Thursday, July 4, 2013

McBride Stadium, Richmond IN

Basic Information
Team: Richmond River Rats-Frontier League
Game: 6/15/13-River Rats vs West Virginia Miners
Team Website: www.richmondriverrats.com
Ticket Information: (765) 935-RATS or www.richmondriverrats.com
Tourism Information: (800) 828-8414 or www.visitrichmond.org
Online Broadcasts: www.pal-item.com
Local Newspaper: Richmond Palladium-Item www.pal-item.com

Team History: Richmond, IN can boast a long history of professional baseball, going back to 1908 when the Richmond Quakers played in the Ohio-Indiana League. The modern history of pro baseball in Richmond starts in 1995, when the Richmond Roosters joined the Frontier League. The Roosters made Richmond their home until 2005, when new ownership purchased the team and moved them to Traverse City, MI. McBride Stadium was without baseball until 2009 when several former small market Frontier League teams decided to give the sport another go, and formed the Prospect League, a summer "showcase" league for college players who wanted to play in the summer yet keep their eligibility.

Seating Capacity: McBride Stadium has a seating capacity of 1,787.

How About That Name (And Some History): McBride Stadium was built in 1936, and is located west of downtown Richmond on Northwest 13th St and Peacock Rd. It has hosted pro baseball since 1948 with teams named the Roses, Robins, and Tigers in addition to the Roosters and River Rats. Future major league legends Joe Nuxhall, Leroy "Satchel" Paige, Bob Feller, and Jim Bunning got their starts in Richmond.

Other Tenants: McBride Stadium is also the baseball home of Richmond High School and Earlham College.

Getting There: Fron I-70 West, Take to Exit 149A. Exit ramp will loop around and put you southbound on Williamsburg Pike. Follow this road (name changes to N.W. 5th St) to the seventh traffic light to West Main St. Turn right onto Main St and follow for approximately three quarters of a mile. Go past the Armory to the stop sign at N.W. 13th Street and turn right. McBride Stadium will be on your right side.

On The Town: Richmond, IN is located less than fifteen miles from the Indiana/Ohio border in east central Indiana. Richmond is approximately 75 miles east of the state capital of Indianapolis, and 92 miles due south of Fort Wayne. Richmond is serviced by three major highways, I-70 and US Routes 27 and 40. The 2010 census shows that that Richmond has a population of 37,000.

While the area had been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries, the first European settlers came to the area in 1806, when a group of Quakers from North Carolina moved to the bank of the Whitewater River. To this day, Richmond is still the home to several Quaker institutions, including Earlham College and is the home to the Friends United Meeting, an association of Quaker ministries.

Richmond was linked to the east coast when the "National Road" was opened in the mid-nineteenth century. Now known as US-40, the National Road was the route many pioneers took during the westward expansion during that time.

Richmond is known as the birthplace of legendary New York Jets and Baltimore Colts coach "Weeb" Eubank and former Los Angeles Ram defensive star Lamar Lundy.

Nearby Airport: While Richmond does have it's own small airport, the closest "major" airport is in Dayton, an hour east of Richmond.

What To Do Before The Game: This was an "in and outer" for me, so I didn't have much time for sightseeing. However, there is a National Road welcome center located at the exit for Richmond off of I-70.

Where To Eat: McBride Stadium is located in an residential neighborhood, so there really isn't a lot in the immediate area of the ballpark. However, along Williamsburg Pike and US 40, there is a good selection of fast food and "family style" restaurants. I did find an excellent ice cream stand along US 40 called Ritter's Frozen Custard. I had a delicious strawberry sundae, which was a treat on a warm early summer day, and for $3.99 was worth the short stop.

Where To Stay: On this trip, I stayed in Dayton, an hour drive east. I would check with your favorite chain to see what locations are in the area.

Ticket Prices: The River Rats have two ticket prices: $8.00 (box seating) and $6.00 (reserved seating).

Parking: There is a good-sized grass lot adjacent to the ballpark with sufficient free parking.

The Good Seats: The majority of the seating at McBride Stadium is located in a large covered grandstand which runs from first base to third base. The first four rows are chair back seats, with the remainder of the seating being wood bleachers. The only drawback is large posts in front of the grandstand which hold up the roof. However, they are avoidable.

Getting In: The ticket booth and entrance to the park are located on the NW 13th St side of the park. After entering, the restroom building, concession stand, and merchandise stand are located in a "plaza" in front of the actual ballpark.

Ballpark Food: When coming to a park as small as McBride Stadium, I've found that food quality and price can be a toss up. Some places have had really good, economically priced concessions...and others...not so much. However, McBride Stadium falls into the first category most emphatically.

My pre-game meal of two hot dogs and a large Pepsi cost an very attractive six bucks. The hot dogs, although obviously pre-made, were better than average taste-wise, and were served good and warm. The Rats serve a better than anticipated line of concessions, and with just about all of the items costing less than five dollars, having a meal at the ballpark was a definite bargain.

Here is a sampling of concessions at McBride:

Hot Dog: $2.00   Hamburger: $3.00   Nachos: $3.00   Bottled Beer: $4.00   Pretzel: $3.00    Large Soda: $2.00    Ice Cream: various items priced between $2.00 and $3.00   Pizza Slice: $3.50

There is a small water ice cart next to the concession building selling the east coast favorite. I purchased a Tampa Bay Rays mini-helmet filled with orange flavored ice for $5.00, which as the night got steamier, was refreshing.

ATM: None

Souvenirs: There is an appropriately sized souvenir stand as a part of the main entrance/ticket office building. The River Rats have a nice sized line of merchandise for very attractive prices. I purchased a souvenir baseball and a Rats game cap for just $21.00. Considering I spent $40.00 for a Cincinnati Reds batting practice cap on at trip there in April, I was very happy with my purchase and the price.

Restrooms: Located in a cinder-block building next to the main entrance, the rest rooms are serviceable and are of a decent size.

Mascot: "Ribby" (RBI) the River Rat prowls the stands throughout the game.

Program: The River Rats do not produce a program, instead handing out a free roster sheet to fans entering the park.

Scoreboard/Stadium Voice: McBride Stadium has an average "high school/small college" scoreboard located beyond the fence in left center field. The board shows the basic game information.

The stadium's PA announcer is good and the music runs towards the traditional ballpark music with some recent country mixed in.

Stadium Staff: The Rats' staff, which was made up of a bunch of friendly younger folks, was accessible, helpful, and had big smiles on their faces.

Atmosphere: I'm sure the thousand or so that attended the game had a good time, but the fact that the River Rats were getting blown out kind of put a damper on things!

Overall Rating: While it will never be confused with Dayton's Fifth Third Field or Indianapolis' Victory Field,  McBride Stadium has an old-time charm that you simply can't build into a park. A night at the River Rats will turn the clock back to a time where the "small park" was the place to go on a warm summer night, and wouldn't hurt your wallet.