Batter’s Eye bar has become a hit with fans.
early, stay late at the Jake
By Zachary Dzurick
Published June 22, 2005
those of us of a certain age that have grown up in Cleveland, vivid
and special memories remain of the Old Lady on the Lake Municipal
At the last minute you knew you could show up and get a great seat.
You got a hotdog with Stadium mustard and maybe some peanuts. If
you were an adult, you got a cold beer and then you watched some
losing baseball. But it never mattered, it was about being at the
game in the crowd banging wooden seats together hoping for a rally.
The "kids" only remember a brand new park where every seat was taken
and winning baseball. They don't remember having to sit behind a
pole and if you didn't like hot dogs well you were out of luck.
Success has spoiled us.
The Indians's slow start combined with poor weather has put a real
crimp in attendance so far this season, the second worst in the
American League. But with the weather warming up so has the Tribe.
It is time to jump back on the bandwagon.
The front office and the concession people are doing their part
as well. While (for the time being) you may be able to just show
up and get a ticket just before the first pitch, the Indians want
you to show up as early as possible so you can experience everything
Jacobs Field has to offer.
Last week, for the first time since the park opened for night games,
fans were allowed to enter Gate B starting at 4:30 p.m. to watch
their hometown heroes take batting practice.
"It gives fans a chance to experience something they have not been
able to do since Jacobs Field opened in 1994," Indians Communications
and Creative Services Manager Curtis Danburg said. "You can watch
batting practice, where the players are in a relaxed environment.
They are more likely to toss a ball or interact with the fans. It
is something kids will always remember."
Fans are allowed right against the centerfield wall where they can
watch the Indians warm up before a game. Last week, before a game
against the Rockies, there seemed to be a lot of father/child bonding
going on. Rich Skalduni brought his son Jacob and his son's friend
Michael Pascal to check out the new opportunity.
am here because the boys wanted to be here," Skalduni said. "Our
chances to get a ball or much better during batting practice."
Kwasniewski brought his entire family including his nine-year old
"Sam is an aspiring young ball player," Kwasniewski said. "It is
great that he can get so close and see how scruffy and dirty the
ball players are. He can see they are regular guys."
Amherst's Dennis Hudkey was surprised how close the fans were allowed
to get to the field.
"Batting practice is the best time to really relax and watch the
players," Hudkey said. "I wish they would do it every game, it beats
standing outside the fence looking in. I am amazed how close they
let us get, I thought it would be far away."
Scott shows off some ribs. (Photo by Larry Bennet)
open during batting practice and the entire game is the Destination
Location in Center Field, which features the brand new Batter's
Eye Bar and the International Market with a view. Instead of finding
a restaurant downtown before a game, you come in early, watch some
BP, leisurely relax in the outfield and have your pick from the
Asian, Mexican, Italian, European or BBQ markets. Of course, you
could always stick with a hot dog with stadium mustard.
Jason Beudert, SportsService manager, which is a subsidiary of Delaware
North Companies which runs the Jacob Field concessions said they
wanted raise their level of concessions to enhance an already great
day at a major league ball park.
"Baseball is a natural destination spot," Beudert said. "What we
are looking to create is the number one destination spot in the
city of Cleveland. What that means to us is fun, great food, great
atmosphere, great drinks and a fantastic variety to go with an awesome
ballpark and an awesome team."
The Market features restaurant quality food. There is no cutting
corners and if you can't find something that you want to eat then
you should check with a doctor. Here is a list of just some of the
items available: sushi, Asian Chicken Salad, Gourmet burritos, Nachos
Grande (that are the size of your arm), Gourmet pizza, meatball
sandwiches, Chef's Italian entrée of the day, Brats, pierogies,
gyros and ribs so succulent that they fall off the bone. There are
also regional desserts.
Beudert said quality and variety is key.
"We have a saying here that general concessions are anything but
general," Beudert said. "We try to put the best food out there at
the best value and best quality."
However, the area needed something special to really make it stand
out. The Batter's Eye Bar has done that. Ever since Opening Day,
the bar has become the place to gather for fans.
"The Batter's Eye bar is really the focal point of the whole ball
park," Beudert said. "You can see it from every angle of our fantastic
ballpark. It has sort of become the epicenter of some of our greatest
seats. You just watch when the gates open and you see some fans
run to this front line seats that overlook the ballpark. You almost
feel that you are part of the field which is great."
At the Rockies game last week, bartenders Michael Mrazik, Lorraine
Morana, Cory Zukoski, Dawn McFarland and Shannon Stenger seemed
to draw almost as much attention as the players on the field. The
Indians have basically taken your favorite sports bar and plunked
it in center field. Besides being a full service bar, it features
several ballpark specialties including the Triple Play, which layers
a patriotic splash of red, white and blue in the form of frozen
Strawberry Daiquiri, Pina Colada and Blue Hawaiian. Another must
for the older folks is the Squeeze Play, which features Vodka, Midori,
sour mix and half a lemon. There is also an extensive Wine list
and specialty coffee drinks.
"People love this place," Morana said. "Sometimes they don't even
go to their seats."
Stenger summed up the appeal of the bar and the surrounding tables
and chairs that showcase a spectacular view of the field.
"Where else in this park can you pay $6 and get this view," Stenger
Apparently it isn't just the budget conscious that are ignoring
their seats to hang out at the Batter's Eye.
"I had one guy last night that said he would never go to his seats
again and he had season tickets behind home plate," McFarland said.
The Indians have now won 12 out of their last14 games. This city
is a sleeping giant when it comes to winning baseball. Do yourself
a favor and buy tickets soon. Not only come to enjoy a great game
with a team ready to battle for a playoff spot but arrive early
and enjoy batting practice as well as great food with the best ambiance
in the state of Ohio.
"We are on a fantastic streak and it is a great atmosphere to sit
out here and have a frozen drink or a cold beer and watch your favorite
player hit some balls around," Beudert said. "I have visited a lot
of ball parks and our company does the lion share of the ball parks
and without a doubt we have the best outfield in baseball. Thanks
to the Batter's Eye bar, the best food, the best variety and the
best fans in the world."
Bay Village resident George Kervey could not agree more.
"This is a great idea," Kervey said. "It is a lot of fun to be out
here at batting practice and socializing. It is a great environment."