Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day 2 - Game 2 - August 5, 2015 Kane County Cougars @ South Bend Cubs

Yesterday's post saw a recap of the first day of my Cubs themed vacation and left us heading to South Bend, Indiana, home of the Class A South Bend Cubs. After the game, I drove for about an hour as the hotels near Pittsburgh were a little too expensive for my liking. Back on the road Tuesday morning, we had about a 5 hour drive ahead of us, but still managed to get into town two hours before game time.

In the pregame chatter around the ballpark, I heard we had missed a nine inning no hitter the night before by South Bend Cubs pitcher Erick Leal. But with a dual shutout going, Leal had been replaced in the 10th and his replacement gave up a hit. Their opponent would go on to win in the 12th. That would have been neat to see as I've never seen a no hitter live. Usually, I get wind of one in the 6th or 7th inning and tune in to see the rest.

South Bend Cubs Logos
I really like these logos, especially the Cubbie Bear with a bit of an attitude. Since this is the team's first year as a part of the Cubs organization, I didn't really know anything about them. So here's a brief history lesson with a few nuggets I learned:

1988 -  The South Bend White Sox joined the Midwest League in 1988 as the affiliate for, you guessed it, the Chicago White Sox.

1994 -  Changed nickname to the Silver Hawks in honor of the Studebaker Silver Hawk, a car that was manufactured in South Bend in the late 1950's.

1997 - Changed affiliations to the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks

2014 - Changed affiliations to the Chicago Cubs for the 2015 season, becoming the South Bend Cubs

Play at Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium, named for Hall of Fame spitballer, Stan Coveleski.

Two mascots, Stu the Cub (probably another Studebaker reference) and Swoop the Silverhawk, who made the transition between affiliations.

This night's game was to be played against the Kane County Cougars. What's interesting about that is that the Cougars were the Cubs' Midwest League team for the past two seasons. In fact, they won the championship in 2014 as a part of the Cubs organization. This year? They belong to the Diamondbacks, the South Bend parent team last season. Weird.

Walking up to the stadium, they had pillars with some really sweet banners of a couple of Hall of Fame Cubs on them. Nice touch. Sorry Paul, no Billy! Maybe Sweet Swingin' wasn't a good enough nickname? The photos were taken later on the way out.

The cheapest seats in this stadium weren't technically seats at all. We sat on the lawn out on the right field foul line. And unlike previous and later games, we actually stayed there the entire game aside from food and bathroom runs.
I didn't notice the Cub in the background of this ticket until just now. Not even when I scanned or cropped it.
There was an unannounced giveaway at thr stadium as a local company was hosting a company day at the game. So the three of us ended up with some cheap sunglasses and beach balls. Also, because of the company day where hundreds of employees showed up, we were part of a stadium record setting attendance (5,029). Kind of cool! Another thing to I did not see coming when I planned this trip. Glad I was able to get tickets!
Our view. Note the large Kids Zone across the way

The rest of the field

Walking around pregame, we saw starting pitcher Trevor Clifton warming up. We also visited the team store and I got a bit carried away. From a clearance rack I picked up a logoed polo, a tshirt featuring all of the Cubs affiliates' logos calling it the "Road to the Show" and a batting practice pullover. What? Fall is coming and it was a nice long sleeve shirt! Don't judge me!
I also grabbed a pair of baseball card sets. One was this season's South Bend Cubs team and the other was the Midwest League Top Prospects set. They'll probably eventually get their own posts but I'll show some of each at the end of this post. Not featured in either set? This year's Cubs' top draft pick, Ian Happ, who had recently been called up from Eugene. So what's a fellow to do when said guy is signing autographs before the game but there's no card? Whip out an ice cream helmet, of course!
Happ couldn't have been nicer, which is always good to see.
As for the game, the Cougars jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second but the SB Cubs battled back with one in the bottom half and another in the third. Then the home team really laid it on, with two runs in the 5th, one each in the 6th and 7th and finally, four more in the 8th inning. The final score was 10-2 in favor of the good guys.
It was exciting to hear "Go Cubs, Go!" during the post game celebration. I didn't know if that would carry on down through the chain, but it did. At least in South Bend! There were also a few of the Cubs W flags in the crowd.
Like Pittsburgh the night before, the weather was gorgeous. Bright and sunny when we first arrived but it cooled down with a nice breeze as the game went on.
With just a short two hour trip from South Bend to Chicago the next day, we decided to stick around to try to get some autographs on the team set. I would venture to say I could pick out all of the players on the big league Cubs in a lineup in street clothes. The same cannot be said for low Single A players. Some of these guys are only a few years older than my kids! But with a little help from some of the other autograph collectors, we were able to get a few signatures.
The pitching coach, Brian Larence and manager, Jimmy Gonzalez were easy to recognize because they were "old" compared to the kids.

Gioskar Amaya and Jeffrey "No relation to Javier" Baez

A pair of pitchers, Ryan McNeil and Zach Hedges
The SB Cubs had two guys in the Top Prospect set and we were able to nab the cards from that in addition to the team set for Gleyber Torres and Jake Stinnett. The cards used the same pictures but with different croppings.

We managed to get some progams and one of the ticket stubs signed, too. Gioskar Amaya gave a nice big signature across a program.
And we were able to snag two more autographs from Ian Happ after the game. One program and one ticket stub.

Overall, this is going to be a tough game the top. Ten autographed cards, two programs and a ticket stub. Three autographs from the Cubs' most recent first round draft pick. A 10-2 drubbing of the opponent by the home team. I guess they were saving their bats the night before in the shutout for us to show up. The atmosphere at the stadium itself was fantastic. Very kid/family/fan friendly. Since the team changed affiliations and logos and even colors, everything had a nice new feeling to it, even though the season was more than half over. If I was ready to retire, I wouldn't hesitate to look in the South Bend area and get season tickets there. A short(ish) drive to see the MLB Cubs in Chicago is a nice perk, too!
Speaking of which, the next stop, Wrigley!


  1. Wow, great job on all of the in person autos! I'm super jealous you were able to pick up the team sets and the prospect sets.
    I think Gleyber Torres is going to be the real deal and you managed two of his autos. Fantastic!

    1. I think I spent as much on cards as I did on tickets on this road trip. Granted the sets were $10-15 a piece and I did pick up several past season sets as well if they had them. They'll be popping up here soon, but that's a lot of scanning and cropping!

  2. The attendance record you experienced was the franchise record for total season attendance. The team has cleared 8,000 already this year and are approaching 300,000 for the season, which is shattering the old mark each night heading into the end of the season.
    I work for a local media outlet outside of South Bend and did a full feature on the SB Cubs, and everything there is first rate. The Cubs really came in and made the move from Arizona to Chicago a big deal for the franchise. It's an excellent place for kids, for adults, for baseball lovers and for Cubs fans to see some of the future for less than $10!

    1. Thanks for the clarification on the attendance. And I agree with what you said about the experience. South Bend was definitely one of the top individual highlights of the trip and I can't wait to go back.

      Do you have a link to your feature? I'd love to learn more.

    2. Here is a link to the feature I produced for the South Bend Cubs day we did as promo for them via our website. The team president, Joe Hart, is actually my dad's neighbor, so it was fun doing the feature. He was gracious to round up a team-signed game ball for my daughter, whose first game was the day I did the feature. The organization is a class act all around.

  3. Man, that sounds like a great stop! I love minor league baseball, it's really hard to top the affordability and how close you get to the field compared to the major league games. Brian Lawrence is a former Padre, you'd think they could spell his name right! Love the Midwest Prospects set, it looks really sharp (like something you might see from a Once A Cub custom set).

  4. It's kind of pathetic that I live just outside South Bend and you got to a game before me this year. When they were the Silverhawks it was a very nice minor league stadium and from what I've heard, they've improved on top of that. As long as they keep the Cubs affiliation, this stadium will continue to do well. That was the first thing I said when I heard they were taking over, that was the top team they could have put in here. The Cubs have a huge fan base here, it's part of the reason I'm a White Sox fan. Lol.