You never forget your first time. – Anonymous
Especially your first time to see the Spikes when it’s National Mac and Cheese Day! – Me
Well since I’ve already started talking about food, I’m going to break with my standard style of making you wait for food photos. It’s always good to mix things up! I celebrated National Mac and Cheese Day last weekend, and I decided to celebrate with the State College Spikes in Happy Valley, PA. Check out this appetizer!
That’s mac and cheese, with hot dog slices, onions,buffalo sauce, and BBQ sauce. They were having a special to celebrate, and yes, it was as good as it looks!
Now that I have your attention…. Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is a fantastic place to catch a game. EVERYONE was super friendly, from the staff to the concessions folks to the fans. And with Mount Nittany in the background, it offers one of the most picturesque views that you’ll see anywhere in MiLB! It’s no wonder that Lubrano Park will be home to the NY-Penn League All Star Game in August!
Medlar Field sits literally in the shadow of Beaver Stadium, and is also the home stadium of the Penn State baseball team. I never knew who or what Beaver Stadium was named for, but I finally found out.
I can’t overstate how friendly everyone was at Medlar Field. One of the first things I did was to find someone from the on field fun team to ask what were some of the fun games I should be on the lookout for. Too many times when I don’t ask, I get caught off guard and I am out of position to get some shots. I approached a young man (hey, at my age, EVERYONE seems to be young) and asked about the events. Instead of him just telling me a few things, he held out the schedule and said, “Here’s the entire schedule!” I wish I had caught his name. What a great help! I’ve asked this question before, and some teams hold this close to the vest, like you needed a security clearance to get this info! They really have their act together.
During the pre game, two Spikes players were sitting at a table signing autographs. Not too many teams do this, and I wish more teams did. What a way to connect with the fans. I get the fact that most are warming up and going through their game prep, but I think it goes a long way. Here’s infielder Nick Dunn signing a shirt for a young junior. Classy!!
Next I ran into Briana, who was working the Nuts For You stand. She said they have stands in Richmond, Altoona, Reading, and Allentown. I said I had been to the first three but not Allentown. It wasn’t until later that Allentown must have been Pennsylvania code for Lehigh Valley. So yes, Briana, I’ve been to all four!
Here’s what she was cooking:
I played a Plinko style game, hoping to win something big. But I was very happy with what I won!
Speaking of friendly, I love making new friends at the ballpark! note: the Spikes are a Cardinals rookie league affiliate, so I thought my cap would be appropriate for the evening.
I made my way around the VERY wide open concourse (a good thing!) to check out other food options. Since I had skipped lunch, and my normal snack of BBQ Fritos on my four hour drive, EVERYTHING looked good! If you visit the Spikes, you will not go hungry (or thirsty)!
I was very tempted by the nachos. As I was walking by, someone was ordering this:
I had a false start on my dinner selection. I found the burger place along the right field line, and really wanted the Mrs. T’s Piergoie Burger. But they said they were out of pierogies. Wha???
Now it was decision time. Another burger? Nachos? I opted for a “Not Your Mother’s PB&J”, which as pictured above, is (P)ulled pork (B)risket, (J)alepeno bacon, with a homemade BBQ sauce. It did NOT disappoint!
Also included in the main course were all the all the great between inning activities. No dizzy bats here! At the start of the game, a lucky family got some seat upgrades, moving to a comfy couch. What a way to watch a game.
The Spikes did a great job honoring the military at the ballpark. Just inside the gates they had a pullup challenge (editor’s note: I did NOT try this!), and during the game they honored recent recruits who had just signed up. Nice touch!
Later in the evening, in honor of the aforementioned National Mac and Cheese Day, they had an eating constest, which included the military folks.
During the 7th inning stretch, they played “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, with a special set of folks. How often do you see a group being directed by a deer dressed in a baseball uniform sporting a fluffy tail??
I also noticed quite a few young fans with gloves. Love seeing this. I should take note of the kids with gloves next time I visit a team!
Another idea for a future blog post(s) are the walk up songs that the home team will play for the visiting team. They are quite funny! I mentioned in my previous post that the home team played both the Mr. Rogers theme and the Waltons theme when players came up with batters by those sir names. Two specific songs that I remember for Tri-City ValleyCats were Sponge Bob Square Pants and The Ketchup Song. Neither seem very motivating for ValleyCat batters!
They also had a “Rally Rooster” in the ninth. One of the kids sitting in front of me was a bit intimidated by the rooster, and I can’t blame him. In the end, though, he did go over for a high five!
Palate Cleanser – The Game
In game action was pretty good, even if the home team ended up losing 2-0.
The Spikes did try to rally with a shot down the third base line, which looked like they would tie the game at 2, but ultimately the umpires would rule it foul. Kill joys! Spikes manager Joe Kruzel would come out to argue, but to no avail.
In the end, it was the Tri-City ValleyCats with the victory formation.
Following up on the food choices, the Spikes have grilled stickies, which looked fantastic. This is with peanut butter ice cream. Note: I didn’t order this but wish I did!
Also for dessert on this trip was the fan shop. Wow, fully stocked! I couldn’t resist coming home with a souvenir!
Post Game Coffee
The Spikes are a VERY family friendly, fun park to visit. I had an awesome time, and as I said before, I can see why they are hosting this year’s All Star Game. So if you are in Happy Valley for something other than a Penn State football game, be sure to stop by!