Monday, July 30, 2007
Northwoods Adventure: The Duck Pond
Some of the best days are really just random occurrences, aren't they? A couple of weeks ago, I glanced at the schedule of my beloved La Crosse Loggers and saw that they were due to play in Madison on a Sunday afternoon. I called my buddy to see if he was up for it and the plan was set. Jonny and Ty at the Duck Pond for an afternoon game. Nothing fancy. No getting wild. Just a game and then back to La Crosse because I do have a day job that requires my attendance on Monday morning.
My first impression of the Duck Pond, home to the Madison Mallards, was that it looked big. For the Northwoods League, it's a pretty big stadium. And though we arrived an hour and a half before game time, there was a HUGE line waiting outside the gate and even some tailgaters! Okay, so Madison can draw 6-7000 fans per game. I get that. But they all show up early to party? Nice.
As we approached the ticket window on this sunny and 80 degree day, a man broke ranks from the giant line, ran up to us and offered us two tickets. Free. I thanked him, grabbed the tickets, looked at Jonny and said, "Buddy, I think I'm feeling some karma here." I had no idea.
Once we were inside the stadium, we were blown away by the amount of space...and food that the Duck Pond has. Hot dogs, Chicago hot dogs, pulled pork, grilled corn, turkey legs, and (I tear up just remembering)they were roasting a pig. Yep. Apparently it's not every game, but on that day they were roasting a whole pig. Wow. What could be better than that? Great Dane beer! So, we loaded up and found our seats.
It turned out that our seats were very nice bleacher seats not far from first base. Not too shabby for freebies. Then, a young couple (Adam and Julia) arrived and sat immediately in front of us. During the course of the game we got to know them pretty well. Jonny got along with Adam and I tried to convince Julia that I was her long lost soul mate. A few innings, and a few Old Glory Pale Ales, later we were all the best of friends.
After the game, (how did the game get lost in the shuffle here? Logger blew it in the ninth.) we went on a mission to find Maynard the Mallards mascot. He'd actually spoken to me earlier in the game and until then I'd never realized how creepy it is when full-suit mascots speak. Anyway, Jonny and I always get a classic "thumbs-up" picture with the mascot. However, the game is done and we're half in the bag. After looking for awhile, a Duck Pond employee tells us that the mascot already took off! No! After a little coaxing, this guy went and actually put the Maynard outfit on just to let us have our photo op. I would feel a little guilty, but I really think we helped him achieve a dream of his, too.
What next? Adam and Julia wanted us to go out. For the sake of keeping this under 8000 words I'll give you the short version. I called into work to say tomorrow was not gonna happen. Then we went out to eat and drink at a fine Madison establishment only to dine and dash. That's a new one for me. From there it was on to BW3's for some trivia and then to a place called "Visions." If you've never had the pleasure of visiting Visions, just think of an old garage with a few strippers and Fabio behind the bar. Seriously, I'm really trying to win over Julia by this point. No dice, but she was a very good sport.
Jump ahead...Monday morning. Jonny and I wake up on a nice leather couch (separately) in a very nice condo. Julia and Adam are gone. I assume they went to work, but had no reservations about the two yahoos they met at the game last night. I had a hangover to equal the day after my 21st birthday and we had to get back to La Crosse.
What's the moral of this story? If you love baseball and you want to party, you don't need to drop all that money to sit in the bleachers at Wrigley, hit the Duck Pond. It's amazing. Next up...a review of my trip to see the Wisconsin Woodchucks.