Sunday, April 13, 2014

San Antonio Missions

Being a world-class hot dog explorer is much like being a professional athlete; you have to stay nimble, flexible and strong. Well, at least flexible. Sunday was supposed to be a Texas Rangers game but as I awoke from my luxurious digs at the rest stop on I-35 just north of the DFW area the weather had turned nasty. Storms and tornados were expected. Let me be clear... snow days for work and school: good. Rainouts for baseball: bad.

Missions' Scoreboard
So while I had not planned to visit this particular venue a quick check of the area had me hightailing it south towards San Antonio. The Missions are part of the Texas League and I had seen them in Tulsa plenty of times but always wanted to visit their ballpark. The time/distance didn’t work out well but if I hit it just right I would make it there by the third inning.

For someone that is terrible at math I pulled an Einstein and arrived just at the end of the third (must be hot dogs increase brain power). And ironically the MIssions were playing the Tulsa Drillers…the home team where I live.

The Missions had the bad luck of following the OKC RedHawks. While OKC has a relatively new and slick park the Missions have the oldest in the Texas League. Built in 1994 Nelson Wolff Stadium reminds me more of a higher end college ball field. The only unique feature is the scoreboard that has a silhouette like that of the Alamo. It is also very similar to the Florida League parks that dot the Sunshine State landscape.

Let’s get on with it. First the ballpark:
Location-The only saving grace for location is that it is just off of the interstate. It is basically in a neighborhood and nowhere near downtown.
Accessibility-Unless you live in said neighborhood you probably have to drive. The only place to park is the ample lot in front of the venue. And it costs $5, that blows if you are on a budget. I was able to park for free as no one was there collecting when I arrived in the third inning.
Cleanliness-The facility itself is very clean and the restrooms underwent a recent renovation. The grass on the grounds, including the outfield GA seats, is sort of dead and there is a lot of dirt showing through.
Lots of Empty Seats
Ambiance-It had the feel of a high school game with the small, lackluster stadium and the location made me feel there was a high school just around the corner.
GA Ticket Price-$5 for a grass outfield seat is fair.
Fans-The fans are only docked a point because of lack of support. It was the 4th home game this season and the stadium was barely 25% occupied. Not acceptable for a Sunday afternoon game. They were, however, VERY enthusiastic and VERY friendly. Best fans to date, just not many of them.

Bun-fresh and steamed
Taste-It fell somewhat flat. I doctored it up as much as I could. While not bad, it missed the mark somewhat.
Toppings-a decent array of toppings including jalapenos, onions, mustard and relish.
Price-$3.50 was a fair sporting event price.
Portability-the wrapper does a sufficient job of holding the toppings in until back at the seat.
It Factor-San Antonio has one specialty dog that might be worth the trip if in the area. The Ballepeno, named after their mascot. It sports a ¼ pound franks and nacho topping. Sounds both disgusting and delicious at the same time.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price4
It Factor3Fans4

While 42 of 60 is a little low, I am of the opinion there is no  such thing as a bad baseball/hot dog experience. It is just that some are better than others.
Albanee: Local Hot Dog Aficionado

I did put the dog to the kid test in San Antonio. Six year-old Albanee gave the standard dog 5 of 5 stars and prefers ketchup on her dog and raves about the bun. She was too cute to lecture about how ketchup has no place on a real hot dog.
Tom and Ballerpeno

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