You know Opening Day is a big deal when folks view it as a national holiday. Whether it gets the acknowledgement it deserves of not, here in Cleveland, we know it’s clearly a day worthy of some serious celebration.
Here are our top 20 reasons to take the day off on Friday, April 4, to celebrate the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day.
1. The weather can either be sunny and 60 degrees or snowy. Either way, it’s something that you’ll be talking about for weeks to come.
2. It’s an excuse for some mid-afternoon day drinking.
3. Not only does Great Lakes Brewing Company keep the award-winning beers flowing, they also offer rides to the stadium on the Fatty Wagon (powered by fryer grease).
4. It’s easy to get around Downtown with RTA’s free trolleys, the Healthline and on the rapid.
5. Win or lose, it’s on a Friday, which means you’ll automatically have a three-day weekend.
6. The Indians have had the largest opening day crowd in baseball history 18 times. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.
7. Nationally-acclaimed restaurants on East 4th Street are less than a 5 minute walk from Progressive Field.
8. The steady, familiar sound of the rally drum, returning as the team’s heartbeat for yet another season.
9. Awesome, say-it-like-it-is gear from local favorites CLE Clothing and GV Artwork.
10. The “Dad’s Beer” stand inside the stadium offers classic beer awesomeness such as Blatz, Miller High Life Lite and Milwaukee’s Best, while the “Spirits of Ohio” stand offers local craft beers.
12. Bertman’s Ball Park Mustard. Love it or hate it, it’s an icon.
13. Even if the team doesn’t win big, you try to at the Horseshoe Casino, just a few blocks away from Progressive Field.
14. The familiar smell of hot dogs, peanuts and crackerjacks.
15. No matter what the calendar may say, once it’s Opening Day, spring has officially arrived. And, along with it comes the potential for plenty more warm summer nights watching baseball.
16. If you aren’t in the stadium, get your hot dog fix at Happy Dog featuring more than 50 different gourmet topping options.
17. Making friends with hundreds of strangers as you stand shoulder-to-shoulder at one of the bars in the Historic Gateway district.
18. The first hotdog race of the season. Will this be the year Onion finally takes home the crown?
19. The chance to see head coach Terry Francona riding around Downtown from his apartment to the stadium on his bright red mo-ped.
20. You can practically feel the hopeful energy in the air around Downtown as fans feel unlimited potential for a winning season.
– April Ingle
When the weather turns warm and the sunshine makes its grand arrival, we want nothing more than to spend some time outside. Patio dining is always a wonderful option in Cleveland Plus and our park systems are some of the best in the country. Not to mention Cleveland is home to several outdoor music venues and we’re a stone’s throw away from Sandusky, Ohio, home of Cedar Point Amusement Park. I love the hiking, I love the concerts but what I crave the most, by far, is baseball.
We’re very lucky to be home to both a major and minor league team and with so many options to take in a game in Cleveland you’re very likely to find a lineup appropriate for you. From family-friendly deals to beers for a dime on “Thirsty Thursday,” everyone gets to play in Cleveland Plus.
It’s Tribe Time at Progressive Field
Progressive Field, formerly Jacob’s Field or “the Jake,” sits in the heart of downtown Cleveland in the Gateway district, among popular hangouts, entertainment and dining making a trip to the stadium more than just a game. Fans enjoy spectacular views of the city from every seat and friendly accommodations are within homerun distance of the park.
Not to miss at Progressive Field:
- AMPM All You Can Eat Seats – Fans enjoy an Indians home game in the Upper Deck and unlimited hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and soft drinks for $28.
- KeyBank Kids Fun Days – Select Sundays are KeyBank Kids Fun Day at Progressive Field. The Indians provide a unique atmosphere on Gateway Plaza at least two hours prior to designated Tribe games filled with fun activities for kids of all ages like blow-up slides and batting practice.
- There are plenty of ways to save on tickets. Click here for ticket specials.
- Fans enjoy a fireworks show after Friday night games (and some Saturdays) through September 10.
- Monthly Sweepstakes offer up some pretty cool prizes like Batting Practice Xtra passes, ampm All You Can Eat seats and Club Seats in the all inclusive Club Section at Progressive Field.
- The FanCave, the ultimate sports suite is the newest addition to Progressive Field. Available for rent with food and beverage package, the Fan Cave features 6 HD TVs, a beer fridge, sports-themed furniture, pool/ping pong table, arcade games and toilet paper decorated with the opponent’s logo.
Lake County Captains at Classic Park
Classic Park opened in 2003 and quickly became known as one of the most intimate and fan-friendly parks in the minor league. The ballpark, constructed by the city of Eastlake, combines nostalgic charm with amenities of the modern sports facility and provides plenty of seating options from festival seating above the outfield wall all the way to luxury suites in the upper deck. Classic Park offers an affordable, comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Not to miss at Classic Park:
- Weekly Promotions – Great deals every day of the week like “Kids Eat Free Tuesdays” and “Thirsty Thursdays.” Check them out here.
- Check the promotion schedule for extras like fireworks, fan appreciation giveaways and other special events.
- Classic Park provides a variety of food and drink at very affordable prices. Specialty food and drinks are served at Grillworks, Captains Galley, Sausage Shack, Munchie Madness, Ice Cream. Bottled beer is served at all portable locations and Corona Castaway’s Bar offers a fully stocked bar.
- Kids Zone – Located behind the bleacher and lawn seats in left field, the PNC Kids Zone features inflatables such as speed pitch, bouncer and a slide.
Baseball Heritage Museum
Experience the stories, photographs, letters, programs, uniforms and other game-used treasured memorabilia detailing the important contributions from the Latin and Caribbean leagues, the Industrial and Barnstormer leagues and the Negro and Women’s leagues that helped shape the history of the great American pastime. The Baseball Heritage Museum is open by appointment only and admission is donation based. Call 216.978.5068 to visit.
The Aeros are a Double A Affiliate of the Cleveland Indians playing in Akron, Ohio just a short trip south on I-77. Like the Lake County Captains, the Aeros offer a traditional baseball experience paired with creative family-friendly promotions and special events like “Dollar Dog Mondays,” “Two for Tuesdays” and “Fireworks Fridays.” Ticket prices range from $7 to $9 and can be purchased by calling 1.800.97.AEROS or visiting www.akronaeros.com.
Lake Erie Crushers
Head east to catch a baseball game at the newly built All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio. The Crushers are an independent, professional minor league team meaning, essentially, their players are not working their way up in the Major League system. The family-friendly stadium (with a grassy knoll and an inflatable jumping course) holds around 5,000 people and ticket prices range from $6 to $18. Check the calendar for special events and weekly promotions like “Kids Club Night,” “Family Day” and “Thirsty Thursday.” Call 440.934.3636 or visit www.lakeeriecrushers.com for tickets.
With so many opportunities it’d be hard to miss the “boys of summer” this year in Cleveland Plus!
–Submitted by C.A.
How long have you been living here?
My wife and I purchased a house here in September of 2008 on the west side of Cleveland. We live in a great neighborhood with a lot of families. It’s great to be here year-round and be able to come into the city and do charities and giveaways and anything I can to be a part of this community as much as possible.
How do you like Cleveland?
It’s a great city. There’s a lot of history here, especially with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I am a big fan of music myself. It doesn’t matter what genre it is or what decade it’s from, I love to listen to music. So playing here is great and the fans are great, everyone is always dying for baseball season to come around . . . it’s just a great place to be with great people.
What do you like about Progressive Field?
I love playing at Progressive Field. I have good career stats here and I just love environment, the action and everything about it. There is always a buzz in the crowd. The fans are always waiting for something to happen and when something does happen they are always really excited and ready to express their emotions—good or bad. Indians fans are definitely into the game, watch the game and care about how their team plays.
If you had someone coming for the first time to visit you in Cleveland what would you tell them to do while they were here?
I think The Rock Hall is a must. And, if there’s a good show in town, definitely catch a play at the theater because it’s a great experience to go through the main entrance to a place [PlayhouseSquare] that’s so original . . . you get the feel of how musical theater should be. Those are the two main things because other than catching a baseball game, football game or basketball game, you definitely have to take in some history of the city.
Do you have any recommendations on restaurants in the area?
I’m a big fan of the Blue Point Grille. I have been there numerous times. Whenever guys come back who have played here in the past we go over there and they always accommodate us. Especially if we have a large party, they invite us in, take care of us and make us feel welcome.
Any prediction for the season?
The only prediction I have for the season is that we are young and have a lot of great talent, so just to stay positive.
I’m a huge fan of the movie Major League. It’s one of my favorites – if for no other reason than the line “The Indians win it, the Indians win it . . . oh my God, the Indians win it!” Brings tears to my eyes every time.
On Saturday, my family was invited to a suite at the Indians game and had the chance to meet Corbin Bernsen, the actor who played Roger Dorn in the movie. (Bernsen is in town—well, in Akron, technically– directing a movie about the Soap Box Derby.) I have a Rickie Vaughn (the character played by Charlie Sheen) jersey so I wore that to the game and asked Mr. Bernsen to sign it. Dorn and Vaughn actually had a bit of a rivalry in the movie, so he wrote “Dorn rules” and “Go Dorn” and crossed out Vaughn’s number and put Dorn’s number AND autographed it. What a blast!–Submitted by TB
Conan O’Brien once said of vintage base ball, “Some say a waste of time; others say an incredible waste of time.” And time is largely the point. The people who spend their summer weekends dressing in base ball (yep, that’s how they spelled it in olden times–two words) uniforms styled from the 1860s and playing the game with rules from that era think about time and how it has only made superficial changes in the game but has made significant changes about how we entertain ourselves and treat each other. As in the 1860s, we play with no gloves, we don’t spit, scratch, smoke, slide (gentleman would never heave themselves upon the ground) and certainly never argue with an umpire. The rules have many quirks that our umpires point out for the “cranks” (fans) in attendance. We cheer nice plays of our opponents as well as our teammates and we congratulate the other team – win or lose – with three “Huzzahs” after a game. Broken fingers are disturbingly common and swearing is refreshingly rare.
Yesterday, my team, the Akron Black Stockings, played for the Western Reserve Cup with the Cleveland Blues and the Chagrin Falls Forest Citys at Lakewood Park. It was a perfect day and a wonderful crowd. Players from all three teams answered questions from the cranks showing them the subtle differences between vintage and modern rules and equipment. Each team had one win and one loss and the five judge panel awarded the Cup to the Blues this year.
I’m a season ticket holder for the Lake Erie Crushers. Sounds special, right? Well, it is, in a way. I’m part of a small group of Cleveland-area folks who decided, sight unseen, to become fans of a brand new Frontier League baseball expansion team. As my friend and co-worker Robert might ask, “What would compel you to do such a thing?”
It’s like this. I like baseball . . . probably not so much the sport as the experience of going to a game. I like the ballpark atmosphere. Each year I attend ten or so Indians‘ games. And about two years ago I spent a summer seeing most of Ohio’s minor league teams like the Akron Aeros, Toledo Mudhens, Dayton Dragons and Lake County Captains. So, as I repeatedly drove past Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio (just about 20 minutes west of Cleveland) on my way to visit relatives, I was intrigued.
I looked into it. The Crushers are an independent, professional minor league team meaning, essentially, their players are not working their way up in the Major League system. The family-friendly stadium (with a grassy knoll and an inflatable jumping course) holds around 5,000. Pricing packages were very reasonable. Ninety-nine dollars per person bought 12 home games. That meant I could afford to get in on the ground floor of a team that no one really knew yet . . . To me, that seemed like fun and I thought I’d give it a try.
Last night I took my husband to an Indians game to celebrate our upcoming eighth wedding anniversary. If you ask him, I actually took him to a Tigers game. He grew up in Detroit, so whenever Detroit plays Cleveland in any professional sport, we try to go. This time I really splurged and got us second row seats behind home plate. It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful evening, the perfect temperature for a ballgame . . . which is good because the game lasted 13 innings. A friend of ours and his girlfriend went with us to the game and, as he so eloquently put it, if he was “. . . going to be at a baseball game this long and stick around to the end of the game, these are the seats I want to be in!”
My husband and I got to the game an hour early, since the seats we bought came with passes to the Terrace Club. We decided to sit at the bar, the service at the bar seemed quicker and we wanted to make sure we got to our seats at the start of the game. The bar and restaurant have a fantastic view though, so had it been much hotter we may have decided to stay inside in the A/C and watch part of the game. I think I had the biggest mimosa I’ve ever seen in my life. We passed on appetizers and the carving station, because it just doesn’t seem right to go to a game and not eat an all-beef frank with Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard in the comfort of your seat while watching the game, at least not for us. This is our first game of the season that we’ve gone to, and we wanted the full ballpark experience.
The area where we sat was a blast. I desperately wanted to get a pic of the guy sitting in the front row behind home plate that made himself at home and watched the entire game with no shoes on, but the hubby would have been too embarrassed. I also learned about a guy named “Pudge” who just got traded to the Yankees by the Tigers yesterday. It apparently was a very big deal to Bobby, our usher, who had a passionate conversation with my husband and our friends. As he said, “Why on earth would you want to help the Yankees?” There were some very amusing girls behind us heckling the Tigers, and I personally enjoyed heckling my husband and our friend (both are Tigers fans) as the Indians led 11-7 in the eighth. My friend’s girlfriend and I bonded every time the Indians scored, agitating the guys with high fives, and chimed in our “O-H-I-O” during “Hang on Sloopy.” There’s nothing more fun than teasing a Michigan fan, especially one you love.
I should always know however that teasing and heckling will always come back to haunt me however. Despite the fact that after 13 innings and over 5 1/2 hours of play the Indians lost to the Tigers, it was a terrific game to witness. Kelly Shoppach played an awesome game, becoming the ninth player in MLB history with five extra-base hits in a game, which ties the all-time record, including two homers. Ben Francisco and Grady Sizemore were also good for some exciting homeruns.
With the exception of the outcome of the game, it was a perfect outing to the ballpark. Awesome seats, great weather with a gorgeous breeze, an excited crowd, hanging out with the husband, beer . . . and stadium mustard. I think I may be an atmosphere junkie. -LS