2019 marks my 10th season of Minor League ballpark travel, and in that time I have visited 174 stadiums. 2018 was a milestone season, as I ended the season having visited every active Minor League park. That quest continues anew in 2019, as I'll visit the three new ballparks making their debut (as well as quite a few others along the way). For links to previous road trip content -- and much more -- visit the Ben's Biz fans' page.
My first ballpark road trip of 2019 takes place in May and includes a three-night stand at a new ballpark as well as two I've visited previously. Trip number two, taking place in June, follows a similar formula.
Trip #2: Texas, New Mexico and back
June 12: Amarillo Sod Poodles vs. Northwest Arkansas, 7:05 p.m.
June 13: Amarillo Sod Poodles vs. Northwest Arkansas, 7:05 p.m.
June 14: Amarillo Sod Poodles vs. Tulsa, 7:05 p.m.
June 15: Albuquerque Isotopes vs. New Orleans, 6:35 p.m.
June 16: Albuquerque Isotopes vs. New Orleans, 6:05 p.m.
Southwest University Field
June 17: El Paso Chihuahuas vs. Oklahoma City, 7:05 p.m.
June 18: El Paso Chihuahuas vs. Oklahoma City, 7:05 p.m. (Copa de la Diversión game, playing as the Margaritas)
I last visited El Paso's Southwest University Field in 2014, during the first homestand in franchise history.
Hodgetown, home of the Amarillo Sod Poodles, is one of 2019's three new Minor League ballparks. It was a must that I see the Sod Poodles, who are the first Minor League team to play in Amarillo since the Gold Sox left town following the 1982 campaign. The Sod Poodles, like the 1982 Gold Sox before them, play in the Texas League as the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. I'll be in town for a Weiner Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and Fireworks Friday.
After leaving Amarillo, I'll drive approximately 300 miles west on I-40 until hitting Albuquerque and its Isotopes. This will be my first visit to Isotopes Park since 2014, when I wrote an article detailing the team's links to The Simpsons. I'll be there for a pair of weekend games; June 15th is a fireworks Saturday and June 16th is Father's Day.
From Albuquerque it'll be back into Texas and on to the El Paso Chihuahuas, whom I visited during that same 2014 trip. In fact, I attended their second and third-ever games at Southwest University Park. I found Southwest University Park to be one of the most scenic and architecturally creative ballparks that I had ever visited, and this past offseason I chose it as my favorite Triple-A ballpark. I am happy to report that June 18 is a Copa de la Diversión game and the Chihuahuas will be playing as the Margaritas.
For the sixth consecutive season, I'll recruit Designated Eaters at most locations I visit. Their job, of course, is to consume the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits. If you want to be a Designated Eater in Amarillo, Albuquerque or El Paso, please do the following:
- Email me -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- with the subject line stating "Designated Eater" as well as the team you are interested in. (I only need one Designated Eater for each location, date negotiable).
- In this email, please explain (in at least 50 but no more than 500,000 words) why you would make a good Designated Eater. I'm looking for those with a sense of humor and a passion for Minor League Baseball. A willingness to potentially embarrass one's self is a prerequisite. Another prerequisite is a willingness to eat anything that may be on that team's concession menu.
- Send this email by Wednesday, May 22nd. Designated Eaters for this trip will be announced on Friday, May 24th.