“Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
When talking about baseball, it is cliché to allude to the 1989 classic film Field of Dreams. However, with one of the major themes of the movie reflecting on the magic and luster of America’s great pastime, it is hard not to hear the iconic voice of James Earl Jones telling Kevin Costner’s character not to sell the farm.
I have had the chance now, in the first couple of months of play for the United Shore Professional Baseball League, to visit Jimmy John’s Field in downtown Utica a handful of times. I have gone for work as well as pleasure – to celebrate a bachelor and to take in a game with my buddy. I have sat basically everywhere in the stadium, from the cabana suites to the hill beyond the right field wall. Every time I have gone, it has been an incredible experience.
Any place, any stadium can have two teams playing baseball, but not every place can capture the allure of America’s pastime. As you look about, you see entire families, people of all ages and walks of life taking in the sights, sounds and smells of flawless Michigan summer nights. You feel a buzz in the air that you just cannot fathom when you turn on the television to see the Tigers play in a place like Tampa, Florida, where maybe 250 people are trying to watch a baseball game inside a dome. Jimmy John’s has the type of magic you feel at Comerica, or in a place like Wrigley Field.
Supplementing that aspect of the experience of Jimmy John’s is the game play. Aside from an occasional flurry of walks, and few errors here and there, the overall level of play has been pretty darn good. Each game I have been at has witnessed two of the most important factors in good baseball games: good pitching and timely hitting. Major League Baseball has noticed too, with five players having already been signed to Minor League deals with big league clubs. That comes as no surprise either, with many of these players playing the game they love and fighting for their baseball lives, so to speak. Yet another part of the magic.
So if you have not been to Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, go. Drop what you are doing and go. You will not be disappointed.
Dan Rochon is an associate planner in Economic Development Services for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.