Down on the Farm: May Day on the Bay

This serves as the second post in my third season of a series called “Down on the Farm” that chronicles visits to various minor league parks throughout the 2013 campaign. (All prior editions can be accessed here.)

It’s hard to fathom that the beautiful city of Corpus Christi, Texas didn’t have professional baseball until the past decade. But when Ryan-Sanders Baseball brought America’s pastime to this rapidly-growing port locale in 2005, they did it right with Whataburger Field.

MainLocated just north of downtown “Corpus,” the home of the Hooks offers exceptional panoramas of the city’s Harbor Bridge, USS Lexington aircraft carrier, Texas State Aquarium and an array of tankers and other ships in the backdrop, which contribute to a very scenic setting.

Stadium architects also wisely paid tribute to the region’s cotton industry, as a warehouse once occupied the site where this pristine facility now stands. Structures from said building were therefore incorporated into the outfield concourse.

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Whataburger Field features roughly 5,000 fixed seats, 19 luxury suites and two outfield berm areas that accommodate 2,000 additional spectators.  The stadium hosted the 2007 Texas League All-Star Game, and the team won its lone division title the prior season.

Like Joliet’s Silver Cross Field, I’m pleased Whataburger Field was built upward, so fans must ascend stairs to reach the main level.

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Once inside, all areas offer chair backs and outfield seating is angled in, providing better views of the infield.  However, this also causes sight lines to be blocked, so balls hit to outfield corners cannot be seen from those sections.

Among the most family-friendly venues I’ve come across, the ballpark has large grassy outfield berms behind the fences, Adirondack chairs beyond left field and a big picnic area in the right field corner.  For active kids, there’s also a climbing wall, basketball court, Little League field and even a waterpark.

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Whataburger Field seems like a pitchers’ park.  The night before I visited was a 1-0 final, and May 1 saw a scoreless tilt into the 7th inning.  April results also confirm this.

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The pleasant environs, scenery, reasonable ticket prices and on-field success have folks consistently showing up to the yard. Nearly 6,000 walked through the turnstyles on a breezy weeknight when I attended, and the Hooks welcomed nearly 500,000 fans in recent years.  That number is more impressive considering the relatively small capacity of the ballpark.

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Like Ryan-Sanders’ other successful franchise in Round Rock (Texas Rangers Triple-A team), the Corpus Christi club (Houston Astros Double-A) sits near the top of the standings and attendance count again in 2013.  People with whom I chatted were generally knowledgeable and mainly Astros fans, since Houston is only three hours to the northeast and there is no Rangers radio affiliate in the area.

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Whataburger, as many readers are likely aware, is a huge Texas fast food chain, which originated 63 years ago in Corpus Christi.  The company should be proud of its association with such a fine place to enjoy baseball.



About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.

Comments

  1. Looks like a great park…Ari must drive more miles than any non-truck driver in America.

  2. Another great article on my favorite form of baseball – the Minor Leagues – before the players get spoiled by making millions for taking steroids in MLB

  3. AJ Kaufman says:

    Haha. Yes, I might. 3100 last week. If only I was paid as well as a truck driver!

  4. AJ Kaufman says:

    I too love the Minors, Greg. Of course, there are guys in the Minors doing steroids (or something banned, since the bureaucratic list is so long & obscure), just as there are many NFL players doing steroids and other athletes doing illegal things. And all major sports athletes “get spoiled making millions.”

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