The Toledo Mud Hens
Toledo & Wauseon, Ohio (Map)
I've wanted to drive down to Toledo for a Mud Hens game for quite some time; both because I love Toledo & because I've heard good things about their stadium, Fifth Third Field.
Background: The Mud Hens are the Triple-A farm club for the Detroit Tigers. Their unique name comes from the location of their first stadium, which was near a marsh inhabited by American Coots, colloquially known as Marsh Hens or Mud Hens.
Baseball history in Toledo dates back to 1883 - including baseball at the awesome Armory Park - but the 1965 inception of the Mud Hens would be the team that we'd see today. The Mud Hens played their games in suburban Maumee until 2001; before moving to downtown Toledo when Fifth Third Field opened in 2002.
Fifth Third Field has since received widespread praise, as it was named one of the best minor league ballparks by Newsweek (2002), ESPN rated a stadium section as having the best seats to watch a minor league baseball game (2007) & our boy Fantauzzo said that the stadium is one of his favourites (2009).
I remember riding bikes around downtown Toledo & being impressed with their stadium before I even cared about live baseball. It is nicely pieced into the cityscape & as you pass the stadium, you want to go through the gates on a warm summer's day.
And this day was indeed a warm summer's day.
This would be the last road trip for Rye's Malibu, which apparently didn't have working A/C anymore. We drove in the 95° heat from Detroit to Toledo (about an hour), as I also asked why his glove compartment was broke. (Which was apparently because I drunkenly broke it while on our way back from St. Louis...right after I was trying to use the keychain bottle opener & turned off his car at 70mph. Good times! (I was sitting shotgun))
Food/Beer: We were certainly fixing for a cold beer & some grub by the time we reached Toledo and scurried over to the stadium. Unfortunately they only had boring beverage choices like Budweiser & the like, but a Shock Top did the job well enough, I suppose.
Where they failed at beer, they succeeded in food. I got a delicious meatball sub, where the meatballs were sliced into flat, delicious slabs...
..and Rye seemed to enjoy his sausage.
You'll also notice the number of people, especially kids, surrounding our seats. I was a bit concerned because Rye can get a bit belligerent after having a few beers (and the heat surely wasn't going to help). So anyway, he's had a beer or two & I'm trying to keep him on safe topics & away from swearing...but it wasn't enough for an unimpressed, middle American father, "you hear the language on this one?!?", he sourly asked his wife.
The father was quite delighted though, when someone came with tickets & we were apparently sitting in their seats.
It was time for us to move...
...though he grew bitter when he had to tell us that our seats were actually 1st row, right behind the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees' dugout! Yes!
Now over here we had a few empty seats beside us. The only other people were an older couple & some other 20-somethings. This was a much more appropriate section for us. (The old guy even humourously gave Rye a baseball from the Pacific Coast League, after Rye & the guy got to talking about the older couple's awesome cross-continental baseball roadie that they were on).
Anyway, Rye & I were both cheering for the Mud Hens, both because we like Toledo, but also because everyone hates the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees won. It was still entertaining though, as we got to see Carlos Guillen trying to get back to the Tigers & also Jesus Montero, a prized Yankees' catching prospect.
Conclusion: As for the stadium itself, it is a beautiful structure situated amongst awesome old stone buildings, with a wide concourse & a great Mud Hens store. To be in one of my Top 10 cities, experiencing baseball at a level more enjoyable than a game at Comerica, was a great way to spend this Friday night. I'd certainly go back to Fifth Third & this experience opened my eyes to other Triple-A or Double-A baseball possibilities.
Leaving Fifth Third, we tried out the local Toledo scene on this Friday night. The bars were rad in terms of their atmosphere & setup, but there simply weren't enough people out drinking. The one place where there was a lot of people, was a place with an outdoor live DJ party (not really my scene). The other place was built like an old house, (more of my scene), but it was pretty dead with only ~20 people.
I had looked up where to go in Toledo beforehand, but there didn't seem to be any magical place. I'd imagine it would be better when the University of Toledo isn't on summer break. Rye had commented on how dead the city streets were & this was doing nothing to disprove his observation.
The one place did get points for infuriating Rye though, as he asked for a Rye & Coke and the bartender looked at him like he had 3 heads (because certain Americans don't know what rye is). This greatly amused me.
We didn't stay out very late and decided to return to the hotel at a decent hour. We asked the concierge about any places within walking distance where we could get food, but he told us we'd be better off calling for delivery.
The barbecue chicken pizza was a great end to the Toledo night.
Waking up the next morning, Rye didn't have to be home until 2 or 3, so we had some time to wander the Toledo streets. The 1st picture is the view out of our room, the 2nd is the district court building & the 3rd is the local newspaper building.
Even though Toledo is on hard economic times, they still have a great building stock.
Completed in 1897, this building replaced an earlier courthouse which stood adjacent to this site from 1853 to 1897.
Rye was still amazed at how dead the streets of Toledo were. I was confused as to whether he had walked around a Rust Belt city's downtown before.
He was finally certain that he had it figured out when we went to the busy Farmer's Market/Libbey Glass Outlet, "oh! This is where everyone is!"
(I had read outstanding reviews of the glass outlet & wanted to check it out. It was aight.)
Living on an island and having seen every town/road within a 3 hour radius, it excited me when Rye said we could drive somewhere after Toledo, since we'd have a bit of time.
I wanted to see another Ohio County Courthouse, so I chose the nearby one in Wauseon. The problem was that my GPS was dead & Rye's CAA mapbook was weak.
I instinctually pointed the Malibu to the west & towards what I thought was the right direction - something I hoped was true as we started to speed on county roads. We drove past a couple of towns and highways which weren't on his map, until we finally recognized something in real life which was on the map. Now we thought we were finally going to Wauseon.
That is until we spotted a Welcome to Michigan sign and the entrance to Morenci, Michigan!
(Aside: It ends up we were on Ohio State Route 120, looking for the 20).
Now that we knew we were in Morenci, we could find our way to Wauseon.
It was quieter than Morenci & I didn't care for how their skatepark didn't allow bikes (according to the sign), but they did sell Joose & Rye liked it because it reminded him of Tillsonburg (Ontario).
Anyway, we walked over to the courthouse.
Ever since finding the courthouselover Flickr page, I've thought more and more about county courthouses & how I can go about seeing them. There has to be more than 3000 in the United States, so it's not as if I'm likely to ever see them all, but I like stopping to see the odd one, much in the same way I like seeing the odd lighthouse.
Fulton County Courthouse appealed to me because of the fact that it is a handsome building, in a town which has never had many more than 7000 people (Wauseon). The fact that these buildings seem to be the one type of building that America doesn't throw away so easily, is another reason they appeal to me. To think of all the small 7000 person towns with impressive courthouses...it makes me downright giddy.
There were two previous Fulton County Courthouses, but they were in nearby Ottokee. When the Michigan Southern Air Railway was built, they chose to go through Wauseon & the county seat was subsequently moved from Ottokee. The courthouse here was finished in 1872 & Ottokee is not even an incorporated community anymore.
I'd say that we should have went to Ottokee, but apparently we did. We had to get home anyhow, as the fact that I couldn't find Wauseon quickly, meant that we couldn't go to Adrian, Bryan or Napoleon now. Lesson learned.
I've now seen 2 of the 80- or 90-something county courthouses in Ohio. I guess Rye has as well.
Go Back to the Main Page of this Website
1 - Wikipedia - Toledo Mud Hens
2 - Wikipedia - Fifth Third Field (Toledo)
3 - Wikipedia - Wauseon, Ohio
4 - Wikipedia - Fulton County, Ohio
5 - Fulton County Courthouse (Ohio)
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