When you have a friend whose last name is Storm and you have the chance to watch a team called Lake Elsinore Storm, it’s a requirement to attend a game with him. Lake Elsinore is about 90 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, where we were staying for our conference. I got some advice from MiLB’s Ben Hill about what to do in town before the game, so Storm and I made sure to get to town and stopped for a bite at Annie’s Cafe.
En route to Lake Elsinore, Storm and I visited the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda. However, that deserves its own piece. So back to baseball…
Really, back to Annie’s. Lunch was at In-n-Out Burger, so we didn’t arrive at Annie’s until nearly 2 p.m. Storm and I knew that as newbies we’d be required to wear some goofy hats. Our server didn’t immediately announce anything about our first visit, but eventually the owner, Annie, came out and gave us each a jester hat and announced to the small crowd that we were “virgins, uh newbies here today.”
Upon receiving our jester hats, Annie told Storm and I that if we kept our hats on that she and the servers would dance for us but if we took off our hats that we would have to dance for them. I asked what if we wanted to do both, and she said that we could dance with her and the servers. After finishing our desserts, Storm and I proceeded to dance with Annie and the servers doing “Gangnam Style.”
We did not spend the night in Lake Elsinore, but with nearly four hours to kill before the game we checked out the visiting team hotel: Lake Elsinore Casino & Resort.
|Overlooking the hotel from Casino Drive.|
We played blackjack for about an hour and proceeded to explore the town, where we saw the lake that took its name from the city. It is the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California.
|Lake Elsinore is a popular recreation area.|
After exploring the lakefront and Main Street, Storm and I headed for The Diamond. It was about an hour before the gates opened, so we parked the car and saw an extremely long line waiting to enter the stadium. Many of the people in line were Little League players.
|The line is moving!|
The Storm is known for its distinctive logo that features a pair of eyes. Depending upon personal taste, the eyes are either really cool or really creepy. The eyes are just about everywhere in and around the stadium. Even when you don’t think the eyes are nearby, they are!
|Logo celebrating 20 seasons behind home plate.|
|Showing the way to the bathroom.|
|In the dugout.|
|Above the manual scoreboard in right field.|
The team employs a pair of mascots who serve different functions.
|Jackpot, the score keeping rabbit, who operates the manual scoreboard in right field and comes out to celebrate Storm homeruns.|
|Thunder, a green fuzzy dog, is the team’s official mascot.|
The concession stands have a few unexpected items, but the most unique are served in The Diamond Club. Traditionally, I try to enjoy an encased meat. The Storm serve a variety of meats made by Masterlink, which is a local sausage factory. I opted for the Portuguese Hawaiian Sausage over the Habanero Hot Link.
|The Portuguese Hawaiian Sausage, which is topped with grilled peppers.|
The Storm feature craft brews from Hangar 24, and I selected the Baseball Beer. The Diamond Club features many other selections from Hangar 24, but I felt that I had to sample the Baseball Beer. What else would have been appropriate on a Saturday night watching the American past time?
Overall, the experience at the Lake Elsinore Diamond was outstanding. Despite waiting in a long line to enter the stadium, the service at the stadium did not suffer because of the large crowd. The staff in the team store was friendly and helpful, even offering my friend a small discount because his last name is Storm.
The on-field entertainment was unique and delighted the crowd, young and old. The food choices covered the staples, but offered special selections for fans who want to experiment when they visit the ballpark. The seats, which were right behind home plate, were outstanding. Overall, the Storm provide the epitome of the Minor League Baseball experience. Any baseball fan should attend at game at Lake Elsinore Diamond.