How To Get A Ball At Dow Diamond
How To Get A Ball At Dow Diamond
by Malcolm MacMillan
- Getting BP balls before park opens is difficult
- Grass berms in outfield are perfect for home run snagging
At some Class-A ballparks, it's possible to stand beyond the outfield fence to catch or pick up balls hit during batting practice. That process won't fly at Dow Diamond. Dow Diamond is large and fancy enough that its perimeter doesn't simply end at the outfield fence. While this situation poses a bit of a challenge if you're hoping to snag a ball during your visit, it doesn't ruin your chances.
True, players aren't realistically able to hit home runs completely out of Dow Diamond, but it's possible for foul balls to leave the park. As such, don't waste time patrolling the area beyond the outfield fence; once you enter the park, you'll quickly see why a ball won't make it this far. Instead, concentrate on the paved and grass areas beyond the right field corner, which is the area around the solar panels.
It's rare for a foul ball to leave the park during batting practice, thanks to the cage set up around home plate. But if a ball is able to escape Dow Diamond, it will happen in this area. (It's also a common occurrence during the game, when the BP cage isn't in the way.) Balls that manage to escape the park in this area will hit the concourse and bounce -- sometimes right through the railing to the pavement below. If you're lucky, you'll find a ball in this area, but if not, you're not out of luck just yet.
Dow Diamond's gates open an hour before first pitch. Try to be as close to the head of the line as possible to give yourself the best shot at getting a ball. If you enter the park through the gates adjacent to the main parking lot, you'll wind up on the concourse in right-center field. This positioning is perfect. Take a look along the grass berms beyond the outfield fence and pay special attention to the grassy/treed area in front of the batter's eye. True, ushers are supposed to pick up BP home runs before the park's gates open, but it's possible for a ball to be overlooked. Make your way over to the group picnic area down the third base side. If you're able to enter it, take a look around not only the grass, but also the tables and chairs. It's very easy for a ball to go overlooked when it's next to the leg of a table or chair.
When the game begins, you have a number of positions to consider if you want to catch a foul ball or home run. Many Class-A parks don't allow fans to roam beyond the outfield fence, but the wraparound concourse at Dow Diamond solves that issue. If it's a home run you want, pick a spot in the grass berm anywhere in the outfield and remember to switch positions depending on whether it's a righty or lefty at the plate. If you stay on your feet, rather than sit, you give yourself the best chance of getting to the home run's landing spot in as little time as possible.
Of course, home runs aren't necessarily commonplace in the Minor Leagues. In fact, the 2011 Loons home run leader, Jonathan Garcia, had only 19 in 130 games. Before you head to the park, take a look online and note the home run leaders for each team. Catching a home run can be challenging, but you might have better luck trying to shag a foul ball. Dow Diamond has a few ideal spots for this activity.
The grass berm deep down the first base line is an ideal place for long foul balls. This area is often crowded with families, but it's common for multiple foul balls to land here during any given game. If a foul ball leaves a player's bat at a sharper angle, it will often land on the concourse between the end of the box seating and the kids' play area. This concourse is wide and perfect for trying to catch a foul ball, either on the fly or off a bounce. Find an open spot here and wait patiently with your glove.
There's a smaller concourse behind the seats down the third base line that's worth checking out, too. The first base-side concourse is wider, though, making it the best spot to stand.