INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The smell of cut grass, groomed earth and cotton candy, there’s nothing like it. The crisp crack of the bat, the sound of the ball hitting leather, and a little guy with the big mustache hawking, “Cracker Jacks!”
These are the scents and sounds of the Reno Aces Ballpark on the Truckee River, a haven for baseball mavens if ever there was one. You can feel your blood pressure returning to normal the moment you pass through the front gate.
Since 1907 our minor league team has been The Silver Sox, The Padres, The Chukars, and since 2009, The Reno Aces, Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks, and these kids are good. They can execute a triple play and have time left over to autograph the ball before the umpire calls the third out.
For six bucks apiece, Grandson Everett and I set ourselves down in General Admission Berm Seating, that grassy centerfield area where you can spread your blanket, buy a lemonade with a real slice of lemon for five bucks, and pound your glove in anticipation of an Aces home run ball to come floating out of the clouds.
The bullpens are located directly below Berm Seating, so the kids can watch the pitchers warm up from only 20 feet away, and these torch throwers can bring the heat. It’s exhilarating to witness up close. And all kinds of celebrities can be seen there in the Berm Seating. We even saw Sylas Wright there with his supermodel girlfriend.
At any point during the game you can take your kids into the playground area for a batting lesson. A pretty lady there places a Wiffle Ball upon a steady stream of air and one kid at a time gets to swing for the fences. It’s almost as entertaining as the game itself.
“Get your grandson to be a switch-hitter,” the batting instructor told me. “When he drag bunts left-handed he’ll be two steps closer to first.”
Stadium parking is $10, but if you get there early there is free street parking adjacent to the Auto Museum across the river and it’s only a five minute walk on the bike path from there to the ballpark.
But what’s best about this wonderful venue is it offers an opportunity for a few hours of relaxed conversation. At one point in the afternoon I asked Everett (6), “So how long was your flight from Nevada to Texas?”
He gave the question considerable thought, scratched his chin, and said, “Oh, just under 40 hours.” It’s moments like these that make you nod your head and smile a broad smile.
No, for sheer unadulterated enjoyment, there’s nothing quite like an afternoon or evening at the Reno Aces Ballpark. There’s just one thing I miss; 25 years ago they used to fire hotdogs into the crowd with a large slingshot during the 7th inning stretch.
There’s probably a health department ordinance against that sort of thing now, but I caught one over at the old dilapidated ballpark on Moana and it was the best hotdog I ever had. If they were to bring that tradition back I would be there every night.
Which reminds me, there’s an afternoon game this Sunday, April 28th at one o’clock against the Fresno Mudcats. I’m not certain about the Fresno nickname; pushed for time I made it up, and it will just have to do for now … Go Aces!
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.org.