Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day Three-Chattanooga and Tennessee

The trip entered its final day with stops in Chattanooga and Sevierville-the respective homes of the Lookouts and Smokies.

A quick stop for breakfast at Shoney's was an unexpected treat.
We couldn't (and didn't) stay long,but since Shoney's has left our area completely,it was cool to return there.
I never really liked their dinner menu very much,but I always liked their breakfast buffet...

Chattanooga was two hours away from Nashville and we had to move quickly because in order to do pre-game there and still make to Sevierville for post game,we had to keep moving.
The interesting thing about the road to Chattanooga (which sounds like a network promo for an NCAA tournament) was that we kept seeing these signs for Ruby Falls and Rock City,which I had never heard of before,but I'll not forget soon!
Chattanooga really is on top of a mountain-so much so that the team has an escalator installed at AT&T Field to bring fans from the parking lot to the field.
It's a steep climb and I bet older fans (and ones like me) appreciate the escalator,but the hill is so steep that a down escalator might be a good future investment.
When we left,the hill was pretty steep and I bet some people have fallen through the years at Chattanooga.
Upon entering,we were serenaded by the lady that gives away their programs with "Free Programs,FREE"! She was so loud that you could hear her at the bottom of the hill in the parking lot.
I still hear her mantra in my head a week later!

The team store wasn't really up to a average AA team store to my surprise and I didn't buy anything.
I might have been tempted to buy old team sets,but usually team sets from past years are severely discounted and Chattanooga didn't do that at all.
The concourse felt a lot older than a ballpark opened in 2000,but the field was a neat and there is a raised grandstand in right field for some seating and a party deck as well.
We graphed in an area way down the right field line where you could get both teams,which on this day were the Lookouts (Minnesota Twins) and the Biloxi Shuckers (Milwaukee Brewers).
The Lookouts came out from behind a door right beside the right field line,while the Shuckers (and some dazzling blue uniforms) arrived through a door in right center.
I only wish the Shuckers had a hat that combined the blue with the cool oyster logo,they don't and that's too bad because I'd consider buying one of those!

I didn't bring as many cards for the two Sunday stops as I did the previous days,but there were some important players.
Chattanooga's big addition for me was Mason Melotakis,but I was able to get their manager Doug Mientiewicz on two cards for Ryan's showdown set.
It always makes me feel good to get those for Ryan,because it was with Ryan after all that I started this crazy hobby that allowed me to make such good friends...
The Shuckers had the biggest catch with new top 100 player Brett Phillips,who was super nice in signing all of my cards.but also added outfielders Victor Roache and Tyrone Taylor as well.
Finally as we prepared to leave,I was able to see Josh Hader,who I had gotten in Delmarva and at the California/Carolina All-Star game as he prepared to chart.
Hader signed all three of my cards and when I told him of seeing him in Hagerstown,he asked "that place have more than three showers that work yet"?!
Gotta love the "House of Sadness"!!
I grabbed a frozen lemonade from the concession stand that was more slush puppie than frozen lemonade,but was still very good before we traversed the hill that I noted earlier and made the two hour trip to Sevierville,my buddy Corey Whire and the Tennessee Smokies..

The Smokies ballpark was different than the one that we left back in 2011.

There were plenty of decks and buildups beyond the outfield fence in both left and right field that didn't exist in my previous visit.
Compare my picture that I took and compare it to the 2011 picture to see some differences.
The Smokies had built things up in the ballpark and the players now stay in the hotel built next door rather than the Days Inn down the road (Corey said it had burnt down).
Meeting up with Corey,swapping items, helping Corey with Birmingham pitcher Tyler Danish and getting the lowdown on the Smokies along with the visiting Birmingham Barons and getting to see the final two innings of the game all wrapped up the prep work for the final graphing stop of the trip.
After a team shop stop for another Doug Hopkins program,we went outside to add the Barons as the teams exit from opposite sides of the stadium.
The big get for me was 2015 first rounder Carson Fulmer on his top 100.
Fulmer was nice enough,although the signature isn't very neat and I got to see a long time favorite in Nicky Delmonico,a former Frederick Key that is always very accommodating.
Some other Barons were added although Courtney Hawkins slipped out somehow and getting Fulmer as well as Corey's top 100 help with Willy Adames and Conor Gillespie among others in the early year made this a great stop.

The drive home was long,but fun as we did the podcast that you see below and lots of chat with my buddies.
Thanks to Kendall for all the legwork and planning and to Derreck for setting other things on the trip.
I appreciate everything and value your friendship.
Thanks for having me!

Whew! Now that the trip recap is over,I've got a large inbox to straighten out,Cavaliers this evening.a boxing challenge to do and plan for yes-another trip this weekend!
Thanks for reading and I'll be back soon....

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