We faced a dilemma this morning: stay in St. Louis and hope the rain would stop in time for the make-up 1:15 game, first of a double header or head north and take in a minor league game and some history on the way to Chicago. After some back and forth, we decided (with pilot Tom consulting the weather radar) to leave, which we did in a downpour. We later questioned our decision, since that game did go forward and so did the second, and the Cards won them both. Theoretically, we could have watched both (or at least most of the second), got up early, done the Lincoln tour and still made it to Chicago, but theory and practice don’t always mesh.
So we drove north, through the rain for a good while, and stopped in Springfield, Illinois, the principal adult home of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. It is maintained and operated by the National Park Service and we took a tour. It is the only home Lincoln ever owned and you can read more about it here. It was interesting and Lincoln is a source of endless fascination.
From Springfield and history, we returned to the land of baseball, stopping in Normal (could there be a better name?!) Illinois to watch the Normal Cornbelters (right up there with the Wichita Wingnuts for best minor league team name) play the Schaumburg Illinois Boomers. Both are part of the Frontier League, another of the independent leagues with some interesting rules about recruiting their players, the mix of “veterans” and rookies and so forth. Turns out their last game was also rained out so we got the treat of a double header.
Walking into the Corn Crib stadium, by far the best stadium name encountered yet, you are greeted by a monster farm implement of some sort and by the charming field name.
Since we hadn’t eaten at the ballpark for a couple of days, we decided we should here, especially since we were told the folks in charge smoked their own meat right at the stadium. We tried both the pulled pork and brisket and both were terrible. They may have been smoked at the stadium, but, if so, it was some time last month. I told someone I wasn’t eating barbecue after Missouri and God smote me for my lie. The macaroni and cheese was heavy and by both appearance and taste, was made with velveeta.
On the other hand, the featured “two for one” item of the night was roasted corn on the cob and, as you would expect in the Midwest, it was fabulous. The DeStihl Weissenheimer (wheat) beer was also very good.
The baseball, not so much. It wasn’t terrible, and the evening was quite pleasant, but don’t bet on any of these guys starring for the Cubs anytime soon. The field was also entirely artificial turf, and not very good turf at that. The stands would hold a few thousand, but there were only about 200 souls in attendance. Surprisingly, despite its modest scale, the stadium sports several suites at the concourse level. We heard frequently from the public address announcer that “dogs are welcome on Wednesdays” but none bothered to show up. Another feature not seen elsewhere, the Cornbelters dancers. Their performances were extremely brief.
Although it was not an outfield ad, this advertisement ranks right up there with the best.
The public address announcer was loud and the talk or music nearly constant. We had field-level front row seats, and here on the prairie, it would have been nice to be able to enjoy the sounds of the game. Silence seems to be anathema at public events. It may be the greatest fear of the American people.
It’s about the game, friends.