The Trenton Thunder recently invited Mrs Gs VIB bloggers to be their guest in the press box, thanks to a collaboration with Debbie Schaeffer, owner of Mrs Gs TV & Appliances, and sponsor Electrolux. I was one of the fortunate to score a one-day press pass! The Thunder is a AA New York Yankee affiliate team with a stadium not far from the Big Apple in Mercer County, NJ. I’ve grown up going to see the Yankees play and have never gone to a minor league game, so I didn’t know what to expect. None the less, I was excited to finally go to one after meeting two of the pitchers just over a month ago. After entering the stadium, you receive a free program, so you can easily keep track of all the stats! One of the many reasons why this is America’s favorite past-time is because of the statistics! There’s so much excitement in recording triple plays, stolen bases, no hitters, and grand slams! The press box was at the top of the main entrance, was air-conditioned, provided free wi-fi, and a boasted a large buffet for the press, including BBQ ribs, burgers, Crab Fries, bratwurst, grilled chicken, Caesar salad and more. They offer a wide variety of food with healthy choices just like in the big league parks, and we were given a good sample of what’s available in the food courts. It was a real treat to be invited, and since it was my first time ever receiving a press pass, I can check one more item off my bucket list! Thanks!
Waterfront Park is the home of the Trenton Thunder. It’s easily accessable from Central and South Jersey, as well as from the Philly area. Public transportation, including Amtrak, also brings you within walking distance. Parking is a short walk from the ballpark, and will only set you back $3.00. Ticket prices also amazed me. You can entertain a family of four for as little as $39. The stadium is smaller than those of the majors, but I actually LOVE the intimacy of the venue. I walked around to different locations during the game, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. There’s a picnic area near left field which looked great for group gatherings, especially birthday parties; there’s a playground, “The Kid Zone” next to right field for bored or active younger children, and there are activities throughout the concourse for those of all ages, just in case you’re not the type to sit still for long periods of time. There are also luxury, air conditioned suites available for groups up to 25 for as little as $30 per person, perfect for corporate or special events. I found this family-oriented park ingenious!. You get to attend a live sporting event for the price of a movie ticket!
Mrs. Gs TV & Appliance store had a table set up in the concourse, and was giving away a Weber grill as part of a Wednesday Night Home Games Giveaway running until September 1, 2010. Too bad I wasn’t eligible! You have to purchase a ticket. Future giveaways include a washer/dryer set and a 60″ HDTV. Click here for details.
There are also some fun things taking place on the field between innings. Mascots Boomer and Strike (shown in very top photo) race a selected kid around the bases; they parade a homeless dog on the field in hopes of it being adopted (below); there’s a dizzy bat contest, and there are special event nights which bring celebrities to greet the crowd at the ballpark. Directly above, wrestling legend Mick Foley escorted a lucky fan onto the field. He later signed autographs. At the bottom of the first couple of innings, father and son “bat dogs” Chase and Derby take turns retrieving the bats (Derby in photo above). Several nights, they even have free fireworks! The Thunder keeps things interactive, and gets the crowd pumped.
I’ve seen this from a family’s prospective, now let’s look at it from a phographer’s point of view. Whether you use a compact camera or a DSLR, you will be pleased with the results of your shots. I brought a backpack full of lenses, but used only two. Occasionally, I broke out the Canon XT/350D with a wide angle lens (17-40/4 mm) mounted on it , but I mostly used my telephoto lens (70-200/2.8 mm) on my 7D completely handheld, which all of these photos were taken with. The press box has a great view from behind the plate, but the netting can be annoying to photograph through, so I walked around the stadium looking for interesting veiwpoints to shoot from. Normally, 200 mm would be a little short in a major league ball park, but this stadium is cozier. With the help of my feet (the best zoom available), I was able to get even closer to my subjects. That along with an aperture of 2.8, allowed me to isolate the players more from the crowd by blurring the background.
I sat in right field, next to the home dugout, to the right side of home plate and near third base. Seating, by the way, was comfortable. I concentrated on the infield where most of the action was. I do think a 300 or 400 mm lens would be better for the outfield. There were a number of pro and serious amateur photographers in the stands as well as fans with compact cameras and camera phones. I also saw a man with a consumer video camera on a tripod bouncing from spot to spot like myself. Overall, if you’re looking for great photo or video ops in a stadium, this is a great place to start. For more photos click here.
I love this stadium, and feel the need to visit many, many times not only to see awesome games, but to also practice getting cool action shots like a runner stealing second, diving into third, a pick off at first or sliding home! Did I mention this is a AA New York Yankee affiliate? Yes? Good, because I want to make it clear that this is a great team! Why they’re not AAA amazes me. Perhaps it’s the consistency in performance, or the arm of the pitchers, I don’t know. Whatever it is, in my opinion they performed well that night, and are more than worthy of season tickets! If you’re not in the area, find your way to another minor league ballpark, because it’s the best ticket in town! If you’re in the east, you might get lucky enough to see the Thunder in action. Now… if I could only score an annual press pass!