Last Friday I went to my first Hartford Yard Goats game of the season! I went to two games last season, and my parents and I are planning to go to another game in August.
I went to Friday’s game with three of the girls from the ice cream shop. We went last summer, and I think this has become an annual thing. I took the day off from work—I had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the day, anyway—and we headed down to Hartford around 5:00 p.m., which I was a little worried about but we didn’t really hit any traffic. Maybe a few minutes in slow moving traffic, but nothing even close to bumper-to-bumper.
There’s a dirt lot—there’s an actual name for the lot but that’s just what everyone calls it—off the highway when you get into Hartford that’s used for parking for events, like the Yard Goats or concerts at the XFINITY Theatre, or, currently, it’s holding the tent for Cirque de Soleil, which is running for the next month. I wasn’t sure how the parking situation was going to be, but we ended up parking in a lot a street or so over from the main dirt lot for $5. (We also lucked out by going Friday because Saturday was a Yard Goats game, Dave Matthews concert, and Cirque de Soleil within a few miles.)
Gates opened early, around 5:45 p.m., and once we were inside, we took a walk around the park before getting food. Inside the park is a Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, a Connecticut BBQ place. There are a few locations around the state, and they have a big stand out in left field at the park.
It’s a must-have if you go to Dunkin’ Donuts Park. I always get the Mac Attack: pulled pork over mac and cheese.
They have four beers on tap at the stand, and I got Nectar of the Goats from Thomas Hooker Brewery. Thomas Hooker created the beer last year in conjunction with the Yard Goats, and my dad and I bought cans of it when we went to the brewery last year.
We stood at the ledge and ate while we watched a big group of Girl Scouts stretch with two of the players on the field—it was Girl Scout night at the park, so they got to walk around the warning track and then camped out on the field overnight.
Around 6:30 p.m. or so, we headed over to our seats on the first base side. So. Pros and cons of our seats. Pro: we were under the roof. Con: we were sitting on the concourse and EVERYONE and their mother kept standing behind us. When I purchased the tickets, I didn’t realize that these would have been our seats, because I wouldn’t have bought those ones. It was nice to not be in the section itself, but it felt weird sitting up on the edge of the concourse. Plus people standing—sometimes rather closely—behind us was making me anxious.
The Yard Goats were playing the Altoona Curve, the double A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The view from our seats wasn’t bad at all. And you can see the Bear’s sign out in left.
During the game on the big screen, there were fun facts about the Yard Goats players during their at-bats.
The one on the left says, “His favorite thing about playing baseball is hitting the ball hard.” The one on the right says, “His favorite things about playing baseball are making diving plays and hitting home runs.” You know, the basic concepts of baseball.
My second beer of the game was the Hog River Brewery Parkville Punch IPA. The stadium has all of the regular ballpark classics, but I like that Dunkin’ Donuts Park has some local craft beers. Thomas Hooker is out of Bloomfield, and Hog River is located in Hartford. That was my first time trying Hog River, and the IPA was really good.
I also spent most of the game avoiding the mascots. The Yard Goats have two—Chompers and Chew-Chew—so I really have to be on guard. Chew-Chew was patrolling the first base side and our area for part of the game. Both of them were wearing “#EndALZ” capes because the Alzheimer’s Association of CT was at the game.
The Yard Goats won 7-6, and there were post-game fireworks. We left around 10:00 p.m, and I was home by 10:30 p.m. after dropping the girls off.
The highlight of my summer the last few years has been going to Yard Goats games because I grew up going to New Britain Rock Cats games, before the Minnesota Twins stopped their affiliation and before they became the Yard Goats. I’m already looking forward to going back in August 🙂