Redbirds vs. Cubs – Attended Game #7 (5/29/09)

Redbirds Our Seats

Redbirds 0, Cubs 5

Ever since my renewed interest in baseball, whenever we’re visiting Memphis, I look forward to catching a ballgame at AutoZone Park. And as Apryl mentioned in a previous post, that’s just what we did. Apryl and I had been talking about attending the Redbirds game on the 30th, but when I learned that on Friday night the Redbirds were going to be honoring Memphis’ Minor League past by donning Memphis Chicks uniforms for the evening, I knew that was our game!

I have fond of memories of watching the Memphis Chicks (Kansas City Royals affiliates) playing at Tim McCarver Stadium. Tim McCarver Stadium was notorious for being one of the ugliest of all Minor League parks. The reason for this was the oddity of having a grass outfield mixed with an artificial turf infield. It just looked awful. Of course, when I was younger none of this mattered. It was just exciting to be watching professional baseball even if the Chicks were only Class AA.

Now I’m not sure if I’m recalling this correctly, but I seem to remember one game on Independence Day when Bo Jackson was playing for the Chicks (This was a couple years away from the “Bo Knows” ads, but even then Jackson was seen as something special.). It was the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied, and Jackson was taking a large lead off of third. And then suddenly, Jackson broke loose and sprinted homeward. He slid into home plate, was called safe, and the excitement was followed by a 4th of July firework display. Did this really happen? I mean it seems too perfect, right? (Sometimes baseball is magical.) I have been trying to research this game but even with the extensive stats on baseball, it’s quite difficult tracking down details on a Class AA Minor League game that took place over 20 years ago. It’s okay, I’ll live with my “memory”.

Unlike Tim McCarver Stadium, the Redbirds’ AutoZone Park is regarded as one of the best ballparks in the Minor Leagues. And while I personally haven’t visited many other Minor League parks, I find it hard to believe they could get any better than the one planted at 200 Union Ave. In my last baseball post, I mentioned how the Birmingham Barons left Rickwood Field in the city for a new park in the suburbs. It seems that’s quite common with cities that host a Minor League team. If it’s not in the suburbs it’s most likely not in the heart of downtown. The Redbirds could have easily done the same and built AutoZone park outside the city, perhaps near the Agricenter. But how can you compare making your way to the ballpark by passing The Peabody with walking through a large, concrete parking lot? If you favor the latter, I don’t think we would agree on much other matters.

That night, the Redbirds were taking on the Iowa Cubs. We actually got to the game a little late because Apryl, her sister Steph, and I were chowing down on some barbecue at the Bar-B-Q Shop. Which I might add was totally worth our tardiness. As we were walking into the park, I snapped this photo:

Redbirds Open

Sure, the surrounding scenery is impressive, but it’s the openness of the ballpark which really gets me. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the lower level of the Cell. In a lot of past games, I have walked throughout the game around the concourse, watching from multiple views, each one of them great. However, for that evening, we stayed in our seats for the entirety of the game.

And why move? My brother-in-law Adam, who works with the Redbirds, is quite gracious and lent me and Apryl his season ticket seats for the night. And as you can see from the photo that opens this blog entry, the seats were quite nice. We were right above the Redbirds dugout, so I was able to grab some nice photos of the team walking off the field, as you can see:

Redbird Chick

How bizarre to see that Chicks’ logo on an active jersey again!

Also being so close to the Redbirds’ dugout put us in direct view of the Chicks’ Indian mascot showing the crowd how to do the tomahawk chop. The Tomahawk Chop, which Apryl found a bit embarrassing, is more commonly associated with the Atlanta Braves. However, when I was following the Braves through my youth, I don’t remember this chant. Perhaps, it’s because I was a fan during the rough years, before their successful run in the 90’s. Anyway, squirm if you like:

As for the game, it was pitcher’s duel until the ninth inning when the Redbirds started playing similar to the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs last season, and gave up five runs to the Iowa Cubs. During that horrendous 9th, I saw something I had never seen in baseball, a huddle. Really, just like you see in football. See below:

the huddle

Unfortunately, whatever was said, didn’t effect the results. After several careless errors, the game got away from the Birds, and the Cubs took the victory.

Evidence perhaps why I shouldn’t shoot baseball games. I completely loose control of the shot when out of the corner of my eye, I see that the shortstop is about to make an error.

Cubs win.

No worries though. As long as there’s a house band, no one leaves disappointed!

And we sure didn’t. It’s always nice to catch a ballgame at AutoZone. Heck, it was nice to be at a ballgame in May without having to wear a coat. Thanks Steph and Adam.

Hayden and Steph

Go Redbirds! Go Sox!

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