Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pullman Park, Butler PA

Basic Information
Team: Butler Blue Sox (Prospect League)
Game: Blue Sox vs Lorain County Ironmen-7/7/2012
Team Website: www.butlerbluesox.net
Ticket Information: (724) 256-9994 or www.butlerbluesox.net
Tourism Information: (866) 856-8444 or www.visitbutlercounty.com
Online Broadcasts: WBUT-AM 1050 www.wbut.com
Local Newspaper: Butler Eagle www.butlereagle.com

Team Information: The Blue Sox were founded in 2006 as the Washington (PA) Blue Sox, where they played in the Tri-State Collegiate Baseball League. The club, which was founded by Pennsylvania state representative Leo Trich, Jr, played their home games at CONSOL Energy Park, which they shared with the Frontier League's Washington Wild Things. After the 2008 campaign, Trich moved the team an hour to the north to Butler, and joined the new Prospect League, a league which was developed for college players who wanted to play in the summer, yet keep their eligibility. In 2011, Trich sold his stake in the team to local businessmen, which included former Marlin, Cub, and Red Sox pitcher Matt Clement, who is a native of Butler.

Seating Capacity: Pullman Park has a seating capacity of 1,400.

How About That Name (And Some History): Pullman Park originally opened in 1934, and was built by the Standard Steel Car Company. The park was named Pullman Park, in honor of the well known railroad car that Standard Steel Car produced in Butler. The park was used by several different minor league clubs representing the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Detroit Tigers during the thirties through the fifties. Names like Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, and George Selkirk all having played in Butler during Pullman Park's heydey.

The majors left Butler after the 1950's, but the park was still used by local high school and amateur teams. However, by the 21st century came about, the park fell into disrepair, and closed in 2004. Happily, just before the park closed, a local committee came together in order to find a way to save Pullman Park. In 2007, the funding was obtained, and a completely new stadium was built on the site of the old park, and on July 2nd, 2008, a national television audience hepled reopen Pullman Park with a boxing card that was broadcast on ESPN2.

Getting There: (from the Pennsylvania Turnpike): Exit at I-79/US-19 north-Cranberry (Exit 29). Make a left onto US-19, and go approximately a mile to US-62 north. Take for approximately 40 miles, then turn onto PA-8 north. Take PA-8 north into Butler, then turn left onto Hansen Ave. Take Hansen to Pillow St, where you make a right. Follow through two stop signs and the park will be on your right side.  

Other Tenants: Pullman Park is also the home of the Butler High School Golden Tornado baseball team.
On The Town: Located 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, Butler is the seat of county seat of Butler County. The town has a population of just under fourteen thousand.

The town was originally settled by two brothers, John and Samuel Cunningham, who came to the area in 1803. The small settlement grew, and in 1817 was incorporated into the town of Butler. It was named for Major General Richard Butler, who was killed at the Battle of the Wabash in western Ohio in 1791. He died of a tomahawk blow to the head from a warrior of the Miami tribe during an uprising.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Butler became known as a manufacturing center. In 1902, the Standard Steel Car Company, led by financier "Diamond" Jim Brady started building railroad cars in Butler. In 1935, Standard merged with Pullman Palace Car Company, and the famous Pullman railroad car was born.

Well known Butler natives include former Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Hanratty, Poison lead singer Bret Michaels, and the late John Minton, who was known to aficionados of professional wrestling as Big John Studd.

Nearby Airport: Pittsburgh International Airport is located approximately 50 miles south of Butler.

What To Do: This was another "in and outer" for me, so I would contact the local visitors bureau for more information.
Where To Eat Before The Game: There wasn't a whole lot in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark, so I would check with your lodging choice or the visitors bureau for suggestions.

Where To Stay: Linda and I stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Cranberry, approximately half an hour from Butler. There were several chain hotels along US-19 in Cranberry at all different prices. However, if you want to stay closer to Butler, I would recommend contacting the Blue Sox or the visitors bureau for their suggestions. The Blue Sox's program has an advertisement for a local Days Inn, so that might be a choice if you want to stay close to the park.

Ticket Prices: Blue Sox ticket prices are as follows: $7.00 (reserved), $6.00 (field level), and $5.00 (general admission).

Parking: Parking was free at the stadium lot, a medium sized lot on the park property. This might be your olny "close by" alternative, as I'm not sure if street parking is allowed near Pullman Park.

Getting In: The only entrance to the park is behind home plate. To the immediate right of the main entrance is the ticket window and the team's souvenir store.
The Good Seats: With a capacity of just 1,400, every seat at Pullman Park has you right on top of the action. The five sections immediately behind home plate feature chairback seating, while the remainder of the seating is of the bleacher variety. The upper bleacher sections are under cover, and some shade is provided by the press box (this was important as the temperature at the 6:30 first pitch was somewhere between 95 and 100 degrees!).

Stadium Food: There is one appropriately sized concession stand under the main concourse. While there wasn't a huge menu, what was served was surprisingly good and at a very good price. For our pregame meal, Linda and I (between the two of us, naturally), ordered three hot dogs (with fries and a bottle of soda), a cheeseburger meal (also with fries and a bottle of soda) for a grand total of $17.00. which to me was a definite bargain. I will let Linda describe our food experience:

"The hot dog was of an excellent quality, and when I bit into it, my glasses actually steamed up! The dog was grilled, very tasty, and served on a fresh bun. It might have been one of the best $2.50 hot dogs I've had. The cheeseburger was of an equal quality-freshly made, decent sized, and it was served hot and on a fresh bun."

The team promoted their meal deals, which came with a large serving of french fries and a bottle of soda: Hot Dog-$6.50, Hamburger-$7.50, and Cheeseburger-$8.50.

Here is a selection of concession prices at Pullman Park:

Hot Dog: $2.50   Hamburger: $3.50   Draft Beer: $4.00   Bottled Soda: $3.00   Ice Cream: Various Prices   French Fries: $3.00

Soft Drinks: Coke products are served at Pullman Park.

ATM: I did not see an ATM at the ballpark.

Souvenirs: The Blue Sox have a small souvenir store located on the first base side of the ballpark between the main entrance and the concession stand. This enclosed (and AIR CONDITIONED) store had a nice sized line of Blue Sox and Pullman Park merchandise.
Restrooms: Located on the third base side of the main entrance, they are fairly clean and well stocked.

Mascot: Babe the Blue Sox Ox spent much of the evening strolling around the park making friends and participating in contests. I'm sure that he would have been a lot more active if it wasn't so hot and humid!

Dance Team: None

Program: The Sox sell a small format program, which has the updated rosters inside for $1.00

Scoreboard: Pullman Park has a small, unpretentious scoreboard located in deep right center, which tells just the basic information. The public address announcer was very good, and they played a good mix of music.
Stadium Staff: Extremely pleasant. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, everyone had a smile on their face and a welcoming and friendly attitude. Before the game, I noticed one gentleman was walking about the stands with what looked like a weed sprayer, giving anyone who wanted it a quick schpritz. Hoping that it wasn't Black Flag weed-be-gone, I requested a shot, which turned out to be a refreshing spray of cool water. It turned out that the gentleman was one of the team's owners!

Atmosphere: Again, the heat kind of kept a damper on things early on. However, the thousand or so in attendance started stirring in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Blue Sox were trailing 10-2 going into the frame, but then engineered one of the most ridiculous comebacks I've ever seen at a baseball game, hanging a combined 19 runs on the visitors from Lorain County in their halves of the sixth and seventh innings. The fans who I spoke to were very friendly and outgoing, and always willing to talk a little baseball.

Overall Rating: Simply put, Pullman Park is small-town baseball at it's finest, and one that any baseball fan should visit. Once you visit Butler, I'm sure you will embrace it as Linda and I did. While the park is new, it still has the vestages of a time when every small town with a traffic light and a bus station had a ball team. While the year is 2012, it was easy to see what it would have been like in the halcyon days of the lower minors in the 1940's.