Monday, July 24, 2017
A night with the New Jersey Jackels
A few weeks ago, I found out that there was an independent league team that played just minutes from my house. The New Jersey Jackals, playing in Little Falls, NJ are part of the Can-Am League. Their stadium is called “Yogi Berra Stadium” and is located on Montclair State’s campus.
I felt kind of dumb that there was pro baseball so close (not counting, you know, both NY MLB teams, Staten Island, and Brooklyn). But this is REALLY close. Like 10-minute car ride, close.
On Friday I checked the schedule and noticed that there was a 6:05 game on Saturday, and that the game would be followed by fireworks. Having missed our town’s July 4th fireworks while on vacation, I decided we should take the kids to the game and fireworks show.
Plus, it was Star Wars night and they were handing out light sabers. I admittedly know absolutely nothing about Star Wars, but my son thinks it’s cool, so that was a bonus. He wore the “Darth Gator” shirt I got him in New Orleans.
I decided to rely on buying walk-up tickets, which was a mistake. The line was really long. It was actually quicker for me to buy tickets online (while in line!) and then go grab them from will call. Ahhh, attending baseball games in 2017.
Upon entering, you get a great view of the field before walking down the steps. Each kid got a lightsaber, so they were really excited. My 3-year-old daughter saw a storm trooper and got really scared.
The stadium is kind of charming, nestled against a hill and right behind the Yogi Berra Museum (which I have’t been too womp womp). The field itself looked a little raggedy, but I get it. An independent league team likely doesn’t have the budget for top notch field care. It wasn’t bad, just not as pristine as you see at other pro ball parks.
We found some bleacher seats down the third baseline and settled in. We had assigned seats, but it was pretty empty where we were, so we had plenty of space for the kids to move around.
One downside, and I’m not sure if it’s just because it was a busy game with the promotional night, but the concessions lines were crazy long. It look me about 30 minutes of waiting to return with food and drinks, and I missed a chunk of the first inning. The prices were too bad, for stadium concessions. Not great, but not terrible.
The team wore Star Wars jerseys that were to later be auctioned off, which were cool looking.
As for the baseball, yikes. I don’t want to complain too much. These guys are still playing pro ball, and good for them. Many are former MLB draft picks, and a few players on New Jersey even spent some time in The Show, including Johnny Hellweg (Brewers).
The biggest issue for me is how long the game took. I can’t imagine how boring it might have been for kids, although luckily they had their lightsabers and duels were breaking out all over the park. The pitchers just couldn’t throw strikes. All game. And with the threat of rain, I was really worried the kids wouldn’t see fireworks.
It did rain a little, but all in all, the fireworks came after a four-hour, nine-inning game. That’s simply too much. Not sure if they need to do less promotions between innings or cut games to seven innings or what, but holy crap, four hours for a nine inning Can-Am league game is painful. I’m not sure if this is the norm, or just the result of a sloppy, high-scoring game. I hope it’s the latter.
All-in-all, it was fun to go to a ball game and give the kids something different to do on a weekend night. Neither showed much interest in the game, although my son did enjoy really high pop flies. They did have fun dancing and watching the various ballpark antics, including Jack the Jackal mascot. I see no reason why we wouldn’t make this a yearly visit to the park.