbage plate.” This began as a menu item at a diner called Nick Tahoes. The dish begins with fried potatoes, macaroni salad and a choice of hot dogs or hamburger patties. Then all this is covered with a spicy meat sauce. And, yes, many, many people in Rochester eat this. Ginny has had one of these offerings only once since we’ve lived here. Dan has had several—maybe one a year at the ball park. If you’re adventurous, you may want to give this a try.
The couple of downfalls of this stadium are that there is no hot water in the bathrooms (and they only get about a 5 out of 10 rating anyway—not very appealing decor), but there are a LOT of them. The other is that some of the stadium seats are a bit small and you need to actually see them to tell if that’s a row you really want to sit in. However, if you’ve never been there before, you can’t tell which ones you want. It’s a catch-22. And it doesn’t help to ask the ticket sellers. They have no idea which seats are smaller and less confortable. We think the sizes have something to do with the configuration of the stadium and how many seats will fit in a row.
Most importantly, though, the people who run the Red Wings are quite friendly and will help out with whatever question or problem that you have.
In you go, parking in the evenings is in the old Kodak parking lot. A day game during the week will force you to park much further away and either walk or take a free shuttle. Prices are similar to other triple A teams. You can buy tickets online, by phone or at the gate.
Information for some of this history was adapted from Red Wings programs, their website, and sports historian Douglas Brei.