Introduction

Introduction

I have never heard a man laying on his death bed with seconds to live mumbling how he just didn't spend enough time in the office. What's wrong with us Dad's? Why do we keep telling ourselves that this year is going to be different? This year I will lose 20 pounds. This year I will read my Bible cover to cover. This year I will be a better father! Well, this year I will be a better father.


When you close your eyes and vision that perfect childhood memory, what do you see? For me, it was the smell of Wrigley Field (for better or worse). It was the sound of the organ, the roar of the crowd, and the electric energy that follows the game that I loved best...Baseball! I wanted those same memories for my kids. We live just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina which puts us right in the middle of some of the best minor league baseball in the country. I figure I have a good 12 years left with my kids in the house and time is flying by. I cancelled a few meetings and took them to our local ballpark.


I have 3 kids ages 6, 12, & 14. They are great kids and I love every minute that I get to spend with them. I want to start creating a legacy of memories that continue for many generations. Baseball will live long past me and will continue to provide those memories in my absence. The purpose of this blog is to not only document the moments I get to spend with my kids, but analyze every minor league ballpark in the United States. My kids will be doing the analysis as well as many of the blog posts. What ballparks are family friendly? What parks give your family the most for their money? What do the players have to say about their team and the park they play in? Who has the coolest uniforms? Right from the mouth (or fingers) of babes. That's 240 teams in 12 years, an average of 20 games per year. We might not reach our goal...but man is it going to be fun trying!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jupiter Hammerheads / Palm Beach Cardinals

Jupiter Hammerheads / Palm Beach Cardinals - 8.2
     Five miles in from the majestic coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Jupiter, Florida you will find a series of well placed geometrically designed shapes.  No, these are not the lost lines of the Nazca Indians or mysterious crop formations designed by visitors from other planets.  These are the fields surrounding Roger Dean Stadium.
     Every spring this facility is overrun by two unique species of bird and fish.  It is the home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins.  So whether a player is called to report to the major league camp or are working their way up through the minors, everyone reports to the same location.  Roger Dean Stadium not only plays host to over 170 games in a year, but is also a "Mecca" for baseball in March for two very exciting clubs.
     When the park is not hosting major league talent, it is home to the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals. Both are Single A Advanced teams in the always sunny Florida State League.  Since 1998, this park has been host to a plethora of big league talent in both ball clubs from the major league and minor league perspective.  Some notable names are: Jose Fernandez, Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton, Miguel Cabrera in 2002, Andrew Miller, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Matt Carpenter.
     Our visit this trip was hosted by Jason Cantone, who is the assistant GM at Roger Dean Stadium and the GM of the Jupiter Hammerheads.  Upon immediately entering the Hammerhead's clubhouse, we could tell that this was a busy park.  The offices were scattered with giveaways from every unique and creative promotions.  People were running around giving little thought to what anyone else was doing.  We settled in to Jason's office to find out exactly what makes this ballpark and club so successful.
Parking - 9
     I can't imagine what parking is like during Spring Training at this ballpark.  We were fortunate to find street parking outside the ballpark and did not have to pay to park.  It did look like there was grass lot parking along the left field section of the park and a parking garage across from the home plate entrance.  Street parking is available on the right field street parallel with the St. Louis Cardinals training facility.  We parked our car, and in HWTM tradition, proceeded to the main entrance to Roger Dean Stadium.
Out of Park Experience - 10
     We were invited to the stadium on a Thursday night, so not much was happening in the surrounding community.  Taking the opportunity to add some steps onto my iPhone pedometer, we walked around the neighborhood to see what there was for a family to do.  Along with every brand of beer from multiple bars and breweries, there were a lot places to get some food.  You can find everything from a burger to sushi, a quick meal or a sit down restaurant.  There is a hotel directly across the street and let's not forget that the ocean is a beach ball throw away.  I can see why this park is as busy as it is.  If you are a fan coming to watch a major or minor league game or one of thousands of amateur baseball events that take place year round, you will be entertained every hour of the day.
Ticket Price - 10
Click to Find Seats
     The Hammerheads have plenty of ticket options to get you to the games.  Individual tickets can be purchased for $9 for adults and $7 for kids.  Veterans and active military are always free with an ID.  Since every seat is a general admission seat (my favorite option), everyone has the chance to sit anywhere you enjoy watching the game.  You can also purchase group packages that give you various benefits like meeting the team or playoff tickets.  Although Spring Training tickets are a bit more expensive, you can't beat the deal to be that close to these superstars.
Team Store - 8
     Walk into the ballpark and take an immediate right to find all four club's Team Store.  The store was well organized and had plenty of options for both fans.  The prices were moderately set and a good discount area was provided for the budget conscious family.  Parks need to realize that families with a few kids can't dish out $30 per kid for a hat.  My youngest's go to is the famous team mini bat.  I bought a Hammerhead and Ethan went with the Palm Beach Cardinals.  I still have not been able to convince him that "real" baseball players curve their bills.  Oh well...kids.
Team Hat / Logo - 8
     I find myself needing to control my bias while rating this category.  As a life long Cubs fan, it is difficult to not only own a piece of merchandise that has a cardinal on it but to review it in a positive light as well.  I will try my best.  
     Both clubs have a very unique and contagious brand.  The clubs have done well at using colors that people like to wear while staying true to what makes each club special.  This is very important when you consider that these clubs share a field and play each other over 15 times per year.  They are in essence competing for their fan base under the same star lit roof.  These clubs both have multiple uniforms and although they I did not see any hat variation, they offer their fans a lot of ways to catch their fever.
Ball Park Bling - 6
      That Thursday night we walked right into Woman's Business Night.  The concept seemed great, but I did not see a lot of women coming to the park just for that event.  I give them an A for effort.  There is always so much for boys and baseball fans to do at the park.  Giving the "non-baseball fan" mothers a chance to connect and add purpose to their night out is fantastic.  
     I am not sure if it was the night we came or a regular practice, but there was not much for the kids to do.  Being a baseball purest, I want my kids to watch the game.  I am also a baseball realist in that my 7 year old sometimes needs something to do in between eating and chasing players down for balls.  I did see a few deflated bouncy houses, but their lack of air was not doing me much good.  I am not a big fan of diluting the game just for the sake of entertainment, but a good balance must exist.  Maybe we just caught them on an off night.  
Seating - 9
     If you are not a fan of the sun, don't sit down the first base line.  We started out behind home plate and as the sun went down, worked our way around the park.  The cool thing about general admission tickets is we could sit anywhere that we liked.  The Hammerheads are also experimenting with their Bullpen Club in right field.  They will offer four-top tables and a new way to watch the game.  Jason made a great point on the psychology of seat selection.  He remembered the games that he went to his father when he was a kid and how they would always try to sit on the first base side at every game.  He doesn't know why, but he always finds himself walking into the park and taking a right.  Baseball is full of memories that help shape who we are and sometimes...where we sit.
Food - 8
     Once the seat selection was accomplished, it was time to answer the calling of our stomachs.  Jason recommended we look at what he called the "Dean Dog".  It is a footlong hotdog that provides you with twelve inches of intestinal goodness.  If a deal is what you are looking for then Thursday is the day to venture out.  Regular sized hot dogs and soda were only $1.  Just coming from a large lunch, we opted for the $1 meal.  The dog was well cooked and the soda will last you if you ask for it without ice.  A family of five could easily eat on Thursday night for $10.  Very nice!
Bathrooms - 8
     Roger Dean Stadium used their bathrooms to the fullest and here is why.  I really liked how they incorporated advertisement.  They realize that they have a "captive" audience with nothing to do but read a few signs.  They were the first club that actually advertised inside the urinal...hmmm...interesting.  They even had a reminder as you were leaving to check out the Team Store.  The restrooms were clean and well lit.  My only complaint was the bathroom I visited was being used as a part time storage closet for picnic tables.  
Hype Man / Mascot - 6
     The Jupiter Hammerheads did not use an on-field hype person.  At this game, they made their announcements from above with staff controlling the chaos from below.  Doing this gets the job done, but does not get the fans into the action like someone talking on the field.  They provided fun mid-inning entertainment such as their mascot racing a pizza and some other food item I could not identify.  I was not sure of the significance of the other food items, but it was fun to watch.  
     Hamilton R. Head is a 7'5" hammerhead shark who's hero is Aquaman and favorite golfer is Greg Norman.  He was not an overly energetic shark and had bulging eyes that seem to stare right into your soul.  Mr. Head did have a way with the kids though.  Unlike most oceanic predators, Hamilton was great with kids and seemed to be pretty safe to share the water with.
Kid's Thoughts - 8.2
     Ethan enjoyed the visit to the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals.  The ballpark, although dark and concrete in appearance at first, opened up into beautiful landscape of grass, white chalk, and palm trees.  Looking out at the major league clubhouses in right and left field add a tinge of "cool factor" knowing who plays here every spring.  Roger Dean Stadium provides you with almost year round entertainment at all levels.  This is a gem in the community that not only provides hours of fun for the locals but offers a haven to weary beach goers that have travelled here from more unfortunate climates.

1 comment:

  1. I did visited the staduium a time ago and it was indeed a pleasant experience to be there. Everything was superb there except the mascot who liked to tease everyone instead of entertaining.

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