Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Savannah Sand Gnats

It was a dark and sultry night in the deep south, and elements were coming together for the perfect storm. In Savannah, at Historic Grayson Stadium, it was one dollar entry, one dollar beers and…...one dollar hot dogs. It was the perfect combination for a gastronomic catastrophe; for most. For a hot dog explorer it is like becoming a Martyr and getting your 77 virgins. Did I mention it was dollar dog night?

You actually had to have a Kroger (regional grocery store chain) card to get in for a dollar. Eight smackers otherwise. Since I was from out of town, and a visitor, they let me in for one greenback. That my friends, is called southern hospitality...and why I live in the south. In addition, one of the staff took me back behind the outfield wall so I could see how they change the numbers on one of those old-timey manual, embedded in the wall scoreboards. The short of it is...it ain’t glamorous. The Sand Gnats were perfect hosts.

It is called HISTORIC Grayson Stadium because, well, it is historic. Get it? It is THE oldest baseball park in the minor leagues and the third oldest professional ballpark in business. Just behind the MLB venues of Fenway and Wrigley. Being old has its advantages, and its detractors. The park is off the scale in ambiance, it has changed little throughout its history, but all older parks suffer from cramped quarters and less than comfortable amenities. Given the choice, I will take vintage over modern any day. Grayson, with the exception of a bleacher section on the first base side and a brick party deck next to it, has all of its seats in a large grandstand behind home plate. While the small section of box seats are plastic and comfy, the general admission seating is a throwback park bench type seating. The entire area is covered by a huge overhanging wooden roof and protected from foul offs by netting. Four ginormous ceiling fans keep a breeze flowing that cool the fans as a secondary function. Their primary purpose is to keep the sand gnats away...not the team, the real, biting, no-see-um sand gnats.

Bun-very fresh.
Taste-ahhhh...Hebrew National how I have missed you. The Sand Gnats use the HN all-beef frank. It doesn’t get any better.
Toppings-kraut, mustard, onions, jalapenos, relish, you name it they had it. Very impressive for a single A club.
Price-$3.50 for a regular dog is not bad. Normally it would not get top score, but add together the top quality frank, the assortment of toppings and the fact they toss in an occasional dollar dog night and you peg the meter.
Portability-a paper wrapper, which is excellent.
It Factor-the only category Savannah doesn’t get top score. Close, with several versions of their dog and a few sausages. Just need a little more imagination and they are there.

Location-in the burbs of Savannah, not downtown but still in the city-like area.
Access-bus, bike and FREE parking.
GA Ticket Price-$8 would be a little steep, but there really isn’t a bad seat in the park. And there is the dollar admission nights to help the score.
Cleanliness-this is one of the detractors of being an ancient ballpark. Just like an old house, no matter what you do it always has a bit of unkempt feel about it. And there was some standing water in the restrooms and other places. They do a good job with what they have, but it affects the score.
Fans-nice crowd and they really pulled for the Gnats. Very friendly fans.
Ambiance-off the chart.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price4.5
It Factor4.5Fans5
Changing the Score

Mama said baseball is like a box of chocolates. Or something like that. Portions of that movie, including the park bench scenes, were filmed in Savannah. But that dolt Forrest chose football over baseball, so forget I even mentioned him. Instead, forget all that you know about Savannah and head down the spanish moss lined streets to Historic Grayson Stadium and see how real baseball is played.

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