At first, my goal as a travel writer was to write about trips that sports fans would like to do. I have been very fortunate to have an uncle who likes to travel and gives me sports themed trips to do as birthday presents. For the past couple of years we have been touring minor league baseball stadiums for a weekend every summer. This past weekend, my uncle and I did a four game minor league swing through Iowa in four days. This is the first part of our trip which included a stop to see the Clinton LumberKings.
As we started our trip from Chicago to Clinton on Friday morning, we had a list of stops that we were going to make along the way since our game was not until night. Now when planning a minor league tour, it is important to do two things. One, it would be wise to google a list of places that any food show has stopped at and see if there are any food places that are going to be in the area as some places do not have a lot of restaurants. Second, have a list of places that you would like to stop as most minor league games are not until night and you will have plenty of time to explore the surround area. My uncle always likes to check out roadsideamerica.com for goofy stops along the way that at least serve as a goofy photo opportunity if not educational which most of these stops do not enhance your knowledge in any way.
Our first stop on the road to Clinton just happened out of the blue, we were filling up with gas and we saw a sign for Little Wrigley in Freeport, Illinois. It turns out that in the town of Freeport there is a mini-Wrigley field that has a statue of Harry Carey and is designed just like Wrigley Field complete with old fashioned scoreboard. After some photos, we were on to our next stop which was a Gas Station just across the border in Iowa where we saw a Jesus statue, which was very entertaining and again a great photo opportunity. There were a couple of more quick stops as we saw a Giant Windmill and Heritage Canyon in Fulton, IL. The Windmill was tied up when we visited as there was not enough wind that day but if you do go on a windy day you will see the windmill rotating. Heritage Canyon is a site that was built to look like an old town in the late 19th century and is an easy hike through in about a half hour. You will get to see how people lived in the past and how cramped it truly was.
The next stop that we had on our agenda was to go visit the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa. The Field of Dreams is a must stop for any baseball fan as you it is something that you can only experience by going there. As we drove up the dirt road to the Field of Dreams, I remembered all the excitement that I had when I went almost fifteen years ago. You can tour the field and read up on some history there but really all anybody wants to do is play catch and hit a few balls on the Field of Dreams and say that I went there. Although I do wonder how many people hit a baseball into the cornfields as it looks to be about 250 to 275 feet from home plate to the cornfields.
Finally, it was time for the game. The Clinton Lumberkings are the single-A affiliate for the Seattle Mariners and have the oldest stadium in the minor leagues, which was built in 1937. The stadium definitely reminds you of its age as it is very small and cramped. There are two types of seating, general admission which is metal bleachers and reserved which is 3 rows of seats that go around the whole infield. I must say that Clinton does have some of the nicest people as a guy gave us two tickets because he had extras. Clinton’s stadium gives you an idea of how it must have felt in the good old days when people watched baseball and that is what makes this small and cramped stadium warm and charming.