On the Road with Jeff Harrison (Part II)

BELOIT, Wisc. - Seeing how much fun it was going on the road to Kane County, I thought I would give it another shot in Beloit. I had wanted to go to a Beloit Snappers game for some time, mostly because they were a long time affiliate of the hometown Milwaukee Brewers and now was my chance. I had not heard much good about Beloit, but I needed to be my own judge.

The drive to Beloit was quite a breeze. Coming from Milwaukee it was a straight shot south on Interstate 43. And Beloit is actually closer to Milwaukee than Appleton.

Pohlman Field, the home of the Snappers, is easy to find and it's not too far from the interstate. The stadium is part of a larger complex that includes little league diamonds, an ice rink and a pavilion. Unlike in Appleton, parking was free and there was plenty of it, despite an almost packed house.

From the outside, Pohlman Field is nothing to write home about. It looks like a your typical outdated stadium built in the 1980s.

The ticket window, offices and locker rooms are all in a separate building which sits directly behind the stadium. So when you enter there is not really a concourse, just a path that runs between the Snappers offices and stadium.

I was unfortunately not given a credential to sit in the press box, but instead received a ticket for a box seat. But I planned on roaming around all game so it was not a big deal. As I entered the stadium area, I was offered a free sample of the energy drink, Monster. I accepted the can of Monster and headed for my seats.

When I entered the seating area, I saw the very small press box atop of the stands, and realized why I was given a ticket instead of a press pass. In Pohlman Field there are three levels of seating: box, reserved and general admission. The prices aren't bad and all offer a decent view of the action.

From the stands the field looked good; it was very green and well kept. The scoreboard was another story. It is very basic and offered very little information and the clock was also apparently out of order. The audio, however, was very clear from the stands. I was able to hear the announcer and music very clearly, which is not a given at sporting events.

After watching a few innings of the pitchers duel, I thought I'd check out the Pohlman Field concessions. And to no surprise I was greeted by a long slow line in front of the sole concession stand.

To make the wait more enjoyable I thought I'd grab a program. The task was more complex than one would think. I asked around and was directed to the box office where I finally learned the programs were being sold at a beer stand. So I finally got my program from the guy selling Leinenkugel's and Miller beer for an overpriced three dollars. With my program in one hand and yet another free can of Monster I was prepared for the long wait in line and dodged the free range eight-year-olds that were all over the place.

I made it to the stand in a cool 15 minutes and went with the hot dog, nachos and a glass of Gray's Pale Ale, which is brewed in nearby Janesville, Wisc. The prices were very reasonable but aside from the beer the meal was nothing to brag about. The better news was that I didn't miss anything exciting in the game. Now in the third inning and the Rattlers are still down 1-0.

I catch a couple more innings and see Jason Snyder give up his second home run of the game. This time it was Snappers third basemen David Winfrey. Normally I would have no interest in an opponent's home runs, but a clever Culvers promotion had me cheering for a Snapper to drill one into the turtle sundae billboard in left field. If that happened all fans would be treated to a turtle sundae from the Culver's, a Wisconsin Frozen Custard and Burger chain. But unfortunately Winfrey's bomb was not close to the sign, meaning anything from Culver's would have to come out of my pocket.

A combination of the uneventful game and my jitters from the two cans of Monster and the Gray's Pale Ale, I needed to get out of my aluminum seat and find all that Pohlman Field had to offer.

First stop was the team shop. When I entered the team store, I thought it should have been more appropriately labeled the team "walk-in closet." I believe by being in the store with the one cashier we were violating the city fire code, but I kept my mouth shut. Aside from the close quarters the store had a decent selection, but it was nothing compared to the Snake Pit at Fox Cities Stadium. I left a little disappointed that the shirt I wanted to buy was only available in medium or XXL.

Walking around the stadium area I found the ballot box for the Milk Pail series MVP. The interstate rivalry of the Timber Rattlers and Snappers has been dubbed the Milk Pail Series. So the winner of the series receives the milk pail trophy. And fans can vote for the MVP by placing ballots in the appropriate player's milk pail. For the record I voted for Rob Johnson.

I headed back to the stands to see the Rattlers put up their only run of the game. It came in the eight inning, when Sebastien Boucher's double drove in Josh Womack to make it a 2-1 game. And a wild pitch sent Boucher to third before Cabrera drew a walk. It put two men on with one out, but Mike Wilson and Matt Tuiasosopo both popped up to kill the rally. The Rattlers bats were shut down in the ninth and they took the loss, 2-1.

Overall I had a good time despite the boring game. Pohlman Field is definitely not as nice as Fox Cities Stadium, but not nearly as bad as it is often made out to be. And Rattlers catcher Rob Johnson had similar thoughts as well.

" I heard it was not a very nice place to come and play," said Rob Johnson. " But I was impressed with the field, the fans and the fireworks. And I like the playing surface, especially behind home plate."

And at a time when teams are moving for bigger cities with better ballparks, it's refreshing to see a team like the Snappers staying put despite having an older stadium. Even if it has no room for the media.

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