By: Tom Driver
|Happy 4th of July
We left the Imagination Station
around 4:30 PM and after a quick stop at the hotel we began the short walk over to Packo’s at the Park
for our pre-game dinner.
Located on South Superior Street near the corner of Washington St, the restaurant is literally across the street from the first base side of Fifth Third Field.
We arrived at Packo’s at 5:00 PM but the game didn’t start until 7:05 PM.
We didn’t have any trouble getting a table for our party of twelve.
Kelly’s Mom and Dad, along with long time family friends Dan and Elaine drove in from Detroit to join us for the game.
Tony Packo started the restaurant in 1932.
Mr. Packo was born in East Toledo in 1908 to Hungarian immigrants and opened his first restaurant after receiving a $100 loan from relatives.
The restaurant is just one of the several Packo’s located around Toledo and was made famous in 1976 when Corporal Max Klinger, played by native Toledoan Jamie Farr, mentioned Packo’s by name during an episode of M*A*S*H
|Tony Packo’s at the Park
The restaurant is famous for hot dogs, pickles and peppers, and is a regular part of Scott and Jaime’s visits to Toledo for Mud Hens games.
Based on their recommendation, I ordered the Chili Mac and Tony Packo Hot Dog Combo.
The Chili Mac is actually beef chili spread over dumplings with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.
It was delicious and my stomach would have been satisfied with just the chili mac and the side of cole slaw.
However, I’d been hearing about Tony Packo’s hot dogs all day so I was compelled to eat the hot dog and it lived up to the hype.
Kelly ordered the chicken chili and hot dog combo, and Sydney had regular mac and cheese.
Both enjoyed their meals very much, although Sydney said the mac and cheese is good, but not as good as Dirty Frank’s
, a hot dog joint in downtown Columbus.
According to Sydney, Dirty Frank’s has the best mac and cheese in the world.
Everyone enjoyed his or her meal and the service was very good. I recommend arriving at least 90 minutes before first pitch to insure you’ll have enough time to be seated and enjoy your meal without missing a minute of the game.
|Fifth Third Field
|Fifth Third Field
is a modern ballpark, opened in 2002, and according to Scott, used as a model for Huntington Park
in Columbus, home of the Clippers
Oddly enough, Columbus was the visiting team for tonight’s game.
We paid $30 for three tickets in section 119, which is along the first base line half way between first base and the right field wall.
Like most of the smaller ballparks, there really isn’t a bad seat and we would have been out of the sun by around 8:00PM.
But the best part of Fifth Third Field, from the perspective of a parent with a child not likely to be enthralled with the action on the field, is the Kid’s Play Area located behind the wall in center field.
Fifth Third Field is extremely kid-friendly because they set up picnic tables along the outfield concourse. Whenever the game is not a sellout, anyone can opt to sit at a picnic table instead of their original seat, and there’s no extra charge. Our plan was to grab two tables right next to the play area and, because we walked in around 6:15, we were successful. There are restrooms and a concession stand behind the play area so we had everything we needed, plus a nice view of the game from center field.
The announcer stated the game time temperature was 97 degrees and, of course, the sun was setting behind home plate.
This meant our chosen picnic table seats were in direct sun light until after 9PM.
Had it not been for the occasional clouds early, and then the threatening storm clouds later, it could have been a miserable night.
But with the few stray clouds and occasional breeze, it wasn’t so bad.
With the giant wall separating the play area from the field, the kids are protected from the sun, as well as the occasional home run ball.
There actually was a home run in the third inning that hit the roof at the base of the wall, had it come another ten feet to the right I might have had a chance to catch it.
No such luck, although I did catch a squishy souvenir ball in the sixth inning.
It sailed over the four guys standing along the railing right into my hands.
I turned around and handed it to Sydney, who then cocked her arm to throw it back onto the field.
It looked almost exactly like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqTIy7Tt4iE
I stopped her before it left her fingers so she still has her souvenir.
The game itself wasn’t very interesting.
We tried to keep ourselves entertained by dressing up Kelly’s dad.
Columbus was ahead 3-1 after the first inning, and then put the game away in the third inning by adding another six runs.
At one point early in the game the Toledo fans started booing one of the Columbus players as he walked towards the batter’s box for his first at-bat of the night.
I thought this guy must have started a fight the last time these teams met or mocked the Mud Hens’ mascot or something along those lines.
I learned during every game a player from the visiting team is selected and if he strikes out the fans win free fries from McDonalds or whatever.
I felt bad for the poor schmuck.
I wonder if the players are told before the game of this “honor”.
Do they notice they’re being booed or do they even care?
It made me think of the Simpson’s episode “Homer at the Bat
” when Bart and Lisa heckle Darryl Strawberry and the last scene shows Strawberry with a tear in his eye.
I wish I could find a clip of that scene but no such luck.
Baseball promotions can be “interesting”.
Kelly and I attended a Montgomery Biscuits
minor league game a few years ago.
They fired fresh, hot, buttermilk biscuits to the crowd out of a tee-shirt cannon.
|Playset at park
I originally put the over/under on Sydney wanting to leave the game and head back to the hotel room at three innings. I was wrong, she spent the entire evening playing and making new friends in between water breaks and snacking on ice cream and popcorn. She may have watched a total of half an inning’s worth of baseball over the three hours we spent at Fifth Third Field. I really wish Huntington Park had installed a kid’s play area. Kelly and I would opt to attend a few more Clippers games if they had, otherwise, Sydney wouldn’t last more than an inning or two if she had to stay in her seat and actually watch the game. We took my nephew Sam to a Clippers game several years ago and we only stayed long enough for him to sample every snack the Clippers sold. We left after 2 and two-thirds innings.
Since there were plenty of family members to keep an eye on Sydney and her cousin Sammi as they played, Kelly and I took the opportunity to stroll around the ballpark during the game. I like minor league parks because no matter where you are on the concourse, you’re likely to have a good view of the game; Fifth Third Field is no different. As with most sports venues, however, concessions are way over priced. The prices for beer started at $4.50 for a small Bud Light and ended at $9.50 for a large Yuengling. If you are a Yuengling fan you’ll be in luck, they have their own cart on the main concourse and Kelly was happy to see it after trying a shandy from a local brewer offered in the Coop-A-Cabana bar. She took two sips and threw it out. Here’s a $7.50 tip, don’t try the shandy at the Coop-A-Cabana bar at Fifth Third Field.
Before the start of the 8th inning the ushers starting asking people to leave the picnic table area because it has to be clear before the post game fireworks begin. The fireworks shoot off from Monroe Street between the ballpark and the Park Inn. Our group chose to return to our original seats for the fireworks. However, no longer able to run around and play, Sydney asked to go back to our hotel room. After a full three hours in the sun and heat, Kelly and I were more than happy to oblige.
The game was still finishing up when we made it back to our room. As we looked at the window we could see the fireworks set up along Monroe Street. While Kelly took Sydney into the shower to clean up before bedtime, I slid a chair over to the window and watched the end of the game and the seven local firework shows going off around the city. A few minutes later I noticed the lights shut off at the ballpark and ran to the bathroom to let the girls know the show was about to begin.
“Oh my goodness!” Sydney yelled as she walked out and saw the fireworks exploding right in front of our window. I’ve never seen a fireworks display from this vantage point and “awesome” doesn’t begin to describe it. As the eruptions of color and sound went off during the 10+ minute show we kept thinking sparks were going to hit our window. Normally, the “loud booms,” as she calls them, scare Sydney but she was thoroughly entranced by the display and didn’t even flinch. I think being in the room made her feel safe. I remembered leaving fireworks at the Magic Kingdom just two months ago because the “loud booms” scared her.
Just after the fireworks ended at the ballpark, the Toledo city fireworks began right behind our hotel over the Maumee River.
We realized if had we stayed in room 905 across the hall we would have had a great view from that room’s window.
I could see the lights on the sides of the buildings as I watched the clean up begin on Monroe Street.
Our family had such a great time at the Imagination Station, the Mud Hens game and watching the post game fireworks from our hotel we talked about making this a Fourth of July tradition. However, we’ll change one thing – next year we’ll see if we can secure rooms 904 and 905. This way, we can watch the Mud Hens fireworks, and then run across the hall and take in the city fireworks.