GOING TO THE DOGS – Rich Paschall

Chicago Dogs, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps you have seen a baseball movie that depicts the hard life of the minor league player.  Bull Durham (1988) may be the most entertaining.  It shows the fictional life of players for the North Carolina team, the Durham Bulls.  One Player (Kevin Costner) stays around the minors for many years, while one rookie (Tim Robbins) makes it to “the show.”  Aside from the love story and the humorous moments, the movie shows that minor league baseball is not exactly glamorous for most.

Nevertheless, there are currently 256 minor league teams associated with major league teams, and a long list of independent teams in eight leagues that have no Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliation.  This means there are a lot of players who will never make it to an MLB team (aka “the big leagues” or “the bigs.”)  All these minor league teams represent a lot of major dreams, but why would someone play independent baseball hoping to make it to “the bigs.”  Major league teams already have 5 or 6 minor league teams they follow.  Better yet, why would someone start a new independent team in the face of so many independent team failures.  How many area teams do we need?

Impact Field pregame

With two major league teams in our hometown, (White Sox and Cubs), another major league team just 90 minutes north, the Milwaukee Brewers, and at least five area minor league teams nearby, you would think that building a new stadium and starting a new minor league team would be a crazy dream.  But there are baseball lovers willing to try it.

The Village of Rosemont, located alongside Chicago and next to a part of O’Hare airport, has added to their list of ambitious projects by building a brand new 6300 seat stadium, Impact Field.  The cost was 60 million US Dollars.  They sold the naming rights for a dozen years and immediately have a team to play there, the Chicago Dogs, as in hot dogs.

Last winter when we were Christmas shopping at the nearby Fashion Outlet, we saw the location of a soon to open hot dog stand that was also promoting baseball and Chicago Dogs merchandise.  We did not realize then that baseball was coming on the other side of Interstate 294.    I took little notice as they were not yet open for hot dogs.

This year the Dogs joined a string of Midwest, Texas and Manitoba teams in the American Association.  After 3 games in Sioux Falls and 3 in St. Paul, the Dogs opened Impact Field on May 25, 2018 with a game against the Kansas City T-Bones.

Out view of the opposition

We saw the Dogs face off against the Texas AirHogs in June.  Texas has entered a partnership with the Chinese National Team (Beijing Shougang Eagles) and much of their team is from China.  In fact so much of the roster is from China, we heard the Chinese national anthem before the game as well as our own.

Before the game, I started in the right field corner and walked the entire concourse. Unlike most parks, you can circle this field and end up where you started.  I found there was an adequate number of places to purchase your Chicago style dogs.  These come from Vienna Beef, the popular home town hot dog maker.  They have been here since 1893 and no hot dog stand is worth its celery salt if they don’t have Vienna dogs, but I digress.

Along my route I stopped to chat with one Chicago Dogs employee who noted that some of the players have spent time in “the bigs,” while others still hope to get there.  Some want experience to become coaches or managers some day at the major league level.  This employee mentioned a few famous examples, including Hall of Famer and former Cub, Ryne Sandberg.

Game time

One Chicago connection on the team is outfielder Shawon Dunston Jr., son of the former Chicago Cubs shortstop.  Another is Kyle Gaedale who is related to baseball Hall of Famer, Bill Veeck. The colorful Veeck worked for the Cubs and planted the ivy in the outfield in 1937.  Years later he was the owner of the Chicago White Sox.

The mascot is a giant Mustard bottle, seriously.  Maybe you wish to have your picture taken with mustard.  There was also a ketchup bottle roaming around but we do not put ketchup on our hot dogs…ever.  In addition to luxury boxes, a must at any new stadium, the stadium has party areas, a Kids Zone, a restaurant and of course, a merchandise store.

There are promotions every day for the inaugural season.  Fireworks on Thursdays and Saturdays.  There’s a giveaway every Friday and kids can run the bases after the game.  You might want to go on Mondays however and be early.  The first 1500 fans get free mustard.  What could be better?

The main drawback is actually the location.  The busy district of Rosemont can barely accommodate more traffic.  Without much land to use, the park has a three-level parking lot alongside.  On a day with a small crowd, it was slow getting in the lot.  I can not imagine how they do it when the park is full.

The story needs a Boston angle for Marilyn and Garry and we have one.  The manager of the team is former Boston Red Sox player Butch Hobson.  Butch was drafted by Boston in 1973 and made it to “the show” by 1975. He spent six years with the Red Sox, a year with the Angels and a year with the Yankees.  Hobson made it back to Boston to manage the Red Sox from 1992-1994. He is still colorful and still likes to argue with umpires.  We’ll see if he gets tossed out of more games than the Dogs win.

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

39 thoughts on “GOING TO THE DOGS – Rich Paschall”

  1. Bull Durham is one of my favorite baseball movies. It’s downright poetic. We don’t live very far from our local AAA team, but somehow, we’ve never gone there. We always mean to go, but we haven’t. Maybe next year. This year is all taken up with Garry’s surgery, but maybe next year will be the right summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We should make a point of going to see the Paw Sox. Maybe we’ll see our next “pheenom”. It also would make for a nice piece to follow up Rich’s ode to minor league beisbol. We might even see Hanley Ramirez spinning tales of how great he Usta be. I love the idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rich, does sound like you had fun. It’s a nifty idea for old and new beisbol fans. Mavens can sit in the seats, holding court on all the trivia stored up for decades.

        Liked by 1 person

              1. Poor White Sox. The worm has turned. the Cubbies used to be the butt of jokes for so many years. Maybe the Pale Hose should hire the ghost of Bill Veeck

                Liked by 1 person

      1. I can watch several games at this time of year when a number of teams have a shot at the post season. I love watching clubs in different parts of the country. It’s not just about my team and my region. Baseball is universal and it’s local.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rich, re — the clown tossin’ out the first ball. He can’t because of those bone spurs. I hear Margaret Truman had a better fast ball than Cheeto Head. She also played the piano better than him. Bryce Harper was referring to Cheeto Head when he said, “bruh — that’s a clown question”.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Leslie. You run into former baseball players and scouts who share a ton of great stories. It bridges gaps between generations. Beisbol has always been the common ground.

      Rich, i just posted this on my Facebook page. It’s a nice primer for Red Sox nation awaiting tonight’s “rubber” game between the Sox and the Yankees in the Bronx.

      Politics takes a back seat for a few hours as the old rivalry bubbles.

      I am watching the Cubs beat the bee-jeezus out of the Twins. Former Sox pitching ace, John Lester clubbed a 3 run homer. Probably used one of Big Papi’s old bats.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Leslie, The Jays skipper, John Gibbons, hobbles to the mound. Has he had a hip replacement? It’s a cautionary tale for lots of the old baseball warriors. I hope your Jays are rebuilding their farm system. It’s the way to the future.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Leslie, it’s no secret. Branch Rickey pretty much invented the Farm System back in the late 30’s and 40’s because his teams didn’t have enough money to sign big stars. I think he started in St. Louis with the “Gas House Gang” Cardinals which produced legends like Pepper Martin, Ducky Joe Medwick and Dizzy and Daffy Dean. All were great players despite their goofy nicknames. Rickey moved onto Brooklyn where he famously rebuilt their farm system, brought in Negro League players and gave us “The Boys Of Summer” teams of my youth. When Walter (I still loathe him) O’Malley decided to move The Dodgers to Los Angeles, He canned Branch Rickey who moved onto the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, stealing Roberto Clemente from the Dodgers’ farm system. Rickey rebuilt the Pirates’ farm system and the parent team became relevant.

              Beisbol 101, Leslie.

              Liked by 2 people

    2. Leslie, have you seen “For Love oF the Game”? It’s another Kevin Costner baseball film. Not in same league with ‘Field Of Dreams”. ..but still enjoyable. Costner has a feel and appreciation for baseball.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Leslie, check it out. No rush. it’s enjoyable. Costner is goodin these “little” sports themed movies. “Bull Durham”, “Tin Cup” and,of course, “Field of Dreams” —James Earl Jones’ monologue about baseball is WONDERFUL. It’s in the same league as Tracy’s courtroom scenes in “Inherit The Wind”.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Talk about senility. I originally wanted to comment about Clelle LaVerne “Butch” Hobson who is still affectionately remembered in Red Sox Nation. Butch played for the Sox when the lineup was studded with sluggers like Rice, Evans, Fisk, Baylor, an aging Yaz and others like Marty Barrett and Wade “Chicken Man” Boggs. One year, Hobson hit 40 plus homers, drove in over 100, scored 100 runs — while hitting 9th in the lineup. Butch had many defensive lapses at third base with a cannon like arm that overshot his throws to first. I Recall a few interviews with Butch who — in his polite southern accent — was always professional with the sometimes surly and rude Boston sports media.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. RICH, I think Butch is a baseball “lifer” and will get another job with another team.

        Not surprisingly, this beisbol Sunday is ending on a sour note here in Red Sox nation as the Yanquis have jumped all over David “It’s too hot” Price. Predictably, he served up meatballs early in the rubber game that will have my middle brother and other Yanquis fans trash talking for the next few days.

        Liked by 1 person

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