Rochester Red Wings

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.



The Land of Lincoln

Our second baseball trip in 2007 took us through the heart of Illinois. We were coming from seeing the Burlington Bees (Iowa) beat the Clinton Lumber Kings (Iowa) 10-7 on our way to see the Joliet Jackhammers (Illinois) play the Gary Southshore Railcats (Indiana). But we had given ourselves extra time to do some sightseeing. And Springfield, IL, is a great place to do that.

First, Springfield is the capital of Illinois, so they have all the grand buildings that house the politics and legal accouterment needed to run a state. Other museums and sites in the city include a restored prairie-style home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a natural history museum, a water park and a zoo. And, of course, Lincoln memorabilia and monuments abound here. The original state capitol building, his home and neighborhood, the Presidential library and museum, and, certainly, Lincoln’s tomb are just a few of the sights spread across Springfield.

One of the more interesting tours is the Lincoln home and neighborhood. This is the only house that he ever owned. The family lived there from 1844 until his election to the presidency, when they left for Washington in 1861. The entire four-block neighborhood is registered as a historic sight, not just the Lincoln house, and is a slice of the 19th century. Several restored houses provide exhibits that portray Lincoln’s life as a family man, lawyer and neighbor. It was our misfortune to be visiting the week that they were making repairs to the Lincoln house, so we didn’t get to go inside, but we got some nice pictures of the painters hanging off of ladders.

The Lincoln Presidential Library is also a historian’s dream, with its 12 million artifacts and the most pre-presidential material in the country. However, the Presidential Museum caters best to families with its special effects theater, the gallery with priceless artifacts, special interpretive areas for children and the grand Holavision, providing special insight into Lincoln’s time through talking ghosts of those who were there.

By far, though, the most impact comes from visiting the Lincoln tomb in Oak Ridge cemetery. At the time of his death, the president’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, remembered that they both had loved the setting of this cemetery and she insisted that he be buried there. The monument atop the tomb sits on a rise and can be seen through the trees as you drive into the cemetery. It is an imposing , solemn sight and if you can only see one thing in Springfield, this is the one.

The story of the President’s entombment is bizarre to say the least. His body was moved 17 times before it came to rest in its steel reinforced concrete crypt. After the assassination on April 15, 1865, Lincoln’s body traveled by train to Springfield, first stopping at 10 cities along the way in order that thousands of mourners could pay their respects. Along with the President’s remains were also the remains of his son Willie who had died in 1862 and had been buried in Washington D.C. At Oak Ridge cemetery, on May 4, the two caskets were placed into the public receiving vault. At the same time, a temporary vault was being constructed, intended for the President’s sarcophagus until the permanent National Monument could be designed and built. After verifying that the body was truly Lincoln’s, the casket along with Willie’s and another son, Eddie, were moved into the temporary vault.

After major fundraising by the National Lincoln Monument Association tasked to plan and develop the monument and tomb, in 1868 chose the designer, Larkin G. Mead of Vermont to produce the exterior statuary and a local contractor, W. D. Richardson, to construct the monument. By 1871, the tomb was completed enough to accept internment. But that was not the President. Instead, his son Tad died of a fever after returning from Europe. His remains became the first interned in the new tomb. Two months later, the President and his other two sons were moved. In addition, the Association decided to remove Lincoln’s remains from the original wooden casket to a metallic casket that could be better sealed.

Efforts continued by the Association to raise funds for the completion of the monument and tomb. In 1874, to prepare for the dedication of the monument and tomb, the President’s body was once again removed from its metal casket, verified as his remains and placed into a lead-lined, red cedar casket which was then placed into a marble sarcophagus. On the day of dedication, amongst speeches, much fanfare, and music, the Lincoln statue on a pedestal in front of the obelisk was unveiled. The Association’s Vice President, the Honorable Jesse K. Dubois, expressed the hopes of all Lincoln’s family, supporters and fellow Americans when he said, “There may he rest in peace.” This was not to be. Two years after the dedication, a plot to steal Lincoln’s body was devised.

In 1876, an engraver for a Chicago Irish counterfeiter’s ring, Benjamin Boyd, was sentenced to 10 years in Joliet Penitentiary. Big Jim Kennally, boss of the gang, hatched a plot to take the body, bury it in a sand dune on Lake Michigan and ransom it for Boyd’s release and $200,000. After all, the tomb was behind a simple padlocked gate and the seal on the sarcophagus was only plaster of Paris. How hard could it be to steal it?

Kennally recruited Terence Mullen, a saloonkeeper, and Jack Hughes, a counterfeiter of nickels, to do the job. They in turn recruited Lewis Swegles, whom they thought was a grave robber; after all, they knew nothing about robbing graves. But the surprise was on them. Swegles was a paid informant for the Secret Service and he ratted them out, giving up all the details as they were being planned.

When the actual theft was attempted, it was more a matter of how inept could criminals get. First, they didn’t know how to pick the gate lock, so they had to saw through it. Then when they attempted to take the sarcophagus, they couldn’t lift it from its platform. When a detective’s pistol accidentally discharged outside the tomb, the would-be robbers ran for it, but not effectively. They ran back to their saloon in Chicago, where they were picked up by the Secret Service a few days later.

The custodian of the tomb, John Carroll Power, in the meantime, was concerned that if inept criminals could get that close to the casket, what damage professional grave robbers could do. Thus, he and a small group of trusted friends hid the body in the basement of the crypt under a pile of detritus left over from the construction. It simply looked like a wood pile. Two years later, they managed to bury it under a few inches of dirt. The small group of confidants were eventually named “Lincoln Guard of Honor,” and told to never divulge the whereabouts of the casket.

The only person outside of the group of confidants who knew of its location was the President’s only living son, Robert Todd Lincoln. When his mother passed away in 1882, he told the Guard of Honor to bury her with his father. In 1887, the remains of both the Lincolns were encased in a brick vault. Beforehand, the Guard of Honor once again opened the casket to verify the remains as the President’s.

By 1900, the original tomb was in need of repair and Robert Lincoln was unhappy with the disposition of his parents’ remains. He wanted a permanent crypt built. Therefore, in 1901, after major reconstruction had been done on the tomb, the President’s body was once more exhumed and the casket opened for one last viewing.

According to reports, Lincoln still looked like himself in life. His face had a tan complexion from the shooting, but his hair, beard and mole were all the same. Thirty years in the grave had done little to change his visage. Some 23 people were present at the final viewing. Then the President’s casket was placed in a steel cage 10 feet deep and encased in concrete in the floor of the tomb. The empty white marble sarcophagus was placed over top of the location.

A second renovation of the tomb took place in 1930-31, reconfiguring the entrance to the tomb to accommodate more visitors. A red granite sarcophagus replaced the white marble one because, during the reconstruction, the white sarcophagus was placed outside the tomb to make room for the workers and eager souvenir hunters destroyed it.

All of the Lincoln immediate family, except Robert, are buried in the Oak Ridge crypt. Robert and his family are buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In the Presidential crypt, names are engraved in the walls over the location of each family member. Lincoln’s sarcophagus stands in the middle of the room. Behind it is a small window, above which are the words of Secretary of War Stanton at the moment of the President’s death: “Now He Belongs To The Ages.” And safely, too.

If you make the trip to the Land of Lincoln, a good place to start with your planning (besides your Baseball American Directory!) is the Looking for Lincoln website <>. This is a coalition of central Illinois historic sites that tell the stories of President Lincoln. It is well worth the telling.

Information about the Lincoln crypt came from:
“A Plot to Steal Lincoln’s Body,”
“Lincoln’s Tomb,” Museum of Funeral Customs leaflet
“Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site” pamphlet
Lincoln Tomb docents

Things to Know

If anyone is keeping up with our travels through this blog, you’ll know we’ve been pretty much silent for quite a few months. Except for a couple of entries spaced a distance apart, we have been very neglectful of our blog. But it’s a new year—opening day has come and gone, and we’re full into a new season. And we’ve rededicated ourselves to entertaining our fans! So we’d like to go back to when we were first starting this blog and revisit the idea of things to keep in mind when doing these baseball trips.

Beyond the idea of good planning, there are some things that the baseball traveler needs to know, or take into consideration while on the trip. Thus, this entry serves as a reminder (or an introduction) to some of those considerations, like navigating and/or negotiating while in the car. These are some of the things that will make a trip much more enjoyable. And usually, it’s all about treating each other with politeness, something many of us have forgotten.

Navigating, Notetaking and Those Pesky Negotiations

With the advent of GPS devices, the task of navigating has taken a back seat, sort of speak. Yet, you can’t always trust those new-fangled machines, as our grandparents might say. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to take a map along and have your traveling companion (if you’ve got one) keep an eye on just what road you’re really on. When driving the back roads, especially back, back roads, there ‘s always a greater chance of being off the GPS grid. (However, we have found it ever more difficult to find paper maps. Gas stations used to be the main purveyors, but no longer. You can still get them at AAA and many bookstores. But the day is coming, sadly, that we see them going away. How much fun is it to watch someone else try to refold those car-sized maps, anyway?)

The navigator also becomes the notetaker, since it is easier to take notes when not driving. Many of you will not end up writing about your adventures, but it’s still a good idea to keep track of where you’ve been so you can at least remember what you took pictures of. Otherwise, those slideshows will be nothing more than pretty pictures of “I-don’t-know-where-that-is” subjects.

Negotiations between the driver and navigator (and other traveling companions if there are any) are, likewise, vital in the success of any baseball trip. “Should we stop here?” “What do you want for lunch?” “Isn’t that a pretty place? Let’s take pictures!” “No, don’t turn that way!” “We’re not stopping!” Yes, the simplest of trips can get tense when the travelers don’t agree. To begin, people should know who they are comfortable with on a trip. If you know you can’t travel with a person, then you certainly don’t want to embark on a long car trip with them. Imagine being locked up for hours at a time with your nemesis. Cage-fighting has nothing on that match-up in the car! But, even with your dearest friend, or with your true love, travel can be tense and polite negotiations are the answer. Remember, the other person is probably as sick of you as you are of them. Take a deep breath, relax for a few minutes and start over. Of course, by that time you’ve probably missed your turn and will have to back-track. But you’re with your loved one(s) and are on a baseball adventure! What’s better than that?

Avoid Those Sketchy Roads

Navigator, this one’s for you: avoid any roads that look too faulty because they may get you killed, or worse—late for the game. Roads that go straight up over mountains, roads that end “up a tree,” roads that are jammed 24/7, roads that dead-end in a body of water, these roads will cause no end of trouble. Some of them are enticing with the unknown, but be very careful. They can take you far out of your way, get you lost in dangerous places or simply make you so frustrated, you just want to go home. A good idea to try to avoid some hassles is again to visit your local AAA either online or in person to find out about hazards, construction, or general problems with roadways. Remember all the problems some GPS or electronic maps have had with getting people to where they DON’T want to go. Again, that paper map can be a good backup.

Season-Ticket Holders as Community

Once you’ve made it to the game, usually one of the best aspects of a baseball game is the community that has been built by the season ticket holders. Many of them are congregated in certain areas of the ball park where they make up their own “neighborhood,” and like a neighborhood, they all know one another, if not by name, at least by sight. They exchange pleasantries and often ask how the children are, or how the job is going, or share the latest gossip, just as if they are talking over the back fence in their yards. If you are lucky enough to get seats in one of these areas, it is often a very rewarding experience. These fans, for the most part, are usually very friendly and welcome you into their neighborhood. We have learned about the backgrounds of the players, about the history of the park, the best places to eat in town, the must-see local sights and on and on. Yes, there has been the occasional unfriendly neighborhood, but out of the many, many ballparks we’ve visited, only a small handful have not left us feeling welcome. So if you really want to learn the 411 of the area, ask for seats amongst the season ticket holders.

Baseball Etiquette

This entry will make us sound as old as dirt and even less in touch with current attitudes. But here goes anyway (just think of us as the parents you never had).

Baseball has its own etiquette. No, not Miss Manners, or Emily Post (for those of you old enough to remember Em). But they all have something in common: politeness. Common sense and some common politeness can go a long way towards an enjoyable game. (Ok, our age is really showing here, we know.)

First, don’t swear; this is a family affair and younger children really don’t need to hear adults shouting obscenities that parents will have to explain later. Even if it’s becoming more common to use profane words in public (particularly the “f” bomb), there’s a time and place for everything and the ballpark is neither the time nor the place.

Second, don’t fight a kid for a foul ball. Let the kid have it. Don’t you remember being young and the excitement of diving after that dinger up in the peanut gallery? Besides, do you really want to be that adult on the jumbotron making a kid cry? What would your mother say?

Next, if you have to leave your seat at any time, wait for a break in the action, like the end of an inning or the switch of the batters. It is completely rude to block other people’s view of the action. The same goes for when you return. Wait at the top of the steps until there is a break, then make your way back to your seat. A related pet peeve of ours is people cutting in front of us when we’re trying to watch the game. At one park we attended, this happened continuously through the game, no less by the players who were not playing that evening! Of all people who should have known better. (We’ll discuss this incident later.) We also just saw this happen to some other people at a game in Rochester. The photographer crossed in front of the first seat of fans just to climb over a wall into the field egress area. If you’re going to block someone’s view of the game, make sure there isn’t any action happening on the field.

Then there are the incessant conversationalists who don’t know when to stop talking. A certain amount of conversation is expected during a game. It’s not church (although some people may say it is a religion), but a non-stop chat-fest is so annoying that we have actually taken notes on what was being said in order to write about it later (which you’ll see in subsequent chapters). And standing in the aisles talking isn’t any better. One, you’re blocking people’s view of the game and second, nobody wants to hear the 45 minute description of how your prostate surgery went.

Cheering and jeering can also lead us down an impolite path. We want to support the team, give them encouragement and cheers are our natural response to a good play. However, our enthusiasm can turn to jeers, the ugly side of cheers. The players and the umpires are taught to ignore these jibes from the stands (or their own dugouts!), but it can become annoying for people to listen to those with such a negative attitude. Just remember others are trying to enjoy the game and the jeering (or even incessant cheering) can really interfere with that enjoyment.

Rain is another chance at being polite. Of course, nobody wants to get wet (unless it’s Dallas in August when we’re all dying of heat exhaustion). So what do we ordinarily do when it rains? Use an umbrella! And if the game hasn’t been called yet, nobody can see around the umbrella! Instead, bring a rain poncho, which actually can cover much more of you much better. Or make sure that nobody is sitting behind you for several rows before that umbrella goes up. In actuality, some ball parks do not allow umbrellas, so it’s better to be prepared with other cover-ups just in case.

Other small polite actions to think about include making sure you don’t take over the cupholder of the person sitting next to you and putting your empty food trash under someone else’s seat.

All of these aspects of etiquette are simply common sense politeness. If we take a moment and think about how we should respect others and their property, we’ll know how to act appropriately.