baseball

Baseball Stadiums: Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park

Following our stay in Myrtle Beach (read about it here), Katie and I continued our South Carolina baseball road trip in Charleston.  We spent the Sunday doing sightseeing in Mount Pleasant seeing the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, who was a key framer of the U.S. Constitution, and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, which features the USS Yorktown (CV-10).

When Katie and I initially planned the trip, we were going to spend Monday exploring the city after starting the morning by going to Fort Sumter National Monument.  That partially happened, but due to my audition for Sports Jeopardy! that afternoon we only made it to Fort Sumter before we decided to get lunch before I had to be at the hotel for the audition.

So after the audition and celebratory drinks at Holy City Brewing, Katie and I headed to the Charleston RiverDogs stadium for the game.  The stadium sits on the west side of the peninsula near the Ashley River, but the stadium does not sit immediately on the river so it lacks a noticeable grand entrance.

Instead fans walking into Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park see this…

Main gate.

To the left of the gate there is some signage welcoming fans to Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.

The stadium is used by the RiverDogs and The Citadel’s baseball team.

So just who is Joseph P. Riley, Jr.?  Shortly after entering the ballpark I found a plaque with his remarks at the opening of the stadium named in his honor.  In case you don’t want to read the plaque, he served as a mayor of Charleston for 40 years and dramatically increased the amount of park space throughout the city.

Plaque honoring former Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., inside the stadium.

Also right after you enter the stadium is guest services and a post that includes the game’s starting lineups, so I immediately snapped a photo.

Starting lineups for the West Virginia Power and Charleston RiverDogs for May 23.

Reviewing the lineups there were a few highly rated prospects playing for each team.  The only top-30 prospect (see full list here) in the RiverDogs’ (a New York Yankees affiliate) lineup was shortstop Kyle Holder (22nd).  The West Virginia Power, a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, had two top-30 prospects (see full list here) in the lineup: third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (6th), shortstop Cole Tucker (9th).

As Katie and I had arrived close to six o’clock, we walked around the stadium.  So we got to see that there are not one, but two halls of fame at the stadium.

The Charleston Baseball Hall of Fame includes notable teams and people associated with the city
not just former Minor League players.

 

The Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame, which was started by The Goldklang Group,
honors the men who found the diamonds in the rough that became MLB stars.

Beyond the two hall of fame displays, we had to navigate a very crowded concourse because it was DWAC/Dog Dag.  So there were lots of fans who brought their four-legged friends to the game.

Along the concourse on the third base line.

 

Dog World concession stand on the first base line that specializes in hot dogs.

Even though there is no view of the river from the stadium there is a view of marshes behind the ballpark that creates a breathtaking backdrop.

Sunset over marshland behind Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.

After deciding not to get any food just yet, we took our seats behind home plate to watch the first few innings of the game.

Charleston RiverDogs starting pitcher Christian Morris delivering the first pitch
to West Virginia Power shortstop Cole Tucker.

As we watched the first few innings we lucked out as Charleston mascot Charlie T. RiverDog walked past out seats behind home plate.  So we lucked out and got out photo with him early in the game.

Katie and I with Charlie T. RiverDog.

After watching some of the game, I walked around to take some pictures of the ballpark and game action.

West Virginia Power left fielder Logan Hill and center fielder Tito Polo with the right field videoboard.

 

Scoreboard in left field.

The RiverDogs had an entry in this season’s MiLB Food Fight (see full list here), and it had been what I intended to eat.  Growing up in the South I’ve been around shrimp and grits a lot, and had them in a mini helmet last season at a Pensacola Blue Wahoos game (read about it here).  However, I’ve never seen or heard of a shrimp-n-grit corn dog until seeing Charleston’s entry in the Food Fight.

Although I had easily determined what signature food item I wanted to eat at the game, I should have ordered it almost immediately after entering the gate.  Dave’s Country Kitchen, where the shrimp-n-grit corn dog is usually served, had run out of them by the time I tried to order mine.  Luckily the stand served alligator sausages, so I decided to have one of those instead.

Alligator sausage with chipotle sauce.

I was understandably disappointed that I did not get to try the shrimp-n-grit corn dog, but the alligator sausage was quite good.  I’ve had alligator on multiple occasions, but not as part of an encased meat.  This version along with the chipotle sauce was spicy, but flavorful.  Katie also got the alligator sausage and paired it with a beer shake from the Pie House. She got the Palmetto Espresso Porter Mint Chocolate Chip shake, which she said was fantastic.

After finishing my food, I realized that I did not actually have photos of any players in action besides the first pitch of the game.  So I decided I should get some pictures before it got too dark and my digital camera was rendered useless.

RiverDogs right fielder Jhalan Jackson at the plate.

 

West Virginia reliever Sean Keselica facing Charleston left fielder Nathan Mikolas.

There are lots of reasons to enjoy Minor League games: the food, the low ticket prices, the prospects, the mascots, the promotions, etc. One things people don’t often discuss is the opportunity to watch baseball legends visit with teams as a roving or guest instructor.

I did not know he would be at the game, but late in the game the RiverDogs public address announcer informed fans that Hall of Famer and New York Yankees legend Reggie Jackson was in the dugout with the RiverDogs.  He briefly stepped out to the front step of the dugout and acknowledged the crowd, which allowed me an opportunity to take a photo of him talking with a player.

Former MLB outfielder Reggie Jackson now serves as a special advisor to the Yankees in the RiverDogs dugout.

Lest I forget, while picking up our “first game” certificate at guest services before the game had started Katie and I mentioned to the staffer that we were celebrating our engagement-moon, or whatever you call a trip you take after getting engaged.  Lo and behold while the RiverDogs made their announcements welcoming groups and fans celebrating special events on the videoboard, our names appeared on the board.

That unexpected announcement capped off what was already a great gameday experience.  The food was varied and delicious.  The in-game entertainment was good, although I admittedly didn’t pay much attention to the on-field promotions.  Katie and I got a “first-game” certificate, which led to one of the most special things to happen at the game: an impromptu appearance on the videoboard.

Final Score: West Virginia 2, Charleston 10
Box Score

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