My daughter, Jessica, is now a freshman at Xavier College Prep in Phoenix. She’s pretty excited about the school and a little overwhelmed at the same time. She’s gone from a small school at St. John Bosco, where she’s attended the last 9 years, to a large, fairly spread out campus with almost as many students in her 9th grade class as there were in all of Bosco. Needless to say, it’s been quite a change for her.
Xavier is an all-girls Catholic school in Central Phoenix where the parents are heavily involved in their daughters’ education and high-school experience. The Dads’ Club is very active and sponsors several events throughout the year, including the Father/Daughter Day at the D-Backs.
Jessica was never too much of a baseball fan, although we have attended games in the past. In the early years, it was all about seeing the mascot, D-Baxter, in his home out beyond center field, instead of the game. The last time we went to a game with the kids was with the Bosco Family night 3 years ago. You can imagine my surprise when Jessica said she wanted to go to the game with her dad. Of course, I jumped at the offer to spend the day at the park with her.
As it turned out, we were out at Tempe Marketplace earlier in the day, so I suggested we take the Light Rail from Tempe to the game and Jessica loved the idea. She’d ridden the rail before, but it would be my first time here in Phoenix. We drove over to ASU and parked in a garage across from one of the main transfer stations for the rail. We waited all of 5 minutes before the next train picked us up and we were on our way.
I was shocked at how many riders were on the train. Mostly D-Backs fans, but several students, workers and families were getting on and off at stops along the way. A short, 20-minute, air conditioned ride later and we were unloading at 3rd and Washington, a couple of blocks from Chase Field.
We picked up our tickets at Will Call and quickly made our way inside to get out of the scorching heat. As we passed through the gates, we had a nice surprise in that it was Chris Young Bobblehead Night! Once we entered, we checked out the interior plaza where they had a couple of statues, painted in D-Backs colors, that represented the All Star Game, which was played here in July. We snapped a couple of pictures and made our way to our seats.
Xavier’s tickets were in the Diamond Club, a 300+ person, multi-tiered pavilion out in right-center field. As part of the package, we each received a raffle ticket as we entered the suite and we were told that each of our ticket stubs were loaded with $15 of D-Bucks, to be used anywhere inside the stadium.
We settled into the suite and actually got in a game of pool before the crowds arrived. Yes, they have a billiard table in the Diamond Club, which is, by the way, located just above the actual swimming pool in right field.
As game time approached, the Xavier Choir sang the national anthem and did an amazing job. Afterwards, Sister Lynn, the Vice Principal and Athletic Director, threw out the first pitch – a perfect strike. She later said the catcher told her that was the best pitch all year – and I believe it.
The game got underway at 5:10 and was pretty uneventful until the bottom of the 4th when Bobblehead honoree, Chris Young took Aaron Harang yard with a 2-run shot. Young was also instrumental in the outcome later in 6th. Leading off of first, he forced a bad throw that allowed Montero to score from third and Young advanced to third. Clearly Young has emerged from his 2nd half slump. Kudos to the Bobblehead committee for making it his night!
While walking around the concourse earlier to get to our seats, we noticed all of the food stands. Typical of AZ, they were all chain restaurants that had established locations inside Chase. Panda Express, Streets of NY Pizza, Macayo, TCBY and of course, TGI Friday’s. We used our credits to grab a couple of Diamondback Dogs, a pretzel and some TCBY yogurt. Basic ballpark food here. Nothing special at all.
I did grab a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy beer though. This one had a very citrusy flavor – very sweet, but pretty refreshing. At $10 for a 16oz cup, I didn’t expect to have more than one. When I returned to our seat, I asked Jessica what happened in the game. I was amazed that recounted it to me – just as I had seen on the TVs as I waited in line for my beer. She passed the test!
The only other excitement occurred when Justin Upton dropped a very routine fly ball down in front of us. It later caused a run to score to make the closer than it needed to be. Then, in the 9th, with one out, Upton was involved in another interesting situation. A ball was lifted into foul territory. As he ran to grab it towards the right field stands, a fan reached up and stole it away from him. It was close, but it was in foul territory. Visions of Bartman danced through everyone’s head, until the fan pointed to his cap – a Padres fan! Of course, the booing only got louder.
No harm, no foul. JJ Putz put away another game and the D-Backs increased their lead to 3-1/2 games, albeit only for a short time as the Giants won in the bottom of the 10th later that night.
Jessica was pretty excited about the day with her dad, but she has no idea how thrilled I was to be there with her. She picked up a pin to put up on her wall as a reminder for us. I love that kid!
As we were getting back out to train stop, we noticed a train was just leaving. Oh well, we thought, we’ll just wait for the next one. Within 5 minutes again, another train pulled up, loaded up and headed back east to Tempe. As we pulled away, we could see all of the traffic trying to get out of town. We stepped on to a nice, cool, clean train car and talked about the game as we worked our way back to Tempe.
What a great day.