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Friday, March 29, 2019

Play Ball for Less!

A Crushers 2018 promotion invited fans to bring their dogs to the game.
Tuesday, CLE on the Cheap got you ready for the Cleveland Indians’ 2019 season opener. Today, the focus is on the minor leagues and where you can see the action in person at prices considerably cheaper than Major League Baseball tickets.

Greater Cleveland has three minor-league teams. The Lake County Captains, a Class A affiliate of the Indians, play at Classic Park in Eastlake. The Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks play at Canal Park in downtown Akron. And the Lake Erie Crushers, an independent professional team, play at Sprenger Stadium in Avon.

The Captains and Rubber Ducks both open Thursday at home. The Crushers, who play a shorter season, open on the road May 9 and at home May 10.

Minor-league baseball is fun, even for people who aren’t baseball fans. It’s not that the games don’t count or that the players don’t take them seriously. You might see a star of the future or an injured major leaguer playing on a rehab assignment. But the experience is as much entertainment event as sporting event. Besides promotions similar to those MLB teams hold, the minor-league teams have quirky activities between innings, many involving fan participation. Those activities are not advertised in advance, but they’re funny and popular with participants and spectators.

Among the Captains’ 2019 promotions are Buck Night, when hot dogs, domestic drafts and fountain drinks are $1, Charitable Donation Tuesdays, and Brats & Brews Wednesdays. The Rubber Ducks will offer T-shirt Tuesday, fireworks nights and a promotion called LOOK! My Hot Dog is Green. (Don’t worry. The green refers to a cash giveaway). The Crushers are planning promotions including Pack the Park Pink, to benefit Susan G. Komen, and signing former Indians outfielder Coco Crisp for one game. Crisp will play for the Crushers on Aug. 3 and be available for postgame photos and autographs. The Crushers are having a Coco Crisp Bobblehead Night on June 22 to promote the Aug. 3 game.

Even without the promotions, an outing at a minor-league ballgame is a good deal. Single Crushers tickets range from $6 to $18 and advance tickets are $2 less than game-day tickets. Single Rubber Ducks tickets go from $5 to $25. Single Captains tickets top out at $15, but there are discounts for seniors and kids. Each team also has group ticket plans for frequent visitors.

Concession prices are not posted, but my experience has shown that food and beverages at minor-league parks cost a fraction of the prices at MLB ballparks. The same goes for parking.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Play Ball!

It’s almost time. In two days, weather gods willing, the Cleveland Indians will open the 2019 season in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Twins.

Those of us who aren’t making the trip to Target Field, which I suspect is most of us, can enjoy the game from home, CLE on the Cheap style.

The Twins’ home opener against the Tribe begins at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday. A weekday afternoon game is a bit of a throwback, so maybe you’ll want to go old school and listen to the game on the radio. That would be WTAM 1100 in Northeast Ohio. You might be in the warmth of your own home, but when something exciting happens, Tom Hamilton’s call will give you chills.

If you want to see the game, though, you can tune in to Sports Time Ohio locally. This would be a good time to check whether switching from cable to a streaming service would bring Tribe games to your TV for a lower monthly fee.

And what’s a baseball game without snacks and beverages to sustain you through nine innings or more? A couple of beers or pops at the ballpark cost about as much as a six-pack you can buy at a store. Whatever your pleasure — hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, Cracker Jack — you can shop for it ahead of time and not have to go farther than your kitchen to get it on game day. Invite some friends over and have everyone bring something and you’ll shop and spend less.

Comfy seats, unobstructed views and short or no waits for the bathroom are among other advantages of watching this road game from home. You’re also spared the cost of tickets, lodging, transportation and those impulse-buy souvenirs.

The Indians’ first official game of the season is Thursday, but one of Cleveland’s unofficial holidays follows on Monday, April 1. That’s Opening Day at Progressive Field. Tickets for this game, which starts at 4:10 p.m. EDT, sold out weeks ago. If you didn’t get tickets, you can redeploy your road game strategy and watch on the cheap from home,


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hometown Tourists

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Paul

Now that spring is here, this weekend presents an opportunity to warm up for an event coming up this summer.

“Be a Tourist in Your Hometown” is giving locals a chance to visit or revisit places in Greater Cleveland where they might take out-of-town visitors. It is challenging residents to cross the Cuyahoga River to see what the other side of town has to offer (including the suburbs), and is offering discounted or free admission to many popular sites and activities.

Technically, this weekend’s event began Wednesday, but don’t worry if you missed the first day. There will be plenty to do through Sunday. I’m so excited about this I’m publishing my Friday post a day early so you have time to plan.

The free kickoff party is from 5 to 9 tonight at Music Box Supper Club in the Flats. All ages are admitted, but reservations are required.

Here are just a few examples of fun you can have for less this weekend:

  • Free admission to the Rock Hall for Cleveland residents and discounted admission for residents of ZIP codes beginning with 440-443
  • Discounted admission to other museums, the Great Lakes Science Center and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium and 10 percent off a University Circle Circlepass
  • Free walking tours of downtown and University Circle
  • Free tours of Playhouse Square and Severance Hall
  • Buy one, get one admission to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Buy 9 holes, get 9 holes free at all Cleveland Metroparks golf courses
  • BOGO admission to A Christmas Story House for Cleveland residents
  • Discounted tickets for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
  • Discounted admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton
  • Discounts on parking and Lyft rides
  • $25 tickets for the Cleveland Orchestra tonight and Saturday

Check the link above for details. Some of the offers require an online discount code and others require mentioning Tourist in Your Hometown at the point of sale.

This touristy weekend is being put on by Destination Cleveland, a nonprofit visitors and convention bureau. It’s intended as a warmup for Visit Me in CLE weekend June 21-23, when Greater Clevelanders are urged to invite family and friends here. Locals who participate this weekend will know where to take their visitors during that June weekend.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Women Negro Leaguers

Even if you know a lot about baseball history, you might not know about three women who played on men’s Negro Leagues teams in the 1950s. Saturday afternoon at the Baseball Heritage Museum, you can learn about these women, who played with and against men who became Major League Baseball stars, including a famous Cleveland Indians pitcher.

I attended this free program last spring and it was excellent. It is again being presented by Ike Brooks, who gave a really informative talk about Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson and  Connie Morgan last year and brought along some books that include their stories.

Stone, whose real name was Marcenia Lyle Alberg, was the first of the three to join the Negro Leagues. She played second base for the Indianapolis Clowns and the Kansas City Monarchs. Johnson, a pitcher, and Morgan, a second baseman, also played for the Clowns, a team that later signed Hank Aaron.

Besides the women on the field in the 1950s, there was Effa Manley behind the scenes. Manley was married to the owner of the Newark Eagles and she managed the team.

No spoilers here, but I can tell you Ike will share some fascinating facts about these players and this period in history. It’s the perfect program for a month that celebrates women’s history and starts the 2019 MLB season.

Friday, March 15, 2019

St. Patrick's Day

It’s almost time for one of Cleveland’s longest-running free events: the St. Patrick’s Day parade. This year’s edition, the 177th, kicks off at 2:04 p.m. Sunday at East 18th Street and Superior Avenue and ends approximately three hours later at Rockwell Avenue and Ontario Street. An insider’s tip says the best viewing area is on Superior between East 9th and 12th streets. But if everyone finds out about it, would the view still be as good?

The 2019 parade’s theme is Irish Churches of the Diocese of Cleveland. The diocese stretches well beyond Cleveland proper, but the city has two St. Patrick parishes, a St. Malachi and a St. Colman, for starters.

The parade, as is customary, will feature Irish dancers, wolfhounds and politicians, bagpipers and cute kids. Military and first responders will march, as will members of the East Side and West Side Irish American clubs. Maire Madigan (pictured here), Glenna Mulligan, MaE (it stands for "Margaret and Ellen") Hart, Killian’s Irish Red and Katie O’Dorable from Gaelic Glen Alpacas in Perrysville, a personal favorite, will be there, along with the University Circle Mounted Unit and the Irish Setter Club.

Weather conditions are anybody’s guess, but crowds turn out by the thousands for the parade regardless of temperature. With that and the link between this holiday and beer in mind, I recommend not trying to drive downtown. The parade means lots of road closures, too. Your best bet is to take RTA. Get an all-day pass for $5.50 and use it for unlimited trips on buses or the Rapid until 3 a.m. Monday. If you’re not ready to go home by then, I don’t know what to tell you.

A recent statistic says 13 percent of Cuyahoga County’s population has Irish roots. But on this one day, that stat temporarily swells. This year’s parade also will include the Cleveland Asian Festival and Polka Time Ohio.

Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Need a Lyft?

Well, this is pretty cool. Lyft is offering discounted rides to some women-oriented historical sites and even a few women-owned businesses during March, Women’s History Month.

The offer is good through March 31 in just about every region of the United States as well as Toronto. In Northeast Ohio, you can get a price break on a ride if you’re going to the International Women’s Air & Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport, Brewnuts in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood, CLE Urban Winery in Cleveland Heights, Prosperity Social Club in Tremont and the National First Ladies Library in Canton.

It seems like a good option if you’d rather not drive for whatever reason. You could enjoy an extra glass at the winery or try Prosperity’s new Gotta Haddock beer or the brews at Brewnuts without worrying about getting behind the wheel (or trying to find parking). Some people just don’t like driving downtown, so Lyft could easily get you to the free Women’s Air & Space Museum. A trip to Canton from Cleveland probably wouldn’t be so cheap, but if you live in the Akron-Canton area, a discounted Lyft ride might be the way to go.

There are all kinds of ways to celebrate Women’s History Month. A discount just makes the celebration that much better.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Throw Like a Woman

It’s Women’s History Month, the time of year when I read or hear about various women’s accomplishments and think “Why didn’t we learn about them in school?” Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn about the women who made history but didn’t make it into our history books.

On Saturday, a free program at the Baseball Heritage Museum will feature Susan Petrone talking about her novel “Throw Like a Woman.” The book tells the story of Brenda Haversham, a 40-year-old single mom whose anger toward her ex-husband fuels her groundbreaking career as a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. I read this book last year and liked it a lot. I’m a baseball fan and an Indians fan in particular, but I don’t think you need to be either to enjoy this story.

Although Brenda is a fictitious character, Petrone also will include real women baseball players in her talk. I attended a program at the museum last year on women in baseball and again learned about historic figures I hadn’t heard of before. It made me wonder which other women from the past are still largely unknown.

Petrone’s talk is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. While you’re there, take the time to go through the museum, which also is free (donations are welcome), and walk on the field at historic League Park.

Most of us in Cleveland are at the point where we are done with winter and looking forward to warmer, longer days. It’s snowing as I write this, but I’m heartened that the 2019 Major League Baseball season is starting in less than two weeks.

Until they start playing games for real again, an afternoon steeped in baseball history and a little baseball fantasy would be time well spent.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mardi Gras

Twenty years ago, I moved back home to Cleveland from New Orleans. I always think about New Orleans during Carnival season, which leads up to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) next week.

Cleveland has nothing like the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration, but I’ve noticed since returning home that the area observes the holiday more than when I was growing up here. Paczkis are a longstanding Cleveland Fat Tuesday tradition, but local stores and bakeries also are selling king cakes, the signature dessert of Carnival season. A restaurant I visited this week had a special Mardi Gras menu, and local bars get in on the celebration as well.

Tomorrow night in Tremont, there’s a free event to launch a new book about Fat Tuesday. Visible Voice Books is marking the release of “Mardi Gras in Kodachrome” by Charles Cassady Jr. and Mary Lynn Randall. The book contains photographs from Mardi Gras in New Orleans between 1950 and 1960 that haven’t been published before. Ruth Ketcham, Randall’s grandmother, shot the photos.

The event starts at 7:30 and will include a book signing. And since Visible Voice sells beer and wine (along with coffee and baked goods), the book launch could count as a Carnival party, too.