When we got to Progressive Field I dropped Chuck & Lori off at the main gate to pick up our tickets at will call. As I mentioned while we were in Milwaukee, the Cleveland Indians had heard that we would be coming through for a game on the 25th and emailed Chuck about putting us up in their “Social Media Suite”. Tickets for us would be left at will call, so as I dropped them off, I went looking for parking. Had this been our only game of the day, we would have been here much earlier than this. However, since it was the back end of a doubleheader, well, I had to fight to get a parking spot. This seems crazy to me as the attendance at Indian’s game, even though they were leading their division, was quite miserable. This leads me to think that parking there just plain sucks no matter what, ya know? The only other time I had been to Progressive was when it was still called “Jacob’s Field” (though I still often call it Jacob’s Field or my favorite, “The field formerly known as Jacob’s”) and my friend Christie was navigating that day, so I really don’t remember where we parked, but I know it was close. No matter, I found a spot for $12, parked and started my long walk to where I was to meet up with the other two.
As I got close Chuck met up with me letting me know that Lori went ahead and went in while he waited for me. We walked & talked our way to the main gate while taking a few pictures along the way. As we got there, we went in, hit the restroom (which was already out of paper towels – reminding me of the Indians from “Major League”), did our usual walk looking around as we made our way up to the suite. I have never been in a suite, not during a game (I’ve toured a few during ballpark tours), and had mixed feelings about watching the game from there. For starters, it was not going to be just us, there were going to be several other people, about 12 of us total. Then there was the fact that if I wouldn’t be comfortable in a seat there, would the others with us be into the game enough where we could actually enjoy it? Things like that. But overall I was glad I was getting to experience a suite for the first time. Felt strange that it would be in Cleveland, with the Indians, a team I have never liked… but hey, a free ticket and potentially great experience is what this is all about.
We rode the elevator up to the suite level and headed for our suite. As we walked in we found Lori there along with a few others. Shortly after we got there, Ann (our awesome suite host for the night – who works in Communications for the Indians) came in and introduced herself. She just happened to be carrying with her the game notes for tonight as well as her very own Lori Martini bobblehead (long story about that I will post at a different time). That was kinda cool. Since we got there later than we had originally scheduled, but still plenty early, we thought we had missed our chance to go the Press Lounge and enjoy the buffet in there. We soon found out that we were wrong and most of us headed that way.
The Press Lounge buffet was awesome! I thought it strange to be at a ballpark on “Dollar Hot Dog Night” and not have at least 1 dog. Well, there on the buffet was a grill filled with regular dogs, like from the $1 dogs, and some rather yummy sausages. Other things on the buffet were different kinds of salads, a cheese tray, some veggies, different fruits, parmesan crusted jo-jo’s, awesome lemon chicken and more. I knew where to start, with the hot dog (sausage actually), but after that, holy cow! It was so much and so good! I’m not even going to mention the dessert table, because it was filled with all sorts of yummy creations… several of which I just had to try! The group of us sat there talking about everything from who we are, how the trips been going to the Indians and who could forget the discussion about “Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard”. I was told that it is so good, it is practically it’s own food group. They weren’t kidding, it might just be the best mustard I have ever had. Glad I got to try it. After we ate, filled up our drink cups again, grabbed a small plate of desserts, we headed back to the suite.
When we got back to the suite, just before the game was to start, Ann came up to Chuck & I to tell us, “There is a special guest coming to meet you between the 3rd & 4th innings, make sure you are here for it.” I got excited! Who could it be? Knowing it couldn’t be a player, I figured it had to be Slider, the Indians mascot. That would be SOOOO cool! I mean, I got to meet Sluggerrr in Kansas City, so wicked! I went on to grab me a seat at the 3rd, top, counter outside the suite doors. It was a great view of the ballpark from there. There was 3 rows on each side with 3 nice office style chairs per section. Behind me, inside by the window, there was were 2 high sitting chairs/stools. On the other side, behind the glass that actually opened to enjoy the fresh air, were another 2. Inside there was a few nice comfy seats, a sink and counter top and the best feature of all… a private restroom! 🙂
Chuck spent a good portion of his time inside talking to everyone in there and sure enough in the 4th inning I heard the suite door open, looked back to see Chuck waving me in. As I looked up, there stood our “Special Guest”. It was the Indians team President, Mark Shapiro. HOLY COW! Now, I am not an Indians fan, per se, but I was really excited about getting the chance to meet him. This is a guy that has a job that only 29 other people have. That’s pretty cool! Plus, Reed Diamond (who plays Damien Karp on “Franklin & Bash”) played him in the movie “Moneyball”. This is where things got crazy for me, as I was torn. I wanted to watch the game, but I also wanted to be able to join in the conversation. When Chuck introduced me to him he promptly made a gesture towards my hat. I was wearing my Mariners hat, so I told him, “Sorry, but that is my home team as I live 35 minutes from Safeco Field.” He laughed, reached out to shake my hand and said, “It’s ok, don’t worry about it.” We spent the next 3+ innings standing there talking to him about everything from Chuck’s trip, my trip, traveling, baseball, players, the ballparks and so much more. It was actually funny to see the reactions when the others in the suite looked up and saw who we were talking to. Was pretty cool that everyone got to spend some time with him as well. I finally took the chance and asked him, “What did you think of Moneyball?” he smiled and said, “You remember that scene where Billy Beane comes to my office for that meeting?” I said, “Sure, where we were introduced to Jonah Hill’s character, yeah?” He went on to say, “It never happened! As a matter of fact, while I am good friends with Billy, he has never been to my office. Beyond that, that was the year before I became the GM. But it sure looked good, didn’t it?” Wow, really? Yeah, it looked good! We went on to talk a little more about the movie. After that, we got pictures taken with him and then a group shot before he had to go. That was wicked cool though!
After Mark Shapiro left, we went back to watching the rest of the game. As for the game,the Royals took a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st on a 2-run jack by Billy Butler and never looked back. They added another 2 in the 5th and tacked on another 4 in the 9th to go on to win 8-2. The only thing really notable about the game, besides the Royals 4 homers (2 by Butler, 1 each by Hosmer & Gordan) was the fact that Kansas City snapped a 12 game losing streak with the W!
After the game we hung around the suite a little longer, watching the really small crowd file out of the park, taking more pictures and just savoring the final moments of our time at Progressive Field. I have to say that I had a great time in Cleveland and I really look forward to going back again. To be a part of something like their Social Suite was very cool. Some of the people I met that night I am still in contact with via Twitter, which is cool. To be able to be there and sign their “Social Suite 2012” banner with not only my name but my twitter handle, @SeeAll30, was something I will never forget (you can see that banner in the group photo, in the back on the right… I also have a better picture of it in my photo collection via the link below). Thank you to Ann & the Cleveland Indians for such a great experience and thank you to Mark Shapiro for coming by to say “Hi”!
As the 3 of us made the long walk out of the ballpark and back to the car, it was like a dream sequence. This trip that has been so amazing just keeps getting better. I dared to ask if there could possibly be anything out there to top this night? When we finally made it to our car, we were all so tired. It had been a long day. I had driven from Detroit to Pittsburgh, went to a game there, drove us to Cleveland and hit a game there all in 18 hours. What made me even more tired with looking ahead to tomorrow where I would be getting up early to drive Chuck to Cincinnati, dropping him off for a game and heading straight up to Chicago to pick him up at O’Hare Airport and get us to the game on the South Side. Just thinking about that made me exhausted… but before we could check into our hotel to get some sleep, we had to get to the airport here in Cleveland, get Lori a car to drive back to Brooklyn. That was easier said than done!
Visitors 6, Home 2
Here is a link to my pictures from Progressive Field .